Chag: Oh Wonder Festival, you are just like Christmas for us figure fans… Except we have to wait on the presents at first… then pay big sacks of money for them when they do come out…

…Okay, maybe WonFes isn’t really like Christmas, but it certainly does share that sweet buzz of excitement that is commonly associated with the holiday season. This year’s summer WonFes convention is no exception, and with truckload of announcements from the various figure makers, let’s get started, Ash!

(Credits for the photos belong to アキバHOBBY, HobbyStock, Dengeki online, 武士ノ末路, GF団, けしからん写真情報館, moeyo, Seaside Tears 2, GA graphic, and most of all, Neko-Magic for compiling these photos into convinent megaupload archives! Thanks GGT2!)

 

Bakemonogatari Figures

Chag: If WonFes was a cake factory, all the Bakemonogatari fans who attended the event would emerge from the building morbidly obese. Not only did Good Smile Company follow up with their popular 1/8 Senjougahara Hitagi figure with three amazing prototypes of Hanekawa Tsubasa, Sengoku Nadeko and Suguru Kanbaru, Alter has joined the Bakemonogatari arms race with a striking Hitagi of their own. As if that isn’t enough, Max Factory has also revealed a pair of Figmas depicting Hitagi and Araragi!

Personally, I’m really pleasantly surprised by GSC’s Kanbaru, despite the fact that she’s probably my least favourite character out of the bunch. Looking smug and contented while sitting on her piles of books, Kanbaru’s appearance is just begging for a monocle and/or pipe. Damn, that’s one classy dyke.

Ashlotte: Funnily enough, just when I thought that nothing would top GSC’s rendition of Hitagi, Alter comes out of nowhere (as they love to do) and smacks us all upside the head. This reminds me why when I first started getting into this hobby about 2/3rds of the figures I liked most were done by Alter’s hand. This of course just makes things worse for me, since now I have to wait and see if they feel like making a Mayoi of their own! Can’t be sure about that, though, because Alter has a certain maddening notoriety for not making full lines of figures (Nanoha being one of the exceptions…).

As for GSC… Kanbaru is a quite striking figure, but I never have been a fan of hers whether it be character design or personality, so meh. Nadeko at least I can say I’m fond of her character design (Sorry – not a big one on characters that say onii-chan or any variation on it). Either way, while I do applaud them for having the balls to make a figure that you can remove her legs I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t saddened by GSC’s decision to use an illustration that lacks her trademark baggy pants…

Chag: I’m not sure what’s going on with that Nadeko figure (are two sets of legs included, or what?), but I’m liking the version with her legs mostly submerged into the water. The original non-wading version has a huge case of Strike Witches syndrome – you can’t have a big poofy hat and a jacket on top and bare legs on the bottom! I agree that some pants would’ve been for Nadeko, but seeing that GSC is going all-out on those DVD covers, I gotta applaud them for a great recreation of the illustration, especially the funky-looking trees.

On a side note, I’m kind of surprised by the announcement of an Araragi Figma, but not really, since judging from the reactions of a couple of my friends, the effect of his vampiric charm is not limited to the characters in his harem. Cheer up emo kid – looks like you have fangirls!

Ashlotte: I’m guessing she splits at the midsection hidden under the shirt to conceal the lines. Also, those are broken Torii gates Chagster, not trees, but I do agree they look splendid. :p

Random parting thought: I think this is one of the rare few times Alter has ever used an existing illustration for the basis of a figure…

Chag: Torii gates, eh? That would explain why the “trees” appeared to be painted red, but I just assumed they were SHAFT style trees. Annnnyhow, moving on!

 

Nanoha Figures

Chag: With a casual dress version of Fate by Alter, a Nanoha by Resinya, another Fate by Yamato, the Acsta Fate, an incredible diorama duo by Freeing, and much much more, it is clear that even after 6 years of the initial airing of Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha, the franchise is by no means losing steam. Hell, even Eriol and Caro from StrikerS are getting their own Figmas! It seems that people just can’t get enough Nanoha figures, and given the fact that there are still a few movies to come, it looks like the Nanoha franchise will be here to stay for a long, long time.

