Tomopop Review: Mecha Workshop's Armarauders Bellerophon

Mar 01 // Scarecroodle
Figure Name: Armarauders BellerophonFigure Maker: Mecha WorkshopRetail Price:  Roughly ¥28,800Available at: HobbyLink Japan | AmiAmi | Big Bad Toy Store [[Quick editor's note: This review is based on a prototype that I had to return after shooting. Due to various timing issues, I wasn't able to write the review during that period so I wasn't able to go back and take additional photos of things that didn't come out quite as nicely as I had hoped (as well as not having access to some of the photos in my other camera which I wound up misplacing). Additionally, I realize that I may have missed showcasing a few of the features... especially because I had almost forgotten about the docking stand entirely.]] The Bellerophon stands roughly 23-cm tall (about 9-inches), has a lot of die-cast parts, and is billed as featuring more than 70 points of articulation. While I didn't personally count each point, I saw enough that I'd take Mecha Workshop's word for it since the figure is articulated right down to the fingers (that's right, no need for interchangeable hands). More on the articulation later. The basic design, without most of the add-ons, is seen here. The prototype I used for this review came with the shields (?) attached to the calf, but I later realized that they're removable as well. The pilot is tiny. He comes with a translucent flight stand (which I didn't notice until I was packing things back up) as well as a backpack unit. You can apparently pop the figure's head off to remove the backpack (which looks like a combination of a jetpack and weapons system). Apparently it can disassemble to form weapons for the pilot. The pilot features articulation at the head, shoulders, elbows, hips, and knees. I can't remember if he also had wrist articulation, but he definitely lacks ankle joints. The figure is fully sculpted, fully painted, and designed to fit into a fully detailed cockpit inside the Bellerophon. The cockpit can be opened by pulling out the chest piece (which took more effort than I thought it would the first time, but was easy once I had the process down), as shown in the first image, then opening it up as seen in the second. I suppose that this mechanic may seem like a relatively minor touch, but this makes the mech seem more fully functional and vastly increases the number of display options. Speaking of display options, here's the Bellerophon with all of its accessories attached (minus the Pegasus drone, which I'll discuss later). All of the add-ons are in some way articulate, having a moveable joint where they snap onto the figure and, in some cases, additional joints on the piece itself. The shoulder-shields featured some longer joints so they could be moved quite a bit. The shoulder cannons feature a lot of mobility as well. The shoulder pads (as seen in the earlier photos) are open to reveal additional firepower. That's in addition to what look like nipple-pistols. Two jetpack pieces snap onto the back. These are surprisingly awesome since they feature articulation at the nozzles, allowing for cooler flight mode displays. In addition to the parts, some kind of an energy chakram attaches to the figure's forearm (or technically chakri). The blades are detachable and possibly a little dangerous due to the sharp tips. The whole unit can spin which presumably makes this into either some kind of an energy shield or an energy buzzsaw. Unlike the other accessories, the rifles don't snap onto Bellerophon's body. Instead, they can be held in his hands thanks to those FULLY ARTICULATE FINGERS. Bellerophon comes with two rifles so if you wanted him to go full Robo-Rambo, you totally could. By now you've probably heard me talk about these amazing fingers a dozen or so times and really want to know more. Each finger is attached to the hand with a ball-joint, giving them a wide range of motion. Then there are ANOTHER two joints on each finger. These pin-joints mean that Bellerophon can hold weapons, slap another robot, punch an alien in its face, flash music or gang signs, taunt other robots with the middle finger, and more. The thumb features a larger joint on the side to help make some of the hand poses look more realistic (and was especially useful when trying to make a fist). There's also an alternate, transparent piece. Given that I've never read the accompanying comic, I'm not sure what it's for but it still looks cool. Finally we have the adjustable docking station. This is just "Part A" of the docking station. Part B is described as "a mobile docking stand with rubber wheels that docks the Pegasus Drone which will merge up with the Bellerophon, much like a flight pack." And, of course, the whole thing can also be displayed with the packaging (which, again, wasn't included with the prototype) to form a larger diorama. The station is adjustable... but I was never able to get the pillars back down again. I was told that you're supposed to push the small button in to lock it into place (it automatically locked for me) and you're supposed to use your nails to pull out the button to unlock it again. The only problem is that my nails are usually really short. (There's also an additional piece that can snap in there to hold the Bellerophon in place which I wound up not using. If you to leave the Bellerophon in the display over a long period of time, you should probably use the piece to make sure that the Bellerophon doesn't fall over.) The "wings" of the upper platform can separate and swing apart. The little extension between the two pieces retracts back into the right wing (or stage left wing). Overall, it makes for an incredible display piece. Imagine how cool it would be to have a bunch of these platforms right next to each other... All things considered, the Bellerophon seems pretty cool. Given that this is a prototype, there were some issues with loose joints, etc, which should be corrected in the final product. The copy I received also apparently had some things glued on which should detach. Otherwise, it's a solidly designed figure with tons of accessories and a multitude of display options. You may have noticed that I didn't go into the overall articulation as much as some of my other reviews. That's because I decided to just cover it in an accompanying video. If you have five or six minutes to listen to my completely unscripted ramblings, be sure to check it out: There's a lot to say about this release... in fact, too much to say. As such, expect a follow-up story in the next few days that covers some of the additional items that weren't included with the prototype such as the Pegasus Drone. [Big thanks to Mecha Workshop for lending us this prototype]
Armarauders photo
One mean machine
A few years back, collectors caught their first glimpse of Mecha Workshop's Armarauders line. While the giant fighting robots were awesome, I was even more excited to see that the line used tiny articulate pilots who could fi...

Tomopop Review: Threezero's RWBY Ruby Rose

Feb 13 // Jeremy Emerje Crocker
Figure Name: RWBY's Ruby RoseFigure Maker: ThreezeroRetail Price: US$167.99 / ¥20,500Available at: HobbyLink Japan | Hobby Search | Play Asia | Plamoya | Entertainment Earth | Big Bad Toy Store Let me just cut to the chase and say this is a great looking figure! The attention to detail in Ruby's outfit is pretty great. They took some liberties with the design, but I think they make her more interesting. The number one change is replacing the red frills on her collar, cuffs, skirt, and boots with a red flower patterned lace. It's something unique you'll only find on this figure and I really like the way it turned out.  Let's start from the top and work our way down through the rest of the figure. Looking at the head the face sculpt is nice and well captured, but it's also a very neutral sculpt. Unfortunately you only get the one face which isn't necessarily the best for action poses. Maybe one of these would have been nice. However, on the flip side we might be a bit spoiled since swappable expressions aren't exactly common in a lot of figures like this. However, I do wish she had a some color in her cheeks. The hair is sculpted perfectly. They managed to get every hair right, which as figure fans we all know can be a challenge. She even has her red highlights, though just a touch on the brown side, but still look great.  Her outfit is impressive. It doesn't feel like doll clothes, it's very thick and durable feeling - more like human clothes. The corset is like a faux leather material with red ties that really pop against the black. It looks like layers, but her outfit is all one piece.  Her belt is perfect. To her right side you have her rose emblem, and to her left a row of bullets. While some features of this figure draw from elements of the RWBY "Red" Trailer I think it was smart to use the rose emblem from the series instead of the cross from the trailer on her belt. One neat little thing is a magnet that hangs off the back of the belt, but we'll talk about that later.  The skirt is big and puffy just like like on the show and looks great with all of the frills coming out from underneath. It looks great, but there's also an unavoidable problem related to it. The figure doesn't have a particularly long torso so the skirt portion pushes up on her belt which in turn covers her corset. It can take some tugging to get her skirt to cooperate and the belt where it belongs. It can be done, just be aware that you'll probably have to spend some time on this.  The leggings are faintly see through under direct light, but barely noticeable. They do have a tendency to get caught in the knee joints which wrinkles them up a bit, but give them a little pull and you're good to go. The boots are actually really cool. The frill is part of a sort of sock, though the figure doesn't really have 'feet', the foot just plugs into the boot. If you find the frills don't look right you can just remove the boot, pull on the sock and replace the boot - much better than making the frills part of the boot.  She comes with two different capes, both featuring a wire running across their bottom to give them some poseability. The first is a long cape first seen in the RWBY "Red" Trailer with a built in scarf that can be wrapped around the neck or hung from the side. There's a hook on the right inside by the neck that I can't figure out a use for. The short cape, more of a cloak I guess, was first seen in the RWBY "Yellow" Trailer finale and swaps out the scarf for a pair of crosses. Both also have some of the best cloth hoods I've used on a figure. They're stiff, heavy, and hold their position with ease like putting on a hat! They also hold on to the figure surprisingly well without any sort of fastener. Very well done Threezero! Hand options are good, but basic. Open, grasping, and closed are your options for each side. It's not a bad variety really, but something fun like a peace sign or thumb up would have been a nice touch to give the figure a little character.  Now let's take a look at her weapon because it's pretty neat and really big! First is the entirely closed mode which is identical in every way to the animation version. It's fairly lightweight for its size, but still feels solid. Remember the magnet on Ruby's belt? There's a metal plate hidden inside the weapon that lets it hang from her belt. It's surprisingly well secured and if you angle it just right you can hide it under her capes.  In RWBY her weapon can unfold into three positions. You can change it from the closed position to the rifle mode by popping the end off and and replacing it with a gun butt.  The hands don't have the greatest grip. It's not the hands' fault, they have a good grip to them being a bit flexible, but the actual handle grips are a little small and hard to grasp. If they were just a millimeter or two thicker. Also would have been nice to have hands that were shaped for a pistol grip to get her finger over the trigger. But if you do it right she can hold it securely which is what's important.  Then there's the scythe mode! As you can see it's huge! Obviously there's no way in the real world to make a weapon unfold like it does in RWBY, so this is a separate piece from the other two forms. For storage the spear portion can be popped off and the large blade can be folded down. It looks incredible, but it's far more weight than her poor arm joints can support. Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of ways you can pose her with the scythe, you just aren't going to get a giant swing out of it.  Don't forget, the scythe also retains it's rifle function so you've got these removable ammo clips. One is undecorated, while the one she's holding here has a special symbol on it. These also come directly from the RWBY "Red" Trailer. Great attention to the details, someone at Threezero is really paying attention.  So let's do a quick recap, head to toe. The hair is great, the face is good, but could use more character and a little color. The outfit is really cool and feels great. The boots are neat and really well made. The capes are among the best of any figure you'll find, you can do so much with them. Her weapon(s) is just wicked and lots of fun to play around with. The entire package is pretty great! And the price? I think between the two capes and the size of the scythe the price is more than reasonable.  This is definitely a figure worth owning and I'm looking forward to her other team members, Weiss, Blake, and Yang being released, hopefully soon! [Big thanks to Threezero for the early sample!]
RWBY Ruby Rose photo
Red like roses (and just as sharp)
With the popularity of anime it's no surprise that the west would produce some imitators. There have been many failures, but some, like Totally Spies! (yeah, they still make new episodes), manage to find their legs. Othe...

