Preorder Roundup: 2013.02 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.

Another exciting WonFes has come and gone, which means it’s probably a good time to take a look at the backlog of figures from my preorder short list.

(Actually, I’m not timing these posts around WonFes. That’s just how long it takes the backlog to reach critical mass.)

March

Alter – 1/8 Amane Suzuha

1/8 scale Amane Suzuha PVC figure by Alter
When I saw this Suzuha from Alter, I was surprised that they had chosen this particular source artwork to make into a figure, as bicycles, much like motorcycles, rarely seem to make the cut as props for bishoujo figures. Now, I suspect that the Nyantype-sourced reference artwork on which this figure is based was much more about showing off Suzuha’s ass than her ride, and her rump certainly features prominently into the eyeball test here, but I think the most impressive aspect of this figure is the level of detail they’ve managed to imbue in the bike at 1/8 scale. Not surprisingly, this one’s rather expensive at  ¥11,800, but that scarcely factored into consideration as the gorgeous sculpt and Alter track record make this Suzuha an instant get for me. Hopefully, they won’t screw up the support stand design the way they did with Naoe.

Amakuni – 1/8 Leviathan

1/8 scale Leviathan PVC figure by Amakuni
Leviathan is the second character to receive the figure treatment from Hobby Japan’s latest original franchise, the Seven Deadly Sins. I wasn’t initially that interested when I saw the unpainted prototype, but this is a case where seeing the painted version dramatically changed my outlook on the figure. I like the cool colors and the punk stylings of Levi’s outfit, along with her tsun-tsun expression. She will feature a cast-off, which concerns me a bit with this type of outfit because there’s a lot of potential for obvious, ugly seams in the clothing, but the Queen’s Blade figures seemed to come out alright, so I’ll reserve judgement for now.

The real question mark here is the maker. From what I gather, Hobby Japan has launched their own figure brand in Amakuni and Leviathan is one of the first figures to credited to that name. What this means from a quality perspective is anybody’s guess, but I’m thinking that it’s highly unlikely that HJ will actually manufacture anything themselves, so I expect them to continue to outsource the actual production to other companies like they’ve done in the past.

Curiously, Anime Island actually has Levi listed as a MegaHouse figure. Now, that could be a mistake on their part, but HJ has worked with MegaHouse in the past (Queen’s Blade), so it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see them working together again here.

Aquamarine – 1/8 IA

1/8 scale IA PVC figure by Aquamarine
Relatively new manufacturer Aquamarine will be releasing this PVC rendition of IA, another Vocaloid character like Hastune Miku. The sculpt is based on the cover artwork for IA’s first voicebank, which features a wonderfully dynamic pose that imbues IA with an aura of serenity and grace. The painted prototype certainly looks the part, so IA should be a hit assuming Aquamarine doesn’t make any rookie mistakes in the quality department. I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt and have placed my preorder accordingly.

April

Alter – 1/8 Yagyu Jubei ~Hakugin no Kenki ver.~

1/8 scale Yagyu Jubei ~Hakugin no Kenki ver.~ PVC figure by Alter
It would appear that Alter and Hobby Japan aren’t quite done with the Hyakka Ryouran series, as evidenced by this new “silver” Jubei. I certainly like the dynamic pose Jubei is holding here and she looks different enough from standard Jubei to feel like a different character, so I wouldn’t feel entirely silly displaying her alongside normal and swimsuit Jubei. On the other hand, this is yet another pesky HJ exclusive and my back-of-the-envelope calculations put this figure at around $175 after shipping and proxy fees, which is a lot to ask of a 1/8 scale figure with only a modestly intricate sculpt.

I’m not sure I like what they did with her mouth, either, opting to change an expression of surprise into one of glee. It’s not a horrible or surprising change, but I feel that the expression seen here is overused in bishoujo figures whereas the source art would have been a little more original and could have worked just as well.

Kotobukiya – 1/7 Takamura Yui

1/8 scale Takamura Yui PVC figure by Kotobukiya
Finally, a Muv-Luv heroine in her fortified suit! It’s disappointing to see the most interesting and unique visual design aspect of the Muv-Luv series only getting some attention after all the generic swimsuit/kimono/<insert-fan-service-fetish-outfit-here> options have been exhausted. I’m still not overjoyed to see Kotobukiya being the one to finally deliver this suited Yui, but she does at least appear to feature a lot of glossy paint, which I feel is somehow harder to screw up. (A good thing, as I feel that paint quality is where Kotobukiya usually falls short.) The fact that Koto US pricing is also pretty agressive means that I can probably give Kotobukiya the benefit of the doubt on this one.

