Preorder Roundup: 2013.07 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.

July

Alter – 1/7 Saber ~Dress Code~

1/7 scale Saber ~Dress Code~ PVC figure by Alter
As much as I like TYPE-MOON’s Fate franchise and Alter figures, the two never seem to mate up quite the way I would like. I think Alter could pull off a pretty badass sculpt that would nicely capture Saber’s image as a hero of legend, but instead it’s GSC that delivers such designs (see Triumphant Excalibur and Distant Avalon) and Alter usually takes aim at the softer side of the Fate heroines.

I wasn’t initially enthused with this “Dress Code” variant of the ever-popular Saber when I spotted it among the recent WonFes coverage, but the figure has grown on me with repeated viewing. I did not initially notice the metallic sheen of the dark blue ribbons that adorn her dress, nor the fact that this is one of those rare non-1/8 scale Alter figures. The pose is nice and lively, but it’s also kind of low-key compared to aforementioned GSC Sabers. I like the figure for what it is. I just wish Alter would go for a moonshot every now and then with this franchise.

MegaHouse – 1/8 Irma

1/8 scale Irma PVC figure by MegaHouse
I keep hoping to see a Risty re-release from MegaHouse, but Irma here looks pretty fetching, so I guess I can’t say I’m sorry to see this new design. I like action poses as a general rule, which we can see in full force here, plus I tend to get more interested when a girl’s got a weapon or two in her hands, which Irma also has covered. Add your obligatory skimpy female fantasy armor and Irma’s exotic dark skin and you’ve got a pretty appealing package.

August

Max Factory – 1/7 Kuroyukihime & Black Lotus

1/7 scale Kuroyukihime & Black Lotus PVC figure by Max Factory
Well, you don’t see this every day: a naked loli having her modesty protected by a scary-looking mecha dude. Most of the Kuroyukihime figures up to this point have played up her cutesy butterfly form and featured pretty uninteresting poses, so it’s nice to see Max Factory giving us a wildly different look for her character. My big reservation with this figure is that it’s essentially a bust (i.e., it looks like her legs are cut off). Yeah, you can technically remove Kuroyukihime from Black Lotus’ embrace and attach her legs, but the result isn’t terribly interesting.

MegaHouse – 1/8 Yamamoto Akira

1/8 scale Yamamoto Akira PVC figure by MegaHouse
The rest of MegaHouse’s Yamato 2199 figures have been a complete snooze-fest to me, so it’s a bit surprising that I should find this Akira so singularly interesting. Her dark-colored garb and moody demeanor contrast the other girls’ sunny hues and bubbly expressions. The helmet and flight jacket she carries indicate a certain command of fast-moving heavy machinery, and the associated cool factor therein, that the other girls can’t claim. Finally, her partially unzipped flight suit adds a splash of overt sex appeal that the other girls can’t match. All in all, it’s an attractive package that I would like to add to my collection if AmiAmi ever reopens preorders.

September

Alter – 1/8 Kazuno

1/8 scale Kazuno PVC figure by Alter
Kazuno is probably the most ambitious sculpt to come out of Alter’s winter WonFes showing. There’s some nice dynamism in Kazuno’s sculpt and what looks to be a nice diorama base, but the real highlight here is the enormous suspended blades. I find the blades somewhat of a divisive feature in that I want to like them on principal, but they introduce a number of downsides due to their nature. The size of the blades (400 mm) will likely make them impractical to display and difficult to photograph in their entirety while also driving up the cost of the figure (¥12,000) and shipping (EMS almost certainly required). The blades will also require visible support which I frequently find to be an immersion-breaking eyesore and Alter did a less-than-stellar job of achieving even a minimally functional design with Naoe’s hammer support. Unlike Naoe, Kazuno doesn’t look completely silly without the added props, but you’re paying a lot for their inclusion, so it seems a waste not to use them.

October

Alter – 1/8 Maeda Keiji

1/8 scale Maeda Keiji PVC figure by Alter
The pairing of Niθ’s Hyakka Ryouran fetching character designs and Alter’s masterful approach to figurecraft has been unusually productive, at least from the standpoint of putting out figures that I’m likely to buy. Charles d’Artagnan is still mysteriously MIA, but we seem to be into characters from the second season, as evidenced by Silver Jubei from a few months back and now Maeda Keiji.

As usual, bold colors; sexy, stylized feudal fashion; and dynamic modeling make for an attractive figure. Keiji prominently wields a traditional Japanese umbrella, which is a design I’ve always been rather fond of. I suspect that the umbrella factors into the retail price of ¥10,800, which makes Keiji the most expensive figure in this lineup to date. As usual, she’s also a Hobby Japan exclusive.

