Japan


Figma
Robocop
5 Inch Scale
By: Max Factory
$49.99 (price varies)

Part Man. Part Machine. ALL Cop. Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 Robocop film transformed the concept of a cyborg. Robocop was a movie that had a lot of social commentary, gratuitous violence and one of the coolest looking “robots” in film history. It also instantly became a hit with kids, which is pretty amazing because the movie is actually Rated R. That didn’t stop toys from being made, cartoons from being launched and Robocop becoming everything that perhaps the movie was against.


None of that matters though, because Robocop is a badass. I love Robocop, even the bad sequels and the underrated TV show. I owned a ton of the Kenner figures and I bought quite a few of the Toy Island figures, even Commander Cash! Despite a ton of attempts from McFarlane, NECA and even Hot Toys, I’m not certain we’ve ever had a perfect Robocop figure.


Ultimately, this figure isn’t “perfect” either, but it’s damn close. I’m sure Hot Toy’s second attempt at Robcop will be perfect… But it will also run you $300 or so. For $60 or less, you won’t find a better Robocop figure than the Figma. This guy is incredible, both in detail and design, but most importantly in articulation. This is the most poseable Robcop to date and he’s an amazing figure because of it.

Packaging:
The packaging is a fairly plain window box. The presentation is nice, but not nearly as sweet as Revoltech or the Bandai MonsterArts packages. This does it’s job, but won’t likely make you want to keep it MIB for display.


The package art does conjure up a bit of a Robocop feel, but I think they could have had a lot more fun with that concept. The back has some details about the posing and accessories.


There’s a picture of the figure on the sides.


The nicest part of the package is actually the inside backing card. It has a lot of little wires and circuitry as well as the Robocop logo. As usual, kind of a shame when the nicest part of the package is something you see the least of.

Sculpt/Paint:
The sculpting on the Figma Robocop is fantastic, with just about as much detail as the McFarlane figure, at around half the size. Robocop has actually had a pretty good run with figures, as they’ve always had a lot of sculpted detail. Toy Island did nice work, and Kenner wasn’t too bad, but the Figma is really amazing for the small size.


It’s a stunning figure and is immediately recognizable as Robocop. The paint has a mix of blue and purple hues in it, but in some shots it looks like there is too much purple. I would say that there is a TAD too much purple, but it’s not as bad as some photos may have you believe. I’d rather they went with more blue than purple, but such is life.


The other area that is of concern to many collectors is the mouth. This doesn’t appear to be Peter Weller. It looks pretty generic and the lips aren’t given a lot of detail, making this look a bit flat. It doesn’t bother me, but it’s worth noting. You could sculpt a bit more detail in yourself, but honestly macro function cameras are tricking you for the most part… In hand you’re not seeing the face as close up.


To many, the McFarlane Robocop is still the standard bearer and Figma’s Robocop does not have quite as much detail. However, for the most part, the detail is very close. Given the difference in size, it doesn’t seem like anything was directly omitted.


This Figma Robocop even has working pistons on the heels. In fact these pistons work quite a bit better than the other pistons on similar figures, because you can move these around a lot more. Although they can pop out and are TINY so don’t lose them (I almost did) if you drop them.


The pins can come out, so be careful.


The intricate detail at this scale is pretty astonishing. He’s just the right amount of bulky, complex and slick. Some Robcop figures just don’t seem to nail the overall feel of Robocop, NECA’s is gangly, McFarlane’s head is a bit small but Max Factory has succeeded in getting just the perfect mix.


The body looks good and the articulation is hidden rather seamlessly. This has often been a problem with other Robocops, but it’s not an issue here.


The hands all look great and there are quite a few to choose from. The data spike hand is particularly impressive. It’s tiny, but so well detailed for it’s size.


They managed to cram in a lot of details.


The figure’s height will get to a lot of people. He’s more in line with 5 inch figures than he is 6 inchers. That means he’ll look great with Doctor Who, but won’t work with Marvel Legends or DCUC. He matches up okay with the old Kenner Terminator, though.


The scale doesn’t bother me too much…


So long as Max Factory gives us a Figma ED-209! He’s too big for my old version. I’d like a RoboKane too please!


