Figma “Space Channel 5” Ulala (Orange Version) by Max Factory

“Groooove morning, Space Cats!” Are you ready for a rather unusual middle of the week Figma review? Yeah, most of my Figma reviews land on Anime Saturdays, but since this one is most definitely video game based, I thought I’d fit Ulala in the normal weekday rotation.  I’d forgive you if you aren’t instantly familiar with Space Channel 5‘s Star Reporter, because she hails from a game that premiered on the SEGA Dreamcast about 18 years ago. The sequel, along with a port of the original, came a little later to the US on the PlayStation 2, but after that Ulala’s been more or less relegated to appearing in stuff like SEGA All-Stars Racing and SEGA All-Stars Tennis. It’s a shame, because she’s a fun character and I think she deserved more of her own games. Now, why we’re getting a Figma release of her now, I have no idea, but I sure as hell ain’t complaining.

Ulala comes in a typical Figma window box, albeit it’s bigger than most to accommodate the three Morolians bundled with her. What are Morolians? Let me save some time and just link to a review of the game that I wrote way back when it first came out. I’ll wait… Back? OK, let’s proceed! The colors on the box are brighter than the usual Figma packaging and reflect the bright and trippy color scheme of the game. I’ll point out that Max Factory released two versions of Ulala, this one in her orange outfit from the original game, and another in her white outfit, from the sequel and a lot of her guest appearances. It was no contest for me, I went with orange and I was willing to pay the price, but more on that when we get to the end. Also, I’m not really sure what the “EX” means in the numbering scheme, but maybe someone out there can enlighten me. As always, the packaging here is collector friendly, but if you want to toss it out, they provide you with a Figma-branded Ziploc bag to keep all the stuff in.

And here she is out of the package and ready to get her groove on. Space Channel 5’s star reporter usually went through some outfit changes between levels of the game, but this is undoubtedly Ulala’s most iconic look for me with the orange miniskirt, cropped top, and high heeled platform boots. She has a blue belt sculpted around her right thigh and it features a peg so she can wear one of her guns on it. The coloring is certainly on point with her outfit consisting of a bright orange with white trim and red platforms on her boots. As an added bonus, the finish on the plastic does a nice job mimicking the glossy, rubber look that her outfit had in the game. Her chest features a perfectly printed Space Channel 5 logo and she has two blue jet packs strapped to her back. These are mounted on ball joints to allow for a little bit of re-positioning. That comes in handy for working with the included stand. And boy am I thankful for that stand, since Ulala’s boots make it rather difficult to get her to stay upright on her own.

The portrait here is spot on perfect for the Ulala’s on screen appearance. The paint on her makeup and eyebrows is super sharp and clean and her pigtails are set on ball joints to allow a little bit of movement when posing her. I particularly love the shade of pink they used for her hair. The portrait also includes her blue headset with microphone, which is permanently attached to the head.

Ulala only comes with one face, which is really odd as Figmas usually have an extra two or three to change the expressions. Instead, she has movable eyes! I own quite a few Figmas, but this is the first time I’ve encountered this sort of thing. They even provide a tool to move the eyes, and I had no idea what it was until I looked at the instructions. Basically, you remove the face as if you’re swapping it, and use the tool to direct the eyes where you want them to look. Now, Ulala didn’t really sport a lot of different expressions in the game, so I’m not really bummed out by the lack of extra faces, but at the same time, I don’t think I’ll be using the articulation in the eyes very much.

While the extra faces may be missing, Ulala compensates with a whole lot of hands. Not only is the usual sprue loaded up with four pairs, but she also has an extra pair in a baggie, plus the ones she comes wearing. Hands include relaxed fingers, splayed fingers, fists, pointing fingers, and two sets for holding her accessories. I don’t see a whole lot of use for her fists, but the accessory holding hands work well. And speaking of accessories… let’s take a look at what she’s got.

First off is her official Space Channel 5 news microphone and this little thing is beautiful. It’s cast in two shades of blue plastic and has tiny SC5 logos printed around the ring.

Next up are her twin pistols. These have a great retro sci-fi look to them that fits perfectly with the style of the show. Yes, she only has a place to wear one of the pistols. That was the case in the game as well, and through a good portion of the game she only has the single gun, but there are times when she busts out a second. One was to shoot Morolians and the other was to rescue hostages. But where does she keep that extra gun?

Ulala also comes with three little Morolians and these are just static pieces to display with her, but they look great and come in blue, yellow, and pink. I’ll toss out here that the white costume version of Ulala comes with three different colored Morolians, so if you want to get them all, you have to buy both versions. Who would be crazy enough to do that? Don’t tempt me!

And finally, the box includes the usual clear Figma stand with hinged arm and a peg adapter. If you own any Figmas then you already know what to expect here. I do have one gripe, though, and that’s the peg is not a very good fit for the hole in her back. With or without the adapter piece, it takes way too much force to get that thing to stay put. I’ve had a similar issue on one or two other Figmas in my collection, but it’s not the norm. Granted, it isn’t a huge complaint, but it can be annoying.

What’s also annoying is the price on this gal! For some reason this orange version of Space Channel 5’s star reporter dropped at just over $100 and that’s just stupid expensive for what’s included in the box. Did the articulated eyes add that much to the price? It certainly couldn’t have been the Morolians. I have Deluxe Figmas with elaborate accessories that cost a lot less than Ulala here. And with the white version dropping at $85 (also oddly expensive) the only reason I could possibly see for this one being $20 more is because most people are probably going to want the orange version. In any event, I wasn’t about to take any risks here and so I crushed that pre-order button the moment she went up. I certainly don’t regret it, as she’s a beautiful figure and a wonderful display piece to proclaim my undying love for the SEGA Dreamcast and it’s era of gaming.

