Friday, 3 December 2010

Upgrade your Panzer Cops!

A Taobao seller is selling light up eye heads made to fit Takara Panzer Cop figures. If you want the glowing eyes look then check it out.

The heads require a little work to attach (with supplied screw) but the lights work nice and bright. If putting on Midori or the male Panzer Cop, you will need to remove the red plastic lenses on the mask and dremmel out the plastic behind. The Tetsurou Kai GSDF figure mask does not need any modding, nor does the the mask on the new Platz figure, so if you have either of these figures then its just a case of attaching the new head and sticking the mask back on.

Please note, you will need a Taobao account or friend with a Taobao account to bid or buy on the site.

I bought one of these heads when they were cast in white plastic, but looking at the black colour head makes me want to get another....

As usual, if buying on an auction site please carefully check the sellers feedback before committing to buy.

Here's the link

Friday, 26 November 2010

Platz/DML figure review: Stray Dog: Kerberos Panzer Cop (Wonderfestival signed edition)

So, the other week my Platz hobby/ Dragon Models Ltd 1/6 Stray Dog figure (Wonderfestival exclusive signed edition limited to 100) arrived from Japan (thanks Hobby Collective/ Platz Hobby!) after I almost gave up looking for one, as Yahoo Japan no longer had any (the 2 on there long sold before I had the cash) but thankfully when I got in touch with Platz they still had one which is now mine! phew!

This is the pre-release version from Wonderfestival (the standard release came out a couple of months later) and is limited to 100 pieces. Each is signed by the actor Yoshikazu Fujiki who played the lead character Inui in the movie Stray Dog: Kerberos Panzer Cops (Jigoku No Banken: Kerubersu) alongside Shigeru Chiba, Takashi Matsuyama and Eaching Sue.

At first glance, this is just a packaging variant with identical figure and a plain white box (same dimensions and double opening panels as both 2002 and 2010 releases) with a small sticker stating what's inside. That is mostly true, with this figure being a pre-release it is essentially a production prototype in unfinished packaging. Obviously at the point this was sold the final box art for the main release was not done, but that's OK as the white box leaves space'a'plenty for the actor's signature.

Now, what's really interesting is that the figure, being essentially a prototype, is not identical to the wide release Panzer Cop, but rather an evolutionary step toward it from the older 2002 release. The main elements of the new version are there: new head sculpt, new base body, new hard plastic chest armour, helmet liner, new soft plastic mask with transparent lenses, new clip in oxygen hose and new material belt, but it also has some of the versions features: soft rubber shin armour (which deform over boots, refer to picture), old version helmet (with small space between the side rivets and rear rivet positioned low) and the not so quite well clipping ammo feed part on the MG42. In addition to the mixture of new and old version parts, there are a couple other very minor differences: the oxygen hose is actually softer than the wide release (which is good) and the holster is tacky to touch (which is bad).

So, basically this figure represents the missing link between the 2002 Panzer Cop and the 2010 Panzer Cop! as such, it isn't as good as the wide release on sale now, and is not sufficient enough an upgrade from the 2002 release to warrant tracking down. So its basically stuck in strange position: completely un-necessary, but due to rarity is sought after. If you are not a completist, this is an easy pass (the standard wide release is superior) so don't worry about a gap in your collection, just consider it a prototype. If you don't own it you can still say you have a complete collection and no one will disagree.

Left: wonder festival signed edition, right: wide (normal) release.

Left: wonder festival signed edition, right: wide (normal) release.

Left: wonder festival signed edition, right: wide (normal) release.

Left: wonder festival signed edition, right: wide (normal) release.

If you are a crazy completist, then good luck tracking it down! You are gonna need it! You could try contacting Platz, see if they by chance have another sitting in their office, or you can search Yahoo Japan Auctions every day till one shows up. The other option might be Mandarake, but don't get your hopes up. If you do find one, I don't have a price guide for what you can expect to pay, as really it depends on how much you want it and whether you have the funds or not. The last one I saw on auction was somewhere around 20,000 yen if I recall correctly, and the original RRP was 13,440 yen iirc, so try not to go over 20,000 if you think you can help it is my advice.

