Figurine Science: ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO ME

I wonder how many here are old enough to be in the "ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO ME" generation. Anyway, for today’s figure science, we shall study the foundation of figurine beauty – the base!

Why is the base important? Let’s look at some of the reasons:

A base provides stability. But "the figures have legs! they can stand!", you cry. Yeah but then all you will get is standing boring BOME poses.

Adding to the above, the base allows dynamic poses where the centre of gravity of the figure does not facilitate an upright display.

The base adds details, recreating the environment of the character’s world.

The base is a holding-type midfield player a la Claude Makelele, augmenting the beauty of the actual figurine by subtle effects such as colour contrast.

What types of bases are there? Let’s look at the main types used for mass-market PVC figures.

I don’t know the official name for these so I’ll give it RIUVA nomenclature. We have four main types: Free, Plugged, Screwed and Grasped.

One set of figurines which utilises all the three main types is the GSC School Rumble Series. Eri has the Plugged, Tenma is Screwed and Yakumo is Free. See the difference?

Now let us go through the individual types in more detail and also view their advanced versions.

Free
The definition of a Free is a base which has no attachment to the actual figure. The figure just sits or stands on the base like how it would rest on any other surface. This is normally used for sitting figures which already possess an inherent degree of stability, either due to large ground-hugging surface area or low CG. The mobility of the figure is also good since you can adjust the angle of viewing independant of the base. This also provides the option of not using the base at all.

The drawbacks are:  The slightest force can shift the entire figure or topple it if it’s not a stable one. This can be irritating especially if you’re the anal sort who places all his figurines to the accuracy of a milimetre. But more importantly, figures which are not that stable will fall frequently. One example of this is the Swimsuit Tessa figure which I reviewed recently. She falls A LOT.

The basic Free is generally a uniform coloured radial ABS plate.


Another plus! It can be used as a drinks coaster!

Advanced versions.


Kotobukiya’s Vanilla H and Alter’s Rei


The base Vanilla uses is actually Nomad’s brain chip.


The metallic dot and the two slits serve absolutely no functional purpose. I think the dot may denote where her asscrack is supposed to be placed.

A special type of free base is GSC’s Saki one. It’s a chair! And Saki sits on it. It is stable because the frame hooks onto the folds of her skirt. By far my biggest favourite base ever! But due to its two-piece construction out of PVC, it has warped a bit from Saki’s weight.

Plugged
This is the most common kind of base due to its low production cost and versatility. The figure will have holes on its feet and the base will have plugs on fixed positions. There is some stabilty, more than Free and Grasped but less than Screwed. Plugged allows the option of removing the figure from the base, although most of the time it will not be able to stand on its own. A figurine will need at least a Plugged’s level of stability if it is to have any noticeable poses at all. The length of the plugs are variable and this is a factor in the figure’s stability both long and short term.

Variables include the length of plug, number of plugs and the position of plugs.

There are numerous disadvantages to this method. When you think PVC, you think warpage most of the time and almost all warped PVC figurines have plugged bases. This is because badly-designed plugs do not support the ankles and place all the weight on the ankles of the figurine. Sometimes, the holes can get distorted too due to unbalanced stress. This results in loose plug fitting and the figure will no longer fit on the base securely. The plugs also have the possbility of breaking. Due to production error or misalignment, a number of figures come with their holes not properly aligned to the corresponding plugs. You will then have to apply some pressure forcing the legs into place. To a worse extent, we have plugged bases like Yamato’s Seras Victoria – this one is so poorly aligned, when her feet are fully plugged in, the base is warped and the figure wobbles like a wobblebag.

The most primitive plugged base is the two plug shown below. Most of the time, its one main and one support/auxillary plug. The main one, larger and longer, supports the weight while the auxillary one prevents the figure from spinning.


I am reminded of my friend in HK, Donald, who has his own brand called "Liberty – Base on Basic" located at Sino Center, which also sells tonnes of anime goods.

Evolved examples.


GSC’s Henrietta and Vice’s Lain


The most common is actually a three-pin base with two support ones that lock the figure in place.


The exact same configuration.

Screwed/Fused
For Screwed, the figure is tightly bound to the base via a long screw. As such, this is rather permanant because removing the screw just weakens the leg structure and leaves ugly marks. This is normally used for very off-balanced figures such as Alter’s Mizuki Maia, which is almost 45 degrees tilted. With the use of screws, there is almost a guarantee that no warpage will occur. The ankle is supported on the inside by the screw as well. Most of the time, to save resources, only one screw is used. A variant is the Fused base, which is rare and applied for convenience of manufacture. Examples are Inuyasha by Koto and Mermaid Rei by Sega.

