PVC

Tomopop Review: Kotobukiya's ARTFX J Cardcaptor Sakura

May 20 // Martin Siggers
Figure Name: ARTFX J Sakura KinomotoFigure Maker: KotobukiyaRetail Price: ¥11,000Available at: HobbyLink Japan | Hobby Search | AmiAmi | CD Japan | Plamoya | Big in Japan  As I say in pretty much every one of my reviews, I'm a big fan of 'less is more' when it comes to box design. Sakura's box isn't exactly spartan but it's pleasingly straightforward. I particularly like the big 'wraparound' window which carries all the way round to the side of the box.  It makes the entire thing look modern and airy and gives you a great all round view of the figure. The left hand side of the box includes the original CLAMP illustration which this figure is based on. There's been some controversy over this decision to use the manga design over the far more recognized anime design, which I'll address momentarily when we get to the figure itself. I will say the box feels a little big - though Sakura isn't a small figure, I'm pretty sure smarter packaging could have at least cut the ends off of what's a pretty large package. Once out of the box, Sakura is a very nicely sized and weighted figure. She's a 1/7-scale sculpt but feels a little more like a 1/8 occasionally, probably because of the character's small stature. Regardless, it's a size which feels hefty and solid. Sakura is attached to her cloud base and can't be separated, not that you'd want to anyway considering the pose prohibits any other form of display. One thing I will point out is that the base is a hollow shell, rather than solid plastic. There's no real issue with stability but it's disappointingly cheap-feeling for what's meant to be a high end product. Sculpt quality is excellent all around, with Kotobukiya's decision to go with a massively ruffled look vindicated by the amount of life and movement they can bring to that gigantic skirt. It may be a touch over-the-top for some readers, but it definitely embraces the extravagant shoujo styling of the source material. Plastic and paint feel textured and high quality to the touch, and overall the entire product (bar the aforementioned base) feels well worth your money. Sakura's main accessory is a pair of plus-sized wings which give a huge boost in presence and impact to her overall presentation. I'd go as far to say Kotobukiya should have made these wings a permanent part of the sculpt, since I can't imagine anyone owning this figure without wanting to use them. Still, if you're tight on space, I suppose it's nice to have the option. As you can see from this picture, the bigger wings aren't actually replacement parts but instead add-ons. They plug into the top of the existing wings on the sculpt, which split at the top to allow room for pegs. This arguably doesn't look quite as good as an all-in-one sculpted piece would, but it's also less fiddly and more durable. The other, absolutely essential accessory included is a miniature version of Sakura's ever-present companion Kero-chan. He's very well detailed for his size, with a smart red bow-tie (unfortunately damaged on my example as you can see in the picture) and miniature translucent wings. He has a tiny peg on his right leg which slots neatly into a hole between the frills of Sakura's dress, thus matching the pose of the original art and making him appear to seamlessly 'fly' alongside Sakura. Let's talk a bit about that face. I've seen a lot of complaints about the hair colour and also the fact that she seems a little too 'chubby' in the cheeks, or round faced in general. I think these people are totally mad. I love this entire head sculpt to bits and I think the decision to go with the manga art style is totally justified considering the much more interesting look. Kotobukiya have done a great job with the hair, fading from a lovely brown-orange to nearly translucent at the tips. It's an important splash of colour in a figure that might otherwise be overwhelmed by pink and white, as are Sakura's trademark vivid green eyes. Though it's difficult to tell without a strong backlight, both the crystal at the base of Sakura's staff and the 'eyes' in its head are made of translucent red plastic. Note the subtle creases in the sock fabric at the knee joint, a lovely little touch. Detail sculpting is beyond reproach, with fantastic small scale work like the bow on these shoes. You can just about see where the peg attaches the shoe and base here. If there's a weakness here, then it's the same one I mentioned in the Eren review - ultra fine paint detail. You can see in the upper right hand corner of this shot that the piping on the dress band is slightly sloppy. Even if we leave aside the damaged bow tie on Kero there are a few minor examples of paint splash or slop on the figure. Though Kotobukiya are getting closer every time, I still wouldn't put them quite on the pedestal with Alter and GSC as far as razor sharpness goes. Overall though I'm scrabbling for things to criticise. It's another superb figure from Kotobukiya and without a doubt the definitive Sakura figure at this point in time. After so many years of dreaming, fans of Cardcaptor Sakura finally have a full size, top quality figure to call their own, and I'd say any collector who loves the show owes themselves this one. Now we just have to wait for Syaoran...  
ARTFX Sakura photo
Nice to see you, good to meet you
When I reviewed FuRyu's trading figure version of Sakura Kinomoto last summer, I was positive, but also still a little disappointed that we weren't getting a full-fat, big money version of the character to stand alongside the...

Tomopop Review: Kotobukiya's ARTFX J Eren Yaeger

Jan 13 // Martin Siggers
Figure Name: ARTFX J Eren YaegerFigure Maker: KotobukiyaRetail Price: ¥11,000Available at: Hobbylink Japan  Eren's box is certainly going for the 'grimy, gritty, military' aesthetic, plastered as it is in camouflage pattern. Problem is, it just contributes to the overall messy look. I've made my liking for clean, simple box designs apparent in past review but I think even someone who prefers a lot of stuff on their packaging would agree this is not the way to do it. There's two names (both spelt wrong, since the official romanization is 'Yaeger'), a bunch of logos and just general sloppy look to the whole thing. Not a great start. Fortunately, this base gives off a much better impression. It's a hefty chunk of solid plastic with a beautiful glossed finish and some excellent paintwork. It's always hard to reproduce wood, and it's probably fair to say this looks more like an artist's impression of a tree than an actual tree, but it's still a fine effort. Too often people forget how important a decent base or stand is to the overall look of a figure, so it's nice to see some effort put in. Speaking of that overall look though...wow. This is one of those toys that really leaps out at you immediately (no pun intended). I've long praised figures that go for dynamic, in-the-moment poses and this is definitely one of them. You can feel the action and the motion come out at you. The entire thing feels like a freeze frame more than a static scene. From behind the arrangement is equally striking and it's pretty clear Kotobukiya didn't frontload all their care onto the display side of the figure, since the reverse is still beautifully sharp and detailed. This also gives us a good look at how the figure is able to appear to 'fly'. It's because Eren is only connected to the base by one peg and that's on his gear rather than on himself. I was initially a little nervous about this method but it's a strong, solid peg that plugs in deep and has the dual bonus of being tough and not being very obtrusive. I will say that while Eren balances quite well if left untouched, this is definitely one figure you don't want in the range of glancing blows. One light bump will send the whole construction tumbling, so take care. There's also a second display option for Eren, which is to have him on show without the cape. This is achieved simply by popping his head off and lifting the entire part out through the nect joint. There are pros and cons to either look - he looks more streamlined without the cape, but personally I appreciate the drama it adds. Note as well the fine detail touch of the trad on the soles of the boots. I've always found that detailed shoe bottoms are the sign that someone took real care with a figure, as silly as that may sound. Butt shot time! However, unlike most review butt shots, this one actually has a purpose, namely to show off the exquisite care that's been put into reproducing the show's trademark 3D Maneuver Gear. All of these pulleys and rigs would be hidden under the cape were it attached, but that hasn't stopped Kotobukiya from achieving an impressive level of micro-detailing.  From the side, as well, the gear is a masterpiece in miniature, showing off sharp, crisp paint lines, excellent metallic textures and fine sculpting. Kotobukiya haven't gotten piping down to as fine an art as, say, Alter yet - check out the slight spill on the leg strap - but overall fit and finish is highly commendable. The plastic tubes which run from the gear to the sword handles are in fact solid pieces of flexible plastic which come in a separate package and simply plug in peg style to the belt. The other end attaches to the handle of the sword, as you can see here. The swords are again the beneficiary of an excellent detailing job - check out the patterned grip on the sword, which is an actual textured sculpt rather than just a paint-on. The sword blades come separately and plug into the handles, and are alarmingly thin and bendy. This helps in one sense since it means they're less likely to snap, but you have to take great care or else you'll end up with permanently kinked blades. Incidentally, the sword handles aren't removable, as the hilts and the hands are permanently molded together. Eren's face is simple, but excellent, conveying rage and intensity without looking too insane or over the top. A little bit of texturing to the hair helps it avoid the dreaded plastic-bowl-cut syndrome. As anyone who's read one of my previous reviews knows, I love flashy cloth sculpts, so it's no surprise I much prefer Eren with his cape on. There's some good detailing here too with the bunching cloth around the neck area and the breezier flapping as it comes out. There's also a telling indication of the strong and weak points of Kotobukiya's work here. The cape's logo is actually embossed rather than simply being paint or transfer, which a lovely, expensive feeling touch. But it's also rather sloppily painted, with the blue and white quite clearly not reaching down to the base of the raised segments. It's a great touch but also one that's not quite all the way there yet. Gratuitous crotch shot! It's worth it for the chance to see the great work Koto have done with the cloth around the stomach and groin area, which pulls and wrinkles very naturally. Notice again though some slight sloppiness in the paint, particularly around the straps and buckles. You have to look hard but it's not quite 100% there. More great texture work on the boots. I'm especially impressed that the little trailing lace at the top is actually independently moulded and not just sunken into the surface of the main boot. It's very fragile and easy to catch on things though so beware. Overall though, I am very very impressed. Kotobukiya still can't quite go toe-to-toe with GSC or Alter on pure fine detail work, but they're getting closer and closer every time and the strength of the fabulous sculpt alone is enough to carry this figure over any minor quibbles and into highly desirable territory. In a sea of lookalikes, Kotobukiya have succeeded in making this the one you should care about, and for all intents and purposes it's the essential Attack On Titan figure. [Colossal thanks to Hobbylink Japan for supplying Eren for this review.]
ARTFX J Eren photo
Titanic Effort
It's difficult to argue against Attack on Titan being the biggest breakout hit in anime in years. The manga is selling millions of copies, the TV show has been a sensation both in and outside of Japan, cosplay of the characte...

Tomopop Review: ArtFX+ Arkham City Batman

Jan 05 // Kristina Pino
Figure Name: ArtFX+ Arkham City BatmanFigure Maker: KotobukiyaRetail: ¥5,500Sponsored by: HobbyLink Japan This statue came in a standard windowed box, well-packaged and all that, and in the style of the boxes from the Arkham games. I didn't take pictures of it, but I did use the background/insert that came with the figure for the backdrop of my own photographs. I was really worried about finding a good spot to photograph ol' Bats because of my temporary lack of lighting equipment and not particularly Bat-like surroundings, and I'm rather pleased with the result I got here. Alright, let's get this started. Batman is perched over some stone steps with one of his hands holding a Batarang and the other in a fist. As far as posing goes, this is way better than just straight up standing. He looks animated here, strong, and poised to strike. They didn't go for too much of an action pose, which I appreciate considering you spend a lot of time being stealthy in these games. With his cape posed as though fluttering behind him rather than swaying with his movement to the side, it looks like he's just been waiting for the right moment, which feels just right to me, too. We've got some seams showing at his shoulders on the cape, but it's hidden rather well by the cowl there and lined up to his shoulders for minimum impact. You can see them perfectly well in the photo, but you'd have to really be looking for it, and the figure would have to be less than 2 feet away from you for you to notice it on the shelf. For whatever reason, I usually leave the head shots for the end of my reviews, but I'm putting it up here next because I really like how his face and head sculpting came out and wanted to highlight that right away. The cowl and face have fantastic work done, giving Batman one of his usual serious, yet calm and calculating expressions. Really great detailing, here. Another great bit of detail is at his utility belt, which looks a bit dinged up from all the action he's been getting. The belt isn't a separate piece wrapped around his Bat Spanx, so it doesn't jiggle around or anything. Ok, let's take a step back for a wider look, here. I'm really loving the way the body sculpt and suit came out, just in general. Honestly, I don't have any complaints about this statue; I'm gonna put that out there right now. I have nothing to complain about, because this looks so great, and the suit is even shaded so the muscles stand out more where they bulge. The legs look nice and beefy, like I can just reach out and squish them. Now, here's a look at his weapon hand. The hand is kinda poseable - it swivels around because there's actually an alternate, so it's on a peg. If you want to have him holding the Batarang, you can, but you can also have him holding his grapnel gun. Both look cool, but I've got him shelved with the standard Batarang in-hand because that's just my preference. If you're a Bat fan, especially if you're a fan of the Arkham games, you can't go wrong with this statue. Kotobukiya has delivered a great, high-quality product, and if you can find it, it's totally worth your dough. Check out the gallery for more images which didn't make it into the body of my review, and share your thoughts in the comments below! Thanks to HobbyLink Japan for sponsoring this review.
Batman photo
Perched up on your shelf: he is the night
Kotobukiya released this 1/10-scale Batman based on his appearance in the very fun Batman: Arkham City game back in late August, so this is by no means a brand-spankin'-new figure. But it's new to me and I want to share my review.

Tomopop Review: Good Smile Company's Sorceress

Dec 06 // Tianxiao Ma
Figure Name: SorceressFigure Maker: Good Smile CompanyRetail Price: ¥8,381Available at: HobbyLink Japan  The sorceress is a pretty reasonably priced 1/8-scale figure. I think it fits in nicely with my Rage of Bahamut figures - their aesthetics are a little bit different but they all feature cute girls with whimsical designs. Assembly was a snap as there are only a few pieces to work with. However I'm not high on the metal pin being used to secure the bat... thing... do the sorceress' sleeve. It never felt like a secure fit. If her proportions look off to you, it's because of the art style from the game. The characters designs remind me a bit of what you'd see in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, somewhere between normal and super-deformed. Although this sorceress is busty, the design is much more conservative than that of Dragon's Crown's sorceress. Her robe is pretty funky, but I like the red-orange accents and the use of translucent pieces. The base is also transparent. I actually can't remember the last time I saw a figure with a transparent base... I might have gone a bit overboard with the Christmas lights. But her staff has a translucent jewel in it which lets you play some cool tricks with lights. Unfortunately her robes get in the way of a good butt shot. I think they also hide the fact that the sorceress has a pencil-thin waist. Again, the original character designs have those quasi-chibi proportions. However with the clothing and this pose, you don't notice it as much on the sorceress. Good Smile Company hasn't done anything super fancy with the finish; most parts have a semi-glossy sheen. The quality is certainly there. Overall I'm drawn toward how colorful and cute the sorceress is (though I can't really get a fix on what her expression's supposed to be). I wouldn't hold out hope for many more Dragon Nest figures, but the sorceress at least is a winner. [ Thanks to HobbyLink Japan for the review sample! ]
GSC Sorceress photo
Quite enchanting
Good Smile Company generally sticks to the popular properties (or pushes their own) when they make figures, but sometimes random partnerships happen and you get something way out of left field. This is probably why you're loo...


