Sideshow’s 1:6 Raynor, great but not perfect.

Starcraft’s Terran hero, James Raynor, was made into a 1:6 scale figurine by the folks from Sideshow. Normally 1:6 figures stand at around 12 inches high but since he’s in his Terran Space Marine Combat Power Suit, he stands 16″ tall.

This thing was on my preorder list the day it was announced about a little over a year and a half ago. It came out in the US early 2015 but was just released in the Ph around a few months ago. I rarely get 1:6 figures although since everybody else seems to be on the Iron Man bandwagon, I took this one just to be a bit unique.

I’ve seen previews and reviews of this thing but when I finally received it, I felt a bit short-changed after paying almost 500USD for it. Granted that this 1:6 figure is extremely detailed, from the rubber hoses and segmented pieces to the small decals. But at this price point, I would have expected more.

The hulking Combat Power Suit, as daunting as it looks, is light for his size. Also he’s top heavy, even with those massive feet it’s very hard to get him to balance properly. And because of that, it’s difficult to get him into action poses that you’d normally like to do with 1:6 figures.

I also found the hoses on the arms especially the elbow areas a bit disappointing. You’d expect to have those hoses locked down, but it’s stated in the manual that if it becomes loose, just tuck it back in.

As with many other figures, the accessories are very much detailed. Both the Assault Rifle and the Sniper Rifle have detachable magazines. The revolver could have been better. Maybe a more metallic finish to emphasize the details but I doubt you’ll be removing this from its holster anyways.

I tried making him hold his Assault rifle but since the hands were fully articulated and a bit on the loose side, it’s hard to lock a grip on the gun. Even harder to make it do a firing position and this is just the only way to make him hold it.

So sometimes I end up making him hold his gun over his shoulder. Just to avoid knocking him and his gun over.

I still haven’t figured out how he can properly hold the sniper rifle, but it looks better on the table with the bipod supporting it.

You’ll notice that I have a Hot Toys Dynamic Figure Stand on the side, to help keep him upright. I had an incident where it fell face flat on my table at one point in time and even lodged off a piece of armor from his pinky finger and while in the process of putting that armor on again, this happened:

I was able to put it all back together but this just added to my slight displeasure with the overall quality of the product.

Nevertheless, beyond all those issues I encountered, Raynor is still a wonderful piece especially if you’re a StarCraft fan. Is it worth the 500USD price tag? Probably not. But compared to the legion of 1:6 Iron Man armors out there that’s basically a rehash of the same mold, I think this fares better for any collection.

_DSC0374

S.H.Figuarts Luke Skywalker Review

With the upcoming Star Wars movie just over the horizon, we can already see an ever-growing surge in related merchandise from brands other than Hasbro. Bandai, a Japanese toy company, acquired the Star Wars license early last year and here is the latest offering in their high-quality S.H.Figuarts line—Luke Skywalker.

I thought I already had my definitive ROTJ Luke, but, upon seeing the teaser pictures, I knew I had to get this one. I pre-ordered mine from cdJapan. I honestly wasn’t expecting it to arrive this early. It came in a small corrugated cardboard box and was stuffed with Kraft paper for cushioning. As an added layer of security, the actual toy boxes were encased in bubble wrap inside a fabric gift bag.

Luke-01

Now onto the nitty-gritty:

PRESENTATION and PACKAGING

The figure comes in a small, glossy black box with a window in front. It is roughly the size of a VHS tape (for those who can still remember) and there is no wasted space. Since the quality of the packaging is comparable to the elegantly simple Black Series boxes with no excessive fluff or weird profiles, Mint-in-Box (MIB) collectors will enjoy this. Also, if you need to store your figure for transport or, well, storage, then you’ll be pleased to know that the 2-part blister tray has a snap-lock feature, negating the need for tape.

Luke-02

Luke-03

SCULPT

Luke-04

From the onset, the figure screams quality and the sculpting is its best feature. It accurately captures Mark Hamill from face to build. You can see the attention to detail in both his normal and windblown Khetanna/sail barge hair. The face feels stamped-on, but it is Hamill, without a doubt. It reminds me of the laser scanning process they did with the early Toybiz LOTR figures. And we’ve come so far since then.

