Preorder Roundup: 2012.07 Edition

Periodically, I like to take a look at new figures that are available for pre-order. This isn’t intended to be an exhaustive list, but rather a selection of new releases that I personally find interesting or notable.

With the summer Wonder Festival now come and gone, there are sure to be plenty of new preorders in the near future, so it seems a good time to work down the backlog of preorders I had earmarked for analysis.

July

Max Factory – 1/7 Megurine Luka


When it comes to Vocaloids, Miku tends to get all the attention, which makes it easy to forget that she’s not the only virtual idol to come out of that franchise. Luka is one such example and Max Factory is here to remind us of Luka’s presence with a nice scale figure based on the artwork of Tony Taka. Luka features some great colors, gorgeously detailed hair, and a vivacious bearing. I had some initial apprehension about the facial expression she wears here, but the look has grown on me in the months since this figure was unveiled. Unfortunately, Luka comes at a time when my budget is largely allocated toward other figures.

PLUM – 1/7 Alisa Amiella


PLUM is relatively new to the figure market, but they do have a handful of releases under their belt at this point. Alisa is the first such figure to really get my attention. Her appearance is quite striking between her impressive sword, the subtle dynamism of her pose, and the bold red-on-black of her outfit. I had some reservations about whether or not I was ready to trust PLUM with a preorder slot, but I ultimately got my order in a week or so in advance of Alisa’s street date earlier this week.

Empty – 1/7 Solange ~Limited Edition 2P Color ver.~


A challenger appears! Empty, a complete newcomer on the PVC scene, is (re-)releasing their take on Solange from 3DS beat-em-up Code of Princess. Solange wields a wicked sword while sporting the latest in the fine tradition of ridiculously skimpy female fantasy armor. I didn’t care much for the normal color variation of the figure, but the black “2P” variant managed to get my attention. Between the overwhelmingly positive buzz over at MFC and Tier’s excellent review over at Tentacle Armada of the normal color version, I’m fairly convinced that Empty knows what they’re doing. After that, it’s simply a matter of choosing a proxy for the LE version–I went with Anime Island this time.

August

Good Smile Company – 1/8 Hatsune Miku ~Support ver.~


There has been no lack of figures featuring the ever-popular Vocaloid idol Hatsune Miku, of which the lion’s share has come from Good Smile Company. Their latest entry, dubbed “Support ver.”, is notable for being part of GSC’s Cheerful Japan campaign, which donates a portion of the proceeds from figure sales toward Japan’s tsunami relief. For better or worse, I’ve passed on some nice Miku releases in the past, but I couldn’t resist the wonderfully dynamic pose of this version, which is based on a contest-winning piece of fan artwork, and the aims behind the Cheerful Japan project.

September

Alter – 1/8 Shihoudou Narika


This year has seen an unusually high level of re-release activity, with Alter contributing significantly toward that trend. Narika from Choukou Sennin Haruka came as a bit of a surprise as their hasn’t been any recent activity from that franchise, as is often the case with re-releases, but she is evidently still very much in demand as this figure sold out within a couple days of preorders opening. I’ve long been fond of Narika’s lively pose and her vibrant kunoichi apparel and rather regret passing on her the first time.

I placed my order in time so I stand to benefit from the reissue, but I’m a little concerned as to why Alter didn’t do the obvious thing and increase the size of their production run in response to the demand. It makes me a little apprehensive when considering what future re-releases they might do and whether or not people will be left out in the cold if they don’t jump immediately.

Good Smile Company – 1/7 Saber ~Triumphant Excalibur~


As part of their 10 year anniversary, Good Smile Company conducted a poll to see which figures from their back catalog fans would like to see re-released. “Triumphant Excalibur” Saber was the first such re-release to come out of that poll, despite the fact that it didn’t win, per se.

I actually picked up this Saber at the beginning of this year in a combined shipping deal with UART’s Ryofu from a shop in Malaysia. The asking price wasn’t horrible considering the secondary market forces in play at the time, but it wasn’t great either, and this is a case where I feel I would have benefitted from waiting. Oh well. You win some and you lose some when it comes to waiting on re-releases.

