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Astro Toy
Figma Haruka Nanase

by David Cabrera,

figma Haruka Nanase
Hobby Stock
Series: FREE!
Price: $50

Finally, it's that “Swimming Anime” I've been hearing so much about! Full disclosure, I really don't know anything about FREE! other than the following: FREE! is Kyoto Animation's popular series about boys swimming for the benefit of fujoshi. It is notable for bringing the adoring eye for detail to pretty boys that Kyoani had previously reserved for the tears of Key heroines and the tea parties of all-girl bands. That's all I know about it, though. And that the dudes all have girl names.

In any case, this is a popular character and a pretty unique basis for a figure. He's kind of ordinary (not Goro ordinary, but still), just a high school swimmer. How do you make that work as an action figure?

Well, as you can see this is pretty much an action figure of a naked dude. I mean, those shorts? He could have painted those on. You wouldn't know.

Note the torso is extremely detailed: as in the anime, Haruka's rippling muscles are what's important here.

This goes for the back (and of course the “bathing suit area”, in soft plastic), but what looks weird on this figure is all the detail is around the torso. The arms and legs don't quite have this level of definition, so it can look a bit like a ripped torso with doll limbs.

Because, again, this is just a naked dude, the range of movement is as wide as it's possibly going to get on a figma. Especially around the shoulders, you can get a feeling for the figure's “bone structure”, so to speak.

For the “my husband” crowd we have that classic domestic symbol, an apron. This is entirely made of flexible plastic; you'll need to remove the head and clip the apron closed in the back. Note that the apron goes down to almost exactly the length of his shorts, creating a “is he or isn't he?” situation when viewed from the front. I just call 'em like I see 'em.

As for actual swimming stuff, you've got a couple of nice extras. Here's a pair of swim goggles meant to go around the neck. Again, pop the head off to put it on there. Note that the neck is its own piece and doesn't fit back in too well, so be careful.

A particularly creative extra is an actual swimming platform. Obviously you can use this however you like: have him perch, make it a chair, whatever. It's a good-looking piece, too.

The water gimmick is elaborate and kind of silly. I mean, you can't dip the thing in actual water-- and please don't try that at home-- but you can't really blame them for going through with it. With two plastic pieces suspended on platforms and some blue paper, and with the figma stand holding Haruka up in the air, you can simulate a “swimming” pose. On the package they show you this, but they make sure to only use close-ups so you can't see that the actual display looks kind of weird when set up.

As soon as you get paper involved with a plastic figure, the whole thing becomes fragile and you have to worry about tearing it, so I hate paper accessories. The Mako “cut-out” that came with Ryuko, for example, was a solid sheet of plastic. For this one you have to actually sandwich the paper between two plastic pieces, so it will get scuffed if used at all.

I think this is a long way to go for an effect that doesn't really look that good and which will almost certainly come crashing to the ground, destroying the paper effect parts, the moment it's brushed even slightly. But I'm not telling you how to live your life. Do you. Never look back.

This is not an unusually excellent figure or anything, but it's well-made and has good, appropriate extras. FREE fans should have no worries buying it.... and perhaps the rest of the boys? FREE is probably big enough to justify that, you know.

We paid $50 for this from Amiami... where it is sold out even though it's brand new, so happy hunting. I should note that the yen is way down right now-- getting close to 120 to the dollar-- and it's a good time to import in general. Ah, I want to take a Japan vacation...

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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