Luke-07

Luke-08

Luke’s outfit is pretty simple so one can rarely go wrong with the details. Everything here is well-represented, down to the folds. Of course there are some who prefer the shiny buckle or an open flap (and maybe even the vest), but this can hold its own.

The figure stands at 6 inches tall and, as of now, there are only a few Lukes in this scale—one being the Hasbro Black Series and the other from the kid-friendly Force Battlers line. There is also the Unleashed line, but that is more statue than action figure.

Comparing it to its closest rival, the Black Series Jedi Luke, this one takes it in spades. It may be slightly taller scale-wise, but it outshines its competitor in every other way. The Black Series Luke, for me, was really a let-down, not just compared to this one, but also compared to its first iteration—the Flight Suit ANH Luke.

The figure is in solid plastic (ABS and PVC from what I read in the site). Nothing feels soft or rubbery. While it may not be as durable as a 5-POA kid’s toy, it will not fall apart in the collector’s hands.

Luke-05

Luke-09

ARTICULATION

The figure is typical of the trademark S.H.Figuarts super articulation. Elbows, wrists, ab-crunch, knees, ankle rockers…they are all there to allow for a wide range of dynamic posing (no pivot joint bicep and forearm or thigh swivel, though).

Luke-10

The removable heads have their own hinge joints while the hands have a socket where you can push the ball in. Unlike the ill-fated B:TAS (Batman: The Animated Series) first line, the pins are sturdy and can hold up to posing so long as excessive force is avoided.

Luke-11

Luke-12

The joints are all nice and tight and the figure has no problem standing in reasonable poses. I’m still getting used to the shoulder joints, though.

PAINT

The paint job is clean and precise. No slop or flecks to be found, even on the cracks and crevices. I’m not really sure if there is a wash (apart from the face) or if they are just using the same color of plastic, but the results are still beyond satisfactory and the figure still pops out in photographs without being too glossy or muted. I just have a slight issue with his hair, as I find it a bit too golden for my taste. The eyes, being printed on rather than painted, feel realistic but faded. The closest example I can offer is the World of Warcraft Figureprints. But make no mistake, I do not consider this a minus. It’s more of an acquired taste for me. It does have a very huge plus and that is the chances of you getting a cross-eyed Luke are next to none.

Luke-06

OTHERS

Luke comes with a basic set of accessories: his lightsaber, a set of hands, and an alternate head for Vader. As with everything else, they look fantastic. The lightsaber hilt suffers no loss of detail and the blade is neither soft nor deformed. Like the Black Series sabers, the hilt is detachable from the blade. The only difference is that the emitter matrix and focusing core are also included.

Luke-13

It would’ve been nice if he came with binders, a cloak, and a blaster pistol, but judging from the diorama scene that is supposedly out in stores as well, this is obviously the Death Star II Luke (pre-flap/pre-force lightning) version.

NEGATIVES

If there’s one thing I disliked, it’s the crotch assembly. For one, I don’t know if the joints were molded in clear plastic (which, for those who can relate, caused problems with DC Collectibles figures—tending to be fragile and brittle compared to colored plastic) or were warped from stress. Either way, I feel that the figure’s durability down there has been compromised. Another is the thin piece of plastic connecting the front and the back along with the exposed T-joint. I wouldn’t call it a design flaw but I would’ve preferred the affair to be a solid chunk of plastic.

Luke-15

Luke-16

CONCLUSION

Despite the gripe, this is now my new favorite Luke and I’m hoping they will expand this line to include other Jedi. And to anyone who is still unsure, I highly recommend getting one.

You’ll find he’s full of surprises.

Luke-17

Luke-18

Photos by Robert De Villa

Gundam Docks in HK and My Life with Gundam

Gundam.info recently released more details on the Gundam Docks at the Hong Kong II event, which begins Aug 1 through the 31st at Hong Kong Times Square.

