Kotobukiya: Darth Vader And Clone Trooper

Discussion in 'Collecting' started by Ishi Tib, Nov 25, 2002.

  1. Ishi Tib

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    <CENTER>KOTOBUKIYA:
    JAPANESE CRAFTMANSHIP AT ITS BEST
    </CENTER>

    <CENTER> By Ishi Tib</CENTER>

    Originally a simple retail hobby shop, the Japanese model maker Kotobukiya has grown quickly, becoming one of Japan's main garage kit manufacturers and ranking high in popularity amongst Star Wars collectors worldwide.

    After Lucasfilm gave the maker the license to carry on with the manufacturing of 1/7 scale soft vinyl/snap fit kits based on the Star Wars films, Koto has been putting out an incredible line which has already awaken the attention of model builders and fans alike.

    Exclusive only to Japan at this time, the kits can be purchased through several online retailers anywhere in the vicinity of $90 to $150.00. Rumors circulate the figures will be brought to the U.S and sold here; a deal to do so seems to be on the works. This would be well received, since their price and shipping charges will be expected to drop.

    Consider Kotobukiya to be the cream of the cream, the Marmit of 12" scale model kits. The attention to detail is extreme, the poses are superb and the casting surely assures long lasting quality.

    Keep in mind, though, these are soft vinyl statues and therefore lack articulation; despite their zero movement though, these are fantastic centerpieces, focal points, assets to anyone's collection.

    <CENTER>ASSEMBLY</CENTER>

    Minor assembly is required while putting one of these kits together; usually no more than 8 steps. Best of all they are all offered pre-painted, so those lacking an ability with a brush or air brush will have nothing to fear. There is also no need for glue; the kits are designed to neatly and easily "snap fit," assuring the pieces will remain firmly attached to each other and showing a seamless look once the building is completed.

    <CENTER>DISPLAY BASE</CENTER>

    A textured, sturdy base, big enough to balance the weight of the figure, is included with every kit. Two foot pegs protrude from the base, allowing for a secure connection to the peg holes under the figure's feet. The design of every base relates to a piece of the environment the given figure was seen in within the film. We'll take a look at two of them:

    Clonetrooper's Base: Offers a sand-like texture with terrain irregularities capturing the Arena battle; Although the color of the base is a bit too dark, it definitely adds reality to the overall view of the kit. Some effort is required while attaching the feet of the Clone to the base, thus creating a very tight fit; but once hooked on to it, you know the kit will remain in place.

    Darth Vader's Base: It is taken right off the movie scene in the Carbonite chamber; grooves and designs of the platform are cut outs and truly authentic. A clear yellowish acrylic piece has been attached under the base, allowing for light to sip through, should one decides to place the kit on a lit column; a fantastic look when properly executed.

    <CENTER>KITS MATERIALS AND PACKAGE</CENTER>

    I was surprised by the sturdiness of the materials used on the casting of the kits. Despite the so called term "soft plastic kits," they are in fact made of very strong plastic (PVC) giving the figures a good amount of weight. I had a chance to build both kits, Vader and the Clonetrooper.

    The Clone is definitely manufactured using solid plastic materials. No soft pieces are found other than his blaster and even this piece is not remotely as soft as one might think. He is one solid dynamically posed figure.

    Vader on the other hand does have some soft plastic pieces. For instance his cape which, by the way, measures 18" from tip to tip and 11" from top to bottom, is constructed of soft plastic but rigid enough to keep its shape.

    The head/helmet and torso of the figure seem to be hollow but again, the plastic is sturdy and flexible enough to allow for the attachment of the extremities without going out of shape nor breaking.

    The kits come packed in strong four window boxes allowing for easy viewing from different angles. The windows have been placed on each side of the box, top and front.

    Inside the box, the parts are "trayed" and placed separately from the base and in Vader's case, his cape has been "blistered" by itself, protecting it and thus creating a huge package as well.

    <CENTER>BODY PARTS AND BUILDING TIME </CENTER>

    Not too many. Again, those lacking an ability to build kits, have not to worry. Torso, legs, arms, head, base and sabers' blades are basically all the parts you will find within every kit to be assembled. There are no halves to these parts, just protruding pieces at their point of entry to the torso; in other words, an arm is just one complete piece, with no front and back to put together.

    Without a doubt, the Clonetrooper kit can be assembled within 5 minutes. All the pieces went in as easy as 1, 2, 3 without a single problem.

    There are 7 Clone parts inside: base, legs (one piece), torso, left arm and hand, right arm no hand, blaster rifle with molded on right hand, and head.

    While the clone was easy, Vader's kit became sort of a hassle and took a little longer to put together, giving me a sore thumb after several minutes of trying. This was caused by the fact the connecting peg under the head was slightly larger than the corresponding opening provided for the insertion at the torso. But this can be corrected by shaving off some of the excess plastic.

