Wednesday 18 January 2017

Toybox REVIEW: Metamoroid Luluco

Given the amount of Nendoroids and Figma released on a monthly basis it’s easy to forget that Good Smile Company actually produce other toy lines other than scale statues. But while releases may be scarce, they rarely fail to be interesting. One of these lines goes by the name of Metamoroid, specialising in small transforming anime figures. The line began with Rin/Wooser from the series Wooser's Hand-to-Mouth Life as its first and only release, however the end of 2016 saw a follow up in the form of Metamoroid Luluco – the titular character from the Trigger comedy series Space Patrol Luluco. Having previously released a standard school uniform Luluco as part of the Nendoroid line, here GSC mixes things up with a space police uniform figure complete with the ability to transform (much to Luluco’s behest) into “Judgement Gun” mode.

Metamoroid Luluco comes packaged in an appropriately brightly coloured box, showing off the figure through the front window along with plenty of images of it in both modes. Despite being a relatively small figure the box is surprisingly tall and thick, even managing to surpass as standard Figma box in terms of height (though only half as wide). The box is also emblazoned with plenty of text in both Japanese and English, most importantly the "Judgement Gun Morphing" tagline which should only ever be said in the same style as its announcement in the show.

Of course Good Smile Company would never leave buyers to figure out the transformation on their own, and so have included a nicely detailed instruction sheet with the figure. One side features the instructions printed with English text, while the other has exactly the same in Japanese.

Metamoroid Luluco stands at around 130mm, slightly taller than your average Nendoroid but about the same height if you take their stands into account as well. The more natural proportions means Luluco isn’t a particularly good fit with Nendoroids, but she does however look pretty great alongside Phat Company’s Panty & Stocking/Gurren Lagann figurines. Structurally Luluco feels very reminiscent of retro-style tin robot toys thanks to her somewhat cuboid body. While there was never a whole lot of detail to add to her cartoonish design, the moulding and paintwork is to the usual high GSC standard, with the headsculpt looking great even behind a tinted helmet. 

The instructions also state that Luluco’s helmet can in fact be opened at the sides and the front piece swing down, but opening it proved difficult to the point where it felt like the toy would break if any more force was applied to it. Therefore pictures of an opened helmet have not been included in this review, even if the toy is apparently capable of it.

This point of the review is usually where articulation is discussed, but with this figure there isn’t a whole lot to say. Every bit of articulation Metamoroid Luluco has is simply a byproduct of the transformation, and even then it only really stretches to the head, shoulders and legs – all of which can move forwards and backwards only. Additionally the lower legs can swivel thanks to the pegs connecting them at the knees. This means Luluco isn’t capable of many poses at all, but even raising one arm upwards gives off a surprising level of personality. Again while the limited articulation is most definitely a knock against the figure, it has a certain nostalgic charm to it that’s hard to ignore.

“Awake! Judgement Gun Morphing!!”

The transformation to gun mode is fairly straightforward thanks to the instructions provided, but anyone who was expecting a perfect transformation from this toy is going to find themselves pretty disappointed. Metamoroid Luluco requires a fair bit of parts-forming, as the lower legs, belt and backpack all need to be removed and reattached to the body once all the other steps have been completed. Given that a perfect transformation would have like driven both the size and cost up, it doesn’t really feel like too much of a dealbreaker on a toy intended to be as silly as this. Other than that the transformation is actually pretty fun, especially in the torso area which splits apart and then opens to reveal the concealed barrel.

Then finally you have the Judgement Gun mode, which is a big space pistol done up in a wonderfully garish blue and pink colourscheme. Though it captures both the look and spirit of the animation model wonderfully, it does have two distinct flaws. The most significant of these is that it’s completely incapable of standing up on its own. That might sound fairly obvious for a gun, but in the show Luluco was perfectly capable of this so it seems like a bit of an oversight to not include some sort of support to compensate for this. Less significant is the way the belt attaches to the gun mode, as it simply hangs off the barrel rather than locking firmly into place. Not a particularly big deal, but with the rest of the gun looking fairly solid it just seems a bit sloppy to have a piece just hanging off the middle without anything to secure it. All it needed was a tiny little peg to stop it rocking about and moving up and down the barrel should the toy be moved.

Metamoroid Luluco is far from a perfect toy. The whole thing is entirely based around the gimmick, completely sacrificing articulation in favour of a transformation which is neither perfect nor locks everything into place. What Metamoroid Luluco is though is a FUN toy, oozing both charm and nostalgic value despite its very notable flaws. Its utter silliness makes it the perfect complement to the show, channelling its spirit in ways the Nendoroid could never muster. It might not be able to do a whole lot, but it’s a unique and affordable piece that’s far more exciting than filling a gap with yet another Nendoroid.

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