Wednesday 16 August 2017

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Freyja Wion

Release Date: July 2017
RRP: 5940 yen

"Junbi wa iinka ne?"

After years of wishing, waiting and seeing prototypes that get release on show at various Tamashii Nations events, the idols of the Macross franchise are finally getting some love from the S.H. Figuarts line. After kicking the Walküre girls off with Mikumo Guynemer, Bandai are continuing the line with their second Macross Delta release – S.H. Figuarts Freyja Wion. The idol from Windermere and newest Walküre member is another retail release for the line, with the fates of Kaname, Makina and Reina still unknown. With their releases quite likely riding on the success of Mikumo and Freyja, these figures need to count if we ever want to see more Macross Figuarts in the future.

Freyja’s packaging is another explosion of colour and 2D idol love, featuring not only a variety of figure images but also a few of her animation model as well. The design is of course similarly laid out to Mikumo’s box to keep things uniform, however the cosmic purple/blue colourscheme has been swapped out for something a little more fitting to Freya’s palette. The box isn’t quite as thick as Mikumo’s either, so everything is stored on a single plastic tray with the display stand base taped underneath.

Let’s not beat around the bush with this – Mikumo was not a very good Figuart. So disappointing in fact that it felt like even more pressure was on Freyja to turn out well if the rest of Walküre to ever see the light of day. Thankfully it seems Frey-Frey has achieved the impossible and turned things around, because this is a really great looking figure. The sculpting is fantastic, the paintwork is sharp and even with the default expression the face sculpt is brimming with personality. Handling the figure shows absolutely no immediate signs of paint rub, and there are no loosely connected parts that have any risk of falling off.

It isn’t just the sculpt and paintwork that’s better either – aside from some very significant balance issues (as in the figure pretty much struggles to stand at all without the aid of a stand) Freyja is a far more expressive and poseable toy. The actual level of articulation between her and Mikumo isn’t that different at all, but without the big heavy hair or obtrusive trail Freyja is free to get the most out of those Figuart-grade joints. The one major difference seems to be that while Mikumo utilised Figuarts’ signature pull-down hips, Freyja’s seem to be locked into place (and if not, they’re still to the point they can barely move). The actual ball joint part is still perfectly fine though, giving Freyja plenty of leg movement even with her giant dress. Also featured on the figure are ball-joints in the head, shoulders, wrists and waist, double hinge elbows and knees and standard ankle rockers for the feet.

Much like her Mikumo Freyja comes with a pretty great selection of accessories, the highlight being a special circular Tamashii Stage featuring the Walküre logo along with Freyja’s name in her signature orange colouring. Since the figure can barely stand on her own two feet including a stand is the least Bandai could do, but with bundled stands being such a rarity they always manage to be special. Also included are two additional faceplates (a wide open smile as well as a grinning expression), an alternate front hair piece with Freyja’s Rune outstretched, five additional pairs of hands and of course a microphone. Bandai were even kind enough to include two spare bracelets for the left arm, just in case you somehow manage to loose or break the ones already on.

The hands include provide plenty of great posing options, including but not limited to two different versions of the Walküre “W” pose and even her infamous "Rune ga Pikka tto Hikattara" dance from episode five. The one thing that’s sorely missing from this selection is an alternate “solemn” singing face – what we got is great, but it only focuses on the cheery side of the character. "Giraffe Blues" was a pretty major song in the show (as well as one of my all-time favourite Macross songs) and neither Freyja or Mikumo have suitable face options to look like they’re singing it. It’s by no means a deal breaker, but it does feel like something of an oversight for a franchise that has its fair share of less upbeat songs.

After Mikumo turned out to be nothing but disappointment, S.H. Figuarts Freyja Wion has restored my faith in and desire for poseable Macross figures. Unlike Mikumo, Freyja is a sturdy, high quality toy that oozes charm and personality no matter the pose or faceplate. While the figure may suffer from a few little design hiccups and lack a more diverse range of expressions, it remains the kind of Macross idol figure fans have been waiting years for. Now all we can do is wait and hope that Tamashii Nations doesn’t just end the line here – the rest of Walküre surely needs to follow, and beyond that there’s 30 years’ worth of characters just begging to get the same treatment.

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