S.H. Figuarts: Sailor Venus by Bandai Tamashii Nations

I’m slowly wrapping things up with the S.H. Figuarts Sailor Moon line with just a few more figures to look at. In fact, today’s Feature will be the last of the Sailor Scouts! I’ll confess that I’m still considering Sailor Chibi Moon and I’ll most definitely be adding Tuxedo Mask to my Sailor Moon shelf at some point. And no, right now I have no plans to double dip by getting all the Super Sailor Scouts. Black Lady? Hmm… maybe. So, let’s press on and check out Pretty Guardian Sailor Venus… VENUS POWER… MAKE UP!!!!

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I’ve showcased this packaging enough times over the last two years that we should all know what to expect by now. It’s compact, colorful, and collector friendly. In other words, it’s pretty much perfect. The character art on the side panels also make these look fantastic when they’re all lined up on a bookshelf. I’ll be honest, I was not planning on buying Minako, because I had a weird love-hate relationship with her in the anime. But once I had all the other Sailor Scouts, her absence from my collection was just too much for my OCD to handle.

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Venus’ outfit is basically just a direct repaint of Sailor Moon’s, with the exception of her wearing shoes instead of boots. As a result, this is a pretty familiar figure to anyone who already owns Usagi, and even more so to those like me who saved Minako for last. The skirt and collar are painted with a very attractive metallic orange, as well as her shoes and the fringe on her gloves. The bow on her front is blue with a gold button and the rest of the outfit is the same pearlescent white that we’ve been seeing all along. Paint quality is generally not an issue with these figures and in keeping with tradition the paint here is exceptionally good and probably among the best out of all of my Scouts. I initially thought that Venus’ head sat unusually high on the neck, but it turns out I didn’t have it pushed all the way in for some of these shots. D’oh!

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There’s not as much to see from behind because of her copious mane of blonde hair that fans out behind her. She still has a bow on her back, under all that hair, and the more visible one up on the back of her head. The sides are connected by ball joints, so you can fan the hair out more or less depending on the look you’re going for. It also helps when you’re trying to sneak the arm of the stand in somewhere behind her. Despite all her hair, the balance on this figure isn’t bad at all and I’m actually surprised at how well she stands on her own most of the time, even with her tiny feet. In addition to the usual gaggle of extra hands, Venus comes with four faces with different expressions, each one more adorable than the last…

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You get the smile face, the stoic and serious face, the shouty face, and the delighted face. This is pretty standard stuff for an SHF release, but it gives you plenty of different display options. Each face is swapped out the usual way by removing the front of the hair. The printing for the eyes is nice and sharp and each face includes the detailed gold tiara and the tiny earrings.

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Two cool additions here are the extra hair piece with her glasses attached and the hand holding them. These are very welcome bonus pieces and go along way to give this figure a lot of personality. I particularly like the way they made the glasses part of the hair so you can use them with any of the different expressions.

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The articulation is pretty standard stuff for an SH Figuart and as always I was able to pull off most of the moves I was looking for. The joints can be a little finicky sometimes, but in the end these figures are so much fun to play with and really hard to put down. The clear heart-shaped figure stand features Sailor Venus’ name and symbols in orange and matches the stands from the other Sailor Scouts. It’s not always easy to make it work with the hair, and I’ll confess that more and more, I’m finding these a lot more clunky than the peg system on Figmas.

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And naturally, you get Artemus the cat. This is more or less the same as Luna, the plastic kitty that came with Sailor Moon. She has articulation in the neck and tail and with a little coaxing he can usually stand on his own.

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In the end, I’m sure glad I didn’t skip this one. I wound up buying Venus from the Points of Articulation Podcast‘s Ebay page, which they use to offset costs of their production. If you aren’t a regular listener, I highly recommend becoming one. Phil and Justin have roots in both toys and gaming, and POA is the perfect dose of light-hearted toy banter, especially since the shows rarely go longer than an hour. I can always fit it in and I never miss an episode. They also tend to do more LEGO talk than the other toy Podcasts I listen to and that’s always a treat.

S.H. Figuarts: Sailor Uranus by Bandai Tamashii Nations

Japanese Import Week continues and it’s time to put another notch in my tiara with Sailor Uranus. Yes, I have a tiara and yes, I put notches in it every time I get a new one of these gals! Uranus has been sitting on “To Do” stack for very long time now, so let’s go ahead and give her her due.

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After featuring six figures in this series, the packaging should be readily familiar. It’s a colorful and elegantly compact window box that shows off the figure and features a lot of photos of her in action. Most of the copy on the box is in Japanese, but there’s just enough English to keep us western collectors from being too confused. As always, the box is collector friendly and it helps to have somewhere to put all the extra little bits and bobs. I should note that like Neptune, I have very little familiarity with this character as I never had access to the later episodes of the anime when Uranus finally made her appearance. What little I do know comes from reading about the series. One of these days I’ll have to finish it.

