Wednesday, February 6, 2013

EF 2000 TYPHOON plastic kit due this month...

Due for release around the 25th of this month is Kotobukiya's non-scale (although very large) kit of the EURO FRONT headline mech, the EF 2000 TYPHOON.  The initial variation is the Zerberus Battalion version piloted by Ilfriede von Feulner, seen in the materials surrounding MUV LUV ALTERNATIVE CHRONICLES: ADORATION.  I'm really looking forward to this one!

The design is very reminiscent in my eye of the elegant Mortar Headds from Mamoru Nagano's FIVE STAR STORIES.  The TSF's use in Muv Luv by aristrocratic, knightly characters may make it an homage of sorts to the machines from Nagano's landmark techno-fantasy.

It comes with quite a loadout of weapons, including halberds and the mech's signature Mk-57 long rifle.  Thank goodness it also comes with one of Koto's great flight stands.  I expect it will be a challenge to keep enough tension in the arm joints to have it hold that beast of a gun upright.  Kotobukiya will probably also release the Black King Wolf and White Wolf color variations of this.  But based on my Revoltech versions, this basic grey probably shows off the design's textures and details much better than those other two.

I reserved mine at Hobbylink Japan, but it can also be had via Hobby Search and the other retailers over in the Supply Container links for Japanese retail price or a little less.  Hobby Search's page also has extensive photography of the kit, so I'd encourage any window-shoppers to check that link. 
Be warned:  These kits come in huge boxes because of the hundreds of parts in them, so they can cost a little bit more to ship.  But unless you've built another of Kotobukiya's mecha kits or one of Bandai's upper-tier Gundam kits, you've probably never experienced anything like these.  They're worth every penny.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Volks' BETA figure kits...

A couple of posts ago I had mentioned the BETA kits that Volks had offered in conjunction with various hobby events in Japan, or as mail-in promotions.  Here is a picture of one of their elaborate displays featuring the models of various classes that populate the dioramas seen in Hobby Japan, and a grab from a YahooJP auction featuring kits of Destroyer, Venator and Lux BETAs. (Spot the little person torn in half in front of the leading Destroyer...)

These are pretty difficult to find.  Really, if you're fortunately enough to have an opportunity to buy them, you don't have extras because you need armies of them.  Luckily, Kotobukiya is including BETAs in their plastic kits.  Unfortunately, the larger ones like Grapplers are made from parts scattered through various different kits.

What we all need are bags of a dozen or so little Tank-class BETAs, and maybe vinyl or Revo figures of the larger guys.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Figma Cryska officially preordering

Preorders have officially started from online retailers for the Figma of Scarlet Twin Cryska Barchenowa.  She retails for around $35-$47 USD depending on where you get her and should ship in June.  Figma's maker - Goodsmile Company - has updated their English-language Figma website with all the details.  This is the Japanese-language sell-sheet, courtesy of Hobby Search:

Figmas usually come with a couple of alternate faces.  Cryska will have three - one of which is a rather out-of-character bashful moe face.  She also comes with a pistol and a transparent, articulated Figma stand.

Worth noting is that this particular rendition of her is based specifically on the character design used in the animated series, by character designer Umiko Hara, which is also true of the Yui Takamura Figma which was announced a couple of months ago.  It differs somewhat from the design seen in the original visual novel and printed materials as created by Total Eclipse's first character designer, Sou Miyata (which I prefer much more).  Miyata's designs are being rendered in PVC by Kotobukiya.

Cryska will make the fouth Muv Luv character to be Figma'd.  The first was Alternative's Meiya Mitsurugi back in 2009, followed by a limited-release xBox game pack-in Sumkia Kagami Figma.  Yui is due out in April.  No word yet on any other Muv Luv Figmas.

Words of advice: It is difficult to gauge the popularity and production numbers on Figmas.  Sometimes they sell out quickly and jump dramatically on the secondary market.  Other times they hang out for a while.  If you want them, your best bet is preorder.  Shipping is reasonably low on them.  Look over in the "Supply Container" links for Hobby Search, CD Japan and HLJ as possible sources that I've always had good results with.

I wish the Figma Meiya came with a third face.  Her oujo smirk look would have been cool...

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Some coverage for Volks

The first Muv Luv TSF action figure products were Volks' A3 - "Advanced system of Action Arms" series of figures, which are rather like oversized Revoltech figures (although they predate the Revos) that are available only in the Japanese domestic market via Volks' online shop, their collector show booth sales, and secondary market sources that can carry a rather significant markup.  That availability issue is unfortunate because they're beautiful items that come in a huge range of variations, and Volks has even offered various very limited edition figures of BETAs for their A3 products to do battle with.  If you've been following the "TSF In Action" series of fiction, diorama and customizing articles in Hobby Japan and collected TSF Cross Operation mooks, you'll note that the the whole root cause for the Muv Luv Total Eclipse portion of the property is to sell A3 figures.  Volks had invested early in the Muv Luv series, offering licensed prepainted resin figures of the Muv Luv characters and core TSFs, some articulated dolls, and a rather extensive series of painted PVC blind-box figures of the numerous Unlimited/Alternative characters that are as frustratingly exclusive as their A3 figures.  They've recently launched their own limited plastic kit TSF collection as well.

