Oct 302015
 

Kirino Kousaka logoOk ok ok, what I actually wanted to do was to post something about technology again after last time, which was a bit massively out-of-context for this weblog, but truth is: I just don’t really have anything. :( And as my Anime craze is getting worse and worse (only by terms of money spent at least, or so I hope), let’s let this here post stand before you as a warning and as a testament to how things can go terribly, terribly wrong real fast! Once you enter the slippery slope you’re pretty much done for, if you’re not particularly strong-willed. And sane. And if you don’t stick to the [rules].

Ok, so there are a lot of series I really like, K-On! being one of them, which is why [I got the Alter figures] of the whole gang in the first place.

Another one that really burned itself into my mind was [Oreimo]. I originally started watching this because it had a theme that was new for me, as it was about a girl named Kirino Kousaka who happened to secretly be a closet Otaku, while instrumentalizing her brother to acquire partially barely legal Anime and visual novel material for her. Or giving her “life advice”. Basically, she’s living two lives in parallel: A normal, or rather high-class one even in public, and a very nerdy one in private. Plus, Oreimo promised to have a lot of typical slice-of-life humor any maybe some very mild harem notes thrown into the mix.

Or so.

Seriously, I did not KNOW when I started watching this. And that’s how I slipped into what’s actually a Siscon Anime for the first time, or to explain properly to those still pure of heart: Into an Anime about a romantic relationship between siblings. Now whether you like or hate that kind of “forbidden love” thing, Oreimo does it more through subliminal tension between the characters than wide-open. Unless the very end, which 99% of viewers disliked anyway (I shall not comment on this). There is also NO erotic content in this title whatsoever. No [Ecchi] or anything worse than that.

Still, I found the whole theme quite… shall we call it “fascinating”.

If only I would’ve never been shown that figure, it might have actually missed it and everything would still be fine! But nooo, It just had to happen, and when I saw it, I immediately knew I had to have it, no matter what. It was Kirino after all, and it was completely insane as well. Let’s give you a little teaser, and as always, click to enlarge:

Kirino Kousaka Teaser

That old öS 10.- coin is roughly 25.5mm or in other words barely over an inch wide… Getting an idea about the issue at hand already?

Ah yes, my apologies for the stamps by the way. I don’t usually stamp pictures I post here, because the license is clear anyway. But I forgot this time, and I’m too lazy to process the originals again, so sorry for that.

Ok, now let me explain something here quickly: You can be figure faggot. That’s weird, ok. People will probably look at you strangely, especially if you own a little bit too many of them. But you can still be a figfag within reason.

Within reason!

There are several types of figures. The classic and most common one is probably the 1/8 scale figure. Those stand around 15cm or 6″ tall in most cases, so they’re rather small and…  uhm, easy to hide I guess. :roll: Depending on quality and accessoires, they might set you back something in between 40-110€ when new. Then, far more rarely you’d find 1/7 scale figures. Those can stand 20-25cm or around 8″-10″ tall and are much more expensive, sums in between 150-200€ can be expected, sometimes more. Those are still relatively normal however.

Well, and then there is…  stuff. Things you just don’t buy. Ever. Because people will simply lose all respect they may have had for you if you do. Things like the 1/2.5 scale Kirino Kousaka. 1/2.5. Bah, let’s just get this over with, so much for guilty pleasures:

Uhm. Yeah. I guess that whoever might’ve still been reading this weblog will have ran away pretty much now. ;) When I first unpacked her, and (already shivering) stuck her onto that pretty nice wooden baseplate to see her stand on my table in all glory… I mean…  It’s… Seriously… Let’s just say, in that moment I truly grasped what it means to have just gone too far with all of this. Like really too far! I did burst into laughter though, after maybe a minute of disbelief, shock and silence. ;)

To say it in numbers: Kirino Kousaka stands about 66cm tall without and roughly 68cm with the baseplate, that’s about 26.8″. Also, the model weighs a hefty 6 kilograms, so you need to be careful when lifting her as a whole. Also, those 6 kilograms of PVC do dispense a lot of nasty smell/gas as well, not sure how healthy that can be. So please don’t lick her, she’s probably toxic, ok? :roll:

In any case, she was made by [Griffon Enterprises], which was one thing I was really worried about, because I had zero experience with the company, and they have a seriously bad reputation amongst fans for two main reasons; First, their quality fluctuates massively, depending on what sculptor/group of theirs is doing which figure. And on top of that they’re well known for showing off beautifully perfect prototypes only to deliver complete shit as an – overpriced, mind you – end product. Ah, and actually, there’s a third, because sometimes they also mess up the painting or scratch the figure somewhere after production, maybe during the packaging process.