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Despite knowing so little about the character, I have to say that next to Sailor Mercury, Uranus may be my favorite figure in this series so far. No, it’s not that her outfit is dramatically different from the other gals, but rather it’s probably that blonde pixie cut that’s scratching my itch… metaphorically speaking of course.

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The outfit consists of the same pleated skirt and giant bows, front and back. Most of these gals have unique footwear and in this case, Uranus is sporting a pair of very 80’s looking high-heeled boots. You get the same pearlescent white paint for most of the outfit and a very deep metallic blue (possibly purple?) for her skirt, boots, collar, and butt bow. The bow on her front is painted yellow. As always, the paint is pretty much flawless.

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Besides a crazy amount of articulation, Uranus comes with the usual bevy of extra bits, including a few that are intended for another figure, which I’ll get to later. For starters, you get three additional faces. There’s the stock face is smiling ever so slightly, two slightly purturbed faces, one with the eyes looking off to the side, and one angry shouty, URANUS PLANET POWER, MAKE UP!” face.

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Hands! It wouldn’t be a Figuart without tons and tons of hands. In addition to the usual culprets, Uranus also comes with a right hand designed for holding her Space Sword.

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Bandai started something new with the release of Neptune, which is continued here and that’s the inclusion of a set of arms that are sculpted together, in this case crossed in front of her. These are attached by popping the regular arms off at the sleeve and replacing them with these. It’s a neat idea and the pose looks great, but dammit if those tiny little white sleeves don’t try to pop off and get lost almost every time.

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Last, but not least, Uranus comes with her Space Sword, which is an awesomely garish sword that looks like something you might win with enough tickets at Chuck E Cheese. I freaking love it and she looks great holding it, especially when she’s unleashing, “SPACE SWORD BLASTER!”

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As for those extra bits? Uranus comes with a love-struck face and set of hands designed for Sailor Moon. Yes, this will come in handy when I finally get Tuxedo Mask!

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Even after seven figures, I still get a kick out of opening these gals and playing around with them, although it’s also nice to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Tuxedo Mask is out now and I still have to double back and pick up Sailor Venus. Pluto is the one hold out that Bandai has been teasing us with forever and it seems like she’s finally going to be released some time later this year, and that’s where i can finally get off. Nope, no Chibi Moon for me. Super Sailor Moon? Hmmm…. maaaaaybe, but that’s only if my willpower gives in.

S.H. Figuarts: Sailor Neptune by Bandai Tamashii Nations

Holy hell, the last time I looked at any Figuarts Sailor Scouts was way back in April, so I’m going to remedy that today with a look at Sailor Neptune! Neptune and Uranus were each released right around the same time and I believe were some kind of Asian Exclusives. They were easy enough to get through my usual channels, but they did cost a little more. It’s worth mentioning that I’m moving into uncharted waters here (Ha!) in that Neptune is the first one of these figures I’m looking at where I have absolutely no first hand familiarity with the character, but rather only what I know from reading about the series. With the exception of maybe Saturn, I’ve been collecting these figures because of my attachment to the characters, but that was never going to stop me from completing my collection. NEPTUNE PLANET POWER… MAKE UP!

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I’ve been through five figures in this series already, so the packaging should be familiar by now. These little window boxes are colorful, compact, elegant, and totally collector friendly. In other words, perfect! The deco is mostly blue to match Neptune’s color scheme and you get a fairly even mix of both Japanese and English lettering. Both the left and right panels of the box have images of the figure, which is great for lining them all up on a bookshelf and being able to pull out the one you want. The only other thing that sets this box apart from the others is the inclusion of the 20th Anniversary emblem on the lower left hand corner of the front of the box.

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Neptune comes sporting her own variation of the classic Pretty Guardian Sailor outfit. You get the same pleated skirt, ruffled shoulders, and bows on the front and back. The biggest departure here are Neptune’s shorter gloves, which only extend a little past her wrists, and her high heel shoes, which are similar to Mars, only with ankle straps. The bulk of the costume comes painted in that wonderful pearlescent white. the bows are a very deep blue, and the skirt, shoes and collar are green.

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The head sculpt features unique shoulder length blue hair, which looks a lot lighter in person than it does on the box art. I like the sculpt, but it feels like the coloring lost something in the translation. In addition to the somewhat neutral expression face that comes on the figure, you get three swappable faces. It’s pretty standard stuff for this line and include what I like to call, “shouty face,” “contemplative face,” and “happy face.” All the faces include the tiara sculpted into the forehead.

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Neptune’s unique item is the Deep Aqua Mirror and it’s a pretty cool piece. It includes her symbol sculpted on the back and a silver painted front. She also comes with the standard heart shaped clear base with her name printed on it and a hinged arm to support the figure by the waist.

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Of course, it wouldn’t be a Figuarts without a ton of extra hands. In this case you get a crazy seven pairs, plus one piece with both hands clasped together. While the hands used to come in little compartments on the tray, SHF, has taken a page from Figma’s book and is now pegging the hands into these lovely little round blocks that all peg together like white LEGO minifigure heads. Anyone who has ever bumped the tray and had all the tiny hands scatter across the floor will no doubt appreciate this new system as much as me.

