Astro Toy
Chibi-Arts Blue Rose

by David Cabrera,

Chibi-Arts Blue Rose
Series: Tiger and Bunny
Maker: Bandai
Cost: $50-60

And it's March! I wasn't sure what I was going to do this month until I got out of Toy Fair, and then, after stopping myself from buying Super Robot Chogokin and Saint Seiya and Godzilla toys for my non-Astro Toy collection, I made some purchases.

We don't do “knockoffs” on this column: I want to show people things they might actually want to buy, and landmarks in the bootleg toy genre like Robot King should really be left to the experts. But this figure I've bought for a substantial sum of money is totally a knockoff. But of what, you ask? You should be able to figure it out.

No, this isn't a Nendoroid. Don't even say the word “Nendoroid” around it, someone could get in trouble! This is Bandai's “Chibi-Arts” line, which totally has nothing to do with Nendoroid except for the style, and the proportions, and the scale, and the accesssories, and pretty much every possible detail  that Bandai could have stolen from Good Smile's long-standing SD figure line. The character is Blue Rose from the recent huge hit Tiger and Bunny. I wanted to come back to TnB soon because there are so many toys for it, but it would have been a bit of a bore to do another Figuarts. (They're all sold out but Barnaby, anyway. Isn't it weird that the pretty boy's not sold out?) This was the perfect answer.

Well, alright, the proportions aren't identical: put this next to Stocking and we see that while the head is basically the same size, the body is a bit larger, and perhaps more slender. This comes down to your own personal tastes in Super Deformation. The Chibi-Arts figure is trying to look like a human body where the Nendoroid does not, and Rose is pretty curvy here.

Meanwhile, the Nendoroid is trying to be a sketch in a corner of a 4koma comic, and the Chibi-Arts ultimately arrives in a weird uncanny valley between human and munchkin at which it doesn't properly pass for either. Now that I really look at it, my original reaction to this figure (“huh” - Dave Cabrera, Bluefin booth, Toy Fair '12) was definitely fueled by that very slim difference.

But if you can possibly get the image of the Nendoroid out of your head (I can't!), this is a pretty good-looking figure on its own merits. The gold paint is spotty, but that's the only real problem.

As usual with Tiger and Bunny stuff, the sponsor logos must be perfect. Seriously, these figures always have really nice decals for the corporate logos. Seriously, in this picture it's apparent that the visor on my Rose has inconsistent paint, but that decal is totally clean.  Must be part of the sponsorship deal. When I was at Toy Fair, the “for businesses” trailer for Tiger and Bunny was just a long “look at these ads on these superheroes! your ad could be here!” roll...

So, yes, it's just like a Nendoroid in both form and function. And as such, this isn't so much a posable action figure as a display figure with interchangeable parts-- not unlike Mr. Potato Head. To that effect, this figure is pretty loaded with such parts: arms, faces, and two full replacements for the lower body. This is the exact same approach to accessories as-- I don't need to say it, do I? None of the jointed stuff we've seen in other Nendoroids, though: hard molded pieces for very specific poses. From here there's little to say but to show those things off!

Ice guns!

Ice vines! Butt ice vines! Because these are little appendages with sharp plastic thorns all over them, these are a literal pain to get set up. Your fingers will suffer for your character accuracy!

And of course there's a Pepsi bottle. This particular variety of the stuff doesn't exist outside of Japan, if I recall correctly. I wonder if anybody's made Morning Rescue money importing the stuff, or if Tiger fangirls are flying to Japan to see the inside of a Sofbank...

In a breakthrough yet unseen in the Nendoroid line after hundreds of releases, I am extremely pleased to report that the stand that comes with this figure actually works. Thank you. Now Good Smile will have to include stands that work too. That's competition. That's the free market.

For another cute touch we have paper word balloons, like we've seen with Kaiji and perfected on a Dio figure a while back. I can't read all of the kanji, but this catchphrase about Rose's COLD water HOLDing the bad guys is a serious groaner. This is clearly an homage to Schwarzenegger's fine work in Batman and Robin.

Bandai doesn't do a bad job aping Good Smile here, but they don't turn out a superior product. This line and Nendoroid are basically interchangeable, and they'll be covering entirely different characters given what Bandai has the rights to (TnB, One Piece) and what Good Smile has the rights to (anything Bandai doesn't have). If you're a fan, sure, this is a good one. We got ours from Amiami for about $50 or $60. There will also be a Figuarts of this character, if you are fond of normal human proportions.

I've waited so long, but now I can finally do a super-deformed Mexican standoff!

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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