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Mafex – The Dark Knight Joker

I’m not a huge fan of the “Nolan Batman” films as a whole, but The Dark Knight is one of my favorite movies in the broad sense.  Batman Begins, The Dark Knight Rises, both are kind of mediocre, The Dark Knight is so good though.  A lot of this is because of the Joker as the villain.  Loving Heath Ledger’s Joker isn’t an uncommon opinion at all for sure.  Unfortunately, in the US, Mattel has the license for DC figures, and produces most of them.  Mattel, honestly, isn’t the greatest toy company, mostly because they tend to have wonky articulation and really spotty assortments.  The Dark Knight Rises 4″ line had cases of like 23 Batmans and 1 Bane or something ridiculous.  There was a version of The Joker released in the US, but I really wanted something nicer.

Enter Medicom and Mafex, and their Dark Knight Joker.  This isn’t Mafex’s first figure, though they don’t put out a ton of product.  Actually, especially previous to this Joker, Mafex has had a really awful reputation for releasing really crappy figures.  Not so much from a design standpoint but from a quality standpoint.

I’d heard that they had gotten better with this release, and I opted to go ahead and pick up the Joker here as my first figure from their releases.  I have to say I was not disappointed.  Though I also need to say, there are still some quality issues, particularly in the joints on these figures.  As of writing this review, I’ve picked up three figures from the Mafex line, and all of them have had joint issues of some kind, most often in the neck.  My Joker sometimes has problems with his arm falling off.

Aside from this issue, I’m really satisfied by this figure.  The sculpt is great, the weapon assortment is great.  The smiling head is a little too happy, which is kind of weird, but the normal glowering head is spot on great, and it’s really the onle that would be used most of the time anyway.

There’s a bit of hindrance to articulation by his coat, though the Joker, especially this iteration of the Joker, is pretty slow and shuffling in his movements anyway.  He’s not exactly an athlete or a ninja on any level.

So the question is, is it recommended?  It’s probably the best Heath Ledger Joker available in this scale.  That said, the join issues could be a turn off.  I’d recommend him, but not for a tremendous mark up, unless you’re a huge fan of this Joker.  I add the last part because now that we’ve moved on to the DC Cinematic Universe and the Suicide Squad Joker, this Joker probably isn’t going to get any sort of future release in a better line (Figuarts).

S.H. Figuarts – Sailor Mercury

Sailor Mercury is the second of the team behind Sailor Moon and the second to get a Figuarts.  She serves the brains of the outfit as well as the techie of the group.  She also has one of the lamest abilities in the history of people with abilities in any medium which involves throwing bubbles at her enemies.  Not even cool bubbles like say, Mega Man’s Bubble Man, but lame bubbles.

She does gain some more powers as the series progresses though, themed around water and ice.  Plus her usefulness to the team is more than her ability to be less useful in a fight.  Sailor Moon tends to just one shot all of the bad guys anyway with her crown.

Sailor Mercury isn’t a straight repaint of Sailor Moon, though not surprisingly, they do share many parts.  The basic design and uniform of the Sailor Senshi is pretty much the same across the board.  Ami has a different head of course, but she also has different boots and an entirely different set of hands than Usagi.

She also includes her little hand held computer device, in both open and closed models.  While it would have been neat to have had one computer with a hinged lid, having the open and closed versions are probably better at this scale for the sake of not losing parts and because the hinge probably would have just ended up being a floppy mess anyway.  She also includes an alternative hair bit that includes the visor she sometimes uses.  It’s a nice way to help differentiate the design more when standing the Sailor Senshi all in a group.

Otherwise she’s definitely very similar to Sailor Moon.  I haven’t had the same problems with loose hands that I had with the Sailor Moon Figuarts however.  Also, while the boots are similar in design, I feel like there must have been some minor tweak on Mercury because she also seems like she is easier to stand up without the stand accessory.

Figuarts Sailor Mercury is the logical next step after Sailor Moon and seems to do a good job of improving the little flaws with the design of the first Sailor Senshi.

Mafex – BatmanVSuperman Superman

I have to admit, I sometimes feel like a bit of a masochist because I’m still sticking with Medicom’s Mafex line for my DC collection.  My experience so far has been pretty hit and miss, the hits are good, but the misses tend to be pretty awful.  I feel like if I just stick with it, they will figure things out and start producing really solid figures.  Mafex Batman vs Superman Superman here is definitely par for this course.