Group shot, from left: Medicom Panzer Cop (2001), DML Panzer Cop (2002), DML Panzer Cop light up eyes ver (2002), DML Panzer Cop battle damage ver (2002), Platz+DML Panzer Cop Wonderfestival signed ver (2010), Platz+DML Panzer Cop 20th anniversary ver (2010).

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Buildup helmet and mask kit + Nightmare Arour Studio's mask

Hurray! I finally got my dirty British mitts on the Buildup Kerberos Panzer Cop mask and helmet kit! Boy oh boy oh boy am I glad I finally have it!

This mask, being the official kit made by the same folks who made the movie props, is, of course, 100% accurate to the masks used on screen (the dual filter masks, not the breathing hose version) and includes a helmet, the filter things, strap, buckles, lenses, balaclava and instructions on how to put it all together. Do note that the one I have has already had most of the excess vinyl trimmed off (why only that? guess the previous owner started but didn't have time to finish the mask).

The sculpting is smooth, clean and precise, with no obvious bubbles or blemishes, with (obviously) accurate proportions and symmetry. The fact this is rotocast in vinyl means it is thin, flexible but strong, perfect for use as a mask since it fits closely to and forms to your face giving it a more snug appearance than the unlicensed copies which are normally cast in resin 1/2 an inch or so thick.

Comparison of a customised fan-made mask of un-known origin (left) with un-built official mask by Buildup (right)

The box is simple enough: brown cardboard with black lettering and a black image of the mask and helmet set up with bright red eyes. Simple and to the point.

The kit includes a helmet, though there's no liner for it (none include it) but the helmet itself is strong heavy olive drab colour plastic. Better than all the toy helmets I've had before of this type (German Stanhelm) but of course the real thing is far superior (I have a Spanish war helmet which is actually more accurate as it is the type used in the movie as a stand in for the German Stanhelm) but any helmet of this style will do, most people cant tell the difference anyway.

Pic of the contents of the kit.

The kit also includes instructions, the red lenses, a thick strap to connect to the mask, buckles to fit it with, the two mask filters (is that what they are? or are they gas canisters? I don't know) and a black full face balaclava hood. Basically everything.
Everything is of very good quality, and can put all the newer masks made by prop builders and enthusiasts to shame, which is funny given that this kit is 20 years old!
All in all, this a definite must have! I just don't want to build it all up, as it took so long to get one, so I guess I'll have to make a copy to build and use and put the original somewhere safe.

Buildup official mask rating: 10/10

Now, onto the NAS mask:

Stray Dog version masks: Nightmare Armour Studio's (left) Buildup (right). note the Buildup mask hasn't yet been built up with filters, lenses etc, and the NAS mask is partway built up (no lenses or hose and large bolts for strap attachment).

Being the fanatic I am, I also own the Nightmare Armour Studio's version (its the unofficial one sold quite often on Ebay for 100 to 200 bucks). Mine is the unfinished model from Ebay, meaning I had to sand, fill, paint it etc etc to use it (I still haven't added lenses or lights yet, or breathing hose) but since it was the basic unfinished model I got it alot cheaper (30 quid) so I'm happy.

How is the mask??? well its made of thick hard resin, so wont fall apart any time soon, which makes it ideal for cosplay as it can take a bashing, but the drawback is there's no flexibility, so it doesn't hug to the face, giving it a very wide (fat face) look, so a normal Stanhelm helmet looks odd sitting on top, so either custom made larger helmets or the modern (incorrect) SWAT style helmets are needed to avoid the set up looking odd (in the banner image at the top of the page I'm using the modern SWAT style helmet).

The casting has lots of bubbles and holes, so a couple of hours of sanding and filling are necessary (not like the perfectly cast official version) in order to get it looking smooth. Another casting issue of note is that the casting is actually slightly warped (probably the master was warped) though it is barely visible, its not symmetrical.

Now, all the above isn't too much of a problem (easily fixed or barely noticeable) but where this mask (and pretty much every other unofficial mask) fails is the sculpt: it isn't accurate. The most obvious issue is the gas canister on the side of the mask, which is entirely the wrong shape, the lack of the line through the circular portion on the end of the mask, the lack of the chin pad, the incorrectly shaped brow plate, incorrect frames round the lenses, oversized portion of the mask near the ear area and missing screw details on the cheeks, among a couple other minor inaccuracies. All this means alot of work to reach a screen accurate mask, beginning with the chopping off of the gas canister and loads of re sculpting. More work than a fan really wants from a mask they dropped 100 or so bucks on.

