Friday, May 15, 2015

The Good Smile 1/8 scale Ultimate Madoka.

So yeah, I totally ordered Good Smile’s Ultimate Madoka 1/8 scale for Kayla on the sixth.  I wanted it to be a surprise.  I’d signed up for a Mandarake account months ago – when I was this close to grabbing Cyril Brooklyn for myself.

Back then, I stopped short when it came time to fire in my payment info, but on the 6th, I punched it in and finalized the purchase.  I was then immediately taken to a suspicious little page that said it was my credit card company wanting a bunch of additional information to verify my purchase... but the URL looked legit... so I held my breath and plunged in.  I signed up for Extra Super Additional Security or whatever it is, and... finalized the purchase?

Nope.  Error code, unable to make a charge against the card. 

I tried again.  Error code.

Tried again.  Error code.  Oh come on

At this point, my sweetie was complaining from the living room that I was not at her side, prepared to watch a movie with her as promised.  I assured her I’d be there in just a minute, and called my credit card company. 

The lady on the phone walked me through re-signing up for Extra Super Additional Security (which, it turns out, was legit), and told me to attempt the purchase again.
Error code.

She then confirmed the company and the amount, and put me on hold to go have a conversation with their security department.  I went outside, smoked a cigarette, waited... and she told me to try again. 

Purchase confirmed.  We sat down and watched Jupiter Ascending.  It was meh, with very nice special effects.

Now, Mandarake is a major blessing and a minor curse.  The high-end Japanese figure industry is an odd duck.  Often, a figure is only produced to meet its pre-ordered needs, be that through end-use consumers like me, or stores or whathaveyou.  After that initial run?  Poof – they’re gone – and certain figures can command two, three, five times their original price, depending on the rarity, quality and post-release demand.  That’s some event-exclusive Nendoroids that can command over fifty thousand yen on the aftermarket, and why my Selvaria was ¥42,000.

Well, that and the fact that I went through Amazon, and not Mandarake.  Amazon’s prices will always be higher than a dedicated seller like Mandarake or Amiami, but it’s ultra-convenient when you’re in the market for a figure which doesnt have a bootlegged version.

Toy manufacturers in China will almost-instantly reproduce popular figures, sometimes before they’re even released, and the difference can sometimes be profound.  Luckily, Myfigurecollection exists – and for pretty much any Japanese figure in existence, it will be able to tell you whether or not a bootleg exists for it.   You’ll often, even, get pictures of the fake to compare yours to, to confirm it’s the real deal.  It’s a terribly handy resource!

A counterfeit Good Smile Ultimate Madoka.

Now, occasionally, rarely, a particularly popular figure will get a re-print after its initial run – but for the most part, it’s one and done.  If the figure you desire doesn’t suffer a bootleg, you can go through Amazon just for the sake of convenience – there’s no risk of receiving a fake if one doesn’t exist – but when the shadow of a possible bootleg looms over your prospective figure purchase, as one does with the Good Smile 1/8 Ultimate Madoka, you need Amiami or Manda.

Both Amiami and Mandarake sell used figures, and you are essentially guaranteed to receive the genuine article when going through these sites.  Amiami’s preowned section empties almost-instantly when it’s updated, but where Amiami is often your one-stop shop for pre-ordering new figs, all Manda does is preowned.   They always have a massive number of figures in stock, and simply by keeping your eye on the site, the object of your affection will eventually pop up.

While it does have an English version – which certainly helps – Mandarake is a Japanese site, and important stuff (like, say, the unique description of the item you want, and its quality or problems) will always be written in Japanese.  You need to fire it into Google Translate to understand any of it, and any subtleties are lost in the process.  Each will, often, have a disclaimer saying “this thing may be a bit screwed,” because they’re not allowed to say it will absolutely, definitely be perfect.  

Additionally, because it probably isn’t perfect – so you’re paying two hundred bucks for something that may show up broken, with no way to know what, precisely, might be broken.

Still – a probably-perfect but definitely-authentic figure from Manda for a semi-reasonable price is better than a possibly-counterfeit item from the much-more-expensive Amazon – and I knew that, if left to her own devices, Kayla would put in an order on Amazon one day.  Really, I was doing the most responsible thing possible.

Kayla’s Good Smile 1/8 Ultimate Madoka arrived on Wednesday, in a box large enough to comfortably house a pair of standing collies.  I had told her we were picking up the God Eater Alisa Nendoroid I’d ordered (tragically, breaking my own rule of never ordering a fig that didn’t represent a game or anime I love), but once she saw the box it had to be pretty obvious. 

She tells me she kept on trying to squash the little voice in her head calling out “he bought you Madoka!” on the ride home.  I laid into the box with a paring knife, removed the packing, turned around and gave her Madoka’s (colossal) box. 

She cried.  It was awesome. 

The figure is... well, spectacular.  Her dress alone is spectacular.

The look of (adorable) determination on her face as she (SPOILERS!) launches the wish that ends the world is perfect.  Her incredible wings that actually become glass-clear as they join with her shoulders... phenomenal.

She comes with two bows – one that shows off the elegantly organic design of her rose weapon and one that sports the rippling blossom of her reality-shattering power.  It’s really cool – her pink power actually sprouts from the soul gems embedded in the bow, and shards of light sprouting from each bloom of energy suggest the ethereal string she draws to her cheek.

The bows come in two parts, and you join them inside her hand.  She has a helluva grip on her left hand, and that – I suspect – is what caused the previous owner to snap the lower half of the bow. 

I mean, the plain bow is cool and all – but this figure should clearly be permitted the full extent of its awesomeness.  Luckily, the break in the lower half was clean and the seller had included both parts.  After consulting the sage counsel of the FigureGAF crew, I picked up some super glue at a gas station, and joined the halves. 

And here’s Kayla’s Good Smile 1/8 scale Ultimate Madoka.  

I remarked that she really should be on the top shelf. 

Kayle agreed, and has decided to purchase her own Detolf.  We are currently in negotiations on where said Detolf should appear, and I am lobbying strongly for the living room. Books and movies can go anywhere, but a display must be displayed.

I’ll be honest – and this is likely far too much information, but – Kayla procuring herself an army of Nendoroids, and shopping for a Detolf for her figures..?

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