Chag: It’s been a fickle couple of weeks in the bishoujo figure world. After a quiet week between the 6th and the 12th, it slapped us upside the head this week with a surge of interesting preorders. While we couldn’t find to time to marvel at the strange wonder that is Kotobukiya’s Ballerina Rei, there is no shortage this week when it comes to the bizarre. We love a freak show here at Hobby Hovel, so strap yourselves in~

1/8 Luna Luna

Scale: 1/8 Origin: Queen’s Blade
Maker: Hobby Japan, MegaHouse Sculptor: Mohio
Retail Price: ¥8,400 Release: February 2011

Chag: Watch out, Aludra – here comes a new challenger to vie for the spot of “hardest figure to explain to friends and family”! I do not know how her barely-there lace “shawl” is able to perform its function over Luna Luna’s massive pair of assets, nor do I know the reason why she’s got a tentacle-looking appendage sticking out of her crotch. Seriously, if you have not seen Luna Luna’s character book, I strongly recommend checking it out if only for the shock factor. Let’s just say that she’s wearing a string thong made of beads, and she’s very eager to show it off.

Character design aside, I have to say that I like this figure. The defining keyword of Luna Luna is “exotic”, and Megahouse absolutely nails it with this figure. The pose, the ornaments, the glistening brown skin – I can almost smell the funky incense wafting out of her. The tentacle-like appendages have a downright slimy look to them, which is either very revolting or very erotic, depending how far the Japanese have distorted/enlightened your sense of sexuality… Anyhow, this figure seems to have done Luna Luna justice – now comes the question of whether she’ll actually sell or not. I wonder if Luna Luna has what it takes to break through the sense of inhibition that has kept Aludra shelf-warming to even this day.

Ashlotte: You’d think Hobby Japan would’ve understood from how dismally Aludra sold that people might just not like dickgirls as much as they thought they might… Meh, whatever.

This figure has to be one of the absolute worst I’ve seen Megahouse make, which is more than a little shocking. It’s got nothing to do with the character design though just from a technical standpoint she’s terrible!

You mentioned her skin “glistening” but all I can see is a cheap oily effect that’s devoid of shading and looks so plasticy I could puke. She’s got massive painfully obvious gaps on either side of the things on her thighs and arms that are plain hideous to look at. There are also some major mold problems on the underside of her breasts as well as one of her fingers on her left hand.

Only thing I’ll give them credit for is the nicely realized details on her numerous accessories that must’ve been a nightmare to pull off.. But this is a Queens Blade figure and when it comes down to it all that really matters is how the body looks.

I mean seriously, wtf is this shit Megahouse? You can do better than this, and considering all the awesome works you’ve done in the past you should feel ashamed for showing off such a half-ass thing.

Chag: Oh wow, your eyes are as sharp as ever. I really hope the mould scarring will be fixed in the final product, especially under her breasts (undoubtedly a focal point on this figure for many). I can’t spot the divisions you mentioned on her arms, but you are right about the gap on her thigh. It seems strange that Megahouse would drop the ball on such a basic error – a screw-up during the assembly of the prototype, perhaps?

However, I have to contend the point you made about the skin. Come on, there’s no way that all those different tones in the photos come from lighting alone. Megahouse must have shaded Luna Luna to a significant extent. You say the finish looks plasticy, but I don’t know, maybe it’s because you have sharper eye than I, but I thought the “moist effect” on Luna Luna came out well. That only other “moist” figure that comes to mind is this Yamato Kanu – what do you think of the finish on that one, and what do you think of “moist” effects on bishoujo figures in general?

Ashlotte: Good eye, eh? Haha, as a guy with terrible eye sight I’ll take that as a compliment! But yea, the ones on her arms are hard to see because of the angles, but its just about as bad as the thigh ones albeit on a smaller scale due to her arms being thinner and all.

I will cede the point on the skin though…That really is more of a personal preference in the end. I’m a pale skin fan myself, so the whole “moist effect” thing with the darker skin tones just isn’t my thing. I think they used it to far better effect on that Kanu figure, thought that may be because that figure’s body sculpt is on a whole ‘nother level compared to this thing.

Fate Testarossa (Plain Clothes ver.)

Scale: 1/7 Origin: Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha
Maker: ALTER Sculptor: Kajio Munetoshi
Retail Price: ¥7,140 Release: January 2011

Chag: Two months ago you expressed your disillusionment to the dynamic poses of ALTER’s Nanoha figures and a desire to see a Fate figure in casual clothes. Well, judging from the new Fate figure from ALTER, it seems that your message has pierced both the language and distance barrier somehow. So, what do you think?