Tomopop Double Review: Nendoroid Link

Feb 03 // Martin Siggers
Figure Name: Nendoroid Link The Wind Waker ver.Figure Maker: Good Smile CompanyRetail Price: ¥4,000Available at: Hobby Search | AmiAmi | Plamoya | Entertainment Earth  Martin: So Rio, after we had such an uneven experience with our last Link review, why did you decide you wanted to revisit the character once again? Rio: Nice to team up with you again, Martin! Well, even though the last Link figure we reviewed was rather... poopy... I couldn't leave my love for Link behind. Plus, as a bonus? - It's Toon Link, so it's much more simple. They couldn't screw that up, right? Martin: I will say that as a Toon Link lover from day one (yes, I am being a Nintendo hipster) that it's pretty great that the design has retroactively become a classic. Plus, he looks almost exactly like a Nendoroid to begin with, so that can't hurt. Rio: I will fully admit that with my younger mind when Wind Waker came out, I wasn't too happy about Toon Link originally. Granted, I also had a major crush on Adult Link, so... you can see why I wasn't thrilled we got a kid! Of course, I got over it and loved the art style after I got off my fangirl mode. Martin: I think some of that art style does bleed through to this Nendoroid. Though it's tough to make Link look explicitly cartoonish because that's pretty much how all Nendoroids look anyway, the big bold flat colours work really well here and do give a strong impression of just leaping out of the screen. Rio: Yeah, I'm definitely glad for the simple style, as it translates well and it doesn't go overbearing one way or the other with its style. Martin: I'll agree wholeheartedly with one exception - I think without the advantage of constant emotion the eyes can occasionally look a little big and dead, depending on viewing angle. Rio: Yeah, that does become a problem with certain poses. On occasion I feel like the Pokemon Banette is staring at me with soulless eyes, which can get kind of weird considering the cute package the stare is coming from. Martin: Big praise for the rest of the sculpt though. It's pretty plain and simple but with that nice crisp edge only GSC seem able to achieve on figures of this scale. Rio: Yes, the sculpt definitely looks nice, and does well for the figure with keeping it clean. Shall we move onto the accessories? Martin: I think so. Given that Nendoroids are pretty much static figures the accessories are a pretty big part of making them unique from each other. How do you think GSC did on that count? Rio: I felt there weren't very many accessories, in comparison to how many items Link uses, but maybe one day we'll see an accessory kit of some sort. What items they did include I felt were pretty well detailed and cute for the size of the figure. I will say this is one action motion accessory that I actually really like. Usually I find myself somewhat underwhelmed. Martin: Yeah, it definitely fits the more cartoonish style of the figure. I was actually pleasantly surprised by how much was included, considering I feel GSC's products have been getting a little bare-bones as of late. Is there anything you wish had been included instead of or in addition to what we got? Rio: I think the only thing I would have loved to see specifically and didn't, was just a bomb accessory. I thought it'd be cute to have one he could hold as if he was going to throw it. I think I'm pretty happy with him quite honestly. It's definitely an upgrade from the last Link we reviewed in my book. Martin: I'd have liked to see a Master Sword and maybe one of the more Wind Waker unique items, the Deku Leaf perhaps. Rio: Oh! The Deku Leaf would have been adorable! Martin: The problem with any Zelda-related figure is there are always going to be WAY more potential accessories than can possibly be included! Rio: Haha isn't that the truth? Link and his many gadgets need to have 5 or so accessory packs just to keep up with the little guy! Martin: I'm sort of surprised that hasn't happened actually. Just look at Bandai and their S.H. Figuarts Mario. Rio: Yeah, I really wish it would have. The items in a Zelda-related pack would have been more interesting and fun for me. Martin: I will say of the accessories provided though I absolutely love the Wind Waker and the extra arms. it would have been near impossible to put those standard arms into a composing pose, so the little extra touch is much appreciated. Rio: Totally, it helped immensely. I also love the heart container, because when you put it behind him so you can't see the stand so much, it's really cute how you can recreate him getting one like in the game. Martin: Honestly, I found the heart container one of the most frustrating accessories. The reason why it's in front of him in the pictures is because I found it almost impossible to get it to stand up behind him. The stand was just too flimsy and loose, though I'll admit this may be sample-to-sample variation. Rio: It was definitely frustrating. I had issues with it too, but once I get it where I want it, it's not moving. Martin: Perhaps it's just a case by case thing. What did you think of the face selection? Rio: I love the side-eyed grumpy face - that thing makes me laugh so hard every time. I do wish we had an actual "cat-faced" Link, but we got a pretty good selection otherwise in my book. Wind Waker was so expressive it's hard to knock it down to just a few. Martin: My big complaint here is the absence of wide eyed shocked Link. This harks back to a recurring complain I have with Nendoroids, which is the perennial inclusion of the 'neutral' face. Is anyone really going to use bland straight-ahead Link here? I think not. Rio: Yeah, definitely not. I agree, the shocked face would have been hilarious and great for so many photoshoots! Martin: Having said that, four faces is pretty generous so I'm not too aggrieved. Also, here's a plug for you GSC - I would totally buy a scale King of Red Lions to go with this figure. Make it! Rio: I was JUST thinking this the other day actually, especially with the figma horses and all that coming about. Martin: Let's start wrapping this up then. I always find Nendoroids a little tough to review because they're pretty same-y, but in this case GSC's usual fit and finish is a boon, as is the range's unique style. Rio: Agreed! I've not been super in love with many of the newer Nendoroids, but I'm really pleased with Link. I love having his cute little self sit by me while I work. Martin: He's earned my desktop spot too, so I think we're of one mind here. Any final words before we call this one? Rio: Just one: HYYYAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!! Let us know what you think about the review format in the comments! We'll be back soon with the biggest, baddest Double Review yet!
Nendo Link photo
Maestro please
Last time our reviews editor Rio McCarthy and I teamed up we talked about our collective joy and frustration over Real Action Heroes Link. It seems only appropriate then that we reunite in textual form to look at another vari...

Tomopop Review: Freddie Mercury

Jan 29 // Soul Tsukino
Figure Name: Freddie MercuryFigure Maker: Minifigures.comMSRP: £14.95 (US$22.68)Buy it at: Have I mentioned just how much of a fan of Queen I am? It is like a gift from the Gods (or my bosses). Already just getting it out of the shipping box I'm pleased with how professional this is done. The blister package is nice and secure, the card looks amazing and has a bio of Freddie on the back. And they even included a "Care Guide" for taking care of your minifigure. Looks like I'm going to need more pizza! Opening up the package, I looked over the figure and just as the company claims, it is a full 360 design of the costume he wore for the 1986 live concert at Wembley Stadium (look it up, it's a powerful show). The joints are nice and tight and the parts are firmly set in place. However I was in for another pleasant surprise when breaking him down I found hidden under his hair that he had a second "singing" face! Bonus points to Minifigures for that. He comes with a mic (of course!) so you can pose him belting out notes to your hearts delight. Wait. This isn't right. There we go! BTW: You don't want to mess with the security he hired. As you can see, I love this little figure. It is very well made, the art design of both the figure, the card, and the guide that came with it are great! If you are big into LEGO, I recommend giving Minifigures a look and pick up some famous faces for your collection. You will not be disappointed. [A huge thank you to Minifigures for providing us with this review sample!]
LEGO photo
A few weeks ago I was able to do a story on Minifigures, an England-based website where you could buy celebrity LEGO figures. I was happy to see that Queen frontman Freddie Mercury was one of the figures you could buy. I beca...

Tomopop Review: ThreeZero's Tyrion Lannister

Jan 27 // Kristina Pino
Figure Name: Game of Thrones: Tyrion LannisterFigure Maker: ThreeZero MSRP: ¥13,000Retail: HobbyLink Japan | BBTS | Entertainment Earth Tyrion is great, straight out of the box. All I did here was stand him up and put a goblet in his hand, because... well, he kind of demands it. He takes a little more effort to get standing on an uneven surface, like the gravel I photographed him on here, but it's do-able. The figure itself is hefty, super articulated, and easy to pose. He stands well on his own, and once you've got his feet planted it's easy enough to pop accessories into his hands for photos. Tyrion comes with three extra hands (the odd one is posed to grip his blade, which comes with a belt and sheath), the goblet, and a copy of An History Or The Great Sieges of Westeros by Archmaester Ch'vyalthan. The book itself is pretty heavy as well, and I should stress now, very delicate! I don't mean that it'll fall apart, more like the paint will scratch off or chip easily if you aren't careful, so please handle with care. Tyrion's clothing is made from actual cloth, which is pretty great. It really brings it all together, in terms of keeping things realistic. The vest is, of course, decorated with his Hand's badge and some clasps holding it together. And there's the belt (lower image) that comes around the figure straight out of the box, which is different from the one with his sheath and blade. I decided to pose his hand hooked there for most of this review. As I mentioned earlier, he's got some heft to him, and though he's got many points of articulation and a great range of motion, once you pose him a certain way, he doesn't budge easily. That makes it quite a simple affair to pose him with heavy objects such as this book, which you can, of course, pose under his arm or in other ways than this precarious situation I've got going on. I went ahead and piled on that second belt on with his blade at his hip. At this point, you can keep his goblet-grabbin' hand on to look like he's making for his blade, or you can unsheathe the blade and have it actually in his grip (below). Clearly, my belt-tying skills are no match for a chamber maid's or page boy's, but you get the idea. With a little wiggling, you can get the pommel and grip into Tyrion's hand, and then he's in business. His calm, yet furrowed expression is perfect for just about any pose you can think of. Speaking of his expression, the last bit of detail I'll talk about in this review is his head. Just look at that - with a little PhotoShop wizardry, one can no doubt make this look just like the real thing. This is lovely work, really well done, and I like the paint job on the hair as well. Of course, it's one thing to look at these details in a photograph, and it's another to look at the figure on your shelf. The colors work rather well together to enhance the look of the curls, and in low light you can't even notice there are different paint colors at all. But look at the subtle sculpt and paintwork on his face - the shading for shaved areas of the face, the lips, and the rest. Just lovely. As you can surely tell by now, this figure comes highly recommended by me. If you're a fan of Game of Thrones, especially of Tyrion Lannister, and you wanted one, centerpiece-worthy, high quality product to display, this is a good candidate. One of the biggest strengths of a figure like this is he doesn't require a stand or any props to lean on, so there's nothing to take away from his presence on a shelf or table. Add his sturdy build and poseability, and the possibilities are endless. Check out the gallery below for more images that didn't make it into the body of this review, and have a look at Good Smile Company's retail listing of the figure for even more shots, exploring more poses as well as a different lighting situation (my images were taken outdoors). I hope you've found this review helpful. Feel free to leave any questions or feedback in the comments section below, and share images of your own if you happen to have adopted your very own imp. [A big thanks goes to ThreeZero for providing Tomopop with this review sample.]
Game of Thrones photo
Hear him roar
This month saw the release of ThreeZero's Tyrion Lannister, which is based on the image of Peter Dinklage in the HBO series Game of Thrones. When it comes to figures based on real people, it's usually a hit-or-miss deal. 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 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: Sentinel's Metamor Force Dino Getter 1

