Otaku USA Magazine
Saint Seiya: Plastic-Plated Heroes

Given how popular Saint Seiya has been worldwide, it’s no surprise that there’s been plenty of merchandise, including toys. The Saint Seiya fan can get their fill of boys in gorgeous armor in varying grades of action figures, gashapon (trading figures) and static PVC statues. Most of these have come from Bandai, but other companies like Mega House and Medicos have gotten in on the action as well. Naturally, with the number of other countries with large Saint Seiya fan followings and the amount of money to be made, in addition to Japanese merchandise you’ll often come across releases from other countries (especially Spanish editions) and plenty of bootlegs. Since these things have been coming out for 20 years there’s far too much for collectors like myself to have it all, but here’s an overview of a few things you can start looking for, spread over a few different price points.

The initial big-name toys were Bandai’s Saint Cloth kits. These are injection-molded kits that require assembly; each consists of a character figure, which requires cement and painting to complete, and a skeleton to mount the armor in its resting state (in which it resembles its namesake constellation). The images here are of a recent re-release Bandai did of these old style kits, which can usually be picked up for less than $10. If you’re a big collector and willing to spend more you can still find many of the original 1980s editions on resale sites like eBay – just try to keep an eye out for whether they’re originals or the new reprints.

Around 2003, Mega House released a set of Saint Seiya chess pieces. For the size, they’re not bad little figures. They actually managed to get a surprising amount of detail onto such tiny people! If you’re into Saint Seiya and like chess, they’re cool to have. Unfortunately they’re out of print, making them a bit difficult to find–especially in complete vendor boxes–and sometimes priced fairly steep depending on the seller, so probably not something a casual fan should bother with.

In addition to their more elaborate figures, Bandai has released multiple series of gashapon of varying size and quality. One of the smaller sets, at a bit under 3 inches each including the base–meaning a fairly low sculpt and paint quality–is their Hades Saga series, launched around 2006 to promote the new Hades Saga OAVs. They’re at a low price point, about $30 for vendor boxes (12 pieces included) and they’re rather small, making them a cheap and simple intro. They do have the benefit of having some of the Hades Saga characters that might not be in other sets, but they’re not all that impressive and you’re probably better off going for one of the nicer gashapon sets or just saving up and taking the plunge into Myth Cloth figures.

One fairly nice set of gashapon is the HGIF line. Like most gashapon they’re static pose figures. They stand about 4 inches tall on average and have a good level of detail for trading figures. I like the paint job as well, though I think the Gold Saints come out the best of the lot–since it’s paint only the armor is slightly dull, but with a warm tone that some of the Bronze Saint armors lack. Both Sagittarius figures have fairly detailed wings and one has a drawn bow, which has an unfortunate tendency to warp due to the softness of the plastic used. These are probably one of the best gashapon sets you can find for Saint Seiya, passed up by Bandai’s more recent Agalma series (unfortunately I haven’t snagged those yet) and potentially the Cloth Up figures depending on what you’re looking for.

The Cloth Up Saint gashapon are interesting, as they’re sort of like gashapon versions of the Saint Cloth Myth or original Saint Seiya figures. The sculpts are decent but not as good as the HGIF or Agalma lines. These stand out, though, because they’re semi-articulated with 8 points of articulation (neck, waist, shoulders, elbows and wrists), allowing you to configure their pose a bit. Their armor is still plastic but with a more metallic finish than the other gashapon and it can be removed, though this seems to have no purpose as the underlying bodysuits look rather boring and expose the holes used to mount the armor pieces.

Of course, Bandai also released some standard action figures. They’re about 6 inches tall with 10 points of articulation. The armor is molded as part of the figure, but each one comes with a separate object of their armor in its resting state. I’ve found that the Shiryu action figure I have is a bit loose, and the lack of articulation in his torso makes it difficult to get him into dynamic poses without losing balance and falling over. Unfortunately, the line seems to have been limited to the five Bronze Saints and their alternate Black versions, so no Gold Saints or enemies. These action figures are out of print now and might be a bit difficult to find, which is sad because they’re a decent option for the fan who wants something more than gashapon but isn’t quite ready to take the full-on plunge into Myth Cloth figures.

There are a lot of things I’ve necessarily skipped over here because of the sheer volume of merchandise, but I couldn’t possibly do this without talking about the top tier of Saint Seiya goods, Bandai’s Saint Myth Cloth line. These are fully articulated figures–newer releases have a whopping total of about 40 articulation points–standing around 7 inches high and with full sets of diecast metal armor. The armor can be configured in its resting state or placed onto the figure, and everything is rounded out by extra hands and head options to add even more pose options. These tend to run anywhere from $36 up to $150 for the Genealogical Gold Seiya, whose armor is actually plated with real gold. Bandai’s also started releasing “Appendix” figures at a lower price point, usually somewhere around $18 for the bust versions. The bust versions are addendums to some of the older Myth Cloth releases that correct for the noticeable increase in facial sculpt quality between the initial figures and the current ones and provide some extra accessories or face options. There have also been a few Appendix figures for the Bronze Saints in their regular clothes, complete with the backpack boxes containing their armors (with an armor object sized to fit inside). With over 70 figures in the line available now and more on their way, each looking better than the last, for any completist they’re definitely a big investment but the quality makes them worth taking the plunge.