As of late I have felt myself a bit let down by Good Smile Company (GSC). I once considered them in my top 5 figure manufacturers but now I’m anxious about ordering certain types of figures from them. It’s not that the figures look bad in comparison to the prototype pictures, on the contrary some look even better than the prototype pictures when you see them in real life. Lately it seems like GSC products either have Design Flaws that result in easy breaking or deforming of the figures, or the figures are INCREDIBLY hard to put together. For a company that prides themselves at being one of the manufacturers at the forefront of the anime figure industry there seem to be far too many overlooked basic mechanical flaws with their designs.
The examples I’m listing are the figures I own and have personal experience with. I wouldn’t feel right commenting on something I haven’t personally had troubles with.
Example #1 – Nendoroids
Light Yagami (Deathnote) – Nendoroid #12
Light’s head is INCREDIBLY heavy. It’s so bad it definitely doesn’t take an engineer holding this little guy to know he is unbalanced. This combined with a ridiculously difficult to assemble stand, that doesn’t securely hold him, surely a bad mix. The way in which Light’s arms are positioned makes it difficult to clamp him around the waist and also position the stand in a way that also allows him to stand securely on the base. I certainly did not have the strength to push the prongs further down the pole and neither did my friend (who is no weakling).
Not only must my Light be put into the stand but he must be pushed up against something behind him to allow him to stay securely on my shelf, otherwise a nearby fly sneezing might make him topple over onto the floor. I also noticed that the handcuffs I was so thrilled about cause silver stains on the arm of his coat, although something like this might just be a risk in all figures with interchangeable accessories.
L (Deathnote) – Nendoroid #17
L has all the exact same flaws as Light, an incredibly heavy head and a stand that is difficult to assemble and doesn’t perform its duties as well as it should. The saving fact about L is that he has an awesome chair that allows you to securely display him without fear of him falling over. It should be noted that L’s arms aren’t interchangeable in his sitting position body. So the drawbacks are if you had your heart on having him standing or holding the cell phone you won’t be able to do either of these things without placing him similar to how I have placed Light.
Binchotan (Binchotan) – Nendoroid #20
The hardest nendoroid I have ever had to assemble period. I wanted to have her sitting eagerly staring at her meal…and attaching her upper body to her lower (sitting) body is easier said then done. I pushed with ALL MY MIGHT (which isn’t that much might mind you) and could NOT get the two body halves to flushly meet each other. I then turned to my more muscular friend and gave him the simple task of pushing them together and he simply could not do it. So I settled for her upper body floating slightly abover her lower body, this can be hidden with proper positioning at least.
NOW NEXT putting on the bow to her kimono (forgive my lack of proper Japanese terminology for these clothing pieces). I almost sniffled over this one. The bow has the ability to shift up and down to accomadate when she stands and sits and on this moving joint is the peg we must push into the hole in her back. This design stops the owner from using all their might in pushing in the bow because the joint may suddenly shift up or down causing you to push at an angle and breaking the peg. I asked for a lot of help on this one…and couldn’t find anyone strong enough to accomplish this task. The end result is that Binchotan’s bow does not lay flat when she sits, which is how she was captured in the prototype picture. When I look at pictures of other peoples’ Binchotan’s I’ve noticed I’ve yet to see one bow laying flat.
Lucky Star – Volume 1- Petit Nendoroids
I had a difficult time with these and in the end I don’t think I put a single one together. I happened to be sitting down with my friend and we supposedly had an assembly line going….but he ended up putting them all together. I can’t go into the details because it’s fuzzy I just remember feeling frustrated that I couldn’t put one together. I don’t think I was even able to push the arm into the socket. Sorry I’m a bit more elusive on the details on these. But in the end we were able to put them all together just like in the prototype pictures, I alone was simply was not strong enough to accomplish it. But I imagine there are other weaklings like me that had issues as well.
It seems as though regular sized nendoroids have been perfected in terms of easy assembly and a stand that subtley but securely does its job. I noticed this starting with my Mao (Mabinogi)- Nendoroid #24. But should it really have taken into a nendoroid in the 20’s to fix these basic flaws? I understand that it’s not like peoples’ lives depend on GSC’s products so that a discovered design flaw may not hault production and future figure projects. After all they don’t want to go under as a company due to not outputting product…but there should be a more reasonable amount of time between when a flaw is first discovered and when it’s fixed. I can’t claim all Nendoroids prior to Mao have awkward designs but I’m not willing to risk the money finding out.
I bet you’re wondering why I continued to buy these Nendoroids despite these issues hhmmm? Well my first nendoroid was actually Al Azif (Demonbane) – Nendoroid #29 and I was so satisfied with her I ordered the re-releases of Light and L. Binchotan arrived a few weeks after Al Azif.
Example #2 – Shuraki
Mishiro Shuarki #1
I can’t remember having a single problem assembling and setting her up. She was the first Shuraki I got and I was absolutely in love with her. There is a slight aesthetic flaw where her shirt meets her right arm…but due to her position it’s not noticeable at all to bother me. Plus it’s the first figure of what looks to be a magnificent line, some minor flaws are expected in the first try.
