Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Toybox REVIEW: Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger Minipla Cube Whale/Dodekai Oh


Release Date: October 2016
RRP: 4536 yen per case
Case Breakdown: 12 boxes per case, 2 complete sets

One of the biggest arcs of Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger was the arrival of the alien Megabeast hunter Bunglay, who came to the planet in search of a legendary Megabeast. After a fateful encounter with the Gokaigers the Zyuohgers discovered the identity of this beast was Cube Whale, who fought a fearsome monster in the past alongside the Whale Zyuman Cetus. Though initially hostile toward the Zyuohgers, Cube Whale eventually accepted them as comrades, battling alongside them with its fearsome robot mode Dodekai Oh! Cube Whale is the fifth wave of the Zyuranger range of mini-pla candy toy model kits, and despite being the biggest so far is also the only one to be comprised of a single animal.



Like the rest of Zyuohger minipla Bandai have decided to show a little less variety with their packaging for the 2016 range, as despite having six different boxes making up the set they all have the same box art. The only difference between them are the image of Zyuoh Whale adorning the front  and top flap, and of course the number denoting which box is which. The back features a look at Cube Whale's various modes as well as Zyuohger's ultimate combination mecha, Wild Tousai Dodeka King. Inside each box you'll find a number of different runners kept together in a plastic bag, along with a sticker sheet (if applicable) and the usual piece of soda-flavoured candy.




Being made up of six different boxes of parts, Cube Whale is a rather interesting build. It isn't particularly difficult as a significant portion of the parts are actually pretty large in size, but it is somewhat confusing as the parts included in each box don't pair together in the most straightforward of ways. Completing the kit also leaves you with a handful of excess parts, which makes absolutely no sense until you realise that these are only needed for the Wild Tousai Dodeka King combo and can be thrown to one side for the time being. However Cube Whale is exceptionally good at not needing much in the way of paint or stickers (some boxes don't even have sticker sheets). The only areas really crying out for some paint are the silver teeth (for both Whale mode and the Dodekai Oh chest) and the black areas above each side of the face. However even those are nicely covered by the stickers, and although a little more paint could be added here or there Cube Whale in no way needs it.

Once built, you'll see Cube Whale lives up to his animal namesake - towering over all of the other Cube Animals in terms of height and width (though Cube Rhinos still has it beat when it comes to length). It doesn't have anything in the way of action features, but the water spout protruding from the top can be rotated and/or unpegged if required. Even though it can't really do anything it looks spectacular, and definitely adds a dash of regality to the growing Cube Animal menagerie.


Despite being considerably larger than the other Cube Animals Cube Whale does still have its own cube mode, or at least the closest approximation to one. This transformation simply requires removing the waterspout from the top and then splitting the tail section in two, swinging the pieces forward to peg into the sides of Cube Whale's face.




While the end result is hardly what you could call a cube, it arguably gets the job done nevertheless. With the way that the torpedo cannons are still sticking out in feels almost like a battle mode of some sorts, with tail coming forward to provide Cube Whale with a stronger set of armour. Since the transformation is so basic it's actually quite fun to constantly switch the kit between the two modes, and unlike some of the smaller cubes everything plugs together nice and firmly so there's no risk of pieces just dropping off in the process.


The transformation into Dodekai Oh, Cube Whale's robot mode, isn't that much more complex either. From whale mode all that's required is (once again) removing the water spout piece and then splitting the tail to form legs. From there the arms need to be unpegged from the front of the torso, swinging to their respective sides and then locking in tightly. Finally head simply flips up onto the top of the body, not locking into place but resting comfortably on the flat surface.




"Doubutsu Henkei, Dodekai Oh!" If Cube Whale's large body wasn't enough to convince you that this was going to be the case, standing Dodekai Oh alongside its fellow Zyuohger mecha confirms that this is the biggest one yet - standing slightly taller than Tousai but with a similar level of bulk. However in this case bulk doesn't also equal weight, with it coming out as a fairly light figure due to that completely hollow chest. Sculpt-wise the minipla has churned out yet another winner, with the combination of red, black, white and blue working perfectly to create a really striking robot. The silver teeth also stand out beautifully, whether you've opted to paint it or use the foil sticker provided. Lastly, even though Dodekai Oh doesn't really need much done in the way of panel lining the body is still covered in all sorts of raised detailing, ensuring that the overall aesthetic matches that of the other Cube Animals even if it does look a little flatter on first glance.