A highlight of this activity is the 1:3 scale of Gundam Wing and Gundam Unicorn. I was amazed with the pictures I’ve seen around the Web, so I’ve been deliberating very hard whether or not to go and personally witness the exhibit dedicated to Gundam’s 35th anniversary.

(Times Square Site photos c/o Maker World)

Gundam Wing
Rhythm Emotion cue
Gundam Wing photo
Just Communication cue

gundam the originWhile thinking about the value of going to Hong Kong for this event, I took some time to internalize what the Gundam title means to me.

I don’t consider myself the ultimate  fan, but I have a lot of hobbies related to Gundam. My favorites are Seed and Destiny, and I patronized both seasons of Build Fighters. I also like Wing mostly because of the machines, and not because of the five suicidal pilots—but that’s a topic for another article. Currently, I’m following the Gundam: The Origin manga, and have my favorite bookstore auto-reserve a copy for me whenever a new volume comes out.

Games and Toys

I am not too much into Gunpla modeling kits because I don’t have the time to build them. Currently, my wife and I only own several unassembled kits—a Perfect Gwing zero pefrect graderade Wing Zero I gave her for her birthday 7-8 years ago, an MG (Master Grade)-Proto of Wing, an MG Heavy Arms Endless Waltz we bought from our first trip to Japan back in 2007, a Mobius Zero- mobile armor of my favorite character Mu La Flaga and the Archangel—Seed’s version of the classic’s White Base.


I also play some related games during my free time. I find the Playstation Vita’s Gundam Breaker 1 and 2 to be good—despite being purely Japanese—due to its very intuitive controls.

In addition, I also frequent Gundam Duel Company, a mission-based online game from Bandai Namco, where you can use the cards you get offline from boosters packs to recruit mobile suits and ACE pilots for your army (you should try this if you’re a fan and experience the various mobile suits battle one another). The best part is the organized play wherein players and their home store will get to represent the country, battling other commanders around the globe.

A few years ago, I played the card game Gundam War NEX-A, which appealed to me as a card collector. However, I found it very hard to play as there is no official English translation available, ergo it was difficult to find other players who share the same interest. The cards, though, are very nice and I decided to put them together in a kick-ass binder featuring the various series’ heroines.

Gundam in our Travels

Two of the important stops my wife and I always make whenever we go to Tokyo are Gundam Cafes and Diver City (home of the 1:1 scale RX-78 and the museum, Gundam Front) .

Gundam Cafe in Akihabara

There are two Gundam Cafes in Tokyo; one is in Akihabara and the other one is in Odaiba, just beside the life-size Gundam (more on that later). The Gundam Cafe features themed food that are mostly entertaining—some of them funny. Our favorite is the “Gundam Wing self-destruct,” a meal with a soft-boiled sunny-side up egg.

Gundam Front in Diver City, Odaiba

At the 6th floor of Diver City is Gundam Front, which features a 360 theater featuring exclusive short videos to visitors. When we went there, they showed Gundam Phenex for the first time, battling Banshee in space. There are interactive displays inside the exhibit explaining the various series and a 1:1 life-size bust of Freedom Gundam. There are also sketches of the main characters and cell-shadings. By the exit is the shop, which sells exclusive items ranging from modeling kits and plushies to food and apparel.

And the most badass Gundam display in existence, 1:1 RX 78-2!

RX-78-1
The 18-meter-tall 1:1 scale RX-78-2 is the highlight of Gundam Front. The Gundam faces the bay area, seemingly ready to defend Japan against any threat. The statue lights up at night and performs a light show every 30 minutes from 6 to 8 PM. Smoke from the machine’s exhaust makes it more realistic and the head moves sideways. The main cockpit opens during the night show and the audience get to see Amuro Ray piloting it.

So will I be able to visit Times Square to check out the Gundam Docks at Hong Kong II event ? The exhibit is not as extensive as that of Tokyo, but it may be another exciting experience altogether. I hope we find the time to visit in August and would definitely post updates if we push through with it.

(All pictures are by the author unless otherwise specified.)

