Wednesday 18 May 2016

Toybox REVIEW: Megahouse G.E.M. Series James (Kojiro) & Meowth (Nyarth)

If you’re prepared for trouble then it’s time to make it double! Megahouse kicked off their highly anticipated Pokémon range in their non-scale G.E.M. Series statue line a few months ago with Jessie and Wobbuffet (known to Japanese audiences as Musashi and Sonans), and so the second character to join her is of course the second half of the enigmatic Team Rocket duo. However James (or Kojiro as the Japanese packaging notes) isn’t alone either, bringing along with him Meowth (Nyarth) – the talking Pokémon who’s just as much a member of the bumbling team as his human compatriots. For long-time Pokémon fans this is a rare opportunity to own high quality figures (or even figures in general) of the anime cast, so surrender your wallets now or you’ll lose the fight! Meowth, that’s right!

Considering their small size, Megahouse certainly know how to go big when it comes to packaging. James comes packed in a box far larger than it honestly needs to be, adorned with images of the pair against flashy comic-style backdrops and bold Japanese text. Aesthetically it's just like Jessie's box, with the key difference being that Jessie's crimson colour scheme has been swapped out for a more appropriate lavender. Also featured on the box are the Japanese Pokémon logo and the pair's Japanese names printed in English.

Megahouse are arguably one of the biggest and most well-known manufacturers of scale statues/static figures in Japan, and with that recognition comes the expectation of a certain level of quality. Previously in my review of Jessie and Wobbuffet I noted that, while certainly not bad figures, they didn’t quite live up to expectations. In terms of quality however James is a vast improvement, sporting sharper sculpting and a slicker paint job. Again the proportions seem to be a bit more squished and rounded compared to the animation model, but the pose makes it much less notable. On which note, putting James in anything but an elaborate pose would have been criminal. The stretched-out, mid motto pose works perfectly both individually and alongside Jessie. A rose in the mouth might have been a nice add-on, but I can certainly understand why a clean face was more preferable. Then again that’s what alternate heads are for – especially when this one is connected via a ball-joint and thus moveable/removable.

The biggest issue still remains though, and that is the size of these figures in comparison to their price. There’s nothing wrong with small statues, in fact from a space point of view some collectors might find them incredibly practical. However with a price of 5500 yen, it’s fair to expect either a fair size or a pretty high level of quality. James certainly ups the latter in comparison to Jessie, but **cm is still a pretty small size for the amount you’re paying. This is a pretty common complaint with the G.E.M. Series in general though, so arguably many collectors will already know what they’re getting themselves in for. If you don’t however – you’re looking at statues that are around the size of your average iPhone.

Just like with their Digimon range Megahouse have also included a Pokémon partner with each of these figures. While the inclusion of Wobbuffet was more personal to Jessie, James instead comes with Meowth to nicely round off the trio. That isn’t to say James doesn’t have any iconic Pokémon of his own, but Koffing/Weezing would be sorely lacking with Ekans/Arbok and other popular ones like Chimecho, Cacnea or Mime Jnr just don’t have the same staying power as Wobbuffet. So all things consider Meowth was the perfect choice. Unlike Wobbuffet who was almost like a squeaky toy in quality, Meowth is detailed, painted and made of a harder plastic. The head is attached via a ball-joint and so has some level of mobility, however the tail is a bit more fragile and could easily snap off due to carelessness. Meowth is posed in a rather fitting jumping pose, so requires a clear plastic stand to be posed upright. The stand features a ball-joint at the end which fits snugly into Meowth’s bag, as well as allowing a little bit of movement to pose him at various angles.

Rounding off the package is another semi-personalised display base, moulded in purple plastic and featuring a frenzy of white Team Rocket “R” logos and Meowth silhouettes. The base also features two different-sized pegs that correspond to the holes in the figure’s feet, so that it can be securely locked onto the base. Meowth’s stand however is left to simply sit unsecured wherever there is room for it. While certainly a nice display base, it’s a huge shame and a missed opportunity that it can’t connect with Jessie’s base so that the whole group can be posed together without a huge amount of space between them.

Scale is unfortunately always going to be an issue with the G.E.M. Series, but that aside James and Meowth mark a significant improvement over the Jessie and Wobbuffet set. With better build quality and paintwork, the pair make a valiant attempt at trying to justify the rather high price tag Megahouse expect for figures of this size even there are still many out there that will find it a big knock against this line. Hopefully this better quality finish will continue on for the incoming Ash (Satoshi) and Misty (Kasumi) figures, but with still no Brock (Takeshi) in sight one has to wonder how much love Megahouse are really putting into these. After all, why only release four out of the five key members of the original cast?

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