Jan 12 // Jeremy Emerje Crocker
Figure Name: Metamor Force Dino Getter 1Figure Maker: SentinelRetail Price: ¥14,800Available at: HobbyLink Japan Starting with the box this is some really great package art. Artist NINNIN (XELFLEX) captures the figure perfectly which might really be more of a testament to how good the figure looks. Often the artists have to add a lot of embellishments to their art, but here it's basically a drawing of the figure. Off to a good start. The back of the box is a bit boring, just a gallery of photos, no story or attempt to hype the figure.  As I said, the art is basically a drawing of the figure and the figure looks fantastic! While not based on any specific previous version of Getter 1 this one shares enough cues with Shin Getter Robo that it might have been it's inspiration. This is by far the most detailed of the Getter 1 designs as the typical Go Nagai designs are very smooth and rounded thanks in part to their '70s origins. This figure has lots of jagged, sharp and angular parts, some of which, like the wing tips, can do some damage if you don't handle them right.  It's hard to visualize in photos, but this figure isn't just satisfying to look at, it's also satisfying to hold. Why? Diecast, that's why! It's scattered throught the figure, mainly in the body and legs. That big orange pelvis of his is a particularly nice chunk. One of the things you look for in expensive robot figures is diecast and this one has a good amount of it. However, at nearly seven inches tall he's surprisingly light.  By now you've certainly noticed the giant wings on its back. They look like they would make him fall over constantly, but they're extremely light weight, yet rigid, so they're sturdy and not likely to break with ease. That's good because you're going to be using those wings to support him in a lot of poses. They also sit very low on his back which helps adjust his center of gravity. There are joints at the base, but its more like a stress point than a place to fold them back. He has a one foot wide wing span so they can get a little in the way, thankfully they're easily removed, but he doesn't look as nice without them.  Let's pull it in a little. Love the head sculpt! It's different from the other Getter 1s, but instantly recognizable. Have you noticed yet how clean the paint is? There isn't even an hint of over spray or smudging on this entire figure. It's really amazing, I've never seen paint this flawless before.  The clawed dino feet are really neat, especially since they aren't part of his dinosaur mode. I should also point out that unlike most Getter Robos that use bright white in their color schemes, Dino Getter 1 uses bone white with some highlighting to really drive the dino theme.  Aricticulation is pretty good. There's some ankle articulation, the knee's are pretty good, hips aren't bad, but a little limited by their designs. Shoulders have the best range which is surprising because of those huge shoulder pads. Unfortunately the elbow articulation is very limited considering it's double jointed. Yeah, it has two joints and still can't do better than 90 degrees. Very sad. Surprisingly he does have a limited range of twisting and bending in his body and it's not even related to his transformation so that's a nice little bonus. Let's take a look at the weapons. The primary weapons, as with most versions of Getter 1, are these massive Getter Tomahawks. Not really sure how a Native American melee weapon got into the Japanese vernacular (along side the Zaku Heat Hawks) but it continues to amuse me. Despite their massive size they're relatively light like the wings so the arm joints handle them well. The pointy tips are pretty sharp again and you could probably cut something soft with the blade edge. Definitely not for kids! His second weapon is the enormous scythe formed from his wing edges which should now explain whey they're so pointy. The handle is the only part that can't be incorporated in the figure which I guess isn't so bad. You get two of them, one from each wing bringing his total number of oversized weapons to two pairs. Time for Pterodactyl mode! Pterodactyl mode is pretty creative and mostly successful. The dino head pops out of the chest and joins with a piece from the back hiding the bot head. The arms don't do a whole lot, but the hands can fold up and reveal little dino claws. The most elaborate transformation comes from the legs. The hips fold up close to the body and the lower legs split in half and join with the wings to make little rocket pod type things. The Getter Tomahawks can collapse in on themselves and combine together to make something similar to tail wings on the back. Unfortunately the dino mode can't stand on its own so for anything other than flying you'll need to find a stand to keep him somewhat upright. It's a bit strange for him to have such a non-menacing dino mode when Getter 1 is usually seen as the dominant Getter mode. A T-rex would certainly seem like the best choice, but they probably didn't want to make him too much like the Transformer Grimlock. Instead they made Getter 2 a T-rex that looks a lot like Beast Wars Megatron. Oops. As prehistoric flying transforming dinosaur robots go he's definitely one of the best. He has an imposing bot mode and a convincing enough dino mode. He's got huge weapons, decent articulation, and a satisfactory amount of diecast. Now, I know the price is kinda high, but consider this: for the material, its size, what it comes with, and what it can do this is a pretty standard price for high-end robot collectibles that are far from kids' toys. He's no Studio Half Eye, but few things are. If you've got the money and a thing for transforming dinosaur robots then give this one a shot. Now, how about a crossover? I know I'd like to see this fight. [Extra large thanks to HobbyLink Japan for the review sample!]
Dino Getter 1 photo
Getter Robo gets teeth
There have been a lot of Getter Robos, but never one quite like this. What was originally a group of three aircraft that could be reconfigured into three different robot modes (Getter 1, 2, and 3) has now been reimagined as a...

Tomopop Review: Kotobukiya's Tomo Asama

Jan 11 // Chris Seto
Figure Name: Tomo Asama: Zudon Miko VerFigure Maker: KotobukiyaRetail Price: ¥16,800Available at: HobbyLink Japan The first thing which hits you is the box. Specifically, the size of the thing! It's huge, as the Figuarts Noel Vermillion will attest. Part of the reason behind this is the bow used by Tomo as her primary weapon in the light novels and anime series but that's not all. On the side of the box shows a piece of artwork of Tomo in her shooting pose, much like how the figure is posed. And on the back, we get a few images of the figure herself. Not much else printed on it, but it does show a feature of the figure which is that she can be posed with and without a large arrow. Once you take Tomo out of her box, you see something a little curious. Despite coming in an over-sized box, there's actually not much space taken by the figure itself. In fact, the figure and parts don't really take up much space at all! So why the huge box? Well, the reason seems to lie with the roll in the back of the box on the left. The roll is actually a large poster. On one side is a print of Tomo. In fact, it's the same as what was printed on the side of the box. And that is the reason why Tomo comes in a huge box which she doesn't fill. As for the other side... I'll get back to that later. And here she is, out of her box and in all her glory. The pose has Tomo as her "sniper Miko" pose along with her Maus, a small representation of the deity which she is contracted to. She gives offerings to the little floating thing and she's able to supercharge her attacks, making them more powerful or increases her accuracy to 100%. Also on display is the bow string. It's actually see-through, which makes it difficult to capture in a photo but you can just about see it here. It's much clearer in this shot but it's impressively taut. There's very little slack in this string. The face gives an expression of concentration and the heterochromia is well done, although they missed a trick by not showing the more artificial element of her targeting eye. And here's the closeup of the Maus. Cute little thing, don't you think? It does float around in the show and is pretty small so this is a fairly accurate representation. However, it is little more than an ornament around Tomo so you can remove it without any detriment to the figure itself. In a closeup of the bow, we can see that it's impressively detailed for such a simple object. Given the high tech nature of the weaponry in the show, it's a bit of a combination of old and new designs, from those seen in Robin Hood movies, combined with the one seen in Arrow. Looking at the base, the overall look is much more simple than the base which came with Futayo. Tomo is standing on a stone walkway but there is a really cool detail on her feet which shows spikes driven into the stone as anchors to keep Tomo standing while she fires her arrows. The arrows have some wicked kickback! Looking at the back, the skirt parts wrap around her waist and appear to also support the body but actually doesn't really do anything aside from looking cool. The generator on her back sits just above her arse (and a great arse it is!) and stays out of the way of all the other bits around. And here's Tomo with her arrow. The string needs to be replaced and fits into a groove in the back of the arrow. It's attached to the bow by two grey connectors which can be swapped out so switching the string is easy and quick. The right hand is also replaced in order to wrap around the back of the arrow. However... The hand doesn't actually grab onto the arrow so there's a gap between the two parts. It's not a major issue, and you could theoretically stretch the bowstring back so it wraps around the fingers, but then it loses contact with the arrow. Because of this, I think the pose without the arrow is the better of the two. And now, back to the poster. On one side you have an image of Tomo about to fire her arrow and on the other side, you get a slightly blurry image of several rings suspended in midair. It looks like it may have been a badly upscaled image from the anime series and it took me a few minutes to figure out what it was for! But when I figured it out... So the reason for the over-sized box is so that Kotobukiya could pack a scale image of the shooting effect for Tomos' arrow! Well, that's the mystery solved though I'm not sure if it's a good enough reason it increase the box size like they did. As far as figures go, Tomo is a great one for fans of Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon. Kotobukiya has produced a much more in-character version of Tomo than Max Factory did, and makes for a solid display item in a collection. The overall size may be a little off-putting; the bow makes this a very tall figure which takes up a lot over vertical space. And the price is a little high, but the quality is above question and Kotobukiya has done a great rendition of the Sniper Miko. Fans should definitely look into picking her up but if you're on the fence, I doubt you'll be disappointed. [ Thanks to HobbyLink Japan for providing this review sample! ]
Tomo Asama photo
Shot through the heart and you're to blame
Once more, we return to the world of Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon, and Kotobukiya are once again the providers of another figure of a cast member from the show. We've had a look at Honda Futayo before and this time, we're lookin...

Tomopop Review: MegaHouse's Natsume Yuujinchou Petit Chara Land

Jan 10 // Jeremy Emerje Crocker
Figure Name: Natsume Yuujinchou Petit Chara LandFigure Maker: MegaHouseRetail Price: ¥4,200Available at: HobbyLink Japan Starting things off let's take a look at the box. Actually, these being trading figures meant to be sold individually this is a display carton that most people in Japan normally wouldn't buy. I really like the art on the front that was made for the set. On the sides are some really nicely arranged photos of some of the figures taken outside. A lot of these trading figure cartons are either plain with just text or printed in single color scale so as these things go this is one of the better ones I've seen. The individual boxes share the same art as the display carton, but the sides only have stock photos of the figures. The more creative shots seen on the sides of the carton can be found under the flaps hidden inside the top and bottom of the box. Not sure why they did this, seems like these photos would do a lot more good selling the figures if they were used on the outside instead of the stock photos. OK, enough critiquing the boxes, let's take a look at the figures! Of the five figures and one secret (though probably not especially rare) figures only one doesn't represent a season; more on that figure a little later. This is the first figure I opened so it's as good of place as any to start. Here we have Natsume and Nyanko Sensei representing winter with Nyanko as a snowman. And... On no! What's wrong with his face!? Seems what little paint there is on his face got quite the smear on it, and it's in too delicate of a place to remove it. So much for being a lucky cat, I'm not feeling lucky at all. Not the best way to start. Smudge aside I like the looks of the figures. They certainly live up to the word petit, they're very small, roughly two inches tall. Price to size ratio isn't exactly optimal, about ¥700 each at retail, for the size I'd rather they were closer to ¥500, but they're nice for what they are and the current exchange rate helps a lot. Sculpting is nice and I like the themes so I can live with it. Spring is up next with Nyanko Sensei and Natsume all ready for some cherry blossom viewing. This figure is more elaborate than the winter figure featuring Natsume in a dark blue and green haori holding a cherry tree branch while Nyanko has his beloved sake bottle. Two things I really love about this figure is going the extra length to make the bottle clear and that they painted on all of Nyanko's paw pads. Very nicely done. For the Summer figure it's a little hard to see Natsume, but check out Nyanko Sensei. This is such a cute figure for him, complete with grilled squid in his mouth. Here's a better shot from different angle. Natsume is wearing a summer kimono complete with a little blue fan tucked in his back and geta on his feet. It's a great figure, I love the way Natsume is holding Nyanko up. Autumn is my favorite figure of all. Yeah, it's a little simple, but it's very Natsume Yuujinchou with the way Nyanko Sensei is sitting on Natsume's head. The expression on Nyanko's face is just perfect with the fallen leaf on his head. I also like that of the seasonal figures this is the only one that isn't standing in place. Natsume is holding a bundle of wheat in his right hand to represent the fall harvest, but I'm more interested in what's on his left hand. Check out the dragonfly! Keep in mind that little thing is smaller than a pencil eraser head and they still got some great detail in it. Yeah, definitely my favorite figure in the series. The fifth figure in the set is a little more unusual. It's hard to tell, but it's actually Nyanko Sensei transformed into Natsume. It's based on episode six of Natsume Yuujinchou Shi, the Other Side of the Glass. In the episode Natsume is trapped inside a glass jar and Nyanko changes into him to take his place while he searches for the one that stuck Natsume in there. You can see the jar behind, but unfortunately it seems they couldn't find a way to stick a tiny Natsume in there so it's left empty. It almost feels like half of a concept and if you weren't familiar with the figure's story it would just seem like Natsume is doing a strange pose. For me this is the least successful of the series and from what I can gather it's the least popular among fans. And here's the secret figure, a redeco of the spring figure. Now sporting a more cherry blossom appropriate pink, it's a nice alternative, but not quite as nicely executed as the blue and green of the original. I wish they would have changed up the pattern or something to really set it apart. Meanwhile Nyanko Sensei is looking kinda cherry in the face himself.  And that's our six. They're a an exceptionally cute series of figures based on the Natsume Yuujinchou duo and look great displayed. The paint is OK, but could be much better. If you're a fan then they're worth having, but you might want to buy them second hand to assure you get the best looking figures. Still, the cheapest and most efficient way to get them is in a case. Were I to do it again I'd probably still go with the case.  [Huge thanks to HobbyLink Japan for the review samples!]
Natsume Yuujinchou photo
Insert Scarface "little friend" joke here
Natsume Yuujinchou (Natsume's Book of Friends) will probably always rank as one of my favorite top anime series of all time. For four seasons I laughed and cried with this series like few others. I was pretty sad when the fin...

