Saturday 18 September 2010

Toybox REVIEW: Bandai Composite Ver. KA Gurren Lagann

So after 2 weeks of no internet and a longer than expected (but nobody's fault) delivery time from AmiAmi, I finally get to do the review I've been waiting for - the highly anticipated (by me anyway) Ver KA Gurren Lagann!

The first obvious thing to point out is that it differs from other Gurren Lagann in that it is covered in highly stylised tribal markings/tattoos - a trademark of designer Hajime Katoki (famous for designing all kinds of mecha, including the mobile suits from Gundam Wing Endless Waltz). While this may be something that could potentially put you off the figure, if anything it was one of the things that drew me toward it even more. For a start its something different and it'll set it apart from the rest of my Gurren Lagann collection, but there's also much more to it than that. The tattoos are highly reminscent of those Kamina had, and in a series that openly flaunts the possibility of parallel universes, perhaps something he may have put on the robot had he had the chance. Secondly comes as something that was initially a blow to me, and something that could also put you off the figure - the paintwork. Now for months on end prior to its release and even on the figure's packaging it's shown as being a rather beautiful shade of metallic red, another element that made the figure catch my eye in the first place and something that would set it apart from my other figures. But no - in the end the figure was released in a flat-but-show-accurate red. I got over this pretty quickly, but I realise this could have been a selling point for some people.

But if you can get over these two things - you've got one amazing figure in your hands. The sculpt and build is spectacular and makes the revoltech Gurren Lagann look basic in comparison. Sure it's not as posable as the revoltech version but the poses you'll want to put a Gurren Lagann figure in it looks much better - especially the "Pierce the heavens!" point. Sadly however it can't manage a good looking Gainax cross armed pose, but then neither can the Revoltech.

It also has it beat on accessories - included are 2 extra set of hands (pointing and weapon holding), 2 dual drill wrist pieces, 4 sets of sunglasses (2 mini ones for the body and 2 full sized boomerang weapons), an additional head and another extra that deserves its own paragraph, so I'll come to it later. The revoltech figure may have the wingpack, but bear in mind you had to buy both Lazengann and Enki to get that, so it doesn't count.

As for that extra accessory - this is probably what sold the figure for many people, because it's a freaking GIGA DRILL!!!! Yup, this is the first (to my knowledge) posable Gurren Lagann figure to include such a thing. The drill itself is hollow and made up of three parts, then slotting into the figure as an additional hand. Since the drill is almost the size of the figure itself, it's pretty much unable to hold it up without the help of the supplied stand. Speaking of the stand, that's also a really nice touch as it includes not only the series' logo but also the pilots of Gurren Lagann (I know there were a few, but Simon/Kamina are the main ones so that's what's here).

Ver KA Gurren Lagann is an excellent figure no doubt, but it's also one that's going to divide fans. The lack of metallic paint is a bit of a bummer, but if you don't like the look of the tattoos from images then its unlikely that you'll like them in-hand either. But if you can get over these things -you're in for a real treat of a figure that is as unique as it is awesome.

Friday 17 September 2010

Toybox REVIEW: Revoltech SFX Mothra

Mothra seems like an odd yet expected monster to receive a figure in the Revoltech SFX line. As the line seems to have a big thing for kaiju, adding arguably the second biggest creature after Godzilla himself is no surprise. But on the other hand, how much articulation can you give a giant moth? Before we get onto that I’d like to take a moment to discuss the packaging – which itself is a work of beauty. Much like Gamera’s, and I’d imagine the rest of the line too, it’s a beautifully designed box which unless you speak a lick of Japanese offers nothing more than a few pretty pictures. Still, its worth noting and as far as boxes go definitely a keeper.

When it comes to the question posed, as expected the answer is indeed very little. Not that Kaiyodo haven’t tried, but it remains that Mothra’s only points of articulation are his head, abdomen, wings, mouth and (tiny) legs. Nevertheless, this is still one of the most articulated Mothra figures to date and a great representation of the monster. Colourful wings, bright blue eyes – it’s all there.

The lack of articulation is made up by the brilliant diorama included with the figure. Recreating the iconic scene from Mothra’s 1961 debut, the figure includes a miniature destroyed Tokyo tower stand, complete with Mothra’s hatched cocoon. The figure itself can be displayed flying over the destroyed tower or alternatively emerging from its cocoon (the hole in which the revoltech joint is connected can be plugged up if not in use). It’s an extremely nice addition and something that really sets the figure apart from any other Mothra toys that have been produced.

In the end, for a kaiju fan this is a necessary purchase – I mean come on, it’s Mothra. But for the casual collector it’s nothing spectacular. That’s not particularly a knock against it, as it was never really going to be a knock out from the start. But from a line that has already brought us Baragon, Gamera and Gyaos and soon to give us Moguera, Anguiras, Rodan and (rumoured) Gigan, Mothra is more than deserving of her place.

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who New Paradigm Dalek Strategist

In brief addition to the review of the Doctor Who season 5 Dalek Drone figure I reviewed a few months back, here is the second (or third if you include the SDCC exclusive Dalek Scientist/11th Doctor 2-pack which, at a hefty £25, I do not) release in the New Dalek Paradigm - the Dalek Strategist.
And frankly I must say it’s looking a whole lot better in blue. Maybe it’s me slowly warming up to the design, or perhaps it’s that I have a soft spot for blue Daleks (although this is the first time a primary blue Dalek has been canon), but this is certainly missing some of that oomph I felt the drone was missing. Despite mine having some dodgy QC (the eyestalk is stiff to the point I feel I’m going to break it, and the appendages are bent at the connector ends) this was a great purchase and I’m now looking forward with a renewed hope to the rest of the New Dalek Paradigm…..and of course the stone Dalek!