However, if you aren't a hound for accuracy or just want a mask for general cosplay or display this works fine, just be aware of the issues before buying so you don't get disappointed. However, if like me you want accuracy, sell your car (or a kidney) and start looking to Japan to invest in the official mask. Good luck with that, you will need some to track one down, but Yahoo Japan Auctions occasionally have them (usually ending for about 50,000 yen), or Mandarake stores may get them in (usually between 35,000-50,000 yen) so take a look there too. In fact, look everywhere, you never know, you might score one cheap!

Group shot: from left: Nightmare Armour Studio's stray dog version mask, customised fan-made Stray Dog version mask of unknown origin, Alucard Wonder festival comic version mask, Buildup Stray Dog version mask and Jin Roh mask by YJA seller Kou Tomoda.

Kerberos collectables spreadsheet list

This spreadsheet (much like this blog) is still not complete particularly as far as books and DVD's, but it does have an (as far as my current knowlege goes) complete listing of all figures and kits available in all scales. please do read it and contact if you are aware of any mistakes or missing items.

Jin Roh: behind of the screen

Ok, I'm back!
This is a great little book, with loads of info (most of which I sadly cant read but my wife can translate some words)but even without being able to read Japanese there's plenty to enjoy, particularly the artwork and sketches, character designs and storyboard parts. It's a wonderful little piece of cinema memorabilia and really gives you a feel for the work that goes into anime movies. Highly recommended to any fan of the movie! go find a copy now!

Kerberos Panzer Cops: Tokyo War

This is the ultimate book for Kerberos fans. It's got everything: complete revised history, detailed images and info on all the armour, weapons, vehicles and equipment used by the Kerberos, national police, military and others plus a comic strip.
The detail this 'mook' goes into is amazing (right down to formations, rank systems and even how to breach a building - or sewer), combined with the various drawings, paintings and photographs make this vital for any collection. Consider it the Bible of the Kerberos Saga.
You Shouldn't have much trouble finding this 'mook' published by Gakken. Japanese online comic and book stores should still have stock as this is a recent release, so just browse for a deal. I paid a few pounds for mine, so you shouldn't pay over 20 for this unless by the time you read this there are practically none left and the secondary market has gone crazy. stranger things have happened.

Magazine: Arms Magazine 7

The Jin Roh article from Arms Mag 7 with Kerberos Saga weapons.

Magazine spread: Arms Magazine 08

Don't let the cover fool you, this right here is trove of Kerberos info, particularly the weapons. Enjoy.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Platz/DML figure review: Stray Dog: Kerberos Panzer Cop 20th anniversary edition!

So, my Platz/DML Panzer Cop arrived the other day! I have to say I am really loving this figure!!
Ok, so 70% of it was used before on an older figure, but this new release adds enough to the mix for it to qualify as new as opposed to just a re-issue.
First, Theres the differences identified by OSW member MIFUNE in the previous post:
1: mask is more flexible than the previous release
2: the breathing tube seems to be longer
3: there is now a clip to attach the tube to the backpack
4: the new body holds poses MUCH better
5: the strap pieces are stiffer
6: the chest plate is made of stiffer, harder material
7: the new helmet liner is nice, but the helmet fits better without it
8: the helmet is new
9: the belt/harness is made with new material that is better quality

Well, I have to add a few more points to that:
10: the breathing tube isn't longer, but it is softer, and clips into the backpack securely.
11: the shin armours and shoulder pads are of stiffer plastic than before
12: the mask includes actual lenses instead of painted lenses (great for light up eyes customs)
13: the incorrect silver detailing on the mask has been removed
14: the breathing tube attachment that connects the tube to the mask is curiously missing
15: the collar labels are slightly different (I prefer the older ones)
16: the MG42 no longer has loose ammo feed, meaning bullets stay firmly put

