One Piece: “Glitter & Glamours” Shiny Venus Nami by Banpresto

I know what you’re thinking. Another One Piece Prize Figure from Banpresto? How about a little variety for Anime Saturday. Sheesh! There were complaints when it was all KanColle, all the time, then complaints about Anime Saturday going away, and now it’s too much One Piece? There’s just no pleasing some people. I’d argue you could never have too much One Piece, but a couple of years back when I was really sick, I did nothing but lay on the sofa for two days, coif NyQuil and watch my One Piece DVDs while I drifted in and out of fevered sleep. To this day, I’m convinced it broke part of my brain. But anyway, I will get to some other stuff. I have plenty of Figmas left to look at. But I don’t have a lot of time this weekend, so I needed something quick. And now that I’m all caught up on Banpresto’s Flag Diamond Ship series, I thought I’d open up some of their Glitter & Glamours figures.

And what better on a chilly Saturday morning than a little hot Nami to warm us up? The G&G series features girls spanning a few different animes, and I can’t detect much in the way of a coherent theme. The packaging hasn’t changed much, as you still get your figure in a fully enclosed box with plenty of shots of the cutie inside.  And after just a few simple assembly steps, Nami will be all ready to brighten up my desk.

The roughly 9-inch scale Glitter & Glamour Nami offers a contrast to Flag Diamond Ship with our gal laid back, relaxing, and reclining in the sun. She’s wearing a white blouse, buttoned once just below her ample bosom, and a two-piece orange bikini. Her long legs are crossed and stretched out in front of her, her right hand is behind her head, while she leans back on her left hand. There’s no base at all, but she doesn’t really need one as she’s very stable and rests evenly on any surface. Her tushie is even flattened a bit to keep her from rolling around.

There’s some nice attention to detail here in the sculpt. Some highlights include the bracelets on her right arm, the single gold bangle on her left wrist, the double-looped chain necklace, and the ruffles ringing her bikini bottom. I dig the coloring as well. Nami’s showing a lot of skin and the skin tone is warm and even and not at all waxy, and her tiny fingernails and toenails are painted red. There are a couple of shades of purple displayed on her bracelets, as well as some shiny gold on the rest of the jewelry. But the real draw here where the coloring is concerned is the beautiful pearlescent white finish on her blouse. It has a striking sheen to it that looks absolutely gorgeous. I’m guessing that’s where the “Shiny” in Shiny Venus comes from.

Of course, the portrait is pure Nami. By now it should be no surprise that Banpresto knows what they’re doing with Nami’s likeness. She glances off to the side with her large, perfectly printed eyes, a cute smile, and her signature flowing orange-red hair. If you look closely, you can even see the pearl studs in her ears.

Heaven knows that there’s no shortage of Nami figures out there on the market, so when Banpresto can add another to the pile and still have her stand out, well that’s no small feat. Oh sure, you can get better figures, but they’re going to cost you, and the fact that Banpresto is delivering quality in this scale at or below the $20 mark is mighty impressive. It doesn’t hurt that Amazon is selling these at competitive prices and with free shipping if you happen to be a Prime member. At that point, these practically become impulse buys for me!

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One Piece: “Flag Diamond Ship” Nico Robin by Banpresto

Three Saturday Anime reviews in a row means It might be becoming a habit again, which would be great because I have a big backlog of Prize Figures and Figmas to open and review. Then again, with the Silly Season upon us, my time will be getting tight again, so we’ll see how this goes. Today I’m getting completely caught up with Banpresto’s Flag Diamond Ship series with a look back at Nico Robin. I missed this one when it first came out, so I had to double back for her. It cost me a little bit extra, but I didn’t get beaten up too badly.

As usual, this roughly 9-inch scale figure comes in a fully enclosed box with lots of pictures of what’s inside. It’s collector friendly, and I dig these boxes because, rather than tossing them, I can flatten them out and file them away so they don’t take up a lot of room. There is some minor assembly required here, mainly putting the two halves of Robin together at the waist and while the fit was a little tight on this one, I was eventually able to get her set up and ready to go.

