Thursday, 2 October 2014

Toybox REVIEW: Ressha Sentai ToQger Minipla Safari GaOh

Minipla Safari GaOh from Ressha Sentai ToQger the Movie

200 toy reviews already? Wow, I clearly need to find better things to spend my money on.

Jokes aside, I'm kind of glad that my 200th toy review got to be a Super Sentai minipla/candy toy set, as they've become a favourite of mine to do over the last few years. Sure I do other toylines and the review count is predominantly S.H. Figuarts these days, but English minipla reviews aren't all that common so I like to pretend they're something a bit more unique to this blog. Either that or I'm clearly not looking in the right places.

Anyway, what we have here is Safari GaOh, the movie exclusive mecha for Ressha Sentai ToQger's summer movie - Galaxy Line SOS. As is the case most (but not all) of the time, the movie exclusive is a remould of the series' core robot, with ToQOh's components decked out with animal faces and various other new bits and pieces - including a new head for the robot.

The five model kits in their boxes

Buy them all!A look at the box contents

As a remould the case contents and breakdown are identical to that of ToQOh, which is five boxes (one for each train) and 10 boxes to a case (two of each). The main thing that struck me about these are that unlike most minipla boxes, they all feature the same CGI box art of Safari GaOh. Sure the colours, numbers and bottom images are different, but usually the individual boxes feature slightly different pictures of the robot in question. Interesting indeed.

All the trains are moulded entirely in white plastic, with an additional gold runner with the Lion Ressha. Of course, they all come with a piece of that delicious soda flavoured candy as well.

(From this point onward pictures will be of hand-painted versions of the Safari Resshas. Click this link to compare with stickered versions)

The Lion Safari Ressha

More of the Lion ResshaThe back of the Lion Ressha

Leading the Galaxy line is the Lion Safari Ressha, which is the only train in his set which actually includes newly remoulded parts (with the exception of the sword/tail included with the Panda Ressha). Based off of the Red Ressha, the Lion includes a newly tooled front carriage section with moulded lion head. Also included in the box is an entirely new runner of parts, which makes up the front claws, mane and upper back-legs piece of the Lion combination mode. This is all moulded entirely in that sickly gold plastic colour Bandai like to use despite the leg section actually being white, so a fair amount of paint is needed if you want the kit looking as accurate as possible. The gold plastic is passable, but nothing quite beats a lick of metallic gold on both the claws/mane and the stripe going down the train itself.

It's also worth noting that while the Lion Ressha comes with a brand new head for Safari Ga-Oh, as a remould the runners still have the original ToQOh head included as well. Just in case you had any use for it.

The Eagle Safari Ressha

Eagle Ressha front viewEagle Ressha back view

Not far behind is the Eagle Safari Ressha, which is a straight re-release of the Blue Ressha in white plastic with brand new stickers. While the Lion Ressha was graced with a moulded head for painting, the other four trains aren't so lucky and require the stickers to do the job for them. Other than that minor flaw, the Eagle Ressha looks pretty great in white with its orange stripe and dark blue base. The lack of thin white stripe going down the middle like on the Rainbow Line make these guys insanely easy to paint to a good-looking standard, and that gold connector just tops off the package.

The Wildcat Safari Ressha

Wildcat Ressha sideviewWildcat Ressha back view

Holding up the middle is the Wildcat Ressha, a re-release of the Pink Ressha and perhaps the most un-animal looking one of the bunch. It took me a while to notice it, but unlike the rest of the trains where the eyes are more defined and/or higher up the cat's eyes are actually the headlights here - making the triangles above the ears. It's actually really obvious now that I see it, but oh well.

Wildcat's colour of choice is white with a stripe of hot pink, which you'll probably need to mix using pink and red if you decide to paint it up. The stickers give a pretty good indication of the shade you should aim for, as does looking up pictures of the DX figure.

The Alligator Safari Ressha

Alligator Ressha front viewAlligator Ressha back view

Next up is the Alligator Safari Ressha, which is also the only one that retains the signature colour of the Ressha it's based off of - ToQOh #4's Green Ressha.

The Panda Safari Ressha

Panda Ressha side viewPanda Ressha back view

Finally, trailing behind is the Panda Safari Ressha - where the Yellow Ressha swaps its colours for a black and white panda colour scheme. The face sticker for this one is especially cute I think. Despite these trains not being properly affiliated with a particular ToQger, each member does use a Ressha each in their changers in the movie. Each character uses the one that has been adapted from their respective Ressha apart from Yellow and Pink, who for some unknown reason have clearly been switched around.

This box also comes with the tail of the combined Lion mode, which is a remould of ToQOh's sword. The signal box hilt is unchanged, but the barrel of the sword itself has been swapped for a spiky lion-like tail piece.

