Insert some epic music score by Hans Zimmer and she'll ready for the cameras. Racing Miku was my last true spontaneous pre-order of 2011. I came. I saw. I clicked confirm. No consideration. No joke. Her glossy, futuristic design and smashing twin tails won me over immediately. But was she worth it?
There's a quote out there that I want to insert. It has something to do with high expectations and guaranteed disappointment. But I can't find the specific one I have in mind. Maybe it never existed in the first place. There's a lot of hate online for Racing Miku 2011. That's what happens when GSC releases gorgeous promotion pictures and fails to live up to them (for a reference, see here). It's like being promised cake, but getting a trollface instead. Initiate rage mode. So what went wrong? Does Racing miku 2011 deserve all the hate?
First things first, her box.
Racing Miku 2011 comes in a disproportionately large box. It's about twice as big as it needs to be thanks to Miku's twin tails, which come in separate compartments inside the blister case. Being so large, her box is also flimsy. I sometimes use boxes as make-shift tripods when I'm too lazy to find my actual tripod. There are some boxes I feel comfortable leaving my camera on, and some that I get nervous about. Racing Miku 2011's falls into the latter.
Strangely enough, Miku's box also lacks windows. I can't say I enjoy it. Besides all of Native's boxes, GSC's Lacia is the only other figure I own without windows. In Lacia's case, her box had a simple elegance that matched her figure. Racing Miku's, well, feels like they're hiding the figure or something. Lack of transparency and the like. Etcetera.
The problem with being actively engaged in the arts is the inability to turn off your damned imagination. Every time I get a figure, I get a sweeping movie scene as well. So close your eyes. It's scene time.
You're cruising along the highway, sailing a hilly landscape speckled by sheep and cattails. The sky is robin's egg periwinkle, and the clouds are softly Cool Whip. The mountains stand stoic in the distance, and there's not a single soul in sight. Then, a woman rises over the horizon like a great, teal solstar. She whips around, twin tails twisting, gently smiling, hand outstretched. All in slow motion. Racing Miku 2011. The radiance in her eyes washes over you like a soothing balm. Everything in right in the world. She beckons, her polyvinyl suit alight in the sun. "Come hither and we shall embark on an adventure most divine". What do you do?
You clasp that gorgeous hand and never let go. Commence cheesy montage about flying through space and
End scene. Back to reality.
Racing Miku's base is a nice round chunk of simulated road. The rough texture adds an extra, asphalt flair. I would have liked to see it made thinner, and a little smaller, so it doesn't look so much like a concrete cookie, but I like it nonetheless.
Racing Miku 2011 has all the sleek glamour that was missing in Racing Miku 2010. Her outfit's been redesigned to be shinier, tighter, and sexier overall. Miku's modern black-and-white, aerodynamic suit is vastly more appealing than its predecessor. Her twin tails have clearly gained sentience in the year it took for her to outgrow her 2010 gear, and she's adopted an alternate persona. Racing Miku 2010 had the bouncy, happy grin of a teenager, while Racing Miku 2011 has the dignity, confidence, and control of a practiced ringmaster (seriously, just give her a top hat).
Miku's face was a primary factor in how quickly I pressed "pre-order". It's warm, inviting, filled with hope, and kittens, and all things sappy. Remember that scene I asked you to imagine? There's a reason you never let go of her hand. You don't go around taking any stranger's hand. You look at a face like that and want to take her hand. Otherwise it just doesn't work.
Miku has a splended physique and her suit is semi-transparent in all the right areas. Look at that gorgeous mid-section.
Miku is thin, fit, and wonderfully proportioned. It's clear she works out.
I love my well-proportioned ladies. I like being able to look at them without giggling. Sure, exaggeration can be good, but only in moderation. Grossly exaggerated parts, especially jiggly parts, have always struck me as more comical than sexy. Melon-bazongas? That's hilarious! There's a reason I can't bring myself to order Alter's Kongiku, even though she's gorgeous. Can you imagine if exaggeration went both ways? We'd have guy figures with 4 meter junk. Also hilarious!
For me, it's pose and presence that makes a figure sexy. It's like the old cliche, it's not about size, it's about how you flaunt it (or something along those lines).
I can't stress how much I love Racing Miku's 2011 suit. The shininess is a big plus. As with most Miku figures, this one has a slew of small details that make her a joy to examine. Good Smile Racing's logo blazes across her boob. An Iron-Man-esque energy source nestles in her back. Sleek, spacey lines run across her skirt and "shorts".