Initially, I was very excited by FREEing’s Fate vs. Nanoha Diorama, but that excitement was checked when I found out that they are only of a measly 1/12 scale – on par with most Figmas. Thankfully, their huge and dynamic display bases compensate for the small sizes of the figures to a certain degree. Given the sizes of these figures, the detailing on this pair of figures will be far below the standards of the larger scale Nanoha figures from Alter, so the deal breaker here will be the price. If these can go for 4000 yen or under, I bet there will be a sizable bunch of people who’d be willing to check out the unique presentation of these FREEing figures. Hmm, what do you think, Ash?

Ashlotte: Well, it seems like figure makers have really taken a liking to the new movie… much to my misfortune. Don’t get me wrong – more Nanoha is always nice, but like I’ve said before, I’m not a big fan of the movie designs, and since there is no Vita in the movie, what we end up with is an absurd amount of just Nanoha and Fate figures. >_<

The stand out ones were obviously the FREEing duo. Honestly, I’m not worried about the scale mostly because it’s a very ambitious thing they are doing and you can’t blame them for wanting to err on the side of caution. Besides, if they were full-sized, I would no idea where I’d even display them! But FREEing is a proven maker having made one of my favorite figures in my collection so I have little to no concern about quality.

The other pleasant surprises were from Alter…As if in direct response to my bitching last week they gave me not only plain clothes Fate, but Nanoha (Although I wish she was plain clothes too, not school uniform…) and Vivio as well! Truly a loli overload that should make for a fine set!

Ah the rest however did little to differentiate themselves from the pack…None of Movic, Cospa, or Yamato’s renditions really even made me bat an eye… I’m not sure what their strategy is (Depending on blind fanatics who will buy just about anything of a character they like?), but these comparatively tame takes are just a bore… Maybe it’d be a good idea to take a cue from the Acsta line and try to integrate spell effects parts??

Chag: Rather than adding spell effects, I’d rather have these makers abandon their Nanoha projects if it were possible. As I was poking around in search for WonFes photos, I noticed that virtually every figure maker wanted a piece of the Nanoha pie, but as figure-friendly as the franchise is, the upcoming months is going to be ridiculously over-saturated by Nanoha figures. Hell, this is even worse than the Vocaloid flood – at least that’s limited to only a couple of manufacturers! If there is any sense in the figure-collecting world, these Nanoha-hungry figure makers are due for a harsh lesson in the future.

 

K-ON! Figures

Chag: The K-ON! gold rush is still going strong as Max Factory, Alter and Good Smile Company continue to roll out related merchandise by the truckloads. A Nendoroid Petit set, an Ui Nendoroid, a waitress Mugi from Max Factory, and a pair of Ritsu figures from Alter and Max Factory. The problem? NO SAWA-CHAN, not even a freaking Nendoroid Petit. Looks like you’ll have to pack up your fantasies of a rockster Sawako, Ash, because she seems to be getting no love these days.

Anyhow, the major match-up here is between the Max Factory Ritsu and the Alter Ritsu, and I think I speak for all of us when I say that Alter has scored a flawless victory here. A full set of drums for Ritsu is undoubtedly an amazing feat that will even attract the eyes those who are not fans of K-ON, but I just love the pose Ritsu assumes in Alter’s version. With her arms extended diagonally to her sides and an eager expression on her face, Ritsu totally looks as if she is asking for a hug if you take away the drumsticks. If that isn’t moe, I don’t know what is.

Another reason why Alter’s Ritsu triumphs in my book is the facial expression on Max Factory’s version. No matter how hard I try not to, every time I glance at a picture of that Ritsu, I see a “DERP” speech bubble coming out of her mouth. But Max Factory isn’t one to make a major fuck-up like this… is it just me, then? Am I blind to some mysterious charm to her “derp” face? What does it meannnnn??

Ashlotte: Yea no Sawa-chan… Metal obviously doesn’t sell or some such thing…bleh.

