Bandai S.H.Figuarts Sailor Moon First Edition
Japanese release date: August 10, 2013
International release date: October 1, 2013
Please click pictures to go to their pages
I think it's pretty well safe to say that if you watch anime you probably at least know of Sailor Moon. If you don't know the anime very well you probably still know the character well enough to know that she starts the series off as a useless, irresponsible crybaby and turns into a kick ass Senshi of Justice.
Tsukino Usagi starts off the series at 14 years old when Luna tracks her down and reveals her identity as Sailor Moon. With the help of her transformation brooch, and the words "Moon Prism Power, Make-up!" she becomes the beautiful and mysterious soldier Sailor Moon, ready to take the Youma on! ...well, sorta. When she works up the courage.
S.H.Figuarts Sailor Moon comes to us as a result of the 20th anniversary revival. An event that really began and established that it could be successful first in Italy in 2010/2011, it has brought us everything from refreshed and new artwork from Italian artist Marco Albiero, to toys, figurines, clothing, and more not just in Italy, but globally.
What was the first exposure to anime for a lot of my generation is still marketable and successful 20 years later to the point where a new musical and anime have been created to celebrate it.
While I knew of the S.H.Figuarts line before Sailor Moon she is my first and I do not know much about the other figures, although I am fairly familiar with the style. Please bare with me.
Packaging and Advertising
Sailor Moons box is bright, colourful, bold, and manages to incorporate her associated colours without being tacky. It feels much more involved than the S.H.Figuarts boxes I'm use to seeing in my local comic shops. The dithered shading on Sailor Moon also seems to match the comic book style Bandai has been reaching for in their other 20th Anniversary merchandise.
Between Sailor Moons legs is the new Japanese 20th Anniversary logo. To the right is the usual Toei sticker. The international release box will differ here. The Toei sticker will be slightly different (assuming this signifies international release) and will be placed half an inch or so higher on the box. Below it will be the international logo which is simply a stylized "Sailor Moon" font in yellow with a white glow. I mention this because earlier during box release there were several photos depicting both Japanese and International releases and speculation was that the International box could have been a bootleg. This is not true.
The sticker on the window of the box signifies in English and Japanese that the box you have is First Edition with the extra faces. Second press will either have an alternate sticker or no sticker at all. More than likely they just won't have a sticker.
The back of the box is spectacular in all of its space art glory. The vectored stars and design behind "Moon Tiara Magic" Sailor Moon really make the back of this box POP! and it's a beautiful tie-in with the marketing theme that Bandai has used since they began whipping out advertisement for this figure.
Despite the tight packaging of everything, when I received my box there was a slight rattling in it, and I was afraid my base had come lose, or that there was a problem. Turns out I wasn't the only one with this issue. Many have noticed that their boxes had been cut open and then resealed.
After opening my box my best guess is that they forgot to package the instruction slips, as those were left loose in the very back of the box, whereas normally, with other figures I've received, they've been bagged and taped to the base or another part of the inside that is hidden from sight.
Packaging on the extra parts was especially good on the faces. They were in their own plastic compartment (that I accidentally threw across the room while trying to get the hands out lol!) that could be great for storage during use.
Lets just be honest, Luna looks happy and comfortable.
This image was pretty much THE FACE of S.H.Figuarts Sailor Moon advertising. It is/was everywhere. In magazines, flyers, posters, giant wall hangings, displays and basically where ever they could plaster it. Online though, a massive dumping of photos were released through the Tamashii website, Sailor Moon Channel, and the AmiAmi blog. There was even a video advertisement released online and on television.
Parts, Assembly, and Fit
Upon initial opening and playing with Sailor Moon she is very stiff, but after pieces are removed and reinserted a couple times pieces loosen up enough to use without worry. I am a little concerned about how much she might loosen up after a lot of use and posing, but I'm confident it'll take a lot of wear to bring her to the point where her joints don't hold position very well.
Sailor Moon comes with a total of 27 removable pieces, as well as her body (see picture above and below). It is recommended that when initially opening this figure that extra care be taken into removing her bangs in order to change her face plate. It is a common complaint that her bangs are difficult to remove at first, and, although the pieces seem built well enough, it would be a shame to break it right out of the box.
