Type-94 Shiranui Gun Sweeper / Gun Interceptor
Review by VF5SS
The journey through the Muv-Luv universe has taken me into new realms of toy collecting where the desire to amass more figures has also turned into a more academic exercise in documentation. Volks and their A3 line is essentially the foundation of Tactical Surface Fighter action figures and can be seen as the measure for which future ones are judged. Volks as a company is mostly known for dolls and limited run resin kits, however if one digs deep into their history, they've actually produced a lot of direct market action figures and model kits based on popular licences like Super Robot Wars and Neon Genesis Evangelion. While Volks is dedicated to its business, they often stumble out of the gate at the start of a new toy line. Just ask any long suffering collector of their Super Robot Wars figures to see how well they fare. At the end of my review of the MiG-29 Lastochka, I praised the figure for being the culmination of everything Volks had learned over the four years they spent making Muv-Luv toys. After all that I now bring you an A3 figure from the very first wave released back in 2007.
Over the course of writing all these reviews, I had been making my way farther and farther through the original visual novel trilogy. Along the way through Muv-Luv Alternative, I learned a few things about this universe and its approach to fighting the BETA aliens. For instance, when training new pilots in how to infiltrate a BETA hive the simulators will run a program based off the "Volk Data." In the story, the name "Volk" refers to the Soviet Army 43rd Tactical Armored Division Volk Regiment, who were the first to succeed at gathering invaluable data about the interior of a hive. Out of thousand of soldiers, only 14 pilots survived the operation. Of course the name is a nod to the company that would go on to create the first Muv-Luv toys.
Captain Michiru "Sensible Haircut" Isumi shows reverence to the fallen in the most meta way possible.
The Type-94 Shiranui is one of the most recognizable Tactical Surface Fighters in Muv-Luv and is seen as synonymous with the main cast. In the first wave of the A3 line, the Shiranui was released in three variants alongside three different color versions of the Takemikazuchi. This is basically ground zero for the A3 line and represents the baseline for all of them. The Shiranui stands roughly six inches tall and is made out of PVC plastic. Its simple two-tone blue color scheme denotes that this machine belongs to the UN Army.
The Shiranui a relatively simple figure that feels quite solid and looks great. Among all the Shiranui toys and model kits out there, the A3 figure really nails the slim, athletic build of the design. Especially it's shapely legs.
When compared to the heavily stylized Revoltech, the A3 figure seems a bit grounded. Color wise the base blues of the Revoltech a lot more gray whereas the A3 has a greener hue. I think the Revoltech looks a bit better as the main color is much more clearly delineated from the sea green used for small details like the chest sensors and the eyes.
The Shiranui has the characteristic skinny frame and large shoulder pads of a 3rd Generation Tactical Surface Fighter. At one point the top heaviness of TSF's is explained as being a key design feature. It seems keeping them a little off balance makes them much more maneuverable. So if your Muv-Luv figures fall over a lot, that's just them doing what was intended. However the Shiranui is quite well balanced and stays on its feet with minimal effort.
While the A3 figure has a good amount of detail, a lot of it gets lost in the blue on blue coloring. It could definitely use a little panel lining to bring out the small lines of the face and body.
Neck articulation on the Shiranui is about as basic as you can get with a simple swivel at the base of the neck so it can look left or right.
In fact the head can be easily removed, which is handy when its time to stick any of the mount pylons into the body unimpeded.
Both arms can rotate a full 360 degrees at the shoulders.
On top of each shoulder pad is a small sliding hatch that reveals a port for attaching missile packs. This particular release of the Shiranui does not include the missiles though. The shoulder pads themselves are hard ABS plastic and the little doors open and closes quite easily. In fact they tend to slide open while the figure is being handled all while clacking away like a noisemaker.
The elbows can bend about 90 degrees and the hands can rotate at the wrists. You can tilt the entire arm up and down on a clicking A-Lock joint as far as the shoulder pads will allow. There is also a functional but very limited waist joint.
The shoulder pads are pretty easy to remove as they just peg in on top of the bicep. With the piece removed we can see the very limited bicep swivel in each arm. Its movement is so slight and difficult to use that I find it hard to justify as a legitimate point of articulation. This is probably the biggest failing of the figure as it means the arms are limited to pointing either directly forward or backward all the time.
Articulation wise, the legs fare a bit better. The hips can splay in and out pretty far and the feet feature ankle tilts which keep the Shiranui's feet firmly planted.
The backs of the the knees have small removable detail pieces like many other A3 figures.
Curiously on this particular A3 figure the fill in parts don't really cover the kneepit and also so small it's kind of odd to see that Volks bothered putting in this detail. When I got this figure, I actually thought the previous owner had misplaced the fill in parts as they weren't attached to the toy. Later I found they had been tucked underneath one of the guns. Who at Volks had this knee pit fetish?
