Super Plastic
School Rumble Eri Sawachika Preview

by Adam Pawlus, Mar 13th 2007

Warning/Guarantee: Format Change

Well, your feedback has given me a little idea of what to add to this column as it changes over time-- we're expanding to include some other news from around the web and more information, as I can get it, on the items we feature. Of course, I'll need to know the kind of stuff you want to see and hear here, so be sure to fire off your comments in the forum (link below).

This week, we're adding two new things-- news bites and a preview, as we were loaned a preproduction sample of an upcoming anime statue. How about that? Special thanks to Vince and Dat for their assistance this week. Oh, and don't forget to contribute your "unreasonable demands" after reading this week's column...



American Anime Toy News Bites

DC Unlimited has solicited its line of new Afro Samurai toys to stores, meaning these should be shipping in October. As you know, the series features Samuel L. Jackson as a voice actor on the English dub, and airs regularly on the Spike cable network. Contact your favorite anime store, online toy store, or comic shop for pricing and pre-orders.
[ MORE: DC Direct | Altered States Magazine | ActionFigs.com ]

Jakks Pacific has recently obtained the American license to distribute Pokémon toys (previously made by Hasbro) and will continue to crank out more new items from Dragon Ball Z. New products were shown off at New York's Toy Fair, and of course you can find out about all sorts of these things elsewhere online.
[ MORE: Altered States Magazine | ActionFigs.com ]

Toynami will be continuing to ship out more of its limited edition Voltron die-cast toy along with releases from Bleach and Robotech. New licenses will undoubtedly come as the year goes on.



Anime News Network Exclusive Preview


NAME
MANUFACTURER
DISTRIBUTED IN
AVAILABLE
PACKAGING
HEIGHT
Eri Sawachika
Good Smile Company
USA, Japan
March 2007
n/a
1:8 scale (8-inches or so)
WHAT IS IT?
Eri Sawachika from the anime and manga series School Rumble, with a display stand and no articulation to speak of. Cobra Commander is not included, he's just there for scale.

PROS
Excellent paint work, decent height, top-notch painting. Good facial expression with lots of subtle detail.

CONS
This is a test shot (a preproduction sample), so the final product may change. Flowing hair, top made from a thin plastic and may break if you aren't careful.

MAIN

Meet Eri Sawachika. Her dad is British. Her mom is Japanese. She's rich, and supposedly a bit of a snob. Can she get along with the other girls at school? That, I can't really speak to-- but I can tell you how this soon-to-be-available statue turned out. (And you can see her to the right, standing next to Cobra Commander to get a sense of scale.)

The artisans at Good Smile Company sure know how to make a nice figure. This one feels like it's made from production materials, but in places the figure isn't totally glued together. Still, it holds together very nicely and, unlike some other statues I've had the misfortune of having to assemble, this one fits on the base quickly, easily, and with a minimum amount of bloodshed. This is, of course, a big plus. While statues don't necessarily make for the best playthings (obviously), they do make good collectibles and, of course, great idols you can keep around the home or office to your otaku-ness. This one is, seemingly, one of the better ones I've had the liberty to examine up-close and personal.

This figure seems to hit mostly high marks, scoring big with a great sculpt, amazing paint, and making you feel like you're going to get your money's worth. When you're translating a deceptively simple 2D animated character into a collectible, you might decide it's best to make the item a single flat color, perhaps not even shaded. Thankfully, Japanese sculptors and painters put a little extra work into their figures, realizing that you can get a lot of detail through natural shading and lighting but even more if you go through the trouble of painting it during the manufacturing process.

With her arms held high, the designers have ample opportunity to show off the physique of the character and the detail on the costume. There are lots of little folds and creases in her shirt, and pleats in the skirt that could've just been smoothed over and essentially ignored. Her shirt has a black piping along the edges, which brings it added definition and probably also helps make the design just a little bit sturdier. They also went through the trouble to sculpt buttons and, bows, and hair to the point of it nearly being ridiculous. Sure, five years from now, figures like this will be par for the course-- but for the price point and size, they really did a nice job on this one's costume.

The folks at Good Smile Company took the trouble to sculpt in her knees and legs, rather than just keeping them flat and simple, and went through the trouble of painting in some of the detailing and shadows so that these look more like real legs and less like a #2 pencil painted fleshy colors.

