Review by VF5SS
The battleship Yamato remains an important part of Japanese military history and is also highly influential on the country's pop culture. As it represented the Imperial Japanese navy at its height and served as the flagship for the duration of the World War 2, any mention of the vessel commands a lot of respect and reverence to this day. Since Kantai Collection draws its inspiration from real life warships, the historical Yamato found itself re-imagined as a heavily armed and armored young woman.
Recently, Bandai started branching out their Armor Girls Project line into covering the Fleet Girls that haven't been licensed by Max Factory for the figma line. In a race for mecha musume dominance, we have two companies putting out high end action figures of the seafaring women. So let's take a look at the first AGP Kantai Collection figure with the Lady Battleship Yamato!
Normally I don't pay much attention to toy boxes but Yamato's package design is quite elegant. The embossed gold kanji for her name and the muted red and white background make for a classy presentation.
The back goes into more detail about the figure's functions such as all the gimmicks of her mighty battleship backpack. Please note that as with most packages, all the stock photos shown are of a hand painted prototype. More on this in a bit.
Yamato comes with a fairly large number of accessories with the largest bits being her ship parts and the standardized Armor Girls Project display stand. Also included is her umbrella, extra faces, and a number of different hands.
Let's start off by looking at Yamato herself. She stands a little under six inches tall and has a build quality similar to Bandai's own Sailor Moon S.H. Figuarts. Which is to say, she feels like a less refined imitation of a figma but shares the same PVC body with ABS joints construction. Note that the white parts of her outfit have a pearlescent finish which differs from the matte look of the stock photography.
Here is Yamato alongside fellow Fleet Girl, Akagi, and my six-inch Scale Eckhart. The KanColle flagship appears to be appropriately sized and matches well with Akagi despite the two Fleet Girls being from different companies.
From the stern, Yamato's voluminous ponytail dominates the figure while also making her quite top heavy.
While she can stand unaided, her huge hair and odd shoes make balancing her a bit tricky.
To alleviate this issue, Bandai recommends using one of the two included Tamashii Stage arms to hold her up. While this does work, the only base she comes with is the large one designed to heft her backpack so this looks awkward with just the main figure.
Like with the other Fleet Girls, Yamato carries many references to her namesake in her attire. Sitting between her prom inappropriate skirt and stocking are holsters with filled with cannon shells.
Unlike Akagi's boat shoes, Yamato's footwear consists of bow toes with rudder heels, the latter of which are responsible for her delicate sense of balance.
A pair of gray ABS plastic parts plug into holes in Yamato's back to complete her outfit. The piece with the two holes has a pair of prongs that thread through the outer armored skirt and then plug into the small of her back. Also note the side anchors hanging over flesh colored parts of her red skirt. Let's just say Bandai couldn't quite replicate the "peculiarities" of her dress in this area.
Yamato features multiple face parts with different expressions with her default look being a small yet confident smile. Her hair is framed by the grate-like antenna that are based on her namesake's bridge tower. Yamato also has cherry blossom petals in her hair to invoke the image of an idealized Japanese woman. To swap faces, simply pop off the front part of her hair and switch out the pieces. On mine the front bangs connect somewhat loosely and fell off a few times while posing the figure.
Speaking of hair, the big ponytail is on its own universal joint so it can be posed flowing in the sea breeze.
Her other expressions include embarrassed, yelling, and looking off to the side.
The shouting face gives her an air of command.
While the embarrassed face makes Yamato look like she dropped her bento box into the sea by mistake.
This sideways glance also sports a cheeky smile.
As with many modern action figures, Yamato comes with a large (some may say excessive) array of optional hands. She has two sets of hands for holding her parasol at different angles, calm hands, splayed hands, and hands with 46 cm shells grasped between her fingers. All of her hands pop onto a small universal joint in her wrists with a tiny ball and socket connection.
"I'm off! But not to outer space!"
Yamato is engineered much like a Sailor Moon Figuarts with a full array of hard plastic joints arranged around her slight frame. She has the usual array of deep bending elbows and knees as wells as amenities like separate waist and chest joints. Well she lacks dedicated bicep and thigh swivels, Yamato compensates with rotational points in her shoulders and hips. Unfortunately some of her articulation is limited by her design such as her long bangs bumping into her arms and her waist joint being restricted by the shape of parts. Also some of her joints are too tight and lack the smooth motion of a comparable figma.
Complimenting her feminine charm is a traditional oil-paper umbrella designed to look like the prominent antenna array from the real life Yamato. The handle slides into either pair of the grasping hands and she can easily hold it up. I would recommend handling this accessory with care as even the instructions say it is delicate. The plastic used in the umbrella is light with a lot of thin parts for accuracy so be sure to treat it gently.
The umbrella mainly serves to evoke the image of old era Japan.
"I'll find those Abyssals and shove these right up their afts!"
For a little more aggression, Yamato has a pair of hands with cannon shells held between her fingers. From the front, the white paint on the shells is cleanly applied but if you look at her palms on the other side things get a bit messy.
With both shells and an umbrella in hand, Yamato brings together traditional femininity and the look of a strong warrior.
To fully gear up Yamato for war, you will need to assemble her gigantic backpack.
Out of the box the ship inspired apparatus comes as three separate sections that will go together.
The middle portion has a good amount of detail that will be obscured by Yamato once she is attached. Note the tiny deck plating and historically accurate smokestack. Yamato attaches to this piece via the two pegs in front.
The articulated ship halves connect to the middle piece with a pair of thick pegs that fit securely into their holes. Once assembled, these parts stay together while the figure is at rest. However ,due to the stiffness of the joints you may end up disconnecting the hull halves while trying to manipulate the backpack.
