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Gurren Lagann

Height: 13cm to top of head, 14cm to top of helmet crest.

Articulation: 42(!) total points of articulation: Triple-jointed neck; Revolver Joints at shoulders, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, hips, knees, and ankles. Revolver Joints feature a ratcheting hinge joint and two axes of swivel, thus equalling 3 points of articulation apiece. Additionally, skirt armor is fully articulated by Revolver Joints.

Colors: Molded red, black, gunmetal, and translucent smoke gray (Sunglasses). Painted gunmetal, metallic yellow, black, light blue-gray, green, yellow, metallic blue (sunglasses finish) gray and gold (Core Drill).

Accessories: Core Drill, Gurren Boomerang, Extra Breastplate, Extra Head, Extra Hands x4, Stand.

Release Data: Released in Japan May 2008 at a suggested retail price of 1995 Yen. This item is still available as of the date of this review.

Author: RAC



(more...)


The difference between the 16th and 50th toy in any line is staggering. As it is in RPGs so is it in real life: toy designers gain experience (points) and improve their abilities. While I was pretty pleased with Revoltech Yamaguchi #16, Mazinkaiser, it didn't make me want to go out of my way to get more Revoltech figures. Gurren-Lagann does, and it has an appeal above and beyond my pronounced fondness for the subject mecha.


The Figure

Gurren-Lagann pulls references from damn near everything: off the top of my head, we've got nods to Gaiking, Zambot-3, Daitarn-3, Great Mazinger... and that's just the robot itself. The show itself has tons more cameos and homages to offer above and beyond its own inherent charms and qualities. A Super Robot if there ever was one, Gurren-Lagann can do just about anything, provided the pilots have the willpower to make it happen.

The Head

Tiny in the extreme, smaller than the smallest Gundam head I've ever handled, and smaller still than Mazinkaiser's head. Also, thankfully, more cleanly painted than Mazinkaiser despite its tininess. They both are, in fact- a spare head with a determined grimace is also included. GL's a very expressive robot. The neck joint uses what seems to be a pair of Revolver Joints, but might be just one nested in a standard ball-joint- I don't want to force it all apart to find out. However you slice it, this grants the neck tremendous range.

The Arms

One of the disappointments for me with Mazinkaiser was the lack of Revolver Joints in the shoulders, where they'd have added a lot of dynamic possibilities to the posing. I'm not disappointed now. While the sunglasses do restrict articulation a bit, the shoulders are expressive and have a broad range. The shoulder shields, complete with tampographed Team Gurren logos, rotate and can be removed. While you could use this to simulate battle damage it does leave the peg hanging out- this could've been resolved with reversing the peg setup, but this might've bumped into the socket for the shoulder joint, so I can understand why it wasn't done.

The elbows and wrists are nearly equally good, but suffer from the main weakness of the Revoltech line and its Robot Museum predecessors: Katsuhisa Yamaguchi's predilection for odd angles of articulation. In pre-Revoltech figures this takes a major toll, because you absolutely cannot pose them except in the odd, slouchy angles Yamaguchi wants you to use. In the two Revoltech figures I've owned so far, this is mostly but not entirely countered by the versatility of the Revolver Joint. The arms in particular are nearly impossible to hold completely straight because all the sockets are angled. If you turn the elbows inwards and arrange the wrists just so... almost. But not quite. Frustrating, but somehow such things become just a little bit less frustrating when it's an issue of style and not engineering error.


The Torso

Lots going on here. First off, the sunglasses are removable, but not in the way you think. In case you miss the warning on the inside flap of the package: DO NOT pull the sunglasses off! It's the part of the breastplate they're mounted on that is removable. (This piece tends to stick and have to be wiggled out anyway, so be very gentle.) The shades themselves are transparent plastic, which can be very fragile; they're also very thin and very pointy. Watch out for everything!

The mid-torso joint is placed so as to allow you to move the Gurren's mouth. (For the record: the Gurren makes up the body, the Lagann is the head, in case you've not seen the show.) Just as in the show, there's even a cockpit hatch visible, with an Alien-esque set of secondary teeth! The Yamaguchi Styling comes back here: Gurren-Lagann, like all Revoltech figures, is designed to hunch forward dramatically. You can straighten it up, but you'd better want the mouth wide open. I'd love for there to be a way to manipulate the Gurren's expression without modifying posture, but again, a small gripe. On the back you'll see a series of small round fixtures, four of which are usable sockets. These are for the Gurren Wing, available in two halves with the Lazengann and (not released as of this writing) Enki figures.

Lastly for the torso, the skirt is a marvel. All three plates are attached via small Revolver Joints, and thus have three axes they can move on. The front plate isn't all that mobile, but can mostly get out of the way of a given pose, and the side plates are spectacular. I've encountered side skirt plates with this kind of range before somewhere, but their origin escapes me. More importantly, these plates are not given to falling out as those were. Under the rear skirt plate is a small, discreet, obscenely-placd socket, one of two ways to mount the figure to the included stand.

