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To a TV anime series, the conclusion can either make or break a viewer’s opinion of it. A weak ending may ruin an otherwise entertaining series, and a strong ending can make even the most mediocre series seem memorable in the minds of the viewers. The animation studio GAINAX certainly knew the importance of the conclusion when they were wrapping up their 27-episode series Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann back in 2007. To ensure the realization of a big and flashy ending, they saved their titular mech for the last episode. Measuring on the scale of entire galaxies, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (henceforth abbreviated as TTGL) is the unquestionably largest mech ever conceived, and the action in the final episode did not fail to measure up the its immense size.

Kaiyodo’s Revoltech action figure of TTGL probably came as a surprise to many fans due to the exotic nature of TTGL’s design. However, sculptor Katsuhisa Yamaguchi did a good job of translating it from the TV screen to a tangible plastic form. While it’s not without flaws, the Revoltech TTGL manages to balances aesthetics with playability to a very admirable degree. And while as a toy it isn’t quite up there with its predecessor Revoltech Gurren Lagann, fans of the series would definitely find plenty to love here.

First impressions

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You only need one glance at the toy to figure out the fact that the Revoltech TTGL is not for kids – everything on it is pointy. From the pointy flames on its back to the various pointy horns and teeth all over its body, this final combination of Gurren Lagann bears little resemblance to an actual robot. Whatever it is, TTGL certainly gives off a very intimidating look.

The red portions of the toy have a very glossy finish while the gray parts are matte for the most part, much like the Revoltech Gurren Lagann.

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The flames on the back are made of solid semi-translucent plastic that are clearer at the tips. These account for a significant fraction of the toy’s mass, so TTGL has great difficulty standing upright without the support of the display base.

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While TTGL looks great upfront by itself, I find myself somewhat disappointed by its size when I received it. When you ignore the flames on its back, TTGL is actually shorter and slimmer than Gurren Lagann itself. I realize that demanding a real sense of scale from a toy of TTGL would be unreasonable, but I still hoped that the toy would actually feel bigger than its predecessor.

Closer look

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For a piece its size, TTGL’s head is pretty detailed. Though its face is too small to be discerned clearly, one can make out the contours of TTGL’s gnashing teeth. The side disks and the head crest are painted with great precision, and like the torso the head is backed with translucent green flames.

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In the torso we can find some of the more noticeable creative liberties taken by Yamaguchi. The sizes of the shades and the flames around the neck are significantly reduced, possibly to make way for freer articulation of the arms and neck. The result of these changes is a very slim torso that is very narrow at the waist.

The sculpt of the flames is great – it’s probably the closest you can get to a fiery look without actually setting the toy on fire. The sharp contours of the flames along with their multi-toned paintjob certainly helps in igniting life in these hunks of plastic.

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Like the rest of the figure, the arms and legs of TTGL are comprised of various faces as evident in the glowering yellow eyes placed all over the limbs. The shoulders and knees feature sets of very exaggerated horns that adds to the intimating appearance of the toy.

Accessories

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TTGL does not have much in the way of accessories. The main feature it possesses is a drill replacement for its forearm. Unlike the drill included in the Revoltech Gurren Lagann, the drill of TTGL possesses the illusion of movement in its sculpt. A spark attachment is also included to imitate a sense of friction, making the drill a very cool accessory. It’s a shame that only one was included, because some scenes in the anime depicted TTGL duking it out with Anti-Spiral with a drill attached with either arm. A ploy to make fans buy an additional copy of the toy, perhaps?

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Another thoughtful inclusion is the optional torso piece to swap out the Lazengann face on TTGL’s torsdo with green flames. This replacement blends perfectly into the figure and features sprouting flames on its sides.

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As for optional hands, TTGL cames with a pair of closed fists, a pair of open palms, and a pair of grasping hands that are compatible with Frauline Yoko’s sniper rifle and Revoltech Enki’s swords. The standard Revoltech display base is also included, which can either support the figure on its feet or lift the figure but inserting a revolver joint up its bumhole.

Articulation

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Like most Revoltech figures, TTGL features a double jointed neck. The open space around the “collar” of the toy and the length of the neck itself give great flexibility to TTGL’s neck

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Like the Revoltech Gurren Lagann, TTGL’s torso is centered around a large revolver joint. Unlike Gurren Lagann, however, is TTGL’s limitations to its torso movement. This is due to the complex sculpt of the toy as well as the interchangeable torso pieces (which wraps around the torso joint). While far from being completely stiff, TTGL definitely has difficulties pulling off some of the more dynamic poses.

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The flames on TTGL’s back can be divided in three parts: the center part which is attached directly to the upper torso itself, and two additional parts that are attached to the lower torso via revolver joints which enables them to move into various different positions. These articulated flame parts are separated from the main body when you open the box, and attaching them onto the lower torso was a difficult task due to how tight the fit was. The solution is to run the lower torso under hot water, which causes the peg holes to expand slightly.

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The legs on TTGL are pretty standard fare in that they are very, very articulate. The knees bend to around 125 degrees and the thigh joints are unobstructed due to the open design of the hips. However, Due to the disproportionate weight of the figure’s upper body, the thigh joints often fail to maintain the exact position you put them in. The legs would often part slightly due to the weight of the giant plastic flames pushing them downwards. With the help of the display stand, however, this becomes more of a negligible issue.

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The shoulders and elbow articulation of TTGL are also facilitated by revolver joints. A small revolver joint on each shoulder also takes care of the shields mounted on the shoulders. The wrists, on the other hand, break away from the use of revolver joints. Instead, these feature pop-on joints that only enable the hands to swivel on one axis. While these look better than the slightly bulky mini-revolver joint, they come at the price of the freedom of the wrists, which I have always loved about Revoltech toys. While this is not a huge issue for the toy by itself since it lacks any handheld accessories, I can certainly imagine headaches when you try to mount Yoko’s rifle and Enki’s swords in the included grasping hands, since not only do these simplified joints have limited movement, they are also prone to falling off if pressure is applied.

Final Say

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The Revoltech Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann does a great job of balancing style and playability. That said, its complex aesthetic features ultimately caused some compromises in the articulation of the toy. When weighed against the original Gurren Lagann Revoltech figure, my preferences lie with the latter for its superb playability. However, if you love the anime enough to want a second toy, or if you just can’t get enough of that last episode, the Revoltech TTGL remains an excellent choice.

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Pros

  • Sharp adaptation of an unorthodox design
  • Brilliantly executed flames
  • “Spinning” drill accessory looks great

Cons

  • A tad too small
  • Swivel-only wrist joints