Astro Toy Real Action Heroes Princess of the Crystal
by David Cabrera,
Real Action Heroes Princess of the Crystal
Series: Mawaru Penguindrum
Price: $120 or more?!
So I've been doing this column for a couple of years now and we've never, ever bought from this one toy line, Real Action Heroes. Of course, I've been wanting to for as long as I've been running it. Medicom's Real Action Hero is a 12 inch action doll with real clothes. The name is probably a wink at the original “action figure”, itself a 12 inch “doll for boys”; GI Joe.
Over the years Medicom has been turning out hundreds of beautiful realizations of this concept, often from the anime, manga and tokusatsu realms. To call them a class above Figma and so on is an understatement. See also the Hong Kong-based Hot Toys, whose efforts are frequently unbelievable.
Anyway, these are extreme high-end figures, retailing at over $200. Sometimes they go on sale, but even at, say, 40% off, they're still way out of our range. Luckily I was browsing the RULERS OF TIME over at Mandarake and, shockingly, there was one RAH-- after I bought Fourze and put Baoh on my personal shopping list-- that I could afford. And it was another character I love, too! Clearly my tastes just go to the bargain bin. (RAH Homura is $200, though.)
I want to make note of the giant box this figure comes in. It cost $50 just to ship it from Japan. It is twice the size of a regular RAH box, which is already gigantic. I have no idea why the box is so big, it's not packed with much more stuff than my regular RAH. Were they making room for her dress?
Okay, so let's actually look at it-- I mean, look at it terrified from below because my tripod is meant for use with small things! This figure is a damn foot tall, after all: they rarely make them much bigger than that. Of the toys I have on hand, only DX Mazinger is taller.
And yes, this is seriously the face they chose for her out of the box. The people who made this figure get it. The only other expression is stern, as it should be.
The hat is of course included. The bits hanging off the side are articulated with ball joints to keep them out of the way of the hair.
Though basically a doll, this line has sculpted plastic hair instead of the horse kind. The hair is permanently “posed”, being blown back in the wind. However, this doesn't mean it's totally static.
Just like the figma of the same character, the hair is split into three segments that move a bit so as not to get in the way of her arm movement. In front, the hair has enough give that you can easily “brush” it over a little bit to get the arm in front.
The sculpt and the clothing are credited to different people, I should note: the plastic parts are by Medicom's PERFECT-STUDIO (a name I've seen credited for everything from RAH to Bearbrick) and the clothing is by Yumiko Noda. Obviously it's a big deal to truly make (in miniature) the Princess' very flashy and unique dress.
Unfortunately, I really have to admit here that I know jack about fancy doll dresses. I'm going to take a lot of shots of the dress. That's the plan.
You can see that the dress doesn't puff out the way the anime version or PVC versions do. That would take either wires or cartoon magic, your pick. On the cartoon magic note, remember that she's teetering on really tiny high heels and use a stand. I posed her on her own for most of these pictures, but she will definitely fall.
The main thing I think when I look at this all this plush is “Damn, is this gonna collect some dust.” This is going on display at some point, but I'll probably put it away until I can put it under glass.
The skin-tight parts of the outfit are painted onto the body, and knee/elbow joints are plainly visible here like they would be on any action figure. One of the side benefits of clothed dolls like this is that these joints are covered by clothing... but obviously that can't entirely apply to the Princess' getup.
The second thing I think is that I'm not going to mess around too much with the figure's articulation for fear of ruining its clothes. Those floofy things at the upper arms have got to be delicate! That being said, the figure has a standard doll body that moves in the places you would expect: ball joints at the shoulders and hips, hinges at the elbows and knees, and there is definitely at least one point hidden inside the chest underneath the dress. Be delicate: though you're unlikely to do actual damage, the arms can pop out.
The torso is in fact sculpted despite being mostly out of view: her exposed back is actually soft plastic. The top is attached in the back by way of Velcro, but don't do it: if you fiddle with the corset too much the gold trim will start to peel. The rest of the clothes are removable-- you can even remove just the dress and the shoulder bits for the half-transformed Himari-- but I'll leave that to you, reader.
Though the figure has Medicom's normal stand-- a pole on which you fit various transparent clamps to grab a part of the body just right-- the Princess can also stand atop two of the three included penguins. This arrangement is no joke: it's probably the most imposing display item I've looked at since Mazinger and his Jet Scrander. However, it is much more precarious: while the feet lock securely into the top of the penguins' heads, this does not mean that the tremendous weight of the figure is fully balanced by just that. When I set this up properly on my shelf, it's probably going to need the regular stand as well as these guys.
The penguin accessories themselves are serious, too: fully in-scale to the show, each penguin is as tall as a Nendroid, and about as heavy. Himari and Kanba's penguins bear the unlucky duty of carrying the Princess: Shoma's penguin is bending forward to pick up a little red something.
Aside from the penguin stands, the only extra you get are extra hands in a variety of graceful poses and the extra facial expression. By the standards of normal action figures you might call that a little bare-bones... but this is not an ordinary figure.
In any case, what a pleasure to look at an RAH figure! I never thought we'd be able to get to one of these. The reason we got this for so cheap is apparent-- the original $220 is a little unreasonable, and certainly shipping would have bumped it to more like $250 even inside of Japan-- but at the price we paid, this is a steal. A beautiful figure that really makes me want more: I'm still kicking myself for not buying Ryo in Akiba last year.
We got this figure on Mandarake's online shop (some basic Japanese language skills will be needed to see every listing) for $110-- again, this includes $50 in express shipping costs-- which was a deal you're not going to find. There are just a few more on Mandarake in the $120-170 range. Because this was a Wonder Festival exclusive of which only 800 were made, don't expect the price to get any lower. That being said, the original price of this item was 22,000y (about $220 before any shipping), so that's a hell of a bargain bin markdown in the first place. I'll call you guys up next time, when I find a Dollfie on Ebay for 20 bucks.
Finally, use Mandarake at your own risk. I say that not because it's unsafe to shop there, I say that because I might go broke if I look at that website any more. I mean... they have the lighter from Garo!! If you're in Japan, also go see Mandarake for yourself, especially their unbelievable fortress deep within the Nakano Broadway complex.
When he isn't killing time on fighting games and mahjong, David Cabrera makes moe 4-panel comics about videogames atKawaiikochan.You can follow him on Twitter @sasuraiger.
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