Wednesday, January 14, 2015


I recently picked up an amazing dinosaur replica made by the French company Papo. Actually, I picked up several! They are so good, it's hard for me to express in words how amazed and blown away I was when I opened the package. I got that joyous, giddy feeling that's the reason I collect toys, but which too often doesn't come with a given purchase. I'm going to begin a series of overviews with the Carnotaurus, the "bull-headed" baddie from Disney's "Dinosaur"...

The Carnotaurus was the smallest of the models I picked up. He measures about 2 & 1/2" to the top of his hip, and he's 7" from nose to tail-tip. He's in a fairly dynamic (if not a bit contorted) pose, where his snout is down low and his tail extends up high behind him. His awkward and very stubby arms are thrown back on shoulders that nearly look inverted. He's also got some balancing issues because of the way his feet are splayed. He can stand ok, but it's a little precarious (I may heat one of the legs and adjust the stance a tad).

The sculpt and paint on this little guy are really spectacular. They are the things that set this apart from "toy" to "replica model". Honestly, it's the same kind of impression I get when I examine an X-Plus Godzilla figure, only on a much smaller scale. So much care and attention has been put into giving the skin layers of texture, from smoother scales outside the thighs to lots of thick ridges along the back and tiny pebbly bumps atop the snout and crest. The horns look great, and even the belly, throat and underside of his feet are sculpted with fine detail.

The paint is gorgeous. There's a fantastic base coat that does nothing to conceal the sculpt detail, and then several layers of airbrushed color that makes Carnotaurus look unbelievable life-like. The pictures can't really capture just how intricate all of this work is. They've even hit the top of his back with a splash of glosscoat to add some shine- it looks fantastic!

The figure has an opening jaw, which I understand is fairly standard for Papo dinosaurs. He looks great with the mouth open or closed, and the seam is really only pronounced underneath the jawline, which won't be visible ordinarily.

Papo's Carnotaurus is an excellent figurine. He's in a bit of an awkward pose, maybe a little too dynamic for his own good, totters slightly and has some really painful looking arms, but overall it looks like a museum-quality replica and is fairly inexpensive, as well. If you have a dinosaur-lover in your life, you can't go wrong here. Honestly, I'm totally hooked, and really glad of it!

Size Comparison: standard Playmobil figure

Sunday, January 4, 2015

MIKASA ACKERMAN - Max Factory Figma Attack on Titan figure review

Mikasa Ackerman is a character from the Attack on Titan anime/manga. She's a member of the Survey Corps, and spends her time killing Titans and worrying about Eren Yeager. She's usually relatively quiet and reserved, while also exuding a fierce determination and unparalleled skills. In short, she's fairly awesome, and is quite a popular character (think "Carol" from AMC's The Walking Dead). I just recently began watching Attack on Titan as part of Adult Swim, which in turn caused me to pick up the first few volumes of the manga. It's morbid and disturbing, but I'm still along for the ride. I thought I'd better jump into the Figma line I've heard so much about with Mikasa before she's gone for good (I've got Ghost in the Shell's Motoko Kusanagi on pre-order for late January and was curious as to what I'd be getting into with these Figmas).

Max Factory's Figma line definitely scores an A+ in terms of presentation. The figure and accessories are visible through a window, while the box projects an attractive and professional design. There are plenty of action photos of the prototype, all set against a muted maroon & black color scheme loaded with logos and such (the "Figma" label can be found 9 times on the box and is etched into the included base, as well as onto the hand stand and accessories baggie). As this is my first Figma, all of these impressions truly are "firsts". It's possible that my appreciation of the overall packaging designs will wane as I acquire more and begin to take them for granted, though I hope that doesn't come to pass. There's something to be said about "quality". The way this figure and its accessories are presented and protected conveys a level of commitment to the property and to the consumer that I haven't often come across, and nearly never by an American company.

Once the packaging is opened, everything is sandwiched between multiple layers of clear plastic trays. The figure itself is also wrapped in about 3 layers of clear plastic sheets/tissue, including a clear plastic collar that I had to pull the head off to remove. It all conveys the message that, "Yes, you've spent a lot of money, but we care enough about our product and the craftsmanship that went into it to go to great lengths to protect it." I appreciate that, and it really does make a difference. Mattel tends to give me the "smushed drive-through McMess burger", Hasbro gets me closer to Applebee's on occasion, while this Figma makes me feel like I'm in a quality sit-down where I'm about to try something special. Yes, it's a $20 hamburger, but at least I'll appreciate and enjoy every bite.

The figure is small, coming in at 5 & 3/4" tall, and the sculpt is of a slight young woman (I think she's about 15 in the manga). The plastic is of high quality - nothing feels fragile or brittle, but I'd take care in playing around with her, nonetheless. The sculpt really is quite striking. She's spot-on for the character, and the joints are incredibly unobtrusive, though they allow for plenty of posing. I'll not list them - it's better to say that they allow for very natural posing. Paint is perfect, literally. There's no slop or scuffing of any sort, and the combination of materials is seamless. There's s softer rubber used for the torso part of the jacket, scarf and the "skirt" to allow for a better range of motion, while everything else is a high-quality plastic.