The advantages are of course uber stability, the best of the bunch. It’s almost like a trophy!

The disadvantages include the inability to pose it without the base and difficulty in storing because with a removable base, you can lay it flat. Chances are, the screw may rust if you live in wet regions though this has never happened to me before because I am permanantly air-conditioned.

The basic one-screw base.


All the weight rests on one foot and thanks to the metal, it’s ok.

Advanced types.


Vice’s Pinup and Sega Mermaid Rei. Note the outrageously unbalanced stance with her left foot suspended?


This is the reason.

Grasped
This is the worst. Normally used for either action figures or cheap figures such as Yujin’s SR DX line, Grasped is essentially a base with a stick that ends with a C-shaped hook that goes around the figure’s waist. Not only is it visibly ugly, it is also totally unstable as the feet tend to slip and move forward leaving the figure looking like an unconscious granny held on by kind passers-by.

Of course, the reason it is used for action figure is because this allows the greatest variation in standing posture yet still providing upright support. Hence its application to Kotobukiya/Squareenix’s Playarts line.

21 Responses to “Figurine Science: ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO ME”


  • In A.D. 2001, war was beginning.

    What happen?

    Someone set us up the bomb!

    We get signal!

    What!

    Main sceen turn on!

    It you.

    How are you gentlemen? All your base are belong to us. You are on the way to destruction.

    What you say?

    You have no chance for survival make your time! HAHAHAHA!

  • LOL at the title.
    Nice post

  • Wow. Base education. I’m smartenized.

  • All your base are belong to *me*?

    Hahahahaha, n00b

    I’m surprised you didn’t cite that Konami Evangeline figure as an example of a really, really badly designed plugged base.

  • LOL oh yeah its US not ME. Damn.

    As usual I can count on Gary to correct the old stuff.

    And yeah I forgot Digikerot!!

  • all your base was the most amazing flash I ever saw when it first came out ;)
    I have like 1 figure it has the 2 things sticking out of it for the figure to stand.
    lmao i should do a “my attempt to be like tj han and doing a figure post” or something XD

  • I’ve just gained more knowledge.

  • I tot it was “All ur bases are belong to us”?

    Well … i dun really like the plugged in ones … my henrieta is like so unstable and basically she’s kinda in a situation tats similar to the leaning tower of pisa

  • OH darn …. u already corrected that …

    I should starting reading other people reply posting before I start spouting my nonsense

  • Great post, very educational indeed. :)

    As you said, I am having slight problems with my MaxFac Aisia (plugged) and I think it’s cos the apertures have been widened slightly due to frequent dislodgements. Keeping plugged figures firmly on their bases from now on.

  • “the apertures have been widened slightly due to frequent dislodgements”!!

    I said “Sometimes, the holes can get distorted too due to unbalanced stress. This results in loose plug fitting” . Damn.

    So holes are apertures!

    Ala: The Henrietta is a bit in the dangerzone, I noticed it when I first plugged her in. Her left foot is not fully insertable but thankfully she’s quite small and light.

  • i want to point out that u miss another type of base.. fixed base..
    they come with custom base already fixed and not removable at all..
    maxfactory girl fighting series.. eg chunli and sakura..

  • ya here is a picture of that ‘fixed base’ im talking bout

    http://img434.imageshack.us/img434/4677/200602203119uz2.jpg

  • While I haven’t seen those outside their boxes yet, I did mention the fused base. It’s lumped together with Screwed here.

  • “All your base….”
    I have seen that phrase many times but I donĀ“t know the source…

  • cool, I dont have lot of figurine but at least now I know more about figurine, lol

    @Cdan
    that phrase is so popular that you even wikipedia has a page about it. try it

  • By referencing Claude Makelele in a post about figures, I hope that your post killed the ability for someone to make semenonfigure pictures.

  • >>…Tenma is Screwed…

    Definitely.

    tj, weren’t you afraid of a slight gust of wind coming along and blowing your girls over the edge of the balconey? XD

  • Wind? In Singapore? LOL. An accidental elbow would be more probable.

  • Excited to have checked out this site really enjoyed it and will return for a further look around when I have some more time.

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