I’m fond of pointing out that my first two figures in the Flag Diamond Ship series, Nami and Boa Hancock had a strong pirate flair to them and after that the series just started doing it’s own thing. Well, Robin here fits more closely with the design of those first two figures, but she’s still sporting something of a pirate-cowboy mash-up. She’s also one of the simpler designed figures in the series, as there isn’t a whole lot to her costume, and I mean that both literally and figuratively. Robin sports a tan jacket with red liner, which she is holding open to expose her skimpy black bikini-style top. Moving downward, she’s got a black micro-skirt with a wide gray belt, and finally, a pair of brown buccaneer boots. The ensemble is punctuated by an oversize brown fedora, a multi-colored head scarf, and a single flintlock pistol strapped to her right thigh.

The portraits in this series have all been great, and Robin does nothing to buck that trend. She sports a somewhat serious expression with her hair and the head scarf both blowing off behind her. Her facial features are perfectly printed and the white, purple, and lavender pattern of the scarf is also neat and clean and offers a nice contrast to her black hair. The fedora is tipped down low over her face, so this is a statue that really demands being displayed at eye level if you don’t want to obscure her pretty face.

I’m not sure whether Robin is putting on her jacket, taking it off, or just flashing her goodies, but whatever the case I like the pose. As I mentioned there isn’t a huge amount of detail here, but that’s more because of the style and not an intentional omission. Most of the outfit’s detail can be found in the boots. They have a cool suede look about them, with sculpted gold painted fixtures and laces. There’s a nice braided band around her hat, and the jacket features stitch lines on the outside as well as the liner. Finally, they put some excellent work into the flintlock. The paint is simple, but overall pretty clean and her skin tone looks great.

Rather than traditional bases, this line has been using plastic pieces that fit into one of the figures’ feet as a stand. The more recent releases have abandoned the effort to make these pieces look like anything other than hunks of plastic. Robin’s on the other hand is sculpted to look like… eh, a crumpled piece of cloth? Maybe? I don’t know, but whatever it is, I like that they gave it some detail. Unlike some collectors, I haven’t had any major issues with these unconventional stands, although Robin’s doesn’t fit quite as flush as the others so there is a tiny bit of wobble to her.

When I pre-order these figures, I can usually get them for between $20 and $25, but I had to go to hunt Nico Robin down and she set me back a full $30, and you know what? She was still well worth it. The quality on these figures continues to impress me and at about 9-inches tall, they make for impressive display pieces. These are definitely not what I tend to think of when I think of Prize Figures. As of now, I believe Banpresto has three more of these figures planned, including second versions of both Nico Robin and Boa Hancock, but it doesn’t look like they’ll be arriving until next year.

One Piece: “Flag Diamond Ship” Vinsmoke Reiju (Code: B) by Banpresto

Holy hell, it’s two Anime Saturday reviews in a row! This miracle is being brought to you by my vacation and the fact that I actually had time to squeeze in some more content this week. I’m not sure how consistent it will be going forward, but I’m going to give it my best try. Anywho, I’m back this Saturday morning with another one of Banpresto’s Flag Diamond Ship figures, and this time it’s Vinsmoke Reiju!

These roughly 9-inch scale figures continue to release in pretty typical, fully enclosed prize figure boxes. There are some great photos of the figure on all four panels to give you a good idea about what’s inside. And of course the box also states the aim of the series, “to create a figure that exudes the female form” including “proportional balance!” Hey, I’m all for that, but it makes me wonder what kind of ladies are hanging around the Banpresto offices, and maybe I need a job there! Anyway, there is some minor assembly required here, so let me get Reiju together and we’ll check her out!

The initial releases made me think that this was going to be a traditional pirate-themed line, but it has since managed to stray to the point where the only common thread I can see is that of lovely ladies. And that’s fine, because I still like what I’m seeing, even if Reiju’s costume here is all over the place! She’s a black half-jacket zipped almost all the way down to the bottom with a purple half-shirt peaking out, long black gloves, a black micro-skirt with a wide black belt and a purple waist scarf, high black socks with knee pads, and stiletto boots. The ensemble is topped off with a peaked officer’s cap and a pair of revolvers and… yeah, like I said, I’ve got no idea what they were going for here, but I dig it.

I also love the portrait here. The right side of Reiju’s face is mostly obscured by her short pink hair, although you can still make out her tiny lips and nose and one perfectly printed eyeball, with her family’s signature eyebrow above it. And while it looks like she’s just stretching, she’s actually got a nasty surprise behind her back in the form of a combat knife.