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: DST's Marvel Select Amazing Spidey 2 Spider-Man

Nov 22 // Scarecroodle
Figure Name: Marvel Select Amazing Spider-Man 2 Spider-Man with baseFigure Maker: Diamond Select ToysRetail Price: US$24.99Available at: Diamond Select Toys DST's Amazing Spider-Man 2 Spidey comes in the usual Marvel Select packaging. As we've seen in the past, these movie (and tv) figures seem to forgo the usual heavily decorated inner box in favor of something basic (most likely due to licensing issues or the like). In this case, it's a generic lightning-looking design. The back of the card features a large character illustration alongside a brief bio. This space is usually dedicated to some product images of the figure and other offerings in the line. The other selections is naturally absent because Spidey was the only ASM2 character to receive a figure (which again goes back to an issue with DST getting reference materials in time. Granted, the company *could* have done an Emma Stone Gwen Stacy but there probably wasn't enough fan demand). While I like the visual, it's just weird to not see any product images at all. I own maybe thirty figures from DST's "Select" lines (in addition to seeing box shots) and can't recall one other instance of this happening. Before we go any further, I should mention that there are at *least* three configurations for this particular figure. I had known about the comic/specialty shop-exclusive "Fireman" Spidey and the Disney/ exclusive unmasked variant. However, until this arrived on my doorstep, I don't believe that I was even aware this one existed. As near as I can tell, it might just be a direct offering from Diamond Select Toys. What's so different, you ask? Both of the previously announced versions went very heavy on the accessories and lacked a base. This one takes the opposite approach by virtue of featuring only one alternate hand, two web accessories, and a wall diorama piece (which can be mounted on your wall). If that wall looks familiar, you might remember that it was the Marvel Select ASM1 Spidey's accessory that seemed to come with every version of that figure. It's not a bad accessory, but I imagine a lot of fans probably already have one from whichever version of the MS ASM1 Spidey they picked up. It's something of a baffling decision as well when you consider how many alternate parts the comic/specialty and Disney releases featured. The actual figure looks great, however. The sculpting is great, the paint apps feature crisp colors, and the jointing is generally unobtrusive. The paint on my copy features a few scrapes that, for the most part, are more visible in photographs due to the greater amount of lighting. Now for the all-important question: How does the "sequel" stand up to the previous version? For the most part, the Marvel Select ASM2 Spider-Man holds its own against the Marvel Select ASM1 Spider-Man (note: this is the Disney Store variant which uses a metallic paint). Despite both being movie Spider-Man figures, the two are surprisingly hard to compare. The baseline aesthetic is great on both figures but the ASM2 Spidey sports some very different jointing. The difference is most notable in the torso area. The ASM1 Spidey has a torso that seemingly gets slimmer as it gets up to the chest to accommodate the joint. The ASM2 instead sculpted the joint underneath the full ribcage which gives the torso a more consistent (although less athletic) look. The second notable change comes in the arms which have been greatly simplified. Where the previous model had 5 joints per arm (shoulder, bicep, pinned elbow, forearm, and pinned wrist) the new only features three joints (shoulder, elbow, wrist). I can understand dropping the forearm in favor of a more versatile wrist joint, but I was initially a little surprised that the bicep joint went as well. To compensate for the lack of a bicep joint, the ASM2 Spidey features a more versatile elbow joint. I'm less fond of the fact that the ASM2 Spidey is missing an extra joint at the calf since that added point of rotation helps when balancing with the foot pivot/ankle rockers. On the whole, both are good figures. However, the overall look of the ASM2 Spidey might be a bit nicer. Interestingly, the ASM2 Spidey looks larger (or beefier?) than his ASM1 counterpart despite being of very similar height. It may come down to the difference in torso or the ASM2 Spidey's larger head. The ASM2 Spidey poses fairly well. The hip joints might be a bit thinner than the previous model and thus allow for better movement. The open-hands are great for allowing things like hand-stands in addition to wall-crawling and spidey-sense-tingling poses. Assuming you buy the specialty store or Marvel/Disney exclusive, you'll also have an array of additional hands including web-shooter hands with webbing add-ons. Those additions seriously increase the display value of the figure. All versions of the MS ASM2 Spidey seem to come with the new "modular weblines" accessories. One of the webbing accessories has a piece that can peg into Spidey's fist for web-swinging poses. A connector on the other side can hook into the other webbing piece. While I'm honestly not sure how this is intended to work, you can snap the pieces together for a variety of effects. I was going to say that it's perfect for Rhino wrangling, but that didn't quite work out. Oh well, I guess comic book Spidey had his issues trying to web down Rhino as well. All things considered, Diamond Select Toys' Marvel Select Amazing Spider-Man 2 Spidey is probably the nicest version of the character in the affordable figure bracket. The overall design is good, the paint generally looks great, and he has most of the poseability you could want. The biggest drawback is that this particular configuration doesn't include all of the alternate parts that you'll find with the other variants. The diorama piece, while nice, certainly seems a little redundant given that many fans will own the Marvel Select ASM1 Spidey which also included the piece. Be sure to check out the rest of the Rhino fight in the gallery, among other photos.
ASM2 Spider-Man photo
Is the sequel an improvement?
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was the somewhat lukewarm follow-up to Sony's Spider-Man reboot. The film notably improved on Spider-Man's costume, giving movie-goers something closer to what they were used to, while jumping all ove...

Tomopop Review: inki-drop's Tentatrio plushes

Nov 21 // Natalie Kipper
Plush name: Sweetoof, Jellyblub, Ika, and StarwhalPlush maker: inki-dropRetail price: US$24.95 eachAvailable at: inki-drop Let's dive right in! The first of the Tentatrio I looked at was Sweetoof the octopus, measuring four and a half inches tall and six inches wide. His most notable characteristic is his little embroidered tooth sticking out from his mouth. He also has several pink-ish purple spots on his brow of various sizes. Add that to the snaggletooth and Sweetoof gives off a certain preteen vibe (acne and in need of braces). I am not sure if that is intentional, but I found it hilarious all the same. Flip Sweetoof over for a delightful surprise: he's got embroidered suckers! They look so perfect, no loose threads or flaws of any kind. Here's Ika, who I actually consider the weakest link in the Tentatrio chain. I am not saying he isn't cute or well-made. He is definitely both of those things. But he feels like just a recolor rather than of the previously released Gummy Ika. Both toys are even the same height, four inches tall. As you can see, the back is entire bare sans tush tag. The bottom is also a little boring but I will forgive that. The source material, mother nature's lovely squid, is of a simple design and there isn't much to be done about that. Now we come to my favorite member of the Tentatrio, Jellyblub. This little lady jellyfish is just too sweet for words. I just loved her wide-eyed, innocent expression. She measures four inches tall and six and a half inches wide. Details abounds on this toy. The little embroidered white dots on the top of her head add to her youthful look while the peach and pink frills around her lower body resemble a skirt.  But the most adorable piece of Jellyblub's ensemble is, without a doubt, her little fabric bow on the side of her head. It is made of the same minky fabric as her body and looks ever-so-dainty. I love this detail so much! Finally, we come to the Starwhal, measuring four and half inches tall and seven inches long. I had been really excited to get my hands on this one and let me tell you, she did not disappoint. Her facial expression is similar to Jellyblub's, with the big, dark eyes and simple "u" mouth. Her horn has embroidered grooves on it and is moderately stuffed. As you can see, the Starwhal's star pattern is different on each side of her body. The bigger stars have a soft, fuzzy fabric on the inside portion (a different texture than her minky body) while the smaller ones are just embroidered. The variety in the stars' size and shape looks great and you can tell took some effort.   So now you have met the Tentatrio (plus the legendary Starwhal). I loved working with these guys. The designs are adorable and make me smile. If I had my druthers though, I would make them a bit bigger. That way, there is more to hug! [a big thank-you to Shelly Rodriguez of inki-drop for supplying me with these samples!]
Review: Tentatrio photo
With a Starwhal included for good measure
I have been a fan of Shelly Rodriguez for a long, long time. I loved her work way back when her studio was called inki-Jinx rather than inki-drop. There's a little snapshot, right there. Her plush line has grown from the Crab...

Tomopop Review: Hashtag Collectibles' Grumpy Cat puppet

Nov 19 // Natalie Kipper
Toy name: Grumpy Cat puppetToy maker: Hashtag CollectiblesRetail price: US$35Available at: Hashtag Collectibles Meet the Grumpy Cat puppet. It says, "Hello", or it would if I was playing with it and not typing up this review. Uh, let's move on, shall we? The tag hangs on the puppet's right ear. The simple design, with just a Grumpy Cat's face and the toy's name on a matte black background helped to focus on the toy itself, and not be distracting should you choose to leave the tag on.  The puppet measures 10 inches tall, 6 inches wide, and 6 inches deep. Its tail adds on about 5 inches to the back. Speaking of the tail, it is lightly stuffed and has a nice curve to the middle of it, almost giving it a "C"-shape. The body is moderately stuffed but not so much that it is difficult to use as a puppet. Here we see were the puppeteer's hand goes when playing with their Grumpy Cat. The lining feels slightly webbed and airy. I was pleased to note that it did not feel scratchy or sweaty, even after having my hand in there for over five minutes of continuous play. I was surprised to discover that the softest part of the Grumpy cat puppet is the blue portion of its eyes. The whole toy is pleasingly soft and snuggly, don't get me wrong, but this tiny area takes it to a whole new level: silky yet fuzzy with just a hint of woolen texture to it. A pure delight. The only issue I had with my Grumpy Cat puppet was what appeared to be a manufacturing flaw in its mouth. One corner opens wider than the other which, unfortunately, makes the toy harder to manipulate in puppet form. I can't imagine that this problem is present in all of the puppets, but it may be something to look for. I could still get the puppet to make the signature scowl rather well. I also made it say phrases like, "I love rainy days", and "Cake makes me happy." It is the little things in life, you know. Despite the one manufacturing flaw in the mouth, I would still recommend Hashtag Collectibles' Grumpy Cat puppet. Mine may not have made the best puppet, but I think it is definitely the cutest piece of Grumpy Cat merchandise made and that, to me, is worth just as much. Plus, she still makes a darn good cuddle buddy. [A big thank-you to Hashtag Collectibles for supplying me with this sample!]
Review: Grumpy Cat puppet photo
The time I made Grumpy Cat say "Yes"
The internet sure does love cats and I can totally understand the sentiment. Lil Bub, Colonel Meow, and of course, Grumpy Cat (also known as Tardar Sauce) never cease to entertain. Being a fan of said kitties as well as a plu...

