Could it be? The first Never Outgrew Toys review since *checks* forever?!
This isn’t just the first review in forever, it’s the first of 2015, so let’s introduce our subject!
Today we’ll be looking at Alter’s 1/8 Natsume Takashi Renewal version from Natsume Yuujinchou.
Now to learn a little bit about this series. Let’s start out the review with some help from my good friend, Wikipedia sensei:
For as long as he can remember, Takashi Natsume has had the ability to see spirits, inheriting the power from his grandmother Reiko. Upon her death, Reiko bequeaths to her grandson her Book of Friends, a book containing the names of spirits Reiko had bullied into servitude. The Book of Friends is a highly prized item in the spirit world, and spirits haunt Takashi constantly. Whereas Reiko formed the contracts, however, Takashi spends his time dissolving the contracts and releasing the various spirits that come to him for help.
So why am I using a Wikipedia summary instead of writing one of my usual passion-filled six paragraph rants? That’s because I know nothing about the series *shot*
Now, it’s not that I have no interest in it. I’ve heard that the series has some semblance to Mushi-shi(although more lighthearted) which I adore, so I do intend to check it out one day. So how could a figure from a series I know little about bypass my strict PVC purchasing guidelines? Simply put, Alter’s Natsume is what I think of as a legendary figure.
Naturally there are few legendary figures, but those which exist are ones most can recognize. Many are even grails for people, but as I see it, a legendary figure is one which can be appreciated regardless of source material and purely for being a beautiful piece of art. Another figure I’d consider legendary is Momohime.
The original Natsume figure was released in July 2010–shortly after I became interested in figures. Natsume has since been highly regarded as a beautiful and well-done figure, and I’ve seen him in photographs many times throughout my collecting “career”. But while I always appreciated and admired Natsume, it was never enough to buy him. This was because of not knowing his origin and being content to admire from afar. However things began to change when a renewal of this prized figure was announced. A renewal was different from a re-release because it meant the figure would be entirely redone with a new sculpt and updated paint. I still paid Natsume little mind until his preorders opened. I saw him listed and clicked on his page expecting the usual 100,000 yen. So when it was ~6000 yen instead, I preordered immediately. Yes, Natsume was an unplanned addition to my collection, but as I admired his promotional pictures, I knew it was meant to be.
Fast forward a few months, and Natsume is here! Was he worth it? Let’s find out!
Oh, another first I forgot to mention. This is my first snow review!
Natsume comes perched on a branch with Nyanko Sensei and in a lovely clear box. No assembly is required as Natsume is glued to the branch which is glued to the base. One part can be removed which we will get to later.
Pretty as it is, the clear plastic box was not the best choice for Alter since it sacrifices protection for aesthetic and a number of people have reported receiving their figures broken. The break is usually a gap between the tree and base and causes Natsume to tip over. The damage is also not always easy to see until the figure has been unboxed. The figure can be glued back together, but knowing that your figure could break in transit is nerve wracking. Mine thankfully arrived unbroken.
The figure truly shines when you see what inspired it. Illustration based figures are some of my favorites because they showcase the talent of sculptors who are able to transform a 2D image into 3D. Illustrations also provide great fodder for unique poses. Many charming figures like World is Mine Miku, VN02 Miku, Deep Sea Girl Miku, Alter’s Mercedes, and Goodsmile Company’s Nessa have come from illustrations.
A blue palette with a somber Natsume.
The first release had the original illustration on the box. It’s a shame to not include it this time, but the first release did not have a clear box, so there was more room for pictures.
The inside of the box is the background of the illustration the figure was based on.
I was so anxious to find out if he was broken that I unboxed Natsume before taking a picture, but he does looks great in the box– unlike most figures. For those who may opt to display him this way, be aware that the clear box is a dust magnet.
Natsume is 1/8 scale and 180 mm (7.02 in) tall. Unfortunately comparing him to fellow 1/8s shows that he is small for his scale.
Momohime, also a 1/8 by Alter, is 210 mm (8.19 in) tall Making Momohime not only taller, but significantly bigger than Natsume. This puts Natsume on the smaller end of 1/8 scale, and 1/9 is probably more fair. Whether or not this is a problem depends on you. I am not bothered by it considering the size of the base and how much more Natsume might cost if rendered in proper 1/8 scale.
One of Natsume’s greatest qualities is looking good from every angle. Most figures are made to be viewed from a certain angle, or just have one they look best at, but Natsume gains a new perspective with each turn making him appearing anywhere from pensive to lonely.
Looking closely at the face, it is very flat and simple as is typical of the anime style. There are no sculpted facial features, his nose is a simple point, and his mouth is a slit in his face. Staring at this photo is slowly creeping me out, but I never felt that way looking at the figure in real life.
Another thing I appreciate about Natsume’s hair is that it does not cast strange shadows on his face as is often the case with overhead lighting.
Natsume’s clothing is refreshingly simple and speaks wonders about the execution of the figure and elaborate base since usually such a simple outfit would detract from the figure rather than blend with it.
The kimono is black with Japanese style blue, yellow, and red flowers.
The flowers are not hand painted, but I assume that production was still labor intensive as the kimono has many wrinkles which the flowers flow over.
Hairy baby!Nyanko sensei! Nyanko looks less perky than in the illustration and is instead looking at Natsume.
Nyanko’s patterns and eyes are painted in a carved area while his mouth and markings are flat.
Then there’s the most definitive part of the figure: the base! Most often companies choose simple sculpts that require only a plastic disc as a base, so it is exciting when one decides to make a diorama base. And even better when they do it well. Since Natsume and Nyanko are so nondescript, the base is what makes this figure stand out among others, and I can think of few like it.
But Natsume is not limited to one look. His kimono is removable!
It comes off in one piece and fits back on him easily as there are no pegs. Even without pegs, it is very secure once placed on Natsume.
So you have the option to display Natsume with or without the kimono depending on your preferences. I like him better with the kimono, so I will be keeping him that way.
Now that we’ve inspected Natsume, let’s take him out for some fun!
I think of Natsume as a summer or autumn figure, but her arrived in the dead of winter. To my surprise, Natsume looks great in winter as well!
I do not want to appear to be praising a figure simply because it was made by Alter, but there is a reason the company is so highly regarded. Natsume is stunning from quality to sculpt, and I highly recommend him as an example of beautiful figure art. Nature is a perfect backdrop, so I know Natsume is one of the figures I can reach for again and again and still get beautiful photos.
Natsume is not without his share of flaws. Miniscule loss of detail in sculpt is easily overlooked, but small siz for his scale and the possibility of breaking in transit are greater problems. Regardless, I am sure that Natsume’s price will rise along with the original version’s, so if you do want him, decide soon.