Astro Toy Figma Love Machine
by David Cabrera,
Figma Love Machine
Series: Summer Wars
Maker: Max Factory
The Figma line has not only been this column's most frequent repeat subject, it's also been one of the most uneven. When they're trying, Max Factory goes above and beyond, but when their people don't care, they don't bother hiding it. When I look at boring or even average Figma, I find myself asking why none of these figures are as good as that deluxe Golgo 13 I did in my very first column at Astro Toy. Well, I've got a new deluxe-- or at least very expensive-- Figma today. Let's see how it goes.
This is Love Machine, the malicious rogue AI (It's a Japanese pun! Get it?) from Mamoru Hosoda's superb Summer Wars. He's big. He's seriously big. This guy's about a Figma and a half tall, and he's ripped. If we just look at the base body, there's got to be enough plastic here for two of the Figmas I've been reviewing, who are typically small girls.
This is the kind of character design Max Factory typically avoids for Figma: Love Machine is covered in ornaments, and he's tattooed everywhere there isn't a bracelet or some such. It's by no means a simple design, but they pull it off. Detailing on the skin is impressive: between the gradations on the body and the all-over tattoos, the paint job is remarkably clean for Figma. Not a smudge is to be seen. It's definitely a step above.
Body movement is good, as is expected for a Figma of a martial artist character (well, he's that and quite a bit more, but...). The legs, long baggy pants as they are, have limited articulation and can be a bit of a problem. With Love Machine's bottom-heavy weight and bare feet, however, he will have trouble standing on his own. The Figma stand is not just recommended here, but very nearly required. The articulated sash hangs over the body almost independently of it: while it's made of solid plastic it's also impossible for it to impede movement in any way. Moving the sash around also reveals that Love Machine, despite his name, has an exposed and articulated Ken-doll crotch. Poor guy!
Given the character's mask, fixed in a cruel grin, he doesn't come with any additional faces for expressions. However, the figure does come with two sets of eyes that make him look like he's looking to the right or the left. Clever, guys. It's no Revoltech Woody, with the fully swiveling eyes... but maybe that's for the better. Google “Creepy Woody” sometime.
The character's appearance in the movie necessitates some very fancy gimmicks, and Max Factory didn't skimp. (Well, there's no tiny plastic hanafuda, but other than that...) For a weapon, there's the huge halberd.
The detachable halo on Love Machine's back-- without any peg sticking out of itself, it's attached with a transparent plastic “backpack” piece-- completes his magnificent appearance...
...and every key on his key chain (there are fourteen!) is individually molded. Normally something like this would be a side feature: they'd lump the key ring and all the keys into a single piece of plastic. Not so here: you can jingle this thing.
On top of this, there is one particularly funny extra: in the movie, we see Kenji, the protagonist, enters Love Machine's virtual world as an avatar himself, a tiny squirrel. Love Machine promptly punches him in the face. This little figure is included just so you can re-create that throwaway scene on your own shelf: the little indentation in the side of the face fits Love Machine's fist just perfectly. Even if you don't display Love Machine punching squirrel Kenji in the face, the figure's a funny little thing out of context. Extra-mile stuff like this shows you that they cared when they did this one.
It isn't on the level of the Golgo figure (and I haven't yet seen a Figma that is!), but this is one of the better Figmas I've looked at. The core feature boasts great detail and playability, there's a ton of features and accessories, and the creators' love for the character is evident. That said, this is a premium-priced Figma. The lesson is that you can have it all in this line, but only if you pay $20 more. This is why even though the import prices are already punishing, I'm always saying “you get what you pay for” at this column.
And yes, you're going to face some sticker shock. You might even have trouble finding this toy at all, I'm afraid. Our usual spots all sold out by the time I wrote this piece, but you still can find Love Machine for around $70 from Robert's Anime Corner Store. If you want it, I suggest you act immediately: his counterpart, the bunny rabbit Terry Bogard impersonator King Kazma, is completely sold out and fetches $100 on Ebay. In my experience, Figmas don't often go back into production.
HACK THE PLANET!
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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