Category Archives: 3D-2D Modeling

Anime Next Tidbits; Lunatics; Jibun Reset

Time to do another introspection post. The nutshell is if I don’t have time for anime I probably should make time for it–albeit from games or blogging or something. Taking it from sleep is too unfair to the other things I do (including anime) so it’s only fair if I cut back to catch up. It’s not to say I’ll stop blogging or anything like that, but the long lapses between blog updates may be the case for the foreseeable future, until I recover.

As to when I will recover I don’t know; June is the down month and things swing back into orbit again as July, August, and September each offers at least another weekend excursion to “anime land.” Then there’s the second-hand feels-getting from IM@S 9th tour that will happen between now and then, coming to a close in October as a bunch of the North American P contingent that I know are going.

While on that note, Anime Expo is pretty much lined up now. Otakon should be letting loose its first real volley this week (Sumo wrestlers and HAYAMIN AAAAAAH), and somehow I think Trigger might visit again. This year’s AX is also a great year to skip, and I totally should have done that. I’m thinking as much as I want to know who Otakon is bringing over this year already, I think I enjoy the anticipation more than the probable letdown that is bound to occur. Otakon brings over good guests, don’t get me wrong, but they rarely hit–they typically make a fan out of me afterwards more often than not instead. And then there’s Misao or Hayamin or whatever she is called.

On the con side, I want to just jot down some more thoughts.

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Year In Review 2013: Toys for Naughty Kids

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Let me start with this: I by no mean look down at people who publicly declare their hankering for some pankering in the form of PVC. But it’s a little bit distasteful when your lolipedo waifu is already stripped down to her skinny undies and now you complain that her raven locks are draped across her chest because it’s actually the tasteful sculpting decision? Instead of whining why don’t you do something about it, like hire someone to make a makaizou version?

What I want to say is that figure collection brings your desires to the fore. It is a purifying fire to be a serious figure collector. What drives people buying figures has a lot to do with how well (read: poorly) they control their desires and impulses. It’s not a cheap hobby to get into and once you go beyond casual there is a mountain of headaches to deal with. But as they say, for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Meanwhile here’s a target if you’ve got tomatoes. With the power of MFC, after a few years of serious figure collecting I know, for instance:

  • My favorite anime character design in a figure probably has these 5-6 traits: long, blond hair in twintails, wears thigh-highs and has ribbons somewhere. Maybe blue eyes. I really can’t disagree with this assessment.
  • I have a thing for Type-Moon (you all know this right).
  • I like GSC, Alter, Kotobukiya and Max Factory (you might also know this). By “like” I mean own the most in that order.
  • While Saber sits atop my “most figures from a character” list (that one is easy), the next 4 are Rin Tohsaka, Miku Hatsune, Ciel (Tsukihime) and Rinko Kobayakawa. It’s not a surprise but man how did I end up with so many Ciel figures? And I probably could do better with Rinko, although what’s out there is slim picking. Pretty sure all but one of my Arcu figures are actually Phantasmoon…
  • I own more flat chests than large breasted figures. (Probably because Miku counts as flat, I don’t know, she’s squarely in between.)

And I looked, where’s the “cast_off” tag? I guess I just don’t own enough of them.

But as I mentioned earlier, naughty figures (as in, figures exposing naughty bits) is an explosive new area of growth in the PVC fixed-pose figure market. And maybe it’ll bleed into the action figure side (see: figma/nendo/etc). For the longest time the quality of the average adult-entertainment-type figure is pretty low; they would focus on actual ero titles and make figures that are outright, uh, exploitative. The build quality is terrible and they would be priced > 10k yen. That still happens today, but now there is a new group of figures with naughty bits slowly creeping towards the mainstream in the form of more artistically appealing limited runs (like Native’s special order figures) or just characters from popular fanservice titles (yhelo thar Tama-nee, Ikkitousen, Queen’s Blade, etc) in which depending on how explicit it gets, various parts of the figure can be removed or replaced to make them revealing. While they are likely still expensive (partly because they are also more complex), the workmanship has improved drastically.