There are probably a couple of points I forgot to add, but all in all there's quite alot of un-obvious changes. The harder armour parts is very welcome given the older figures' armour had a tendency to warp, while the softer mask allows it to fit the form of the head better. The head sculpt itself is the most accurate to Inui so far (the previous DML figures didn't even bother to sculpt his head, though it may have been a license issue back then. Who knows. Meanwhile the Medicom/Kaiyodo/Buildup head was undersized and inaccurate as Inui didn't wear the hood) so its nice to finally have the characters head on his body at last! the sculpt seems pretty darn accurate, though perhaps the paint could be a little more lifelike, but I do have to admit that in person the eyes are very lifelike!
The accessories are the same (Mauser C96 with standard clip and top loading clip, Walther PPK with clip, and MG42 with removable barrel and metal bullet belt (forgive me if I mis-identified any weapons names). Add to that list the new helmet liner and clear figure stand and its got everything it needs!
The packaging is a mixture of old and new: the dimensions, layout and dual door opening front are same as before, and the theme of the mask on the box front remains, though the image is actually a photo now instead of a painting, and the previous white scheme has been replaced with a black scheme, with a summary of the movie plot on the back with a couple of movie stills set around images of the figure, while the backing card is the best of all, being a nice crisp image of the famous panzer cop crowd photo. nice!
all in all its a nice figure. the only reason anyone wouldn't be impressed is the fact it is mostly reissued uniform and the same armour and weapon moulds used previously. but hey, aren't re-releases supposed to be similar?? back when I was e-mailing DML to re-issue their Panzer Cop I pretty much asked for the same figure with new head sculpt, and what we got was more than that, so lets be thankful! Besides, with the prices the original releases were commanding on the secondary market, most folks couldn't afford the Stray Dog version armour, but with this new release, at under 90 bucks average (less if from Asia) its cheaper than the previous versions were going on the secondary market, cheaper than the Takara or Medicom Panzer Cops and at under 90 bucks, below the average for modern mid-high end licensed figure prices (Hot Toys licensed figures are running between 150-200, while Medicom figures also run between 120-180 and Sideshow Collectables licensed figures are retailing nowadays for between 90-140). In addition to the nice price, the figure is superior to the older releases, so if you don't have a Stray Dog Panzer Cop figure yet, this is the definitive version and currently widely available at a good price. Nows the time to be getting this figure! good luck!

Now: photos
The box front

The back of the box with movie summary, images of the figure and stills from the movie

The backing card image of the panzer cop crowd. Good enough to frame on its own!

Pictures of the figure out of box, showing how well the new body holds its pose


Group shot. From left: DML/Yamato Panzer Cop battle damaged version, DML/Yamato Panzer Cop light up eyes version, DML Panzer Cop normal version, Platz/DML Panzer Cop 20th anniversary version.

Group shot of head sculpts. From left: DML/Yamato Panzer Cop battle damaged version, DML/Yamato Panzer Cop light up eyes version, DML Panzer Cop normal version, Platz/DML Panzer Cop 20th anniversary version.

Inui head sculpt comparison. Medicom (left) Platz/DML (right)

Group shot of masks. From left: DML/Yamato Panzer Cop battle damaged version, DML/Yamato Panzer Cop light up eyes version, DML Panzer Cop normal version, Platz/DML Panzer Cop 20th anniversary version. The battle damaged version is very stiff and so is leaning forward, while the 20th anniversary version is leaning forward for the opposite reason, it is softer and lighter so the tube weight is lifting it slightly. Notice the use of clear lenses on the 20th anniversary version as well as (the more accurate) lack of silver paint.

View of the insides of the masks. From left: DML/Yamato Panzer Cop battle damaged version, DML/Yamato Panzer Cop light up eyes version, DML Panzer Cop normal version, Platz/DML Panzer Cop 20th anniversary version.

Helmets rear view. From left: DML/Yamato Panzer Cop battle damaged version, DML/Yamato Panzer Cop light up eyes version, DML Panzer Cop normal version, Platz/DML Panzer Cop 20th anniversary version. notice the paint chipping on the normal version. the new 20th anniversary version looks like it wont have that problem.

Helmets front view. From left: DML/Yamato Panzer Cop battle damaged version, DML/Yamato Panzer Cop light up eyes version, DML Panzer Cop normal version, Platz/DML Panzer Cop 20th anniversary version.