The first few months of 2012 were fairly quiet with respect to preorder updates, but figure collectors will soon be enjoying an embarrassment of riches. Figuratively, of course – collectors will be anything but rich come this summer.
Alvis Hamilton from Last Exile
I didn’t watch a lot of anime in the late 90s; when I got to college, I played PC games like Starcraft and EverQuest rather than the JRPGs I’d grown up with and didn’t really have much interest in the anime series that came out around that time. However, around 2001, I got back into anime, watching shows like Noir, Jin-Roh, Angelic Layer, and later, Last Exile. I was a fan of Range Murata’s art style and I loved the setting he designed, with its 19th century steampunk aesthetic. I never actually finished watching the show, though; I watched about half of it and lost interest. I can remember the way the ships and vanships looked, but I can’t say I remember much about the plot or the characters.
However, even though the show itself didn’t make a big impression on me, it made a big impact on my life; I really wanted Range Murata’s Spheres doujinshi and I managed to buy it through a middleman service in Japan. That led to collecting more anime merchandise, and so while I don’t remember much of the anime, Last Exile is one of the major reasons this site exists. (I also really wanted a figure of Hikaru from Angelic Layer, but nobody ever made one; even so, that was about where I began getting interested in figures. I wonder how many people on this planet would say they got into anime figures because of Angelic Layer?)
Anyway, Last Exile did well enough to get a sequel (many years later), which is where this figure of Alvis comes from. It doesn’t look like the sort of figure I’d order, normally, but I preordered it anyway. One of these days I’ll dig out my DVDs and finish up the second half of the show.
Retia Adolf from Daiteikoku
Hailing from Alicesoft strategy/porn game Daiteikoku, Retia Adolf is, well, a most unusual adaptation of former German chancellor Adolf Hitler. One might indignantly assert that the evils he inflicted upon the world should not be trivialized in this manner, and I suppose the only argument in its defense is the one that so many Japanese anime and game makers have made, that one simple question that lies at the core of so many aspects of anime culture: why not? With so many elements of anime culture already pushing – or defiantly pissing upon – the boundaries of good taste, it’s difficult to be too shocked at seeing the fuehrer get turned into a blonde anime idol girl.
It seems like Alicesoft’s developers took great pains to make Daiteikoku as gloriously offensive as possible. It’s kinda surprising they didn’t include a cartel of scheming Jewish bankers or a frothy-mouthed band of crazed, fanatical anti-whaling pirates in the game (there are pirates, though, and they are crazy).
Apparently Daiteikoku is not well-regarded amongst eroge players, and I suppose it’s not nearly as complex as Sengoku Rance, but I’m enjoying it regardless. It reminds me a bit of some of the strategy games I played while growing up, such as Star Control and The Ancient Art of War, albeit with a good deal more evil cyborg rape.
Anyway, I wasn’t overly excited by this figure of Adolf at first, but I’ve since changed my mind. Her commanding pose looks hilarious given her skimpy swimsuit, and the figure’s sculptor has done a number of highly-regarded figures, including Rin Tohsaka and Good Smile Company’s recent Shinobu Oshina. We’ll just try to ignore the historical baggage that accompanies this figure and enjoy it for what it is.
Alisa Amiella from God Eater Burst
I don’t know a thing about this character or God Eater Burst, to be honest. Wikipedia says it’s a PSP game, which explains why I’ve never heard of it, as I don’t play handheld consoles much and I only recently bought a PSP to play Persona 3 Portable and Pangya Fantasy Golf. That leaves me to assess this figure purely on its looks and it looks great. I’m mildly apprehensive of the fact that Plum is producting it and I wasn’t thrilled by their Nymph figure, but it’s good to see that they know exactly what this figure’s charms are; I don’t think I’ve ever seen a manufacturer explicitly point out low-angle shots.
Ikaros from Sora no Otoshimono
The next in FREEing’s line of 1/4 scale bunnygirls is Ikaros from Sora no Otoshimono. This figure comes directly from this illustration and looks reasonably accurate, though I can’t help thinking there’s something off with her face. That might just be an idiosyncrasy of her character design, though. More problematic is her price and the fact that August is stacked with expensive figures, and though I like this figure, it might get squeezed out of the budget.
Incidentally, FREEing’s photos of Ikaros are really, really dark; sort of an odd choice for product photography.
Kanu Unchou from Ikkitousen
There was a time not too long ago where you couldn’t go more than a week or two without seeing an Ikkitousen figure pop up for preorder. Now, the Ikkitousen manga is no longer published in the US, the anime series are long forgotten, and there are far fewer figures of its characters – particularly of Kanu Unchou, who, despite not being the main character, is the banner-bearer of the franchise. I have a fondness for Kanu, particularly in her school uniform, as Yamato’s figure was the first scale-size PVC figure I ever owned (not counting my non-scale size Kaiyodo and Yamato figures and a few Sakura Taisen figures of indeterminate manufacture). I thought that Alter’s figure would be the best one that anyone would make, but Daiki’s version looks better, and it’s also quite a bit larger. I’m pretty sure that despite its high price, I’m going to order this one. Incidentally, this figure was sculpted by Shunjii Hagii and I’ve bought quite a few of his figures without knowing it: he’s also sculpted Kotobukiya’s Masane Amaha, Max Factory’s Kureha, transvestite Yoko, Shunya Yamashita Ryomou, Leina, Tsuneko, bargain bin bikini Tamaki, and samurai Sasara.