Many people have used items like butter knifes to remove the bangs from Sailor Moons face. I recommend wearing gloves to avoid skin oil transfer and tugging on the hair piece while holding her head. Using a tool to remove it risks cutting into the plastic and damaging her forever, and it would be best to avoid it if possible.
During photographs and her time sitting posed I never had any issues with Sailor Moons hands. It was while I was changing poses or attaching new pieces that I had issues. Her left hand kept falling off while being posed (although admittedly usually I bumped her a little) but this was not an issue with the right hand at all. Apart from that her face plates held wonderfully.
^ Example of the back for compatibility with other figures.
AmiAmi.com's blog has provided some excellent photos of the extra items and attachments:
Face 1 and 3 are the First Edition Exclusive faces. If you haven't picked them up yet you better hurry! They're selling out fast.
Something not depicted well here, but a little better in the collective parts shots above is that the "Moon Tiara Action" piece is actually another hand piece so it's super easy to attach. AmiAmi's photos actually show really well that the Ginzuishou (crystal) on the Crescent Moon Wand is actually transparent.
Sculpt and Posing
Luna is very basic... and that might be an understatement. She is also very unbalanced and somewhat difficult to stand Her head moves and her tail seems to have some pose-ability, but considering it doesn't really do much or make much sense. Turning her head forwards makes her look down, and her tail shouldn't really move unless for balance as it won't make much sense.
(Please excuse the dust D=) When I originally noticed that the skirt was in 2 pieces I was extremely unsure whether I would like this figure or not, and it nearly made me cancel my order. After receiving her, posing and photographing her though it hardly notice it. In fact I nearly forgot about it.
Pieces like her front bow and brooch are beautiful, clean and accurate. Unlike some Sailor Moon figures the bow is not over the top with folds and movement, or too big (or small). They've made it flat, and very basic which very positively contributes to the clean look of this figure.
Some of the skirt ends seem a little untidy. Upon visual inspection it appears fine, but photographs bring forward small areas that probably could have been repaired in the mould. The issues on the skirt will probably only be issues with macro shots, but could easily be edited clean.
There are some mould seam lines and injection points that don't seam to be cleaned or hidden very well (see behind Sailor Moon's ear). Seam lines along her forearms are noticeable, and while avoiding a seam line entirely is not usually easily achieved I feel like these get rather intrusive. I have figures from 20 years ago that have less noticeable lines. Needless to say I'm not impressed with that, but it's not Earth shattering in regards to a poseable figure.
Now that I've played with this figure quite a bit I can feel the joints that are looser than others and know her limitations. While Sailor Moon can sit down just fine, I find that in her standing positions, WITHOUT her base, there are points where her knee joints will not hold. She loses support and slips backwards. Considering the weight of her body and hair this shouldn't be at all surprising, but the good news is that she DOES have some pose-ability without her base.
With her base she's pretty much able to do what ever you expect within a poseable figures limits (She done the most ridiculous things yesterday lol). In regards to Sailor Moon figures released as of today, September 2013, she is THE figure for pose-ability and function. There really is nothing else for this series with this much flexibility, despite merchandise dating from the very early 90's until mid 2000's.
I took these photos to prove she could be posed without her base... and on an uneven surface at that! She's standing on a blanket, and the floor beneath her is a metal sheet with holes punched in it. I've placed 2 pieces of paper over it to keep it looking solid white, but that's not much for strength. It DOES take effort though. Her hair pulls her back a lot. In fact, it might be the biggest draw back for this figure. Her hair is constantly in the way.
Straight out of the box there was some slight transfer from her skirt to her gloves (and a small spot on her joint?).
Sorry about the poor picture, but the focus should be on her (our) left odango. I'm still unsure of whether this existed previously, or if it's oil and dirt transfer from my fingers. Needless to say after I noticed it I tried and failed to clean it off, and wore plastic gloves for the rest of the review.
The stripes on her collar are SO nicely painted. They're near perfect.
I also want to point out the joints for her arms. The only issue I have with them is their colour. They should have made them red, but I assume their concern was matching the plastic and paint colours, or that paint would wear away too fast. The skin tone is very distracting though.