In addition to getting all the curves in all the right places, the sculpt packs some nice detail where it’s needed. I’m especially impressed with the work put into the pistols as well as the combat knife, which features a serrated back edge.

Paint has been generally solid in this line, and I think Reiju here comes close to being the best so far. I like the use of high gloss black for the cap, gloves, belt, cape, and even the bands around her boots, as it contrasts well with the matte black used for the jacket and skirt. The pistols have a nice metallic gray finish with brown painted handles. The zipper and pocket clasps are precisely painted in gold, and even the silver paint on her belt buckle is sharp and clean. She has a nice warm skin-tone, and the sixes on her thighs are perfect!

The series continues to eschew proper bases in favor of plastic bits that fit onto one of the figure’s feet to stand them up. In this case it’s a black block that Reiju’s left foot slots into. It works perfectly for a stand, but I wish they had dressed it up into like a wooden crate or something. At least it matches the color of her boots, so it doesn’t really stand out.

I pre-ordered Reiju when she was first solicited for $20 and that feels like an absolute deal. She’s big, she’s beautiful, and her eclectic biker-chick-cowboy-pirate design certainly demands attention. The quality on these figures continue to impress me and I know I’ll be on board for as long as Banpresto can keep it up! There are a few more scheduled for release early next year, but I still have one more in the hopper to open up before the end of this year!

One Piece: “Flag Diamond Ship” Nefeltari Vivi (Code: B) by Banpresto

I’m on vacation this week, which means I actually had time to resurrect Anime Saturday! And while I won’t make any promises, I’m really trying to bring it back on a semi-regular basis, because the Prize Figures and Figmas have been stacking up quite a bit. Today I’m opening up another one of Banpresto’s Flag Diamond Ship figures and this time it’s the Princess of Alabasta herself, Nefaltari Vivi!

As always, the figure comes in a fully enclosed box with some shots of the statue and the deliciously weird mission statement of the series, which includes delivering the female form’s “amazing hourglass figure, ideal body curves, and proportional balance.” OK! For some reason, I got it into my head that the Code B meant it was the second version of the character in the series, but I’m pretty sure this is first time Vivi has appeared. Anyway, this roughly 9-inch scale figure requires a bit of minor assembly, so let’s get her set up and check her out!

And here she is all put together and looking… well, nicely put together, if ya know what I mean! Early on, I thought they were going for a strong pirate theme in this line, but it seems like that’s not necessarily the case. That’s not to say I don’t like what I’m seeing! Vivi sports a black button-down half-shirt, which also only happens to be about halfway buttoned. Thankfully there’s a strap across her chest to hold it together. The sleeves are rolled up just below her elbows and she has one glove on her right hand.

Moving down, she’s got black short shorts with a blue sash tied around her waist, a flintlock pistol strapped to her right thigh, a knee below that, one thigh-high blue stocking on her left leg, and a pair of very tall glossy black boots with sculpted laces and buckles. It may not be traditional pirate garb, but I really dig it.

Overall, the paint is pretty solid on this figure. I love the gradient blue coloring on her left stocking, it gives me a bit of a Harley Quinn vibe, and the high gloss black used for her boots and glove looks great. Some high points of the applications include the individually painted brass buttons on her top, the silver buckles in her boots and holster strap, and the gold ring on her right hip, that’s holding her waist sash together. The brown used for the holster is a darker shade than the pistol itself, and while they painted the butt cap on the pistol gold, they neglected to paint the rest of the fixtures on the gun. This omission is really the only complaint I have about the paintwork on this figure, as it is the gun looks like it’s made out of chocolate!

The portrait is excellent. Vivi’s big eyes are perfectly printed, along with her lips and eyebrows. The pose has her gathering up her long blue hair, which is flowing wildly all around her. While the detail is overall great on the figure, I think it’s the hair that really sells this sculpt the most to me.

Banpresto has experimented a bit with the bases in this line. They started out using a large circular disc with the first Nami, then they went with a little pile of gold for the second figure, Boa Hancock. Now it seems like they’ve settled for using just black chunks of plastic that pegs into one of the feet. I like these, as they don’t take up as much space as the conventional bases, but I kind of wish they kept the treasure motif, because it actually looked likes something and not just a hunk of black plastic. I know some collectors have had issues with the stability on these stands, but mine have been pretty good. They fit flush with the shelf and they do their job keeping the figures upright.

