Lunartik's Mini Teas have returned for a second series, with 17 new designs at the fingertips of collectors. The first series seemed to be received positively by the designer toy community from the places I've visited online, and I, too, was a fan of the bite-sized dudes in their little teacups. This time, though, another tea has emerged: a blank, DIY tea called the B.I.Y. Loose Tea, made so Lunartik fans and customizers alike can come up with their own 2.5-inch brew.
Lunartik sent two Series 2 Mini Teas and a B.I.Y. Loose Tea my way, so I thought that I might as well review the little fellows and let you know if either is worth your time. Grab a snack, put a kettle on the stovetop and follow me past the jump to check them out!
Figure Name: Mini Tea in a Cup Series 2
As usual, we start with the box ... or cup, in this case. Lunartik has kept a similar graphic design to the Series 1 boxes, but eschewed the usual blind box style — literally a box — for something more coffee cup-style, complete with lid on top. The tea ratios are on the back of the cup while the Mini Tea Series 2 name and info are on the front. As someone who's seen a lot of blind-boxed and blind-bagged releases, I think the cup-style box is a great choice. It really stands out as being different and reinforces the tea theme of the character and series.
The top cover, hiding the figure inside, is actually the Tea Token Collector's Card. This is where you put your Tea Token stickers to send in to Lunartik and claim your limited edition Mini Tea. It's nicely designed to fit the cup's shape and meant to be colored like tea. Hooray for themed boxes!
Underneath that (we're still digging down layers here), we find another little ratio card, made to resemble a tea bag, that folds out. One of the things you can really see with the ratio card is how there's a lot more in terms of detailed designs in Series 2; Series 1 featured a lot of smaller versions of Lunartik's previous pastel, single-colored releases. It's a welcome change because there's only so many colors you can go through, after all.
Alright, enough about the cup. Let's get these little guys out!
Perhaps by pure coincidence, one of the two designs we have is the one we featured a few months back! This is Emperor, an Asian-inspired tea (with the Chinese character/Japanese kanji for "tea" on the cup), a red fellow with golden eyes inside of an off-white colored cup. Each Tea is still the same sculpt and same 2.5-inch size, with the same points of articulation as found in Series 1 at the arms and neck. In a sense, they're a lot like some of the earlier Dunnys and other series; you're really getting new designs here on the same exact platform.
That's not to say Emperor is a bad design; I quite like it. It's simple, yet there's enough to make it stand out among the other Mini Teas. But if you were going in to this review thinking there might be some sculpt change in Mini Teas Series 2, then sorry to burst your bubble, but that's not the case.
Of course, the bottom of the cup is where you'll find all the printed info on the Mini Teas. The base itself is very stable and there's no problem with stability, such as leaning or tipping over, unless you decide to push it over yourself.
The second tea happened to be Organik, a green tea-themed entry that's cast in light and dark green colors. It's a little bland and basic, but most blind-boxed series have a figure like this. I think it'll satisfy fans of Series 1 who really liked the simple pastel colorway versions of the Mini Teas.
Alongside these two, though, we also received a third Mini Tea, and he's a little bit different:
First, as always, the packaging. No death plastic here: everything is taped together on the back to keep it in place, and the packaging is easy to take apart. It's also worth noting that Lunartik's packaging design choice allows you to see all of the parts of the design out front before purchase,so you know exactly what you are getting. It's also super shiny, as evidenced by the reflection of my camera and hands in the back box shot.
The taping job and one other clue lead me to believe that Mr. Lunartik himself had used this piece previously in either a photoshoot or something else, because the flaps do look like they've been opened already and retaped with regular tape.
Here, you see all the parts of the Loose Tea figure ... except two. The second clue about my figure possibly having been a display piece or otherwise opened previously by Lunartik is that the eyes are not here. They should be two separate pieces you glue into the head to keep them in place, and I don't suspect every Loose Tea is missing its eyes or we'd have heard about it. As mentioned, though, you can see all the parts in the packaging, so you'll know if the eyes or arms or what-have-you are missing.
The low number of parts really indicates the simplicity of the design, plus makes it rather easy to assemble once all the parts are painted (or unpainted) to your liking. You also don't have to worry about paint bleed when it's disassembled like so, which should lead to you make a much cleaner-looking custom.
Instructions for painting and assembly are included, as the carding on the back of the Loose Tea opens up to reveal all of this. The instructions are very easy to understand for both novices and veterans alike, and include instructions on how to download the Loose Tea Design Template and where to go to upload photos of your completed tea. There will also be a tips section on the Loose Tea page soon to help you make your Loose Tea a custom all your own. Having something like this with your D.I.Y. figure really is essential, so it's great to see Lunartik include it.
That being said, assembly is a little bit of a hassle. Notably, the arms with their simple push-peg-into-hole design were the most troublesome as I was a bit worried I'd be applying too much force and snap the vinyl peg right off. Everything else fit pretty well, with only the body not fitting completely snugly (there's a teeny tiny gap you can see there, as the notch appears to have been cut a millimeter too big), and once assembled, it looked pretty much like any other Mini Tea I've ever seen:
Well, sans the eyes of course. Not much I can really do about that, though.
If you didn't like the first Mini Teas in a Cup, Lunartik's newest series won't convince you otherwise because the only real difference here are the new designs. However, if those little guys in tea cups tickled your fancy before, Series 2 should make you pretty darn happy. There's plenty of new style choices on the figure now that Lunartik has moved past the solid pastel colorways of Series 1.
As for the B.I.Y. Loose Tea, it's what you'd expect: a blank, DIY Tea in a Cup that comes unassembled so you can paint the pieces yourself, or if you choose, change things up a bit. Assembly could be a little easier — and I hope yours isn't missing the eyes, too — but there's nothing wrong with the concept or execution of the Loose Tea, and the included instructions are clear enough that anyone should be able to get some great results. If anything having the individual parts already disassembled should make painting a lot easier than say, a Munny or MadL.
[Thanks again to Lunartik for sending these along!]
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