“At the end of their lives, all men look back and think that their youth was Arcadia”
In these halcyon days of anime’s World-wide popularity, it is sometimes difficult to remember that a great deal of what we enjoy today is the direct result of the inspirational work of only a handful of creators.
Names like Hayao Miyzaki, Ikeda Riyoko and the legendary Tezuka Osamu have not only created immortal works of their own, but also served as inspiration for several decades of manga-ka and animators.
However, even among the giants of the Golden Age of Japanese media culture, the name of Matsumoto Leiji has an honored place indeed, especially for fans of that romantic form of Space Opera which has dominated comics, film and television ever since E. E. ‘Doc’ Smith first sent the Skylark forth.
Matsumoto’s Leiji’s imagination has given use some of the most important anime icons of the last half a century. He is the man behind the visual style of the Space Battleship Yamato legacy, both ships and crew – whose adventures have become one of the central pillars of anime fandom in the US. He is also the creator who laid the ephemeral rails upon which ran the Galaxy Express 999 – the impossible, beautiful tale of a young man’s journey into himself in the company of the fair Maetel, and the grand old ‘Three Nine’ itself.
An artist and writer whose interpretation of ‘space opera’ ran literally to the operatic, Matsumoto Leiji has never been afraid of retconing, re-imagining and reconsidering his own creations from different points of view, as if his characters have a value to the audience which goes beyond the limits of a fixed narrative.
This has never been more true than with the Master’s most recognizable, and popular characters: Space Captain Harlock.
Formally introduced in 1977 in his own manga, Captain Harlock has featured in several important narratives, as a representation of common humanity rising up against the decay of their own times, and the ennui into which – in the operatic tradition – all people inevitably sink. A pirate, apart from society, answering only to his own conscience and flying under a flag of freedom, it is not surprising that his dashing, heroic, iconoclastic character has come to mean so much for generations of fans, at home and abroad.
The version of the Captain which Hot Toys have released is taken from the 2013 CG feature which, once more re-created both the origins of the immortal space pirate himself and his legendary ship, the Arcadia.
The Hong-Kong based Hot Toys company has, over the last few years made a potent name for itself as something of a ‘successor’ to Medicom as the premiere house for 1/6 scale display figures, and in this special set of Captain Harlock, with the Arcadian Throne, they continue to live up to their already high standards.
Employing one of their standard bodies on this figure, the worth of this particular figure is found in the wealth of detail to be found in the sculpt of the Captain’s head, in Harlock’s accouterments and his updated outfit.
The head has been fashioned using data supplied to Hot Toys by the film company itself and, as such matches perfectly the screen form, and the level of detail cast/painted into the finished object even seems to extend to a small metallic insert into the visible eye, to give the character a steely glint, to match his brooding visage.
This tone is kept throughout the figure’s outfit, with the ‘leather’ of the screen being replicated in some of the finest, smoothest pleatheresque material which I have seen on a figure of this scale. Flexible, finely stitched and carefully printed, the outfit painstakingly recreates the movie’s unique take on Harlock’s outfit with only a few issues to break the image up.
The first of these is the choice of standard push snaps to close the gun-belt at the rear. However, as ugly as this might be, I cannot bring myself to fault it, as to have clasped the belt at the front might have meant being unable to replicate the actual buckles proper to scale.
Secondly, the long, flexible plastic boots are actually not connected from ankle to foot, and though tapered and housed so that the join is not too obvious, it is there for those who care. For myself, I see the sense in the decision, in that it allows for a much more dynamic series of posing opportunities.
Finally, I am disappointed that the ‘Tori-san’ which is included with the figure is not articulated in the slightest, unlike the version which was included with the Medicom Harlock (which had a flexible neck and gripping feet). The casting of the bird is good enough, but the inability to easily perch the bird on Harlock’s shoulder, in that classic pose is something of a let-down.
Everything else within the set is of excellent quality. The equipment, extra hands and stand are all one would expect of Hot Toys.
However, the Arcadian Throne really gives the set something to admire. So large that it dwarfs the Captain, it is assembled and painted to a fine standard, and presents the owner with striking display opportunities which go beyond the common stand itself.
I do rather wish that Hot Toys had gone with a ship’s wheel instead (or in addition to) the throne, but I cannot say that I am disappointed with the extra money invested.
An excellent version of a timeless hero.
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