So You Want to Buy a Shinki:
A Beginners' Guide to Busou Shinki
This beginners guide is something I wish I had when I started collecting these figures and I'm sure it will be helpful to those who are interested in the toyline and may prevent some of the more common mistakes beginners make when starting this hobby. To start off Busou Shinki roughly translates to Armed God Princess. It is a Japanese PC video game with a companion toyline. This guide is strictly about the toyline but I'll give you a brief outline of the game too.
In the game, the owner (you) have a small 1:1 scale (the size of the figure is actual size) fembot/gynoid. The object is to raise/nuture your figure into a strong fighter buy gaining exterience and praising her at the right times. There are two main parts to the Busou Shinki game, Battle Rondo and Diorama Studio. Battle Rondo is the meat and potatoes of the game. This is where you manage your Shinkis, customize them with parts, armor and weapons, and send them off to battle. Diorama Studio is for importing your Shinkis from Battle Rondo and posing them with different backgrounds, items, etc. But since this is guide is about the toyline lets jump right to that.
The accompaning toyline includes a 1:1 MMS plastic figure. MMS stands for Multi Moveable System which gives the figure an amazing amount of articulation. Included are alternate hands, and heads (early figures came with one head but later ones include a second head) and a bunch of parts that can be combined to make body armor, weapons and in some cases mecha. Also included with the figure is a code on a slip of paper that unlocks that specific character in the game for you, a stand to create dynamic poses, and a handy instruction sheet so you can create the official armor configurations. The figures themself are fairly durable but are not intended for young children. There are some small spacers that can get lost if you are not careful. While loosing them will not affect articulation, it will leave unsightly gaps in the arms and legs. Also some of the pegs to plug in the parts can break if excessive force is used so you do want to be careful if the peg is tight and try not to twist to seperate them. While uncommon, it is known to happen. Besides those small issues, you do get a posable figure with a more elegant joint design than that of Revoltech figures. Plus the legs are on a special joint that enables the figure to do some poses most figures could never do. All in all the figures are really nice and can quickly become addictive if you aren't careful.
Ok so you have decided that you are going to take the plunge and try one of these figures out. Good for you. You scour eBay and come across a wide variety of figures with price ranges of $8.00-$300 plus. Some are called "EX sets", some others are "tall", while some are called "MMS 2". Huh? This is one of the areas that can burn you if you don't understand how Konami released the figures. When Busou Shinkis first hit the market, they released two different set types: full sets and EX sets. The full set includes one Busou Shinki and the components mentioned above (hands, weapons, armor, stand, etc) while the EX set has a new head, weapons and armor parts. So this is why the EX sets are generally cheaper; the set does not have a shinki body included in it! Konami did this as an inexpensive way to get a new figure. These characters do have a complete shinki body included but have fewer parts and weapons. Ironically, the EX sets do include a game code to unlock the character in the game and you unlock a body for her to use too. Of course to make it more confusing to newbies, there are exceptions. One is the Konami Stlye exclusive Tsugaru. The original wave 3 Tsugaru has red components and comes in the standard EX packaging while the exclusive has blue parts and comes in a larger box. The exclusive does have a full shinki body which happens to look identical to the one in the game (either toy set unlocks the same body in the game ). The other EX figure that is different is Wave 8 EX+body set Zelnogrard. This EX set does come with a Shinki body but the stand is different (uses the stands used by the blank figures) than the usual Full body sets. To continue the trend of confusion, Konami also released blank or "naked" figures. These figures were a popular option to buy a MMS figure for your EX sets without sacrificing a character you liked or to kitbash and create your own figure. These figures have a generic bald head, all of the shinki components and a flimsy stand that pales in comparison to the Full set stands. Eventually, the EX sets were dropped and replaced by "Light Armor" sets. The Light Armor sets include a body and the flimsy stand from the blank/nude figures. Note, the "flimsy" stands are sturdy enough to hold the light armor and EX figures but not the full sets and all of their gear. They are not a total waste but when comparing the two, the full set stands are more rigid and beefy. So hopefully this will clear up any confusion on the type of sets available for the figures and prevent one of the most common mistakes that newcomers to the hobby make. Just remember, if one is looking for an inexpensive set to try the series out, make sure it isn't an EX set because those sets do not come with a MMS body.
