Variable Action Hero (One Piece): Summer Vacation Nami by MegaHouse

Some of you may be wondering if I’m ever bringing back Anime Saturday and I think today’s review should answer that question. I’ve cut down the number of reviews each week to help me cope with more work and other things and so rather then be inconsistent with that extra Saturday piece of content and stress me out trying to do it, I’ve decided to just roll those reviews into the regular week rotation. But since making this decision, the Figmas and the Figuarts and the Prize Figures have really been piling up, so hopefully I’ll be able to start knocking out reviews of some of this stuff more regularly. And so, without further ado… “Come aboard and bring all your hopes and dreams…”

ONE PIECE!!! Oh yeah! Whenever I’m feeling stressed or depressed or just need something to boost my spirits, pouring a tall glass of Jameson and tossing in a One Piece DVD is like wrapping myself in a warm blanket. I’ve already reviewed two One Piece figures from the Variable Action Hero line, and yes one of those was Nami! This new release is dubbed Summer Vacation Nami, which means she’s wearing even less, so how could I resist double dipping? I’m also bumping her to the head of line with Roronoa Zoro still waiting for his turn. Sorry, bud. I’ll get to you eventually. If you’re unfamiliar with these VAH figures, they’re sort of like larger scale Figma or SH Figuarts, and while they’re good, they’re not always quite as good as those other figures. Nami comes in a colorfully illustrated window box, which does a good job matching up with the packages of the other Straw Hat Pirates in this line. Let’s get her out and have a look!

Nami is no stranger to skimpy bikini tops, but now she’s cast off her jeans for a skimpy bikini bottom as well, and I ain’t complaining. The bikini is turquoise with white vertical stripes, and there’s a big blue “3” printed on the right side of her ample chest. Apart from the Log Pose and golden bangle on her left wrist she’s not wearing anything else so from the neck down there isn’t a lot of sculpted detail here beyond her fingernails and toenails. The skin tone is warm and smooth and features some nice shadowing around the joints and, um… other areas. Naturally she has her trademark tattoo printed in blue on her left bicep.

There are two different front hair pieces to choose from. One is regular and one comes with her sunglasses attached. Seeing as how this is Summer Vacation Nami, I don’t see why you would want to go without the sunglasses, but the option is still there if you want it. The previous VAH Nami came with four different swap-out faces, whereas this one comes with five. You get regular smiling face, somewhat sinister smiling face, two different winking faces, and angry shouty face. Swapping faces is as easy as on Figmas or Figuarts. You just remove the front hair piece pull off one face and slap on another.

You also get a nice selection of different hands, all of which seem to be recycled from the previous Nami. These range from relaxed hands, karate chop hands, and fists to more expressive options like the “OK” gesture and a pointing finger. If you’ve had experience with Figmas or Figuarts, you have a good idea about the kind of articulation we’re dealing with here. These figures never feel as poseable as their smaller rivals, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had here. On the downside, I absolutely hate the design of the hip joints. They’re ball jointed on a dogbone style piece and they constantly want to pop out and be all loosey-goosey when I’m trying to pose her. They also have a habit of exposing a little too much of the joint with some poses. I don’t know what happened here, but this was never a problem with my other VAH Nami.

 

In addition to all the faces and hands, Nami comes with what every girl needs on her Summer Vacation: An inner-tube to float around in. This one has purple stripes and the word SEXY printed across the side, as if we needed to be told. The tube is made out of plastic, but it’s molded to look pretty convincing as an inflatable flotation device. There’s even a peg hole in the side so that it will work with a Tamiashii Stand.

I like this figure a lot, although it’s getting a little tough for me to justify these because of the cost. Nami set me back $90 when I pre-ordered her. It’s definitely a premium for what you’re getting, but it beats missing out and paying even more later on through the secondary market. Sure the Figmas and Figuarts are smaller, but I still feel like I’m getting more for my money with those figures in the $60 price range. I’d also much prefer getting these characters in a scale that would fit my other anime figures. In other words, if Figma or Figuarts were doing these characters, I’d be all over them, but apart from my one lone Figuarts Nami, that’s not an option, so I have to go with Variable Action Heroes for now.

