Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is an anime that needs little introduction. With its energetic style, high production values and numerous homages to older super robot series such as Getter Robo, TTGL is undoubtedly one of the more memorable anime series of the last decade.
Of course, with any success in the popular anime sphere comes merchandising, and TTGL is no exception. A quick browse through any large online retailer would reveal a plethora of character goods and figures related to the series. Among these is the Revoltech TTGL line of action figures. By combining superb sculpts, decent quality control, a high degree of articulation, as well as relative affordability, the line easily managed to capitalize on the success of the GAINAX produced anime. This week, we will look at the forerunner of the line: the Revoltech Gurren Lagann.
The figures of the Yamaguchi Revoltech line tend to value style over accuracy. While the official art of Gurren Lagann possesses a certain robot-like chunkiness, the Revoltech figure depicts a lean, mean body-builder of a robot – the waist is narrower, the shoulders are wider, legs less stubby and chunky, and the arms bulging with robo-muscle. So while it may not necessarily look accurate to some scenes in the anime, it certainly has that bad-ass feel you would expect out of a Gurren Lagann toy.
Other than that, the Revoltech Gurren Lagann is exactly what you would expect it to look like. One point of note is the glossy finish on all of the red portions of the figure, which stands in contrast against the other colours adorning the toy, especially the matt grey. It gives off a very vivid effect and really makes the toy stand out on your desk.
Being an action figure of only 14 cm (5.5 inches) in height and a relatively low price at 1900 yen retail (I actually snatched this up for 950 yen on a sale), one should not expect the same level of paint detail as static full-sized figures. That said, there’s really not much more you can ask for from the Revoltech Gurren Lagann as it looks pretty good even from up close.
Upon a close inspection, you’ll find a lot of the details sharply executed. The teal lines along Gurren Lagann’s torso deserve a special mention for their neatness. The chest-mounted shades are made of a dark gray translucent plastic, which allows for the large yellow eyes behind the shades to be partially visible through the shades.
The paint application on each of Gurren Lagann’s minicule heads is also surprisingly detailed. Though it is not perfect under extreme close scrutiny, the features of the faces are quite distinguishable from a good distance away – the red nose ridge, the yellow eyes, the mouth, and the teal marks under the eyes are all there, which is an impressive feat considering how small it is.
Other details and paint applications such as the shoulder shields and the hands are generally problem-free. One slight exception is the painted yellow portions on the figure. Unlike most of the other components, these yellow portions are obviously painted onto an existing colour, and thus the edges are a little messy. The side skirt armour also has some slight issues with uneven paint application, but altogether these flaws combined do not amount to a substantial criticism against the figure.
So, the Revoltech Gurren Lagann looks good both from afar and up close, let’s see what kind of accessories it has…
The oversized pair of shades — Gurren Lagann’s iconic weapon – is faithfully represented by this figure. Unlike the pair on the figure’s chest, the handheld shades are opaque, straight and made of sturdier plastic. Whether used as a blade weapon or a boomerang, these shades definitely look deadly.
An additional shades-less chest plate is included should you wish to pose the figure with its shades in its hand. Removing the chest plates is a slightly tricky task, however, as they tend to be secured pretty tightly. Make sure to practice caution when you are removing the chest plate with the shades attached to it – you do not want to slip your fingers and risk snapping the shades off! Do not hold onto the actual shades, but take hold of the actual chest plate instead.
As for hands, the figure comes with a pair of fists, a pointing right hand, an open left hand, and two clasping hands meant for hand-held accessories such as the enlarged version of the shades. While the selection of hands is certainly satisfactory, one cannot help but to wonder why a right open palm and a left pointing hand are not included. Then again, perhaps I’m just spoiled by figma’s generosity when it comes to optional hands.
The most interesting accessory included in the package is a replica of Simon’s core drill. If you are a cosplayer or are the type that whispers “Spin, on!” when you turn the key to your home/car, this inclusion will certainly please you.
