Oh man. What on Earth possessed me to buy this set? Released a bit over a year ago, I must’ve been drinking and shopping online the day I added this to my Shopping Cart. As you can see, this is the famous band Ho-kago Tea Time (HTT) from the anime K-ON!! And as you can see, they’re dressed up in animal costumes. This is from the time when the girls would don said costumes and hand out flyers for their after school club, the Light Music Club. The reason they’re doing this is because K-ON!! is the second season, and all but little Azusa will be graduating at the end of the year. This means not nearly enough members will be around to keep the club going next year, hence a call for new members!
So, in the pig costume we have Azusa Nakano, the plucky sophomore who likes to get some actual practice done when at club. The costume is a fluffy pink colour, complete with a little ‘x’ for her belly button, a corkscrew tail, and a love heart marking on her rear to further depreciate her serious persona (and prove she really is cute). Her face is eager to please, but still hinting at reservedness. The pig mask however, looks of greed and cheese. I think it’s the eyes that really unsettles the mood. Dressed as a cat is Tsumugi Kotobuki, the friendly rich girl who loves her sweets and experiencing life. The costume is spotted with different coloured markings and a curled tail at the back. Her trademark bushy brown eyebrows are raised in hopeful expectancy, while her cat mask is busy looking off in opposite directions, much like Mugi does.
Next in the chicken costume is Yui Hirasawa – the airhead. Dressed as a chicken, there’s not much to her costume besides some feathered features on her arms and tail. Yui’s face is suitably cocksure and positive – just the attitude that’s more likely to scare away potential members than entice. Her chicken mask looks quite sensible really, as if her fellow members chose it for her in an attempt to quell her assured ways. Ritsu Tainaka, club president and tomboy drummer dons the dog costume, in an oddly suitable choice. With big paws, a wagging tail and a bare belly, the costume is offset by Ritsu’s friendly smile, as if she’s just going along for the ride and enjoying it. The long look of her dog mask is eager and friendly too as you’d expect, with the tongue hanging out wildly.
Last is Mio Akiyama, the left-handed bassist that everyone seems to look up to, despite her social awkwardness. Easily the funniest costume, Mio is dressed as a horse of all things and besides the long black tail, there’s not much to indicate what she is. Her face shows Mio suitably freaking out in a controlled way – she’s really struggling to get a smile out. Her eyes are wide open, like she’s stuck in a set of headlights too, the poor thing. Plonk that horse mask on and you don’t know whether to laugh or cry. The long face of Mio is replaced by a long horse head, with a long, drooping nose, upward-gazing eyes and a strip of white down the middle. There’s a mane of hair out the back too, and for whatever reason is my favourite of the lot. I can only guess that the ‘Stuffed’ part of ‘Stuffed Animal Suit’ means that these costumes are inspired by smaller, uninhabitable stuffed animal plushes, and that no-one thought it’d look creepy if they were human sized and all full of bones and no actual fluff stuffing.
That off-putting look is where the costume gets most of the laughs, and where I had to be optimistic and laugh at these little 90mm figures too – they’re supposed to look silly. Even with their occupant’s heads showing (they simply pull off and plug onto a ball joint neck) there’s still an odd humour to it all. One thing that’s not funny is the price. At the cheapest source, you’d get one of these figures for 980¥ (AU$11). If you just wanted one or two, this is a far more sensible option than buying the complete set here, which costs 4700¥ (AU$51.50). Thinking about it, that’s a fairly high price for such small figures limited to what they can do, and how average they look. Released by Wave Corporation, these aren’t exactly a masterclass of figure creation. Sculpted by some guy (or girl) called Abira, I’ve previewed some of their ‘higher end’ work and the penchant for flat, basic faces remains, so it’s not like they were made to look like this by accident – and I’m not sure if that’s reassuring or not!
The deception begins when you first get the box – it’s quite large, and makes the trapped girls inside look all the more smaller. You can see practically everything you’re getting though: the five HTT girls in their animal suits, the masks to replace their current heads with, the six sheets of paper to advertise their club, five little plug-in bases in the shape of a musical note to prop them up (some can stand by their own, some cannot) and a variant rear hair piece for Tsumugi and Mio. Once you’re ripped through all that plastic, you’ll want to get them set-up – which means plugging those sheets of paper into their respective hands. Even if you mix them up, it’s not hard to couple which piece of paper to which person, so long as you see where the tiny indents on each piece of paper are, and match them to the images on the box.
Surprisingly, each of these sheets are a different mould, so which they’re obvious duplicates from a photocopier, their shape and perforations are all individual, which is a nice touch. There are some extra joints too, especially in the elbows for most of them to twist their arms about and in a preferred place. Don’t be too alarmed if they pop off easily, just plug them back in and they should hold. I say should because I can imagine prolonged use of these joints will wear them down quickly. Yui’s joints are set back in her shoulders, thanks to her winged sleeves and assertive pose. Mugi and Mio wear their hair back in a long ponytail, which is jointed (but it’s quite soft, so be careful you don’t break it!), and these can be swapped over for their usual free-flowing look if you so please.
Azusa wears her hair as two ponytails – a look she always has. Unlike the others, her hair isn’t jointed; mark that down to such a small joint being required and how much more easier it’d be to snap off. Wave have managed to ensure that each of the girls’ eyes are not only the right colour, but the right shape too. Be it the rounded eyes of Mugi, Yui and Ritsu, or the sharper ones of Mio and Azusa, these glossy peepers are probably the best facial feature these figures have going for them. The hair moulds are pretty basic though, but I guess they’re within reason given the scale and price.
I’m sure there was a market for this, since no-one else has made K-ON!! figures based on the stuffed animal suit premise (possibly with good reason), but I can’t say they’re all that terrible either. You’ll definitely get some fun poses going with the lot, and the fact that you can swap heads around means no-one is regulated to just one costume either. There’s an odd hilarity to this set, and one that K-ON! fans will silently chuckle at when they look at them. I really wished there was a bit more effort made in the characters faces though. The masks themselves look true to their origin, and might haunt a few nightmares too. Just when you thought it was safe to go into that classroom… JOIN OUR CLUB. JOIN US FOREVER. Oink.