Monday 8 July 2013

Oh Noes!: Hacker's Amputation

Ah, it's been a while since we last had an Oh Noes! How nostalgic!

Sadly, the longer you collect, the higher your chances of having a mishap.  Nevermind fault or folly, accidents happen. Stuff breaks. Things fall. We have naught to do but take to the Internet, vent our frustrations, and mope. If anything, they at least make interesting stories. Oh life, you and your villainous trials!

I like to think Hacker's mishap infused with purity. That is, no one was directly culpable, and there was no deception or malice intended. A pure and radiant accident. Like getting caught in a hailstorm in the middle of July. It's hard to get angry because there's no one to blame. Responsibility, if any, is spread so thin that emoting strongly seems childish and wasteful. As the British say, Keep Calm and Carry On Drinking.

I have learned many things in my collecting careerthings that I can store for future consultation, or better yet, use for anecdotes. One thing I picked up early, is that rattling noises are bad, especially with scaled figures. Rattling means something has come loose, and nothing should ever come loose when you're dealing with fragile pieces of PVC.

So when I picked up Hacker's box to hear the distinct bicker of loose  parts, I heaved a sigh and steeled my soul. Let it be a joint dislocation rather than a straight-out fracture, I thought, as I gazed skyward towards some presumed figure diety, so I can at least attempt to repair her without leaving scars.

As I popped open Hacker's box to ascertain the damage, the source of her rattle became clear. Hacker was missing an arm. Well, not missing, per se, just misplaced. Her amputated limb was getting snug with one of her twin tails in the blister box. To vindicate the good people at AmiAmi, her box was well padded with an exccess of packing paper. There was no sign of physical damage on her box.

Beautiful, I thought with some trepidation, but hey, accidents happen. In a batch of hundreds (maybe thousands), it's expected to get a few bad apples. Both humans and machines make ocassional mistakes.

I snapped a few pictures, and opened her blister box for further examination. Not surprisingly, all that PVC on PVC action lead to some nasty paint transfers. The navy of her sleeve had rubbed dark streaks into her hair.

And vice versa, though the yellow wasn't nearly as obvious. I've highlighted the yellow smudge on her arm.

In vain, I poked her arm back into her shoulder, only to have it tumble back out. I repeated this action three times, for reliability's sake, then I mulled. I considered my options. What to do? Do I glue her arm back in, ignore the stains, and carry on? No, such inertness didn't sit right with me. After all, a factory defect is a factory defect, and figures aren't cheap. Besides, I had heard of GSC's legendary customer support when it comes to broken figures, and thought it the perfect opportunity to try it out myself. So I snapped more shots, and sent a polite email explaining my situation.

(For those that are wondering whey I would email GSC about a Max Factory figure, the two companies have a long-standing relationship, and GSC distributes all of Max Factory's figures, so they fall under the same umbrella.)

Then, I brewed myself a cuppa, and waited.

Three days later, I got a straight-froward reply.

Ah, I thought as I performed a brief, undulating dance, so, this story has a happy ending. And, more importantly, Good Smile Company's customer support is as legendary as rumoured.

Three weeks later, a package arrived in the mail. Huzzah! I love that they priced the package at 1 yen, so even if customs decides to be an ass to do their jobs, I could hardly be charged anything at all.

Replacement Hacker's arm is exactly where it should be. Happy times.

Also, notice that replacement Hacker does not come with a box or a base. I'm guessing some finanacially motivated people out there attempt to procure extra figures off GSC's customer support just to make a profit, and such measures are taken to (rightfully) make their lives harder.

Pictured: Awesome customer service.
All in all, I could have called it a day, but I'm not one to abandon one Hacker just because she hadn't an arm and couldn't stand. She looked sad being horizontal and incapacitated, so I got to work. I bought some Superglue and stuck her arm back in, careful to ensure none of the glue squished out of her shouler socket. After a few minutes of of setting, I gave it a few good flicks to make sure it stayed in place (it did).

Satisfied, I went matchmaking. I pulled out my boxed figures and examined their bases. I sifted through them until I found one that fit HackerFate Testarossa's base, plain clothes version. One of her pegs slips snuggly into Hacker's foot. The base is a little small, and Hacker's a little wobbly, but until I can create a more suitable base, it'll do.

Water proved futile when tackling her hair stains. Instead, I grabbed my rubbing alcohol and swabbed the stains with a Q-tip. If anything, the alcohol worked too well, and lifted off both stain and paint. I went from darker lines, to faded patches, which was only a slight improvement. Anyone looking close enough will still see the damage, but it's less obvious than before.

When I was done, I was left with two upright Hackers, looking equally beautiful and unimpressed.

Apathy twins will apathize.
On an interesting note, I have never gotten two versions of the exact same figure before, so this was my first opportunity for a direct compare and contrast. It shouldn't have surprised me that the two Hackers have differences, especially in shading. My original, broken Hacker had darker shading overall than my replacement Hacker. Even in the picture above, you can see the different shades in her twin tails. In fact, replacement Hacker seems a midge paler when it comes to colour. Neat.

