Astro Toy with Rob Bricken: Yu Yu Hakusho Anime Heroes

by Rob Bricken, Sep 13th 2009

YU YU HAKUSHO ANIME HEROES
Toyline: Mini Big Hero Figures
Series: Yū Yū Hakusho
By: Charazo
Cost: ~$60 per box of 15

Sometimes, I get some immensely crappy action figures here at Astro Toy HQ. These fill me full of hate and rage, and I vomit my disdain for these toys onto the Microsoft Word document for your enjoyment (although it's a mess to clean up). Occasionally, I get a good toy — a figure that fills me with hope and rainbows and pixie dust, makes life worth living, and then I wax poetic about its virtues for you guys. And then, sometimes, I get the toys I dread most: the average ones.

If I weren't paid by a certain word count, I could just give these things a big “C-“ and get back to playing Batman: Arkham Asylum (dammit). You can probably tell exactly what I mean just by looking at them. They're generically SD figures of a large portion of the Yū Yū Hakusho cast where the heads are a little too big to be “cute.” The paint jobs are adequate, no more. The poses have a nice bit of variation, but not so much as to be exciting. The stands are functional and utterly generic. Overall, they are absolutely, instantly average — although that doesn't mean they're totally devoid of mystery.

Let's start slow, though. You're looking at (from left to right) Kurama, Yusuke, Kuwabara and Hiei, more or less the main characters of the series. You'll note the decent eyes, but the utter lack of paint for the mouth (the nose is a soft peak that refuses to become visible on camera). It's cool that each of the four — heck all of the gashapon — have their own unique sculpts, but if you look closely, you can tell that none of the arms that aren't extended from the body are actually separate — they're just sort of blobs on the torsos. It's not particularly surprising, but it's not particularly impressive, either.

This is Yū Yū Hakusho’s “B Team” which is to say the girls who have to disappear when the boys get into a particular shonen fighting tournament. Left to right, it's Botan — who is technically Charon the boatman, hence her name and the oar she's riding on — the martial arts master Genkai (who admittedly does her own share of fighting), and Hiei's utterly bland sister/ice maiden Yukina. The most impressive thing here is that they got Botan on an oar, but given how it screws up her already SD proportions, it's not much of a victory. Her legs are half the size of everybody else's. You may have noticed that the second most important female character — Yusuke's bland would-be gal-pal Keiko — is missing. This will be important later.

Four bad guys now — left to right, it's Toguro the Younger, his second-in-command Karasu, spirit detective-gone-bad Sensui, and his second-in-command Itsuki. Although I've watched all of Yū Yū Hakusho, I had and have no recollection of Itsuki even after staring at his figure for five minutes. This will also be important later. Note that since these guys are lower on the YYH character totem pole, the sculptors didn't really know what to do with them. Toguro is looking kind of sullen, and Sensui is trying to strike a smart pose? Maybe? Meanwhile, flunky Karasu has one arm out for no reason, and Itsuki… well, yeah.

And not last nor least are the demon kings, the three big new characters from the final saga of Yū Yū Hakusho —the demon kings Yomi, Yusuke's ancestor Raizen and Muguro, who is actually a cute cyborg demon queen under those bandages, if I remember correctly. I'd say these guys are certainly on par for figures like the big bad guys Toguro and Sensui, and fare more deserving that Karasu and Itsuki, for the record. Again, the poses are desperately trying to be interesting, but why Yomi is rubbing his shoulder, Raizen is awaiting a double high-five and Muguro has her hands clasped coquettishly in front of her is beyond me.

I received one other figure, but I'm going to save him for a minute.  Overall, I got 15 characters — all different mind you — but the series actually includes 19 characters.. Before I freak about this, let me tell you that the five regular figures I didn't receive were of Yusuke's spirit boss Koenma (the baby-looking dude), Yusuke's spirit familiar Puu (the penguin-y thing with the bad haircut), two demon pals from the Dark Tournament saga Jin (short red hair with one short horn) and Chu (drunk with the Mohawk) and Suzaku, the main bad guy from another saga (with the blond spiky) hair.

Now, there's still the matter of the three secret figures, which are short-packed. The only pic I could find of them was from Capsuletoys.com, so my apologies:

Yeah. There's Keiko, the second most important female character on the show and the main love interest; Kurama, arguably in the most popular character in Yū Yū Hakusho, in his full demon form, which is nearly as popular as regular Kurama thanks to his little fox ears; and finally Koenma in his alternate bishonen form, which you might be shocked to know is actually far more popular than his regular baby form (but you probably aren't). I got the Kurama, for the record.

This is what I believe kids today refer to as a “WTF.” Really, Yū Yū Hakusho gashapon makers? You're going to relegate not only two of the most popular characters/designs to the short-packed secret bonus figure abyss, but also one of the show's most major characters? Not cool — especially when you're filling out the line with crap like Itsuki. These guys are waaaay more popular and desired than Toguro and Sensui and Suzaku; and while I can see their justification for being part of the line, there's no excuse for Karasu or Itsuki. Especially @#$%ing Itsuki.

Maybe I would have given you the benefit of the doubt if it has just been the alternate forms of Koenma and Kurama, since their main versions are already part of the line. But you blew it by sticking Keiko in there. Obviously, you just want to force YYH fans — who don't get much merchandise nowadays anyways — to buy god knows how many blind boxes to get the characters they want most.

Which is a major problem in and of itself, because remember — there are 22 characters in this gashapon series. I bought a full box of ‘em... which contained 15 figures. If you want a complete set, you'll need to buy a minimum of two boxes and a heck of a lot of luck. Actually, since I'm bet you just about anything that there's only one of the secret figures per set of 15, you'll need three. And hopefully you won't get double on the secrets.

It's also worth pointing out that each box of 15 random figures is $60. That's $4 per figure, which is 100% too much for what you get — these are the epitome of 200 yen gashapon if I ever saw one. Unless you're desperate to spend some money on merely okay Yū Yū Hakusho trading figures, I cannot recommend it. And if you do, make sure you're either very rich or can live without owning a complete set. Because I don't see any other option.

You can read more of Rob Bricken's bitter, needlessly mean-spirited thoughts on toys and many non-anime subjects over at ToplessRobot.com (which is safe for work).

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