The amount of appropriate accessories included here is astounding. You get 3 different facial expressions (normal, "growling" and "screaming"), the 3-dimensional maneuvering gear, 2 detachable sword blades, a removable cloak, a removable scarf which can be interchanged with a removable collar, 2 plastic mid-fire grapnels, 2 string grapnels, a bit of thread, 2 air puffs for the grapnels, 1 large air puff for the main thrust, a Figma stand, a rack and 8 additional hands, a spare wrist joint and a clear plastic baggie.

Mikasa’s head removes very easily at the neck joint, and her faces can be swapped out by first removing the front half of her hair. The face is held in place on a peg at the forehead. Switching them out is a breeze, and they fit very snugly in place. I like the neutral face and the grim, “growling” one, as well. The “shouting” face isn’t as impressive to me because her eyes are painted off to the left while I prefer a more centered look. There’s a little bit of a gap where the two parts of the hair meet, and it’s especially pronounced on the sides – the fit here could be better (and is in the prototype images), but maybe it’s intentional to allow you to get a fingernail into the gap to pry the halves apart. It’s also worth noting how the peg attaches into the head: it’s fitted in on an angle into the upper back half of the hair from the inside. This allows the head a really wide range of movement, from tilt and turn to even allowing for some left-right slide. It’s simple yet brilliant at once.

With the head removed, the rubber scarf can be slipped off and replaced by the top half of a shirt collar. Once it’s slid all the way down the neck, it fits seamlessly, but I had real difficulty prying it back up and off. Personally, I prefer the scarf look for Mikasa.

The three-dimensional maneuvering gear is a wonder of engineering. It pegs in VERY securely in 5 places on the figure. There's a main post that plugs into the lower back, two posts at the hips on the belt and one for the outside of each thigh. The main sword racks are on ball joints so they can move as the figure is posed. Everything is snug, secure and seamless once attached. The cape slips down over the neck with the head removed. There's a hole that lines up in the upper back to allow the stand arm to peg through and keep both the cape and figure in place. Even with all the additional weight of the cape and air thrust attached, I was able to balance Mikasa atop the stand without too much difficulty by just leaning the stand arm back to compensate for the additional weight.

Thrust jet attached, along with firing grapnels...
You'll also get a Figma rack of 8 additional hands: 1 pair with splayed fingers, 1 pair open, 1 pair gripping and 1 pair holding the blades with 2 trigger fingers curled. This is in addition to the default fists that come on the figure. The hands pull off easily but take a little patience to replace, since the posts tend to slide unless very even pressure is applied. The two-fingered trigger hands hold the sword handles tightly. Speaking of the swords, they include removable blades and feature purple-hued copperish handles. One of mine came with a paint rub on the handle despite all the protective packaging.

I'm honestly quite blown away by Figma's Mikasa Ackerman. In fact, I'd pick it as my Figure of the Year for 2014. It's a beautiful, fun figure with tons of accessories, a collector-friendly package and a high level of quality craftsmanship. I've read that there are a lot of bootleg versions of this figure out there, so pay the extra money and get this from a reputable Japanese import store. You'll know it's authentic if there's a silvery sticker on the front of the box beside the number 203. Also, if there's no baggie, no instructions or ANYTHING wrong with the figure at all, it's probably not an authentic Figma. Rest assured, this is as good as it gets. I'm very excited about Motoko Kusanagi's upcoming release, and I hope to add many more Figma figures to my collection!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

BATGIRL - DC Comics Designer Series Greg Capullo Figure 12

The Greg Capullo version of Batgirl is DC Collectibles' twelfth figure released in the Capullo line, dubbed "Designer Series". She was released recently alongside Commissioner Gordon (figure 11) and Batman (Year Zero) (figure 9). Two-Face is upcoming (figure 10). I must admit, I really like the sculpts of these Capullo-version figures (the sculpt for Batgirl is credited to Jonathan Matthews). I wasn't going to bother with these until I started reading the rave reviews of Talon, from back in the first wave. I eventually picked him up, along with Batman, then a couple of weeks ago I came across Mr. Freeze and Catwoman, and now Batgirl and Gordon have joined my ranks at home. I may add Riddler eventually, and I'll keep watching out for additions as they are released (the immense Thrasher Suit Batman is a sight to behold, but at $40 he's on hold for the time being).

Batgirl features a beautiful sculpt which combines deep-set cut lines for armor paneling with smooth form-fitted sections to accentuate Batgirl's athletic build. She's mostly wearing matte black, with some sections highlighted with gloss. The yellow sections are deep, almost gold, with a sparkly sheen. Her hair is a reddish brown with a dark wash and appears to be up and off her neck enough to allow for head movement without an issue. The face is attractive, if not a bit round and large (especially beside the recent New 52 Batgirl release). The eyes are clear and very blue, though the whites have a bit of pink in them. The lips are also nicely done, with a lighter highlight applied within.

Articulation appears pretty limited. I'd assume a ball joint a the head and shoulders. No bicep swivel, single hinged elbows and a cut at the top of the glove. T-joint hips, a thigh cut, single hinge knee and a cut mid-boot. No ankles.

Batgirl comes with three tiny Batgirlarangs, which can be held in her right hand. Both wrists are pre-posed a tad awkwardly, skewed outwards, and there are no joints to change them.

Batgirl is a nice looking addition to the Greg Capullo Designer Series of DC Collectibles figures. She fits in with the other releases and sports an exceptional sculpt and paint job. The articulation looks fairly limited from outside the box, so she'll be staying MIP for me, but she looks good that way and I'm happy to add her to the collection.