Hyper-articulated figures marketed towards the adult collector are all the rage these days. S.H. Figurarts, by Bandai, have been hard at the trade since 2008, and each of their figures are intended to mimic the natural range of motion in the human body. Impressively, they manage to achieve this without major concessions to the overall sculpt of the figure. If you’ve ever had a superhero action figure with some bulky awkward shoulder joints that prevents it from striking super poses, you’ll know what I mean. In mass-produced figures, the likeness to the subject takes precedence over the utility of the articulation joints. Thankfully, S.H. Figuarts is *ahem* breaking the mold, albeit at a higher price point.
We’re looking at just two of the many Sailor Moon-branded figures in today’s Toy Chest, but S.H. Figuarts by Bandai have produced figures for Marvel’s Iron Man and Captain America, DC’s Injustice: Gods Among Us, Dragon Ball Z, and even Super Mario Bros.
First up with today’s Sailor Moon duo is the title character, Usagi. For ’90s kids of my generation, you may remember her name being Serena in the Saturday morning series dubbed version. But in all of the newest series dubs and re-dubs of the original anime, she has been returned to her original name from the manga series. Usagi is a name that means “rabbit” in Japanese, and the inspiration for the name for this particular character lies within her hair buns. With the two symmetrical iconic round buns at the base of her ponytails, Usagi’s silhouette resembles an anthropomorphic flop-eared bunny. Of course, that wordplay works double-time with Endymion/Tuxedo Mask often calling Usagi “bun-head”: hair buns/bunny head.
The Usagi figure is impeccably designed and, as is distinct among S.H. Figuarts figures, comes with multiple interchangeable hand and face molds. There five different pairs of hands, totaling ten tiny pieces that you should definitely keep your eye on when you’re opening the package. There are different variations of Sailor Moon’s classic “hand poses” or mudra, including the three fingers extended pose that you often see Sailor Moon doing while her other hand is on the hip. The others are variations of pointing poses and closed and semi-closed fists. One piece stands alone as the piece that holds Usagi’s moon Frisbee, the powered up version of her removed tiara. In fact, one of the face sculpts was created sans tiara for just such an occasion. Of the four included face molds, the expressions range from serious with tiara, serious without tiara, shouting, and happy. When the figure was first released in 2013, two more faces — and I would argue far more iconic faces, to boot — were packaged with the figure, including the crybaby face for which Usagi is famous, as well as a winking face. Were those still included in present day versions, it would almost be like having a collection of real-world emoji. Two versions of Usagi’s moon stick are included, and they have subtle differences between the two. Finally, and naturally, included in the package is a scaled version of Usagi’s feline companion and mentor, Luna.
For Endymion, AKA Tuxedo Mask, (AKA “Darien” in the original English Dub), the numbers of accessories are slightly fewer, but equally versatile. In place of Usagi’s Moon stick and Frisbee for Endymion is his cane and rose stalk. In the newest anime series, Sailor Moon: Crystal, Tuxedo Mask enters a scene just as he always has: preceded by his signature razor-sharp rose striking into the ground. Aside from the rose and cane, Tuxedo Mask also comes with Sailor Moon’s locket (awwwww) and a black peg which is used to disguise the hole in his back that’s used to anchor him to the base stand. There are two types of head molds on which to affix the four faces: one with a top hat, and one without. The four faces range from eyes closed, to eyes completely covered by the white sunglasses. (Nightglasses?) He also has a detachable molded cape, and perhaps the best kind of cape for an action figure: articulated. Fabric can be notoriously uncooperative for the small scale, and making a multi-part articulated cape is perfect for photos and recreating scenes.
Both characters are expertly painted with very little signs of paint bleeding into places it shouldn’t be. The paints used are glossy in appropriate places, and matte in appropriate places. Sailor Moon’s boots and bow are shaded in an almost fuchsia color with a nice gloss finish. The white and blue of her Sailor Scout uniform are more subdued, and the striping on her capelet is especially notable. Each of Endymion’s tuxedo buttons are appropriately glossed to contrast with the matte black of the suit. The blue lining his lapels help to break up what is otherwise a fairly monochrome scheme. The sculpting of the pleats and elbow joints also add a world of dimension to the the figure, allowing the light to fall on the figure as if it was actual fabric.
Do you have any of the Sailor Scouts, or plan on getting a few? Shout out your thoughts below!
Toy News Round-Up
Here are some of the best bits of collectible figure news from the last week!
- Marty McFly may have traveled to 2015, but these Back to the Future Minimates are coming in 2016.
- Doctor Who-inspired crafts include an Amigurumi (crochet toy) Twelfth Doctor!
- Halloween is coming up, and the most notorious clown of all is available for your haunted garden path: The Joker crawls out of the grave!