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Variable Action Heroes (One Piece): Nami by MegaHouse

It feels like forever since I did an Anime Saturday, but for those of you who miss it, I promise it’s going to be making a regular return. Indeed, when FFZ’s 8th Anniversary rolls around later this month, I’ll be making some change-ups to my content schedule that should free me up to do more of these, because I have a lot of figures waiting to be opened and reviewed. And yes, Anime Saturday is usually a morning routine, but today’s edition is posting late because I’m working this weekend, and it was a real struggle to get it finished in time. So I’ll trade in my usual Saturday morning pot of coffee for a nice tall evening pour of Jameson in a rock glass and check out Variable Action Heroes Nami!

The figure comes in a window box with some great shots of the figure and the One Piece logo in the upper right hand corner. It matches the other boxes fairly well and it’s totally collector friendly. I own several of these Variable Action Hero figures, all from One Piece, but I’ve only really spent any time with the leader of the Straw Hats, Luffy, which I reviewed back in 2016. I love the larger scale of these figures, and they come with some really cool stuff, but I’m not ready to see them replace Figmas or even SH Figuarts as my favorite figures from the East. The main reason I pick these up is because it’s the only way I can get my articulated One Piece figure fix. There’s actually a third version of Nami in this line shipping soon, so I thought I’d better check this one out before the new one arrives.

Nami sports her trademark orange high-heeled sandals, tight blue jeans, and a teal and white bikini top that leaves not a lot to the imagination. The sculpt really brings out the stylized beauty of this shapely Navigator, and while the jointing does break up the otherwise smooth curves with plenty of rotating hinges, it’s a necessary evil when you’re looking at this level of articulation. In additional to the usual points of articulation, Nami also includes a neck ball jointed at the top and bottom, lateral hinges in the shoulders, and hinges in her feet. In addition to the great sculpt and ample poseability, there’s some great coloring on display here. The jeans are a vibrant mix of dark and light blue to simulate the wear of the denim, and you get some soft sculpted belt loops and a button at her waist, as well as the distinctive gold and orange circlets on her hips. The skin tone is warm, with some painted highlights to add a little depth and texture. The bikini top features sculpted strings tied off on the back and some sharp paint lines for the white patterns.

A couple of other nice details include her trademark tattoo, which is sharply printed on her left bicep. She also features the Log Pose strapped around her left wrist as well as a gold bangle. I love the attention to detail on this piece. It’s cast in clear blue plastic and you can see the compass needle inside. The bangle is a cool touch too, but since it hangs loose on her wrist, it has a habit of dropping off when I change her hands, so I’ve been extra careful not to lose it.

Nami comes with four different portraits, and these are changed out just like the faces on a Figma or Figuart. You simply remove the front of the hair, swap the face plate, and replace the hair. Two of the faces are pretty similar to each other, featuring slight smiles, but one has a more sinister tone to the eyebrows. The third face is her shouty, action face, and the fourth features her winking. I will hand it to the Figuarts version of Nami, as it came with a few more creative expressions, but what we got here is still fine and I think they captured her adorable portrait perfectly. Her fiery orange hair is sculpted to cascade down her shoulders. It’s not terribly restrictive, but it can get in the way of some of the more extreme head poses.

As one would expect, Nami comes with a whole slew of interchangeable hands. Most of these are straightforward. You get a pair of fists, a pair of accessory holding hands, a pair of relaxed hands, and a pair of karate-chop type hands with the fingers closed together. The most unique hands include a right hand making the “OK” gesture and a pointing left hand.

She also comes with her trusty Clima-Tact, which appears to be a simple bo-staff with a snappy metallic blue paint job. It fits really well in her accessory holding hands, and it makes for a fun piece to pose her with. And thanks to a couple of nifty effect parts sets, she can also unleash a few of her signature attacks with it.

First off is the Thunder Charge, which includes a translucent yellow piece that snakes around the staff and a ball of lightning that pegs into the end. Put the two together and you get a pretty damn cool effect. The pieces hold in place really well too.

