Friday, 22 February 2013

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Wizard Flame Style

SH Figuarts Kamen Rider Wizard Flame Style 01

February is usually the time that introduces the latest Kamen Rider to Bandai’s S.H. Figuarts line, and 2013 is no exception. Kamen Rider Wizard is a series that’s going to bring in a huge range of new figures(at the time of writing there are eight Wizard forms announced, Kamen Rider Beast and two Phantoms), but for now we start things off with the character’s base form – Kamen Rider Wizard Flame Style. Here is the review:

SH Figuarts Kamen Rider Wizard Flame Style Box Front

SH Figuarts Kamen Rider Wizard Flame Style Box BackSH Figuarts Kamen Rider Wizard Insert Tray

While Figuarts packaging often looks great, it’s a pretty standard affair. However Kamen Rider Wizard’s box really puts others to shame and suits the character perfectly. The box has a smooth black finish, with the usual square window replaced by a circular one surrounded by one of the magic circles seen in the show itself. The spine features a similar aesthetic to the images and text on the front, while the back is the usual “figure in multiple poses” image. Open him up and you’ll find the pieces separated onto two trays – the first housing the figure and most of the accessories while the bottom holds the Tamashii stage and alternate robe parts.

SH Figuarts Kamen Rider Wizard Flame Style 02

SH Figuarts Kamen Rider Wizard Flame Style 03SH Figuarts Kamen Rider Wizard Flame Style 04

Kamen Rider Wizard himself is one of the more unorthodox Rider designs, featuring a flowing tailcoat and a helmet devoid of the obvious compound eyes Kamen Rider’s usually have (a first time for a main Rider since Kamen Rider Hibiki). Bandai have immaculately recreated this in figure form, with the only noticeable flaw being that the neck is a little on the short side. The smooth black plastic of the coat contrasts excellently with the shiny red parts of the figure, which were also used for the striking helmet design.  The silver shoulder pads also feature the dragon/magic circle markings that they should.

SH Figuarts Kamen Rider Wizard Flame Style 05

SH Figuarts Kamen Rider Wizard Flame Style 06SH Figuarts Kamen Rider Wizard Flame Style 07

Articulation is to the usual Figuarts standard, although this is the area where the shortness of the neck becomes a little more noticeable since the coat collar gets in the way of him looking sidewards. It’s not a drastically huge issue, and one that can fixed with a little black tissue paper under the head – however it’s worth pointing out just in case these images little you to believe Wizard is a little on the short side. The tailcoat piece is made from soft PVC so can be moved to suit the leg poses, and the shoulder pads can be flipped up via a hinge so don’t get in the way of the arms. The only word of caution is the Wizard driver, which doesn’t peg onto the belt piece very well at all and so will constantly fall off during posing. It's INCREDIBLY frustrating, and can really bring down what is otherwise a pretty great looking figure.

SH Figuarts Kamen Rider Wizard Flame Style 08

SH Figuarts Kamen Rider Wizard Flame Style 09SH Figuarts Kamen Rider Wizard Flame Style 10

Accessory count is a factor that can sometimes make or break a figure, and with Wizard it’s certainly one that makes it. Included are 12 hands, the WizarSword gun in both sword and gun forms, an alternate Wizard driver plate in the opposite hand position and accompanying belt piece,flowing tail coat pieces and most significantly of all – a personalised Tamashii stage. It’s a rarity for them to come regularly packaged with a figure, and is extremely welcome with Wizard given how flashy his attacks are(it is show time after all!). Each hand has the “flame style” and “driver on” rings accurately moulded on, and the weapons feature a nifty hinged hand to recreate Wizard’s finishing attacks. The Tamashii stage is a translucent red colour, featuring a magic gate image and the name of the figure.

SH Figuarts Kamen Rider Wizard Flame Style 11

SH Figuarts Kamen Rider Wizard Flame Style 12SH Figuarts Kamen Rider Wizard Flame Style 13

While Wizard does have at least one separate accessory pack coming out in the near future, unlike Kamen Rider Fourze (who had numerous accessory sets and a designated stand set) there is more than enough here to keep a buyer satisfied with the figure alone. As an added incentive, the initial run of Kamen Rider Wizard Flame Style comes with “Strike” robe parts as a bonus (packaged separately from the figure as you can see). Both this robe piece and the flowing one included in the main box are solid plastic as opposed to PVC, but are unlikely to get in the way of posing the legs. Changing the robe involves removing the torso (along with the Wizard driver), lifting the robe piece off the legs and then pegging the alternate one down. The downside to this switch is that by prying the waist joint away once, it makes the whole thing feel loose from there on out. What once felt like a tight figure from the package now breaks (not literally) in half with very little provocation. Like the belt issue its a rather irritating frustration, especially for someone who likes to regularly switch around their figure's poses.

SH Figuarts Kamen Rider Wizard Flame Style 14

While I was looking forward to owning Kamen Rider Wizard Flame Style, originally I didn’t have huge hopes for it. I’m finding the show mediocre at best, and while he has a nice design it isn’t one of my all-time favourite Rider suits. However five minutes out of the box completely sold me on this figure. The translation from suit to figure is perfect, the poseability exceptional and the accessory count far above what I was expecting. Around half an hour later while I was still very happy with it, some of the rather notable design flaws became all too clear. Just how loose everything is seems to vary from figure to figure, but the sadly its a widespread issue nonetheless. Kamen Rider Wizard doesn't quite deserve the bad rap he gets, but functionally there are definitely a few things Bandai could have addressed before release.

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