Valvrave VI Hiasobi
Review by The Enthusiast
Review sample courtesy of Bluefin
Maybe I’m just out of the loop, but it seems like the Japanese Mecha genre has slowed dramatically in the last few years. Maybe anime itself is stagnant, Attack on Titan notwithstanding. I encourage those who are far more informed than myself to correct me.
I was excited to see a few new kits from a substantial property, Valvrave The Liberator, hit the streets. The mech designs didn’t immediately grab me, but I thought I’d take a deeper look.
I’ll leave it to Wikipedia to provide a synopsis..
The Valvrave VI Hiasobi kit is roughly similar to a Gundam HG model. No cockpit or independent armature, but a quality mid-range snap model, packaged in finished colors. This particular model also includes a high degree of decal detailing.
There’s around 20 runners of parts, many of them clear.
The build was fine. There’s nothing out of the ordinary here, aside from the multiple sprues of clear green gew-gaws which will eventually afflict the figure. I spent about eight hours in assembly. The extensive decal details do take some time and a steady hand, but are blessedly simpler than waterslide decals (though they will probably peel off very easily).
Those elaborate neon green gew-gaws did make the process frustrating. This model is nothing if not finicky. It’s the kind of model which takes gobs of super glue to keep it from exploding with every adjustment. But it’s a model, not a toy, so you cut it some slack. It’s still a frustrating piece to manipulate.
So here we are. Is this ugly, over-wrought, messy? I dunno. There are a lot of design rules being broken here. Where the hell am I supposed to look? What is the parti (simplified design diagram or idea)? Damned if I know. There is an awful lot going on, and I don’t really like the result.
Having said that, there are attractive details and elements throughout. The whole just ends up as less than its parts.
Or maybe you think it’s great. It just looks like a pile of mechanical crap to me. At least the failings of the Bay aesthetic aren’t limited to our crude gaijin designers.
It sort of moves and poses, but all of that armor really limits the possibilities. The legs are nice.
Accessories consist of clear claw-like hand extensions, and an axe. The included stand helps with some poses, but the base figure is solid and well-balanced enough to make it optional.
An elaborate effect is included for the axe. The result is underwhelming.
I’m ambivalent. This certainly looks interesting from certain angles but it’s all just way too much for me. I prefer it without all of the armor.
|Posted 19 January, 2014 - 16:25 by The Enthusiast|
Comments33 comments posted
I honestly do not understand why you keep taking samples of things you have little interest in and end up not really caring about. At least watch some of the show before you pick up something from it.
I give it points for at least being different. I initially thought the clear green parts were energy effect parts, but I guess it's part of the armor? Some look moveable or hinged. Do they tilt? they may add some dynamics if they are meant to be posed like in motion. And I like the axe effect part.
But I agree - there's too much going on here. The asymmetrical design clashes with all the effect parts.
It seems to come down to taste here - the model seems to be a fine one, and if you are a fan of the character, will you be disappointed? I get the feeling you will not. But I think regardless of the medium or the build quality you wouldn't have liked it due to the clash with your design aesthetics.
Veef extends some serious criticism above. I welcome all constructive criticism in a similar vein. I'm always interested in providing better coverage. My goal is to advance a consistent and thoughtful point of view. I think my five years of work conveys a serious analysis of our hobby, but I'm always thankful for opportunities to challenge my assumptions and improve.
To be clear, I've been watching these kits for a while. I always scope out new mecha, and I liked the general aesthetic. When I had a chance to review, I pursued the opportunity. I did spend eight hours building this thing (then four hours photographing and writing), and came to the conclusion, afterward, that it had serious design problems. I think there's a distinction between spending a day with an object and just receiving something in the mail. After my time with this piece, I wasn't impressed, and attempted to communicate the nuances of this in the text. I am an amateur at this craft, and so accept that I often fail, though my failure is in the execution rather than the spirit. I promise you, the reader, that I do not often spend half of my weekend to slag off a toy on the internet. I love these toys and endeavor to use my experience to convey an opinion and point of view.
When I positively reviewed other properties of which I was comparatively ignorant, it perhaps was only briefly tolerated ( this is about 25% of applicable reviews, FYI- check my history):
But what do I really know about Power Lords, The Inhumanoids (to be honest, I've only watched youtube videos), Exoquad, Outer Space Mantis, Red Fighter, Robotack (I'm sure I would hate it, though I am sorry to say I've never watched an episode), transistor robots, Rogun, or Radio Man?
