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Throwback Thursdays: Spicy Brown's Tofu Robot (Medium Ver.)

4:00 PM on 07.22.2010 // Brian Szabelski

Think back to the first designer vinyl figure you bought. Or, if you don't buy them, then think of the first PVC figure you bought. Why do I ask? Because there's a good chance you probably still have it unless you don't find sentimental value in things. 

Such is the case with me and Spicy Brown's Tofu Robot. Tofu Robot was actually the first piece of designer vinyl I ever owned I loved it when it arrived, but that was quite some time ago. The question is: now that I'm more learned in vinyl, does Tofu Robot hold up?

Hit the jump and find out!

Let's start where we always do: the box. Tofu Robot comes in something simple, featuring a picture of the robot and stylized to seem like he came all the way from Japan. "Momen-tofu" ("cotton" tofu)  is a type of tofu that's a bit thicker. The text underneath, "Omame no chikara!" I think means "Bean power!," referring to the fact that tofu is soybean curd. And he's a robot, so he's apparently powered by beans. Cute!


After popping him out of his simple plastic shelling, here he is! Tofu Robot! A very basic and simple boxy design meant to evoke old-school robot toys, one of which is the mascot for our sister site. And it's also lacking in super, tiny details in regards to the sculpt. But then again, with a boxy robot, what kind of details do you really need?


Here's Tofu Robot's "nutritional facts," which is cool as it plays into the whole tofu bit. The text is very cleanly printed on there and readable and looks just like the facts you'd see on the side of a tofu box here in the U.S. It also tells you what figure this is without having to think about it. This one's the Medium version, picked because I like blue. Really, that's why I bought it over the green Firm version and the pink Soft version at the time.


Tofu Robot's head is pretty simple with little detail. He's got blue eyes, a little slot for a mouth and "ears", so to speak, but not much more than that. The simpleness kind of adds to the cuteness, but I perhaps would have hoped they'd done a little more in regards to sculpting. Maybe add a vent somewhere or something?


On the back, you'll find the name of the piece as well as the name of its creator, Kazuko Shinoka. She is one of the two designers who make up Spicy Brown, and Tofu Robot is one of their characters. As far as I know, though, Tofu Robot is the only character they've done a figure version of to date.And if you get a Sanrio vibe from this figure, then you might want to know Spicy Brown's two members were both former Hello Kitty designers.


Other than on the body and the eyes, this is the only other detail on Tofu Robot: a lone bean on its left arm, along with some stylized sculpting on the sides of its body. I kind of wish there was a little more detail, like I said before, especially on the arms. And speaking of the arms ...


He's poseable! Well, kind of. Tofu Robot has articulation with his feet, arms and head, allowing you to pivot them about. The arms can only move up and down, but the head and feet can rotate around a full 360 degrees, though it looks odd when Tofu Robot's head is on backwards. And yes, you can make Tofu Robot do the robot. 


Dance, little robot, dance!


My only major complaint with Tofu Robot is that there appear to have been some factory-related issues resulting in a few deformities, like the one above. Along with the softness of the vinyl, this means your Tofu Robot can pick up nicks and scrapes in its outer coat pretty easily, so you should handle it with care.


All in all, Tofu Robot is a great piece for anyone who likes robots or anyone who might be starting to collect vinyl and wants to steer away from Dunnys and Munnys. If you do buy one, though, know that the piece is rather soft and malleable so dropping it onto the edge of a table or something might give it a good sized dent. Then again, if you're not just displaying this at your place of residence on a shelf, why buy it?

So here's where things get confusing: Tofu Robot came out in 2007, and as such, it's very hard to find. My guess, by the number of Tofu Robot photos on Google, is that people love their Tofu Robots so much they're holding on to them. That of course means they're not reselling them on eBay, and the blue and green versions are long since sold out. Keeping an eye on eBay for the rare blue or green bot to pop up is a possibility. However, you can find the pink Tofu Robot and the Kozik Anarchy versions online. I doubt they'll be up much longer, though, so buy them now if you want them! 

Or, since they're at Comic Con Booth #4832, why not wander over there or have someone in attendance do so. Just tell them you love Tofu Robot so much that you'd love to see them release another run of these. *nudgenudge*

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Brian Szabelski, Editor-in-Chief
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Brian Szabelski is Tomopop's Editor-in-Chief, stuck with an ever-growing collection of figures and toys. When he's not posting on Tomopop, he can usually be found working on any number of project... more   |   staff directory

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