The crowning achievement of this figure, though, has to be the opening leg compartment for his gun. This is an important part of Robocop that is often not made into a figure for various reasons.


Figma has nailed it! While it’s not “fully” functional, it’s perfect for recreating those iconic poses.


Articulation:
The articulation is the other truly amazing part of this figure. He’s just so much damn fun to fiddle around with. Robocop toys usually get a pass because Robocop didn’t seem all that poseable in real life… But this one isn’t a big hunk of unarticulated junk.


Robocop can finally disco dance!


Or meditate!


Or do his best Shawn Michaels impersonation!


Or even relax after using his roboweiner to rock Anne Lewis’s world!


Seriously though, this guy is super poseable. The joints all move smoothly and they’re not clicky like a Revoltech. They are just easy to function. Nothing strange or odd about them.


This means you can put Robocop in lots of wacky poses that you might never had imagined him in before.


But it also means you can help him hit essential Robocop poses, better than ever before. Nothing you can’t do within reason with this articulation.


Accessories:
Japanese toys tend to load you down with accessories and low and behold, Figma’s Robcop is no exception.


You get a total of 10 different hands. Two look nearly identical, but they are actually different stages of trigger pulling. You also get a Figma stand, a bag for your accessories (this is a nice little bag) and a battle damaged head. Not to mention the removable leg for the gun, his actual Auto 9 and a little gun blast effect.


“WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOUR FACE?!?!”

The helmet just pops off to replace it with the battle damaged version. It’s easy to remove, but at the same time, it’s not going to fall off either.


The battle damaged helmet looks great and although there isn’t a matching chest piece, you can remove parts of him to make him seem more damaged.


Like an arm!


The outer thigh pops off to reveal the inside where you can attach the opening gun leg portion. That is two separate pieces that plug in.


Note the very minor differences in these sculpts. Not necessary for some people, but quite cool to be included.


The Auto 9 is an incredible sculpt and the firing effect is decent, but a bit cumbersome to plug in.


The stand is a of a pretty high quality. It’s not the best stand, but it can help you to acheive some poses. He stands fine on his own in most posing situations, though.


Everything is really well made, no cheap flexible plastic. This is all made to last.

Value:
Of course the kicker here is that this guy is at least $50 in most locations. That’s certainly a lot more than a MOTUC or something you might find at retail. He’s also under 6 inches, which will upset a lot of people. However, if you’re a big Robocop fan, you simply can’t not have this in your collection. All other Robocop figures pale in comparison and I should know, I pretty much have them all. If there continues to be more Robocop Figmas, I will be in LOVE. I can only hope we get several more figures from the Robocop films in the Figma format!


Score Recap:
Packaging – 7
Sculpting – 9
Paint – 9
Articulation – 10
Accessories – 10 Hands, Stand, Auto 9, Blast Effect, Battle Damage Head, Bag, Leg Pieces
Value – 9
Overall – 9.5 out of 10

This is not perfection… But it is close. It’s as close as we’ve ever gotten and I’m not sure we’ll ever get any closer at a price point this low. For that reason, he’s very much worth it.


Sometimes you have to pay a little more, to get a little more.


If the mouth sculpt was a little tighter, the purple a little less and perhaps more blue, this guy would be perfect. As is, he’s an essential for Robocop nuts like myself. Don’t miss out on this one.


Your move…


Creep!


S.H. Figuarts: Tiger and Bunny
Barnaby Brooks, Jr.
5-inch-ish scale
By: Bandai
$45+ Online

All is lost. I’m stuck halfway between tokusatsu and anime and the toys. My God, the toys.

It seems the Figuarts goal is to be as accurate to the source material as possible while maintaining a high amount of articulation. When you look at the characters from Tiger and Bunny, an anime about a superhero reality show in which heroes are granted points based on heroic acts, you can see that some of the designs might pose a problem in this arena. Barnaby is one-half of the superhero duo the show focuses on, so it’s essential that they nail the figure if they plan to release all 8 heroes and other characters.

Will Bandai rise to the occasion and make a highly poseable action figure with well-hidden articulation or fall prey to its own celebrity?

Let’s find out. Bonjour, heroes.

