Figure Guide Part 1: Banpresto, Nendoroids, and Figmas
Recently, on our Facebook page, a comment was made regarding one the very impressive Touken Ranbu figures we currently have up for pre-order. The well-intentioned post captures the thoughts of many with an interest in collecting figures. There are so many to choose from, and the price points vary greatly. This is a brief guide highlighting some of the big brands and makers of officially licensed figures for anime.
Many high-priced figures and statues exist, but the purpose of this guide is to help the new collector. Several of the brands highlighted may also have licenses from video games, movies, and pop culture, which will be highlighted in each section, but this guide is primarily for anime figures as there are some manufactures that focus solely on those areas.
Finally, the brands in this guide are available at RavenshireHobby.com, making it easy for you to see some of the newest figures available. As a reminder, this is a simple guide written by someone who has been retailing figures for five years and a lifetime fan of the genres on which theses figures are based. Hopefully, you will find this guide useful.
This is one of the two brands that I normally recommend to those wanting to start a small collection of anime figures. The price of these figures makes these popular, as figures from Banpresto run, on average, between $20 - $45. The paint, size, variety, and quality are impressive for the price point. In addition to the price, these figures are sought after for their artistic merit, as there are many artistic collaborations that occur officially in these figures.
As a background, many of the Banpresto figures are popular in Japan as prizes in the UFO Catchers, claw machines, and other similar arcade attractions. However, because of their quality, they are often re-sold to shops, many of which can be found near the arcades in Akihabara, and these shops sell them directly to other customers. Since arcades use a large segment of these figures to attract people into their establishment, most licenses are focused on popular titles Dragon Ball, One Piece, Sword Art Online, Naruto, LoveLive, and Lupin the 3rd. Thankfully, when some series gain a modicum of popularity, Banpresto will make figures based on other licenses. As of this writing, in the past few months there have been figures for characters from Code Geass, Re: Zero, Girls und Panzer, the Fate series, and Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure.
Within the Banpresto manufactured figures, there are several figure lines, each having their own style and sometimes containing more than one license. Figures done in monochrome, glossy finish, animated paint style, costume theme, action pose, multi-part sets, special poses, and some unique cross overs. Below are some examples of these different styles, with the last two pictures being from my collection and (Ravenshire Hobby Podcast co-host) Ben’s collection, respectively. The Dragon Ball Z X One Piece figures were a find from a store in Akihabara selling them second-hand, while the majority of Ben’s are winnings from several arcades.
Something to consider, is that the majority of Banpresto figures are more statues, therefore do not have articulated joints. Meaning the pose you see, is the pose you get. Some people prefer this style, as they do not like the breaks that articulation can give to certain figure’s joints, or they are unsure of the best way to pose them. Also, to see these figures, you will need to take them out of the box. While it may be worthwhile to keep the boxes, as they normally have good artwork, there are generally no windows to see the figure inside. These are impressive figures for anyone to start with, especially if you are looking for a way to add some art to your entertainment area or office.
This may get a bit complicated, but I hope this makes some sense. Nendoroids are a style of figure created by Good Smile Company, its subsidiaries, and in collaboration with other groups. These cute chibi-like versions of characters, are the perfect size for a desktop collection. Additionally, the all come with a base and accessories, which along with the various points of articulation, allow you to pose the figure in your favorite position. The majority of Nendoroids also come with different face plates, and sometimes even hair styles, to allow further customization. Prices range on new Nendoroids, but are often in the $35 - $60 range. There are some that are indeed cheaper, and some of the deluxe edition Nendoroids are more expensive.
Besides the style and accessories, Nendoroids are known for being very well manufactured and painted. The soft edges of the figures and bright colors, are a hallmark of this series. The pain staking quality checks that Good Smile goes through to ensure their figures are of high quality, and because of this there are times when figures get delayed due to manufacturing issues. Because of the size and popularity of this line, it is a regular target of pirating. If you know the signs of a pirated figure, they become easier to spot. At some point I will write my learnings on the matter, but for now my recommendation is to visit Good Smile Company’s website where they have a very good article about some of the common signs.
It is important to note that these figures do look fantastic in their original packaging. With a window in the front and artwork on the sides of the boxes, it would be perfectly reasonable to keep them in the box, if that is your thing. The figure, is fully displayed, along with a few accessories, making it a nice piece for a boxed collection.