I have to admit: I had to look up what “derp” meant. I’m behind the times as always, it seems. Anyway I’ll disagree with Chag here…I think Alter’s version looks disappointing to say the least while I find Max’s rather charming albeit flawed in the same way.

The pose on Alter’s is fitting of a drummer, but the expression is just terrible… I haven’t much liked most of the faces on Alter’s K-ON! figures and they continued that tradition splendidly. Honestly, how hard would it be to make her have a sly grin or something more fitting? Max’s on the other hand has a nice easy going-ness to her that I quite enjoy, although again the expression is not the sort I would have given her if it were up to me…
Mugi on the other hand is the first K-ON! figure I’ve genuinely wanted…she’s awesome,period. I want…like…now! >_>

Chag: I definitely agree that a confident smirk would’ve been great for both of the Ritsu figures, but I still can’t see the easy-going-ness of the Max Factory Ritsu. The character design is there, the body language is there, but the face is just not registering here. Maybe my head just doesn’t work that way, kind of like how I can never understand the “>_>” emoticon.

I get nervous when I see that waitress Mugi. Dropping stuff and spilling shit on customers is the nightmare of a waiter, and her pose looks like an accident waiting to happen. I’ve worked fast food for a summer in high school, and I don’t want this figure to remind me of those dark 4 months, as adorable and happy as Mugi looks to the naked eye. I guess fast food killed a part of me inside, and I don’t mean my arteries.

 

Black Rock Shooter Figures

If I had to anthropomorphize the GSC bloc as a person, it would be a small man cruising across a highway on a stretch hummer while the cast of Black Rock Shooter pole dances on the hood of the car (yes, stripper poles are installed on the hood of said stretch hummer). In addition to completing the catalogue of merchandise for BRS and Dead Master with the Nendoroid Dead Master and Nendoroid petit set for both characters, GSC and Max Factory have also wasted no time in revealing a Black Gold Saw Figma, as well as an animated version scale figure of the same character.

Ashlotte: Watching the OVA reminded me why I haven’t jumped on the BRS figure bandwagon – they are just sooo goddamn unemotional! Ugh…There is a line between stoic and boring. And stupidly enough the only one of the lot that does show some emotion (Dead Master) GSC decided on sticking with a boring face. So yeah, I couldn’t really care less what they do with this series in all honesty. Good chara designs only go so far with me…

Chag: Oh you, you just HAD to mention the anime! I’m still amazed at the lack of any facial expression and words from Black Rock Shooter herself throughout the entire fight. It’s kind of an accomplishment in itself.

The new Black Gold Saw stuff looks superb. The Figma has scratch marks on the weapon, and the scaled figure has a great sense of motion in the placement of debris, not to mention a head of snake-like hair. Going back to the anime: I wish GSC didn’t pressure the anime staff to squeeze in that Black Gold Saw segment in the beginning of the OVA (this is only an assumption, of course, but I’m pretty damn confident about it. I can spot a thinly-disguised sales pitch when I see it), because these figures look good enough to sell themselves. Maybe those few minutes could have been used to actually help forge a decent plot of the OVA… Oh who am I kidding – the OVA needs more than just a few minutes to fix its problems.

Bah, I’m getting side-tracked again. This is probably behind the control of the GSC sculptors, but I wish there’s a bigger difference between the facial expressions of BRS and BGS. If BRS is the blank slient type, can’t BGS be the angry silent type? As great as Huke is, I get the feeling that variety isn’t his strong suit.

 

Fate/Stay Night Figures

Chag: Here comes another franchise that just won’t die… not that I’m complaining, of course! Now that we’ve been graced with a coloured prototype of GSC’s 1/7 Saber Alter, you’d think that GSC’s Saber cash cow would be dry at this point, right? Well, the articulated Nendoroid casual dress Saber would like to ask otherwise. At this point, I wouldn’t even be surprised if GSC rolls out a 1/7 casual Saber, swimsuit Saber… hell, even an 1/7 Saber Lion.

Saber aside, there’s also GSC’s Unlimited Blade Works Rin that desperately needs an Archer to go with her, as well as the revival of a Solid Theater dark Sakura sculpt by Gift. Even Kotobukiya is jumping onto the F/SN bandwagon with their teaser silhouette of a plamo Saber, which I imagine would be in the same vein as their Hoihoi-san kits.