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Figma: “Kill la Kill” Ryuko Matoi by Max Factory

Much like this figure, I almost let the anime series Kill la Kill pass me by. The first time I tried watching it, I was exhausted from working too many hours, and I just wanted to find something to watch while I relaxed and was winding down. THIS IS NOT SOMETHING YOU WATCH WHEN YOU WANT TO RELAX AND WIND DOWN. Luckily, I gave it another go under more agreeable circumstances and quickly fell in love. It’s batshit crazy and it really demanded my full attention, not only to follow the overall story and endless explosions of character introduction text, but also just to keep track of the frantic action. And after running through the series one thing was certain: I wanted a Ryuko figure badly. The Figma line promptly stepped up and I foolishly did not pre-order so when she was finally shipping, I clicked my way to my regular online purveyor of plastic with debit card in hand, only to find out that she had long sold out. I was left high and dry and looking at crazy secondary market prices. It’s an old story, but a lesson was learned and I pre-order most of my Figmas now.

Fast forward to now and the good folks at Max Factory/Good Smile took pity on those of us have nots and reissued Ryuko. The figure comes in the standard compact Figma window box with a red and black deco to match the character design. There’s also some great shots of the figure on the back panel as well as both side panels, which makes these boxes look great when lined up on a shelf. As always, everything is collector friendly, but if you want to ditch the box, they’ve provided a Figma branded Ziploc bag to keep all the bits in, or at least the ones that will fit. Well, I’ve waitied for this figure long enough… let’s get her out of the package and check her out.

Naturally, Ryuko comes all decked out in Senketsu, her living, and suitably outrageously designed, uniform. I had a hard time envisioning how well this design was going to work when transferred to a fully realized three-dimensional plastic sculpt, but it turns out I needn’t have worried, because she looks fantastic. The bulk of her uniform is comprised of the dominating, and gravity defying, scarf that forms Senketsu’s eyes. Well, really just the one eye, because the other is just a giant red scar. The good eye features some vibrant paintwork, and both pieces are hinged so you can adjust them a little bit to work with the shoulder and arm articulation.

There’s not much covering up the rest of Ryuko’s upper body. Indeed, Ryuko has more covering her extremities than the rest of her body, because… ANIME DESIGN! She does have sleeves, with squared off wrist cuffs, and a pair of suspenders, revealing some major under-boob. Below the waist she sports a rather frilly looking black skirt and thigh high boots, with straps that look like extensions of the suspenders. The top of her outfit and the skirt are designed to look like Senketsu’s jaws with the “teeth” at the top and bottom of the suspenders. I really love how the outfit came out, not only in terms of the way they sculpted it, but also the coloring is quite striking. If only she came with a whole bunch of swap out hands and faces… Oh wait, she does!

There are three different faces and these are swapped out in the usual manner, by removing the front piece of her hair to remove the face. She comes out of the box with a somewhat neutral face, with just a faint hint of a smile. The printing on the eyes is quite sharp, distinctive, and beautiful. That’s actually the same for all of the faces. I’ll also note that her spiky hair has some great crimson highlights in the back that match the red in her uniform.

The second face is her shouty action face, and it’s so perfect for her. The mouth is open and showing off some teeth, and I’ve got to say this one is likely going to be the face that I go with the most. After all, this is a figure that just begs for action poses.

Finally she comes with an “exasperated from combat” kind of face. She’s a bit flushed, she’s gritting her teeth, and she’s got one eye closed. I like this expression a lot too. It’s got that “I’m done screwing around and now I’m gonna really kick your ass” look about it, which goes really well with some poses. Some of the recent Figmas I’ve picked up didn’t have a lot of variation between some of the extra expressions, so I really appreciate what they did for this figure. Of course, you also get the usual sprue of extra hands. Included are a pair of fists, open hands, hands making what look like claws with the fingers. Finally, there are two pairs of hands for holding her weapon, one regular and one angled a bit forward. Some of my recent Figmas have had issues with the pegs pulling out of the arms, rather than just the hands detaching. That’s the case here with Ryuko. It’s not a big deal, but it can get a little annoying at times. Beyond hands and faces, Ryuoko does not come with a lot of accessories, but she does have the two essentials, and I’m sure you can guess what they are. Well, they’re actually the same accessory in two forms. Yup, the Scissor Blade!

The regular Scissor Blade fits perfectly in any of the accessory holding hands, and she looks absolutely fantastic holding it. I was happy to see that despite how big it is, her shoulder and elbow joints are up to the task of supporting it’s weight. Otherwise, it’s a simple accessory and there isn’t much more to say about it.

The final accessory is the Scissor Blade in its extended form, and this is absolutely enormous. She can wield it in either one or both hands, and again I’m impressed that the joints can take the weight without any problem. How long will that be the case? I guess I’ll find out eventually!

And while it should go without saying, I’ll mention that Ryuoko does come with the standard clear Figma figure stand along with an angled adapter for the end. It plugs into the hole in her back and as always, these add so much fun to playing with the figure.

Kill la Kill is one of those perfect one-and-done collecting licenses for me. Figma did release Satsuki Kiryuin from the series as well, and while she looks like a great figure, I’m going to be content with Ryuoko here. This figure is a perfect translation of the character and just what I need to represent the series on my shelf. OK, sure I wouldn’t mind owning the Sixth-Scale Real Action Hero version, but I’m not going down that rabbit hole! The second release of this Figma seems to have filled much of the demand, as she’s still readily available through many online retailers, some of which are coming in a bit under retail. I do hope she sells well for them, so Max Factory will keep reissuing Figmas that sell out early. I know some collectors claim it devalues their originals, but I’ve been on both sides of that fence and I’m always happier to see those who missed out get a second opportunity.

