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WonFest 2017 Winter photo
WonFest 2017 Winter

Wonder Festival 2017 (Winter): Rhythm game Garage Kits

Are you ready? I'm Lady
Feb 24
// Chris Seto
I thought I'd try something a little different and combine the rhythm game figures into their own gallery so they don't bloat out the other video game kit galleries. So here, you will find the idolm@ster and Vocaloid kits. A ...
Snow Miku 2017 photo
Snow Miku 2017

Kahotan shows off the 2017 Snow Mikus

Dubbed "Twinkle Snow"
Nov 22
// Tianxiao Ma
It's that time of the year when we check out the latest Snow Miku design and melt from the cuteness! Or maybe that's just my heater cranked way up. Kahotan's blog has previews up for both the figma and Nendoroid versions of n...

NYCC 2016: Good Smile Company

Oct 08 // Tianxiao Ma
NYCC 2016 GSC photo
Lots of toys for gamers!
Good Smile Company's Mamitan has been hard at work revealing their upcoming figures at NYCC. There are lots of Nendoroids and figmas but I wasn't expecting this many video game figures. The full armor Megaman X Nendoroid has ...

Tomopop Review: Kagamine Rin Tony Ver. by Max Factory

Oct 06 // Tianxiao Ma
Figure Name: Kagamine Rin Tony Ver.Figure Maker: Max FactoryRetail Price: ¥12,800Available at: Amiami | Big In Japan | Big Bad Toy Store | Hobby Search | HobbyLink Japan This is a rather simplistic 1/7-scale figure so there isn't much to worry about in terms of assembly or packaging. You just unbox Rin, attach the base, and slide the microphone into her left hand. If you're like me and rotate your figure displays regularly, you'll appreciate the easy unboxing and assembly process. I didn't buy this figure out of love for the character. There's just something appealing about the design and its execution. Tony Taka's interpretations of Miku and Luka stayed close to their official designs. However Rin and Len are both aged up a bit. This gives Max Factory a more interesting body type to work with, especially around the underarms and midriff. What won me over more than anything else, though, was Rin's face. I guess it's got that "Tony face" look, but it's never bothered me and looks super cute here. As with the rest of the sculpt, Max Factory nailed it. Don't let the plainness of the design put you off. No, Rin isn't decked out in a crazy outfit nor is she doing some acrobatic, floaty pose. Yet Max Factory has still worked an ample amount of detail into this sculpt. The figure looks and feels like an illustration, which is a testament to how meticulous Max Factory was in reproducing Tony's design. Her hair is especially impressive in terms of its definition. As expected with Max Factory, the paint and decal application are also top notch. Even the tiny lettering on her left bicep looks perfect under a macro lens. The one issue I have is that yellow, white, and black don't make for the most exciting color scheme. The only thing that breaks up this rather muted palette is the aqua color from her eyes. For the most part you'll get the typically excellent Max Factory build quality. The box is thick and sturdy. The figure itself has a subtle soft-touch coating on the exposed skin areas, lending a bit of realism. It's not a new practice by Max Factory but it's still uncommon. However there is one piece I have a big problem with: the base. It's too thin and feels much cheaper than the rest of the figure. It just doesn't inspire confidence in me at all, as I felt like I might break it just trying to put the figure on. This Rin is exactly the kind of figure Max Factory has always excelled at. It doesn't have an elaborate design, but the sculpt just packs in so much subtle detail that it looks almost alive - like it's a one-off piece sculpted just for you. I'm looking at my shelf of Max Factory figures and with a few splashy exceptions, most are like this. It's safe to say this Kagamine Rin is my favorite of the Tony Taka Vocaloids so far.
Max Factory Rin photo
Pop stars aren't usually this cute
We all know that Good Smile Company really, really loves making Hatsune Miku figures. The world just can't get enough Miku. But what about the other Vocaloids? Luckily Max Factory is throwing us a bone. Over the last few year...


