Saturday, June 7, 2014

Free! Makoto Tachibana Garage Kit by DAVYACE

Free! Makoto Tachibana Garage Kit by DAVYACE
Welcome to a new side of anime/manga figure collecting :) In contrast to the professionally mass-produced figures, there is this lesser known category called "garage kit". Historically, garage kit is fan-made figurines built at their own garage or workshop. Garage kits are typically made by fans for "obscure" characters or series that no professional manufacturer will ever make, characters whose present mass-produced figurines are not up to fans expectations, or for poses that copyright holders will not approve for mass production i.e female characters in pornographic acts. They typically come in several parts which require assembly (with super glue) and painting although nowadays, there are more and more pre-painted garage kits to cater to fans who have no painting skill (like me) and just would like to enjoy the figurine.

ALTAiR is making a PVC-figure of Makoto scheduled for release this September. The reason why I still bought this garage kit is: exposed body. Free! is an anime about swimming so it is kinda overwhelming to make a figure of Makoto wearing a jacket and folding his arms. I am pretty sure ALTAiR makes this pose to avoid a big hoo-haa regarding nipples. Japanese anime characters are drawn without nipples. Exposing his chest without making any nipples will mean staying true to the anime character design but there will be people who want a bit more realism i.e humans have nipples. So yes, the nipples in this garage kit make the figure stands out from tonnes of nipple-less male figurines in the market.

It is a new experience to "hunt" for this item as it is not something available in normal anime shops. The circle which produces this (DAVYACE) has a facebook page and after scrolling down to find the post in February, I found its blog and its contact email. The price is NT$ 2300 (USD 80) for the painted version and NT$ 1700 (USD 60) for the unpainted version. I bought the painted version and the shipping fee from Taiwan cost additional USD 10. Unfortunately, mine is imperfect and to make things worse, it arrived damaged too. I bought the 2nd last piece and by the time I got the item, the painted version was sold out. No replacement part can be obtained and I had to be satisfied with 50% refund.

Moving on to the figure itself, Makoto is standing at about 24cm tall. His pose is rather plain and boring. His face, although spot-on, looks very tired. The sculpt is great and I am not only referring to the muscles but also the bones and even the little details like the fingers and toes. The proportion of his body is rather awkward as he is rather scrawny for a swimmer. His arms and back are not muscular enough to depict someone who swims backstroke. I know Japanese guys in anime are usually scrawny but even in the anime, Makoto is the most muscular among the rest.

I have written long enough so just enjoy the picture now.
He is not standing straight because of the damage and imperfection on his left foot. I will explain why later after some close-ups.
Torso.. something is not quite "right" with the hip bone which makes his body weird
Isn't he quite big down there?
Not enough musculature of the back for a backstroke swimmer
The butt is too "flat" but you can see that it is well sculpted
Details for the toes are great
So are the details for the hair
It is time to discuss about the imperfections now. Since I bought the painted version, everything was supposed to be glued together except for the head and the goggles to give the options to display with or without goggles. The separated head also allows slight movement of the head. However, when I opened the parcel, the upper and lower body parts are separated. This is a minor issue as I can glue them together quite easily. The feet were inserted and glued to the legs and unfortunately, the left foot broke and it is almost impossible to fix this to perfection :(
This is what I got
They need a stronger super glue -_-"
Haiz.. I rather the glue came off rather than the foot broke :(
Notice a bit of chipping on the neck
 Showing how his head can turn sideways
 Slight chipping on the heel
The foot problem does not end here. After inserting the peg to the hole at the base, the foot does not rest flat on the base! So unlucky that the peg is at the same foot which broke and had to be glued together. Because of these foot problems, I don't dare to display the figurine for the fear of it toppling down :(
No, I can't (and don't dare) to force it to rest flat on the base as it may damage the foot further
I guess I will stay away from garage kits and stick to official merchandises as I am pretty disappointed with this: chipping, imperfections, and poor packaging which makes it impossible for me to display and enjoy this figurine.

And as a bonus, let the 2 shirtless boys stand side-by-side as a comparison. And yes, Kaworu, you really need to eat more. Haha..

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