Astro Toy
Gutto-Kuru Noriko Takaya

by David Cabrera,

Gutto-Kuru Noriko Takaya
Maker: CM's Corporation
Price: $125

So, two weeks in a row I have the pleasure of reviewing figures of characters I'm particularly fond of. Last time it was Fourze, this time it's Noriko. Noriko from Gunbuster, you know? Gunbuster... you know? It's one of the classics, okay? Go watch it!

When orders opened for this figure I posted it up on Twitter right away to see what people thought. A lot of people were really excited... and their enthusiasm immediately deflated when they saw the price tag. Even at Amiami's discount, this figure cost us about $125 shipped.  For comparison, you can buy the Gunbuster OVA series on Blu-Ray in Japan for about $160 (and it's only about three hours long...) Those are both tough sales for super-fans, and I absolutely can't afford to go around buying either one. But Astro Toy is in the special position of being able to buy such unreasonably expensive pieces every once in a while-- for the benefit of the masses! It's got nothing to do with me, yup yup.

This is a new manufacturer to the column, but they've been around for a long time. CM's is a very small company that mostly does deluxe diecast figures from classic sci-fi anime and robots. Their prices are typically sky-high, and from what I've heard their quality is all over the board. As such, it took this long for CM's to make it to Astro Toy.

This is from CM's Gutto-Kuru line, which I don't believe has any particular format. I've seen fixed-pose Gutto-Kuru toys, I've seen Gutto-Kuru action figures. Right now CM's, as ever, is on a bit of an old anime kick (the Dirty Pair are coming out soon too, likely for just as high a price).

So what do we get for our too much money? Well, this is definitely several rungs up from a Figma. Noriko isn't in scale, but I'd say she's about the height of a 1/8 figure. The body is more like that of a doll than an action figure. She's tall, too, at 20cm (around 8 inches). For comparison, a Figma is about 12-13cm, a Figuarts is about 14-15. I took this picture vertically because she's so damn tall!

Here she is with Figuarts Kuuga for comparison. Thumbs up.

Since they're working at a bigger scale, there's a lot more detail here than is typical for an action figure. I have to applaud the sculptor for being so absolutely dead on to the character: she looks like she stepped out of the anime, and I can rarely say that about the figures that show up here. (Well, I've gotten a lot pickier...)

Look at the face! The sparkly eyes, the touch of shading underneath... it's not only a distinctly “80s anime” face, it's a distinctly Mikimoto face. I'm very pleased. Five faces are included, covering the gamut of Noriko expressions from throughout the show.

The hips are kind of weird, huh? I get the feeling they took some liberties with the original character design here... Considering she's basically just wearing the equivalent of a swimsuit, there's not a lot to do about this without just removing articulation entirely, though.

Articulation is, again, doll-like. This is a character whose choice of outfit doesn't impede her movement in any way, so no problems like that. Strong, old-fashioned double joints are all over. Note the little gap between the shoulder and the sleeve there: this is because the whole top comes apart. The visible screws on the elbows really call for caps, though...

You know, there's a particular pose that Gunbuster fans need. When the Revoltech of the Gunbuster robot came out, I didn't buy it because it couldn't do The Pose. I'm talking about Noriko standing with her arms crossed in one of the defining moments of the series. The first part of this famous line is on the back of the box:

“Don't think the combined Gunbuster is some ordinary machine! Coach's... Coach's... Coach's hope is in it!!”

She can do The Pose pretty well, actually. CM's has helpfully supplied extra hands that allow one arm to cross under the other. There's even a “how to do the crossed-arms pose” diagram on the back so you can set it up properly. It's not perfect-- that probably would have called for replacement arms-- but a lot of effort went towards making it work. That's character love.

You probably already noticed that there is a change of costume, as we can change Noriko's pilot shirt to her training shirt. The tops (as well as the removable sleeves: be careful with them) are made of soft vinyl, and they come apart at the back with little trouble, but you will need to get those arms off to do it. You'll note this means there's a little seam in the back of the top. I hope that doesn't keep you up at night.

Likewise, if you want to keep things anime-accurate, you are going to have to go back and forth between the yellow (goes with the training shirt) and blue (goes with the pilot shirt) bandannas. Because the bandanna attaches to the forehead with a peg, you can't really have Noriko without it unless you want to display her with circular holes on her forehead and hair.

And of course Noriko doesn't have to wear either shirt. Removing the soft sleeves is a bit of a pain. There are even hands specifically to pose Noriko doing pushups! ...but those pictures didn't come out great.

The stand is unique: a huge, adjustable claw arm can slide back and forth on the base as you please by attaching some parts. It's a little overdone-- kind of reminiscent of the Play-Arts stands, but not as heavy-- but it's sturdy, and perhaps something this heavy-duty was needed to keep this tall figure balanced?

Super Inazuma Kick!

So is this worth it? That depends on how much you love Gunbuster, I suppose. I'll put it this way: this an excellent figure of one of my favorite characters. Aside from a funny waist, there's really nothing wrong with it, and the sculptors went a long way to make sure the character is accurate to the original in every way. This is one of my very favorite anime characters. Would I have paid $125?

If I had that much to burn, yeah.

Noriko is $125 from Amiami, likely more expensive elsewhere. Good job, CM's. May the Dirty Pair figures come out this well... but at that price, people are really going to be forced to choose between Kei or Yuri, huh?

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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