Even though I’ve made the choice to stick with the Figma Saber Alter, I’d be lying if GSC’s Saber Alter didn’t make sway my heart for a brief moment. While some uncoloured prototypes end up looking less impressive after the colour treatment, GSC’s Saber Alter was the exact opposite. The glossy dark armour came out as flawlessly as the fabric folds of her battle dress. And as if the figure itself doesn’t make it obvious enough that Saber Alter is out for blood, the display base has little fountains of blood jizzing out of it. Despite being only a disk-shaped base, it augments the atmosphere of the figure so amazingly well that it has become one of the most striking display bases for me in recent memory.

Ashlotte: Another group of figures I’m rather… -_- about. I’m obviously not a big Saber or Sakura fan, so that leaves only Rin, and honestly, the UBW Rin just isn’t my cup of tea. I like my Rin cute and tsundere not oversexed like her movie poster version. >_>

Chag: Oversexed? In MY bishoujo figures? UNTHINKABLE.

Jokes aside, while I have to agree that the illustration and sculpt went a little overboard in the exaggeration of Rin’s womanly characteristics, I kind of empathize with them as well – after all, Rin is not a easy character do make a dramatic figure of. Though she does have the killer zettai ryouki factor going for her character design, the actual clothes she wear are very, very plain. The same can be said for her way of fighting, which mostly consists of chucking shiny pebbles at people. If you’ve ever played Fate/Unlimited Codes, you’d know that her moves are the least striking in the game along with Shirou. If GSC unfulfilled an Archer figure along with her, Rin would’ve looked a lot less silly, but I wouldn’t bet my money on a male figure from GSC.

Maybe the problem is trying to make a serious Rin figure in the first place. Everyone knows that GSC is going for a cycle of dramatic looking F/SN figures, as Ash said, the best Rin is as cute/tsundere Rin.

Ashlotte: That’s why you make a school uniform version. I never was a fan of her casual outfit, but that uniform with the jacket and long skirt… oh god!!! Just imagine her in a wide leg stance arms crossed with a very slight windswept feel coming from her right side to add some dynamism and an irritated look written all over her face… Oh oh or with a slight smug sneer on her face while she’s holding up one of her jewels letting you know you’re about to be in a world of hurt… Fuck! I need to learn how to sculpt! T_T

 

Vocaloid Figures

Chag: Lily, Tony Taka Miku, scaled racing Miku, new articulated Paw Laboratory Miku Nendoroid, Mikumix Miku, coloured prototype of the “Love is War” Miku… you know what’s missing from this list? A LUKA FIGURE.

Don’t mind me, I’ll just be crying in the corner. Handle this one, won’t you Ash?

Ashlotte: Too goddamn many Miku figures… I think that about covers it, no? Oh I’m supposed to write more… ok…

Well like Nanoha, Miku is suffering from over saturation that would make Kanu and Saber sob in envy. I guess it wouldn’t be so bad if the figures were actually good, but most of them just seem to miss the mark.

Lily… Hah, thanks for the big middle finger to all of fans waiting for any of the myriad of other vocaloid characters yet to receive the PVC treatment! Oh, and her face makes her look like some sort of Alien drag queen…

TT Miku… Why… this just… ugh… No, this figure shouldn’t even exist. We did not need yet another generic Miku in her regular outfit you talentless hacks… Beady little eyes too. At least the pose is energetic albeit weird and uncomfortable to look at from certain angles.

Racing Miku… Somebody link me a side profile of her if one exists…From the front it looks like they didn’t really capture Redjuice’s incredibly cute face of his original art, but it’s hard to tell from the few shots I’ve seen of her. They did an aces job on the paint and body sculpt, though, so I’m most likely gonna grab this one.

Miku Nendo… Well at least they went and did something slightly unique, and I like the fact its based on the CD cover of a pretty decent Miku album so I’ll cut em some slack on this one.