Nanoha Takamachi from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha
After making figures of Nanoha and Fate (under the Good Smile Company name) and Hayate as adults, Gift cranks up the loli factor with this figure of Nanoha. She’s 1/4 scale, ensuring that she’ll get odd stares from anyone who isn’t familiar with anime. Despite her obvious youth, she’s wearing a tiny swimsuit, which looks great. I think I’m going to order this one, particularly if Gift unwraps their matching Fate figure soon, though I have to admit I’m going to feel like a pedophile whenever I look at it.
Saber from Fate/stay night
Lots of figures scheduled this month have lofty price tags but Azone’s Saber is far and away the winner, with an astounding price of 68,000 yen at Hobby Search. For that sort of scratch, some people might ask, “Why not just get a Dollfie?” Well, I don’t have any plans to buy any Dollfies, though a lot of my reasons for that have nothing to do with the dolls themselves. Also, this Saber doll uses Obitsu’s 50-centimeter body, the same basic body design that Yamato’s vmf50 dolls use, which means that she’ll be about the same size as those dolls as well as the Fate Testarossa doll that I have. It also means that I have a ready supply of skirts, shoes, and bondage harnesses that she can wear. Her price is exorbitant, but I went ahead and ordered her anyway, and I’m looking forward to getting her. Saber, get your big-girl panties on, you’ve got a date with the tentacle stand this summer!
Aegis from Persona 3
Just a few weeks after Alter’s 1/6 scale Aegis dropped, here’s another (approximately) 1/6 scale Aegis, this time from Yamato by way of REFLECT. Although not nearly as visually interesting as Alter’s figure, it does distinguish itself by putting her in a maid costume. It also incorporates REFLECT’s unique style, which I like quite a bit – I own a number of figures by the sculptor and I like them all. However, while I like this figure (of course, if I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t be writing about it), the price tag is very high for a fairly nondescript figure and I don’t have a huge thing for maids. I do like Aegis but this’ll likely be a figure that I take a wait-and-see approach to. I gotta admit though, of all the figures on my list, I think my opinion of Aegis is improving the most quickly.
Blanc Neige from Shining Wind
Ehh … I guess I’ve ranted enough about how Sega has ruined the Shining franchise (and just about all of their other franchises), so I’ll just say this is a nice figure. Might even be nice enough that I might buy it. I like Tony Taka’s style best when he’s doing porn, and I’m less enthused about his work on the Shining series, but I guess I’d say that Blanc Neige is one of my favorite designs out of those games.
But on a different subject … seriously, the Shining series is now an anime about bread baking? Back when I played Shining Force, you had centaurs, robots, armadillos, and a hero in a bitching minidress. But now … Christ, bread baking.
Inori Yuzuriha from Guilty Crown
The two best reasons to watch Guilty Crown are to witness just how ludicrous it gets and because it has a lot of cute girls. It’s a terrible, terrible show and Inori is only in it to look sexy and become the main character’s love interest. Too bad the show’s writers weren’t interested in giving her a personality. She gets better treatment from Good Smile Company, though … on the surface, that is, because while this figure looks good, it’s listed at 17 centimeters in height, which is miniscule even for its listed 1/8 scale (notably, that makes her shorter than GSC’s Lacia). She looks good in the promo photos and I’m looking forward to her, but I’m expecting to be disappointed by this figure’s size.
Miku Hatsune from Vocaloid
There’ve been a lot of really good Miku Hatsune figures as of late, almost all of them coming from Good Smile Company. I think this one looks to be my favorite, though; her outfit is awesome and I really like her more mature look here. The only thing I’m hoping for is that her umbrella can be removed; I like to think of her as wearing a futuristic bodysuit rather than a race queen uniform. She’s listed as 21 centimeters tall, which is a good size for 1/8 scale; she’s a good inch-and-a-half taller than Inori, which is worrisome.
Milla Maxwell from Tales of Xillia
With two guys and a girl from Tales of Vesperia in their catalog, Alter is moving on to Tales of Xillia. Personally, I’m still holding out hope for a Judith figure, but I’m guessing they’re as likely to make a figure of her as they are to make one of Subaru from Beat Blades Haruka (though Narika’s re-release later this year gives me some hope). Anyway, Milla looks fantastic. She doesn’t have the most dynamic pose, but she looks dignified and sexy. I’m definitely looking forward to this one.