Oct 152015
 

Ho-kago Tea Time logo - Azu-nyanI think I have made a threat about posting Anime stuff before, and since everything I’ve been doing all day for the better part of the past eight months had at least something to do with Anime, I’ll just go with that. There is nothing really new on the PC, storage or Linux/UNIX frontlines anyways. And if there was, i’d probably miss it anyways, heh…

Before I start, I would like to thank… – no wait, rather blame –  [Umlüx] for all this crap, because he (re-)infected me with this whole Anime craze, and after a few series it just spiralled completely out of control. I still don’t quite grasp what the hell actually happened and how I’ve seen 60 Anime titles totalling almost a 28.000 minutes of viewing time in eight months…

Anyhow, like most rather die-hard Anime fans, I wanted figures of my favorite characters at some point. I already own two extremely rare figures from the brutal Yandere series Elfen Lied, [Lucy] and [Nana] (as you can see, I went through some efforts to present them properly) that I got about six years ago. But I never actually started to really collect them, so it was still only those two. I wasn’t really watching Anime anymore anyway, until this March. However, at some point, shit had to happen, and it happened for the Anime series [K-On!]:

As always, click or shift+click to enlarge:

Now whether you love or hate cute [Moeblob] series, I greatly enjoyed quite a few of them, including this music-related slice-of-life series, where the viewer accompanies 4-5 girls through their little adventure of founding their schools’ light music club and with it their band “Ho-kago Tea Time” (eng. “After School Tea Time”). So yeah, this is another highschool series. Yes, it’s very Moe. It’s also very much about nothing most of the time, but hey. If you’re a Moepig like I am sometimes, you might enjoy this. Anyway, let’s get to it, the complete K-On! figure set by manufacturer [Alter]!

I’ll start with the first character of the series, our classic clumsy airhead who goes by the name of Yui Hirasawa. She plays Ho-kago Tea Times’ lead guitar (’cause hey, that’s what clumsy airheaded highschool girls with zero skills do) and does some of the vocals as well:

Now, when looking at the quality it becomes clear that Yui herself is pretty standard fare. Don’t take it the wrong way, the sculpting and painting quality is great, and she resembles the Yui from the Anime a 100% (so the face is perfect), but there is just so much detail to flesh out for a normally dressed highschool girl out of an Anime.

Where Alter really begins to shine though is accessories, in this case the musical instruments. Keep in mind that these 1/8 scale figures stand only about 15cm tall in total, so the details you can see on the guitar are quite tiny in reality. What we get is some nice body finish, actual real strings on the guitar and well-defined details on the neck and body. Just look at the pickups and the bridge assembly! Not bad at all.

Now, let’s continue with the super-shy Moequeen of the series, Mio Akiyama, who is the bass guitarist and main vocalist of the band:

Mio is one of the two founders of Ho-kago Tea Time, – following Ritsu against her will originally, but it was only after Yui named her own guitar something along the lines of “geetah” that Mios beloved bass guitar also got its name “Elizabass”, which was bashfully accepted by Mio only in secret. In contrast to Yuis childlike appearance, Mio looks more grown-up, mostly thanks to her different eye design. This is also reflected in her more earnest character, where Yui is just an airheaded mess in comparison. As mentioned however, she is extremely shy as well, making her the instant Moewinner in K-On!.

As you can see, the details like the knobs, pickups and especially the bridge assembly are once again top notch, as is the finish of the guitars body!

Let’s pull out the last of the three guitarists from behind, Azusa Nakano. She joined as the last member one year after the original founding, and is actually really proficient in playing her guitar:

Yeah, she’s wearing cat ears (jap. 猫耳, hepb. nekomimi). You can remove them as they’re optional, but who would ever want to remove the cat ears of the series’ local cute, semi-loli [Tsundere] character? Ah yes, I feel like I have to post these as well, just can’t help it, otherwise we’re not getting any actually visible Moe here today:

Eh…  yeah, well, now that that’s out of the way…

Besides the nice sculpting, Azu-nyan has a small flaw on one of her legs though, about 1mm in size. It’s relatively negligible though. You may be able to spot it on the top left photo of her, just to the left of her knee.

As for her guitar, the knobs are just “ok” in comparison (ah shit, I can’t get my eyes off those GIFs while writing this…), but the structured whiteish surface of the body and those subminiature screws are excellent indeed! The head of the guitar leaves pretty much nothing to be desired either, and the whole neck plus head even mimic the originals’ wooden structure, which can also be seen with Yuis guitar by the way. I just forgot to take an according picture of hers.

