CASTLE IN THE SKY (FINE MOLDS)
Every so often, I like to take a look at a model kit. There’s a lot of cool snap-kits out there, which not only give me the fun of building a model, but I also get to have a fully functioning toy when I’m done with building. That’s one hell of an incentive, for me anyway. I’ve looked at three of these kits so far, all of which have been based on Gundam, a property I’m not super familiar with. So, I was more going for a cool looking toy at the end of the ride, without a whole lot of emotional attachment to any of the figures I was building. Well, today, I’m actually looking at a kit I got for the sole purpose of getting a cool figure of a character I really like, though the figure’s still a little outside of my usual area of expertise. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the Robot Soldier from Castle in the Sky, or as it’s known in Japan, Laputa: Castle in the Sky.
THE FIGURE ITSELF
The Robot Soldier is one of two Castle in the Sky-based model kits from Fine Molds (the other is the Robot Gardener, which is really just this set, but with different arms). The set was released in early 2011, in time for Laputa’s 25th anniversary. The figure is 1/20 scale, so he stands about 7 inches tall and fully assembled, he has 36 points of articulation. The articulation isn’t super flexible; he won’t be getting into many crazy poses beyond standing/walking. The shoulders are quite mobile, but the hips, for instance, don’t do anything but move side-to-side. What’s there is perfectly serviceable, so I can’t really complain. The robots from Castle in the Sky actually have a pretty neat heritage; they were inspired by the robot attackers from the Fleisher Superman serial “Mechanical Monsters,” a serial that would also inspire similar robot designs in Lupin III, Batman: The Animated Series, and the film Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. As the Robot Soldier, he’s officially based on the first of the two main robots we see in the movie. It’s the harsher of the two designs, though it’s mostly just about the arms, which are all spikey here (in the movie, the spikes allow for wings, giving the robot the ability to fly). The sculpt does a pretty great job of capturing the design from the film, and making it look decent in three dimensions. The only real point of inaccuracy is the hips. In the film, they sort of round off into his waist, but on the figure, they end in a fairly straight line. In the figure’s defense, the hips of the robot in the movie are a classic case of cheating the angles. As they are shown in the movie, there’s no practical way for them to work, so they had to be tweaked. One of the best things about this guy’s sculpt is the texture work; the film is cel-animated, so the robots shown therein are mostly devoid of any real texture, just for the sake of easier animation. However, the shading and such of the ‘bots is done in such a way to suggest a slightly rough texture to them, were they to exist in real life. This figure has a nice, ripple-y effect on all of his pieces, barring the visor and neck. This gives the figure a visually intriguing look, and has the added benefit of hiding the imperfections and such caused by breaking the parts of the figure off of their mold trees. Also, it should be noted that, while many snap-kit figures tend to feel light-weight, and of a slightly lower quality than a mass-produced figure. This is not the case with this guy, who is easily the sturdiest kit I’ve put together, and feels not unlike a figure you might buy fully assembled. As with all snap kits, there there’s no paint on this guy. Some kits use stickers to make up for this, but this guy doesn’t, instead letting all the separate pieces be molded in the appropriate colors. This actually works really well, and he doesn’t feel lacking at all. The Robot is packed with a little scale figure of Pazu. He doesn’t have any articulation, and the lack of paint is plain as day here, but it’s cool to have gotten him. One thing I do feel is missing is some sort of an extra attachment to swap out for the lower half of the left arm. The main Robot Soldier we see in the movie is lacking said arm, so being able to showcase this look would have been nice.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
Until the last two years, I had never actually watched a Miyazaki film. This changed when I started dating Super Awesome Girlfriend, who is a huge fan of Miyazaki’s work. Castle in the Sky was the third of Miyazaki’s films I saw, and I fell in love with it immediately. The awesome Robots therein played no small part in this. After seeing the movie, I made an off-hand mention of how I wouldn’t mine owning a figure of one of the Robots. Super Awesome Girlfriend showed just how much she pay attention, and presented me with this kit as a Valentine’s Day gift this year. I then spent an hour or two putting the guy together, with a bit of help from my buddy Tim. This is an awesome figure, and I’m super thrilled to have gotten him. Easily my favorite of the snap-kits I’ve gotten, and just a great figure in general!