#1753: Spider-Man & Spider-Gwen

SPIDER-MAN & SPIDER-GWEN

MARVEL AMAZING YAMAGUCHI (REVOLTECH)

While I’m familiar with Revoltech, I’ve not really jumped into the deep-end when it comes to their stuff.  I was quite a big fan of Assemble Borg, an in-house line of theirs, but my experience with licensed figures has so far been limited two their two Aliens offerings.  Outside of Aliens, perhaps the best way to pique my interest is Marvel, and as luck would have it, Revoltech has recently been offering up a line of Marvel comics-based figures, under their Amazing Yamaguchi banner.  Today, I’ll be looking at two such figures, Spider-Man and Spider-Gwen.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Spider-Man and Spider-Gwen were released in Revoltech’s Marvel Amazing Yamaguchi line of figures.  They’re numbered 002 and 004 respectively.  Spider-Man arrived in early 2017, with Gwen arriving just a few months later (Venom bridged the gap between the two of them).

SPIDER-MAN

Spider-Man is, of course, no stranger to action figures.  In fact he’s usually on the short list whenever anyone picks up the license.  So, it’s not a shock that he was amongst Revoltech’s first two releases (supplanted only by fan-favorite Deadpool).  This Spider-Man appears to take inspiration from J. Scott Campbell’s version of the wall-crawler, with a little bit of Humberto Ramos’ very expressive version thrown in, and it’s all filtered through Revoltech’s usual style.  The point is, he’s definitely a very stylized figure, designed to fit specifically with the rest of Revoltech’s Marvel figures.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall (just a little shorter than Hasbro’s Pizza Spidey) and he has 43 points of articulation…theoretically.  He’s got a lot of joints (the majority of them are Revoltech’s signature Revolver joints), to be sure, but how they interact and are used is slightly different that your typical action figure.  Due to how the figure has been sculpted and how the Revolver joints are placed throughout the sculpt, you can’t really just pick this figure up and randomly pose him, the way you might with, say, a Marvel Legend.  You have to know what pose you’re going for, and sort of reconfigure him into that set-up.  In some ways, he’s a little more like a construction set that you can reassemble into different configurations.  The end result is a figure that can get into and hold some pretty spectacular and very Spidey-esqe poses.  He’s definitely dynamic.  By nature of the figure’s design, his sculpt is, overall, rather unimpeded by the articulation, though he is rather segmented.  Depending on how you have him posed, this segmentation isn’t as noticeable.  He’s very sleek, and there’s no denying that this is a very good looking figure.  His paint only adds to that.  The blue is nice and metallic, and the red has a satisfying glossy sheen, which only furthers the very slick stylings of this guy.  Accessories are another strong suit of this figure.  He includes four different sets of hands, in fists, open palm, web-shooting, and gripping.  The gripping hands don’t really have much practical use on this figure, but the rest are all pretty great.  The fists and the web-shooting hands have spots to plug in weblines, making for even more dynamic set-ups.  My personal favorites, however, are the open palmed ones, because they’re just very versatile.  There are two full-length weblines and two shorter ones, as well as one with a slight hook on the end, for actually using to hang the figure.  They definitely follow the Todd McFarlane style guide for webs, which is a good a good one to go by.  Perhaps the coolest extras included with this guy are the extra eyes.  Some of the recent Legends Spider-Men have experimented with extra heads with differing “expressions” on the eyes of his mask.  This takes that idea and runs with it, allowing for the eyes to be swapped out independently.  There are rather basic eyes included on the figure, plus squinting, wide-eyed, and “angry.”  You can mix and match as well, which certainly results in some amusing combos.  Lastly, the figure includes display stand with an articulated arm, so you can keep him in those more intense poses for longer.

