Astro Toy
Chogokin Hoihoi-san

by David Cabrera,

Chogokin Hoihoi-san (Heavily Armed Version)
Series: Ichigeki Sacchuu!! Hoihoi-san
Maker: Bandai
Price: $90

Hi, everyone. Before we start, big news in the self-promotion department: I have a new daily (weekdays) column at called “Letters from the New York Otaku.” This is an anything-goes column on Western anime fan culture targeted at a Japanese audience. Between this column, that column, blogging for fun (gosh, what's that?) and the Kawaiikochans, I'm making myself very Internet Busy these days. If you like this column, have a look at my other stuff too. There's plenty more coming!

Way back when Astro Toy started, I got a box from my predecessor Rob Bricken full of toys that were never used in columns. We used a couple, but there are quite a few that are still in a closet in that box. Among them is a model kit from Kotobukiya of this character, Hoihoi-san: a minature robo-maid whose function is solely to ruthlessly murder bugs with an arsenal of weaponry. As I've said before, it is way more time than it's worth to build and paint a model kit for the column... but with a premise like that I kept the character in mind.

And then I guess my stars aligned, because of all things a Hoihoi-san came out in my beloved Chogokin line. I had my eye on it for the column for a while, but this “Heavily Armed” variant in Alice in Wonderland colors made me go ahead and press the buy button. I am such a sucker for heavy weapons. You'll see.

The Hoihoi-san of the comics is actually this size, so it's a 1/1 scale replica. This toy is in the odd position of trying to simulate the fictional science-fiction toy that the Hoihoi-san manga is basically a commercial for. Some assembly is required out of the box, as Hoihoi-san's bunny-ear antennae and even the stray hair atop her head (it's not an ahoge, says the manual, it's an antenna) have to be carefully attached to the figure. You actually have to open up the head to get that one hair in there right. Dedication to the craft, right there.

Wanna see something cool? As well as the usual popping-off face (though there are no replacement faces supplied), the lower back part of Hoihoi-san's head comes off as well.

Now the hair clip comes out too, with a fake “jack” coming out of it. You can stick this into the back of Hoihoi's face for some reason... but to what end?

It moves the eyes! Creepy, right? This is a cute gimmick for a character whose facial expression does not change. You have to do something...

The figure is pretty small (11.5 cm as the manga specifies: taller than a Nendoroid but definitely squat), but the construction is strong like Chogokin usually is. Only the legs seem to be diecast, and the figure definitely doesn't feel as heavy as Aigis or the super robot stuff. Posability is fine, but as she's wearing a frilly dress don't expect her to be doing splits or anything. The hair and dress are made of plastic that's just flexible enough. The feet are replaceable with bare feet that have little charger plugs on the bottom. This “it's not a toy, it's a piece of consumer electronics!” joke will continue, even going as far as to have fake screws on the body for parts you would be able to disassemble if you happened to live in the Hoihoi-san world.

And, as Hoihoi-san is a convenient and very personal pest extermination tool for your home, we get weapons. Aw, yeah. Check out the katanas.

'Cause there are two. But they said weapons were gonna be heavy! Where my heavy weapons at?

How would you like a laser rifle? This sucker is huge, and it's wired to a backpack power supply that clips onto Hoihoi-san's back.

How's it clip on? USB port, of course!

Want more? Cannon Unit! Bit of overkill for just roaches and ants, but what of it? Don't you like cannons?

The weapons are all plastic and, despite imposing appearances, are lightweight to the point of feeling hollow. Due to their simple clip-on nature there isn't a lot else going on than what you see here. Bandai's web shop sells even more weapons for Hoihoi-san, but as usual with Bandai web stuff, good luck getting your hands on it from outside Japan. This isn't to say that people don't resell from there.. just prepare to sell an organ.

The display base is reminiscent of entries in the Soul of Chogokin series, where every single item is elegantly accounted for on the display stand itself. You'll never lose any of Hoihoi-san's accessories if you just keep track of this handy arsenal display!

As Chogokin goes, I'd say this one earns the name. The high-quality construction is there, it's cute-looking, it's got ridiculous armament. I'm not blown away, but it sure as hell is fun. Would I pay what it costs? Lord, no. We got this on 20% discount and it's still too much to pay.

Of course, keep in mind that I'm finding it increasingly hard to justify the cost of any Japanese toy these days, even from things I love. But what's a guy to do in a world where Figmas cost $50, and anything better is priced at $“I don't want to talk about it”?

Hoihoi-san came out to $90 from Amiami... which, even though I enjoyed this toy, is probably a bit much. In an unusual case, the regular pink-haired Hoihoi-san in black maid dress will cost you more like a hundred dollars. On HLJ the figure's a hundred before shipping even gets involved! The original version comes with different, not-so-heavy weapons and additional faces, which appeared in the manga as a gag. If Bluefin were to decide to do US distribution for this, we might see it as cheap as the Aigis figure from a while back, but I'm not holding my breath on that.

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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