Astro Toy
Cu-Poche Kirino

by David Cabrera,

Cu-Poche Kirino Kousaka
Maker: Kotobukiya
Price: $40-50

Guys, guys, there's a new figure line out! This is exciting because, frankly, after a couple years of this it's the same old toy lines no matter where you look. Figma, Nendoroid, and Figuarts for characters from any current series (Revoltech is kind of leaving non-robot anime/manga subjects behind, have you noticed?). Then four or five more specialized lines (Chogokin, Jojo, Myth Cloth). After that there's the stuff that's too rich for our blood, like RAH and Hot Toys, and that's about it for the otaku toy business. A lot of picking out items at Astro Toy is just trying to mix up the selection, for your sake and for mine.

So, to that effect! This new line, from Kotobukiya, is called Cu-Poche, and it is a clear shot fired at Good Smile and their long-standing Nendoroid line of tiny, cute versions of characters who are typically already tiny and cute. They aren't the first: Bandai's chibi-arts line is a direct knockoff of Nendoroid that works within Bandai's stable of characters. (I dunno why all these guys bother, it's obvious to me that the ultimate super-deformed figure is ES Gokin Baikanfu.)

Cu-poche, however, is a more direct attack on Good Smile's bread and butter. The first assortment of characters included major, mainstream moe favorites like Madoka (who I like, but we've reviewed too many times), Saber (who I like, but we've reviewed too many times), characters from the [email protected] (they were already sold out). That left us with Kirino Kousaka, the titular little sister from the series whose title has inspired more jokes than any other in the last decade, I Can't Believe My Little Sister Is This Cute! (Oreimo). I've never seen this show and I've definitely made over 100 jokes about its title in the years since it appeared, just saying.

The difference, as you can probably see, is in proportion. The Nendoroid aesthetic is squatty to an extreme, with arms and legs about the same size as the tip of your pinky. Even the chibi-arts figures had a slightly more elongated body. The Cu-Poche is a tiny bit taller than a Nendoroid, with less radical proportions: the head's a little bit smaller, and in exchange you get a full, posable body.

The Nendoroid is a display piece (though it's billed as an action figure) and Cu-Poche is, in fact, an action figure. Though the character design is inherently limited, the arms and legs are fully articulated with a good range of movement. The legs allow you to make those subtle shifts in posture that are, of course, critical to moe.

The sculpt is fine, but when we look closely at the hair clip and the tie of the sailor suit, there are the kind of paint smudges we typically see on figures in this price range. The fang is cute, though, don't you think?

And there's little to actually say about them, but let's run through the accessories.

Cell phone and handbag for the cool-girl look. The phone is an extremely tiny, thin and fragile piece: it even folds a little bit. I didn't try to flip it closed, and you shouldn't either. It'll probably break.

Angry face, with replacement crossed arms for that extra “tsun” feeling. Why didn't Gunbuster do this? You'll have to completely disassemble the figure to get this done: the shoulders give a little trouble due to their small size. The waist isn't well secured, so be careful around there. The head comes apart in the exact same way that a Nendoroid head does. The only difference is that while a Nendoroid has the neck joint attached to the face part, the Cu-Poche has the same joint coming up from the body.

And the “dere” face (seriously, it says that on the box). She's in a daze, fantasizing about... probably best not to go there. I was surprised there wasn't anything given for her to get all dere about, like maybe one of those little-sister games the character likes? One accuracy point goes to the Nendoroid for including a replica of Kirino's favorite porn.

So, the stand. Can we talk about the stand, here? This is the point where I knew Kotobukiya was serious about this. So I'm messing with the posing arm, I get it under Kirino's hair and I set the arm down... and the feet just magically stick down on the stand. I didn't need the posing arm at all. IT'S MAGNETS, GUYS. Magnets in the feet, magnets in the stand. There are magnets in the posing arm, too, if you feel the need to use it. Magnets work, dammit. Nendoroids have had trash stands since their inception and it doesn't look like GSC is ever going to change that, so it is a tremendous relief that their competitor has specifically aimed at their biggest problem and gotten it right in one shot.

This was a really pleasant surprise: usually when I review a competitor line to one of the big otaku toy lines, it doesn't measure up to what it's imitating. This, on the other hand, is actually much better than a typical Nendoroid. Yeah, I said it! Of course, consider that the last few Nendoroids I've looked at have been not typical, but quite terrible. We have a major Nendoroid coming up, so GSC better step it up. Keep an eye on Cu-Poche, 'cause I know I will. Now someone needs to make a figure line that beats Figma on quality at a similar price and things will get really interesting around here!

We paid $43 on Amiami... where it sold out at the very moment I did final editing on this piece. This particular package has some English and the “comic book shop locator” ad, but I think Koto just does that on everything, in case a figure ends up in America. Maybe you'll see it in a comic store, but you probably won't find it for any cheaper than $43.

When he isn't killing time on fighting games and mahjong, David Cabrera makes moe 4-panel comics about videogames at Kawaiikochan. You can follow him on Twitter @sasuraiger.

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