But now it gets really serious, let me show you the second most expensive of the five figures, the keyboarder and classic “calm, blonde and super rich girl” of the group (there always has to be a rich girl), who always delivers the most exquisite sweets and expensive tea for the actual “After school Tea Time”; Tsumugi Kotobuki, or in short Mugi-chan, who is also kind of an airhead on top of things:

Unfortunately, her figure shows quite some damage, likely due to ultraviolet radiation, or in other words: Direct sunlight exposure over an extended period of time. It’s actually worse than it looks on the photograph. Sunlight exposure is generally quite bad for pre-painted PVC figures, as it “burns” the color, severely darkening it in the process. So it’s far from mint condition, and it’s pretty clear that while the figures were completely clean and very professionally packaged in their original boxes, it is likely they’ve been unpacked and on display at some time in the past.

Her keyboard is the real deal however. That level of detail is breathtaking, with many of the features smaller than a single millimeter! Just look at the display! Not only does it look like an actual LCD, but in just about 10mm of width it fits an unbelieveable amount of detail including one of the bands’ song names “Cagayake! GIRLS”. I didn’t even spot that with the naked eye, I only noticed that on the magnified photos afterwards. Insane, given that there are even much smaller features than the track name!

Alter is really showing its strengths here! But let’s take a look at the last of the five, our wild Tomboy drummer, Ritsu Tainaka and her signature yellow drumkit:

Once more, one can feel Alters love for detail! Not only do the drums and hihats look awesome, they have actual drumheads with proper tension. Heck, the snare drum even has an actual working snare attached to it! A shame I forgot to take a picture of that. Ah yes, and the pedals. At least the bass drum pedal even moves a little and the beater is properly attached to and moves with it. Now you can’t really play the drum with that as there is not enough leeway, but still.

I’m not sure if I’m impressed more by Ritsus drumkit or Mugi-chans highly detailed keyboard, as both are really awesome in their own right!

Let’s put ’em all together, this is our fully staffed Ho-kago Tea Time:

Ho-kago Tea Time!

From left to right: Support vocalist Yui on the lead guitar, Ritsu on the drums, Azusa on the support guitar, Mugi-chan on the keyboard and lead vocalist Mio on the bass guitar!

Now I clearly can’t leave them like that, and I don’t have an actual figure display case as I am not (or was not?!?) a collector in the first place. Also I don’t wanna buy one because I don’t have a good place for something like a set of [DETOLFs]. I do have a wooden glass cabinet though, which is an integral part of my living room furniture. That cabinet is large enough and was orginally used for storing decanters, vases and drinking glasses. Now who needs those on display, right?! Right.

So I removed them, and together with the built-in halogen lamp of the cabinet we get a setup with some nice atmosphere, so that’s where I’m gonna leave them:

Ho-kago Tea Time at night

Ho-kago Tea Time performance!

It’s also perfect considering that there is just enough space to place the entirety of Ho-kago Tea Time in there without making it look too cramped. While the door has wooden strips in the middle, moving the figures slightly to the left and right respectively works well enough to make them all visible to the viewer.

It seems I have finally found a new money sink after it doesn’t really make much sense to buy modern multi graphics card setups anymore…

Ah yes, let’s talk about price: If you wanna become a figfag, it’s seriously gonna cost you. Shit’s expensive when it’s high quality and very often you’d have to import from Japan from shops like [AmiAmi], [Solaris Japan] or maybe eBay where US American or European stores don’t carry what you want. This complete set here can be obtained for slighty short of 400€ if you’re careful enough to pick the right sellers. 450€ with fast and safe EMS shipping for a large parcel like this one.

Then there is customs tax, which will NOT apply at least for the EU, as the TARIC code of collectors figures [9703] lists them as being tax free if newer than 50 years. There is still VAT though, which amounts to 20% here.

So for 450€ (yes, shipping is included in the calculation) you’d have to pay an additional 10€ customs handling fee plus 90€ VAT making it a 550€ total. Wohoo, right?

So there you go! This will bleed me dry, but somehow I can’t manage to regret it! ;)

Edit: Ah yeah, before I forget it, there are actually quite a few nice songs in this series, some of which I’m regularly listening to. Here is a quick list of some of my favorites, links to YouTube:

And many more of course…