A Vexing Problem and A Look Back at Figure Collecting

Yesterday I was overjoyed when I found out that a company by the name of Kurushima was releasing a Ruri Hoshino figure, and not just any Ruri figure, but one of her before she became a captain. If any of you don’t know who Ruri is, all you have to do is take a look at my banner, gravatar, or any of my profile pics. She has been the unofficial mascot of Nopy’s Blog since its inception and is my favourite character of all time. Unfortunately, the anime she comes from, Martian Successor Nadesico, is from the mid-90′s, so good figures of the younger Ruri are almost non-existent. Most of the ones I’ve seen of her are garage kits from over a decade ago.

With that in mind, it was only natural that I would purchase this figure of Ruri returning from the bakery in a polka dot dress without a second thought, even with the hefty price tag of 14200 yen. However, I am now faced with a dilemma. A day after this figure of Ruri was put up for preorder, another figure showed up on the front pages of my favourite online figure stores.

It figures that they would post the regular edition Ruri first to give time for rabid Ruri fans like me to buy, then hit us again with the limited edition Ruri. This one comes with a pink dress rather than a polka dot dress, a bread bag with a different design, and different coloured shoes and hair bands. As far as I can tell, everything else is the same. I like both the polka dot dress and the pink dress, so my problem is whether to get both or get one.

There are several problems with getting both. First of all, they are both in the highest price range as far as figures go. I have 5 figures in the $100+ range and each of them was purchased after careful consideration. I wouldn’t mind spending that much for 1 figure, but spending double for two figures that are almost identical seems illogical. Secondly, these are cold cast figures. I haven’t owned or even seen a cold cost figure in person before so I don’t know what they’re like, but the general consensus I’ve found online seems to be that they’re not as good as PVC (few, if any, reasons are given). Lastly, these two Ruri figures are from a manufacturer I’d never heard of until yesterday (Kurushima), so I know nothing about their figure quality.

The good point about getting both is that this is a once in a decade opportunity and I won’t be kicking myself later when the one I didn’t get is sold out. According to MFC, there has only been one prepainted figure release of young Ruri in the past decade, the rest have been of her 16-year-old form. If I decide to get one though, my problem then becomes whether to get the polka dot version or the pink dress version. This problem has got me flustered, so if anyone has any insight they can share on cold cast figures, Kurushima, or these two particular figures, I’d be happy to hear them.

All of this thinking over a figure has got me thinking though, what brought me to the point where I’m actually considering spending $300 on a couple pieces of plastic?

Before I started collecting figures, I thought that figure collectors were wackos. I mean c’mon, what kind of person would buy that many “dolls”? That all changed when I bought my first figure at a local anime convention, a 1/8 Haruhi Suzumiya by Max Factory.

When I first opened it, I thought “wow, this looks nice, it’s so detailed,” but then I noticed something was wrong. I’m sure all of you figure collectors can tell right away from the picture above just what it is. I compared my figure with some promo shots I found online and thought that mine looked rather dull. As a complete newbie to figures, I thought that maybe it was like those McDonald’s commercials where they show you a beautiful burger that looks nothing like the sloppy things they actually serve you. I continued thinking that until I saw pictures of the same Haruhi figure that other people had bought and noticed that they looked way better than mine.

It took a while to come to the conclusion that I had been duped. My very first figure was a bootleg. You can see the difference between the bootleg Haruhi and the real Haruhi below.

The fake Haruhi is made out of a harder (more brittle) plastic, has a poor paint job, has her arms in the wrong position, has a face that it too far in, has a red armband pin, and her base is yellowish and uneven. I was impressed with the figure despite all of the obvious flaws, so just imagine how blown-away I was when I got an authentic Haruhi figure a few months later. The amount of detail and the overall quality of a real Haruhi figure was just mind-boggling to someone like me, whose last experience with a plastic model was a $10 Transformer from a department store.

Between the purchase of my fake Haruhi and the arrival of my authentic Haruhi, I had actually gotten another figure. This was around the time when Good Smile Company/Max Factory was starting to see massive growth and they were experimenting with new things, one of which was nendoroids.

