#1660: Guardian Bravo

GUARDIAN BRAVO

ROBOT SPIRITS (BANDAI)

“Designed for combat at range, Guardian Bravo wields the Elec-16 Arc Whip: a proto-metallic successor to the chainsword, and brings a new sophistication to the chainsword’s whiplash move.”

When a problem comes along, you must whip it.  Before the cream sits out too long, you must whip it.  When something’s going wrong, you must whip it.  Now whip it!  Into shape!  Shape it up!  Get straight!  Go forward!  Move ahead!  Try to detect it, it’s not too late, to whip it.  Whip it well.  Yeah, I know it’s “good” in the song, but grammar is important.

Sorry, I didn’t know how to start another Uprising review, so I went all pop-culture on it.  Anyway, in the spirit of whipping it good, let’s have a look at the whip-wielding Jaeger, Guardian Bravo!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Guardian Bravo is figure 233 in the Robot Spirits line, the third, and final, chronological figure in the second series of Pacific Rim: Uprising-themed Jaegers.  The figure stands a little over 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 31 points of articulation.  Guardian Bravo’s design calls back the most to the first film’s Coyote Tango, though perhaps not so much in color scheme.  He’s also got a lot in common with your average NFL football player, which I suppose is fitting for a Jaeger with a name as American as “Guardian Bravo.”  Guardian has the same basic construction as the other Jaegers in this line.  Obviously, he’s not quite as mobile as Saber Athena, but compared to the first series Jaegers, he’s actually a fair bit more posable.  That’s more a design thing than anything, though.  Guardian is a lot blockier and less advanced than his two series-mates, which helps offset him a bit.  If anything, he almost looks more at home with Bracer and Titan (that’s certainly not a bad thing).  The sculpt on this figure does a solid job of recreating the on-screen appearance in plastic form.  Guardian’s paintwork is some of the more complex of the Jaegers in this line, which on one hand is nice, but on the other hand, it’s actually not quite enough.  Guardian’s got some of the most complex detailing in the film, and the figure tries to handle some of that, but ultimately, a lot of details end up lost.  There are sections of red that should go on the white, and vice versa.  At least he gets all the identifiers and insgnias, though.  I can understand Bandai’s dilemma, of course, since Guardian done correctly really would require a lot more paint than any other Jaegers in the set.  It’s difficult to make that cost out.  As is, he looks reasonable on his own, provided you’re not making direct comparisons.  The figure makes out pretty well on accessories, with both gripping and open palm hands, as well as two Arc Whips to hold.  The clear plastic on the whips is particularly cool, and a very effective way of handling the energy effects.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I grabbed Guardian Bravo at the same time as Saber Athena.  Of the two, Athena was the one I was most looking forward to.  I liked Guardian, but I largely got him to fill out the set.  He’s got some paint issues, which are a little annoying, but the thing that surprised me most about this guy is just how much I like him.  Out of the three Series 2 figures, I think he may well be my favorite.  I didn’t see that coming.  As it stands right now, Guardian is the final figure in this sub-set.  I’m still hoping for a third series with November Ajax, Valor Omega, and perhaps one of the drones, but I may have to turn to DST for those.

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#1659: Saber Athena

SABER ATHENA

ROBOT SPIRITS (BANDAI)

“The sleekest and most elegant jaeger ever created, Saber Athena is the fastest in the fleet, wielding twin blades in hyper-acrobatic combat.”