SPIDER-GWEN

Who knew Spider-Gwen would take off quite as well as she has?  Marvel, apparently, since they actually managed to get her merchandising out there pretty darn quick for a brand new character.  Her Legends release hit shelves in record time, and this one wasn’t that far behind, hitting less than three years after her original appearance.  Gwen is actually a lot less stylized than Peter.  While she’ll still certainly fit in with him, she’s a lot more versatile than he is.  She stands about 5 3/4 inches tall (again, not much different from the Legends figure) and she has 45 points of articulation.  Unlike Peter, who has a bit of a learning curve attached to his articulation, Gwen’s actually fairly straight-forward.  Her articulation is far more intuitive, a lot smoother, and the joints are more carefully placed.  Where Spidey feels a little like the Revolver joints were added to a finished sculpt after the fact, Gwen definitely was sculpted with those joints in mind.  This is most clearly illustrated in the two figure’s knees.  On Spidey, the joints are set back behind the knee, and there’s this large flat gap that appears when the knee is bent.  On Gwen, her knees *are* the joints, and they work like actual knees.  No weird breaks in the sculpt necessary.  On the flip side, however, Gwen’s multi-part hood construction doesn’t work quite as well as the multi-part head/neck that Peter has.  For the most part you can make it look alright, but there are some angles where it just looks perpetually off.  Still, its hinged design is somewhat inspired, and I can tell they were trying for something a little better than how the hood was attached for the Legend.  There’s a bit more going on with Gwen’s paintwork than there was with Peter.  It’s all very clean, and the slight gradient of the pink around the eyes is very impressive.  There’s a slight bit of slop on the edges of the white parts, but it’s very minor, and not particularly noticeable.  There’s another very impressive accessory complement with Gwen.  She gets even more hands, with all of the same basic offerings as Peter, as well as an extra pointing hand for her right hand, and a left hand for holding her phone.  She then gets the aforementioned cellphone, two very dynamic web-lines, and two shorter ones for plugging into her web-shooter hands.  Instead of swappable eyes, Gwen features four different face plates to choose from.  There’s the basic eyes, the squinty eyes, the asymmetric eyes (by far my favorite), and a fully unmasked face.  The unmasked face is very stylized, and I find not particularly well-scaled to the body, but the other three plates work very well, and swap in and out without much trouble.  Lastly, Gwen also includes a display stand, for those prolonged poses, though she’s quite stable on her own.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

In terms of 6-inch figures, my go-to for Marvel’s always going to be Marvel Legends.  When this line was announced and Deadpool and Spider-Man were unveiled as its first offerings, I wasn’t particularly sucked in, but I kept my eyes open to see what else they might be doing.  Upon seeing these two in-person, I was certainly intrigued.  Ultimately, I think your opinion on these figures is going to be heavily depended upon what you want from them.  Do you want something that looks good on your shelf and can hold extreme poses long-term?  These are for you.  Do you want a figure that you can just pick up and mess with from time to time?  These are less for you.  Ultimately, I’m more in that latter category.  As such, Gwen, the more traditional figure of the two, is definitely my favorite.  I can appreciate both for what they are, though, and there’s no denying that they’re both solid, well-made figures.

This pair aren’t from my personal collection, but were loaned to me for review by my friends over at All Time Toys.  If you’re interested in owning either of the figures reviewed here today, they’re both available individually from All Time’s eBay store.  And, if you’re looking for other toys, both old and new, please also check out All Time’s full eBay store front, and take a look at their webstore at alltimetoys.com.

Advertisements

#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!

#1382: K-2SO

K-2SO

S.H. FIGUARTS (BANDAI)

Oh hey, look!  It’s another K-2 figure!  It’s been, like, forever since I’ve looked at one of these.  But, of course, there were still other K-2 figures in existence, so it was really just a matter of time before I got another one on the site.  I’ve looked at pretty much all of the lower-end K-2s, so now I’m turning my sights to the higher-end stuff, starting with Bandai Japan’s S.H. Figuarts offering!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

K-2SO was released as part of the Rogue One sub-set of the main S.H. Figuarts line, and he hit shortly after the film’s theatrical release last December.  The figure stands a little under 7 1/2 inches tall (he’s just a smidge smaller than the Black Series and Elite Series figures) and he has 34 points of articulation.  Not only does he have the most articulation of any of the K-2 figures, he’s also got the most mobility by a very large margin.  The sheer range of posability on this guy is just insane.  Things like the shoulder pads are on their own hinged joints, allowing them to be posed out of the way, which helps to maximize the possible range of all the articulation.  I didn’t know I wanted a K-2 that could pull of crazy high kung-fu kicks, but by god did this figure convince me that was a thing I wanted.  Posability is one thing, but how’s the actual sculpt?  As much as I loved the Black Series sculpt, there were some definite inaccuracies present.  This figure fixes all of those issues, and presents the most accurate version of K-2 we’ve seen yet in plastic form.  In addition to the sheer accuracy of the sculpt, the detail work is really clean, and really, really sharp.  Truly amazing work.  Given that he’s made from a less rubbery plastic than the Black Series figure, I was a little worried about this guy’s durability, but so far I’ve had no issues.  Obviously, he’s not going to hold up to seriously rigorous play, but he’s still pretty solid.  The paint on K-2SO is also very top-notch.  The base color is the appropriate gunmetal finish, which looks super sleek.  The small details are really nicely handled as well.  I love how they handled the eyes in particular; the lenses are clear plastic, with details painted beneath.  I do believe this is the first K-2 to implement the eyes in the proper way.  K-2 is a little lighter on extras than most Figuarts offerings, but he does at least include three pairs of hands (in fists, gripping, and open gesture poses), and a clear display stand with a posable arm.  I do like the stand, but I really wish he’d included the blaster pistol he has during the climax.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