Tomopop Review: Max Factory's Mea Kurosaki

Dec 05 // Tianxiao Ma
Figure Name: Mea KurosakiFigure Maker: Max FactoryRetail Price: ¥10,000Available at: HobbyLink Japan  Mea doesn't have an elaborate base, accessory parts, or interchangeable pieces. I've come to appreciate figures that are simple in execution but still look great. For those who move or rotate their figure displays a lot, you'll be happy to know that unpacking and assembling Mea is easy as can be. There's absolutely nothing to do other than to attach her base. Mea is an example of Max Factory's signature style, one which they pull off better than any other manufacturer. She's sexy without being straight up lewd. There are plenty of ecchi figures out there, but I feel like Max Factory is able to make ones that fall just short of that line. There are so many examples: their Dark Elf, Cerberus, and Momo as well. They're all beautiful women with not much clothing, but they're more tasteful than similar products from other manufacturers. That's not to say this figure is in any way lacking sex appeal. Because dear lord look at that panty tug. Max Factory did a great job with the body sculpt. They maybe could have done a better job with the delicate details of the lingerie, but it's not really much to complain about. One of the notable features is the hair braid wrapping around Mea's leg. I know I spent a whole paragraph saying Max Factory's figures aren't overtly sexualized, but Mea is definitely more sexualized than their typical stuff. There are a bunch of small details that I love about this figure: the boob squeeze, the little panty tug, the braid wrapping around her leg, her coy expression. They all come together to make a great figure with an emphasis on just the character. Check out the gallery for more photos. You'd better do it, because this set was super annoying to shoot! Seriously, so many equipment malfunctions and failed ideas went into this... [ Thanks to HobbyLink Japan for the review sample! ]
Max Factory Mea Kurosaki photo
More To Love-Ru girls, please
Mea hails from To Love-Ru Darkness, and as you can probably tell, the manga has its fair share of ecchi elements. Before Mea, Max Factory has also made a 1/6-scale Momo Velia Deviluke from the same property. The two share a t...

Tomopop Review: Alter's Asuka Langley Shikinami Jersey ver.

Nov 05 // Tianxiao Ma
Figure Name: Asuka Langley Shikinami Jersey ver.Figure Maker: AlterRetail Price: ¥10,800Available at: AmiAmi | ToysLogic | Big Bad Toy Store I think part of the reason I wanted to do this review is because we rarely ever do Alter reviews. Seriously, when was the last time we reviewed an Alter figure? Anyway, I was interested to see if they had been maintaining their usual production quality. The box is all plastic with cool translucent blue panels. With these types of boxes you can leave the figure on display without tanking its resale value. Win-win! Personally I like to, you know, unbox my figures. Unwrapping everything was painless. Alter used to tie up the packaging with plastic twist ties, which made things secure but a pain to open. Not so with this Asuka. Assembly was a snap too; all you need to do is attach the base and you're ready to go. Alter certainly hasn't let their quality control slip. I didn't spot any flaws in terms of the painting or sculpt. However they have lost a bit of that cool factor; their recent figures have been plain with only a few exceptions. With Asuka's butt being so prominent, let's give it the attention it deserves. There are two optional parts for this figure. This photo shows the alternate arm, which has Asuka's left hand tucked into her pocket. If you want the full effect of Asuka's facial expression, an alternate head is included without the hat. Both pieces were easy to swap, as Alter's manufacturing made the fit of the pieces just right. Non-Evangelion fans probably won't lose too much sleep from skipping this figure, but Asuka fans certainly won't regret picking this one up. Apart from the build quality and that sweet box, I'd say my favorite feature is her pissed off expression. For once a figure maker used a character-appropriate expression! There are a bunch more shots in the gallery, so take a look and let me know what you think!
Alter Asuka photo
"Even after all this time, you're still just a troublesome brat!"
Alter has made a couple of Asuka figures before, with the last one released almost four years ago. If that one was too happy and/or immodest for you (those test plugsuits can be quite revealing), this release may be more to y...

Tomopop Review: Kotobukiya's Street Fighter Bishoujo Cammy

Aug 11 // Tianxiao Ma
Figure Name: Street Fighter Bishoujo CammyFigure Maker: KotobukiyaRetail Price: US$64.99Available at: Koto US  Street Fighter IV brought back the Delta Red version of Cammy (just when I had gotten used to her silly Killer Bee outfit), and that's the version used for this figure. The box art shows a Cammy who - though passed through the Bishoujo filter - looks a bit more mature and battle-ready compared to other Bishoujo designs. Still, the sculpt takes it to another level. There are two approaches you can take while depicting Cammy, and this figure shows us a bit of both. There's the sexy, borderline exploitative look that the original illustration goes with (that leotard doesn't do much for modesty). And then there's the Linda Hamilton-esque badass look, which is what the sculpt shows. With a hard light, you can accentuate the extraordinary detail in her musculature. Indeed, this is no cliche dainty anime girl. Look at how cut Cammy is! It's easy to believe a woman with this physique can pound a guy like Vega into dust. You can see the sheer tension in Cammy's muscles and limbs as she delivers power to her strike. However I think the effect is overdone when it comes to her legs. There's a little too much rippling mass, whereas the anatomical details on her back and shoulders is more believable. Her abs are another example of the sculptor's personal touch when translating the art. These details are absent from Shunya Yamashita's illustration, but lend a lot of character to the figure. The build quality is good as usual. The paint job is very clean and overall the finish looks great. You can see a little contrast between the matte finish of the body and the metallic look of Cammy's gauntlets. It's hard not to let Cammy's butt be a focal point. The clenched look makes sense when you take the rest of the figure into account, but it's not my personal cup of tea. However, as I sit with the figure on display above my monitor, it does look nice from below. As for the face, Kotobukiya did a good job. It's not as round as in most depictions of Cammy, but this one does look more British to me. The only thing that really bothered me about the figure was the base. Like with some of the newer Bishoujos, this one uses slots instead of pegs to attach to the feet. It's fine at holding the figure upright, but falls out very easily if you pick the figure up. I guess it's only annoying when you need to move it, but I had to deal with it a few times during this shoot. If you've ever been bothered by the fact that even action hero females tend to be waifs, then Bishoujo Cammy is for you. This lady has put in some reps at the gym, and has a physique that can stand up to the absurdly burly male bodies in the Street Fighter universe. [Thanks to Kotobukiya for the review sample!]
Bishoujo Cammy review photo
HCB+P all day
Kotobukiya's Bishoujo lineup seems to be growing by the day. The latest Street Fighter gal to hit the, uh, streets is Cammy. Although she isn't out in the US, she is currently available to import from Japanese retailers. When...

Tomopop Review: Figuarts ZERO Charlotte Dunois & Cecilia Alcott

Aug 06 // Pedro Cortes
Figure Names: Figurarts ZERO Charlotte Dunois & Figuarts ZERO Cecilia AlcottFigure Maker: BandaiMSRPs: Charlotte Dunois: $40.99 | Cecilia Alcott: $45.99Available at: Charlotte Dunois [HobbyLink Japan | Hobby Search | AmiAmi | CD Japan | Play Asia | J-List | Plamoya | Entertainment Earth | Big Bad Toy Store | Amazon]Cecilia Alcott [HobbyLink Japan | AmiAmi | CD Japan | Plamoya | Entertainment Earth | Big Bad Toy Store | Amazon] Due to my lack of knowledge of the characters, I will toss in copious amounts of haikus. Why? I say why not! Let's start this off with Cecilia Alcott. A cardboard prisonDesigned to hold this figureDoes its job quite well Yep, it's a Figuarts ZERO box. Nothing new or exciting here, it does what it needs to do with a minimal amount of flash or bang. Finally! Escape!Out of the box, in plasticHere's Cecilia Here she is outsideLook at that smile, she's happyWhat's that on her hair? Cecilia is quite the looker. She's cute and her outfit matches her playful pose. I particularly dig the leggings and...wait a sec, what's wrong with her hair? Looking a little closer, that dash through her hair is a nasty seam-line. Now, some minor lines are expected on any figure, but this is a bad one. I'm guessing that's just a one off mistake, as most Figuarts ZEROs look a lot better and deal with hair connection in a more subtle manor. Besides the busted-looking seam, I rather like the rest of the hair. It isn't heavily detailed, but looks good enough for the figure's price range. I'm also fond of hair drills. No real idea why. Excuse the cheese cake,but I'm a fan of leggingsand a nice booty. Considering the premise of Infinite Stratos, I'd expect a fair amount of fan service or at least skimpy outfits. Cecilia comes through under both categories, as that dress of hers is quite short. Calling it a dress may be a stretch, as it doesn't even try to cover her backside. Actually, it looks like she's just wearing her school bathing suit underneath her supposed skirt, so I'm just lost. Also, I really dig those leggings and the Absolute Territory it creates. A base to stand onit does what it needs to do.Oh, nice pair of shoes.  Nothing special here with Cecilia's base. It has her name and some nice circuit-looking designs printed on the plastic. I also like the detail on her shoes, though I'd recommend at least a pair of ankle socks to reduce potential chafe.  Alright, with Cecilia looked at, let's jump to Charlotte Dunois. Like Ceciliashe has a box of her ownJust as confining While Charlotte's box is just as plain as Cecilia's, at the very least it acts as a nice contrast. I like how blue and orange balance against each other. I wonder if the two characters are opposites in Infinite Stratos. If so, kudos to the designers for their color choices. Oh, hey there CharlotteThat dress looks familiarOnly here in black. Alright, so Charlotte here is pretty similar to Cecilia. The leggings and base outfit are basically the same, only with shifted colors. Charlotte is rocking black and orange, which look solid with her shorter hair and almost coquettish pose. While there aren't any nasty seams here, I actually like Charlotte's hair less than Cecilia's. The sculpt looks more clumpy, which might have to do with how her hair is picked up in a ponytail. The bow is a nice touch. Just look at her face.Her expression is quite cuteOne may say moé!  However, where I may not be such a big fan of her hair, I like Charlotte's expression. I find it way cuter than Cecilia's. It also looks better with her aforementioned pose. Not just for bootythis shows what her hands look likeI promise...yeah right. Behind Charlotte's back, you can see how her right hand is holding her left arm. I like that the sculptor added the slight sway in her back, which adds a certain shy and flirty feel to the whole piece. Finally, here's Charlotte base. It's the same as Cecilia's, only with a different color of plastic and a slightly altered design it. Hell, the shoes are also the same, minus the color shift. It isn't a negative so much as an observation. If both Charlotte and Cecilia are in the same school, it would make sense that much of their outfits are similar. So in summation, these are pretty solid figures. They keep up the general quality of the Figuarts ZERO line and if you like Infinite Stratos, you'll probably want them in your collection. If you like the show,I'm sure that these two are greatadditions for you!  [A big thank you to Bluefin for providing Charlotte & Cecilia for review.]
Figuarts ZERO photo
I think I'd like to go to their school
I used to fancy myself an anime-obsessive. I would watch as many things as I could jam into my eye sockets and if it had a robot of some sort in it? Boy, I'd be on that double time. However, as time has gone on, I can't watch...

Tomopop Review: FREEing's μ-12

Jun 26 // Chris Seto
Figure Name: Blazblue's μ-12 1/8th Scale FigureFigure Maker: FREEingPrice: ¥15,222Available At: Amiami | Hobbylink Japan OK, lets get this out of the way first... Noel Vermillion is my go-to character for easily my favourite fighting game series right now. She's served me through all four retail games and all five releases of the series thus far so seeing as Noel is intrinsically linked to μ-12, this figure will be hit with a finer comb than usual! First up, we'll take a look at the rather obvious, μ-12 is pretty damn big, and her box hits the point home. It reminds me of the Alter of old and I kinda like it. The box itself is very plain with four windows to look inside at the figure. However, FREEing have done enough to distinguish it as a Blazblue item with the colour scheme and copious use of the crest logo. And here's how she looks outside the box. FREEing went a little over on the fanservice for the design and shrunk down her costume a fair bit. The design is still the same, but she doesn't show off as much skin in the game. The pose also comes off as incredibly odd. The overall pose suggests that it's based off the pre-battle artwork seen before the start of a fight but it deviates by quite a large margin. The blades are held in place by metal rods with a clear plastic pillar extending down to the base.  The blades themselves are rigidly stuck together so don't expect to get any flexibility from them. The two parts are also quite different in positioning so you'll likely only be able to place a specific one on each of the pillars, which heavily restricts how you can make the whole package look.  The base is mostly a plain, clear blue plastic disc but the central part which holds μ-12 up is given a swirling effect, similar to what you see in many shounen mangas when the character powers up and looks pretty cool, unless you look at it from the back... At which point, it makes it look as though μ-12 is embedded in some kind of slime monster... The legs were painted rather sparingly, but done rather well. There are no details which spring out, but it does the job. The sculptor also made an effort to make it appear as armour, and not mechanical appendages, so the joints look far more round than the angular parts surrounding it though, from the look of the thigh, I think the armour piece may be a size or two smaller than it needs to be. One thing that did disappoint without a doubt, however, is the very obvious seam line between the right leg and body. It really stands out from the rest of the figure... And, as Mori-san once said, "What's important is her back!" or in this case, her butt! It might just be me but it does look like FREEing took some extra care and attention on the backside of μ-12! Another oddity in the figure is the hair. From the front, μ-12 looks fine but the back looks more like a yellow rag more than hair. Normally, this would be a point against the figure but in this case, I'll allow it because it's actually game-sprite accurate! It really does look like that in-game!! Moving onto the upper area, I have to say that the face doesn't really look like noel, but this is mitigated by a considerable amount by the fact that the headpiece is placed so low down, much of the face is obscured unless you look up at the figure. On the plus side, the eyes have a certain glossed-over look which is consistent with the character. She doesn't have much of a personality or will of her own after all. Arguments will rage among hardcore fans about whether or not the makers gave μ-12 an upgrade in the chest department though... Overall, μ-12 is a pretty solid figure with only a few caveats. The build quality is decent, the painting is solid, if uninspired, and the character looks the part. The three biggest problems I have with the kit are the massive seam line on her hip, the fact that she actually looks better without the floating blades and the overall pose itself. The first two points are variable, and can be ignored by some, but the pose is just plain weird. It doesn't really seem to serve any purpose other than to make it appear dynamic. It's not based off any known game artwork nor is it a move used by the character in the game. And I checked! She has a weird jab where she sticks her hands out while arching her back (6A for the fighting game aficionados) but nothing like what the figure is doing here. This is just a weird pose. And just to hammer the point home... I just have no idea what she's trying to do here.. Still, as one of the FREEing Blazblue offerings, μ-12 is definitely the strongest so far. At full price though, I'd say that only the most ardent fans would really bite, but since you can find her on sale at various sites right now, she's a pretty decent offering. The only question mark left is the version which Alter recently announced. Even in unpainted form, she's looking better than the FREEing offering so if you're only in the market for one μ-12 figure, you may want to wait a bit... [ Many thanks to HobbyLink Japan for the review sample! ]
CRAWLING IN MY SKIN!! photo
Third Time's the charm?
In a relatively short space of time, FREEing have established themselves as a solid middle ground manufacturer of figures. They may not be able to match the big boys like Alter, Kotobukiya or their parent, GoodSmile Company, ...