If you’re still on the fence, I do feel that this is the best blue armored Saber out there.

Orchid Seed – 1/7 Blanc Neige


Orchid Seed is a company that I frequently associate with sexy cast-off figures from eroge and ecchi anime, so seeing a decidedly PG Blanc Neige emerge under their label is a bit surprising. The intricate, icy display base takes center stage and really helps set this figure apart from the legions of other PVC Shining heroines. I really love seeing figure manufacturers go above and beyond when it comes to creative base designs, so I would very much encourage Orchid Seed to continue pushing forward in this area. All gushing over the base aside, I probably won’t be picking this one up.

October

Max Factory – 1/7 Samurai


Max Factory will be releasing a 1/7 scale rendition of the Samurai class from upcoming PSP RPG 7th Dragon 2020 this fall. Based on the name, I assume she’s representative of a generic character class rather than a specific NPC–similar to Orchid Seed’s Red Stone Lancer. The game from which she hails is a complete unknown to me, but I love the colors and subtle details in her hair and outfit on this figure. Max Factory has done a remarkably good job of maintaining the style of the original artwork, which can be viewed here, in figure form. I’ve already got this Samurai on order and I’m very much looking forward to her release.

Orchid Seed – 1/7 Ignis of the Endless Winter


Orchid Seed’s Ignis of the Endless Winter has been a long time coming, having been first unveiled at the 2010 Summer Wonder Festival event. I’m not sure what took so long. Perhaps it is the complexity of the sculpt, which features some fine hair and dress detail, or the numerous cast-off options for which Orchid Seed is known. Either way, the final design looks quite nice. She is rather pricey–¥9420 at AmiAmi–and the wedding dress fetish isn’t really my thing, so I’m still undecided on whether or not I should pick up this Ignis.

November

Good Smile Company – 1/8 Ultimate Madoka


It seems like GSC had barely finished getting their normal Madoka out the door before they unveiled this Ultimate Madoka. In my review of GSC’s first Madoka, I mentioned that in many ways she’s overshadowed by this Ultimate Madoka figure. Ultimate Madoka is imbued with a sense of epic grandeur, weighty consequence, and purpose befitting the original source material that makes GSC’s normal Madoka seem mundane and boring by comparison. As a result, I’m conflicted by a sense of appreciation for this figure in its own right versus a sense of regret over buying the first version.

Good Smile Company – 1/8 Ryougi Shiki


Like Saber above, Kara no Kyoukai‘s Ryougi Shiki is another beneficiary of the GSC 10th anniversary re-releases. I’m on the fence with this one. The price is right, ¥4820 with the AmiAmi discount, and there’s a certain quiet elegance to this figure. On the other hand, the pose is relatively static and I have a feeling that the four year old design might not stack up too well against GSC’s current standards for craftsmanship.

Unknown 2012

Volks – 1/8 Hanna-Justina Marseille


I have thus far avoided diving into the pool of Strike Witches figures, the majority of which have come from Alter and Kotobukiya, not because I dislike the series, but because I just haven’t found most of the figure designs very compelling. From the Alter camp, I like Eila and Charlotte the best, probably because they better impart an impression of flight than the other girls, but I haven’t been significantly tempted to order either. Enter Hanna-Justina from Strike Witches 2 and Volks. Although Alter has also shown their own rendition of Hanna-Justina, I think Volks has them soundly beat with a much more dynamic and interesting pose, which is ironic because I have long considered this an area of Alter strength. Seeing as this is a Volks figure, Hanna-Justina does have to be purchased via proxy, which is always annoying, but she is surprisingly reasonable at ¥6930 before proxy fees. I’m a little disappointed that she isn’t bigger, as Volks does a lot of 1/6 scale work, but that probably won’t keep me from ordering.

8 thoughts on “Preorder Roundup: 2012.07 Edition

  1. Luka looks fantastic and so does her LP disc of a base. I had no idea that the skirt was removable until I checked the Akibahobby review the other day, even if I rather see that it stays on. While I agree on the facial expression it may be worth pointing out that no figure looks good from every angle or when poorly lit. The latter doesn’t usually apply to promotional shots but when taken directly from events like Wonder Festival even the likes of Luka may look mediocre.