Saber Athena was kind of advertised as Pacific Rim: Uprising’s equivalent to Striker Eureka, a secondary Jaeger that would get a lot of focus.  That was not the case.  Honestly, I was a bit shocked by how little Saber Athena there was in the movie.  The expected secondary Jaeger turned out to be Bracer Phoenix instead.  Nevertheless, Saber Athena, like all the Jaegers, did at least get her moment to shine.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Saber Athena was figure 232 in Bandai’s Robot Spirits line, as the second figure sequentially in the second series of Uprising-themed figures.  The figure is one of the shortest in the set, standing just shy of 6 1/2 inches tall and she has 35 points of articulation (the fins on her back provide for some extra mobility).  Saber has perhaps the most delicate and ornate sculpt of all the Jaegers in this set.  She uses the same basic style of construction as the others; a skeleton with armored pieces.  The sleek and slighter build of the armor means that Saber also gets the most range out of her joints of all the Jaegers.  She’s just a heck of a lot of fun to pose, especially deep running poses.  The detailing on the armor is sharp, clean, and very concise.  She’s a great recreation of the on-screen design, and melds accuracy with playability quite well.  Saber gets more paint than the other Jaegers; it’s still not a ton, but there’s some decent detail work, especially on the identifying numbers and insignias.  In addition, the slightly pearlescent plastic that was used for the majority of her armor looks really slick, and makes her one of the coolest looking of the Jaegers when the light catches her.  Saber is pretty well accessorized, including two sets of hands in gripping and flat poses, as well as her blades in both twin and combined configurations.  Compared to some of the other Jeagers, that’s pretty great, though I’d imagine it’s more to offset the slightly smaller nature of this figure.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After managing to find Obsidian Fury at Toys R Us, I was keeping an eye out for both Saber and Guardian, but not having much luck.  I’d pretty much resigned to have to order the pair of them online.  That said, a few weeks back, I was out with my family, and we decided to catch a movie (Isle of Dogs, for those curious; definitely worth a watch if you haven’t seen it).  We got to the theatre with about an hour to kill, so we decided to stop in the Barnes & Noble next door.  I wasn’t expecting to find anything, but I wandered over to collectibles aisle and boom, there was this figure staring right back at me.  I was actually pretty darn excited, let me tell you.  Saber was possibly my favorite of the new Jaeger designs (well, barring November Ajax, who is just boss), and it translated really well into an action figure.

#1658: Obsidian Fury

OBSIDIAN FURY

ROBOT SPIRITS (BANDAI)

“A towering mecha so powerful its origins are shrouded in secrecy, meet the deadliest Jaeger to ever walk the Earth.  With stealth chrome armor plating chainsaws and a chest-mounted AKM salvo-launcher, Obsidian Fury is ready to defend our world…or destroy it!”

Infinity War may have come along and blown everything else away, but before it came along, I was all about Pacific Rim: Uprising.  Though hardly a perfect film, it was certainly a fun movie-going experience, and, most importantly, it gave us a bunch of cool new robot designs!  One of the coolest was the dark rogue Jaeger, Obsidian Fury!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Obsidian Fury is figure 231 in Badai’s Robot Spirits line, sequentially the first of the second series of Uprising figures, and fourth overall from the movie.  The figure stands the tallest of the new Jaegers at 7 inches and has 31 points of articulation.  Obsidian is the most advanced Jaeger we see in the film, so his design is a lot sleeker and made up smoother lines than all of the others.  This gives him a slightly more organic feel that goes well with his Kaiju-origins.  He’s also got a bit of a modern-BSG Cylon feel to him, which helps keep him appropriately sinister.  The figure’s sculpt is handled the same way as the others; there’s an underlying skeleton of sorts, with all of Obsidian’s armored bits placed on top.  It’s definitely a solid piece of work, though I do have one complaint, having to do with how the articulation has been worked in.  For the most part, the joints of the figure follow the natural points of movement from the movie, but Obsidian’s shoulder pads just sort of break right in the middle to allow them to move.  It doesn’t follow the flow of the design at all and can be quite jarring.  Like his three predecessors, Obsidian is mostly light on the paint, but the few bits he has work well.  I quite like the translucent orange visor; it looks a little off from some angles but when it catches the light just right, it looks pretty sweet.  The figure is packed with two sets of hands in both open grasp and fist positions, as well as his laser chainsaw attachments from the film.  Interestingly, the blades aren’t attached to a separate forearm like Gipsy, but instead require you to pop the outer plate off of the forearms and click the blade into place.  It’s actually a lot easier than swapping the arm every time, so I prefer this method.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked up the whole first set from Toys R Us a week before they announced they were going under.  I wasn’t expecting to find any of this set there.  After the announcement of their closure, and the beginnings of the markdowns, I made my first stop at my usual store.  It was something like a wasteland, really, with things just in piles everywhere from people rummaging through (and this was when they were still only at 10% off, mind you).  After doing a few loops around the store, I had one or two things I was going to buy.  I was standing in line at the register, when Christian texted me about an Amiibo they had that he wanted.  On my way back to grab it, I happened to knock over something from a shelf near the front, thus revealing two of this bad boy.  I was surprised to say the least.  This is a pretty good figure, and a great counterpart to the first assortment’s Gispy Avenger.

