Thursday, 25 August 2016

Toybox REVIEW: Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger Minipla Tousai Zyuoh

One thing Super Sentai fans always seem to go nuts for is a good evil ranger arc. And though it was definitely a bit short-lived, Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger certainly had one of those. Eager to spice up his blood games, Dethgalian leader Genis kidnapped three Zyuman and fused their powers into one human - and thus The World was born! Beating the five Zyuohgers at every turn, Genis' brainwashing was eventually undone and Misao Mondo joined the team as Zyuoh the World! Armed with the animals Cube Rhinos, Cube Crocodile and Cube Wolf, Zyuoh the World has the power of three Zyuman and can combine these three animals into the mighty Tousai Zyuoh. Tousai Zyuoh joins the Zyuohger minipla candy toy line in its third wave, and despite only being three animals is undoubtedly the biggest set yet.

The three components of Tousai Zyuoh come packaged in a rather impressive total of six boxes - four for Rhinos and one each for Crocodile and Wolf. Although each box features the same images of the kit on the front, depending which animal is inside will depend on what form of Zyuoh the World goes with it. As usual the spine features a breakdown of each box's contents, while the back has a few more images of the completed kit. The bottom also features a small preview image of larger combined mode Wild Tousai King, however the final two components for this (Cubes Kuma and Bat) are part of the following wave with the movie-exclusive Cube Condor. As such coverage of Wild Tousai King will be saved for the next minipla review.

What now follows is a review of a completed kit with extensive paint application. To compare how the kit looks with only the use of the stickers provided, please consult this excellent Japanese blog review.

Although the boxes include the figures in reverse order (so the four parts of Rhinos, Wolf and the Crocodile), here I thought I'd cover the animals in numerical order so that the most interesting stuff can be saved for last. Cube Crocodile may just be another basic cube animal, but this one probably has the most personality yet! From his stubby little legs to huge working jaw, Cube Crocodile really does put the "fun" back in "functional". It's just a pity that the nature of these toys means that Croc is stuck with a huge gap running through the centre, so looking at him from above or below will reveal that this kit is almost entirely a frame.

Best of all it doesn't really require any extensive paintwork, because the sandy yellow gold colour Bandai try to pass off as gold with these kits is actually the perfect colourscheme. Details such as the teeth and silver underjaw are good if you do want to add a little more detail however, and the sides also have plenty of detailing that's just begging for panel lining should you be so inclined.

To transform Crocodile into its cube mode, first simply remove the tail and then split the pieces in half. These piece then peg on the top of the model to fill up the sides. After that its just a case of folding each jaw back 180° to form one of the most complete looking cubes the line has offered so far. The "7" sticker might be spread across three pieces, but when brought together there's absolutely no mistaking what it is and all three stickers line up together as they should.

After the beautiful simplicity of Cube Crocodile, Cube Wolf is a different kind of simple. So simple in fact that the animal mode just kinda looks like a split open cube with animal pieces hanging off it in various places. The feet are so tiny that you can barely see them, making it look like Wolf is constantly lying down or something. That said it certainly has a very unique look to it, with plenty of moulded detail that can be appreciated with or without a bit of panel lining. Certain areas don't have the detail moulded in so stickers will be required regardless, but a bit of proper gold paint here and there certainly doesn't go amiss. Interestingly while the "wolf" part of Zyuoh the World is undoubtedly silver the mecha itself is a light grey, which means the kit is accurately moulded in the right colour and doesn't need extensive repainting.

Transformation to cube mode is a simple case of tucking the head in and then swinging up the back half to form the cube. Animal mode might make Wolf come across as one of the strangest looking Cube Animals, but the transformation is the perfect blend of getting it so simple but at the same time distinct and/or interesting. There's no parts swapping or fiddly nonsense here, but a smooth two-step transformation that you'll find yourself doing again and again.

Finally comes Cube Rhinos, the biggest animal to grace the Zyuohger line thus far. The core of Tousai Zyuoh and the default form of Zyuoh the World (leading many to label him a black ranger, which I don't agree with but then that's another argument), Cube Rhinos is a hulking great truck with an obvious rhinoceros motif. In-show the reason this particular animal is so different is because of Genis' meddling with it, but design-wise it has a nice big game hunter feel to it that's kind of fitting for a ranger who initially started out evil. Spread across four whole boxes, Rhinos really feels big even if the actual building part of things is relatively straightforward. The stickers cover everything nicely, but this is the animal where painters will really want to spring into action - that "gold" plastic really doesn't cut it and a lick of paint makes (Zyuoh) the world of difference.

