Chag: Well, I hope you’re in a patient mood this week, because Ash and I kind of went nuts with this week’s rant. There will be hate, there will be drama, there will be bricks upon bricks of text, and there may even be a little blood – it all begins after the jump!

 

1/7 Fate Testarossa ~Phantom Minds~

Scale: 1/7 Origin: Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha The Movie 1st
Maker: ALTER Sculptor: Tsumezuka Hiroyuki
Retail Price: ¥11,800 Release: October 2010

 

Ex-Resinya Fate Testerossa

Scale: n/a Origin: Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha The Movie 1st
Maker: COSPA Sculptor: Hiroshi (Sakurazensen)
Retail Price: ¥12,800 Release: January 2011

Chag: While I’ve yet to see the 1st Nanoha movie, I think I can assume it at least performed decently well, judging from the torrent of figures that it’s spawning. So this week we have not one, but two brand-spanking new Fate figures. Ashlotte sent me a comment asking me to pick one of the two for him, but being the negative fuck that I am, I replied with something more akin to “NEITHER”.

Let’s start with Alter. Their previous loli Fate figure has become a holy grail of sorts. Despite being originally released in 2006, the figure’s dynamic presentation remains impressive to this day. This new version of Fate is Alter’s chance to show how far they’ve advanced in these four years, but while they’ve demonstrated their technical prowess in the design and sculpt, I have a feeling they’ve fumbled on the creative side of their project.

I’m not sure whether Tsumezuka Hiroyuki made her head too big or the rest of her body too small, but the proportions sure look awkward here. From afar, Fate’s head seriously looks bigger than her torso, and her oversized movie-style eyes and long hairdo certainly aren’t helping. Each of her twin tails look long enough to stretch from her shoulders to her feet, which makes her look very top-heavy. Judging from the pose, we are to believe that Fate is about to crack some heads with that fancy stick of hers – but when she looks like a bobblehead, it’s hard to take the fierce pose seriously. And then there’s the cape – a giant flowing mass of shining black fabric.

While I am aware that the original Fate’s cape is also huge, the cape in the new version is flowing upwards and dominates left-hand side of the optimal viewing angle. I think in addition to furthering the issue of top-heaviness, the cape throws the overall appearance of the figure off-balance. It feels like the cape is fighting against Fate herself for attention rather than complimenting her appearance as was the case with the original. Still, I’d feel bad if I badmouth the cape too much – it does give off a great sense of motion when combined with her hair. If only it was used with a little more tact…

Next on the chopping block is Resinya’s Fate. Her twin tails look like a pair of giant yellow pythons sticking out of her head. The little yellow effect parts near the figure’s feet suggest that there’s some sort of funky magic energy whirlwind going on in this particular scene, which may explain why her hair is flailing about like that. But if that’s the case, shouldn’t her hair be blow back rather than forward? Her cape seems to be uniformly flowing backwards, so why isn’t her hair following suit? I have the hardest time imagining the reason why her hair would look so neatly swept forward like that. Furthermore, the sculpt isn’t all that great – sure, some strands to break free from the main hair mass, but the overall appearance of the twin tails is that of a pair of gigantic bananas, and I’m sure we can all agree that giant phallic tropical fruits tend to look silly when tacked onto a girl’s head.

Now that my mean-spirited rant is over and done with, I’m sure Ash will relieve you with some of the positives from both camps.

Ashlotte: Ahhh, must be nice to be able to objectively look at these figures… Point out foibles, etc. etc… Personally, I just try to not let my brain overload deciding between them every time I look at ‘em…

I’m gonna say first off I’m not a fan of the movie designs in the face (the outfits rock hardcore though, especially Nanoha’s), so I made that my little pathetic excuse not to get either in the end…

Anyways, I’ll reverse Chag’s order and go with Resinya first. Though really, my admiration for the figure begins and ends at her midsection! Nice subtle muscle detail and that lovely chest… Gah, that in and of itself was the main reason the figure even made me look twice at it… Sadly they decided to give her body suit a flat black paint instead of the oh-so-awesome shiny goodness on Alter’s version. Perhaps too shiny maybe, but I luuuv skin tight shiny latex-like stuff so meh…

Then of course there is the real genuine problem with this one – price. With a tag approaching cold-cast levels, I have no idea who COSPA is marketing this to. Not only is COSPA not a company I think of when it comes to upper-tier manufacturers, but more importantly nothing here readily justifies the premium you’re paying (like with Aegis’ crazy base).

