Nekosaur Crystal Sofubi
Review by JoshB
Do you know who Alen Yen is?
Alen Yen is a man of passion. He is driven by shooting fists, missiles you can choke on, and most of all, the “funk” of a vintage Japanese robot toy.
This passion has served him well in life. Back in 1996 he created ToyboxDX.com as an outlet for his love for the toys from his childhood. He put up a message board, and as people began searching about those fuzzy memories from their childhood, they found their way there. I was one of those people. The DX in CollectionDX is my tribute to Alen and his site. (it’s true!).
It seems like the natural progression for us creative types. After a while of collecting toys, you want to make toys. Not just any toys though, toys that are reminiscent of the toys you had when you were young.
Sofubi stands for Soft Vinyl, the material that classic kaiju toys are made of. In addition to rubber monsters, they also made sofubi toys of the hero characters – Ultraman, Kamen rider, and even giant robots like Mazinger Z. Most soft vinyl was molded in color, with few points of articulation and were either sold on a blister card or in a bag with a header card. Sometimes, to get more life out of a mold and mix it up a bit, manufacturers would make the same release in different colors. It is the clear versions of these toys that drive us insane with lust. Any old Kikaida vinyl? Cool enough. Clear Kikaida Vinyl with paper inserts showing the mechanical workings? AWESOME.
It is from this particular vinyl fetish that the Crystal Nekosaur has derived.
The Nekosaur stands 6 inches tall and is made out of clear soft vinyl. The sculpt was done by Kiyoka Ikeda of Gargamel, and the figure was produced in a Japanese factory renowned for making vinyl toys. Japan is probably the last place on earth that can make transparent vinyl with this clarity. You won’t find this quality in China.
The toy is molded out of four separate parts – body, two arms, and a head. The whole figure has a classic super robot design combined with modern sensibilities. I mean, it’s a cat robot, it’s got cat ears and a tail. Neko = Cat. It’s cool.
While the figure comes clear, the insides are cut, folded and inserted by Alen himself. Each one took quite a long time to assemble, and Alen probably has carpal tunnel from all that cutting.
The inserts are a detailed mix of mechanical parts, color coded to show the different sections of the robot. There are some cool details in there, such as the heart in the chest, and the small Nekobot pilot in the head.
As a bonus, you can turn the head around and it looks like another face!
It's a bit tough for me to objectively review this, as Alen is a friend, and I want to support what he does. But honestly, I think its a great little toy. Those who are into this type of toy will really dig its aesthetics. It's high quality and you can tell a lot of love went into it.
There are a few minor nitpicks that I will point out to balance out my unabashed fanboyism. For one - the price. It's a lot of money to spend on 6 inches of vinyl with three points of articulation. But it is a premium piece, sculpted by one of the best in the business. Sure, it could have been made in China, but you would not get this quality. Liken it to a craft beer - You are paying for the extra care put into a product made in small batches for a specailized market. Check out the header card designed by Alen himself:
You might notice that the vinyl has a slight yellow-ish tint to it. I'm not sure if all clear Japanse vinyl looks like this, but you can notice it a little.
Also I think there was a missed opportunity with the hands. They beg to be able to hold something, but the hand pose does not allow for any grip.
But these are minor issues - I think overall it is really fantastic. I can't wait to see what they do next...
|Posted 5 February, 2010 - 10:20 by JoshB|