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Neptune also features a first for the Sailor Moon line by including an extra pair of arms. These very specific, non-articulated arms peg right in at the sleeves and tab together at the wrists to give her a crossed arm pose, which probably couldn’t quite be reproduced with the regular arms, even given that wonderful level of articulation.

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While I’ve managed to pick up nearly all of these figures right around the $35 range, Neptune jumped up to the $45 mark, probably because they are exclusives and I pre-ordered them rather then wait for a deal. Granted, that’s quite a price increase but I honestly felt these were a really good deal at $35 and so the extra ten bucks doesn’t seem like such a premium. Considering the quality of the figures and all the stuff you get, you could do a lot worse. I have one more figure in this line to look at, and that’s Sailor Uranus, but I still need to double back and pick up Sailor Venus. Also, Bandai has been busy with brand new reveals, including Tuxedo Mask, Super Sailor Soldier, and finally Sailor Pluto, so it looks like it’ll be a little while yet before I’m free of this series.

S.H. Figuarts: Sailor Saturn by Bandai Tamashii Nations

I last visited with The S.H. Figuarts Sailor Moon series back in February with Sailor Jupiter and I’ve gotten a few of these figures in since then. I do have a couple of points worth noting here: First, while I’ve been going in order of appearance, I am obviously skipping over Sailor Venus because I haven’t picked her up yet. I will be eventually getting her to complete my set, but her similarities in appearance to Sailor Moon made me pass her over for the more distinctive designs of the later Sailor Scouts. Secondly, we’re into relatively unknown territory here starting with Sailor Saturn. Nearly all my exposure to Sailor Moon comes from the anime and Jupiter and Venus were more or less the last Pretty Sailor Soldiers that I am familiar with. Of course, being an obsessive plastic addict I wasn’t about to stop collecting this line and so in addition to Saturn and Venus, I still have Neptune and Uranos ahead of me. Will I be picking up Super Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask… probably. As for Sailor Pluto… We all know she’s coming, I just don’t understand what’s taking so long!

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There’s the packaging and we’ve seein it multiple times, so I’m not going to dwell on it too long. It’s a wonderfully compact little window box that shows off the figure and features a deco colored to match the colors of the Sailor’s outfit, in this case mostly purple and blue. The box features lots of photos of the figure, but no artwork from the manga or anime. The lettering on the box is fairly bi-lingual but does feature quite a bit of Japanese lettering. And always remember to check your boxes for that little foil sticker of authenticity. I got stuck with a bootleg once… hopefully never again! The side panels of the box also feature images of the figure so you can line these all up on your bookshelf and still be able to grab whichever figure your looking for without having to pull them all out. That’s a big help considering most collectors will be storing the extra parts in the boxes. Inside the box, you get the standard clear plastic tray with the figure, three additional portraits, four additional pairs of hands, her Silence Glaive, and her figure stand.

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Here she is, and might I say she’s pretty cute for being the wielder of the Scythe of The Goddess of Death! Saturn features the most sculpted changes to the Sailor Scout outfit over any of the other Sailor Soldiers. Her pleated skirt is the same, but her top features ruffled shoulders and the centerpiece on her bow is far more elaborate, like a diamond star burst. She also features high boots with sculpted laces running all the way up to her knees. The new costume isn’t a huge departure over the other gals, but it’s just enough to make it distinctive after seeing the same basic thing for the last four figures. The top is the same pearlescent white that we’ve been seeing all along. Her boots, skirt, and trim are all pearlescent blue, and her bows are a rich, deep purple.

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The portraits are all pretty standard for what we’ve been seeing. Saturn isn’t known for her bubbly and outgoing personality and the extra faces reflect that. The head that comes on the figure does feature a hint of a smile. The others include shouty face, solemn face with closed eyes, and slightly perturbed face. As always the portraits are easily swapped out by removing the front hair piece and old face and pegging the new one in and reattaching the hair piece.

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And it wouldn’t be a Figuarts feature without talking about a bunch of extra hands. If you read my two Figma reviews, you may recall my lamenting the fact that the Figuarts line doesn’t use a similar sprue system for storing the hands when not in use. Well, now they do! Each set of hands is pegged onto a piece of plastic, which I can only describe as like a white LEGO Minifigure head and each one of these can peg into each other so you can chain all the hands together in a modular fashion. I like it!

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Of course, one of the most unique things about Sailor Saturn is her Silence Glaive. It’s a large pole arm with an elegantly curved blade. She can hold it perfectly with the special set of hands and she looks damn good wielding it. And last, but not least, the stand is the same style we’ve been seeing since this series began. You get a clear heart shaped base with the name of the Sailor on it and a hinged grabbing arm that is articulated in three places.

