Thursday, 14 May 2015

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Kamen Rider Kuuga Mighty Form

S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Kuuga Mighty Form

The Shinkocchou Seihou sub-line is the next big thing in S.H. Figuarts. What started out with a particularly fancy renewal of Kamen Rider Kabuto has now become it's own beast separate from the main Figuarts line - filling out some rather notable gaps in the Kamen Rider roster as well as creating new versions of characters that leave the old versions well in the dust. Kamen Rider Kuuga Mighty Form is the third release from this already highly-acclaimed line, and it couldn't have come at a much better time given that the first Heisei Era Rider celebrated his 15th anniversary earlier this year. What better way for Bandai Tamashii Nations to celebrate a show with the tagline "A New Hero, A New Legend" than with a brand new figure. A new Kuuga...a Nuuga if you will.

(Yes, that was terrible but I make absolutely no apologies for it.)

As is the case with all of the Shinkocchou Seihou releases, this new version of Kamen Rider Kuuga does away with the standard S.H. Figuarts packaging in favour of a sleek and sexy 2-piece "iPhone" style box. In terms of box art these releases are much more restrained than the mainline, going for eye-catching simplicity rather than being particularly busy or action-packed. The lid features a grainy closeup of the figure, while the back features a few shots of the figure amongst the usual Japanese product information. The contents inside are spread across two white plastic trays, with Kuuga himself on the top tray and the hands located in the one underneath.

Unfortunately Kuuga doesn't include a fancy "making of" booklet like the previous two Shinkocchou Seihou figures did, which is a shame because I for one really enjoyed seeing the extra steps taken by Tamashii Nations to get these figures looking as good as possible. Ultimately it's not a deal breaker because it's the figure itself that's the most important thing, but to faze the book out after only two releases is a little disappointing. It was a nice little extra which really helped sell these guys as something extra special.

Kuuga looking better than ever

Figure frontFigure back

Grongi markings closeupThe Arcle closeupExposed shoulder joints

After six years it's no surprise that the original Mighty Form figure (as well a Kuuga's various other forms) are beginning to show their age. I never owned the original so I can't make any direct comparisons from experience, but if it's not the proportions/articulation that are the most problematic thing it's the paint job. The original Mighty Form is notorious for having the red paint on the armour fade over time with no provocation - leaving collectors with a figure looking worse for wear even if the utmost care has been taken with it. This isn't a problem you'll need to worry about with the Shinkocchou Seihou release, which ditches the metallic red paint of the original release in favour of a more accurate (as appealing) glossy cherry red. That isn't say the red doesn't have a gleam to it though - as you can see from these pictures the chest was particularly reflective in the light. On top of that the proportions and detail have been completely reworked from the ground up, with much more attention paid to making it look like the actual suit rather than just an action figure replica. The black undersuit now has nice matte finish which separates it from the armour nicely, while every little detail shines through all the more. The Arcle belt looks absolutely stunning, while all the Grongi markings are carved so deep into the body armour that they stand out in a way that the original figure could never manage. Hell if I'm honest I didn't even properly notice them all until I laid eyes on this beauty of a figure.

A variety of wrist joints

However it seems Bandai still haven't made up their mind as to what kind of wrist joint these Shinkocchou Seihou figures are going to have, with Kuuga featuring a slightly different kind once again. Admittedly it's still the same basic ball-jointed wrist type almost every Figuart has, but while Hibiki featured the smaller, "mushroom-cap" pegs seen on newer releases such as Kamen Rider Gaim, Kuuga on the other hand just has the basic thick ball peg. Meanwhile poor old Kabuto is really beginning to look like the odd one out with his Figma-style peg wrists. Honestly it's by absolutely no means a step backward for the line, just a funny little inconsistency that's fun to point out. With a few more Shinkocchou Seihou releases already confirmed to be in the pipeline, it'll be interesting to see what the next one comes up with!


Rider punch!No fear, no pain!1-footed balancing

Obgliatory ground pound pose

With an improved body also comes improved articulation, and this Kuuga takes everything right the S.H. Figuarts line is doing right now and mixes it altogether into one amazing little package. While there's nothing particularly revolutionary about the figure's articulation, comparing it with what the original Kuuga had to offer just shows how far the line has come in those years. The elbow joints now longer cut into the forearm gauntlet, while the chest armour has been split into multiple pieces to arrange an even greater range of human-like movement. The shoulder pads are separated from the main armour and attached to their own individual balljoints, giving them a great range of movement and the ability to cover up any exposed joints when posing. The new style of leg joints provide the most human-like movement on Figuarts yet, with the figure still able to impressively balance on one leg for kicking poses and such. 

Rider Kick!

Prepping that kick


On the whole accessory counts have been pretty good for the Shinkocchou Seihou releases. Hibachi came with an incredible amount of accessories, while Kabuto had everything he needed along with the most annoying plastic hand storage system ever devised. Kuuga on the other hand comes with exactly that - hands. Nine to be precise, including a variety of pose ones and a signature "thumbs up" right hand. It doesn't look like much and certainly doesn't sound like much either, but when you consider that Mighty Form was the basic hand to hand brawler of Kuuga's various forms it makes perfect sense. Hands are exactly what the figure needed to come with, and the selection available is plenty. Absolutely no complaints here.

The Shinkocchou Seihou Figuarts

Journey Through the DecadeKuuga and Rider-1

There are very few Figuarts that can get away with just having hands as accessories and be considered one of the "most own" figures in the line, but Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Kuuga could probably get away with it even if he only came with one pair. This premium sub-line of Figuarts continues to churn out the very best Kamen Rider figures Bandai has to offer, with this one in particular being a massive improvement over the dated and flawed original. Though Kuuga doesn't have a terribly complex design, its simplicity and detail in key places is both part of its charm and one of the reasons it's become of the iconic Rider designs. Here you have a figure that's both the perfect miniature representation of the actual suit and highly articulated without any fear of breakage.  This is one Kamen Rider fans need adorning their shelves, even if the Kuuga fans are saying goodbye to their money in advance at the prospect of Tamashii Nations making the rest of Kuuga's forms to this quality.

Next up for the Shinkocchou Seihou line is Kamen Rider Agito in August, followed by Kamen Rider Decade shortly afterward. And they're looking to be just as much a treat as the previous three have been.

1 comment:

Nova said...

I currently have this thing already purchased by waiting in HLJ's private warehouse to be shipped along other stuff. I've seen several reviews raving about this guy (even japanese ones and damn they can be picky) and I'm currently finishing the series itself...I have to say I'm very excited to own a figure that is both affordable and deserves to be called "premium". Nice and insightful review!!