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Tomopop Review: Kotobukiya's ARTFX J Eren Yaeger

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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 characters has overrun conventions, and of course the figure world has sat up and taken notice. Taken too much notice in fact - we haven't seen this many figures from one franchise pouring onto the market in quite some time. For me, at least, it's made it pretty hard to get excited about any new release. Kotobukiya are going to do their darndest though, since their rendition of hero Eren Yaeger is one of the most spectacular looking out there. Let's see how they did.

Figure Name: ARTFX J Eren Yaeger
Figure Maker: Kotobukiya
Retail Price: ¥11,000
Available at: Hobbylink Japan 

Eren's box is certainly going for the 'grimy, gritty, military' aesthetic, plastered as it is in camouflage pattern. Problem is, it just contributes to the overall messy look. I've made my liking for clean, simple box designs apparent in past review but I think even someone who prefers a lot of stuff on their packaging would agree this is not the way to do it. There's two names (both spelt wrong, since the official romanization is 'Yaeger'), a bunch of logos and just general sloppy look to the whole thing. Not a great start.

Fortunately, this base gives off a much better impression. It's a hefty chunk of solid plastic with a beautiful glossed finish and some excellent paintwork. It's always hard to reproduce wood, and it's probably fair to say this looks more like an artist's impression of a tree than an actual tree, but it's still a fine effort. Too often people forget how important a decent base or stand is to the overall look of a figure, so it's nice to see some effort put in.

Speaking of that overall look though...wow. This is one of those toys that really leaps out at you immediately (no pun intended). I've long praised figures that go for dynamic, in-the-moment poses and this is definitely one of them. You can feel the action and the motion come out at you. The entire thing feels like a freeze frame more than a static scene.

From behind the arrangement is equally striking and it's pretty clear Kotobukiya didn't frontload all their care onto the display side of the figure, since the reverse is still beautifully sharp and detailed. This also gives us a good look at how the figure is able to appear to 'fly'. It's because Eren is only connected to the base by one peg and that's on his gear rather than on himself.

I was initially a little nervous about this method but it's a strong, solid peg that plugs in deep and has the dual bonus of being tough and not being very obtrusive. I will say that while Eren balances quite well if left untouched, this is definitely one figure you don't want in the range of glancing blows. One light bump will send the whole construction tumbling, so take care.

There's also a second display option for Eren, which is to have him on show without the cape. This is achieved simply by popping his head off and lifting the entire part out through the nect joint. There are pros and cons to either look - he looks more streamlined without the cape, but personally I appreciate the drama it adds. Note as well the fine detail touch of the trad on the soles of the boots. I've always found that detailed shoe bottoms are the sign that someone took real care with a figure, as silly as that may sound.

Butt shot time! However, unlike most review butt shots, this one actually has a purpose, namely to show off the exquisite care that's been put into reproducing the show's trademark 3D Maneuver Gear. All of these pulleys and rigs would be hidden under the cape were it attached, but that hasn't stopped Kotobukiya from achieving an impressive level of micro-detailing. 

From the side, as well, the gear is a masterpiece in miniature, showing off sharp, crisp paint lines, excellent metallic textures and fine sculpting. Kotobukiya haven't gotten piping down to as fine an art as, say, Alter yet - check out the slight spill on the leg strap - but overall fit and finish is highly commendable. The plastic tubes which run from the gear to the sword handles are in fact solid pieces of flexible plastic which come in a separate package and simply plug in peg style to the belt.

The other end attaches to the handle of the sword, as you can see here. The swords are again the beneficiary of an excellent detailing job - check out the patterned grip on the sword, which is an actual textured sculpt rather than just a paint-on. The sword blades come separately and plug into the handles, and are alarmingly thin and bendy. This helps in one sense since it means they're less likely to snap, but you have to take great care or else you'll end up with permanently kinked blades. Incidentally, the sword handles aren't removable, as the hilts and the hands are permanently molded together.

Eren's face is simple, but excellent, conveying rage and intensity without looking too insane or over the top. A little bit of texturing to the hair helps it avoid the dreaded plastic-bowl-cut syndrome.

As anyone who's read one of my previous reviews knows, I love flashy cloth sculpts, so it's no surprise I much prefer Eren with his cape on. There's some good detailing here too with the bunching cloth around the neck area and the breezier flapping as it comes out. There's also a telling indication of the strong and weak points of Kotobukiya's work here. The cape's logo is actually embossed rather than simply being paint or transfer, which a lovely, expensive feeling touch. But it's also rather sloppily painted, with the blue and white quite clearly not reaching down to the base of the raised segments. It's a great touch but also one that's not quite all the way there yet.

Gratuitous crotch shot! It's worth it for the chance to see the great work Koto have done with the cloth around the stomach and groin area, which pulls and wrinkles very naturally. Notice again though some slight sloppiness in the paint, particularly around the straps and buckles. You have to look hard but it's not quite 100% there.

More great texture work on the boots. I'm especially impressed that the little trailing lace at the top is actually independently moulded and not just sunken into the surface of the main boot. It's very fragile and easy to catch on things though so beware.

Overall though, I am very very impressed. Kotobukiya still can't quite go toe-to-toe with GSC or Alter on pure fine detail work, but they're getting closer and closer every time and the strength of the fabulous sculpt alone is enough to carry this figure over any minor quibbles and into highly desirable territory. In a sea of lookalikes, Kotobukiya have succeeded in making this the one you should care about, and for all intents and purposes it's the essential Attack On Titan figure.

[Colossal thanks to Hobbylink Japan for supplying Eren for this review.]


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Kotobukiya: Eren Jaeger reviewed by Martin Siggers

 

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Martin Siggers
Martin Siggers   gamer profile

Martin is a cynical Brit who enjoys deep, thoughtful, surrealist anime and children's TV shows where men in rubber and spandex pose in front of explosions. Rarely at the same time though. He live... more + disclosures


 



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