Tomopop Review: Good Smile Company's Hatsune Miku Deep Sea Girl ver.

Jun 12 // Tianxiao Ma
Figure Name: Hatsune Miku Deep Sea Girl ver.Figure Maker: Good Smile CompanyRetail Price: ¥14,800Available at: HobbyLink Japan | Hobby Search | AmiAmi | Play Asia | ToysLogic | Plamoya | Big Bad Toy Store | Nippon-Yasan Right from the get-go this feels like a special figure. You can see the extra attention Good Smile Company put into designing the box. The box has a smooth, satin finish on thick cardboard stock. Its design is contemporary, with an emphasis on the photography. I even liked the choice of typography used. You won't see the usual collage of promotional images on the sides and back, nor is there a window of any kind. It feels like a premium package and looks the part. There's a little assembly involved to set this figure up. You have to attach the twin tails to Miku's head, then affix the whole thing to three points on the base. After that you can attach the two coral pieces. I don't really have to tell you how amazing this figure looks. We've all seen the promo shots and some of you have probably seen her at conventions (or own the figure already). When I stood back and looked at the finished assembly, it didn't disappoint. This version of Miku is based on the design of the illustrator Haruyo, who created it for the "Shinkai Shoujo" music video on Niconico. It looks like Good Smile Company's artists added on to the original design, leading to the wonderfully detailed twin tails and the coral setting. I love the look of Miku's dress. It's casual, but elegant. There's a long flowing piece that attaches to the base. Along with pegs for the twin tails, it helps secure the figure. Each strand of hair looks light and delicate, perfect for the deep sea setting. There's a definite floatiness to the figure. Miku's going barefoot, adding to the casual look. That little curl of the big toe is really cute. There are two pieces of coral providing a splash of pink to contrast with the blues and blacks of the figure. They look fragile but are made of a very soft PVC to minimize the chances of breaking. I had a tough time jamming the front piece onto the pegs on the base. I would have liked a different way to affix them (magnets are always good) - this is my one knock against the figure. Miku's dreamy, hopeful expression is so touching! I couldn't resist adding a soft focus effect to one of my photos. Good Smile Company has made a lot of Miku figures. I generally avoid them, but when they have an interesting variation on her design, I take notice. Deep Sea Miku is the best one I've seen yet! Well, maybe next to Mikudayo... You can tell that GSC wanted to make a statement with this figure. I had some minor problems fitting some of the parts onto their pegs, but the quality was exemplary otherwise. It comes out in the texturing of the corals, the delicate wisps of hair, the deep blue ocean-like base, and the flowing cloth of Miku's dress. And though GSC priced this pretty high for a 1/8-scale figure, it feels much larger than 1/8. If you have the cash to spare, there's no reason to hesitate - you'll surely be getting a centerpiece for your collection.
GSC Deep Sea Miku photo
Somewhere beyond the sea, she's there watching for me
The wait for Good Smile Company's Deep Sea Girl Hatsune Miku has been lengthy, but Good Smile Company at long last has shipped her out. And you know what? I'm not bitter. I think we all know (more or less) what we'll be getti...

Tomopop Review: Aoshima Haganai NEXT Sena Kashiwazaki

Jun 11 // Rio McCarthy
Figure Name: Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai NEXT Sena KashiwazakiFigure Manufacturer: Aoshima / FunnyKnightsRetail Price: ¥7,600Previously Available At: HobbyLink Japan Here we have a quick look at the box. That's really all there is to it. It's a box, and there are a few windows on it. You can see the most from the front window, but there are also windows on the side and top. The images of the box are of the figure itself with and without the shirt you can put on her. Here we see her plastic packaging. She comes with an extra face, as well as her shirt accessory you can have her wear. The first thing Sena wanted to do was go for a swim. Well... I live in Missouri, we don't exactly have beaches in the part I live in. We went for the next best thing; the bathtub. I mean... the REALLY cool porcelain swimming pool. -cough- In the picture above you can see the seam in her hair where it is able to be removed to change her face. It definitely bugs me when viewed from the wrong angle, but it's usually not nearly so visible. She has.. really big boobies for being a school student. I won't lie, I'm kinda jealous! She also has a super cute light blue bikini that has a couple flowers here and there. It also has golden yellow ties and accents along the edges. Here she is from behind, and there is not much to that bikini at all. Granted, it's a bikini so I guess there wouldn't be. However what IS there, is my favorite term I've coined, the butt cleavage. As in previous Sena figures, the butt cleavage is definitely present. Sena finally decided to get out of the bath--er.. 'swimming pool' and hang out on a towel for a while. She didn't do a very good job of drying herself off, but you can get a good look at how well her tummy is sculpted and shaded. You can also see the gold bracelets she's wearing on her left arm. Her feet are really well sculpted with the individual toes, as well as the different areas of her feet. You can also see the wrinkles and folds in her bikini in this shot as well, and you can see how nice the ties on the side of her bottoms  look. Uh oh.. It looks like we have a visitor to our towel. Well, hello! It's my cat, Mija! After jumping into the water in the bathtub he wanted to dry his paws off as well. Then he got comfy and glared at me like, "Why aren't you moving off my towel, mom? Jeez..." Needless to say, we scooted over a bit, because Mija's definitely the boss of the house, even if he is the sweetest cat I know. I think what bothers me most about the figure is the hair. I really like how well everything else is detailed, but the hair just seems a little blobby to me. It's really apparent in angles like this where the hair is removed for changing the face. This may just be my actual copy not pushing in as far as it should or something, but I'm not sure. Going a bit lower you can see her well sculpted midsection, as well as her legs. I actually really like how her legs look. The fold where her leg bends looks really nice and looks pretty realistic to me. Here you get it all, side boob, butt cleavage and blobby hair. I do like how the hair is sculpted with the strand texture at the top, but this is one of the first figures I haven't been super thrilled with the hair yet. Usually I'm pretty forgiving on it. It's definitely not the worst I've seen, but I'm also not completely feeling it. Though you can see her little dimples on her lower back in this shot, which is a nice touch. I love her butterfly hair clip though! I'd love to have one like that. It's really pretty and brings a smile to my face. Well, here's an awkward shot. Are you going to stare at her boobs, or at her half hexagon head once her bangs are taken off? You decide! You can also see the seam on her shoulder, which isn't visible when her hair is there. This is Sena's alternate face, and she almost looks like she's going, "Who, me?" with the way her hand is on her chest. However, I don't like this face as much as I do the one with the slight smile. She already looked older than she is in the figure to begin with, but she looks even a couple years older still with this face. Then again, she also looks a little soulless at the wrong angles too. This is one of the more soulless angles, but you get a look at the button-up shirt you can put on her. Let me tell you... This takes some holding your mouth just right to get it on there. It's a tight fit, and I sure didn't notice anything to take apart to make it any easier, so you kind of work your way around her with it. You'll start with one arm and get it wrapped around and then move around to the back and then the other arm. Her hair does seem to fit better with this face than the other one though, so that's a plus! Yeah, so your butt shot is pretty awkward, I won't lie, but I wanted to show that the detail didn't just stop with what you can see. Her legs look great, and they included the muscles to the butt from her thighs, which is sculpted very nicely. Her bikini bottoms even have folds on the bottom of the figure as well. This is how I will be displaying Sena, and I wonder how the rest of you would be as well. In addition to my first Sena figure, this was my first experience with Aoshima and FunnyKnights figures as well. It was a great first impression, honestly! I hope to see more figures in person of theirs again in the future. [ A huge thanks to HobbyLink Japan for sending us this review sample! ]
Aoshima's Haganai Sena photo
Life's a splash, let's go to beach!
Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai (or Haganai for short) is an anime series I've actually wanted to watch for quite a while, and after finally having a Sena Kashiwazaki figure in my own hands, I think it's darn near time. This spl...

Tomopop Review: Good Smile Company's Akane Isshiki

Jun 04 // Martin Siggers
Figure Name: Akane IsshikiFigure Maker: Good Smile CompanyRetail Price: ¥9,333Available at: HobbyLink Japan A good box is important for a good first impression, and this is a good one. Sure, it's kind of busy, but it really stands out. There's a bunch of colour, some of the trademark iconography from the show, a nice big window, and an attractive inner lining. It won't be winning design awards but it draws the eye well and would look good on a shelf. Another small detail that I like to harp on about is the importance of a good base, which really can add a little something extra to a figure. Now, this isn't an elaborate 3D base or scenery prop. But isn't it so much nicer than just a crappy plain plastic disc? I can't imagine printing a cool pattern like this onto the base costs too much more, and it just increases my enjoyment a lot. Akane isn't attached at all to her hoverbike - it's an entirely separate piece as you can see here. The bike attaches to the base just through a simple peg hole, although the supporting rod is solid metal. Still, I'm always a little nervous with this arrangement. The hole in the base always seems very shallow to me, though the stand is as solid as a rock, so maybe I'm just paranoid. Forget Akane for a second, I could probably do an entire review on the bike alone. It's a terrific accessory, though that word seems a little inadequate considering how large and integral to the figure it is. Paint is a lovely metallic gunmetal, with clear blue plastic used for the highlights, and lines are sharp and flawless all over. The detail extends down to the individual screws and rivets, all of which are beautifully embossed into the surface of the plastic. Even Akane's trademark bottle, dangling off the back of bike, is impeccably detailed. I'd estimate that the letters on the bottle are ~1mm high, which gives you some idea of the scale we're working to. It's flapping in the wind too, which helps sell the feeling of movement the figure is trying to convey. The other major part included is a stack of newspapers which can sit in the bike's front basket. This is just a solid plastic lump that slots easily in, but maintains a nice level of detail - check out the small print on the headlines. Enough dossing around with the bike though, let's move on to the lady herself. I think the most immediately striking thing here is the pose, which radiates the kind of rambunctious energy Akane's character is known for. The straight legs, the arched back, the big grin, all of these things convey a get up and go spirit. Not only is that essential for bringing out personality, it also adds considerably to the 'high speed' feel of the figure. I suspect this may be a sample to sample case, but my Akane at least doesn't actually 'stand' on the pedals. There's a minute bit of clearance which you can just about see in the pictures. Instead she's supported by the bike chassis being wedged between her legs. The figure is light enough and the contact minimal enough that paint transfer isn't really an issue, but if you're super anal-retentive about these things, bear it in mind. Akane has fixed hands and grips the handlebars of the bike, which come away individually on each side to allow her to be attached. It's a little fiddly but probably a preferable option to removable arms. Needless to say, given how tailored this pose is, Akane is pretty much undisplayable without the bike. See? I can't imagine anybody getting any use out of a pose like this. Nope. Definitely absolutely no point to this pose. No sir-eee. Given the show's tendency to... lavish attention on posteriors I was a little worried we might get a nightmarish 90's comic book style set of profile proportions, but in fact Akane looks... pretty much human. Sure, there's some slight back arch, but that's pretty much what you'd expect in this pose. If you were reading this review purely for this shot, congratulations, you can leave now. Akane's face is simple but cute and the big-mouthed expression of joy suits her to a tee. Hair follows the same pattern - it's relatively simple but bushy enough to avoid 'plastic blob' syndrome. You can see the crispness of the paint here - not a line out of place. A couple of other bits of amazing detail here. The little plaque on the front of the bike is perfect, from the logo and the ISSHIKI LABORATORY tag. Again, remember the minuscule scale we're working on here. Akane's red high-tops are a great look for her and here again detail is excellent, with crisp lines on the design, the zipper replicated well and even treads on the soles, something I always check for as it's a pretty good indication of the lengths the maker has gone to. If there's a weakness here it's in that black piping, which is very good but perhaps a tad patchy.  Likewise on the shorts here you can see what should be a relatively straighforward bit of striping has some notable paint bleed. It's odd because, as I've noted, in most places the paint is razor sharp. I want to emphasise this is VERY minor nitpicking. It wouldn't be much of a review if it was just effusive praise would it? Let's be honest though, that's mostly what it's been. And that's because Akane Isshiki is business as usual for Good Smile - a impeccably made, imaginative, and extremely high quality figure. I'm impressed that they've largely ignored the questionable parts of the subject matter and produced a clean, energetic and sharp looking rendition with a unique look and accessory. Very highly recommended. Big thanks to the lovely ladies and gents over at HobbyLink Japan for sending Akane riding our way.
Review GSC Akane Isshiki photo
Who wears short shorts?
It's a lot of fun to follow a figure from genesis all the way to finished product. Good Smile Company's elaborate take on Akane Isshiki from Vividred Operation was one of the first figures I covered when I arrived at the...