I honestly think it is far more beneficial to approach an item from a show (especially one from a very recent series like Valvrave) with the passion and interest that respects and informs a fan of said show. This is doubly true if it is the first thing from this show we have covered. I think when you tackle a modern piece your reviews always come across as like you don't know what to do with them. For example
There is very little English language information about this figure and it is also getting an upcoming anime but your coverage of it does not convey to me that you understand anything about it. This is a toy designed for fans of the series. I understand toys can be frustrating to deal with, but I would hate to see you tackle one of those Volks figures James and myself keep reviewing. And honestly I am at end of my rope with older collectors who keep refusing to acknowledge Japanese toys are tied to a media property and do not exist in a vacuum like they appeared to in the past. We have the knowledge now and I wish for others to use it. I can tell people here all about Dougram, about Galient, about Gargantia, etc and I think that level of expertise is what makes a complete review.
I saw multiple comments pop up in short succession, so I came over and found a pretty interesting conversation. Enthusiast, I have always loved your reviews because you have an excellent eye for style and detail, but I do agree with Andrew that new reviews of modern toys with currently relevant media need an extra step beyond what you've provided. Appreciating or critiquing the toy as it exists as an object is only half the battle. For toys from new properties that people are actively searching out English-language content on, I don't think it does our readers any favors to ignore or dismiss the media a toy comes from. Part of our responsibility to our readers is to put these toys in context so they can appreciate why a toy is the way it is or how it's supposed to work, not to come off as dismissive about it.
Personally, I don't think this model kit looks very good, and I sympathize with you having spent the time to put together what looks like a very un-fun build. That said, I'm sure fans of the show would balk at putting down the kit so quickly. Maybe this model represents some really cool scene from the anime, or is popular for some particular reason. Without bothering to find out, we come off as not caring, and I worry readers will turn elsewhere to find more passionate or knowledgeable content.
Just so we are clear on this, aesthetics don't matter? So you have to review the toy in the context of the existing media? So the original Star Wars trilogy is widely considered awesome therefore all said toys created for this franchise by default should be consider within the context of the original film, bullshit. So a lot of people love Attack on Titan therefore the toys get an automatic lift. A toy should stand on it's own.
I think you're taking the example a little too far. If we review an Attack on Titan toy, it doesn't get a pass bc/ the series is popular. I think it's worth taking a moment in the review to discuss the show and why it's popular so as to explain why the toy being reviewed exists and is potentially interesting.
And with Star Wars, everybody knows what SW is about and why it has toys. Valvrave is a pretty niche and under-discussed franchise. It might be a crap franchise for all we know, but if we don't bother to look we are not helping out readers.
It got a little attacky.
"Just so we are clear on this, aesthetics don't matter?"
Uh... no... no one's saying that anywhere. That would be totally crazy.
It's also crazy to say "A toy should stand on it's own.". Nearly every toy reviewed on CDX is based on some media property, and pretending that doesn't matter is nothing more than willful ignorance. When designers and engineers make a toy or model kit based on an animation design, or a live-action costume, or a couple of 2d illustrations, every decision those designers and engineers make must be based on realizing that existing design in three dimensions. From how the joints move, to how the hands hold the weapons, to what other mechanical gimmicks or option parts are included, a toy based on other media does not stand alone - it's an adaptation of a non-toy design. Pretending it's just a toy, nothing more, means refusing to even examine the concerns that influenced the toy designers.
I have read plenty of reviews on this website especially from Joel in which he had little to no familiarity with the source material and no one jumped down his throat. And your Attack on Titan example is also crap. I have never watched and episode but I know Figma makes great figures and I could easily enjoy the toy without having seen the show. I think someone is just pissed because they happen to like the franchise.
"especially from Joel"
Joel, Josh, potato, pa-ta-to
Wow... that seems really insulting to me. You don't even care what the name is of the guy who runs the site you're posting on, even when you're using his reviews as an example in your argument?
Wow typed the wrong name you really got me there, That totally validates your but-hurt argument.
Let me explain.
This is not about aesthetics. This is about wanting to understand a product and how it relates to the consumer and the audience.
Not everybody likes the Muv-Luv aesthetic and I understand that. However when I review a toy I respect the source material and try to gauge how well it accomplishes pleasing the intended audience i.e. Muv-Luv fans. If they do a bad job of it, then I try to say it does. Trust me, there are some really bad Volks figures. Likewise, Spacerunaway is a big fan of Super Robot Wars and points out that most of the ones he reviews are passable to outright terrible. A lot of the information he conveys is informed by his knowledge of the property. Most people buying these figures are fans of the the media they come from. That is where most of their value lies.
A bad Star Wars figure doesn't get a pass because it's Star Wars. Likewise if an Attack on Titan figure failed to live up to expectations I think it should be judged thusly.