Alter’s version in contrast has less to gripe about as it slots comfortably in with the rest of its Nanoha figures, but frankly that’s what bothers me about it. I know the series isn’t exactly known for its subtlety, but after owning 5 figures from the line, the whole over-the-top in-your-face “ACTION!” poses are starting to wear thin…

If you want an awesome Fate figure, try one of her reclining back against some rubble with her outfit damaged wearing a slightly pained expression and an even more beat-up slightly fractured bardiche resting against her shoulder while she plans her next move in an ongoing fight… Or *gasp* make one without her Mahou Shojo outfit at all, but casual wear instead with a slightly sorrowful expression on her face with those lonesome eyes that tear into your soul.

I mean you got plenty of great drama and character elements to work with here in Fate… Or Alter can just could make her some overwhelming action pose like every other Alter Nanoha figure they’ve made and call it a day, I guess…

Chag: That’s quite an imagination you got there, Ash. You know, 2D Japanese media is probably one of the only places where one might get away with battered & bloody little girls. There’s a reason why Hit Girl was the only one avoided any visible flesh wounds in Kick-Ass – just as audiences of earlier decades would not have accepted depictions of interracial romance, having little girls being beat up is something that most people would react badly against. Yet then there’s Nanoha, which seems to have no problems showing its viewers a scene where a little girl is bound and whipped bloody like a plantation slave. Does this mean a big figure company would be willing to produce a post-beating bishoujo figure? Probably not, because it’s probably a much safer bet to avoid the subject rather than trying to appeal to the sadist crowd. However, given the delightfully twisted creativity of GK makers and producers like Giga Pulse (I’m looking at YOU, Rape Dog!), anything’s possible.

Anyways, back on subject: in retrospect, I’m kind of surprised at Alter’s choice for Fate’s pose as well — sure, their Nanoha line has been full of high-flying girls, but when I saw the movie version of loli Nanoha, I thought Alter was going to change gear into some tamer figures in the future. Well, Fate here kind of chucks a brick through that notion. While I’ve yet to see the two figures displayed together, I highly doubt that the movie version Fate and Nanoha would go well together — if anything, this fate would be an interesting companion piece to Alter’s adult Fate that was released last year, since they share similar poses but are facing different directions.

Since they’ve stuck with the fancy poses for so long, I guess it only makes sense to follow through to the bitter end — whenever that may be. I’m willing to bet that all the characters of this series will eventually get a movie redesign and figure — well, maybe not Shamal, because nobody seems to like her.

Ashlotte: Hah if you ever want a silly figure concept I’ll always have one. Overactive imaginations are a bane in this hobby though as far as I’m concerned. As far as beat-up Fate goes… meh, I’m weak to blood so they can pass on that, but I don’t know any Fate fan that would say no to a little strategic costume damage… >_>

But like you said, figure makers are business’ at the end of the day and they exist to make money. I just wish more of them would take a chance and trust their audience a bit more. You never know what sort of niche market you might accidentally carve out in a sea of sameness, yea?

Chag: Good point. Maybe Tier and I will pull up a chair and wait for the maggot-birthing figures to pop up. Mind the blog for me in the meantime, would you?

 

1/6 Aisaka Taiga ~The Last Episode~

Scale: 1/6 Origin: Toradora!
Maker: Kotobukiya Sculptor: Asakura
Retail Price: ¥7,140 Release: October 2010

Chag: This Taiga is the last thing you see before Ryuuji dies. Know why? Here’s a hint: ACK ACK ACK.

Since Kuma illustrated his point so well, I won’t dwell further on the hair, so I’ll have a crack at her legs. I suppose a fragile appearance tickles the moe senses of some fans in a way, but man, whoever gave the green light for this sculpt over at Kotobukiya  needs to have his eyes checked – I mean, just look at those legs! Not even the starving kids World Vision ads can top those dangerously thin twigs. Hell, I bet if Ryuuji so much as breathe on those legs, they’d shatter like a dead branch. I hope poor Ryuuji has good health insurance coverage…

Ashlotte: Ugh… I was joking when I mentioned this… thing for the weekly rant. Why do you do this to me Chagster? T_T It’s because the review is 2 weeks delayed isn’t it? This is a punishment game, isn’t it? *sigh*

Well for one I think that first picture link was insulting…To Mars Attacks! (I happen to own the whole card set plus most of the comics, oddly enough, haha…). But yea, this is just a terrible figure. The proportions are all over the place like you said. Not just her legs but her torso as well – it’s like looking at her in a fun house mirror or something… The only saving grace I’ll give it is its very accurate and in-character face. This is kinda funny really, since in most Taiga figure out there, the face was the only thing I truly disliked…

Chag: The face? Who’s looking at the face? All I see is a headcrab-looking creature eating some malnourished child in uniform. I think the only sensible reaction is turn around and RUN FOR DEAR LIFE.

And yes, this is a punish game indeed. I better have that review out of you next week, or it’s “Weekly Highlights SPECIAL: Ashlotte’s 100 Favourite Things about SADER” for you!

