I’ve been meaning to get these photos taken for a while now, but I’ve been sick. However, on learning that today is the 236th anniversary of the discovery of the planet Uranus, I realized it just had to be today.
Over…what’s it been, two years? Well, however long it’s been, as you likely know, Groove’s put out a large number of Sailor Moon Pullip dolls. And the more they put out, the more I got irritated that I didn’t really know the franchise, so I didn’t know if I wanted the dolls. (Though obviously, getting them would be a bad idea all around, because I don’t have all the money in the world, and I have already run out of space in this house.) I kept saying to myself “gee, maybe I should actually watch that show someday.”
Yes, you heard me right. I’d never seen Sailor Moon before. Because it came to America at just the wrong time, you know? I was getting into anime by that point, but I’ve always been a “subtitle only” type of gal. (Though I’ll make the occasional exception in the case of theatrical Studio Ghibli releases.) And it was so much a “for kids” production (and I was in my 20s), and it sounded so stupid, and blah blah blah. So, fast-forward to present day. One day last year, I went into the used everything store I like to go to, and in one of their toy cases I see three dolls on the top shelf:
Two of them were super-cheap ($9.99 if you can believe it!) and the third was ridiculously not-cheap (I think she was $35.99!) but there they were, and certainly cheaper than the Pullip versions! Well, one of their sale weekends (when used toys are 33% off) rolled around, and I decided to go ahead and chance it on the cheap ones, because they were so very affordable.
But that left me with two dolls of characters I knew nothing about. I mean, from the Pullip releases, I knew they were Sailor Neptune and Black Lady, but that was all I knew. (Well, okay, I knew a little more than that: I knew what Black Lady’s deal was (sort of) and I knew that Sailor Neptune was half of the lesbian couple that the dub tried to claim were “cousins.”) So I decided it was high time that I finally watched Sailor Moon. But the show’s not on Netflix, and trying to buy the DVDs of the whole show was gonna be nuts. Then my co-worker let me know the show is on Hulu (subtitled, thank God!) so I signed up for that service, and started watching.
And to my surprise, I was really digging it. I mean, yes, it’s silly and juvenile, but there’s a charm to it. And the first season had a very Ranma 1/2 feeling to the animation, and especially to the opening credits. (The fact that Makoto is definitely an escaped Ranma character absolutely added to that feeling, of course. I so want the SHFigurarts of Sailor Jupiter so she can interact with my SHFigurarts of Ranma-chan…but she’s so freakin’ expensive!)
Aaaaanyway, cutting a long story short, the next sale weekend, Sailor Pluto was still in the store, so I bought her, too, as you of course already know. (33% off really helps, you know?) Now, before I go any further, let me just say one thing: I haven’t actually finished watching the show yet, so please no spoilers. I’m in Season 4 right now (I think they call that arc the Dead Moon Circus?), though I’m a little worried that Hulu may not have Season 5, given the number of episodes left counter. Maybe Season 5’s just really short? Dunno…but if they don’t have it, I guess I’ll have to find it on DVD, ’cause I’m really curious to meet the last three Pullip dolls in that season. 😛
So, of course, I was soon in a bit of predicament, because how can you have Sailor Neptune without Sailor Uranus? But the chances of that local store getting in a Sailor Uranus doll seemed remote at best. I mean, I kept looking, and I searched Etsy every so often, but nothing was coming up. And the ones on Mandarake all seemed terribly expensive. But then I finally found one that wasn’t too expensive. (Roughly $25, I think.)
She arrived in the first few days of March, when I was at my sickest. (I don’t know what the postman must have thought when I answered the door, hair unbrushed, in my pajamas, croaking like a frog…oh, wait, if I was croaking like a frog and coughing like a barking seal, he probably realized I was sick.) As you can see from her hands in the photo, she’s very much on a Licca-chan type body, though I’m sorry to report that Bandai did not produce a body that’s actually as nice as a Licca or Jenny body; all her limbs and her torso are hollow. 😦
I was terribly surprised when I put them side by side and learned that the Japanese dolls are smaller than the American ones. Realistically, I shouldn’t have been, of course; the Japanese dolls are modeled after Licca/Jenny, and the American dolls are modeled after Barbie (from the neck down, anyway).
