Cecilia Alcott Blue Tears Strike Gunner
Review by VF5SS
This figure was provided by Bluefin Tamashii and is available at retailers like Amazon.com.
Infinite Stratos is a popular light novel series that recently received an anime adaptation. It takes place in a world where the height of wearable technology is the Infinite Stratos (IS), a type of highly advanced powered suit that, with very few exceptions, can only be used by women. The show follows a rare male pilot named Ichika Orimura who attends a prestigious IS academy and gets into hijinks with his fellow classmates. Among them is Cecilia Alcott, is a young noblewoman from the United Kingdom.
She's a real great Briton.
Cecilia is a haughty individual who is the proud representative contender for her country. While in the arena, she uses the Blue Tears IS, which is optimized for long-range combat. Outside of the ring she spends her free time acting superior to everyone else while asserting that British food is delicious.
Bandai's Armor Girl Project toy line was seemingly established to give them a foothold on the growing market of mecha musume toys. Cecilia Alcott was one of the forerunners in this line with the first iteration of her in the Blue Tears IS kicking off the AGP series. When her armor was upgraded in the series, it was re-designated "Strike Gunner" and Bandai followed suit with an updated toy.
The AGP Cecilia Alcott starts off as your standard PVC action figure that is built similarly to Bandai's Sailor Moon and Precure S.H. Figuarts. Cecilia stands a little over five inches tall and is clad in her IS interface suit.
Cecilia's signature "drill hair" has been lovingly rendered with all the impossible curls framing her girlish body.
Unfortunately all that hair is pretty weighty when made out of solid PVC so she's a bit top heavy.
Here is Cecilia with two other ~1/12 scale toys. Compared to my scale Eckhart, she seems sized appropriately for a high school aged girl. When compared to a figma like Yui Takamura, Cecilia feels not quite as refined.
On her own, Cecilia is a very basic action figure. Like other Bandai toys of female characters she uses small hard plastic joints for her articulation which afford her a good range of motion.
As with other modern figures, Cecilia comes with a multitude of optional hands and faces with different expressions. To go with the flat hands that come on the figure, you get three extra pairs which consist of fists, calm hands, and pointing hands. In addition to her neutral look you get a smiling face and one yelling face.
Replacing her faces involves the usual affair of separating the front of her hair from the main mane. Cecilia actually comes with two full sets of hair but we'll get to that in a bit. Interestingly enough the alternate faces are basically an entire head that plugs into the huge hair piece. Even her neck joint connects into the hair and not the heads.
"You there! Go get me some fancy bottled water! It better have the name of some obscure European village!!"
By swapping out Cecilia's faces and hands you can effect her usual pushy nature. Her wrists use small universal joints tipped with a mushroom peg so all her hands snap in securely.
"Huaaaaaaah!! Maximum Ojou-sama modo!"
Cecilia normally doesn't get fired up for a match but sometimes her competitive spirit lights a blue flame* in her soul.
Of course the real draw to this figure is Cecilia's IS armor. The Blue Tears in Strike Gunner form is realized with eight chunky bits of ABS plastic. Also included are four small attack bits and the humongous Starlight Mk II rifle. In the series an IS could be configured in a resting position when the pilot is not in the unit but that function is not available on this toy.
The second set of hair comes into play when you start to attach Cecilia's armor. The front part features a clear green sensor for her headband and the rear piece has articulated hair strands. She has four separate tufts that can be positioned around on their own separate universal joints. While these keeps the back part of her luscious locks away from machinery, the lack of moving front bangs means her head articulation is still limited by their position relative to her arms and body.
Actually swapping out the hair pieces was a bit of a chore for me as the joint hole in the second set was too tight. I ended up using some warm water to soften the PVC so the neck joint would slide in more easily.
Attaching Cecilia's arm armor is simple enough. Just detach her forearms and plug in parts of the Blue Tears. Unlike with the regular arms, this connection uses a simple peg and hole setup with no extra ridge for tightness.
The Blue Tears has its own set of optional hands. You get five different pairs which consists of splayed hands, rifle support hands, fists, pointing hands, and hands for gripping the handle of the gun. These slip on a flat peg that is attached to the wrist with a ball-joint. Swapping these hands is easy and they feel secure when plugged in.
In the show, characters would often summon parts of their armor in what is called "partial deployment" for offensive, defensive, and comedic purposes.
The huge leg parts require a separate lower body in order to attach to the main figure. These shinless thighs are connected to their own hip assembly and have a pair of holes for securing them to the armor. You have to thread these legs through a plastic ring and around a long rod sticking out of the inner knee cavity. On my figure the holes in the PVC parts were again slightly too small so I had to warm up Cecilia's thighs with some water before sliding on her armor. After doing this the parts now attach and separate much easier.
Swapping in the new lower body part connects Cecilia to the biggest parts of her IS. An extra back brace is then plugged into her back. The brace features small hinged clamps that close around her body and a pair of articulated side skirts.
While IS's may be cool looking hardware, they aren't inherently toy friendly with several large parts appearing to float freely from the main body. To replicate this look, the AGP toys include a bunch of clear armatures. This piece clips firmly onto the back brace and includes a pair of Tamashii Stage style arms for attaching the Blue Tears's wings. The main backpack goes on the hinged white block.
The fully assembled Blue Tears is the real main event for this figure. Cecilia gains a fair bit of height and is now covered in high tech armor. The relatively small young lady now stands about seven and a half inches tall.
Despite the bulkiness of the backpack, Cecilia stands up pretty well unaided.
The Blue Tears preserves most of Cecilia's articulation and even improves it in some areas. Her feet have separate movable toes and heels connected to tilting ankles with stiff joints. Her armored lower legs can bend about ninety degrees and feature movable knee guards. As the legs are bent, a panel on the back of the calves moves downward automatically. Overall Cecilia feels like a much more substantial figure when fully equipped and most of the Blue Tears armor staying firmly attached as you pose her. The one major weakness is her arms...