And this is in a way the reflection of market realities. Sex sells, and this newer porn-on-a-stick market shouldn’t surprise anyone. Looking from a different angle, the proliferation of 3D printing tech and better VR could also usher things in this direction. Things may have gotten a start a couple years ago but we’re surely in second gear with this cast-off stuff, if not third. I mean the blatant eroge stuff is now not even terribad (nsfw) (ok it’s still kind of bad). It has definitely gotten to the point where I buy cast-offs because the figure concept and sculpt quality is driving the purchase decision, not because you can get naked with it. I suppose you can always get naked with it, no matter what it is…

Otaku dirty laundry may not be pretty, and when it comes to airing said dirty laundry there are options! Even the most kimoi otaku have choices.

Year in Review 2013 Index:


The Belldandy Dilemma

Belldandy and Holybell

This is not about Ah! My Goddess, the still-running, super-long-running manga. But about that Max Factory 15-year-anniversary figure that is recently released.

It’s a beauty. I mean, it’s easily one of the best figures in my collection, not counting any emotional attachment I may have for the figure, for the franchise, or any other figure that I own. In some ways it’s a problematic figure because it’s slightly too tall for a Detolf. It’s also problematic because it’s a limited, every-figure-is-numbered kind of thing that I feel I should never, ever open it. And I normally don’t have this kind of inhibition about little plastic girls–it’s just the second time ever as far as I can remember; it’s partly because I am NOT emotionally attached (so much) to Bell or Holy Bell (which, thanks to my regimented Sakura Taisen training, I am entirely immune to their visual appeal). I appreciate this figure for its craftsmanship and design. That it is huge yet so well-detailed, lovingly sculpted from top to bottom, and is not a massive affront as a tengu would be (at least potentially a less offensive talking piece at any rate). If I was more emotionally attached to a figure I would likely open it. Of course, if I don’t open it, despite the way the box do a good job showing it off, it will never look as good. This is the dilemma.

In reality, the majority of boxed figures in my home are boxed because I don’t feel the excitement for it anymore. I probably could end up selling a lot of them. There are some exceptions–Belldandy besides, my World Is Mine Miku is boxed because I have in mind how to display it, and just never gotten around to set it up (require wall shelving and acrylic, basically). A Motocycle Saber sits in a box because the area I will be displaying it needs to be cleaned up and shelved. That might be it? I have a couple boxed Nanoha monsters that I still think of fondly but the thing is, I just rarely think of them at all these days.

The flip side is true. Since I got that Love is War Miku I’ve displayed it at a prominent place in my home so I see it all the time. It’s a very nice figure to boot, so things work out pretty well. Most of it is grunge plastic of black, blue and grey anyway, so it actually kinds of fits in my poorly-lit interiors. It is mostly base, not much Miku. It’s definitely a reminder that Miku is a thing.

Then again, do I want to be reminded that Ah My Goddess is a thing? Not really. I guess I can think about Hidenori Matsubara or something, and more of his stuff should get turned into figures.


Old Ones Cover Pubes With Indescribable Blob, Customers Complain

It’s true.

So, part-confession: lately I’ve been reading/following some of the more naughty figures on MyFigureCollection. Or put it in other words, 18+ figures (although some are only 15+) that are usually costumed for “public” display, but the costumes are removable. What I found is that it’s actually somewhat educational. It’s like designing a transformable toy, there are design, sculpting and manufacturing compromises you have to make if you are going to create a figure that has configurable parts, and yet minimizing seams and components unlike what you see with Figmas and Nendos.

There are a variety of approaches to do this. For large figures (1/6 or bigger), often real clothing is used to cover up the figure, and because polyester is quite flexible, it’s easy to remove them from the figure. Moreover, it’s inexpensive; you’re just playing with dolls now.

However real clothing is not the easiest thing to put details on. The very gorgeous details in some of the well-known Max Factory or Alter figures are often digitally painted using robots (think 3D printers) and you can’t do that with polyester (yet?). It certainly doesn’t allow for the details you see in some of these figures. And it is a general rule that the more pliable the material is, the lower resolution you can detail it. Sure, fishnet stocking looks great with actual strings, but you can’t do flowing tresses on skirts at all.

