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Author: Chag

Review: Chozou Art Collection Jotaro Kujo

Chozou Art Collection Jotaro Kujo-002

So, did you think because Ashlotte has become the figure guy around here, you wouldn’t hear any more figure-related stuff from me? Hohoho, how mistaken you are…

…Though this is a little different, to put it mildly.

Jotaro Kujo is the protagonist of “Stardust Crusaders”, the third arc of Hirohiko Araki’s JoJo’s Bizarre Adventures. As a delinquent with a good heart, Jotaro is your typical strong silent type character. What isn’t typical about him is his possession of a stand named Star Platinum – a guardian-spirit-like entity with supernatural strength, agility and precision. Though I typically steer clear of shounen fighting manga, Stardust Crusaders was an absolutely magical experience for me. With its not-too-serious approach to the genre, its bold and unique art style, its limitless creativity, and its gripping action, I knew that I had to get something JoJo related after I finished reading. (I actually wrote a review for Stardust Crusaders a long time ago on MyAnimeList.net. It’s one of my less shoddy attempts, so check it out if you’re curious about the manga!)

In the end, the decision boiled down between this Chozou Art Collection Jotaro and the Super Action Statue figure, both produced by Medicos Entertainment. Since JoJo’s art is so detailed, I decided to do it justice by avoiding action figure joints that would slightly blemish the presentation (though the Super Action Statues do a good job of preserving the aesthetics). Now that I have the figure in my hands, I am pretty confident that I made the right choice, as this figure captures Araki’s art as much as reasonably possible in a three-dimensional medium.

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Weekly Highlights: May 30

First and foremost, allow me to say: it’s great to be back. There won’t be a *real* update this weekend as I’ll be running around Anime North tomorrow while chugging some industrial-strength energy drinks, but I’ll get on that as quickly as time would allow. Oh how I’ve missed the blog! If only one could give hugs to web pages!

Moving onto the new weekly rant itself: Ashlotte and I tried a dialogue format for this week, and I find this method a lot more fun to write (and I think the same is true for Ashlotte as well). However, because I’ve been moving around for the latter part of this week and Ashlotte has been caught up with real life business, this installment of Weekly Highlights is sadly only limited to one figure. Personally, I think since Ashlotte and I are both giant Evangelion fans, this rant got a little out of control due to our collective excitement… But hey, you are the ones who’s taking the pain (hopefully =P) to read it, so tell us what you think! Without further ado, brace yourselves…

ALTER’s 1/8 Asuka Langley Shikinami Plus Suit Test Type Ver.

Chag: Whoa whoa WHOA? Surprise EVA figure announcement to coincide with the second movie’s DVD/BD release? By ALTER? I think I just snorted brains out of my nose.

As much as I want to jump at this preorder like a starving cheetah on a baby gazelle, this is the test plug suit version, which means this is not the Asuka that I’ve come to adore years ago. I hear that Asuka has been reduced to a fan service side character in the new movies, and though I’ve yet to see the actual movie itself (waiting to come back and watch it on the big TV), her new rather revealing plug suit seems to be consistent with that speculation. But honestly, even if that is true, I’m not sure whether I can resist a new ALTER-made Asuka at a reasonable price.

Ashlotte: No sooner had I finished watching the movie then ALTER slaps us upside the head with this surprise treat! Pretty much a stroke of marketing genius with that timing especially seeing as Koto has merely been teasing us lately with unpainted photos of their take on Asuka’s new suit.

Once the pure shock of it wears off though you can easily tell this is ALTER quality through and through. The paint job is absurdly well done, the base is incredible, the pose is alluring, and the sculpting details with the small wrinkles in her suit is just amazing. Nice one ALTER…As a Asuka fan I’m one happy S.O.B. at the moment! ^_^

Chag: So, Kotobukiya or ALTER? This is probably a really unfair comparison, But let’s say that Kotobukiya’s 1/6 Asuka is around the same price as ALTER’s 1/8, and that the Koto version has the typical level of detail and QC from that maker. Personally, it would be a really close call for me. I like big figures, and I prefer Koto’s pose slightly over ALTER’s — I mean, if you’re going to have a translucent plug suit, might as well show off the goods, right? But on the other hand, those detailed wrinkles and folds on ALTER’s Asuka really speak to the latex fetishes sealed within. Hmmmm… I think I’d go with ALTER in the end, since they’re more reliable.

Ashlotte: While its true Koto can be unreliable with its finished product in the case of their Evangelion stuff though their pretty much consistent, especially with the 1/6th Plugsuits series as the just released Mari shows so I wouldn’t worry too much in that area. That said, being one of those "Latex fetishists" I’d probably go with the ALTER one…The pose may not be as blatantly sexual from the front, but the rear view is damn nice on ALTER’s version with the way her body contorts and shows off all the curve hugging eye candy the new suit has to offer. As someone whose main display area allows for viewing figures both front and back this is a big bonus for me.

And then of course theirs that base! I do like Koto’s face sculpt quite a bit more though…Smiling Asuka always wierded me out ever so slightly on figures because you always knew when she smiled in the Anime it was generally fake.

Chag: Oh my, you totally tapped into my next point. I wish someone would release a mass-produced figure of Asuka wearing a tragic expression, because that’s the essence of the character that I loved from the original. Thankfully, ALTER Asuka’s smile isn’t that totally fake looking >:D face that’s been done to death, at least.

