Of all series in the last few years, none has quite dominated the figure landscape like K-ON!. Even stalwarts like Evangelion and Lyrical Nanoha pale into insignificance compared to the absolute torrent of merchandise that has been pumped out featuring the five girls of Houkago Tea Time, from dolls to trading figures to figmas to everything you could possibly think of. Where then to start if you want to make yourself a collection? As always, I would recommend Alter’s take on the characters. After having impressed back in our Nanoha Takamachi review, this time round we’ll be looking at their interpretation of the character who puts the ‘ditz’ in ‘loveable ditz’, lead guitarist Yui Hirasawa. (For those of you who haven’t seen the series we’ve got reviews up of all three volumes)
This is a great box. It’s got everything you want – a big window so you can see the figure clearly, plenty of bright colours, a nice sharp picture on the back and a neat and distinctive visual style. I particularly like the use of silhouettes on the front and back rather than just photos, especially considering you can see so much of the figure anyway. It’s a very ‘busy’ design but also quite a classy one and just a great example of good figure packaging.
As I’ve said in previous reviews, I’m not a huge fan of clear bases but this one is a good one. The designs we saw on the box carries over, with the guitar silhouette and the bright red text breaking up the simple circle design, while the curving text at the bottom is nice touch to make the whole base feel a little bit more crafted. Because Yui is in a ‘leaping’ pose there’s also a clear plastic foot stand that plugs into the base via two sturdy friction pegs. Yui herself plugs into this stand, again via two pegs.
Out of the box and on display, and I have to tell you I really love this pose. There’s a terrific energy and sense of movement to it that you don’t get from too many figures. The cocked leg, the outstretched arm, the flying hair all add to the feeling of motion and enthusiasm coming off of the figure, entirely consistent with the character it’s based on. Despite the apparent precariousness of the pose she feels rock solid, with tight pegs and a really strong, quality feel to the construction. As you’d expect from Alter the materials are top notch, all beautifully soft touch plastic and PVC.
Yui is known for being an upbeat, happy-go-lucky character and her enthusiasm has been wonderfully captured in this expression, a shout of joy on her face. It’s difficult to do too much with her shorter, slightly bowlish hairstyle but the sculptor has done a great job here adding some movement by blowing it back across her face. It’s not overt but a nice little touch that helps immeasurably to bring life into the character.
Naturally, anybody who looks at Yui on a shelf will have their eyes immediately drawn to her guitar. Fortunately, it’s more than able to stand up to the scrutiny. The detailing on this thing is absolutely breathtaking from every angle. Although the guitar is explicitly named in the anime as a Gibson Les Paul, there’s no branding here, presumably for copyright reasons. But every other aspect is totally spot on, from the iconic shape to the beautiful cherry sunburst finish, painted with glossy paint to replicate the varnished effect. The guitar is actually strung with extraordinarily thin clear plastic strings, and every little detail has been perfectly captured, from the volume and tone knobs down the bottom, which are made of clear plastic, to the switch at the top which actually has ‘RHYTHM’ and ‘TREBLE’ printed in tiny letters around it.
This shot of the guitar head shows off the minuscule level of detail that has been gone to, as well as letting us take a look at the painting. Simply put, it’s absolutely flawless. I cannot find a line out of place anywhere on the figure. Check out the fretboard lines on the guitar neck – no patches or spills, just a single razor sharp bit of painting. It’d be tough to get more perfect than this. One thing worth pointing out is that the guitar cannot be removed from the figure – it’s physically pegged in, although the join is very well hidden.
Detail abounds from the top of the figure to the bottom. Check out the exquisite detailing on the hand here, with the slightly glossiness on the nails for nail varnish, and the tiny pick clasped between the fingers. Likewise down at the bottom there’s slightly glossy paint used to represent her leather shoes, which themselves are modelled to perfection. This shot also give us a good look at the way the figure pins into the base – simple, but sturdy and easy to detach if need be.
Here’s Yui posed alongside her figma counterpart. Naturally the figma can’t hold a candle to the static in terms of pain or detailing (though it’s a very good toy in its own right I hasten to add!)
Needless to say, I think this is an absolutely wonderful figure. There are criticisms you can make of it – There are no accessories or replaceable parts supplied, the K-ON! uniform design is not the most outstanding in the world – but they pale into insignificance alongside the tremendous quality and craftsmanship on display here. In a sense, the fact that there are hundreds of different K-ON! figures doesn’t even matter – if you want to buy a Yui figure, there’s simply no question it should be this one.