Astro Toy
Rio:Bone Canti

by David Cabrera,

Rio-bone Canti
Series: FLCL
Cost: $120

Now I don't know what the numbers are or anything, but I get the feeling that last week's necomimi was the most popular Astro Toy I've done during my run. But this week, it's back to your regularly scheduled niche column about action figures! You know how niche it is? This week there's a robot, and don't tell anybody, but soon there's going to be tokusatsu again. Don't worry, cute girls are coming... eventually.

And besides, I didn't buy Bryger or anything (not that I wouldn't want to, I really want to...). This time it's a pretty popular robot from a company whose output I've been really enjoying. Sentinel's line of Gainax characters continues with Canti from FLCL in the Rio:Bone line. Interestingly, this is not in their robot line, Rio:bot.

The huge box is sealed shut on two sides with the P! sticker from the show: I almost didn't want to cut it, but there's no way around it.

This Canti is green, and if you remember the anime you know that the character has two “forms”, green and red. The red Canti is the awakened warrior, and the green one is a pushed-around domestic robo-servant in the home of our hero, confused adolescent Naota. Everyone who's seen FLCL probably wants the red version. Knowing that, Sentinel has put out the green Canti first and made it the fancier release of the two, featuring a storehouse of accessories which can replicate every dumb gag the character had in this show. But we'll get to all that.

This is a pretty big figure: Amiami has it at 17.5cm in height, close to 7 inches tall. An average Japanese action figure is more like 11-14cm. The sculpt is accurate to every minor detail of this very unusual mechanical design. The TV screen is a thick, convex sheet of plastic over a bit of paper with a blue gradient (don't take this apart to find out). The paint job is without blemish. The level of quality is what you'd expect, considering you're paying twice what a Figma would run you.

The range of articulation is very wide, but this is expected given how skinny Canti is, and how simple and visible the joints are on the actual design. Removing and replacing the body parts, as you will need to, is little trouble. The “socks” at the ankles-- kind of reminiscent of the unarmored areas of the Patlabor mecha-- are made of soft plastic.

But what's really interesting about this figure-- and what made it stand out enough to buy for Astro Toy-- is its ridiculous range of accessories. Like I said before, the people at Sentinel remembered so many scenes from the series, and they've been included in the set as accessories. Here we see the cardboard box he wore on his head that one time. This is also made out of soft, flexible plastic, and it slips neatly onto the back of the head, with the protrusion simply pushing through. Be careful at that part.

Of course, his work jacket. Getting this on Canti is a bit of work: you remove the arms, put the jacket around his body, attach new upper-arm pieces (the jacket sleeves), and then reassemble.

The baseball glove from, uh, the baseball episode is included as well as a separate hand. The extra hands included are basics: you get fists, open hands, half-open hands, and of course a gun-toting hand. No replacement heads... for obvious reasons.

And there's the gun! Canti gunfights in a full shroud, mask, and bandanna as seen in that episode. The shroud is made of two soft plastic bits, front and back, so that both arms can easily pop out from the sides.

Canti in one of his most memorable moments, inadvertently acting as a religious idol to an unbalanced teenage girl. The angel getup, especially that dinky halo, is as charmingly shabby-looking as it was in the series. Unfortunately, the back is covered by the wings, so you can't use the stand to hold Canti up in the air. I'm using a Tamashii Stand here, which I happened to buy at Otakon. He's a little too heavy for it, and his waist is a little too skinny too.

And we even get Takkun the cat, who can be perched onto Canti as seen here.

The stand is the same as seen on previous Rio:Bone releases and is not strictly necessary for the figure to stand unaided. The peg for the stand was very cleverly worked into the design: reveal it by removing Canti's back panel and taking out a round piece of his armor.

If you can stomach the price (admittedly, that's a big “if”) then this is a top-shelf figure, unquestionably worth the cost. Sentinel is looking truly formidable right now: they really went the extra mile to satisfy fans of the character with the best possible figure. FLCL wasn't a success in Japan at all, so this release was unlikely to begin with, probably a happy side effect of Sentinel having a deal with Gainax. A better figure of Canti being made is even more unlikely. Eventually we'll see an even more famous Gainax robot from Sentinel on the column... but I make no promises as to when. I've had that thing on backorder for a year now and it's still sold out.

This cost us $120 shipped from Amiami. Because this price is so truly outrageous, this week I'd like to give you an idea of how severe the shipping and the exchange rate were here. Amiami's sale price before shipping was 6,460 yen. Express shipping was 2,720y: this is the biggest toy I've had shipped out in quite a while. Aside from cheaping out on shipping (which we can't afford to do at this column) this is the best price you're likely to get on this, unless it goes on sale. A release of the red Canti is coming eventually, with just a guitar and a cape and at a slightly cheaper price. Of course, that will be the one to come with a certain famous bass.

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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