The following is a guest review by my dad, writer Steven H. Wilson! Check out more from him over at his blog, located at stevenhwilson.com
Bandai’s Ultra-Act line has released dozens of figures based on Tsubaraya Productions’ long-running Ultraman series, which includes of two dozen individual TV series, running from 1967 to the present, and about half that many feature films. Every series stars a new Ultraman character, differentiated from his brethren by a suffix–e.g. “Ultraman Jack,” Ultraman X,” “Ultraman Mebius.”
Sixth in Ultra-Act‘s 2015 lineup is an Ultraman character not from a TV series, but from a 2011 Manga which has recently been collected in trade paperback for the U.S. market. The Manga and its lead character are simply called “Ultraman,” and the hero is the human son of the first Ultraman from way back in 1967.
THE FIGURE ITSELF
The packaging is dual-branded with the logos of Ultra-Act and S.H. Figuarts, another Bandai line. The figure is not in scale with the rest of the Ultra-Act line, coming in at 6 3/4 inches, about a half-inch shorter than the typical Ultraman figure. This explains the dual-branding, since it is in scale with S.H. Figuarts‘ popular Power Rangers and other lines. The figure has 30 points of articulation, and comes with three sets of interchangeable gauntlets, three sets of hands–including different pointing gestures, and, of course, fists–an extra chest plate, and the trademark Ultra-beam-blasting effect. I’m not sure what the point of the extra chest plate is. It’s slightly more streamlined than the one that comes packed on the figure, but its jewel is the same color. I would expect the whole point of providing an alternate chest plate for an Ultraman would be to show his warning light blinking red.
It’s a bit disappointing that the mask is not removable, a la early Marvel Legends Iron Man figures, since this Ultraman is not a giant from another world, but a kid in an exo-suit. The figure is very, very posable–almost too posable. He falls down a lot when displayed, and doesn’t come with a stand. On the up side, he tends to fall into some great action poses. An optional flying-stand is recommended for this guy. One other nit-pick, I suppose, that I have with all the Ultraman figures, is that their arms aren’t designed to easily assume (or hold) the cross-elbow beam-blasting stance that’s so commonly seen when an Ultraman fights. Still, the detail is amazing, and the figure brings a 2D character to beautiful 3D life.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
The figure was given to me by Ethan, the man behind The Figure in Question, who’s also my son. He feeds me a steady diet of Ultra-Act figures (and Spark Dolls, another Ultraman line) for Christmases and birthdays and the like. He knows I’m devoted to all things Ultra. I grew up watching the original 1967 TV series, and have recently discovered (and developed something of an obsession for) all the spin-off series that were never dubbed into English. He picked up this figure for me for Christmas, and suggested I review it alongside my review of the source material, which is on my blog now. [You can read it here!– E]