Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts White Crow

You can usually tell when Bandai Tamashii Nations want to cover a series properly in the S.H. Figuarts line by how quickly they manage to churn figures out. Although admittedly featuring a rather small cast, the Kikaider franchise definitely falls under that category. They may have all been exclusives and feature a multitude of repaints/remoulds, but you can’t argue with the fact that in just a year the line is only two figures away from providing fans (of the live action series anyway) with EVERYONE suitable for entry. This has also extended to the vehicles, with Hakaider’s White Crow motorcycle following shortly on from the release of Kikaider’s Side Machine. This release of this bike in February also marks the final release from the original Android Kikaider series, but the line turned its attention toward sequel series Kikaider 01.

Although the Kikaider vehicles have been treated to the same minimalist arty packaging as the characters themselves, arguably the solid colour illustrations of bikes don’t quite carry the same cool factor as headshots. Nevertheless it’s still some pretty striking box art – with the back adding some splashes of red and yellow to the solid black to complete that Hakaider look. With the bike naturally being a much more sizeable piece than a figure the box is longer and deeper, housing the usual style of clear plastic tray inside.

Hakaider’s White Crow is based upon a Kawasaki H1 Mach III motorcycle, and features very little alteration from the base model. There are some nice little flairs like the Hakaider star emblem emblazoned on the gas tank and some sword handle-like pieces on each side of the front wheel, but ultimately it’s a pretty by the books classic 70s motorcycle. Not necessarily a bad thing, but perhaps not what everyone is looking for in colourful superhero/villain vehicles. However if that is just what you happen to be looking for, then you’ll be treated to the same level of quality you’d expect (and hopefully most of the time get) from the line’s humanoid figures. Though surprisingly light, the bike is sturdy and the mechanical detail isn’t lost within its sea of gunmetal silver. “Interactive” features on the bike itself include a moving front wheel, as well as working suspension on the back one.

Like the Side Machine, the White Crow comes with a sticker sheet for all the real-life Kawasaki logos the bike is adorned with. The bike honestly looks fantastic without them (and I’m sure many collectors are putting off at the thought of adding stickers in this day and age), but if you do want to add that extra touch of realism be sure to consult the instruction flyer tucked in the back of the box for the correct placement of each one.

An exciting range of accessories isn’t something that is particularly synonymous with S.H. Figuarts bike releases (unless you include some of the recent 2-packs that is) but nevertheless there are a few things bundled in here. For anyone who has bought a Figuarts bike before it’s the usual array to expect – a set of replacement handlebars (presumably just in case any breakage occurs), a clear plastic base for the back wheel and a pair of “motorcycle riding” hands that can work with either version of the Hakaider figure. 

I’m also going to take a quick moment here to say how impressed I am with the wheel base. While it’s only a small plastic disc, the back wheel fits into it nice and tightly and allows the bike to balance pretty well relying on it alone. I was not at all expecting to be able to pose Hakaider riding it while pulling a wheelie!

Ultimately how desirable the White Crow is depends on how much of a Kikaider fan you are. It makes an excellent companion piece for either version of Hakaider, but as far as S.H. Figuarts bikes go it’s pretty unremarkable visually. That isn’t to say the moulding isn’t of high quality (the working back wheel suspension should be evidence enough of that), but with nothing that really makes it stand out as a “Hakaider bike” it feels like something only completists will fully appreciate. The line has much more extravagant bikes on offer, and with this particular one being a very minor mod of a proper model that are quite likely similar (and perhaps cheaper) scale bikes out there that would serve the same purpose. However if you’re as big a Hakaider fan as I am and want to add this to your collection regardless, be sure to jump on it quickly – that aftermarket price will probably keep on rising.

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