The winter 2020 edition of the hobby/figure/modeling convention Wonder Fest came and went this winter and as per usual, the entire internet salivated over photos of some of the most beautifully unobtainable photos on the internet of toys. Here are some of my picks for WonderFest’s so close, yet so far away desirables:
Sekiro Figma from Max Factory. I spent a good chunk of 2019 playing From Software’s Sekiro: a game set in ancient Japan where you are a one-armed warrior faces all sorts of nasty enemies as you die, get back up, kill, die, get back up, kill, die, get back up UNTIL THAT GOD DAMN GREAT APE WILL JUST STAY DEAD ONCE AND- oh where, was I? Oh yeah, this figure looks fantastic and captures Sekiro’s cool with an attention to detail for his clothes and prosthetic arm.
Transformers Masterpiece Arcee from Takara Tomy. (photo by @Chohenken) Takara Tomy has released no shortage of Masterpiece Transformers figures including Optimus Prime Optimus Prime in a different color scheme, and Optimus Prime but now he includes his trailer. But finally we are getting a Masterpiece figure of Arcee, who some of you might remember from 1986’s The Transformers The Movie. A Masterpiece Arcee has been in demand for some time by fans to the degree that a number of “third party” manufacturers have produced their own Arcee toys, sometimes with certain “enhancements”. This official release seems more appropriate for all ages in design... for now.
Nendoroid Bayonetta from Good Smile. She is sweet, petite, and has guns on her feet. PlatinumGame’s cult action game heroine is getting her own Nendoroid and the prototype was shown off at WonFes. Nendoroids are usually easy to find at anime conventions, so there’s hope yet that this one will actually be attainable for most folks.
The Anti Demon Assassin Cat from Arsenal D.i (https://twitter.com/takatinp). Just look at it. That cocksure attitude, that finely crafted blade, those mechanical paws, that severed head! This is definitely a statement piece, and the statement is “this cat will fucking murder you.”
This tiny Devilman figure from by Yosen-nabe (https://twitter.com/yosenabe_do). It’s Devilman (as he appeared in the 1972 TV series) and he’s small enough to sit on top of a Solo cup. Imagine being at a party and you need an icebreaker. You’re drinking your beer or what have you, and someone comes over your way and looks down at your cup, noticing that sitting atop it is a fusion of man and demon, looking down upon humanity with a steely gaze of judgement. “Are wa dareda? Dare da? Dare da?” they ask. You look them in the eye and say “are wa Devilman."
Gerät Geist from 10zibutton (https://twitter.com/10zibutton) Not every figure shown at WonFes needs to be tied to a movie, video game, or comic. These Gadget Ghosts show a great attention to mechanical detail combined with a whimsical sense of imagination.
Tokusatsu Sofubi from Uncut Brought to us by the fine people at Uncut (twitter.comUNCUT_TERROR), these super-deformed figurines of Spectreman, Redman, and Gridman are a slight departure from the company’s past endeavors which have been more horror tinged. All three of them are classic tokusatsu heroes. Spectreman fights monkeys from space, Gridman lives in the internet, so god only knows what hes been exposed to, and Redman is a known sadist that seems to just live in the woods and murder random monsters. So maybe there is a horror tinge to these figures after all.
Neji-shiki from Odeya (http://odeya.jp/). WonFes is usually considered an event for robots, monsters, sexy resin kits, so It’s real treat to see a tribute to indie manga. In 1968 Yoshiharu Tsuge’s Neji-shiki was released in the independent manga anthology Garo. While a story about ennui and sexual confusion in post-war Japan may not be the most toyetic source material to work from, this sculpture captures Tsuge’s art style remarkably well.
Mechanized tori by RET Models (https://retmodels.booth.pm/). Sometimes your figures need a little set dressing. You can’t always just place them on a dusty shelf next to your dog eared copy of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. RET Models has produced a deliciously aesthetic 3D printed model kit of a futuristic stylized version of a tradition Japanese tori gate. Perfect for parking your Blade Runner Spinner under… if you can actually get your hands on one of these kits.
Masamune Shirow statue from Musuke (https://twitter.com/musuke_twit). Masamune Shirow’s Appleseed was a landmark event in science fiction action manga and, while Shirow’’s artwork has been a popular subject matter in garage kits for decades now, Musuke’s recreation of Deunan and Briarose from Appleseed takes things to the next level, with each one of Briareos rippling robotic biceps recreated in resin and Deunan in an outfit that looks painted on... because it is.
Nostalgia is a powerful force and it can even hold sway on us with stories we’ve never seen before. YouTube is currently replete with compilations of 1980s Japanese City Pop set to clips of Urusei Yatsura and City Hunter to the delight of people that weren’t even zygotes when this stuff was out. But the easy breezy melodies combined with the intoxicating intermingling of neons and pastels captivates people and wraps them in a warm blanket of alto saxes. Sazan & Comet Girlby YurikoAkase and published bySeven Seas Entertainment, goes for this same sort of pseudo-nostalgia, but in comic form.
First published in the US in 1976, the magazine Starlog was conceived by Norm Jacobs and Kerry O’Quinn initially as a Star Trek centric magazine, but became an all encompassing look into the burgeoning world of science fiction a scant year before the release of Star Wars. 1976 was the year before Star Wars would hit the big screen in the US, which Starlog was primed to take advantage of. American sci-fi films seemed poised to take over the world, but Japan was also voraciously consuming scifi (or SF for speculative fiction) for decades. Japanese magazines and fanzines on science fiction go as far back as 1957’s Uchujin.
Peach Momoko is an artist that has been steadily gaining acclaim for her covers and illustrations that have been used by DC, IDW, Marvel Comics and Magnetic Press. These covers have become highly coveted by collectors and have sent the artist from Japan to tour the United States convention circuit (until Covid put a stop to all that). Her soft pastels, and use of heavy inks give her covers a cute and dreamlike feel, and her convention commissions are often chibi versions of popular American comic characters. Though these illustrations of Harley Quinn, Batgirl, and Spider Woman belie a more sinister world she is constructing within her comics.