With my Haruhi turning out to be a fake, my very first authentic figure turned out to be this Light Yagami nendoroid.

If you look up Light’s nendoroid number, you’ll find that he’s nendoroid number 12, one of the earliest ones. While nendoroids have changed a lot over the years, the thing that drew me to them in the first place still applies today. They’re just soooo cute. Nendoroids now make up over half of my collection.

Haruhi and Light set the precedent for collecting highly detailed and cute figures, but it was another figure that set the amount of money I was willing to spend on each.

Working with the Haruhi craze of 2006-2007, Freeing released massive bunny girl figures of the characters as their first foray into the world of figure manufacturing. I don’t know if it was due to their size or the use of actual mini fish-net stockings, but these things were expensive.

I had no concept of preordering figures at the time and everyone wanted this particular one, so I had to pay quite a bit more for her. Including shipping, I paid $177 for this Haruhi bunny, the most I have ever spent on a figure. I was a bit disappointed with it when I opened the box. First off, there was a scratch on her right bunny ear. It wouldn’t have been too bad if it was a small scratch that could be painted over, but this one was deep. Secondly, there are some very ugly black splotches all over her legs underneath the fish net stockings. I was so upset with this figure that I decided I would never spend this much on a figure again.

That brings me back to the problem I have now. I was hooked on collecting anime figures after seeing how detailed and cute they could be, but do Kurushima’s Ruri figures have the quality and looks to justify their purchase, and should buying two nearly identical figures be considered the same as spending more than $177 on a single figure. Such is the life of a collector… If any of you aren’t figure collectors and are considering starting, make sure you have a LOT of money.

Note: Some of you may have noticed, but this was a test-run with my new camera and a light box I made. Let me know what you think.

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  1. This Ruri figure looks very cute ^_^, but even when considering that you are a huge Ruri fan, buying both for that price would be unneccessary in my opinion, because theres only a color difference.

    Oh, too bad you’ve started with a bootleg, even though it doesn’t look superbad from here only in direct comparison with the real Haruhi figure.

    So far I’ve only paid much money for exclusive figures, Usami Haru from Kotobukiya 150$, Marisa Kirisame from Kotobukiya 120$ and Nendoroid Akihime Sumomo for 80$, I like them, but I wasn’t that satisfied that I would buy the first two figures I’ve mentioned for such a price again.

    seems like your doing fine with your new cam ;)
    The light box you’ve made is a good lightsource
    Fabienne recently posted..Misaka Mikoto swimsuit version by Wave

  2. Haha it’s funny I checked out your blog because I saw a Ruri avy when you commented somewhere and thought “Anybody that likes Ruri-ruri can’t have bad taste lets look!” :p

    She is pretty cute and is actually based on an old design. http://www.1999.co.jp/eng/10041417

    It is a rather large shame that noone seems interested in making young Ruri figures…I own one of the Musashiya ones which isn’t a terrible figure, but I do wish they would stop only making ones of her older self. >_<

    As for Resin I saw your tweet, but I felt like twitter didn't have near enough message space for me to properly articulate the differences between the two types haha.

    I personally don't like resin. Resin is extremely heavy and brittle…This is why Ami-Ami puts a disclaimer on them warning you they may break in the mail because well there is a good chance it will. (Both of mine had breaks and needed manual repairing).

    The cost is also higher, but this doesn't translate into quality depending on who makes it. In general I just tend to avoid them as the increased cost gives absolutely no benefit in general and I much prefer the fall resistance of PVC.

    The only major plus of Resin I guess is it's durability in various climates…Where as PVC can yellow or lose shape (IE Lean) and just generally be more prone to problems as age takes its toll resin is pretty much immune to these issues.

