FLCL, or Fooly Cooly for those in the habit of using vowels in their words, is an off beat,
humorous anime series about a young boy named Naota whose boring life is suddenly turned
on its head when he is run over by a strange woman on a vespa scooter. Throw in an assortment
of robots that pop out of Naota's skull and a hefty serving of rock & roll and you get
FLCL. And fortunately, we also get figures. Xebec Toys, a Japanese company has produced three
figures from the series: Haruhala Haruko and Kanchi (one of the first robots to come out of Naota's
head) in both his complete form and a damaged, blue form. And thanks to Diamond Distributors,
Haru and Kanchi are available here in the states and up for review here.
Packaging - 6/10Xebec did a nice job designing the blister and card but I don't think it works as well here in the US as it would in Japan. The blister itself is shaped much like a Starfleet symbol from Star Trek, an egg shaped oval with two protrusions on either side at the bottom. The letters "FLCL" are embossed across the blister. There is also a small blister attached to the upper left with the Japanese characters for "FLCL." The card itself is an odd mix of artistic styles that manages to mirror the unusual and rapidly changing style of the show. The front of the card has a background of orange and blue. But rather than solid colors, the card is covered with white dots. It seems to be trying to create the feel of looking at a magnified television image, which it does nicely. Haru's card is orange with blue behind the blister and small blister with the logo. The Japanese characters for "FLCL" are printed on the card behind the small blister while "FLCL" is printed in large letters behind the figure. The character's name is printed in Japanese and english characters on the upper right of the card. The final touch is a line art drawing of the character across the card. Kanchi's card follows the same pattern but reverses the colors, with blue used as the primary color and orange behind the blisters. The back of the cards have multiple images of the figures in various poses on the same blue or orange backgrounds with more line art drawings. Each figure also includes a picture of the other on the lower right corner of the card. Compared to most US released figures, the packaging seems short on text. But since it would likely be in Japanese if there were more text, it's not much of a lose.
Sculpting - Kanchi 7/10, Haru 3/10Kanchi looks dead on. The head sculpt, or view screen sculpt as the case may be, looks great and is sculpted at a slight downward angle just like the character is often shown in the show. The limbs have the same long slender look of the show. The biggest problem with the sculpt is not one of appearance, but execution. The head is a solid piece which makes the figure extremely top heavy.
Haru is decent sculpt, but only a mediocre representation of the Haru character. And the flaws are in fairly major areas. The head sculpt is very good. But unfortunately the sculpt is of a very serious and subdued Haru. While there are various points in the show where the character acted this way, the majority of the time, she was a very high energy character. Heck, she was a whole cast of high energy characters. They even included a second head sculpt, but it is actually the same sculpt with different hair and a pair of goggles. The body and arms capture are dead on. But the legs and feet need work. The legs are sculpted in slightly outward making it difficult to get the feet to rest flat on the ground. And the feet themselves make the situation much worse. They are sculpted with a curve to them. The curve makes getting the figure to stand on its own nearly impossible.
Paint - 5/10Kanchi doesn't have many paint applications. The figure is cast in red plastic which is the majority of the figure. The other colors used are not quite perfect, but reasonably well done. But the panel lines aren't quite as well done. In the areas where the dark panel lines are in depressions in the sculpt they turned out well. But there are some that were done freehand and aren't quite straight nor are they a consistent thickness. Haru's paint is terrific. But they didn't include the patches and stickers on either her jacket, her guitar or even the scooter. Much like the head sculpt, the lack of the decals cause the figure to lose some of Haru's unique character.
Articulation - Kanchi 6/10, Haru 2/10Kanchi has an impressive twenty-one points of articulation. The ankles are double jointed. the knees are hinged. The hips both rotate and there is a hinge in each. The waist rotates just under the torso, but only 45 degrees or less. And there is a hinge there as well. The neck rotates. The shoulders rotate and have a hinge to allow the arms some movement up or down. The elbows are hinged and the wrists rotate. The articulation is nicely hidden in the sculpt and for the most part, very functional. The one exception is the ankles. They do not have enough range of motion to allow them to adjust the feet properly. the result is that the figure usually has to be posed with the feet slightly in front of the figure which makes it prone to tipping backwards. It should also be noted that the arms can pop off at the shoulders quite easily but go back on just as easily.
Haru has seventeen points of articulation. The ankles rotate as does the leg just above the knee. The knees are hinged. The hips rotate. The are hinged to be able to move front to back under the jacket as well as rotating. The arms rotate along the biceps. The elbows are actually rotating joints cut on a 45 degree angle. The head is on a ball joint. I think the wrists are also supposed to rotate, but I have been unable to get them to move without risking breaking the hands off entirely. But in the end, only a handful of those joints can actually be used to any effect. The ankles can be rotated, but don't look right in any position other than straight ahead. The knee and thigh joints work well, but don't add any additional possibilities for poses due to the restrictions on the other joints. The hips are the same story. The bottom of the coat restricts the movement of the legs beyond about 45 degrees. The neck joint is fine. The arms are the biggest let down. They are molded out of softer plastic which tends to warp easily. The result being that the arms tend to pop off before they can be positioned. And the three cut joints wouldn't provide the range of motion that the figure should have. To me, The figure should be able to hold her guitar in a natural, guitar playing pose.
Accessories - Kanchi 2/10, Haru 7/10Kanchi is quite light on accessories, just one extra right hand in a pointing pose. Haruko comes packed with accessories by comparison. The biggest accessory is her Vespa scooter. She also comes with a guitar case, guitar, straps for both, a second head and a removable scarf. All of her accessories look great, but fall short on functionality. The Vespa for instance has the handlebars and front wheel that will steer and a working kick stand. But for some reason they didn't give it free rolling wheels. The kick stand is strong enough to support the scooter, but not the figure as well. The guitar case is probably the best accessory since the strap fits and allows the case to be placed on the figure's back. The guitar strap on the other hand will not fit. the peg on the top of the body of the guitar is just too big for the strap.
Value - Haruko 3/10, Kanchi 4/10The prices on these sets varies quite a bit depending on the store, anywhere from $15 to $20 or more. Kanchi is a much better figure than Haruko but at those prices is only going to appeal to fans of the license. Haruko would score a zero for value if not for the number of accessories. But even still, it doesn't really justify the price.
Happy Hunting:These were imported via Diamond Comic Distribution, which means they were available to any comic shop that ordered them. Depending on your local comic shop, or lack of one, that may be the best place to start. I found Haru at Suncoast and Kanchi at Walden Books several weeks ago. So they are still slowly making their way to the market even now.