#1615: Titan Redeemer

TITAN REDEEMER

ROBOT SPIRITS (BANDAI)

“Built for brute force and armed with a seismic morningstar, Titan Redeemer is the walking wrecking ball of the new fleet.”

Before Pacific Rim: Uprising hit theaters, there was a little bit of confusion about specifically which Jaegers would be making up the four ‘bot team seen in the big city shot from the trailers.  The source of the confusion?  Titan Redeemer’s seismic morning star weapon, which was prominently featured.  The catch was, it wasn’t actually Titan using the weapon, but rather yesterday’s Bracer Phoenix.  Titan’s role in the film is decidedly more minor, but it’s unique design does make for a stand-out design.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Titan Redeemer is part of Bandai’s Robot Spirits line, and is figure 230, making him the third of the three Jaegers in the first Pacific Rim: Uprising assortment.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and has 30 points of articulation.  Size-wise, Redeemer falls between the other two in both height and bulk.  At first glance, Titan and Bracer seem a little similar in design, but they’re actually quite divergent in person.  Titan’s sculpt is on certainly on par with the other two figures, being a multi-piece sculpt over an underlying skeleton.  I think motion-wise, Titan’s the most restricted of the three figures, and it’s mostly due to the way his shoulder armor is designed.  Since, unlike Bracer, the shoulders are all one piece, there’s a limit to how far the arms can move in any direction.  Honestly, this is less an issue with the figure and more a design thing; I suppose the real Jaeger would have these issues too.  On the plus side, the actual sculpt quality is pretty top notch, and the details are the sharpest of the three figures here.  Literally in some places, most notably his morning star hand, which looks appropriately lethal.  Overall, the sculpt just looks pretty sleek.  Also pretty sleek is his color work.  Like the other two Jaegers, the actual paintwork is one the scarce side, with most of the color work being done with molded plastic.  The dark metallic green in particular is really spiffy looking.  It gives him a nice sense of polish, similar in a lot of ways to NECA’s Chero Alpha.  Titan Redeemer is somewhat light on the accessories compared to the other two Jaegers.  There’s a swappable open palmed hand for his right side, which is the only Titan-specific piece.  No extending chain for the morning star or anything, which is a bit of a bummer.  To make up for it, Titan is also packed with Scrapper, Amara’s one-man Jaeger.  It’s just a little unpainted, unarticulated figurine, but seeing as it’s one of my favorite parts of the movie, I’m glad it wasn’t totally overlooked.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As with Bracer, I debated whether or not I should pick up Titan.  The announcement early on that Titan would be including Scrapper certainly swayed me, and seeing the figure in the store, I just couldn’t turn it down.  I wish there were more accessories, or that Scrapper was at least painted, but I can’t deny Titan is a very solid figure.  If I had one complaint, it would be that we’re getting Titan, who is quite minor, before we’ve seen any indication of a November Ajax, who is the first Jaeger we see.  But, that’s hardly Titan’s fault, and it really doesn’t actually impact this figure.

#1614: Bracer Phoenix

BRACER PHOENIX

ROBOT SPIRITS (BANDAI)

“A Mark V brute that can still run with the VI’s, Bracer Phoenix shoots from the chest, with a centrifugal vortex cannon that is as spectacular as it is deadly.”