    Alisa was under consideration but eventually skipped. Black and red will always grab my attention, not to mention oversized weaponry. She looks great overall and hopefully you’ll be happy with your purchase.

    Kudos to Max Factory for once again taking chances with their scale lineup. I liked the prototype of Samurai and the colored version turned out great. Alternative style considered, her neck looks a bit long, though that’s a very minor gripe.

    Ultimate Madoka is undeniably an amazing looking figure with exceptional execution. I haven’t watched the anime so I can’t familiarize myself with the hype surrounding this character but even if you’re not a diehard fan one would find it hard not to be impressed with what GSC have created.

    Fall looks hotter than summer at the moment and thanks to the recent Wonder Festival next year is looking promising as well.

    • Thanks for pointing out the fact that Luka’s base design was an LP. I had missed that tidbit somewhere along the way, despite my being a big fan of unusual base designs. That’s a really nice touch on Max Factory’s part. I agree that the angle and lighting can dramatically change the overall appearance of a figure for better or worse. FWIW, I had the official promotional shots in mind when I was commenting on Luka’s face. Regardless, the look has grown on me to the point that its a non-issue.

      I don’t expect to have Alisa in-hand until next week at the earliest, but based on the photos I’m seeing already from other owners, I think I’ll be satisfied with my purchase.

      Samurai is probably my most anticipated open preorder now that moto-Saber and Iris have been released. While I’ve read numerous negative opinions of the long neckline, I’m just not seeing it as a problem. It’s there in the original artwork and Max Factory preserved the style pretty faithfully from what I can tell.

      I’ve only watched the first quarter of the Madoka anime, which was enough to get a general gist of the tone for the series, but not enough to develop a deep appreciation for the show or its characters, which is why I feel reluctant to add another Madoka figure to my collection without first unloading the one I already have. It’s frustrating, because GSC’s Ultimate Madoka is highly impressive from a technical perspective and much more ambitious design than anything from their first round of Madoka figures.

      There’s definitely some interesting stuff in the pipeline, not only from the summer Wonder Festival just past, but also a few stragglers from the winter event. With the surge in re-releases of late, I’m also on the look out for some interesting older designs possibly coming around again.

  2. This later half of the year my scaled pre-orders ended up decreasing. Only thing from your list that I have on pre-order is the Samurai girl from 7th dragon. I liked her for pretty much the same reasons plus she being the closet I will get to owning and playing the game.

    I’m too surprised with all the re-releases we are getting this year, specially since it is several high profile figures such as Alter’s Momohime and so on.

    • There’s enough interesting stuff in the pipe that I’ll probably run into budgetary constraints before my preorders actually decrease, but I was a little bummed by the WonFes coverage. Not as many obvious must-haves as I had hoped. Maybe that’s a good thing, though, as I’ve already had to pass on a few rather nice figures already this year.

      Between not owning a PSP and being a non-fan of portable gaming in general, I’m pretty well assured of never playing 7th Dragon. It’s a source of frequent irritation for me that the JRPG genre seems to revolve around the Sony and Nintendo portables these days. I found it interesting to note that the Samurai artwork was handled by the same guy responsible for Love Is War Miku, who featured a similarly striking design.

      I’m honestly surprised it took Alter this long to re-release Momohime, as she proved immensely popular and her market value shot up almost immediately after release. That said, I’ve been genuinely surprised by some of the other reissues this year, Narika particularly. For a long time, I thought there was an unspoken time barrier beyond which figures were basically considered off-limits for re-release. But after this year, I’m inclined to think that’s not the case at all.

  3. Its nice that GSC and ALTER make re-releases of some figures. I would like to see Haruka from Beat Blade Haruka or Yoko – Bounty Hunter at some day. Shiki looks very appealing but the age makes me pass there is more new figure stuff I’d rather want to get.

    Im looking forward to Hatsune Miku ~SUPPORT VERSION~ this month, she’s lovely and the base looks awesome.