K-2 here was given to me as a birthday present from my boi Tim.  He’s apparently run out of Aliens to buy me, so he went with the next best thing.  I didn’t know what to expect from this guy, but I have to say, I’m very impressed.  The Black Series release is still perhaps the best toy of K-2, but this figure is definitely my favorite.

Guest Review #0040: Vic Viper

VIC VIPER

ZONE OF THE ENDERS (REVOLTECH YAMAGUCHI)

I love robots and space ships. Thankfully, today’s figure gives me both of these. Now, if you saw the title of this post and got exited for a review of the ship from the 1985 Konami arcade game Gradius, you might be thinking, “Where does the robot part come in? It’s just a ship.” That is because this Vic Viper (while hinted to be the same ship from Gradius) comes from the 2003 Konami game Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner as a supporting LEV to the leading orbital frame Jehuty. But we’re not here to talk about Jehuty this time, transforming into review mode.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

As mentioned before, this Vic Viper is based on its appearance in Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner. The figure is about 5 1/2 inches tall, plus a little extra height from the stand. Vic sports an impressive 65 points of articulation thanks to the extensive use of the standard revolver joints found in Revoltech figures. This makes Vic extremely poseable (almost frustratingly so), but it does disrupt the sculpt ever so slightly in places like the arms and wings. The sculpt work is entirely original to this figure and does a pretty good job capturing all the necessary dimensions and details. Everything is where it should be, although there are a few very minor instances where the mold seams interrupt some of the sculpted details. Vic’s paint is pretty great, barring one or two little spots of bleed, with a lot of really crisp detail work on the barcodes and 74 on his arms, wings, and shoulders. All of the colors match up to the game pretty closely, but what stands out is the slightly pearlescent finish to the white paint which really adds some depth to what could easily have been left a simple flat white. Contrasting that with the purple, dark grey, and metallic gold detailing really makes the figure pop. Vic comes packaged with with a spare set of arms with the hands deployed, 2 slashing effect pieces, a stand, and an extension piece that lets you transform him into ship mode if you want, though it’s a little bit of a hassle getting him there. Vic isn’t without his issues, but all in all, he’s a well made figure with a lot of potential for very dynamic poses.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got Vic Viper a few months after I received the HD remaster of Zone of the Enders for Christmas. Oddly enough, I already had a figure of Jehuty prior to that point, so playing the game only confirmed that I would expand upon this. It took me a little time just getting used to posing him since Vic has joints all over the place, but once I got the hang of it, he turned out to be a bunch of fun.

#1170: Trunks

TRUNKS (PREMIUM COLOR)

S.H. FIGUARTS

trunks1

For day 4 of my post-Christmas reviews, I’ll be taking at something slightly different. Not totally different, since it’s Dragon Ball Z, from which I’ve already looked at three figures from that ‘verse.  It’s just been over a year and a half since my last one of those. There’s a definite theme to my DBZ collection, with all of them being key players in “The Android Saga,” which happens to be the one arc of the series I really followed from start to finish.  Today’s figure, Trunks, follows that theme, being one of two major protagonists introduced during said arc.  Let’s take a look at him!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

