Astro Toy Under New Management - Figma Deluxe Golgo 13
by David Cabrera, Feb 28th 2010
Hello, everybody. My name is David Cabrera, and I'll be taking over Astro Toy from the esteemed Mr. Bricken as of today. I love all kinds of Japanese toys-- super robots are my favorite-- and I'm looking forward to talking about them with you. Let's have some fun and check out some toys, shall we?
This is Golgo 13, alias Duke Togo: manga's foremost hired killer since 1969. Amoral, steadfast and ruthlessly efficient, he's the favorite antihero of old guys all over Japan. 80's kids might remember him from his two cult classic Nintendo games. He is not an obvious choice for Max Factory's Figma line, which is more likely to enshrine a 16-year-old girl in plastic than a middle-aged man. But Golgo is an enduring brand: he didn't just warrant a Figma release, but a deluxe one.
The "Golgo face" is iconic and heavily stylized in thick, black lnes, and the sculpt and paint job are a dead-on representation of the manga artwork. Look at those harsh, beady eyes, those massive, angry eyebrows. That's our Golgo, alright! You'll notice that the only way sculptor Masaki Apsy could properly approximate Golgo's prominent, sunken cheeks was to paint black lines inside of the indentations of his cheeks. Look too closely and these accents look like oddly applied makeup, but that's just what it takes to get that sharp line in a three-dimensional space. There is an alternate face for the only other facial expression Golgo is known to exhibit: mild stress, as indicated by clenched teeth. In the manga, the least it takes to change Golgo's expression from his usual grim, intense stare is torture, so if you're going to pose him with this face, make sure you've built an elaborate miniature torture chamber to match.
Let's take a look at Golgo's suit. You'd think that standard-issue business attire wouldn't lend itself to the active life of a professional killer, but Golgo makes it work. While the arms and legs of the suit are solid plastic with joints in plain sight at the elbows and knees, the entire torso section of the suit is made of a flexible material-- this is particularly noticeable at the shoulders and at the bottom of the jacket-- that moves with Golgo's arms and legs to accomodate the typically wide range of motion of the Figma body. Notice it here as Golgo's knee lifts the jacket. Golgo's legs are so flexible that you're probably going to accidentally slip one off (don't worry, they snap right back on) as you're posing. His neck cranes just so to put his head into sniping position. This is all vitally important to getting a Golgo figure right: if you can't pose him crouching, kneeling or lying down with his trademark M-16 rifle, he can't get the job done. And Golgo always gets the job done.
To further accommodate Golgo's action poses, you'll notice that the waist is extraordinarily loose: covered by the flexible jacket, Golgo's midsection is a very slim piece that simply connects the waist to the torso. It's certainly not the midsection of a human being: it's a toy piece. You don't see it unless you're looking for it, after all, so Max Factory opted to disappoint Golgo's many female fans and sacrifice his abs to get better movement out of the figure. The way his waist spins, Figma Golgo 13 could probably hula hoop: immediately before murdering any witnesses to the act. The figure can do anything you might imagine the character doing (outside the bedroom, anyway): Golgo is pictured here relaxing with his cigar, and, not coincidentally, displaying his prominent bulge. The ladies love this guy!
Weapons include the old faithful M-16-- praised to the heavens as the greatest weapon of all time in any Golgo story that stops to mention it-- and a simple handgun for close encounters. As you can see here, the M-16 actually comes apart piece by piece and can be stored in the included suitcase, which is itself packed with hard foam. This is quite a cool feature, but it also leads to some frustration when the scope of the rifle keeps detaching itself during posing. As per usual with Figma, hands specifically sculpted to grip each of these weapons are provided, including a hand whose sole purpose is to nonchalantly cradle that cigar.
But even all this still falls under the scope of the typical Figma release, and I did promise that this was a deluxe piece. Golgo's adventures take place in a seedy, perhaps filthy world, and Max Factory has supplied the backdrop of a motel room (facing the window, of course) to place him in. I was not, however, aware that the motel room pictured was not a plastic accessory, but a papercraft that must be carefully built. I know we're in a recession, guys, but really? My $50 action figure's major accessory has to be built out of paper? I'll be honest: if I had bought this toy for myself, I probably would have forgotten the papercraft ever existed, called the extra $20 a loss and put the sheets away someplace safe. I can build and paint a Gundam plastic kit, but I am just not an arts and crafts man. The process of building this will probably be a breeze for someone who's confident with crafts, but for a clumsy layman such as myself, ill-equipped with Scotch tape and children's school glue, it's a very intimidating project. It took me several hours of swearing and confusion to come up with anything at all.
And so we come to an embarrassing revelation in my first column: your new toy reviewer cannot build a tiny paper house to save his life. My attempt to build the motel-- and this is just without the fine details, I decided to stop before I did any more damage to the paper-- was a total disaster, as you can see here. My apologies for the wreck. The details on the motel room, including transparent inserts for the window and paper "curtains", are inspired. That said, none of this really helps when a klutz like me is putting the thing together. Maybe you're into papercraft? Maybe you know somebody who can do this kind of thing? Let them handle it. Unfortunately, the figure isn't sold without the extras.
Even if you can't put together a paper motel, you can't say this set doesn't provide. Max Factory includes what they call a Di:Stage, which is simply a base covered in holes. The idea is that you can position pieces wherever you want and create a scene. Simply because there are so many places to put a stand, you can create a pretty complicated scene with just this little plastic brick. The most amusing extras in the package are perhaps the paper word bubbles. Written on them-- in Japanese, of course-- are some of the very few phrases Golgo ever speaks, including favorites like "Understood," and "I'll see what I can do,". You can put them up on stands next to Golgo so that he appears, in a comic book way, to be speaking. Even punctuation marks like "..." and "!!" (there are two different copies of "!!") weren't left out! Other paper props include the G13 logo and a second suitcase stuffed with $100 bills. Here you can see I've reproduced an imaginary Golgo 13 commercial break.
The possibilities are truly endless. We can safely say that with the addition of the motel room-- and the artwork inside, of a woman who appears freshly exhausted by Golgo-- at least 90 percent of the legendary assassin's 40 years of adventure (sex, murder, repeat) can be reproduced with this set. Buy one of these sets and Golgo will get to work in your house, so be careful. He's ready to kill anyone. Anytime. Anywhere.
Don't stand behind him if you value your life!
Looking to pick one up for yourself? Here's a link!
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