Well, if you want a figure that can transform from tastefully naked to mostly naked, it can be difficult if it’s small. On the flip side, small figures are less expensive to reproduce in parts. There are some figures where you can swap out entire torsos from “clothed” to “non-clothed.” More often, though, the clothing piece is just soft PVC where you just have to carefully remove. Not only it can be a risk in damaging the clothes or the figure, it is possible to transfer paint from the cloth to your waifu’s unrealistically smooth skin. Not to mention in some cases you have fitting problems, where the outfit don’t quite fit the figure all the time.

Anyway, all this is just background. In reality cast-off figures have been getting more popular. I guess it’s lonely nerds thing (can’t really think of another use case), but also because the manufacturing and design has caught up and make it possible due to the growth of this market space. So what you have is that an ever larger number of figure collectors out there are buying these moe figures that barely have clothes on them.

Here comes Nyaruko. Max Factory released recently a Nyaruko figure which all she’s wearing is a Mahiru apron, and holding a crowbar. Very Nyaruko-like, if you ask me. Well, you can see a picture below.

Nyaruko @ NYCC 2013

During the period when she went on pre-order, people wondered if her “thing” is detailed. Of course, there’s a pecking order to that–wholesome labels like GSC/MF/Alter don’t do uncovered details. I assume this is pretty common for those Ikki Tousen-type figures that are extra showy, if the underwear is missing even. Naruko and MF is pretty clearly in that category (MF has other labels where they publish the more adult stuff).

The lingering question is answered when Nyaruko went on tour this past month and now that she’s officially off the shelf. And the responses are hilarious. The thing is, not only is her naughty bits not detailed, there’s a white blob covering it. GSC’s Kahotan briefly described this here back in April, when we don’t even know if the apron came off or not (it doesn’t by default):

Now for a little bit of extra info that I really don’t know if I should be writing on the blog… I may get into trouble for this. But I know you’re all dying to know, so I’ll reveal some secrets:

First of all, the apron won’t be removable. I thought it might be when I first say those separation lines, but I was wrong. Secondly, regarding what she’s wearing underneath… well, she’s not. But it’s not quite at the level you might have seen on certain other figures!

So what’s hilarious? The reaction on MFC on discovering the secret of what the Old One has underneath. Let me just quote

Although I’m not going to display her where it’s visible, the white blob bothers me a little. It’s enough just knowing it’s there… I would have preferred no details at all, like most nude figures.
Still; she is a great figure, and slightly bigger than I expected. Quality wise she is like all Max Factory-figures: Excellent!

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Indescribable cloth…..
At least I don’t remember that it appear in any season of this Anime. And I don’t think this Anime dares to show such part of the Nyaruko’s body. It’s absolutely not a hentai Anime any way.
Just like a decent gentleman, Max Factory was unwilling to show any detail of her secret part, so he summoned a piece of mysterious cloth to cover her.

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But we’re dealing with Max Factory here. If they had wasted any thought on giving her explicit detail, they’d have handed this project to their H-department, Native.
Now we’ll just have to live with a cute and sexy (yet censored) figure. Put her on one of the lower shelves so that the white goo doesn’t show too much ;-) Creampie, anyone? XD

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Yeah but it’s definitely not creatively censored at ALL. They could’ve had her legs more together or the back of the apron swooping in…SOMETHING else would be better than a white blob. I guess we don’t know for sure till people start getting it and find out if that comes off or what the accessories are.

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Yeah but I remember she said it’s not as “detailed” as you might think or something. Can someone who has this figure please see if that blob comes off? jeez.

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When you think about it, having that “blob” thing, as you describe it (haven’t seen it myself yet so I can’t tell how it looks), coming out of nowhere would make perfect sense. She’s an eldritch abomination assuming a human form, remember? So a weird thing appearing on such a character wouldn’t be that surprising. :p

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Is the menstrual pad a dealbreaker for this figure? ^^;

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That thing just has to be removable, IT just has too!
If not, then its One of the most weirdest thing I’ve ever seen on a fïgure.
I remember Mikatan being all enthusiastic about that thing…
don’t tell me she was a blobophile :s

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Ugh, it’s not even a pad, it’s like a white blob, what even is that. Couldn’t they at least go barbie and make it a bunch of nothing? Bandaid? “Censored” sign?
WHAT IS THAT BLOB.