Did you guys all go out and see Pacific Rim: Uprising yesterday?  I didn’t, because as I noted in my Gipsy Avenger review, I saw the movie on Thursday night, since there was no way I was waiting any longer than I had to.  While it was hardly the in-depth love letter to old Kaiju flicks that the original was, I found it to be an entertaining spin-off of the original, and hope they can get more movies to tell the stories they want with this new set of characters.  Anyway, I’m continuing my look at some of the toys from the movie, with Jaeger Bracer Phoenix.  Despite what merchandising and promotional materials might lead you to believe by sticking Saber Athena all over the place, Bracer’s undoubtedly the secondary Jaeger in the film.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Bracer Phoenix is from Bandai’s Robot Spirits toyline, numbered 229, thus making it the second of the Jaegers sequentially.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and has 31 points of articulation.  Bracer’s the shortest of the three Jaegers in the first round, but also the one with the most heft.  It appears that the scaling relative to the other two is accurate to the film, from what we see of the Jaegers together.  As a Mark V, Bracer has a number of similarities to Striker Eureka in terms of design, being shorter and wider than his compatriots.  His sculpt is handled very similarly to Gipsy: lots of individual pieces all built on an underlying skeleton.  This adds a lot of sharpness to the details, as well as creating a very realistic depth of detail.  It’s really great on the head, where the visor is a separate piece from the rest of the helmet, which keeps the whole transition very crisp.  As with Gipsy, the paint on Bracer’s actually pretty light, with most of the color work being handled via molded plastic.  Bracer’s color scheme isn’t quite as exciting as Gipsy’s, but it’s accurate to the movie and looks decent enough in plastic.  For this figure, more of the silver parts are actually painted, which looks a lot better than the molded stuff.  The identification numbers and safety markings are nice and sharp, and add a lot to the figure.  Bracer is packed with a spare set of hands in open poses, as well as both the front and rear vortex cannons, which can swap out for the corresponding torso plates.  The Morning Star hand attachment isn’t included, which is a shame, since Bracer doesn’t actually see any action with it.  However, if you have the Titan Redeemer figure (which I’ll be taking a look at tomorrow), you can swap the arms out at the shoulder (something I only actually figured out after seeing the movie), which works pretty well.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I wasn’t initially sure I would be getting all of the Jaegers from this set, and Bracer was one of the ones I was a bit up in the air on.  Upon seeing all of them in person, I had a hard time saying no, so Bracer came home with me.  After opening the figure up, I was definitely happy I decided to pick it up, and after seeing the movie, I was even happier.

#1613: Gipsy Avenger

GIPSY AVENGER

ROBOT SPIRITS (BANDAI)

“Gipsy Avenger honors the heroic legacy of her namesake as the flagship leader of the Mark VI Fleet.  More than just a jaeger, she is a symbol of hope to millions.”

One of my very favorite movies of the last decade is Pacific Rim, Guillermo Del Toro’s majestic throwback to the Kaiju flicks of the ‘60s and ‘70s.  After five years, it’s finally getting a sequel, Pacific Rim: Uprising, which is officially hitting theaters today.  By the time you guys read this, I’ll have already seen it (I got tickets for Thursday night, of course), but for now I’m writing this review with some blissful anticipation of the awesome that is to come.  The first film was a little slower with the rollout of the toys, since no one knew what kind of business it would be doing, but for the sequel several companies have already jumped on the gravy train.  Over the next three days, I’ll be looking at Bandai Japan’s offerings, starting with the main Jaeger Gipsy Avenger.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Gipsy Avenger is part of Bandai’s Robot Spirits toyline, numbered as figure 228, chronologically the first of the Uprising Jaegers.  The figure stands 6 3/4 inches tall and has 31 points of articulation.  Obviously, this figure’s not designed to scale correctly with the NECA figures from the first movie (the DST figures coming later this month will be better matched), but she’s actually a fair bit taller than I was expecting.  She’ll certainly look fine with Bandai’s various Ultramen, if you’re like me and just want a super awesome epic Kaiju killing force.  But hey, that might just be me.  If you’re used to the NECA offerings, this figure’s sculpt is going to be a bit different, since it uses the Bandai approach of assembling the figure from lots and lots of tiny little parts, similar to how the actual Jaeger might be built.  The end result is a figure that has a whole lot of depth to its sculpt.  The lines are sharp, and it’s a pretty solid translation of the design, at least based on what we’ve seen of it so far.  The multi-piece construction of the outer armor and such also allows for this figure to have maximized movement, so you can get Gipsy into some pretty epic poses, though if you go too extreme, some times parts are prone to pop out of place.  Gipsy is actually a little lighter on paint than you might expect.  The majority of the color work is rendered via molded plastic.  For the most part, it works pretty well, especially for the slightly metallic blue that makes up most of the figure.  I’m also quite a fan of the multi-piece, multi-colored way they handled the visor on the head.  The only downside to the molded colors is the silver; molded silver is rarely convincing, since you always get all of those little swirly elements, and it’s a bit dull.  But, that’s rather minor.  There are a few painted details, mostly for Gipsy’s identifying numbers and insignias.  They’re nice and sharply detailed, and add a nice bit of polish to the figure.  Gipsy is packed with a pretty decent assortment of extras.  There are spare open grip hands, as well as a plasma cannon to swap out for the right forearm, and a sword-bearing left forearm.  It pretty much gives you all of the essential Gipsy elements in one convenient package.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve been waiting for these guys to hit ever since they were first announced, and I knew for certain Gipsy was at the top of my list.  Imagine my surprise when I walked into Toys R Us and found an entire rack of this figure.  That won’t be happening ever again.  Gipsy is an awesome figure, well worth the $20 price tag.  Here’s hoping the figure’s an indication of the movie’s quality!

