#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.

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#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…

#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.

#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…

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#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.

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#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.

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Guest Review #0034: Ultraman

ULTRAMAN

ULTRA-ACT/S.H. FIGUARTS

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]

#0562: Android No. 16

ANDROID NO. 16

S.H. FIGUARTS

16a

Hey, remember when I reviewed the last two Dragon Ball Z Android figures from SH Figuarts and I was all like “I guess I have to buy the third one now?” Well, I, uhh, bought the third one. Yeah, I’m kind of a pushover when it comes to action figures. So, today, I’ll be having a look at Android 16, the third member of the main android trio, and the only one of them who was actually, you know, an android. Funny how that works.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

16bAndroid 16 is another figure from the Dragon Ball Z subset of Bandai’s SH Figuarts line. The figure was released around March or so of this year. The figure stands over 6 inches in height (almost a full inch taller than his compatriots) and features 32 points of articulation. While the other two androids were known to change up their style from time to time, 16 had exactly one outfit on the show, and this figure depicts him in said outfit. Like the last two figures, 16’s sculpt is unique to him. The figure does a fantastic job of translating the character’s design from the show into three dimensions. Sometimes figures of animated characters will only work when viewed from certain angles, but that isn’t an issue here. The sculpt is nicely proportioned and has some really sharp work, especially in areas like the folds of his boots and the texture of his shirt. Also, the work on the faces seems a lot clearer and more defined here than it was on the previous two figures, though it may just be Bandai taking advantage of the slightly larger scale of the sculpt. There are three different faces that can be swapped out. He comes packed wearing the death-glare head, which is sufficiently intimidating, but he also has heads with grinning and shouting expressions, should you want to mix things up. In addition to the basic heads, there is a battle-damaged head, which shows some of the inner workings of 16’s head, and gives him a more shocked expression. 16 includes two pairs of hands, in fists and open gesture, and his forearms can be removed to replicate his fist-launching ability, which also showcases some great detail work on the “stumps” of his forearms. 16 doesn’t feature the most complicated paintwork, but what’s there is clean, even, and avoids any issues of slop or bleed over. The colors are also a pretty good match for those used on the show. The heads all feature essentially the same paint, with the exception of the damaged head, which sets itself ahead of the others with some scuffing on the face and some great scorching at the edge of the exposed machinery. 16 is a little lighter in the accessories department than a lot of other Bandai releases, with only the extra heads and hands. However, these are worthy additions, and the figure’s increased size means that he doesn’t feel like he’s coming up short.

16d 16e 16c

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After getting 17 at MAGFest and finding 18 online, I went ahead and preordered 16 through Amazon. That was in February, and boy did he take his sweet time getting here. Apparently, Amazon gets their import stuff in little trickles here and there, so I had to wait a little while for my 16 to come into stock. I’m happy to say he was worth the wait. 16 is definitely my favorite of the three android figures. He’s just a very well put together figure and he’s a fantastic representation of the character.

16f

#0491: Android No. 18

ANDROID NO. 18

S.H. FIGUARTS

Slowly, but surely, I’m being sucked into the world of Japanese import figures. It started with Ultraman, which is a Japanese property for which there is a small quantity of US-based merchandise. I’m a huge Ultraman fan. So I had to get an import, right? Then there were the Power Rangers, and sure, there’s been a plethora of stuff from that show, but it wasn’t ever particularly good. I was rather fond of Power Rangers too, so it made sense. But, then there was Dragon Ball Z. I’d seen the show, and all, but I never even bought the cheap figures released in America. Why would I pony up the big bucks for import figures? Well, I’m weak. I can’t help it. I caved, and I bought Android 17 at a convention. So, obviously I had to get his sister, Android 18. It’s just what’s right! So, umm… here she is, I guess…

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Android 18 is part of the Dragon Ball Z subset of Bandai’s S.H. Figuarts line. She was released in the third quarter of 2014, not long before her brother. Her figure is about 5 ½ inches in height, with 36 points of articulation. Unlike her brother, 18 actually had quite a few looks on the show to choose from for the figure. They’ve gone with her earliest look, from the episodes that introduced these two. Since they’re also releasing Android 16, it’s a sensible choice to put her in this outfit, as it allows the three of them to be displayed together properly. It’s also the outfit I most associate with the character, so no complaints here. 18 features a unique sculpt, based on her design from the show. I thought 17 was a pretty great translation of the show design and I think that 18 is even better. She looks great from just about every angle and stays true to the show, while still adding some nice fine detail work not present in the show designs. The hair in particular has some wonderful fine detail work. The vest and skirt pieces have both been carefully engineered so as to look good and solid while at the same time not interfering with the movement. It’s a careful balance, and it’s handled very well. Like 17, 18’s basic face is one devoid of emotion, which is perfect for the early portrayals of the character. Perhaps the only down point of the sculpt is the separation of the hair pieces, which are not quite as recessed as they were on 17. It’s especially noticeable around the part at the front of her hair. However, it’s mostly a matter of posing, so there’s lots of views where the seam isn’t too obvious. The paintwork on 18 is pretty solid. The colors are nice and bold, and accurate to the show. Everything is clean and there is plenty of great accent work to help bring out the strengths of the sculpt. All of the small detail work is clean and concise, and there’s no bleed over or slop to speak of. S.H. Figuarts are always well accessorized, and 18 is no exception. She includes a spare set of arms in the crossed position, three extra faces, a separate hairstyle and four sets of hands. The crossed arms are much the same as those with 17, and they offer a definitive pose for the character. The faces include one with a grin, one with angry eyes, and one with what can only be described as a “kissy face.” The differences in the grin and angry faces are minimal at best, but not bad, I guess. The kissy face is meant to directly interact with Krillin, and it’s a good replication of that look, though it’s hardly a standard look for the character. The hair is windblown, in a similar fashion to what we saw on 17, which is definitely cool. The hands include: fists, wide spread open palm, two finger grip, and relaxed. They are, notably, a lot easier to swap than 17’s, which is good. In addition to her own pieces, 18 also includes and extra head, hand, and a remote control piece that are all meant to go with Krillin. The head is Krillin’s reaction to the kissy face, and the hand and control are pieces that are directly related to the Android story arc. They’re nice enough pieces, though, having no Krillin figure, I won’t be getting much use out of them.

 

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After getting 17 at MAGFest, I was immediately interested in getting the other two members of the android trio. 16 is still up for preorder, so he was easy enough to get, but 18 proved a bit more difficult. She’d been out for a while, so the price was a bit higher than I wanted to pay. However, I ended up making use of a few Amazon gift cards, which allowed me to get the figure for (essentially) nothing. 17 was a great figure, and I think 18 is an even better one. I’m definitely happy I took the plunge on this line. Now I just need to resist the urge to get a Krillin to go with those extra pieces I got with this one…