Anime Programming in the US
Making a Living in Manga in Japan with Felipe Smith
Lost in Translation
Myth Cloth EX Sagittarius Aiolos
Series: Saint Seiya
Okay, guys, gonna do something a little indulgent here: review a Saint Seiya figure. The last time was two years ago (if you can believe I've been here for two years) and I've managed to keep away from the line for that long. I think two years and a new toy line allows me one more shot at it, don't you?
What had really got me looking at Saint Seiya again was the Crown line: a luxury line of foot-tall armored action figures. The first release was Sagittarius Seiya and Poseidon just came out recently. They're so beautiful... but like their peers in Medicom's Real Action Heroes line, they're miles out of our budget at $200-300. So what to do, right?
You wait for a smaller, less expensive equivalent, of course. The Myth Cloth EX is a new line separate from Myth Cloth: the figure is bigger, there's more articulation. This one in particular will run you about a hundred dollars-- but in a world where a normal toy costs $50 it's not that insane. Especially because this is quite a deluxe piece: look at this fancy box! What you see here is a transparent plastic slipcover for the box. The message in Greek on the right side is from the show: I know this because of wiki research.
And here is the bare box, same motif as the rest of the Myth Cloth line.
Let's take Aiolos out, then. Also bare. Just like the last time we did this, it's impossible not to notice how weird-looking the body is, like the male love interest in a shoujo manga. This is basically in keeping with the art of original author Masami Kurumada, and is always strange to see replicated so faithfully in 3D. The core figure looks just like a doll body, and it serves the same basic purpose.
There is a huge amount of articulation here, and no attempt whatsoever to hide that. The half-separated shoulders, the weird chest: it's not so much to make the character look straight out of the manga. It's really so the armor fits well, and for better movement once the armor is on. After all, we aren't going to display him like this, are we?
The next step of the process is putting on the armor. Before we get going on this I just want you to see the manual's diagram. I just want you to see in advance that this is no joke. There is a lot of armor here.
Here's how Aiolos looks at about the halfway point, when all the metal (shoulders, chestplate, skirt armor) is on him. This doesn't look too tough compared to the average Gundam kit, but I assure you that it can be a serious pain in the ass: for the core body armor, the assembly must be just so and there's just enough room for error that you can totally screw it up. I was ready to kill someone over the belt buckle piece, and I can't believe how unfriendly and difficult to attach it is. That piece alone accounts for hours of the time I spent on this figure.
I can't emphasize enough to be careful during assembly: you really don't want to chip this armor and it is possible, especially for the plastic gold-plated pieces.
And now the base armor is complete. The arms and legs are significantly easier to get on: just take off the arms and legs and slide on. Once I got this thing together I was completely bowled over. The gold shines so bright I had to lower the lights and change my camera settings. It's heavy: except for the elbow and knee caps, the crown, and a few other small detail bits, every piece of Aiolos' gold armor is solid metal. Picking up a Super Robot Chogokin after handling this, the robot feels light. Most importantly, once on, the armor stays put where it's supposed to, dammit.
This is as good a time as any to note that Aiolos' powerful mullet is actually layered in two parts, and that they move a little bit.
Posability is maintained even with all the heavy armor on. By the way, the Tamashii Stand pictured in this column is not included, as usual with Bandai's action figures. I'm just using it because I have one. It does a pretty lousy job with this figure, honestly, because the metal feet like to slide back and forth on it. Bandai sells a specific Myth Cloth stand with effect parts-- probably for the aforementioned reason-- but I've obviously never used it. The figure stands better than you'd expect on its own, but there's really no substitute for a good stand.
There's more, though! Sweet Cape attaches to the back, has two layers and articulation.
There's even more, though! That's right, golden wings. You like it. Aiolos knows you like it. (Note that with the wings this figure is officially way too big for my photo setup. I don't even know what's going to happen when Mazinger-- uh nothing) Obviously, for weight reasons, these wings are all plastic. They move a tiny bit, but don't expect much. These were the only really finicky part of the figure, and really had trouble staying on the back no matter how careful I was in securing them. You're probably going to want to display him this way, so be careful.
Aiolos' armament, befitting the Sagittarius constellation, is a golden bow. This, too, is a delicate assembly: in particular, the arrow is just barely held in a tiny slot between the fingers. When you're completely done with this figure, you're probably going to want to display it this way, so be just be very careful setting it up and it should stand on its own.
This is the last extra feature! Technically this is a figure of Aiolos, right? I didn't talk about who this character was because in the series he's a legendary hero past who we don't know a ton about. A character like that doesn't usually sell action figures like this one did... but in this case he looks just like the main character, and the main character inherits his armor. So there's a separate Seiya head for this figure. The dudes look similar enough to begin with, right? Aiolos has other facial expressions, and you could switch them in for Seiya if you can deal with the guys' eyebrows being different shades of brown. I can't abide that, myself.
There's also the Sagittarius Object, which involves me taking all the armor off this figure and putting it onto... guys. Guys. Ladies too. Everybody. I've been working on this thing for a couple of days already. I think I'll leave the skeleton here. I'm never taking the armor off this thing again.
I have not been this impressed with a figure in a really long time, and as you know I look at a lot of figures, and I know not a whole lot about Saint Seiya. The armor can be trouble, but the finished product is so, so worth it. If that MS Girl figure had been on this level of quality, I might perhaps have forgiven it. $100 for this? A lot of the time in this column I mention the crazy cost of shipping to qualify recommending anything. Like, hey, a good Figma's worth $50 because that's what they cost, you probably like the character, so on. This, though? Whatever. $100 is what this thing is worth. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to clear a big space on my shelf...
This had been sold out for months on the Japanese sites, and now Bluefin has released it to the US, so get it for $94 shipped at Big Bad Toy Store.
When he isn't killing time on fighting games and mahjong, David Cabrera gets hype about anime, manga and gaming at Subatomic Brainfreeze. You can follow him on Twitter @sasuraiger.