Figma “Overwatch” Tracer by Max Factory

It’s Anime Saturday and cry foul if you must, but today’s figure is not from an anime series or Japanese video game. Nope, today we’re dealing with a Figma from the Western video game Overwatch, but it’s still a Figma, and so I’m sticking this review here. Also, I pre-ordered Tracer forever ago and once she arrived I really couldn’t wait to get her opened and check her out. And here’s a fun fact: I don’t even play the game, but I’ve watched a bunch of the videos and I love the character designs in general, and that goes double for Tracer.

While Tracer comes in a pretty standard Figma window box, the white and orange color scheme really makes this box stand out among the others on my shelf. She’s Figma #352, if you’re keeping track, but Lord know’s I’m not. I can’t even make any sense of their numbering scheme. As usual, there’s some English on the box, but a lot of it is in Japanese. The packaging is totally collector friendly, but if you don’t want to keep the box, you get a handy Figma-branded Ziploc bag to keep all those extra bits in.

Cheers, Love! The cavalry’s here! And oh, boy doesn’t she look like she just jumped right out of the screen? The creators did a beautiful job bringing her digitally rendered costume to plastic, from those tight pants with sculpted side panels to her very British looking bomber jacket with it’s high collar and flared sleeves. Even the Chronal Harness looks so good, if I didn’t know better, I’d swear it’s actually keeping my figure anchored in the here and now. I especially dig the translucent blue plastic used on the front and back to simulate the glow of the Accelerator. Her Tracer Bracers look really nice too, and for the record, they do not open up to hold her pistols, but then I wasn’t really expecting them to be able to make that work at this scale.

The paint quality and overall coloring on the figure is also excellent. One of the appealing things for me about the Overwatch designs are the beautiful vibrant colors and that’s certainly the case with Tracer here. The bright orange pants contrasts beautifully with the immaculate white and gray shoes and bracers and the matte brown and tan of the jacket. Everything about this figure just pops! Other great little touches include the immaculate shoulder patches on her jacket, the silver paint on the zipper, and the crisp “T-01” printed on her bracers.

Of course, this is a Figma, so you know you’re going to get extra hands and faces. Tracer comes with three different facial expressions. You get a regular smile, a more jubilant open mouthed smile, and a more determined expression with a wry little smirk. Whichever face you go with, each one includes the same orange tinted goggles, which are clear enough to see her eyes (at least when my studio lights aren’t reflecting off of them!) and I love the way they sculpted her spiky hair. It’s just perfect. The hands include a pair of fists, splayed hands, gun-holding hands, accessory gripping hands, a and a left hand offering a two-fingered salute. They’re all pretty easy to pop in and out, although I tend to just keep the guns in the gun-hands.

Apart from the hands and faces (and the ubiquitous Figma figure stand), Tracer doesn’t come with a whole lot of accessories, but she does have the essentials. Naturally, she has her trusty pair of pulse pistols, and these are indeed a beautiful set of guns with great sculpted detail and crisp paintwork. Maybe some effect parts for the guns would have been cool, but probably not necessary.

The other accessory is a Pulse Mine and this thing is super tiny. It’s so tiny, I almost missed it in the box. One of her accessory holding hands is perfectly sculpted to hold it and despite its size, there’s some really nice detail painted onto it.

If you can’t tell, I’m absolutely smitten with this figure. I’ve been waiting for Overwatch figures ever since the game first came out. It seemed like a sure thing that NECA would be the ones to do them, since they were partnering with Blizzard on the Heroes of the Storm line, but that line fizzled and I guess the cats at Blizzard cut a deal with Max Factory instead. There’s no doubt that the designs work well with the Figma format, and I’m sure we’re getting overall better quality product, but I can’t help but think NECA would have delivered more characters. As of right now, the only other Overwatch Figma that I know has been revealed is Genji, and he’s due out this Summer. While there are certainly some characters I’m looking forward to more than others, I’ll probably pick up whoever they release, if only to do my part toward seeing the line succeed. Because I definitely want more of this! And who knows, someday I may actually play the game!

Figma: “Kantai Collection” Destroyer Fubuki (Anime Version) by Max Factory

It’s been a couple of months since I’ve done an Anime Saturday feature and I feel bad about it. Not least of all because I’ve got a lot of stuff piling up and waiting to be reviewed. What can I say, other than this is a crazy time of year for me, I don’t have as many weekends off, and time is more than a little tight. Nonetheless, I’m off today and had some time to enjoy a leisurely morning with a pot of coffee and time to open up a Figma. And wouldn’t you just know it… it’s another one of the Fleet Girls from Kantai Collection!

And it’s Fubuki! It’s crazy to think that with five or six of the Fleet Girls already on my Figma shelf, it took this long to get to the main protaganist of the anime. In this case, however, she hasn’t been sitting around waiting to be reviewed, but rather she’s a fairly recent release. I’ll also point out that this is the Animation Version, with a regular version releasing very shortly. I’ve looked at pictures of both figures and I can’t for the life of me see any difference. But seeing as how I’ve never actually played the game, I’m content with the version tied to my beloved anime series.

Starting out with the base figure, Fubuki features here school uniform, including her sailor-style white top with a blue collar and blue sleeve cuffs, and a perfectly sculpted neckerchief tied below her neck. The top is just short enough to show a little midriff, and below that she has a pleated blue skirt. The outfit is topped off with a pair of blue socks, each with a tiny white stripe around the top, and crisp white anchors printed on the sides. While you can strip most of Fubuki’s armaments from her, the leg straps for her torpedo mounts, and her rudder boots are permanent fixtures. This could be disappointing to some collectors who would have preferred the ability to display her completely off duty, but it’s not such a big deal for me. The boots do feature some really nice detail.