Recently, Good Smile Company has started working to get some Nendoroids of certain video game licenses into ‘big box’ stores. Within this effort they began re-releasing some older Nendoroids from video game licenses with a new numbering and with less accessories. However, I have personally seen a few from the main line show up in certain stores, but these are normally the ones based on well-known video game franchises.
For those starting out with a collection, looking for cute versions of your favorite characters from various anime, this is the perfect place to start. New Nendoroids are constantly being announced, and are from a wide variety of series. In recent memory there has been a figure from Urusei Yatsura, a series from the early 1980s, all the way up to figures from the recently aired Yuri Camp, aka Laid-back Camp.
As stated before the Nendoroid line also extends to other genres, and because of the licensing involved with certain series some figures never make it to the US unless directly imported from Japan. An example is the Nendoroid based on characters from Marvel Comics, which did not see a US release, and must be imported. These normally, have a slightly higher price tag to offset the cost of importing.
My personal favorite part about Nendoroids, is the number of licenses from many different forms of media. Disney, Marvel, DC, Nintendo, Sega, Sony, and many other video game and anime studios are some of the main licenses. Meaning if you want a unifying theme throughout your initial collection, and enjoy multiple series across different forms of media, you may want to consider a few of these.
If you made it through the start of the Nendoroid explanation, the manufacturing situation for Figma figures is pretty much the same. Max Factory, a subsidiary of Good Smile Company, is the most common group that manufactures this style of figure, but it varies much like the Nendoroids. However, the final check and shipment is decided on by Good Smile Company.
One way to think of Figmas is as the highly articulated action figure forms of characters. Where Nendoroids have a cute ‘chibi-ish’ look, Figmas look as the character would be expected to look. The articulated points on these figures are the true selling point, as they are easy to move in an expected way while still being stable enough to hold the pose in which they are positioned. Additionally, the accessories and alternate faceplates allow for further customization.
Artistic details are a great reason to add some Figmas to your collection. Figures in this line are highly detailed, from a sculpting and painting standpoint. Bright accurate colors, and shadowing, are done in a manner that allows the figure to be posed in numerous ways, without losing the look of the character. Coloring with the appropriate tones, which are often customized to be as close to the source as possible, in the right places allows the figures to stand out from others in your collection.
The wide range of licenses available for these figures is even more impressive than the Nendoroid line, with even more choices. While a majority of licenses are from multiple eras of anime, manga, and video games, there are also Figmas from movies, actors, professional wrestlers, and even classical art.
The important thing to remember with these figures, much like Nendoroids, is that they are limited due to the molds used. Once a figure is sold out, it will be gone, unless it receives a second run from a new mold. Figure re-runs normally look identical to the original, as the molds are similar, yet separate. Because there is always a limited number of these figures available, depending on the mold, it is important to preorder, when possible.
With all the potential selections and quality comes price. Due to the complex nature of these figures, each figure will be in the $60 - $160 range. The higher end prices are normally reserved for deluxe (DX) editions, extra (EX) editions, and the Goodsmile Racing Sponsorship series. Deluxe editions are normally reserved for Figmas where there is a lower priced standard edition, and may include extra accessories or outfit modifications, depending on the figure. Extra editions are normally for Figmas containing additional figures, alternate outfit versions, or made in conjunction with specific licenses.
Goodsmile Racing Sponsorship Figmas (and Nendoroids), are special Hatsune Miku figures released each year to allow fans to personally sponsor the Goodsmile Racing & Team UKYO Super GT team. Each year the car features a unique illustration of Miku, which you can get as a Figma (or Nendoroid) as part of the sponsorship package. Plus, each package comes with extras depending on the sponsor level. It is an interesting crossover for fans of racing and anime.
Hopefully, this guide will help you with some of your figure purchasing decisions. As always reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. You can preorder all of these brands and more at RavenshireHobby.com where we sell only officially licensed figures from authorized distributors. Use promo code ART15 for a 15% off discount on your preorders!
As you can tell by the title of this article this is the first part in a series of figure guides. Next time, I will look to cover figures Megahouse, Storm Collectibles, and Alter. If you have any requests or suggestions for other major brands that you would like to see, please let us know. Finally, please share this article with your friends, followers, or anyone else who is interested in collecting figures. If you are going to repost this on any other site, please give us credit and let us know where you are reposting it so we can try to help you out in return! Thank you again for reading!