THE IDOLM@STER 9th ANNIVERSARY WE ARE M@STERPIECE!! came and went earlier this month, and if there’s one thing you can do while you’re missing out on a big event, it’s taking the time to reminisce and ponder on the past (Hey, both build upon special memories. Right…?).
The further along anniversaries go the more I’m interested in gaining perspective to where it all started. I’ve been a fan of the Idolm@ster franchise since the Xbox 360 console release in 2007, but it was first an arcade game that debuted in 2005.
I was on-board with with home console releases, but anything before that is a black hole to me. Other fans I know got into the franchise in later installments of the games or with the anime, so I don’t have a clear point of reference as to what those early years were like. I mean, whatever was around back then is a dingleberry compared to the mammoth amount of merchandise we see now.
The SR idolm@ster gashapon figures by Yujin give a small glimpse of how the original 765Pro idols were portrayed. Also, in true gashapon fasion, they even had “secret” figures making it a total 12 figures to collect.
Observing the ad, you can see that the idols look a little rough, to say the least. Keep in mind that these figures were based on the arcade portrayals of the characters (hence Azusa’s black hair as opposed to the more dark blue color she dons now, and the eyes are more angular). These figures were produced for capsule machines in October 2006, so it was pretty much the final representation of the arcade designs until the Xbox 360 debut with a more polished look. You’ll also notice a few idols are missing from the set; Chihaya, Ritsuko, Ami and Mami. I’m not certain why that is, as they’re just as popular as their idol mates, and it’s hard to believe any Idolm@ster merchandise set without all idols present happen today. “It’s just unthinkable!” said Bandai Namco…
Let’s have a look at the idols that are in the set (figures on right are the “secret” versions):
This is an interesting set. They don’t have to be in front of you to see that the quality is a far cry from, say, Nedoroid Petites. Then again, they’re still detailed enough to gain some appreciation, at least in a quaint way. As standard figures they’re nothing to write home about (maybe a blogpost is okay?), but as gashapon figures they might have something going here.
The outfits represented; Snow Strawberry, Twinkle Black, and Noel Angelic. Personally, as a fan, outfits in Idolm@ster don’t usually stand out to me. Looking at these, though, I’m not only impressed by how faithful they captured the outfits from the game, but how they put in the effort in getting the right texture to give the proper appearance. The Twinkle Black outfits look like they has a slight gloss finish to it to imitate the latex fabric, and the Snow Strawberry outfits have a very soft appearance.
The etching outlines are a little off in areas like the boots, but on closer inspection you can see the creases on the ankle area. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m a little blown away they wanted to show the idols in slight motion. The paint work leaves something to be desired. It overlaps slightly onto other parts. However, bringing attention to the feet again(!), the boots on the Twinkle Black outfits have at least two areas for each three different colors. It’s also worth pointing out that the shading for the hair on the idols have some definition, so at least they don’t look like they have helmet-hair.
Now, about the secret variant figures, some are nice nods to the idol’s quirks while others… aren’t quite as clever. Yukiho has her shovel (of the garden variety) as a reference to a phrase she says in the game to the extent of digging a hole so she can bury herself in to get away from whatever worries her (“穴を掘って埋まってます”). Iori has her stuffed rabbit Usa-san wrapped around her arm, which has some notable significance to her character. Yayoi loves to eat, so she’s holding a bowl of rice. Fair enough, although having her cup a handful of yen coins would be funny and true to her character, too.
It gets a little silly with the remaining figures. Azusa has Don and Katsu (the former seems to come with the vanilla Azsua) from the Taiko no Tatsujin series that attach to her, I guess to have them dry hump her arm and leg. They’re Bandai Namco characters and each franchise have guest starred in the other occasionally, so it fits, albeit at a stretch.
My top idol~♥ Makoto has the lamest variant; a whooping TWO eyes open! A simple hair accessory like a ribbon or tiara that alludes to the girly image that she desires would have been a better idea. Finally, Haruka dons a black outfit, similar to the Gothic Princess outfit sans the pink. It’s kind of cool looking, but wouldn’t it be cooler if she had the nonowa face?
From all of this, I think Yujin’s design of the 765Pro idols is quite charming. I can’t think of too many figures of Idolm@ster that came before Yujin’s — If they’re any on record I’m sure they’re obscure to most fans now. I’m also not sure I would recommend going out of your way to seek these out, either, but they’re a nice relic of the franchise’s humble beginnings. Try to think of it of an aspiring baker giving baking a cake the old college try; maybe the frosting is a little off, but the amount of sugar just right. いただきます！
Bonus notes!: While poking around for pictures I came across a few blog sites that shared their curiosity of what underroos the idols in this set wore (…as would anyone?). One Producer took it a step further and deconstructed the outfits to reveal what ribbons they had! Take a gander for yourselves to see more from the sources used for this post: link 1, link 2, link 3, link 4, link 5, link 6