Packaging:

Barnaby (or Bunny, depending on how awesome you think Kotetsu is) features the standard window box of the Figuarts line. The character is easily seen, though the accessories are mostly packed out of sight.

One thing I like about the Figuarts figures I have is that the insert features a friction bubble over all the accessories. This way it stays locked down without the use of tape, which is great for photos and play and absolutely necessary considering the scale of many of the accessories.

I can’t tell if this little feature on the back is meant to be a joke or a feature of the figure, who has real-world corporate sponsors, but it tickles me either way.

Aesthetics:

I gotta hand it to Bandai. This figure is damn near flawless. This figure depicts Barnaby in his powered down state, which basically just means the pink Tron-like details aren’t glowing and neither are his eyes.

Bunny’s sculpt seems to feature all the requisite features of his armor in the show. One of the more interesting elements of the armor is that it’s not as complicated or segmented as most anime armor or mecha suit, instead focusing on a more aerodynamic, streamlined look. It’s very cool and very unique, with large patches of white that draw the eye as well as transparent bits here and there for flavor.

He’s basically a walking iPod.

Also included in the package are a relaxed pair of open hands and an alternate right leg to display him in his “Good Luck Mode,” a sort of super-powered up state that transforms the appendages of the users into giant robot-looking things for ultimate smackdown. According to the show, they don’t actually allow for any extra power, but look super awesome.

To swap the legs, you have to tug downward on it, which gives me serious concerns about the life of the hip joint, but so far I’ve had no issues.

Bunny’s package also includes a stand, which I believe is one of the Stage Act variety, but I’m not familiar with them enough to know which one. It’s a very pretty pink clear plastic and features his superhero name as well as his secret identity, which in this rare case happen to be the same thing.

Overall, the paint is not awful, but does seem to be laid on a pit thick in certain areas. It’s packaged with a few plastic baggies meant to protect some of these areas from rubbing together, but unfortunately mine still came right out of the box with a nice big patch of pink paint ripped off the arm and fixed solidly to his torso. This is a rather expensive toy to be dealing with paint defects, and most e-tailers won’t replace a toy for this reason, so you might want to buy from somewhere like Amazon, where it’s sure to be more expensive but who’ll replace just about anything no questions asked.


50 bucks for a five inch toy and it’s got paint rub?

Articulation:
Well he looks pretty good, all told. How does he move?

Figuarts figures are designed to move. While he’s got a lot of joints, some of them are just restricted enough to cause trouble.

Let’s do the run-down: Hinged upper neck, ball lower neck, hinged shoulder pads, ball socket inner shoulders, swivel hinge outer shoulders, swivel biceps, double hinged elbows, hinged forearm armor, ball socket wrists, ball torso, ball waist, hinged inner hips, ball socket outer hips, swivel thighs, double hinged knees, swivel ankles, hinged ankles, rocker hinged ankles, and hinged toes.

Now he can get into a lot of neat poses, from the classic Iron Man Adi Granov shot to a bare-bones sitting position, both of which are fairly convincing and allow him to be posed both dynamically for action scenes and subtly for comedic ones. In fact, his hip articulation is becoming standard for the Figuarts line and allows for a ton of motion. Basically, the hip can be pulled downward before rotation so that his kicks can go much higher than a standard ball joint would allow.

Well, that looks great! Are you just nitpicking again, Wes?

Perhaps. What problems I have with the articulation stem not from the amount of joints, which is uncanny, but from clearance and mobility issues.

For all the joints in the midsection, his ability to bend in any particular direction is extremely compromised, mostly confined to swivel action. His neck, while excellently hinged for downward motion can’t look up at all, leaving a straight-on stare as his maximum upward range. The armor that comes in around his neck renders the lower neck ball almost useless, and as you can see from the photo above, makes paint chipping on the jaws a regular danger. Finishing off with the feet is the range of the rockers. The rockers are excellently jointed, but the armor again restricts the ankle just enough that he won’t be able to stand flat-footed in extreme poses.

That being said, the inclusion of the stand does help to offset some of the issues you might face. After all, the feet are made of die-cast metal, which adds a lot of weight and stability when posed correctly. In addition, the Good Luck Mode leg is a very light plastic and jointed very similarly to the regular leg, so you can still get a lot of great poses there as well.