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: DST's Creature from the Black Lagoon

Oct 29 // Scarecroodle
Figure Name: Universal Monsters Select Creature from the Black Lagoon Ver. 2Figure Maker: Diamond Select ToysRetail Price: US$24.99 (or around US$15 for the TRU version, if you can find it in stores)Available at: Diamond Select Toys | Entertainment Earth Long time readers may recall that the Gill-man, a.k.a. "the Creature", is by far my favorite Universal Monster. After all, I've only mentioned it, oh, a good forty or fifty times over the years including the occasional lengthy story about a time when Toys "R" Us refused to sell me one of my grail figures. If you read that story, you'll recall that I barely had time to enjoy that long-sought version of the Gill-man before DST dropped this awesome bomb... about a full year and a half before it was set to release. The plain Select packaging does little to convey how awesome this figure is. Like many of the other movie figures, the inner box is basically devoid of decoration (the popular Marvel Select line, by contrast, usually fills that space up with comic art). I imagine that it's probably due to a cost issue associated with licensing old movie stills or the such. The back of the box shows off Gill-man and provides a little backstory that wisely only references the first film (and leaves out the fact that he would eventually walk among us). Also included on the back is the Son of Frankenstein version of Frankenstein's Monster which closes out the wave (well, I guess there's also the DST-original version of Van Helsing but he's technically not part of the series) and, for that matter, the series. That's right, after giving fans a super-articulate Gill-man DST decided to drop the mic and walk away. DST's Gill-man stands close to 8-inches tall and features impeccable sculpting (courtesy of the game-changing Jean St. Jean, the sculptor behind figures like the much-praised MS Venom) along with a surprisingly deep paint job. Jean St. Jean has really pushed some boundaries in recent years, demonstrating that you don't have to sacrifice sculpt for articulation, which shines through in this figure. That said, the sculpting and articulation aren't blended to perfection. There are at least a few points where the joints are hindered by the sculpting (particularly at the head which looks as if it's jointed for a good amount of forward/back motion but the sculpt doesn't accommodate that). However, and this is important, in no place on this figure does the articulation truly hinder the sculpt. The joints, while somewhat visible, generally don't detract from the figure's overall appearance (with the possible exception of the exposed thigh pins). The overall craftsmanship is incredible. The character design itself facilitates many of these hidden joints, with hanging scales/platelets covering elbow and thigh cuts, for instance. The articulation represents a hodgepodge of different jointing concepts. The hands feature rotation at the lower wrists with a single pin-joint right above them (you may recall a similar trick being used on the Retro Cloth Phantom of the Opera (reviewed)). The elbows sport a kind of ball-joint which *could* have been used at the wrists as well, but the combo that was chosen instead helps to keep the wrists from looking ungainly. (EDITOR'S NOTE: My copy has a damaged right wrist (at the point of rotation) where the joint is jammed and, if a previous Select figure was any indication, the part will fall off if the joint is forced.) The head rotates, but his gills can get stuck on the frill running along his back. The torso features two joints, one directly above the abdomen with a second at the waist. While it doesn't work anywhere near as well as I had hoped (the forward/back is limited), you get a wide range of natural-looking rotation. The hips feature forward and outward motion, but are a little impeded by the sculpt (it's not a major issue). There's a thigh cut which offers rotation and helps with posing. The knees and ankles both feature single-pinned joints, a design choice that leads to only average balance. For the most part, the Select Gill-man can do most of the things you may want. The jointing isn't perfect, but it's worlds better than any previous version of the character that I can think of, especially within the affordable price ranges. It's worth remembering that Toys "R" Us also has an exclusive version of this figure. Priced closer to US$15, the biggest difference might be in the choice of accessories. The Select version gets an exquisitely designed underwater "swim" stand/base (seen here) while the Toys "R" Us version gets a smaller, generic stand. While the design is nice enough on its own for a background piece, it's intended for so much more. The product images on the packaging stupidly doesn't show the fact that the Gill-man can be posed right on the rock to recreate a swimming scene. It's something that DST fans will remember from a previous image on the DST Facebook page, but this awesome feature just isn't advertised. Granted, there's no piece or peg to actually hold him in place. The stand is just designed that the Gill-man can rest on it from certain angles. It's also, as DST Zach told me, the big reason for giving the Select Gill-man all of his articulation: the figure was designed to swim. Knowing this, I'm absolutely baffled why this gimmick doesn't have proper billing. Did DST feel that the trick might be too difficult for some fans? Diamond Select Toys has released quite a few Gill-man figures (including the first Select figure seen left and The Munters Select Uncle Gilbert (reviewed) seen right). While I don't have all of them (for instance, I'm missing the vinyl bank busts and the Retro Cloth version (which was hard to find at retail)), this new Select Gill-man is definitely my favorite and quite possibly my favorite among the Gill-man collectibles that I've owned over the years. Yes, it's not quite as awesome as I had assumed but it hits all of the right areas and features some great worksmanship. Plus perfect is overrated anyway, right? [A sizable spooky thanks to DST for sending over this review sample.]
Review: Gill-man photo
Not to be confused with the Creature from the Black & White Lagoon
Diamond Select Toys has taken quite a few stabs at the Universal Studios classic movie monsters, albeit with somewhat mixed results. Early entries often took a more statuesque approach, focusing on the sculpt rather than the ...

Tomopop Review: Transformers Generations Rattrap

Oct 22 // Jeremy Emerje Crocker
Figure Name: Transformers Generations RattrapFigure Maker: HasbroRetail Price: US$14.99Available at: Hasbro Toy Shop, Big Bad Toy Store, TFSource, Robotkingdom, Target, Amazon I'm a big fan of this style of packaging. It's big, bright, and uses every inch to its advantage. The bubble is spacious and gives you a good look at what's inside making it much easier to pick out the best looking figure on the pegs. As with the others you'll find a full size IDW comic in the back, in this case a copy of  (deep breath) the Transformers: Robots in Disguise issue 24, Dark Cybertron chapter five: Finest Hour. The comic has an exclusive cover featuring Rattrap and no advertising, which is nice, but as I understand it this copy has the pages woefully out of order. It's also a bit strange that he doesn't come with a comic that he actually appears in, but it can't be helped. Rattrap and his wave-mates Tankor and Crosscut come with chapters five, six, and seven, but Rattrap's last appearance was chapter four and wouldn't return until chapter eight. The previous four figures came with the first four chapters. Tankor and Crosscut do appear in their respective comics.  Enough about the packaging, let's talk about the figure. This is the Rattrap figure that Beast Wars fans have always wanted. The original was good for its time, but lacked real screen accuracy as most of the original BW figures did. It wasn't until season two when things moved into Transmetals and Fuzors that the figures looked much more like they did on TV. So with modern technology we're now able to get a figure that does the original animation CG justice.  Part of what makes him look so good is that he's essentially a shellformer with much of the rat bits folded up and stuck to him like a backpack. But at the same time his legs make the rat legs and the rat chest makes the robot body so really the only thing the shell covers in rat mode is the bot head, arms and part of the legs. That's not quite the same as the shell concealing a whole bot, but there is a lot of kibble. On the bright side that kibble is also character accurate, rat arms sticking out from his back and all. That backpack is kinda heavy, but thankfully his tail is just long enough to prop him up so that's helpful.  His gun is pretty neat. It has a nice look to it with all kinds of great detail sculpted into it. It also has the bonus feature of being able to split into two smaller guns. I'm a sucker for figures coming with weapons that can be reconfigured like this. Unfortunately they chose to gang mold it with the lightpipe for his eyes which means clear weapons. I can understand wanting to make them stand out from the rest of his body, but they're hard to accept like this. Pretty much any other color plastic on the figure would have looked better.  The gun isn't his only weapon. Open the door on his left arm and you'll find this, a demolition charge as seen in the episode A Better Mousetrap. It's a neat and welcome bonus, too bad it too is molded in transparent plastic. It would be nice if a third party would remold these parts in better colors.  I have a couple issues with the head sculpt. First off Rattrap's head is supposed to glow like a jack o'lantern with red light coming from both his eyes and mouth. His eyes have a very thin layer of red paint sloppily spread over his eyes so they lack any real intensity. The red light coming from his mouth wasn't painted in at all. The other problem with his mouth is that they didn't sculpt in his trademark rat teeth. I'm not sure how they could make such a glaring mistake like that.  The sculpting wasn't the only annoying issue, choice of material became a problem as well. See that fleshy looking piece above the elbow? It's the same plastic used to make the rat feet. Why? Because it's just a little bit softer than the rest of the plastic so that the toes can bend a little rather than snap off. What this means is when you try to spin his arm that piece of plastic would rather catch and twist instead of properly spinning. If you aren't being careful you could easily break the joint by twisting it in half. That's also about as far as the elbow will bend which is much less range than most figures get.  Taking a step back in time let's compare Rattrap to two of his previous incarnations. Or is that future incarnations? In the middle is Deluxe class Transmetals Rattrap (1998) and on the right is Machine Wars Mega class (the predecessor to Voyager class) Rattrap (2001). TM Rattrap holds up pretty well next to the newest one. Well, aside from the rampant issue of all the chrome flaking off. Even back in the day the MW figure wasn't very good so the new figure definitely wins there. I'm just glad Hasbro gave him guns instead of relying on a tail whip again.  Beast mode! Rat mode is pretty nicely executed. It's not perfectly accurate to the animated model, it lacks some character, but the colors are good. Far and away better than the original figure's rat mode. They didn't do much to cover his belly up, but most Transformers fans should be used to that. He does have an articulated mouth; the extra effort is always appreciated. Speaking of extra effort: bendy tail! Yeah, this is a really cool feature. You can use it to help him stand in robot mode, bend it up and out of the way, or make him a little more expressive. As mentioned before I'm glad they didn't give him a tail whip for a weapon, this is way better.  This might qualify as a hidden feature, though pictures of this appeared long before the figure was released. It doesn't appear on the back of the package or in the directions, but this is an official thing the figure is made to do. When you look at the underside it's probably a little more obvious why they chose not to promote it. Good opportunity to point out the gun storage underneath.  If you just tilt the rat head forward you'll see the bot mode head, but inside the rat head is a dome you can fish out to hide the bot head. Proof that this was always meant to be. Probably wont use it much, but at least it's there.  Bringing back the other two. The new figure and the TM version are pretty similar in size so viewing one as an upgrade of the other isn't that hard. Like this they would actually display pretty well together. MW Rattrap is way bigger than the others, about the size of a real rat (probably intentional) so you wouldn't want him with the other. Actually, you probably wouldn't want him with any of your BW or MW figures. That might go for any MW figures for that matter. Hey, Hasbro, how about systematically remaking all of the MW characters over again? Let's recap: great robot mode; lots of hidden gimmicks; nice weapons (though color would be nice); robot head is off model a bit; rat mode is good; joints have some issues. If you can get the joints to work properly and overlook some of the smaller issues it's actually very nice figure. It's certainly the best Rattrap figure we've ever had and ever will have. If you're any kind of fan of Beast Wars then you'll definitely want this figure. Even with some of its shortcomings it's one of the best Deluxe figures in quite some time. This is especially true when compared to recent inferior remakes of Cheetor and Dinobot from the Universe line as seen above. However, when grouped with the recently released Voyager Rhinox and the 2006 remold of the original 1996 Ultra class Optimus Primal and they all look prime!
TF Generations Rattrap photo
Worth catching or better left in the wilds?
One day Hasbro came along and announced a new Rattrap figure for Transformers Generations to everyone's surprise. I mean, yeah, we wanted one, badly, but Hasbro isn't exactly known for always making the figures fans want and ...

