Astro Toy Revoltech Yotsuba Koiwai and Danboard
by David Cabrera, Oct 13th 2013
We haven't been able to cover the Revoltech line for a while. mostly it's game and robot characters (and though you all know I love them, I do make an effort to keep the robots to times when nothing else is going on release-wise). How long has it been, anyway, let me check... my god, it's been a year and a half. We've looked at seven different Chogokins since then! I don't know what you're talking about, “toy line favoritism” or whatever!! I buy the ones that look like they'll make interesting reviews, and I gotta say, Alucard wasn't too interesting.
We had plenty of chances to buy Kenshin-- I've seen his price dip as low as $20 at cons-- but that figure was so clearly terrible that I avoided it despite the popular character. Since the FMA releases, the focus of the Revoltech line has largely shifted to more mainstream subjects like videogames and Hollywood sci-fi, where it is flourishing.
Aside from endless releases of Eva robots-- there's a Revoltech out for an Eva that's only appeared in a trailer, gag me-- Revoltech is pretty much out of anime right now. What I have here are actually two re-releases of figures that Kaiyodo put out years ago, and which I even bought at the time of their release! (I hadn't yet retired from figures, see.) I was really happy to see them return to the market, because I know before even opening the boxes that they're both excellent.
Speaking of boxes, the reissues come in new ones. The Danboard box has a photo of the figure in the rain: it's by Arielle Nadel, who used the Revoltech in her “365 Days of Danboard” project, which Azuma and friends liked so much that it was later published in Japan as an official product. And so the circle comes all the way around.
You may be familiar with Yotsuba&! from Kiyohiko Azuma's manga of the same name. If you're not, it's about a little green-haired child of unknown origin discovering the world. Stories revolve around such activities as visiting the farm, shooting people with water guns for revenge, or perhaps theorizing about global warming. It is a wonderful comic that I wholeheartedly recommend to absolutely everyone regardless of age.
You may, if you've read Yotsuba&! for a few books, be familiar with Yotsuba&!'s friend Miura. Here she is clothed in a bundle of cardboard boxes, having assumed the form of the machine that runs on money, Danboard.
(Note there are some scuffs: either this figure is extremely delicate or there were some prodction issues.)
As you can see these are very cute sculpts that capture the simple character designs perfectly... though perhaps in Danboard's case this isn't the tallest order. These Revoltechs were not sculpted by Kaiyodo's usual guy, Katsuhisa Yamaguchi (his figures have his name, YAMAGUCHI, on every box.). Yamaguchi's amazing with the actual design of his toys-- he goes way back and is extremely influential-- and with robots, but his weak point, as evidenced by the aforementioned figures, is sculpting human beings. (His Trigun figures were great, though.) These sculpts are by Tomohide Enoki, who's also responsible for (get this) many of Kaiyodo's various Fist of the North Star figures.
Articulation on these figures varies, given the designs. The shoulders and hips swivel in place, the way many pre-Revoltech Kaiyodo figures used to move, with small Revoltech joints at the elbows and knees. This figure first came out six years ago, and I forgot until I started to pose it how much it feels like it. The hips swivel out and forwards only, so movement's super-limited there. Yotsuba&! can look like she's kicking, but her run looks more like she's tripped. This just can't do the kinds of poses that figures with more complex articulation can do. Remember, of course, that this figure's original release even predates the entire Figma line, which was actually kind of revolutionary back then. (Yuki Nagato, 2008, if you were wondering. Yup, Haruhi was that long ago.)
Danboard, on the other hand... is made out of cardboard boxes, you see. It doesn't exactly have elbows, or knees, or that kind of thing. What do you expect, right? So the movement is limited in that sense. Since Danboard's kind of bulkier, the shoulders and hips boast the big, clicky, strong and satisfying Revoltech joints that most of the figures in this line have, with a much wider range of movement than Yotsuba&!'s.
There were actually two Yotsuba&! Revoltech releases, a regular and “summer” version. This release comes with most, but not all of the accessories included with the two. I can't remember which is which anymore, because I bought both back in the day and the summer version is staring back at me from my shelf. To put Yotsuba&!'s hat on you have to yank her top pigtails out, like what happened to Chiyo that one time. However, from that point on, those pigtails will love to fall out all the time.
Replacing hands and accessories is just terrible: it's another thing that reminds you of how old the figure is. The arm loves to slip off at the elbow, even though you'd never do that, but the connections at the wrists are absurdly tight and require a serious effort. Sadly, it's been so long since I covered Revoltech that I've got absolutely no idea where my Revoltech Pliers are. They are truly missed.
Obviously all the parts represent scenes from the manga. The most famous is probably the time Yotsuba&! sees a crime movie on TV and goes on a water gun rampage (for revenge!), so there's a scary face and a water gun.
Also, given the nature of the character, Danboard doesn't really have accessories, of any kind. (I hear the plastic kit comes with some coins). You can of course pull off the head and replace it with Miura's. Note she doesn't really have a neck: it's just that huge Revoltech joint.
Though it doesn't make sense, and because it doesn't need to, Danboard's eyes light up. This is done with the help of two tiny LR44 batteries. The package says they're test batteries, which says to me that they are going to last just a few flicks of the switch before needing replacement. To activate the batteries you'll have to remove the head and pull the plastic slip out.
There are cute custom stands for both characters, bearing the Yotsuba&! slogan “Enjoy Everything.” As basic as possible, with a cradle that wraps around the waist for Yotsuba&! and just a single peg for Danboard, who doesn't particularly need a stand in the first place.
Danboard won this fight: when I flicked the light switch she toppled forward and knocked Yotsuba&! over.
These are both pretty good figures of characters who are so charming that I just had to put them in the schedule. However, the Yotsuba&! figure especially shows its age and it's definitely a missed opportunity that these figures weren't revised instead of merely being reissued as-is. I really advise anybody who loves the series (ie. most people who have encountered it) to buy these now, because Danboard will definitely disappear and Yotsuba&! just might.
We paid $70 for the pair from Amiami. Unfortunately Danboard is already gone there, but you can still get it from HLJ at the moment of this writing for a few bucks more. Be advised that the Yotsuba&! Revoltechs have sold out pretty fast in their previous runs; Danboard had been a $100 figure on the collector's market for years. If you want these, don't hesitate or you won't get the chance again for a long time.
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