Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Toybox REVIEW: Figma Gridknight

Figma Gridknight 01

Release Date: October 2019
RRP: 6296 yen

Thanks to their good relationship with studio TRIGGER, Good Smile Company continue their domination when it comes to SSSS.Gridman merchandise with the release of Figma Gridknight! Using his copy ability, the kaiju Anti transforms into a form similar to that of his former rival - his obsession to defeat the titular Hyper Agent having now transformed into a desire to protect him. Gridknight is second character from the show to be released as part of Max Factory’s Figma line, surprisingly making it to production before the likes of leading ladies Rikka and Akane - both of whom have dominated the market when it comes to SSSS.Gridman merchandise. While of course they’re not too far behind, it is nice to see the giants of the series get in on the action figure game outside of a number of expensive and often flawed combining sets.

Figma Gridknight Box 01

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Figma Gridknight is almost exactly the same as Gridman in many ways, starting right with the packagingitself. Gridknight comes in the same shorter white and silver box that doesn't quite match up to what Figma usually do with their packaging, but at the same time isn't anywhere near different enough to notice unless you keep a particularly close eye on these things. Similarly confusing is why the figure has been designated the "SP-115" numbering rather than being in the main range, but I'm sure Max Factory have some good reason for it. The nice big window on the front of the box seems a bit redundant when the figure inside is obscured by so much translucent bagging surrounding it, but at the very least the promotional images adorning the back and spines make him look really good. Inside you'll find the figure and accessories laid out on a plastic tray but it's the same deal as with Gridman – the smaller box size means the compartment section at the bottom has been completely omitted, so in fact only the weapon is stored on the tray itself. The hands, along with the display stand, are taped to the back in their own segmented bag.

Figma Gridknight 02

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Gridknight is minor retool of Gridman himself, featuring a brand new head sculpt that adds both side “horns” and a red visor (mirroring Anti’s kaiju form) in the place of eyes. The way the helmet piece dips down just above the nose makes it a little hard to make out as a visor from some angles, but it’s a nice touch that really helps distinguish the two characters. The body itself is exactly the same, save for the lack of Primal Acceptor on the left gauntlet and of course the purple and orange colour scheme. Previously in my Gridman review I argued that the Neon Genesis Evangelion influence particularly bled through on these stylised figures and that rings all the more true with Gridknight, whose colour layout isn’t that far off the Awakened version of Unit 01 in the Rebuild films. The colours are also a really nice throwback to the garish colours of toys in the 1990s, much like some of the ones that appeared in the original Gridman series. However it's the same mould, so it also retains that same specific stylisation that had many people on the fence about the Gridman Figma. So if you aren't a fan of the blocky shapes, oversized shoulder pads or particularly spindly limbs then it's the same deal here. That said, there's something about Gridknight that just makes them work so much better here. Whether it's the kaiju connection, the differing head sculpt or simply just that purple and orange is a better colour combo than silver/blue/red, the differences to the general animation model just don't feel as obvious here. The detail on the mould is still just as astounding as ever though, with areas such as the torso plating or the vents on his back really standing out. It really is a great looking toy, which makes it all the sadder that the stylisation will continue to be a hurdle to some.

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The same body also means that Gridknight's articulation is completely identical to that of Gridman's, especially since the change in head sculpt doesn't have any sort of impact either in that regard. So if you didn't check out that review previously the figure features those distinct Figma brand hinge joints in the neck, elbows, knees and ankles along with ball joints in the shoulders, shoulder pads, wrists, torso, waist and hips and then finally swivel connections at the biceps and thighs. This allows Gridknight to pull off a similarly impressive range TRIGGER-esque poses, all of which bring out just how dynamic that sleek body can be. There's no denying that the shoulder pads can be a little cumbersome to work even with the levering ball joints they're attached too, but even then Max Factory deliver the same super smooth articulation that makes their figures such a pleasure to handle. It's a shame that such a significant portion of Figma's output are skirted or have similar articulation restrictions, because toys like Gridman and Gridknight are a reminder of just how dynamic this line can be.

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Accessories was one of the weaker elements with Gridman, and unfortunately it certainly isn’t any better here either. Gridknight comes packaged with a total of six swappable hands, the Gridknight Calibur sword and the usual articulated Figma stand bundled in with every release. While admittedly Gridknight didn’t have anywhere near as much screen time as Gridman himself so naturally there’s a lot less he could have come with, it’s still a pretty bare bones release - especially as everything that is included here is a repaint. The six hands (closed fists, sword holding and dynamic open hands) are identical to the ones included with Gridman, and the Gridknight Calibur is a metallic red repaint of the Gridman Calibur sans the additional hilt piece (which admittedly it does lack in the show as well). The alternate forced-perspective blade has been omitted entirely, with sadly nothing new included in its place. The new colour scheme of the sword is gorgeous and while there isn’t necessarily anything pressing that this figure should have come with, it is a little disheartening to see some Figma (not to mention figures in other lines as well) come with all sorts of obscure accessories and then others come with the absolute bare minimum.

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Figma Gridman was a great figure that you very much had to get behind the aesthetic to appreciate, and while naturally the same applies to Figma Gridknight arguably the new colour scheme and minor remould does make it that little bit easier. The slender proportions and exaggerated armour just seem to suit Anti’s new form so much better, and that purple and orange colouring really makes that Gridman body his own. If you’re still not feeling those proportions though it might be harder to enjoy all those stylised poses that come with it, and though certainly not a dealbreaker the minimal accessories aren’t much to write home about. But at the very least both he and Gridman make a fantastic pair (or even trio if you want to throw the old Ultra-Act Gridman into the mix as well), and it’s pleasing to see Figma tackle them as well as just producing more Rikka and Akane figures. SSSS.Gridman merch that isn’t just them is in short supply, but we could be getting a whole lot worse than this.

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