Friday, August 16, 2013

Figma Hatsune Miku Append Ver. Part 1

Figma No. 100

Cutie of the month, and one that is very meaningful in its product series. ^^

The third Figma review this year after Mari Illustrious Makinami and R. Dorothy Wayneright, this is Figma Hatsune Miku Append Ver. ^^ Released in September 2011, she is No. 100 in that action figure series. ^^

While being the 100th Figma release is indeed quite significant for this action figure, this version of Hatsune Miku is actually an updated design of the character herself, as I found out from reading about the character design before writing up this review. ^^ Being unfamiliar with the entire "backstory" of the character, I used to believe that this Append version was a new design created just for this merchandise. ^^; As it turns out, she is actually linked to Vocaloid2, the successor to the original Vocaloid synthesizer program developed by Yamaha. The connection isn't direct: Vocaloid2 was released in June 2007, three years after the first version. The Append expansion pack, which featured this design version of Hatsune Miku on its front cover (see image on the right, image is from eBay) was released in April 2010 by a separate company called Crypton Future Media. The expansion pack gives Miku in Vocaloid2 six additional voicebanks to create a wider range of rendering possibilities based off the character's voice in that software. Demo songs created using the six voicebanks can be listened to on Crypton Future Media's dedicated page for Hatsune Miku Append.

Apart from getting to know her origin story, reading up about the connection between the character design and the different software was very helpful to me in understanding the meaning of her version name of "Append" as well. ^^ However, I do find it a bit surprising that it took Max Factory and Good Smile Company more than a year after the release of the Append expansion pack to "begin" realizing the title version of Miku into character merchandises, which began with this Figma figure (September 2011 release), then a fixed figurine version from Max Factory (November 2011 release), and the Nendoroid figure by Good Smile Company (January 2012 release). ^^

More information about the universe of Vocaloid can be seen on its dedicated Wiki site.

Speaking of the three character merchandises mentioned above, each of them seems to come with at least one "character merchandise-only" part not available on the original box cover of Miku Append, which is the only official illustration of the character I think. ^^ Being the first out of the three releases, this Figma version features the "non-Append" costume design, a "tail" to add to the Append form, a more "conventional" anime look for Miku through one of the face expression parts and another face part with a mature look. As it was shown as one of the illustrations in the gallery page of the official site, the mature look could very well be part of Miku Append's official character image as well, especially when it was then featured on Max Factory's fixed figurine. A lighting base included with the figurine was then inherited by Good Smile Company's Nendoroid release, in deformed scale of course.

As mentioned before, I think the "floating" Miku with her eyes closed and pigtails curling upward (called the "awakening" pose) shown on the front cover of the expansion pack is the only official illustration of the character in this design version. The Figma, fixed figurine and Nendoroid versions all come with parts to realize that pose, but there are more to that in each of them obviously. It would be mighty boring if the "awakening" pose is all that the Figma and Nendoroid figures could do. ^^; Understandably, the extra elements are for merchandising purpose, especially to folks who didn't know about the expansion pack (like me ^^;).

For me, I'm not really into the "awakening" pose, even after reading up on the character's backstory. Instead, I really like the gradient paint work on the figure and the semi-translucent look of her pigtails. ^^ All of that coupled with the "conventional" anime look of Miku, it's a very cute Figma figure. ^^ The same reasons prompted me to pick up the Nendoroid release as well. ^^

(Left) Product label and character name.
(Right) As with the character name shown in the right image, the product numbering of 100 is also in shiny silver. ^^

Except for her option hand units and Figma stand, all of Miku's accessories can be seen through the front window.

Typical Figma design on all sides of the box.

Introduction of the figure on the back of the box.

Miku's box is of same size as that of KOS-MOS Ver. 4.

Comparison with the box of the Nendoroid version.

While the figures are obviously different, you can see the close similarity in terms of the colors used and even some of the figures' poses. ^^

Box open.

Text-based instruction on how to swap out the figure's face part printed on one of box's ears.

Front view of the package content.

Front view of the package content without the silver backdrop.

Closer look at the content.

Package content without the top cover.

Rear view of the package content.

Closer look at the content.

A small black wrapper that holds a secret item is taped to the top side of the plastic tray. ^^

A plain foil backdrop that is a lot shinier than the one included with S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Kiva Emperor Form reviewed not too long ago. ^^

The cover skin cutout section intended for di:stage display base.
The series name in elegant font face with flowery patterns around it is identical to the expansion pack's label on the official site. ^^

An instruction sheet showing the Append form's configuration is included.

Straight out of box display of Miku. ^^

Minus the protective wrappers currently on the figure, the straight-out-of-box display of Miku pretty much shows the "formal" pose of the figure, as depicted on the back of the box. ^^ The only thing missing is the display stand. ^^;

More images of Miku coming up in the next posting. ^^

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