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All posts for the day April 25th, 2014

The Predator is one of my favorite movie monster designs. I really love the original design by Stan Winston from Predator and to a lessor extent Predator 2. I always liked the end scene in Predator 2 when Danny Glover’s character Mike Harrigan is surrounded by the other Predators from that clan after killing the City Hunter Predator. The uniqueness of each Predator’s design I feel inspires me to try to make my own Predator figures.

NECA has made a lot of predator figures by now and that makes it a little easier to put together a custom one. This is my first custom NECA Predator which I’ve nicknamed ‘Gremlin Predator’ mainly due to the green skin pattern and mask design. I’ve got at least one more custom Predator in the works, which I’ll post when it’s finished

This custom uses parts from a couple of Predators: Guardian/Gort, P1 and Borg/Lost. I repainted the armour brown with a metallic dry-brush to bring out the details. I’ve quite happy with the results.

NOTE: since taking the photos I’ve also added the Predator 1 bone necklaces to help add a little bit more character to the figure.

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Check out my previous NECA Predator custom/repaint HERE.

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Real X Head is a small Japanese company run by Mori Katsura, who makes vinyl toys. Over the years there have been a number of figures and variations released as well as collaborations with other people or stores. Shinto-san is a larger size figure then the usual RealXHead figures, who shares similar features to a certain anime character who also wears an orange gi, not to mention a colour-way homage too.
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Name: Shinto-san
Line: N/A
Manufacturer: RealXHead
Released: 2009
Price: 5,500 YEN
Scale: 9.5 Inches in height
Accessories: None

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While looking for other RealXHead products I came across a Shinto-san, a flesh coloured version from One Up Akiba. I ended up buying that and a black and white version too. At a later date I was able to pick up this pink version from RotoFugi (If you get the chance, check out their website as they have some great stuff on there!) which I think looks pretty cool too. Seeing information and reviews are scarce for Shinto-san I decided to share my thoughts on this awesome figure from RealXHead.

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SCULPTING

As with all RealXHead products the sculpting is always really well done. On one side of his body Shinto-san has fur-like texturing, while the other side is smooth. I’m not sure why this is the case, but I really like the contrast. The head reminds me a lot of a troll doll mixed with the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toys, with funky anime style back swept hair and the small tail is cool too. He also sports a tattered gi and wrist/ankle wraps. Shinto-san is definitely ready to rumble!

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PAINT

Shinto-san sports mainly black paint for his outfit, with light pink highlights and red hair with white eyebrows. All paint applications are clean and crisp, with no slop what-so-ever. His skin tone is cast in pink with speckles in it and once again we have those brilliant doll eyes which look so cool!

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ARTICULATION

Articulation for Shinto-san is limited with head, waist and both arms at the shoulder being able to swivel 360 degrees. The head is restricted by the top of his gi however. This is pretty much the standard for most RealXHead figures. The articulation allows you to get a few good poses out of him, but as I said before is limited.

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ACCESSORIES

No accessories are included with Shinto-san.

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POTENTIAL PROBLEMS

No problems at all.

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PRICE

I paid about $70 for Shinto-san plus shipping, being a larger figure I don’t think that’s too bad, however Shinto-san can be bought for anywhere between 3,500 – 5,500 YEN so if possible it’s best to shop around for a good price.

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OVERALL

I like Shinto-san as it’s nice to have a larger Sofubi figure which towers over the other smaller figures on a shelf. As a stand-alone figure, I think Shinto-san is great as its size is impressive and appearance pretty cool in a retro kind of way. If you are thinking about buying one, I would say don’t think about it for too long as Shinto-san seems pretty popular and you won’t regret the decision once you have one in your collection!

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I’m slowly growing a small NECA Predator collection. After buying the Lava Planet Predator I picked up a few more. But top of my list was the original Predator. Unfortunately no perfect version existed, as the only version I could find, made in that translucent plastic, was the version that came with dutch in a two pack and it was “battle damaged” so after replacing the armour needed and a little bit of repainting on the actual figure, I just needed a new head.

I managed to snag a classic predator with open mouth off eBay (Thankfuly not a cheap knock off from china as eBay is swamped with them!) and after a few washes, paint touch up, dry brushing and a clear gloss coat, it matches the new body almost perfectly. Just goes to show the power of good paint application!