#1555: Gold Ranger

GOLD RANGER

POWER RANGERS: LEGACY (BANDAI)

I don’t review many Power Rangers figures on this site.  And when I do, they’re pretty much always from the Mighty Morphin’ incarnation of the show.  It’s amusing, because, while I certainly have an appreciation for MMPR, since it’s the original and all, I only caught it fleetingly in its original run.  I’ve touched on this somewhat in past reviews. Power Rangers in Space is actually the first Rangers show I got actively invested in, but the first incarnation I owned any toys from was Zeo, Mighty Morphin’s follow-up series.  My favorite Ranger design of all-time is definitely Zeo’s sixth member, the Gold Ranger, who I’ll be taking a look at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Gold Ranger was released in Series 4 of Bandai’s Power Rangers: Legacy line.  He’s one of the three Zeo-based figures in this series, alongside the Green and Yellow Rangers (the other two figures are the Blue and Red Rangers from Dino Thunder).  The figure stands 7 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  That’s slightly less posability than the Red Space Ranger, but the missing joints were mostly redundant on that figure and ended up adding a bit of extra work to pose him so that none of his extremities were oddly twisted.  With this figure, he’s definitely less contorted looking right out of the box.  That being said, I do feel it’s important to note that this guy does *not* have mid-forearm cut joints like the last figure.  I gave one of them a small twist on my figure and the glue holding his wrist in place came undone, which was a pain to fix.  The Gold Ranger’s sculpt uses the same basic starting point as the Red Space Ranger, so he has the same exaggerated, superhero build the Bandai America likes to give to their Rangers, for better or for worse.  He also has the same wonky shoulders that I wasn’t super crazy about, but fortunately those shoulders are mostly covered by his chest plate, so the issue is lessened.  In general, the new armor additions really help this figure out, since they cover a lot of Bandai’s usual sins on these figures, and in general help to keep him looking far more in line with his onscreen counterpart.  The armor pieces also off Bandai the chance to add a little bit more intricate detailing to the figure, thus keeping him from being quite as simplistic and bland as some of their other sculpts.  I also quite like his head sculpt, which does a great job of capturing the show’s design, and manages not to look too small in comparison to the rest of the body.  The paint on the Gold Ranger is the source of some controversy.  The prototype and all promotional shots of the figure showed him with armor that was actually gold, matching up with the show depiction.  When he arrived on retail shelves, his armor was more of a orangey yellow, with only the slightest metallic twinge to it, which has upset a lot of fans.  I can understand the complaint, and I’d probably be happier with the figure if he were in the proper colors, but I don’t find myself all that upset with the final product.  As it stands, I think the color’s close enough to work, and his overall appearance hasn’t been altered all that much.  I suppose it might bug me more if I had the Green or White Rangers, both of whom have a different shade of gold, but just on his own, I think this guy looks fine.  As a sixth ranger figure, the Gold Ranger doesn’t include a piece of his team’s Megazord, but he does include his Staff of Gold, which is pretty cool.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This guy’s really the whole reason I got into the Legacy line in the first place.  I’ve wanted a Figuarts version of him since I got the Mighty Morphin’ team, but the odds of that getting made are kind of slim at this point.  So, when this guy was shown off, I was pretty pumped.  It took him a little while to get here, but I can’t begin to describe the excitement when I found him.  He’s got his flaws, but I’m overall very happy with this figure!