Barnaby thinks I’m just being a nitpicky silly goose, but for the price, I really expected a lot from this toy. This, of course, brings us to…

Value:
I picked up Barnaby Brooks, Jr. for 52.95 from ToysLogic through their Amazon store. This is about the average price for the toy. Unfortunately, it’s not average for the line, which is usually closer to 30 or 40 dollars per figure. Well he’s got the stand, which is nice, I’ll admit. I love having stands that allow for dynamic posing. He’s got the Good Luck Mode leg, an awesome addition that really looks good on him. He’s got one extra set of relaxed hands, a nice bonus for different poses. Finally, he has a swappable armor piece for his forearm which says Amazon.co.jp as his corporate sponsor.

Normally, you get a lot more hands with Figuarts toys, so the extra set they toss in kinda just make you wish you had more. The swappable armor piece is okay, unless you’re like me and didn’t even realize that he’d changed sponsors at all throughout the season and though he always had the Amazon gauntlet. More hands would have really made this set a better deal, but the inclusion of an open-masked alternate head would really have sealed the deal, especially considering he spends a good amount of time every episode with his mask open so he can talk smack about Wild Tiger.

Barnaby’s a 5” scale toy that’ll cost you at least 50 bucks. He runs on the large side for the scale due to the armor, but with the small amount of accessories, limited poseability (for the line), and less than perfect quality control, I can’t say he’s much of a value.

Score Recap:
Aesthetics: 8
Articulation: 7
Value: 4
Overall: 6.3

Remember that I just reviewed SIC Stronger and Tackle, which I paid less for and got two larger figures with better poseability and better gimmicks. Barnaby is a really solid figure, excellently represented from his animation model. However, at more than fifteen dollars higher than his fellow Figuarts figures, you should really expect a lot more for your money. I recommend this figure only to extreme Tiger & Bunny fans who plan to collect all the heroes from the line. The fact that his teammate, Wild Tiger, is notoriously difficult to obtain only adds to his plight. There should be a reissue in the spring for both figures, but I strongly doubt this highly popular anime will lend itself to discounted prices and fully expect this figure to remain at a premium for quite some time.

If you’ve got the cash and are a fan, then you’ll probably enjoy the figure quite a bit. Casual fans of the show or of toys in general should pass this one up.

Thanks for reading and as always, it’s just a toy. Open the darned thing.

We mentioned before about Bandai’s new S.H. MonsterArts that are hitting this November. Well as preorders start for these toys, Bandai is unveiling a couple of commercial/mini-movies. These are designed for the Japanese audience, but obviously we can enjoy them as well. In this one Godzilla does battle with Japan (big surprise!) but the Godzilla in this entire commercial is stop motion animated with the MonsterArts figure.



Pretty awesome stuff. The prices on these guys are actually a little less than originally speculated, so I’m certainly going to be all over them. You can preorder here and help this site as well as pretty much any retailer worth their salt is taking preorders now.


I was digging around in the BBC archives and found this little gem from a very early 2nd Doctor memo as the show writers and staff were coming to grips on how to explain the metamorphosis from William Hartnell to Patrick Troughton. Today we know how the regeneration works, to an extent and it’s old hat by now… But given that this was the first time the Doctor had ever undergone such a change, these early writings are particularly interesting.


My favorite part deals specifically with the regeneration and how dark and bleak they wanted it to be. It’s certainly much different than what we’ve come to know these days. This regeneration wasn’t going to have him looking for fish sticks in custard or running around town in his underwear. Instead, he was going to be suffering a bad acid trip and all the horrors of his past incarnations. No wonder the 6th Doctor nearly strangled Peri to death when he first changed.

Speaking of different takes on the Doctor…


In 1980 as part of the Japanese publishing company, Hayakawa Bunko’s trend of transporting popular science fiction novels into Japanese, five of Target’s Doctor Who book arrived in the land of the rising sun. This would be fairly uneventful if not for the fact that artist Michiaki Sato was commissioned to do illustrations for the series. This is where the excitement and interesting part comes about.


