Astro Toy with Rob Bricken: Vampire Hunter D PVCby Rob Bricken, Mar 8th 2009
I'm kind of conflicted about today's “Astro Toy.” You see, it's the first time a company has deigned to send me a product for review, which is awesome on several levels. It's also very nice! Dark Horse was cool enough to send me its recently released Vampire Hunter D three-piece PVC set, and Dark Horse is good people. Why is why I'm very sad that they will hate me after reading this “Astro Toy,” because this set is horrible.
I have to start with a caveat here. The Dark Horse people make some fine products. Tim Bruckner sculpted these, and Tim Bruckner is awesome; he's made some incredible statues for both Dark Horse and DC Direct. Plus, any time you make products based on Yoshitaka Amano's amazing work, you're fighting an uphill battle. Amano paints like Mucha, full of rich, sensual detail and an almost impossible blend of colors in his more complex pieces. Trying to fit that into 3 ½-inch figures is nigh impossible.
Unfortunately, no one made the impossible happen with this set. Let's start with the best figure, Doris, who broke as I was trying to get her out of the package.
Yes, the broken figure is the best figure. In her defense, her foot is her only connected to her base, and that foot is tiny and dainty. The peg inside the foot, which makes her stand? Even daintier. Far daintier than the three wire twist-ties which diabolically tied her into the packaging. She never had a chance — the peg snapped despite my bets efforts, which is why she's standing in a wad of stick-tack. I can't imagine this wasn't an obvious flaw to the makers. Either she shouldn't have been packaged on her base, or she should have had a different pose that gave her more support, because now she's posed like this:
So why is she the best figure? Well, she's very accurate to her anime counterpart in both outfit and her big noggin. She's in a dynamic pose, and the whip flows nicely, pretty well staying in a good action position. She has her preposterously short skirt, which highlights her panties, just like in the anime (hey, it's accurate, okay?). Sure, the colors are off, since Doris’ outfit is actually very light blue in the anime, instead of cornflower blue. And sure, the figure has no chin to speak of. And sure, her eyes aren't pointing the same direction…
… maybe we should move on.
Okay, maybe Magnus is the best figure. He's dressed in his combination of dress jacket, slacks and ridiculous shirt. Don't blame Dark Horse for what he's wearing — in the anime, he's really wearing a shirt with triangles on it and a cummerbund, although the colors are still off.
Happily, this big bad vampire has the best-sculpted face of all three figures, with great line detail and well-painted eyes. He's very expressive… which would be slightly more scary-looking if it weren't pointed down at a 45-degree angle.
I don't know what midget he's trying to intimidate, but I imagine he's doing an effective job. And now for D.
If the paint apps on the other two figures were lacking, it's obviously because they wanted to add the detail to D. I count at least five on his outfit besides the basic black: purple, light blue, tan, brown, gold, red, and some kind of off-white. The attempt results in this:
…which is weird for a lot of reason, not least of which because D looks nothing like that in the anime. At all. Now, I have searched and searched this fine internet trying to figure out what picture of D was used as the basis for the toy, and as best as I can tell, it's this cover of one of the books:
Why Dark Horse would make two Vampire Hunter D anime figures and one D figure from the books is beyond me. But that's what they did.
Now, please remember Yoshitaka Amano's art is incredibly difficult to render in 3-D, especially on such a small figure, and especially with so few paint apps, and especially if you're trying to keep the price point down. It's just an impossible task, and good for them for trying. But even the anime knew not to try and animate one of Amano's D paintings, because while they all look awesome as art, they do not translate to other realms. That's why D's design in the movie is much, much simpler (even in the 2001 Bloodlust movie).
D suffers from looking at the same thing Magnus is, which is emphasized by D's hair blowing in the wind in one massive clump. As you can tell, the fact that D is in no kind of an action pose, nor is his cape blowing even slightly, makes him look like the victim of one of the worst hairstyles in anime (which is saying something). Oh, if you want to pose D and Magnus like they're facing off—
…they kind of just end up looking at each other's crotches. However, it's almost like the two figures knew what was going to happen to Doris:
Alas, that's not all of D's problems. His sword is bent (which you can tragically see in the official Dark Horse product shot). If you take a close look at the jaunty angle his hat is at, you can surmise some incredibly disturbing idea about the shape of D's skull, which his neck corroborates:
So… yeah. I don't want to tell people not to buy this set — if you've seen all these pictures and still want it, please, by all means, go for it. I know Dark Horse intended these to be the first of several D figure sets, so unless this sells, I can't imagine we'll be getting too many more. Just remember to be really, really careful when you take them out of the packaging, especially Doris. Now wave bye-bye, D's demon hand!
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