Astro Toy SH Figuarts Sailor Moon
by David Cabrera, Sep 15th 2013
SH Figuarts Sailor Moon
Series: Sailor Moon
I've actually kind of had a statement prepared for the inevitable release of this figure, so bear with me for a second.
What the hell took so long? Sailor Moon was quite popular in its day, and that popularity has endured with its fans well into adulthood. But there aren't decent action figures of the characters, nothing above the level of the janky kids' toys (of which there were many) that Bandai sold to an audience of non-discriminating youngsters during the show's various TV runs in the 90s. (Google “Sailor Moon & Friends”. I'll wait.)
Dragon Ball has tons of nostalgic merch, including several lines of action figures that, uh... eventually got good. Eva's been selling toys to adult fans from the day it started running on TV, and is famous among anime merchandise campaigns for having never, ever stopped. But somehow, there wasn't an action figure of Sailor Moon for the adult nerd, which I find bizarre. You can buy how many Pretty Cures, yet nobody thought to get around to Sailor Moon? I just don't get it. Had nobody at Bandai bothered speaking to a fangirl of my generation in the past decade? I don't get it at all!!
Anyway, there's finally a Sailor Moon action figure of proper quality. As you can see, our review sample got pretty badly banged up in shipping (this is why we use lots of padding, readers!), but otherwise the box is very nice, all rainbows and sparkles. “I'll punish you in the name of the moon!” is on the back, because of course it is.
I suspect a lot of you will be reading this column for the first time, and maybe considering an anime action figure for the first time, so let me repeat some things I've said many times in the past. SH Figuarts is the basic Bandai figure line, comparable to Figma and Revoltech and a notch above D-Arts (which are to be avoided, in my experience, no matter how much you like that videogame character). Unlike the kids' stuff, they're concerned with versatile movement and closeness to the source material. See also Wild Tiger and Lelouch for examples.
It's a very pretty figure. The face is perfect: no room for error with those big eyes. The red and gold parts boast attractive metallic paint jobs, and the skirt even glitters faintly. The design is very straightforward, of course, but the closer you look at the figure, the more apparent it will become that every detail was attended to.
The choice to have the hair become slightly transparent at the edges surprises me, perhaps because I am not as familiar with Sailor Moon as others. Is it just a stylistic thing?
Note that due to the extreme light weight of the figure, the lack of a center of gravity, the tiny feet, and the big hair, it is very difficult to get Usagi to stand on her own in even the most mundane of poses. Once you do, it is pretty much inevitable that she will fall over.
Thankfully, the designers must have seen this, and a heart-shaped stand that would make Dio Brando seethe with envy is included. That said, thanks to that shape, the space for her to stand is quite narrow. As is often the case with Bandai stuff, you may want a Tamashii Stand after all.
Again, because this isn't a really complicated costume, there isn't anything to block movement. The shoulders swivel freely, and the legs kick high. The skirt, as is typical on these figures, is made of a slightly more bendable plastic that will give way in order for the legs to move. The hair, on the other hand, is clearly designed solely for the famous poses. It's stuck exactly as it is, and will not go anywhere.
I tested this figure with the transformation poses, of course, and I got pretty good results. As mentioned, the hair isn't going anywhere, so a lot of the transformation scenes in the show are right out.
The same transformation pose I used here is the one pictured on the box, and they kind of cheat Usagi's hand behind her hip a little bit (I watched that footage and, where the hell is it in the anime?) by using the closed fist. You can see it in the ad too, where the issue is cleverly panned around at first.
Of course this figure features basic weapons. Two Moon Sticks are included: one bears the Silver Crystal and the other does not. I've only pictured the latter here, and the Moon Healing Escalation attack. I'll have you know I looked for this stuff on the Wiki.
The Moon Tiara Action attack has a couple of pieces to make it accurate to the show's appearance. First there's the tiara itself, as a clear plastic disc mounted to her hand. Second, there's a replacement face which isn't wearing the tiara on her forehead. Continuity, people! Accuracy!
This pose is probably the best argument that the stand isn't wide enough, by the way.
Hand gestures are critical when we're setting up those important poses, so this figure packs them all. I gotta say, “hand gun” and “surf's up”, at the same time, is a bold as hell combination. Respect.
You also get a little Luna, in the form of a fixed-pose figure. Note her tiny paws, because this kitty does not keep her balance well at all unless she's on a completely hard, flat surface like a table. Even on the cloth surface of our lightbox, which most figures have no issue with, completely defeated her. If you do get Luna standing, she will definitely tip over. She fell over seconds after this photo was taken. It was nice of them to think of Luna, but this is a lousy little thing.
Speaking of sticking close to the source material, the first production run of this figure comes with two extra facial expressions: winking (seen previously) and crying. If you want these-- and of course you do, they're totally in character-- well, you'd better make your order quick. That's how these things work.
It took twenty years, and fortunately for all of us, this is definitely a good one. There are tiny issues, and Luna's not good, but this is still a solid entry in the Figuarts line and the best figure Sailor Moon fans are likely to get for a long time. Go forth and buy. We imagine the rest will be about as good, but it would be redundant to find out!
This figure is coming out from Bluefin (thanks to them for this early review sample) on October 1st, list price 42.99. Mercury, Mars, Jupiter and Venus are all on their way. Knowing Bandai, the rest are probably just a matter of time.
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