They’re not my usual proxy, but I’m giving Nippon Yasan a shot with this figure, as they’re one of the few shops that proxy HJ preorders without a deposit. I got burned to the tune of $30 by exchange rate fluctuations on my purchase of Amakuni’s Leviathan, so I’m not eager to see that happen again if I can help it.

Kotobukiya – 1/7 Mitsurugi Meiya

1/7 scale Mitsurugi Meiya PVC figure by Kotobukiya
I’m really pleased to see Meiya from the original Muv-Luv VN arc getting a similar power suit treatment to the recently popular Muv-Luv Alternative heroines, Yui and Cryska. I’ve long found Meiya’s sharp, angular features and bold blue hues the most appealing of all heroines sourced from the Muv-Luv franchise, but her storyline had its hey-day years ago now, so she just doesn’t get much attention anymore. Given that I was pleased with how Yui turned out, I’m thinking that Meiya will easily earn a preorder spot.

Max Factory – 1/7 Sheryl Nome

1/7 scale Sheryl Nome PVC figure by Max Factory
I’ve always regarded bishoujo figures as works of art rather than toys, but few figures can make that case so strongly as Max Factory’s new Sheryl Nome of Macross Frontier fame. This ridiculously elaborate sculpt is perhaps the single most ambitious design I’ve ever seen from a mass-produced PVC figure. And it’s a beautiful piece of work, too. Gorgeous, flowing hair and clothes; cables snaking everywhere; and one very fancy display base/prop.

As wonderful as all those traits are, it starts to go a little too far into the impractical. For one, there’s the price, which at ¥18,857 is just absurd for a standard run PVC figure. Granted, we can all see why she’s so expensive, but you have to think at some point that you get more bang for your buck with two other simpler, quality figures instead of just this one. Then there’s the space issue. At 320 mm, Sheryl doesn’t fit on my standard shelf, so I would be looking to make other accommodations  Finally, I also expect that this will be a more delicate figure than most. I’m somewhat afraid I’d break this figure at some point, because I have experienced such tragedies within my collection in the recent past. :-\

November

Amakuni – 1/8 Dark General

1/8 scale Dark General PVC figure by Amakuni
Although they’re not directly related, there are obvious thematic similarities between Hobby Japan’s Seven Deadly Sins project and this Hobby Japan exclusive from Shingeki no Bahamut, which is apparently one of those card battle games that I never play. The Dark General features fell horns and wings, a nice action pose, and skimpy fantasy armor textured in a style that reminds me of the Daedric material from recent entries in the Elder Scrolls series of CRPGs. The obvious annoyance is that she’s a Hobby Japan exclusive, as presumably all Amakuni products will be, which will necessitate the use of a proxy and the additional costs therein. I quite like the look of this figure, though, and I was pleased with how Amakuni handled Leviathan, so I’m leaning toward ordering.

Kotobukiya – 1/8 Honda Futayo

1/8 scale Honda Futayo by Kotobukiya
So, let’s recap the recent Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon figures and conclusions one might draw about the heroines from said figures. Tomo must be the clumsy, but well-endowed mecha pilot; Kazuno cosplays as a maid; and now Futayo looks like some kind of futuristic samurai. Just what is this show about?

I certainly don’t know, but I don’t really need to in order to appreciate Kotobukiya’s Futayo. A cool pose, cool weapons, vivid colors, and a detailed terrain base are all good things. Good enough to preorder? Probably.

December

Max Factory – 1/7 Sallya (Tharja)

1/7 scale Sallya (Tharja) PVC figure by Max Factory
Ah, the rare bishoujo figure of Nintendo origins. Kotaku jokingly pointed out that Max Factory’s portrayal of Fire Emblem heroine Sallya, who was renamed Tharja in the US localization for some reason, is noticeably sexier than one might expect of Nintendo, who has built a reputation in recent years as the conservative, “family-focused” video game company. Given that Nintendo of America went so far as to censor Sallya’s bikini shot for the US localization of the Fire Emblem: Awakening DLC, I wouldn’t be surprised if they somehow tried to block the import of this figure.

Jabs at Nintendo aside, Max Factory has once again offered up a gorgeous scale. Sadly, I haven’t played any of the Fire Emblem games, even though they should be right up my alley, but I love the seductive pose, detailed props, and general fantasy theme that this Sallya brings to the table, which makes her an easy preorder target. Now, I just wonder if they’ll be handle any of the other Fire Emblem heroines later on.

