Astro Toy Figma Strength
by David Cabrera,
Maker: Good Smile
Series: Black Rock Shooter
Ah, yes, this figure. How long has it been? According to my records, I preordered this figure in July of last year, and it was set for a September release. The first delay was for December: we were going to let the order lapse at this point. But then GSC delayed the figure into March, a month when, frankly, very little of interest was coming out. And so, the column was saved. But just now something else was bumped up and as soon this is done, I've gotta frantically search the internet toy shelves for its replacement! Ahhhh!!
Anyway. I'm going to be flat out here and say I don't know anything about the character Strength from the Black Rock Shooter TV show. The OVA was quite enough for me, thanks. “SO WHY'D YA BUY IT, IDIOT?!” I bought this because hey, it is technically a character from a popular series, and as you're going to see in a minute, it is very unusual as figmas go.
Here's the base figure. Pretty average quality for a figma and tiny, being a schoolgirl in figma scale. The dress is a separate piece of plastic that moves and bends a bit (probably removable altogether, though I wouldn't recommend it), and as such it hides all the joints except for those of the arms and knees.
She can swap the hood on and off by removing the head. The top part flips up so you can adjust the head, but it hasn't got much room to move in there. Without the hood on, just like with Miku 2.0, you'll notice that the small chin makes the big ball-joint neck quite apparent.
The two extra faces you get are the usual Standard Anime Crazy expressions. I deduce from the lack of any smile or blushy face that Strength is a villain through and through. I refuse to cheat by wiki-checking this information.
She's also got this creepy bone tail that attaches to the small of the back. It's like a spinal column or a bug's stinger, and if you feel so inclined you can even take it apart. Despite appearances, it doesn't move around a whole lot. This can get in the way while you're posing her, but it isn't really much trouble.
There aren't a lot of extra hands or accessories for her, because it's really all about a certain major accessory which is larger than the actual figure...
Ahh! Here it is! This figure's got giant gorilla hands! Now that's what I'm talkin' about! The “Ogre Arms” are pretty eye-catching, huh? These are in fact giant four-fingered hands (no pinky) that attach to the body with a replacement set of arms.
The three-piece apparatus that keeps the fists in place is very poorly secured-- once at the shoulder, again at the wrist, and once at the fist-- so this is going to be a huge pain in the ass to set up. You will absolutely struggle to secure one as the other drops off the body, as this assembly falls apart in every place it can, over and over again. Pegs that merely push into holes are just not enough for something this complicated: you need to be able to lock it in place. Without some kind of locking mechanism you're just setting people up for hours of frustration until they can finally get the thing just so, and then never touch it again.
The fingers move around a bit, and of course you can make a fist (and flip your visitors off), but they aren't designed for much motion beyond curled/uncurled. Also, from this point on, a stand is pretty much required, as the fists are much heavier than the figure and they will pull her down onto the floor.
Two extra figma stands are also supplied, because putting these fists on a stand is the only way they will stay up. The thing I don't like about this is that they're just the same, ordinary figma stands, with no thought given to the fact that a) they're holding something really heavy and b) they've got shapes that get in the way of each other. A three-headed custom stand would have been perfect, but they just threw in three of the usual.
So about actually doing this... I'm not going mince words about it, trying to set this up is hellish. Remember how I said the arm assemblies can fall apart at any time? Try and put three figma stands-- again, absolutely unfit for this task themselves-- into that equation and you have a complete and total mess. Everything falls apart. The stands get in the way of each other. After the hundredth or so time that everything fell apart, I took this picture.
Then I said to myself, “I can't leave it like this.” I took a break and got back to it. And you know what? I finally got a pose going. And the moment I took that last step of getting the left hand on there... THE STAND PEG SNAPPED OFF INSIDE THE FIGURE. I want to emphasize that this wasn't a result of a twist, a joint going too far, a stand in the wrong place. The stand peg snapped off while I inserted it straight on into the fist. Nope. I'm done. Sorry, guys, I tried. I'm not responsible for Good Smile's shitty stands. Good Smile, stop making shitty stands-- it's been six damn years-- and maybe things like this won't happen anymore.
Anyway, each fingertip is replaceable with a cannon, kinda like the Zeong. You'll have to imagine the explosions and make the sounds yourself. The whole back tray of accessories consists entirely of these fingertip bits and the elbow attachments. I'm so mad at these people.
Finally, you can double up the fists on one side with another replacement arm piece. This way you can get them both on one arm, where one fist is doubly likely to fall off while you fiddle with the other. Again, there were ways to do this well, and they didn't.
This is a great amount of effort on the part of the figma people for a character I presume isn't nearly as popular as BRS herself. I really wanted to applaud them for it... but it didn't work out. Play with this for a little while and you'll understand why they had to delay it for half a year: honestly, I think they were in over their heads. Well, there's that and the very real need to crank out as much Titan stuff as possible as quickly as possible in order to pay GSC's bills for the next decade. Which is understandable!
This looked really cool when I took it out of the box, but once I got to the main feature it quite literally fell apart. Perhaps the character concept itself is just too ambitious for the price range of figma. The fists are so bad to work with that the toy actually broke. I can't overstate this. The fact that a major part that will see a lot of use just broke takes it from a “maybe” to an “avoid”. We paid $66 on preorder because this one's pretty damn big. Unless you seriously must have a full BRS figma collection or you'll die, skip this one.
Go buy that Amy figma instead. Go think about nicer things. How about that Kill La Kill ending? Let's just talk about Kill La Kill.
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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