Meifen Shuraki #2
In order to get all the plastic off I had to undress her…redressing her was VERY frustrating. First off the dress is split in the back and held together by the bow. there are two holes on either side of the split in the dress and the bow has two prongs that should just SLIP into the holes and hold the dress together. Well…this is easier said then done, the dress has to be held together tightly as you slip the bow on. One of my holes happened to be more of a long oval then a circle and I could not get the peg in that hole easily because it was too narrow for the peg. It’s also very difficult to tell when both are fully seated…I’m still not sure my bow is on securely but I am not fiddling with it anymore because the oval shaped hole looked dangerously close to tearing.
See those little white scarve things around her arms? They remind me of a hagoromo so thats what I’ll call them. Those are the most god awful things I’ve EVER had to put on a figure ever. They insert into her dress at the front and back, and also go over her arms. Meifen’s body separates just below her breasts and the hagoromo are held secure when you push her upper body onto the tabs on them in her dress. Here is the dilemna, you have to hold one side of each of the two hagoromos in place and then lightly place the upper body in the dress. After this you need to wrap the hagoromo over each arm and then hold the hagoromo securely in all 4 spots where it enters her dress and simultaneously push the upper body down to secure them. During this process often one side of one of the two hagoromo will escape and not be clamped down by the body and you have to try all over again. The tabs you need to clamp down on are very small and your vision of them is impaired by her dress and the upper body you’re trying to push on them.
Char Shuraki #3
She was was one of the easier Shuraki to dress, it was a bit difficult but it wasn’t head bashingly difficult and frustrating. My main issue is that her hair was not properly designed. It appears to be too heavy and over time it begins to deform as it lowers. Eventually the hair rests on her skirt. This doesn’t bother me too much but if her hair sinks any lower or even breaks I’ll be very sad.
Nida/Needa Shuraki #4
Getting her to hold her gun was VERY difficult. You put the gun in the hand and then the hand in the arm and the arm on the body….but as you try to accomplish this Nida starts tring to pop out of her outfit. And then as you’re trying to close up her outfit on both sides the hand falls off the arm. The hand/wrist seems a bit too flimsy for such a big gun when you’re trying to assemble her. It takes quite a few tries but eventually you do get it.
Rize Shuraki #5
Putting her together seems like it should be simple but it’s not. Her skirts do not rest easily on one another as you dress her and may take a few tries. Another issue is that she does not hold her weapon they way it’s depicted in the prototype picture. However these flaws I can deal with.
Within a week of owning Rize she snapped off her base. The front two pegs of each foot snapped off, apparantly her skirt was too heavy for such a flimsy connection to the base. They put so much detail into this extravagant outfit…yet didn’t fully consider if it would be able to be supprted by those flimsy pegs. It’s just amazing that they NAILED Meifen’s dynamic pose in a way that would prevent leaning and breaking and completely ignored that factor in Rize. I can still balance her on the base if I push her skirt against something…but it’s not the same. I’ll glue her firmly onto her base after I move to my new house (someday).
I don’t crank the A/C at all times of the day but I always keep at least a fan circulating air through the rooms with figures, also I live up north so our summers really aren’t that hot. I admit that heat was probably a contributing factor but…only 1 of my figures snapped under these conditions and she was the one I had owned the least amount of time. The design is more at fault than it being summer in my eyes.
( I apologize I don’t have assmembly pictures but the thought of taking any of them apart after it took so long to get them dressed is too sad.)
Many people say the solution is simple…keep the figures in the boxes and this won’t happen! But I just can’t do that, for me keeping a figure in a box is a very sad thing. I don’t buy figures only to never view them from all angles or even hold them. I have no problem with collectors who prefer to collect this way but it’s just not possible for me. I’d sooner stop collecting figures altogether then do that and I think those that display their figures proudly on their shelves don’t deserve to have them break.
My question is how does GSC test their figures before release? I would think they would at least display these figures at regular room temperature for a week. Or maybe even try having a sample group of (figure fanatic) individuals try and put their figures together and thus discover the level of difficulty of assembly.
Please note though although Max Factory is associated with GSC I have yet to have any issues with figures with the Max Factory name on them. Although I have only recently received my first figma I have read articles about figmas that have broken. But I have no way of telling if the figmas were broke due to excessive force from their owners or if it was a flaw in the design of the joints.
Despite what this blurb may lead you to believe I will continue to buy products from GSC happily. They’ve simply lost a level of trust that a few other figure manufacturers have yet to lose. I’ll be very defensive about which figures I buy from them here on out and will seriously consider dropping collecting from the Shuraki line. I’ll also be wary of their first few figures of a new idea/design.
# 1- Do you have examples of personal experiences with design flaws that I did not address? Share?
#2 – Do you have older nendoroids that have none of the flaws I experienced with my older ones?
#3 -Do you feel like dealing with these design flaws is simply a consequence of collecting from a new innovative figure line and we should just deeal with it? Or do you feel like regardless of the fact that they’re experimenting with a new line they should still make sure they’re outputting top quality since they’re charging top dollar?
#4 – Has your trust in GSC been shaken by some of the recent design flaws? If so, will it affect how you purchase from them from here on out?