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Vault Review: Ori-Toy Limited & Guan Yu from The Three Kingdoms

This week I’m doing something special and taking a look at the independent toy company Ori-Toy.  Each day I’ll be discussing the company and their uniquely designed figures, while reviewing each of the five characters that they’ve released so far in their distinctive Ori-Fig line.

Ori-Toy Limited is a toy design company that started up in 2009 and is based in China.  Their goal is to leave a brand new mark on the toy world with their own distinct toys that not only look great on the shelf, but are also fun to play with.   Their mission statement says it best, “We love toys, we play toys and we make toys.”   That’s definitely the kind of company I love to support.

Ori-Toy has developed their own “buck” body system called the Ori-Fig.  Similar to Minimates, the unique design of these bodies can be adapted to any genre.  This allows licensed characters such as Batman or Spiderman to coexist with historical figures like Abraham Lincoln, or even mythological beings like Hercules, all while staying is the same scale and style.

Each figure comes with different face plates that display a variety of emotions or reactions in a simple animated style.  Usually there are three normal faces, and a fourth one that is overly exaggerated for fun.  I know the animated design isn’t for everyone, but I’m actually pretty fond of the Ori-Fig look.  It hits that perfect caricature look that you usually find in chibi or vinyl figures.

But unlike most vinyl figures, Ori-Figs have a nice amount of articulation that allows for some really great action poses.  Most of the joints are swivel/hinges, similar to Revoltech or Figma.  But they’ve also implemented the rarely seen diagonally cut swivel joint at the elbows.  It’s been a long time since I’ve dealt with this kind of joint, and I’d been spoiled over the last few years by these complicated multi-articulated figures.  But after playing with it for a while, I realized just how versatile this particular joint is.  It won’t be able to replace an arm with five or six joints, but it can come damned close.

Ori-Toy has chosen a unique subject as the focus for their inaugural figure line, The Three Kingdoms.  The Three Kingdoms is a roughly one hundred year period in ancient Chinese history that chronicles the fracturing and reunification of the country.  The story was originally chronicled in the epic historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and combines history, legend, and myth together into an 800,000 word classic that is well known throughout all of Eastern Asia.

Although most Western audiences have never read the historical classic, we have been introduced to the story through more modern pop culture means and references.  Most obvious of which is the video game series by the same name, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, but there is also the Dynasty Warriors series, Kessen 2, and Destiny of an Emperor just to name a few.  The tale has also been adapted into various anime and manga series like Ikki Tousen and even the SD Gundam series Sangokuden.  Continue to page 2…

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