The horn section of the robot also includes the head for the Wild Tousai King combo, which truthfully is 95% complete with this release but is just lacking two small auxiliary cubes and the larger sword piece to attach to the arm.

Cube Rhinos is unique among all of the Cube Animals released so far, not only because of its interesting animal/vehicle hybrid design but also due to the fact that it lacks a cube mode. Instead this model has its own little gimmicks, such as free-rolling wheels (both the two visible ones attached to the cab and small ones lined up across the bottom) and a removable trailer section.

Crocodile and Wolf are also able to ride in Rhinos' trailer in their own custom-sized sections! While the spaces are big enough to fit any standard cube in comfortably, the cubes also peg to the bottom of the trailer for extra security. The Zyuoh the World animals are a really nice bunch, complimenting each other both in style and design. Transformation to Tousai Zyuoh is quite minimal as far as Wolf and Crocodile are concerned, but as you might expect Rhinos' is a little more involved. With the grill and horn sections removed the cab is free to become the legs, with the trailer sitting on top to form the body. Each side of the trailer has a piece swing down to become the arms, with the hands (Croc on the right, the horn section on the left) pegging in via the cab/trailer connector pieces. Finally Wolf (in cube mode) pegs onto the top, with the hinged flap folding downward to reveal the robot mode face and three animal symbols. The only piece remaining is the cab's front grill, which pegs in out of the way on the back of the robot.

Tousai Zyuoh is a beast of a robot. Forget the scrawny three-cube stacks of previous waves, this is a combo that's big, thick and much more in-line with the usual Super Sentai robo builds. All that mass that went into Cube Rhinos really shows off its worth here, with the crocodile arm and wolf cube headpiece making up the rest of the bulk nicely. While the smaller cubes might not feel all that involved with the overall transformation and/or robot, their differing placements in the overall robot make Tousai Zyuoh feel like something really unique. The colourscheme is also gorgeous, especially if you take the time to make Rhinos stand out from Crocodile with some gold paint. Black, silver (or more grey in this case) and gold are three colours that just go perfectly together, and Tousai Zyuoh is all the proof you need of that.

As far as articulation goes Tousai Zyuoh sports rotating shoulders, arms that can move outwards and inwards, a waist swivel, universal hips, hinged knees (with a swivel right above them) and ball-jointed feet. That's a pretty excellent range, but missing two all-important points of articulation - a moveable head and working elbows. The lack of both of these things simply comes down design - usually the minipla is pretty good at working in articulation where its needed but sometimes setbacks are unavoidable. The lack of elbows is a bit of a downer, but in the past kits such as the Kyoryuger line proved that going ahead without them isn't some huge catastrophe. Even with its limitations, Tousai Zyuoh shows of great range for its build and is capable of plenty of good poses.

The Crocodile and Wolf cubes can also be used as part of the standard stacking combinations with Cubes Eagle and Gorilla, with Crocodile forming the waist/upper legs and Wolf the lower legs/feet. These combinations haven't debuted in the show yet (and it's probably uncertain whether they will at all), but they look pretty good stacked together, with the Crocodile crotch piece standing out nicely. The big downside here though is that neither cubes have the same articulation as the other four leg cubes, which means these combinations are almost completely static from the waist down. The legs can be split apart, but the results aren't exactly streamline. They may look good on display, but like these things are about as articulated as their DX counterparts.

Tousai Zyuoh may not be quite as impressively articulated as Zyuoh King or Wild, but the kit itself is a nice change of pace from the rather basic configurations the Zyuohger line has offered so far. Cube Rhinos isn't just a very different build, its size makes it a really notable addition to Super Sentai minipla in general and is a big factor in Tousai Zyuoh's unique design. Crocodile and Wolf might be a bit more basic in comparison, but as far as Cube Animals go these are two of the best offerings so far - with plenty to offer builders of all skill level. Lack of elbows and neck be damned, Tousai Zyuoh is another great addition to an extremely strong year of Super Sentai minipla.

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