I noticed that one of the ship halves had some quality control issues like excess glue on the bow deck.
Also one of the small turrets wasn't properly assembled. This is quite a blemish on the IJN's record.
Once assembled, the weapons array is downright imposing and seems impossibly large compared to the girl who wields it.
To assist in bringing fantasy into reality, Yamato comes with the usual AGP display stand that will do most of the work holding her backpack aloft.
The main armature features a ratcheted joint at the top as well as an extending main boom with a locking mechanism. An extra support strut can be fitted into the main boom to keep everything sturdy.
While the stand does a decent job of holding the big guns, it feels kind of awkward when you're trying to pose everything with Yamato attached. By itself the backpack can rotate freely on its mount as well as pitch up and down without straining the joint. The backpack is not compatible with other Bandai products like their Tamashii Stages as the connection point is much larger.
To join Yamato to her weapons array you first remove the small two pronged piece that is used to keep her armored outer skirt attached. Next you stick the skirt piece onto the prongs on the array and then plug everything into Yamato's lower body.
So here is the completed Kantai Collection flagship. While a few cosplayers have managed to recreate this arrangement without support, expecting a small PVC action figure to hold such a huge backpack by itself is unfeasible. I don't really mind that Yamato needs a stand, it's just the one Bandai included is unabashedly clunky. Still it does not detract from the sheer impressiveness of the fully equipped Yamato.
The stand does manage to play nice with Yamato's odd back mounted turret even though it feels like the backpack was not made with this setup in mind. More on that later.
There are a few schools of design when it comes to mecha musume, with some distributing mechanical parts like armor and others concentrating everything into a single accessory. Yamato takes the latter idea to its most extreme with all of her weaponry concentrated into this gigantic backpack.
Yamato wears her role as a mecha musume battleship quite well with the massive cannon arrays flanking her body. Her aforementioned hair accessories lend to the idea that the girl in the middle is the "bridge" of this vessel.
The large 46 cm gun turrets feature full rotation and can even tilt on a movable base. Her secondary 15.5 cm guns can also spin in place. Both sizes of turret feature elevating cannon barrels for that authentic battleship look.
The rearmost turret functions like the other large ones but is limited by its placement. This is true of Yamato's original design so I can't fault the toy for replicating it. When at rest the guns are supposed to be pointed downward but can swing up for a high angle artillery barrage.
"All guns FIRE!!"
The two ship halves can fan outward on their double hinged joint as well as pitch up and down.
"Nothing will get by me!"
All in all it makes Yamato a real beast of a combatant.
"I am the flagship of the fleet!"
"I... am... YAMATO!"
The rotational point for each hull half is pretty strong and will hold a pose even when pointed straight up.
With her backpack splayed out it looks like she has chunky mechanical wings.
As I mentioned before, it seems like Yamato's weapons array was not wholly designed with the existing AGP stand in mind. This is evident with how Bandai offers extra support for the hull halves with a pair of Tamashii Stage armatures that don't actually connect to the parts they're supposed to assist. Instead you get two sets of standard figure clamps that simply pinch around the bottom red keels. I'm not sure how the joints on the backpack will hold over time, but Bandai's solution seems really halfhearted. It seems like making Yamato as accurate to the source material precluded adding places for these extra arms to plug in as there isn't a hidden removable panel or anything like on other Tamashii Nations products.
Now it is possible to use just the main armature by itself to keep Yamato upright but it is a clunky balancing act. However this does free her from the huge base and makes the figure look a lot more dynamic. I'm not sure how well Yamato's legs will hold up under the weight so do this at your own discretion. With a little more planning on Bandai's part, I think Yamato could have benefited from an additional display stand that is more akin to this setup rather than the full awkward arrangement the toy comes with.
"Alright let's look sharp for the next sortie!"
Without the big display stand to get in the way, Yamato is now free to mingle with her troops and rally them for the next battle.
"Ahh! The enemy overwhelmed me!"
"Ms. Yamato, I brought some supplies to make you shipshape again!"
Of course any flagship is only as good as the vessels under her command.
"I AM RENEWED!!"
"The instant repair bucket works everytime!"
At the end of a hard fight, Yamato can go back to being a regular girl who carries more firepower than most small island nations. I must admit to being kind of shallow because I like her mostly for her cannons...
Here is Yamato alongside fellow AGP figure Cecilia.
Overall the Armor Girls Project Yamato is an alright figure. I feel like this is the kind of toy that shines mostly through adherence to the source material even though the execution of the design feels only adequate. In general, the Armor Girl Project line feels like a lower priority for Bandai as it doesn't have the same attention to detail or careful engineering as their other Tamashii Nation products like S.H. Figuarts and Super Robot Chogokin. This is in spite of the fact a toy like Yamato costs 12,000 yen MSRP. There certainly appears to have been a lot of effort put into this figure, but at some point the design team ran into a budget ceiling and had to make do with off the shelf parts such as the clunky stand.
As a fan I find that this Yamato figure makes for a great display piece, but as a toy collector I can't help but notice the odd design choices and less than stellar fit and finish. This is by no means a bad toy, just an okay one. While I do hope the AGP line will strive to improve, it is my suspicion that it may continue to cruise along until its raison d'être is rolled into S.H. Figuarts just like with the dearly departed D-Arts.
Things are starting to heat up for Kantai Collection so I will have to see what the future holds for Fleet Girl action figures.
|Posted 8 November, 2014 - 08:37 by VF5SS|