    With that all said though it is a rare loli Ruri figure and if I didn't already have a Ruri I'd be tempted to get her as well. :p

    Shame your first figure was a bootleg though…Glad it didn't deter you from continuing with the hobby!
    Ashlotte recently posted..Double H- Episode 1

  3. Actually that’s a pretty good breakdown between resin and pvc right there. If taken cared of, resin looks better and keeps better. Depending on the type of resin, it’s also easier to mod/fix than PVC. Tho I don’t think the cold cast types are…

    The problem with Ruri is that back 10 years ago is when she was at peak popularity. There were all these garage kits of her. It was all before this mass-produced PVC madness that started in ’05-06 or so which is what most people buy. Now the only real choices are via auctions, or recasts. At least, speaking as someone who has the same problem as you :)

  4. Luckily for me, I never come across the same dilemma due to my one-figure-per-character rule. Because I limit my spending on figures, I don’t want to make my collection too narrow, so I tend to wait around for a version of the character I’m happy with and place my bet with that. I’m still waiting on an Asuka and Rei figure to this day, though.

    With that said, I tend to consider alternate takes on a single character as separate characters (for example the WIM Miku vs. normal Miku), so if I were a Ruri fan, I’d also be all over this loli version. There’s no way I’d sink my money in both versions though, and if you ask me, I’d much prefer the original polka dot version.

    My-oh-my Nopy, we sure have a lot in common — my first figure was the very same bootleg Haruhi! After i got more into figure collecting, I decided that the bootleg was an eyesore and gave it away to a friend. I still wonder if I should get that Max Factory Haruhi one of these days. She’s cheap, she’s a character I love, and she represents the advent of the PVC figure boom. Hmmm, I’ll definitely think about it…

    As for the photos, they bunny and Light shots look great! One suggestions I have it to pull the lights slightly forward and point them towards the figure to make the lighting more even. I say this because I noticed that the light wasn’t reaching the center of the subjects, especially in the schoolgirl Haruhi shots. Other than that, I’m digging the clean & smooth white backdrop. Keep it up! =D
    Chag recently posted..Double H- Episode 1

  5. Not that I could say much about the quality of these figurines you want (as I only got 1 PVC, 1 in Pre-Order and like 30 Nendos^^), but I’d for sure get the limited one. The other one should be fairly available at ebay/MFC/Mandarake if you ever want to have both though ;)

    Other than that I can only say I’d not get the “same” figure twice for myself, but if you really really like the character, why not? (And ofc, if you got the pocketmoney^^)

    I hope you’ll find a convenient solution :)

    KEY

  6. @Fabienne:
    It may be unnecessary, but I’m just worried that I might want both in the future and won’t be able to get them again.

    I actually was impressed with the bootleg, until I actually saw how a real figure was supposed to look like.

    @Ashlotte:
    I’ve seen the older design that these two are based on. It came out before I started collecting figures so I never got the chance to get my hands on it. Musashiya seems to come out with a lot of 16-year-old Ruri figures, but judging from their promo shots, they don’t look too great. The price is also through the roof, which is why I never bought one.

    I didn’t know resin was so fragile that it’d break in the mail, maybe I should ask for extra padding for the one I already ordered. I don’t think I’ll need to worry about having faling figures though. The only figures of mine that do fall are the older nendoroids, which are very top-heavy.

    @omo:
    It sounds like resin is a good thing if I intend to keep a figure for a very long time (and I think I will for this one). I’ve tried searching for those Ruri figures from the 90′s, but they’re impossible to find.

    @Chag:
    I think you’re going to be waiting around for much longer with Asuka and Rei considering how many figures they get.

    The polka dot version seems to be the more popular one, but I’m assuming the limited edition version will be much harder to find once they’re sold out.

    I actually tried to move the lights as far forward as possible, but the “windows” on my light box were cut too far back. I’m going to have to make a few adjustments so that I can change up the lighting for different figures.

    @Key-Fan:
    You make a good point, the limited edition figure will be harder to find in the future. I also do have the money, but it’s more a matter of principle rather than if I can afford both.