I'm bringing this picture back to point out the brooch and her skirt again. The paint around the waist of her skirt appears a little messy. It's nothing incredibly horrible though as it's on the underside of the poof that belts around her waist. For the brooch I am 100% impressed. It's SO tiny and SO detailed. They really done a great job.
Same goes with the painting on the accessories. There are 2 Crescent Moon Wands and both of them are spectacular.
There are some issues around the glove toppers. They're a little messy.
The boots I am completely disappointed with. I originally took these pictures because I was impressed with the moons. I never even considered the white until I had the pictures and was editing them and thinking about what I wanted to say. The red paint is beautiful, but the white details are HORRIBLY painted. Even the gold in the moons are a little messy with red upon inspection of the close ups.
I have found that on display this isn't as noticeable. There are a lot of Sailor Moon figures with this problem, but I honestly thought that after the beautiful paint on the collar that they would put the same effort into the boots.
I actually learned with this base that there are pieces that pop out of this base to give us more options for display. It took FAR longer than I'm willing to admit lol.
The base is small, and pretty, although I wish they had done something a little more related to the series. Despite that, I think the matching set will look nice when the others are released. Shows with Moon and Mercury show Mercury with her version of the base which is exactly the same only blue. They'll look beautiful and very rainbow displayed together.
The joints are strong. I haven't had any issues posing her due to limitations with the arm. The base COULD be a bit wider though. It does create some problems for iconic poses with wider stances.
As of November 2013 bootleg editions of this figure exist for purchase. Do not be fooled! Here are some photos and tips on how to identify the bootlegs (photo credits provided).
If a S.H.Figuarts Sailor Moon figure is a bootlegged version chances are you'll see her priced very low ($17.99 seems to be the magic price as of December 12, 2013). Owners of the bootlegged version have pointed out that while the paint jobs seem alright, it appears they miss the shoulder joints. They should be WHITE, but the bootlegs are skin tone.
The seller may also state that the figure is the CHINESE VERSION instead of the Japanese version.
Please note that the official version is on the left, and the bootleg is on the right (photo wonderfully provided by Ebay, uploaded version here: picture #861539).
As I do not own the bootleg my assumption is that the bootleg box is faded compared to the official version. If not, there aren't many tell-tale signs on the box itself. Physically the only difference other than the colour is the international Sailor Moon logo that appears on the bootleg box but not the official box pictured. THIS IS OK! This logo DOES appear on some boxes, though there has yet to be an agreement over whether the logo signifies international release, or just a change in the packaging.
On the window of the box should be a sticker that reads:
FIRST EDITION BONUS
2 Interchangeable Face Parts-
Winking and Crying
As no "second edition" has been announced yet it is safe to say at this time that anything without that sticker could be bootleg if it is not pre-owned.
The bootleg is also missing the TOEI sticker outlined in red on the bottom portion of the box. This sticker is normally located in the same location pictured, or above the 20th Anniversary logo between Sailor Moons legs.
It's notable to check the paint colours in both her eyes and mouth on the faceplates. The official versions appear slightly darker, and it appears more obvious in the mouth. The official face plates also have thicker and darker tiaras.
The Crescent Moon Wands seem to be the give away here though. One of the more impressive features of this official figure is how well the wands are moulded and painted. The bootlegs look horrible.
This image (picture #861904) gives a clear look at not just the skin tone arm joints, but how poorly painted she is as well. Take note of her skirt, choker, and Odango covers. It also appears that her bangs try to make use of the transparent plastic, but it appears a little dirty. This COULD be caused by the black background though.
As well, in most of the photographs found for this bootleg ((mfc link)) it appears that her joints are pulled out to make her appear longer. You can see her joints sticking out under her skirt and at her arms. Her head also appears pulled forward too far, or up too far.
This figure is the start of a beautiful future for Sailor Moon, and I think she's a must have for serious collectors who are unsure about adding her. She's not perfect, and some of the imperfections ARE disappointing, but most definitely aren't detracting from my display, and I feel like she's a great start. For $42 retail value, and her International release upcoming on October 1st I highly recommend snatching her up before she sells out. DO your research though! Since the Japanese release she HAS stayed in stock on some less popular sites and it has been possible to find her on sale. International release might just drop her price and make her easier to find.
Purchase S.H.Figuarts Sailor Moon at CDJapan