Today is a good day for a review! And the subject of that review is none other than figma Miku Hatsune: Live Stage ver. by Max Factory.
Figma Miku 2.0 who features a new joint system is on her way, and since I do not yet have a review for standard Miku, thought it would be a good idea to review her first so that there’s a review to compare the new Miku to.
Created by Crypton Future Media, and unleashed upon the internet, Miku has taken the digital world by storm and quickly become one of the most recognizable faces of anime culture. Miku herself does not come from an anime, but is a humble synthesizer software. Utilizing voice samples from the voice actress Saki Fujita, Miku allows anyone to make their own songs. Vocaloid content is almost entirely fan driven, and Miku does not have an official persona(although she is often portrayed by the company as warmhearted) which means that she along with her Vocaloid companions can become whatever the fans want them to be. Miku has been everything from an enthusiastic juice salesgirl to a dark sorceress, and surely this versatility has contributed to Miku’s becoming a character beloved by so many.
I was introduced to Miku in 2007 when a friend showed me a few videos of her. At the time, Miku was only in the beginnings of her popularity, and I honestly did not think much of her. The whole thing even struck me as a little weird. I watched videos occasionally after that but did not pay much attention to her until the same friend played “World is Mine” which encouraged me to delve more into Vocaloid and initiated a phase where the majority of the music I listened to was sung by Miku and friends. And as I ventured into figure collecting, Miku’s presence became even greater.
My Vocaloid music collection has become significantly smaller mostly due to Vocaloid music being an acquired taste, but I do still enjoy a little Miku occasionally. And although many collectors have come to dislike Miku due to her saturating the figure market(a MFC search for Miku figures will bring up around 167 results), but I enjoy seeing just what she will become next since with a blank slate like Miku, the figure possibilities are endless.
The Live Stage Miku figma was a Wonderfestival 2009 exclusive. She does differ from the standard version in accessories and finishes(which I’ll address as we get to them), but the sculpt and articulation are the same which makes her an apt comparison to Miku 2.0.
Miku is packaged in a simple white box with teal lettering.
If you notice something different about my photography this time around, it’s because in order to compensate for the utter lack of light during winter months, I’ve resorted to flash photography. I have little experience with artificial lighting, so the photos right now are far from my best work. But even though I find using the flash to be incredible cumbersome right now, practice makes perfect, and please enjoy Miku’s review anyway!
One of the most noticeable things about Miku’s box is how big it is. Not only is the box wide, it is much thicker than even other wide figma boxes. Next to Racing Miku 2011’s box which is standard wide, you can really see the difference.
Now starting with her head, let’s look at some details on Miku.
Miku’s hair is of course the teal color she’s become known for.
Like all figmas there is no shading, and since this is before the days of transparent hair, the color is uniform throughout. You can also see her square ribbons which help to introduce the tiny bit of red in her outfit.
There is also a perfectly round circle molded into the top of her head. I can only imagine that this is left over from when the plastic was cast and is only there because Max Factory’s standards had not evolved enough yet.
Rather than ears, Miku has a pair of headphones with a microphone headset. The headphones are painted well and include all of the little colors in a fairly neat way. Even the two dots on her headset look good.
Both pigtails are articulated, but posing them crazily of course affects her balance.
To help with the weight, the insides of both pigtails are concave.
The neck is a bit loose because of the weight of her hair. It does not wobble like Append Miku and Racing Miku 2011’s heads, and the joint is not in danger of breaking, but it is still not as tight as with other figmas.
Returning to Miku’s head, the back has two strands of hair.
Unfortunately, these stands seriously hinder Miku’s pose ability by not letting her head bend back at all. It can only move forward, down, and to the side.
Unlike the standard figma Miku release, Live Stage Miku has a brighter grey(almost chrome) top.
The teal details are done very well considering her size.
But depending on your sensitivity to visible joints, her shoulders can be unsightly.
The biggest quality misstep on my Miku would have to be her chipped tie clip which she arrived with. It is not unacceptable to me, but is disappointing since this Miku is an exclusive.
The lower half of Miku’s outfit is a shiny black skirt and thigh high black boots.
The skirt is very short which makes her underwear very easy to see. It is also slightly longer in the back which does not match up very cleanly on the sides.
Her belt loop has sculpted triangles which have an alternating blue and dark blue pattern, but the dark blue is barely visible which makes it look like the loop was never painted at all.
Another problem that arises from Miku’s being an older figma is that her pose ability suffers a lot.
To begin, there are the two strands of hair restricting head movement and subsequently making her look hunchbacked from the side. Next is her shirt which is entirely hard plastic. This renders her chest joint(which I’m starting to question if it’s even a joint) entirely useless. The waist joint is able to move, but only because the lower part of her hard plastic shirt is essentially on hinges.
