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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.