trunks2Trunks was initially released as one of the earlier figures in the DBZ-subset of S.H. Figuarts.  He proved to be one of the most popular figures in the line (not surprising, since Trunks has long had a sizable fanbase), giving quite the hefty aftermarket value.  To make it a bit easier for fans to get some of the earlier, more prominent characters, Bandai’s started putting out “Premium Color” variants, which  tweak the paint jobs of the figures ever so slightly, but otherwise serve as pretty straight re-releases.  The re-released Trunks hit early last year.  The figure stands about 5 1/2 inches tall and he has 43 points of articulation.  Trunks went through a number of different looks on the show, but this figure is based on Future Trunks’ initial appearance during “The Android Saga,” which is of course prior to the appearance of Present Trunks, who started off as a baby…it’s a little confusing, so don’t try to think about it too much.  The trunks3point is, this is Trunks’ original look, and in many ways his best look.  It’s certainly the most definitive.  His sculpt does an admirable job of translating his animated appearance into three-dimensions.  It’s not a pitch-perfect recreation of him, but seems more like an idealized sort of “what he would look like if the animation could always be totally consistent” sort of version of him.  As an animated figure, he’s a lot more stylized and has less fine detail work than, say, one of the Super Sentai figures.  That being said, there’s still a lot of really sharp detailing to be found on this guy, especially on the hair and jacket.  In his default, packaged form, Trunks is sporting his non-Super-Saiyan hair and a basic face with an intense stare, which are definitely solid pieces, and a very good choice for the default version of the character.  He also includes a second non-Super-Saiyan face, this time sporting trunks5gritted teeth, which can be swapped out in a similar fashion to what was seen with Androids 17 and 18.  There’s also a separate Super-Saiyan head, which has three faces of its own (intense stare, gritted teeth, and screaming).  All of them swap out with relative ease (though they’re a little difficult to get popped in place the first time; be careful of all those points on the hair, they really hurt!).  Trunks’ paintwork is all pretty solid.  The earlier version had more variation in some of the colors, but I find this one is a bit sharper overall, which just looks all around better to me.  The colors look to match up pretty well to his onscreen counterpart, and fit well with the other figures I’ve gotten.  In addition to the previously mentioned extra head and faces, Trunks also includes five pairs of hands (fists, gripping, flat, wide-spread, and gesturing), his sword, a scabbard to go with it, and a “dummy” hilt to go in the scabbard so that you don’t risk breaking the sword.  The extras are all a lot of fun, though my figure did wind up with a broken peg where the scabbard plugs into the shoulder.  Make sure to be extra careful when removing that!

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I almost bought Trunks’ original release way back when he was still new.  I was in NYC with my family, and Midtown Comics had one.  However, at that point I had yet to get into the import game and just couldn’t conceive of paying a whole $35 for one figure.  How foolish I was.  Obviously, by the time I picked up the Androids, Trunks was going for a lot more than $35, so I wasn’t getting him then.  I knew he was getting a re-issue, but somehow its actual release slipped under my radar.  I ended up spotting him at Barnes & Noble around Thanksgiving while out with my family.  I offhandedly mentioned wanting the figure but not having the money and thought nothing more of it.  A few weeks later, I went back to the store to buy a gift for my brother and Trunks was gone, and I just figured he wasn’t meant for me.  Cut to Christmas morning, opening my first gift from my parents, and there this guy is.  As it turns out, my mom took note of my interest, and while I was grabbing something from the B&N cafe, she went back and purchased this guy.  She’s a crafty one!  I’ve quite pleased with this guy, and happy to have finally gotten him.  Of course, now my resolve to hold off on getting more of these guys is being worn down…

trunks6

Guest Review #0039: Snake/Big Boss

SNAKE/BIG BOSS (PEACE WALKER)

REVOLTECH YAMAGUCHI

snaket1

The following is a guest review by Tim Marron.  For more from Tim, check out Timsical Thoughts!

Kept you waiting, huh?  Yeah, it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these reviews, but it seems appropriate to bring it back with a review of the greatest hero in the world, Big Boss, or Snake.  It’s hard to tell which one.  On the box, he’s called Snake, so I guess we’ll go with that, but onto the review.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

