Astro Toy Nendoroid Neco-Arc Ultimate Edition
by David Cabrera,
And we're back! I hope everybody had a great holiday, and I've got quite a belated gift for you: the most important Astro Toy of all time. I put in my preorder for this toy back when it was still hot outside, and it finally arrived just after Christmas, as the blizzard was debilitating the entire outer rim of New York City. To say I was merely anticipating this figure is a bit of an understatement.
Did you know that neco-Arc is (in my head) the Astro Toy mascot? True facts: she was a guest star in the very first column after I took over. This strange, mutated parody of a heroine first appeared to mock defeated players of Type-Moon's hit debut game, Tsukihime. Her star turn, though, probably came in the spinoff fighting game Melty Blood, in which the cat was allowed to show her true, rocket-powered might.
She was also the very first Nendoroid release. As you can see in the previous examples, neco-Arc was not shrunken down to be a Nendoroid: that's just how she looked to begin with. One could argue, in fact, that all Nendoroids are really just ordinary anime characters molded in the magnificent image of neco-Arc.
But what we have here is not that first Nendoroid: it's a reworked “Ultimate Edition” of the original figure that was only offered at Wonder Festival or on Good Smile Company's online shop. It's a commemorative thing, and in a weird way it mirrors companies’ like Bandai's endless toy iterations of the same character (like Eva-01 or Mazinger Z) with superior engineering at every revision. Obviously, I had to have it: this is one of the few Astro Toy columns (like Mazinger) where, putting duty aside, the subject was something I had long planned to buy for myself anyway.
Of course, I wanted to put this neco-Arc (a completely new sculpt) next to the original model right away to see what's changed. It's immediately apparent that the old Arc is slightly bigger than the new one, and the edges on the original version are almost completely flat. The new sculpt adds a tiny bit of detail, but not enough to wreck the simplicity of the gag-character design-- textured hair, little creases on the sweater, little ridges in the ears-- and articulation on the arms and legs. This has only recently been added to the Nendoroid line and was obviously altogether missing from the original model. Thankfully, it also appears not to have the old neco-Arc's unfortunate habit of dropping its head all the time.
The package promises “more action”, and I suppose we have about as much action here as a figure of this size and proportion can be expected to have. Rather than arms and legs sculpted for specfic poses, we have real articulation with shoulders and hips that swivel and arms and knees that bend. In the same way we might see on a large-scale Figma, the dress is segmented and moves a little bit to accomodate the legs.
As is expected with Nendoroid, you can play a little Ms. Potato Cat with the many different and interchangeable expressions and eyes: teary eyes, laser eyes, silly faces, we've got it all. When say a figure is expressive, this is what I am talking about.
Speaking of which, last time I was complaining about how boring the accessories were on the figure. Well, this box says “more option!” on it right next to “more action!”, and they sure brought more option. Accessories include the character's trademark can of cat food and spork, a delicious fish, her rocket pack (of course!) and a couple of weird things directly from Melty Blood, like a Dhalsim-stretched arm, fire breath, and a giant foot that she wears like a shoe. Everything in this box is absolutely stupid. I love it!
Sadly, the figure lacks the totally sweet custom neco-Arc logo stand that the original came with, but in its place we have a functionally superior stand modeled after the Di-Stages that you can buy for your Figmas. Rather than the usual straight-arm assembly that holds your Revoltech or Figma up in the air, we have the choice of two curved pieces, one big and one small. I'm not sure whether this is due to the small size of this figure or the shape of the arm, but it appears to hold its balance much better than most other figures that can be hoisted in the air.
If this is a yardstick for how far the line has come (figure #120!), I'd say the Nendoroid guys have really built something to be proud of. As a fan of the character, the only thing more I could ask is a figure of evil twin and Star Wars fan Neco-Arc Chaos (here voiced by the oh-so-smooth Jouji Nakata). Or the production of the long-rumored Neco -Arc The Movie (c'mon ufotable!). Either, or both, would be fine.
Certainly what I saw was a rare phenomenon in the magical world. Indeed, I could not trust the information my eyes were delivering to my brain regarding the spectacle that now stood before me. This cat... was two cats. It wasn't a single cat. because two distinct cats were clearly visible. It wasn't some sort of mage cat which projected images of itself. It was a cat... which was... two cats.
Given its exclusive status, this figure cost me double the usual Nendoroid price, and it's not exactly going to be easy to find. You can still get this at Big Bad Toy Store for about $78 (comfortably in the “have you gone mad” price range) before domestic shipping. Don't expect that to last long, either!
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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