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Astro Toy Special Edition: Toy Fair 2011

by David Cabrera,

Surprise! Dave here, coming at you off schedule for a special Astro Toy at a special event. Toy Fair 2011 is taking place at the Javits Center from today until Wednesday, but only members of the industry and press are allowed in. You're just going to have to live the experience through me!

Toy Fair is gigantic, and as you're probably aware, Astro Toy serves a niche within a niche within a niche. I was a little cautious that there wouldn't be anything for the column here, which would be a bit of a bummer because I do like to be paid. Luckily, among these hundreds of booths, in the furthest possible depths of the Javits Center (took me half an hour to get this far back!), there are just a few places that carry the kind of things we do here at Astro Toy. And they have more than enough of them!

There are two Bandai booths: one of them is a small cave-like structure close to the front of the event, shrouded in black, that doesn't have anything anime fans would particularly care about. I skipped it. The other, way back in the “specialty” section, has the good stuff.

The One Piece section was pretty heavy, mostly with entries from the Figuarts Zero series of fixed-pose One Piece figures.

Here's a model kit of the Going Merry, I'm going to assume in the style of a Gundam plastic kit.

And Big Luffy. I like this guy, he's laid back.

Super Robot Chogokin's appeared in the column once before. I love each and every one of these figures, but personally I'm waiting for MazinKaiser "We Are Hell" SKL to be re-released.

There was a big display of Myth Cloth Saint Seiya figures, which we covered on the column a long time ago. They're even shinier this time! The gleaming onyx Hades figure is particularly beautiful.

I took way more pictures of Kamen Rider and Ultraman toys than we'll ever actually run in the column. They're not for the column, they're for me, okay? A Japanese rep was overjoyed that I cared about these guys at all.

If they told me I could take home one thing in the shelf it would certainly be the $300 Soul of Chogokin Daltanias. Ten-year-olds everywhere agree that combining robots with lions for chests and blazing swords are the deal.

Composite Ver. Ka Gurren Lagann. This line is a relative of Gundam Fix Figuration, except they're figures of the legendary Hajime Katoki's non-Gundam designs. Not that Katoki designed Gurren Lagann, he just seems to have tattooed it up a bit this time. I guess this is the "super robot" version of Katoki's decal fetish, seen in his Gundam work.

Likewise, the Lancelot Albion from Code Geass. I have no idea if this design is one of Katoki's or not, because I don't know a thing about Code Geass.

This is an odd piece: it's under the Gunpla brand but it is clearly not a Gundam. That's a Son Goku Master Grade model kit. You snap it together (and probably paint: I haven't done a Gunpla in maybe ten years and I don't know if they look any better unpainted these days) just like you'd do with Gunpla.

Speaking of Gunpla, a Perfect Grade Strike Freedom Gundam. An imposing presence, to be sure.

And here is a set of rivals: Unicorn Gundam and Sinanju. Gundam and Gunpla were all over the booth, but I was a little bummed not to see the five-foot tall RX-78 figure that I saw back at NY Comic Con. I miss you, five-foot Gundam. I want to take you home.

This Mega Man X figure isn't out yet but man, I kinda want it! I hope they do Zero too.

Meanwhile, at Kotobukiya, they were all up on Megaman with a series of plastic kits modeled after the characters' original NES appearances. You'll note that Roll is surrounded by Valentine's Day candies. I've actually been putting off buying these for myself.

Speaking of things I want for me, a whole series of super-deformed robot kits! The Gunbuster (with Buster Home Run action) is already out, and a line of Patlabor Ingrams and the Dancougar (which, you are aware, just keeps burning love) are coming. I'm that much closer to finally living Super Robot Wars.

Oh look, it's Dark Magician Girl! I've talked on the column before about the idea that it takes ten years from a show's original air date for it to spawn really high-quality toys. After all, the twelve-year-old boys who grew up on Anime X needed ten years to make the money it takes to buy the good stuff. This PVC version of Yu-Gi-Oh!'s Dark Magician Girl is clearly the realization of the hopes and dreams of a whole generation of preteen boys. You're heroes, Kotobukiya. It's too beautiful.

Also, a small army of super-deformed characters. You could probably re-enact Yu-Gi-Oh! Abridged with these.

The Kotobukiya superhero girl figures, as one might expect, had a tiny sub-booth to themselves. I'm kind of in a Marvel mood because I spent yesterday playing Marvel Vs. CAPCOM 3, so here's Jean “JEEEAAN” Grey and the Invisible Woman. I really like these figures: they're distinctively Japanese bishoujo art without being sugoi-kawaii overbearing about anime-izing the subjects.

Rei and Asuka, having been through every single possible career choice and costume change that human civilization has ever offered, have gone classical and are now ballerinas. Had they never gotten around to it? The pilots' demure appearance struck quite the counterpoint to the Dead or Alive "HEY, BREASTS" piece right next to them. Oh, and about Eva...

That's right, entry plug chopsticks. The longer you think about this in terms of Eva, the grosser it gets. The best novelty item Kotobukiya had was not anime-related, but I'm going to tell you about it anyway: they had ice trays that allowed you to make ice blocks in the shape of Han Solo frozen in Carbonite. Well played.

I have talked quite a bit of mess about Square Enix's Play-Arts figures, so here's an entire booth of them. Obviously the flagship display is the absolutely massive Final Fantasy display, which includes some mind-blowing bike/monster/I don't even know figures. I may think FF went to hell after 6, but the designs of these big pieces are just stunning.

Here are closeups.

Other major franchises included Halo, Metal Gear...

the in-de-structible Street Fighter IV...

and Bleach.

I had slammed the Ichigo Play-Arts, but this sculpture of him-- and a big ol' bird made of fire-- is legitimately impressive.... even though (perhaps because) there is more bird present than Ichigo.

In the miscellaneous section, we have Jeeg and Mazinger coin banks from High Dream (they made that Grendizer toy) which may well replace my old SD Godzilla coin bank. Check out the cut-away faces! I love those 70's super robot cut-away images: faux-technical diagrams of machines that were never intended to “work” as such. See also the endingcreditsofMazingerZ.

Finally, I leave you with the Endeavour, from the Adult Chogokin line. These toy companies, I tell ya... they get you at all walks of life. Your regularly scheduled Astro Toy will resume next week.

When he isn't killing time on fighting games and mahjong, David Cabrera gets hype about anime, manga and gaming at Subatomic Brainfreeze. You can also follow him on Twitter as @sasuraiger.

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