Tomopop Review: Pulchra's Noire

Jun 03 // Chris Seto
Figure Name: Hyperdimension Neptunia: The Animation's NoireFigure Maker: PulchraPrice: ¥10,079Available At: AmiAmi  Let's look at the box first. It's pretty unassuming, but does give you a small window to look at Noire before you unbox her. The box also notes that the design is from Hyperdimension Neptunia: The Animation as opposed to any of the games, so those of you who are fans of her look in Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory will be disappointed. She sports her look from the original Neptunia and mk2 games. Now we take a look at her out of the box. From a distance, she looks pretty decent, but on closer inspection alarm bells will start ringing, but let's take this one step at a time... First up, here's a look at the base. Some effort was placed into making it match the show, but one does have to wonder why they gave Noire a base with the logo for Neptune... She does have her own after all. Taking a closer look at Noire, taking her as a whole, the makers did manage to get the details of the dress right, but given that the original games were not exactly graphical powerhouses, and the anime itself was done on a shoestring budget I'm not sure how much praise this is worth. And now, it's time for the gloves to come off! The one accessory which comes with Noire is her sword and it's as barren as you see in the pic above. The paint job is a very simple solid grey and is incredibly dull. Even the silver part on the cutting blade is incredibly flat and there's no real detail to speak of. Even looking from the back, the point about the paint job being flat and somewhat lifeless extends to the main body as well.  However, the hair has a different problem, I'm not sure if it's because they misjudged the levels of paint required to obtain the right colour, but the base colour (usually used under the solid dark colour to give a sense of detail and depth) is way too obvious here and you end up with a bright purple colour showing up over the black of her hair. Furthermore, there's a strange finish to the hairpieces in general which makes the parts look like solid rubber and not hair... And now we move on to the... HOLY CRAP!!! WHO ARE YOU??? I think we now know why they said they based her design from the anime, it looks like they took a snapshot of one of the really badly drawn episodes and used that as the base! Here is what Noire is meant to look like: The face is just too round, like she's just stuffed her mouth with food or someone is pinching her cheeks in the figure. Heck, it doesn't even look like the pic they printed on the side of their own box!! But the most damning thing about the figure is the lack of care and attention to the final touches. It's most evident on the right hand, but it's present pretty much everywhere on the kit if you look hard enough. In this particular case, it looks like the painter went too heavy when applying the paint so we're left with a clump of colour on the hands, with the paint settling between the fingers and destroying any detail which may have been there. The gold trim was also done rather shoddily here as well. Similar problems present themselves on the left hand. Many of you know that I paint my own figures and while I don't rate my skills very highly, I will say this much; even when I was starting out on my first kits, I could have done a better job than this!! Now, I might sound like I'm ragging on this figure a lot, and some of you might even agree, but it's not the worst figure I've seen, or even the worst in my collection. It's certainly lacking in areas and more care is needed on the finish, but it's potentially serviceable. Noire reminds me of a prize figure, but that in itself is the biggest issue. She's not a prize figure, she's a full release which is demanding ¥10,000 to purchase and she's just not worth that kind of price. Worse still is that the quality has clearly taken a nosedive since preview shots were shown. We're talking Aliens: Colonial Marines level of quality drop off here! This really hurts to write, as I really do love Noire. She's by far my favourite goddess from the Neptunia games, but even die hard fans are better off waiting and hoping that she gets a better rendition from somewhere else. Her Black Heart form is getting a figure release from Alter so maybe we might get one of Noire as well... For now, it's best to stay away from this release and, if you're one of those who have placed a pre-order on the Pulchra Shingeki no Kyojin figures, consider yourself warned! Unless they make a quantum leap in quality between now and their next releases, I don't see their next figures getting a good reception and it's best not trust the preview images too much either...
Review Pulchra Noire photo
This is for the Collectors(?)
With the figure making market pretty much established and the big players set up, perhaps it's time for smaller companies to step up and shake the boat a little. We've seen some companies take a stab at making new figures for...

Tomopop Review: Portrait of Pirates Crocodile Repaint Ver.

May 28 // Pedro Cortes
Figure Name: P.O.P. NEO-EX Crocodile Repaint Ver. Figure Maker: MegahouseRetail Price: ¥8,000Available at: Hobby Link Japan Behold, the cardboard prison that dares to contain Crocodile! Like most P.O.Ps, he comes in a rather large box, so you shouldn't worry about potential damage. I've read that a couple of people have gotten their Crocs with busted hands, but that sounds like an anomaly rather than something you should be worried about. Yep, he looks pretty strapped in. He ain't moving from that plastic. Outside of the casing, Crocodile cuts a pretty imposing figure. His sharp fashion sense hides the heart of one mean dude who's willing to destroy an entire kingdom for his own purposes. Looking at him from the side shows that he's got his hips jutted out like most male figures. I'm guessing this has something to do with preventing long-term lean, but it really would be nice if there were some more dynamic poses. You can also see the detail that the sculptor worked in across his slacks and mid-section. Both sections of clothing are appropriately wrinkled, which is a nice detail I like seeing in clothing. The back is probably the worst angle for ol' Croc. For one, you can see the obvious seam where his hook arm is attached to his body. He also has no butt. Take that as a lesson folks: unless you want a flat Crocodile booty, be sure to do your squats on leg day and do them right! Thing is, you're unlikely to get a whole lot of viewing of his butt as Crocodile likes to wear... ...a nifty coat! You can also see the arm seams here, but at the very least they look natural on the clothing. I also dig the ruffle along the collar. It's a nice, fanciful touch that adds a certain amount of fashionable arrogance to his outfit. Here's a close up of Croc's face. Since its first release in 2010, fans on message boards have derided this version of Croc. Much is said about the lackadaisical expression lacking the necessary intensity that Crocodile has in the show and in the manga. Personally, I'm alright with it. Yeah, it isn't the most expressive, but I think it fits his casual arrogance and callow nature. It's like he's looking down on who ever he's looking at. Also note that the cigar is a separate piece. It comes in a small compartment in the packaging that's taped up, and for good reason. It's really easy to lose it. It doesn't help that the peg is short and the hole in his mouth is shallow. If you're going to display him with the cigar, and you really should, be careful of moving him around too much or you risk losing it. Croc's right hand is connected via a small peg, allowing for rotation. It isn't particularly impressive, but hey, it's something. You can spin it around and pretend that he's wielding some of his sand in the palm of his hand. Oh well, at the very least it has some nicely painted rings on his hand. A high-level crime boss has got to show off those riches somehow! The major effect parts revolve around Croc's hook. The P.O.P. comes with two additional accessories that you can put on to his left socket. In it from the start is his normal hook. You can replace it with... ...a poisoned hook. It doesn't appear for very long in One Piece, but it's an interesting choice. Your other option is... ...a blade. Less subtle than a hook, but it'll certainly get the job done. Me, I keep it on the normal hook. I think it fits Croc better overall. Finally, here's a shot of his base. If you've seen the original 2010 Croc, you'll immediately notice that the base is a completely different color. Instead of the black/purple you see above, it was a sandy brown to match, you know, Croc's affinity with sand. I'm kind of torn between which one I like better. Yeah, this color matches his outfit more, but the sandy base feels more appropriate for the character. Despite some issues with weak posing and questionable color choices with the base, I'm going to recommend Crocodile. For one, he's an imposing character that deserves some good merch. I really like the arrogance inherent in the pose and facial expression, though not everybody may agree. I also like the sculpting and paint job done on his slacks and coat. He's a smooth-looking goon that should be in every One Piece fan's collection! [A big thank you to Hobby Link Japan for providing the figure for review!]
Review: P.O.P. Crocodile photo
I hate it when sand gets in all those uncomfy spaces
Over the years of my figure collecting, Megahouse's Portrait of Pirates line has remained my favorite series of figures. Based off of characters from the immensely popular One Piece, the figures tend to be excellent represent...

Tomopop Review: Figuarts Zero Super Saiyan Vegeta

May 26 // Andres Cerrato
Figure Name: Figuarts Zero Super Saiyan VegetaFigure Maker: Bandai - Tamashii NationsPrice: US$34.99Available At: Amazon | Big Bad Toy Store | Entertainment Earth Yes, this is a box. Don't you just love how the picture of the box matches the contents? It is a good thing, because surely, I would be disappointed if contents did not match the advertisement. Upon further inspection, this is in fact the Figuarts Zero Super Saiyan Vegeta. Upon taking the figure out of the box, this is how Vegeta is supposed to be. Depicted here is Vegeta performing the Final Flash attack, which is captured in magnificent detail here in this release. The figure does come with a base, but I just wanted to show its stability without it. Vegeta is floating on some smoke being thrown back by ki. We'll get to those details later in the review. Taking a look here from the side, you can gain a better appreciation for the energy effect parts. While Trunks' and Goku's energy were done as a type of electrical waves, Vegeta's are a more typically scene type of energy in DBZ. The edges on the energy pieces are pretty sharp. You may just prick your finger on them, so be careful when taking them out of the package.  A look at the backside here. The energy pieces, like Trunks, connect at his back and are removable. I really love the paintjob they did on this figure. As you see on the smoke, it's painted as if the energy is refracting light upon the clouds. The plumes themselves are very distinct, with the paint done in nice layers. I really, really love what they did with the hands. As you can see here, the hands are given the same type of paint treatment as on the smoke. It gives the effect of the energy building up at the palms, ready to be released. At first, you think it's because of the effect parts, maybe it's just the light catching it. Instead, it's just a really great paintjob. However, what you can see here, is that upon really close inspection, there's some excess paint and mold lines on the fingertips. Luckily, it's only something that you'll see when you look this closely at it. The Figuarts Zero line really likes translucent hair, as they're doing it here as they did previously with Goku and Trunks. They also did quite the job on the face, making sure that Vegeta's veins pop out like they always do. Also, that smirk ensures Vegeta thinks he's killed Cell, but you know damn well that he didn't. If you haven't noticed by now, this Figuarts Zero is based upon the Super Vegeta, the super-roided not quite level 2 version of being a Super Saiyan. They really got the muscle sculpting quite well. In fact, I would say that the sculpt all-around was top notch. I really like what they did with Vegeta and there's pretty much nothing that could disappoint me here. Okay, those are some pretty terrible cuts on the gloves from the mold. Thankfully, I won't ever have to see these as it's an angle I'll never go to. I only took this shot so you could get a better gander at Vegeta's ... leg muscle development! Yeah, that's it! I took this shot to show you Vegeta's holes. You won't want to display him from behind should you decide to remove the energy waves, as you can see some rather fitted pieces to make sure you don't screw up where to put them. Also, if you were thinking of putting the pieces from either Trunks, Goku or any other FZ release, that's not going to happen. Yes, Vegeta does come with a base. As you can tell, it's pretty much identical to that of Trunks'. It's slightly darker sand and has some different shades of earth, but it's still what my son calls a brown octagon. All in all, Figuarts Zero Vegeta surpassed a lot of my expectations. I like its coloring and shading much more than that of Trunks. What really helps, as I hope was highlighted in this review, is that the figure is good from just about every angle. It really commands a presence in one's collection and is my favorite of the line so far. It also has the added feature of being my favorite DBZ character. [Thanks to Bluefin Distribution for providing this sample for review!]
Review - FZ SS Vegeta photo
The Prince of All Saiyans is back yet again
Yes, Vegeta has returned once again. After two very popular releases in the S.H. Figuarts lineup, Vegeta now gets his own Figuarts Zero. The third Super Saiyan gets the fourth release in the line, well behind his son from the...

Tomopop Review: Alpha x Omega's Yzak Jule

May 24 // Andres Cerrato
Figure Name: Alpha x Omega 1/7-scale Yzak JuleFigure Manufacturer: MegahousePrice: ¥6,750Available At: HobbyLink Japan  Yes, it's a box. Just like all of the other Gundam SEED figures released by Megahouse over the last year, the box for Yzak features a window, showing off the figure as well as all of the alternate pose pieces, including bandaged head and alternate right arm. The base is rather unremarkable, having a violet hue. Just like Athrun's and Lacus' base, it features his name and the Z.A.F.T. logo. Also pegs. Now that Yzak is free from the plastic prison, let's take a look at what Megahouse has done here. Yzak's pose is very similar to Athrun's, with the arm stretched out along with the jacket flapping with an imaginary breeze. The pose itself is taken from the first opening, so I'm okay with it being similar to Athrun's. There is an alternate head and arm after all. From the back, we see that the uniform is pretty tight in places. The belt really holds that jacket on and Megahouse has done a pretty nice job of showing the wrinkles and creases both at the waist and the boots.You also get an outline of that backside, which I imagine is great for that segment of collectors out there. Here's a better look at the belt and its snugness. Okay, what I actually want you to do is look directly below his belt, then go to your right and look at those appendages. I don't know if Coordinators are supposed to have extremely long finger digits, but Yzak does here. It's nothing really crazy, but they're just really long fingers. Oddly long. At least they're well-manicured, as Megahouse gave his fingernails a hint of gloss. Nice nails on even longer fingers. I don't know why, but they just could not nail the Z.A.F.T. logo for the arm. I know it's detailed, but they were able to do it on the original run of Gundam SEED figures more than 10 years ago. It was done the same way for Athrun, I was just hoping for something better. Also, if you note, the paint at the top of the collar is a bit splotchy. This Yzak is a bit sloppy, but it's something that is only observed during close inspection. Let's talk about what they did get right, his head. They absolutely nailed Yzak's expression. The cocky smile is captured perfectly in this piece. Also, I cannot say enough about the hair. Each of the strands are nicely trimmed, and there's no blotches or bubbles of paint at the ends.  Did I say they got his head right? I meant heads. My favorite of the two, as great as cocky Yzak is, is the scarred and bandaged head. The hair is nicely mixed in with the bandages and the face is once again done perfectly. The scar is done right and adds character to the figure. Also pictured here is the alternate arm, which of course features Yzak once more with giant fingers. See why I prefer the scarred face? It's just that more dynamic and we all have our imperfections caused by being shot by a heavily-genetically modified soldier because you had just shot a shuttle full of civilians. Just the little things.  Why reach out the future when I can just remember and hold in the pain, right? Let's take a look back at the past. The Yzak figure on the left was released in 2006 during the run of Gundam SEED Destiny. What a difference eight years makes. This really shows how far the industry has come over these last years. Yikes. Time has not been kind. I remember asking when the new SEED figures were announced, "Why? They got figures years ago." Yeah, this is the reason why.  Here's Yzak with the aforementioned Athrun. A couple of differences to note here. One, Yzak has a much better tailor than Athrun. While his are tight, it's not the child's medium for Athrun. Two, it's nowhere near as windy out for Yzak. One other note: Athrun's head is able to move around whereas Yzak's is fixed in place. It doesn't really make that much of a difference, but just worth noting here.  With the gang all here, Yzak stands out the most from the boys. I liked Yzak most out of the cast anyway and I'm glad that he got a new figure. Time makes you think a lot of things were better than they were. It's a shame that we probably won't get the other two Z.A.F.T. pilots, Dearka and Nicol. With what will be in most likelihood the final figure in the line, it does have its faults that could have been avoided. However, it is still a rather good piece to add to the collection, especially if you're a fan of Yzak which will allow you to look past those minor flaws. After all, it's not like the guy has a giant scar going down his face. [Thanks to HobbyLink Japan for providing this sample for review!]
Alpha x Omega Yzak Jul photo
The last of SEED ... for now
It's been a while for Megahouse's line of Gundam SEED figures. Opening first with G.E.M. Athrun Zala, then the figure of the songstress with the really long initials, RAHDXG.A.NEO Lacus Clyne, then actual main character&...