Overall, Hacker's amputation was a pleasant experience, as far as accidents go. So, wide world, have you ever recieved a broken figure? Have you ever contacte GSC for replacement parts? I'm a lucky duck, in that many of my mishaps were easily remedied. My worst experience with a "new" figure goes to Max Factory's swimsuit Clalaclan. My worst experience with an used item was when one of my figures came snapped in half (Superglue fixed that one too, but it was unpleasant). Have you had an especially hair-tearing experience?

I feel like I have to dedicate a paragraph to lauding GSC's famous customer support. In all honesty, they could have easily blamed the post office and left it at that. "Not our problem after it ships" is a popular excuse to dodge responsibility, but GSC rises above such petty defenses. If I've learned anything about running a business (which I don't know how to do in the slightest), it's that healthy customer service is positively correlated with long-term profitability. So, GSC, good on you, for understanding that taking care of your audience means taking care of yourselves. Respect, birdies.



  1. Oh no, a crash :(
    GSC is always friendly to their customers, it's good that they are understanding. Otherwise Ami Ami also has a friendly service in such cases.

    Do you had to provide images, actually?
    Hmm, no box XD I would like to ask them for a box I've thrown away, I wonder if they have a storage with old boxes.

    Now you have two, not very space efficient, but interesting somehow.

    So far I damaged all my figures by myself

    1. I always provide images when things go wrong. It seems to be a requirement in most cases. I find most manufacturers are helpful when something goes wrong. Retail stores are more iffy, as it depends on their policies.

      I've had only three new figures come in with damage, this one, Clalaclan, and Koromo. Koromo was badly stained, but HLJ let me exchange for a better one (I wish I took pictures of that one). Clalaclan...well, she's a whole other can of worms.

      You should email GSC about the extra box. Who knows? Maybe they'll have some in their warehouse. =D


    2. Well, I asked them about the boxes and a spare part.
      As I already expected, they can't provide boxes, but to my surprise they also won't give me this spare part I need. X<

    3. Sorry to hear that, bud. That's rough. Maybe they ran out of spare parts? =/


  2. I only have one Max Factory figure and I was quite impressed by their quality! But after seeing your pictures, I guess mishaps do happen. Now I'm disappointed >"<

    It's also interesting how the shading is different. Now your new Hacker has a really shiny skirt, xD To be honest, I prefer the old one with less shading because it looks a little more natural.

    Now I'm curious... I've just received my World is Mine Miku and there's a paint defect on one of her twin tails. Somehow the paint got chipped off (not second hand).
    You think they'll send me a new one? That would be awefully generous of them... seriously. I even feel a little guilty and spoiled!

    1. Accidents are an unfortunate reality in the figure business. As long as the majority of my figures arrive alive, I can forgive a couple of mishaps.

      When in doubt, email. If the chip is bad enough, GSC might be willing to send a replacement. Of course, if it's a small, discreet defect, they might be less inclined to act. It never hurts to ask.

      I honestly don't know which Hacker I prefer. They both have their ups and downs. Guess that's the wonder figures. No two are exactly the same. XD


  3. Yay for such a nice experience, I always hear so many nice things about GSC's customer service when things arrive damaged and heck even when accidents happen. Interesting bit about the differences, I always figured things like that would be different from figure to figure as it is done by hand and even with the same person it won't be exactly the same every time.

    Too bad I can't say I had a positive experience with GSC customer support. My Nyarko figma came with a stiff shoulder joint, so it inevitably snapped when I tried to loosen it and move it. At first I was like dang it, gonna have to buy another one. Just the day before though a big deal was made about a guy who broke his Link figma on Reddit and how GSC sent a replacement part and "Mamitan" posting on Tumblr how for things like that to contact support.

    So I did, I asked how to swap the joint and may be if they had any spares for a spare. Mostly it was about how to remove the joint so I could replace it with a spare I had at hand myself. I sent pictures showing everything and waited.

    They just left me hanging in the air. No spares, alright fair enough, seems Nyarko was a small batch, but telling it was their policy not to detail how to take apart a figma and couldn't help me was kinda odd. That's what bugs me. So I still have a broken Nyarko, and since it was seemingly a small batch can't find a replacement for a decent price.

    So yeah, a little miffed with the dissonance between my experience and others who broke their figmas and got replacements even when it was super obvious it was their fault they broke it.

    1. Ouch, sorry to hear about your Nyaruko. She's a beautiful figma too...

      I also find it strange that GSC used policy as an excuse not to help you with your joint. Maybe the person that answered your email was clueless and didn't want to spend the time finding a solution. It might be worth your while to send them another email, just in case your first one was answered by a derp.

      I once had a joint snap inside one of my nendos, but managed to pry it out using a sturdy needle (I dug the point into the peg at an angle and pried outwards), some vaseline, and a lot of cursing. It took many, many tries, but it worked. I'm not sure if the same strategy can be used on a figma though. They seem more fragile.