They both came with cloth undies, rather than molded-on ones. That probably made these American (okay, actually, I think I read somewhere that Irwin Toys is Canadian, but close enough, it’s still from North America) dolls among the last playline dolls to hit the market without molded-on panties, given the 2000 copyright date on her back. The Western dolls aren’t just modeled to look like Barbie from the waist down; they also have click knees, as you can see by the bent leg on Neptune/Michiru here.
Facially, they’re very similar. The Irwin doll’s head is tiny bit larger, but the sculpt seems to be largely based on Bandai’s sculpt. (I actually like the mouth a bit more on the Western doll, truth be told.) The face-up is very similar as well, if actually a bit more detailed on the Irwin doll. (Then again, the copyright date on Uranus/Haruka is 1993, so she was a rush-to-the-market product.) There are several other things to notice in this close-up. First, Uranus has no earrings, but (and you can’t tell this from the photo) she has holes where earrings went, so they used to be there. Second, her neck thingy is plastic, whereas Neptune’s is cloth attached with Velcro. Third, and most importantly, you may notice a difference in the appearance of the plastic making up their heads. There’s a subtle glow to the Bandai head that I’ve never seen before on other dolls in person, but it very much reminds me of the look of translucent Blythes I’ve seen in photos. (Bubbly Bliss is on her way, so I’ll know soon if I’m right in making that comparison!) Whatever it is that’s different about the plastic used in her head, it’s absolutely gorgeous, and I love it. 😀 (Trying to photograph it to show the difference did not work so well, though, particularly in the harsh artificial light.)
Their costumes are very similar in quality, but the Neptune’s skirt is better pleated. (Although that may be because she’s almost ten years younger, and didn’t have as hard a play life.) Her bow is also a bit less messy. Unfortunately, as I discovered when I got ready to take these photos, those short and rather stiff skirts on the Irwin dolls are left sticking out if the dolls have been sitting for long periods of time (as they had been sitting at my place since I got them), which is kind of annoying.
Again, Bandai’s bow is larger and messier. But they put a little more effort into the neck…um…thingy.
(Although I don’t think it has that white edging in the show…)
Here’s an oddity for you. The Bandai dress is so oversized for the small doll it came on that it’s even too big on the larger Irwin doll! Meanwhile, the Irwin dress fits the smaller doll pretty well. Honestly, I’m thinking of re-bodying Uranus here. Once I have more time (like after my class is done for the semester) I might try and find a Barbie body she could have. This body is terrible, after all, and it has a nasty stain on one leg. (Though the Irwin body has stains on both legs, down where they’re totally visible, so maybe that should not be viewed as part of my reasoning…)
Uranus wasn’t the only doll in the order from Mandarake:
This bunny is a Petworks doll, but was very affordable despite that. 🙂 I’m assuming from the kimono that he’s male, so I’ve decided to name him Yukito, in honor of his traveling companion. (Yukito-san in Cardcaptor Sakura was also voiced by Megumi Ogata, who voiced Sailor Uranus/Haruka. She’s just one of the many seiyuu in Cardcaptor Sakura who were also in Sailor Moon. Including that Kero-chan had the same seiyuu as Ami/Sailor Mercury, and Usagi/Sailor Moon herself had a small role.) For some reason, he’s got a removable head cap, despite that he doesn’t have holes for eyes.
Okay, one last picture, then I have to go to class. 😦
I haven’t opened them yet, but I wanted to get them before they, too, disappeared and got expensive. (I really waited a bit too long to start watching this show. All the cool 20th anniversary merchandise is vanishing…though maybe that’s a good thing; it’ll stop me from buying as much of it.) You’ll see more of them this summer.