Of course, this is a Figma, so you can expect all sorts of extra facial expressions and hands. Fubuki includes three expressions, one normal, one extremely happy with eyes closed, and one serious battle face. Swapping them out involves the usual easy step of popping off the front of the hair. My little gripe here is that the normal face and the battle face are a little too close in my opinion. I think the fault lies with the normal face, which looks more surprised to me. I would have liked something a little more neutral there.

The collection of hands offers no real surprises. If you own any Figmas, then you should know the drill. Fubuki comes with fists, accessory holding hands, splayed finger hands, relaxed hands, and one pointing right hand. OK, let’s get our Fleet Girl all geared up…

For starters, Fubuki comes with her two 61cm triple torpedo mounts (oxygen powered, of course!) attached to her thighs with somewhat restricted ball joints and some sculpted faux straps on her legs to simulate holding them on. You can easily swivel each torpedo mount from pointing up when they’re not in use to facing forward for firing. There’s a little bit of motion left and right, but not a lot. As already demonstrated, these are easy to pop off the figure if you want to display her in her down time.

Next up are her 12.7cm twin gun mount and her backpack. The backpack attaches with a ball jointed peg, which keeps some space between it and her back to allow it to not interfere too much with her posing. Subsequently, there’s another peg hole on the back of the smokestack to plug in the Figma stand. It certainly helps, but I’m surprised to see that even with the backpack, Fubuki is balanced enough to stand on her own. The backpack itself is a nice piece of work with all the detail I’ve come to expect out of a Figma sculpt, right down to the twin anchors and antenna. The piece is cast in battleship gray plastic and there’s a little black and red paint added. I’ll note here that the peg for the stand is a tight fit going into the backpack. Normally, Max Factory includes an adapter piece with a narrower peg, but that wasn’t the case here. It does work, but not as well as if they had included the extra piece.

The twin gun mount is designed to hang on a shoulder strap at her right hip for easy access to it. The strap itself is a little bulky, but not too bad considering the scale. The gun mount attaches to it with an open ended clip, so it’s really easy to take it off the strap so she can hold it and then put it back on again. As mentioned, she does have a pair of accessory holding hands, but she only fires this thing from her right hand in the anime, so one would have been fine for me. The grip on it is a little loose, but for the most part I didn’t have much trouble getting her to hold it straight.

Fubuki isn’t the most complex Figma around, but she sure does hit all the right points and she’s a lot of fun to play with. But that doesn’t come as any surprise to me. The base figure is just about perfect and by now Max Factory has become experts in fashioning Fleet Girl armaments. The only kicker here is that with an original retail of around $60, these figures are approaching that ceiling where I’m beginning to think twice before buying. When it comes to the KanColle figures, I’m probably always going to crumble, but as for those franchises that I’m a little less enthusiastic about? I might have to start getting pickier. As for now… I can’t help but notice the two empty spaces on each side of her and wonder if Figma is planning on getting her fellow Destroyers, Mutsuki and Yuudachi out eventually.

Figma “Fate/Stay Night” Tohsaka Rin 2.0 by Max Factory

It feels like a long while since I stopped in with some Anime Saturday love, but I have the day off and I made a big pot of coffee and I feel like putting on some Fate/Stay Night and opening up a Figma so let’s do this!

Yup, I love me some Fate/Stay Night. It was one of the first anime series that I purchased on Blu-Ray. It’s a go-to series for me when I want to lay around and binge watch something. And it’s also one of those cases where I kick myself for not getting on board with the Figmas in the beginning, because some of those have become stupid expensive. Luckily, Max Factory has been putting out reissues and different versions of the characters and I’ve been picking up a lot of them. Previously, I checked out Caster from Fate/Stay Extra, today I’m having a look at Tohsaka Rin from Fate/Stay Night. The packaging is typical Figma fare, so I’m not going to dwell on it. Instead, let’s open her up and get down to it!

The first Figma release of Rin had her in her crimson pullover with the crucifix on the front. This one has her wearing a more traditional school outfit with a brown vest and poufy white blouse. I tend to prefer the former look a little more, but this outfit definitely allows for more details and perhaps a more interesting looking figure. There’s some particularly nice detail in her neck tie, which includes some beautifully painted gold borders and tiny crosses. She also has some red border striping on her collar and again on her sleeves. Her skirt is dark blue, and features some strategically placed slits so as not to hamper her hip articulation. One might be tempted to gripe about the lack of paint on her buttons, but they are actually brown on screen, so it isn’t a question of being frugal with the paint, but rather being show accurate.

I’ve always liked Rin’s hair style and the figure pulls it off quite well. The pigtails are on ball joints, so they can be positioned to hang down over the front of her shoulders, or sweep back so they’re out of the way. The back of her hair is also hinged to help accommodate the standard Figma figure stand, which pegs into her back as usual. The stock portrait features Rin smiling with large blue perfectly printed eyes. And as usual, she includes alternate faces, which are easily swapped out by removing the front of the hair piece. The extra faces include…

The shouty, “I’m going to kill you, Shiruo!” face. This is one that I’m likely to use the most, as I’m probably going to display her casting a spell.

And the the third and final choice is sad Rin face, which is wonderfully expressive, but I doubt I’ll use it much, because I don’t want my action figures to be sad.

Rin also comes with an alternative front hair piece, which includes her glasses attached to it. This piece works and looks great, and I love that they included it. It isn’t easy to do good looking glasses for figures in this scale, but this is a case where they nailed it perfectly.

And since this is a Figma, Rin also includes a passel of extra hands, which come in handy (HA!) for all your different posing needs. She has a pair of fists, a pair of pointing hands, a pair of splayed hands, a pair with her fingers together. She also comes with a single item holding hand, which doesn’t really serve any purpose here, since she doesn’t come with anything to hold.

