Chag: Yippie ki-yay, it’s that time of year again – the time when figure makers blow their plastic load all over the Makuhari Messe convention centre! Like a crowd of hobos outside the windows of a buffet restaurant, figures fans all over the world have been gazing and salivating at the plastic treasures on display. The crush of new figures is too much for two geeks to handle by themselves, but here’s our reactions to a bunch of figures that has, for one reason or another, caught our attention!

(Photo credits belong to Hobby Stock, Tomopop, アキバHOBBY)

Max Factory’s 1/6 Test Plug Suit Asuka

Chag: After a long, long wait, the follow-up to Max Factory’s 1/6 Mari is finally revealed…and it’s Asuka in that blasted test plug suit. To be fair, I really don’t hate the design of her new suit, but I can’t help but to get a little frustrated at the way it’s stealing the original plug suit’s thunder, especially considering the fact that it barely made an appearance in the movie. I have been looking forward to a “definitive” Asuka figure from Max Factory ever since Mari was revealed, but it seems I’ll have to look elsewhere.

Ashlotte: Haha, aw come on, am I the only one around here who likes the test suit’s design? My only gripe with it is, like you said, we only got to see her in it for all of 5 seconds, and I sort of doubt it’s going to make much of an appearance in the next film. It’s a shame really, since it shows off her assets so nicely!

I do feel vindicated for not getting all the previous test suit figures of hers though, as I like this one the best by far! Just look at that coloring! Damn it Max Factory, I wish you could make more figures, but I guess if that were the case, we wouldn’t get this kind of quality.

Chag: True. Overwork those Chinamen, and they might just end up forgetting to paint stars on jackets. =P

I also love Asuka’s expression on this version. The slight pout is a great breath of fresh air that actually comes close to real personality — something that very few Asuka figures have ever managed. Sigh…so close, yet so far away!

Figma Itou Kaiji, Robocop, and Drossel 2.0

Chag: The guys at Max Factory’s Figma department must be a silly bunch. After the Figma Michael Jackson and Billy Herrington Figmas, it seems that the doors have been thrown wide open, and anything is now possible! Who could’ve guessed that they were working on a Figma Itou Kaiji or Robocop? As great as the Kaiji manga and anime are, the art style for the character is hardly what you’d expect for the schoolgirl-laden Figma line. As for Robocop, that movie was made before I was even born! Does this mean the Figma line will start competing directly against the Sci-Fi Revoltech line? I hope so! The Figma line is too great to be limited only to Bishoujo characters. As for me, I’m tempted to get Kaiji just for the sake of novelty. If he comes with a crying face, I’m not sure I would be able to resist.

As for Drossel, I can’t say I’m not slightly disappointed. The shapes of her body are pretty plain, and gone is the feminine charm in her original design. Being the robo-girl fanatic that I am, I’m still pretty curious as to what she can do, though! If she is anything like her predecessor, she would come with a lot of accessories, which may very well make or break the deal.

Ashlotte: I guess they really felt the need to compete with Kaiyodo in the “what random things can we make figures of” department…a sign that it’s been working out well for Kaiyodo? (Or people just like buying things like woody for the creep factor…)

As for Drossel…yea…not really feeling the thunder thighs. I’ve seen the new CG model in action, which looks kinda ok from certain angles, but the chunky legs just aren’t working for me…Something more svelte would suit a robotic oujo to me.

Even More Miku!

(Figma/Scaled Append, “Love is War”, Lat Ver.)

Ashlotte: Ah, it’s deja vu all over again this WonFes it seems with skads of Miku figures everywhere you look and not a single Luka in sight… Ok, getting past my despair at the lack of pink, I think it’s safe to say this was a hit-and-miss event for me as a Miku fan.

On the upside we have Max’s awesome figure they showed off based on the ever loveable Lat model used in some of the best MMD videos around. Frankly, I was starting to lose hope in Max factory. First they gave us the admittedly nice, but wholly unneeded original Miku that differed little from GSC’s, then an emotionally void version based off a picture shown for 5 seconds in a random remix video, and then again with the utterly pointless Tony Taka version that felt mostly like a cash-in on the artist’s popularity more than anything else.

