Friday, 25 May 2018

Bandai Shokugan News : Sofubi Revival

Today Bandai unveiled their latest Mobile Suit Gundam Shokugan concept; a pair of extra large soft vinyl figures. In the presentation we are shown a mass produced Zaku II and the RX-78. The figures have actually appeared as soft vinyl miniatures (or sofubis) before, and for this re-release they have been considerably upsized to a height of about 18 cm or roughly 1/100 scale.

Update: More details have been released in this Bandai Shokugan blog entry from June 8th.

Sofubi as a concept is a thing in itself in Japan. I am not going to discuss it further since it isn't really something we see frequently here on the blog but here is a very nice summary about the phenomenon.

Mock-up showing the new gigantic sofubis and the original SofV figures that they are based upon.
It is not clear to me whether this is a one-off or if more figures are planned, perhaps Bandai are just testing the waters for what can only be described as a flirt with customer nostalgia. The previous generation of soft vinyl Shokugan figures which the two new figures mimic aren't actually that old, having been released in 2004. That figures series contained a few sets (possibly only two) with mobile suits from the original UC 0079 timeline. I actually have a couple of those old figures that I received as part of a lot of Ultimate Operation figures quite some time ago so i figured we could take a quick look at them in this context.

Box art from the 2005 SofV figure set, the first set was released in 2004.

The three figures  have are from set number two, the first set did contain the green and brown Zaku II figure seen in Bandai's comparison shot as well as some other figures like the Dom and the Gouf.

The figures come in these random boxes which you normally associate with Gashapon, as well as a strange old piece of candy. From this set I have a Zaku I, a Gogg and a Gelgoog.

As you can see the figures have a really cartoonish style, even when compared with their appearances in the original anime. A lot of detail has been omitted and the details that remain are stylized and enhanced.

The figures come with some really basic articulation which normally allows for the arms to rotate and sometimes also the chest area. There are no accessories for the figures and the hands are closed fists and so cannot hold anything anyway.

SofV Gelgoog posing together with a Converge Gelgoog (far left), a Strategy of Gundam 1/300 Gelgoog (center left) and a 1/220 Gelgoog from FW Ultimate Operation (far right).
The 2004-2005 era sofubis are already quite tall for Shokugan figures, so you can imagine just how large two new ones will be.

The revised sofubi DX figures are scheduled for release in October 2018 and come with a suggested price of ¥2500 each.

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