  7. Well, yeah^^ I guess I wouldn’t spend hat much on just another colour :/
    Oh btw: I feel pity for you getting a bootleg as your first figure^^ I had more luck with a Shana and L Nendoroid @ ebay. But I got 1 tiny little Nendo of Lucky Star that was a bootleg^^ (and it had to be Akira-chan too :(). But I guess you can’T help it, I had mere luck too, as I didn’t know about the existence of bootlegs anyway^^

    I guess you will tell us soon what you decided on? ^.^interested to know, even though I wouldn’t get both, I’d like to know how you feel after getting both, even though it was against your principles, if you get them ^^

  8. I think you should buy only one. I have a feeling you will regret it if you buy both unless you’re super rich and don’t care about the expenses.
    I’m not sure if you can take my word on this, though. I only have 1 action figure (well, technically, 5 but it’s a set so that counts as one) and they’re bootlegs. Suckaas. I have no experience whatsoever in this area except my practical, please-save-money-unless-you-want-to-end-up-like-me mind.
    But I think, no matter how much we advice you to buy only one, you’ll still buy both if you set your mind into it. I think all collectors are like that. Oh well…to end this in a dramatic note, follow your heart.
    meltedpoo recently posted..Code Geass R2- Ending

  9. The Ruri figures are cute. Yesh! I mean both. However, if I were you, I would only choose one. Probably, I’m purchasing on the logical side, I hope. I don’t like the idea of buying same pose figures, just painted differently. I know how it feels, after making the order and a later version came out. In addition, it’s pink!! Sweeter!! Sigh….

    I’m sorry to hear about your purchase of the bootleg figure. I seriously hate bootleg figures. I don’t even know why they should come out with those bootlegged figures. Why should a collector buy a fake one, rather than a genuine one? The only answer comes to my mind would be “being cheated” and I despise that.

    I hope you won’t get duped anymore. Initially, when I wanted to buy one, I checked every where, every webby and I even asked most people why are they all made in China! Hahaha… no offense but I find it hard to trust since the makers are all from Japan. :)

  10. Ruri figures sure are quite rare to encounter, and it seems like that many characters from anime series before 2000 will don’t tend to get many figures for them unless it’s really popular or that you go for trading figures.

    It’s great to know that there’s finally a Ruri figure out there on PO for you, but the price sure is not pretty (I did hear from somewhere that cold cast figures tend to be expensive), and they’ve made two different versions for you to decide. For something that you have been really looking forward to, that’s quite a headache for sure. It sort of reminds me of finally seeing ALTER’s 1/7 Fate T Harlaown True Sonic form figure and shocked at seeing the price as I’ve never bought hobby-related stuff at a price of 5 digits before that time. And she’s a real space hogger too.

    It appears that figures and many hobby stuff are getting more and more expensive nowadays, and some stuff get a price tag so high that one questions whether the thing is worth that much in the first place. I remember getting some limited anti-aircraft shokugan tank that is the size of a rubber eraser for 50USD, and that I’m getting a figma WRS that has to be bundled with a PSP game for over 10k Yen. Just thinking about how much I will have to pay to get WRS is killing me x_x

    But I think what matters the most is not exactly the price, but how much you value the items you like or want. Just don’t regret it at the end of the day!

    Sorry to hear that you have bad experiences in figure collecting in the past. I hope you’ll get to decide which Ruri you would like to get!
    Q recently posted..Takara Tomy Pentax K-r Gashapon

  11. I understand why you’d want this figure so bad – it’s rare. Since you’ve preordered the one with polka dot dress, why not you keep that order and see if you like the quality of the figure from the said manufacturer and cold cast figures. Then, you decide if you want the one with pink dress. It’s sort of a gamble here since you may not be able to buy the pink dress later.
    Hoshiko recently posted..Expectations in Live Action Films

  12. @Key-Fan:
    I’ll probably decide next week. Something this expensive deserves more time before hitting the buy button.

    @meltedpoo:
    You may be right there, I have been known to go against the advice of everybody else sometimes, but not very often.

    @softwerkz:
    Yeah, trying to decide on one of the figures is killing me, and I don’t really want to buy both. Hopefully a few days thinking about it will help me make a decision.

    I’m also really upset with bootleg figures. Their quality is so low that a collector would never display it, and it seems their only purpose is to trick people into thinking they’re getting an authentic figure before they see it up close.

    @Q:
    I wouldn’t say they’re getting more expensive, but there are a lot more of the higher-end figures so they’re more noticeable now. I actually have the Shin Sonic Form Fate from Alter too. She cost many pretty pennies, but I think she was worth it. I am a bit worried that I might not like either of these Ruri’s as much as I’d like to, which is why I’m hesitant about buying both.