Ah but now Max Factory is getting back to something that actually represents a good segment of the Miku fandom, and this new Miku is damn cute. Other than her, we have the Append model finally seeing a PVC release which I’m….of two minds of, I guess. It’s lovely to be sure, but again like VN02 rather devoid of emotion. The face is still intriguing though I’m fairly undecided on whether to buy or not.

And then of course, we have the giant elephant in the room, which sadly is not quite as giant anymore. I’m genuinely tired of GSC’s little antics. This is not the first time they chopped down a base, and I have no idea what their thought process is as a company sometimes. This erratic streak they’ve been going through for some time now is getting on the nerves to put it mildly…shape up fellas!

Chag: Two words: STRIPED PANTIES. It’s about fucking time that someone got this right! This new Miku is all sorts of adorable. I’m not too terribly familiar with the MMD scene, but I recognize this model from that “Yellow” video you tweeted. The white top and the lack of arm warmers also remind me of the infamous PoPiPo video, which is a big plus. This Miku doesn’t deviate far from her original design, yet she’s got a very distinct feel from her inumerable counterparts (and I don’t just mean her choice of underwear). If they make glasses removable (EDIT: looks like they are!)  and throw in a bottle of vegetable juice accessory, she’d be real tempting in my eyes.

I’m not surprised at all by the revelation of Append Miku as the 100th Figma. It seems that the Figma line really blew up with the introduction of Miku. With Haruhi and Fate/Stay Night all but dried out in terms of material, it only makes sense to revisit the teal-haired lass that made the line what it is. The scaled figure is also good news, but like you, I’m not too crazy on her low-tone expression, When I look at her face, I can’t make out what she’s supposed to be feeling, and that bothers me.

Truth be told, I never had high hopes for the Love is War Miku. The source illustration just doesn’t seem like the sort that would make a smooth transition to three dimensions. There’s a lot going on in that image, way more than a figure of reasonable cost could hope to capture. The giant display base they showed off before always struck me as unfeasible, so I’m not really surprised by the new neutered base. Still, the long, dragged-out tease of this figure is nothing short of baffling. It’s pretty hard to squeeze out a positive response when they pull out a downgrade at the 3rd or 4th WonFes she is displayed at. Bad planning if I ever saw it.

Alter’s 1/7 Black Hanekawa

Chag: Awwwww yeah, this one I’m really looking forward to. I’ll have to admit the way cat Tsubasa ended every other phrase with “nya” annoyed the fuck out of me in the anime, but that doesn’t make her any less attractive in my book. It’s hard to forget Tsubasa’s legendary assets when you’ve seen the BD version of her OP (which has sadly been removed from YouTube), and this figure puts those assets to good use by having her pajama top in a rather precarious position. I’m dying to see the painted version of this figure.

Ashlotte: You’re crazy Chags! Ho-chan’s little Nya’s were the only thing that made me even vaguely like the character, haha. Gotta love the pose on this one – it’s probably going to be quite an eye-catcher when you get that nice Alter paint job on her!

Alter’s 1/7 Takamachi Nanoha (School Uniform Vers.)

Ashlotte: She may not look like much to some, but to me, this was one of the things I was happiest to see at this WonFes. Honestly, I’ve been underwhelmed by virtually all the Nanoha figures that has come about from the Movie, but this figure really nails it for me. The very best figures for me are the ones that remind me just how much I love a character, and in that respect, no other figure at the show could top this.

Chag: Oh? I sure didn’t expect that reaction from you, but I suppose after so many high-flying Nanoha figures, it’s good to see that capture the innocent essence of the character. That said, I was never a huge fan of her to begin with, and that plain uniform does nothing to change my mind. Skirt hems that reach below the knee? That’s just outrageous! =P

Good Smile Company’s 1/8 Hachikuji Mayoi

Chag: Yesss, I’m sure I’m not the only one happy that GSC decided to tackle the DVD jacket Mayoi. The Kotobukiya version looks great and all, but it’s no match for the half-innocent, half suggestive look of this version (in my eyes, at least!). The question of whether the figure will be in the alternate pink colours of the original illustration or the standard character colours still remains. Personally, I’m rooting for the pink version, but with enough demand and some luck, perhaps GSC will take advantage of the situation and release two version of this lovely figure!

