There’s nothing quite like owning physical goods, but they can be expensive, and shelf space can come at a premium. Every Wednesday Hardcore Gamer picks a premium collectible from our cavernous swag vaults and tells you whether it’s worth a spot in your Collector’s Cabinet.
It’s gotten better in recent years, but the Japanese toy market still outclasses ours by several orders of magnitude – especially when it comes to video game merchandise. There are several lines of high-quality figures available for the discerning collector, ranging in terms of articulation, paint jobs, and sculpt quality. Between D-Arts, Revoltech, S.H. Figuarts and Figma Japanese fans are pretty spoiled for choice when it comes to game-accurate models. But those who enjoy collecting SD (super deformed) variants of their favorite characters only have one high-quality option: Good Smile Company’s Nendoroid line.
Nendoroids are cute, poseable figurines made with the same care that Good Smile affords their Figma line. They’re something of a phenomenon among collectors in Japan, with models running the gamut from popular anime to obscure games. With such a ubiquitous brand, it was only a matter of time until they scored the coveted Nintendo contract, and they’ve been making stellar use of it for the last year. Their figure of Isabelle is a fantastic addition to any Animal Crossing fan’s collection, and their upcoming Toon Link is one of the most charming and expressive figures they’ve ever made. But far and away the most impressive item they’ve released this year is their figure based on Nintendo’s most iconic, heroic plumber – I am speaking, of course, about Luigi.
Luigi is the best. This is an indisputable fact. Whether he’s winning Mario Party by doing absolutely nothing or just rolling like a goddamn boss, he does everything with a flare that his shorter, less handsome brother lacks. He doesn’t often get to take the lead, but Weegee was the first to make it into the world of Nendoroids, and he did so with that same style. He comes packaged with enough pieces to allow for a wide range of creative poses, as well as more accessories than you’ll see in any Nendoroid package this side of the Colossal Titan Playset. In addition to a custom long, green base and the expected warp pipe, Luigi comes with a Bullet Bill, a Goomba, and several smoke clouds to give his running and jumping poses an extra sense of momentum. He has two card-holders to go with his extra-long stand, and his inner packaging has a mushroom kingdom design that makes for a perfect background. The net result is that Luigi makes for one hell of a display piece.
While it’s great to have one Nendoroid to display, the best thing about collecting them is posing them together. Their interchangeable props and body parts allow for many interesting combinations – such as putting literally anyone inside the Iron Man suit – and their uniform Chibi design allows characters from vastly different universes to blend together seamlessly. As you can see from the pictures in this article I had a lot of fun setting Luigi up with my Persona collection, and Bullet Bill makes an excellent sparring partner for just about any combat-ready nendo. It should be noted that, as a Caucasian character, Luigi’s darker skin tone can make it difficult to dress him up in other Nendoroid outfits. However, thanks to his gloves, it’s easy to put your other characters in his trademark green overalls.
Luigi’s sculpt and paint job is as exemplary as you should expect of a Good Smile product. His pieces are made of quality plastic and have no obvious seams or issues with paint bleeding. His hairline doesn’t quite cover the seam between his head and his interchangeable faces, but it’s still not evident from most angles. Good Smile’s sculptors have done a great job translating Luigi’s design into their exaggerated style, and even with his bulbous nose he looks right at home alongside the more anime-looking characters typical of the line.
The only complaint I have is more or less universal with all Good Smile products – the stand sucks. Both Figmas and Nendoroids make use of multi-jointed, clear plastic stands that can be a pain in the ass to deal with. Their joints tend to be either too loose or too sticky, and their pegs have a tendency to fall out while you’re trying to pose your figures. They work well enough for displaying your figures on a shelf, but doing photoshoots can be a bit of a nightmare. Thankfully the Luigi set comes with a lot of relatively big, solid pieces, so you don’t have to worry about snapping off anything fragile.
Luigi is an excellent showpiece for any collector, and one of the finest Nendoroids that Good Smile has ever produced. He’ll put a smile on your face every time you see him on your shelf.