Tomopop Review: Brick Label Masterbrick MB-01 Metalhide

Sep 26 // Jeremy Emerje Crocker
Figure Name: Masterbrick MB-01 MetalhideFigure Maker: Brick LabelRetail Price: US$119.90Available at: I'll just go ahead and say it: Brick Label's MB-01 Metalhide really is the 'Masterpiece', or as they put it, the Masterbrick, of transforming brick robots. LEGO has done countless robots over the years, but none of them really transformed to my knowledge. Mega Bloks has done a lot of transforming robots, but they've all had relatively simple changes. Over in Japan Takara Tomy did an OK job on an Optimus Prime in their DiaBlock line, but it had extremely simple features and transformation. They've also just released some Transformers in their Nanoblock line, but those don't transform either. Then there's Hasbro. By all rights Hasbro should be making some of the best transforming brick toys around, but they continue to come up short. They started in 2003 with their short lived Built to Rule line featuring characters from Transformers: Armada. BTR wasn't the greatest thing, but they showed promise being able to transform. The 2011 Kre-O line should have been a huge step up, but instead was a step back thanks to being non-transformable. Hasbro did announce some new Transforming Kre-O figures back at San Diego Comic Con, but they've gone back to being extremely simple. So now it takes a third party to step up and show the big guys how it's done. This is a fully articulated, fully transforming, and pretty darn huge figure. I wont bore anyone with lots of details on the assembly. The instructions are very well detailed, full colored, and show the parts from different angles as you go so you know you're building the pieces right the first time. You're dealing with a lot of parts, so be sure to give yourself a lot of room to work. He's made using 100% genuine LEGO bricks so you're getting quality parts here. There's a lot of things to be impressed about with this figure when its completed, its size being among them. Standing at about 10 inches tall this is a lot of bot! You'll also notice that he's very streamlined with very little kibble. This is a true transforming figure so he has a lot of small pieces that bend and fold out of the way. His 'backpack', which is barely anything, is a set of armatures that extend his wheels to the front a back of his van mode and doesn't contain much in the way of visible vehicle parts. It's a very creative solution to the alternative of having wheels hanging off his arms and legs. Articulation is as good as any Transformer. He has a lot of flexibility; not all Transformers can do splits like this. His feet also have some articulation for added balance and there's a swivel below the knee. The knees are more or less double jointed so the range there is good. There is a little forward restriction in the hips, but there's more than enough to get by. There's also a ball jointed abdomen so there's plenty of range there. The backpack doesn't connect directly to his upper torso so it isn't very restrictive. The arms are ball jointed at the shoulders, and have a swivel in the body so they can pivot in and out some. He also has articulated fingers. They're simple, but he doesn't really need to grasp anything so they serve their purpose. His head is neat. Sure, it doesn't look like Ironhide, but this is Metalhide, a homage to the G1 character so it gets a lot of leeway there. It's very creative, getting its shape from folding pieces together like a box rather than stacking them as you'd expect. It gives the head some neat angles that you couldn't normally get otherwise. For weapons he has to guns that fold out from his wrists. On his right side is a red and yellow heat ray, and on the left is a blue and black ice ray. It's a nice call back to G1 when Transformers, including Ironhide, would replace their hands with weapons as needed. The ability to fold keeps them out of the way when you don't need them while also ensuring that you don't lose them. He towers over most figures from other Transformers lines. Even next to the original Masterpiece Optimus Prime he almost looks like he's in proper scale. Obviously he doesn't fit in aesthetically with other Transformers lines, but it gives you an idea of just where it lands on the robot scale. At 10 inches tall he stands about the same height as the most recent Masterpiece Optimus Prime. As mentioned before he has a surprisingly complex transformation. Getting him into his van mode requires unfolding multiple parts on his back, arms, body, and legs. Everything tucks together nicely and thanks to tiny connecting pieces that line up perfectly you get a a pretty sturdy vehicle. As an added bonus: Rubber tires! Love rubber tires. You can also flip the weapons up from the back over the top to be used in vehicle mode! He's pretty compact in this mode and suddenly is closer to scale with the smaller scale Masterpiece line. Of course he's still pretty massive compared to the original. All in all it's miles above Hasbro's Kre-O Ironhide. The last point I want to make is the price. I know, US$119.90 is a lot of money, but consider a few things. First off, LEGO bricks aren't cheap, not even remotely. Just walk into the brick aisle of any store and check out the prices on the little LEGO boxes. Now think about the prices that third party Transformers typically go for. A five inch third party Transformer will often go for around this price. Then consider the engineering. Sure, the parts already exist, but it can't be easier to sort through hundreds (thousands?) of LEGO parts to find the right one than it is to build the parts yourself. I think the price is pretty much what you would pay for a similar set sold at mass retail.  So to recap: Easy to build, massive bot mode, no kibble, great articulation, complex transformation, good looking van mode, and rubber tires. This is a total package for fans that love LEGO, and were greatly disappointed by Hasbro's poor attempts at Transformers block toys. Metalhide is Brick Label's first release, but far from their last. Soon they should be showing off their second figure, Windstorm, a tribute to Powermaster Dreadwind! [ A big thanks to Brick Label for sending over the review sample! ]
Brick Label Metalhide photo
At last, brick bots done right
The great thing about LEGO bricks is that they can be used to build as simple or complex as you want. They're a lot like clay in that sense. Sure, anyone can make a simple LEGO box, or clay flower pot, but in the hands of som...

Tomopop Review: Good Smile Company's Nendoroid Tomoko Kuroki

Sep 10 // Vanessa Cubillo
Figure Name: Nendoroid Tomoko KurokiFigure Maker: Good Smile CompanyRetail Price: ¥3,619Available at: Plamoya | Amazon This was actually my very first Nendoroid figure, so everything about it was new to me. Let's start with the box. I love this! It's clean, simple, and shows me exactly what I'm getting with this figure. I also love the use of lime green and pink on the box to go with the white background.  When you open the box, the figure and all the accessories are packaged together in one plastic tray. So Tomoko comes with two alternate faces, an extra hair style, five additional arms, three additional hands, five accessories, and a stand.  The Tomoko figure comes dressed in her pale yellow school uniform. The hair piece on her shows her bangs covering half her face, and her face is her normal looking face. Of course, this is only normal for her! Any other character and I would call this a tired face, but Tomoko always looks like she's lacking sleep. As I mentioned before, this is my first Nendoroid figure, so I got to discover all the features the figure has to offer. She's fully articulated at the neck, arms, waist, and legs. The head is very heavy so she can't stand on her own, but the stand is great.  I have never been a fan of Tamashii Nation's stands. They try to offer innovative poses with their flexible stand, but I find it flimsy and complicated. However, the Nendoroid stands pull this off. It's made from thick plastic that is sturdy enough to support the weight of the figure, and flexible enough to pose your figure easily.  So of course Tomoko has another hairstyle. This one is more sloppy and wild with ends sticking up in various places. For some reason, mine came with a giant purple dot on the right corner. Tomoko also has two alternate faces and the clear favorite is her freakout face.  This face is probably all too familiar for anyone who has ever suffered social anxiety. Of course this expression is usually mentally expressed and not physically. With her accessories, you can make Tomoko freak out about a lot of things. She can tear up a paper with two alternate hands in place. Where did that paper come from? Maybe from her backpack she also comes with that you can place on her back. Since she comes with five extra arms, and three extra hands, you can get her to hold all her accessories just as you like. So one very interesting accessory Tomoko comes with is a personal massager, but when I originally opened it, I thought it was a microphone. Never in my life would I have thought an anime figure would come with a vibrator! I actually liked it better when I thought it was a microphone. Come on, Tomoko trying to sing karaoke would be gold! That's the beauty of imagination, I can do whatever I want with my figures. Well, if you want to use the personal massager as intended, that's where Tomoko's last interchangeable face comes in. I don't like to be vulgar, so let's call this her aroused face. Although her blushing looks like she's been slashed across the face to me. Another accessory she comes with is a pair of ripped I probably should have caught on to the massager sooner.  Her last item is a risqué video game clearly for the PS3, but you know it's the PM3. I have to say, Good Smile Company makes great accessories for their Nendoroid figures. Tomoko truly is a unique character,  and each accessory is a reflection of that. I have never met a character as weird and unique as Tomoko from WataMote, and I think this figure does a great job at capturing that. Also, since this is my first Nendoroid figure, I'm more than impressed with the quality and look of the figures in this line. I want more!  [Thank you so much to Hobby Link Japan for providing us with this review sample!]
Review photo
Tomoko is finally popular!
One day I came across this odd manga called No Matter How I Look at It, It’s You Guy’s Fault I’m Not Popular. Not only was the title something that reminded me of early Panic at the Disco song titles, the m...

Tomopop Review: ThreeZero's Atlas Titan!

Sep 01 // Chris Seto
Figure Name: Atlas Titan and PilotFigure Maker: ThreeZeroRetail Price: 3350 HKDAvailable at: Big Bad Toy Store First off, I have to say that this thing is immense and it would have taken a huge amount of photos and walls of text for me to get through everything this monster has to offer, so I did a video review instead. Be warned that the whole thing runs at around 18 minutes long, so if you might want to grab a drink before settling down. Alternatively, you can jump to a specific section using the links below the video! To check out later parts of the review, click on the links below Atlas Titan in detail Close up of the Titan The X-10 Chaingun The Pilot Summary The ThreeZero Atlas titan is definitely a very pricey item, but if you're a fan of the game or even more gritty, realistic mecha designs, you'll do well to try and grab one of these beauties! ThreeZero did a brilliant job of translating the Atlas Titan into a figure and I'd love to see them take on the Ogre class of Titan, since that's my main ride when I play the game!Once you're done with the video review, feel free to check out the gallery for more images of the Titan! [Thanks to ThreeZero for the review sample]
Review Atlas Titan photo
Standby for titanfall!
Titanfall was meant to be the first really big release for the new generation of consoles. Made by a team which consisted of a lot of people who made the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare games, there was high expectations on this...