Four figures in, and I have to say that I’m still a big fan of this line. The costumes are creative, the ladies are beautiful, and the quality is certainly there for the price point. And speaking of which, I’ve found that pricing on this line has been anywhere from $20 all the way up to $30, depending on where I get them. It seems like pre-ordering them is the way to go, as I got Vivi here for $20, but I’m probably going to cough up $30 for the Nico Robin I missed out on. Twenty bucks feels like a great value, whereas thirty is right up at the ceiling.

One Piece: “Flag Diamond Ship” Nami (Code: B) by Banpresto

Banpresto has been continuing their Flag Diamond Ship line of 9-inch scaled figures featuring the ladies of One Piece in some rather fetching and unconventional outfits. Much earlier this year, I checked out their Boa Hancock and first version of Nami. Today I’m going to open up their second version of Nami, called Code: B. Let’s go!

The packaging here is standard prize figure stuff right down to the Jamma and Craneking logos. You get a fully enclosed box with some nice shots of the statue inside, along with the line’s mission statement in English, which has a round about way of saying the figures are pure fan service. No surprises there! Inside, the figure comes partially disassembled and wrapped in plastic. All you have to do is put Nami’s two halves together at the waist, put her right foot into the base, and place her sword in her hand.

And ain’t she pretty! The pose features Nami with a somewhat wide stance and cradling a telescoping sword-baton behind her neck with each hand. The outfit consists of short shorts and a tied off top, both matching black with teal trim. She also sports some black gloves, stockings, and little black boots with orange ties around them. Not exactly a conventional look for Nami, and that’s the point, but I think she looks great.

There’s some really nice detail to the outfit, including a sculpted cream colored belt with painted silver studs and buckle. It secures a flintlock pistol to her right hip and a holster for her other weapon on her left hip. The pistol includes gold painted fixtures and looks great. The top features silver painted buttons running down the front and some poofy ruffles to her shoulder sleeves.

While the outfit might be a bit of a departure, the portrait is 100% Nami. Her big eyes are neatly painted and she’s wearing a wry smile with her head cocked and offering a sideways glance. Someone’s about to get a smack-down. Her vibrant orange hair cascades down her back in two pony-tails with smaller licks curling up in front of her shoulders. Her weapon is an interesting design, as it has a katana-style hilt with a collapsing baton in place of a blade. I have to confess my ignorance here, because if this is a real weapon, I’ve never seen anything like it before. It’s a separate piece that fits into the grasp of her right hand with the other end cradled in her left. The tactical-style grip is textured and has an orange tie around it that matches the ones on her boots.

The base is a simple black rock that her right foot pegs into. I’ve seen a lot of complaints about this base not supporting the statue, but mine actually works perfectly.

Banpresto seems highly committed to this series, as they have several more figures solicited for pre-order, as well as a few out now that I haven’t picked up yet. They seem to retail around the $25 range, which isn’t bad for what you’re getting. Sure, she isn’t the same quality as a proper scaled figure, but then with a respectable 9-inch scale and a price point at least $100 less than your average scaled figure, I’m really digging these a lot. The paint is solid, the sculpts are fun, and I’ve got several more due in soon, so you can bet you’ll be seeing more of the Flag Diamond Ship around here!

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.

One Piece: “Flag Diamond Ship” Nami by Banpresto

It’s the weekend! And I’m actually off this weekend! I had every intention of reviewing a Figma today, but this past week turned into a real shit-show and what little spare time I had I spent playing video games to relieve stress. To put it another way, reviewing Figmas takes time, and I didn’t have time. But, I wasn’t about to let my streak of Anime Saturday reviews die, so here I am with another prize figure from Banpresto’s Flag Diamond Ship series. Last time it was Boa Hancock, this time it’s Nami!

Just like Boa’s packaging, the box here is sizable, as the figure inside is roughly 9-inch scale and comes mostly assembled. All you have to do is remove it from the plastic, put Nami’s head onto her body and plug her into the base. There are some additional stand parts if you want them, but I’ll come back to that toward the end of the review. I don’t have much more to say about the box, other than it has plenty of photos of the figure inside and it’s made of super flimsy cardboard, so mine got beat up pretty bad in transit. Also, it’s worth repeating the mission statement for this series, which is printed in English on the front of the box. “Our aim was to create a figure that exudes the female form, including an amazing hourglass figure, ideal lady curves, and proportional balance.” You sold me, Banpresto! Let’s take a look!