January

Orchid Seed – 1/6 Alleyne

1/6 scale Alleyne PVC figure by Orchid Seed
Alleyne was one of my favorite character designs going into my viewing of Queen’s Blade. She didn’t get a lot of screen time or memorable moments, other that the revelation that she wears leaves instead of panties, but I still hold her among my more favored heroines from the show. Apparently, she also likes wearing leaves instead of a bathing suit, which is why Orchid Seed is here to bring us a PVC rendition of this official pinup art. Swimsuit figures are really hit or miss for me, but overall I think I like this one enough to buy. I think the pose is what really makes or breaks such a figure, and I find the way that Alleyne is playing with her hair more visually interesting than most.

4 thoughts on “Preorder Roundup: 2013.07 Edition

  1. That’s really true what you wrote about Saber and Alter. I’ve found their Saber figures to be boring as well.

    Of these I have Sheryl and Alleyne on order. That Sheryl is just ridiculous! Otherwise I’m most interested in the Dark General and Sallya. I don’t think I’ll be able to fit the Dark General into my budget, but maybe there’s a chance for Sallya…

    • My current theory is that Alter recognizes the popularity of Saber and puts out conservative designs to capitalize on the larger potential market she brings than your average anime heroine.

      I’m glad somebody’s buying Sheryl. I love the figure in concept, but I’m personally finding it hard to justify the cost. Even so, I want to see Max Factory and others attempting more ambitious sculpts and people need to buy the ones they do make in order to encourage further experimentation.

      I think Hobby Japan doesn’t realize how much extra business they could generate by opening up their store to buyers outside of Japan. Every HJ exclusive on MFC has noticeably lower “Ordered by” and “Owned by” stats than similar standard run figures, which I think is a pretty clear indication that most collectors don’t want to deal with the headache. In the General’s case, I’ll probably bite anyway because I love warrior girls, but I can certainly understand why many collectors will look elsewhere.

      Sallya/Tharja was probably the easiest figure to commit to from this list because I have a soft spot for the fantasy genre and the sculpt is just par excellence. Max Factory has an great track record with their scale figures and the price is pretty reasonable, IMO, so there was very little to make me think twice about ordering.

  2. I ordered 4 from this list, I must be crazy XD

    Ahl, Im more a fan of feminine Saber and that would actually something for me, the friendly face and her extravagant flower shaped dress. It is a beautiful figure and Im not sure why I ordered other things instead.

    The closer the release the more I doubt that Irma was the right choice to order. Well it’s out ofc question that her body is great and the detailed outfit is another eyecatcher. What worries me is the angle of her head and the face.

    I decided that KUROYUKIHIME with legs looks quite illegal, but it’s good to have the option.
    Im looking forward to Niimi from Yamato 2199, maybe I’ll like the pose.

    Finally a Hyakka Ryouran figure with the right amount of skin reveal. Well, I like the clothes of this girl a lot, the fire gradient on her sleeves or the black stockings with hotpants. And the umbrella gives her something cute, I think.

    Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon is a fantastic anime I have to say. Why do the manufacturers make the “wrong” figures. It’s rather problematic when Im too attached to an anime I get ultra picky. Ahh man why Kazuno, there are so many better charactes too adapt. Such space demanding figures are always a pain for collectors who own more than 4 figures.
    It would definetely be epic to display this one alone, but how often will this be the case?

    Im quite impressed that you could forshadow that Tharja would turn out good, no very good.
    I saw nothing in her as she was stilly grey, but as soon as I saw her in color I fell off the chair XD I love the whole presentation.

    Good that Alleyne is something for next year 😉 I was reassured about purchasing her, after the latest promo pictures where she showed a healthy skintone and blush. Im really looking forward to a QB figure from Orchid Seed + she’s big.

    • Crazy? Nah, that just means you have good taste. 😀 I’ve already committed to four figures from the list and I expect to add 2-3 more before all is said and done.

      As I said, I don’t mind a nice, feminine Saber figure in and of itself, but I want to see Alter take a stab at making a heroic Saber, too.

      I understand your concern regarding Irma. GSC’s Sawachika Eri had a downcast head angle and you practically had to be looking up at the figure to actually get a good look at her face, which didn’t work that well in normal viewing.

      Yes, I probably should have said “uncomfortably erotic” in reference to the legs option for Kuroyukihime rather than “not terribly interestingly”. I can’t think of another figure where changing one optional piece so drastically changes the tone of the figure.

      Alter can sometimes get a bit eclectic in their character selection for a given series. I was surprised that they passed over Asuna for their first SAO figure. They chose a supporting character, Touko, rather than one of the two main heroines for their lone Mahou Tsukai no Yoru figure. And Kazuno seems pretty far down the depth chart for Horizon heroines.

      Given that Alleyne’s release date is so far out and my observation that Orchid Seed figures seem to rarely sell out during the preorder period, I’m actually de-prioritizing Alleyne for the moment to allocate money for more immediate needs.

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