A Weekend of Figures at Bandai Tamashii Features 2015 Taipei

Bandai Tamashii Features 2015, a highly anticipated toy exhibition, was held at Song Shan Cultural Park just a few minutes away from Taipei City Hall MRT Station. The exhibition was only for 2 and a half days (July 17 to 19), and that should give you an idea on how crowded it was when my friend and I were there.

I chose to go on the second day (July 18), thinking it would be less packed than the July 17 grand opening day.  It turned out I was right on the “less crowded” part, however being a day late meant a lot of the merchandise had dwindled considerably – which made me want to hit my head against a brick wall.

IMG_20150718_145842_HDR

Admission was absolutely free, which was a pleasant surprise. Immediately upon entering we were given brochures and a handheld Gundam fan. It was a hot day and the fan was a welcome gift.

The event pretty much looked like a decorated warehouse, which may have disappointed people looking for a grand expo experience. There were also no events or shows. But I was not disappointed. We did go there to look at the toys displayed and admire them, all while wallowing on the inside about how much our wallets would suffer.

The exhibition was composed of 50% Gundam, 30% One Piece, 10% Saint Seiya and sadly 10% of everything else.  The Gundam line-up was immense. I am not a mecha fan, but my friend is. At some point during the event, he had so much fun that he forgot I was with him. I, on the other hand, was hoping to get a glimpse of Sailor Pluto and Sailor V, but they were inexplicably absent from the Sailor Moon S.H. Figuarts line-up. I did, however, see the upcoming Spiral Heart Moon Rod. They also had the upcoming Frozen Figuarts Zero on display.

I love Saint Seiya, and I am fortunate to live in a place that adores Saint Seiya as much as I do. Much of the line-up consisted of the EX line including the new EX Soul of Gold versions. A 1:1 scale of Leo Aiolia’s armor was also on display, which drove a lot of fans crazy.

The Bandai shop was slightly disappointing for me mostly because all Sailor Moon merchandise were gone. No, I’m not talking about leftovers. They were GONE, empty shelves and all. I could have bought a Proplica Crystal Star Brooch if I went on Day 1. (Note that Bandai Taiwan follows the same exact pricing as Bandai Japan. We pay factory price, not retail.)

After spending a considerable amount of time in the expo (staring morosely at the empty Sailor Moon section for who knows how long), we went out into the hot and humid street.

But there was an unexpected surprise. Next door was the Gundam PlaModel (a portmanteau of either plastic and model, or play and model) Exhibition 2015. Yes, I know I’m not a fan, but my friend and I wanted to go inside so badly. So we waited in line under the hot sun for about half an hour.

Upon entering, they make you draw a Gundam lottery. The lottery allowed you to win discount stubs ranging from 5% off up to a whopping 40% off. I got a 20% discount stub and my friend got 25%, much to his delight.

The exhibition looked much more funded than Tamashii Features 2015. There was a Gundam museum, followed by more recent releases. There was also a Gundam assembly contest and some shows with girls wearing skimpy outfits (I consider them a necessary evil in conventions and exhibitions). The store was the craziest section of the Gundam PlaModel Exhibition. Model kits and figurines were flying off the shelves and people can be heard bartering discount stubs with their friends. There was even a store staff who walked around carrying a huge sign that warned people about items that were about to be sold out. I even heard a man scream in agony as if someone died, when the model kit he wanted ran out of stock.

All in all, despite the slight disappointments, it was a good day. Thankfully, my wallet did not suffer much, and I went home with the entire line-up of Super Mario Bros. S.H. Figuarts at a discount –imagine, factory price less another 10% off! My friend bought the GF13-017NJ Shining Gundam Robot Spirits series, as well as Gundam marker pens and a Tallgeese model kit he scored for 25% off at the Gunpla Expo. We look forward to going through this again next year!

Review: Variant Play Arts Kai – Batman Timeless – Wild West

Square Enix released a new Variant series in their Play Arts Kai line called Batman: Timeless featuring various renditions of the Dark Knight across alternate timelines. First shown to the public at New York Comic Con 2014, the caped crusader was presented as a Wild West vigilante, a Spartan defender, a Medieval knight and even a Steampunk Victorian hero.