And here she is all set up and ready to go, and I must say she is pretty exquisite and for a prize figure, the quality here is excellent. The shapely Straw Hat navigator stands on one leg as she adjusts the heel of her left sandal with her right hand. Her other hand resting on what little there is of her shorty-short shorts. Her head is turned and she offers an alluring little side glance. In addition to her denim-style shorts and orange high-heeled sandals, she sports a super skimpy red bikini top and a rather magnificently plumed pirate hat. In terms of a traditional look for the character, I don’t think this costume takes as many liberties as they did with Boa Hancock, although I’m definitely sensing a giant pirate hat theme in this series. As for the composition, well the pose certainly has sex appeal, and I always get a little extra enjoyment out of statues that are posed in a way that exhibits perfect balance.

The paint quality is quite good, with a lush and glossy crimson for her bikini top. The paint applications for the strings could have been a wee bit sharper, but it’s nothing that I’m going to get upset about. The shorts feature a very realistic blue that replicates the denim material rather nicely, along with a lighter blue used for the ragged cut fringe. Even the black lines of her g-string are pretty sharp. The plastic used for her skin tone is warm and smooth, although under certain lighting it can look a tad waxy. There are some seam lines running up the sides of the figure, but they’re pretty subtle and you have to get in pretty close to notice them. Let’s take a closer look at some of the details…

I love the attention to detail expressed in her rings and bracelets. Each individual ring on her fingers is unique and neatly painted. The sculpt on the brown leather wrist wrap is pretty intricate and it contrasts nicely with the candy-colored red and white bracelet. Moving on to her left arm, she has the updated version of her Log Pose with the three globed needles to help her navigate the New World. The red beaded bracelet is painted neatly, but if you get in close enough you can see where the sculpt is not painted around the skin and it looks a little strange. And yes, I’m really looking for stuff to nitpick here. Also note that her fingernails are painted pink.

And let’s take a quick look at the back of her shorts so that we can soak in the… um, detail. The sculpted stitching includes the pockets, belt loops, and various seam lines, and I think they did a nice job with the ragged edges. The sides of the jeans are laced together with sculpted string, which is carefully painted.

And here’s a look at her trademark blue tattoo, which is neatly printed on her left arm. This shot also offers a good look at the painted plumage in her pirate hat. The feathers are red, yellow, and blue, the hat is painted with a leather-like brown finish, and there’s a nice gold border painted around the edges of the brim.

And that brings us to the portrait, which achieves Nami-levels of cute. In fact, based on my patented Namiometer, I’d rate this one with a cuteness factor of 9. The combination of her wide, perfectly printed eyes and her knowing smirk, punctuated by her mischievous eyebrows really sums up the character perfectly. And while the pirate hat itself is quite nice, I can’t help but have my attention stolen away by the wild sculpt of her beautiful orange hair. Fantastic!

The base is a simple translucent black disk, which eschews the creativity of Boa’s treasure stand for something a lot more functional. Nami’s right foot pegs into it and it holds her up perfectly straight. If you note the socket behind her foot, that’s for an additional post with a clip that’s designed to go around her upper right leg to hold her steady. I’m hesitant to use it because I’m afraid it might mark or scratch the skin tone. It’s also a bit unsightly and totally unnecessary as she stands fine without it. I don’t want to dump all over the creativity used for Boa’s stand, but I think I prefer this one and I wish Banpresto had used a standard style base for this series.

Despite the CRANEKING logo stamped on the box, this figure really blurs that line between cheap prize figure and premium scaled figure. But then the somewhat inflated price reflects that. While I paid the higher price of $30 for Boa Hancock, Nami here was $35, and while that’s a bit pricey for a mere prize figure, I can’t say it wasn’t money well spent. She’s big and she looks fantastic on the shelf. As much as I’d love to adorn my shelves with $150-200 Nami statues, I collect way too much stuff to be able to pump that kind of cash into my anime collectibles. Maybe someday I’ll invest in that one special Nami figure, and I suppose I’ll know that one when I see it. But for now, this is a really well done figure, and I’m really digging this Flag Diamond Ship series. Some of my usual haunts have Vinsmoke Reiju up for pre-order as the next figure gracing this series, but sadly not until September.

