Wednesday 15 February 2023

Toybox REVIEW: ACT MODE Chris Yukine

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Release Date:
June 2022
RRP: 8900 yen

News that the girls of Symphogear would be returning to the world of articulated action figures with Good Smile Company's ACT MODE line was exciting enough, but for fans of one particular girl from the franchise it felt like a second coming. After being the one girl from the original trio denied a Figma release following season one, the wielder of the Ichaival relic's time has finally come with the release of ACT MODE Chris Yukine. The second Symphogear release in the line, if there was any that GSC needed to get right in order to please the fans – it's this one.

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ACT MODE Chris Yukine comes packaged in a big widowless box, adopting her red/black/white colour scheme the same way Hibiki's packaging had hers. While each side of the box features plenty of images showing off the figure itself and its various accessories and features, the front also includes a headshot of Chris taken from the anime itself alongside the Good Smile Company, ACT MODE and Symphogear GX logos. Opening the box up again the idea of the line being a combination of action figure and model kit is rather dubious with this release, with only the stand parts requiring any sort of assembly. Still, getting the base figure and accessories all pre-assembled (and more importantly, painted) is nothing to scoff at and you'll find there's plenty on offer here sitting comfortably in the two moulded plastic trays.

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As was the case with Hibiki, ACT MODE Chris Yukine is based on her appearance in Symphogear GX – the third season in the franchise. Though perhaps subtler than some of the other girls, Chris' armour did slightly change between each season. GX is a good choice for the line to pull designs from though, given it was the first season to feature all six girls as the protagonists. A little larger and chunkier than your average Figma, this is a great looking figure that really nails down the look of the character and the intricacies of her design. All of her (ahem) assets are proportioned as you'd expect them to be, while glossy armour pieces are vibrant and not too cumbersome despite the awkward shapes and sizes on some parts. Everything holds together here much tighter than it did on Hibiki, which hopefully suggests that GSC were able to get all of the teething issues out of the way with that release.

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ACT MODE figures look pretty similar to Figma in design but the execution isn't quite the same, with the former having a little less to offer in terms of poseability. Altogether Chris sports; 
- Ball jointed head, neck, upper torso, shoulders and hips 
- Hinged elbows, wrists, knees and ankles 
- Bicep swivels 
These joints are all designed similarly to Figma joints too, with the long pegs connecting the pieces adding an extra swivel element. Again the omission of a waist joint is a little disappointing, but it's not so egregious here as it was on Hibiki since Chris isn't a melee fighter. The elbows also don't have a great deal of bend to them either, not offering much more than a measly 45 degrees. They still manage to get the job done nicely though, and more importantly the joints on Chris are considerably tighter than they were on Hibiki. Not only can Chris hold a pose much better, but her costume design allows for far better balance without the aid of a stand as well.

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The figure itself can only be as good as the number of accessories though, as any Chris Yukine figure that's worth its salt needs to be armed to the teeth. This is something Good Smile clearly knew going into the project, as on top of two alternate expressions (shouting and singing) and a pair of weapon-holding hands, ACT MODE Chris also includes two handguns, two crossbows, two enormous gatling guns and two thigh mounted missile launchers. That enough guns for you all? The missile launcher sections can be added by simply removing the lower half of the closed sections already fixed on, and then putting the open ones in their place. They might be a little tight to clip on, but otherwise it's straightforward enough. The selection of guns on offer here though is beautiful, ranging from the relatively small handguns to the giant gatling guns – those crossbows adding a nice size in between. All are gorgeously detailed and painted, again making you question where the model kit element of the figure actually is. Maybe a few effect parts or launching missiles would have been nice if you wanted to extend things out a bit, but otherwise this is the kind of well-stocked arsenal that's hard to be disappointed with.

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The display stand is largely identical to the one included with Hibiki, comprised of a clear plastic base and three articulated arms that require assembly. The middle arm can plug directly into the back of the figure, whilst the additional two arms can be used for additional support on things like her hair. Not that Chris really needs them because she doesn't have huge scarf pieces like Hibiki, but it's nice they were included nonetheless. The only difference is the inclusion of an additional adapter piece which two additional arms can be added to, intended as additional support for the gatling guns. These pieces are really handy in keeping Chris in a good pose wielding those guns, since without them the elbows would simply not be strong enough to hold them up. And despite all the extra bits involved, the stand itself isn't too unwieldy and using it doesn't detract from the overall look of the figure.

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As the only one of the original three Symphogear girls not to get a Figma anticipation was at an all-time high for ACT MODE Chris Yukine, and this release really does not disappoint. While there's no denying Good Smile Company's prices are getting more than a little questionable, Chris is a fantastic figure that's as well-armed as you'd expect it to be. What she (ever so slightly) lacks in articulation she makes up for in sheer firepower, resulting in a figure that's just way more fun to play with and pose than Hibiki. Between these figures and all five seasons now being available on Blu-Ray in the West (well, region-locked US releases anyway), Symphogear fans worldwide have got it pretty good right now.

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