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Despite moving into relatively unknown territory when it comes to the remaining Sailor Scouts, I’m still totally in love with this series and I’m looking forward to getting the line complete and set up on my shelf. Nothing could possibly reflect that more then the fact that I ponied up extra to get Neptune and Uranus, each of whom ran about ten dollars more because they were exclusives. I’ll try not to wait so long before getting back around to looking at them. Now let’s just hope we see some progress on Sailor Pluto by the time SDCC 2015 rolls around!

S.H. Figuarts: Sailor Jupiter by Bandai Tamashii Nations

Let’s see… by my reckoning it was way back in November that I last checked in with the Figuarts Sailor Moon line. I made my way up to Sailor Mars and then things just got lost in the shuffle. My pre-order for Sailor Uranos recently dropped and so I thought I’d better get cracking on getting caught up because I currently have two other Sailor Soldiers waiting to be opened. And that brings us to the next Sailor Scout to appear… Makoto. Cue transformation… JUPITER POWER MAKE-UP!!! The addition of Jupiter as the fourth Sailor Scout added another flavor to the ensemble. In addition to Sailor Moon we had brainy Mercury and the fiery Mars and to this we now add a little muscle to the mix. I like Jupiter, particularly her noble sense of justice and her willingness to dive into a scrape when the cause is right, (plus, I remind her of her old Sempai!) but I never quite bonded with her as I did Mercury or Mars. That’s not to say she’s not a great character and I was certainly looking forward to getting her figure on my shelf. I also totally dig the way she calls down the lightning with her antenna and fries her enemies with SUUUUPREME THUNDER!

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The package is the same compact little window box that we saw with the previous releases. It’s colorful and each box features a deco that is tailored to the Sailor Scout inside. In this case we get a lot of green. There’s a nice die-cut image of Jupiter on the front that obscures part of the window, but you still get a peek at the figure inside. The rest of the box is littered with pictures of the figure in action poses. Inside, a clear plastic tray holds the figure in the center and a secondary tray holds her extra bits off to the side. As always, the package is totally collector friendly, which helps a lot with keeping track of everything when you’re not using it.

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Straightaway, one of the things I love the most about this figure is that it accurately reflects Jupiter’s height. A lot of toy companies would have been happy with a straight repaint of the body and hope nobody noticed, but not these guys. Jupiter stands about half a head taller than Sailor Moon and most of her added height comes from her longer torso. The rest of the costume is similar in sculpt to the other gals, complete with pleated skirt, large bows front and back, ruffled shoulders, and the sailor-style collar. The biggest difference in the outfits is found in the footwear, as Jupiter is sporting a pair of low boots laced up in the front. I really dig how they did Jupiter’s hair with the two loose strands hanging down either side of her face and an articulated pony tail.

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The coloring and paintwork on this figure is top notch. You get the same pearlescent white on the blouse and gloves, a striking metallic green paint for the skirt, boots, and collar, and a shimmering pink for the bows. The paint on these figures has been pretty good throughout and Jupiter is right in line with the best of them. I can’t spot any splotches or flubs.

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I expect a lot of extra bits with my Sailor Scouts, and Jupiter isn’t one to disappoint. You get a total of five extra pairs of interchangeable hands and three extra swappable faces. Some of the hands are familiar, some are new, and they really do help to hammer home that special pose you might be looking for. The extra portraits include delighted Jupiter, slightly perturbed Jupiter, and shouty perturbed Jupiter. As always, the faces are swapped by removing the front of her hair.

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Speaking of which, Jupiter comes with an extra front hair piece that has her antenna extended. It looks great, but it’s not as rubbery as I would have expected. This means it doesn’t warp, but it also demands caution because I can see it snapping rather easily.

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And lastly, Jupiter comes with the same style stand we’ve been seeing since Sailor Moon was released. It’s a clear, heart-shaped base with an arm the pegs in to the back. The base is printed with Jupiter’s name and some stars and scroll work patterns, all in green. The arm is hinged in three places and has two little grabber arms. I’m still on the fence whether I prefer these to the peg-in-the-back style that Figmas use, but it’s still a nice, serviceable stand and it certainly comes in handy as it can be tricky to get Jupiter to stand on her tiny feet without it.

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Jupiter ran me about $44 on Amazon, which is about average for what I’ve been paying for these figures. Even with four of these gals now on my shelf it still feels like a good value for what you’re getting. The quality is there, she’s got excellent poseability, and all the extra bits and bobs make me feel like I’m getting my money’s worth. I was wondering whether I’d get tired of this line a few figures in, since they do mostly share a lot of the same design elements, but so far that hasn’t been the case. I was just as excited opening Jupiter as I was her predecessors and I’m rather anxious to get to the next one.

S.H. Figuarts: Sailor Mars by Bandai Tamashii Nations

[I know, it’s Thursday… where the hell are the Transformers at? Fear not fans of change-a-bots, I’m only bumping this week’s TFT back a day and for reasons that will be made clear tomorrow. In the meantime, the feature I had planned for Friday will get bumped up to fill today’s slot. Enjoy!]

