Astro Toy
SH Figuarts Luffy D Monkey

by David Cabrera,

SH Figuarts Luffy D Monkey
One Piece
Maker: Bandai
Cost: around $40

Were any of you at New York Comic Con this past weekend? There wasn't a lot for anime fans, but Bandai had a pretty stunning booth with their finest on display. Of course, I give you all the best (let's not talk about lasttime) and there were a lot of previous Astro Toy subjects, like Chogokin, MythCloth, and RobotDamashii in the cases. Not to flaunt my own good taste, but this guy was in the display case too!

(Remember, kids, the sooner you petition ANN to let me review the five-foot-tall Gundam, the better.)

Last time we talked about a guy whose arms were too long. This time we're going to talk about a guy whose arms are supposed to be too long.

Ah, to review a toy that doesn't appear completely deformed. I'm a little relieved. You can probably tell, but the SH Figuarts line is Bandai's attempt to rival the Revoltech and Figma lines with high-quality, posable action figures of their big-ticket characters. Other series used in Figuarts include Kamen Rider, Pretty Cure (of course I'm buying CureBlack!), and Dragon Ball. Obviously One Piece is as big as it gets in manga (in Japan), so the entire cast needs to get turned into cool toys. I was just waiting for Luffy to come out before I picked up something from this line.

The box says that SH means “Simple Style” and “Heroic Action.” The former applies literally to Eiichiro Oda's character design for Luffy, which is about as simple-yet-distinctive as one can possibly get. The rubber boy's straightforward look and demeanor are captured in great detail here, from the distinctive, lanky limbs to the dead-on facial expressions that range from exuberance to rage to entirely ridiculous Looney Tunes shock. I'll show you that one later.

Yeah, I bet you didn't see this one coming. That's right, I have responded to the fervent cries of the masses and covered a cast-off figure! Truly, we have not seen such a brazen display of abs since YukimuraSanada. The vest comes off from the sides, and two are included: one is hard plastic and buttoned up, and the other is a little floppy and open. You can see that the (kinda odd-looking, almost hexagonal) chest is segmented, and the rest of the articulation is basically the same as the average Figma. Heroic Action is not a problem.

The only real concession made to playability that had to be made in the sculpt is that the puffy edges of Luffy's jeans are flattened out in the back, so that the legs can fold all the way up and backwards. See that calf-shaped impression? That's for a leg.

If you look at the box in the store, you might wonder about the giant, club-like hunk of plastic next to Luffy. It's a Gum-Gum arm, of course! Rather than just going for a regular stretchy arm gimmick, the designers of this figure have opted for a slightly bendy arm that's about half as big as Luffy himself. It has a really great forced-perspective look and tremendous comic-book impact. The only problem is that, well, it's really heavy. Just look at the thing! The promotional pictures for this toy, with Luffy jumping up in the air and firing his fist at people, are dirty lies. This arm is just not going to stay where you pose it, which is why I've hung it up in the stand. You're going to need that claw. It still looks kind of awesome.

As I mentioned in passing before, Luffy also has many faces. The head comes apart in three pieces: face, front of the hair, and back of the hair. In addition to Luffy's four possible expressions, his hair can also be changed. See, in a comic, Luffy's trademark straw hat goes right on his head, but in plastic, his hair is spiky, fixed, and doesn't play nice with the hat. The solution: Luffy has a round, smooth alternate head upon which the hat rests perfectly. Little touches like this and the aforementioned vests go a long way.

Anyway, wanna see something weird? Here's Luffy's funny-face, made especially creepy by the fact that his mouth and chin are almost completely flat. I appreciate the gesture here and find it essentially in keeping with the character, but the flat, mask-like face makes me feel like there are some places 3D shouldn't go. It does make me think that I'd like to see-- but not own-- a figure of Great Teacher Onizuka making one of his funny faces.

The stand is basic and effective, and it looks good to boot: there's a nice, chunky comic sound effect printed on the face (“DON!”; I'm partial to “GOGOGOGOGO” myself). Oh, and Luffy's name is misspelled. The stand itself is the usual Revoltech/Figma type, with a claw that hooks around the character like last time. I am not crazy about the claw-type stand overall, but this one is definitely necessary if you want to keep the big arm up. At least this claw actually does what it's supposed to in a minimally intrusive manner, unlike the tow-truck monstrosity I last had to deal with.

Barring a few small complaints and a fantastic gimmick that only kind of works in practice, I really like this toy. Not only is it a great presentation of the character, the attention to detail-- the way the designers pulled out every stop to make sure that everything would come together just right-- is genuinely impressive. If every anime character action figure was of such a high level of quality, I'd gladly pay the couple bucks extra that this toy costs.

Where to buy this toy? We scored ours from Big Bad Toy Store for around $40 after shipping. HLJ has the figure onsale, but as usual, international shipping can be rough (and the exchange rate is murder lately!).

When he isn't killing time on fighting games and mahjong, David Cabrera gets hype about anime, manga and gaming at Subatomic Brainfreeze.

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