To add to her already impressive collection of good bits, the paint job on Miku's outfit superb. I'm especially happy with her gradients, and, as I've mentioned before, her stellar shine.
Ah, finally, we're getting to the good bits. Miku's hair is incredibly light. That also means it's incredibly flimsy. I don't think I've been as terrified of dropping as I've been with any other figure. Each strand is stiff, with no pliability whatsoever. One accidental brush while walking past is all it takes to snap off a strand or two. She tipped over once and I freaked almost as hard as when I dropped my camera. Luckily, it was a minor accident and nothing broke (sort of like the camera). As with her outfit, the semi-transparency helps spice things up.
Besides her expression, Racing Miku's hair is another reason I was so quick to click pre-order. Look at that mass of teal! It's astounding! And it doesn't even need props. Double awesome. I said, before her release, that if GSC could pull off her hair without major flaws, she would probably be one of my favourite figures of 2012. Did they manage it?
Not even close, bud.
Racing Miku's hair is a real travesty of seams. With hair so complex, I don't expect a perfect job, but I do expect a reasonably good job, i.e. some attempt at masking and softening the seams. GSC faced a difficult challenge with Miku's hair and got the shit kicked out of them. It's too bad, since I know GSC can do some quality work if they try (keyword: try). To make things worse, her twin tails are dismally difficult to install. I wriggled. I oiled. I cussed. My Miku's hair doesn't go into her head all the way, leaving it up to her hair scrunchies to mask the peg underneath.
Is it super hard to sculpt hair that's both detailed and polished? Sure. Is it impossible? Of course not. Cheerful Japan Miku has equally complex hair, but none of the seam problems. It's like GSC took one look at Racing Miku 2011, another at Godoka, and tossed Miku under a truck to tend to Godoka's superior orders.
Unfortunately, Miku has a few problems outside her hair. I would like to say the rest of her is perfect, but it's not. As with most figure collectors, I like to turn my ladies upsidedown to take a good gander at her nether-regions. Needless to say, most underwear comes in one piece. But not Miku's.
How intriguing. This is the first time I've seen such a design. Most girls tend to prefer their underwear whole. Otherwise, it defeats the purpose. Then again, Miku is a robot, and I guess plugs have to go somewhere...(Don't look at me like that, Chobits started it).
Second, the paint on her right shoulder is really thin. It gives her skin there a transluscent feel that's only appropriate in alien movies. You can almost see the unpainted grey PVC peeking out from underneath. Again, it's not a readily noticeable flaw until you have her upclose, but it still bothers me somewhat. Come on, GSC, quality control, please?
So what do I think of Racing Miku 2011 overall?
Well, she's not bad. In the right light, her good points outshine her errors. I'll use of the phrase I often use for Kotobukiya figures, "She's nice from a distance". Up close, however, it's difficult to ignore her plethora of seams.
The one thing that really saves Miku from getting blammed hard is, surprisingly, the part of her I blammed the hardest: her hair. Despite it's multiple seams, Miku's hair still steals the show. Even with her lovely face and sleek outfit, Miku falls into obscurity without her twin tails.
I would not say I am unhappy with Racing Miku 2011, despite her many, and serious flaws.Despite them, there is still something charming about her pose and overall design.
Oh, one more thing.
I hate her umbrella. I hate it with a zeal I reserve only for double negatives and bad movie adaptations of great literature. I hate it because it's disobedient and deserves to be punished. Except I can't punish it. It has no sentience or capacity for painful, painful tears. The damned thing pops out at the slightest motion. I don't mean it tumbles from its position, it pops out. Like a weapon. Then it bounces off to some god forsaken place under the couch or DVD player, sniggering all the way.
So, does Racing miku 2011 deserve the widespread hate? Maybe a little. Fans have a point. Racing Miku 2011 has a gorgeous design. She had everything going for her. GSC just dropped the ball. They dropped the ball all over her QC. But is she a travesty? No. Not really. After all, she still has substantial presence on the shelf.
She's on sale at AmiAmi now if anyone is interested.
Here's looking forward to GSC's Racing Miku 2012 (her racing "princess" design is hella awesome)
Box: 4/10 (Thin, HUGE, I'm puzzled over its lack of windows)
Base: 6/10 (Fitting, but rather chunky and large)
Pose: 9/10 (Her twin tails should be weaponized)
Sculpt: 6/10 (THOSE. SEAMS.)
Paint: 8.5/10 (Lovely on her outfit, an odd translucent bit on her shoulder though)
Overall: 7/10 (Nice from a distance, but could have been much better)
Manufacturer: Good Smile Company
Price: 8381 yen
Purchased from: AmiAmi