snaket2Snake has had a wide variety of looks across the Metal Gear franchise.  This particular figure is based off of his sneaking-suit look from Peace Walker, after having established Militaires Sans Frontières but before the events of The Phantom Pain.  The figure stands about 5 1/2 inches tall and has 53 points of articulation, one of which is his eye which can be turned to look in practically any direction.  The sculpt work is quite nicely handled with a good amount of detail such as the the rivets and wires which can be seen under the fabric of Snake’s suit.  His face seems a little on the gaunt side and some of the revolver joints are a little more visually prominent than I might have liked, but that’s about par for the course with most Revoltech figures.  As far as I’m aware, this is entirely original sculpting though smaller pieces like the hands could have been used in other versions of Snake.  The only area in which the sculpt suffers isn’t even visible when the figure is fully assembled.  The aforementioned poseable eye has a peg on the back side to facilitated movement, however it sticks out just enough to get in the way of the central joint of the head. The figure’s paint is very clean for the most part, with just a little bleed around the edged of his hair and beard.  The suit in particular has some really nice fine detailing such as the MSF and FOX logos on the shoulders.  Snake comes with a bunch of accessories including some weapons, so no need to worry about OSP.  Included are 5 pairs of hands (fist, gripping, gripping w/trigger fingers, karate chop, and open gesture), an additional hand to hold what I assume is a stun baton/taser thing, said taser thing, an M16 rifle, a pistol with a suppressor, a pair of climbing hooks (perhaps?), an exclamation mark, a sleeping piece, an action effect stand, and an articulated stand.  Snake also comes packed with a piece of card stock that you can cut out and fold into the real hero of the Metal Gear universe, the cardboard box.  I like the figure a lot, but I felt it was my destiny to be here, with the box.  You should get the box too, then you’ll know what I mean.    

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Ok, fine, that last line was technically a different Snake, but you laughed, maybe, I hope.  I actually got this figure with the intent of getting a Solid Snake to go with my Revoltech Raiden but it turned out that the other options were either the wrong scale or far too expensive at the time, so I settled for Big Boss.  Sure, he and Raiden never interacted, but it suits my needs just fine.  To be fair, he’s a really cool figure in his own right and I’m glad I have him.  When I got him I spent basically a whole day playing with him LIKE A DAMN FIDDLE!  Ok, not like a damn fiddle, but like a really cool action figure.

snaket4b

#1169: Akazonae Royal Guard

AKAZONAE ROYAL GUARD

MEISHO MOVIE REALIZATION (BANDAI)

royalguardmr1

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

royalguardmr2The 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-royalguardmr3scaled, 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…

royalguardmr4

#1028: Freddie Mercury

FREDDIE MERCURY

S.H. FIGUARTS

Freddie1

“…I’m just a poor boy, I need no sympathy. Because I’m easy come, easy go, little high, little low. Anyway the wind blows doesn’t really matter to me, to me….”

So, hey, how about something different? Up to this point, I’ve looked at figures based on super heroes, science fiction, fantasy, horror, comics, movies, and video games. That’s all well and good, because that’s a pretty diverse selection. But you know what’s missing? Music. Yeah, this site could stand to have a little bit of music! If we’re going to do the whole music thing, why not start with one of the greatest frontmen of all-time from one of the greatest bands of all time? Yes, it’s Freddie Mercury, lead-vocalist of Queen!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Freddie2Freddie was released as part of Bandai’s S.H. Figuarts line earlier this year. It’s not the first time Freddie’s had a figure; NECA put out a couple of figures of him about 10 years ago. However, those were back before NECA really got into the articulation thing, so they were little more than glorified statues. This figure goes completely the other direction in that regard, with 30 points of articulation. The range of motion on those joints is also pretty killer; though the elbows and knees are technically just single joints, they have the same range as double joints. What’s Freddie4more, the articulation is worked into the sculpt very nicely, so none of the joints really stick out or anything. Freddie stands about 5 ¾ inches tall, which puts him in proper 1/12 scale. Obviously, he fits in pretty well with the rest of the S.H. Figuarts line (though maybe not quite stylistically), but he also fits in pretty decently with the likes of Star Wars: The Black Series and Funko’s various Legacy Collection lines. Freddie is based on his appearance from his 1986 performance at Wembley Stadium, which is a pretty good choice, since it’s definitely one of his most recognizable. It’s also pretty visually interesting, which is always paramount when it comes to action figures. The sculpt on Freddie is quite nicely handled. He’s a bit more realistically proportioned and detailed than some Figuarts figures, which I definitely appreciate. The likeness is quite good on the basic head, which is impressive, since likenesses aren’t typically a Figuarts thing. While the general details are more on the realistic side, there’s definitely still a bit of a stylization to the overall look of the figure, mostly in the harsh creases on the clothing. It’s not so stylized that he looks artificial, but it’s enough to add just a bit of dynamism to the figure. The paintwork on Freddie is some of the best I’ve seen on a Figuarts figure. It’s not that previous figures had bad paint (because they didn’t), but more that they never attempted to be an actual, real life person, which this one does. And it does it rather well. Sure, it’s not Hot Toys or anything, but it’s also half the size and a quarter of the Freddie7price. The paint on the clothes is nice and bold, and makes him stand out nicely, while the paint on the face is subtle and lifelike, so he doesn’t just look like a cartoon version of Freddie. They even added a little of paint to represent his chest hairs. That’s attention to detail. Part of the appeal of Figuarts is the amount of extras included with each figure. Freddie is no exception. He includes two extra singing heads, four pairs of hands (fists, tight grip, loose grip, and open), a microphone on a stand, and a mic on its own. The heads are definitely the star attraction here, and they offer a ton of fun when it comes to posing. The extra hands allow for a number different looks as well, and the mics are very good recreations of the real thing.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Freddie was a birthday present from my parents. He’s one of the ones I specifically requested, as I’ve actually been eyeing up this figure since it was announced back in October. He’s definitely outside my usual arena of collecting, but you’ve got to go outside your comfort zone sometimes, right? Especially when it comes to a figure this good. Freddie is definitely the best Figurarts figure I’ve gotten, which is no easy feat, let me tell you. This is certainly one of my favorite figures of the year!

