Astro Toy Sengoku Basara Revoltech
by David Cabrera, Jun 13th 2010
Revoltech: Sengoku Basara
I've gone a few months without covering a single one of Kaiyodo's Revoltech figures, but they are possibly the most popular otaku toy line around. Unlike the toys I tend to cover in this column, they are everywhere: they line the tables at your local convention's dealer room and the walls at your comic shop. That popularity has been earned: Revoltechs are of good quality, are wonderfully posable, and they don't break the bank. They are the potato chips of Japanese toy collecting, and I'd buy more of them if I wasn't afraid of what would happen if I bought more of them. I'm going to try and face my fears and cover some Revoltechs. Wish me luck.
This week we're going to talk about dueling lovers. You know how it always is in videogames: with Kyo and Iori, Sol and Ky, with Ryu and Ken, even. There are two great warriors-- sworn rivals to the death-- and the intensity of their rivalry is only matched by the depth of their bond. These guys are close. They're real close, I mean. Close enough to make a lady blush, sometimes. Because they should be together, I decided on a double review. Here are Yukimura Sanada and Masamune Date from the exuberant and flamboyant game/anime franchise Sengoku Basara (or, as I like to call it, Japanese History MAXIMUM Starring Norio Wakamoto).
Sanada here is well-detailed and acceptably painted: his questionably practical armor (which is kind of the for-girls version of the chainmail bikini) is made of flexible, rubbery material even though it doesn't particularly need to be, which is nice. The articulation on the figure is, by Revoltech standards, okay: as always for this line movement is very solid and everything stays very firmly in place. This is all thanks to the trump card of the Revoltech line, the Revolver joints, which you'll hear making that oh-so-satisfying "click" as you move the limbs around. The arms have a nice range, the leg movement is much more limited, and, unusually, the entire torso is a solid block.
Let's talk about compromise, with regards to Sanada's abs. Makers of action figures, especially high-articulation pieces like Revoltech and Figmas, are always compromising increasing posability by adding more joints and other bits that move against their impact on the look of the figure. Let's take the torso as an example. In Revoltech, usually the guys and the robots have some movement here. Offhand, the Fist of the North Star figures at my desk have two such points, and they are fairly conspicuous. But they're guys, they're action figures, it's understood. For the girls, on the other hand, this isn't done. You know why. Their bodies have to remain intact. It's understood that dudes who buy girl figures do so because dudes like girls, and nobody's buyin' no Asuka with no jacked-up midsection. Sengoku Basara is sold to fangirls, and fangirls want Sanada's bare chest and abs unmolested. Consider your tables turned, anime fandom!
Speaking of things that look just fabulous, let's look at the back of Sanada's head. As you can see, he's got two detachable bits hanging off the back of his head and flapping in the breeze: his bandanna and his ponytail. One just wasn't enough! If you look even closer at the back of his head, you can see that the part of his hair below his bandanna actually is attached at a hinge, and as such the hair moves up and down just a little bit. The way this figure is built, though, Sanada can't actually have his hair down. He's so manly that his hair is blowing in the wind at all times.
As for accessories, Sanada's got an extra "yelling" head that I didn't find too convincing, his shiny spears, and some fancy stands. One is the standard Revoltech type, and the other is something clever they've been including in recent releases: a manga-styled impact effect base that goes into the foot. Everywhere your guy steps-- BAM. Now the room knows! I got this pose using unorthodox means: basically propping Sanada up with the stand with his foot stuck in the effect base. There was pretty much no need to do this. The stand itself actually works just fine for aerial poses: it is a testament to the mighty Revoltech joint system that only two of these little things can keep a heavy figure like this one aloft. Last time I was lamenting about how a high-priced robot toy didn't have any spare hands, while Revoltech and Figma always did. Well, I am clearly wrong, because these figures also only pack the bare essentials for carrying weapons and nothing else. Unfortunate!
The one-eyed Mr. Date, a man whose choice of armor is more practical than Sanada's but whose choice of weapon is far less so, makes for a very similar figure. Like Sanada, he's got nice armor details, the face doesn't look too great, and movement is about the same. I like the flashy Masamune's armor quite a bit more than Sanada's (note that in Sengoku Basara a guy with fire-pants is only kind of flashy: a guy's got to have lightning all over his clothes and a helmet you could impale a man on to really stand out), and there are a lot of nicely done bits in there, like the finely detailed chain mail and the coat that, like Sanada's bandanna and hair, is sculpted as though billowing in an invisible breeze.
Masamune's all about those ridiculous six blades he packs, and this figure includes them in no less than three forms: sheathed at his sides with removable handles, a pair of hands that each grasp three blades Wolverine-style (this is cool enough that I will never, ever use another setup to display this figure), and five separate swords. That's seventeen damn swords, ladies and gentlemen. That's a pretty big number.
While adequate representations of the characters, these are really not the best of the Revoltech line in terms of playability. I was honestly surprised to feel so underwhelmed by them. They can do a couple of flashy poses with the weapons (seen here) but they're really low on accessories. There's a "that's nice, but that's it?" feeling here that I'm not used to from the Revoltech line: I can understand why I got these at such a discount. They're worth what I paid, but if I'd paid retail, I wouldn't feel like I got my money's worth.
Finally, the figures each come with a 10-point chip and a case for keeping them in. These are for a mail-order deal that seems to be Japan-only, but if you get ten (see what I was saying about how one ends up buying too many Revoltechs for one's own good?) you can apparently exchange them for a new figure. In Japan. This sounds like more trouble than it's worth. Or you just can sell them to Japanese people or other collectors. Just sayin'!
If you want these, I'll have to risk sounding like a shill and recommend Hobby Link Japan yet again: both Sanada and Date (and their all-white variants, if you want to marry them or something) are on sale at a tremendous discount that will basically cover international shipping and bring the cost to equal or less than what you would pay for this online or in a store. Though I was not aware such a deal was going on when I ordered them, HLJ packed a double-sided pencil board with my order featuring CG game artwork of the characters. Anyway, now for the--
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