Super Plastic Air Minagi Tohno Review
by Adam Pawlus,
WHAT IS IT?
Minagi Tohno is a character from the series Air*. It's no Sailor Moon in terms of overall recognition, so this is a statue best looked at for its own merits rather than the license on which it is based. Sure, her mom had an episode that caused her to forget that she existed-- but does that mean this 1:8 scale plastic statue is good enough to make you remember her for all time? Read on!
Flowing dress and hair are look more interesting than most non-wind-blown statues, a brief splash of color in her head draw attention to her face. Nice box.
Her face isn't her strongest asset. No interchangeable parts. Assembling the figure on the display base requires a bit more force than I'd like.
An encounter with the girls repeated in the sunlight
Summer continues to where as well
She is waiting in the air
(That's what it says on the box.) Since the series basically ended in 2005, it seems the gravy train of licensed products based on Air has ended before it really got started. As there's no real lack of cute anime girl statues on the market today in school uniforms, you might be left wondering what's so great about these.
For starters, let's look at the packaging-- it's good, and it's worth taking note of what it does right. For example, there are big windows on the side of the box that let you see the figure from virtually all angles, and it lets a lot of light in there which, of course, makes the figure a bit easier to see. This is something most American toy and statue makers ignore, giving you-- at best-- one big window in the front. There's also a fairly nice illustration on the front, which wraps around the corner and may invite you to pick it up for closer examination. While a lot of collectible boxes try to simply "look cool," this one seems to be trying to sell you on the product inside, which is noble given that it seems few fans are going to jump on this item based on name recognition alone.
In the past year and change, I've been exposed to a lot more anime products than I'd have expected courtesy of my day job. I've seen girls in schoolgirl uniforms that are almost falling off, I've seen statues with removable kimonos, and I've seen a number of statues that take a character from a series and ramp up the ecchi factor on an otherwise innocent character. (What can I say, the kids love ample bosoms in their collectibles.) Minagi Tohno, as a statue, is fairly simplistic in that what you see is basically what you get. (Although they do seem to make an allowance for a visible booty.)
Making a decent, pre-posed, pre-painted, articulation-free plastic statue isn't exactly a challenge, and this figure doesn't attempt to break any new ground. Sure, she has gravity-defying locks, and yeah, she has a vaguely schoolgirlish dress. The sculpt on her outfit isn't bad, and the paint is, well, mostly competent. If you go over her with a magnifying glass, you can find a few places where the paint is just a little sloppy, or where the coloring is just a little darker than you might feel it should be. When you have a figure of this size, just under 8-inches tall, it's hard to make too many allowances for bad paint. On smaller figures, sure-- it's hard to paint those things. But on large ones? No excuses.
As far as the sculpt goes, again, it's competent-- there are some fragile ribbon pieces on the back you'll need to watch out for, but the level of detail on a statue of this nature and price is about what you should expect. It's nothing that will wow you, but it's not like you're looking at some "Made in China" knockoff figure of Pokémon's Team Rocket, either.
Assembly is limited, but frustrating. I've picked up quite a few collectible figures over the years and for some reason, the Japanese statue figure market seems obsessed with making a lot of these things difficult to put together. The pegs on the base are a very, very snug fit in the holes in the feet, which may inspire an enterprising otaku to custom-make their own display base. After all, Minagi Tohno includes a very plain, very shiny black base. It wouldn't be at all hard to come up with something a little more attractive by taking ten dollars down to the local craft store and seeing what you can come up with.
While Air is basically untapped for merchandising (as opposed to, say, Inuyasha) this unique statue is what it is-- it isn't an action figure, so you aren't going to get a lot of exciting poses out of it. It's lacking in accessories, so you can't tweak it to fit your display environment. Think of it as a tiny work of art-- and if you like it, and it'll brighten up your place of living, it's worth buying.
IS IT WORTH IT?
Character collectibles are tricky recommendations. When it comes to medium- to high-end statues, usually the product is very good (or good enough) and the decision to purchase the item should come as a direct result of how much you like the character/show. As such, if this statue didn't have you at "hello," maybe you should go try to find an episode of the show or two and then make your decision. Both fans of the series will probably like this piece.
As far as how it holds up, it looks slightly better in the packaging than out of it-- the box has a nice background, protects the figure from dust, and of course, potential breakage. As it isn't to difficult to replace the figure in its packaging after you get a look at it out of the box, that may be the safest place for it in the long run.
Because this figure has a lower production run than, say, the Monsieur Bome collection, the price is a little higher, and those of you just wanting some anime gal sitting on your desk might want more of a mass-markety (read: cheaper) item. In the United States, Organic sold its run of this item through Entertainment Earth and you can find it elsewhere if you look around.
MORE ABOUT STATUES & SCALE
Most anime distributors and stores don't always tell you how big something is because the vendors market it as "1:6 scale" or "1:18 scale." Since some figures are posed oddly, like bent over in half, this is done to ensure the figure doesn't seem much smaller than it actually is-- so how can you benefit from this information? I'm glad you asked.
Assuming a full size, 1:1 character is a 6-foot tall adult male, here's what these sizes mean (and keep in mind, it's slightly smaller for slightly smaller people):
1:6 scale: 12-inches tall (the size of a large G.I. Joe, also the scale of many mini busts)
1:12 scale: 6-inches tall
1:18 scale: 4-inches tall (roughly the size of Hasbro Star Wars and G.I. Joe action figures)
1:64 scale: 1 1-8 inches tall (sized to be in proportion to Hot Wheels cars)
WHAT ELSE MIGHT YOU LIKE?
There's no shortage of anime statues out there-- be it from a show you like or a show you hate, it's not at all difficult to find something relating to what you like, even if it takes a few years. (After all, they're making a new Otaku no Video figure in 2007! Gainax produced that way back in 1991, so it shows the anime statue market [like the American licensed action figure market] can reach back quite a bit when it comes to producing popular older characters.)
Organic produced two other statues in this line, both of which are still available fairly easily. The blond Misuzu Kamio wears the same outfit, as does the blue/gray haired Kano Kirishima. It's worth noting that Kano Kirishima could be easily mistaken for Rei Ayanami if you aren't paying particularly close attention. Both other Air statues come in very similar packaging and make up a fairly nice set.
SCULPTOR: Yu-neko Makoto (Yu-Nekodo)
DISTRIBUTED IN: USA, Japan
AVAILABLE: Now (released in the USA in 2006)
PACKAGING: Window box designed for easy removal and replacement for storage
HEIGHT: 6-inches, give or take
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