I want to start with the good things, and why I stick with the line.  I really like the sculpts.  The proportions are good, the stance is good, the heads tend to look really good, which is what matters.  It’s definitely better than most domestic releases.  I also really really like the use of cloth goods for things like capes.  Cloth works sooooo much better than plastic or rubber, especially when done well.

I also, for the most part, like the pricing.  Recent releases are starting to creep up a bit admittedly, but the price of the line tends to be on the lower end for import figures.

The bad bits though really stick out and really get in the way.  The biggest and only real bad bit is the looseness and joint tolerances.  Superman for example, his head tends to fall off at the base of the neck.  It feels like a problem that could have been solved by even a few millimeters more length on the neck ball post so it stuck down into the socket just a bit deeper.  It’s weird too because you can attach the head, then pick the whole figure up by the head, which suggests it’s solid, but then after a bit of wiggling or posing, it just falls right out.

His legs are also a little loose.  Its not horrible and the figure isn’t super heavy so it doesn’t cause major issue but it can cause some frustration with getting him to hold a pose.

On Superman, I also wish his cape had wires along the vertical axis as well as the bottom.  I’ve seen custom fixes for this and may look into adding some wire myself.  It’s not a huge issue, but it would make the cape a lot more dynamic, though it’s already pretty dynamic and flows nicely around the figure.

For accessories, Mafex Superman comes with 3 (total) sets of hands and 2 heads, one normal, one with an angry head and colored eyes, as if he is powering up to use his heat vision.  He also comes with a standard Mafex stand.  It’s not an amazing parts count, but there isn’t a lot that Superman really uses as far as gear like say, Batman.

All in all it’s not an awful figure, I just wish Mafex could figure out it’s lose joint issues.  This isn’t the first figure I’ve had from them with similar issues.

S.H. Figuarts – Sailor Moon

Someone at Bandai must have realized that there is a lot of easy reuse potential in a highly desired show like Sailor Moon or something, because there has been a slew of releases in the Figuarts line for this popular anime in recent years.  Sailor Moon is definitely one of the most well known classic anime properties.   It seems to have opened up the gates a bit for other older titles.  We’ve been getting figures from Ranma 1/2 as well.  It makes me wonder how long until they start doing Figuarts of Tenchi characters, another popular title from that era with a ton of characters.

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The Sailor Moon line up started of course, with Sailor Moon herself.  Which is of course the obvious choice, Usagi is the title character after all, if there was only one figure, she’d be the one to be made.  There have been a few rereleases of the original figure and a few variants such as Super Sailor Moon and Imposter Sailor Moon.

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The figure stands around 5.5″ tall and has all of the ball joints and double jointed articulation you’d expect from a Figuarts toy.  There are 6 faces included 5 pairs of hands.  One of the hands has a disk effect part attached to it to simulate when Usagi removes her crown to throw it for an attack.  She also includes 2 Moon wands, one lit up and one not, and a special Sailor Moon themed Figuarts stand.

Usagi also include a little figure of her cat Luna.  Luna has a bit of pose ability in her tail and neck, though getting her to stand up is trickier than it really should be.

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You’re going to need that stand too.  As nice as the figure looks, her long skinny legs and heels don’t give her any stability.  It’s possible to get Sailor Moon to stand up on her own, but it’s not always easy.

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A few other downsides I’ve come across.  First, her hands have a tendency to fall off sometimes.  It’s not a constant problem, but it happens.  Second, I seriously worry about breaking her hair off.  Usagi has her trademark Odango hair with long ponytails.  They are made from a very stiff slightly transparent plastic, a type of plastic that, in my experience, tends to easily snap off if pressure is applied in the wrong direction.

SH Figuarts Sailor Moon

Overall it’s a nice figure, but I worry a bit about it’s long term survivability.  There isn’t a lot that could be done about the balance issue, the design looks like the character on the show, giving her different shoes wouldn’t match what Sailor Moon is supposed to look like, and that’s about the only solution there is to that.  Mostly I kind of wish there was a bit of give to the hair pieces, so I wouldn’t have to worry about them breaking.  In the end, it’s just nice to finally have an option for a good figure of an iconic anime character.  Most of what has been put out for Sailor Moon in the past were Barbie style dolls with a pretty mediocre likeness, even in the Japanese market.