Love Is War… Yea way to piss away all that great sculpting with a boring paint job GSC…You stayed true to the original illustration so much, but seemed to have fumbled one the things that truly made it memorable: the stark color pallet and the emotional punch that came with it! Before the show I was 100% sold on this one, but meh, now I’ll have to see.

So yeah, lots of disappointment this time around. Out of all the things shown what I’m most excited about is the Mikumix Chibi. That thing is just down right awesome! Words can’t describe just how much I want that nifty little monster. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had unique and interesting things like this and less generic crap we’ve seen before?

I’d point out some awesome art that is just begging for a Miku figure, but looking at what they did to Love is War you’d probably find a way to screw those up too…

Chag: Oh boy, the Tony Taka Miku figure definitely did not fare too well during its transition to the realm of three dimensions. Nothing was wrong with the figure technically, but the source illustration just really isn’t suitable for something like this. Poor Miku looks as if she’s being (to recycle my tweet) being wrung like a rag by a pair of gigantic invisible hands. Not the best impression for a figure, to put it mildly. But on a bright note, the hair on this Miku is probably the best I’ve seen of any Miku figure yet, which would’ve made Miku a tempting option for me, if not for my “1 figure per character rule”, of course.

To be fair, GSC and gang has been making an effort at releasing a variety of takes on the vocaloid characters (VN02, World is Mine, Meltdown, Love is War, Racing, etc), so I wouldn’t use the world “generic”. But when the biggest figure makers are limiting a huge chunk of their output to one character, getting bitter over the teal flood is only natural. *COUGH*luka*COUGH*

I wonder how articulated the Mikumix menace is – it would be hilarious to have it terrorize my figure collection.

Ashlotte: Maybe generic is the wrong word, but for some reason I just can’t get myself excited about any of these Mikus lately for the most part…I see so many incredible Miku illustrations every day that really spark the imagination but for the most part these Miku figures be they PVC or GK just seem to be lacking lately. It’s probably just my own fault for feeling this way, so don’t mind me… >_>

As for the Mikumix figure: it was mentioned on MFC that she isn’t articulated, which I both love and hate…Still desperately want her though!

 

Others

Chag: Of course, WonFes would be awfully boring if it was limited to only a few franchises. Of course, the full extent of the event is beyond the scope of Hobby Hovel, but thankfully we can always pick and choose. So, what are some of the other highlights for you this time around, Ash?

Ashlotte: Out of all the things we haven’t covered numero uno has to be Eris from CM Corporation…She’s just so perfect that I don’t know what else to say. To me this is the type of figure that I wish I saw more of, something that completely captures a characters essence. Now if CM doesn’t screw up the production version that’d be nice…

Chag: For a mechasexual like me, the Figma Metis was a sure-fire way to knock me off of my chair. I haven’t played the “The Answer” part of Persona 3: FES (and probably never will – no social links? Bleh!), but know a good fembot when I see one. Sure, she’ll probably be next to impossible to display without a stand like Aigis, but who am I to say no to those smooth, gilded metal plates and Koromaru? Awww yeah baby, come to papa.

Ashlotte: Alter’s Dizzy for me was a huge surprise… is there a new GG game coming out or something? Regardless, the fact that Alter adapted one of the most impressive fighting game character designs is quite the welcome sight! So how’s about some Blazblue figures, eh?

Chag: The Lupin the 3rd duo (Lupin & Jigen) from Kaiyodo’s Revoltech line is another example of toys that look so fun that I have to check out their source material. From the photos I’ve seen of these two, they are ridiculously articulate and expressive, with a generous assortment of accessories to boot! Actually, I ought to be ashamed to not have watched Castle of Cagliostro already… Time to correct that.

 

Chag: Jeez Ash, I think we bit off way more than what we could chew this week. After all this, we still didn’t manage to get to the garage kits! Oh well, no use pining over things that are out of our reach…

Ashlotte: Oh I’ll always pine…But preferably in private…With lots of booze…

Chag: And there you have it. I’ll have a bishoujo figure review up within the week (gee, come to think of it, I haven’t done a female scale figure since WIM Miku!) so look forward to that! Until next time~