Sunday 4 February 2018

Toybox REVIEW: Figma Red

Release Date: December 2017
RRP: 6296 yen

Good Smile Company has been dabbling with Pokémon figures in the Nendoroid line for some time now, but 2017 marked a big moment for collectors as Max Factory got involved with the Figma line. Capping off what has undoubtedly been a strong year for toys no matter what your preferred fandom or toy line is something that always felt like a possibility, but never quite felt like it was going to be reality. And with the year also marking the 20th anniversary of the Pokémon franchise it couldn't have come at a better time. He's conquered the eight Kanto gym leaders, beaten the Elite Four to become the Pokémon league champion and filled all 151 slots of Professor Oak's original Pokédex. But now, Figma Red has finally arrived to tackle collections across the globe.

Figma have been using the same box design for long enough now to know that it's pretty bland, but sometimes all it takes is the correct colour choices to turn it into something striking. This is definitely true for Red's packaging, which has been effectively done up in a red (well, duh) and white colourscheme that perfectly matches his clothing's top half. The box only features the Japanese Pokémon logo, which is tucked away on the side of the box just under an equally small Figma logo. The back of the box features the usual promotional image shots which do a great job of showing off the figure's accessories and poseabilty, which are contained inside on a single plastic tray.

If you've decided to spend a little bit of extra cash to pick up the figure from either Good Smile Company online store or Pokémon Centre, you'll also be treated to a bonus Pikachu figurine! While I can only really speak for the GSC Store version, presumably whichever place you buy the figure from the Pikachu will come packaged separately in a black plastic bag, which inside contains Pikachu, it's tail and display stand pieces all separated off into different clear bag sections.

Just like the first release of his Nendoroid counterpart Figma Red is based on the 2004 Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen redesign of the character, rather than the 1996 original. Given that Nendoroid did eventually release an original version later down the line it doesn't feel impossible that Figma might follow suite, but given the vast range of characters that fans would rather have it doesn't seem like it should be that much of a priority. The use of this design also means Red will fit comfortably in a general Nintendo/Super Smash Bros display as well. Admittedly the design isn't all that complex to begin with, but Max Factory have done a sterling job on this one. Not only do all the colours pop as they should, but the moulded wrinkling on the clothing adds an extra bit of depth to the figure. Said folds even perfectly match the actual artwork for the character, which just goes to show how close attention the sculptors were paying when bringing this figure to life. Put quite simply, they really hit the nail on the head with this one - looks-wise it really is flawless.

From there the figure just keeps getting better and better, as the articulation certainly isn't anything to scoff about either. Red features a full-range of motion with ball-joints in his neck, shoulders, torso, waist, wrists and hips, together with standard Figma-style hinge joints for the elbows, knees and feet, topped off by hinged toe sections in his comfortably sized running shoes. The seamless fluidity of Figma joints is always something worthy of praise but some of the design choices Max Factory made with Red really are impressive. Take the torso joint for example - on first glance it just seems like a moulded crease in the shirt but it is in fact two different sections that work independently of each other. The baggy jeans also allow for some nice thick legs so that the knee joints are completely hidden when straight, and when bent don't completely stick out like the thick circular Figma joints do on so many other figures. 

Red's accessories include a standard articulated Figma display stand, his backpack, a Pokéball, one additional shouting faceplate and eight additional hands. That's a bit less than the Nendoroid which also included a Masterball, Pokédex and smiling faceplate, but honestly the absence of the latter actually feels more true to Red's consistently stoic demeanour. As for the rest, well maybe you can argue that those are the sacrifices you have to make for articulation. The backpack features soft plastic straps and requires one of the arms being completely removed from the joint in order to fit on properly, but this is extremely easy to do and doesn't risk damaging the figure. Swapping the faceplates first requires removing Red's hat, which is a bit of a tight fit but again doesn't really pose any risk of damaging the figure.

But those aren't the accessories you're really interested in are they? Like the Nendoroid version, Red also comes with static figurines of the three Kanto starter Pokémon - Bulbasaur, Charmander and Squirtle. These versions are slightly bigger and better proportioned than their Nendoroid counterparts and come in far cuter and/or more dynamic poses. So while some might mourn the lack of an extra faceplate or Pokédex, the loss of those doesn't really feel all that significant so long as Red has these three to go alongside him. Just popping any of them next to him instantly makes any pose 100% better don't you think?

The bonus Pikachu figurine exclusive to the GSC online store and Pokémon Centre is in the same leaping pose regardless of which store you purchase it from, with the only difference being that the GSC store version has a winking expression as opposed to the Pokémon Centre's standard smiling face. Like the starters the Pikachu is beautifully sculpted, though it's a bit of a shame that it requires a display base in order to stand up properly. Just like how I praised Nendoroid Ash's Pikachu for giving off the sense that it was the anime version of Pikachu, this one similarly gives off the vibe of being a wild game version even though there's absolutely no change in the design or proportions. Maybe it's just the company they roll with, but that's definitely the sense I get from the two figures.  With Pikachu figures in this scale being rather abundant it isn't absolutely essential that you buy the figure from either of these stores, but it's inclusion is a really nice extra for those who don't want to miss out on having an extra accessory. Sometimes store-exclusive parts are worth it and sometimes they really aren't, but this is definitely one that will have value for some fans.

Figma Red has been a figure anticipated for so long now that it felt like there was no way that the actual release could live up to the hype. Thankfully this isn't the case, and the figure is everything you could want it to be and so much more. The Figma build and articulation has never felt more natural and fluid, and it's amazing just how much personality you can get out of a character who essentially has only really been given one default expression. Articulated Pokémon trainer figures have been the stuff of dreams for so long now, so it shouldn't be any surprise to hear that Red is an essential purchase for any Pokémon collector.


Anonymous said...

Awesome review as always

Anonymous said...

Thanks for such a detailed review! Could you tell us the approximate height of the Pokémon figures?