It’s been over a month since I last looked at one of Figuarts’ Sailor Scouts so today I’m checking out the third release in the line, Sailor Mars. Yeah, I’m way behind on these releases and I really need to work on getting caught up! When I looked at Mercury, I commented on how the anime really picked up for me with the addition of a second Sailor Scout for Usagi to play off of. Well, that sentiment is tripled after episode 10 when Sailor Mars joins the team. Ami may have made Usagi look bad on a regular basis because of how seriously she took her new found responsibilities, but the two still got along pretty well. Feisty Rei, on the other hand, was more like a rival and that lead to some great fun. As much as I dig Ami, she tends to be a pretty stereotypical character, whereas Rei comes across as a bit more complex. Needless to say I was super excited to get Mars into my collection.

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I love the packaging on these ladies! Mars comes in the same style of compact window box as the previous two Scouts. The deco is personalized to fit Mars with yellow, orange, and red and there’s a picture of the figure on the front beside the window. Surprisingly, there’s no artwork from the anime or manga, instead you just get lots of photos of the toy inside. As expected, the majority of the copy on the box is in Japanese with just enough english to tell you what you’re getting. Inside the box the figure comes on a clear plastic tray with all her bits spread out to the side and the entire package is, of course, collector friendly. The hands and faces even come in their own covered tray to keep them from flying all over the place when you open it. There is, however, still one loose hand and a scroll in the main tray so a modicum of caution should still be applied.

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Obviously, much of Mars’ outfit is similar to that of Sailor Moon and Mercury’s. You get the same sculpted pleated skirt as well as the large bows on her chest and back. Aside from the coloring, the only obvious difference in Mars’ costume is that she’s wearing high heels instead of boots. The heels look good, but they provide quite a challenge when getting the figure to stand on her own. I didn’t have nearly as much trouble with Sailor Moon or Mercury.

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Mars features four swappable faces. You get the stock, smiley face, the serious face, the eyes closed in concentration face, and the shouty face. The switch is made simply by removing the front of the hair piece, pulling off the old face and pegging on the new one. They’re all pretty good portraits, but I will likely stick with the serious face for Rei as I think it reflects her personality the best. The head sculpt also features Mars’ two tiny star earrings and a copious mane of black hair. The hair has hinged pieces on the sides so you can fan it out more to convey movement in action poses, or collapse it so it falls flat behind her.

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The paintwork has been solid on my Sailor Scout figures so far, with just a few very minor spots of uneven application or visible brush strokes. Mars’ paint, however, is pretty much perfect. I can’t find anything to nit pick at all. The red used for her skirt, collar, rear bow, and shoes is nice and bright and I dig the metallic purple and red used for the bow on her front. The pearlescent white on her top and gloves looks great as ever and the skin tones are all clean and even.

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Hands! Hands! HANDS!!! As expected, Mars comes with a lot of hands… five pairs and an extra, depending on how you count. She comes with her relaxed hands attached. She also has a pair of fists, a pair of slightly less balled up fists, a pair with fingers splayed out, a right hand with index finger pointed, and a single piece with both hands attached to recreate her FIIIIIRE SOUL! attack. You also get a single right hand designed to hold her Ofuda scroll.

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The included stand is the same as we’ve seen with the last two Sailor Scouts only with personalized paint on the base. It’s clear plastic with a heart shape base and a hinged arm that can delicately support the figure around the waist or under the arms. While I do love these stands, it’s worth noting that Mars’ long hair tends to interfere with the placement of the gripping arm. The previously mentioned hinges in her hair do help to create a gap and accommodate it, but to make it work you need to turn Mars’ head a bit.

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Apart from her extra portraits and gaggle of hands, Mars is a bit light on the accessories. In fact all she comes with is a single Ofuda scroll and man is it tiny. It’s designed to fit between the fingers of one specific hand and it does work well for that, but I can’t help but think it would have been better if they had sculpted it as part of the hand. They did that with Sailor Moon’s “Moon Tiara Action” effect and that was a much bigger piece than this little scrap of plastic.

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I picked up Sailor Mars for a little under forty bucks and I think that’s a great deal for what you get. Sure, Mars feels wanting in accessories when compared to Sailor Moon and Mercury. Tossing in a fire effect part would have gone a long way to help alleviate that, but it’s not something that dampens my love of the figure. The articulation makes for a figure that’s hard to put down and I could literally spend hours just swapping out hands and coming up with different poses for her. As my first real experience with Figuarts, these figures have been impressing the hell out of me and I’m having a blast building the team and fiddling about with them as I revisit some of my favorite episodes of the classic anime as well. Yeah, there’s also Crystal too, but I haven’t completely made up my mind about that one yet. I’ll try not to let so much time pass before revisiting this line, because Sailor Jupiter is next on my shelf waiting to be featured!