 

1/8 Hachikuji Mayoi

Scale: 1/8 Origin: Bakemonogatari
Maker: Kotobukiya Sculptor: Matsunaga Koei
Retail Price: ¥7,140 Release: November 2010

Ashlotte: And why of all the figures you picked this week do I have to get the ball rolling on this one… Is it because I’m the resident perv lolicon?!?
Well… you’re right I am — I WANT IT!

The coloring and sculpt look very, very good (at least in prototype form – this is Kotobukiya, after all), but more than that is the awesomely cute little mischievous expression she has.

And yet two problems keep me from ordering, first being the aforementioned habit of Kotobukiya figures to look better in prototype photos then in final product, and the second (more importantly) being the fact that GSC has yet to reveal their version of her. While I think this figure perfectly captures all there is about Mayoi, I just can’t help but wonder if GSC won’t pull off something even more awesome… AHHH DECISIONS!

By the way GSC, if you want any ideas, copy this GK right here! That way I can order the Kotobukiya too and I’ll have both the pink and blue variant for her… >_>

Chag: Does GSC ever outsource for their sculpts? Because the first thing that came to my mind was that GK as well. GSC seems to be going after the DVD covers for their Bakemonogatari figures, but since there’s already a really nice sculpt out there for the Mayoi DVD cover, I’m not sure whether GSC would have a problem releasing their own. Would they license Tsuru no Yataka’s sculpt, or would they simply go ahead and make their own take on the same illustration? Hmmmm…

Anyhow, while I am pretty crazy about the GK’s sculpt, the Kotobukiya version is no slouch either. I love the kinetic and energetic pose, which is more representative of Mayoi’s character than the DVD cover illustration (though I certainly am not against a seductive Mayoi). I also like the gentle pink colour scheme, though I do have my sneaking suspicion that Kotobukiya will eventually release the regular blue version as a limited-release item. I understand the looming anticipation for a GSC version of Mayoi, but if the prototype photos can be trusted, Kotobukiya’s version looks good enough to keep any potential regret at bay.

Ashlotte: They don’t as far as I know… Can’t really see them copying an already done GK design with a different sculptor either, as they seem to go to great lengths to be “different”, as it were… Geh, but I really want that pose as well! Plus there’s the Movic version as well, which also has a great expression and awesome body language. But then again, they are even worse when it comes to the difference between prototyped and finished product…

Stupid bastard figure companies stop making so many of the same character that I can’t decide! I only have so much money and display real estate damnit! T_T

This is like Fate all over again… You keep debating, which is better and in the end you just give up out of frustration and choose neither… Good for my wallet, but sorrow for my otaku soul.

Chag: A stalemate, eh? All that’s left is for Good Smile Company to barge in while riding their gold-plated promo wagon and sweep everyone off their feet, then riding off again with a sack full of wallets. It’s kind of amazing how the initial reactions to this figure consist of much hesitation due to GSC’s absence — proof that GSC has the figure scene in the palm of its hand, despite what reviewers may say about their QC (as if anyone actually needs proof of GSC’s dominance…).

Ashlotte: Meh, while I knock ‘em occasionally for overexposure, I will freely admit they’ve been putting out some great figures that have a lot of heart in them, as well as their ability to capture a moment that’s rarely anything but dull, so for that I can’t say enough good things about ‘em. I just wish they didn’t get such tunnel vision in focusing on certain characters (BRS, Saber, and Miku specifically… I know – why is a Miku fanatic bitching about having too many figures right? I can be rational too! Sometimes…)

Ah anyway getting off-topic as usual… Even though I may regret it, I think I’ll take a wait and see on this one until all the manufacturers’ versions are out in the open to decide… May Mayoi forgive me, but I kinda doubt that her pre-orders are gonna disappear too terribly fast. >_>

 

Chag: Whew, congratulations to those of you who braved through this extra-thick serving of NERD RANT! As a reward, I’d like to share with you something that made my day.

In response to the mention of Sawa-chan in last week’s rant, Tier left this in his comment:

The schoolgirl in school uniform holding a guitar trope is getting way played out in anime. I think it’d be refreshing to see some heavy metal anime girls (or women). Like something like this. That’d be pretty cool. I have the feeling that my opinion is in the minority, however. […] One of these days, I’m going to learn how to draw and then I’m going to draw a picture of Mio biting the head off of a live bat.

Since that is clearly a fuckawesome idea, I immediately begged my friend Moulou to make it happen. Here’s what she came up with:

Fuck. YEAR.

Time to get back to the Figma Saber Alter review – assuming that I don’t get sucked back into Persona 3 Portable again tonight… I guess I shouldn’t make any promises, then – it’ll be posted when it’s done!