AX-21 AcroPhantom - the perfect Acroyear. Phantom equipped with Phantom Gear. Death Grave Hammer and Acro armor. His weapon Death Grave was a gift from AcroCleve.
- Translation from Microman Forever.
Today it's the turn of Takara's AcroPhantom, from the 2005 Acroyear X-2 line.
How does the figure measure-up? Is this rarity worth hunting-down? Read on and see!
Super Rare! Super Good?
AcroPhantom is one of the rarer releases from Takara's 2005 line and was - until recently - burning a large hole in my Acroyear X-2 line-up. I'd foolishly made the mistake of uttering the words every collector only says once - ''I'll pick it up later.''
Of course, when later came the toy had sold-out. Given I'd been able to track-down the other releases from the line, it was frustrating to know I'd missed the opportunity to complete my collection, so you can imagine my disbelief - which swiftly became joy when the order was processed - when I found an AcroPhantom for sale online. My awesome wife was kind-enough to make the purchase as part of my Christmas haul and it's thanks to her that my Microman collection has taken another step closer to being complete.
The question is, was he worth the wait?
AcroPhantom comes in the superb packaging Takara produced for the 2005 run. Eye-catching (with its own unique artwork) the clear blister-pack gives a superb view of the toy within and the back of the pack shows him fully assembled, along with the other toys in the range.
I'm not sure if it's visible on the front packaging, but the box features a superb introductory piece of text:
Time has flown by since the birth of Microman in 1974. Now in 2004, he has returned to us in a new form. We entrust him to the care of those who have a child's heart in order to explore the unforeseeable future.
I just love that, as it sums-up the line perfectly.
As for the box itself, it's produced with the same level of sense we've come to expect from Takara - slitting a couple of pieces of tape allows the box to fold open sans tearing, meaning it can be used for storage at a later date.
AcroPhantom is the leader of the X-2 Acroyears (which also features AcroMedalg, AcroElsa and AcroPlana), some of the strangest figures Takara released during Microman's mid-2000s run. According to Paul L. at Microman Forever - and given it's Paul L. you can take it as Gospel - the Acroyear X-2 line was heavily influenced by a number of popular Manga and Anime characters (much like the Spy Magicians were inspired by the espionage/magic themes that were popular during their release.) As a result, they're certainly an odd bunch, from AcroPlana's bendy tentacles to AcroMedalg's metal-lug head, and AcroPhantom is no exception.
Let's look closer at the figure.
AcroPhantom is cast is clear white plastic, with painted-on tattoo decals. His head - in a nod to the previous Acroyears - is a metallic skull-like face with a clear-plastic headpiece over the blue-metal mechanical brain. The core figure features the incredible level of articulation we've come to expect from the Microman line, with in excess of 30 different joints used in the toy, so poseability is definitely high. At least, it is on the drawing board. More on that later...
The thing that always makes one of the newer Micromen is the accessories and AcroPhantom is no exception. The designers used some softer, rubbery plastic to create his Acro armor, which consists of two shin-protectors, a skirt (teehee!) and chest-guard. The pieces are well-crafted and add a lot to the figure.
AcroPhantom's main accessory is his Death Grave Hammer, a giant Celtic Cross covered in circular saw-blades. Quite how he's supposed to wield such a large weapon isn't clear, but when not in use the Death Grave Hammer can be connected to his chest-guard. Given that the chest-guard is cast from a softer plastic, the fit isn't as snug as it would have been had it plugged directly into his back, so getting it to stay in-place takes some effort.
AcroPhantom can use the Death Grave Hammer to create a kind of wheel-chair/roller-skate vehicle but to be honest, it's just laughably ridiculous, especially given he's supposedly the ''ultimate Acroyear.''
Now you may have noticed there are no photos of this configuration. Indeed the pictures I've taken seem quite static. Well, there's a reason for that: my AcroPhantom's right leg virtually exploded as I unpacked him. The only way I could get the figure into any sort of order was to wrap tape around his thigh. The pieces were so tiny that there was no hope of gluing them together. This wasn't just a minor crack - the entire piece was shattered.
Although discussion of this online is rare, the comments I have seen have people claiming this is a common problem with the toy. That's really unacceptable and I was bitterly disappointed when it happened - not just because the toy was damaged but because it was a gift my wife had bought me for Christmas. So thanks for ruining the holidays, Takara!
AcroPhantom comes with his black armour - which consists of four pieces that are very-well manufactured, especially at this scale (the chest-piece has buckles!) - Death Grave Hammer (which comes apart) and a metallic neck-piece/collar. He also comes with a plastic stand and a set of five switch-able pairs of hands (as well as his basic pair.) The pack also contains the Catarog Infomercial Vol 04.
AcroPhantom is a real disappointment. I know it's easy to build-up the expectations about a toy you've wanted for so long but this goes beyond that. His design sounds a lot better than it is in real-life and even the most cursory of glances is about all you'll give him, as he's really just not that interesting. And that's unforgiveable, given that there are some moments of greatness. The tattoos, for example, look superb. But then they're covered by his armour. The Death Grave Hammer is a ludicrous weapon - which he can't even hold or use except as a prop to stop him falling over. Maybe it's a cultural thing and there are guys in Japan who ''get'' everything I'm missing, but I just don't see it.
Worst of all, the figure feels fragile - and it is - and there's a real feeling of panic every time you have to move him. You know that if you do, it could be the last time you see him in one piece. I've had the odd loose limb or wonky joint but I've never seen a Microman literally explode when he's removed from the box - and trust me, the removal process was gentle and didn't involve any tugging or pushing. It's simply that the figure's production is flawed. And that's not good.
This is where it becomes difficult to recommend AcroPhantom as it stands, so I'm offering two Scores. The former is based upon my personal (broken) figure - something that's reported online as being a common fault and is something you need to be aware of and avoid. But if you can find an AcroPhantom you're guaranteed is in-tact (and based upon Takara's usual level of production quality) then check the second Score.