Of course, no matter which pair of hands you’re using or if you’re mixing and matching, all of the right hands include her Command Seals printed on the back.

Also included is a swap out lower left arm. This one has the sleeve rolled up and includes magic effects printed on it. Pretty cool!

And here’s a first for me and Figma… Rin also has a pair of swap out feet, just in case you want her wearing slippers. Yup. Why not? These are actually a bitch to get on and off, so I doubt I’ll be using them much.

Lastly, Rin comes with a very cool set of magical effect parts. The circular ring plugs into either of her pointing fingers, and the directed part of the blast plugs into the other side of the ring’s center. The whole thing is cast in a vibrant red. It’s a fantastic looking effect, and it will most likely be the way I’ll display her the most.

I’ve had my eye on Rin 2.0 for a while and I’ve been waiting for her price to hit that sweet spot to make me pull the trigger. Of course, that’s a dangerous game with Figmas. If you wait too long you’ll find yourself paying for it later or doing without and hoping for a re-release down the road. In the case of this gal, I grabbed her at just under fifty bucks. That’s not an unreasonable sum for Figmas these days, as they tend to hit retail at between sixty and seventy, depending on how complex they are. Rin is a pretty simple figure, but she’s incredibly well done, and it feels like she came with just enough stuff to make me happy. Although, I would have happily traded the slipper feet for a tea set. I’m happy to say that I was also able to pick up her Servant, Archer, and I’ll do my best to find the time to check him out next Saturday.

Figma: “Kantai Collection” Battleship Nagato by Max Factory

I know, it’s been forever since I’ve done a proper Anime Saturday update. Well, time has been tight, but this week I was on vacation, so I had no excuses. Indeed, and to make up for it, I pushed my way through all the prize figures that have been piling up and went straight for a Figma. And since I’m going through some major KanColle withdrawal, I’ve decided to go with Secretary Ship Nagato from Kantai Collection. I have looked at a couple KanColle FigFix figures, but this is my first full blown Figma from their Kantai Collection line up.

Nagato comes in a traditional Figma window box. This is the larger style box to accommodate her armament rig. It’s rather bland when compared to some of the other Figma packages lined up on my shelf, but I guess it sort of suits the cold gray color of naval hardware. The window offers a decent view of what’s in the box, with all the pieces and the figure each wrapped in plastic. This is figure #232, which is really meaningless to me because I’m damn sure not a completist when it comes to Figmas, rather I just cherry pick the franchises that I enjoy. The box is collector friendly and I do hang on to my Figma boxes in order to have somewhere to keep all the goodies inside.

Here’s Nagato without all her guns, which is the way she spent most of the anime series before sailing out to kick some major ass for the finale. The Secretary ships, Nagato and Mutsu are among my favorite Fleet Girls and just looking at this figure reminds me why. Nagato is elegant, stately, and her drive and determination all conspire to make her just so damn sexy. The outfit doesn’t hurt either. She sports a cut-off top with some reinforced armor pieces and an exposed mid-riff (sending some mixed messages there, Nagato!), as well as a short, pleated skirt. Her black and maroon stockings, held up by adorable little anchor themed straps, have the white hash marks down the sides. The outfit is rounded out with her little rudder boots. The paint here is all smooth and clean and I got absolutely zero complaints about this gal.

Of course, Nagato comes with an array of extra faces and hands. The hands include a pair of relaxed hands, a pair of hands with the fingers together, a pair of gripping hands, and a pair of fists. As for the faces, the variations are very subtle, but include a happy face, a determined face, and an embarrassed face. Granted, this is probably a greater range of emotion than Nagato showed in the entire run of the anime series. She was all business, and spent most of her time planning strategies in the command room.

No matter which face you choose, Nagato has her very distinctive looking antenna angling out behind her head and jutting out from the sides. Also, her long hair is parted in the middle down the back and attached with ball joints. And now that we’ve seen everything about the basic figure… let’s gear her up!

Nagato comes with her iconic 41cm Twin Gun Mount, which plugs right into her back and makes her a force to be reckoned with! Each half of the rig is hinged on her back and can be closed in around her. The rear gun emplacements swivel and each barrel can elevate independently. The forward emplacements are on rotating hinges, so the entire assembly can lower and elevate as well as swivel, plus each barrel can also elevate independently. The sculpt on the rig is fairly simple, but it does feature some panel lines and sculpted rivets. The bulk of the piece is cast in battleship gray plastic with some red accents and a tan plastic used for the bases of the barrels.

The back of the rig features the two little AA guns and the smokestack rising up from the middle.

Obviously this beast of an rig makes Nagato a little back heavy. It does displace the weight fairly well, I have been able to get her to stand freely with it on, but for the most part, this is where the Figma stand can happily take over.

I’ve had my eye on Nagato for a long time and came close to paying some pretty ridiculous prices for her. In the end, I was able to bag her for around $65 and I’m pretty comfortable with that price, especially since most Figmas go up for pre-order in that price range, no matter how simple they are. Nagato is a beautiful figure on her own, but her gun mount goes a long way to justify the price. Granted, she doesn’t have the wow factor of my mammoth Super-Premium Nagato by SEGA, but then this one is actually articulated, which makes her a whole lot more fun.

Figma “Fate/Extra” Caster by Max Factory

I do indeed love me some Fate/Stay Night. It’s one of those anime series that I’ll watch over again, even though I have a dozen new series waiting on my “to watch” list. That’s probably why I’m so far behind. Well, it’s only natural that love spilled over to Fate/Extra when it released on the Sony PSP. I thought it was a miracle the game was localized for US release and jumped on it right away. In the end, there was a lot I liked about it, and a lot I didn’t. Fast forward to now and Fate/Extra is poised to get an anime series treatment in the form of Fate/Extra Last Encore. Oh, and we also got this new Figma release of Caster from Max Factory!