Ashlotte: Haha, yea right! I doubt the figure would sell enough to warrant variants. Personally, I just want her original blue color, but then again I’m a stickler for stuff like that. Although, the pose in and of itself is completely out-of-character, so if I really was a true stickler I’d have gotten the Kotobukiya version, but ahh, this pose is just oh so exploitable to pass up!

Nendoroid Cirino

Chag: Well well, what a surprise! Who would’ve thought the ⑨th Touhou Nendoroid would be Cirno? Jokes aside, Cirno is one of those characters who is perfect for the gremlin treatment, and if the folks at Good Smile Company would be wise enough to include a pair of glasses a la Cirno’s Perfect Math Class, then I daresay I may very well break my long Nendoroid dry spell.

Ashlotte: Yea, honestly you couldn’t pick a better character to make a Nendoroid out of. Most of Nendoroids leave me scratching my head wonder why the hell you’d want a chibi figure of some of these characters, but I daresay this would top any full scale attempt at capturing her “genius”, as it were! =P

Megahouse’s 1/8 Captain Lliana

Ashlotte: While I’m slightly sad that they amped up Liliana’s bust size compared to the original illustration, it’s quite nice to see Megahouse fast-tracking this figure, because there really just isn’t enough pirate-inspired anime merchandise out there!

Chag: Amen to that. Nothing is more appeal than a bunch of dirty, scurvy-ridden and rum-inhaling wenches. Just thinking about the smell of a woman who hasn’t showered in months gives me a stiffy that would offend the Gods.

Jokes aside, Liliana does look like a great piece of work. The frills on her costume look really intricate, and that pose really brings out her curves. I don’t mind the added boobage, since they don’t really look out of place on her to me. I’m pretty curious about how the cast-off feature is going to work on this figure. Is Megahouse going to settle for a simple detachable top, or will her entire pirate jacket come off? Whatever the case, I’ll be keeping my eyes on her.

Kotobukiya’s 1/7 Souryuu Asuka Langley

Chag: I’m glad Kotobukiya is following up their recent Rei figure with an Asuka of the same series, but I’m rather conflicted about her. On one hand, a decent new Asuka in her regular plug suit is always something I would be happy about, but on the other hand, she doesn’t carry any of the solemn feel of the Rei figure. If I had to use a word to describe Asuka, “happy” would be the last world I would use, yet there she is, playfully smiling as if she has not a care in the world. I’ll probably get her anyways, though, since both Max Factory and Alter are unlikely to make yet another Asuka after their recent test plug suit versions. Kotobukiya’s Asuka may not be perfect, but the uncoloured prototype still looks pretty great, and I’ve been itching for an Asuka figure in my collection for years now, anyhow.

Ashlotte: I don’t know if this is the rendition of her I’d go with, but frankly, all of the classic plug suit Asuka figures look alike to me. *shrug*

Chag: But the thing is, beside the other Kotobukiya plug suit Asuka, there aren’t too many PVC figures of Asuka in her plug suit out there. The only one that comes to mind is Alter’s 2006 figure of her, and that has a pretty derpy expression. With that said, I can’t say I don’t have my doubt either, but I’ll have plenty of time to decide between now and when the figure finally gets released. Hell, I can probably wait even longer until she goes on sale! Pre-ordering figures doesn’t make a lot of sense these days anyhow.

Kotobukiya’s 1/8 Maaryan (Dancer Ver.)

Ashlotte: Why Kotobukiya, why why why? You have so very, very, very many interesting and unique costume designs to cherry pick out of this game and you go with…The bunny girl? Really? Because there aren’t enough bunny girl figures in the world?