Doctor Who videos were virtually non-existent in the era, especially in the far east. You weren’t able to hop on to Wikipedia and see what the Doctor Who characters and monsters looked like. Given such a Herculean task of putting in illustrations with nothing but the details contained in the books themselves, Sato began to draw Doctor Who… HIS Doctor Who.


Just how many details the folks at Hayakawa Bunko had about the Doctor Who series is debatable. Some have speculated that they simply didn’t have the rights to the Terry Nation and Raymond Cusick designs of the Daleks, but that hardly accounts for all the other vast differences in the artwork. It’s possible that they weren’t even aware these were TV programs at all and given that the five books featured starkly different interpretations of the Doctor, his looks and companions (the Target selection is a mix of both the first and third incarnations of the Doctor) they may have thought the stories were meant to be creatively interpreted. There were of course the English illustrations by Chris Achilleos, but they only provided a few details themselves.

Whatever the reasoning for why these Japanese novelizations feature such different designs for many of the characters (the Daleks being the most interesting), it’s hard not to enjoy these unique takes. Doctor Who has so many plainly identifiable elements that it’s hard to reimagine them without comparing to the original designs, but the Hayakawa Bunko books stand out not as some custom fan interpretations, but entirely new concepts and a good look at how other parts of the world might have done Doctor Who. You can check out some more artwork from the Bunko books at the TARDIS, Hasshin! website.


If you like giant Japanese monsters (and chances are you do if you’re here!) then I’ve got a great new, FREE service to tell you about. Goohead.com is a new internet “TV” channel that offers up a variety of old school Japanese TV programs and movies, streaming online for free. No tricks, no sign ups, absolutely legal, absolutely free! Perhaps the coolest of which is Super Robot Red Baron, which is about a group secret agents, their crazy inspector friend and of course, their giant ass kicking robot. Red Baron combines a lot of typical Tokusatsu and Henshin Kaiju elements, but does so in a crazy LSD induced 1970’s way.


The show actually isn’t that bad, aside from the over the top 70’s elements and the “comedy”. Of course if you know anything about the genre, that sort of stuff is par for the course. This makes for great Saturday morning or late Saturday night fun. Invite your friends over and do your own Mystery Science Theatre! Goohead has the entire run of the show to watch in high quality streaming using AWS S3 and Cloudfront technology.


It’s a great way to get introduced to the craziness of Japan and see some cool giant robot/men in rubber suits fights along the way. Super Robot Red Baron managed to do some really interesting stuff during it’s run and even introduced some new elements to the genre. If you like it, the DVD of the series is available to purchase online for pretty cheap and this is a great way to sample before you buy (or just watch the whole thing if you’re poor).


That’s not all they have though, Goohead also has rights to air Iron King! This is another giant monster battle show, albeit a little more direct in it’s Ultraman homage. Iron King looks like an Ultra, although he is not. He too is a giant robot. This show is equally as good and focuses on a pair of heroes instead of an entire team. One guy, Gentaro Shizuka who dresses and acts like he just walked out a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western, who uses his super powerful whip and his goofy partner Goro Kirishima who dresses like a 1970’s ladies man. Goro also happens to control the powerful Iron King, using of all things, his pimp hat!


Iron King has a lot of fun elements and if sort of like Supernatural… If Supernatural was made in the 1970’s, by the Japanese, on acid and about giant robots and aliens! Once again the entire show is also available on DVD, but Goohead allows you to watch it for free.


They also have a couple other more kung fu fighting type TV shows and pretty much all of the old and new Gamera movies to watch as well. The quality is quite good for all the programs, although no remastering has been done on the old TV shows. However, everything is offered in it’s original (but subtitled) form. You can watch full screen on your computer, phone or sling it to your TV. Two crazy cool 70’s Japanese giant monster shows, a bunch of giant monster movies and it’s all for free! Can’t beat that!

In the interest of full disclosure, the Goohead.com website is quite difficult to navigate and looks a bit bare. It’s best to use my links here for the Television Section and the Movies Section. Go to “older content” to keep viewing episodes. It’s totally free and pretty cool if you’re into that sort of Tokusatsu programs. Supposedly they’re going to get some Ultraman eventually, but I don’t know if it’ll just be what’s been released here or not.