Astro Toy with Rob Bricken - Dragonball Capsule Neo with One Pieceby Rob Bricken, Jun 7th 2009
Here's a philosophical question for you guys: is is better to love a big anime with very little merchandise, like Naruto, or an anime like One Piece, which has a ton of merchandise but 95% — as I'm learning — is kind of crap? I'm sure most of you were prefer your favorite shows to have more merch than you could ever afford, and I have to begrudgingly agree. But man, this is like the fifth time I've picked up some One Piece toys and expected greatness, only to have a big box of crap shipped to me. Sigh.
Maybe it's my fault. After getting the brutally mediocre Dragon Ball and One Piece Dream Fusion gashapon, which I reviewed at the end of last year, I decided I need to give the crossover goodies made for Weekly Jump’s 40th anniversary another chance. I settled on the Dragon Ball Capsule Neo with One Piece figures because they looked great and they were made by Megahouse, who do the wonderful Portrait of Pirates series. Could it possibly go wrong? Answer: yes. But you wouldn't know if from the packaging.
If you buy a box (like I did) you'll get seven Dragon Ball capsules, and — unless I was the world's luckiest gashapon buyer — you get Dragonballs 1 through 7. As I discovered, each “Dragon Ball” corresponded to one figure set as follows:
1) Luffy and Goku
2) Zoro and Gohan
3) Robin and Krillin
4) Nami and Roshi
5) Franky and Vegeta
6) Chopper and Piccolo
7) Sanji and Bulma
So if you happen to see them at a con somewhere, that would seem to be your buying guide (the plastic packaging of the figures inside the capsules had the same number printed on it as the Dragon Ball did, so I'm not being a lunatic here). Each of the gashapon came with a small piece of a bonus eighth figure, which is of Usopp, in his Sogeking outfit, riding on top of the Dragon Ball logo dragon (not Shenlong, but the more cartoony version that occasionally shows up in Dragon Ball promotional material, but not in the show). Now, I want to start with Capsule #3, for reasons that should be obvious in a minute.
Okay. Here's Nico Robin with Krillin. Kind of an odd pairing, but… whatever. Given the size of the Dragon Ball Krillin's holding, they appear to be on Namek. Krillin is not looking at Robin, and Robin, despite being on another planet and staring at a massive Dragon Ball, is just sitting there. Well, that's not very exciting. But Robin's hardly the wackiest One Piece character, so maybe that's the problem.
Nami and Roshi! Why, Nami's an attractive girl and Roshi's a letch, this'll have to be great! And look, Roshi's got… well, he's got a small nosebleed, but he seems to be smiling. And Nami looks… happy? As if Roshi's given her something? But he hasn't? What the hell is going on here? Not much, obviously. I could think up about 40 more exciting poses for these two great characters in two minutes, but somehow, Japan wanted them standing near each other with virtual no character identity or interaction. And why is the world's smallest palm tree behind Nami? Ergh.
This one just makes no sense at all. Why is Vegeta paired off with relatively new One Piece character (and cyborg) Franky? What the hell? Vegeta should obviously be with Zoro, because both are the badass warriors of their respective franchises. These two together make no sense, especially when Frankie is posing behind Vegeta for no reason whatsoever. The horrible icing on this cake of crap is that Franky is impossibly tiny, proving that these gashapon don't even have the decency to be in scale with each other.
Okay. I don't understand this paring either, no do I have any clue why Piccolo is writing something and getting stressed out about it or why Chopper is handing him paper. On the other hand, these characters are actually interacting with other — even if I don't know how or why — so by default it's the best of the set so far.
Take a good look at how Sanji and Bulma are supposed to look from the pic at the top of the article, then look back at the gashapon in execution. Yes, Sanji is serving Bulma tea, which means they are interacting and in a way that is in character! Alas, unlike the promotional image — which shows Sanji resting his arm on the table — my Sanji prefers to rest his head. Actually, when he came out of the capsule, he was bent even lower than that; I had to bend him back just to get him in this position. There are no pegs or holes to make him stand as shown. Fantabulous. Now, as for the main two pairings, Here's what they're supposed to look like:
And here's what I got:
I should have guessed something was horribly wrong when I saw all seven Dragonballs in the box; there was no way the Japanese powers that be would make it that easy to get a full set of gashapon. Still, I was — and am — incredibly bitter to see these utterly useless travesties of decent gashapon. Maybe if I had been warned that gold-painted figures were a possibility — either on the box (yes, it could have been in Japanese, but I wouldn't have known) or from the importer (although chances are they didn't know either). Hell, if the figures had been solid gold, I could have swallowed my bile.
But they weren't they didn't and I can't. I am dead certain these gashapon sold individually in Japan for likely 500 yen —maybe 400, but I doubt it — and god knows how much you'd have to pay for them at a U.S. convention, but at $50 for the box, that $7 per figure. The fact that you can spend five bucks or more on what is effectively garbage is astoundingly evil to me. Now, I've put up with this kind of thing in many a gashapon series. It always bugs me, but when you're paying $3 or less, it's slightly more reasonable.
If you're going to sell gashapon for $5 a piece, it should be illegal to have gold or pewter or clear variants of any kind. This isn't the lottery, people. Hell, 99 times out of 100 you're still taking a chance that it's a figure you want or don't have. Making half the figures effectively non-painted provides no potential benefit to buyers, but a ton of risk. One out of every two figures you buy will be utterly worthless to you. And please don't tell me that the toy companies that that these “variants” are at all wanted. They know they aren't. You want proof?
Because even the gold DB/OP gashapon came with the colored pieces for the 8th bonus gashapon.
So: these gashapon would be mediocre if you could actually get them all in their real colors, and there's virtually no guarantee of that happening (indeed, odds are against it). These things make me miss those DB/OP Fusion figures, which I wasn't much of a fan of either. But at least those had a little creativity. And weren't, you know, gold.
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