Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Femme

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Femme

The Kamen Rider Ryuki figures have been among the best ever produced in the S.H. Figuarts toyline, but after three years of steadily releasing its vast array of Riders it's time for Bandai Tamashii Nations to move on to new things. Well, it would be if there weren't numerous Contract Beasts still absent (as well as a Blank Form Ouja for all you hardcore completists out there), but as far as the actual Riders go we've reached the end of the line. And what better character to end with than Kamen Rider Femme, the first officially named female Kamen Rider and exclusive character to Ryuki's alternate universe movie Episode Final.

While many have been chomping at the bit Miho Kirishima in Figuarts form for a while now, truth be told my love for this character/design has very little to do with Ryuki. She never really grabbed me as a particularly interesting character in Episode Final and with that being her only prominent role she felt all too fleeting. However Kamen Rider Dragon Knight (which I fully recommend if only to see how wildly different a toku adaptation can be) featured the suit in a prominent (and in my opinion, better) role, under the name Kamen Rider Siren. But no matter which version you prefer, the important thing is that no one can resist a badass swan-motif Rider.

Box Front

Box BackInsert Tray

Like the previous Kamen Rider Ryuki releases, Femme comes packaged in a standard Figuarts clear window box - something that's become a rarity for new Tamashii web exclusives. In fact, with the Ryuki Riders all done I'd go as far to assume that this may one of the last times we see packing like this for an exclusive. Yes I know there's still possibility of Contract Beast figures, but I expect them to be in windowless packaging ala Genocider rather than the usual boxes. But then again, Magnugiga came in a windowed box so who knows?

Moving away from Bandai's unpredictable nature and back to the task at hand, the Ryuki boxes have all been pretty much identical and Femme's is no exception. They all use the same shade of mirror-like silver/grey, with the back images printed in a shattered mirror that shows off the Rider's abilities with big bold letting to accompany the pictures. If you've been buying these figures you'll know what to expect (and possibly be happy they all have the same aesthetic). If not - well I hope you enjoy this very fitting packaging. 

Femme strikes a pose

Figure frontBack (sans cape)Back (with cape)

Femme ready to strikeBooty scultping

The Ryuki body is one of the tried and tested success stories of S.H. Figuarts, having not only been used repeatedly but also arguably evolving into some of the even better figures that have come out in recent years. So as a fellow Ryuki Rider Femme takes a lot of cues from this fantastic sculpt, only scaled down into a more appropriate female build. It's shorter and thinner, but still features all great moulding of the shared base body suit along with a few more unique traits (Femme vs Hibiki for Figuarts ass of 2014 anyone?). The sculpt is simply beautiful, with the black and pearly white finish accentuated by all those gold and silver highlights. If the wonderful work on the helmet isn't enough to convince you how great this figure looks, just take a peek at that cape she comes with! 

A separate piece that plugs into the hole in Femme's back (which can also double as a Tamashii stand port), the cape is separated into three pieces - the main back piece can move up and down via a hinge, while the two side sections are connected with balljoints. These three points of movement make the case capable of plenty of "swooshing" poses, but oddly can't really droop around the her sides like they do in a static pose. Accuracy-wise its a little bit off, but I quite like how this method makes it that little bit more dynamic in a way a cloth cape wouldn't have managed.

However by being built around a smaller frame, Femme is then open to some of the more fragile issues that can sometimes plague Figuarts. Her forearms and wrists feel especially tiny in-hand, which makes me fear for those unpredictable wrist joints all the more (however looking at them, they seem to be a bit more reinforced ala the Gaim Figuarts). The other downside for me is the paintwork, which is something that's going to vary from figure to figure but is nevertheless worth mentioning. Recently the quality control on web exclusive Figuarts has been a bit hit and miss, with reports of shoddy paintwork and (in some extreme cases, parts completely missing). Thankfully I've been very lucky with my figures, but then Femme arrived with a pretty noticeable paint scuff across her chest. It doesn't seem to show up too much in photographs, but in-hand its pretty noticeable without some clever waste moving to cover it up a bit. So while the pearly white finish looks fantastic, it's not exactly the best colour for staying absolutely pristine. It all sounds a bit overdramatic I know, but it's the kind of thing that won't really bother you until you have it happen to you.  

Femme attacks

The Blanc Visor and Wing ShieldSword Vent!Wing Shield up close

Femme's Wing SlasherMore Wing SlasherMore Wing Slasher

The previous Ryuki Riders all came with their fair share of accessories, and in turn Femme has quite a lot to show off here as well. In addition to the previously mentioned cape parts, included with Femme are nine additional hands, Blancvisor rapier (with two different sized blades), the Wing Shield and finally the Wing Slasher. When not in use the Blancvisor can be stored in the holster attached to Femme's belt, and even features moving parts to reveal the card slot just like the real thing. While this isn't something unique to the Femme Figuart, it always manages to impress me that Tamashii Nations haven't skimped on little details like this. The rest of Femme's arsenal are simply solid pieces with no hidden functionality, but are still impressively moulded and detailed with that S.H. Figuarts flair. 

As with a fair portion of the Ryuki Figuarts, the biggest omission here is Femme's contract monster Blancwing. While I understand and accept there is no precedent for the Ryuki web exclusives to come with their Contract Beasts (excluding Ryuga who was a repaint), Femme seems the perfect exception to make both timing and function-wise. Blancwing is almost exactly the same as Knight's Darkwing and Odin's GoldPhoenix - both of whom came with their respective Riders. As the final Ryuki Rider and one that's kind of separate from the rest (thanks to her status as a movie Rider), adding her contract monster to the mix would have been a great send off to a range of fantastic figures.

Although I'm sure Bandai already has plans to release the remaining Contract Beasts bundled together - which will be a bit of a downer if (like me) you've only picked up a couple of these characters and don't necessarily need them all.

Using the Blanc VisorRemovable Advent Deck

Scaled Advent cardsFemme's Tamashii Stage

However it's not all bad, as like most of the Ryuki Riders Femme also comes with her own personalised Tamashii stand! This clear stage is decorated with the Femme/Blancwing symbol, along with the words "Masked Rider Femme" printed underneath. Pretty standard, but what's different about this Tamashii stand is the arm included with it. Rather than the usual triple jointed arm with claw, this one has a smaller two-jointed (at each end of the arm) piece that plugs directly into the back piece of Femme's cape. This results in a connection that's much stabler than the usual claw piece, but also far more fiddly to get perfect.  As the top has to plug directly into Femme, it means that the the cape cannot sit flat to the figure's back either. 

Rounding off the accessories are four tiny Advent Cards, which come in Sword Vent, Guard Vent, Final Vent and Advent flavours. These tiny plastic coated cards are small enough to lose just by breathing on them wrong, but can be held by the figure AND fit perfectly inside the Blanc Visor. Said card is then a nightmare to get out if slotted in properly, but hey - can't fault functionality!

Femme in a tough spot

Femma vs Ouja Femme vs Abyss

Femme is definitely another winner and a great send off for the 13(+) Riders of Kamen Rider Ryuki, but thanks to her more unique sculpt falls short of measuring up to the boys. The thinner frame makes the usually solid Ryuki body type feel that little bit more fragile (the wrists especially), and the fact its so easy to scuff that pearly white paint job is going to be a nightmare for anyone who likes their figures pristine. That said, most S.H. Figuarts collectors will tell you that owning at least one Kamen Rider Ryuki figure is a must and if you're looking for one the more unique ones in the bunch - you certainly aren't going to go wrong here.

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