One Piece “Flag Diamond Ship” Boa Hancock by Banpresto

Did you know that one of my favorite pastimes is drinking a bunch of Jameson and trawling the Interwebs for prize figures? Yup, I’m a man of simple pleasures. They tend to be pretty cheap, so I can’t get into too much trouble, but as a rule I keep seeing a lot of the same stuff over and over again so I don’t end up buying a lot. But just often enough something new pops in and surprises me, and last time it was this Flag Diamond Ship series by Banpresto. I call it a series, but I’ve only been able to find two so far, Boa and Nami, and I snapped up both of them pretty quickly. Maybe there will be more, who knows? I want to go straight for the Nami, but since I just looked at her Variable Action Hero a couple weeks back, I’m going to open up Boa today for Anime Saturday!

The box is pretty typical prize figure fare, albeit it’s bigger to house this 9-inch scale figure. Yeah, when it comes to prize figures, I tend to think 6-inches or smaller, but despite the CRANEKING logo on the box, Boa is not your average prize figure. The enclosed box shows plenty of photos of the figure inside, although it’s a bit on the flimsy side and mine showed up a little rough around the edges. As for what this series is all about, I’ll let the box speak for itself, “Our aim was to create a figure that exudes the female form, including an amazing hourglass figure, ideal lady curves, and proportional balance.” OK! That’s quite a mission statement… and in English no less! Inside the box, Boa comes wrapped in plastic and with a little assembly required. Her head needs to be attached and her right foot needs to be fitted to the base.

Out of the box, Boa strikes a pose with her right foot on a pile of gold, her hands resting on her hips, and her formidable cannons out front and center. It’s nothing terribly creative from a composition standpoint, but at least they resisted the urge to full on Captain Morgan and have her knee up higher and her foot up on a chest. As for “exuding the female form,” I think they’ve achieved their goal at least within the framework of the ridiculously sensationalized anime perspective. In short, I love it!

The costume is not a traditional look for Boa, but rather a sexy take on the swashbuckling pirate look that I really enjoy. She’s got a ragged cut top that just manages to contain her ample chest, and is tied in the front. The rest of the costume consists of a a skimpy pair of black panties which are mostly obscured by a pair of wide belts, thigh-high high-heeled boots, lots of bling on her arms, and a very iconic looking tri-corner pirate hat.

The sculpted detail here is pretty fantastic. The buccaneer boots have rumples in all the right places, as well as ornate golden fixtures on the heels, toes, and backs of the ankles. You get little sculpted cross-stitches on the backs of the thigh cuffs. The use of gradient shades of brown on the boots looks especially nice. The belts are sculpted as separate pieces and include all sorts of fixtures and ornamentation. As good as the sculpt is, there are some solid paint applications to back it up. From individually painted bracelets to the fingernail polish, they really went all out on this figure.

The portrait offers a solid recreation of the character from the series with perfectly printed eyes and lips. My only main nitpick here would be that she’s void of all expression. I’d like to see a little smirk or smile, or determination, but she’s kind of just a blank slate. I guess this figure has enough personality in the outfit to carry the day. I’ll also say that the hair sculpt could have been a little more refined, especially the strands that spill down the side of her face. The earrings are a nice touch and I really dig the pirate hat, which features some leather-like texturing.

The base is kind of a mixed bag. I appreciate them trying something a little different from the usual disk, but what we got doesn’t work all that well. It’s basically just a little pile of treasure that you slip her foot into. The problem is that if I slip her foot so it’s flush with the bottom, she doesn’t stand straight, so I had to experiment a bit to get it to work and when it is working, the base itself isn’t usually even with the surface it’s standing on. So, points for creativity, but I have to take them back again for pure execution.

The base notwithstanding, I’m really impressed with this figure. She cost me around $30, which is admittedly a lot more than I usually spend on prize figures, but when you consider the larger scale and that this figure really sports some premium paint, I think the price is justified. Since it was the first time I saw her and I was pretty inebriated, I didn’t really do a lot of deal hunting. Also, this is the first Boa Hancock figure in my collection, so I feel good that I’m expanding beyond Nami for a change. Next week, I’m probably going to check out another Figma, and after that I’ll circle back to open up Flag Diamond Ship Nami.

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.