Tomopop Review: AmiAmi's Shinonono Houki

Aug 19 // Chris Seto
Figure Name: Shinonono Houki & AkatsubakiFigure Maker: AmiAmiRetail Price: ¥20,365Available at: Amiami | HobbySearch First, let's take a look at the box... Seriously, this is the box that Houki comes in. A completely nondescript cardboard box! Of course, once you take her out, you can see her actual packaging! To be honest, I have no idea why they decided to double pack her as the main box itself seems pretty sturdy. The box gives us a small window to take a look at the article within but otherwise keeps things pretty minimal. And once you get her out of the box, you find out that she is pretty damn huge!! Seriously, Houki can give my TriggerHeart Exelica and Nanoha StrikerS Takamachi Nanoha a run for their money and they're the two biggest figures in my collection (excluding 1/4 scale garage kits). For a more recent comparison, Houki takes up more space than μ-12. At least μ-12 could fit in my usual photo shoot apparatus. No such luck with this monster! (hence the variable quality of the shots). The figure itself comprises of Houki with arm and leg armour as well as four wings. two of which are attached to her back with two larger wings held by their own supports and not attached to Houki in any way. There have been reports from other buyers of some issues with the connection between the armour and Houki's back, but I can't say that I've had any problems with the connection myself. The parts fit quite well, although I advise putting the upper wing sections on after you've attached the rest as the hair can get in the way. Houki herself is held by two bent metal poles which insert themselves into holes in her feet. not the most eloquent way of holding her up, but the supports need to be metal in order to support the weight. In the photo above, you can also see the chromed paintjob on the armour parts as they shine in the light. A neat touch and one which definitely beats the usual boring matte finish. As for the armour itself, AmiAmi did a wonderful job on the depiction, with the <IS> looking both mechanical and armour like. Sadly, none of the parts are moveable, unlike the AGP figure but that doesn't detract from the aesthetic. You can see more rounded areas in the knee section to really get the feel that the armour surrounds the pilot while becoming an extension of them as opposed to a bulky tack-on.  The arm parts show this off very well as well. Note that there are no distinct seam lines between the armour parts and the unarmoured parts.  A closer look at the side satellites. To be honest, they don't really add much to the figure other than volume and completeness. More often than not, they will be blocked from view by the figure, but Houki doesn't look complete without them! They aren't much to write home about either, especially with their limited positioning. Their main use is to compliment the figure and give off a greater sense of scale. However, even with all my praise, this figure is not perfect. There are two glaring issues which are rather prominent. The first one is that the figure does not come with any instructions whatsoever. This isn't too much of an issue of you're a real veteran to figure collecting but for the beginners/intermediates, it can be quite difficult to work out which parts connect where, especially regarding the back wings. You'll get it eventually but it can take quite some time if you don't have your wits about you.  The other (even bigger) issue is what you can see in the image above. The swords are designed to slide into the hands, but there's nothing holding them in place, and the grip on both hands is incredibly loose, meaning that the swords (especially the one in the right hand) are prone to slipping and even falling off at times. There have also been reports of structural weakness in the hands as well... Like many other buyers, the right thumb of my Houki snapped off very easily when first putting the sword in place. Luckily, it's always a clean break (at least from what I can tell from other buyers) so it's easily fixed with a little glue but it's definitely something you don't expect. Placing the swords can also be a little fiddly as they are quite large and can struggle to fit initially. Those finger bits are also rather sharp!! The pose itself, while fantastically dynamic is also a little odd. It's like the left arm and legs are preparing for a cut while the rest of the body is finishing it... The lack of grip on the swords doesn't help as it looks like she's relaxed. The pose would probably have benefited from moving the right arm back a little and leaning the body forward, but lord knows what would happen to to the balance of the figure... In spite of some of the larger failings, I can't recommend this figure enough. A while back, I wrote a feature which explained why I was worried about the future of the anime figure industry because so many of the new releases were so limited and dull. None of the new releases really sparked my interest for a long while and then Houki came along and pretty much single-handedly restored my faith in the industry. Remember, this is a first release from a company with no history of figure making and she pretty much knocks the ball out of the park in their first attempt!! And they're set to do it again! Check out their Cecilia in our Wonder Festival coverage! This really feels like a wakeup call to all the other figure manufacturers. We've had new companies pop up and basically disappoint with lacklustre releases (Pulchra and their Noire, anyone?) but AmiAmi just turned up and not only showed the newbies how it's done, but even showed up the established players as well! Houki is one of my favourite figures in years and I can't wait to see how Cecilia turns out (pretty damn amazing if the previews are anything to go by). AmiAmi just need to do a few tweeks and then their future <IS> releases will be near perfect! Yes, Houki is pricey, but she's worth it, a bit of a rarity in recent times! Easily one of the best <IS> figures out there and if you're a fan, you really should think about stretching your wallet! There's really nothing else quite like her at the moment.  ...Lets just hope that they stick with the superior original designs instead of the ones created for the new novels.
Houki & Akatsubaki photo
Kenran Butou!!
It has always bemused me why <IS> Infinite Stratos hasn't really seen many figures of the girls in their actual <IS> suits. We've had them in their school uniform, swimsuits, pilot suits and even the girls we...

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: SHFiguarts Momo Velia Deviluke

Aug 05 // Pedro Cortes
Figure Name: S.H. Figuarts Momo Velia DevilukeFigure Maker: BandaiMSRP: $45.99Available at: HobbyLink Japan | CD Japan | J-List | Plamoya | Entertainment Earth | Big Bad Toy Store | Amazon Momo's box is pretty much what you'd expect from a figure box. At the very least, it uses some non-standard colors and looks pretty. Much more than you're usual Figuarts packaging. In her plastic cage, Momo looks complacently happy. In addition to her somewhat vapid standard expression, there are two other faces that you can change out. She's got three additional sets of hands and an extra one to help hold one of her two accessories. More on those later. Momo out of the box looks alright. One thing I do like about To Love-Ru and To Love-Ru Darkness are the colors chosen for the Deviluke family. I'm a sucker for short pink hair, which happens to work well with the school uniforms in the show. One of the few things I like about both shows is the design of the Deviluke family. Well, and the fanservice. Believe me, the "plot" is as threadbare as the clothing on most of these characters. Here's the first problem with the figure. Instead of a peg plugged into her back, you've got a clamp. There are by far my least favorite method of holding up a figure. Yes, the bendable post helps in putting Momo in a variety of poses, but she never feels stable. The lack of pegs on the base also prevents any sort of stability, which is a problem when the figure lacks heft and balance. At the very least, the base is pretty. Her name, the pink flowers and her tail look nice on the small heart-shaped piece of plastic. Just, you know, some additional support would've been appreciated in keeping her standing. As you may have seen in previous pictures, Momo has got a little devilish tail. It's bendable, which means that you can have her clutch it, as pictured above. Considering that tail features prominently into a lot of the service in the show, it's a nice touch that you can manipulate it. Speaking of manipulating long things, here is the other accessory in the box. It's...I'm not entirely sure what it is. I'm guessing it's a plant, as Momo has summoned some rather phallic-looking plants during To Love-Ru Darkness. You can bend it to do whatever you want with it. Above, switching to the gripped hands lets Momo grip it in frustration. It was a mirror of my face, as trying to oh-so-carefully switch out the hands is a harrowing process when you've got giant meat-hooks like me. They feel like they're going to break any moment. I'm not sure if using a ball joint was a good idea for a character as small and slight as Momo. Here's a closer shot of the aforementioned phone. It's purple, tiny and has nothing on it. That's it. You get the suggestive plant and a cell phone to have fun with. It's a pretty weak selection of items for a poseable figure that isn't particularly interesting to look at. I'm pretty sure this is why we don't get a lot of poseables from shows like To Love-Ru Darkness. There's very little you can do with those characters, besides have them get molested by Hentai Woody. It's a shame too, as Momo looks rather nice. She maintains the Figuarts quality that you'd expect, only she's lacking the things necessary to have fun with her. Now, I don't know what else they could have added to her collection, but at least give her something amusing and out of the ordinary. The pervy plant doesn't count, especially for $46 MSRP. Momo isn't a bad figure. She is well-painted, well-molded and looks just like her animated counterpart. The problem here is that there's very little to do with her. It's not like she's an action characters, where just their existence alone can lead to amusement. She would've needed some more items to have fit in with other items in your shelf. Honestly, I'd stick with static statues of her, as you're going to get something bigger and frankly better looking. Go elsewhere for your service. [A big thank you goes out to Bluefin for providing Momo for review!]
S.H. Figuarts photo
Not the service you'd expect
You know, there's something to be said about the harem show. Sure, they're usually puerile, insipid and lacking in any sort of redeeming value. Yes, they usually rely on fanservice in lieu of good animation or solid design. Y...

Tomopop Review: FuRyu's Cardcaptor Sakura

Jul 20 // Martin Siggers
Figure Name: Sakura KinomotoFigure Maker: FuRyuRetail Price: ¥1,500Available at: Toys Logic  Sakura's box is big, bright and colourful. There's an immediate association with the series too, thanks to the very distinctive red and gold colour scheme, a recurring design motif that has been used on various Cardcaptor Sakura goods for over a decade (it's based on the distinctive design of Sakura's Clow book). What with that, the logo, the various other text and Kero (!) it's kind of a messy design, but it stands out for sure. The sides of the box are adorned with this classic illustration of Sakura that fans should recognize from the cover of the first volume of the DVD release. There's also a chance to see a bit more of the magic circle design. One thing I will say is that although the box looks smart it definitely feels a little cheap when you pick it up - the cardboard is barely cereal box quality and gets dented pretty easily. Sakura has a pretty unusual base - it's shaped like the top of an ice cream cone, with the pointy bit cut off, so it's wider at the top than the bottom. The top also slopes at an angle, making the entire thing a rather odd shape. The top is emblazoned with the Clow magic circle, still to my eyes one of the most iconic magic circle designs ever. I also love clear bases, so I'm alright with this one - it's unusual, but smart. Out of the box, it's immediately apparent that this is a pretty ambitious work by prize figure standards. Sakura's depicted in a relaxed pose, sitting on the magical staff that doubles as her broomstick. It's already a pretty cute pose, but what really gives it extra impact is FuRyu choosing to add the giant wings that allow her to fly. It's both more show accurate and gives a really 'big figure' look to the whole setup. Sakura's been a girl of many outfits, but FuRyu here have opted to go with probably her most iconic look, the pink ruffled outfit from the first anime opening. It's a bold, easily identifiable style and one which allows for considerable flourish and some lovely details, like the big wings on her back or the ruffle-filled dress. This angle also gives a better look at how she's perched on the staff.  Sakura's attached to the base at three points. There's a peg on her right foot, a peg which goes into the back of her skirt and a 'cradle' for her left leg. I really don't like this setup, and it feels very unstable. The pegs are flimsy and the holes loose fitting and it's difficult to make Sakura sit correctly on the cradle. It holds together sure, but there's no impression of solidity, and I'm a little nervous every time I move her. Moving in closer reveals that contrary to what you might expect, there's actually quite an impressive amount of detail. You can see the little ruffles in Sakura's sleeves for example, or the crinkles on the end of her gloves. The undoubted highlight is the Clow Book and Cards, which are beautifully replicated down to the tiniest details. The book is unerringly show accurate, as are the two cards (The Move and The Jump for you fans out there) and while there's a little paint bleed where the two cards meet, by and large it stands up to closest scrutiny. I like Sakura's expression a lot - the wide eyed shout of joy is very appropriate for her character - but the face definitely isn't the highlight of the figure, and it's one point where more expensive examples definitely pull ahead. I think the main problem is the hair, which unfortunately looks very rough and 'melted', all the individual strands sort of squashing together. It looks very much like it was poured out of a mold which, well, it was of course. Also the paint around her mouth is kind of sketchy round the edges, which looks odd from far angles. Given they're such a centerpiece of the figure, it's a good job FuRyu paid close attention to the wings. They're nice and big and have a smart texture to them. The detail level is nowhere near, say, Tenshi, but you probably wouldn't want it to be. The lack of shading helps with the bright, cartoony style and is more accurate to the show's relatively simple art. A general note on materials - this is one area where Sakura really suffers in comparison to 'proper' figures. The plastics used are of a palpably lower quality and feel way weaker and more flimsy. The paint is more roughly textured and lacks the delightful soft-touch feel that companies like Alter nail so effectively. That's not to say Sakura feels poorly constructed or cheap, but she definitely feels cheaper than fully priced figures. There are also one or two nagging quality issues, for example the plastic burr clearly visible along the upper edge of this wing. You can see here that the line on Sakura's dress is painted a little sloppily, and generally piping and sharp lines are good, but not great. Credit where it's due though, the attempt at reproducing the ruffles in her dress is very solid and while it can get a bit blended together, it's only under close scrutiny like this that you'd really notice. There's even the occasional wrinkle and run in her socks to help simulate cloth texture. Again, some slight paint spill on where socks meet shoes, but it's really very minor. Instead check out that nice crisp bow sculpt, especially at this tiny scale. It's a good overall summary of the figure - the details may not always be perfect, but they've definitely put effort into making sure they're there. FuRyu haven't made my dream Sakura figure, and let's be honest, they were never going to at this price. What they have done though is produce a really rather lovely little rendition of the character that's cute, charming to look at and surprisingly strong all round. It punches well above its ¥1,500 price point, and consequently I'd say it's pretty much a must have for fans. After such  long wait, it's rather gratifying to say there's now a Cardcaptor Sakura figure that's worth owning.
FuRyu Sakura photo
Catch You Catch Me
The drought of Cardcaptor Sakura figures has long been a source of incredible frustration to me. The series has everything you need to make an army of great collectibles - cute girls, handsome boys, annoying mascots and ...

