Ex Machina 1/6th scale action figuresEdit
Hot Toys, a high-end Japanese collectables company that typically markets action figures for American superhero franchises, issued a set of desirable one-sixth scale figures that coincided with the debut of Ex Machina, in 2007. All of the characters stand at least one foot tall, with Briareos slightly larger given his build and frame. They feature hand-painted flexible PVC bodies, held upright by a 21-joint articulated skeleton, meaning that you can pose each figure in nearly any position you want, with an appreciable lack of ugly, exposed bearings at the characters knees, elbows, and wrists. They appear incredibly human, with a few anime liberties taken, such as rigid, stylized hair and brilliant skin tones. That said, the stylized hair is a much stronger look than some of the alternatives, such as competitor Takara's one sixth figures, which, utilizing flowing, thread-like wigs, tend to lose their resemblance to the movie cast. Deunan Knute, for example, is strikingly faithful to her likeness in the movie with the Hot Toys figure, but loses her beauty and character with the Takara version, resembling Disney's Kim Possible more than anything else in my opinion. Interestingly enough, Takara was the officially-sanctioned action figure producer for the movie, so much so that the company's name briefly appears in the movie upon a levitating billboard.
The Hot Toys characters ship partially disassembled, with snap on extremities, like heads and hands. Speaking of which, each ships with two pairs of hands, one in the "relaxed" position, the other in the "gripping" position, for use with the various included weapons. Other accessories, like headbands, handsfree sets, and heads up displays, are included as appropriate. Each character ships with at least one handgun (usually the "Hecate" interpretation of some of the classic Seburo manga designs) and a submachine gun. Briareos is unique in having two cyborg pistols and one, very large "Enigma" anti-matter rifle (which is ironically never seen in the movie); Deunan, on the other hand, also has a sword and sheath. All the weapons have removable clips, and the handguns feature blowback slides which can be pulled to the rear, as though cocking the hammer.
Hot Toys, To my knowledge, offered action figures for three of the most popular cast members, namely Deunan, Briareos, and Tereus. In terms of popularity and resale values, Deunan commands the highest price (generally no less than $300, to as much as $600), Briareos second (typically between $200 to $300), and Tereus the least (at $100 to $150).
Takara's offering it seems, is limited only to Deunan, and pricing vaccilates but is generally lower in range due to popularity issues. As such, you can get a Takara Deunan Knute action figure for as little as $200. Beyond the unrecognizable face and hair, the body-armour detail is comparable to that of Hot Toys, if not slightly better (from what I've heard, all of her holsters, and bulletproof panels can be unstrapped and removed), but it almost isn't worth it.
Not only that, but Deunan appears heavier set in physique with the Takara version, looking fearsome for all the wrong reasons, like she belongs, as the old saying goes, to an East German weightlifting team. Not the best rendition I've seen, but they get points for trying.
Ex Machina Snap KitsEdit
A snap kit refers to a smaler scale (typically one-twelfth) action figure fashioned out of rigid plastic and shipped completely disassembled. Their arms and legs "snap" into socketed joints on their torso, hence the name, almost like the "snap-tite" automotive model kits seen frequently in North America. Along with their premium one-sixth scale action figures, Hot Toys also marketed a more affordable snap-kit lineup of the Ex Machina cast, with Deunan, Briareos, Tereus, Aeacus, and Rhoetus featured as characters.
Each figure (with the exception of the oversized Briareos), featured a random extremity or component for a Guges Landmate, meaning that if you bought all five figures twice, (for a total of ten) you would be able to assemble a full sized Landmate from the bonus parts. The Landmate was critically acclaimed for it's overall detail and accuracy, and is unique in that there are very few models of the aircraft to begin with. It accepted a characters upper torso with head, should you want to display it with the access hatch in the open position, and a pilot inside.
Given their palm-sized scale (see image), they are made of rigid plastic, and of course have to rely on the old school ball-bearing joint at the knees and elbows, though Hot Toys does a surprisingly impressive job at concealing them behind the character's various armour panels.
Although offered individually, collectors and distributors quickly snapped up much of the initial release of the snap-kit set models, and then subsequently re-released the series as a set complete with the Landmate parts, with pricing only slightly inflated at the $150–200 range. Generally, this move was appreciated by the buying public as it took the guesswork out of selecting the right ten models. Since the five components that built the Landmate were symmetrical, with left and right sides, and bundled randomly, it was easily possible to end up with duplicate extremities for one half of the model, if you were just an ordinary independent consumer.
Resin Replica WeaponsEdit
Over the last decade, at least three different companies have offered high quality, resin replicas of the various Seburo sidearms that make frequent appearances in the last two volumes of the Appleseed manga. Most popular is Deunan's Bobson Centennial handgun, followed by the CX blowback pistol. Some various submachinegun replicas exist, and apparently a Gong replica was marketed at one point, but I haven't seen it yet.
Most of the producers are or were small-scale companies, some operating strictly through mail-order with the various models moulded by hand in a garage. The original positive casts (the first model used to make the negative moulds themselves) were probably hand carved, but with breathtaking precision; for example, the individual screws seen on the upper half of the pistol grip are usually detailed down to their knurled finish on the crown. Whether or not the triggers can be depressed, or the safety catches released, remains a question to me.
Less common are resin replicas that have been moulded from original Airsoft paintball replicas. Poseidon Japan (a small scale garage-based company, named after the fictional Appleseed corporation), was the one of the few to do this, recreating the MN-23 paintball submachinegun (see below) after Moon-Net ceased production of the model after a thousand were cast. Posedion's kit was reportedly of even higher quality than Moon-Net's, adhering more closely to Shirow Masamune's original schematics, but their offering was of course just a static model, and not a functioning Airsoft.
Unfortunately, for most North American fans, replica weapons are quite illegal, even for those holding legit gun licenses. Although a loophole in federal gun control laws allows for the possession of black or metallic painted Airsoft weapons of any variety (so I've been told), if a replica weapon is hand-carved, and/or non functioning (i.e. a resin cast), it falls in a prohibited category all its own, not unlike assault weapons, which are banned from public ownership altogether.
Most of the Japanese producers are aware of these legal stipulations, and refuse to ship any of their models to North America for fear of fierce legal backlash. Some Airsoft producers follow suit, unwilling to take the risk even though their products, being functioning units, are unrestricted and actually quite permissible for import.
Although the MN-23 wasn't ever featured in Appleseed (appearing only in the next series to follow, Dominion), it's another cool Seburo design nevertheless, so we'll review it briefly here. Designed by Shirow Masamune during the late mid eighties, on commission for Moon-Net (one of Japan's premier airgun producers) the MN-23 was based upon an existing Moon-Net FAMAS assault-rifle frame, modified to resemble a futuristic Belgian P90 PDW-class submachinegun. Not surprisingly, Masamune went overboard on the request, and ended up designing over thirty different variations on the MN-23, including sniper and stealth versions, some utilizing double magazines for extended ammunition capacity. Also not surprisingly, only one of the thirty proposed variants was ultimately adopted. The schematics for most of the thirty appear in the Appleseed: Hypernotesgraphical encyclopedia, for those who are interested.
Moon-Net intentionally limited the production run to just a thousand, and the rifle has been discontinued for some time now. As previously mentioned, Poseidon Japan later cast negative moulds from an MN-23 and improved the overall design, producing an additional run of inoperable resin replicas. The overal level of cast quality and detail was said to be superior to the originals, and apparently a few more variations were offered.
Unlike resin replicas, the functioning airsoft-class MN-23 should be legal for import and possession in North America, but I'm not an expert on the subject.