The Galaxy/Safari Line

The tail/sword connected to the Lion ResshaThe Rainbow and Galaxy lines side by side

Connectivity is completely unchanged from how the original ToQOh versions of the moulds were, with the exception of the Lion Ressha now carrying that large mane/claw box on its back end. Naturally the lion tail can also connect to the top much like the ToQOh's sword on the Red Ressha, but it looks even sillier on this release than it did on the original. Of course if you've got the room you can add this to an ever-growing connection of EVERY Ressha released in the minipla line so far, which at 18+ (depending on how many you count the Build Ressha as) I think I'd struggle to fit into one photo.


Minipla Safari GaOh (Lion Mode)

Despite four out of the five models being completely unchanged from their original releases save for the stickers (and plastic colour of course), the extra pieces that have been included with the Lion Ressha are enough to give the model a brand new feature - the ability to combine into a Lion mode! In this mode, the Lion Ressha transforms in a slightly different way to how it would in robot mode, while the Eagle and Alligator Resshas split in two to bulk out the torso. The Wildcat and Panda Resshas make up the front legs (with the two claw pieces plugged into the fist holes as pictured), while the new connector block attaches to the back to provide extra ports for the remaining Eagle/Alligator pieces to become the back legs! Finishing it off is the tail, which neatly plugs into the back of the block.

Lion mode side view 1Lion mode side view 1

Suddenly all that minor remoulding is a big, big deal, as both the lion head and new parts add a ton of personality and variation to what was already a pretty versatile figure. Unfortunately the articulation isn't the best it could be on this combination, with the back legs mostly immobile thanks to the lack of knee and the knees of the front legs bending in the wrong direction. Still, the head is able to move up and down and the front legs CAN pose, so that's a good start. The foot joint is still perfectly usable too so some kitty-like poses are possible with some careful balancing. I wasn't the best at it, but you get the idea.

More Safari GaOh in lion modeAttempting to pose Safari GaOh

ToQOh's new pet

I love the lion mode not just for the sheer insanity of having five animal-faced trains that can combine into a big mechanical lion, but also because it allows a bit more variation in my display. Now if I don't want to have a quite obvious remould/repaint standing next to the genuine article, I can have it in this mode to shake things up a bit. That certainly isn't a blow against GaOh's robot mode though, because I have just as much love for that as I do this mode...


Safari GaOh robot mode

Robot mode front viewRobot mode back view

So of course, being a slight remould of ToQOh means that Safari GaOh also has a robot mode featuring a completely identical transformation. Of course the extra pieces means there are a few extra steps - the mane plugs into the torso just as it does in Lion mode, while the additional back leg/brick piece plugs into a hole just behind the robot's head and sits rather neatly on top. Finally there's the claws, which again plug into the hands like they do on Lion mode. Of course this is optional as there's also a sword the robot could be using, but I think these are bit more unique. Plus there's not really any place to store them if they're not in use, while the sword can still awkwardly hang on the back if you have to keep everything in one place.

Safari GaOh strikes a pose

Posing with the swordMore GaOh posing fun

ToQOh was already a fantastic little toy, but the new colour scheme and extra parts really make the base model shine all the more. The new head looks absolutely fantastic and wins bonus points for having every detail moulded on (unlike ToQOh's which omitted the eyes). The main covering the chest also helps differentiate it a bit more from ToQOh, as it mostly covers the two train fronts poking out of the shoulders and gives it more of a coherent look. If you were one who took issue with the rainbow stripe look of ToQOh, I recommend checking this robot out as it gets the same point across in a far more conservative way.

ToQOh and Safari GaOh together

Exchanging weaponsSafari GaOh Drill

Safari GaOh TankSafari GaOh Shield

And of course, Safari GaOh is still completely compatible with all of the other Resshas that have been released in the minipla line so far! Above are only some of the different combos I tried out for fun, but there are so many other possibilities - Cho Safari GaOh and ChoCho Safari Build GaOh to name just a few (big) examples. Personally I just liked teaming him up with ToQOh and having one use claws while the other dual-wielded the swords, but I'm a simply guy like that. 

All ToQger minipla so far

As the movie exclusive mecha, I wasn't expecting much from Safari GaOh. After all, its remould of something I'd already bought and enjoyed months ago. But just like Tobaspino from Kyoryuger proved to be an improvement over Gabutyra, Safari GaOh has completely exceeded my expectations and come out as probably my favourite minipla set that I own. The little changes and additional mode add so much more personality to the figure, to the point where I'm willing to forgive the fact that the animal heads aren't actually moulded and the stickers are required. The colour scheme is simpler but so much more striking than ToQOh, but more importantly it's a wonder to paint. White plastic means everything applies so smoothly, and the lack of too many complicated areas means its great for both beginner painters as well as veteran minipla builders.

What I'm trying to say is, if you're only going to get one ToQger minipla kit - make it this one. Yes it's from a film that most Western speaking toku fans haven't even seen yet and is arguably the throwaway mecha of the series, but it's still the best. And the best by a rather wide margin.

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