#1536: Ultraman Ace Suit

ULTRAMAN ACE SUIT

S.H. FIGUARTS X ULTRA-ACT (BANDAI)

It’s Day 5 of my post-Christmas reviews, and today I’ll be returning to one of my very favorite franchises, Ultraman.  My Ultraman reviews have gotten few and far between.  That’s the sort of thing that happens when they end the main line you collect of something, I suppose.  Without a steady stream of new Ultra-Act offerings, there’s a bit less regularity to my Ultra-collecting habits.  The Figuarts offerings are very cool, but there’s also a bit of overlap between the two collections, so I haven’t really picked up anything from that line.  Well, until now, anyway.  Today’s figure is based on the currently running Ultraman manga, which is a sort of soft reboot of the franchise, taking only the original show as canon, and following the adventures of Hayata’s son Shinjiro as he takes up the mantle of Ultraman.  The series has also introduced some of the later Ultras as recurring characters, though they aren’t proper Ultramen like they were before.  So, without further ado, here’s the Ultraman Ace Suit, piloted by Seiji Hokuto, a reimagining of one of Ace’s two hosts!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Ace Suit is the third offering in the SHFiguarts X Ultra-Act line, following the standard manga Ultraman and the Ver7.2 Suit.  As the Ace Suit is the third suit to appear in the manga, it’s a sensible release order.  The figure stands about 5 3/4 inches tall and he has 40 points of articulation.  Ace is the shortest of the three manga Ultras, and the figure reflects that.  I will admit, after messing around with CaRB for a few days, Ace’s articulation felt a little bit restricted, but compared to the average Figuarts offering, he’s not too bad.  The shoulders are the most  difficult thing, because they have to be configured just right for any given move.  But, once you get a feel for the figure, it’s not too hard to get him posed how you’d like him.  Ace’s sculpt is unique to him, and it does a pretty respectable job of translating the manga design into three dimensions.  It certainly helps that Ace is my favorite so far of the manga Ultras.  I definitely appreciate the common elements between this design and the classic Ace design, especially filtered through the manga’s more tactical design aesthetic.  His suit is pretty sleek and clean, and I quite like the more squared off nature.  It really goes well with the classic Ace elements, such as the pseudo Greco-Roman style helmet.  The sculpt gets all of these design elements worked in quite nicely, and doesn’t skimp in the smaller details.  I like that you can tell what’s actually armor and what’s a more flexible undersuit, just through the shaping of the materials.  In terms of paint, this guy’s pretty much on par with the various Ultra-Act figures I reviewed.  Everything is pretty clean and sharp, and the metallics look top-notch.  I particularly like that his lenses are translucent yellow; they look amazing when the light hits them the right way.  The Ace Suit is quite well accessorized.  He includes three sets of hands (in fists, open gesture, and flat poses), extra gauntlets, his specium blade, a slightly longer set of wrists (for use with the blade), and an alternate unmasked head with two different facial expressions.  The blade can be a little tricky to get set-up the right way, since it requires swapping out the wrists and getting the hands and bracers swapped over to the new ones, as well as getting the blade properly seated between the arms.  It took a few tries to get my figure to hold the blade the right way.  The extra head is certainly a nice touch, especially after a similar piece was left out of the first release of the main Ultraman.  The separate expressions work much the same as they do with the DBZ figures, and add a nice bit of character to the figure, though I hardly see myself displaying him unmasked.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Ace is Tim’s fault indirectly, and I suppose my parents fault directly.  It’s Tim’s fault I know this figure exists.  Which is a bit weird, when you get down to it, since I’m the Ultraman fan, but somehow this one slipped past me.  Once I saw him, I knew I wanted one, and my parents were nice enough to get me him for Christmas.  It’s kind of funny, because, while I like the original Ace, he’s never been one of my favorites.  This figure, on the other hand, very definitely is.  He’s a ton of fun, and just really cool looking to boot.

#1532: Masked Rider 2 & Cyclone

MASKED RIDER 2 & CYCLONE

S.H. FIGUARTS (BANDAI)

And let the Post-Christmas reviews officially begin!