Tomopop Review: Phat Company's Caster EXTRA

May 18 // Tianxiao Ma
Figure Name: Caster EXTRAFigure Maker: Phat CompanyRetail Price: ¥8,381Available at: HobbyLink Japan  I wouldn't have pegged myself as a fan of kemonomimi and all that, but I guess I do have a soft spot for fox girls (and wolf girls who happen to look like fox girls). Maybe that's why I ended up requesting Caster for review. The figure doesn't require much assembly, thankfully. You just need to attach her left leg to the base, and put a little paper talisman into her right hand. I totally forgot to do that so in this review, it just kind of looks like she's doing finger guns. This rendition of Caster is... interesting. She has a gothic lolita-style outfit which shows a ton of cleavage. I'm not the biggest fan of this kind of bust. The base features a set of translucent rings forming the "CCC" logo. I'm ecstatic that Phat Company decided to do something cool with the base instead of opting for a plain disc. Caster has a wonderful face full of cheer. Phat Company did a great job making this figure lively. Her tail and hair are made of translucent plastic. The effect works fine for the hair, but is less convincing for the tail. I think it already looks big and fluffy enough. If you get up close with a camera, you'll notice a few rough spots in the finish. These flaws are difficult to see with the naked eye, though. Caster was fun to shoot. I find that sometimes, if a character design looks energetic, it gives me a little extra spark too. With a cute face and quirky design, this figure has the most important qualities that matter to me. Phat Company can improve on the build quality a bit, but overall I'm happy with Caster. The MSRP is on the high end for a 1/8-scale figure, but this one is fairly large and complex for its scale. [Thanks to HobbyLink Japan for the review sample!]
Phat Company Caster EXTRA photo
Definitely something extra in the chest
Keeping track of the various casts of the Fate franchise is beyond my patience, so I'll just say this Caster is the one featured in Fate/Extra CCC. The original Caster in Fate/stay night was rather dour while this one is... I...

Tomopop Review: Sega's PM Figure Rei Ayanami

May 17 // Tianxiao Ma
Figure Name: PM Figure Rei AyanamiFigure Maker: SegaRetail Price: ¥1,800(Formerly) Available at: HobbyLink Japan  Prize figures are typically found, as the name suggests, as prizes in various arcade and game machines in Japan. The major figure retailers sell them straight up as well. You can just think of them as a cheaper line of PVC figures. With this Rei figure I wanted to see if the old notions about prize figures were still true. Are they smaller, less detailed, and of lower quality? Let's find out! There's no window on this box, which probably isn't all that unusual when it comes to prize figures. I do have a few other prize figures, and their boxes all have windows. My first impression upon unboxing was "dusty." I apologize in advance for all the dust; I did give the figure a once over with a cleaning cloth, but apparently it needed a few more passes. As you can see, the sculpt is actually pretty good. A plugsuit isn't the most elaborate of outfits, but there is a good amount of detailing and relief in this sculpt. I also really like the job Sega did with Rei's face. As for the paint job, it's somewhat rough but not to a distracting degree. I think the plugsuit helps a bit in this department because there isn't much shading or coloring required. I might be in the minority when I say I prefer the Evangelion 3.0 plugsuits over the classic ones. The new designs look sleeker and modern. The one exception may be Asuka's classic red, just because I like shiny red stuff. This isn't a gratuitous butt shot, I promise. This shot highlights the biggest problem with the figure: those gigantic seams at her pelvis. The black plugsuit does hide them a little bit, but they're still noticeable. If you were curious about the size, here's Rei next to Wave's 1/10-scale Asuka. At 22cm tall, you're getting a lot of figure for ¥1,800! Here's Rei next to a couple more Sega PM Figures. Alter's making an Asuka figure, so maybe in a few decades we'll see Rei and Mari figures from them. Until then, our options are limited. Prize figures have improved a lot since I first started collecting, and Sega's PM Figures are good value for money. This Rei figure is comparable in size to a 1/8-scale PVC, with a decent sculpt and paint job. At the same time, you can see why they only cost a fraction of their more expensive cousins. The quality, although far from shoddy, still isn't all there. But that's the trade-off you make for a better price. [Thanks to HobbyLink Japan for the review sample!]
Sega PM Rei Ayanami photo
The ups and downs of prize figures
Prize figures, when I started collecting, weren't things you'd go out of your way to get. They were too small, not very detailed, and had dodgy quality. Over time, all three of those aspects gradually improved to the point wh...

Tomopop Review: Figuarts ZERO Akainu & Aokiji Battle Ver.

May 13 // Pedro Cortes
Figure Name: Figuarts ZERO Akainu Battle Ver. & Figuarts ZERO Aokiji Kuzan Battle Ver.Figure Maker: BandaiRetail Price: ¥4,500 eachAvailable at: [Akainu: HobbyLink Japan | Hobby Search | CD Japan | Play Asia | Plamoya | Entertainment Earth | Big Bad Toy Store ] [ Aokiji: HobbyLink Japan | Hobby Search | AmiAmi | CD Japan | Plamoya | Entertainment Earth | Big Bad Toy Store ] As per the usual, let us begin with a shot of the boxes. Akainu's box looks positively smoldering. It'll surely light up whatever shelf it's sitting on. On the other hand, Aokiji's box looks a bit on the chilly side. Nice blues and whites make it look a bit sterile, though it's appropriate considering the guy inside. Alright, enough with the cardboard, let's move on over to the figures themselves. Let's begin with ol' grump-face Akainu. Yeesh, talk about a grouch. He's a jerk in One Piece and he doesn't look much nicer in PVC form. Bandai's sculptor did a great job catching his angry, determined expression, which is capable of sending terror down the spine of any subordinate who dare question his orders. I'm also fond of the detail on his lapel flower, which is a strange touch on a such a severe dude. His back isn't any less severe. While his ugly mug is spun around, the rather drastic "Absolute Justice" printed on the back of his coat sends a stern message to all who read. Oh, and did I mention the magma bubbling across his shoulders? When Akainu ate the Magma-Magma Fruit, he gained the ability to control one of the hottest substances known to man. I mean, the guy is literally exuding the hot stuff in this figure. Made of a harder translucent plastic, it's a great addition to this battle version of the Marine admiral. In this alternate angle, you can see how the magma goes down to his beefy fist. He looks ready to punch holes in whoever gets in his way, and as fans of One Piece know, he's really good at punching holes through people. There are also some additional fire effect parts on his relatively thin legs. Instead of having Akainu oozing magma from his entire body... ...it's a nice way to accent the range of his heat abilities. After all, even if he isn't immediately using magma on one side of his body, he'd still be hot enough to ignite the clothing on that free limb. Akainu's base is similar to other characters in the One Piece Figuarts ZERO line, so expect nothing really new here. The only thing of note is that there's a separate piece on the rear of the base to support his weight, as he's rather top-heavy So now that we've covered the flame, let's cover the ice! Next up is Aokiji, the (now former) Marine admiral and user of the Ice-Ice Fruit. As opposed to the tight, angry expression on Akainu's face, Aokiji looks only mildly irritated. More like he just woke up from a really good nap instead of fighting for his life. I guess that does match his personality in the show, so this is less of a complaint and more of an idle observation. Oh, and I love that the sculptor kept his sleeping mask. I love the idea of this incredibly powerful admiral that's ready to drift off to sleep at a moment's notice. Keeping with his icy abilities, Aokiji has a bunch of blue effect parts covering sections of his body. Unlike Aokiji, I'm not entirely pleased with what Bandai did here. While it makes sense for Akainu's magma to be bubbly and lumpy, it doesn't make any sense here. I think they were going for an icy wind effect, but really it should be sharp and jagged. You know, like his body froze over and the ice crystals were jutting out all over his body. Here's a closer look at the effect parts. It does look wind-like, but it still doesn't look right. If you look near the bottom of the photo, you can see the ice growing on his other hand. That's how I wanted it to look across Aokiji's back. Nice big spikes, running up his limbs. Yeah, it's a minor touch in the scheme of things, but I think it would've looked a lot better and made him look even more different from his smoldering counterpart. One thing I really love about the battle version of Aokiji is the flowing of coat. It gives him a fantastic sense of motion, like he's dodging a nasty attack. Too often figures of men will just have them standing with their arms crossed and their hips jutting out, ignoring the great posing possibilities. If a character has a coat, I want that coat to do something, and Bandai did just that with the battle version of Aokiji. Finally, here's Aokiji's base. Once again, similar to the rest of the One Piece Figuarts ZEROs. The character name, the version of the character and some sort of quote or sound effect across the base. Unlike Akainu, you don't have to worry about weight here. Aoiji is centered fairly well. So all in all, these are a pair of great figures of some pretty important characters from One Piece. Both gents have gotten some nice looking effects added to some strong poses that should impress fans of the show. They'll look fantastic in your collection, even if you already have another version from some time back or from a different line. [Big thanks goes out to Bluefin Distribution for providing the figures for review!]
Review: Akainu/Aokiji photo
Magma and Ice, nowhere near Ebony and Ivory
With dozens and dozens of characters over 17 years of publication, One Piece is a figure company's dream. There are so many characters that can be made into figures, and just as many fans foaming at the mouth to pick them up....

Tomopop Review: Amakuni's Marika Kato

Mar 06 // Martin Siggers
Figure Name: Marika KatoFigure Maker: Amakuni/Hobby JapanRetail Price: ¥9,333Available At: N/A The first thing to note about Marika is that if you want to buy her....you can't. Or, at least, not new. The reason for that is that she's one of Amakuni's frequent collaborations with Hobby Japan, and was exclusively available through the pages of the magazine. Those outside of Japan needed a proxy to buy her (I got mine from Big in Japan) so she's a little more expensive and difficult to get hold of than your average figure. With that in mind, expectations are suitably raised. This s a pretty standard box, although it's larger than you'd expect for a 1/8 figure for reason we'll see in a bit. I like the hot pink colour scheme and the big bold lettering at the the top, but it's all a little messy down the bottom, with no less than three different typography sets. The box does have heart shaped side windows, which is a cool little detail. Out of the box, it's hopefully obvious what drew me to Marika in the first place. This is an exciting, dynamic pose with tons of movement and some fantastic detailing. First impressions are positive. Marika's mostly made of lovely soft touch matte plastic, and there are no major defects or paint flaws to report. I will say that there's some use of slightly glossier smooth plastic (on her cloak for example) that feels a little cheaper. This is my first Amakuni figure and I'd say I was very satisfied, but I wouldn't class the company in the elite tier alongside GSC, Alter et al yet. There's a little bit of paint splash here and there and one or two sloppy lines, although I must stress these are the exceptions rather than the rule. One thing that's absolutely inexcusable though is the base. It's just a big disc of shiny, hollow black plastic and it couldn't feel cheaper if it tried. I get that an elaborate base isn't necessary for a standing figure like this, but come on, where's my starfield or ship's wheel or something like that? This is the kind of thing I'd expect to see on a ¥1,500 trading figure. From the side it's easy to see why a bigger box was required. With Marika leaning forward and her cape billowing out behind her this is a pretty 'long' figure, although it's quite narrow since the cape doesn't flare, and she hasn't got much of a skirt. One interesting thing to note is that, unlike most figures, Marika cannot be removed from her base. The foot is permanently attached to the stand part, which is screwed into the base. This is unusual, but it's not like she could stand at all without the base anyway, and hopefully it'll help alleviate potential leaning issues. There's a real nice flutter to Marika's cape, and the burgundy interior adds a much needed splash of colour to what's a very black heavy figure. As I mentioned the cape is pretty swept to one side, which helps with the impression she's mid turn, moving in a specific direction. Note the nice, subtler work with the coat as well. Marika's weapons are not molded into her hands, but are instead separate pieces, probably to save space inside the packaging. They're nicely detailed and slip snugly into her hands. In fact, they might be a little too snug - I had to use quite a lot of force, especially since there's almost no 'give' in the hand parts. You can also see here some great close detailing, like the little ruffles, or the sharp gold trim on the upturned sleeve. One thing I unabashedly love about this figure is the face, which is nigh perfect. Marika's got just the hint of a smile playing about her lips and the big, blue eyes are wonderfully painted and add real verve to the face when framed by her pinkish-orange hair. Big praise for the hat too which is a chunky, reassuringly solid lump of plastic. The big feather on the top looks great and the entire thing is deep enough that it sits on her head squarely without much chance of falling off. There's no special mechanism or parts required for the hat. It simply pops on and off like an actual hat would do, so if you want to pose it at a jaunty angle, that's entirely possible, although probably not the best look for the poor girl. From the front we can see some delightful design touches - note the nice ruffling on the cravat, the skull and bones logo on the scabbard and the way her coat and skirt fall very naturally across the legs. Marika's hair is not as immediately striking as some figures, but it's an important part of her makeup nonetheless. Amakuni have done a great job spreading it out over her back like a mane, and while it may not be the most elaborate 'do we've seen, it avoids becoming just a big lump of plastic. I like the way it's not quite as smooth and uniform as you'd expect - the little fronds sticking out make it more like actual, unruly hair. Overall, I'm extremely satisfied with Marika. That's not to say she's perfect though. While it's good, Amakuni's quality isn't quite up to going toe-to-toe with the biggest names in the business, and that base quite frankly is an embarrassment. Still, it's a figure of so many wonderful touches, full of such vim and vigour, that it's difficult not to smile every time you see her perched on a shelf. And you know what? That's worth more than any treasure. (Except chocolate gold coins, those things rock!)
Amakuni Marika photo
Gun and sword in accord
It's clearly pirate season at Tomopop. We've just seen Tian take on Alphamax's enticing Velvet Batrass, and now I'm here to take a look at another lady pirate, albeit one considerably more covered up. It's Amakuni's version o...

