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Author: Chag

Review: Figma Aegis (Aigis)

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I have a confession: I am a huge sucker for androids. I distinctly remember crying for the films A.I, Bicentennial Man and Iron Giant. I bawled my eyes out over the kinetic novel Planetarian. And as you may already know, I have already reviewed two androids on this blog already (Hatsune Miku and Drossel). Now that you are acquainted with this fetish of mine, you should not be surprised by my instant fascination with Aegis (also spelled Aigis in the game) ever since I encountered her in the PS2 RPG game Persona 3.

Persona 3 is a rather unconventional JRPG produced by Altus that combines element of traditional dungeon-crawling turn-based RPG with elements of social simulation. The player spends just as time defeating enemies as making friends and attending class. While this dynamic seems questionable at first, I was surprised by how mutually complementary these two game elements are to each other, as well as the genuinely interesting characters and well-written dialogue. The game’s charm effortlessly triumphed over my thumb which is usually rested precariously above the “skip” button, and before I knew it I had poured over 90 hours into this game.

Aegis is a combat android that joins the player’s party midway through the game. She’s somewhat like the Tin Man of Wizard of Oz in her eventual acquisition of a “heart”. While she is a charming enough character in her own right, I was sold long before by her pseudo-steampunk aesthetics. The brass shoulders and hips, as well as the headphone-like cooling vents had me admiring Aegis long before her personality shone through. However, I soon realized that I was rather late in my discovery when I looked for Aegis figures on the internet. The 1/8 scale Aegis figure produced by Alter had been absent from the inventories of online retailers for ages, and all that remained was the questionably sculpted version by Kotobukiya. Thankfully, I was able to snag the Alter version at a decent price. However, while the figure looked great, it wasn’t a very accurate representation of the character, and while I overlooked this in the beginning, it started to bother me as the months rolled forward.

Then came the announcement of Aegis’ Figma treatment by Max Factory. Her figma incarnation certainly was less detailed than the full-sized figure treatment, but its facial expressions simply looked spot-on. I wasn’t crazy about getting having two figures of the same character in the same look, though, so one of them had to go. I remained on the fence regarding the problem until I checked the eBay price for the Alter Aegis – there was only one up for sale at the time and it was going for no less than $300 US. Anticipating a dip in sale prices as the Figma version becomes better known, I jumped at the opportunity and parted with Alter Aegis for around $270.

Do I regret it? Nah. Never mind the fact that $270 is a lot of bloody money – while Figma Aegis lacks the intricate shading, flawless paint application and the size of the Alter statuette, its great articulation, accuracy to the source material and the sheer fun factor more than compensates for its shortcomings.

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Review: 1/100 Tieren Ground Type

(Remember that review I promised a month ago? It seems that I have overestimated John’s expediency. Nevertheless, here is his review on the 1/100 Tieren Ground Type, with a few revision by me. I apologize in advance for the dusty photos. I’ll be sure to wash the model beforehand next time. I’ll be working on a review on the figma Aigis in the next few days and will get that up and posted soon.)

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Of all the mecha designs in the gundam franchise, if any were to be made in real life, the Tieren would probably be the likeliest candidate (save for the Ball). At first glance, it appears to be a hulking bipedal tank made mean iron, ready to topple its enemies and anything unfortunate enough to get between them. Unfortunately, those who followed the first season Gundam 00 would know otherwise. The saying “The bigger they are, the harder they fall” applies very neatly to the case of the Tieren Ground type, as these lumbering green giants are regularly blown to bits faster than they can fire a single round. Thankfully, its 1/100 scale model incarnation does not perpetuate the stench of failure from its performance in the anime. It is not quite perfect, but the beauty of the Tieren’s design is captured well in the surprising amount of details present on this well-priced model kit.

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Review: 1/7 Saber Lily ~Distant Avalon~

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In the midst of a global economic recession, common sense dictates that prices should drop or at least freeze to accommodate for the reduced spending power of consumers. Unfortunately, the otaku population is not known for being too keen on the concept of common sense. After all, these are the sort of people who would be willing to spend around 5,000 yen on a two-episode DVD of Endless Eight. With this in consideration, it’s hardly surprising that figure companies are ramping up their prices after seeing their goods being gobbled eagerly regardless of price. At the forefront of this movement is Good Smile Company, who not only ramped up their prices in accordance to the trend, but has also launched an ambitious rush of new products backed with a robust promotion effort.

The Good Smile Company 1/7 Saber Lily, along with the 1/8 Black Rock Shooter are Good Smile Company’s flagships for the year 2009. Fans have been salivating over Saber ever since the unpainted prototype was revealed in Wonfes Winter 2009. When the painted prototype was revealed, anticipation was at a feverish pitch, the heat of which seemed unaffected by its hefty 9800 yen price tag or its two production delays. As the released date neared, all the spotlights were pointed on this particular figure. And naturally, after 9 months of anticipation, no amount of button mashing on Fate/Unlimited Codes Portable is going to subside my bursting excitement.

When the fated package finally arrived, I carefully opened the package as if it was some sort of ancient treasure, half-expecting something to happen. But nope, no golden rapturous light enveloped me, whisking me away to magical lands far away. No influx of sensations flooded my brain, sending my body convulsing on my carpeted floor. I finally calmed down and came to my senses: it’s just a figure. Is it a nice figure? Yes, undoubtedly. But after all that hype, it’s hard to not to be let down somewhat. Both its promotion and its price led me to expect a distinctly new standard of figure production, but that expectation was proven false. The flaws of the figure are made even more glaring due to endless number of spotlights raining down upon this figure, and as much as I would like to, I cannot join the chorus of praise for Saber Lily and must opt for a slightly milder opinion. Read more »

Review: Figma Drossel

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There are times when a toy explodes into popularity by riding off the the momentum of the series from which it came from. There are other times when the toy finds success by virtue of its design and aesthetics. The subject of the review — Max Factory’s Figma Drossel — is an exemplary case of the latter.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think Fireball was ever significantly popular amongst audiences. It is a 13-episode series of CGI shorts produced by Disney and Toei featuring Drossel, a sassy robotic duchess, and Gedächtnis, her hulking quadruped robot servant. The series is quite surreal, full of loopy dialogue chock-full of strange references and puzzling puns, while the setting is always a giant room within Drossel’s manor. I cannot speak for the Japanese anime community, but asides from the initial remarks on Drossel’s striking similarity to another certain pigtailed gynoid, Fireball received little attention in the English-speaking anime community.

Of course, with the announcement of Drossel’s Figma treatment, there was a boom of interest. Regardless of whatever reaction (or lack thereof) Fireball received, toy collectors were quickly captivated by the initial promo shots of the Drossel Figma. Not only did the character’s sleek design and striking blue eyes catch the attention of collectors, Drossel marked a rare departure from the Figma line’s often criticized tendency to release only schoolgirl variants. Thus, for the first time even strict fans of the Revoltech line of robot action figures were taking interest in Figma.

As the result, the rabid demand for this toy caused the initial release to slip through my fingers while I was still contemplating the purchase. Thankfully, indecisiveness did not afflict me a second time as I quickly secured a preorder of the initial re-release, which was also quickly gobbled up. When Drossel finally arrived at my doorstep around two weeks later, I had the pleasure of being able to discover the source of the toy’s burgeoning popularity — a pleasure I intend to share with you. Read more »

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