Okay, so it’s my first day of Post-Christmas reviews, and for three years running, I’ve kicked things off with a figure of the Alien Queen.  That’s…not the case this year.  Sorry guys, there’s a limited number of Alien Queen figures out there for my family and friends to gift to me.  It was beyond all of our control.  You’re just going to have to make due with a Kamen Rider review.  I’m sure you’ll all manage.  Without further ado, let’s have a look at Masked Rider 2 and the Cyclone!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

So, what’s all this “Masked Rider 2” business, you’re probably asking.  I’ll tell ya.  During the production of the first Kamen Rider series, lead actor Hiroshi Fujioka injured himself performing a stunt.  The producers of the show had a few options.  They could replace Fujioka with another actor and hope no one noticed, they could have him get some sort of plastic surgery, or they could come up with a reason for Fujioka’s Hongo to leave the show and introduce an interim replacement.  They opted for the last choice, and introduced the franchise’s first secondary rider, Hayato Ichimonji.  Ichimonji took over as the main protagonist of the show for about half a season, until Fujioka was able to return, at which point Ichimonji and Hongo shared the title.  And now you know all about Masked Rider 2!  There have been a few prior versions of Kamen/Masked Rider 2 from SHFiguarts, but it would appear that this set is the most recent, hitting in 2015.  He’s based on Ichimonji’s first main design, which was fairly similar to the original Kamen Rider’s in a lot of ways.  The figure stands about 5 1/2 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  He’s very similar in construction to prior Figuarts offerings, especially the Power Rangers and the like.  His sculpt is unique to him, and it’s actually pretty solid.  It does a nice job of translating his design into figure form, all while allowing for articulation and maximum posability.  His proportions are a little bit optimized, of course, as is the style of the line, but it certainly works for this guy.  The level of detail, especially on his helmet, but also on his belt, is incredibly impressive.  The paint on Ichimonji is all pretty sharp and clean, and the colors match up pretty well to his screen counterpart.  He includes several different sets of hands in a variety of poses.  There’s fists, two different flat palms, an open grip and a bike grip.  It’s nice to have the variety, but I’m pretty much only ever going to use the bike grip ones.  He also includes two different tail attachments for his scarf.  One is flat and one is dynamic.  But honestly, who’s ever going to use anything but the dynamic version?

THE VEHICLE ITSELF

He can’t very well be “Kamen Rider” without a bike to ride, now can he?  Of course not.  Previously, Figuarts Kamen Riders and bikes were sold individually, but not this time, and that’s definitely a good thing for me.  The Cyclone measures about 5 1/2 inches long by about 4 inches tall.  It’s got actual moving wheels, and even a working kickstand, which I always count as a plus, and is generally just constructed like an actual bike.  That means it looks really, really good.  Just fantastically sharp construction and everything.  Hands down my favorite part of the whole thing is the back wheel, which is actually on shocks, with working pistons and everything.  That’s an insane attentiveness to detail, that by no means needed to be there, but by god they wanted it to be accurate, so there it is.  The average consumer won’t likely even notice it, but I will, so it matters to me.  The bike comes with two different attachment pieces to keep it standing,  One is pretty basic; it just hooks over the back wheel and keeps it standing, which is decent enough.  The more exciting piece is the one that requires some extra gear not included in this set  There’s a port that plugs into the base of the bike, allowing you to connect one of the standard Figuarts display stands to it.  It’s a pretty awesome option, and allows for some kick-ass set-ups.   It’s a shame no stand was included in the set, but it’s not like there aren’t already a ton of extras included here.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This here set was a gift from my boi Tim, who shares with me a love of Kamen Rider, despite the fact that neither one of us has ever really sat down and watched any iteration of the show.  A good design aesthetic is a good design aesthetic.  I’ve been wanting to get one of the classic Riders for a while, so when I opened this set up I was pretty pumped.  And, as luck would have it, I even had a spare display stand that came with the K-2 Tim got me for my birthday.  It’s almost as if he planned it that way (he really didn’t, though).  This is a fantastic set, which has been so much fun to mess around with.  The only downside is now I need more Kamen Riders…

#1486: Ultraman Ginga Victory, Ultraman Jack, & Alien Baltan

ULTRAMAN GINGA VICTORY, ULTRAMAN JACK, & ALIEN BALTAN

ULTRA HERO/MONSTER 500 SERIES (BANDAI)

