Monday, 23 June 2014

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Baron Banana Arms

SH Figuarts Kamen Rider Baron from Kamen Rider Gaim

With the first Kamen Rider Gaim S.H. Figuarts only coming out in May, Bandai are going to need to keep up a reasonably pace with releases if most are to be out by the time Kamen Rider Drive comes around. So naturally Gaim himself wasn't alone as the first release from the series, joined by the second character to pick up a Sengoku Drive and become an Armoured Rider - Kaito Kumon aka Kamen Rider Baron. After Gaim himself Baron has gone through the most Arms changes in the series thus far, but this first figure is of what he's always going to be remembered for - the Knight of Spear, Banana Arms.

A rather a-peeling box

*Cue Baron's theme music*Behind the banana peel

Continuing the fruity theme started with Kamen Rider Gaim, Baron's box comes in a wonderful banana shade of yellow. Etched over the front window is a bunch of bananas, which looks great and makes me look forward to see how future releases are going to handle it with the other fruits. The back features a background of solid "Baron" red, while his personal emblem sits dominantly in the centre. While there may only be two full body shots of the figure itself, Bandai make sure to show the detail they've achieved in both the Sengoku Driver and Baron's visor.

A bonus suitable for all figures

Like Gaim, Baron also comes with an exciting first run preorder bonus. This time it's a gold Japanese folding screen so that (combined with the stand that came with Gaim) you can pose the characters as they appear briefly in the show's opening sequence. The screen is made from reasonably thick cardboard decorated with gold foil, and as you can see from these pictures makes an absolutely brilliant background. It isn't just limited to use with the Gaim figures either - for example a Shinkenger display could also make very good use out of a folding screen like this.

Come on! Banana Arms!

Knight of SpearBanararama

"The weak are simply pray for the strong"Bananas in armoured pyjamas

S.H. Figuarts have always had a near-statue/just like the real suit quality about them, but the Kamen Rider Gaim figures are truly the ones emphasising that. Nearly six inches of vibrant, metallic painted goodness, Baron shows off a sculpt that is just as flawless as Gaim's was. Although Banana Arms is arguably more simply than the more lavish Orange Arms, the details and markings all over Baron's body certainly make up for it. The articulation itself is identical to that seen on Gaim - a double ball jointed head/neck moving down into ball jointed shoulders, double hinge elbows, ball jointed wrists, an ab crunch, ball/swivel hips, double hinge knees, ball jointed feet and finally a pair of toe hinges.


Banana Squash!Banana Au Lait!

As well as just generally being more streamlined, the banana armour does differ slightly from the basic Arms Change figure in terms of how it moves. While the Arms Change piece has segments cut out of the "shoulder pads" so that they can sit further down and more in line with the arms, the Figuart forgoes these and has the banana ends just sit solidly next to the arms. This might sound less ideal, but it's more accurate to the in-show suit and arm articulation isn't hindered thanks to the hinges that connect the pieces. The front piece is able to slide in a similar way to Gaim's to allow the ab crunch to remain unhindered, while the back in a solid piece and simply sits as part of the body.

Banana Sparking!

Spear VictoryReadying the finisher

Baron's accessories include ten swappable hands and his signature Banana Arms weapon - the Banaspear. Though made of much more rigid plastic and better painted than the Arms Change equivalent, the Figuarts Banaspear however lacks the ability to extend. Not to worry though, as this is compensated by having the extended spear as an alternate piece that plugs into the hilt instead. Accuracy comes before functionality when it comes to Figuarts, so as you can imagine everything is exactly how it should look.

Dat Sengoku Driver detailLock on!

Finally Baron comes with a closed version of his Banana Lockseed, which can be held in the figure's hands as well as replaced on the Sengoku Driver itself. Unfortunately that's about all it can do, as the Banaspear doesn't feature a Lockseed port and Baron's belt doesn't have any space to hang excess locks either. Still, credit where its due - Bandai have detailed it amazingly and it's inclusion makes the Sengoku Driver functionality all the better. Banana Squash!

2 down, plenty to go!

Arms Change/Figuart Comparison 01Arms Change/Figuart Comparison 02

Rivals, allies, friends?

Kamen Rider Baron isn't quite up to the level of brilliance Gaim achieves, but this is more due to the asymmetrical design more than any shortcomings of the figure itself. Baron oozes the same level of exquisite detail and poseability as his orange rival, further giving the impression that the Kamen Rider Gaim Figuarts are going to be the best ones yet. With plenty more soon to come, its going to be interesting to see if they can not only match these first few releases - but also top them as well.

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