The twice-yearly Wonder Festival exhibition is all about models of anime, video game, and other 2-D characters. Just like with model airplanes or trains, you can often find multiple versions of the same character in different scales, usually several times smaller than the heroes and heroines they’re based on are actually supposed to be.
Walking around the convention, though, we came across two stunning life-sized figures. It wasn’t just their size that impressed us, though, but their amazing attention to detail. Not only did we stop to gawk and snap pictures, we also got an explanation of how they were made, and it involves a 3-D printer!
Among the presenters at this year’s Summer Wonder Festival was Design Coco. The Miyagi Prefecture-based company is responsible for this beauty.
That’s Momo Deviluke from popular science fiction harem anime To Love-Ru, or more specifically the To-Love-Ru Darkness arc of the franchise.
Momo already had a pretty large-scale 1:6 figure produced by Max Factory. The pictures here, though, are of Design Coco’s 1:1 scale recreation.
▼ Momo and the 150-centimeter (four-foot, 11-inch) Meg, head of RocketNews24’s Standing Next to Life-Size Anime Figures Department
While the basic design and pose of the gigantic figure is based off of Max Factory’s, working in such a larger scale meant Design Coco had to put even more effort into each and every part of the character, since even the smallest imperfections would be multiplied many times over. The extra attention to detail paid off, as there’s a startling difference in how much more lifelike Design Coco’s Momo is when viewed next to the 1:6-scale version.
▼ 1:1 Design Coco (left) and 1:6 Max Factory (right)
Since manga and anime characters start off as purely 2-D designs, they can look a little off when rendered in all three dimensions. That’s not an issue for the life-size, Momo, though, who looks startlingly similar to how she does in the source material.
▼ A lot of care went into the hands…
▼ …the hips…
▼ …and the…costume.
▼ Really, just exquisite work on the frills, wouldn’t you say?
But it’s not just the female form Design Coco knows how to work with. While Momo was being displayed at the joint Max Factory/Good Smile Company booth, Design Coco had another life-size manga character on its own patch of the convention floor.
Standing guard at the Design Coco booth was Drifters’ lead Toyohisa Shimazu.
We asked just how the company makes these 1:1 scale figures, and the Design Coco representative on duty said the physical construction process starts with a 3-D printer!
▼ Unfortunately, we humans still have to do plenty of crunches in order to get six-pack abs like the ones the printer spits out.
It’s not as simple as just feeding the data into the printer and calling it a day, though. The component parts are machine-printed one at a time, but there’s still an immense amount of by-hand assembly and detailing that needs to be done, including sanding, polishing, and painting.
▼ A piece of Toyohisa’s leg
In addition, thinner sections need to be reinforced along their inner surface with putty. And of course, pieces this large and heavy will bend without proper support, so there’s also a metal framework that goes inside hollow sections of the figure.
▼ You can see the putty being applied here.
These are the same methods that produced the amazing life-size Ultimate Madoka from Puella Magi Madoka Magica we saw a while back, which it turns out was also a Design Coco creation.
As awed as we were by the finished versions of the life-size Momo and Toyohisa, we were even more impressed once we learned all the craftsmanship that goes into them. They’re works of art on both the outside and the inside, and we can’t wait to see which character gets the Design Coco treatment next.
Related: Design Coco website