Although I feel like I spend a great deal of time and mental energy figuring out how I can save money on the figures I buy, it’s surprisingly rare that I find myself rummaging through the proverbial bargain bin searching for great deals on figures. For the most part, I find that the figures I want to buy tend to sell out before they ever receive discounts of any significance, so feel it’s often more worthwhile to shop around during the preorder phase rather than hoping for hefty markdowns later on. That said, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to pick up Good Smile Company’s 1/8 scale Sawachika Eri from School Rumble when I discovered that she was readily available from 888 Anime for as little as $33 shipped.
Now, if you’re a cautious and reasonably informed figure collector, this last statement should probably set off a few alarm bells in your head. Figure collectors, unfortunately, have to worry about bootleg products and the transaction I just described should sound suspicious for several reasons.
- This is an older figure (2006). The longer it has been since a figure’s initial window of availability, the more likely it is that all legitimate stock of that figure will have been sold out and reside in the hands of private collectors. Especially popular figures do sometimes get official reissues, but it is rare that manufacturers do more than one or two runs of a given figure and extra runs rarely happen more than a year or so after the first release.
- The price sounds a little too low. Eri had an original MSRP of ¥4,200. At 2006 exchange rates (approximately 115 JPY = 1 USD), Eri would have been about $36 plus shipping. Granted, that doesn’t make for an ultra high-end (i.e., expensive) figure then or now, but one could reasonably expect the price to rise, rather than fall, as supply naturally constricts over time. Perhaps more significantly, if you’ve ever looked at obviously bootleg figures on eBay, you’ll know that $15-30 is about what they tend to go for at 1/8 scale.
- Who’s heard of 888 Anime? I certainly hadn’t. Outside of the Amazon.com Marketplace, I couldn’t find anything about them. Given that the best defense against bootlegs is to buy from reputable sources, this was probably the biggest concern of all. Sure, these guys have plenty of positive feedback, but that’s certainly not a guarantee of authenticity on markets like eBay.
By now, you should have some idea that I wasn’t 100% comfortable with the transaction going in. I didn’t want to throw away precious funds away and have only a bootleg to show for it, even if it was only $30. I don’t want to over-dramatize the issue, but I do think bootlegs are a problem for figures (and anime goods in general). In the end, I weighed the above concerns against my reasons for wanting the figure (cost, appreciation of the character, etc.) and took the plunge.
Do I think I got gypped? On the contrary, I’m confident that my Eri is legit. Aside from the simple fact that the quality of the figure matches my expectations, the box has the “H” hologram sticker commonly seen on figure packaging to denote an authentic product. It’s also worth nothing that the MyFigureCollection.net database includes information about known bootlegs of figures and they don’t indicate any counterfeit versions of this particular figure.
Moving beyond the initial bootleg paranoia, this is really a pretty unremarkable figure–possibly the most unexciting figure in my collection, as bad as that sounds. It’s not particularly cool or sexy, which tells me that the character is intended to be the main draw. Bottom line: If it wasn’t $30 and it wasn’t Eri, I wouldn’t have gotten the figure.
- 1/8 scale for $30 — In a time when the norm for figure pricing seems to be headed to $100 and beyond, it’s refreshing to find something (anything) south of $50 that’s not bootleg material.
- Princess — School Rumble is the rare comedy romance anime that doesn’t use slapstick and fan service as a crutch. Even among the excellent female cast, Eri is my clear favorite. On top of the ever-appealing tsundere/twintails combo, she also has the best interactions with my favorite male character (Harima).
- Nice skirt/legs — While the overall figure is largely unspectacular, I felt that GSC did do a very nice job with the lower half of Eri’s body. On the modeling side, the skirt and legs, particularly around the knees, are nicely shaped and contribute to a nice overall curve in the figure’s profile. Meanwhile, the paintwork has a semi-glossy quality that reflects light very nicely from certain angles. Overall, I felt like the close-ups on these two areas produced the best pictures in the set.
- Weird expression — GSC’s Eri is a rather unusual figure in that the character’s face is downcast when viewed from normal angles. This is perhaps a good thing given GSC’s quirky rendering of Eri’s facial features. When viewed straight on, Eri appears to have a strange, unnatural looking grin on her face. It’s not terribly appealing and very un-Eri-like.
PS: The Eri photo shoot was my first dabble at creating a pure white background in my photos. I’ve seen other bloggers do good work in white, so I wanted to try my hand at it. While I think I got some good shots out of the experiment, I had trouble throughout with uneven background lighting and getting the foreground to appear white (see the full figure 360 shots). Overall, I found the potential results to be interesting, but the technique seems to require more effort than using a normal background.
PS2: Fun fact: the lighting for the dark shots was provided by a Nintendo DS.
- Purchased from: 888 Anime (Amazon.com Marketplace)
- Order date: 1-Mar-2010
- Receive date: 6-Mar-2010
- Base price (USD): $23.88
- Shipping cost (USD): $9.00
- Total (USD): $32.88
- Package dimensions (width): 120 mm
- Package dimensions (height): 255 mm
- Package dimensions (depth): 115 mm
- Shipping weight (figure + base + accessories): 104 g
- Shipping weight (packaging): 155 g
- Shipping weight (shipping box): 190 g
- Shipping weight (total): 449 g