Astro Toy with Rob Bricken: Revoltech Johannes Krauser II

by Rob Bricken,

Series: Detroit Metal City
Toyline: Revoltech
By: Organic Hobby
Cost: ~$25

Since Organic Hobby churns out what seems like a dozen Revoltech figures a month, I figured a double-dip into the ever-increasing line wouldn't be inappropriate. Plus, it gave me a chance to check out a toy from one of the series I'm most intrigued by: Detroit Metal City. Now, I've not read a panel of the manga, not seen the hit live-action movie—and I'm sure none of you have either, since the manga was only legally licensed by Viz last week—but any time a soft-spoken kindergarten teacher moonlights as the lead singer of an insane death metal band…well, I'm intrigued.

So I ordered Revoltech figure #55, Johannes Krauser II (the stage name of mild-mannered Soichi Negishi) and I'll be damned if I don't kind of love it. Now, if you check out my previous Revoltech figure review—of Gurren Lagann - I liked it but without a great deal of affection, partially because of its terrifyingly stuff joints. Perhaps it was the Gurren Lagann that was unique, since Krauser's joints are stiff, but not so I feel like I'm going to break him by positioning him. This certainly adds to the play value, in that I feel like I can actually play with the toy.

But I have to say that it's the source material that really makes the figure. Now, I immensely enjoyed Gurren Lagann, but in the end, a giant robot is a giant robot, and Gurren Lagann’s awesomeness was in its story and ridiculous fight scenes, very little of which could be conveyed in a 5-inch figure. But death metal and death metal musicians are simultaneously awesome and hilarious, and Krauser—with his faux armor, long blond hair, fang and KISS-esque face paint—is immediately both.

Detroit Metal City’s very simple character designs certainly help. Although joints are the enemy of turning most characters 3-D—see Motoko's ass from the last “Astro Toy”—Krauser's very straight, simple arms and legs mean the joints don't interfere. And although it's quite a simple reason, the fact that Krauser's shirt and leggings are all black—just like Revoltech's standard joints—means the don't look at all obtrusive.

And because the Revoltech figures are so articulated, this means Krauser can make a wide variety of hard rocking poses (as you can see). The only limitation is his shoulder pads—or would be, if Organic Hobby hadn't made it out of an extremely soft plastic, allowing Krauser to raise his arms totally above his head, the best position for smashing his guitar or hailing Satan (they do pop off at a certain point, but at least they don't break). Additionally, as with all Revoltechs, the paint apps are crisp and clean, no small feat with the incredibly small kanji on Krauser's forehead.

But if there's one reason I love this toy, it's because of the speed metal hands seen in the first pic. Man, I just love the hell out of these. Now I'm quite confident these are taken directly from Kiminori Wakasuki's DMC manga, showing Krauser just rocking the hell out at insanely high speeds. But I'm equally confident these are a perfect representation of them. These plastic, energy wave-looking pieces fit in lieu of his hands, and the right hand has a hole in it which can be attached to a peg in the guitar to keep it locked in the rocking position. Both “waves” have a faint color of white in the middle, so it genuinely looks blurred—it's just phenomenal. Again, even though I have no idea how the series actually is, I'm very much looking forward to having Johannes Krauser II rocking out on my desk.

Like most Revoltechs, Krauser doesn't skip on the extras. Besides the “waves,” there are three other sets of hands, one set for holding an included microphone, one set with a sculpted guitar pick for slower song playing, and a set of more clenched claws. There's a second head of Krauser screaming more enthusiastically. Of course, there's a guitar whose top half looks like its covered in fake blood. I don't know if it's supposed to look like fake blood, or like fake blood which is supposed to look like real blood, but it looks like a perfect representation of red food coloring and corn syrup which many, many death metal bands use for fake blood (don't ask me how I know, but I do). The set also includes the standard Revoltech figure stand, which is an absolute necessity because of the cape.

Now, the cape is interesting, because it's actually jointed in two different places—more or less to allow it to extend and shrink while still using Revoltech's standard joints. As soon as I saw this, I hated the idea, then I loved, then I disliked it, but in the end I think it's cool, if a little clunky. Let me explain: the problem with the joints is that if you extend the joints even slightly to far, the cape looks like it's made of three separate pieces, which is terrible. But really, the cape can span about a 150 degree-arc at its widest, which is pretty darn wide—perfect for Krauser holding the cape open with one hand, or just unfurled behind him—I'd be shocked if you ever felt gypped by the potential size of the cape. Then I thought the cape would be too bulky, since the two side pieces have to tuck under cape main piece, and they're all the same thickness. But really, the side pieces fit shockingly snugly when the cape is retracted (if you will), and the stiff Revoltech joints keep the cape exactly where you want it positioned. It's really, really great.

Now, of course Krauser isn't perfect. As mentioned previously, he can't possibly stand up while wearing his cape without the figure stand. The Revoltech joints can get twisted around so that you have to pop off limbs and twist them around back into position (Organic Hobby actually sells a special pliers-like tool for this in Japan, which I find ridiculous; if you have to create a special device to fix a problem, you should probably just fix the damn problem. Gluing just one one of the joints pegs would take care of it). The strap on the guitar is much too stiff, which makes it difficult to position the guitar awesomely. And the neck joint is hilarious large for reasons I can't fathom.

But overall, I love this figure. I can only assume those evil, illegal-scanlation-reading Detroit Metal City fans have already bought this figure or have him on their holiday gift lists, especially since the other two DMC band members—bassist Alexander Jagi and drummer Camus who plays his drums with snakes! Snakes!!!—are also currently available. For me, even without knowing the series, I'm a proud owner if only because I can do this:

What can I say? I'm easy to please.

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