S.H. Figuarts: Sailor Mercury by Bandai Tamashii Nations

It’s been a couple of weeks since I kicked off my look at S.H. Figuarts’ Sailor Moon series with Sailor Moon herself. I’ve now got a few of these Sailor Scouts piling up on my receivings stack so let’s go ahead and check out another one of these Pretty Sailor Soldiers. I might as well stick to tradition and tackle them in the order that they appeared in the anime as I’m pretty sure that’s the order in which they’ve been released. So that means the next one up is Sailor Mercury! I went really long with Sailor Moon because it was the first figure in this series, but I’m going to try to tone it down a bit here since we know a lot of what to expect. So if you haven’t read my review of Sailor Moon, I’d recommend it before moving on to Mercury.

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In the original anime, Mercury didn’t turn up until about eight episodes in and that timing was pretty good, because as I recall her appearance gave the series the jolt I needed to keep watching it. I thought the whole dynamic of having more than one Sailor Scout made things more interesting, but I also think the episodes just got better. At the time I was first watching these, “Brainwashing School of Terror” was probably my favorite episode to date. It wasn’t just because of Mercury (oh, how I dig Mercury!), but there was just a lot of funny stuff in it and everybody just seemed to be bringing their A-game… even Luna!

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The packaging here is quite similar to what we saw with Sailor Moon. It’s a compact little window box that shows off the figure nicely and features a bright and colorful deco that is meant to reflect the character, so in this case you get a lot more blue to go with that pink and yellow. Mercury’s box is a bit thinner than Sailor Moon’s, probably because she doesn’t come with as much stuff. As before, the box is totally collector friendly and the figure comes on a clear plastic tray with the stand behind the tray and all her extra bits spread out around her.

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And here she is… Mercury may be a super genius tech geek, but she’s still as cute as a button. I expected a lot of parts sharing between her and Sailor Moon and while there’s certainly some of that going on, I’m satisfied with the new stuff, which includes little tweaks to her boots and ribbons. She also stands slightly taller than Sailor Moon, which is a lovely touch. The deco on her outfit features the same great pearlescent white plastic as Sailor Moon with some sharp looking blue.

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As with Sailor Moon, Mercury comes with three additional faces and a slew of different hands. The faces are similar to what we saw last time. You get a neutral, a serious, a shouty face (perfect for BUBBLE SPRAY!!!) and a very happy one. You get a total of five pairs of hands, each set carefully crafted for a specific pose, plus one extra left hand designed to hold her computer…

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Yes, you actually get two versions of the “supercomputer” that Luna gave to Mercury. I love that scene where Luna basically says, “here you might as well take this because Usagi would have no idea what to do with it.” Ha! I love that bit. Anyway, one of the computers is closed and one is open.

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And then there’s her visor… here’s what it looks like… on the box. Unfortunately that will have to do for this feature because I freaking lost mine. The one downside of these trays is that they have a tendency to send pieces flying when you pull them apart. It’s ironic that with nine tiny hands in there it was the significantly larger visor that has gone missing. I’m still hoping it’ll turn up, but considering I just noticed it was missing when I started shooting I have no idea where or when it fell out of the tray. It’s possibly already forever lost in the cat’s hidden treasure trove of stolen action figure parts. God, that pisses me off.

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The stand is the same clear plastic heart shaped affair that came with Sailor Moon only with a new deco to match Mercury. You get her symbol along with her name and some nice decorative scrollwork all printed in blue on the base. The support arm is hinged in three places, can swivel at the base and has hinged grabby parts to support the characte around the torso.

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With two Sailor Scouts on my shelf so far, and two more waiting to be opened, I’m really excited to keep collecting this line. Mercury is another fantastic figure, although it both pisses me off and breaks my heart to know that she’s now incomplete. If the lost visor doesn’t turn up eventually, it’ll probably bug me enough to pick up a new figure with the missing visor and when I do I’ll be sure to post an update to this feature. When next I circle back to this line, we’ll be checking out Sailor Mars!!!

S.H. Figuarts: Sailor Moon by Bandai Tamashii Nations

Yes, Sailor Moon, folks! I’m a whiskey drinking, cigar smoking, gun-toting ‘murican, and I’m about to take a look at Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon. Got a problem with that? It’s rarely the case that I feel the need to explain why I’m collecting something, but as I’m about to embark on a series of figures based on Sailor Moon, I didn’t want to just throw that out there without some kind of preface, so here goes… Sometime in 1996 I moved to South Florida to go to Grad School and work on my Masters. When I got here I no longer had any family or friends close by and by mere circumstance I latched onto anime as a means to pass the time and keep me company. It’s something that I wasn’t at all into beforehand so it gave me something to dive into with full force. I’m also a chronic insomniac, been one all my life, so part of my newly found lifestyle involved late nights with lots of booze and Sailor Moon, among other shows. I’d watch whatever I could get off of TV or from the Suncoast Video in the local mall. Even today watching the show takes me back to those nights and a pretty great and exciting time in my life.

