Cute girls and big weapons, in the world of anime and Japanese culture they are a bit like peanut butter and chocolate, two
great tastes that taste great together. Or at least that is the theory. The reality is that the combination often results
in some rather strange concepts like Kiss Players Transformers. Konami on the other hand, has decided to attempt to combine the two
concepts along with a video game with less pedophilia in their Busou Shinki line. The basic concept of the Busou Shinki
line as I understand it is that you purchase action figure kits which include a six inch, highly posable figure along with
a variety of weapons all based on a common theme. With each kit that you buy, you also receive a code to allow you to go
online and use your character and her accessories in a fighting game. However, since the game and its web site are of course
completely in Japanese, I'll be skipping that part of the concept and focusing on just the toys. The line has been out for
some time now. But I recently received a handful of the earlier sets including the samurai, angel, cat and dog themed sets
as well as the Waffebunny accessory kit.
Packaging - Waffebunny 7/10, others 6/10The four full sized kits are packaged in rather large boxes with an extra front flap that is held closed by two pieces of velcro. The boxes don't have a great deal of graphics, opting instead for a single large illustration of the character on the front and each side of the boxes. The back has another large illustration along with the usual legal fine print. When you open the front flap, you get several photos of the figure both with and without the accessories as well as a introduction to the online battle game. There is also a window allowing you to see the actual figure with all of the accessories around them. Before I had seen them, it didn't seem like the packaging for these figures should be all that large, but they attempted to spread out the parts inside to make them more clearly visible. However, the limited size of the window and lack of light in the box means that you don't see much. The packaging is okay, and I would probably appreciate it more if I could actually read the text. But it seems like they tried to make it more impressive than it really needed to be.
The packaging for the Waffebunny accessory kit isn't much better. The box is much more narrow than those of the full kits and the front flap has been removed. There is still a window through which you can see some of the parts, but it is extremely small. They still included several illustrations of the set as well as an actual photo and a list of the parts included. The box for the accessory kit is a little closer to what I would expect for this type of set, but still larger than it really needed to be.
Sculpting - Samurai 4/10, Waffebunny 0/10, others 3/10All four of the Busou Shinki figures I got share the same body, only the heads are different. The Waffebunny set doesn't come with a figure at all. The basic body is all right, but not impressive. There is little attempt to disguise the articulation and detail work is sparse at best. The real difference is the heads. Benio the Samurai's head is proportioned to match the body. Having her hair pulled back into a ponytail fits the theme of the figure well too. The other three figures feature larger heads and more exaggerated features, especially Maochao the cat and Howling the dog. Such large heads with very young features atop a body with adult proportions is an odd combination.
Paint - Samurai 4/10, others 5/10The paint work on the four figures themselves are simple and clean. And for the most part that goes for their accessories as well. The samurai actually has a better paint scheme for the figure itself. The combination of black and white for the outfit as well as the flesh tones give the figure far more visual interest than the others. Unfortunately the samurai is also the only one of the set which suffers from noticeable quality issues as well. The paint work on her accessories is not as clean as it is on all of the other figures including the Waffebunny set. It's not horrible, but on a set such as this they should and the other four sets show that they can do better.
Articulation - samurai 3/10, dog & cat 4/10, plain figures, waffebunny & angel 7/10The basic Busou Shinki figure sport a fairly impressive twenty seven points of articulation:
Accessories - angel 10/10, waffebunny & cat 6/10, dog 5/10, samurai 4/10The accessories is where the Busou Shinki sets really set themselves apart. The waffebunny set in particular has an impressive set of accessories. Of course, the entire set is nothing but accessories. To start with, the set comes with an assortment of extra body parts including a different head and neck, chest panel and legs. There are also pouches to attach to the biceps, forearms and thighs of a figure. They even included a bust to hold the head when not in use. The set includes a replacement set of goggles and a gas mask to use with the included head. There is also a pistol, submachine gun, machine gun and two swords for weapons. There are also an assortment of parts to form different backpacks. And finally there is a mounting bracket and belt so that the figure can use the stands that are included with the regular figure sets. It is a nice set and adds a more modern display option over the other four sets. But it does have at least two notable drawbacks. The first one of course is that without another figure set, it's worthless. And it isn't just the figure itself that you need. The backpack needs one of the parts that is included with each set to connect to the figures. The second is that the set is shown creating a completely black figure on the packaging. But that is only the case if you start with a Busou Shinki figure that is completely black. While the Howling figure is close, it does have flesh toned arms and thighs.