Articulation is something that noticeably begins to decline the further you get down a Super Sentai minipla line, and unfortunately Dodekai Oh is no exception to the rule. Dodekai Oh sports a full rotatable head, rotating shoulders, hinged elbows, hinged legs (side to side rather than forwards/backwards) and ankle rockers for stability. Admittedly that's not actually a bad selection for the big 'final' mecha, but as always it's the lack of knee joints and a waist swivel that make the end result feel like two steps backwards. One or the other would have made a world of difference, as they're two of the most important areas when it comes to pulling off decent action poses (along with elbows). Without them, Dodekai Oh has some potential when it comes to posing but it's certainly lacking compared to the other cube combinations.

Dodekai Oh's weapon is the Kai-Oh spear, which is the entire water spout section usually clipped into the inside of the chest cavity. Despite having two perfectly good fists with working peg holes, the spear doesn't actually fit into either hand - fitting instead onto a peg on the upper forearm to create the illusion of being held. Granted it may sound a little odd, but in the end it really doesn't make a whole lot of difference and actually probably means the weapon is actually fixed a bit more securely.


With all ten main Cube Animals (plus four auxiliary animals), the Zyuohgers can now form their ultimate combination - Wild Tousai Dodeka King! This combination is where all those random excess parts that came packed with Cube Whale come into use, as they are required to connect the first eight cubes together to form the legs. Additionally Cube Whale requires a bit of parts-forming, as the black inner sections of the tail need to be detached to be repurposed into arms. Next comes the front end of Cube Rhinos, which plugs directly into Cube Whales hollow chest cavity (which can be accessed by opening up a hatch at the back). The four auxiliary animals then plug onto the arms, the Kai-Oh Spear mounts on the robot's right shoulder and the new head folds out of the left. Finally comes the crown, which is removed from the Kai-Oh Spear and pegged just above Wild Tousai Dodeka King's face.

Unfortunately like many of the larger Super Sentai mecha combinations this one leaves out a fair few parts in the end. The most substantial of these is Cube Rhinos' entire trailer section, but also left out of the mix is Whale's two torpedo cannons.




With ten cubes in hand, Wild Tousai Dodeka King is born! Even though one of the advantages of minipla (on top of cost and added articulation) is their smaller size, when you get to the bigger combos like these they begin to feel like mini DXs in their own right. This can definitely be said of Wild Tousai Dodeka King, who is undoubtedly one of the tallest minipla combinations yet (second only to the mighty Engine G12, with Ninninger's Ha-Oh combinations still winning when it comes to width). The idea of having the cubes stack together to form legs may sound silly, but thanks to the angled connector pieces included with Cube Whale they come out looking excellent. What also surprised me about this combination is just how sturdy it is - usually as more parts are piled on the connections become less and less solid, with pieces prone to just dropping off due to the sheer weight of the model monstrosity. However this doesn't seem to be the case with Wild Tousai Dodeka King at all, who remains relatively stable despite that huge torso balancing precariously on eight tiny cubes. A wild mash of cubes and colours that suits the wild brashness of Zyuohger down to a tee, Wild Tousei Dodeka King is a regal final combination worthy of being the champion of land, air and water.




Of course it's at this point that articulation is truly thrown out of the window. Just like with the DX figures, the more parts you pile onto a combination the less movement the result is going to have, with the minipla often being left with just as much as their larger countparts. Minipla Wild Tousai Dodeka King slightly edges out with DX due to the inclusion of working elbows, but as the only other points of articulation here are the shoulders it isn't exactly a runaway victory. Four points of articulation is definitely better than nothing though, and even though they offer very little in the way of dynamic posing it does still mean the combo can look like it means serious business. 


While maybe not as complex (and certainly not as articulated) as the previous Zyuohger minipla releases, Cube Whale remains a solid release that rounds off the "main" selection of cube animals nicely. Cube Whale/Dodekai Oh is a nice hefty model that makes up for limited articulation with sheer bulk, and the minimal paint requirement is a nice bonus as well. Meanwhile Wild Tousai Dodeka King falls into the usual pitfalls of ultimate Super Sentai combinations articulation-wise but again gets past that thanks to a sturdy build and impressive size. Cube Whale might not have been the last release from the Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger minipla line, but if it was it certainly would have been a good note to end on.


BUT THAT'S NOT ALL...


Like the look of Cube Whale? Well you can win your own with our Twitter giveaway! Up for grabs is ALL SIX boxes required to build the model kit, and all you need to do is follow MY SHINY TOY ROBOTS on Twitter and retweet this designated competition tweet. Unlike our last giveaway this one is open to participants WORLDWIDE, and a winner will be drawn at random on 28/02/2017. Entering couldn't be easier! Good luck to you all!

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