Another area that is confusing to newcomers are the MMS body types. Simply put there are three different versions of the MMS body on the market and they are NOT compatible with each other in certain ways.
MMS 1: This is the most prevalent shinki version on the market. Full and EX sets wave 1-10, and Light Armor waves 1-2 are MMS 1 type shinkis.
MMS 2: These are not Busou Shinki figures but are licensed characters that use the MMS body. Examples are the Sky Girls or Yoko from Gurren Laggan. While they are 95% compatible with Busou Shinki figures, the chest region is not removable (unlike in the Busou Shinki figures) and therefore you can't use the Busou Shinki's chest armor on MMS 2 bodies.
MMS 3: These are the newest wave of Shinki figures and an upgrade to the MMS 1. First thing Konami did was redesign of the arm and leg connectors so that the spacers are not required. Also the entire chest module was redesigned to make it easier to change the armor. MMS 3 come in two flavors: Small and Tall. The small MMS 3 figures are shorter than the MMS 1 , 2 , and 3 tall figures. Currently only light armor waves, 3 and 4, use the MMS 3 short body type. The first MMS 3 Tall figure will be released May 2010 and should be about the same height as the MMS 1 & 2 figures.
Buying blank figures is also an area that causes problems. Making sure the blank figure that one gets is compatible with your set is important. Generally speaking, most blanks are purchased for use with the EX sets since those don't come with bodies. The EX sets are compatible with the naked MMS type 1 and type 2 bodies only. MMS type 3 figures do come with an adapter piece that is supposed to adapt the figure for use with the older EX sets but unfortunately some of them aren't compatible. While the legs and arms are compatible, the trouble lies with certain chest armors of some of the Shinki figures and the armors won't fit on the adapter piece. Save yourself some trouble by skipping the MMS 3 bodies for use with the EX sets.
Another confusing topic for newcomers are the Limited Edition figures. These are easy to spot because they come in different packaging (looks like cardboard/paper bag with black artwork), the figures are in different colors from their general release, are more rare and thus really expensive, and are almost found solely on eBay. Below is a list of the Limited Edition figures:
Full and EX Sets
Angel Arnval (MMS 1)
Devil Strarf (MMS 1)
Dog Howling (MMS 1)
Cat Maochao (MMS 1)
Rabbit WaffeBunny EX Weapons Set (MMS 1)
Knight Xiphos (MMS 1)
Samurai Benio (MMS 1)
Santa Tsugaru EX Weapons Set (MMS 1)
Tsugaru (Blue Xmas ver.) Konami Style limited edition
(Note: this edition included a MMS figure.) (MMS 1)
Seed Juvisy (MMS 1)
Flower Zyrdarya (MMS 1)
Cannon Fort Bragg EX Weapons set (MMS 1)
Siren Eukrante (MMS 1)
Mermaid Ianeira (MMS 1)
Dophin WaffeDolphin EX Weapons set (MMS 1)
Tiger Tigris (MMS 1)
Calf Vitulus (MMS 1)
Builder Grapprap EX Weapons set (MMS 1)
High Speed Trike Ach (MMS 1)
High Manoeuvre Trike Yda (MMS 1)
Butterfly Schmetterling EX Weapons set (MMS 1)
Panzer Murmeltier (MMS 1)
Fighter Asuka (MMS 1)
Firearms Zernograd EX Weapons set Plus (MMS 1)
(Note: This set includes an MMS body. Last EX set produced)
Beetle Lancement (MMS 1)
BeetleEspadia (MMS 1)
Scorpion Graffias (MMS 1)
Bat Vespelio (MMS 1)
Second Aniversary Wave
Angel Arnval Tranche 2 (reissue of wave 1 Arnval with Dengeki Exclusive extra parts) (MMS 1)