As unlikely as getting a US localization of the game was, getting figures from the game is just mind-blowing to me. Caster comes in a pretty typical window box. It’s numbered as #304 on the front and features shots of the character on the side panels and plenty more on the back. Everything is collector friendly, and that’s a good thing because, as always, there are quite a few bits and bobs inside that you’ll want to keep track of.

And wow, I absolutely love how they recreated Caster’s outfit here. Granted, the character is rendered in 3D in the game, but I still wasn’t sure how this costume would translate to plastic form. Well, the answer is, beautifully! As one can imagine, it’s not exactly practical when it comes to character movement. For example, when you render those puffy sleeves in plastic, they tend to get in the way, but thanks to some strategic ball joints, I’m still pretty satisfied with how they’ve managed to salvage some decent arm movement, despite of such an impractical design. Even the flowing black flaps are set on ball joints to allow them to be posed out of the way as needed. And speaking of impractical designs, she’s sporting some crazy platform shoes.

And yup, she’s sporting her big and bushy fox tail, and it’s proven to be the most frustrating thing about this figure. It simply will not stay in place. Seeing as how the peg is mounted on a ball joint, I’m tempted to tip it in with a little glue. And while I’ve always found Figmas to be exceptionally well balanced figures, Caster’s tail makes her decidedly back heavy, which is no small feat considering that she isn’t exactly packing light in the chest region. I was able to get her to stand on her own, but it can be a frustrating affair. Thankfully, you get the usual stand, which sockets into the hole in her back. I should also note here that the coloring on this figure is absolutely gorgeous. The blues and black and gold leaf all go so well together. Toss in that orange fox fur and her warm skin tone and you get a figure that is most definitely pleasing on the eyes!

Caster comes with three different portraits, and these are all pretty standard Figma fare.  You get a smiley face, a worried face, and a super happy, playful face. These are swapped out the standard way, by removing the front of the hair. And yes, the adorable fox ears stay on as they are sculpted as part of her head.

You also get a bunch of hands, although this is one figure where I’ve found that I didn’t have a lot of desire to swap out the hands. Her stock hands are great for spell casting, and those are the ones I’ve left on her most of the time. You get a pair of fists, which are hard to even see buried in those sleeves, a pair of pointing fingers, which are useful, and then some that are designed to work with her accessories.

The first of which is one of her charms. It’s super tiny and designed to fit between the fingers of either one of two specialized hands. There’s printing on one side.

Far more impressive is her Noble Phantasm mirror, the Eightfold Blessings of Amaterasu. This piece includes its own stand, plus an extra arm so that it can be attached to the figure stand and made to levitate around Caster to simulate her attacks. You do get some hands that look like they are designed to hold it, but they don’t work too well, and in fairness most of the time Caster is commanding the mirror she isn’t actually holding it. With that having been said, it’s a super fun accessory.

So yeah, it’s crazy that we’re getting Figmas from Fate/Extra, and doubly so that we’re getting them strictly off the game and before the anime even comes out. But I’m not complaining. I seem to recall seeing images of Saber from the game as well, but I can’t remember if she’s out already or yet to be released. I’d look into it, but right now, I’m more interested in getting the re-issue of Saber from Fate/Stay Night when she comes out, not to mention Archer as well. As for Caster, well it was more my love of her character design than than anything else that made this figure irresistible to me. Although I will say that playing around with her has made me want to pop in the Fate/Extra UMD and give it a spin again.

Figma “Sword Art Online II:” Leafa (ALO Version) by Max Factory

I don’t often get the time to squeeze a Figma review into Anime Saturday. These take me a lot longer than my usual Saturday morning prize figure fodder. But I was off this week, and it seemed a great opportunity to open up a new Figma I got a few weeks back. Besides, these things are really piling up, and I haven’t done a Figma review since last October when I checked out the ALO Version of Asuna. So, let’s check out another of the ALO Avatars from Sword Art Online II… Leafa!

There’s really not much new to say about the packaging. It’s a window box, it’s collector friendly, and it’s great for keeping all those bits and bobs together. I also love the character art on the side panels, because right now, I don’t have room to display my Figmas, so they’re boxed and lined up on bookshelves. They look great that way and I have easy access to them. I’m usually content to hunt for deals on Figmas, but I actually pre-ordered Leafa to make sure I didn’t miss out like I did on the first releases of Sinon and Ryuko Matoi from Kill la Kill. Thankfully, those are getting second releases, but I think Leafa is less likely to.

I’m a big fan of the costume designs in ALO, particularly Leafa’s. The sweeping jacket-skirt, the ballooning shoulders, the ragged cut sleeves and stockings, all make for some great swashbuckling fantasy garb. As usual, there’s a ton of sharp detail in the outfit. You get sculpted stitch lines in her corset, the gold bangles on her wrists, and the finery of her bodice. The coloring on this figure is pure perfection, from the dominant green and white, down to the yellow and brown accents. The pale shade of green and fine lining done on her hair tie is particularly sylph-tastic, which is a word I just invented and promise to never use again. There’s something about the look of these figures, whether its the quality of the plastic, or the rich coloring, or a combination of both, but there’s nothing else quite like a Figma.

Leafa’s portrait includes three different expressive faces. You get the standard smiling one, the angry, shouty face, and an adorable surprised and/or embarrassed face. All three of these are perfect, especially thanks to the gorgeous printing on her eyes.  I’ll also note here, that her ponytail is on a ball joint and the yellow they used for her hair is extremely rich and vibrant.