Below are pictures taken from the internet of the NYCC 2014 display. Credits go to Square Enix NA, Toychestnews, Taghobby and Hobbylog.jp.

When I first saw the photos on the web, I was astounded by the level of detail so I told myself to collect the Variant Timeless line even if there wasn’t any story that went with it, unlike the Arkham games or the Dark Knight movies. As soon as the opportunity to pre-order the “first of batch” Wild West presented itself, I didn’t hesitate, since I didn’t want to risk not getting any stock upon release. True enough, upon launch of the product, it was very hard for walk-ins to get one. Because of this, I advise that if you find a PAK figure you really like, always, always pre-order. Some stores even have freebies or discounts for the ones who do.

…when the opportunity to pre-order Wild West came, I didn’t hesitate to approach one of our local toy stores, as I didn’t want to risk not getting any stock upon release.

Anyway, on to the review!

The figure is packaged in a glossy box with beautiful artwork of the Wild West Batman on the front. On the upper left side is the classic bat symbol, just below the DC logo. When you open the flap you will see a brief description of the concept behind Batman Timeless and a preview of the figure.

One of the challenges for newbie PAK collectors is separating the plastic container from the box packaging. You can easily do this if you pull the “black backboard” together with it. This black backboard actually stores the plastic stand for the figure, and blocks the hollow bottom of the plastic container. In addition, it also contains instructions about your PAK figure.


The figure itself feels really solid and heavy. The materials used a combination of soft and hard materials, coupled with very intricate detailing. From buckles to buttons to each rivet and pouch, this figure fits the hype.

At a glance, this variant could be mistaken for Nightwing. Maybe it’s the mask, and how the bat symbol was designed on his chest. Or it could be because of his clean-shaven face. I personally think that this version would look more kick-ass with a bit of stubble. But hey, Bruce wants it clean so let’s leave it at that. (Come to think of it, a bit of mustache might make him look more like Zorro, so maybe this is better all along).

“Horns” protrude from his cowboy hat, completing Batman’s trademark silhouette. The collar on top of his cape is made of a soft, rubbery material. The outstanding texture and coloring of the various parts of the costume down to the most minute detail contributes to the overall effect–from the metal batarang, buckles and rivets, to the leathery armor of various thicknesses.

There are multiple holsters for his weapons. The grappling gun can be divided into two and then connect again for it to fit while his axe can be placed beside the gun holster and at the Dark Knight’s upper back.

The boots are superbly done, textured in stark contrast with the rest of the materials, presenting a very leathery appearance. The spur (I actually have to ask Google about the correct name for this) looks like the real thing.

The cape has a weathered and torn-look showing age, with holes and burn marks brought about from his battles conquering the lawlessness of the Old West. It is divided into three parts. The upper part of the cape maintains the form and covers the hinges of the two other capes beneath it. This allows better pose-ability on both sides, and not cumbersome like most toys with cloaks/capes on them. I had first observed this amazing design on the PAK DC Variant Batman and I am glad they implemented it again in this version.

The figure feels really solid and heavy. The materials used a combination of soft and hard materials, coupled with very intricate detailing. From buckles, to buttons, to each rivet and pouch- this figure fits the hype.

A symbol of the bat spreading its wings can be found in the upper right-shoulder portion and when you spread them you will be amazed to see the amount of work exerted on the figure, including its back/hidden portions. You can even find a lasso neatly tied on his back (the BruceXDiana in me wishes that it is a Batman x Wonder Woman reference).

One thing you have to check for when you buy this figure is to make sure that the holster for the axe on his left upper back is still intact. I wasn’t able to check it at the store and only noticed the missing part when I took the pictures for this review. I came back the next morning and lo and behold, the staff found it on the floor! Apparently it was accidentally removed during my inspection and I didn’t see it because it was really small.

Posing time! Play Arts Kai did a good job not only in the aesthetics but also in the articulation department.

I would highly recommend buying this figure and I am very excited for the next releases of the Batman: Timeless. Can’t wait to display them all.