The way the waist joint is situated causes another problem.
A problem that can only be described as crotch bulge.
Even when standing perfectly straight like in this picture, Miku always appears to be in the midst of a pelvic thrust which is not ladylike to say the least.
Now that we’ve assessed Miku, let’s move on to what she comes with!
First is her two faces!
Singing and calm
Live Stage Miku’s faces are completely different from the standard release’s. She has no default face with a closed mouth and her singing face is looking forward rather than to the side. The face with closed eyes is also a welcome addition.
When it comes to Miku’s faces and sculpt in general, the only problems are those of preference. The figure looks just like the original box art, but Kei’s style makes Miku look very robotic. This results in a lanky body and empty eyes which can be seen as lifeless. The figure looks just as intended, so whether or not you like it is up to you.
Next are her five pairs of hands.
spread out, open, pointing, fists, and gripping.
The selection is basic and provides Miku with good coverage for a variety of poses.
But being an older figma, Miku does utilize the ball hands rather than peg hands and Vocaloid flared sleeves make changing out the hands less than ideal.
The mic and stand come in three parts which are the foot of the stand, the stand, and the mic itself. The set is painted black with a shiny metallic finish.
They attach easily. Just be sure not to lose the mic because it is very small.
The keyboard comes in three pieces. The legs easily plug into notches in the body.
Once assembled, the keyboard is very stable, and putting it together is less of a pain than Tsumugi Kotobuki’s keyboard.
The next accessory is an optional head. Brace yourselves.
One of the weirder things included with a Miku figure. This extra head is based off of one of the many Miku derivatives known as elongated Miku. Apparently this Miku is not very popular because I spent a little over an hour searching for the original video(which tells you that I’m either very dedicated or need to get a life) in order to find one that was not marked as private or nonexistent. The one I found was on Niconico though, so if you want to watch it here you’ll need an account. I even started an account just to finally watch this darn video. There may be variations of the video though because I did not feel like ending my life after watching it as many who talked about the video recommended. Rather, I found it soothing in an odd way.
Anyway, in order to transform your Miku into nightmare material, you need to replace the head with elongated Miku’s head. The elongated head does not have it’s own pair of pigtails, so you’ll also need to remove the pigtails from the standard head and attach them. Removing the pigtails isn’t too difficult as long as you hold them firmly, but it can be a nerve wracking procedure depending on how used to removing figma pieces you are.
You may be wondering just why this figma is titled the “Live Stage version”. If so, that’s where this last accessory comes in!
A complete stage for Miku!
A lot of the appeal of this Miku comes not only from her extra accessories and different faces, but from the impressive stage.
Now in case you were wondering how such an amazing accessory could be included for such a low price, it’s because this stage is not made of plastic, but is instead a paper craft project.
Back when the figma line was new, there was a phase of preorder campaign items like the winter scarves and Santa sets along with downloadable paper crafts like hats, presents, and later Di;stage covers(all of which you can still download here by the way) in order to show just how much could be done with the figures.
Live Stage Miku demonstrated the capabilities of the then new Di;stage by including this craft along with a Di;stage to build it on.
The craft is made of sturdy paper pieces that you tear out of a sheet. All of the little plastic pieces are included along with Japanese instructions.
I got my Miku about two years ago, and tried to assemble the paper craft with a friend. You should be able to tell from the product pictures that I’m using that that didn’t go so well. My Miku’s live stage now sits in a sad pile in my closet since I never bothered with it afterwards.
In other words, this craft may be difficult for you if like me, you are not adept at paper craft or are not motivated by puzzles.
If you do manage to complete the stage, it is a cool accessory. There are even paper wings. Just don’t fly too close to the sun, Miku!
Now that’ we’ve examined the Live Stage package, let’s take Miku out for her photo shoot!
Reviewing old figures means that I already have some pictures on hand. Haha!
Leeks Over an Open Fire
Also from 2011. I held Miku up in front of a tree, and the picture only came out this way because my point and shoot only had automatic settings. But it still looks cool. A lot cooler than some photos I’ve planned. Why does it turn out that way?
I’d say the wrong area is in focus…
The Next Generation.
But it would be lazy of me to just use old pictures, so I took some new ones as well.
These are also taken with the flash, but I found an awesome background that I think makes up for my lack of ability.
The background for these photos is the backside of a foam project board. It looks a lot like bokeh and is perfect for a concert!
It seems cruel to compare Miku to today’s figmas seeing how much the line has progressed since her release back in 2009. Being the older figma that she is, Miku suffers from many construction issues that lead to poor pose ability and an awkward stance. In the wake of the newly updated Miku 2.0, this Miku falls behind in many ways, but if you want a rendition of Miku in her classic form, picking up this figure isn’t a bad choice.