Category Archives: Figures and Models


This might be the first figure I bought that was released on time and was delivered in time…for the season.

Lamp Miku

I’ve talked about how watching anime is a seasonal thing–the right show gets better when watched during the right time of the year. Maybe this is why I sang 2 summer-themed songs during the last time I went to karaoke. Because it’s right about now that I am sufficiently “on the other side of the fence” and grass sure as hell was greener during summer. Nothing against Autumn and near-freezing temperatures–after all I still prefer cool weather over warm weather–but this thermal gap…moe-ness is simply irresistible. Coming from a self-professed Nayuki fan, it’s a routine I can get used to. You know, the “wake me up when we go to school since I sleep through 50 alarm clocks” routine.

Lamp Miku, on the other hand, is routine if you were collecting those pop-ish and stylish Miku figures that seem to come out every other month or something. Or if you were just collecting bishoujo figures with translucent hair made out of PVC. It’s pretty neat, this thing. What’s also kind of neat is the Brilliant Stage Makoto Kikuchi. It’s like they finally nailed one. I’ve seen a lot of iM@S figures over the past couple years and so few of them got it right. It’s all about appreciating that Bamco-style uncanny valley (best seen in screen caps from the PS3 games, or, say, from that All For One game they just announced) and yet putting enough details in to capture the spirit behind the figure. It’s like translating 3DCG into 2D and recapturing it in 3D again. It’s no wonder that so few got it right, given how it is excessively meta and convoluted.

Man, if they hand VampKyun nendos, Lamp Miku’s backdrop would make an awesome stand-in.

Some pictures after the jump, both Makoto-kun and Miku:

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Miku Is Fun to Write About

The other day I read that Miku pitch from that Idea Channel show (which hangs with the PBS tag) and I was like, yeah another show mining eyecatching fringe otaku taglines. After watching it, though, it’s actually an honest investigation from a music perspective. Too bad it’s so short that you can’t really get much out of it.

I guess it’s not unlike console gamers and their alleged alligence to certain platforms, or lack thereof. I buy consoles purely based on the software. That’s why I own a 3DS. But I also buy consoles based on other considerations too, which is why I have a PS3. This multiplicity in terms of how and what makes sense to spend money on is something I believe most folks share, given that they have enough resources to consider different means of rationalizing their spending.

Do we treat these idols the same way? Identity aside I think the way we derive enjoyment from popular entertainment isn’t unlike the way we derive enjoyment from, well, consoles, which are also pop entertainment channels. In that aspect maybe Miku is just like one of the other typical, flesh-and-blood idols. In that aspect maybe it really is all about the music (software) for some people sometimes. But of course, the hardware matters too…

Rather than Lana Del Rey, I think someone like Shokotan is probably a better comparison. But then again how many top 10 Oricon albums did she sell versus Miku… Well, the comparison sticks for either one of them. The hardware will appeal to somebody, the software, who knows?

Clearly, Miku addresses a big lack of appealing hardware of a certain type. And by 2012 terminology, what I mean by hardware is more like ecosystem. And I’ve written some on that already.

I think for every Sharon Apple reference made for Miku, rather to think of it as some kind of silly “old school nod,” I think of it as an itch that is unscratched for ages. I’d go even as far that when Priss and her Replicants a few years prior, or even in Gibson’s Neuromancer line of novels, this itch was already a thing. Miku happened to scratch that itch. Perhaps not applied head on, she does help relieve some of that energy people have in terms of creating and projecting and identifying with some thing they want to be creating/identifying/etc.

Which is all to say, as an idol, Miku is for real. It’s just that it is we who write her story. Kind of like an open-source idol of sorts, and the repository is made of memes and moonrunes.

Koi wa Sensou

I always wanted to make something pretentious like this. Just for kicks.

Over the holidays I got access to a new camera, so maybe that combined with a limited edition figure that I foolishly purchased, I feel kind of excited.

Man, I don’t know why camera companies hold back on these sweet CMOS from the masses, because an APS-C sensor does wonders to a point-and-shoot kind of paradigm.

For now, just a few pics. Once I get some real time to shoot at it and time to pour over the pictures maybe I’ll post them (LOL fat chance). Click on image for larger versions (but you knew that, right) hosted off somewhere else, since WordPress is lamers.