Ashlotte: Haha, as if! If ALTER listened to me I’d be a far less bitter person methinks… But then again, I’d probably also run them into the ground. =P

Well, this figure is least a nice step in the right direction by getting away from the over-the-top action poses that every last one of their Nanoha figures sport. Of course, being the picky bastard that I am, I don’t think they went far enough. Specifically, I wish she was in a sitting pose…

I understand manufacturers kinda have to aim for “safe” poses that would appeal to as many people as possible, but how nice would this be: a figure of Fate sitting on the ground resting on Bardiche against her shoulder looking down sorrowfully with another upcoming Nanoha standing behind her in her school uniform clutching Raising Heart in its gem form looking up towards the sky with a determined expression.

Chag: You’ve pretty much outlined my frustrations with Asuka figures. Like Fate, Asuka would benefit greatly from a sorrowful expression, yet both are never given such a rendition. With today’s market, a curled-up Fate is going to face difficulties competing with the overwhelmingly in-your-face sculpts that seem to have become the norm. Not that I have anything against in-your-face, but it is limiting the scope of the figure world in a way. Take GSC’s Misaka Mikoto figure, for example: a sculpt like that would have been just fine a couple of years ago, yet now she is completely overshadowed either by figures with super-dynamic poses or elaborate display bases.

To be honest, I’m not immune from the effects of the changing figure scene either. After seeing so many elaborate magical girl outfits and action poses, I can’t help but to feel something’s missing from this Fate. Yet I can’t find anything wrong with her. I love her subtle smile, her relaxed pose, her little boots, and her simple blouse-skirt combination. She looks natural and comfortable, which to me is a golden virtue of bishoujo figures. Yet I just can’t bring myself to be excited over this figure, and I have a feeling that I’m alone in feeling this. Is this Fate figure doomed to a lukewarm reception, or will the burning passion from the legion of Fate-philes keep the kettle boiling regardless? Time will tell…

Nendoroid Cattleya

Scale: n/a Origin: Queen’s Blade
Maker: Phat! Company (Good Smile Company, FREEing) Sculptor: FREEing
Retail Price: ¥4,000 Release: December 2010

Chag: There are some things that simply should not exist in this world. This is one of them.

The very idea of a Queens Blade Nendoroid line is rooted in dubious grounds. After all, what good is Queens Blade without the alluring shapes of its character designs? It seems that Good Smile Company is aware of this, which may be the reason why the Queens Blade Nendoroids are marketed under the brand “Phat! Company” as if they are secretly ashamed of it.

I don’t have anything against Cattleya’s original character design. While she’s certainly not my cup of tea, I can easily imagine that her unique set of physical proportions has garnered her own crowd of fans. Of course, this being a Nendoroid figure, virtually all of her physical appeal has evaporated into thin air, thus rendering Cattleya’s greatest distinguishing factor moot.

Of course, there is more to a character than looks alone. Cattleya has a comforting mother-like personality that shamelessly tickles mother complex fetishists. But yet once again, Phat Company misses the mark completely. Cattleya comes with two equally boring faces that are both completely devoid of any trace of the character’s personality. The worst part about this is that unlike Cattleya’s physical traits, her personality could have easily been salvage by a couple decent faces. Instead, we get the most uninspired pair of face you could possibly ask for.

…Okay, I’m totally making a big deal over a series of figures I don’t give two shits about, but this thing looks so ill-conceived that it has become an eyesore. Bishoujo figures – SERIOUS FUCKING BUSINESS.

Ashlotte: Haha wow, and here I was expecting to see some ground shattering thing that would make me flip out at the sight of it… But I guess an almost 4k trading figure is something to fuss about.

But yea, you covered most of it – this is definitely one of those things that makes you say “Why does this need to exist?” I’m not even sure what else to say here… she’s just so damn plain. I don’t to take issue with here other then pity anyone thats silly enough to buy this little uncharismatic lump of plastic (Well technically two lumps) I guess?
Honestly if your that big of a Cattle fan just go the whole nine yards and buy the giant 1/2 scale version… At least I can see the appeal in the thing being as absurdly huge as it is (In more ways than one…).

Chag: Gasp – did I just hear a RECOMMENDATION for a Taki Coporation figure?! THE SKY IS FALLING.