The drill portion of the core drill is detachable from the base and is able to be attached to the wrist (or any Revoltech joint, for that matter). While from a functional standpoint it works well, the fact remains that at no point in the anime does Gurren Lagann sprout a golden drill from anywhere on its body. It also looks pretty tame for a supposed weapon as its dull-looking design does not have the appearance of a penetrating weapon. Rather, it looks like a misshaped and miscoloured pylon.
A simple display base is also included with the figure. The base consists of three parts – the flat base, the shaft that tips forward at the end, and a Revoltech joint to be attached at the end of the shaft. The other end of the joint goes right up poor Gurren Lagann’s bumhole. Not the most comfortable placement to be sure, but thankfully it works very well. The bottom portion of the base can used separately by attaching it to the bottom of the figure’s feet to increase stability of some standing poses.
On a side note, Kaiyodo has produced the flight pack of Gurren Lagann. The components for it can be found in two parts; the wings are included with the Revoltech Enki, while the base of the flight pack is included with the Revoltech Lazengann. When attached to Gurren Lagann’s back, this is what it looks like.
Finally, we arrive at the highlight of this toy. While virtually Revoltech action figures are known for their high levels of articulation, Gurren Lagann manages to distinguish itself further with its very impressive ranges of articulation.
One word: insane. The knees bend to around 135 degrees. There is health amount of space separating the bottom of the leg piece and the foot itself, allowing the Revoltech joint ankles to be positioned in various angles. The jointed skirt armour also allows for considerable freedom for the upper leg as well, though the crotch piece does not have as much leeway as the side skirt armour pieces, so if you want Gurren Lagann to pull off some spectacular high kicks, you’ll have to work around that crotch piece.
The design for Gurren Lagann’s torso is simple, yet brilliant. Centered on a single large Revoltech joint, the large upper torso is virtually unobstructed by the small lower torso. As a result, the figure’s midsection possesses a great level of flexibility, which facilitates the reproduction of many exaggerated and dynamic action poses just like the anime itself.
The arms are more or less standard fare for Revoltech figures. The elbows bend to around 90 degrees, the shoulders are able to swing forward and backward with some manipulation of the unobstructed joints. The wrists are highly articulate, allowing you to place them at virtually any angle – a great advantage over Figma figures. The shields on the shoulders are able to rotate and be detached. The fit is tight, so you won’t have to worry about them falling off by themselves.
The neck features a double-jointed structure. The rear neck guards prevents Gurren Lagann’s neck to lean backwards, but other than that it boasts a wide range of articulation. The joint is partically encased by neck/shoulder muscles that not only look great, but also do not hinder movement, furthering your ability to reproduce some very cool action poses. Never underestimate the neck and the torso, by the way — if you have ever observed athletes in action, you would know that a lot of the action takes place in these parts, not just their limbs!
However, there is one problem with the articulation on Gurren Lagann, and this problem applies to virtually all Revoltech figures, and that is the clicking joint system. The Revoltech joint is a fabulous thing – it overcomes the ancient problem of toy joints wearing out by introducing a sturdy joint that finds its holding strength not from surface friction, but from the clicking mechanism within. There are downsides to this, however: the angle difference between each click is around 22 degrees – a significant amount. This mean you can’t be as precise with these joints as with other conventional toy joints. This is especially a problem in the legs of Revoltech toys, which lack the preciseness that enables the figures to stand stably on their own two feet in some poses. The images on the boxes make the flashy action poses seem effortless, but in reality they are often pretty tricky to pull off. This is not to say they are impossible, but keep in mind that it will take some patience and effort to make the toy behave the way you want.
What makes a great toy? Is it the toy’s looks or its playability? No matter which answer you pick, you’ll definitely find something you love in the Revoltech Gurren Lagann. With its striking aesthetics and amazing articulation, you’ll love this toy whether you are admiring it from afar or fiddling it in your hands. This is not only the best toy of the mean red bruiser on the market, but also one of the best Revoltech figures produced so far. Whether you are a fan of the anime or a fan of quality action figures in general, the Revoltech Gurren Lagann is definitely worth checking out.
Superb articulation, especially in the torso and knees
Pleasantly stylized sculpt
Core drill looks silly when placed onto the figure
Revoltech joints are imprecise and sometimes tricky to work with