Look at that…LOOK! And that’s just one damn character! Here, better yet just look the whole page! You can’t tell me they couldn’t pick something more interesting than this. They were literally neck-deep in awesome RPG costume designs, yet they went with BUNNY GIRL?! And here I thought their Tamaki and Manaka choices were questionable. I’m starting to think Kotobukiya is just scribbling down lots and drawing them out of a hat to choose the costumes they’ll tackle.

Chag: LOL, I see what you mean. That’s kind of like ordering nothing but rice balls at a fancy sushi joint. Personally, I am partial to Sasara, both with and without armour. Though to be fair, as far as bunny girl figures go, Maryan looks pretty fun and lively. Also, you get a good view of her armpits, which I think is a nice treat. All in all, I understand your frustration, but it could be worse, right?

Phat Company’s 1/8 scale Touhou gang

(Chen, Yukari, Ran)

Chag: Looks like another company jumping onto the Touhou bandwagon in a big way. Between Phat Compnay’s Perfect Cherry Blossom trio and Kotobukiya’s #recent #entries, Griffon’s SAMEFACE figures are in for some fierce competition. Just look at Yukari there with her legs crossed — now that’s personality! Also, tits.

Ashlotte: Pretty much. Competition is never a bad thing, that’s for sure. Kotobukiya’s offerings have all failed to impress me so far, but sadly the same can’t be said for Phat’s damned exclusives!

Chag: I’m sure they’ll wind up on Amiami, Otacute or some other foreigner-friendly retailer — Touhou merch nowadays really don’t feel all that exclusive anymore. The wall ZUN erected is being torn down brick by brick. It’s only a matter of time!

Native’s 1/6 Nana

Chag: I’m not sure how many of you read the manga Nana and Karou, but it is an absolute delight. Its premise consists of a strange yet highly effective blend of romance and S&M, and it really is an eye-opening experience to the highly stigmatized world of public urination, spankings, and collar-walks (amongst other things). The series seems to be doing very well as of late, with a live action movie and an OVA series in the works, to say nothing of this gem by Native. It is my opinion that there are too few leather bondage gear figures out there, and Nana here is a great step in the right direction. I’m sure a certain leather-loving read would agree with me on that. 😉

Ashlotte: Well, I saw something from Native I’m waiting for with baited breath, but it sure wasn’t this one. Frankly, I think she looks exceptionally plain, but then I guess not being familiar with the origin doesn’t really help in that respect.

But whether be it this figure or their Oyari Ashito figure, it’s good to see Native getting back to making figures that don’t look like some boring dime-a9dozen Eroge design like their past couple of releases.

Chag: Yeah, my excitement towards Nana is more for the character than the actual figure itself, though the leather one-piece itself does look pretty amazing. They probably could’ve put her in a more exploitable pose or have given her the signature blush, but I’m just surprised and glad that Nana is getting some love from the figure world.

Final impressions

Chag: So, after all that’s been said and done, what do you think of the this year’s winter WonFes?

Ashlotte: The hack job GSC did on LiW Miku is enough to say this event was a disappointment…Although even discounting that particularly painful kick to the crotch there certainly didn’t feel like as many figures had that “Wow” factor. *shrug*

Chag: Compared to the last WonFes, this event is conspicuously lacking in high-profile releases from the big companies. The Fate/Stay Night, BRS, Nanoha, Bakemonogatari and K-ON waves have come and gone (or at least are waning), and there’s not enough new stuff to fill the void that’s been left behind. The lack of previews for the Max Factory Amagami girls is another slight let-down, but I can’t say that “disappointment” is the word I’d use to sum up this WonFes. There were a number of pleasant surprises here and there, as well as promises of things to come. Panty & Stocking seems to be the next big thing that the figure industry is going to latch onto, and I’m looking forward to the scandalous creations it will beget.

How did you find this year’s winter WonFes? Disappointed like Ash? Mildly positive like me? Or have your pants already exploded from excitement? Anticipation, surprise, anger – vent it all in the comments below! =)