    @Hoshiko:
    I’m thinking the pink dress version will sell out long before I even get the polka dot dress version and examine it. That’s another one of the things that’s bugging me.

  13. The perils of figure collecting. When the first Ruri popped up on amiami I knew you’d get her. Then the second one popped up and I thought poor Nopy. Both look nice, but I’m swaying more towards the original polka dot version.

    I own a pair of alternate colour figures – the green and red versions of Queen’s Blade Alleyne. I’d say she’s worth having in both forms and I’m glad I own both. But then I had the original long before I got her alternate colour version, so I knew the quality and what to expect. If you’re willing to take the risk go for both, otherwise go for the one you like more since she is rather expensive to gamble on.

  14. @BioToxic:
    Haha, I guess you know me very well :)

    My hope right now is that the pink dress version doesn’t sell out before the polka dot version I already ordered arrives. That way I can see the quality and decide whether it’s worth it to get the pink one. I’m keeping a close eye on the status of preorders for Ruri.

  15. I wanted to read and reply to this a while ago but didn’t have the time until now.

    When I saw that Ruri figure up for preorder I immediately thought of you. I too was a fan of Ruri back then, and really wanted that prepainted on (you’re talking about the vinyl one with the drama CD, right?)

    I can understand your dilemma. I suppose the answer to your question really lies in the question I ask you – “Why do you buy?”. I talk about it on my blog if you haven’t those articles yet.

    http://radiantdreamer.net/2010/11/17/heaven-or-hell-capitalists-and-zombies/

    http://radiantdreamer.net/2010/09/09/why-do-you-buy/

    In terms of the properties between PVC and Polystone, I wrote an article a long while ago describing the different properties of different plastics:

    http://radiantdreamer.net/2008/02/25/differences-in-plastics-abs-pvc-vinyl-resin-polystone-oh-my/

    And also, if you want to know the true quality of polystone, here’s a figure review I did of a polystone figure:

    http://radiantdreamer.net/2008/05/07/black-lagoon-revy-16-polystone/

    If you want my honest opinion on whether to get two different Ruri figures, then I can say that you should get both if you feel you might regret not getting the other. It really is a once in a decade kind of purchase here. You and I both know the odds of another Ruri figure coming out anytime soon. If quality is really a concern, do your research. There MUST be some info on who these guys are, their track record, or ANYTHING. If you really care to find out, I’m sure you’ll be able to.

    Cheers!
    radiant recently posted..Boomslank Contest Results Are IN!!

  16. Hmm, that’s quite a figure collector’s dilemma you have there. ^^; I say you buy both if you have the money, so you won’t have regrets later. But that’s just me. I’m sure you’ll know what to do after giving it a bit more thought.

    The bootleg fig that you got is a bit more decent than the ones that we have here in Manila. It’s easier to identify them because they look really awful.
    Xine recently posted..Hyakka Ryoran’s Naoe Kanetsugu

  17. Aw you paid $177 for her? I’m so sorry, and here I was being grumpy about paying $100. I don’t regret her at $100, I really like my FREEing Haruhi set. BUT when it comes to repaints I pick one, I have so little shelf space available why the heck would I want the exact character/pose twice? I’ve only bought doubles once and I regretted it. The most I’ve ever spent on a figure…my Revy from New Line was about $150…but I think she was worth every penny. BUT this is coming from someone who just spent $600 on a Beatrice Dollfie Dream so…ya…
    lovelyduckie recently posted..On Order- Arms- Mullets- Horror- and Cats

  18. @radiant:
    I remember those first two articles. Now it’s just a matter of how badly I want something and if I’m willing to give up the cash for it, I’m like a pack rat, gotta get more stuff :)

    I haven’t seen your plastics post before, but that helped explain some things. Having no seamlines would be a nice thing.

    As for whether I’ll get both Ruri’s, I’m still undecided. It is a once in a decade chance, but if I don’t like it, then there really is no point.

    @Xine:
    If that bootleg looks decent, I can’t imagine how bad the ones in Manila look.