The other parts make up her um… I’m going to say Milky Ball attack, although I suppose it could be a few different ones. Like the other set, this effect is made by two pieces, one passed through the staff and the other capped on the end.

With how much I loved the VAH version of Luffy I have, I was a little afraid that Nami wouldn’t be able to live up to my expectations, but she really does. The sculpt and paintwork are fantastic and they did an exceptionally fine job with her weapon and its effect parts. The frustrating thing about this line is how the prices tend to go all over the place. I hunted Nami here for a while before I was able to grab her for around $70, which is not a bad deal considering Usopp and Sanjii both top out at well over $100 these days, and that’s more then I’m willing to spend right now. Nowadays, I just make sure I get the pre-orders in rather then take my chances. The Summer Vacation version of Nami is due sometime in March, but before then I’ll try to carve out some time to look at Roronoa Zoro. I’m also seriously considering grabbing the yellow shirt version of Luffy, just because it comes with a wider range of facial expressions.

Variable Action Heroes (One Piece): Luffy D. Monkey by MegaHouse

I make no bones about my love for One Piece. It’s my favorite go-to show for when I’m up late drinking, and I’m just as fine watching it sober with my coffee the next morning. I’ve looked at a vast array of different figures from the show’s colorful array of characters, and… nope. I can’t lie like that. I’ve mainly only looked at Nami figures. Well, today, I’m breaking that trend and looking at the Variable Action Hero version of Luffy, everyone’s favorite rubber-man. Luffy is actually my first Variable Action Hero figure, so I’m super excited and curious to see what these are all about.

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The figure comes in a colorful and collector friendly window box. There are a couple of trays to hold the figure and the extra bits and lots of photos of the figure in action on the back panel. The packaging features just enough English copy to be friendly to us Western collectors. What are Variable Action Heroes? Well, I guess the best way to describe these would be as larger scale Revoltech figures. Luffy comes in at just under 7-inches, which makes him seem huge when compared to most of my other articulated Japanese figures, but apart from the larger size, there’s a lot about him that feels familiar.

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Luffy features his red pirate shirt with flared cuffs, four brass buttons, and he wears it open in the front to show his chest scars. Below that he has his yellow sash tied around his waist, and his ragged cut blue pants that end right at his knees. Luffy’s ensemble is finished off by his sandals. The sculpting here is soft, but still pretty solid. You get some nice muscle definition in his chest and abs, and all the usual rumples and wrinkles in his clothing. The coloring is very basic, but it matches the somewhat simple look of the anime art quite well. All in all, he’s a colorful and great looking figure.

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Naturally, Luffy comes with his prized straw hat… actually two versions it. One features a plastic cord so that he can wear it around his neck. The other is designed to peg into the top of his head, which involves swapping out the regular head for one with a tab on the top and smoothed out hair. Both options work great, but I think I prefer him wearing the hat behind his head.

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You get three different and very expressive portraits for Luffy and these are swapped out in the exact same fashion as any Figma or Figuarts. Just un-peg the top front hair piece and make the swap. The expressions include a slightly pissed off look, a really pissed off look, and a totally psycho, I’m going to gum-gum kick your ass! These are all great, but I really would have liked at least one face reflecting Luffy’s more happy-go-lucky persona. The figure feels a little bit incomplete without it.

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Luffy also comes with three sets of hands. You get two fists, two flat hands, and a set of relaxed hands.

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The articulation here makes for a very fun figure to play around with. You get rotating hinges in the shoulders, hips, wrists, and ankles. The elbows and knees are double hinged. There are ball joints in the waist and torso. The neck is double ball jointed. And finally, you get hinges in the middle of the feet. The jointing here doesn’t feel as solid or sophisticated as a Figma or Figuarts, but at the same time, they don’t pull apart as easily as the one sad Revoltech figure in my collection. Also, while the joints will support just about any stance or pose, they do feel a little floppy and loose in hand.