The Blue Tears IS affords Cecilia a pair of double-jointed elbows but she loses some articulation due to how the the ABS armor pieces attach to her soft PVC upper arms. While connection can be used as a bicep swivel, moving it like this tends to make the parts separate. I would recommend having the Blue Tear's arms in the desired position as you insert them and using the shoulder swivel for rotation.
On a side note I really like how the hands are designed with pointy knuckle guards so the fists are good and spiky. It makes Cecilia look like a famous pugilist of ill repute.
"Hey you there! The water you gave me is from 'Poland springs!' Even my chauffeur has heard of Poland! I demand something better!!"
I appreciate that her IS has still has the pointing hands for maximum ladylike behavior even when fully armored.
The large stabilizers on her backpack can swivel around thanks to a ball-joint connection at the base. Also the thruster bells are can move around with a similar setup. While the backpack looks complex, it is actually pretty easy to handle and does not get in the way of posing at all. The clear armatures for the wings also afford a lot of clearance for the main body.
Shown here are the small arrow-like attack bits connected to their storage pylons. Each pylon can move up and down along a hinge.
After showing off the Blue Tears's main features, Cecilia is ready to demonstrate off her highly refined IS piloting skills. Foolish commoners should stand aside now that a lady of true elegance is on the scene.
In Strike Gunner mode, the Blue Tears is focused on being a long range sniper which compliments Cecilia's skills as a sharpshooter. Her weapon of choice is the Starlight Mk II rifle which is both massive and well detailed. It is made of ABS plastic and has some clear green parts for the sensors on the scope.
It is easily as tall as the fully equipped Cecilia. Getting one of the dedicated rifle holding hands onto the handle is somewhat difficult as you have to carefully work the PVC part around the handle. I would have appreciated some way of partially disassembling the gun so as to make this easier. Once the hand is gripped around the handle, it's not coming off until you forcible remove it.
The Blue Tears has enough articulation to allow Cecilia to stabilize the Starlight in a kneeling position. This is a really cool way of displaying the figure and emphasizes her prowess as a skilled marksman.
Unfortunately the iffy connection between the forearm parts and Cecilia's arms means the huge rifle can cause things to come apart.
The real issue here is the simplicity of the joint. It's just a simple peg that you jam into Cecilia's arm until it stays put but offers little in the way of securing the two pieces other than friction. Honestly I would have preferred she have a purpose built set of arms for when she is wearing the Blue Tears or to just be built with the IS permanently attached. It's a shame this part is so poorly engineered as the rest of the figure feels quite good.
To compensate for this flaw, the Starlight has its own dedicated support stand that consists of a small clear base with an extra long armature. It's long to enough to help hold the rifle up even when Cecilia is on her flight stand. This is far from an ideal solution and I ended up not using the arrangement in the rest of this review.
The Blue Tears's other main weapon are the small flying attack bits. To display these in use, first pop them off their storage pylons and install this clear block. Note the two holes on the back.
These small blocks let you attach a set of clear curved rods that the attack bits plug onto. The whole setup is very well executed and makes the small arrow shaped drones look like they are flying out from their mounts. Due to how the rods connect to the pylons, the attack bits can be adjusted to hover at different positions relative to the Blue Tears. It's a very simple design that works wonders and really compliments the figure.
Since the IS units do a lot of flying in the anime, this figure comes with a flight stand. The whole looks similar to a Tamashii Stage Act 5 but is a bit more robust with an extra bracing arm that fits into the row of dimples along the front of the stand.
The main arm pegs into the clear parts that connect Cecilia to her backpack. Once she's on there everything feels quite secure.
"Oh ho ho ho! You puny commoners are beneath me... Literally!"
The main connection point has a ratcheting joint so Cecilia can be tilted forward for flight.
When everything works properly, Cecilia and the Blue Tears really come alive in the air.
With her attack bits, the haughty girl looks damn good.
So long as her arms stay attached, Cecilia looks properly intimidating when armed with the Starlight Mk. II.
"Hey are you okay?"
In the end, the AGP Cecilia Alcott Blue Tears "Strike Gunner" is a good figure hampered by some questionable design choices that keep it from being truly great. From what I've heard of earlier AGP toys, Bandai has come a long way into shoring up some of their weakness as Cecilia's armor parts attach quite securely save for the problematic forearms. Overall it seems like the toy's shortcomings stem from the soft PVC figure that serve as its "core" because all the hard ABS parts are solidly made and work as intended. Perhaps if Cecilia was engineered like another popular mecha musume type figure with a solid plastic body the whole toy would be a real winner. Being able to separate the Blue Tears from its pilot was a neat idea that didn't pan out too well and makes the whole package a bit weaker as a result.
"AAAAAAAH!! I can't let Ichika see me sulking like this!!"
Despite this I still believe when this toy works, it works. However the issues with its arms the fully equipped Cecilia kind of a chore to pose and the initial tightness of the armor connections in the legs and body may intimidate new buyers of Japanese toys if they don't know the proper solutions. Also this toy's MSRP of 8,500 yen (about 85 USD) might turn away casual buyers leaving it only for big fans of Infinite Stratos. If you are set on getting Cecilia with this version of the Blue Tears then I would recommend you attach her armor immediately and forget about the normal human mode because as a whole she really shines when all ready for battle.
Thanks again to Bluefin Tamashii for provided this figure. You can purchase AGP Cecilia Alcott Blue Tears "Strike Gunner" at Amazon.com.
*Blue flame sold separately.
|Posted 14 September, 2014 - 20:46 by VF5SS|