May

Alter – 1/8 Mistral Nereis

1/8 scale Mistral Nereis PVC figure by Alter
It’s nice to see Alter jumping back into the Shining figure arena to compete against Kotobukiya and Yamato–who have been consistently pushing out modest, but not overly ambitious designs–after a roughly two-year hiatus following the well-regarded Houmei. Alter has created an impressively detailed sculpt that really imbues Mistral with a sense of vitality, which combines with a vivid, high contrast color palette to make a very eye-catching figure. Mistral was about as “instant get” as anything I’ve seen come along in the past few years. The only fault I can find is with the ¥13,000 price tag, which is moto-Saber and Godoka territory.

Kotobukiya – 1/7 Cryska Barchenowa

1/7 scale Cryska Barchenowa PVC figure by Kotobukiya
As with Yui (above), Muv-Luv’s Cryska is also getting the fortified suit treatment. Of the two, I think I prefer Cryska for the rich blues and violets in her suit and hair. Both Yui and Cryska appear to feature a scenic (textured terrain) base, which is a detail I always appreciate over a flat plastic design. I wonder if the two will be designed to link together.

June

Good Smile Company – 1/8 Insane Black Rock Shooter ~TV Animation ver.~

1/8 scale Insane Black Rock Shooter PVC figure by Good Smile Company
Insane BRS may be GSC’s most ambitious BRS-related sculpt yet. She looks mighty impressive and carries a price tag to match (¥13,143). I passed on both Black Gold Saw and Strength and ended up regretting those decisions more than most. There won’t be any non-buyer’s remorse this time as I already have Insane BRS on order, but I may find myself with the opposite problem if GSC somehow flubs this release. I’ve seen people making reference to a drop in GSC’s quality of late, though I have yet to see evidence of that for myself.

I’m still disappointed to see no indication that a scale version of White Rock Shooter is in the cards. That figma looks badass.

Orchid Seed – 1/8 Lucifer

1/8 scale Lucifer PVC figure by Orchid Seed
Like Leviathan, Lucifer is another one of the Seven Deadly Sins girls. She is the first in the lineup to be portrayed wielding a weapon and also the first available outside the exclusive realm of the Hobby Japan mail order catalog and web store.

Lucifer was also at the center of some minor drama when AmiAmi suddenly delisted all Orchid Seed products from their English site in early October, a short time after preorders had opened, prompting fan outcry and rampant speculation about the cause of the removals. I only mention this latter detail because I wasn’t initially interested in the figure and I feel like the extra consideration given to this figure as a result of that brief period of uncertainty directly translated into a preorder.

6 thoughts on “Preorder Roundup: 2013.02 Edition

  1. I ended up being really disappointed in Wonfes…couple of winners here and there, but overall there was very little that caught my interest. Guess I’m saving a lot of money this year!

    I remember Aquamarine’s Cirno figures coming out very nicely. I wanted to get IA myself but felt the price was far too much for what you’re getting.

    I’m with you on Jubei. So many figures are smiling (especially 😀 smiling) so it’s refreshing to get someone who looks grumpy, flustered or sad. Also, $175 is WAY too much. Maybe if she was more detailed or elaborate. But hey, if you’re happy with the figure, the price doesn’t matter!

    Mistral’s amazing. I’ve never understood Alter’s habit of starting a line, making 1-3 figures, and then abandoning it for a year or two. Heck, they’ve done it multiple times with their Vanillaware line: Gwendolyn in 2008. Mercedes and Momohime suddenly show up in 2010. Now Kongiku popping up in 2013! At this rate the next one won’t show up till 2015. Here’s hoping it’s Yuzuruha or Velvet.

    • Honestly, I was pretty disappointed with this WonFes, too. I’m sure I’ll end up picking up at least a few of the new figures unveiled at the show, but I didn’t see many obvious must-haves. Alter’s lineup, in particular, I felt was very conservative, which isn’t what I want to see from one of my go-to manufacturers.

      I’m hoping IA turns out well, because she’s really not the type of figure I usually go for (i.e., cute figures). She’s a gamble I took based on the potential I saw in the prototype. IA’s price tag didn’t faze me at the time, but looking now, she’s more expensive than I remember (¥9500).

