Here at Hobby Hovel, we’re no strangers to over-reviewed figures.  Between the Good Smile Company Miku, Saber Lily and Dead Master, a lot has been said on figures that virtually everyone has seen and read about already. But I doubt any of those figures have received anywhere close to the amount of internet love as the Revoltech Danbo. In fact, this is undoubtedly the most unnecessary review on this site – I bet I can review a loaf of white bread and that would still be more informative than this. But oh well, since I haven’t had any other new toys arrive lately, I’m flat out of choices, so Danbo it is!

Also known as Danboard and Cardbo, Danbo originates from the manga Yotsuba&!, the brainchild of Kiyohiko Azuma of Azumanga Daioh fame. Faster than a jumbo jet and capable of launching deadly warheads, Danbo is a powerful battle robot that runs on money – that’s the story Miura and Ena told Yotsuba, at least (it’s actually just their school project).

But in all honesty, Danbo’s backstory really doesn’t matter much, because bitches love the little cardboard robot regardless of whether they know of its hilarious antics or not. One look at the photo pool of virtually any toy-related group on Flickr would reveal the extent of this infatuation. With its simple design, Danbo seems to have also found a fanbase amongst hipsters. So what is it that makes this toy the sweetheart of manga geeks, toy collectors and hipsters alike? Hit the jump to find out!

Despite being just a blocky cardboard man, the Revoltech Danbo is suprisingly detailed. The cardboard edges has are lined with dark brown, and the switch on Danbo’s head and the coin slot on its chest are both flawlessly painted. More impressive is the shading on the flat surfaces. Darker tones are applied subtly around the edges to give the figure a slightly more realistic look – something I did not expect out of a Revoltech figure.

Danbo may look tiny and adorable in photos, but in reality it’s actually a sizable hunk of plastic. Measuring in at 13cm tall and 7cm wide, it easily makes other Revoltechs and Figmas its bitches. Furthermore, despite the considerable size of Danbo’s head, the toy is actually not top-heavy at all, thanks to the mostly hollow construction of the head. This means that Danbo is very stable standing on its feet without the help of the display base, which is just a circular disk with a short pig on it.

As Danbo does not have any hands, there are no hand-held accessories to speak of. The two accessories that comes with the toy are Muria’s head and the display base. Muria’s face is wearing a slightly bewildered expression, and the sight of a little girl stuck in a silly cardboard robot costume is all kinds of adorable.

The most interesting feature of the toy is undoubtedly the light-up eyes.  True to the manga, the Revoltech Danbo has a little switch on the right side of its face.  Flip it, and radiant light beams forth form Danbo’s eye-holes! The lights run on 2 LR44 batteries which are included with the toy and are easily replaced should you need to.

By the way, the only difference between this “Very Well Done” version of the Revoltech Danbo and the original is the little stamp on the back of Danbo’s head on on top of the display base. This comes from a later manga in which Danbo appears, this time with a congratulatory stamp from Muria and Ena’s teacher for job well-done. Kaiyodo didn’t even bother redesign the packaging, as a little sticker is all that sets this from the original. But while I would’ve liked a different expression on Muria’s head for this version, I certainly don’t blame Kaiyodo for not reinventing the wheel. No point in fixing something that ain’t broke, right?

Articulation

Alright, I know that articulation is boring to write and even more boring to read, so I thought I would mix things up this week with some video!

Final Say

So, the Revoltech Danbo may not be the most flexible of toys. There is little room for creativity, and I can’t imagine any outrageous funny poses out of this toy. However, to dwell on the articulation on this little cardboard man would be like complaining about the number of seats on a Ferrari – missing the point completely. Rather, the defining element of the Revoltech Danbo its simple yet potent charm. It takes you back to a time when you didn’t need expensive gadgets or mind-altering chemicals to have fun – rather, all you needed was the magic of imagination. And unlike moe fetishes points like cat ears, thigh-highs or reverse-trap, it does not take a hardened anime geek to see the charm in the Danbo.

Furthermore, this thing is obscenely photogenic. While I found it hard to make Danbo interact with its surroundings due to rudimentary articulation, it can fit into contexts that no bishoujo/mecha action can. Whether it’s around the house or beside some shrubbery, Danbo just works. In fact, I enjoyed shooting Danbo so much that I decided to make it a permanent resident in my camera bag. I know there are way too many Danbo photos on the internet, but after giving it a try myself, I really can’t blame them.

In the end, no matter who you are, the Revoltech Danbo would probably appeal to you in some way. Part of it is because we’ve all been kids at one point in our lives, and part of it is the charm of its simple shapes.  This toy (both this version and the original version) has seen a few waves of re-releases recently, and even if it’s sold out at the big online retailers, it shouldn’t be too hard to get ahold of(at least compared to before). If you can find it around the retail price of 2100 yen, there’s little reason not to grab one – hell, grab two while you’re at it, because I think I’d make a fantastic gift to just about anyone.

Pros

  • As cute as a basket of kittens
  • Insanely photogenic
  • Light-up eyes!
  • Surprisingly large

Cons

  • Clicky revolver joints sometimes makes posing slightly frustrating

There’ll be no Double H this week as I’m still bleeding in the mouth after my wisdom tooth extraction. It will resume next week with a WonFes extravaganza – look forward to it!