I love it when I check the cblogs on the weekends, only to see that another great review has been posted there! This time, I'm promoting Dragonzigg's review of Nanoha Takamachi. This isn't a recent release (January 2010). I especially love seeing reviews of toys that aren't super new, because revisiting old toys usually means one of three things: The reviewer only just, finally got it [x] time after it was released, the reviewer has owned it for ages but loves it so much they had to share an article about it, or both!
In this case, for Dragonzigg, it was both. Nanoha EXCEED Version is a gorgeous figure and there are some great images and commentary to go with it below the jump. Go ahead and check it out!
Hey guys, today we're going to be looking at Alter's 1/7 Nanoha Takamachi EXCEED Mode, from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS. Released at the beginning of 2010, this figure, depicting Nanoha in a critical scene from the climax of the show, was one of the last in Alter's StrikerS line of 1/7 models from the show. She's huge and instantly impressive, but is she all flash and no substance? Let's take a closer look and find out.
We'll begin as always with HOLY CRAP THIS BOX IS HUGE! I've seen some big boxes in my brief time collecting, but this one takes the cake - it clocks in at 340x410x270mm and I still see the shipping fee in my nightmares. That the assembled figure is actually even bigger tells you that you're dealing with a serious piece here.
Overall her box is rather plain - unusual for a figure it has no actual photographs on it, which gives it a very clean visual style. I like the big silhouette on the back as well, it's a nice symbol. It's too bad it's marred by some pretty bad engrish, 'Ace of Ace' being a particularly glaring example (in-universe Nanoha is nicknamed the 'Ace of Aces'). Smart, but nothing to write home about.
Nanoha comes with a boatload of accessories, needing three whole trays to take them all - one for the figure, one for the weapon parts and one for the base and fins. You can see here that her weapon, Raising Heart Excellion comes in pieces. The handle can simply be pushed through her already posed hands and then the elaborate headpiece comes as a single part and clips onto the end via friction peg.
Here she is then, unpacked, assembled and ready to go. There's so much happening in this figure that she's striking from practically any angle, but she was clearly designed to be viewed from the front, where your view is dominated by that massive and gorgeous weapon. A few notes - the pink 'energy' effects parts are made from translucent plastic, though it tends closer to opaque than transparent. As I mentioned before the entire head of the weapon is removable and forms a single sculpted piece.
From the back here we can see some nice sculpting on the skirt as well as a better look at her fabulous hair. The hair has a little bit of 'give' in it but it's still one of the most delicate parts of the piece, being so long and thin, so care is required. The three plastic fins on each foot plug in via simple friction pegs and are made of the same plastic as the weapons effects.
These angles show off just how elaborate that weapon is - there are fins and spikes everywhere! You can see how the pole can simply be slid into the hands from here. You might also notice how far the weapon protrudes - this is a very 'long' figure, almost 400mm, so you'll need a deep shelf. She won't fit inside a standard Detolf cabinet facing straight forward. I'm not a huge fan of her base to be honest - aside from the fact it repeats the box's terrible engrish in cheap looking pink and black lettering, the white colour just seems a bit odd for a figure that's already mostly white. I do like the transparent foot supports however. Perhaps one day Alter will finally make good on those gorgeous clear stands they show in the publicity shots.
Moving onto some fine detail shots, we can see here the great job they did on replicating her armoured boots. All of the red and blue gems on her shoes, skirt and jacket are actually translucent plastic rather than painted (although that's not immediately obvious in this shot, take my word for it). The paint on both the gold and blue is simply flawless, no further description necessary. She attaches to the stand with a pair of firm friction pegs that feel reassuringly tight. I do wish they could have slightly better disguised the fact that the wings 'plug into' the feet, but it's a minor flaw and the fact that they went to the trouble to produce triple wings for both feet means all is forgiven.
This version of Raising Heart is a lot simpler and plainer than the version that was redesigned for the movie, but it's still a sharp looking device here, with eight individual protruding energy 'wings' plus the point on the front (not seen here). Said point is also extremely sharp and fragile, so take great care when leaning in to observe or photograph or it'll snap at the slightest chance.
The oversize cuffs/gauntlets are a real standout, with the black and blue cuffs modeled separately and exquisitely painted with their gold trim. You can also see the rear part of Raising Heart in this shot, showing off it's magazine and firing mechanism.
Nanoha has a simple but effective face pose, a shouty aggressive look that fits well with they hyper aggressive posing of the figure. Note the great creases in her hair ribbons and the wonderful piping on her jacket, again near flawlessly painted.
Here's a better look at the cuff and jacket combo. One criticism I would level here is that her upper body sculpt is rather 'flat' with little in the way of cloth movement or motion conveyed in the sculpt. 99% of the time this would pass unnoticed but put alongside Alter's subsequent Stand By Ready Nanoha, which did an excellent job of conveying the flowing, moving nature of her dress, the jacket of this version can look a little static. Again, a very minor criticism however.
Her billowing skirt however, is straight up fantastic, and really enhanced by the use of blue airbrushing in the creases to add to the shadowing, and effect sadly it's difficult to capture well on my camera. This shot also shows how her hair separates into strands and how well posed it is in swooping curves.
But wait, there's more! One of the most striking things about this figure is that she comes with four independent 'Blaster Bits' designed to be posed alongside her. If you're wondering why she has these, it's because the figure is based on this scene from the final episode of StrikerS. Essentially they're miniature copies of Raising Heart, able to act as weapons, binds or probes as Nanoha chooses.
The four Blaster Bits each comes with their own clear plastic stand, which they plug into via a friction peg. The stands have a hinging join in them so the Bits can be posed at a variety of angles, as seen here.
The detail on these things is insane, every bit as good as the figure itself. The gold and silver paint is metallic, the red orbs are once again translucent plastic. Likewise with the 'flame' coming from the nozzles, although the jet trail coming from the back is opaque pink/white plastic. In a truly spectacular touch, each of the four nozzles on an individual Bit is ball jointed and poseable, a truly magnificent piece of detailing.
Of the four, two rest on shorter stands and have shorter trails, while two are on higher stands with longer trails, clearly designed to be posed at the back. That's the only difference between the four.
With everything set up, the effect is incredible. Though the figure is a great piece on its own, with the addition of the Blaster Bits it takes on a whole new, larger-than-life dimension. The figure is practically a display in its own right at this point, and certainly one of the most striking things you can put on a (very large) shelf.
Here she is in her place of honour, perched on top of my Detolf. As you can probably tell by now, I recommend her unreservedly. She's a fantastic figure, with a great, dynamic pose and a unique gimmick that makes her an eye-catching centrepiece for any collection. The only fly in the ointment is that she's so coveted she's nearly impossible to find. Copies occasionally pop up on Mandarake (where I obtained mine from) so you'll just have to keep your eyes open. Also, you'll have to remortgage your house to afford her, but she's a rare large-scale Alter figure, so you probably should have seen that coming.
Overall though, if you get the chance you should totally snap her up. She's a jewel in my collection and I can guarantee she'd be a jewel in anybody else's.
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