Ashlotte: Ah, there has always been a certain degree of disconnect between "Eva the Anime" and "Eva the merchandise". The idea of merchandising such an eclectic and depressing show like Eva in the first place is a somewhat odd idea so I guess the aforementioned result was inevitable, but yea, happy shiny smiling Eva girls seems to be the standard. There are a scant few Asuka’s that have a more appropriate expression, but none of them have her in her plug suit.

Chag: Eva marketing is ironic, because a part of End of Evangelion’s message is "don’t seek refuge in fantasy, face reality" — an anti-otaku moral. Yet the Evangelion franchise is one of the most lucrative otaku-milking machines out there. Does buying Eva otaku merchandise imply that I’ve ignored the message of the franchise and therefore not a real fan? Oh well, all I know is that I’m not going to complain about a great looking Asuka figure after having waited for so long. I sure hope Asuka in the new movies does not disappoint, because I really, really want a piece of these new Asuka figures. There’s the Max Factory 1/6th scale Asuka that’s yet to be revealed to watch out for, and I hope they reveal at least a prototype of that soon, because if not, my preorder money is going to fly at ALTER’s direction.

Ashlotte: Well, while we may have happened upon an interesting point, I think perhaps it’s beyond the scope of this mere article for now. In the end, me being the wierdo I am who prioritizes figures over food, I’ll be getting both Koto’s and Alters renditions of her just as I already ordered the Bandai and Wave version already. ~_^

Chag: !?!?

Hiatus & Announcement, with a Side of Reflection

Hiatus – now there’s a word that I never want to punch out, but alas, starting Saturday I’ll be embarking on a three-week trip to visit my relatives in China. As some of you may know, China is not only known for its ancient wonder, the Great Wall, but also its modern wonder – the Great Firewall of China. Cyber-Mongolians such Blogger, WordPress, Twitter, and Flickr are currently repelled by the glorious mother nation’s mighty defences, and this effectively throws a rocket-propelled brick into any hopes of my maintaining the site over the duration of the trip. I’ll be back on the night of the 29th, just in time to drag my jetlagged carcass over for the last day of Anime North. If you don’t hear from me after that, assume that I have perished in a hall full of “costumed freaks”.

Thankfully, I also have good news for you today: Ashlotte has joined the Hobby Hovel crew! Users of MyFigureCollection are likely to be familiar with spiffy reviews and friendly comments. Needless to say, I am bursting at the seams with excitement – not only is Ashlotte a very capable reviewer and a great friend, but I have also recently run out of bishoujo figures to review. His arrival effectively prevents the site from descending into a mecha-saturated sausagefest. Hurrah for Ashlotte! Look forward to his review of the Griffon Claudette in the coming weeks.

Anyhow, as thrilled as I am to revisit the place I grew up in, being away from my baby for three weeks is going to be slightly awkward. It has been more than half a year since the Hobby Hovel came into being, and when I look through the now nicely populated review archives, I really do feel a sense of accomplishment not unlike the completion of a model. Of course, unlike a model kit, Hobby Hovel has the potential to continually grow almost like a living creature – a baby, perhaps? It’s a good thing this overgrown infant is resilient enough to withstand a little neglect, hehehe.

That last six months or so have been immensely rewarding, writer’s blocks and busy weeks notwithstanding. I’d like to thank my father (on the off chance that he’s reading this) for his tolerance of this hobby and his invaluable help with my photography, my dear friend Alicia for her continued support as a reader and layout designer, Jianyan and Molly for their generous contributions of content, Ashlotte for his commitment to expand the future of the site, as well as all the readers out there who give our work a layer of meaning beyond the self-indulgence of creation – thank you all!

Until we meet again~

Review: HGUC ReZEL

HGUC ReZEL-036

Asides from pioneering sci-fi anime in general, the original Mobile Suit Gundam established the two design philosophies that the franchise would carry to this day. There is the Zeon aesthetic, which is characterized by bulkier shapes and the iconic mono-eye. Its counterpart – the Earth Federation aesthetic – is characterized by a slimmer shape and visor-like head camera. While the Zeon designs branched into all sorts of creative designs over the years. The Federation designs have been a mixed bag. Sure, the Gundam designs are the focus of every entry of the franchise, but the same cannot be said for the mass-produced grunts.

While many of the grunts look pretty spiffy, there is a serious want of variety when it comes to the Federation’s arsenal… That is, until Gundam Unicorn.

Enter Katoki Hajime in a headband and war paint, crashing through the glass roof of Federation grunt MS designs clenching a giant bowie knife between his teeth. After doing a 360 degree flip in the air, he proceeds to karate kick the old GM philosophy with an unlikely inspiration: the Methuss from Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, which was known for its role as a mobile battery pack over anything else. Nevertheless, the result of this violent combination is the RGZ-95 ReZEL, the successor of the failed ReGZ. It’s big, it’s mean, and it finally managed to prevent the Zeonic grunt designs from completely stealing the show. An HGUC model was inevitable, and given how excited I was over the ReZEL, my purchase of the kit was a forgone conclusion. So, how does the Federation’s new poster boy fare in model kit form? Pretty well, I’d say!

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