Wednesday 28 February 2024

Toybox REVIEW: ACT MODE Shirabe Tsukuyomi

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Release Date: July 2023
RRP: 8900 yen

Credit where it's due to Good Smile Company, they really did commit when it came to the ACT MODE Symphogear range. After Hibiki Tachibana was first released back in July 2022, a year later and they've produced all six main girls to essentially "complete" the selection. Considering Figma only got as far as Hibiki and Tsubasa back when the franchise began, that's quite the achievement. ACT MODE Shirabe Tsukuyomi is the final girl to be released - completing both the second "wave" of users that were introduced as antagonists in second season Symphogear G and the lineup as a whole.

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Shirabe Tsukuyomi comes in square windowless packaging that matches the rest of the ACT MODE Symphogear releases, with the pink and white colour scheme of the box joining up with the black bordering for a nice match to her Gear's colour palette. Each side of the box shows off the figure in a variety of poses, highlighting both the poseability and accessories (as well as a guest appearance from ACT MODE Kirika Akatsuki). The front also features a great upper body shot of Shirabe directly lifted from the anime, alongside the Good Smile Company, ACT MODE and Symphogear GX logos. Open the box up and the contents are laid out just as they were with Maria and Kirika - one moulded plastic tray housing the figure and accessories, while the display stand parts are bagged and taped to the back of it.

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As with the rest of the range, ACT MODE Shirabe is based on her Gear's appearance in Symphogear GX - the third entry in the franchise and the first where she appeared as a protagonist. That said, unlike some of the other girls her Gear didn't really change appearance until final season Symphogear XV. Good Smile Company have done a fantastic job nailing the look of these figures and Shirabe is no exception, with the design and colouring of her Shul Shagana relic perfectly replicated. While there are lots of colours on the design to really make it pop what really sells it is the various finishes used on the parts - with the body itself sporting a mostly matte finish whilst various other parts of the armour have either a glossy or metallic finish. Making sure the more exaggerated elements of the Gear design is also important, so those ponytail-like head blades are suitably over the top and almost the length of the figure itself. 

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However straight off the bat there's one big issue with Shirabe's Gear design, and it's one Good Smile haven't really done much to account for. Given that most of the Gears have some sort of stiletto-heel foot design balance already isn't the greatest thing in the line, but when it comes to Shirabe's fawn-like legs that have no discernible foot or ankle parts you can pretty much forget about posing this figure without a stand altogether. It's not impossible, but anything past the most vanilla of poses (and even that can be a struggle) and you're going to run into some real difficulty. Alternate heel roller parts have been included among the accessory count that do add a little more surface area to the feet, but as you can expect balancing a figure on wheels isn't exactly easy either. Admittedly there's not a whole lot Good Smile could have done since it's just part of the design, but maybe some clip-on clear parts to just give the feet a little more surface area could have worked? Since a display stand is included anyway maybe it's not that big of a deal, but those display stands are quite large so something that occupies a little less shelf space might have been nice as well.

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Sixth time around and the articulation naturally feels very familiar, with all of the ACT MODE figures sharing largely the same engineering. Of course the aforementioned lack of feet means Shirabe's rocking a little less than the rest, but nevertheless it's a pretty good selection consisting of;
- Ball jointed head, torso and hips
- Swivel hinge shoulders and wrists
- Hinged elbows and knees
- Upper arm/bicep swivels
Shirabe's ponytail-like head blades can also swivel a full 360 degrees, with the blade section also hinged so that it can raise and lower for more dynamic posing. Balancing issues aside Shirabe's main problem is exactly the same as Kirika's - that plastic skirt preventing any reasonable forward/backward motion at the hip joint. Shirabe also lacks the thigh swivels Kirika had, taking away further leg articulation. That said, since posing Shirabe without a stand is already out of the question reduced leg articulation isn't as a big of a deal as you might think it is - there's enough here to get plenty of great skating poses with support from the display stand. Lack of a waist joint aside the upper body is also very good when it comes to poseability, as her Gear lacks any obvious armoured parts that would get in the way of movement. In fact, once you accept the fact that she will always need a display stand I'd argue Shirabe might be the most fun to pose out of all the ACT-MODE Symphogear releases.

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Shirabe's accessories include two alternate faceplates (giving her neutral, smiling and shouting expressions altogether), two additional pairs of hands (giving her open hands, closed fists and Yo-Yo holding hands in total), four "energised" Yo-Yo pieces (two with a jagged circumference and two smooth to simulate them spinning), two pink effect pieces for said Yo-Yos, the previously mentioned heel roller leg parts and of course the articulated ACT MODE display stand. The clear plastic base features three display arms - one that can plug directly into the figure and then a further two optional ones should any part of the figure need additional support. Not that Shirabe would really require it as most of her accessories are small/light, but the stand is the same across all the releases so naturally it's exactly the same. But despite Shirabe's accessories being made up of mostly small pieces, they are extremely fun to play around with. The translucent pink Yo-Yo pieces look fantastic, plugging into the lightning-like "string" effect parts which in turn plug into the wrists of figure. This allows for some really dynamic posing, and the joints of the figure are strong enough to hold the Yo-Yos out without issue. The inert Yo-Yos that are plugged into the alternate hands can be removed, but the energised ones cannot be put in their place. Together with a great selection of faceplates which nicely covers Shirabe's limited range of emotions, this is a great set of accessories that shows size doesn't always matter.

But if you are looking for something a little bigger, the Maria, Kirika and Shirabe Armed Gear Set provides Shirabe with large rotary saws that go in place of those ponytail blades for her "Gamma Shiki Manji Kasha" attack. Given that these pieces take up the bulk of the Armed Gear set, I can kind of see why they were a separate release as opposed to being bundled in here. 

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Despite not being one of my favourite Symphogear girls by any stretch, ACT MODE Shirabe Tsukuyomi proves to be a hell of a lot of fun. Her inability to stand up without support is a little frustrating, but the otherwise free-range of the articulation combined with some surprisingly effective accessory pieces make for a surprisingly dynamic release. Additional Gear Effects Set aside its a great note for the Symphogear range to bow out on, Good Smile Company having completed the main line-up. Is this the last we'll ever see of articulated Symphogear figures? Who knows, but even if it us fans can sleep happily knowing that despite all the waiting we finally got there in the end.

1 comment:

Omegamagnum said...

Glad to see you came to the same conclusion I did with her actually being the most fun to pose due to her basically requiring a stand, lol.