      I haven’t actually ordered Jubei. Maybe it’s not obvious from what I wrote, but the list is intended to be a mix of figures I’ve ordered and figures I’m considering. I initially passed at the JP preorder deadline because of the price, but seeing her again now is making me question that decision. It doesn’t help that she’s still available at most of the US shops. 😕

      The gap between the Odin Sphere heroines and Momohime makes at least some sense in that it matches the gap between the two games, but I don’t understand why they waited so long to do Kongiku after Momohime.

  2. Still sifting through the bombardment of WonFes coverage from yesterday but there are already a few figures that really stood out for me: Native’s Gamer Girl and GSC’s Araragi Tsukihi were spectacular, followed by some interesting figures in Wing’s Fiona, Max Factory’s Sallya and Alter’s still unpainted Kazuno.

    Though I wouldn’t grab them myself, I did enjoy seeing GSC’s deep sea Miku, GSC’s Isshiki Akane and Orchid Seed’s Snow. Overall I think GSC, Max Factory, Native and Orchid Seed had a good lineup of new products even if that included a good portion of artworks as well.

    From your list I’d pick Amane and BRS as the two gems of the bunch. I agree with your reasoning in regard to Amane’s artwork and as Alter raised her back slightly the focus wouldn’t be entirely on her rear. As for BRS, if we ignore the milking methods similar to those of Sonico and Miku, it’s still a very impressive sculpt and most likely the most refined to date from the series. While I won’t be getting any figure on this particular list I will be looking forward to future reviews of said ladies.

    • I’m still trying to piece together my thoughts on this WonFes. Nothing is really striking me as a must-have, but I would pick Orchid Seed’s Snow as my surprise favorite of the show. Max Factory had a decent number of nice scales–Sheryl, Sallya, and Kamael–to offset the inevitable mass of figmas. I would include Kuroyukihime in that list if it were not a bust design. Wing’s Fiona (Shunya Yamashita) and Amakuni/HJ’s Dark General also look like something I might buy. GSC’s Tsukihi and deep-sea Miku featured impressive sculpts, but I don’t see myself picking up either when the time comes.

      I had high hopes of seeing some ambitious new sculpts from Alter and, in that regard, they sorely disappointed. Kazuno, as you point out, fits the bill, but I believe she was actually unveiled at the previous WonFes. All of the new prototypes that I spotted were very conservative designs compared to, say, Suzuha or Misty.

  3. Wonfes was really good in my eyes, so much good stuff that I would like to own ^^

    Suzuha looks really interesting as a whole, but Im not sure about the porcellain doll face, she looks like a ghost. Im really looking forward to Leviathan, the punkrock outft and the rebellious look on her face are quite lovely. As first I was concered that she was not produced by Orchid Seed, but that Amakuni label also provided the cast off version, maybe MegaHouse is partially involved there as you’ve mentioned. Im not that interested in the other demon girls aside from Belzebub and Mammon.

    Yagyu Jubei has a pretty design, but her mouth really looks wrong compared to the illustration. Now she looks like a total airhead 😦

    I also ordered this Takamura Yui, mainly because I liked her colortheme and sadly I also think that we can expect no more figures from other manufacturers of that Muv Luv anime. Hopefully someone else will at least pick up Horizon in the middle of nowhere and makes nice figures..

    • Suzuha’s eyes definitely have a sort of vacant look if you judge from the perspective of anime convention, but from what I’ve seen of the other Steins;Gate artwork, I think it’s just the style of the series. GSC’s Kurisu had a similar look.

      When Leviathan arrives, I intend to inspect the packaging closely for any clue as to who the real manufacturer might be. It appears that Orchid Seed is only handling four of the seven figures, so I expect the others will all be Amakuni-branded. Of the remaining girls, I think Satan is the one I most expect to take a liking to, judging from the artwork I’ve seen.

      Well, Jubei is an airhead in the anime, so I guess that the expression is at least in-character, but it’s also what knocked the figure out of “instant buy” territory for me. I could forgive the price tag if the nailed everything else about the figure, but that goofy facial expression gives me pause.

      Kotobukiya certainly seems to be getting the lion’s share of the Muv-Luv figure contracts, but I’m not quite convinced that it means there won’t be any more to come from other manufacturers. Alphamax and Hobby Japan have open preorders for Muv-Luv figures and it looks like some Nendoroids and figmas are incoming. That’s a pretty good amount of activity right now, so I’m thinking the merchandising potential of the franchise hasn’t leveled off just yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s