Devil Strarf Bis (reissue of wave 1 Strarf with Dengeki Exclusive extra parts) (MMS 1)
Wave 11 (May 2010)
Altine (MMS 3)
Altrene (MMS 3)
Wave 12 (2010)
Guitar Baby Razz (MMS 3)
Violin Shartatang (MMS 3)
Light Armor Waves
Angel Commando Werkstra (MMS 1)
Devil Succubus Valona (MMS 1)
Nurse Brightfeather (MMS 1)
Sister Harmony Grace (MMS 1)
Ferret Partio (MMS 3 small)
Squirrel Pomock (MMS 3 small)
Chopstick Kohiru (MMS 3 small)
Spoon Merienda (MMS 3 small)
Wave 5 (2010)
Hell hound Gabrine (MMS 3)
Nine Tailed Fox Renge (MMS 3)
Store Exclusive Sets
Dengeki Exclusive Devil Type, Strarf (White & yellow; called Angel Strarf by fan community; extra parts) (MMS 1)
Dengeki Exclusive Angel Type, Arnval (red & black; called Devil Arnval by fan community; extra parts) (MMS 1)
Dengeki Exclusive Cat Type, Maochao (orange & white; on a card instead of in a box; few accessories; new head sculpt) (MMS 1)
Dengeki Exclusive Dog Type, Howling (green & white; on a card instead of in a box; few accessories; new head sculpt) (MMS 1)
Wonderfest 2008 Seiren Type, Eukrante (black and red; blonde hair) (MMS 1)
Wonderfest 2008 Mermaid Type, Ianeira (black and red; blonde hair; larger third chest piece) (MMS 1)
Konami Style Exclusive Blue Santa Claus Type, Tsugaru (blue armor; has MMS Body; new head sculpt) (MMS 1)
Konami Style / Chara Hobby 2008 Prototype Squirrel Type, Pomock (uses MMS 1 body; on a card instead of in a box; fewer parts) (MMS 1)
Konami Style / Chara Hobby 2008 Prototype Ferret Type, Partio (uses MMS 1 body; on a card instead of in a box; fewer parts) (MMS 1)
Dengeki Hobby Magazine ed. High Speed Trike Type, ACH Stradale (black & white; comes with a third "drunk" head; more parts) (MMS 1)
Dengeki Hobby Magazine ed. High Maneuver Trike Type, YDA Stradale (black & white; comes with a third "drunk" head; more parts) (MMS 1)
Konami Style Exclusive Angel Type, Arnval Tranche2 (red and black repaint of the Arnval Tranche2 figure, light brown hair) (MMS 1)
Konami Style Exclusive Devil Type, Strarf Bis (white and yellow repaint of Strarf Bis figure; light green hair) (MMS 1)
Konami Style Exclusive Ninja Type, Fubuki (black and purple; first release has red scarf; second release has black wings and a scroll) (MMS1)
Konami Style Exclusive Ninja Type, Mizuki (white and red repaint of Fubuki; red hair; white wings) (MMS1)
Konami Style Exclusive Angel Commando Werkstra repaint version (black and dark gray repaint of LA Wave 1 Werkstra; lavender hair) (MMS 1)
Konami Style Exclusive Devil Succubus Valona repaint version (white and gray repaint of LA Wave 1 Valona; light brown hair) (MMS 1)
Konami Style Exclusive Panzer Murmeltier Desert Warfare Version (black and tan repaint of Wave 8 Murmeltier; blond hair) (MMS 1)
Konami Style Exclusive Fighter Asuka Night Battle Version (dark blue and black repaint of Asuka; light purple hair) (MMS 1)
Dengeki is a Hobby Magazine in Japan that specializes in model kits & toys.
Wonderfest is a Japanese convention similar to San Diego Comic Convention. Lots of anime, toys, manga, etc.
Konami Style are figures only available for purchase on Konami's Japanese website. You need a proxy service/middle man to order and send it to you.
Hopefully this information will help everyone new and old make informed decisions and prevent people from making the mistakes that I did when I first got into this hobby. If there are any mistakes or information I have left out, let me know via pm and I will correct the above post.