MiG-21 Balalaika "Schwarzesmarken"
Review by VF5SS
The Muv Luv franchise is one of the more interesting success stories coming out of the modern otaku market. While the marriage of cute girls and robots in media has existed almost since the beginning, I think this is one of the first times a wholly non-sci-fi story evolved into an almost Starship Troopers-esque experience.
I will let others mess around with the unofficial Muv Luv wiki as my own knowledge of the subject is limited. To make a long story short, Muv Luv began as a typical Visual Novel game in where the protagonist lives the dream by talking to dozens of cute girls in attempts to virtually capitulate with them. For whatever reason, the creators of the game decided they would revamp the setting while using the same characters and turn it into a story of cute girls and cute boys using giant robots to combat some of the ugliest laser spewing aliens I have ever seen.
Please be advised that Muv Luv games were originally Eroge (erotic games) and contain close encounters of the sexy kind. Oddly enough, the popularity of the games did lead to them being ported from PCs to several gaming consoles with some versions having all the explicit sexual content removed because people liked the stories that much. There are also several fan games that turn the series into more tradition 3D robot games and talk of an anime adaptation that is set to come out this year.
Set in an alternate history, Muv Luv Alternative follows our protagonists as they attempt to exterminate the BETA (Beings of the Extra Terrestrial origin which is Adversary of human race) who have occupied Earth with their laser spewing eyeballs. Due to the overwhelming power and precision of said laser spewing eyeballs, conventional combat air power is effectively nullified, and heavy armor is practically useless. The necessity for high mobility and the need to infiltrate BETA hives gave rise to the Tactical Surface Fighters (TSF). I was greatly intrigued by this concept, as it essentially means all of my favorite real life combat airplanes have been re-imagined as awesomely tacticool giant robots.
While there had been several limited production action figures of the TSFs, they were difficult to obtain and focused more on the Japanese units that didn't have recognizable (for me) names. Kaiyodo has opted to change all that with their very own line of Muv Luv Alternative Revoltechs.
In real life, the Russian built MiG-21 was one of the most heavily produced and distributed Cold War era fighter jets. It is a design that exudes simplicity and practicality while being just different enough from its American made peers to look like an adversary. Growing up as a kid who played every video game with two wings you could waggle, the MiG-21 was always a basic enemy that netted the least amount of points when you shot it down. Its Mul Luv counterpart is anything but that.
The MiG-21 Balalaika "Schwarzesmarken" (which is German for ‘I'm a badass’), is an earlier TSF design based on the F-4. It was used by the Soviet Union and several Soviet Blocs before being replaced by later designs such as the MiG-29. This particular one is an East German TSF.
The figure itself stands 12.5 centimeters tall and is made of sturdy PVC plastic. The subtle genius of the Revoltech line is that the titular universal joints make it so that most of the figure itself can be made out of solid chunks of PVC plastic in order to keep the development and manufacturing costs down as every joint is a simple peg and hole setup.
One thing that amuses me about the general robot anime fandom is an almost fetishistic lust for "grunts." Any kind of mass-produced type design that is used by the nameless and/or faceless soldiers of a robot show is the best kind of self-insertion fodder for fertile minds. This sometimes leads to people rejecting the notion of "heroic designs" in favor the bland and mundane as if those qualities add legitimacy to the fantastical concept of giant robots. One thing I really like about the TSF designs and the MiG-21 especially is that practically every machine exudes a sleek and powerful aura that belies their militaristic nature. Even this humble TSF looks like it could take on the world and do it with style.
While the Revoltech line and more modern Japanese robot designs have incurred the ire of some curmudgeonly old collectors, I feel that the Muv Luv Revoltechs exonerate the best qualities of both. The overall slimmer build and emphasis on flexibility of the TSF, coupled with the durability and simplicity of a good Revoltech, is a match made in heaven.
For one thing, the MiG-21 has no problem standing up straight in a neutral pose. All of its major points of articulation employ Revoltech joints, with the only exception being the knees and neck. The neck uses a non-ratcheted Figma style universal joint while the knees have a simple hinge.
What links a TSF to its namesake is a pair of jet engines attached to its hips. These give each TSF an almost mecha musume quality to their appearance as they attempt to capture the spirit of their real life counterparts in the form of sweet giant robots.
Due to the simplicity of their construction, Revoltech toys can spend a little more attention to having quality paint apps. The standard MiG-21 head is sharply molded for its size and neatly painted.
Commanding officers receive a MiG-21PF, with its enhanced communication antenna. High ranking officers must always carry the heavy horn of leadership.
Tampo printed markings on the shoulders accentuate the look of the figure. Everything from the goofy "666" to the country emblem combine with the two-tone camouflage to give the MiG-21 an amazing look that compliments the solid feel of the figure.
The MiG-21 comes with a modest selection of weapons. While they're nothing special, the overall package feels complete. It also includes a pair fists, a pair of splayed hands, two holding things hands, and the typical clear Revoltech display stand with optional extension piece.
Oh and it has the now ubiquitous action stomp that I left in the box and don't feel like talking about because I hate those things. :<
All of the smaller bits can be tucked away inside the included Revocontainer, which is now cast in a more military gray than the previously seen awkward clear orange.
The MiG-21 is rather impressive when fully loaded. The shield plugs into the arm with a combination friction slot that goes over the long flat portions of the forearm and handle for the hand. I find it is easier to just use the slot than it is to mess around with the handle. The serrated edges on the shield are a nice touch. It looks like the MiG-21 is ready to bash an alien right in the laser spewing cornea.
For a little extra tacticool action, TSFs have sub-arm storage racks for their guns.
The double-jointed storage racks can swing over the shoulder or under the arm to deliver a weapon into your mobile infantry's waiting hand.
For the next part of this review I don't need the need to narrate most of these photos as I feel the amazing style and flexibility of this figure speaks for itself. I sat down to take photos for this review and when I looked up it was 45 minutes later in the day. Just remember you can pull a Revoltech joint out of the socket a bit for added range of motion.
"I don't neeeeeeeed the gun, John!"
"Was it good for you too, sweetheart?"
While I'm not sure if I want to dive deeper into the Muv Luv universe, I am excited about checking out more Tactical Surface Fighter Revoltechs. Due to its very nature, the Revoltech line has had teething issues with finding the right license that emphasizes its defining qualities of solid construction and dynamic action. The TSFs are such a perfect fit for the line that I can only hope for more of them. The basic Muv Luv figures are a bit more competitively priced than some comparable Robot Damashii toys, which is a little bit of reassurance than a good Japanese robot toy doesn't require a higher price to justify its quality.
|Posted 2 March, 2012 - 09:25 by VF5SS|