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These figures tend to run close to $100 at most e-tailers, which honestly feels a bit steep, but then I tend to expect to pay a premium for anything from MegaHouse. I picked this one up from a very cool dude over on Twitter for about $65. I like the figure a lot, and it’s great to not only have Luffy finally represented in my collection (I mean, seriously, it was well overdue), but also to finally get to see what the VAH figures are all about. I can almost certainly see myself picking up a VAH Nami at some point soon, either the first version or the upcoming repaint. As to whether or not I’ll be going after some more members of the Straw Hat Pirates, that remains to be seen.

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet: Amy and Grace 1/8 Scale Statue by MegaHouse

If you haven’t seen Gargantia on the Verduous Planet, I highly recommend giving it a watch, especially since it’s easily accessible on Crunchyroll. At only 13 episodes it’s relatively short and yet oh, so good. It’s sort of hails from the giant mech genre only with a rather unique spin. You don’t get to see a lot of traditional mech on alien combat, but then watching a super advanced battle suit take out a fleet of relatively primitive pirates was pure bliss. The series also does a splendid job with character motivations and portraying the interaction of two different cultures. Alas, despite being a year old and having a great cast of characters, the anime hasn’t spawned a lot of figures or statues, and what has come out has been almost entirely centered around the energetic inter-fleet delivery girl, Amy. Amy’s great and all, but I’d like to have seen Ledo, Bellows, or Pinion immortalized in plastic as well. An articulated Machine Caliber would have been nice too. But I like Amy a lot, so at least that’s something.

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The last time I purchased a MegaHouse product it was a Nami statue from One Piece and it turned out to be a bootleg, so Amy here will still hold the honor of being the first official MegaHouse piece in my collection. The statue comes in a colorful box with a large window on the front panel and smaller ones on the side and top panels. There are lots of pictures of the statue, but not much in the way of artwork from the anime. The statue itself comes between two clear plastic trays and it includes several pieces to round out the display.

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I should take this opportunity to point out that I pre-ordered Amy without a lot of information about the statue. In fact, apart from a teaser of the portrait, I didn’t even see any photos, so when the final composition of this piece was revealed it was a little surprising to me. Nonetheless, there aren’t a lot of other options to put Amy in my collection, so I let the pre-order ride and decided to judge the final results when I had it in hand. The obvious way to go would have been to have her running with her satchel on her arm, or possibly clutching the grab bar of her kite. Instead, we get her reclining with her messenger bag to her side and resting her tootsies, with one foot in the air, no doubt after putting in a long day of deliveries. It almost looks like she’s meant to be kicking up water with her right foot. It’s was a decidedly odd way to go, maybe even borderline fetishistic, although I suppose it’s not without its charms and in the end I think it still manages to capture the essence of the character.

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Unconventional pose or not, both the detail and coloring on this piece are absolutely fantastic. They did an amazing job with her outfit, particularly with the rumpling of her skirt and top and her little half-jacket is crafted in soft plastic and is removable. Even the skirt is crafted as a separate piece and laid onto the figure, albeit it isn’t removable. The belts and buckles are very neatly painted as are the aboriginal patterns decorating her clothing. The soft nature of the paintwork on the outfit along with the lightly tanned skin tones gives the statue a warm and pleasing look that replicates the tropical nature of the anime artwork quite well.

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I’ve seen mixed reactions to the portrait, but I don’t have any issues with it at all. Amy’s sporting a playful expression that certainly fits the whimsical nature of the pose. The paintwork on the eyes is flawless and I’m very happy with all the little detail work that went into her hair, particularly the two small braids.

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Amy comes with a clear, square plastic base with the series logo etched on the front in white. There’s a small contoured bump on the base, which is designed to fit in a… um, strategic place and allow her to recline. It can be a bit tricky getting it right and it’s not a secure connection, so if you bump the shelf she’s displayed on, the figure is likely to slide or reposition itself.