But if someone who does not know Attack on Titan gets say Figma Eren and doesn't understand how all the bits work or why it is designed the way it is, how can they make a truly informed opinion on the piece?
If for whatever reason I was handed the Miracle Production Vehicle Voltron to review, I would try to understand everything I can about the character because the people buying it are fans of the character and that is what informs the design of the toy.
Just like with the Valvrave robot. There is as much history to it as any Scopedog or L-Gaim and that's important in understanding the figure.
"But if someone who does not know Attack on Titan gets say Figma Eren and doesn't understand how all the bits work or why it is designed the way it is, how can they make a truly informed opinion on the piece?"
Attack on Titan is actually a great example of why you need to know the source material. 3D Maneuvering Gear may just look like a bunch of big boxes hanging from the character's belt, but when you look at the manga art or the animation it's clear why the 3DMG makes the characters capable of extreme, dynamic poses that might not make sense with a character who can't boost into the air and swing from cables. Also, a non-fan might think that the 3DMG blade sheaths look ridiculously bulky and don't make sense, if they don't realize that the sheaths are designed to hold several extra plug-in blades that attach to the sword grips. Without knowledge of how the 3DMG is supposed to work, the reviewer wouldn't know whether the figure and its accessories look the way they're supposed to, or whether the figure can do the poses it's supposed to with the 3DMG and its stand.
So why don't you call out Joel when he reviews something he has little to no experience with? You have to have a masters in L-Gaim to review a Robot Robot Spirits? Preachy nerd bullshit.
Ok first off, who is Joel?
Second off, I watched all of L-Gaim and let me tell you knowing about the show does help because a lot of L-Gaim robots have accessories that do not make sense without context of what they actually do. I don't think anyone would honestly put up with the whole crotch cables going into their big guns thing if they didn't want to replicate the look from the show, which exists because it was made for a TV show. In fact a lot of the failings of L-Gaim figures generally stems from how they are trying to replicate something from the show. Like some of the flaws of the L-Gaim Mk. II come from the need to transform into Prowler mode.
Although I will say watching the whole show killed my desire to get any more L-Gaim toys because outside of the two L-Gaims, mecha come and go and get rather interchangeable pretty quickly.
Knowledge is power.
Sorry I meant Josh. He reviews shit all the time that he isn't super familiar with. It's not a deal breaker on a review no matter how long your replies are.
"It's not a deal breaker on a review no matter how long your replies are."
Please amend "for me" because for a lot of people this is an issue and I have spoken to Josh about it on several occasions and he knows my stance on the issue. Honestly I do not see why so many toy collectors wear this selective ignorance on their sleeves. It's like trying to ignore the fact that The Hobbit movies or Ender's Game are based on books. Source material and how it is adapted heavily affects the final product and that means the product does not stand on its own and should never be regarded as completely separate.
I think you should pick your battles this is one ugly ass abomination and no amount of source material can help that. If you can review it better have at it. I actually enjoy his reviews and you come off a little preachy. Honestly I would rather he pulled out some toy from the eighties I have not seen in 30 years than read another one of your Mu Luv reviews. Seriously is there another Mu Luv Raptor that is like slightly off gray you can review? You could try just adding context in the comments rather than being a dick about it.
Actually I have been wanting to check out the A3 Raptors for awhile. They have a real nice sculpt and do the knee pods a lot better than the Revoltech. Plus they seem quite affordable on the aftermarket. I was also recommended the Typhoon but I think I may check out the Rafale before that. Up next we're looking at another Sufoni design and then probably a Figma.
"I think you should pick your battles this is one ugly ass abomination and no amount of source material can help that."
In your opinion. This is key.
You are turning your nerd views into bullying.
Ugh, now you are being bullied. Did you not call this guy out and make a big stink about how you think things should be and how tired you are of older collectors not knowing newer anime and how there is no excuse for it and it isn't a complete review unless he does his research first and why does he even pick up toys he doesn't like; Only to find out he was ASKED to review it. Those are your opinions, everyone has their own. I think he does nice work and tried to put out a decent review. I like robots as art and aesthetics and am mostly long past giving a crap about the shows. If you feel like adding a bunch of comments about the show's plot feel free it happens all the time in the comments section. Do you see how that works, everyone having opinions? The only reason I opened my big mouth is because you went after him and it was tiresome.
P5, thanks for the moderate, thoughtful comments.
I don't disagree with anything you say.