Wonder Festival Winter 2016: Vocaloid Garage Kits

Keep on trucking
Feb 13
// Chris Seto
Vocaloids may no longer be the big draw for many garage kit makers but there is still a steady flow of new Vocaloid kits on display at Wonder Festival. Of course, Miku makes the bulk of kits but there are a few other Vocaloid...
WonFes Alphamax photo
WonFes Alphamax

Wonder Festival 2016 Winter: Alphamax

T2 Art Girls and... Transformers?
Feb 08
// Tianxiao Ma
Alphamax is usually all about girls with clothes falling off their bodies. Well they took it to a literal extent this WonFes with some of the figures from their SkyTube label. I won't focus on the NSFW stuff but Amiami a...
WF2016W Takara Tomy photo
WF2016W Takara Tomy

Wonder Festival 2016 Winter: Takara Tomy

More than awesome robots
Feb 07
// Jeremy Emerje Crocker
Takara Tomy has been slowly building their presence at Wonder Festival every year and this is no different. For the 2016 winter show they've brought some of their biggest new bots to be released later this year. The big revea...

Magical Mirai event shows off a number of new Vocaloid figures for future purchases!

And also Dollfie Dream Kagamine Rin/Len
Sep 06
// Chris Seto
The recently concluded Magical Mirai Vocaloid concert seems like a good time for companies to show off their newest Hatsune Miku figures, and when I say companies I pretty much mean GoodSmile Company. They weren't the only on...

Wonder Festival 2015 Summer: Vocaloid Garage Kits

Miku Miku you!
Jul 31
// Chris Seto
The popularity of Hatsune Miku may have waned among garage kit builders but she still has a presence within the booths. You aren't getting rid of her that easily! Sadly, none of the other Vocaloids got a shout out this time a...
Racing Miku 2015 photo
Is she a Valkyria?
Racing Miku is getting her yearly update. This time Good Smile Racing has gone with a clever sword and shield motif, which for me personally evokes the titular warriors of Valkyria Chronicles. I'm not the only one who thinks ...

1/7 Hatsune Miku photo
1/7 Hatsune Miku

Max Factory's new 1/7 Hatsune Miku is all jeweled up

It also hits all the right notes
Dec 24
// Andres Cerrato
Let's not kid ourselves, Miku has received a lot of PVC figures. This isn't as bad a thing as I've thought in the past, especially with the bar being raised each time. Max Factory is throwing in yet another effort to capture ...
Variant PAK Hatsune Miku photo
Variant PAK Hatsune Miku

Hatsune Miku goes from Letterman to new Play Arts Kai

Anything is better than that performance
Oct 09
// Andres Cerrato
[Update: Now with actual images. Duck face?] Yes, we all have seen that thing that happened last night. (In case you haven't it's after the break.) It's now time for better things and with New York Comic Con opening in just u...
Miku Tell Your World ver. photo
Miku Tell Your World ver.

Give Miku a splash of color with the Tell Your World version

Up for pre-order now
Sep 17
// Tianxiao Ma
As far as Miku variants go, the "Tell Your World" version isn't terribly radical. In fact it's mostly just a cool splash of paint on the standard Miku design. However the sculpt has a delicacy and sense of motion that really ...
Miku photo
I can't read her pumpkin face
Good Smile Company has released an image gallery for its recently unveiled Nendoroid Halloween Miku. Most striking among these images is a rather unexpected display option: a jack-o-lantern mask/face for the diva of all seaso...

Miku photo
Will you treat yourself to a Halloween Miku?
Mamitan has unveiled the fully painted Nendoroid Halloween Miku. As previously reported, the figure will be first available at Miku Expos in Los Angeles and New York City during October. Nendo Halloween Miku is absolutely ado...

GSC Racing Miku 2014 photo
GSC Racing Miku 2014

Racing Miku 2014 spools up for pre-order

Hopefully the turbo lag isn't too bad
Aug 25
// Tianxiao Ma
As promised, Good Smile Company's Racing Miku 2014 ver. is now up for pre-order. A few of you guys expressed your approval of the design, and I'm with you. I've also decided that those are turbochargers because they're connec...
2014 Racing Miku photo
2014 Racing Miku

Racing Miku got some upgrades for 2014

Is she twin-turbo now?
Aug 23
// Tianxiao Ma
For those of you keeping track, this would be the fourth Racing Miku design we see this year. I took a look through the history of Racing Miku figures (just scale, not counting prize figures, figmas, etc.) and she has really ...
Max Factory Mikuzukin photo
Max Factory Mikuzukin

Max Factory's Mikuzukin goes up for pre-order

Available now at the Good Smile Online Shop and most retailers
Aug 12
// Tianxiao Ma
The lovely Mikuzukin figure from Max Factory is up for pre-orders, merrily skipping along with a wolf on her head. I have a feeling this Miku design will be pretty popular. If you haven't already, you can check out the previe...
Max Factory Mikuzukin photo
In fact she's wearing one on her head
Last spotted at WonFes, Max Factory's Mikuzukin figure now has two proper previews. You can see some promo shots of her on the figma blog, and another gallery at Kahotan's Blog. I've been looking forward to this figure even b...