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As for the extra parts, you get Amy’s satchel, her sandals, and her little buddy, Grace. There are no instructions on how to place these pieces, so you’re left to your own imagination or else you can consult the bevy of official product photos that are now available online. The official look has the satchel looped around her right elbow and resting beside her with Grace poised on top of it or scampering onto Amy’s lap. Her right sandal can be dangled on the extended fingers of her right hand and the other one can be placed on the base. They really went all out with the detail on these extra pieces. The messenger bag is a very vibrant shade of blue and has the straps and buckles as well as the large ornamental feather on the clasp. Grace is also just adorable and looks great when sitting on the satchel.

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At about 1/8 Scale, Amy fits in quite nicely with my ever expanding collection of Kotobukiya ladies, although tipping the scales at just over $100, that same sense of fantastic value that I get with Koto isn’t there. I know, MegaHouse stuff tends to run more and I can’t deny the workmanship that went into this piece, so I can’t say I have any regrets. Yes, I would have preferred a more conventional pose, but when I admire this piece on my shelf, it’s hard to argue with the end result. It’s probably unlikely that we’ll be seeing a lot more merchandising from Gargantia coming down the pipes, but Amy did get the Figma treatment, and I can definitely see myself picking up that figure in the not too distant future.

One Piece, Portraits of Pirates Sailing Again: Nami Excellent Model Series by Megahouse… NOPE! BOOTLEG!!!

Well, Toyhounds, I had a really shitty day today and the only thing getting me through it was knowing that I had a package waiting for me at home with a brand new One Piece statue of Nami. Mmm… Nami. She could gum gum my rubber person anyday. Yes, I’m a feller who does indeed enjoy his One Piece and I’ve been rewatching the series in looong marathon sessions with lots of alcohol. This is a ritualistic endurance practice that I do not recommend for the weak-minded as it could result in madness, but in truth I can only watch One Piece when thoroughly inebriated. Anyway, so after my horrid day, I got home, poured myself a nice Scotch, and opened up my box only to find out that my Nami was indeed a piece of shit knock-off. I’m not going to waste a lot of time on this disappointment, but let’s take a look at her anyway.

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And there she is in her window box. The deco consists mostly of different shots of the statue and a colorful background that suits the anime source material. This one was a little shopworn, but it was still sealed, so there wasn’t anything to really worry me. The box actually appears to be the spitting image of the official product package, but naturally, the text is all Japanese and it could very well say, “Ha Ha… You paid for a bootleg, stupid!” Inside the box Nami comes between two plastic trays with the stand behind one of them.

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So, the moment I had her out of the box, I knew something was amiss because the statue looks like poop and Megahouse does not make poop. There are various scratches and imperfections on her skin and the paint on her bikini top is faded. At first, I thought it might have just been a badly used piece that was being sold as new, but it didn’t take long to realize that wasn’t the kind of swindle I had been subjected to. The paint is horrendous. There’s all sorts of paint slop between her skin and her jeans and her hair is a gloppy mess. Even on a bad day, Megahouse wouldn’t let anything nearly this bad get through their quality control. The skin is also waxier than it should be. Seriously, parts of this statue literally look like they’re sculpted out of candle wax. The eye coloring is also totally wrong.  The other, and more definitive, tell-tale sign is that the bangle on her left wrist is black instead of a coppery, bronze. The base is another great indicator of bootleggery too, as if you hold it up to the light you can literally see right through it. It’s also made of such flimsy plastic that it can barely hold her up, even though it’s absolutely huge.

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And so, I came to the table today hoping to share my Nami love through a beautiful statue and I had to do this disappointing feature instead. I got this piece of crap from a Marketplace seller on Amazon and as soon as I was done shooting her for this feature, she went right back into the box and is getting shipped back for a full refund. It’s sad and surprising to know that Amazon is participating in the sale of bootlegs, as this one was actually marked as “fullfilled by Amazon.” The shame of it is, I would have gladly picked this one up from one of my regular and more reliable sources, but nobody else has her in stock anymore, leading me to trawl for her in the more unseamly back allies of Internet Nami Statue commerce. I’m still quite keen on getting the real thing, but I guess I’ll have to hunt her on Ebay and hope for a more honest seller.