AZUMI manga figurine

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I absolutely love this particular ‘trading figure’ from the FiguAx‘s 2006 AZUMI line. On the heels of the successful live action film, these faithfully represented the design evolution of Yu Koyama’s tragic sword girl over the course of the successful manga series.

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A great sculpt with just enough detail to not detract from the superb posing. Lots of movement achieved here. They also perfectly skirt that balance of cute and deadly we all love. Super well done, especially for a 4″ PVC.

My icon explained…

Couple folk have asked about my icon on Twitter or Facebook. It’s an image of where my worlds of ninja fandom, pro wrestling mark and obseesive toy collector meet – a Japanese capsule figure of ninja-themed 80’s pro-wrestler The Great Kabuki.

Here’s a full body shot of the inch-high shinobi guy:

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During the glory days of my media-starved 80’s ninja craze teenaged years, Kabuki was an absolute dream. A lifelong wrestling fan already, the debut of an armored-hooded nunchaku-swinging Japanese mystery man sent me into TOTAL MARK territory. The sinister foreign heel’s coolest gimmick, though, was the blowing of red or green “Asian Mist” onto opponents faces. Why this sprayed ink would be instantly poisonous to an opposing wrestler, and not himself, was never questioned – ninja have natural tolerances for arcane poisons, right?

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There’s a nice Kabuki tribute site and bio here, and this is a nice blog write-up with video references.

SAVITAR – best ninja figure of the 80’s?

For the most part, 80’s ninja figures released in the U.S. resembled the cheesy straight-to-video movie costuming or equally lame ninja suits sold in the back of Soldier of Fortune magazine. Re-mold a He-Man in black pajamas, paint the head black leaving only the sinister eyes visible, give him some sort of kung-fu weapon… done.

However, one figure was SPOT-ON to the sort of historically credible fare seen in the Shinobi-no-Mono films – a dead ringer for a Daiei or Toei studios costume department special – Savitar the Assassin from Mego’s Eagle Force.

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Look at that, details right down to the sandal straps on the tabi! And he’s only TWO INCHES tall. Savitar was the requisite sinister saboteur of terrorist army R.I.O.T., opposed by the metallic gold-clad would-be GI Joe squad Eagle Force. The small metal figures had real promise, and the character design was amazing. Mego, however, was on it’s heels as a company, and closed up shop in 1982.

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So Savitar here is one of the earliest American ninja figures, and easily the best designed in my opinion. Rare too in that he’s outright called an ‘Assassin’ – you don’t often see such direct references to killing on kid’s toys here.

For some insight from the creator of the line, check out the best damn Eagle Force page anyone could ask for at the Mego Museum! They’ve even got concept art…

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And here‘s a better look at the cool package illos.

KAGEMARU vinyl figure

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Going back ot the early 60’s, Mitsuteru Yokoyama‘s Iga no Kagemaru property spanned manga, a great live action movie, toys, trading cards and board games, and anything else that could  bear a licensed image. You’ll see this shinobi superhero in just about every category on this site.

Here’s a 2004 retro-collectible from Japan’s Furuta capsule and blind-box toy manufacturer. There’s not nearly enough nostalgic toy licensing in Japan – there should be a whole line of figures of this character, his allies and the amazing rogues gallery of villains. Movie likenesses too. This piece is a representation of the manga version, complete with diorama base depicting his signature whirlwind leaf defense. He also came with a variant un-hooded head, of which I promptly lost track.

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And check out this illo from an early 60’s 2-color pulp manga – clearly the sculptor’s guide for the above figure.

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Lots of Yokoyama’s manga cover art just added to Books and Manga, too!

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