Obviously, Leafa comes with the familiar sprue of hands, mostly of the usual varieties: Relaxed hands, splayed hands, sword-holding hands, and fists. You also get a really cool piece, which is her hand interlocked with Kirito’s. It’s one that I can’t get much use out of now, but I hope to remedy that soon by picking up the ALO version of Kirito while I still can.

Next up, she has her sword, and I guess I’m a bad fan, because for the life of me I can’t remember if it had a name. Hopefully it didn’t and that’s why I can’t remember it. Because it would be folly to try to make a sword this small fit the scabbard, the SAO Figmas have tried different means of trickery. Traditionally, you get an unsheathed sword and a scabbard with a hilt you can plug into it, to make it look like it’s in the scabbard. Leafa mixes that up a bit, by giving you a scabbard, a blade with crossguard, a crossguard, and only one hilt. Now, follow me on this one. To “sheath the sword,” you pull the hilt off, peg it into the tiny crossguard, then peg that into the scabbard. The problem here is that the pegs are so goddamn tiny and thin, that it isn’t a question of whether they will snap, but more likely when. Is this just a way to save money by not including two hilts? On a $65 figure??? Whatever the case, be careful with the sword, folks!

Leafa also comes with her amulet on a string. I like that they included this, but I can’t really get it to lay flat around her neck, so I doubt I’ll be displaying her with it. It’s just as well as in the anime she usually kept it tucked betwixt her ample bosom. She does look great holding it… the necklace, I mean, the bosom.

And finally, Leafa comes with her set of wings. These peg into her back, very much the same way they did with ALO Asuna. You can use either an independent peg, or an adapter to use with the included stand. The regular peg doesn’t do a very good job of holding them in, but they work perfectly with the stand.

Leafa set me back around $65, a price which is admittedly getting a little steep for me. I don’t think it’s a bad value for the quality and all you’re getting, but with Figma prices all over the place, it feels odd to pay less for some of the KanColle Fleet Girls, which have a lot more accessories. Hell, it wasn’t all that long ago that I got Figma Link for like forty bucks. Then again, I’d bet even odds that Leafa may turn up for less after she’s been out a little while. Nonetheless, here was a case where I didn’t want to risk missing out while waiting for a deal, and after spending a morning playing around with her, I have no regrets making that decision.

Figma “Sword Art Online II” Asuna (ALO Version) by Max Factory

After a brief detour to cover some Star Wars stuff, Anime Saturday is back in action, albeit posting a little later than I usually like. To make up for last week, I thought I’d take the time to open up one of the Figmas that have been languishing on the shelf for way too long now. And while I’ve got plenty of KanColle Figmas to open, let’s mix things up and check out The Alfheim version of Asuna from Sword Art Online II. I looked at the first Figma version of Asuna way back in March of this year, and it’s a figure that I absolutely adore, so this one has a pretty hard act to follow!

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If you’ve seen one Figma box, you’ve pretty much seen them all. The deco is black on the bottom and pale blue on the top two-thirds or so. You get a window that shows off a good portion of the figure and the accessories. Everything is collector friendly, and that’s always a good thing with Figmas, because there’s so many bits and bobs to keep track of. Just make sure those trays are locked together tight or all the stuff falls out of place when you put it back in, as exhibited in the above shot. As some of you may know, I am a huge fan of the original SAO anime, although I had issues with the way the Fairy Dance Arc treated Asuna. Conversely, the Gun Gale Arc of SAO II left me a little cold, while the Calibur Arc felt more like a return home. But, all in all, even the low points of this series are still pretty highly regarded by yours truly.

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Here, Asuna has cast off her Knights of Blood outfit and adopted the fairy avatar of Alfheim. The KoB outfit remains my favorite, and that Figma is a gorgeous representation of it, but this figure is no slouch either! I really dig the white and blue deco and it’s a wonderfully complex and layered costume that allowed those wizards at Max Factory to shine when making this Figma. The mix of white, light and dark blue, and a little bit of gray and black makes for such a pleasing palate. I also like how it still retains a bit of that trench coat look of the former costume. I could go on and on about this beautiful design, but suffice it to say, it’s a worthy successor to her last one.

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From behind we can see that they did a beautiful job on her rather intricate hair. It cascades down her back and fans outward. The whole thing is fixed on a ball joint, so it can be swept back or off to either side. That feature becomes really important when using the figure stand. Although, it’s worth noting that Asuna is a pretty well balanced figure and I’m pretty delighted at how easily she can stand without any assistance.

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As always, the Figma comes with extra hands and faces. The faces are swapped out easily and in the usual fashion of removing the front hair piece first. The portraits here include a neutral expression, a devilish smile, and a shouty action face. Her adorable elf-like ears are attached to each of the faces. All of these are great, but I’ll likely get the least use out of the middle one. Her eyes are perfectly printed on all three, and I really love how they did her open mouth in the last one. It looks great.

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The selection of hands is pretty standard stuff. You get a pair of fists, two pairs for holding her accessories, a peace signing right hand, and a pair of hands with splayed fingers. She even has her silver ring painted on each of her left hands.

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Naturally, Asuna comes with her sword and scabbard. The scabbard slides into the black belt loop and hangs securely. The sheathed sword is actually just the hilt that plugs into the scabbard. This way you can remove the hilt and put the real sword in her hand to make it look like she drew it. It’s a clever way of doing it and circumvents the need to make the scabbard too big or the sword blade too thin and frail. The detail on the hilt is exquisite, and the blade is beautifully painted.

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You also get Asuna’s wand, The Crest of Yggdrasil. This is a great looking piece and she has a pair of hands specifically designed for holding it.

