Anime Programming in the US
Making a Living in Manga in Japan with Felipe Smith
Lost in Translation
DX Moe-Moe Z-Cune
Series: Unofficial Sentai Akibaranger
I gotta lead with an apology this week, so let's just address what a lot of you have already noticed. This is totally not the biggest Astro Toy ever that I had promised was coming this week. It's like this. I have my deadline for Astro Toy every two weeks, and the toy companies have release dates in very non-specific areas like, at best, “late/early October”. Usually this is enough to run the column smoothly by making orders just a little bit in advance.
However, circumstances kind of tied up weirdly on this one. All I had on the release date was “January”. It was to be the only January toy (on account of my vacation): when in January? Well, the Japanese release was mid-December, so I had my bet on it arriving early enough in the month that it would still be a January article.
Unfortunately, that's not what happened. Even if the box showed up on my doorstep as I wrote this, there'd be no time to finish an article that will definitely entail a few days' work. I have no choice but to go to Plan B.
So I'm sorry to get your hopes up like that, and hopefully by next time the DX Soul of Chogokin Mazinger Z will have shipped. Look forward to the biggest and best Astro Toy ever at that time, and I hope that you've at least enjoyed the limited-run feature Astro Toy Talks Shop.
Anyway, I had a chance to celebrate the New Year in Tokyo with some good friends. (Details on my blog.) Of course, being a nerd tourist, I stayed in Akihabara. When in Akiba, you can imagine I went around otaku-shopping. I didn't really intend to bring a figure home-- I mean, not to brag about the gig, but thanks to Astro Toy I seriously have enough anime figures in my life-- but the Kotobukiya store made me some offers that I couldn't refuse. You know, like a Charge Man Ken coffee mug. A towel covered in Jojo sound effects. I came so close to dropping 10,000 yen on the Hot Toys Ryo Saeba figure.
(Does seeing the life-size Gundam in Odaiba count as seeing a toy? What about all the itasha?)
And I bought this... the DX Moe Moe Z-Cune. Thankfully this fearsome piece of equipment didn't get me in any trouble at the border! This is the item used by the local sentai, Akibaranger, to transform into heroes in their own deluded imaginations. (It is a very interesting show which I recommend strongly to all nerdy types.)
The first thing that falls out of the box is a big ol' disclaimer telling you not to run around and go too crazy with this thing. Hey, idiot, you're gonna break it and probably poke your eye out too. This is a completely appropriate warning, for reasons we will get into shortly. This is not something you're going to want to wave around.
Why is that, exactly, and why's this stationary hunk of plastic so heavy and satisfying to hold? I don't notice any metal in there, unless it's in the grip... To answer that question, we have to open it up. That's right, this gun opens up.
Inside is the actual Moe Moe part of the item: a fully-formed and large scale PVC figure of the Akibarangers' favorite character Aoi-tan. (Comically, this of all things is the first PVC review of my Astro Toy run. Usually it's just not possible to say enough interesting stuff about them to meet the word count...) Pull out the leg a little, twist the face over, carefully pop out the edges of the gun, and you're done.
Technically, the scale of this figure is 1/1, because it's based on the actual prop from the show, but the Aoi figure is comparable in height to a 1/6 figure: as you can tell, she's a little big for our lightbox. (I don't know what I'll do when Mazinger shows up...) By PVC standards, this figure is by no means top-class-- it's decidedly average in both paint and sculpt. The huge “wingspan” of the gun parts hanging from Aoi's head also makes it a tough choice to display on the average figure shelf.
Obviously, with a PVC figure living inside of a plastic gun, you're going to have to be very careful with the figure during the transformation. Actually closing the gun back up becomes an issue, when you're worried the plastic will scuff the figure from the inside. I'm very careful, line everything up, and I still hear some kind of unpleasant noise every time I close this thing up again. My figure already has scuffs: beyond this article I'm sure I'll rarely open the gun up again.
The last feature is the sound gimmick (no lights? I thought this was a sentai toy!): put in some watch batteries and you can hear all the sounds from the show. You get the “zu-kyu~n!” transformation jingle, the Moe Magnum finisher, and of course a normal “pew pew” laser sound. Note that the top of Aoi's head is also a button: you hold this down to do the Moe Magnum.
Stands are provided for both modes. I personally display it on the “gun rack”.
When you look at the toy, the reasons for the big discount I got in Akiba become apparent. It is more or less the exact same item you see on the show. This isn't common with tokusatsu hero accessories, which are typically low-detail affairs made for kids' play sessions. Of course, Akibaranger is not a kids's show, so the accessory follows suit. But when you have the real-deal Moe Moe Z-Cune in your hands, it becomes clear just how impractical the whole idea was to begin with. But with this insane design (in the show it is literally presented as the work of a mad scientist), what else could one ask for?
I got this for 6,000 yen (about $80?) at the Kotobukiya store in Akihabara, and yes, even with all the caveats I'd do it again in a second. The figure is sold out at most places where I shop online, and the going price is closer to the original price of 12,000y (about $140, and even more after shipping this heavy item!). Though preorders sold out at the time, that was just too much for this thing: it was definitely on sale for good reason. The Figuarts Itassher Robo was also all over town, if you're looking to spend $300 on a transforming moe-mobile for your Figuarts Akibarangers.
And that does it for Astro Toy. See you next time, and I hope you're as excited as I am about it!
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.