In the section of New York Comic Con's exhibit hall known as "The Block" you'll find goodies galore for collectors and hobbyists with money to burn, ranging from Gundam model kits to cutesy, big-headed figurines of Mario and Luigi. But, at the Good Smile booth, the company was showcasing a different kind of toy to play with: a pair of headphones that you don't just adjust to fit your head, but can actually transform like a robot into the right shape.
The THP-01 headphones are the first release for Good Smile under its "Toon Workshop" brand, a collaboration between the company and Joseph Hahn of Linkin Park. Good Smile's toy pedigree is immediately apparent in the build of the THP-01, with styling reminiscent of an anime mech or power armor. However, the plastic construction means the headphones were a lot lighter than they looked. Despite the lack of heft the headphones didn't feel chinzy, probably due to the metal joints undergirding each component. And though it's made up of 256 sculpted parts meant to be pulled and pushed around, the pieces of the THP-01 fit together well enough that the transforming nature of the headphones is not immediately apparent.
However, the THP-01 can't be arranged into any decidedly unheadphone-like shape. It's really limited to two basic positions: fully open and a compact form for travel. But the process of tugging on pieces and moving them around is certainly a fun and showy activity, especially for anyone who relished playing with Transformers as a kid (or even as an adult). The parts require a bit of strength to get them to move, but the metal bits glide pretty smoothly once loose and at no point did I feel like I was going to accidentally break a part off. It's a pretty intuitive, satisfying process.
Once I got these things open and on my head, how did they actually work as headphones? Pretty well, actually. There's a few nice nods to comfort in the design, including plenty of well-ventilated padding and ruler marks printed on the band to make it easier to refind your perfect fit after a transformation. Soundwise it did fine, with songs like The Runaways's "Cherry Bomb" coming out fairly balanced and clear. However, I did find the volume a bit softer than I like.
The THP-01 headphones are available now from Good Smile for ¥45,000 (about $349). If black isn't your style, next month will see the debut of Knights of Cydonia-inspired patterns in white and gray. However, that branding will cost you, with the price marked up to ¥55,000 (about $463).
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