Bandai S.H.Figuarts Sailor Mercury
Japanese Release Date: October 25, 2013
International Release Date: November 2013
Sailor Mercury is a fan favourite in Japan. While her crime fighting partner Sailor Moon is known to be rather useless in her studies, and motivation, Ami Mizuno is the exact opposite. She strives to do the best she can in school and receives top grades. She is kind, calm, and patient, and the only time you'll see her break a sweat outside of a Monster of the Day attack is when Usagi falls asleep during the Senshi study group.
Ami starts the series off at 14 years old, and appears first in episode 8 as a new transfer student at Usagi's school. Her identity is revealed as Sailor Mercury after Luna and Usagi suspect her of being a MotD, only to discover that she is actually the victim. Her Senshi symbol appears, and Sailor Mercury blasts her way into the series as a very valuable friend.
Sailor Mercury is known for using water and ice based attacks, as well as a visor and mini pocket computer that help calculate and identify enemies, as well as potential hazards.
Packaging and Advertising
S.H.Figuarts Mercury is a little different than Sailor Moon. While her box is virtually laid out the same there are some things we can expect on all of the boxes without confusion.
First, the TOEI sticker is located above the 20th Anniversary logo between Sailor Mercury's legs on the Japanese Edition. On the international release it is located to the left of the international printed logo. Second, the international Sailor Moon logo is on every single box. Third, as this figure does not come with any "first edition bonuses" there is no sticker on the window of the box.
No real issues were found with Sailor Mercury's packaging. Despite lots of Sailor Moon boxes being sent out after being factory opened and resealed presumably for a loose instruction sheet, Sailor Mercury's came sealed with no second sealing sticker. Some of the instructions on the extra sheet with Sailor Moon appear to have been added to the only sheet with Sailor Mercury.
Sailor Mercury's faces and hands are packaged in a wonderful little compartment that is removable and comparable to Sailor Moons. Only this one includes her hands in it as well.
Her other accessories also have nicely moulded storage in the blister tray.
In regards to advertisement for Sailor Mercury she did not get the "Moon treatment". There were not really any special large displays, commercials, or paper advertisements. She mostly just displayed at various events from the prototype stage to completion. Now she also displays with Moon, and the other Senshi as they go through the same process.
Of course, she also received various promotional photographs on the Tamashii site, as well as in her AmiAmi blog review.
Parts, Assembly, and Fit
Sailor Mercury comes with 25 pieces, including everything that is removable, the actual body, and the base pieces.
While Mercury is a little stiff upon initial opening, she is easy to pose, her bangs, and face plate are easier to remove, and her hands hold better.
To the left is Sailor Mercurys arm and to the left is Sailor Moons. Their hands are not compatible because the pegs which hold them on are different. After several reviews and complaints about how Sailor Moons hands did not hold very well it appears they adjusted the pegs to have a small ball on the end of it.
While it's unfortunate that the hands can't be used interchangeably, it's better to have this improvement so that the figure is easier to pose and display.
A lot of people seem to think that the visor is part of a faceplate, or a separate piece from everything else. It is actually a piece connected to a separate bang piece and does not disconnect from them.
(As a note for Sailor Venus, it's assumed her mask will be made the same way).
As far as parts go I feel Bandai made a great choice in what they included with Sailor Mercury, but I think most fans will agree that an attack piece similar to Sailor Moons "Moon Tiara Action" hand would have been great with Mercury. Most fans were hoping for a hand set that included a bubble for Sabao Spray (Mercury Bubbles Blast).
Sculpting and Posing
The sculpt is nice and clean, and I think it's a safe bet that Sailor Moon is being used as a base for the rest of the Sailor Senshi. The only real issue on mine is a bit of extra plastic on the front bow. The rest appears smooth and fine.
Sailor Mercury is SUPER easy to pose. She doesn't have the added weight of long hair, so it's really just a matter of balancing her limbs and body. I took plenty of shots both with and without the stand, and it never took me more than a couple minutes to balance her without her base to hold her up.
The face plates are fine in regards to paint, but I do want to point out the tiara gem on the last plate. It doesn't seem to have enough paint, and appears slightly green from the gold showing through the blue.
One of the major issues I had with Moon was that her boots were VERY poorly painted. This issue has been resolved with Mercury. While it could still use some improvement, the issues on her boots are very small when looking at the full figure.
The collar lines are painted VERY cleanly on both the front and back of her fuku. Even the puffs on the elbows of her gloves are painted nicely. The only real paint problems with her is the small dab of dark blue from her bow gem that's on her actual bow. There also appears to be some slight transfer from the elbow pad to her joint in the bottom picture, but nothing terribly noticeable, or not fixable.
This is where my real disappointment with the Figuarts line begins. Upon opening sailor Mercury I thought she would come with a base that was exactly like sailor Moons. While the flat display piece is exactly the same, although with customized decals for the different Senshi names and symbols, the arms are completely different.
Sailor Moons arm comes in 6 different pieces that then attach to the base. This allows for a wide variety of display options and flexibility. Sailor Mercury's arm is only 2 pieces, the claw, and the arm. The arm only goes up and down, and because of the hole placement on the base it is virtually impossible to display Sailor Mercury directly in front of the base.
Another issue is with the claw. The claw is too large for Sailor Mercury's waist, and despite no limitations on how far the arm can go in or out, it still leaves Sailor Mercury with too much space for her to be held properly.
In fact, I dislike the arm on this base SO much so that I am looking to replace it. Feel free to contact me or post links if you know where an arm more like Sailor Moons can be purchased.
As of February 2014 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).
First: Are the listings you are interested in using these pictures? The chances that the listing is for a bootleg is VERY HIGH.
If a S.H.Figuarts Sailor Mercury figure is a bootlegged version chances are you'll see her priced very low ($17.99 seems to be the magic price). 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 right, and the bootleg is on the left (photo wonderfully provided by Ebay, uploaded version here: PICTURE #930388).
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. You should note whether the TOEI sticker is present. It will be located on Sailor Mercury's leg. I've highlighted it on the picture above.
Sailor Mercury also appears to be missing the Tamashii Nations and Bandai logo's on the bottom right of the box.
It's notable to check the paint colours in both her eyes and mouth on the faceplates.
This image (PICTURE #861904) gives a clear look at not just the skin tone arm joints of Sailor Moon, but how poorly painted she is as well. As of yet there are no detailed pictures of a bootleg Sailor Mercury showing these details, so please note that Sailor Mercury's arm joints will be skin tone (bootleg) instead of white (official). Sailor Mercury's paint job on her skirt, arms, bow, and choker might be messy as well.
Despite issues with her base I feel Sailor Mercury is a step up from Sailor Moon in regards to improvements. They learned from the issues with Moon and and that's great to see.
As Sailor Mercury is my favourite character getting this one was exciting. I wasn't disappointed. She's top quality, and I look forward to playing with her!