There are lots more little details on this figure to like-- her face has a fantastic smirk sculpted on it, with very bright, thoughtful eyes. It isn't difficult to sculpt a figure with a pair of colorful but blank peepers, so it's great to see some effort put in to a figure so that she appears to have something on her mind, rather than just standing there with a stupid grin on her face. The figure's hair is quite ornate in how it's sculpted, with flowing strands everywhere and just enough definition to make it look as real as you can expect from bright yellow locks growing from a smiling plastic schoolgirl. The paint on the hair is quite amazing as well-- it's not just flat yellow, but one color flows into another all over her head, giving it a much more striking look than you might've otherwise expected.

Also notable are her shoes-- there's nothing especially special about brown shoes, but look at the detail. It's not like most American collectible statues or action figures where the shoe is one color and the sole is another, they actually went through the trouble to do some shading to make these into hyper-realistic footwear. Sure, you'll probably never notice the shoes when this statue stands on your shelf with other figures in front of it, but hey, it's nice to see a company put this kind of effort into a part of the figure which could have been easily done much more cheaply.

After reviewing this preproduction sample, I gotta say that I hope "limited assembly required" is the order of the day on future releases-- it's much easier to plug a figure into a stand when it doesn't need to be forced because the statue has already been glued into place. A little give really helps a lot when setting these things up, even if all it is, is plugging in a leg and you're finished.

MORE ABOUT SCHOOL RUMBLE
The series has been licensed for US distribution by FUNimation, which, as far as I can dredge up, has not been given a US release date. Del Rey Manga is publishing the readable version, though, so you can get your Rumble on in print.

IS IT WORTH IT?
As this is not a final production piece, it's hard to tell-- the test shot is excellent, with fantastic sculpting, above-par paint, a wonderful expression on her face, and well, you just feel that this is worth the money. I can see this being worth $40 or more if you're a fan of the character and series, but even if you aren't, this is a nicely designed item that is just plain nice to look at.

WHAT ELSE MIGHT YOU LIKE?
If you like the statue, read the manga/watch the show. As far as statues go, there are also two fairly hot/steamy statues of characters from the show in swimwear from manufacturer Alter. Eri Sawachika is available on a blue base with her bikini, and should be shipping stateside in the next couple of months. She's a little more "realistic" than this cartoony version, with hair that's more blonde than yellow. Mikoto Suou from the second semester is also on the way late Summer, and she has a rainbow colored bikini and seems a little more animated than both versions of Eri Sawachika. This other character appears to be sitting on an upside-down waste paper basket. Both are likely to be $55-$70 each.



Unreasonable Demands: We Want...

Every year, tons of licensed products are made based on manga, anime, and video games in Japan. As good fans, we know this is never enough-- we want more! Every week, we look at a demand for something that you want, or if I've got something to get off my chest, we look at my wish list. And this week, it's me.

I want Parodius toys! For those of you who don't know, Parodius is a series of several games from Konami, distributed mostly in Japan. The game plays like the classic Gradius series, but with a few twists-- the levels tend to feature things like a giant cat pirate ship, a Japanese school (complete with locker rooms and urinals), and a giant penguin with a toilet on his head that can flush and drain the level. Oh, and of course the infamous tanuki, a raccoon-dog with giant testicles. (Seriously.)

Despite the game series being out for 20 years and including such toy-friendly items as penguins, girls in bunny ears, Colonel Sanders, the Vic Viper from Gradius, and countless others, there's no real merchandising that can be found these days. As far as I know, no real toys or collectibles were ever produced in decent numbers-- and this was a fairly popular shooter series. So how about some capsule toys? Perhaps a little 100 yen box I could buy at the grocery store that has a tiny figure inside? I'd buy 'em. Especially a Vic Viper, a vehicle which has starred in dozens of games spanning several series (Salamander, Gradius, Parodius, etc.) and so far, has had a pewter ship made of it, a few garage kits, and that's about it.

For more on Parodius, pick up the import Parodius Collection for the PSP, Parodius Deluxe Pack for the Sega Saturn or Sony Playstation, or hit up the emulator scene and see what you can find. (Having just picked up the Parodius Collection, though, I can say you'll probably want to give it a whirl. It's about as wacky as you can get in the world of shooters.)

What's your unreasonable demand? Email me (adam at 16bit.com), and I'll post my favorite one each week right here!

Your pal,
--Adam Pawlus


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