The Melancholy of More New Toys
by Adam Pawlus,
As always, thanks for your feedback-- it's going to make the column better. (Obviously, you know what you want better than I do.) Note the new abbreviations on the links: JPN for Japanese page, and NSFW for Not Safe For Work. As in "clicking on this link will make those around you angry." So don't click on it. I shouldn't even put them in here.
American Anime Toy News Bites
Revoltech by Kaiyodo/Organic will be expanding their American distribution to include Fate/stay night Saber. It's much cheaper than the statues, has multiple heads, tons of articulation, and looks gorgeous. Ask your local store to get in touch with Organic Hobby (the US distributors) to order you one, or order online. It's quite exquisite from the early pictures and I hope to get one to review later when it hits the USA. While not the first anime girl in the Revoltech line, this is one of the first that will get wide, licensed US distribution-- so I'm all over this one. Expect it to be about $20-$30.
[ MORE: Entertainment Earth | Kaiyodo page [JPN] ]
Fans of Yakin Byoutou 2 will be pleased to know a mousepad was just released for the adult animation with special... assets. Adults-only assets. Echhi. Toys Planning made this adult-only toy and importers are asking $50 or so. Don't click this, it'll make you go blind.
[ MORE: NCS [NSFW] ]
Transformers fans may be interested in hearing that in Japan, the lead character is going to have a new name! In Japan, they've always called the red truck that turns into a robot (or other things) Convoy-- even when he turns into an ape. Well, for the new movie (at least in the merchandising), they're going to start calling him by his American name, Optimus Prime. Interesting, no?
Nike fans that are also Transformers fans will be excited to know that full color pictures of the upcoming toys of Optimus Prime (Convoy) and Megatron are finally available. They turn into 1:2 scale shoes, and come from Takara. And they're packaged in little shoeboxes. If you aren't all over this idea, you're boring. (There, I said it.) Fans of corporate synergy in their Japanese toys will remember the 2006 Pepsi Convoy.
[ MORE: Fan2Fan ]
Anime News Network Exclusive Preview
Haruhi Suzumiya from the series Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, with a display stand and a few swappable parts, like an armband and a hand. Cobra Commander is not included, he's just there for scale again.
One of the finest anime statues I've seen, although, like last time, this is a prototype. The paint is stunning, the sculpt is excellent, and the face has more personality than Rei Ayanami showed in all of Evangelion. (OK, that was low. But it's true.) For about $50 or less, this is a pretty solid item.
It's not like they put this kind of work into non-girlie statues. She doesn't do anything, so it's not like there's a lot to sell you on the figure outside of its appearance.
Meet Haruhi Suzumiya. Like Hamlet, she's melancholy. According to Wikipedia, "The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya follows the high school life of Haruhi Suzumiya and those who are caught up in her antics... Except for Kyon, the students in the club are secret agents of various organizations who are sent to observe Haruhi. They gradually explain that Haruhi has superhuman control over every aspect of the universe - an ability which she is unaware of. Whenever Haruhi becomes bored or otherwise dissatisfied with reality, she unconsciously creates a new universe - one more to her liking - and attempts to switch over." In other words, it's nothing you haven't seen before. (I kid, I kid.) The series itself is coming out on DVD from BanDai this coming May, or so I'm told.
Max Factory knows how to make a good figure. The pictures do most of the talking here.
While the pose reeks of "girl power" and the Spice Girls and things from 1997 that I'd rather forget, there's no denying that this is a high quality item. It's too bad that other kinds of characters don't get this sort of royal treatment. There are a number of other licensed products from the series, and this one seems to be one of the best designed, but that pose... I just don't love it. But it's filled with personality. I don't even know where to go with it.
The problem with anime girl statues is that no matter how awesome the series or how incredible the character, it's really hard to not make a review that seems paint-by-the-numbers. Ribbons in hair... check. Amazing sculpt in the uniform... check. The problem with this sort of thing is that a lot of the products are all aiming to make an item to a central ideal, and they do a really good job. So what, you ask, sets this one apart from the pack?
