Anime Programming in the US
Making a Living in Manga in Japan with Felipe Smith
Lost in Translation
Pegasus Seiya (First Bronze Cloth)
Series: Saint Seiya
Alright, America, I'm back with the Shonen Jump toy review you've all been waiting for!
What? I meant South America.
Masami Kurumada's Saint Seiya remains quite popular around the world (and new Saint Seiya anime is being produced to this day), but it didn't hit the States until years after it might have taken off. You might remember it from a brief airing on Cartoon Network as "Knights of the Zodiac" or by the former ADV Films' unfinished release of the TV series shortly thereafter. The premise of the show-- hot-blooded young men fight with the aid of magical armor called "Cloth"-- is obviously a perfect setup to sell kids toys. (At the time of Saint Seiya's airing I was busy watching the Centurions , who, uh, didn't quite have the same fashion sense as the Saints.) And of course, why stop there? 20 years later those kids may have grown up, but just like with our last review piece, at least some of them must have grown up into huge geeks who'd still like to spend their money on fancier versions of the toys they played with as a kid. The Myth Cloth line serves that exact demographic, and with over a hundred (!!) releases in the line they're clearly dedicated. I'm not sure I would buy a single $70 Centurion, no matter how Xtreme his power.
Note the very nice "book box" that is standard for this line: like the window boxes we've seen on other high-end Bandai figures in this column, but a bit more elaborate. Held together by a Velcro button, it flips open to show the base figure on one side, and the Pegasus on the other.
Now before we get to anything fancy, let's take a look at the base figure, which resembles nothing so much as a doll body. A skinny-legged, Kurumada-style doll body, but a doll nevertheless. I guess we are playing dress-up here, aren't we? You can tell that the figure wasn't exactly intended for display in this form (and a separate Seiya figure in his usual outfit does exist): rather, Seiya in his red jumpsuit is the skeleton for the future, mightier armored Seiya. You can see that Seiya's skeleton feet are already armored: putting his shoes on would have been a pain anyway. The feet are also metal, which effectively weights the figure and makes it easy to stand it on its own. You're lucky his feet are so heavy, because Seiya doesn't even come with a proper stand: as with Robot Damashii figures, they're sold separately. This is an even greater crime than with the Damashii line, because a figure this expensive should not be nickel-and-diming you with basic accessories. As you can see, no attempt is made to conceal joints on this body: for the most part, the armor is going to take care of that.
Surprisingly, articulation is not up to the Revoltech or Figma standard. The hip joints and shoulder joints have a very wide range of movement: in particular, the shoulders are double-jointed, which allows Seiya to reach forwards, backwards, and all the way around himself if you so choose. On the other hand, the elbows and the knees are simple affairs that only go one way, and while the midsection is jointed Seiya can only really be leaned slightly by moving it. If I may compare toy jargon, it's the difference between "ultra-posable" and "super-posable". This figure moves pretty well, but you've seen better.
Alright, let's stop humiliating the half-naked Seiya and get this guy's armor on. The inverse of the Tamashii Spec figure we reviewed a while back, the Myth Cloth figures have a PVC inner skeleton clothed in shiny metal armor. Really, really shiny metal armor: I had to bring down the lights and it still looks like that!
This armor is not what Seiya originally wore in the manga: this figure is the most recent of many Seiya variants, and this one features the suit as it appeared at the start of the TV anime. This design rounds off all the heavy lines of the original manga version (I assume this makes it easier to animate; experts?) and adds some red highlights to the edges, because kid science (candy and Power Rangers) states that red is the strongest. Now getting the armor on Seiya involves yanking off his hands, feet and head, but the procedure is about as easy as one could make it: the arm and leg armor slide right on for a snug fit, and the chest armor and belt open up and snap onto the body securely. The helmet is handled by taking apart the head altogether (Seiya's big hair comes in two pieces) and attaching separate hair pieces that fit into the helmet.
Now once the procedure is done, the completed figure looks and feels great: suitably heavy and easy to play with without having to worry about it falling apart on you, unlike the very fidgety Tamashii Spec. The skirt armor is split and jointed in a few spots, so as to never get in the way of posing. The people working on these figures have the whole "armored guy" thing down to a science. There is, however, the notable exception of the kneecap armor, which is inserted into a hole on the knee. These bits do not snap in securely, and are prone to popping off from damn near any movement at all. Just save yourself a headache and put the kneecaps on after you've posed the figure for display.
While we're at this, I would be seriously remiss to leave out a Pegasus Ryuseiken picture. Please imagine a hot-blooded roar, a storm of gleaming meteors coasting rapidly towards your face and the ghostly image of the Pegasus. I'm not good with Photoshop.
The Myth Cloth series have one more gimmick: you can remove the armor and put it on the included Pegasus pieces to form the mighty Pegasus Object. Assembling the Pegasus Object is like putting together a small model kit, if every piece of the kit fell apart two or three times after you snapped it on. Putting the armor on Seiya was a procedure, but putting the armor on Pegasus was an annoyance. Given the nature of the thing, you're going to have to display one or the other, which is doubly terrible because after putting together the Pegasus you never want to touch it again. Maybe Bandai just wants you to buy two? Anyway, as it is, you've either got shards of a half-built plastic Pegasus lying around (you should probably just leave it like that) or a figure of Seiya without his armor. Neither is a satisfying prospect.
Pegasus Object aside, this is a high-quality line, and I can see how it's kept the fans coming back for as long as it has: these are both great display pieces and fun toys. Is it worth $70? Rather than pose and answer this question yet again, I'm going to give you guys a Japanese toy nerd protip: all the really good stuff is worth at least $70. That's the rule I go by and it's served me well.
Once again, I bought the figure off Hobby Link Japan for about $70 shipped. However, after getting bargain-beat hard in the comments last time, I want to note that Amiami, a big Japanese figure retailer with a good rep, has the figure on a 20% discount: after shipping you should pay around $60 . I haven't bought from them yet, but I plan to do so soon!