But the relatively limited availability of these figures means there isn't much coverage for them in the English language.  CollectionDX reviewer 'VF5SS' has amended that shortcoming in the west's Muv Luv information pool with a snazzy review of the A3 F-14D "Jolly Roger" Tomcat.  Feast your eyes, and start rooting around in your wallet...

[Photo from Volks' website.]

Afterward, you can look longingly at what A3 offerings Volks is bringing to the upcoming latest Wonder Festival...

Monday, January 28, 2013

Tonigobe - Muv Luv Hero

For more than five years, freelance scanlator Tonigobe has been translating his way through the dense, complicated manga iterations of the Muv Luv Unlimited and Alternative universes and making them available in English.  As a fan who hasn't had the time or resources to really delve into the core visual novels that this property is rooted in, I can tell you that Toni's work has been a truly massive blessing.

Tonigobe has completely translated the four tankoban volumes that collect the Unlimited story as presented in Dengeki Daioh magazine.  He is currently working his way through Alternative.

Both he and I will also urge you to support Muv Luv's creators by purchasing the original publications, which can be had at cover-price at CDJapan (my consistent source for Muv Luv books - look over in the "Supply Container" section on the right) and through other on-line vendors.

Alternative - as you may know - is still underway in Dengeki Daioh's pages and has been collected in nine tankoban volumes thus far.  Toni has completed Volume 1, and is posting chapters from Volume 2 and Volume 3 alternately with each update.  This may seem odd at first.  But those of you who are rather familiar with the story might enjoy the faster-paced approach to catching up, as Takeru increasingly twists the Alternative world's events dramatically away from the fate of the Unlimited world...

In addition to giving Toni the credit he deserves for just how great it is to read through Unlimted and Alternative in English, special consideration has to be give to him for grappling with the mind-twisting technobabble inherent in the series, and for dealing so well with the various mannerisms Takeru and the other characters must speak in their courses of dealing with the layers of political and military rank they live within.

So, check out Tonigobe's Muv Luv work, linked over in the "Scanlators and Translators" section on the right.  He's translated material from other series as well and does work on commission

Plastic kit of the Russian TERMINATOR

Kotobukiya has announced the May release of their non-scale plastic kit of the Soviet TERMINATOR Tactical Surface Fighter piloted by the Scarlet Twins:

If I'm understanding correctly, the TSF's distinctive camo pattern is pre-painted on the kit, which is quite a selling point!  It comes with a flight stand, unit marking decals and - as revealed by Koto USA's Facebook page -  a gruesome little BETA "Venator" class soldier figure:

The Su-37UB kit - which is personally one of my favorite TSF designs - will cost you between $50-$65 USD before shipping, depending on where you get it.  Given that these kits contain anywhere up from 400 parts, a great display stand AND this one seems to have pre-painted camo, that's a bargain in my opinion. (That's less than twice what you'd pay for the Revoltech figure, but the plastic kit is about twice the size.)

Look for it at Hobby Search and Hobbylink Japan, over in the "Supply Container" links on the right.

I do hope they offer the Su-37M2 variant used by Lt Colonel Latrova's ill-fated Zhar Battalion, as I really liked the colorway on that unit's camo pattern.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Welcome to the Muv Luv Alternative NEXUS!

I discovered the complex Muv Luv science fiction multimedia property over 6 years ago, just prior to the release of Muv Luv Alternative, via photos of a buildup of a rather commonly bootlegged Volks resin kit of Meiya Mitsurugi.  Since then I've had as much fun pursuing the series as I did back in the formative years of my anime & manga hobby interests in high school and college, when Macross, Dougram, Zeta Gundam, the Five Star Stories and other complex, sprawling space operas full of amazing robots & mecha and beautiful character designs seemed to be everywhere.  What also made Muv Luv so entrancing and engaging was the challenge of learning more about it and bringing all that information together through scraps of commentary, reviews and synopsis from other fans who knew Japanese (as I do not), and what could be gleaned from the content of toys, models and books.

With the recent advent over the last year or so of dedicated fan-translation efforts, the near-simulcast of the Muv Luv Alternative Total Eclipse TV series subtitled on-line, and a huge push of Muv Luv products and media into the mainstream by the series' various producers and official licensees, the series and its elements are much, much more accessible.

It is a challenge bringing all of Muv Luv together, however.  So my hope with this blog is to share through my posts information on products like the beautiful art books, media, manga, figures & models, where to buy items at the best prices and with the best accessibility to buyers outside of the Japanese markets, the translation work of other fans, and the original creative works of the series' authors and licensees.  Links on the right are some of my favorite and most-reliable sources, and I'll share more information on them as things progress.

Quick note: The blog header photo is my buildup of Meiya's Takemikazuchi from Kotobukiya's amazing Muv Luv Alternative non-scale plastic kit series (the larger kits, rather than their newer 1/144 scale series, which I haven't built any examples from yet.).  Nearly 500 pieces in this beauty.  A post on it and other kits from the series will follow later...