Of the four regular sets, the angel seems to have the best set of accessories. To start with, each of the full sets include an adjustable display stand that attaches to the figure's waist. They also have a small storage area under the base. There are also some replacement body parts. New rings that allow you to attach parts to the biceps, wrists and thighs are included with each figure. There are also three extra pairs of hands included: fists, open and a second pair for holding weapons that don't have the hinge joint. There is also a replacement set of hair in case you prefer your figure to have longer, flowing hair. The set has a few weapons of course. There are two beam swords with removable blades, two smaller guns as well as a very large cannon which is honestly a bit too large for the figure to wield. For armor the set includes new lower legs/thrusters, a new chest plate, and a replacement front hairpiece with a headdress to match the armor. But the real attraction are the parts for the wings. There are multiple parts included so that you can build the wings to suit your tastes, from relatively small to quite large if you include all of the parts and the large thrusters. All together it is a nice set, allowing some flexibility in how you want to equip and display the figure and not completely burying the base figure.
The dog set comes with many of the same parts as the angel set. The stand, replacement rings and spare hands are all the same as those of the angel set. Only the colors differ. There are also a few weapons: two tonfa clubs, two spiked rings and a large cannon. Shaping the cannon like a dog bone is a cute touch as is the removable ammo magazine. They also included a squad five little dogs and four vehicles for them. Though to be honest, the only way to tell they are suppose to be dogs is from the theme of the set. The armor is nice looking with replacement legs, new arms and chest armor, a tail and a head piece. The armor looks great, but since the arms and chest parts are all connected, you are left with an all or nothing proposition. A little more flexibility would have been nice.
The cat set is very similar to the dog set in terms of the parts and designs. They even recycled the little vehicles but with little, HIGHLY stylize kittens instead of dogs. The armor design is similar too. And just like the dog set, the arms and chest armor are all connected so that you can't use just part of them. But the cat set does shape up better in terms of the weapons included. To begin with, the regular cat claws are better articulated so that they actually look dangerous. Then there are several additional weapons including two sets of claws that attach over the paws, a large drill arm that can replace one of the hands and something that looks like a football helmet which can be attached as well. I do wish they had included some weapons for the figure to use without the armor, but I'm satisfied with what we did get.
The samurai set has the most parts and the most flexibility with those parts. But there are also quite a few problems with them. The set includes all of the usual parts of course: extra rings to connect parts, the display stand and extra hands. There is also a fourth set of hands included with this set that matches the samurai armor. For weapons the set includes a long bladed staff, a flint lock style rifle and a pair of swords, one long and one short. The swords were my first disappointment. They included both swords as well as two sheaths, but the swords cannot be stored in the sheaths. To make up for that they also included a pair of sheaths with the sword hilts attached. But that means that you can't switch between displaying the figure with the swords out or sheathed without swapping out parts. At this scale it was a choice between keeping the parts properly scaled with the figure or making the swords removable. But I would have gone the other route. As they are, you can tell the designers favored making this a display piece over being a toy. The armor pieces for the samurai set should be one of its highlights since it is the only set of the five capable of creating two distinct looks. For the partially armored version, there are a pair of replacement legs, a jacket and chest guard, shoulder and forearm guards and skirt armor. This is my preferred version of the figure as it still retains most of the range of motion. The only real drawback is that the skirt armor doesn't fit together as well as the parts for the other sets. The side pieces which hold everything together are hard to fit on and easily fall off. For the full armor version, the jacket is replaced with different armor. The upper arm guards are replaced with large shoulder pads with armor that comes down over the arms. Two covers are added over the upper legs. Several decorative pieces are added to the ends of the skirt armor panels. And the head is replaced with one wearing a helmet. The spare head even has a removable mask and an optional chin guard. The sheer number of options the set gives you is impressive. Unfortunately when the figure is fully decked out, it loses most of its range of motion for the articulation. Fortunately they also included a display stand for the extra head and most of the extra armor if you don't want to use it on the figure. But in the end, it still seems like the samurai set strongly favors sheer quantity of accessories in favor of quality. The issues are bad enough that when I opened this set first, it was enough to make me question whether it was worth bothering with the rest.
Value - angel 6/10, dog & cat 5/10, waffebunny 4/10, samurai 3/10The Busou Shinki sets are not cheap. The regular sets with a figure and all the accessories retail for 3,500 yen or about $30 US. But by the time you pay import prices, they will likely run closer to $40. The Waffebunny accessory set is cheaper. But even it is around $15 to $20. In general they are very nice sets and a nice idea. But they don't quite justify those kind of prices. If you actually understand Japanese and can play the online game, that would probably make a difference.
Happy Hunting:The Busou Shinki figures were originally available only as imports. But the first six figures and the waffebunny set are now available here in the US via Diamond Comics. There are also a few web site such as Big Bad Toy Store which stock them. That's where my figures came from. But the best and cheapest place to find the earlier figures is actually direct from Konami's web site. They seem to be a bit slow to restock, but their prices are the lowest I have seen.