Monday, November 07, 2005

The Best Action Figure Series EVER???

After a flood of emails complaining about my earlier post titled: "I Hate Gundam" and what could be viewed as the somewhat hypocritical follow-up post: "If I hate Gundam, what do I like?" post, I have decided to appease the natives with a post describing my love affair with Bandai's Fix Figuration line of Action Figures designed and sculpted by the master Hajime Katoki. I dare say it's the best line of Action Figures ever created...period.

Those of you that disagree, (which shouldn't include the hundreds of you that complained about my "I Hate Gundam" post- you can't have it both ways) have either never picked up a Fix Figuration Action Figure OR you hate Gundam. If the latter is true, please send me your email address, I have some hate mail to forward to you.

So you might be asking how can I Hate Gundam and think the Gundam Fix Figuration line is the best action figures ever created? Well, I'll tell you, it's because of the quality and detail of the figures themselves. However, of the almost 50 figures in the Fix Figuration line, I only own 6: 005 Fazz, 0010 GP04G Gerbera, 0011 EX-S Gundam, 0017a Zeta Plus (blue), 3004a Zeongraphy Pezun Dowadge, and 3008 Zeongraphy Gouf Custom. My selective nature could be attributed to me being a cheap bastard, (which is true) but the other reason is the majority of the remaining figures represent what I don't like about Gundam: blah and bland. I look forward to Hajime Katoki creating many more excellent designs in the line which should include Sazabi, MS Kaempfer, and Rick Dias Dom just to name a few.

Back to the Fix Figuration line itself and why I think it's the best action figure series ever created: To pick up a Fix Figuration Action Figure is to pick up a solid-feeling toy. There is heft to it...mass that feels substantial. The figures are sculpted and then molded in this not quite plastic and not quite rubber material. I would describe it as a very hard, yet somewhat pliable polymer of some kind. It's definitely not plastic. The entire line is 1/144 scale which is fine by me as 1/100 would be too big for this kind of figure. Each figure in the line comes with an IMMENSE amount of accessories, weapons, extra hands, heads, feet, etc. Some of the figures include extras for transforming into vehicles as well. The engineering isn't what I would call transforming ala Transformers, but rather you take stuff off and you snap on other parts to create the desired figure or vehicle. This would include variations of the figure itself using different weapons and armor. It's almost like getting a reversible figure that looks quite different depending on the parts and armor it's wearing. Warning: If you don't like extra parts lying around, this is not the line for you. There are so many extra hands, arms, legs, weapons and armor that you could choke a nursery if you were careless enough to let the little buggers near your toys. Nonetheless, very cool indeed.

I just received the MS Gouf Custom and was so impressed with the quality of the figure, that it prompted me to post this article singing Katoki-san's praises. After you get over the sheer number of extra pieces in the packaging, you notice the amazing detail and paint dedicated to each figure. The paint job is what I really appreciate. See, if you're like me, you would see pictures of the Gundam Master Grade model kits in Hobby Japan that looked so great. Although the model comes pre-molded in color, the hardcore hobbyists usually paint their models with an airbrush to give them that polished look. So when I finished building my model, putting on the stickers and even taking a fine black marker to all the lines to try and give it that finished didn't. It NEVER looked as good as the pictures in the magazine.

Bandai heard the cries of the un-talented or just plain lazy hobbyist / toy collector and created the Fix Figuration line which comes pre-painted just like the pros would. The details and shading of the paint job are absolutely amazing! They come in a matte finish would is fine, but it would be really cool to see them in a glossy finish using metallic flake paint. Perhaps Bandai is saving that for the die-cast versions, eh? How crazy would that be? Soul of Chogokin Die-Cast version of the Fix Figuration line? Good Glory to Gundam, that would be Grrrrrrrrrrreeeeaaat!

The other reason why I think they are the best is the engineering of the figure itself. The joints all stay where posed and all the parts are thoughtfully designed and engineered to allow proper clearance. The extremities and armor snap on the figure with a satisfying click. Did I mention the level of detail? On the Gouf Custom, it features a configurable shield / gattling gun weapon that is so detailed, you could just stare at it and marvel. The left arm slips into the rocket launcher. The gattling gun slips onto the arm shield which snaps secrurely on the forearm. The shield also acts as the sheath for the sword. All this weight would normally drag the arm down to the ground, but due to the superb engineering, the entire contraption stays elevated as if to fire!

The Fix Figuration Series are not for kids as they have plenty and I mean plenty of small parts to choke on. They are not inexpensive either. They range from $35 to $70 but you can find them on sale online. Many of the earlier figures are discontinued so you would either have to find them on eBay or get very lucky.

So there you have it, my case for the best Action Figure Series ever created: Bandai's Fix Figuration has it all: the engineering, quality, details, paint, sculpting and accessories. The only way to improve the Fix Figuration line? Add Sazabi, MS Kaempfer, Rick Dias Dom and make the line in an affordable die-cast version with metallic paint in non-traditional colors and you the makings for the next "must have" line of toys.

Thank you, Hajime Katoki for producing this line of masterpieces and thank you Bandai for executing on Katoki-san's vision which such a high-quality product!

Did I mention I LOVE GUNDAM?!

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