Here's a central point I haven't seen engaged: I collect and review tons and tons of toys of which I have no cultural familiarity. Even my (and Veef's!) beloved Machine Robo toys: I have never seen an episode, OVA, etc, of this property. I love Machine Robo. Has everyone been too polite to challenge my praise of these toys? If we're being consistent, my love of them should be as similarly troublesome as my disdain for the Valvrave toy. Or does it only matter when I don't like something of which I am comparatively ignorant?
Maybe I'm just setting myself up for a blanket condemnation, but I would say that the vast majority of my reviews come from a similar state of ignorance as this. I review toys, objects, things. As if I were a child, receiving this toy. Sure, there are those who will understand or appreciate a plaything in some way more than me, within a totality I cannot appreciate. I recognize that there many people who are more personally knowledgeable and invested in the objects I review than I am. They are welcome to post their own content or comment, here or somewhere else.
I endeavor to add context through my understanding as a person who has seriously collected these toys for my adult life. I like to think that my body of published work speaks for itself, though it seems that some would disagree.
Veef calls out my review of the Tsugumori. Cool. 1. If this was such an affront, I certainly appreciate everyone's restraint in not calling me out immediately but many months later, and in a public forum. You needn't bother in the future. I'd rather find out what's bothering everyone (what I'm lead to believe is a significant portion of our readership) before sticking my foot in it six months later. 2. I appreciate that I should just 'know' such things, but please anyone tell me how my toy review should have reflected a greater, nuanced understanding of the source material (please be specific). Why not start with the Valvrave? I look forward to the spirited, informed defense of this toy below.
With no snark at all, I absolutely agree that I can do more to understand the source material before reviewing something. Point taken to heart.
I do not accept that, should I obtain and watch however many episodes or minutes or whatever quantum of experience which would be deemed acceptable to whomever we appoint to determine such things, that my appraisal of a toy would be more correct or appropriate.
(I assure you that arguing about toy robots is purely a spirited, light-hearted activity, and love you and the readership dearly!)
"I do not accept that, should I obtain and watch however many episodes or minutes or whatever quantum of experience which would be deemed acceptable to whomever we appoint to determine such things, that my appraisal of a toy would be more correct or appropriate."
I don't think it's about watching the show, or knowing the plot, or whatever... I think what a reviewer needs is a baseline familiarity with what a toy is supposed to be. Is it powered armor a person wears? Is it a 200 foot tall robot? Can it fly, or does it run around? What are its weapons, and what are they supposed to do in the fiction?
Like, for instance, on Valvrave... what are the clear parts? Are they beam weapons, like in Gundam? Are they hologram armor, like in Zegapain? Just this basic distinction, whether they're supposed to be weapons or armor, makes a big difference in appraising the design. Instead, you make a point of your ignorance and disinterest. Not only can't you tell what the parts of the robot are supposed to be, you have no desire to look into the fictional facts about them.
To me, that seems lazy, when this stuff is most likely just a Google search away. I don't really know... I haven't paid much attention to Valvrave, but honestly, I'd expect a review of a Valvrave kit to inform me a little bit, instead of just dismissing the entire product as uninteresting.
I think there's something disingenuous, too, about reviewing something that you think is hideously ugly and have no other interest in. You must have known what the kit looked like before you built it - why, then, did you even bother putting it together and reviewing it, except to let everyone else know how much you hate the aesthetic? It's not like you had some expectation that it would pleasantly surprise you - your preexisting surface distaste for the design is apparent throughout the review. I'd ask why you even bought a kit that you clearly don't want, but you didn't buy it - it was a review sample. So, did you just draw the short straw on this one? If so, sorry for your bad luck, but maybe you could've passed it on to a reviewer who wanted it.
I liked the box, press pictures. The actual product I found to be too fiddly for my tastes. No dis-ingenuity. I was intrigued but the clattering actual thing was not fun. I often buy toys not knowing exactly what I'm in for, and am sometimes pleasantly surprised, other times let down.
I dunno... from those comments about breaking every fundamental rule of design, being a complete mess, and comparing it to a Bayformers design (and indicating that that was a failing, not a positive), it seemed like you were totally aesthetically repulsed by it.
"Even my (and Veef's!) beloved Machine Robo toys: I have never seen an episode, OVA, etc, of this property. I love Machine Robo. Has everyone been too polite to challenge my praise of these toys?"
It's not quite the same because Machine Robo was a toy line before it was ever an anime. However if you were reviewing Machine Robo toys based on the anime original characters, I would expect you to understand why Rom Stol is a handsome young robot man fighting alongside two established Machine Robo toys like Jet Robo and Drill Robo.
"Why not start with the Valvrave? I look forward to the spirited, informed defense of this toy below."