Ashlotte: Pffft, blind hatred can only go so far. In all honesty, that thing looks pretty damn impressive. If only their small scale stuff achieved some of that quality, maybe they wouldn’t have gone under. Oh well, they only themselves to blame.

Chag: You got me there. Taki’s Cattleya looks fine judging from their promo photos. Maybe its sheer size gives the sculptors more wiggle space in terms of details. Still, to invest 25k yen on a Taki Corporation figure is a very demanding leap of faith. At the end if its days, the scepticism against the very mention of their name is enough to make the quality of their figures virtually irrelevant. Even if their giant Cattleya is indeed high quality, they took way too long to attempt to salvage their reputation.

1/8 Kousaka Kirino

Scale: 1/8 Origin: Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai
Maker: Chara-Ani, Toy’s Works Sculptor: Sugawara (Roughness)
Retail Price: ¥5,980 Release: January 2011

Ashlotte: I wish my younger sister was this cu—*stab*

What was I saying again? Oh yea the figure. Mmm… I actually really like this one honestly. Putting aside the fact that her head looks slightly too big for her body (Like its one scale larger or something?), she’s got some nice touches like the detail on her bag and the little magazine behind her back.

Body language is also quite nice. Kirino doesn’t sport the standard smiling appearance of most figure, but instead opts for a mix of surprise, embarrassment, and just a hint of Tsun that looks set to explode into a full blown outburst any second.

Sadly, since this is being produced by Toy’s Works, the one thing you can count on them to do is screw up the final product.

Chag: Oh wow, this thing is going for under 5,000 yen at online retailers! This takes me back to the old days when HLJ was the undisputed king of the playground, and when the Japanese Yen did not run around sodomizing anything that moved.

The figure looks simple and charming in these photos, and I like the slightly faded colours of her uniform. I haven’t read the novels so I wouldn’t know how accurate the expression is to the character, but there’s no denying from me that it looks downright adorable.

But enough about the figure and allow me to indulge myself with a tangent, if you will. When I read the description of the Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai (holy shit that’s a mouthful) on the Fall anime chart, I couldn’t help but to roll my eyes. The idea behind Kirino is simple: combine the favorite character traits (tsundere, loli, imouto) with the audience itself in the form of her love for eroge. This concept goes very far to make the audience identify with the character – too far, the way I look at it. The premise goes out of its way to service its audience, except rather than using contrived pantyshots, OnIgKnKWgN uses a highly contrived character designed to tickle as many fetishes as possible. I have not read the novels, but I have a feeling that the plot is going to be carried by the legs of the flimsy premise for moe/comedic value, which makes me wonder how far it will actually go before those legs crumble.

Then again, the description does give mention “hidden obsessions” and “other issues” in Ms. fashion-model-erogamer’s life, so maybe I shouldn’t write her off just yet. I can’t deny that the character design looks damn cute, and I’ll probably watch the anime when it airs this October. But yeah, did that whole rant make any sense to you?

Ashlotte: Haha what the hell… I find a half-decent cute figure to talk about in the 11th hour here and you abruptly run off into left field on me. Ah whatever, derailment is fun!

Expectations are a dangerous thing, no? This is why I avoid reading spoilers and previews about upcoming anime every season. Rather, I think it’s more fun to just watch stuff completely oblivious of the premise than to read a summary and go pre-judging. =P

But anyway, she sounds like Haruka to me… Though it’s not like that’s a good thing, as even Mamiko couldn’t save that pandering pile of crap from becoming just another generic absurdist comedy about an ultra-rich girl a la Hayate. If this girl isn’t super rich and actually has to put effort into being an Otaku along with all the wallet destruction it entails, the show might actually be interesting…

Chag: Oh shit, I didn’t think of Hayate – and I was one of the 6 people in the entire world who actually preferred Nagi to Hinagiku. I wonder if I would like Nagi if I was introduced to the character today as opposed to a couple of years ago… I was pretty easily amused back then.

 

Chag: Annnnd I’m spent for the week. Let me tell you: poking around danbooru for Cattleya fanart to use for the header image was a… harrowing experience. After being accustomed to her anime character design, I had forgotten how ripped she is in the original illustrations. This makes for some rather extreme search results, especially when most of them were of the NFSW variety. Actually, any picture of Cattleya would be considered NFSW… but you know what I mean.

Anyhow, that’s a wrap for now, and we’ll see you guys next week (hopefully)!