 

It’s been a painfully long time since I’ve reviewed any Ultraman figures.  In February of 2015, I looked at the Ultra-Act Mebius, but the ending of that line and its subsequent move to the slightly smaller Figuarts scale has left me without any regular Ultra purchases to review.  And that makes for a sad Ethan indeed.  While I’m sure I’ll get around to picking up some of those Figuarts releases one of these days, for the time being, there are some lower price-point options to keep me occupied, such as Bandai’s Ultra Hero 500 Series and it’s companion Ultra Monster 500 Series.  I’ll be looking at a few of those offerings today.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Ultramen Ginga Victory and Jack were released in the Ultra Hero 500 Series as figures 30 and 04, respectively, while Alien Baltan was released in the Ultra Monster 500 Series as figure 01.  Both series work on the “evergreen” style of distribution, where most figures in a line are kept in constant stock, at least in Japan.

ULTRAMAN GINGA VICTORY

Ginga Victory represents the fused form of Ultras…stick with me here…Ginga and Victory.  Shocking, I know.  This fusion made its debut in Ultraman Ginga S The Movie: Showdown! The 10 Ultra Warriors! which I assure is the actual title of the film, which I most certainly have not exaggerated in any way.  I wasn’t immediately familiar with this variant, but I correctly IDed it as some form of Ginga.  He, like all of the 500 Series figures, stands about 5 1/2 inches tall and has 3 points of articulation at the shoulders and waist.  Hardly super posable, but that’s never been the intent of this line. His sculpt is unique to him, and is about what you’d expect from a softer vinyl figure.  The build of the body is ever so slightly stylized to be a little more heroic in its proportions, but beyond that, he looks to be a pretty close match to the design from the show.  He’s certainly one of the more complicated Ultra designs, but it all flows together pretty well, and he looks pretty darn cool; there’s no denying that.  The complicated nature of his design also translates to his color scheme, but not quite so much to his paint.  He’s certainly got more details than many other Ultras in this scale and style, but there are a few parts of his design that just go unpainted.  It’s not terrible at first glance, however, upon closer expression, you can see the etched-in lines of details that were just left out, which is the tiniest bit frustrating.

ULTRAMAN JACK

This isn’t the first time I’ve looked at an Ultraman Jack on this site, nor will it be the last.  Jack hails from Return of Ultraman, where he was originally intended to be a returning Hayata before becoming a unique character.  Hence the design that’s just a slight variation on the original.  He too has a unique sculpt, which is on par with the Ginga Victory figure, albeit totally different.  His design is obviously more simplistic, and also more keyed to 60s aesthetics in terms of suit materials and his actor’s build, and this figure replicates all of that quite nicely.  I did note that Jack’s pieces don’t seem to fit together quite as seamlessly as Ginga Victory, but they aren’t too mismatched.  Jack’s paint is decent enough.  He’s got less going on than Ginga Victory, so he’s also not missing any key application.  Some of the silver’s a little fuzzy around the edges, but he’s generally pretty well handled.

ALIEN BALTAN

Alien Baltan is one of Ultraman’s earliest and most persistent foes.  The one seen here is Baltan I, seen in the second episode of the original Ultraman.  It’s my favorite Baltan look, so that makes me pretty happy.  Baltan’s sculpt is a bit softer than the other two.  It’s not a huge surprise, given all the extra details he’s got going on.  That being said, as a more organic creature, the softness is a little more excusable.  It’s a decent enough piece, I suppose.  It’s clearly a little more archaic than some of the others, and a tad more simplistic than I’d like, but the general idea is there.  Any Ultra-fan is gonna know who this is.  His paint is actually a fair bit more nuanced than the other two, featuring a fair number of airbrushed details.  Given the price point of the figure, it’s actually quite impressive.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Believe it or not, this trio made their way to me direct from Japan.  They were sent to me by my friend Rio, who previously got me the diecast First Order Stormtrooper.  In exchange for a generous quantity of Oreos, she’s agreed to keep me supplied with lots of cool action figure goodness.  These three were in the first care package that Super Awesome Girlfriend and I received from her.  It was actually really awesome, as the box arrived right after a rather stressful day at work, and nothing fights off stressful days better than Ultraman!