Tuesday 23 June 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Figma Mako Mankanshoku

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Release Date: December 2019
RRP: 7000 yen

Admittedly the Figma line have never been the best at getting "complete" casts of characters out. Given that Kill la Kill was released all the way back in 2013 and Figma Ryuko Matoi and Satsuki Kiryuin were released in 2014 and 2015 respectively, you'd think that Good Smile Company and Max Factory would want to strike whilst the iron is hot and get more of the cast out. Yet here we are at the series' fifth anniversary, and only now are collectors getting their hands on Figma Mako Mankanshoku. Despite her having a very firm fanbase and receiving two Nendoroid releases in that time, it's only now that the undisputed star of studio Trigger's first full-length series gets a poseable action figure of her very own. The moral of the story here is never give up on these companies releasing figures - if they're popular enough and fans are vocal enough, you never know when they'll revisit the range years later.

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Mako's box sports the usual bland Figma design, however it's nice to see Max Factory (or Good Smile Company, I'm not sure who designs the packaging) have thrown in a few extra flourishes to make it that little bit more appealing. Mako's box goes for a yellow and black colour scheme, which isn't the first combination I'd have thought of but works well and goes nicely with Ryuko's red/black and Satsuki's blue/black. Unlike the others though the front window of Mako's box features bold red lettering in the Kill la Kill style, which simply says "Mako Mankanshoku". It does however lack the red threads running across the black section which were on the other boxes, which I thought was a nice touch. The sides of the box all feature images of the figure as usual, with the exception of one spine which features an illustration of Mako instead in her iconic "hallelujah" pose. There's also a second illustration (not pictured here) tucked away on the inside flap. Both of these are great pieces of artwork and really stand apart from the typical figure images, so I hope Figma decide to use them more on their packaging going forward. Inside the figure and accessories are stored in and around a moulded plastic tray, and there's also a grey backing card with rabbit face print to give it that little bit extra character.

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With the previous Kill la Kill Figma having been a little more on the fan service side of things, with Mako it is nice to finally see something a little less risqué. Anime schoolgirls are Figma's bread and butter too, so with a uniform as simple as Mako's it's hard to see what they could have gotten wrong. The proportions are perfect, and the colours (albeit being a very simple palette) are all vibrant and look exactly how they should. The folds in the clothing, whether they be obvious things like the crimps in the skirt or the more subtle creases in the blouse, all help contribute towards a pretty excellent looking figure. There really isn't much to say about Mako - it's a pretty basic design but Max Factory nailed every single aspect of it.

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Interestingly Max Factory had the foresight to include a second back headpiece with the figure, which shorten's Mako's hair in the centre to expose the neck joint. With the standard headpiece applied Mako can only look up a short distance before the hair clashes with the neck, but with the alternate piece applied Mako can tilt her head upwards much further - pretty much on par with what a human neck can do. This is a pretty genius addition and I'm honestly surprised it hasn't been done with a lot more Figma. Not only does it give Figma Mako the capacity to be as expressive as she needs to be, but also the shorter hair is completely unnoticeable from the back so does affect the overall accuracy of the figure whatsoever.

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But Mako's charm doesn't really come from her design - it's her personality and her often spaghetti-like poses that go with it. A good Mako figure therefore needs two things - expressive faceplates and articulation that can match up to her flexibility. We'll get into the faceplates further down, but as far as articulation goes it's pretty much another win for Figma. There's nothing quite like the buttery smooth movement of a Figma-brand ball/hinge joint and Mako has plenty to around. The figure sports these joints all over the body - head/neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, waist, knees and feet. On top of that she also has bicep swivels, ball jointed hips and hinged toe caps as well. The skirt is flayed enough to not really impede on the hip articulation at all, so Mako is capable of plenty of wide-legged poses whilst her shoulder joints have enough free space to give the arms plenty of movement. The "hallelujah" pose is tricky but not impossible to do with the arms in front of her head, but sadly the shoulders don't quite have the clearance to put them behind the head like they are on the box art. A shame, but far from a dealbreaker because she's still extremely expressive. 

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In addition to the previously mentioned alternate headpiece and obligatory Figma display stand Mako's accessories include five additional pairs of hands to compliment her default ones (ranging from closed fists to pointing fingers, two finger posed hands and a variety of open hands), three additional faceplates to compliment the default smiling one (a shouting face, a "super" smiling face and a dozing one complete with 3D snot bubble), a figurine of the Mankanshoku family pet Guts and paper craft versions of a hand mirror and flag. There's a superb selection of faces and hands on display here, all of which do a great job of showing off the many faucets of Mako's crazed personality and add so much more to the figure's posing potential. Guts is another great addition too - a tiny figurine filled with personality who'll look great alongside other Imaishi pet creations like Gurren Lagann's Boota or Panty & Stocking's Chuck (neither of which are available in Figma form, but their Nendoroid equivalents scale pretty well).

The paper craft accessories however are not so impressive. While I don't have any real issue with Figma including paper craft accessories if it means the other pieces in the box can be of a higher quality, I'm not a fan of the pieces being printed on the box's inner backing card and needing to be cut out by the buyer. Not only does it immediately mean you have to effectively "destroy" the box to get all of the accessories (something many collectors will consider a big no-no), but one slip up cutting them out and the pieces are ruined. It's not so bad cutting out the flag because it's large, but the mirror (two of which have been supplied) is a fairly intricate job. Since I refused to destroy the card I instead scanned them and printed onto card - the quality isn't as good but it was serviceable enough for this review. On top of that the figure doesn't include anything to fix the flag to, so you're expected to supply your own wooden skewer and do it yourself. For a 7000 yen figure, I expect a little less DIY involved.

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It's been a long, long wait for Figma Mako Mankanshoku, and whilst the Kill la Kill hype may have mostly died down now she's still a pretty great figure overall. Good Smile Company might have cheapened out on the accessories a little but the figure itself is just as expressive as you'd expect it to be, using all that wonderfully fluid articulation to pull off most of Mako's over the top poses. She's a little less elaborate than the Ryuko or Satsuki figures, but on the other hand she won't raise quite as many eyebrows displayed on a shelf either. There's always going to be that lingering want for more Kill la Kill figures given how memorable the cast was (or at the very least normal-clothed versions of Ryuko and Satsuki), but with the main trio filled out now at least Figma's offerings don't feel quite so incomplete.

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