I was looking at this picture in photoshop and I was like, man, she’s got some big cans. Big enough to pass for a body builder with those flaming heart tattoos. It’s in the exercise of  reading in between the slender lines that we come to appreciate Miku’s roaring personality in Koi wa Sensou. It is in the exercise of seeing beyond the absolute zone in which we understand the redeeming feature of this figure.

Probably my favorite pick from this session.

Just in case you can’t hear her.

In case you want to know more about the figure, you can find out about it here, here and of course at MFC–see everyone else’s potshots! Koi wa Sensou Miku is very photogenic, as long as you don’t mind her facial expression, roaring with angst. A new meaning to the term siren. I always had the impression that the air raid siren took up a special place in the trauma of Japan. (Second to the earthquake siren, surely.) Is it true? I don’t know. But it sure looks hella good.

Year in Review: N-Listing

So, the tradition continues. 12 lists of 12 things. Some are ranked, others are not. One this year is not ranked but merely numerated.

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Ichiban Kuji Is Suffering

I always thought one major tenant of anime fandom is the power-consumer aspect. This is particularly special to imported fandom because usually it means navigating foreign shipping, different language websites, different business practices between stores and consumers, and simply a larger array of factors to keep track of when shopping. And given anime is pretty much as commercial as fandom gets, it’s even more so something intrinsic to be a fan, or at least more related to fandom itself.

Of course I don’t think it’s the only way to fly, but it can be fun navigating those shark-infested waters (and there are lots of sharks between here and the far side of the Pacific, I suppose), technically, to get what you want. With internet shopping exploding in Japan (about 5 years too late) it’s something that is now advanced enough to trouble yourself with, should you be up for the challenge.

The biggest hurdle in this kind of consumerism is one that is based on lack of information. I mean, I think Ichiban Kuji figures are largely still purchasable because of this. Banpresto’s new line of merch (it goes beyond figures…like this ramen bowl I have at home) they introduced in 2007 is kind of a lottery set. Retailers can buy a whole set of it, and sell raffle tickets (500 or 800  yen or whatever) where you’re guaranteed to win something. This means a lot of what goes into the set is worth less than 500 or 800 yen. This also means some items in the set is not only worth more than 500 or 800 yen or whatever, but also makes doing a raffle something desirable (even if irrationally so). Bandai makes it back by selling the set. Retailers makes it back by selling tickets, which total (tho assuming at some point not every ticket sells) to be more than the cost of the set. Or at least this is what I think how Ichiban Kuji is suppose to work. Here’s an older write-up for the One Piece readers.

The thing is, there are some pretty serious figure collecting otaku out there who would buy direct the whole set, just because 2-3 figures in the set is worth their while. I mean an entire allotment is well under a couple thousand dollars, if even one. It may be the smart thing to do, especially when you can split the duplicates with someone. Typically one set comes with a few A or B prizes and more C, D, E, and subsequent prizes. Each prize level probably has a few different varieties of things you could get. So it gets you partly like how trade figures could as well.

And just like how some retailers sell open-box trade figures at a markup, some do the same with these Ichiban Kuji sets. I can’t say at what price they break even doing this, since at that point it depends a lot more on how attractive a particular set is, how rare a particular figure in that set can be, and how much it goes for. More importantly, since each Ichiban Kuji set only has a handful of the top tier PVC collectible figures, the supply of it is definitely limited.

Thankfully, because of this non-single-product aspect of Ichiban Kuji sets, it’s not really marketed as such. People who may be hardcore PVC figure collectors may not know about specific figures from a set in which could be similar to one of those 4000-8000 yen single figures. And I think this is how it is at all possible to collect specific figures from Ichiban Kuji sets.

Of course, this is not some kind of secret. Attractive figures from specific sets are sold at a big markup even at Japan’s domestic retailers, let alone export/import operations. That is, if they’re sold individually. So there’s another kind of price ceiling there.

So on top of worrying about the usual traps of mail ordering (which is not a lot these days), there’s the more-than-usual shipping, the exchange rate, the bargain hounding aspect, the availability aspect (since individual figures are kind of like a secondary market thing), and then there’s competition for the limited quantities among buyers who are stuck with proxy or a handful of online sites for all their Ichiban Kuji deals.

Why do I even bother… Oh, right, the 2D waifu demanded it.