Well I have not watched Valrave, but the fact that you've already dismissed any the model's merits as a forgone conclusion makes it hard to go any further. But I will try to explain, this particular unit is piloted by a secondary character and is an electronic warfare machine whose many glowing bits are like extended nerve fibers. It has more than the other Valvrave units showing that it excels in a different area than the more battle ready machines and it is more of a surveillance unit. All of them share a similar build but have different colors like a Sentai team. Fans of the series may want to have a full team and wish to know if this figure looks good and matches the design of the robot in the show.
The show which you haven't seen and think is unimportant.
Let me put it on the flip side here. If I handed someone a Scopedog toy and that person had no knowledge of the show, would they really understand features like Down Form? I've met people who don't understand why Valkyries have a Gerwalk mode. In both these cases, the show informs the function.
A lot of people are taking such things for granted and not realizing these were given context BY MEDIA a long time ago.
"I've met people who don't understand why Valkyries have a Gerwalk mode."
Valks have a Gerwalk mode because flying around with wings and the ability to boost backwards with your legs is super cool in a dogfight, and that makes it WAY FUN to swoosh a Valkyrie toy around the room in Gerwalk mode!!!
You know, if you like that kind of thing.
I have seen many Transformers fans call Gerwalk a weird unnecessary half mode and also regard a lot of parts as "kibble."
i can't even
I wanted to say something short but after reading the comments I feel like as one of CDX's model builders I should say more.
First things first, Josh (or Joel since that seems to be a good new name for him) asked me about building this kit before you took it over Enthusiast. Nice building. You did a nice job and very well done, I know models aren't your strong suit and you really carried it in my absence.
-I turned it down because I wanted to finish the RX-78 Ver.3 and get started on a couple other Gunpla kits I've had stacked up since... March, that got stalled in September. (Shrug, that's why it's called a backlog). However one of the reasons why I turned it down was the aesthetic. Like Veef and Prometheum said, sometimes that's what it boils down to with a model, toy, or whatever. If it makes my eye twitch for the wrong reason, there's a reason.
I really did not catch on to this series after I first saw the mechanical designs and that is where I stopped with Valvrave.
The designs of the Valvrave mecha are polarizing, like the LFOs from Eureka 7 or even the Valkyries, and in most cases they don't translate very well into model kits, especially multicolored plastic injection kits by Bandai. All these series included, I did built a Nirvash model once, but it was another example of what this model was: blank plastic with decals.
When I first heard about this kit, I went looking at preview sites about it and when I saw the decal sheet, I felt somewhere between tested (for might!) and let down (seriously Bandai, wtf) because this is so typical of Bandai for their "Not-Gundam-Series" model kits. When they do for a series in its prime and then abandon continuing (expanded universe, etc) once the show's done with, they'll get the primary plastic/design colors and rely on decals or paint to finish it.
I think this comes as a drawback to the design, it is so loud and busy with the 'effect' parts that the rest of the model uses a few design shortcuts in order to meet the demographic and the release schedule. If it were for a series of models that aren't paralleling a TV series (like the Gundam HGUC and Master Grade lines for the most part) and they could really push their development schedule back in order to compensate for the elaborate look of the design then it would be another story of "Bandai making odd, multi-colored model kits based on a popular series."
Regardless of what I have to say, I stand by my earlier statement that regardless of your knowledge of the series, or enthusiasm for something you did a nice job on this model Enthusiast!
As a casual fan of the Valvrave anime, my own reaction to the review was mixed. I appreciated that the kit was built beautifully and showed a lot of angles, poses, etc. But I was also expecting to seeing some thoughts about the toy compared to the mech as seen in the show and such.
I understand wanting to get a toy or kit you find interesting for its own appeal. I've certainly done that a few times. But a review article like this should invest some time also in research beyond simply "it comes from this show". I'm not saying that the reviewer should watch the whole series, but even just spending some time checking forums and looking up names and roles is something anyone can do with internet access and spending some extra time and would make the content that much better informed.
Addressing the question put forth early in the review, anime is far from stagnant, but model kit and toy mecha sales certainly have long been out of the big money-making loop beyond Bandai's Gundam merch and the like. Valvrave was an attempt to try to set a spark with something a little different looking. Unfortunately, the show didn't really use the mecha combat very well, and the series itself was (even speaking as someone who liked it) a bit of a confused mess that clearly didn't perform to expectations and was cut short in the end. That Bandai invested so much into the kits before gauging the ratings put the cart before the horse this time and doesn't really bode well for future similar experiments, I would imagine.
Alright guys I'm closing this comment thread. It's getting dangerously vindictive and this is not the place for that. Take it off-line if you must, but I think we've got the point.