AKAZONAE ROYAL GUARD
MEISHO MOVIE REALIZATION (BANDAI)
Alright, we got the Aliens, we got the Super Heroes, so for Day 3 of the post-Christmas reviews, why not look at another cornerstone of my collecting habits: Star Wars! In fact, this one is a double whammy, being both Star Wars *and* a high-end Bandia figure. Huzzah! The main Star Wars toy license for North America is held by Hasbro, who are pretty big into exclusivity and no-competition deals. Because of this, no other toy company can release Star Wars figures under a certain price in the US, which is why the Star Wars Pop!s are bobble heads, and the Star Wars Sideshow figures carry a hefty price tag. There are a few workarounds, however. Bandai’s recently been putting out a line of concept figures, envisioning certain Star Wars characters as they might appear were they in a Samurai film, rather than a Sci-Fi one. They’ve done a handful of the various Imperial Troopers and today I’ll be looking at my personal favorite, the Akazanae Royal Guard.
THE FIGURE ITSELF
The Akazonae Royal Guard was released as the sixth figure in Bandai’s Star Wars: Meisho Movie Realization line. He was originally slated as the fourth release, but was pushed back to follow variants of the Trooper and Darth Vader, and he ultimately hit just this past summer. The figure stands about 7 inches tall (which was actually a bit larger than I was expecting, but I’m certainly not complaining) and he has 43 points of articulation. The articulation has a bit of a learning curve to it. It seems rather stiff at first, but once you get the hang of it, he’s actually a lot of fun to mess around with. His sculpt is mostly unique to him, but it does appear that he shares at least some parts of the legs with the Storm and Sandtroopers, which is certainly reasonable from a consistency standpoint. As far as the sculpt goes, he’s a bit tricky to review, what with not actually being based on any specific design. With that being said, the sculpt is definitely a top-notch piece of work, and it does a good job of combining the Royal Guard’s film design with actual, functioning Samurai armor. He’s a touch more ornate than previous figures (barring maybe Darth Vader), as he well should be, being an elite royal guard and all. There’s lots of fun, little details sprinkled throughout the figure, and he incorporates some really nice layer work. Also, I appreciate that, when configured certain ways, this figure can almost pass for just a slightly more armored version of the standard Royal Guard. Were he not just a bit larger-scaled, I’d probably just throw this guy in with my Black Series figures. You might think that the paint work on this guy might be lax, being pretty much entirely red and all, but he’s actually got some pretty incredible work. The actual hard armored parts have a nice, semi-gloss sheen, which contrasts nicely with the duller finish of the rest of the figure. He’s also got a few different shades of red, which keep the whole look interesting. He’s also got some really great accent work; there’s a black wash on a lot of the armored pieces, giving it a nice worn-in sort of feel. There’s also some blue/indigo piping on a few sections, which adds a nice bit of flair, and really helps to break up all the red. All around, this is just a very vibrant, very bold figure, especially when compared to the other figures in the line. The Royal Guard includes a Katana, a scabbard, a large staff, three pairs of hands (in fists, loose, and tight grip), and a tabard that can be swapped out with the insignia on the front of his armor, thus creating a more classic Royal Guard look. It’s a fun assortment of pieces, and provides a number of cool different looks.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
The Royal Guard was a Christmas present from my boy Tim. I’d actually checked the figure out a few times, and it was the first of the Movie Realization figures to really speak to me. Tim and I had a few conversations about the figure back when it was solicited, and it seems he took note of that. I really like this figure, a whole lot. There’s just so much about the design that really works, and I definitely feel he’s the strongest of the Movie Realization line, despite being one of the more minor designs presented therein. There’s just so many fun ways to pose him and have him interact with others, and now I’m seriously considering picking up one or two of the others in the line at some point (a very dangerous venture indeed). Thanks, Tim…