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NECA has been making 6-8 inch Aliens and Predator figures for a while now, and a Dutch figure has been in demand for a long time from fans. We did get one from Hot Toys a while ago, but now  NECA is bringing us a whole stack of 7 inch figures with series 9 of their Predators line they have released two more Dutch variants along with a Predator variant.  One such variant being Jungle Encounter Dutch.

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Name: Jungle Encounter Dutch
Line: Predators
Manufacturer: NECA
Released: 2013
Price: $25.00 AUD
Scale: 6.9 Inches in height
Accessories: one assault rifle, one pistol, one knife.

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I’ve slowly been getting back into the small scale action figure scene, mainly thanks to Mattel with their WWE wrestling figures and now also thanks to NECA with their ever expanding range of Alien and Predator figures. I recently reviewed their Lava Planet Predator update and was quite impressed by it. I knew about Dutch and his many variations but was trying to hold off from buying one. I finally caved in and bought one and once again I’m pleasantly surprised.

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SCULPTING

One of the most critical aspects about this figure is how close Dutch will look to the source material and how close Dutch will look to Arnold Schwarzenegger. NECA have pulled this off quite well and I was very impressed with the likeness of this figure, there’s no mistaking it for anyone else other then Schwarzenegger, in his 80’s glory. The work on the chest and arms is excellent too; not to mention the pants, boots and tactical vest are great. There are many nice details and folds sculpted that all look nice and natural. I was really blown away by how at this scale the figure is really just that good.

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PAINT

The paint on this figure is top notch, NECA have hit this one out of the park. The flesh tones are created by first using a base cast in a white and ever-so-slightly translucent plastic with flesh washes over the top. These washes really bring out the detail and help to make Dutch look as life like as he can get for the price and size. The ‘camo’ on the face looks great too and the pattern on Dutch’s pants is amazing! His tactical vest is cast in black, which is fine as it doesn’t harm its appearance too much. One thing is that the paint apps on the face can be a little hit and miss, so you still have to pick one up in person to make sure you get one you like, but besides this, it’s still a great job by NECA.

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ARTICULATION

Dutch comes with a lot of articulation. Enough to get all the poses you would want out of him without too much trouble, as you can see from the photos I could get a good number of action poses from Dutch, he’s pretty much a dream to pose. The articulation for Dutch is as follows: ball jointed neck, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel/hinge elbows, ball joint wrists, ball joint chest and waist, swivel/hinge hips, swivel/hinge knees, top of the boots swivel 360 degrees and ball joint/rocker ankles. NECA are doing a great job giving us a good balance of articulation that works with or is hidden by the sculpting. None of Dutch’s joints look odd or unnatural either.

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ACCESSORIES

Dutch comes with his M-16 assault rifle with grenade launcher attachment, a pistol and combat knife. All these accessories look great; the assault rifle is the stand out for me seeing it pretty much oozes awesomeness; the pistol is nice to have, but I don’t really recall Dutch using it much in the movie. The knife unfortunately can’t really be used by Dutch at all, as his hand can’t really hold it properly – best to leave that one in its sheath.

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POTENTIAL PROBLEMS

My main complaint is that Dutch wants to fall over every now and then when I’m not looking. This is a typical NECA problem with their figures and sometimes it can get frustrating having one fall over and take out other figures in front of it (The Predator 2 preds and Corporal Hicks love to do this). This is a problem they really need to work on and the other one being their production control on their paint apps – I would love to be able to order NECA figures online, but the risk of getting a horribly painted figure is too great, so I have to resort to buying them in person where I can. There are a lot of companies that can get this right, it’s a shame NECA still struggle with this as it can really hurt the figure big time, especially seeing these figures are aimed at collectors, not kids.

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PRICE

I purchased my Dutch figure for $25.00 AUD from a great store here in Sydney called ‘Anime at Abbottsford’. I was happy with the price and I’m friends with the owners – Bradley and Hansen (they even went upstairs to check if they had any extra figures as the one on the shelf had a bad paint app on it and found two more to choose from!). If you are able to, please check out their store as they really go all out to help you and have excellent customer service. With that said, $25 was good deal for a NECA figure here in Aus.