    The figure also presented a bit of a problem holding the cape with the left hand as it is intended. Since the cape was a bit too long, its bottom rubbed against the base, pushing it away from the holding hand. Several tries, moving the cape around, were needed until finally the cape remained within the hand's grip. Other than these two problems, everything else was fine and building time took around twenty minutes.

    There are 7 parts you will find inside: base, legs with attached skirt and torso, left arm and hand, right arm with hand holding saber's hilt, saber's blade, cape and helmet/head.
     
  2. Ishi Tib

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    <CENTER>OVERALL VIEW</CENTER>

    The sculpt of both pieces is phenomenal and the likeness just stunning. The size of the bodies is accurately portrayed and proportioned. Details seem not to be overlooked either; perfect coloring (except for Clone's base), nicely crafted leather feel and stitches can be felt and seen on Vader's outfit, proper shine of his boots, helmet and gloves. Even the system function indicators and system function box on Vader's belt as well as all the indicators on his chest plate were painted using the right colors. Not a single sign of color bleeding among sections was spotted.

    The Clonetrooper has been weathered and stained properly. His blaster has been given a rusted luster and detailed with precision. One can even see the rusted bolts and screws on his weapon. Breath filter, T visor and lines on helmet are exact to the film. The utility belt with spare blaster igniters and grappling hook has been accurately rendered also.

    Just one last word will resume the impression on this kits: BREATHTAKING!

    <CENTER>LIMITED EDITION RED CLONE TROOPER </CENTER>


    As a preview of what next year will bring for this fantastic line, Kotobukiya will be releasing a limited edition of a red Clone Trooper Commander. The kit will be limited to 1,000 pieces worldwide with a retail price of 7800 Yen, approximately $63.50 U. S. The picture you will see below was taking from a Japanese collectors magazine and it is shown here for the first time on the Web.

    The Commander sports the same pose and weaponry as the now available all white Clone Trooper but of course, showing all the red markings associated with his rank.


    <CENTER>RETAIL VALUE OF THE KITS</CENTER>

    Here is the retail value of the Kotobukiya kits. Keep in mind this by no means is the price you will be paying if your interest drives you into buying one of these kits. The fact is that since they are exclusive to Japan, online retailers have to pay a premium in order to bring them into the country and prices vary; even if you were to buy it directly from Japan, an estimated $45.00 U. S for shipping could be added to their cost. Nevertheless, here are their retail prices:

    Darth Vader: 9800 Yen Approx. $80.00 U. S

    Clonetrooper (White or Red): 7800 Yen Approx. $63.50 U. S

    Anakin Skywalker: 7800 Yen Approx. $63.50 U. S

    Yoda and Mace Windu: 9800 Yen Approx. $80.00 U. S

    Obi Wan Kenobi (EP II): 7800 Yen Approx. $63.50 U. S

    Jango Fett: 7880 Yen Approx. $63.50 U. S


    <CENTER>~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~</CENTER>

    My thanks go to our Japan informant "Lone Clone" for providing us with the exclusive picture of the Red Commander as well as allowing me to photograph, build and review these kits. Thank you kindly LC!

    Take a look now at the detailed pictures that follow, let us know what you think and enjoy!

    <CENTER>Ishi Tib</CENTER
     
  3. Ishi Tib

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    CLONE TROOPER KIT #1
     

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  4. Ishi Tib

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    CLONE TROOPER KIT #2
     

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  5. Ishi Tib

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    CLONE TROOPER KIT #3
     

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  6. Ishi Tib

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    CLONE TROOPER KIT #4
     

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  7. Ishi Tib

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    CLONE TROOPER KIT #5
     

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  8. Ishi Tib

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    CLONE TROOPER KIT #6
     

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  9. Ishi Tib

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    CLONE TROOPER KIT $7
     

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  10. Ishi Tib

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    CLONE TROOPER KIT #8
     

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  11. Ishi Tib

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    RED COMMANDER CLONE TROOPER. LIMITED EDITION KIT #9
     

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  12. Ishi Tib

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    DARTH VADER #1
     

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  13. Ishi Tib

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    DARTH VADER KIT #2
     

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  14. Ishi Tib

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    DARTH VADER KIT#3
     

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  15. Ishi Tib

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    DARTH VADER KIT #4
     

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  16. Ishi Tib

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    DARTH VADER KIT #5
     

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  17. Ishi Tib

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    DARTH VADER KIT #6
     

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  18. Ishi Tib

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    DARTH VADER KIT #7
     

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  19. Ishi Tib

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    ANAKIN SKYWALKER KIT. PICS COURTESY OF KOTOBUKIYA LTD.
     

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  20. Ishi Tib

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    JANGO FETT KIT. PICTURE COURTESY OF KOTOBUKIYA LTD.
     

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