The Legs and Feet

While Gurren-Lagann's blockier thighs make for slightly easier alignment, this is where the old problem I had with Revoltech Mazinkaiser asserts itself most strongly: aligning the legs is a fidgety process. The good news is while stuff does get loose as you turn it back and forth, nothing falls off and it all tightens back up just fine. The hips are only really restricted by the front skirt when you try to bend both legs forward in the extreme- otherwise, you can manuver the thing out of the way. The side-panels may get caught on the rear skirt but will otherwise stay out of the way without incident.

The knees are about as good as a single hinge-joint gets, and are aided by a nifty new development: because Gurren-Lagann, like so many Super Robots, has big blocky lower legs, there's a panel on the back of the calf that is mounted on a tiny Revolver Joint. When you bend the knee it folds inwards to give you that little extra degree of flex. Neat! When you straighten the knee it pushes the panel back out. Like most of the figure it may occasionally require manual adjustment, but it's a great idea and I'd like to see something similar on other figures with legs like this.

The ankle is slightly less flexible than Mazinkaiser's due to the leg design, but it can still get into the low and wide stances Yamaguchi seems to favor. It's not equal to a modern MSiA foot, but doesn't have that odd "bedroom slipper" effect either.


Paint and Decoration

Overall the paint is really good, with the most noticeable flaw being a dimming of the yellow paint on the skirt where it meets the black. It looks like they painted the yellow over the black, which even with metallic yellow is a tricky prospect. Otherwise the paint is clean, even on the face. (The small face, that is; the one on the actual head.) Pretty impressive considering the whole face is maybe 5mm square! And on the option head you get all that plus two more tiny paint apps for the mouth and teeth. Staggeringly clean paint for such a tiny piece.


Articulation gets 9/10
Sculpt and Deco get 9/10

 
Accessories

-Core Drill

Cute workaround here! See, the drill Gurren-Lagann uses for its best attack in the animation is HUGE. Bigger than the robot by far. There's no way you could include it with this toy- just the packaging would be prohibitive to say nothing of cost. So instead, the figure comes with a 1/1 scale replica of the Core Drill, the key that activates the Lagann. By some coincidence, the golden drill bit can be removed from the base, and since all Revoltech pieces use the same size pegs as the ones in Gurren-Lagann's wrist, well...

Seriously, this really seems to be an official unofficial accessory. The only place it mentions it on the package is on a tiny B&W photo on one of the flaps. (The other flap illustrates proper removal of the sunglasses, so be sure and read your flaps.) It's not animation-accurate, but far better than no drill at all, and also having a person-sized Core Drill is kind of neat in and of itself. The two halves fit together plenty firmly enough, so if you have a great urge to put it on a chain and wear it, it ought to be fine.

-Gurren Boomerang

An addition to the refurbished Gurren, the shades double as a boomerang much as the big red V on Great Mazinger's chest does. (And sometimes as a melee weapon, in a pinch.) These oversized sunglasses slide into the appropriate hands neatly, but are relying entirely on friction to stay in, which always concerns me. This is one case where I'm not going to give anybody a hard time for the larger, flatter version of the Boomerang, because Gurren-Lagann intentionally pays gloriously little attention to proper size and scale, as I mentioned above.

-Extra Parts

From the top: Save for a dramatic grimace- complete with near-microscopic painted mouth! -the option head is identical to the stock head. The breastplate piece for use when the sunglasses are in Boomerang form looks fine, and isn't too hard to get on or off when you need once you've done it once or twice. There are six hands in all- two fists, two Boomerang-gripping hands, plus a right hand pointing a finger and a left open hand. They all fit just fine, and all have their sockets drilled at that same odd angle. In the future, it'd be nice to have, say, an extra pair or two of hands with straight holes, but sculptor's prerogative, I guess.

-Stand

The base is identical to Mazinkaiser's stand, but the optional mounting arm is now bigger, heavier, and sports a Revolver joint to attach stand to figure. This allows for plenty of freedom in posing- if you want the figure to pose upside down, you ought to be able to find a stable position. While it's possible to plug the figure onto the stand via the feet (though one of my GL's feet fits the peg a bit loosely) the socket on the underside of the figure is your best bet. Much more versatile than the `kaiser's stand- once again, toy lines improve with age!

Accessories get 9/10

Closing Remarks

Very little to dislike about this toy, and those things that I do dislike are design choices and not errors. It's a better toy than Mazinkaiser by a mile: better paint, better articulation, better stand. Add in a good set of accessories- including a clever bonus item/concession to the limits of reality- and you have the best thing I've bought in a long time. I haven't given anything the rating of State of the Art in years, and I'm more than happy to break that streak to give it to this figure.


-RAC, 06/30/2008