With the fill in parts removed, the Shiranui's knees can achieve quite deeply thanks to a double A-Lock joint.
The skirt armor can also move up and down on a soft clicking peg joint. It's actually kind of hard to move the skirt pieces without pulling them out a bit or just removing them entirely. With a fair bit of effort you can make the Shiranui kneel down but it looks a bit off kilter like this.
In the first wave of A3 figures, the three different Shiranuis were identical save for the weapons and decals included. My figure is number 004 with the others being 002 and 006. This particular Shiranui comes with enough accessories to outfit it as either a Gun Sweeper or a Gun Interceptor.
You get a sheet of uncut clear stickers for marking up this Shiranui as one of four units from the Special Taks Force A-01 "Valkyries."
They even give you a large "Valkylies" (sic) emblem you can stick on your trapper keeper. Please be aware I had to do a little photoshop magic to make this emblem "all ages."
The Shiranui's characteristic jump units are long and relatively slim which means they aren't too heavy like on some other figures like the F-15 Strike Eagle. Still they seem much more substantial than how they are depicted on the Revoltech, like there is really a jet engine housed within. The staple burnt metal paint work on the engine nozzles were still present even on the very first A3 figures.
Each jump unit moves via a pair of swivel joints on either end of a connecting strut. The hole where the jump unit connects to the strut is hexagonal which means the unit itself clicks softly as it rotates into one of six positions.
You get a pair of hands with non-removable knives that the Shiranui can attempt to brandish with hostile intent. Sadly due the limited arm articulation, this Shiranui cannot hope to perform any CQC.
Without the missile containers, the weapon ports in the shoulders are kind of useless. However since they are the same size as the other peg holes you can make your own fun. Behold the shoulder stabbers!
And a double high five upside! Woo hoo!
Or a gun and sword shoulder man.
Like most of these figures, you can peg in some mount pylons on the upper back. You get a pair of empty gun pylons and a single empty sword pylon. The sword mount even has caution markings that warns people, "do not stand here lest ye be crushed by Close In Weapon System Delivery Mechanism."
In Gun Sweeper configuration, the Shiranui carries four assault cannons with two in the hands and two on the mount pylons. The Gun Sweeper is tasked with supporting other units engaged in close combat with the enemy as it rakes gunfire across the field to either destroy or draw enemies away from teammates that are cut off and overwhelmed.
These particular guns are Type-87 Assault Cannons with their odd P90 inspired ergonomic grip.
The back mounted guns are fixed in place so you need an additional weapons set to show them extended out for forward firing. And you thought Tamashii Web Exclusives were bad.
Due to the Shiranui's bare bones articulation, you can't really pull off a dynamic action pose.
While this isn't as egregious with just the guns, the stiffness of this figure really hurts when you try out the other configuration.
With a single assault cannon, a shield (supplemental armor), and a sword the Shiranui is outfitted for Gun Interceptor duty. These machines are tasked with managing the killzone and watching the flanks. Flight leaders like Captain Isumi are almost always fitted as Gun Interceptors. Captain Isumi is also on the back of the box so you know at least one of these configurations is meant to depict her machine.
Like with the guns, the stored sword is permanently attached to its mount pylon which can move up and down on double hinge.
And despite its limited articulation, the Shiranu can still reach up and pretend to draw the sword from its mount.
You still have to swap out the hand for the one with the sword attached to it to complete the look. Unfortunately with the limited articulation available, the Shiranui really can't do much with its sword other than hold in a neutral stance.
The large shield has a few display options that include multiple mounting points for the handhold and the ability to "flip down" the front. This is accomplished by removing a small gray spacer piece and plugging the tip of the shield directly into the main portion.
This is to allow the Shiranui to punch aliens in the face with the shield's reactive armor plates exploding like a blaster knuckle. Sadly the figure itself lacks the ability to show this off in a convincing manner.
Red and blue baby. Red and blue.
In the end the A3 version of the Type-94 Shiranui is good looking display piece that lacks the necessary articulation to make it a decent action figure. Its limitations make it somewhat frustrating to deal with and honestly makes me want to write it off as mostly a shelf filler. If you have any of the other A3 figures this one is one you can skip. However if you are in dire need of a dirt cheap Shiranui, these appear to be plentiful. Buyers in Japan have it easy as most retailers usually sell this figure for about $20-$25 USD and don't have to pay shipping. For me this figure was an easy way to satisfy my curiosity and at the very least fills my shelf with a good looking representation of the design.
Volks would actually revisit the Type-94 Shiranui and release a much improved "Joint Strike Package" (ジョイントストライクパッケージ) version that was numbered 05 in the limited releases of the 2009 wave. I will be covering this figure in a separate review.
|Posted 26 November, 2013 - 08:22 by VF5SS|