Tomopop Review: Alphamax's Velvet Batrass

Feb 25 // Tianxiao Ma
Figure Name: Velvet BatrassFigure Maker: AlphamaxRetail Price: ¥9,800Available At: HobbyLink Japan | Hobby Search | AmiAmi | Plamoya | Big Bad Toy Store Velvet is a character from Shining Ark, one of many games bearing Tony Taka's character designs. She's leaning toward the ecchi side of things with her skimpy, but undeniably, pirate-oriented outfit. The figure is 1/8-scale but the box is pretty huge. Most of it is empty space, though the package does come with a sizable round base. Assembly is straightforward: just match up the pegs on the base to the treasure chest, set Velvet on top, and attach her foot to its corresponding peg. The top part of the chest does detach, letting you fill it up with whatever. Although I love the softness of Velvet's face and her bright blue eyes, she does have a bit of the Alphamax vacant expression going on. Depending on the viewing angle, she can look neutral, smug, or slightly amused. I think it's all in that tilt of the head. The color cues around her face are very important as Velvet's outfit is not very colorful. The splash of blue and pink are great accents. Velvet is posed so that she's giving you a peek at her butt. Hey, I'm not complaining. For a more casual look, you can display her without the hat. She loses a bit of pirate flair though. For an even more casual look, you can cast off the skirt (which is barely there to begin with). The figure separates at the waist, and the connection is well hidden by her bikini bottom. Without the skirt, her left hand looks a bit awkward. It makes you wonder what she's doing with it... I paid particularly close attention to the fit and finish of this figure as I had never owned anything from Alphamax before. At least with Velvet, there's no cause for concern. The paint job was very clean and I didn't see any problems with the build quality. Due to the design of the skirt, it can get in the way of sitting. Velvet's right hand sometimes won't come down flush with the surface she's resting on. If this happens, her skirt piece is flexible enough to be pushed up the torso, letting her right hand come down. The base adds a lot of flavor to the set. I'm very glad it wasn't a plain circular disc. Its wood finish goes a long way to make this figure stand out, and the treasure chest is just a great prop. My one real complaint about this figure is that Velvet's foot doesn't hold to the base very securely, so there's a possibility of her falling over. I recommend caution while moving her. If you don't like the base, you can always have her sit on something else! This was a tough shot to get because she doesn't balance on figmas very well. There you have it: my first Alphamax figure! Apart from the issue with the foot peg, the build quality is reassuring. Mostly it's the design that appeals to me. Alphamax has a number of scantily clad females but Velvet has a unique look. So if you dig bikini-clad pirate girls, this figure's perfect for you!
Alphamax Velvet photo
Enticing booty
I really like the sexy pirate trope, which seems more prevalent in Japanese properties than in the West. When thinking of pirate figures, Mouretsu Pirates' Marika and Queen's Blade's Liliana spring to mind. Alphamax's Ve...

Tomopop Review: Sentinel's BRAVE-ACT! Levi

Feb 05 // Rio McCarthy
Figure Name: BRAVE-ACT! LeviFigure Maker: SentinelRetail Price: US$124.99Available at: Big Bad Toy Store | Crunchyroll Store | Amazon The BRAVE-ACT series gets started off with a wonderfully popular star, Levi, who looks right at home in his box housing here. The box looks great, and has a green brick background, while being very carefully decorated. There are photos of the figure itself on the back, as well as the logo on the top and sides of the box. The window shows the different pieces you get, so there's nothing left to the imagination here. While still in the plastic, you can see that it obviously comes with the figure of Levi, while also having two hands, the blades for his swords, and a set of instructions. Inside the clear plastic envelope that the instructions are in, are four small black tubes that you need to put onto the figure itself. The instructions show you where they need to go, even if they are in Japanese. You can just look at the pictures and find out, it's simple. Ah, there's that totally-bored-but-still-smug look I've grown to admire while looking at things that come in about Levi. He's out of both the box and the plastic, but he still doesn't look too much like he cares. All I can hear is just him going, "Tch..." and going on about his business. From here you can get a good look at how awesome his face looks, as well as the nice folding of his green cloak that is wrapped around his shoulders. As we pan down, the incredible attention to detail in both the clothing, and accessories, are fantastic. He's geared from head to toe, but just looks so at ease about it. However, whatever he keeps in the top of those big rectangle cases at his hips? Yeah, don't pull them out unless you know where they've gone. I wouldn't want you losing any of them, because they do come out, and they're very tiny. I just love how the rest of his clothes look while he's wearing the cloak. It all flows so well together. I especially love the attention to detail with the straps around his legs, as well as how the sash around his waist is wrapped. The emblem on the back of his cloak really got me. It's incredibly well done, especially for how small some of the details are. It's actually textured; as in, I mean that it's fully molded. It's not just a sticker of some sort. It's actually been crafted and painted. Here you can see the black tubes I had mentioned were with the instruction booklet. They're really not hard to put on. They plug onto little points found on Levi's weapons, and what looks like oxygen tanks(?) on the cases on his sides. Anything you have to put them on is easily moved so that you can put the tubing on, then put it back to where it should be. Oh, what's this? Levi's stripped a little for us and gotten rid of that cloak! Of course, I liked the cloak, it's just always nice to see what's underneath! On his brown jacket we find underneath he has multiple emblems all over. Each one is intricately sculpted and painted! Actually, here's a good time to point something out I noticed. While reading up on Levi, I read he actually has grey eyes, but in the figure they seem blue. Granted, if that's the only issue with this figure then by all means, but I thought I should point it out just in case. We've also switched the hands he has on, which might I say, was the easiest hand switching process I've had in ages? They're snug enough to fit in well, but come out easily when you want them to. They also switch around and hold the blade backward quite easily as well. While typing this, I actually noticed that the reference pictures have him holding one blade forward, and one backward, but for some reason it seems so cool to me having both of them pointing backward like this. Look at that beauty! The emblem on the back of the jacket is even nicer than the one on the cloak! This really ties the whole piece together for me, and looks fantastic to boot. You can also get a better view as to what those black tubes are plugged into. You better check out how great that gear looks while you're back here too. I'd say check out his rear too, but there's not much of one to see with all this behind him. Last, but certainly not least, is the base he stands on. He already comes shipped to you standing on the base, and it's a very well done landscape of rocks, grass and debris of some sort. My guess is that he's most likely at a battleground, but I'm sure I'll find out once I get to watch the show.  So, how did I feel about BRAVE-ACT Levi? Well, duh! He's flippin' awesome! If you're an Attack on Titan fan, I suggest you go find somewhere that still has him available and get your order in now. He's just releasing to the Japanese market, so hopefully you'll get lucky! Otherwise, I posted some links above where you should be able to still get your orders in safely. In my opinion, this is the Levi you need to pick up! You can check out the rest of the photos in the gallery, then let me know if you'll be bringing him home as well! [ A huge thank you to Zwyer Industries for providing this review sample! ]
Review Sentinel Levi photo
Attack on Titan at its finest?
Attack on Titan is a show that's taken the anime world by storm. Sadly, I have yet to sit down and watch it myself, but it's definitely on the to-do list! However, I can already tell just from reading a bit about it that Levi...

Tomopop Review: Bandai's Figuarts ZERO Sanji Battle Ver.

Feb 01 // Pedro Cortes
Figure Name: Figuarts ZERO Sanji Battle Ver. - Diable Jambe FlambageFigure Manufacturer: Bandai Tamashii NationsRetail Price: $35.99Available at: Amazon | Entertainment Earth | Big Bad Toy Store This is the box that you should be looking for. It's bright, has Sanji kicking up a storm on the front and it's covered in flames. Something that I often say in my personal life is that, "anything awesome can be made better when it's on fire." That holds true with this box and, interestingly enough, with this figure. A hot-blooded bloke like Sanji cannot be contained in mere cardboard and plastic, so let's take him out. Here's one side of Sanji. For one, Sanji isn't standing around. He's active, in this case delivering a rather high and mighty kick. His planted foot has spiraling flame going up his leg and his attacking foot is covered in the hot stuff. At this point, it's already one of the best Sanji figures ever made. The question is, what's keeping that lifted foot in the air? Oh...oh my. That's a trail of flame leading from the base all the way to Sanji's left foot. It comes as a separate piece that attaches to a peg on the ground and a larger peg on his foot. While it isn't solid plastic and has a little give, it does a damn good job holding him up and looking fantastic to boot. The clear plastic almost shines in the light, making the whole piece light up under the right conditions. Although you can kind of see it in other shots, here is a closer look at the planted leg. Bandai used clear, red plastic on Sanji's shins, adding to the fiery glow that his lower half attains when he uses this move. In the show, he'll spin around in place to get enough friction to light his legs aflame. Ridiculous in any other context, it looks pretty cool in the show and great in PVC form. That fire is also very well-sculpted, especially how it comes off the back of Sanji's heel and twirls around him. While we're down here, let's look at the base. It's pretty simple, stating that this is Sanji and this is his battle version. Unfortunately, I cannot read Japanese, so I can't tell you what it says. However, it looks large and dynamic, so I'm going to guess it's some of Sanji's more ridiculous and bombastic lines. That'd be appropriate. Despite all the cool posting and effect parts, if the figure didn't look like Sanji then it'd be hard to recommend. Thankfully, Bandai made Sanji look just right. Unlike the usual cocky smile, he's got a determined expression. He even still has his cig still in his mouth, though it's unlit. Give it a second or two and he'll probably have enough fire around him to light that sucker up. If the difference in pose wasn't enough to sell you on this figure, the effect parts should. The flame around his right foot, the arcing fire leading to his left foot, the clear PVC on both shins, these all come together to make the best figure of Sanji on the market. It's got all the small details and features elements missing from larger, more expensive figures. If you love One Piece and/or snazzy-dressed men, this statue is for you! [Big ups to Bluefin Distribution for providing Sanji for review!]
Figuarts ZERO photo
Hunk of burning love
One of my critiques with male figures are their boring poses. Like it or not, female figures tend to be posed in a variety of ways to direct attention toward their copious assets. Dudes just kind of stand there, usually with ...

Tomopop Review: Bandai's D-Arts Black Zero

Jan 29 // Scarecroodle
Figure Name: D-Arts Black ZeroFigure Maker: Bandai/Tamashii NationsRetail: US$38Available at: Entertainment Earth | Big Bad Toy Store | Amazon Black Zero features the same sort of cool-busy packaging that we've seen with previous D-Arts Mega Man X figures, such as X himself (reviewed). The amount of decoration is especially impressive since it doesn't have an overly cluttered feel despite using virtually every millimeter of the package. The most eye-catching detail is probably the giant "X" that jumps across the massive window. The other three sides feature product images. The back shows off all three alternate face-plates (meaning Black Zero has a total of four possible faces rather than the three (?) included with the Zero Type-2). Black Zero comes with a pretty solid array of accessories which includes the option of his Zero Buster Cannon (works with either arm), the choice of two nozzles for said cannon, three hand sets (open, fists, and saber-holding), two versions of the Z-Saber, and an attacking version of the Z-Saber. Additionally, he has the option of four face-plates but more on that later. The sculpting work is still incredibly solid, capturing Zero's likeness remarkably well. Basically everything on the figure except the face has a tendency to reflect light although the black armored bits have the highest sheen, as they're able to reflect in low lighting settings. The crystals on his helmet and armor are pieces of translucent, colored plastic with what looks to be a painted silver area underneath which helps give them more of a shine. As in the games, Zero can store his Z-Saber on his back. The beam portions of the swords can disconnect from the hilt, which allows one of the smaller hilts to plug into a peghole. It's a neat touch. The default face features the sort of stoic expression I so often associate with the character. It's a decent enough looking face, although it seems out of place with action poses (as seen above) so it won't pop up much during the rest of the review. The second face you won't be seeing much of in the review is this smiling and winking one, which strikes me as being totally out of character. It's been a decade or so since I last played any of the Mega Man X games (I'm certainly tempted to replay them now...), but I don't recall Zero ever being that expressive. Then again, I'm also more used to his moody Mega Man Zero-series counterpart, which could have given me an entirely different impression of the character. All the same, I enjoy the humor in seeing a quiet badass acting a bit out of character. (I also wonder if the faceplate works with the previously released X figures, since it seems like a face that I would associate with either X or Copy-X). Here we have the "shouting" face, great for things like leaping poses. The pupils in the eyes are facing to the right (apparently the normal one face differently? I guess that makes for a neat perk). It's awesomely action-y. Finally, we have the teeth-gritting face, perfect for sword parries, looking injured, or just plain being angry. As mentioned, Black Zero comes with three swords. The first two are variations on the normal Z-Saber. I imagine they reflect different game styles but it's not something that I remember from the series, assuming I noticed a difference at all. The blades themselves are purple (rather than the usual light blue), which reflects their powered up state. The "blades" have pegholes in them which attach to the top of the hilt. The bottom of the hilt (the silver ring with the black spike) can also unpeg from the hilt, which allows you to just slide the weapon into Zero's hand. Another convenience is the fact that these two hilts are identical so you don't need to switch them out if you want to change blades (the third Z-Saber, the action one, features a larger peg which renders it functionally incompatible with the others). The sword coloring is pretty neat. The alternating lighter and darker shades give it more of a video game appearance, looking as if it were part of an animation. The swinging-animation Z-Saber is probably the most eye-catching of the bunch. Given the size and heft of the blade, it makes use of a larger peg to keep it in place and balances better than I thought it would. It's good for any number of poses which look great from certain angles, but said angles don't always photograph well. I also can't seem to get a perfect swinging all the way down to the ground pose, as is seen in the games. Although Zero is most often associated with his swordplay, the character has had his Z-Cannon as a back-up weapon (or primary weapon) in most of the games. The cannon looks fantastic. The green "crystal" features the same effect as the other crystals on his body while the two smaller green circles on the side of the cannon use a shiny metallic paint. Black Zero comes with the choice of two optional parts for the cannon's nozzle. The default is a reddish crystal (seen right) while the alternate has an empty space in the center. Although no buster shot parts were included, I imagine it's probably compatible with the buster shot accessories that came with the various D-Arts Mega Man X releases and Zero Type-1. The overall articulation is very strong. The jointing works a lot better than what we saw on the D-Arts Classic Mega Man that came out not that long ago. The jointing is remarkably smooth and has a good range in most areas. The only real issue (besides that hair...) may be that the feet/calves/boots don't have much weight to them, which can affect the balance at times. This mostly impacts Matrix-style posing where the character is leaning a bit backwards. The surface area on the soles (or treads?) on his boots and the ankle joint otherwise compensate for the issue. Zero's hair can also be somewhat problematic, as it's only really jointed for side to side movement. It can't even rotate to simulate a falling pose, let alone move up to allow extra clearance at the head/neck. Finally, for the all-important question of whether Black Zero can play soccer with D-Arts Classic Mega Man, the answer is yes; yes, he can. They might want to find a soccer ball first, though (maybe it's something that Bandai can include in a future Mega Man-themed D-Arts release!). All in all, D-Arts Black Zero is a pretty cool redeco of an already great figure with a perk or two over the previous version. Although it may be a colorway, it's something canonical to the games and represents a recurring secret feature (or a palette-swap in other games). It's not something I imagine you'd necessarily buy instead of the standard version, but it's certainly something that might tempt you if you already have the D-Arts Zero Type-2. [Big thanks to Bluefin Distribution for providing this review sample]
Review: Black Zero photo
Once you go Black Zero, you can't go back... to your normal armor if you're playing Mega Man X 4, 5, or 6
The Mega Man franchise is all about upgrades (often in the form of new abilities taken from defeated opponents) and, when Mega Man X swung around, Mega Man (now called X) got a few fancy new armors ... two of which were made ...

