Saturday, May 24, 2014

Review: Armor Girls Project Charlotte Dunois x Rafale Revive Custom II

Figure Information
Manufacturer: Bandai
Origin Series: Infinite Stratos
Scale: Non-scale
Height: Approximately 13cm tall (Base)
Approximately 20cm tall (With I.S.)
Original Price: 8,925 Yen


Charlotte is my first AGP in the collection simply because of reasons that she's my fave in the series and that no other AGP releases prior to her was attractive to me but anyway, going to the packaging, I believe it's a standard design for the IS line for those who came with their I.S. as sets (since there are school uniform releases). The box design features a windowless front feature a shot of the character equipped with her IS and an anime art of the character in school uniform at the side, and I really wished they put on a window there so buyer's can easily check the package for immediate defects like doubles and whatnot. 

The sides of the box features different poses of Charlotte in her IS, while the back remains your typical back showcasing the key features of the figure.

And that ends the packaging section, but anyway, this review will be longer than usual as I've separated your usual articulated sections into two, the first part featuring just the base body, and the next part featuring when Charlotte is finally equipped with her I.S.

Details - Base Body:

Charlotte's base body in this figure set is that of their I.S. suit which looks like swimsuits with stockings really haha. While I think bandai did an okay work on capturing Charlotte's face and hair, the overall quality of the head looks poor as the hair details look rough and that Charlotte's mouth isn't even clearly visible at certain angles and light settings; this is something AGP's been a little notorious at especially for their Strike Witches line.

There isn't much detail on the suit but at least notable details are all there such as the orange linings, the white details and oh, her snickers look nice from afar; it's like the most detail part of the base body so, it's worth the mention. Again, if you inspect the photos carefully by clicking on them, you'll see that the details are mostly roughly made, something very disappointing as AGP base bodies are technically S.H.Figuarts in engineering and frame but the quality control definitely is very different from each other making me wonder why that's the case.

Accessories - Base Body:

As far as accessories goes with Charuru, you get a total of 4 pairs of hands and 3 faces; the faces are divided into a default poker face, an angry face and a winking face (seen in the photo above) while the hand sets are divided into fists, pointing hands, chopping hands and open hands.

Articulation Points - Base Body:

Being an SHF female frame, Charlotte retains most of its promiment features as her base body have very decent range of articulation throughout her joints. Starting off with the head, Charlotte's got a nice range with her neck as the looking upwards emulates a very good flex while downwards is just okay, sideways are as great but her hair's tail might prove some problems with going full exorcist on her haha.

Her arms rotate on a full 360 via the shoulder joints and can be raised sideways to almost a 90 since her skin prevents a full 90 degree raise. Elbow articulation retains that much satisfying figuarts bend. Each connecting point can also swivel on their own.

The torso has a joint but it's so stiff I don't even count it as one but anyway, going to the hips, her frame is similar to the older cures where you can't pull the legs to allow a higher kick and as for the hip joints themselves, you get little sideways split capability but has a slightly better split for forwards and backwards. Her knees can bent to around 90 so it's good already. Because every joint of the leg are almost an exact fit, you can rely on their swivel options so most of the leg swivel relies on her knee joints.

Charlotte's ankles are poorly articulated as all you can do is swivel them; the hinge is almost non existent as Charlotte suffers from the same syndrome as the OOO ankles except her's is much worse.

Poseability - Base Body:

Playing around with just Charlotte is fun as she's your typical cute girl so posing her around while switching out her hands and face was pretty enjoyable.

Because she's not given any accessories, there's only a limited amount of poses you can pull off as dynamic poses aren't that much doable due to her legs' limitations in articulation.

But fear not, as what's great with AGP IS is that they actually allow you to recreate the semi-transformed state wherein their arms becomes equipped with the I.S.'s arm armor.

This allows you to give Charlotte some in-character action poses as Charlotte was never shown to be one who excels in physical combat. While I've yet to discuss the I.S.'s articulation, Charlotte can indeed handle the weight of an arm which is a pretty neat feature.

Playwise, I've really enjoyed the base body despite the gripes I have on it.

Details - I.S.:

Now the real deal of the set is when you finally combine Charlotte with her personal I.S., Rafale Revive Custom II. Combining it isn't a tedious task so that's a plus. Armored up and all, Charlotte finally loses that image of being a roughly made figure since it really looks like all of the budget was put into the I.S. as the details on the armors are definitely spot on as opposed to the quality of the base body.