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And that brings me to the first in the S.H. Figuarts line of Sailor Scouts! S.H. Figuarts is a line that is highly revered by many of the collectors I interact with and a number of the podcasts that I listen to. I’ve been curious about the line for a while now, but I’ve never been a big fan of Super Sentai, so when the Sailor Moon line was announced, it peaked my interest as a way that I could finally get into these figures. Yeah, I already looked at S.H. Figuarts Nami from One Piece, but she was a one off purchase, whereas I’m all in for the Sailor Scouts. Obviously, we’re going to start right at the top with Usagi, Sailor Moon herself. To anyone who already collects S.H. Figuarts, a lot of this feature will be common knowledge, but line is still brand new to me, so pardon me my indulgences.

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The figure comes in a wonderfully compact and colorful box that is both glorious and emasculating all at the same time. The bright pink, yellow, and blue deco is cavity inducing in its sheer girly sweetness and it’s only because of my extreme confidence in my own masculinity that I’m able to proceed. Despite how compact the box is, it still servess to lay out the figure and all her goodies beautifully. The window box is just big enough to give you a peek at Sailor Moon inside and I really dig the way the die cut front of the box interrupts the window with the illustration of Sailor Moon’s hair. The back of the box shows off more pictures of the figure and some of the accessories. Everything is totally collector friendly and the box serves as a necessary storage for all the extra bits when you’re not using them.

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With Sailor Moon out of the box, I was instantly impressed with the way the character is translated to her three-dimensional plastic form. None of the character’s anime aesthetics have been compromised and she just looks magnificent. I was expecting the jointing to be a lot more unsightly, particularly since the elbows and knees are jointed on what is supposed to be bare skin, but happily that’s not at all the case. While essentially the same system of jointing, I think it looks much cleaner here than it did on the Figuarts Nami release. The sculpting in the costume hits all the right points and then some. The pleating on the skirt looks great, as does her collar and bows, but it’s the tiny little touches like the crescents on her boots and the choker necklace that really drive the sculpt home.

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While I’ll get to the various faces in a bit, the regular stock portrait that comes on the figure is perfect. You get a tiny smile and the beautifully painted eyes. The hair hair looks great and I love the way the bangs are sculpted so as to hang over the Moon Tiara, which is sculpted as part of the face. Her pigtails are cast in a slightly transparent yellow plastic and since they’re pegged into the hair, they offer some rotation articulation.

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About the only place this figure stumbles ever so slightly is in the paint. Overall, it’s excellent. The slightly metallic sheen on the pink boots and bows looks great as does the pearlescent finish to her white gloves and top. The blue for her skirt and collar have a bit more of a matte finish to offer up a nice contrast. The minor issues involve the white trim on the tops of her boots not being as crisp as they could be and a little bit of visible brush strokes here and there. There’s also some transfer between the pink on her right glove and the skin on her arm. Keep in mind, I’m being ridiculously picky here only because so many people have been pumping this line up to be the end all and be all. On any other figure, I probably wouldn’t even have mentioned it.

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Before I get to the accessories, let me give mention to the figure stand that’s included, since it has already been so notably featured in the pictures. The stand consists of a crystal clear heart shaped base and a clear grabby arm. The base has a nice deco and “Sailor Moon” printed on it in pink and I really dig the way the two bumps at the top of her heart are perfectly positioned for the placement of her feet. The arm pegs into the back of the base and features three strong hinges versatile enough to go from just propping the figure up to supporting her in some great mid-air action poses.

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And that brings us to all the stuff that comes in the box… and it’s a lot. Let’s get the hands out of the way first, because while extra hands are a cool bonus, but I’m not someone who uses them a lot. Sailor Moon comes with a total of four pairs and one extra right fist for holding the Moon Sticks. You get a pair of fists, a pair where the fingers are just splayed out, and two pairs with her fingers doing various gestures taken from common poses in seen in the animation. The hands are on pegs and swap out pretty easily, although they’re also prone to popping off when working the hinges in the wrists. They’re also tiny, so good luck if you drop one. Next up, you get three additional portraits. You get one perturbed expression with her mouth open. I call this the “In the name of the Moon I will punish you!” expression. Next, you get a somewhat neutral expression without the cute little smile from the stock portrait. Lastly, you get a portrait without the Moon Tiara, which is important for use with the next accessory…

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Moon Tiara Action! This piece is actually an extra hand with a pearlescent disc stuck to it meant to simulate Sailor Moon throwing her Moon Tiara at the Youmas of the week. This was a tough effect to pull off and all things considered, I’d say they did the best they could with it.

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Naturally, you get Sailor Moon’s Moon Stick, or more accurately you get two, one of which is activated. These tiny little accessories are beautifully reproduced and it’s crazy that they included two of these pieces in the box considering the difference between them is so minor, but that kind of attention to detail is what sets these figures apart.

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Of course, you can’t release a Sailor Moon figure without Luna. Not only is this a great looking kitty with some nice crisp tampo work on the face, but Luna also has some simple swivels in the neck and base of the tail. Awesome!