Freddie6

#0974: Chojin Sentai Jetman Black Condor

CHOJIN SENTAI JETMAN BLACK CONDOR

S.H. FIGUARTS (BANDAI)

BlackCondor5

“Jeto-jeto-jetoman! Danananana!”

Chojin Sentai Jetman Theme Song (paraphrased)

So, here’s a figure with a pretty cool backstory. Back in 1993, when Saban was looking at importing a Super Sentai series to the US, they had two possible options:  Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger or Chojin Sentai Jetman. Zyuranger was chosen for a number of reasons (the inclusion of a sixth ranger and the popularity of dinosaurs at the time being the most commonly cited) and eventually became Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. However, Jetman was a pretty serious contender, thanks to it being one of the most popular incarnations of the Super Sentai franchise. It was also inspired by Gatchaman (better known as G-Force or Battle of the Planets in the US), which gives it some pretty awesome pedigree. Today, I’ll be looking at the guy who was almost the first Black Power Ranger, Black Condor (who is under no circumstances to be confused with DC Comics’ Freedom Fighter Black Condor).

THE FIGURE ITSELF

BlackCondor3Black Condor was released as part of the Super Sentai sub-set of Bandai’s S.H. Figuarts, towards the end of 2012. He’s the second of the two Jetman figures Bandai released in the line, with the first being Red Hawk. The figure is about 5 ¾ inches tall and he has 38 points of articulation. Zyuranger and Jetman’s designs weren’t too far removed from each other, and as such, this figure feels pretty similar to the Mighty Morphin’ figures I looked at a ways back. The Jetman designs are a bit sleeker, and a bit stronger, if I’m honest, and definitely feel right at home with some of the earlier Ultraman designs. This figure’s sculpt does a very nice job of capturing the look of Black Condor from the show. Like other Figuarts, the proportions have been skewed ever so slightly BlackCondor2to fit in with the rest of the line stylistically, but this guy’s not particularly far off. The overall appearance is very faithful, and the helmet in particular is the spitting image of what was seen on the show. I especially like all the little seams in the costume, as it really sells the realism of the show, and adds a nice bit of depth to a figure that could otherwise be far too simple. I also feel it’s worth noting that this particular design works a bit better with the usual Figuarts articulation scheme than the Zyuranger designs did, so he doesn’t have any compromises in terms of his design for the sake of movement. Black Condor’s paintwork is nice and crisp. The BlackCondor4color choices are bold, and the application is quite sharp. The difference between the finish of the helmet and the rest of the suit is especially cool. This is probably the best paintwork I’ve seen on one of these figures, and that’s saying something, because these guys all have some pretty top-notch paint. Black Condor includes quite an impressive array of accessories. He’s got his Bird Blaster and Bringer Sword (in both compact and extended forms), plus the combined form of those two, the Jet Hand Cannon. He also has BlackCondor7holsters for both weapons, as well as his Wing Gauntlet (with open and closed wing pieces), an alternate backplate with a set of wings attached, and five pairs of interchangeable hands in fist, trigger finger, gripping, quotation fingers, and flat-handed positions. These pieces are all pretty fun extras. I think the Wing Gauntlet’s my favorite piece included, even if the wing pieces are the wrong color (they should be black).

