Anime Central 2014: figure and toy highlights

ACen isn’t a big event for figure manufacturers, which is understandable because it takes place in Chicago and apparently nobody likes traveling to Chicago. Last year, Good Smile Company brought along some prototypes and recent reveals from Japan (mostly Winter Wonder Festival reveals if I recall). This year, GSC did show up again but didn’t have any new figures – most of their showcase had been released already. So in terms of news coverage, there wasn’t much to do – still I found a few interesting items here and there.

Good Smile Company

The new Nendoroid Snow Miku is a great-looking set, but I think I still prefer last year’s design. The figma version is a little more ordinary looking, although her shy expression is pretty cute. My favorite poseable figures on display were the Kuroko Shirai and Mikoto Misaka Nendoroids. I imagine the appeal would be diminished if you’re not a fail of Railgun, but I love those two.

GSC had some impressive (albeit old-ish) scale figures too. The best ones there were the 1/8 Insane Black Rock Shooter and the 1/10 Belldandy/Holy Bell set by Max Factory. The latter was surprisingly small. I mean yeah it’s 1/10 but the sculpt and pose make it seem like it should be bigger. It’s the fine detail that makes the figure seem small – still beats a Beach Queen though. As for Insane BRS, that’s just a great looking figure.

Media Blasters

Media Blasters doesn’t make figures, but their booth had an assortment of customs. I’m starting to think maybe I should have bought some. I don’t know how much work went into them, but they were pretty creative and well done. It looked like the customization process left some of the figures in not-very-good shape, though. They looked impressive for anime con purposes, but I don’t know how much they’d hold up in a home display.

Still, these were cool to look at. A lot of them involved kitbashing, custom paint jobs, and really elaborate display bases. The one that stole the show for me was the custom Yomiko Readman. It features paper wings made from pages of the manga, and the whole figure was rising out of a model of a bound manga volume. It’s a great concept and perfect for the character, but again I wonder if the customization process left the Yomiko figure a bit worse for wear.

Tasty Peach Studios

I don’t do any plush coverage here, but I’ve dabbled a bit at Tomopop. Plush is a popular medium for independent artists because it’s easy to work with, cheap to make, and always in demand. Some are more dedicated than others, such as Ryan Zanfei at Tasty Peach Studios. She unveiled a new design at ACen (the Kyandi alpaca plush), and announced plans for a new line of plushes called Necronomicorn.

ACen does cater to figure collectors, but mostly in the form of vendors. Believe me, there were lots and lots of anime figures there, and I’m sure the event birthed more than a few new collectors. However in terms of industry presence and news, you’ll have to look to a west coast or Japanese event because the Midwest isn’t a hotbed of figure activity.