Before we get too much further into 2017, I would like to take a brief moment to reflect on my favorite purchases of the past year.
MegaHouse – 1/7 Hunter ~DX ver.~
The Bikini Warriors property seems like a natural fit to produce some appealing figures, but up to this point I’ve found the available offerings largely uninteresting. Even the Hunter here initially slipped under my radar, but she managed to grab my attention post-release and my collection is the better for it. There was some concern that this figure would be too tall to fit on my shelves, owing to the sizable bow, but the Hunter proved to be just short enough to fit. The Hunter is a gorgeous figure and I appreciate that MegaHouse elected to implement the cast-off as an alternate torso rather than trying to make the tight-fitting bikini removable.
MegaHouse took the unusual tact of releasing their Bikini Warriors lineup in both deluxe (DX) and standard (STD) variants, with the only difference between the two being the availability of the aforementioned cast-off on the deluxe model. Good Smile Company has certainly used similar designations for elaborate base designs on select figures like Love Is War Miku and Mikasa Ackerman, but I don’t recall ever seeing such delineation for a cast-off option.
Alter – 1/7 Black Heart
I initially debated whether or not Black Heart should even be on this list, as her assembly process was one of the worst out of box experiences I’ve had with a figure. Nothing was broken, but four of the six wings must be inserted manually post-unboxing, and the process is significantly tedious. Even now, I’m quite sure that the most inconveniently-placed winglet on my Black Heart is barely hanging on. Once you do finally get everything assembled, the initial annoyance fades and you can begin to appreciate that Black Heart is a legitimately impressive figure. I just hope I never have to go through that initial assembly process again.
My Neptunia Re;Birth2 playthrough is currently stalled, but I did find Re;Birth1 to be good fun. The gameplay is a bit simplistic for a modern JRPG, but the writing is frequently funny and self-aware.
Kotobukiya – 1/8 Yukishiro Fuyuka
Here’s a figure that fly under my radar for a good while. I recall seeing Fuyuka go up for preorder, but she didn’t grab my attention in a big way until I saw Tier’s excellent review post-release. A 50% discount at AmiAmi provided further motivation and it wasn’t long after that Fuyuka arrived on my shelf. She’s quite gorgeous in person; easily some of the best work I’ve seen from Kotobukiya. Fuyuka ended up being something of a surprise hit. She wasn’t a figure I had planned on ordering, but she has proved to be one of my favorite purchases of the year.
Alter – 1/8 Charles d’Artagnan
Alter’s Hyakka Ryouran lineup seems to be winding down at this point. It’s had a good run for what was basically a set of character designs for a niche property aimed at selling character goods. I’ll be sad to see it go because the Alter x Hyakka Ryouran pairing has been exceptionally skilled at producing figures relevant to my interests. The much-delayed Charles is now here and she is another worthy entry in the series, if not one of the favorites in the entire lineup. The only complaint that I could level is that she was only obtainable via the now-familiar Hobby Japan exclusive channels.
Alter’s success with Hyakka Ryouran leads me to wonder what could have been if Alter were given a crack at some of Hobby Japan’s other properties, particularly Queen’s Blade. Given the diverse cast of characters and the fantasy battle themes, I can imagine some great figure designs could have come out of that hypothetical pairing. Still, Queen’s Blade does have a heavy ecchi element, which goes hand in hand with cast-offs, and that’s not really Alter’s jam, so I do understand why Hobby Japan would look to partner with other companies.
Good Smile Company – 1/7 Saber Bride
You have to think we’ll reach saturation with Saber figures at some point. That hasn’t happened yet, at least personally, as I had three more Sabers (this one included) on order at one point in 2016. Good Smile Company has created a scale figure for just about every variation of Saber the TYPE-MOON folks can come up with and their version has usually proved to be the definitive take for each. This was the case with their Saber Bride, which I felt was easily the most compelling of the Bride designs to date. The final figure came out about as well as one could hope for, so it would seem GSC hasn’t lost their golden touch.
One oddity I noted with the base: the logo on my Saber arrived curled up on one end, which I assumed was a manufacturing defect (e.g., missing glue). The pre-production photos showed a flat logo, but GSC support assured me this was normal and user photos over at MFC seem to confirm their statement.