Feb 272017
 

Nekopara Chocola logo…he was just too lazy to take pictures, especially given my rather stupid photography setup. Hah, but it’s not like I stopped buying weird stuff and the figures I’m gonna show you today are just a fraction of what I got, so here we go!

1.) The Nekos / Catgirls from Nekopara

The first (as you may be able to guess from the logo) are the Nekopara mini figures, from the extremely successful and totally not steamy[1] visual novel series of the same name. Actually, the project will now even get an Anime OVA due to an equally successful [Kickstarter project] that I totally did not pledge for (I guess I still need to do something about my name showing up in the credits :roll: ).

I had planned to ask people to pledge for the extension to that – their [slacker backer] campaign – but it has already overshot the last stretch goal, so not much of a point unless to really want to get your hands on the OVA and/or the merchandise. At least we get a Nyanko bonus OVA now as well. Anyway, here are some pictures – unfortunately I didn’t get a hold of the limited preorder bonus anymore, as usually, click to enlarge:

Nekopara Nyankos

The chibi figures of our kitties, f.l.t.r.: Azuki, Cinnamon, Coconut, Vanilla, Chocola, Maple, Shigure (who’s actually human) and Miruku/Milk. Cute as fuck!

Ah yes, sorry for the licensing stamps. I was too lazy to create the usual two versions, one for here and one for off-site use. If somebody really wants a clean version of some of the photos, let me know in the comments – the license won’t change though.  Let’s look at the individual kittens, pair-wise:

 

Those two are the main catgirls, featuring a touching backstory of having been abandoned when very young and then saved by the main character whose role the player takes in the visual novel. Said backstory will be featured in a mini VN as well as a mini Anime OVA thanks to the Anime crowdfunding campaigns breaking through the $800.000 and $1.000.000 stretch goal milestones. They’re the youngest amongst the cats, and of unknown breed. Also, they’re twins, despite not looking the part.

Next:

 

Here we have the local tsundere loli Azuki (I do like her attitude!), a Munchkin cat, who is the oldest of the pack and the pretty perverted Cinnamon, whom we will see more of in the final VN that’ll come out some time this year – I forgot the actual release date. She’s supposed to be a Scottish Fold.

More:

 

Besides being the largest of the pack (in several ways), Coconuts’ most distinct feature are probably her dichromatic eyes. She’s the second-youngest and pretty naïve as well. The other one here is Maple, an American Curl who tends to get into fights with Coconut on a regular basis. Maple will also be shown more of in the final VN. And two more to go:

 

As said, Shigure is no actual catgirl, but the main characters sister, and a huge brocon as well (although there is no corresponding siscon going on here). She raised all of the first six catgirls shown above, and she supposedly did a great job with that. To the right we see Milk (Hepburn pronunciation “Mi-ru-ku”), who is a side character, not a member of the main cast. She’s a very young kitten helping her owner at a [Takoyaki] stand, and she’s cute as hell.

Yay for genetically engineered catgirls! (We seriously need a Kickstarter campaign for that!)

[1] The games feature explicit content only if you buy the original versions. If you get the games on Steam, they will be censored. There are content restoration patches for those versions as well, but in essence, you can get both uncensored as well as a slightly cheaper, censored versions. The Anime OVAs will not contain any explicit content.

2.) Illyasviel von Einzbern

I had actually sworn to myself that I would never ever watch Magical Girl stuff again (I did it once, in the late 90s’). But then, there came the Yuri, and when there is Girls Love, there’s just no way I’m gonna hold back, no matter the setting. So yes, I did watch all of Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma☆Illya, and it’s… pretty questionable stuff, at least in season 2 & 3 if I remember correctly. This is Loli Yuri, you have been warned! In any case, let’s go all pink, sigh…

 

Yeah, I know. Just don’t say anything. I feel conflicted and embarrassed enough posting her here! Let’s take a closer look:

Illya, angle shot

Angle shot – I mean, yeah, she’s beautifully crafted, the detail level is high, and it’s a very dynamic pose. The problem with this clearly lies elsewhere :roll:

Let’s take a look at her face:

Illyas' face

Yep, Phat Companys’ sculptors and color producers did a pretty much perfect job here…

It gets much worse though…

Cardholder Analysis 1

This is wrong for too many reasons. Please do not watch the Anime, for I fear you might learn all of them.

You know, I’d love to tell you that my one complaint with this figure is the lack of detail on her card holder, and that I took this photo to show you said lack of detail… And of course, the card holder being totally out of focus here has nothing to do with anything! And that there is an actually correctly taken shot of this doesn’t mean anything either! Ah yeah, here:

Cardholder Analysis 2

The card holder *does* indeed lack some detail however… The FuRyu figure of her has the detailed pattern on it for instance.

Now if we can agree that none of this ever happened, we’re all good! But then again, I could’ve just not posted her in the first place, guess I feel like a criminal who does want to be caught after all.

Well, whatever, so what’s left? There will be two more scale figures in the future, of which one is particularly beautiful – look forward to a nice Kimono for once! And there are also some Nendoroids who’re missing for now, and depending on when a certain Madoka★Magica 2-figure set is really coming out, there will be another two to add to the list.