Sega photo
Epic sitting
Sega's Summer WonFes booth featured prize figures for Neon Genesis Evangelion, Vocaloid, and Terra Formars, among other properties. Among the highlights were a seated Gendo (!!!), Caster (Fate/EXTRA CCC), mini Terraforma...

WonFes Vocaloids photo
WonFes Vocaloids

Wonder Festival 2014 Summer: Good Smile Company - Vocaloids

Not a WonFes without some Mikus
Aug 01
// Tianxiao Ma
Now that we're seeing more and more creative takes on Vocaloid designs, I'm actually enjoying their presence. It looks like the days of the same boring Miku design being made over and over again are done with. Good Smile Comp...

Wonder Festival 2014 Summer: Vocaloid Garage Kits

Not out of the game yet!
Jul 31
// Chris Seto
The Volcaloid kits may not play second fiddle to the sheer numer of KanColle kits but Miku is still popular enough to draw enough kits to make a gallery. Having said that... DAT MEIKO!!! I know a few people who would be happy...
SDCC 2014 Bluefin photo
SDCC 2014 Bluefin

SDCC 2014: Bluefin - miscellaneous figures

Abnormal titan spotted
Jul 28
// Tianxiao Ma
Bluefin's presence at SDCC is spread across two booths, one with the Tamashii Nations items and one more dedicated to sales. The sales booth did have some prototypes of upcoming figures, including the titan in the header. The...

What Kristina Is Up To: Getting musical

Jul 04 // Kristina Pino
The music teacher at my school is a super talented dude. He went to a musical college and got a degree in music, mainly singing (classical and opera style - hearing him is kind of incredible). My students love his class and the music club is super popular. In Japan, elementary students don't have too many club options, and the ones that are available only meet a couple times a month at most. But our music club kids practice every day. The school has a brass band, and it's open to all students. We've got kids from ages 7 through 12 playing trumpets and drums and xylophones like champs, and they play at every school assembly and event. There's even a big recital where all the elementary and junior high school students in my village gather to perform and be judged by Important Peoples. Once a year, there's a school recital that the entire student body participates in. Some grades do numbers with their piannicas or recorders, others do singing numbers with a few of their peers playing piano on the side, and the 6th graders steal the show with a sing and dance number. Those show-offs. My point is, music is highly valued in my area. There's a keyboard or piano in almost every classroom in the school I work at. All the students, at some point or other, end up getting lessons in piannica and recorder, and they take time in their lessons to learn to sing songs (picture being in a room full of 5- and 6-year olds playing with numbers while their mates next door are learning the words to Sanpo, the opening song from My Neighbor Totoro). If the students are all exercising or practicing something together out in the yard, they do it to music instead of incessant whistle-blowing and the rumbling of trains as they go by. I'm surrounded by music each day, and all I really needed was one little push. My real passion is piano when it comes to music. Up until now, I didn't play much at school because I didn't want to be a distraction during school hours. But then the music teacher caught up with me one day at one of big, seldom-used rooms at the end of a hallway, and said I could play the electric piano in there any time I like. I didn't even know the thing was electric; it looks like a normal upright, so imagine my (pleasant) surprise. So that's what I've been doing to unwind, and it's just the best. Have any questions about life abroad, or the school life in Japan? Shoot them in the comments below and it might be featured in this column! Alternatively, you can email me privately over at kristina [at] tomopop [dot] com.
What Kristina Is Up To photo
Or what I've been doing to unwind
Oh hey, I'm back! And the weather is still pretty much gloomy and rainy in Japan, even though we're in July. The humidity is up, which is nice - my skin is amazing right now. But my students are getting frustrated because we'...

