Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Black Beet

S.H. Figuarts Black Beet

While some series may take years to get the whole main cast released in the S.H. Figuarts toy line, it's safe to say that Juuko B-Fighter isn't going to be one of them. Hot on the heels of Blue Beet comes Takuya's evil clone and rival - Shadow, aka Black Beet. Meanwhile fans of Saban's adapted shows are more likely to know him as the Shadowborg from Big Bad Beetleborgs, or even the Machine Empire's General Venjix from the 10th anniversary Power Rangers Wild Force episode "Forever Red". But whichever version of the character you're familiar with, it's the same fantastic suit has been begging to get the S.H. Figuarts treatment for a long time. 

Just to show they aren't messing around, Bandai Tamashii Nations will also be releasing G-Stag and Reddle as a 2-pack at the end of May, completing the four main B-Fighter characters in a mere five months (albeit all as Tamashii web exclusives). The perfect way to celebrate the series' 20th anniversary don't you think?

Box Front

Box BackInsert Tray

With Blue Beet already having shown off some incredible box art, it should be no surprise that Black Beet follows suit while at the same time adding a suitably darker twist. The forthcoming G-Stag/Reddle two-pack is mostly likely going to have the same white background as their blue team mate, but Black Beet takes things in a different direction with a nice combination of black, red and yellow. The purple lighting bolds crackling across the back of the box are really striking, complimenting the pictures of the figure nicely while at the same time telling you that this is no doubt a "bad guy" figure. Although surely you already knew that right?

Black Beet out of the box

Figure frontFigure back

The Jamming MagnumObligatory bad guy pointBang bang!

While there are a lot of beautifully sculpted Figuarts out there, Blue Beet really was something special. So it shouldn't be any surprise that Black Beet oozes the same quality once again, proving that based on looks alone the B-Fighters are figures that any collector should pay special attention to. Like his heroic rival Black Beet's suit is covered in all sort of mechanical detailing, along with a reflective chest section made of the same material as the compound eyes you see on the various Kamen Rider figures. Topping it off is that beautiful colour scheme. Black, gunmetal and silver with gold highlights - there couldn't be a more perfect combination. My only real gripe is with the helmet, and the translucent lenses used to cover the yellow eyes sculpted on the inside of the helmet. While not especially inaccurate, the lenses aren't opaque enough to make the eye section look odd in certain lights. Since the eyes themselves light up in the show, a good compromise would have been to include to separate heads with the figure - one with darker lenses that only give a glimpse of the eyes underneath, and one with a fully lit-up pair for more-sinister occasions. On the subject of the head, those antennae are surprisingly sturdy.

But as beautiful as a piece Black Beet may be, the sculpting flaws that were present in Blue Beet feel somewhat accentuated here. Upon the release of Blue Beet many commented on the difficulty of balancing the figure and the lack of movement in the hip area, and while I did comment on the hips in my review balancing was something I never really found a problem. With Black Beet I can now see what everyone was talking about. Balancing the figure in action poses certainly isn't impossible, but thanks to those small rectangular feet it's definitely somewhat of a chore. Making it so much worse is that limited hip articulation, which doesn't really leave Black Beet with a whole lot of posing options. Like I say I have absolutely no idea why it's so much more noticeable here when the base mould is exactly the same as Blue Beet's. Maybe it's just that it can't pull off bad guy poses all that well.

The extended Stinger Byoot

More Stinger ByootLitter picker 5000Mid-air strike

A consolation to this however is that Black Beet is nicely loaded with a good array of accessories. Altogether he comes packaged with nine alternate hands, the Jamming Magnum firearm (which is a black and gold repaint of the standard B-Fighter Trigger Magnum) and a few different versions of Black Beet's signature weapon - the Stinger Byoot. A name which either sounds amazing or utterly ridiculous, but its basically an extended arm claw mounted to the suit's right wrist. These pieces peg quite firmly into the arm, but can be a little fiddly and are prone to falling out when posing the arm with them attached. The first of these pieces is an unextended closed version of the claw for neutral posing, with the second a more extended open variant. Sadly the claw pincers don't open and close, which is a bit of a shame after the free-spinning Blue Beet weapons but still does the job nicely.

The third Stinger Byoot part

Showing off the flexible wireGET OVER HERE!Double weapons

But the most interesting piece in Black Beet's arsenal is the third Stinger Byoot claw, which is attached to a long, flexible wire. The wire can be contorted into all kinds of different positions, giving you free reign on how you'd like to pose it shooting out of the figure's wrist. Stretch it out, twist it, curve it, latch it onto an enemy for a long-range attack - the choice is yours. Of course applying too much force to the wire will inevitably break it (as will likely general wear over time), but as it stands now the wire is pretty sturdy - standing up to all the bending I did to take these photos and then straightening out to be put back in it's designated tray space.

"Finish him!"

Blue Beet vs Black BeetBlack Beet victory

Blue Beet victory

Black Beet is another work of art for the S.H. Figuarts line. The sculpting is exquisite, with the metallic colouring bringing out all that beautiful detailing the Juuko B-Fighter suits are renowned and loved for. That said, as a highly posable figure that "pursues character expression through humanoid action" (their words not mine), the figure does fall short in a few areas. Being limited in articulation and a pain to balance are not a particularly good combination, even if the figure manages to look fantastic throughout all its shortcomings. If picking up a two-pack to complete the B-Fighters is something a bit too rich for your blood, Black Beet is definitely a great alternative to compliment your Blue Beet. And hey, a villain in the Figuarts line is something that should never be scoffed at.

1 comment:

Alexx said...

I really should have preordered this guy! He was one of those old wants from back in the day, during the US Beetleborgs toyline. I never got 'em, so I wanted to have this figure make up for that.

The kinda irk me, since I like a good action pose, but DANG is this figure pretty! Sounds like you had a great time with it, regardless. I wish the guy wasn't an exclusive, but since he is, perhaps I should get on it before he becomes even more expensive.