Thursday, 15 February 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Kamen Rider 1

Release Date: December 2017
RRP: 6480 yen

The Shinkocchou Seihou range of S.H. Figuarts is the cream of the crop. The best of the best. So far it's given birth to a wide selection of Kamen Rider figures that were desperately in need of an update, a main Rider that's been missing from the lineup for far too long and later this year will begin to venture outside of the Kamen Rider franchise. So after the end of another successful year, it makes sense to round it off with the one that helped start it all. S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider 1 was one of Bandai Tamashii Nations' final releases of 2017, alongside S.H. Figuarts Takeshi Hongo as the perfect partner piece.

Kamen Rider 1 comes boxed in the usual S.H. Figuarts Shinckocchou Seihou style packaging, which buyers should be all too familiar with by now. While it's fairly basic in terms of graphics and overall flourish, the stylish black lidded-box with silver foil lettering and stylish main image give the package a premium feel that both suits the line and sets it apart from the mainline Figuarts boxes. The usual array of Bandai stock images are printed on the back/bottom, including a particularly nice one that features the figure on a rocky landscape as opposed to the usual drab white/grey backdrops. Inside the figure is housed on a white plastic tray, with a thinner tray fitted underneath that houses the accessories.

Kamen Rider 1 has gone through a fair few changes over the years, mostly recently receiving a brand new suit when he reappeared for the Kamen Rider 1 film in 2016. However the Shinkocchou Seihou did the sensible thing and chose the most prolific design and colourscheme – "Shin Kamen Rider 1", which first appeared in episode 53 of the original series. And boy did Tamashii Nations do a fantastic job on this one – it's undoubtedly the quintessential Kamen Rider 1 action figure. Every little detail has been fantastically recreated, with little flourishes like the moulded fabric billows and textured chest plate capturing the look of the suit itself. The Typhoon Belt is identical to the one used on the Takeshi Hongo figure, providing a nice consistency between the two. It's suitably big and nicely detailed, particularly the turbine inside which looks to be an additional piece rather than being directly moulded and painted onto the belt. The only criticism is that the muffler is held on via a tiny ball-joint located on the piece wrapped around the neck (which is identical to how the original releases handled it), rather than its own articulated joint like the one seen on the Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Double figure. It is however much sturdier than the one seen on the original mould, and can be moved around the neck into various positions quite nicely without it repeatedly knocking it off or a fear of the joint suddenly crumbling. All in all it's a very solid figure, true to both the design of the suit and the bar the Shinkocchou Seihou line has set itself when it comes to overall quality.

You only need a quick comparison with the original Kamen Rider 1/2 mould to see how much of a difference the update has made. The body is better proportioned, the finish is crisper and the paintwork is far sharper. Just take the torso for example – the original figure completely lacks the zipper running down the chest, while the Shinkocchou Seihou has made it so prominent that suddenly it feels like a big detail on the suit. Although initially it may seem like Rider 1 wasn't quite so in need of an upgrade compared to the likes of Double or Kabuto, putting the two side by side just shows how far Figuarts sculpting and engineering has come since the original figure was released.

One of the stranger additions to this figure are the moveable antennae pieces, which don't have any benefit as far as show accuracy is concerned but do allow you to give Rider 1 some hilarious facial expressions through turning them into makeshift eyebrows. But more importantly the fact these antennae move means there's less chance of them suddenly snapping off if you apply pressure in the wrong place, since you can just move them out of the way of your fingers until you're done. However kudos to Tamashii Nations for including a spare set of antennae with the release anyway, just in case they do manage to somehow break.

A better sculpt also means better articulation, with Shinkocchou Seihou Rider 1 encompassing all of the latest Figuarts engineering and a ton of movement as a result. You have all the usual hallmarks of a great Figuart like ball-joints in the head, neck, shoulders, torso, waist, wrists, hips and ankles along with bicep swivels, double-hinge joints for the elbows and knees (along with a single-hinge toe curl) but also a few other surprises that make the figure particularly interesting. First up are the pectoral pieces, which like Shinkocchou Seihou Kabuto are attached via ball joints to move freely from the body itself. This gives the arms a little more clearance when moving them inwards, which is crucial when pulling off that all-important transformation pose. Further down we can see that the hips are a new hybrid design that incorporate elements from both the fixed ball-joint hips of newer Kamen Rider figures and the more segmented approach seen on the renewal Dragon Ball Z figures. It's an interesting little change that adds that little bit more movement while keeping the overall design of the figure unbroken. Finally you have the knees, which flawlessly hide the joint when straightened without losing any of that fluid movement when bent. Rider 1's articulation isn't perfect (despite the pectoral movement he can't pull off a henshin pose anywhere near as well as Hongo can), but its damn close.

Rider 1's accessories simply consist of the previously mentioned spare antennae, four pairs of additional hands and an additional muffler with the two ends closer together. That doesn't seem like much compared to previous Shinkocchou Seihou releases, since even the other weaponless Riders tended to come with something fancy as an extra (e.g. Agito's additional head, Double's oversized muffler). However for Rider 1 it works, given the character's far more straightforward fighting style. A Rider Kick effect part like the original's (which doesn't fit on the new figure and just kind of hangs off the foot awkwardly) would have been nice but certainly isn't essential. Of course if you happened to also pick up Hongo, Rider 1 also works wonders with that cool transformation effect part as well.

There have been so many S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider 1 variants over the years its more than likely that at least one is already in your collection somewhere, but in the line's usual fashion S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider 1 is more than worth the upgrade. This is the character that started it all, so if anyone is deserving of a premium quality figure it’s him. While a little light on the accessories, the figure itself is some of Tamashii Nations' finest work on the line and sits comfortably alongside the best of them. You'll buy him, love him and then probably do it all over again once Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider 2 is released in May.

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