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And with that, I think I’ve droned on long enough. I promise that my subsequent features on the S.H. Figuarts Sailor Scouts won’t be nearly as long winded. Suffice it to say I’m really impressed with just about everything about this figure. Tamashii Nations is dedicated to completing the line, at least as far as the core Sailor Scouts are concerned, and I’ll be all in. When next I revisit this line, we’ll check out Sailor Mercury!

S.H. Figuarts: One Piece Nami by Bandai Tamashii Nations

Holy hell, it’s my first foray into the wonderful world of S.H. Figuarts. This momentous event was supposed to start with a different figure, but since that one will be the first in a series, I thought I’d get Nami out of the way beforehand. I don’t have any immediate plans to pick up any more One Piece Figuarts, so she is most likely going to be a stand-alone acquisition. Anyway, some of you may remember a few weeks back that I picked up the Portraits of Pirates Nami Ex Model Statue by MegaHouse. Only it wasn’t by MegaHouse. It was by MegaBootlegs!!! I promptly sent it back and got my money refunded, which in itself is a joke. They’re like, “Oh, you caught us selling illegal bootlegs. Bad on us. Have your money back and we’ll never speak of this again.” Screw that… I want Interpol raining down on your asses!!! It would be one thing if it was a couple of crooks, but it was Amazon. I decided to roll some of that money over and try my luck on this version of Nami. Let’s take a look at the spunky navigator of the Straw Hat Pirates…

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There’s the box and… HOLY SHIT, IT’S ANOTHER BOOTLEG! Nah, just kidding. This one is legit. The box, however, was a little rougher than I had hoped. To say it’s rather shopworn would be an understatement. Normally it wouldn’t bother me, but I tend to keep packaging for figures like these to hold all the extras bits, and it’ll still serve that purpose just fine. The box features a simple map motif with a big window on the front to show off the figure. The back has some photos of the figure in action along with a bunch of copy in Japanese, which I can’t read. Nami comes nestled in a clear plastic tray surrounded by a crapload of extras.

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And there’s Nami looking as cute as ever. They did a wonderful job capturing all the nuances of the character. She comes clad in a top, which amounts to little more than a short vest to cover her boobs, and a really short skirt pleaded skirt. My favorite look for Nami is her jeans and bikini top, but this one works fine too. It’s cool that the bangles on her left wrist are both separate pieces… until you swap that hand and they go flying of onto the floor. It took me like ten minutes to find them again. I’d say the only odd thing about the sculpt is her enormous feet, which I suppose she needs because can be a tough figure to keep standing. And after going back and checking it does tend to agree with much of the artwork. Overall the paint is pretty good, although there’s a little bit of slop on her sandals and some slight inconsistencies in her skin tone, mostly on the backs of her legs.

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Of course, articulation is what Figuarts are all about and I dare say I had quite a lot of fun messing around with her poseability. In fact, I kept her sitting on my computer for about a week so that I could pick up and play with her on my downtime and in doing so she’s become quite a fun distraction. The skirt does inhibit some of her hip articulation, but overall what’s here is certainly good. Of course, there’s a tradeoff between the articulation and rather unsightly jointing. It doesn’t necessarily lend itself all that well to a figure with bare arms and legs, but I can live with it.

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Nami comes with a bunch of stuff, and most of it amounts to extra hands and faces. Yup, you get a total of five interchangeable faces. In addition to the normal one that comes on the figure, there’s also one with a bit more of a sly look with a smirk and her eyes looking off to the side. The other three faces consist of her crazed angry expression, the classic “greedy dollar signs in the eyes” expression, and a super happy expression with her eyes closed and a huge smile. The faces are swapped out by removing the front of her hair and then just pulling off the face and tabbing in the replacement. It’s easy to do, but it can be rather unsettling. Actually, now that I think about it anytime anime style emotive faces are translated to 3D it creeps me the hell out. The extra faces are fun to play around with, but I’ll likely stick to one of the two more conventional expressions for everyday display. As for the hands… well, they went overboard on the hands. Do I really need this many hands? You get a pair of fists, a pair of open hands, a pair of open hands slightly splayed out, a pair of weapon holding hands, and a thumbs up hand. Changing the hands out is a bit precarious because those posts sure are tiny.

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Last, but not least, you get two complete versions of Nami’s Clima Tact: Assembled and separated into three parts. One of the three parts has an attachment to peg it to the back of her skirt, which requires removing the plug that’s normally there. You also get an effect part for the tip of the assembled one.

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Nami’s definitely an unbelievably fun little figure, and considering that I picked her up for about $25 shipped, I have no complaints. Well, actually I do have one. She didn’t come with a stand. The stand that I used when shooting her is from another S.H. Figuarts release. Even for normal poses, Nami can be tough to keep standing on her feet, but when you really take advantage of her crazy articulation, you pretty much need a stand if you’re going to display her in action. Now, with all that having been said, I’m not sure that getting this figure has fully satisfied my desire to own a proper statue of the character. And so the hunt continues.

Next week we’ll revisit the S.H. Figuarts line for a little… MOON TIARA ACTION!!!