Guess I still have a lot of pictures to take. Could be that this blog will once more shift from technical stuff to weird Anime merchandise in next few weeks. :roll:

Apr 222016
 

Sakura Trick - Haruka×Yuu logoBefore I say anything else or show you any photos; I would like to thank a certain Mr. Isohata, who happens to run [this eBay shop] called “Toys Glory” right here. He might not always provide the cheapest offers, but let me tell you this: That man delivers! Not only did he manage to surprise me by being able to get me a really rare, exclusive (and in the Western World: pretty much unobtainable) [Tokisaki Kurumi] version, no, he also managed to get me todays’ two little gems, which I couldn’t manage to find anywhere else anymore. And it didn’t take him longer than 48 hours to get his hands on them even – in a sealed state! Hell, I don’t know how he does that, but if you’re sitting in the Western world and you’re looking for something rare with no other options left… Just drop him a message, chances are that if anyone can get that rarity for you, it’s probably him! Oh, and his English is pretty good, best I’ve read corresponding with Japanese people, so no worries there!

Now, that I’m a fan of Yuri Anime (=”girls’ love”, sometimes also inappropriately called “shoujo ai”[1] in the West) is probably not exactly a secret anymore, but from my point of view, there just aren’t many good series in that department. Or let’s say… unobstructedly enjoyable ones. I should really prepare my top list for the genre, but it’ll take a while longer I guess. But to cut to the chase: If you’re looking for a really fluffy, kinda innocent/naïve slice-of-life Yuri Anime, look no further: There is only one. And that’s Sakura Trick / 桜Trick.

Sakura Kiss

You can probably guess where this is going…

I was always kinda disappointed by different figures from different Yuri Anime, because essentially, they’re never posable. And what good are they, if you can’t… uhm… combine them.

Also, it seems Anime released by the infamous [Studio Deen] aren’t seeing a lot of love from figure sculptors (because most of Deens’ series are really low quality), but recently they’ve been improving quite some. And Sakura Trick? Hell, it’s freaking beautiful. Especially if you own a pair of Yuri goggles. :roll:

But there ARE two figures from Sakura Trick after all – the two main characters – which fit the bill. Unfortunately they’re from Waves’ Beach Queens series (“Premium” branch in this case though), which surely aren’t my favorites. Reason? Well, dressing up any and every girl from random Anime in Bikinis just to show them off with as little fabric on their bodies as possible isn’t exactly my thing. But ok, in this case, it’s forgiven and forgotten! We’re talking about Sonoda Yuu × Takayama Haruka after all. ;)

Wave went through the trouble of making the heads on these exchangeable for posing purposes. That means they had to integrate plastic sockets into the heads to be able to connect the ball joint, because the two are made of quite hard polystone, not PVC. The material’s a kind of artificial stone made from polyurethane resin and stone aggregates to give it a porcelain-like feel to the touch. It doesn’t smell like PVC does, it’s supposed to allow for more refined detail in sculpting and you need to be careful – because it can shatter easily.

The scale on these is 1/10, not 1/8, so they’re rather tiny. Let’s have a look, now shall we?

As said, the sockets are pretty heavy and feel well made and all, but… they’re in the way as well. Because if you want to pose the two figures, eh, properly, the sockets won’t let you because they put too much distance between the two. But first things first, let’s change those heads:

Theeere we go. Yuu sure sports some nice sculpting around her belly! Well, there is a small flaw on her hand, but to the naked eye this is not too noticeable, so I’m fine with that. And now, as for the actual posing:

Aw, adorable.

Now, as for the detail level, it may not seem overly great, but consider the scale! 1/10 is quite a bit smaller than 1/8 after all. Ah, just see for yourself:

Sakura Trick - Haruka×Yuu size comparison

This is how a 1/10 scale figure compares to a Nendoroid and a 1/8 scale, both of which are Hirasawa Yui from K-On! Not counting the baseplates, the heights are (from left to right): 15.2cm / 5.98″, 9.8cm / 3.86″ and 18.5cm / 7.28″.

Well, in the end, those two were pretty expensive. They weren’t cheap at launch already, probably because they’re pretty niche after all, and I had to pay roughly twice the original price. It wasn’t breaking the bank or anything, but no matter the quality – rarity costs money. If you’re willing to go (and pay for) the extra mile when it comes to harder-to-get stuff, see paragraph 1. ;) If you’re actually in Japan, this should be much easier I guess, but from Europe or the US, options are limited after all.

Now, let me schedule that third rewatch of Sakura Trick… Because there’s no Yuri like this one…

[1] Shoujo/Shōjo (jap. 少女) mostly means “little girl” or “young girl”. The term “shoujo ai” was meant to just mean “girls love” in the western world, but this is easily mistakable, as the term is being understood as “pedophilia” in Japan. My personal assumption being that it just means something like “love for really young girls”. Saying that you like “shoujo ai” to the wrong person is one mistake you don’t wanna make, ever!

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…