Astro Toy Revoltech Professor Layton
by David Cabrera, Mar 20th 2011
You might know that I like to change things up, and that I haven't quite gotten the chance to do so in a while. So many weeks, so many waifus. So let's review a male character! Why, I'll go further than that. I'll review a male character... from a videogame!
Before you throw rocks at me and yell at me to go back to Todd’s column, I actually have a completely reasonable loophole: last year Level 5's puzzle-solving British gentleman Professor Layton got his own animated movie. Congratulations, Layton, you're an anime character now! It was that easy. That's what going big is all about: you get a movie, you get an action figure, Level 5 gets a deal with Studio Ghibli and I eventually talk ANN into letting me buy Temjin for the column. Everything will fall together!
Maybe the last year of Astro Toying has broken my mind irrevocably -- maybe that Ed figure planted images in my mind that will never leave-- but the very first thing I see here is how long the Professor's arms are. There is nothing wrong here, mind, because these really are the proportions of the original character design seen in the games.
And how about this character design? It's very stylized and simple: a long way from the more complex character designs-- stuff we'd more easily call “anime”-- that usually run in this column. As Layton was likely designed to be animated (even the original games contain quite a bit of 2D animation), so he is suited to being made into plastic.
He's not exactly suited to be made into moving plastic, however. Due to the nature of the character, articulation is not amazing. There are standard Revoltech joints at the neck, shoulders, elbows, knees and hips, but their range of movement is not wide. Layton is particularly restricted around the shoulders: the ends of the coat get in the way, and most notably for the character, he has a difficult time pointing directly forward. A publicity shot for the figure uses such a pose, and I was totally unable to duplicate it.
This figure's actually quite a bit like the Revoltech Lupin we reviewed a little while ago: it's a very simple little thing that compensates with a bundle of inspired accessories that are perfectly in character. I particularly love the hand that comes attached to a teacup: the clear plastic “liquid” inside is tilted in the cup just a bit, as if to suggest that Layton is swirling the tea in thought or tilting the cup in surprise at a catastrophic revelation. Or maybe Layton is just pouring that tea out. Maybe he just wanted to see what it looked like.
Now if you're going to be a gentleman, you need some nice furniture. Seriously: the Layton game I played actually featured a minigame in which the player outfits the hotel rooms of Layton and his young protege Luke. So of course we have a chair and table. The long coat is flexible around the sides and bottom, so there are no issues actually seating Layton.
And here we've got the rest of the items laid out: there's a pen, a book (which opens and closes, oooh!) and a separate teacup and plate. You'll note that most of these bits have pegs: Layton has a hand with a hole in it specifically to accommodate these.
The hat is removable, but that's only intended to be done in the process of replacing faces (he has a pensive face and a smile). Once you take off Layton's hat it becomes clear that you are not supposed to have him going around without it. The huge prong-like pegs on Layton's bare head are like a strong warning from the sculptor: “Dear Sir or Madam, kindly recall that the Professor simply does not go around without his hat.”
Finally, we've got a fancy stand. Like a lot of Revoltech stands, this one is modeled after something that would appear in the character's environment: a charming brick-paved road directly out of one of those idyllic, fictional European towns Layton always seems to find himself in. A thin, clear leg is included for the usual Revoltech stand functionality, but unless your pose is really crazy, Layton stands just fine on his own. After all, he's not a jump-around kind of guy.
This is a really nice piece for fans of the game, and upon inspection there's very little wrong with it aside from its inflexible limbs. Given its reasonable price, we have (for once) a toy that qualifies as a very nice gift for a Layton lover you might know. They'll probably ask “Where's Luke?”, but they'll be happy.
One of the other reasons I bought this figure-- other than it simply being really cool-- is that it's discounted deep over at HLJ and has been for some time. $14 before shipping for a Revoltech is not to be scoffed at. Speaking of HLJ, I'd like to make note of their coverage of the damage done to their offices and remind everybody that many other folks in Japan are suffering much, much more right now in an unimaginable run of natural disasters. Please give if you can, and if you've got a habit as expensive as buying Japanese toys, well... you can probably afford to give.
It feels a little strange to make a joke after saying that, so no gag this week. Take care, everyone. I'll see you next time.
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 follow him on Twitter @sasuraiger.
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