Now to the problematic parts of being in the combined state, Charlotte's I.S. is quite unique for having the armor piercer on her left arm but this does give major problems to the figure, the sheer weight makes it harder to use her shoulder joints and that the arm armors doesn't have a locking feature so, during play, the left arm has a big tendency to detach on its own.

And my major gripe, the only way for the wings to attach on Charlotte's armor is via a clear plastic that clips to the back of the I.S. armor, now, clear plastic is notorious for breaking easily. And the way the wings clip on the back isn't very secure, it's far from being tight actually and this does make the clip be displaced on its proper way of attachment. While nothing bad has happened to my piece so far, the displacement happened alot during my shoot with Charlotte, which, to my fear, might stress the plastic and lead to its breakage if it frequently happens, so do take care if you are planning on getting this for play.

Accessories - I.S.:

The real meat and potatoes of this set's accessory count is for the I.S.; despite my complaints on weight, Bandai and Tamashii Nations actually was aware of it and they provided you with optional supports to help cope with the armor piercer's weight, and to top it off, they even provide you with a tamashii stage act mechanic.

For the actual accessories, the I.S. unit comes with a total of 5 pairs of hands (knife gripping hands, gun gripping hands, 2 variants of open arms and fists); additionally, she comes with her knife, the bread slicer, and three guns: the vent (rifle/purple gun), the Rain of Saturday (shotgun/light blue gun) and the Garm (sub machine gun/green gun).

Articulation Points - I.S.:

The only points retained from the base body would be the neck, shoulders and hips (though switching to I.S. mode actually lets you use a different set of waist + hips). Her head is actually limited due to the her hair's tail clashing with the wings, and this takes a lot of fiddling before you can get her head to a position you want. The arms on the other hand can now only go as much as raising them to 90 degrees due to the shoulders pads hindering the full movement and actually getting the shoulder joints to move is very tedious. The hips thankfully retains its ease of use as with the base body.

Going to the new I.S. arms, the elbow joint maintains a good range of bending and swivel point but again, as stated in the details section, they don't have a proper lock unlike the legs, so, they tend to detach when you're trying to pose it around.

The legs actually was the easiest part to move as every joint comes out naturally as the knees can allow you to bend to a decent 90 degrees while the ankles works wonders which is very reminiscent of the old die cast SHF Rider ankles which is a combination of swivel and hinge points that allow you to tilt the ankles to properly assist certain poses and maintain balance.

The wings are also easy to move as each wing is attached to a hinge that swivels on their connection points and that the upper wings has an additional jointed part so you can really pose the wings in many possible ways.

Poseability - I.S.:

Posing Charlotte with Rafale Revive certainly wasn't an easy task but it is good to know that despite the weight problems, she still can pull off pretty dynamic poses though effort and patience are needed to pull them off properly.

Had tamashii nations actually made a way to lock the arms, the I.S. mode would've been a lot easier to pose around but still, given the right combination of face + hands + accessories, Charlotte is definitely a satisfying articulated figure.

The best part is that you won't actually notice the extra limitations on the shoulders since guns doesn't require extreme arm movement and the knife would just need a decent elbow bending and you're good to go. The fact that the wings are very moveable also helps add to the dynamism of certain poses.

Final Thoughts:

Being my first experience on an actual A.G.P. figure, Charlotte was definitely somewhere between excellent and poor; she does have a lot of issues but she certainly isn't a bad articulated figure either. As a matter of fact, I find it satisfying (except when the arms detach). If you are indeed planning on getting one of the I.S. sets, I believe the best would be Houki since she doesn't look like she'll have weight problems, but keep in mind though; personally, I feel the I.S. sets are more of display pieces rather than something you'll play with as Charlotte definitely looks good as a display piece when her I.S. has been equipped. Though for her price point, I really did wish Bandai did put more effort on making the base body look better.

Would I recommend it? If you're a Charlotte Dunois fan like me and has the spending power to do so, then by all means go ahead, she's okay at the very least. But for those who just want an armored female on their collection, I don't think this line's for you. Budget tight collectors who want a display piece feature the girls' personal I.S.s can also consider picking these ones as well. And before I go, I got this piece last year from my good friends at Onegai Onii-chan!

I give the adorable France representative a 3.5 out of 5.

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