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OVERALL

This figure was a slow burn for me, as far as purchasing it goes. I knew it existed, I knew it was good, but I didn’t want to pull the trigger on it straight away. Now that I have it, I’m glad I did get it as it fills a void on my shelf of small scale action heroes. If ‘Predator’ is one of your favourite movies, then there is no other choice then to go out and buy this figure ASAP. It’s just that good. NECA deserve a pat on the back for this one and it’s good to see them really pick up their game of late. The figure isn’t without its issues but overall it ticks all the boxes for me. It makes it very hard not to go and pick up a Rambo too now to compliment Dutch!

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Negora is a small Godzilla-like feline, the original design created by Japanese artist KONATSU and the figure being  produced by the American company MAX TOY CO.

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Name: X-Ray Negora
Line: N/A
Manufacturer: Konatsu/Max Toy Co.
Released: 2013
Price: $50 USD – Now: $100 +
Scale: 4-5  inches in height
Accessories: One fish

Right around the time this figure was released, I became aware of its existence. One thing I knew right away was that I must have it. I’m not a VIP member of Max Toys Co’s website so if I was to have any chance I had to be on the site the moment it went up – I call this phase 1 . I had the slight advantage of being on holidays, in Japan at the time and spent most of my morning checking the web store and Facebook for updates. I’m pretty sure I missed my window of opportunity by 30mins to an hour by falling back asleep. As once I refreshed it was listed and obviously sold out.

Feeling a little bummed about this, I went out that day and bought a Konatsu Negora from Sibuya Manadarke – by chance they had one, which turned out to be one of my favourite Japanese vinyl figures I had bought up to that stage. After this purchase I entered phase 2 saving an eBay search so hopefully it would show up for a decent price.

After  a few months of this fruitless searching due to missing out or auctions going to ridiculous prices $200 USD plus! I noticed that my favourite Sofubi seller, Vicious Fun had one for sale, a bit expensive, but cheaper then what I had seen so far. Being a limited run and considered rare, I was happy with the price, of course this was an instant buy and soon X-Ray Negora was finally on the way into my collection!

So, was it worth the searching and hype? Let’s find out.

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SCULPTING

The first thing I noticed was that this figure is not the same mould as the previous Negora, which isn’t necessarily bad thing. As with the first Negora, it’s very nicely sculpted, once again in an anime style, there is plenty of nice detailing on the stomach and around the face as well as other small sections on the figure. It’s in a standing pose with its arms outstretched and mouth slightly open, but still a variation on the other figure.

I think this version is great in its own right and even though different to the other one I own, it’s still obvious that this is a very cool looking Godzilla styled feline!

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PAINT 

Negora is cast in clear vinyl with little bits of paint added to parts of the body. There are semitranslucent yellow eyes (which I think really pops!), red for the mouth, pink paws and ears and a silver spray for the scales on the back. All the paint is expertly applied and there is no slop at all; the paint really works quite well and does a great job highlighting the details.

What really makes the figure stand out, however, is the paper inserts in both Negora and in the fish, these single-handedly elevate this figure from great to awesome! I can’t really explain why, but it just does. It’s that magic combination of idea and execution that has been done so well.

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ARTICULATION

There is only one joint here and that’s a cut waist which swivels 360 degrees it adds a little play value and doesn’t look too out of place; I don’t find it too distracting. However, it it restricted by the paper insert.
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ACCESSORIES

Finally I have a fish to go with Negora! It’s a pretty sweet accessory and just seems to add that little bit more play value to Negora.

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POTENTIAL PROBLEMS

Not really anything I can think of, unless you somehow scratch the paint, this is one rock solid toy.

PRICE

$100 price tag I paid isn’t really that bad, considering the price some people are asking for ($249! Insane!) and the limited nature of the figure is part of the reason why people can demand such high prices. If you can find this figure at $100 or less you have a great dea;l anything more is really pushing it.

OVERALL

I really like X-Ray Negora, It’s a fun little toy which not only looks cool, but won’t take up too much space either, I feel it looks pretty sweet next to the Konatsu version and the little differences between the two are quite nice.

If you are like me and in the process of filling out your soft vinyl figure collection, at least one Negora should be in your collection and the X-Ray one would be an awesome choice!

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Check out my previous Negora review HERE.

This page copyright 2014 Mike’s Toy Blog. All rights reversed.

