I have a dilemma. With each limited release of CM’s Corp’s soft-vinyl Patlabor figures, I find myself slowly but surely being sucked down into another dimension… the Lair of Sofubi Addiction! Just what is it about these gimmickless, imprecise and exploitingly expensive figures that could appeal to a collector who grew up playing with Super Real High-Technology by Takatoku Toys? In a word: Obscurity.
If all you have ever hungered for as a Patlabor fan was to own some incarnation of the Ingrams, Type-Zero, Griffon and maybe some of the featured enemies by Schaft Enterprises, you could get a quick fix if you don’t mind settling for Bandai’s 1/60 scale model kits. But for true blue toys of those wonderful blue-collar worker labors, you’re out of luck unless you have the skills to tackle soft-vinyl or resin kits. I guess that’s why I’m all over these sofubi labors, even though they really can’t do much except sit pretty.
My Pickel-Kun is the ‘Red OVA version’ (limited to 1,000 pieces); the rarer ‘Brown TV version’ only had a run of 500 pieces. So far, the colors of the actual toys have been slightly inaccurate compared to the online publicity photos. Overall, I find the colors to be duller than expected… my ‘red’ Pickel was actually ‘reddish brown’ (which makes me wonder what the ‘brown’ Pickel really looks like!) The toy has a grand total of just 1 (ONE) movable joint… and that’s the main turret. Those three clawed legs are fixed pieces – the beautifuly detailed pistons cry out to be customised into real working parts. Even the deep-grooved wheels tucked away in the midst of each set of claws are just a molded detail. Poseability is effectively zero, but then again, it looks fabulous when paired with the resolute Ingram.
So, is it worth more than 5,000 yen each? I certainly enjoyed having both sofubi labors within easy reach around my desk… They are relatively well-detailed and molded, and best of all, they are almost indestructible – a quality I have come to cherish more and more when so many contemporary mecha ‘collectibles’ simply fall apart because of over-ambitious product design. These sofubis? They’re made to last. :-)
Feedback and comments are welcome at the regular CM’s Corp Patlabor BBS thread.