What Kristina Is Up To: Bookmarks for summer

Jun 20 // Kristina Pino
Normally, the school librarian gives me loads of stickers and stamps and punches and things to work with when it comes to making book marks - I make them throughout the year, though the big push is always for the summer program. This time around though, I just got a small tin box with a packet of shiny origami paper, one roller stamp, three sheets of stickers, and just three scrapbook tape rolls (one blue, one orange, and one that looks like tiled floor). I didn't have a whole lot to work with. So I turned to Disney - I'm never let down that way. I recently bought a book that's all about learning to make ballpoint pen illustrations of various classic or popular characters and in various different styles. I figured: what better time to give them a whirl? I started doodling all over the templates and came up with some fun designs. A lot of it ended up being trial and error. I can't exactly use an eraser and re-draw things until they're perfect. But I feel like part of the charm of ballpoint pen illustrations is that they aren't perfect. Some of my bookmarks ended up coming out kind of cheesy. I wanted to incorporate books into as many of them as I could, since that's kind of the whole point. This year, my school created not one, but two mascots which are mainly used by the librarian, though they've slowly made their way into the classrooms. One is designed by the computer teacher, and the other (an incredibly handsome rock sitting in a bath tub) is designed by the students. That's where I got the idea of adding books to the illustrations, because in many of the little posters and decals around the school, they're holding 'em. Some of my bookmarks had nothing to do with Disney whatsoever. These are my attempts to use the materials I was given - scrapbooking tape, stickers, and shiny origami paper. I like working with those materials, but I felt like these were going to get boring fast with the limited options. Back to the good stuff. This illustration of Dale is the last of a series of doodles where he tries to do a flip. Of course, where Chip lands on his feet, Dale lands on his face. It's got nothing to do with books, but it's damn cute. I also drew quite a few Stitch or Stitch-themed ones, because he's one of the most popular Disney characters in Japan. This is his doll, Scrump. Or is it Lilo's doll? Either way, it's cute. Of course, these wouldn't be complete without doodles of Mickey and Minnie. And there's also a look at that tiled scrapbooking tape I mentioned earlier. It looks like the kind of tile floor you'd see in a bathroom. Or a cupcake shop. Cute for certain designs, but overall not easy to work with. I leave you with my work-in-progress shot of Donald, before his body is attached and his eyes filled in. I was so proud of myself at this point though, because it already looked way better than any other attempt I'd ever made at drawing Donald. The instructions are so clear and perfect that I pretty much spent an hour doodling without even noticing the time go by. I ended up drawing Pooh, Marie (from The Aristocats), Aliens from the Toy Story series, among other characters, Dumbo, Eeyore, and even other character-related things like Mickey Mouse cupcakes and Donald doughnuts. It's enough to give anyone cavities. There are a few more pictures in the gallery that didn't make it into the body of this post if you'd like to see more. Also, let's hear it for my trusty cospa Vocaloid buddies for showing off my tiny masterpieces. Or would-be masterpieces, anyway.
What Kristina Is Up To photo
Getting paid to doodle is pretty awesome
Summer is almost here, which means that students are almost off on break. Well, many students are, anyway. Some elect to do summer school (or are forced to by their parents), and end up missing out on that glorious month of v...

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...

Racing Miku Mirai photo
Racing Miku Mirai

Good Smile Racing teams up with Mirai for a new Racing Miku

On yer bike
Jun 06
// Martin Siggers
I'm already losing track of all the different racing Mikus, especially since there are multiplele figures of every design. Now we're getting another, as Good Smile Racing has announced they've allied with Team Mirai to produc...
Snow Miku 2015 photo
Snow Miku 2015

Snow Miku 2015 competition winner revealed!

Beautiful lilies
May 16
// Martin Siggers
You saw all of the finalists earlier today, but this morning's GSC livestream revealed the final designs for both Snow Miku 2015 and adorable bunny Yukine. Miku is going to be Taran's design #4, while Yukine will be Hayuki's ...
Snow Miku photo
Four go in but only one can come out
Kahotan has announced the finalists for the 2015 Nendoroid Snow Miku Costume Design Contest. The results consist of four possible designs for Snow Miku and another four for Rabbit Yukine. While I'm partial to design #4 for Mi...

Deep Sea Miku photo
Somewhere, beyond the sea...
Deep Sea Miku is gorgeous. Deep Sea Miku has also been delayed more times than most of us can count. In an effort to convince us that she's finally actually a real thing, Kahotan has put up a new blog post previewing the love...

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