Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Toybox REVIEW: Ultra-Act Ultraman Ginga

Ultra-Act Ultraman Ginga

S.H. Figuarts might be the first thing collectors think of when it comes to Bandai Tamashii Nations toylines, but there's one line of Japanese superhero that's so renowned that they've been getting a whole toy line to themselves. I'm referring to none other than Ultra-Act of course, a Figuarts-esque line for Tsuburaya Productions' Ultraman franchise (and a few exceptions, such as Gridman). My first Ultra-Act figure of my first proper exposure to the Ultra series, it's current hero and 50th anniversary series - Ultraman Ginga.

Signature box, signature colourscheme

Man, I want that backgroundOooh, shiny parts!

Ultra-Acts tend to have a far more uniform box art design than the slightly more diverse S.H. Figuarts, but even then they still manage to do a pretty good job of looking striking and unique to the Ultra in question. Since Ginga is a red, silver and blue character his box is naturally kitted out in those colours, with the foil sections really adding an extra bit of shine to make an otherwise basic design really striking. The front also features a rather large picture of the figure, while the back shows off his official Bandai stock photos - complete with that kickass cosmic background.

Ultra liiiiivvvveee!

The 50th Anniversary Ultra......in all his red, silver and blue glory

Strike a poseReady for action

For those unfamiliar with the Ultra-Act line, these figures are slightly larger than your average Figuart. They do however share a very similar level of engineering and quality. By design Ultras may not feature a whole lot of moulded detail (it's a smooth suit after all), but what little Ginga has really counts.The striking red/silver colourscheme (a staple of most Ultramen) is enhanced by the beautiful translucent blue plastic spread across his body.

Trying to make him look giant

More posingTackle time

And kick!

Proving that there's not a whole lot of differences between Bandai's two lines, Ultraman Ginga's articulation is very similar to that of a Figuart. Moving down from the ball jointed head/neck we have cut-ball shoulders and ankles, double hinge elbows and knees, ball-jointed wrists, swing-down ball-joint hips, a segmented torso in two places for maximum ab crunch, and hinged toe sections. It's a very impressive selection of articulation, and makes up for the fact that an action figure of this type has to forgo the solid body look of the Ultras.


Ginga Saber (part 1)Ginga Saber (part 2)

One thing Ultra-Act figures are renowned for are their accessories, and while numerically Ginga's count may not seem like much it's a very impressive selection for someone unfamilar with the line. The hand count may be small (a total of three pairs - fists, open palms and splayed), but what really matters are the effect parts. Included are a huge "Ginga Cross Shot" part that plugs into the right hand socket, and a smaller "Ginga Saber" energy beam which plugs into the right forearm in place of the translucent blue section. Both pieces are fantastic, however the Cross Shot is a real highlight with its swirling clear section that changes into a translucent blue beam. Effect parts are awesome. 

Getting weakGenius

Smaller accessories included with Ginga include an obligatory red colour timer chest piece, something that's found on almost every Ultra and indicates their energy/strength level. The piece is quite tricky to swap out because its hard to get the leverage to pull it out of the figure, but once you manage it the pieces swap out very easily and sit in nice and securely. The second little extra is a swappable back piece, which exchanges one of the silver 'spines' for a port to fit a Tamashii Stage arm into. This may be a common accessory for Ultra-Acts, but as someone who was only used to Figuarts I find this tiny little addition incredible. It makes using a stand so much more secure and neater than using those pretty awful claw pieces. Seriously, this is what Bandai should be doing for all their Tamashii figures.

Of course, this isn't to say Ginga comes with everything he possibly could have. The translucent blue sections change colour depending on the attack being used, so alternate green/white/purple parts were also possibilities. But considering this would require alternate heads and a bunch of stuff that couldn't all be used at once, omitting them isn't that much of a loss I think.

Heroes of my 2014 wall calendar

All in all I'm very impressed with Ultraman Ginga and my first foray into the Ultra-Act line. Not only does the line clearly offer all of the quality one comes to expect from Figuarts, but it also has a few of its own special tricks and features to make it stand out. As a new release Ginga benefits from the advances the line has made over the year, and combined with what I think is one of the best/most striking Ultra designs makes for an absolutely fantastic figure. Once I get more acquainted with the Ultra franchise, I can see myself picking up a lot more of these guys.

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