Saturday, April 28, 2007

Influence of stuff and the horror of figure leaning

Sometimes, people can do the strangest things because of stuff they buy. A 45 year old salaryman will spend his entire weekend waxing his newly bought BMW 3-series, a 26 year old woman will simply must show off her Chanel suit (although the colours are totally ugly and size is too small) and your neighbour's 6 year old kid will fight his best friend over the pog he supposedly won.

I do not know what causes this phenomenon, but I can describe what they're probably feeling. When you buy something you really like, you start a full-fledged love affair with it. You love looking at it, love breathing it, and love bragging about it. And whenever it is hurt or damaged in any way, the primal instincts handily take care of any shred of intelligence, restraint and dignity, and thus occurs the weird behaviour that is observed.

So, as all regular people, otaku are also affected by this process. But even moreso. Because one of the things we buy (figures) are hideously precious. Bought with little money available and sometimes after painful cycles of preorders and internet retailing, we want our figures to be as perfect as they can be. That is why we bitch when we discover any mold line, PVC flash or paint mishap and why blister packs end up unopened.

But the greatest horror is when the figure is actually damaged. The local cat, little sister, or ignorant significant other have caused agony with which we can all relate to. But it can get even worse. And that is figure leaning. This is worse because the figure comes to life by deforming itself and making itself hideous in the process. Moreover, since there is to external assailant involved, it is an insult from the manufacturer, who mocks you with shoddy quality control and substandard manufacturing. Almost all what makes you like the figure, makes you hate it.

Overly worded rant aside, figure leaning is indeed an issue with figurines today. There have been many articles about this issue, of which this one ( is a great one. This issue is due to the malleable nature of PVC, the material of which many figurines are made. PVC gets its rigidity and longevity from the plastic coating applied on it: this is not only important for figurines, but also for medical uses of PVC (PVC catheters are cheap, but the plastizer can cause allergies). It's usually not the quality of the PVC, but the quality of the coating that defines the resistance of a figure to deformation.

The most important cause of leaning however is not the material, but the support system and center of gravity of a figure. As you may know, most figures come with their own display base and cannot stand on their own. The base usually sports pegs or screws placed in such a way, that the figure will remain in the pose it's supposed to. Usually, this is done in such a way that the center of gravity of the figure (the point of the figure on which gravity pulls) is balanced by support points, thus equilibrating the figure. You can see this on this example:

The blue arrow represents the center of gravity, and the green dots the support points. As you can see, there are 2-3 points behind this centre, and 1-2 in front. This will "pull" the figure to the center, without straining any of these supports and the location of the figure anchored to these points. This figure (Tomoko Hoshina of "To Heart" by Kotobukiya, a plain and cheap figure) will thus be very unlikely to warp or lean.

Next, we have a figure that almost everyone knows and probably owns:

We see that the situation is different. Ignis' center of gravity is located slightly anteriorly: this is due to her stance, but also due to the relatively low mass of the hair. Also, the support pegs are located on the tip of both her shoes. Ideally, she should've had a stance in which one leg would be in front and the other behind the center of gravity, or additional supports posteriorly. This is however not the case. So, strain on her front feet and also her lower extremities (ankles) occurs. And over time, leaning may insue.

My cure was twofold: first, I stuck some transparent poster putty on her right heel: this is place where there should've been a support point. Secondly, I place the figure on a minor (10-20 °) bank posteriorly, to place the center of gravity between her feet and alleviate structural stress. This "bank" trick doesn't need to be done constantly, I do it once a week during one night or something, but this depends on the center of gravity, ambient temperature, support locations, etc.

Sorry for the crappy rotated image.

So, first, ascertain the center of gravity. Then, if possible, search for candidate locations for extra support points. And, if necessary, display the figure under an angle so that the center of gravity moves to..well..the center ^_^.

So, you'll see this 23 year old dude sticking glue on figure's shoes..I prefer that to a bunch of PVC Smooth Criminals.


Krelian said...

I will try that on my Ignis figure
thanks !

Cloud said...

i'm using another simple but effective solution. instead of putting her left foot in the peg, let it rest on it. i.e. her left toe is balancing on the peg.
it works perfectly with my ignis.

Shonen said...

Hmm, about that balancing..sound kinda hazardous when a draft or foreign object happens to hit the figure..but as long as the mechanics work for you, you should be okay ^_^

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