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Love Hina

Tonight's guest review is from Vincent Spensieri, better known to some of you has Calbretto over on the Simpsons Collector Sector.  Take it away!

I know Iím a bit late reviewing these figures seeing as they were released in December, but since theyíre just starting to show up at import stores, itís forgivable. Iím a huge anime fan, as some of you might know from my website. I pick up many different anime-based figures whenever I get the chance, especially when itís for a show that Iím really into. Love Hina is one of those shows that Iíve really grown fond of. So when I heard that there was going to be a line of super-articulated figures coming out, I just had to get them! Theyíre made by Japanese company Epoch C-Works. The best thing about these figures is that they have interchangeable heads!

Iíll be review series 1: Naru Narusagawa and series 2: Motoko Aiyanami. They are arguably the most popular characters from the show, so itís no surprise that they were made first. The next wave is starting to ship and contains Shinobu Maehara: and Mitsune Konno, with wave 3 coming out in June. Series 3 is set to contain Mutsume Otohime and a 2-pack of Sarah MacDougal and Su Kaolla. For some reason the main character Keitaro is absent from the line-up.

Enough talk about who Iím not reviewingÖ on to the review!

Packaging - ****
Iíve never been one to pay much attention to the packaging of action figures, but I still can tell what packaging is good and what is bad. In this case, the packaging is done very nicely. You can see the figures nicely, each displayed in a cute pose accurate to the character. The writing on the card is done in foil so it has a really nice effect. It was hard to get a picture of Naruís card due to the gold foil blending in with the yellow package in the photo. The cards also feature nice artwork, with a cute sketch of the girl behind the figure. Flip the card over and you have some great pictures of the figures as well as some of that crazy Japanese writingÖ what does it say? Who knows! You have to love the crying Pacman warning at the bottom left though.

Sculpting - ****
They honestly couldnít have done a better job. The figures are dead on likenesses of their anime counterparts, from the big, shiny eyes to the poses and clothing detail. The folds in Motokoís clothing is done very nicely, as is Naruís skimpy little towel. Speaking of which, itís not removable but a separate piece of rubbery material. And no, she isnít anatomically correctÖ although you can take a peek under there. Itís about as big a thrill as youíll get peeking at your sisterís Barbie doll though.

Iím a hair freak, so the first thing I look at on an action figure is the hair. These two beauties have wonderful hair! Theyíre sculpted in two separate pieces so thereís no lack of detail on it. The accessories are also sculpted extremely well, especially the texture on the rocks for the hot spring.

The bodies on the figures are proportionate. Motoko is a bit taller than Naru, just like on the show. Hand sculpts on the two are nice as well, with Motoko being able to hold her accessories with no problem.

Paint - ***1/2
These figures are painted beautifullyÖ so why the half point off? Theyíre painted too beautifully! I donít see why they painted Motokoís hair and shirt instead of making them out of that color plastic. The paint on the little nub thingies that connect the bangs to the rest of the head on Motoko is already rubbing off. I can see this paint wearing off if the figure is played with too much or dropped. But these are collectorís items, so Iíll assume that many who buy these will just keep them in the packaging anyway.

Articulation - ****
Iím sure many of you are familiar with Japanese import figures. Many have two or three points of articulation tops. Look at Bandaiís Dragonball Z figures. Many just moved at the shoulders. Same with most Final Fantasy figures too. But itís different with these babiesÖ both feature 14 points of articulation. Fourteen points and they still manage to keep the figures looking amazing!

Motoko has ball-jointed neck, a slanted swivel at her chest plus t-shaped hips, shoulders, knees and toes. She also has swivel joints at her elbows and at her socks. She can assume many poses, looking great in all of them.

Naru has the same amount as Motoko, just in different places. Naru has a ball-jointed neck, the same slanted swivel at the chest plus shoulders, knees, thighs, and a v-shape at the hips. They made an odd choice at her elbows though. Instead of making the standard knee/elbow joint, they made two cut joints, one straight and one at an angle. The effect is still the same as a normal joint, pretty much.

One thing I donít like about the articulation is the knees. Whatís with the ugly joints? They could have concealed the knee joints better..  

Accessories - ***1/2
Motoko has some nice accessories here. She comes with a display sword, another sword that has a removable sheath, a hat and a display thingie with Japanese writing on it. You can also count her outfit as an accessory since it comes apart into four pieces. Oh yeahÖ I forgot to mention her clothes are removable. Donít get any ideasÖ she has her undies on under there!

Naru comes with a rock base with attachable water line, to simulate her sitting in the hot springs. She also comes with Tama-chan, the pet flying turtle of the dorm. She can either be set on a clear plastic rod that sticks into the rocks, to simulate flying, or be taken off and posed otherwise.

Iím a little disappointed that Naru doesnít come with another set of clothes. She seems kind of naked just in that skimpy towel. It would have been nice if she had come with her yellow sweater and red skirt perhaps.

Head factor - ****
These figures have a great feature: the heads can be switched around! Not only can you switch around the heads on the figures in this line, but if you can get your hands on a set of Love Hina vending machine figures from Japan, you can use those heads as well. I've ordered a set of the vending machine ďWater-LineĒ figures, but I donít have them yet so I couldnít take pictures of the figures with those heads on.

Price - **
Iíve given it a two since these are imports. They are very expensive. The site I ordered them from was selling them for $35 Canadian each, plus shipping from Japan. Iíve seen them in import stores for $54.99 Canadian. I donít think youíll do much better than that though since these babies were 2900 yen to begin with.

Overall - ***1/2
These are great figures for a Love Hina fan, or just a fan of cute girls or great action figures. They do lose half a point for the price, but seeing as the first Love Hina DVD is available in North America now, these figures just might show up in comic stores some day soon. If they do, then please do yourself a favor and pick them up. They are two of my favorite figures of all time. Even more than my Barnyard Commandos hehe.


Figure from the collection of Vincent Spensieri

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