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A decent gentlemen but not very creative. Come on, we could use some “convenient censoring” instead of a white blob. Make the back of her apron swoop in and cover it, her legs could be closer together or the one leg not so high up. So many ways to censor it nicely. I think this just draws more attention down there. It could’ve at least been painted skin color.

I’m sorry I’m just ranting so much. I haven’t opened the box yet. Not sure if I will. I do love her face, she is soo cute.

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That’s OK, I also hate this cloth. At first sight, I thought it was part of apron or underwear, but after scrutinized, it finds out that this white part never belongs to any part of dress, I don’t know where does it come from so it is really indescribable. I think using some apron ribbon to cover might be a good idea. On the internet someone said that cloth was a kind of special underwear for girls but I cannot verify it because I cannot just ask girls about that.

[re-ordered, formatting and links removed]

Well, I’m sort of indifferent. Fans of the series should understand why this Nyaruko figure is charming, and it’s not just because her cute, wide-face-like face. It’s definitely not just because she’s doing the hadaka apron thing. It’s because she’s doing it with her favorite instrument of trade, it’s because it says Mahiru, it’s because she’s stepping on a certain critter, it’s because this figure embodies the gap-ness of the character idea–a moe avatar of unbeknownst Lovecraftian terror.

But I don’t think that matters. Nyaruko is gonna Nyaruko. And figure collectors will buy what they like for whatever the reason. Or not buy what they like.

And this is just yet another chapter in the growing PVC bishoujo figure marketplace (and I’d include Figma and Nendo buyers in this group) where more people are buying, both because they like the look and because they are the fan of the IP/characters, and often time not both at the same time. It’s not a growing divide, it’s more like a growing source of laughter and face-palming.

 


Random Product Ideas

Someone want to kickstart these things, please be my guest.

Hatsune Miku

Pressy Adornments. You may or may not know these headphone plug accessories, like the ones GSC is peddling at Magical Mirai. It’s a thing, basically. You may or may not know about Pressy, a newborn kickstarter that is doing very well–it’s really an Android app that acts like Tasker but has a physical hook with the headphone control button. In layman terms, it’s a new way to tell your smartphone to do specific tasks by pressing a button that is converted from your headphone jack, as physical buttons are more handy than touchscreen buttons in these use cases. Rather selling it as an app, these clever starter-uppers want to sell it as a headphone plug. So a very natural mashup is, well, headphone plug adornments that are also buttons, so you can use it with Pressy’s apps.

Ita-renzu. There’s itasha, there’s itachari, there’s Girls und Panzer and iM@S bicycle wear. There are “ita-cameras” such as that Evangelion Pentax Q10 from a while back. And I’m waiting for that eventual Tamayura Pentax Q10. Because, obvious. What we’re missing is stuff that goes on your zoom lenses, because those are typically the huge ones where there’s at least the space for some cool artwork. It’s kind of unfortunate that the Micro four-thirds format generally yield small lenses because Pentax is definitely into that stuff. Maybe Sigma can crunch some out for the usual Nikon/Canon mounts? Will NEX get some love? [Originally I had a typo in the previous sentence…a GaruPan makeover of your all-purpose … main Cannon zoom lens wwwwww.]

More relevantly, there’s room for converter kits. The issue here is that a lot of lenses don’t have uniform sized areas around the lens where it’s smooth. I guess this isn’t a big deal. Cameras themselves often don’t have much if at all any “empty space” for decorative artwork. It’s a technical challenge for sure.

PS. Speaking of Magical Mirai, it’s no coincidence that Project Diva F is now available in the US and Europe, even if it’s just the digital version from PSN for some people. It’s easy to say it’s time to put money where that mouth is, to point to Vita whiners that whine about lack of the Vita port and tell them that port for PS3 is as obvious as day as a choice. But that doesn’t really escape the reality that despite all the Miku love, it’s a phenomenon where curiosity and loudness take center stage over actual economic impact. Granted this is slowly changing, that while Vocaloids are no longer the most endearing cosplay options at American cons, it’s still a popular one, especially for kids! The net positive of the Vocaloid wave is for people like, well, kz or Dixie Flatline, musicians with actual careers in the making. And on the whole, people who love music.

Bundling Presonus Studio One (Artist version + bonus instruments) with the English Miku software is kind of just that–a product idea that hopefully will lead to something pretty cool for people who love music.