Saturday, 7 July 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Belial Atrocious


Release Date: June 2017
RRP: 6480 yen

When S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Geed Primitive was released earlier this year, there was only one character Ultraman fans were waiting for. Well two to be precise, but the most important thing is that you can't have the son without the father. The second Ultraman Geed figure to be released in the line is none other than S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Belial Atrocious - the fallen Ultra's new Fusion Rise form harnessing the powers of the Dark Lugiel and Alien Empera along with the Alien Sturm abilities of Kei Fukuide. Rather predictably for a form that only appeared in the final episodes Belial Atrocious is a Tamashii web exclusive release, however with the absence of any other retail Geed releases after Primitive it's a little disappointing that Bandai Tamashii Nations have jumped straight into exclusives. Nevertheless, Belial himself has finally arrived on Earth and he's here to conquer!



Can figure packaging succinctly create an aura of true evil? Even it can't S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Belial Atrocious' comes pretty close - taking the basic layout of the Ultraman Geed Primitive box and turning it into something much more dark and sinister. The windowless front features a nice big shot of the figure as well as a small short behind it, both laden with enough effects that you'd think it was actually artwork rather than a shot of the figure itself. The back then has the usual array of Bandai stock images against that plain light grey backdrop, so doesn't have quite the same effect but it's always nice to see what you're getting in the box right? Alternatively, you could just open the thing up and inside you'll find the figure and its accessories neatly placed on a single clear plastic tray.




Despite the overall finish of the figure being different in pretty much every way, those with a keen eye will know straight away that S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Belial has been built off the same base body as Ultraman Geed Primitive. The big giveaway? The fact the arms are completely incapable of resting parallel against the body in a realistic way. It was a noticeable annoyance on Geed and it still is here, and makes you wonder what it is about this body that prevents it from doing it. But enough about the bad, because boy does Belial Atrocious look good. Even in the show Belial Atrocious debuted a completely new twist on the tried and tested Ultraman aesthetic, and it makes just as bigger difference here as a figure as it did onscreen. Gone is that smooth colourful body, replaced with murky matte finish covered in menacing bone-like protuberances. Said sections have also benefited magnificently from a wash of brown, bringing out all those shapes and detailing - especially the mouth on that piercing skull-like head sculpt. The only splashes of colour here are the barely noticeable purple Colour Timer, and more importantly those striking two-tone yellow eyes. The effect is pulled off so well that it's hard to tell whether it's translucent plastic (which it is) or actual paint. The one grievance I have is that it seems as though the grey paint on the body might get easily scratched, as my copy of the figure came with a small but noticeable blemish just above the waist joint. Still - if there was one area this figure was bound to impress in it was the sculpt and finish, and Bandai certainly haven't let Ultra fans down in that respect.





Utilising the same body type as Geed also means the articulation is pretty great too, and Belial can comfortably pull off the all poses you'd want your favourite Fusion Rise-powered evil Ultra megalomanic you'd want him too. Belial Atrocious features ball-joints in his head, neck, shoulders, torso, waist, and wrists, together with swing-down hips (the one area this figure truly differs from Geed) double hinge joints in the elbows and knees, hinged ankles and the usual toe-cap hinge to cap it all off. The shoulder pads are attached via ball-jointed tab that then clips on to the arm, and then more interestingly the bone-sections on the upper legs are also fixed on via ball-joints. All this is so that the pieces can move freely and out of the way of the limbs when posing, but in the case of the shoulder pads this is nothing short of frustrating. The damn things just pop off any chance they get, and since there's barely any room for them to sit on the arms to begin with the tiniest bit of movement is enough to knock them off. Usually Bandai's method of connecting shoulder pads is pretty flawless on these figures, but something definitely went awry here. 





Belial Atrocious' accessories include three additional pairs of hands, one of which is a pair painted in gunmetal grey rather than the bone-like finish the rest of the hands have to match Belial's body. Despite looking a little weird alongside the rest of the ones included they are actually accurate to the onscreen suit, and are a closer resemblance to those claw-like digits Belial has in his standard Reionics form. Sadly they aren't as exciting as the articulated fingers the original Ultra-Act figure had either, but since there isn't really a precedent for S.H. Figuarts to do anything like that it's not too surprising that they just stuck to a standard fixed pose. Also included with the release is Belial's signature Giga Battle Nizer weapon, which comes with both shortened and extended rod sections. The end pieces simply pop off the weapon and reattach accordingly, which is nice and simple as it's also the way to get the figure to hold the weapon as well. While the shortened rod section is accurate (and also came with the Ultra-Act), it looks pretty dumb in any pose so the longer version is really the only one that matters. Of course while it's always nice to get another Ultraman figure that doesn't include some sort of beam effect, these accessories just serve as a reminder as to how much more generous Tamashii Nations used to be with the Ultra-Act releases. The standard Belial also came with  three different effect pieces for the Giga Battle Nizer, while Atrocious sadly doesn't come with any - and there was plenty to choose from as well. Whether it be "Dark Slash" blades, "Dark Fireball" shots or simply just lit up end pieces, one more accessory really would have really made a difference. It's always nice to get Ultras with something a little different, but one without an effect part just somehow feels wrong.





There are many fans out there who would have rather S.H. Figuarts started off with a new version of Belial's standard form and while I can definitely understand their disappointment, S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Belial Atrocious is definitely a worthy stand-in until the time comes. Like most Ultraman Figuarts it has a few little annoyances that sadly make it fall short of perfect, but the sculpt, finish and the fact Belial is just such a damn cool villain are enough to make you look past them. The perfect companion piece to both Ultraman Geed (whether it be Primitive or Royal Mega Master) and the recently announced Ultraman Zero Beyond (another "new" version done in favour of the original, but Bandai are clearly flogging those Geed exclusive forms), Belial Atrocious is the Ultraman villain the line has been waiting for. The Tamashii web exclusive status means the aftermarket probably isn't going to be kind, but at the very least his base price is far more agreeable than many of the kaiju that have been released thus far.

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