Friday 5 May 2023

Toybox REVIEW: ACT MODE Tsubasa Kazanari

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Release Date: August 2022
RRP: 8900 yen

With the release of ACT MODE Tsubasa Kazanari, Good Smile Company's ACT MODE line has finally done what Figma failed to do so many years ago – released all three of the original Symphogear girls in action figure form. Of course with the imminent release of Maria, Kirika and Shirabe this year we know the line is far from done yet, but even then just managing to get these three out is a monumental achievement. The longest-serving and most experienced of SONG's Symphogear users, Tsubasa fight with the blade-themed Ame no Habakiri relic.

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Just as Hibiki and Chris came in boxes coloured after armour, ACT MODE Tsubasa Kazanari comes in a blue, white and black box that mirrors the colour palette of her Gear. Each side of the box shows off the figure in a variety of poses, making good use of all the accessories (and there are quite a lot of them – more on that further down the review). The front also features a headshot of Tsubasa directly lifted from the anime, alongside the Good Smile Company, ACT MODE and Symphogear GX logos. Open the box up and you'll find the contents of the box spread across two plastic trays – one deep tray housing both the figure and the bulk of the accessories, and the other with the remainder and display stand parts. As with the previous figures, the display stand is presented on model kit runners and requires assembly.

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The ACT MODE Symphogear figures are based on the characters' appearances in Symphogear GX, the third season in the franchise. Each of their costumes evolved over the course of the show, so the ACT MODE figure is has quite a few design differences to the Figma release from 2012 - most notably a greater use of darker blue. Though on face value it looks a lot like a Figma, the figure is a fair bit chunkier size-wise (and maybe a little bit gappier in places – though not so much it's to the figure's detriment). It's certainly not any less detailed though, capturing all the intricacies of Ame no Habakiri beautifully. The colours are really vibrant, with certain pieces of the armour even having a glossy finish to give them a more premium look. And fear not – though Tsubasa's wild hair style might look a little fragile it is both rotatable and removeable, which lessens the chance of any accidental breakage.

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Tsubasa may be a little taller than Hibiki and Chris but the articulation between the three figures remains the same, altogether consisting of; 
- Ball jointed head, neck, upper torso, shoulders and hips
- Hinged hair piece, elbows, wrists, knees and ankles
- Bicep swivels
The joints themselves are designed very similarly to those of the Figma line, offering the same buttery smooth movement along with longer pegs to ensure the pieces all stay fixed together. Overall articulation on the previous figures was very good, but by their very nature Symphogear figures can be a little fiddly because of the Gear designs. The armour often features a lot of oversized flourishes that can both impede articulation and affect balance. It was a pretty significant problem with Hibiki (mainly because of the scarves), and then less so with Chris. Tsubasa on the other hand has turned the best so far though, with much of the body unrestricted by her Gear's design. The ball jointed ankle blades are also perfect for helping stabilise balance, allowing a much better range of poses without requiring the display stand. If there was one complaint to have it's that head movement is somewhat limited because of the hair that drapes down either side of her face, but on the other the up/down movement is really good and the hinged hair piece at the back assists with that all the more.

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But much like with Chris, it's the accessories where this release really delivers. Good Smile have gone completely overboard in all the best ways with Tsubasa, providing a wide variety of the swords and blades Ame no Habakiri manifests itself as. I fully admit that I am not particularly well-versed in the attacks from Symphogear (particularly Tsubasa's) so I'm only going to describe them rather than try to directly name them. Altogether we have one long katana, a small dagger in the same style as the Katana, a more standard-shaped sword, a double-bladed version of that sword, alternate extended versions of her ankle blades (this one I do know – it's the Reverse Rakshasa attack) and a giant sword taller than the figure itself. This is all addition to two alternate faceplates (singing and screaming expressions – the same as with Hibiki and Chris) as well as two alternate weapon holding hands. While there are probably plenty more weapons this figure could have come with, at some point you'll have more swords than you'd possibly need – and Tsubasa definitely crosses this line as it is. You can choose between more conventionally sized weapons (though that katana is ridiculously long) or the completely over the top ones, and even mix and match them should you so wish. The weapons slot in and out of the hands really easily too, which is surprising given that the grip of the hands doesn't have as much give as you'd expect. It is very hard to be disappointed with what's on offer here – in fact it's one of the best accessory counts I've seen on a figure in a LONG time.

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The clear display stand is exactly the same as the ones previously included with Hibiki and Chris, consisting of a clear circular base, one main articulation display arm that plugs into the figure and then two additional ones with clips to provide extra support to accessories. In this case they handy to have around for more extravagant poses involving the giant Ame no Habakiri, even though Tsusbasa is surprisingly capable of wielding it without them. The stand also plugs into Tsubasa's back nicely despite her having much longer hair than the other figures, thanks to the hinge they added to move it out of the way. All in all it's a very well-thought out display stand – extremely functional, but not so large or unwieldy that it detracts from the overall look of the figure.

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Considering she's easily my least favourite of the Symphogear girls (sorry Tsubasa fans!) this isn't a position I expected to find myself in, but ACT MODE Tsubasa Kanazari is by far and away the best of the three figures released from the series so far. While Good Smile might have seemingly ironed out all the flaws in the line with Chris, Tsubasa is just the all-round better release – sporting much less inhibited articulation as well as an incredible array of accessories (which again are a lot less fiddly to deal with). Chris definitely has more appeal in that she never got a Figma, but regardless of previous releases Tsubasa is an absolute joy. If Maria, Kirika and Shirabe are this good too then it's going to be another great year for the ACT MODE line.


Centuros said...

You give a good review of the hands, but I have not been able to fit a sword in any of her gripping hands. There's just no room between the fingers and the thumb to insert it. Am I doing something wrong, or does my figure have overly-tight hands?

Alex said...

Sorry for the delay in responding to this! The hands are overly tight - if you heat them up a little bit beforehand (I use a hair dryer on a low setting) it should ease them up a bit.