Tomopop Review: Ques Q's P3 Elizabeth Christmas ver.

Jan 14 // Rio McCarthy
Figure Name: Persona 3 Elizabeth X-Mas Ver.Figure Maker: Ques QRetail Price: ¥9,800Available at:  AmiAmi | HLJ  We'll start off with the box, as we always do in these reviews. I'm a huge fan of this one. It has a lot to it, while still remaining simplistic and having a nice-sized window for you to view the figure itself. There are pictures of not only the figure, but also some adorable artwork of the Christmas version of Elizabeth on the side. As I got Elizabeth out of the box and gently placed her on the snow, you'll see that she actually comes as 4 pieces; the figure itself, the base, her hat, and the Santa hat. Everything is very easy to assemble, you just put Elizabeth's foot on that silver peg you can see on the base. You can see the order of stacking with these three shots. First, she has no hat at all. Second, she has just her cap, that is red in this version. Third, the clouds have rolled in, but she now has her Santa hat on top of her cap. I actually like the way she looks in all stages, but I have to have her roll with that Santa hat. Both hats are very easy to put on, as they just attach via a magnet in each one.  Here you can see her full view from both the front and the back, which is a very nice sight might I add. Her Santa hat looks very cute, but it does look a little dorky from the back since I didn't have it pulled back very far. Her proportions look nice, and I love the sway in her form as she tosses the tarot card. The card she's holding is fully detailed and is the VI, which is the Lovers Arcana. Her gloves are fully detailed as well, having two segments and wonderful looking folds where the fabric bunches at her wrist. The Persona Compendium looks incredible as well! I'd say you could darn near read the thing, it's that well detailed! She holds it flawlessly, and I'm really glad to see that there was no damage in shipping with this carefully crafted piece. I'm very impressed with both the sculpting and coloring of her entirety. There is great painting for the shading, and highlighting, all around the figure. I love how her tights lighten just a bit at her knees like they really do when you bend your knee. All of the paint is very cleanly done as well. Of course, we have to ask the age old Internet question, "Do she got dat booty?" Well, "She do!" Horrible grammar aside, she totally has a wonderful behind and curvature. The only issue is the hair seam you can easily see, but in the scheme of things, it's minimal. Hair seams rarely bother me anyway, and since her hat isn't attached 100% of the time, I could see them having to do that and not be able to hide it. While I'm not sure if the line down the side of her dress is actually a seam or not, I feel it fits in just fine along with the other lines in her dress. I haven't mentioned yet how rad her boots are. Of course, they're just like the blue version, but... they're red... and I want them. I love the little buttons on them. You can see a closer view of the Santa hat with it's adorable ball of fluff, as well as the lining of fluff. It still looks decently soft, even being sculpted out of PVC. I adore that look out of the side of her eye in this view as well! She's so coy, I love it.  If you somehow hadn't guessed, I'm absolutely thrilled with my purchase. I hadn't been able to pick up any of the previous Elizabeth figures in any form, so I was thrilled when a different version came out. I'm usually not a hugely overwhelming Christmas person, but this red looks phenomenal on Elizabeth! If she's your cup of tea, I definitely couldn't suggest her to you more. I'm definitely one happy protagonist.
Review - P3  Elizabeth photo
Elizabeth was in the holiday spirit this year, were you?
Welcome to the Velvet Room, fellow Persona 3 fans. We have a treat for you today in the form of a lovely lady that goes by the name Elizabeth. However, you may normally recognize her in her blue outfit. This time around she h...

Tomopop Review: figma Hatsune Miku 2.0

Jan 13 // Jeremy Emerje Crocker
Figure Name: figma Hatsune Miku 2.0 Figure Maker: Max Factory Price: ¥3,900  Available at: HobbyLink Japan | Hobby Search | AmiAmi | Play Asia | J-List | ToysLogic | Plamoya | Big Bad Toy Store So here we are once again. figma 200, like figma 100, is Hatsune Miku. She's been through a lot of changes since the first Miku figma was released back in 2008, as has the line as a whole, so it does make some sense to revisit the 14th regular figma once again.  When you see the figure for the first time there's a number of things that will jump out at you, but when you see the box for the first time there's only one thing that sticks out: That thick, black bar. What the heck is that? It takes up over a third of the box and goes around all four sides, plus a black strip on the top and bottom flaps. It's ugly and takes a lot away compared to the previous boxes with all of that empty space. When Miku Append was released as figma 100 we got one of the best looking figma boxes ever thanks to all of the shiny silver lettering. U Unfortunately this isn't a one-time thing; figma following up this release will also have that ugly back bar as well. It's almost like they wanted to put one of those sleeves on the box like old Revoltech boxes had, but changed their mind and just applied it directly to the box.  And here she is. As expected she looks great right out of the box. The most obvious new feature is the hair which now has a more flowing sculpt to it and is molded in clear plastic. I'm not too crazy about the clear ends, I think it would have been better to do her in translucent color instead. Still, it doesn't look terrible and I love the little twist in the tails. I'll talk more about the differences between what we'll retroactively call Miku 1.0 from here on out and 2.0 a little later.  She really does pose nicely. The added articulation makes it hard to do a bad pose. She somehow seems more lively now, even compared to other new figma. She includes three expressions; this is her new neutral face.  This is my favorite of the new expressions: The winking smile. It's just so adorable, it's hard to not be cheered up by it! And this is expression three: the blushing, sideways glance. This one is pretty cute, too. To do this pose requires the special hidden joint in her waist that slides out to give her some added flexibility. If you've ever tried to make a figma sit then you know it can be a chore thanks to the legs not always wanting to bend forward enough at the hips, but Miku pulls it off with ease. She's also using special hands with extended forearms so she can place her palms flat on the surface.  Play around with them enough you can probably come up with other uses for those hands like this pose which could either be a two-handed wave or a mime trapped in an invisible box. She also comes with a pair of special hands for playing her included guitar. One hand is sculpted for holding the guitar while the other is holding a pick. The winking face is the closest she comes to a singing face which is a little disappointing.  All together she comes with a surprising seven pairs of hands. Unfortunately she only has the two joints to use with those hands so be sure not to break them! I've heard complaints of people not being able to get the hands to stay on or not being able to get the joint into the hand, but I had no such problem with mine.  One of her other new hidden features is the ability to clasp things in both hands in front of her. This is done by pulling slightly on the shoulders to slide them out and increase their forward angle. It's very effective, though it does expose the shoulder joints more on the figure overall. I should also point out that this mic is 100% the same as the ones that have come with previous Miku figma.  Final new part is the wings. They're cute, but there isn't a lot to say about them. They don't plug into her directly, but rather connect via an extension for the stand. That's unfortunate, I think, because the wings can't be made to look good from the back; she'll always have that extension sticking out of her back when the wings are on.  You might have also noticed a little bit of her final hidden feature which is the ability to pull the body in half and direct the inside joint to bend in whatever direction you want. Here she's tilted slightly to the side.  OK, time to do some comparing! He we have Hatsune Miku 2.0 with the three common variations of the original 1.0. From left to right we've got the chromed EX003 Wonder Festival 2009 [Summer] Live Stage ver., the standard figma #014, and the glossy #114 Cheerful Japan ver. Right away it should be obvious how different the 2.0 proportions are over the 1.0 versions. 2.0 stands noticeably taller than 1.0 which is a pretty radical change in itself after years of Mikus at pretty much the same height. Let's take a look at some other changes from the top down. We've already talked about the hair, but I also wanted to point out that the hair on her head has more detail than the previous in the back, not just the front or tails.  Moving down, the new neck, which is basically a joint of its own now with a sleeve over it, is much more practical than the one found on the original as it now gives her the ability to look up! Doesn't sound like much, I know, but one of the drawbacks of the 1.0 neck was that you couldn't make her look forward without arching her back or else she's stuck perpetually looking down. Her previous shiny gray shirt is now a dark silver and has sharper sculpted details. There are also a few extra details painted in like the little boxes at the bottom. Her skirt also has better details and an equalizer has been added to it. The electronics on her sleeves appear to be identical on both figures, but now go in different directions from each other. The proportions of her legs have been improved and made a little bit thicker and more realistic. The part where the top of her boot meets her thigh is now a swivel point on the 2.0 figure. The part above her toes is now rounded off like crocks rather than flat like on the 1.0 figure.  Overall 2.0 is a great improvement over the 1.0 body in every way possible. Until I got this figure I didn't realize just how stiff the original felt. She still looks good, but 2.0 looks great!  Here's something else that has been changed dramatically: There's a rather significant difference between the styles of 2.0 (on the left) and 1.0 (on the right). All version of 1.0 have relied on sculpting the mouth for added detail while the 2.0 mouth is nothing more than a black line. The eyes have also bee reworked greatly with the 2.0 version painting in much more detail than the original. The new eyes look much more lively now. The eyebrows have also been colored instead of left black, though this was actually corrected with the Cheerful Japan figma. There's also a noticeable difference in the skin color. There is one less known feature here. 2.0 is compatible with all previous Miku faces! Here she is with the Cheerful Japan ver. exclusive face. If you can overlook the skin color it's a nice feature. Here she is with the Live Stage ver. exclusive sleep mode face. This photo happened by accident, but I liked the way it looked like she was moving along with some music she was hearing. You can get a better idea of what I meant by the sculpted mouth details of the 1.0 series here.  Of course if you want something different the Append faces are also compatible. This face certainly changes the mood. You should be warned that even though the face fit they look best from the front. Notice how the bangs seem to be sticking out kinda far? While the shape is generally the same, the 2.0 faces are thicker, which leaves a little more space between the bangs and face. It's not so bad; the difference in skin tones is more noticeable.  And there you have it, the all new and improved figma Hatsune Miku 2.0! If you're a fan of Miku, or just like really well made figma, then you should really consider getting yourself one of these. Even if you already have one or more of the original Miku releases this still has enough changes and improvements to be worth picking up. I'm really impressed by how few complaints I had when I got her. I mean really, if your biggest complaint about a figure is its packaging then it must be good. I feel a lot better about paying the higher price for figma today knowing I'm getting a much better figure for my money.  Now the real question is which 1.0 figma will be upgraded next? Black Rock Shooter or perhaps Saber? Maybe it's time to revisit Haruhi again? There are a lot of possibilities, and I can't think of too many I'd be against. 
Miku 2.0 Review photo
So you don't think you need another Miku?
It was nearly a year ago when Max Factory first revealed their plans for figma Hatsune Miku 2.0 in February 2013, closely following Good Smile Company's Nendoroid redo of the character. At the time her update appeared to be v...

Tomopop Review: Diamond Select's Femme Fatales Atom Eve

Dec 28 // Scarecroodle
Figure Name: Femme Fatales Atom EveFigure Maker: Diamond Select ToysRetail: US$45Available at: Diamond Select Toys | Big Bad Toy Store Atom Eve comes in the usual Femme Fatales packing which consists of a black background decorated with gray, feminine-looking skulls. The box itself has windows on the front, top, and sides. The back features a product image as well as a character bio. I've referenced the inside of the box in some of the previous Femme Fatales reviews, but here's a closer look at the specifics which includes the same skull pattern seen on the outside (except in reds) and the logo consisting of what appear to be two "F"s (one backwards), a shield, a sword, and two AK-47s. It certainly captures the "Fatale" part. I've also glossed over the inner blister, but it's a form-fitting plastic construct that's held in place by pegs/pegholes molded into the plastic. As with many collectibles, it's designed to be reusable should you want to store her in box again. Atom Eve is depicted in a graceful flight pose, her hands at the sides as if to balance her movement (apparently Atom Eve's flying poses can be pretty popular, as reenacted here). The character's ability to manipulate matter at a sub-atomic level allows her to fly by changing the density of air and I believe the pink burst at her feet (which I've seen on some covers) references that fact in addition to providing a practical support for the character to stand on. The pose itself has a slight lean to one side which may look a little awkward from certain angles although the effect generally works out nicely. The lean is basically undectectable from a direct side-view and is difficult to perceive from most three-quarter angles (especially where the left leg obscures most of the right). As you'll also note from the side-view, Atom Eve has a very slim frame. The character seems to be drawn a little on the skinny side which, in turn, is reflected in the figure. The head-sculpt is fairly solid and the facial features show best from a profile view (rather than a head-on shot or a three-quarters as seen above). The actual skin tone almost looks like it may be unpainted; I'm guessing that it was just cast in that color plastic with maybe a glossy finish. As such, it can look a little funky up-close, but it's something you probably wouldn't notice when just looking at it on your shelf. The eyes are also somewhat interesting, as the right pupil looks slightly out of place in some shots but other photos, such as the ones seen above, there doesn't seem to be a problem. I imagine it comes down to them being positioned a certain way to make the figure more flattering from specific angles. Also worth mentioning is the hair, which flows towards her left (as part of the flight idea). The deep reddish hair features black highlights to draw out the detail in the strands. The character's logo is a Venus symbol (the generally acknowledged sign of femininity) surrounded by an atom sign, a simple yet ingenious (not to mention intuitive) decision on the comic creator's part. The logo here is depicted crisply without the slightest issue. Atom Eve's bust line is mildly accentuated by the way her chest is thrust forward. The shapeliness is surprisingly solid as you can see close-up. The legs also have a really nice form between the curves and that pose, giving them a graceful elegance. Finally, we have the energy burst, a translucent, pink crystalline construct. The burst is hollow so you could probably place a small light under it for an additional effect if you so pleased. I didn't have the proper sort of light on hand, so I just tossed a small lamp under it and got a completely different crystals-rising-out-of-the-mist sort of vibe. It's worth mentioning that pink is a lighter, thinner shade further down on the base while the edges around the points are of a thicker, darker color. Here's a look at Atom Eve with some of the other Femme Fatales: Steampunk Lexi (reviewed), Darkchylde (reviewed), and Lady Death II (reviewed). Atom Eve isn't nearly as giant as the photo might suggest; the height comparison was thrown off by an inability to really squeeze them all together into the frame so Atom Eve is a little in front of everybody and so forth. Granted, Atom Eve is still very tall. Thanks to her base, she stands almost 11.5 inches tall, which puts her a bit over the Lady Death II (although she doesn't quite seem to surpass the height of Darkchylde's wings). As I mentioned in the Femme Fatales Lady Death II review, this is a pretty good size for your money. As a whole, DST's Femme Fatales Atom Eve is an all-around pretty solid collectible. While she has a handful of possible issues up close, she looks fantastic from a distance. In fact, one of the coolest display options might be on a windowsill (bearing in mind that, if left there too often or long, the sun will cause damage) and just seeing that side silhouette from a distance, since it's strongly reminiscent of things like Sailor Moon transformations. Otherwise, her pose works from a myriad of angles. [Big thanks to Diamond Select Toys for providing this review sample]
Review: DST's Atom Eve photo
Up and atom!
Time really flies. Readers will recall that about a year ago I said some pleasant things about Diamond Select Toys' then-upcoming Femme Fatales Atom Eve. As I sit here, looking at Atom Eve, I'm left thinking that yet another ...