Tomopop Review: Monster Factory's Margot the Unicorn

Jul 15 // Natalie Kipper
Plush name: Margot the UnicornPlush maker: Monster FactoryRetail price: TBAAvailable at: Kickstarter (then Monster Factory) And here's Margot! From the tip of her horn to her hoof, she stands about 11 and a half inches-tall and is about 10 and a half inches-long, from snout to rump. She is made of a super-soft fleece fabric. Seriously, I can't recall the last time I have come across this type of fabric with such a soft and welcoming texture. Margot has a rather simple design, similar to many of Monster Factory's other creations. The only real embellishments are her eyes, mane, and horn (more on the latter two in a bit). The eyes are made of a leathery material with a hole in the center and another, darker fabric behind it for the pupils. I love the contrast stitching around the whites of the eyes. It adds a kind of whimsical nature to Margot that just makes me want to hug her! Margot's nostrils and mouth are actually just folds in the fabric. Some people may prefer these features be embroidered but I think this design choice works perfectly with Margot. Actually, embroidery would probably take away from the overall style of the plush.  Her unicorn horn is made of off-white and made of the same fabric as the body. I would have preferred the mane slightly less long as the horn doesn't stand out as much as it should at times.  The design of Margot's hooves is simple and fits the overall aesthetic of the plush. I love choice of a faint rose for the hooves' color. I think it adds to the magical feel. Here's a close-up view. As you can see, the pink color is only on the outside of the hooves. The inside-facing part is pure lavender. I don't think this is a problem though an didn't actually notice it until I started taking the photos. Unfortunately, dear Margot is missing a tail. In its place are her tags. If I had to fix/add one this about her, it would be this. I understand the concept of keeping it simple but I do love my plushes to have tails when appropriate. This is, of course, a personal preference, and the lack of a tail doesn't ruin this otherwise lovable plush.   Monster Factory's Margot the Unicorn is an overall treasure. She fits the style the studio is known for while feeling fresh and, well, magical. If the other plushes in The Mythicals line are anywhere near as lovable as this one, I think they have a real hit on their hands.  [A big thank-you to Monster Factory for supplying us with this sample!]
Review: Margot plush photo
Get a sneak peek at the new Mythicals line, coming soon to Kickstarter
In the past, the majority of Monster Factory's plushes have been, well, monsters. In their upcoming Kickstarter venture, the studio is branching out into the realm of mythological critters. Fittingly named "The Mythicals," th...

Tomopop Review: Kotobukiya's Honda Futayo

Jul 14 // Chris Seto
Figure Name: Honda Futayo Figure Maker: KotobukiyaRetail Price: ¥9,720Available at: HobbyLink Japan One thing which strikes you fairly quickly is that the box is fairly compact. It's not immediately apparent, but when you hold the box it feels smaller than you'd expect for a general 1/8 scale release. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, it just means that the space in the box is used quite well. Having said that, they still provide enough of a window to see the figure inside. Once out of the box, we can see Futayo in all her glory. The figure pose depicts her standing and ready to battle, but in a little twist to the proceedings (and very much in tune with the character) Kotobukiya had a little fun with her facial expression. When looking directly at her, the face gives off the slight impression of confusion, which makes for a fun contrast. On one hand, the pose shows the warrior side of Futayo, while her expression gives us a glimpse of the air-headed, and ridiculously naive, part of her character (remember her conversation with Tachibana Gin concerning her husband?). The base also deserves a mention as Kotobukiya actually made some effort into this one instead of simply providing a clear plastic base like most other figures these days. Sure, it only appears as dirt and ground, but it's still more than what most figures give us nowadays!  Her main weapon, Tonbokiri, comes in two parts in the box, although this can be separated again into three, for reasons you'll see later. While most figures sculpt weapons as a separate part and then ask you to feed the weapon through the figures hand, Futayo actually has a small part of the staff molded as part of her right hand... This, sadly has the (probably) unintended effect of making the hand look bigger than it should, especially when the whole thing is assembled.  As for the details themselves, the name Tonbo is painted onto the top and bottom of the spear, as it was in the light novel and anime. It's a very minor touch but ones which helps with the authenticity of the figure. Due to the costume designs from the anime, it does feel that far more effort was made on the detailing of the front of the figure as opposed to the back, which is rather plain by comparison. Sadly, none of the parts come off, but without the armour in place, Futayo would give a more PE uniform look with protection placed in certain areas, as well as some more block-like parts which help give her the distinct look seen in the Horizon series as well as other Light Novel series written by the same author. Still, the overall paintjob is pretty good, with a large mix of different, but distinct, shades of blue on display, and a sheen to the lighter blue armour parts. Unlike other characters from the series, Futayo lacks much of the more sci-fi elements in her costume. There are still some mechanical bits here and there to make sure that viewers won't mistake which series she's from, but mostly, Futayo has just her figure hugging main garment and more traditional looking armour parts in various places. A marked difference from Tomo, and other characters, whose costumes have many more mechanical elements. It has to be said though, that her breasts do look a little ridiculous. I know that she has one of the top three chest sizes of all the cast (not counting Mitotsudairas mother, who's WORLD class!! Nourin reference there) but it does look rather silly. They're like 2 balloons shoved under her top! Luckily, the pose means that her chest is usually out of view. As for extras, Futayo comes with these... garments as extra parts. Yes, they are clothes with clothes pegs. What do you do with them? That's right, Futayo uses Tonbokiri as a clothes line. And yes, that is a pair of underwear on there... Pretty much one of the most random set of extra parts I've seen from any figure! It's also the reason why Tonbokiri separates into three parts, to allow you place the clothes on the deadly weapon and let them dry!! There are a few minor gripes about the figure though. There's a slight discolouration on the front hair part of Futayo so if you place her under strong(ish) light, it looks more plastic and lighter than the rest of the head. The pose also means that you can only really position the figure one way. That's not too big of an issue, but it's still worth noting that she only looks good from a certain viewing angle. But overall, Futayo is a really solid figure, and definitely worth a purchase if you're a fan of the series. Even if you're not, she's still a solid purchase which will stand well in many a collection, even if she may not be as eye catching as larger or more dynamic figures. Kotobukiya have also recently released Tomo as well, in a more appropriate pose! One can only hope that they'll get around to releasing a figure of Aoi Kimi after that. How is it that we do not have a figure of Kimi yet? [ Many thanks to HobbyLink Japan for the review sample! ]
Bind, Tonbokiri! photo
One thing which has always bemused me is why a show like Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon has not received more figures than it has, given its ridiculously large cast of characters. Early releases focused on Horizon and we've had a ...

Tomopop Review: McFarlane's The Walking Dead Riot Gear Zombie

Jul 03 // Vanessa Cubillo
Figure Name: The Walking Dead Riot Gear ZombieFigure Manufacturer: McFarlaneRetail Price: US$14.99Available At: Entertainment Earth Starting with the box, I was surprised that McFarlane's The Walking Dead line came in a small, easy to open box. When I think of McFarlane's packaging, I think of big, thick, plastic packaging that's a hassle to open. This is easy to open! Behind the figure, the backing shows the prison that will be a huge part of the show. Like standard toy packaging, the back shows the other figures in the series that you can potentially own.  Standing at five inches tall, this zombie is dressed entirely in riot gear, just as the name suggests. Coming with 20 points of articulation, I found that this figure moved very stiff. I guess that should be a positive, because they nailed what a corpse should move like.  The arms can move back and forth, and from side to side just fine. The legs don't really move at all. They can move slightly at the thigh, bend at the knee, and move at the feet. Still, as a whole, the legs are hard to move. From head to toe, this figure is also detailed realistically to look like he's wearing riot gear. I especially like the padded detail on the back of the vest.  The face is the most gruesome part of this figure. A zombie's face is not a thing of beauty after all. This poor soul has striking blue eyes, and half his skin melted off his face. It's a very bloody sight. You can see the blood run down the neck and see splashes of it on the uniform.  The helmet is another nicely designed part and is functional. The visor can move up and down over the zombie's face. Made of clear, hard, plastic, it's also splattered with blood. When it goes up, you can push it all the way to the back of the helmet. When you move it down, it covers the face completely. So you get to decide if you like staring at that hungry looking face. Also, if you hadn't noticed, this figure also comes with a nice, big knife stuck in the side of his throat. That knife is removable! So you pull that weapon out and can see the end of the blade is covered in blood. Cute detail. The knife can be used as an accessory that fits in the hand. I didn't like doing that though, because what kind of zombie attacks with a weapon? So I liked keeping the knife in the neck. You can also repeatedly pretend to stab the figure with the weapon and have fun. It's very easy to take out and insert the knife because it goes into a small slot. That slot fits the knife exactly and there's no danger of it falling out. So if you're looking for a prison zombie to attack your survivors, but moves stiffly to do so, this zombie has you covered.  [Thank you very much to Entertainment Earth for providing the review sample!]
The Walking Dead photo
A knife won't stop this zombie, but its legs probably will
In case you didn’t know, The Walking Dead is a comic book series and show about zombies. So far, McFarlane has been one of the major companies that has been producing toys from both the show and the comics. Coming from...

Tomopop Review: S.H. Figuarts Super Mario + Sets A & B

Jul 02 // Andres Cerrato
Figure Name: S.H. Figuarts Super Mario, Diorama Playset A and BFigure Manufacturer: Bandai Tamashii NationsMSRP: SHF Mario - $24.99, Set A - $19.99, Set B - 19.99Available At: Amazon: Super Mario | Set A | Set B Big Bad Toy Store: Super Mario | Set A | Set B Entertainment Earth: Super Mario | Set A | Set B [Thanks to Bluefin Tamashii Nations for providing this sample for review!]
Review - SHF Super Mario photo
Let's see how they can 1-Up this
Mario is the figure that so many have wanted a quality representation of. While there have been a few over the years, they did little more than just move arms up and down. Earlier this year, Bandai brought the news that many ...

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