4:00 PM on 03.27.2013
Like a bat out of hell, she'll be gone when the morning comes (maybe...)
Let's face it: if you want to get your foot in the poseable figure line these days, you've got it really rough! Good Smile Company and Max Factory pretty much have a stranglehold which amounts to a near monopoly with their figma line by being cheap and overwhelming by sheer volume! In spite of their inherent flaws, people jump to them and other companies take many of their cues from the figma line.
Some try to differentiate themselves a little. Bandai has their additional armour parts for their AGP line with mixed results, Alter gave us a look at what a "max quality" figure would be like with their Almecha series and Kaiyodo are still doing their own thing with Revoltech. However, none have come close to challenging the dominance of the figma series. Alter were unable to convince buyers to spend the amount requested for their Almecha figures and the Fraulein Revoltech series, which handled female figures such as their Idolm@ster series, has disappeared into nothingness.
Now, Yamato have stepped into the ring with their Neuromancer line, which currently consists of three figures and Ignis was the first. Will she help prove that the Neuromancer line is here to stay, or will it be a flash in the pan? Only one way to find out!
Let's get it on!!
Figure Name: Neuromancer Ignis
Figure Maker: Yamato
Retail Price: ¥8,800
Available at: HobbyLink Japan
I don't think Ignis needs an introduction, but for the sake of completion, she's one of the main heroines in the eroge Jingai Makyou, which was developed by Nitro+. She was a HUGELY popular character several years ago, and had a huge number of figures released in a short space of time, but she then disappeared for a while before recently getting a small resurgence.
As for the packaging, Yamato were kind enough to provide a huge viewing window for potential buyers to take a closer look at her, though her true worth won't be tested until she's placed in a variety of poses.
The back shows off a few basic poses and the box on the bottom left makes sure that those who look will know that Yamato teamed up with Cerberus Project, a well known and fairly old garage kit circle, to develop her.
In fact, they made sure that you know that it was a collaboration at almost any chance they could get!
Once we get her out of her box, the first thing which I try with every poseable figure is the simple "will she stand on her own?" test and I'm happy to report that Ignis passed it with ease. Believe me, you can't imagine how many figures fail this test!
Aside from the simple test, there's one glaringly obvious fact about Ignis, and indeed the whole Neuromancer line when you hold her in your hands!
She's pretty damn huge!! In fact, Ignis is even taller than my Liquidstone Fate T Harlawn kit, which was the tallest of all poseable figures thus far. She's a good inch taller than figma T-ELOS, and pretty much fits into the 1/8 scale for figures.
Now, readers with good memories will know that this has been tried before, by Good Smile Company no less! Remember the ActSta line? That died pretty quickly, and didn't impress Mr Tubbs very much, as it was very much a jumbo-sized figma which didn't justify their considerably higher pricetag. But at ¥8,800, Ignis isn't exactly on the cheap side either! She's only marginally cheaper than Almecha KOS-MOS! Luckily, there's more to her than just a bump in size. In fact, there are a few features which make you wonder why other companies haven't done them yet!!
The first is a complete lack of any holes and pegs to connect the figure to the base provided! Instead, you get a smooth back with no marks or holes at all. To do this, hidden behind the top (and out of view) is a magnet which connects to one found on the base! There's less fumbling around to push the pegs into the connections as well. On the downside, the magnetic holders aren't as strong as the usual method, but unless you're trying to do a pose which has Ignis floating in the air, you won't have any problems. Even if you do try a pose like that, it'll struggle, but it's not impossible.
See? And yes, this is the pose used by the Cerberus Project Ignis figure which was also released by Yamato back in 2008.
The base itself is pretty bland but does have an Emblem etched on it and is more personalised than most bases for poseable figures. Just a bit of a shame that the "made in China" mark is so visible as well ...
And here's the magnet for the connecting arm. Just put it close to her back and it'll support Ignis and keep her upright, not that she actually needs it. Even without the base, she's incredibly sturdy!
In terms of accessories, Ignis comes in pretty light. Aside from her trademark sword and Uzi, the Neuromancer release comes with a second set of hands and two heads with different facial expressions, but these heads also come with a little trick!
