At Toy Fair 2011, I was continually asked if I thought the world of Anime is getting smaller or bigger. This year I'm voting bigger, as it seems a large percentage of kids are now the ones watching these shows and the companies have developed new ways to deliver their products right to the source. In the past you'd have to hit specialty shops for fan subs and order toys from importers at inflated rates. Now, your favorite Etailer can get their hands on all that you desire and it doesn't cost much more that retail. As for watching the actual shows, sites like HULU provide YEARS of content for the cost of your time watching a commercial here and there. A couple of companies have taken notice of this and will be dishing out some quality action figures for your favorite titles.
Just as their Indie Spotlight action figure line brings together great heroes from several different comic companies into one powerful series, Anime Spotlight will unite the legendary characters of VIZ, Toei and Funimation for the first time anywhere. Figures will be 6 inch scaled (according to their proper heights) and packed with articulation allowing your favorite characters to pull off the signature poses they are known for. We also wanted the Anime Spotlight action figures to be as unique as their animated counterparts, so we chose key facial expressions for standard and alternate heads that capture the attitude of each character perfectly. Anime Spotlight Series 1 will include…
- Naruto’s Kakashi Hatake (VIZ) with a variant swapping his head and hands to become Iruka Umino
- Bleach’s Ichigo Kurosaki (VIZ) with a variant allowing for season 1 and 2 looks as well as battle damage
- Death Note’s L (VIZ)
- Doctor Slump’s The Monster (Toei)
- One Piece’s Nico Robin (Funimation)
- 2 pack with Naruto’s Sakura Haruno and Ino Yamanaka (VIZ)
To clarify, Kakashi, the teacher from Naruto, will be his own figure. Shocker wanted to do some variants for their line and saw that Kakashi and Iruka have nearly identical outfits, so with a swap of his hands and head, they'll deliver the second teacher in the same wave. Each character will have their own accessories and be packaged individually, so if you're a MOC (min on card) collector, you'll be able to have both displayed next to each other. For Bleach's Ichigo, Shocker noted that everyone seems to like to do the Hollow variant for this character, so they took the opportunity to tweak his look so you can get a season 1 and two design in the same series. The only thing changing will be Ichigo's Zanpakuto (sword), sheath and the strap holding it all. Not to skimp out on those fans wanting to own both, Shocker will include different heads for the variant and touched on the fact we'll be able to make him look battle damaged! We asked about other possible accessories and were told we can expect L to have something to snack on, the Doctor Slump monster will come packed with a little ghost friend, Nico Robin will contain parts to display her powers and the Naruto crew will have an array of weapons straight from the show. Shocker also noted that the Naruto kids got their own 2 pack because they are scaled to be smaller and they thought putting just one in a package would be skimpy, so going forward they are looking to have all the kids packed like this. No hints at series 2 yet, but as always, if you love series 1, be sure to spread the word and buy as soon as you see them and there will be plenty more from these licenses and others to come.
Shocker Toys also has a stylized figure line called MALLOWS and Anime will be dropped on their extra round heads as well. These suckers must be selling like mad because their lineup is extensive...
- Naruto’s Naruto Uzumaki(VIZ)
- Bleach’s Kon (VIZ)
- Death Note’s Rem (VIZ)
- Vampire Knight’s Kaname Kuran (VIZ)
- One Piece’s Roronoa Zoro (Funimation)
- Doctor Slump’s Arele-Chan (Toei)
- Galaxy Express 999’s Conductor (Toei)
- Saint Seiya the Hades’ Andromeda Shun (Toei)
- Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo’s Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo (say that 5 times fast) (Toei)
- Fist of the North Star’s Raoh (Toei)
- Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood’s Alphonse Elric (Funimation)
- Dragon Ball Z’s Goku (Funimation)
- Soul Eater’s Soul Evans (Funimation)
Shocker also mentioned they'll be making some American Greetings Mallows including Madballs’ Slobulous, Sushi Pack’s Wasabi and My Pet Monster. Eagle eyed readers will note some of the licenses above include Soul Eater, Dragonball Z, Galaxy Express 999, Vampire Knight and Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood. This MIGHT be a glimpse into what Shocker has planned for the 6 inch line, but keep in mind companies give out specific licenses for scale and format, so what they do for Mallows may not necessarily be approved for 6 inch action figures. One can hope though. Bandai didn't show any Dragonball Z toys this year and I'd still love to see someone do 6 inch super posable figures!
Over to SQUARE ENIX who have always expressed their love for Final Fantasy and now brings their excellent skills to Bleach. Available now are Rukiya Kuchiki and Tochiro Hitsugaya, with Ichigo Kurosaki packed with Kon to follow soon after (May). There's no doubt that Square Enix makes amazing figures, but a $42 price tag makes my pockets hurt. This is comparable to prices we've seen directly from Japanese companies, though, so nothing new for Anime fans. I'll be curious to see what Shocker Toys charges for their figures, and, as a recent article suggested, if die hard Anime fans will turn their noses up at American Anime action figures at a lower cost. Looking at the secondary market for Mattel's Naruto line, I'd say its not the case. This same article also suggested that American toy buyers wouldn't be interested in scoring an Anime Frankenstein figure. To that I say HA! Who loves Frankenstein more than we do...and when is the last time you saw an Anime version of him??!! Never..that's when. Square Enix will also be releasing a killer Sculpture Arts statue this May with Ichigo surrounded by a flaming phoenix.
KOTOBUKIYA has always shown their love for the sexy ladies of Anime and this year was no different. This year's statue releases include Phantom Queen Ex-Xecty (available now) and Maxima (May) from Shining Hearts, Black Magician Girl (March) and a series of One Coin figures from Yu-Gi-Oh!, Tamaki Red Armor Samurai Version from Manaka De Ikuno!! (available now), Kasumi from Dead or Alive 4 (April) & Rei Ayanami and Shikinami Asuka Ballerina Style from Neon Genesis Evangelion (available now). Koto adds MEGAMAN articulated model kits to their lineup this year with Roll (available now), Proto Man and Megaman (available this summer). They've also got D-Style Model Kits including Aim for the Top!! Gunbuster (Feb), Griffon (Dec), AV-XA Zero (available now), AV-98 Ingram 2 Patrol Labor (available now), AV-98 Ingram 1 (July) from Patlabor the Mobile Police and Dancouga from God Bless the Machine (March).
Kotobukiya is also known for sexitizing the iconic female heroes of comic books in an Anime format. Their BISHOUJO statue series will deepen its ranks this year with releases of Supergirl (July), Catwoman (March) and Wonder Woman (May) for DC Comics and Black Cat (April), Invisible Woman (July) and Jean Grey (August) for Marvel Comics.
DC DIRECT also have a anime babe line of their own called Ame-Comi, also starring the ladies of DC Comics. This year's offerings include , mini figures series 2 Wonder Woman, Donna Troy and Cheetah in April, Power Girl, Supergirl, Hawkgirl mini figs series 3 TBA, full sized figures of Donna Troy as Wonder Girl Variant (March), Supergirl Black Suit Variant (March), Duela Dent as The Joker (March), Jesse Quick as The Flash (March), Raven (May), Mera (May), Batgirl Black Suit Variant (June), Catwoman v.2 Blue Suit Variant (June), Big Barda (August), Wonder Woman v.3 (August), Zatanna v.2 Halloween Show Variant (October) and Cheetah v.2 Leopard Variant (October).