Review by SpaceRunaway
The Volks Full Action Figure series was released over the course of 2002 to 2010. Initially available exclusively by mail order through Dengeki Hobby Magazine, this line has mostly been forgotten by history, and remains poorly documented even in Japanese. In light of that I offer these reviews as a warning, lest we forget. In case there are terms used that leave you confused and/or angry, take a look at the first review of this series for further clarification.
During my first brief stint with the FAF line back in oh, 2006 or so, there were only three FAFs that I really wanted, and two of them I picked up, those being the Thrudgelmir and the Granzon.
The last was the Valsione R. FAFs were more expensive back then though, and even though I found T and G for what were bargain prices for the time, I was already nearing a few hundred dollars on those two alone, and there is limit to how much a person will spend on things that they hate. It wasn't until I was reminded about this line the second time around that I came back to the Valsione R. Somehow, in seeking out the last figure I really wanted I ended up with a small mountain of FAFs along the way. At any rate, the Valsione R is somewhat special for me.
The Valsione R first showed up as a reconstructed and much enhanced version of the Valsione in 1996's Super Robot Wars Gaiden: Masoukishin THE LORD OF ELEMENTAL for the Super Famicom. LOE was a precursor of sorts to the modern Super Robot Wars Original Generation games, removing the licensed characters and expanding on the SRW world outside the Mazingers and Gundams.
By the way, "R" stands for "Return" (and only "Return", not "Refine" or anything else the internet might try to tell you).
Here's the usual youtube pull of the attack animations, although I feel like I need to say that I find the SRW:OG2nd Valsione R sprite really weird looking and it's easily my least favorite incarnation. This clip is also kind of...bouncy, but in that misguided, Dead or Alive kind of way. I hope the people that watch these are remembering to change the settings to HD, because that's why I post them.
The R comes in the later (but not the last) style Dengeki Hobby box.
Also, the box is kind of enormous.
You need to attach the two wing-like thrusters out of the box. As soon as you do, you will probably immediately realize one of the biggest issues with the Valsione R. I really do like this figure though, so let's at least get past the introductions before I start complaining.
With the figure in hand, my first impression is very positive. The sculpt and proportions are great, and she looks like she came right out of one of the LOE's sequels.
The hair sculpt in particular is fantastic, especially compared to the Valsione's Raggedy-Ann hair. As far as paint goes, the metallic gold highlights are really eye catching, and everything else nice and glossy. It's over-applied in some areas, especially the white, but there aren't any major imperfections.
The majority of the joints used on the Valsione R are unlike any of the other figures I have from this line. The only use of Volks' familiar double joints are in the knees. In the shoulders and elbows are these ratcheted single joints that I've never seen before. It's strange, because as far as I can tell, none of these joints show up in any other FAFs. After the Valsione R the majority of the figures either go back to more familiar means of construction while a few towards the very end, such as the Compatible Kaiser, use all new joints that look almost prototypical to what would be used in their flagship A3 line. It seems confounding that the Valsione R would get bespoke joints when even the last released FAFs would still have the double joints that had been used since the beginning of the line. I'm really, really curious if these ever showed up in any other Volks product.
Anyway, like the usual POM joints Volks uses for this line these are very sturdy, and the ratchets, although stiff, transmit that familiar feeling of quality that seems to come with clicky joints. As far as function goes though, it's a mixed bag. While the arms have much more lateral movement than a simple ball joint, the elbows actually suffer somewhat, combining with the Valsione's thick gauntlets to produce a less than 90 degree range of motion.
Far odder are the spherical swivel joints used on the wings, which look almost Revoltech-like. These give the thrusters some extra possibility, but looking at the back brings us face to face with the issue I mentioned earlier.
The connection points where the wings plug in are so close together that it ends up locking the hair sculpt in place. To begin with, the large hair really restricts head movement, but which the wings attached the Valsione's head is for all intents and purposes completely immobile. It's the tradeoff you have to make for having such fabulous hair I guess.
Speaking of tradeoffs, the design is so back heavy that the only way she can stand completely straight is with a pretty heavy Okawara lean. Her high heels, already making very little contact with the ground, are really hard to lay flat, and on my specimen both the hip and ankle joints are really loose. Getting her to balance isn't quite as bad as it was with the original Valsione, but she really needs her stand to stay upright.
Speaking of the other sister, here they are together. The R gives off a reliable older sibling vibe, despite being technically younger. And also the same suit.
Other highlights setting the R apart from the ordinary FAF are the bicep and hip swivels, torso joint, and ball jointed hands, and she does a decent job at attempting an approximation of the original Valsione R artwork.
While the R only has a single pair of extra option hands, there are a fair amount of accessories included.
First up is her default melee weapon, the Divine Arm. Like these things usually go, the Divine Arm comes in several pieces: two hilts, one with a hand attached, and a sheathed and unsheathed blade to connect to them. An extra sheath in the 'open' position is included.
The Cross Smasher is (one of) the Valsione's energy attacks, inherited from the Valsion, her "father" unit.
To use the Cross Smasher pieces the regular shoulder domes need to be removed.
This is very difficult to do with human fingers*, and thus the real star of this reviews enters:
The Pick! Mk.2!
While The Pick was last spotted in the review of the Werkbau in a fetching gold (yellow) color, it makes a grand return in a classy silver (gray).
The Pick pops the shoulder pieces off with ease, after which it fades into obscurity and is never seen again.
With the Cross Smasher pieces in place, you end up...kind of underwhelmed.
By the way, this is the version of the Cross Smasher as it appears in the handheld versions of LOE and SRW:OG2nd. None of the other games featuring the Valsione R use the opening shoulder domes as a component of this attack.
The last weapon is the Divine Blade, an upgraded version of the Divine Arm in the shape of a Japanese sword. In this case, the blade and hilt aren't separate, but the hilt on the sheathed sword can be removed.
The Divine Blade comes into play for the Valsione R's strongest attack, Engetsu Sappou, or "Full Moon Killing Technique". As a reflection of the pilot's questionable hobbies, the name is taken from the title of a 1969 samurai movie.
The later style hexagonal patterned stand is included, and as is the norm for these stands the base is customized for the Valsione R.
The image is a little hard to make out because of how small it is, but it's also reprinted on the box.
Look how smug she looks! It's adorable!
Rounding out the package is the usual color booklet.
The Valsione R is a little strange. It has a lot of little touches that make it feel like more of a modern toy than many of it's other FAF brethren, but it doesn't quite come together. If you're a fan of the character though, there's very little else to choose from when it comes to a figure of the R, outside of garage kits and a 15+ year old Banpresto build it yourself prize toy. I'd guess that it's the most well known of the classic SRW suits that still hasn't received a Kotobukiya kit.
It's probably because of my longtime fondness for the character, but I find myself a lot more forgiving of the R's shortcomings since it's a least a passable action figure, compared to the Granzon and Thrudgelmir. It's not super rare, but it's steadily held its worth much better than many others from this line, and even now a used copy still goes for around what it originally retailed for, give or take 500 yen.
The Valsione R will always be my first choice when it comes to an elegant lady robot to lead your other red-headed robots into battle.
With that, I'm taking a break from FAFs for a while. Jump down to the comments to get a bit of a retrospective and wrap-up.
*It's totally not at all.
|Posted 19 June, 2014 - 16:06 by SpaceRunaway|