    @lovelyduckie:
    I ordered her well after she was released, so that’s why I ended up paying a higher price. I haven’t really thought about shelf space yet, guess that’s another thing to consider before I decide to get both or not.

    @abscissa:
    That seems to be the consensus so far. Sometimes I think I’d be better off if I didn’t have any money to spend on figures.

  19. I dropped 250 USD for a Macross Quarter Mech so I can understand why you are having a dilemma on spending a lot of cash on basically 2 of the same item =P I am with the consensus though, I really heart the poka-dots.

    If I knew where this ‘Kurushima’ was located, I wouldn’t mind slamming into their offices and see them first hand. *Currently in Utsunomiya for work*
    Tuan recently posted..Japan Earthquake

  20. @Tuan:
    I think both look good, but everyone likes the polka dots. If I lived in Japan, I’d probably try to hunt down their offices too.

  21. Whenever I see Ruri around, like in random images, I always just think, “it’s Nopy’s girl.”

    Getting hooked on figure collecting can be quite an expensive hobby. The only reason I haven’t bought figures in a while is because I’ve been moving around and there just isn’t room to carry too many with me.

    Anyways, I wouldn’t get both… I don’t have that much spending money. But it’s hard to decide which one I’d take. I like the pink color in the lower one, but I also like the polka dots for her more refreshing outfit.

    Gosh…. $177 for Haruhi! That’s quite an expense. Granted she is super sexy in that bunny outfit, but flaws and cost…

    (p.s. It’s good to hear how you got so into figure collecting. ^ ^)
    Yi recently posted..A Touch of Battle Girls – Textures in Sengoku Otome

  22. @Yi:
    Haha, I think it’s because most people aren’t old enough to have seen Nadesico that I just happen to be the only one to use her as an avatar.

    I had to put off figure collecting for several months because I was moving around, so I know how problematic it can be. Now that I’m going to be staying here permanently, I’ve been ordering more figures.

  23. Ouch, they really know how to hit us where it hurts. Exclusives and repaints of favorite characters are always the tough ones to make the decision for. I’ve actually blown in the $300+ range on a pair of Shinkis that need reviewing yet… so I understand how poisonous the hobby can be. I’m not made of money but somehow when I want them bad enough I usually (not always) end up getting them. I have been holding back on buying a LOT of figures recently though, and that helps with buying those must gets that pop up.

  24. @Persocom:
    It sounds like you’ve gone through the same situation. I guess I should try holding back on some figures now, that way I can spend more on a figure I really want too.

  25. @dreaming Artemis:
    Haha, it actually is both. I ended up preordered both of them in the end. I hope they turn out to be relatively good quality.

  26. Wow, this are very very cute collection I think this are very very expensive dolls to just let the kids play with it. I think this are good for collection purposes only…

  27. A fascinating story, especially in the bootleg section, which I can sympathise with.

    I’ve been lucky with bootlegs, as my first (and luckily, only) was purchased 3 years after I began collecting figures. Even then after so much knowledge about the market too stupid not to see the telltale signs (random, non-reputable seller, no official seal on box, box print looked a bit wrong and no receipt given after purchase. Pricing was also cheaper than that of the going price in Japan). I still remember the disappointment when I actually opened the box to see the poor craftsmanship…

    Never again – but there’s always a first time to ‘warn’ us, I guess. I still see bootleg figures now and again on sale at anime cons – or at least those who are lax on who can set up stalls. Hyper Japan only allowed reputable sellers, which was refreshing.

    Still, that one bootleg left a horrible taste in my mouth…

  28. @sporkhead:
    Sometimes the desire to own a certain figure clouds your judgement. I learned my lesson after that first Haruhi figure. Most of my figures are from online retailers that I trust, but if I do buy a figure from a physical store, I make sure to take a good look at it first, especially at anime conventions.

  29. Agreed – same here. I’m extra careful now, and the community over at myfigurecollection are usually very good at reporting/photographing bootlegs and such. Luckily stuff from the likes of Alter is so high quality (like some of their recent Nanoha figures) that they can’t be counterfeited, too, which is always a bonus for that feeling of security!