Astro Toy with Rob Bricken: Revoltech Gurren Lagannby Rob Bricken, Jul 20th 2008
Series: Gurren Lagann
By: Organic Hobby
It's taken “Astro Toy” a little while, but I finally found a Revoltech toy I was marginally interested in. Organic Hobby's Revoltech has become a new standard in anime toys, with its highly accurate, highly articulated and reasonably inexpensive mecha and girl figures; they're all over the cons, having released figures of the Evangelion mecha, the Evangelion girls, Patlabor, Grendizer, Votoms, the Yotsuba@ girls, and many more. And now they've gotten around to the biggest mecha series of the last few years, Gainax's Gurren Lagann.
Before I get into the Gurren Lagann figure itself, I need to discuss toy articulation. Any partially crazed toy fan can tell you one of the most annoying things about toys is when their joints are too loose. This means that despite however articulated they are and however you can position them, they end up slumped over, arms down, unable to stand up, exactly like me on Friday night after my tenth scotch and soda. Loose joints are effectively non-articulation; if you just want to put the figure in a cool pose on your desk or cubicle, you're screwed.
Now, the Revoltech line does not have that problem. My first experience, actually, with the Revoltech toys was at the New York Toy Fair, when I marveled at how much articulation that Organic Hobby packed into such a small figure, as well as how perfectly the joints stayed where you wanted them (they even make a satisfying click as you move them, so you know they're designed to not go anywhere you don't want them). What I didn't realize is that I wasn't playing with a “fresh” Revoltech—ones that the crowds of the NY Toy Fair had been playing with for some time.
Fresh out of the box, the Gurren Lagann's joints are stiff. All the articulation is there, but I have been literally terrified to move it, because it feels like I'm going to break the damn thing before the joints actually move. Now, I've admittedly been scarred by a decade of U.S. and Japanese toys with weak joints, where I've done exactly this. But the Revoltech's joint are all separate pieces, and in fact all the same size (seriously, you can pop off the arms, legs, hands, whatever, and see them, and even remove them with no problems). They're incredibly sturdy little pieces, and I think you'd have a hard time breaking them—but even if you did, the rest of the toy would be fine. You could also buy any other Revoltech mecha figure and steal the joints out of that to replace it, which is nice. Still, if you're an experienced toy nut, it can be a bit nerve-wracking. I can only assume the joints gets less stiff over time with use, like the ones at Toy Fair.
It's admittedly a much better problem to have than loose joints, especially since the Revoltech line has always been packed with articulation—the Gurren Lagann has 54 points of articulation, so it's intensely poseable, and whatever position you put it in, it stays there. Organic Hobby has done a great marrying the design of the mecha with the articulation, so nothing interferes with its poseability, and the only meaningless joint is in the chest, which allows the mecha to bend forward and backward very slightly, but doesn't stick. It's not much of an issue.
The figure is a solid 5-inches tall, and again, is incredibly accurate to the anime's mecha design. The head might be a little small in proportion to its body, but I had to check that against the art to even notice that. The red is bright and vivid, and the “Gurren Brigade” logo on the shoulder armor is sharp (and pretty awesome). The chest plate with the sunglasses is removable, and a sunglasses-free chest plate is included to replace it—which is good, because an enlarged sunglasses-as-boomerang weapon is also included for hurling poses. Incidentally, getting the chest plates off and on is a little tough, but once either one of them is on, it's not going anywhere.
The other accessories include an alternate head with a mouth-open “angry” face and four alternate hands, totaling two closed fists, two clenching hands for holding the sunglass-arang, a pointing right hands and an open left hand. There's also a base for posing the Gurren Lagann in more action-packed poses than gravity allows; I initially thought it was inspired by the sunglasses, but as it turns out, that's just the regular Revoltech toy base. Weird. (The peg from the base also goes in a hole in the Gurren Lagann's butt, which is hilarious, because I'm six years old.) Last but not least, there's a cheap plastic replica of the Core Drill, which Simon uses to activate the mecha, which I think is a swell touch. The drill part can actually be removed and used to replace one of the Gurren Lagann's hands as a bonus.
The Revoltech line is great—accurate, articulated, and reasonably inexpensive—and their Gurren Lagann is no exception. Now, if you're a huge fan of the show, there are a few other options—Konami released a Gurren Wing version of the mecha, which is slightly larger, less articulated, and costs twice as much, but does have the wing attachments (it's available as of 7/19/2008 at HobbyLink Japan). Organic Hobby is also going to release another Gurren Lagann in the next month or two, this one the Fulldrillized version, which is pretty much the same figure but with drills covering the armor (you can see it here). But I can tell you having sharp points all over the figure isn't going to make it any easier for you to pose.
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