Tomopop Review: Psylocke (X-Force ver.) by Kotobukiya

Dec 17 // Tianxiao Ma
Figure Name: Marvel Bishoujo Psylocke (X-Force Ninja Outfit ver.)Figure Maker: KotobukiyaRetail Price: US$64.99Available at: Koto US  Despite beginning life as a British girl, Betsy Braddock inhabits the body of a Japanese assassin, leading to the ninja-esque Psylocke that we all know and love. Although Psylocke does have mutant powers, Kotobukiya elected to play up her skills as a ninja. This is the second Psylocke to grace the Marvel Bishoujo line. Our very old review of the first one shows off some of the differences in the character designs. In general, this version is edgier (partly thanks to the use of black). Despite having twice the number of swords, the original Marvel Bishoujo Psylocke doesn't look as menacing as the X-Force version. The sculpt was handled by Busujima Takaboku (sometimes credited as Busujima Takamaki for reasons beyond my comprehension). His faces have caused some consternation for our readers and staff members alike. This is actually his first Marvel Bishoujo sculpt, although he has done a lot of Tekken Bishoujo figures. He has done some great faces (Alisa Bosconovitch, Jaycee) and some not-so-good ones (Lili). I'd say Psylocke's is one of his better works, although you might notice a bit of that pink-eye thing going on. Aside from sending me on a trip down memory lane, the review of the older Psylocke serves to show how much this figure line has evolved over the years. Both figures have a comparable MSRP, but the sculpt, paint, and manufacturing quality have improved noticeably. I'm a fan of dynamic poses. A good number of my figures lack a sense of movement, so I'm always happy to see one with rippling clothes, blowing hair, or any other such visual cue. Psylocke looks dangerous with her sword raised high, body in motion, and eyes narrowed in concentration. Despite being designed by Shunya Yamashita, her lips are not curled in a smile. From the back you can see more of her flowing hair. Both her hair and her sash are translucent. Psylocke's butt is not featured prominently, but it's still pretty nice. She's also not posed with an abnormally arched back. Let's talk about that ankle. I've had this figure for a few days, and it hasn't gotten any less distracting. From above and to the figure's left, it doesn't look too bad. Head-on or from the right, it looks painful. I tried twisting my foot into the same pose... and succeeded! So I guess it's still anatomically correct. Fancy bases have become a hallmark of the comic book Bishoujo figures. This one adds a lot of character to the figure. It's a snow-covered stone path, very evocative of old samurai movies (or Kill Bill). The stone texture achieved in the paint job is pretty convincing too. What you're not seeing is the underside of the base. It's been reinforced with cross beams, making it very sturdy. It's reassuring to pick up the base, feel the weight, and not have any flex whatsoever. Here you can get a better look at the sculpt along her legs. It's very realistic — notice how the straps around her thighs pinch the skin. Even though her ankle looks a bit funny, I still like this Psylocke figure more than most of the western ones. In my experience, the western interpretations look too masculine — square jaws, broad shoulders, narrow eyes. I like Shunya Yamashita's Bishoujo designs because they make the characters more feminine and expressive (albeit more exploitative sometimes). In this case, Yamashita hasn't sexed her up more than her usual design. The appeal is less in the fanservice, and more in the sense of danger and beauty the figure exudes. There are plenty more photos in the gallery for you to check out. Psylocke will be out later this month, so make sure you know what you're getting! [Thanks to Kotobukiya for the review sample!]
Marvel Bishoujo Psylocke photo
A mutant ninja, but not a turtle
Psylocke has been a popular character among Marvel Comics fans, although she's probably more known for her X-Men incarnation than her original stint as a supporting character in Captain Britain. While western manufacturers ha...

Tomopop Review: S.H. Figuarts To Love-Ru Golden Darkness

Dec 13 // Vanessa Cubillo
Figure Name: S.H. Figuarts To Love-Ru Golden DarknessFigure Maker: BandaiRetail: ¥4,500Available at: HLJ Yami comes in a deluxe box with a window display that shows the figure. The box has a pretty flower design in pink and white with a purple buckle design outlining the figure. I actually really like this box and almost didn't want to open it up. Alas, I had to, but it was easy to open without ruining the box. So you can save it and put your figure back in it later.  This figure comes with two interchangeable hair parts, two interchangeable faces, three pairs of interchangeable hands, tegatana, book, taiyaki, and personal stand. I love when figures come with a lot of accessories, so seeing all that Yami came with left a good impression on me already. Now just looking at the figure alone, I have to say how much I love Yami's outfit! It's exactly how it is in the manga/anime; a black gothic styled dress with black leg belts and black boots. The back of her skirt is made to look like its flowing in the wind. It's a great look, but because of this, you can't get the figure to lay flat. She also can't sit down. Still, a perk about this skirt is that you can use it to help Yami stand by having her lean on it.  Of course you don't have to resort to leaning on Yami's skirt to make her stand. She does come with a real stand of her own. This stand is clear and made of sturdy plastic. The base is heart shaped and has designs of feathers and Yami's name on it.  The stand is easy to assemble and is put together with three parts. The stick is bendable in both directions so you can move the figure in more positions. However, the stand can't hold Yami in the air. She's too heavy to stay up and will fall over.  To attach the figure to the stand, there's a hole made in back of her. You connect the stick on the stand in the back of her and adjust the rest of the stick to get her to stand up. It's definitely an interesting way to attach a figure to a stand. I'm used to the standard waist clasp. This way isn't so bad, and the hole in the back isn't noticeable because her hair covers it.  Yami has three interchangeable faces; serious, angry, and crying. They're easy to switch back forth. Her front bangs are removable, so all you have to do is remove the bangs and you can take out the faces. The bangs secure the faces in place pretty well. They hardly fell off, and mostly became dislodged when I was moving her hair.  From the three different facial expressions, I feel like the serious and angry expression are hard to distinguish. The differences in the eyes I think are subtle, and the main way to see the anger in her face is by the eyebrows. That would be fine, but Yami's bangs cover almost all of her eyebrows so you can't see them. The only other difference in the two faces is the small pink flush on her cheeks.  Without a doubt my favorite expression is the crying face. I had the most fun posing her with this face and thinking of ways to make her look upset. It's funny to see because it's such a contrast from how she usually is as a character.  She also comes with three pairs of interchangeable hands so she can ball her hands into fists, show her palms, and hold items. Her interchangeable hands make it easy to tell if you’re putting a hand on the wrong arm because the hand part simply won’t fit if it’s not supposed to. Believe me, I spent some time trying to force one of the hand parts onto the wrong arm and couldn’t understand why it wouldn’t fit. Then I put it on the other arm and it went in easily.  A big feature on this figure is Yami's hair, she comes with six points of articulation in it. Her hair can move back and making it great to recreate fight scenes. Even her pigtails are able to move. You just have to be careful with how you move the hair. Moving the parts back and forth makes it rotate on a ball that's inside the head. So when you do this, you run the risk of knocking off the face and front bangs like I mentioned. Sometimes the hair can even get loose from movement so you'll have to open up the head and secure it on the ball again.  Since Yami has the ability to turn parts of herself into weapons, she comes with two additional hair attachments and a tegatana. The two hair attachments have blades at the end and can replace the first two hair pieces in the back. The blades cannot be rotated. Do not attempt to rotate the blades! When I looked at them I thought the blades were able to move, but then I just ended up breaking it off. Well, that's why they invented Gorilla Glue! The tegatana acts as a hand attachment so you can put it on either hand. This one you can rotate, so don't worry about breaking it.  Yami also comes with two other fun accessories she can hold. She comes with one taiyaki, which is a Japanese fish shaped cake. Fans will know that taiyaki is Yami's favorite food, so she can eat it all the time now as a figure. Yami also likes reading so she comes with a green book. Change her hands and she can hold the book and look like she's learning.  We can't forget that To Love-Ru is an ecchi series, so it's not a surprise that this figure would be a little perverted. Of course you can see her white underwear under her skirt. Also, what I noticed almost immediately, is that her nipples are hard. Even though logically I doubt you'd be able to see her nipples through her outfit, this makes sense for the series. I really like the articulation of this figure, it moves just how I want it to move. It’s so much better than the articulation of the S.H. Figuarts Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Green and Red Ranger. I found them difficult to move and pose how I wanted them. With Yami, I could pose her in any way easily. To me, that's what makes a good figure. So do I think Golden Darkness is a good figure in the S.H. Figuarts line? Yes, this figure moves great, looks great, and comes with enough additional stuff that makes it worth the money. I even think people who aren't familiar with To Love-Ru will appreciate Golden Darkness because of how beautiful the figure is.  [Thank you so much to HobbyLink Japan for providing these sample for review!]
To Love-Ru photo
Yami moves just like a deadly assassin should
From the anime and manga, To Love-Ru, comes Golden Darkness, the first figure to be released in Bandai’s S.H. Figuarts line. Also the lead in To Love-Ru Darkness, Golden Darkness, also referred to as Yami, is the beaut...

Tomopop Review: Dark Elf by Max Factory

Dec 07 // Tianxiao Ma
Figure Name: Dark ElfFigure Maker: Max FactoryRetail Price: ¥10,800Regular Edition Available at:  Plamoya | Hobby Search | Amiami | Big Bad Toy StoreBrown Skin ver. Available at: HobbyLink Japan | Hobby Search | Plamoya | Big Bad Toy Store I haven't actually played any form of the MMO, but Lineage II is nothing if not filled with gorgeous character designs. I've always enjoyed the aesthetics of the game, especially as they're represented through the numerous, wonderful official illustrations. This Dark Elf design was taken from such an illustration, which was gorgeous to begin with. Sculptor Takahiro Hashimoto's name is proudly emblazoned on the box on five of six sides, so there's no ambiguity as to who is responsible for this rendition. Before I go any further, I want to note that my brown Dark Elf came without the staff accessory. I'd say it's a pretty major part of the figure, but was missing entirely from the box. This is the first time I've had a figure come with missing pieces, so maybe it was just bad luck. Even more odd, the staff for the blue Elf was partly out of its slot in the plastic clamshell. There was no damage or anything, but it was strange to have two staff-related issues like this. If yours arrives with something missing or damaged, contact Good Smile Company. They're usually pretty good about helping out with these issues. You should liberate the Dark Elf from her packaging quickly, so as to not deprive yourself of views such as this. Just so I can claim to have done the research, she's sporting the Majestic Robe set along with a Daimon Crystal staff. This is actually the same type of clothing worn by Orchid Seed's Elf, but since we're dealing with the Dark Elf, this version is much skimpier. The staff has translucent pieces and an Eye of Sauron-style inlay in the center jewel. It's a cool effect but kind of difficult to see under normal lighting conditions.   The brown skinned Dark Elf is the same in all areas other than the skin - no alternative coloring of the outfit or anything like that. Obviously mine is missing a staff, so in the photos it just looks like she doesn't know what to do with her hand. Or maybe she's making an obscene gesture at you. Let's talk about that Majestic Robe. For one, I don't think it qualifies as a robe, seeing as it has a separate top and bottom. I also feel like a "robe" should have more coverage. This is obviously an eye candy-oriented character design, unless you think women like doing battle while looking like lingerie models. It is a breathlessly pretty design, no doubt about it. If you want to expose a little more of that anatomy, you can remove the coattail. This also makes the figure convenient for storage and display, as the coattail protrudes backward quite a bit. Both blue and brown versions are beautiful. The blue one looks more exotic, but I like the richer skin tones of the brown version too. I didn't detect any problems with the paint or finish on either one. The meticulous detail of the sculpt should speak for itself. If you look closely at the head, you'll see that her amulet is actually floating. Combined with the hair sculpt, it gives the figure a weightless feel. In the shot above you can also see that she's wearing glittery eye shadow. All of this attention to detail helps give the Dark Elf that premium feel - at ¥10,800 I'd expect nothing less. I'm glad Max Factory let us have an unimpeded view of that butt. This figure was definitely not aimed at fans of practical, modest battle clothing. Tired of shooting the Dark Elf with no staff to hold, I brought in Orchid Seed's Elf. Orchid Seed claims she's 1/7-scale, but she falls well short. However, the staff is the exact same size as the one from Max Factory. How about that? Cross-product compatibility! It was jarring to get a figure with a missing accessory - especially such an expensive figure from a respected maker. I would definitely have been disappointed if the brown version was the only Dark Elf I ordered. Aside from a cheap-feeling base, I have no real complaints about these figures. The manufacturing quality is top notch - you will get your money's worth. If you don't like the fanservice-y design, then that can also be a deal breaker. I think they're breathtaking. There's not much more to say than that. You'll probably want to see larger photos, so click through the gallery below. As always, I'm happy to read your thoughts and opinions in the comments!
Max Factory Dark Elf photo
Hope you're a fan of the female anatomy
Lineage II has had a surprisingly long history with figure manufacturers - Good Smile Company in particular. In 2007, GSC released an exclusive 1/8-scale Dark Elf figure that would become the first "grail figure" for man...


Auto-loading more stories ... un momento, corazón ...