Well, obviously, they put a lot of work into her underpants. This is interesting because in the US toy market, this detail is usually glossed over-- if a part is covered, you usually don't put a lot of work into it. Obviously, the Japanese market realizes that this is something people look at and, sadly, I grew up playing with action figures that had less detail over their entire body than Haruhi Suzumi has in that photo.
The most stunning thing about the figure is the face. It's good-- really good. They put a lot of work into the eyes, nose, and mouth, and the end result is a fantastic 3D representation of an anime character. I'm sure I'll find things I like even more as I see thousands more of these, but this one is incredible. The hair sculpting is perfect. The mouth is done in a unique way to show more depth than I'm used to on such a thing. The eyes glisten with personality. How could you not admire this figure on the basis of the quality of the work here? It's just a very good, very solid release.
Her display stand may be just a test shot one-- I'm not sure. But it's pretty cool in that she plugs right in to it and it gives me no trouble.
For added fun, you can switch out her arm band and her hand. It's not a lot of added fun, but it's a nice option to have, I suppose. It's certainly better than having no options at all, and when you buy a statue, being given any chance to modify the item is a welcome bonus.
MORE ABOUT THE MELANCHOLY OF HARUHI SUZUMIYA
The series has been licensed for US distribution by BanDai, and you can buy it on DVD soon. Because piracy makes baby Jesus cry.
IS IT WORTH IT?
If you like the series and the character, I can't say enough good things about the statue. If you just want a good anime statue around to impress the neighbors, this one isn't half bad. If you want a toy, don't buy this-- just cross your fingers that the Revoltech people get the license and try to make one.
WHAT ELSE MIGHT YOU LIKE?
There are a number of other statues and figures from the series on the market and coming soon-- all you have to do is check your favorite stores and/or Google.
Unreasonable Demands: We Want...
Last time, I made a request: TELL ME YOUR UNREASONABLE DEMANDS! I got some replies. Some of which were good, some of which were... uh... dull. But some of you guys have really thought about this, and it seems the most common requests from this week were that you want more statues... of men. (Of which there are few produced these days.) Reader Andy had this to say...
"What I want... is a 1/8 scale figure of Sigurd from Fire Emblem IV: Genealogy of the Holy War. Fire Emblem is a fairly popular Japanese strategy game series that has enjoyed great success in Japan, spawning ten games since its incarnation in 1990. Although the latest Fire Emblem was just released for the Nintendo Wii this past February, many consider Fire Emblem IV, originally released for the Super Famicom in 1996, to be the pinnacle of the series, and I have to concede that it is easily my favorite in the franchise. Upon first playing it, I quickly fell in love with the game's story and characters; I was especially enthralled by the heroic and dashing protagonist Sigurd, noble of Chalphy. He was a champion of justice who fought bravely for love and honor, and I found his story to be wonderfully epic and brutally tragic at the same time. Sigurd is one of my favorite characters to be wrought from a video game, and I would like nothing more than to own a 1/8 scale figure of him. In my mind I imagine the figure to be a sculpt of Sigurd gallantly riding his faithful white steed into battle, with the horse rearing on its back legs and waving its front hooves in the air while Sigurd raises his shimmering blade above his head and calls his troops to arms, his long cape blowing effortlessly in the wind behind him. Now that would be an epic figure, one I'd be willing to pay an arm and a leg for. Unfortunately, I've noticed that quality scaled figures of males, let alone horses, are a rarity in Japan, as most companies opt for producing figures of buxom beauties, and considering that Sigurd is a character from a ten year old video game, his chances of being made into a figure are made even slimmer.
More than likely, I'll just have to settle for the five inch Sigurd trading figure that adorns my desk. You get 'em, lil' guy!"
Video games are probably one of the most exciting untapped markets out there, with loads of memorable characters that, for one reason or another, just never get made. Nintendo just can't seem to get enough licensed merchandise out there, that's for sure. Thanks for your input, Andy!
What's your unreasonable demand? Email me (adam at 16bit.com), and I'll post my favorite one each time right here!
That's all for today...
Post in the forums. There's no prize, but you can win! I'm busy going through some nifty new figures I got on the way out of the office today. No, they're not Japanese, but they do involve a certain man who, I'm told, has the powers of a spider. Incredible, I know. I wonder if anybody else has heard of these.
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