Also, Griffon does out-of-canon figures (can you say it like that in English?), and this is one of them. I don’t usually like it when they take regular characters and put them into swimsuits for no good reason for instance. Here it’s diverting in a different way, as they’ve added a tail and cat ears. Now somehow I still totally love this Kirino of theirs to no end, I just can’t help it… But they could’ve made the ears and maybe the tail removable, that would’ve been nice. In any case, it was sculpted by some guys called “TEAM GENESIS”, and they’re supposed to be pretty much amongst the best Griffon has to offer, and it shows:

They did mess up the paint though, so it is not perfect! If you look at the string coming off, you can see it’s pretty much pink in color, and it runs very close alongside her left leg. While some parts like the tail were covered in individual protective plastic bags, the string was not. It seems the figure was packaged or handled in a rushed fashion, and some of that pink paint got onto her leg, giving her pink spots all over. She also has some slight blackish marks here and there on the legs.

Now if you get a figure with deficiencies like those, you can fix them by yourself in some cases, other than what most people seem to believe! As you can see, there are no marks left on those pictures above, right? All you need is a soft sponge and some water, then rub the affected areas very carefully. You really need to use a soft one, otherwise you will scratch the PVC, which has already been softened by plasticizers. And don’t overdo it, or the leg color itself might start coming off. Work slowly and carefully, and it’s gonna look perfect, just like you can see up there. The whole thing’s worth some minus points, but at least it’s fixable.

Ok, time for some action:

Kirino Kousaka and Ritsu Tainaka

Go Ritsu!!!1

I just had to snap that picture. ;) For an 1/8 model, Ritsu Tainaka is actually pretty large because of here extensive baseplate which needs to hold not only her, but also her signature drum kit. It’s probably one of the wider 1/8 sets out there. And still, she can almost play right in between Kirino’s lower legs. ;)

Now where do you put a figure this excessive? It’s not like you can fit one this large into any regular display case. Luckily, my cabinet can just barely hold her when removing one of the glass floors. I was a bit worried about that because the specifications talk about 70cm rather than 68cm, but in the end, she fits in quite well:

Kirino Kousaka in the cabinet

Her display spot

Oh and… ah yes… There is one more detail I’d really rather not talk about, but since it’s funny as well… There are actually two versions of this breathtakingly large figure of Kirino Kousaka. After about a year of delays with the official final release being tomorrow actually, the normal one (I mean, heh, “normal”, nothing’s normal here anymore!!) was supposed to come out first, and after that the… uhm… “Soft Bust” version. Yeah, it really means what it sounds like, sigh…

In any case, and let me make this perfectly clear here, I DID NOT order the Soft Bust version! :roll: Instead I ordered the normal one at [SolarisJapan], partly because I feared Griffon would mess something up terribly with that soft material. Also because it’d look really, really bad to do something like that! ;)

They failed to deliver the normal one though, as it seems the number of units was just too small and all were gone through preorders already. They were able to offer me the Soft Bust version for the same price as a replacement however, and even waived the higher delivery fees resulting from the manufacturer misdeclaring the units’ true weight (Good work deceiving people there, Griffon, haven’t heard that one before).

SolarisJapan is a nice shop by the way, they even have English and German speaking support staff, those guys really hired native speakers for that! So, after sleeping over it for one night I decided to accept their offer before I miss out on her entirely and have to buy for completely insane prices on the aftermarket. I mean, this figure costs around 350-400€ new without custom fees or shipping costs, and that ain’t cheap, but not expensive either, considering what you’re getting. The aftermarket is already asking 700-800€ for the regular one right now, profiting out of the low volume. Well, whatever.

I am still not exactly sure what the hell they did to the plastic, but it seems like they poured in a ton of plasticizer to make her boobs soft. What actually happened is that her entire upper torso and shoulders are a bit soft to the touch, much more so than the rest of the figure, which feels normal for PVC treated with plasticizer. Also, that part of the material attracts dust and dirt more easily, and cleaning it is not as straightforward, as compressed air doesn’t work there. You really have to wipe. :roll: I just hope it won’t change color or shape (yeah, shape ;) ) over time.

In any case, since I do now own the Soft Bust version after all, I guess there’s simply no way I can get around this, eh? So there you have it: ;)

Kirino Kousaka Soft Bust

Words can’t possibly express how wrong this is… But I’ll admit, I did giggle quite a lot. ;)

Talk about losing whatever rest was left of my self-control. As the man who tricked me into this whole thing said it after seeing the pictures (freely translated into English):

“Less well-educated people might presume here, that some things may have went a little bit out of control.”
A terrible Person, who hasn’t even posted his new figures on his own blog after luring me into this whole Anime hell, way to go MacFly!!1 :roll:

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…