    I don’t think it was the best decision to cancel Blanc Neige preorder, but had to cancel a few figures and she was one of the things I could easily part with, the base is nice though..

    • Bounty Hunter Yoko is pretty much my holy grail of re-releases. I was collecting at the time she was originally released and I vaguely remember seeing that Alter had a new Yoko figure that looked a little different, but she failed to register as something I might want at the time. I’ve been kicking myself over that decision ever since. I think there’s a decent chance Alter will reissue Yoko at some point, but maybe that’s blind optimism on my part.

      Yup, Support Miku and Native’s Elfriede should hit the street this month. I’m kind of curious what my ¥2,000 will get me in terms of shipping service on Miku, since that was the only option from GSC’s online shop.

      Blanc is a good example of a figure where I initially had a lot of interest, owing mostly to the lavish base design, but that interest faded rapidly to the point where I would probably rank her dead last in this group in terms of priority. It’s too bad, because I think she’ll still turn out fairly nicely and I’m hoping Orchid Seed sees enough success with Blanc to pursue similarly ambitious designs in the future.

  4. Wow, lots of good stuff on your list. Earlier this year I successfully managed to trim my pre-order list down, but over the last few months its swollen back up to one figure a month for the next six months. Some of which are rather expensive. This will probably be the end of the line for me, though. Figure costs are just getting to high for me to justify continuing the hobby (average cost for 1/8 seems to be rising to 7800 yen!), buuuuuuuut I’ll probably still pick something up if it’s a character I really adore.

    It’s shocking Narika’s getting a re-release considering how old she is. Also never thought of her as popular, but apparently that’s incorrect.

    Samurai looks pretty cool but her design wasn’t striking enough for me to consider getting her. She does stand out from the plethora of other school girl figures. And that gauntlet she has is COOL.

    Solange is one I really really really really want but just don’t have the money for. Originally I had my heart set on the first release, but this new black version has won me over. I hope that she’ll be available for a little while so I can scrounge up the cash to get her at some point.

    Shiki getting a re-release is fantastic news for me, as she’s one of my grail figures. I’ve honestly never liked her dead, emotionless face but that kimono is gorgeous! I’ll probably display Shiki facing a way from me since she looks much cooler from the back. There’s a lot more movement in her hair and clothes.

    Last but not least….I’m probably one of the few people that doesn’t like GSC’s Godoka/Ultimate Madoka. Her colors feel extremely dull/subdued, and I just don’t like how much space she’ll probably take up thanks to her huge skirt. I will admit it’s a technically impressive sculpt.

    • If anything, 7800 yen sounds low for 1/8 scale. I guess it depends on which manufacturers you’re typically buying from, though. As for drastically cutting back or even quitting the hobby, I’m sorry to hear that it’s come to that, but I do understand the problem. Costs are by far the highest I’ve seen since getting into the hobby nearly seven years ago and it doesn’t look like the situation is going to improve any time soon. The best advice I can give is to become very selective and make sure that you’re maximizing your personal value if and when you do reach for your wallet.

      Narika was a big surprise to me as well. On the one hand, it’s encouraging to see any older Alter figures get re-released if you’re hoping to see something particular. On the other, I find it completely ridiculous that she sold out so fast, yet Alter seems to have done nothing to respond to the demand. I hope that doesn’t indicate a trend from them.

      Samurai looks very cool and she pretty much came out of nowhere. 7th Dragon 2020? Never heard of it before. How many other obscure JRPGs are out there that could be giving us sweet fantasy figures like this?

      Picking up Solange after release could prove to be an expensive proposition as she’s apparently a limited release. That may drive prices up on the secondary market, but maybe not.

      Shiki’s face doesn’t really bother me so much and I definitely dig the kimono, but she’s never really been a grail figure for me. It’s now a month later and I’m still on the fence about Shiki. She’d be an easy choice if there weren’t so many other compelling options at the moment.

      Both fair points about Godoka. I used to actively avoid figures that were too tall to easily fit on my shelves, but I’ve eased up on that stance in recent years after missing out on a few notable space-hungry figures like Alter’s Sonic Form Fate Testarossa.

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