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Remember Bio Rider? Remember how that was Tim’s fault? Yeah, well I’m blaming him for this one too. Okay, maybe that’s not fair. I’ve actually had my eye on this figure since back when I got the Figuarts Mighty Morphin’ figures. His design just really speaks to me. Since I had some gift card money, I finally got him. In the meantime, I’ve actually watched some of the source material and found it to be quite entertaining, and Black Condor in particular is super cool. I’m definitely happy to have this figure, and I wouldn’t mind if Bandai got around to releasing the missing members of the team.

BlackCondor6

#0967: Bio Rider

BIO RIDER

S.H. FIGUARTS (BANDAI)

BioRider1

The term “Tokusatsu” refers to Japanese live-action films or TV dramas that make use of considerable amounts of special effects. The term includes things such as Godzilla and Ultraman, as well as Super Sentai (more commonly known in the U.S. as Power Rangers). It also includes Kamen Rider, which is the source of the subject of today’s review. This marks the second time I’ve looked at a Kamen Rider figure on this site, so hey, it’s still kind of new and exciting! I’ll admit up front: my knowledge of Kamen Rider stuff is passing at best, so I’m counting on what I’ve read online to fill in the blanks. So, without further ado, here’s Bio Rider!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

BioRider2Bio Rider is part of the rather extensive Kamen Rider sub-set of Bandai’s S.H. Figuarts line. He was released in the latter part of 2014. Bio Rider hails from the Kamen Rider Black RX show (which was the show that was adapted into Saban’s Masked Rider in the mid-90s), where he was a power-up ability for the title character, referred to as “Bio Rider” in Japan, but “Masked Rider Super Blue” in the U.S. I feel like Japan kind of won on the naming front. The figure stands about 5 ½ inches tall and has 45 points of articulation. While Bio Rider and RX share some common design themes, the two designs were actually pretty divergent from each other. Bio Rider is by and large a much sleeker design, and he sort of has an almost art deco air about him. It’s a much stronger design than the basic RX look, but I suppose an argument could be made that it loses some of more signature Kamen Rider elements. The figure’s sculpt does a pretty good job of capturing Bio Rider’s design from the show. He’s not a pitch-perfect recreation: the helmet’s a little squatter, especially in the face, and the eyes are more round. But, it’s still pretty darn close. The details on his suit are pretty amazingly done. He actually looks like he’s wearing a rubber suit, just like on the show. There are even small creases on the thighs to show that they crumple when he moves his legs. That’s quite an attention to detail! Bio Rider has quite a unique color scheme for a Kamen Rider. They tend to be predominantly green and black, but Bio Rider is a nice blue and silver combo, which looks pretty sweet. The actual paint application is some of the sharpest work I’ve seen on just about any figure. There’s no bleed over or slop that I can tell, and the color choices really pop. Also, not paint, but the lenses and buckle of the belt are both molded in translucent red, which works in conjunction with the sculpted texture on the underside, giving him a cool bit of depth. In terms of accessories, Bio Rider includes his Bio Blade weapon, as well as hands in fist, tight grip, loose grip, relaxed, open gesture, and karate chop positions. That’s a bit lighter than some of the Figuarts figures I’ve reviewed, but Bio Rider was actually a slightly less expensive figure, and it’s still not a bad assortment.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This is Tim’s fault. See, I’ve looked at some of the Figuarts Kamen Riders before, but managed to steer clear of them. But, then Tim went and bought himself a Kamen Rider, and suddenly I found lacking. So, using an Amazon gift card (given to me by Tim’s parents! That’s strike two for Tim!), I ordered this guy. I’m not 100% sure what called me to this guy. Maybe it was the color scheme, or perhaps the sleek design. I must admit, I was amused to find out that he was actually from the one incarnation of Kamen Rider I’ve actually seen, given that wasn’t a purposeful decision. This is a really fun figure, and I’m definitely glad I got him. I foresee more Kamen Riders in my future.

BioRider4