Venusaur is a Seed Pokemon and the final stage of evolution of Bulbasuar, Razor Leaf and Vine Whip are two of its common and popular attacks. It is a Pokemon that is not considered as popular as some of the other main characters, however, it is still a mascot for Pokemon Green and Green Leaf versions of the game

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Name: Venusaur
Line: D-Arts Pokemon
Manufacturer: Bandai
Released: 2013
Price: 3,400 YEN
Scale: 31132 inches in height (roughly)
Accessories: One base and Two Vine Whip accessories 

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I didn’t get into Pokemon that much when I was younger, sure I watched the cartoon in the morning, but I felt I was just a little too old for it to appeal to me. I did really like all the original monster designs; the Gameboy versions of the Pokemon games I really didn’t want to touch due to the dreadful mono-chromatic graphics. However when the Gameboy advance version came out, I took a little bit more notice, with graphics more like what one would expect from a Super Nintendo, even if on a smaller screen, I was able to enjoy and appreciate the Pokemon series beyond just the cartoon.

Bandai is now bringing out Pokemon monsters with a large number of articulation and great sculpting. I’m reviewing the fourth release from the series, one of my favourite Pokemon – Venusaur.

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SCULPTING

This is one of the main selling points of the figure in my opinion. The sculpting is excellent; Bandai have done a great job bringing Venusaur from 2D to 3D. Comparing it to pictures from the game and cartoon, it’s easy to see that it could be from either one. Even though most of the sculpting is smooth surfaces, there is a nice amount of detail of the leaves and petals as well as the trunk that holds them. There are a few little bits of detail on the main Venusaur body, like bumps or warts, depending on what you want to call them. This figure’s sculpting really looks great and was one of my reasons for purchasing it.

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PAINT

Paint is kept to a minimum, but I feel it helps when considering the source material. Which weather cartoon or video game, the detail in the characters was always fairly simple. What paint we do have is mainly used for detailing, such as teeth or inside the ear, etc. It’s all very clean and crisp with little to no slop – basically what most collectors should come to expect from collectibles in this day and age.

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ARTICULATION

One thing guaranteed with any Figuarts/D-Arts figure from Bandai is that it will have a lot of articulation and I mean A LOT. Sometimes even articulation where you wouldn’t even need articulation! This figure has at least 24 points of articulation, the bulk of which are ball jointed, even something as simple as the mouth is on a ball joint. Each individual petal and leaf is ball jointed and each leg is split into three sections. The body and head are also split up into a number of sections giving you greater possibility for this figure, even though most poses for this guy will be with all four feet on the ground you can get very subtle variations of expression from Venusaur. I’m very impressed with the amount of articulation here, when Bandai could have just cut some corners instead.

One issue I do have with this figure however is that the leaves can be a real pain to work with and to get them sitting right is quite a chore. If you do pop them out by mistake, they have numbers on the bottom of each leaf so they can be put back into the right place without too much trouble.

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ACCESSORIES

The main accessories that come with Venusaur are appropriate to the character, firstly two Vine Whips with multiple extensions. These are great! They snap into to the top of the back just under the middle leaf on either side. A small amount of force is needed to have them sitting in nice and tight. Once attached, I feel they add a lot of play value to Venusaur. My complaint with them is that sometimes the weight of them causes them to droop a bit and they come apart a little too easily. The other accessory included is a clear base for Venusaur; there is no peg to attach Venusaur and it just sits on top. The base is very cool too.

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POTENTIAL PROBLEMS

Sometimes the vines and leaves can feel a little delicate, coupled with the annoyance of adjusting and posing both, otherwise Venusaur is quite sturdy, but I can’t help but feel too much force will break something if you aren’t careful.

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PRICE

Venusaur is good value if you can find it at its retail price or close to that with not too much of a mark up. If you are paying more than that, unless you are a big Venusaur or Pokemon fan, I wouldn’t think it would be worth the price.

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OVERALL

Overall I really like Venusaur a lot. There are a few annoyances with this figure – it’s not perfect that’s for sure. However if you are a Pokemon fan I think you’d be very happy having this figure in your collection. I would consider myself more of a general Pokemon fan and I get a lot of joy out of this figure, it looks partially cool having it next to the other figures from the series. It remains to be seen if we will get any other creatures to add to the series, as any of the smaller Pokemon would be pretty tiny if produced to scale.

 

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