If you look carefully at the back of the faces, you'll see that there are separate parts embedded inside them, these actually correspond to the eyes and mouth and are removeable!
Bit eerie, I know! But what this means is that, instead of having several faces for different expressions and with them looking straight ahead or to the side, you can just fit the correct eye set with the expression you want, which saves a lot of space and means fewer individual face parts are required! Previously, this was something only found on poseable garage kits and the HoiHoi plamo series. I'm guessing that size was a limiting factor which prevented the idea being implemented on smaller scale figures, but it's one of those "I wish other lines would do this" ideas!
But one thing which bugs me a little are thick lower eyelashes. For the most part, they aren't that noticeable, but they do have a tendency to draw your attention and they do look a little odd. She has them in the original art, but most figures don't put them in. Once you see them, you can't unsee them!!
As for build quality, the only thing to be said about Ignis is that she's solid, but not outstanding. Yamato definitely didn't try to max out the quality level of the build like Alter, but she's still pretty well made. Having said that, mine did have a few imperfections, such as a rough paintjob on the skin just above her left elbow. You might be able to see it in the larger version of the above image.
The sword also suffered a little. They clearly tried to give it a flamed look by having the colour get darker as you get closer to the tip, but the overall feel it gives is kinda plastic-y. At least they got the runes on there!
The uzi is a simple no-frills metal finish but there are a couple of nice touches, like the trigger guard which goes over the finger.
For the joints, Yamato decided to go for oversized discs for the knees and elbows. They stand out quite a bit but the elbows fare a little better. For the ankles, wrists and shoulders, they used ball joints similar to the Revoltech joints, but without the clicking in place. And by doing so, they made Ignis far more poseable than one would think!
And this was all done without the base holding her up, too!
The knees do allow for a little rotation as well to help with the balance but they can end up making the legs look a little crooked. For the most part, it won't be noticed, especially in the action poses, where the knees are often bent.
One thing I should also mention is that the skirt is cast-off. This is actually a good thing as it can really get in the way of some poses, as it's very stiff and has no give. The top can also technically be removed and the parts underneath look as though the makers gave it some thought but if you do remove the top, it'll be rather hard to put it back on.
So far, so good. But there was one test I put Ignis through which she failed at badly ...
She can't kneel! Not without having her leg stick out unnaturally at least. Then again, almost all poseable figures fail this test so it's not exactly a black mark on her!
And now, for some fun! Being a kendo practitioner, I was curious if a poseable figure with a sword would be able to mimic some basic kendo stances. And the answer was yes, just about!! This is a lot trickier than one would think. Many other figures are not able to do this, but the ball joints on the wrists allowed Ignis to hold the sword straight with both hands!
There was also a trick in the shoulders which helped as well! As well as being ball jointed and giving some limited movement to the collarbone areas, the shoulders were also double jointed to allow them to pop out and help with the more difficult poses! When popped out, the arms don't keep their postions though, so you need to push them back for her to hold the pose. So, there are some limit still, but it did help with some of the poses where Ignis held her sword in two hands.
Especially when I tried to get her into the Jodan pose!!
Rather frustratingly, even though she needed support for this shot (which shows the end of the cut if one was in Jodan) and is somewhat rough around the edges, her stance is probably better than mine ...
Ultimately, Yamato did a lot of things right with Ignis. The larger size of the Neuromancer figures will go a long way to convincing buyers that the higher cost may be worth the extra amount asked, and the other touches give us a glimpse into what future lines (or possibly even current ones) may try to incorporate in the future.
Where ActSta failed was that they were simply providing a blown up sized figma, which only served to highlight the limitations of the line, but with Neuromancer, Yamato have taken things further. It'll be interesting to see if the line has a future. The last release was Yoko from Gurren Lagann and she was released in December. With no other figures currently in the pipeline, we may be in for a wait to see if Yamato ... sorry, Arcadia continue the line once they get their new house in order or if competitors pick up on the ideas they have brought to the table.
It would be a damn shame if it just disappeared though.
[Thanks to HobbyLink Japan for the review sample!]