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And finally, Asuna comes with her fairy wings. These attach to the hole in her back, or you can pass the stand through it for those flying poses, which make more sense since in Alfheim we really only saw the wings when their avatars were flying.

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While this version of Asuna isn’t going to replace the initial Figma release as my favorite treatment of the character, she sure comes damn close. All the love and craftsmanship that went into the previous release is evident here as well. In the end it just comes down to my personal taste in her costume and while I love this one plenty, I just love the Knights of Blood look a little more. This version of Asuna has almost caught me up on the SAO Figmas. I’m still considering picking up the Gun Gale version of Kirito and I missed out on picking up Sinon at a price I was willing to pay. I’m still hoping that we may some day get a Leifa or Lizbeth, but that might be asking for too much. Truth be told, I really wish I had the time to feature Figmas more frequently, because I absolutely love playing with these things. But, yeah, take a lot of time to explore and photograph, and as a result I seem to be constantly backlogged. Still, once I bust one of these figures open I fall in love all over again.

EDIT: A big shout out to @xx_Shonuff_xx on Twitter for pointing out that Sinon’s reissue is coming early next year. Also… Leifa! 

Figma (FigFix #006) “Kantai Collection” Mutsu (Half Damage Version) by Max Factory

Back toward the beginning of the Summer, I dipped my toe into Figma’s FigFix series with the Half Damage version of Shimakaze. These are mostly non-articulated Figma scaled figures, which allow Max Factory to produce very specific versions of the characters without re-releasing a costlier fully jointed figure. In the case of KanColle, they’ve been using this series to create the battle damaged versions of the Fleet Girls, and I’m all for that! Today I’m looking at Secretary Ship Mutsu. I’ve had her regular Figma for a while now, and still haven’t gotten around to Featuring her here, but since this one just came in, I thought I’d bump it to the head of the line.

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The FigFix boxes are basically the same as a regular Figma package. Shimakaze’s was a lot more colorful, but Mutsu’s is a return to far more muted colors that better match the regular KanColle Figmas. If I stand this box on the shelf next to the one for my regular Mutsu, the differences are negligible. There’s a window on the front to show you the figure and some of her armaments and the back panel shows multiple photos of the figure all set up. As always, the box is collector friendly, but if you choose not to keep it you get the usual Figma branded ziploc bag for the extra parts. Mutsu is a Nagato Class Battleship with a some major firepower to attach, so let’s get her all set up! I’m going to start with her all kitted out and work from there…

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And here is poor Mutsu after having taken what looks like a heavy pounding, and by that I mean battle damage. For godsakes, get your minds out of the gutter, people! For fans of the anime, it’s an unconventional look since Mutsu and Nagato didn’t see action until the very last episode and they emerged from that epic battle unscathed. Nonetheless, she can certainly get damaged in the game and one of her more endearing quotes is when she refers to being in the repair dock “fixing her make-up.” She features a standard Figma stand, which plugs into a socket in the back of her gear and in this case it’s a requirement, because she isn’t posed in a way that she can stand on her own. She’s hunched over with her clothing badly torn and clutching her left shoulder while her right hand rests on her knee. The detailed sculpt and sharp paint are right on par with the regular Figma releases.

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Ahoy, Captain… fan service spotted in the aft section! Ooooh, my! Her armaments consist of her four battered 41cm Twin Gun mounts, which feature the bulk of the articulation in this piece. They peg into the sides of her arming belt where they have rotating hinges. The upper shoulder guns can pivot and the barrels will raise and lower. The lower guns can hinge up and down as well as pivot, and they’re barrels can raise and lower as well. While I haven’t Featured her here yet, it’s worth noting that the battered armaments are compatible with the regular Figma Mutsu’s and vice versa. The anchor that pegs to her leg features a real chain that wraps around her leg, travels behind her gear and pegs into the right hip of her arming belt.

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The portrait here is excellent, but then I’m biased because Mutsu is my favorite of all the Fleet Girls. I just think she’s adorable. Here we see her hair a little more ruffled than on the regular release, and she has her long antenna protruding from the top of her head. When viewed from dead on, her expression makes her look rather weary from returning from a hard fight. If I look at her from a little above, she seems to have a more determined look. Her green eyes are perfectly printed and her mouth is slightly open. She’s also very nearly busting out of her torn top. The face is a standard removable Figma style and is interchangeable with the regular Mutsu Figma, which is a really cool bonus if you’re like me and couldn’t resist picking up both. The head is also ball jointed, although it’s restricted mostly to turning from side to side.

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Removing Mutsu’s gun assemblies makes for another fine display option. When I eventually get all my KanColle Figmas set up, I may display this one without the guns and the regular Mutsu with hers, just to mix things up a little. With the guns out of the way, you can also get a better look at the sculpting and paint that went into her outfit. As pointed out earlier, her heavy arming belt is required for her to work with the regular stand. You can, however remove it by pulling the figure apart at the waist and grabbing a Bandai stand with a claw on it to support her.

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The skirt is conveniently attached to the arming belt, so Mutsu is revealing quite a bit if you take it off.

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Given my love for KanColle in general, and Mutsu in particular, it should come as no surprise that I adore this piece. The idea of releasing static damaged versions of the Fleet Girls in scale with the regular Figmas is a clever one, and while I have no doubt some may scoff at the idea of a Figma without articulation, I’m very happy with the two I now own. Granted, I bought the Shimakaze FigFix just because her regular Figma isn’t in my budget right now, but I couldn’t resist owning both versions of Mutsu. Of course it doesn’t hurt that at $37, she’s just a fraction of the price of a regular Figma. Whether I’m going to be double dipping on any of the others I can’t say yet, although if I come across Nagato at a good price, she’d be hard to resist.