Monday, 31 August 2020

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Vulcan Shooting Wolf

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Release Date: April 2020
RRP: 5500 yen

Kamen Rider Zero-One has already kicked the Reiwa era off with a plethora of Riders to choose from, but in typical Bandai Tamashii Nations fashion it’s inevitable that most of the will end up as Tamashii web exclusives. Other than Zero-One himself, so far only one Rider has managed to escape this fate. S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Vulcan Shooting Wolf is the second of the Zero-One releases in the line so far, and sees the figures returning to their standard pricing after Zero-One’s low price incentive. Debuting in the show as the captain of A.I.M.S., Isamu Fuwa had a hatred and vendetta against all Humagears. But as he began to spend more time with Aruto Hiden and saw how he fought for them, Fuwa was taken on a path of self-growth that lead him to chase a new dream.

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S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Vulcan comes in a bright white box similar to that of Zero-One's, only this time it features blue colouring to match Vulcan's colour scheme and is decked out with "A.I.M.S. SQUAD" lettering. The inclusion of the different faction names is a nice little touch to these boxes, and will surely make them look even better when lined up altogether. The front of the packaging features a nice big image of the figure, with further images then plastered on back and one of the spines. The back even features a guest appearance from S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Zero-One, since one of the accessories included here technically belongs to him. Inside the figure and accessories are stored on the usual moulded plastic tray, and once again Vulcan is curiously packaged with open hands attached to the figure rather than the usual closed fists. This is more than likely going to be the norm across the Zero-One now given that it's happened twice, but how likely is this to be a running change for all new series Kamen Rider Figuarts going forwards? Only time will tell.

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One of the more interesting aspects of the Zero-One Riders is how all the various belts in the series give their respective Riders a different design aesthetic, and in the case of Vulcan it's a striking asymmetrical design where a white and silver under-suit is engulfed by the animal motif. Though the wolf is much more obvious in the helmet (which does a good job of looking suitably canine despite the presence of the insectoid compound eyes), you can definitely see it in the chest plate as well. The colour combination works extremely well on the suit, and Tamashii have nailed the clash between the glossy white finish and metallic blue. The other details that work really well are the various bits of black panel-lining the suit has, particularly on the helmet itself. Also it might just be the fact that Vulcan is more armoured compared to Zero-One's streamlined look, but the overall proportions seem so much better here. That isn't to say Zero-One looks bad at all (in fact, quite the opposite), but when you put the two side by side you can really see how much stockier Vulcan is.

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Around Vulcan’s waist is the Shot Riser, the transformation device used by both of the A.I.M.S. Squad Riders. This device features a removable handgun used both for transformation and as a sidearm, a gimmick which has been replicated fairly faithfully on the figure. The handgun can be completely removed from the belt and used as a weapon, perfectly fitting into the hands provided. The Shot Riser also has the Shooting Wolf Progrise Key pre-loaded into it, and just on the Zero-One Driver said Key can be removed and held as an individual accessory. The Key itself doesn't feature a whole lot of detailing, but the blue stripe and tiny wolf decal are enough to convey what it's supposed to be. Once again this is also simply an opened version of the Progrise Key, and no Zero-One figure thus far has been revealed to come with a closed version of their respective Keys or any others that could fit into the slot holders on their belts.

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Though proportionally Vulcan might seem a little different from Zero-One articulation-wise they are pretty much identical, which certainly isn't a bad thing because Bandai made some real strides with that figure. Those re-designed drop-down ball joint hips are still bringing the best of both worlds - providing the range that drop-down hips can provide but not sacrificing any of that sculpt integrity. The rest of the articulation includes a ball jointed head and neck, swivel hinge shoulders with additional butterfly movement, ball jointed torso and waist, bicep and thigh swivels, double hinged elbows and knees, ball jointed wrists, swivel hinge ankle rockers and a hinged toe joint at the end of each foot. One thing I did notice is that you don't get a whole lot of movement out of the top half of the double-elbow joint, but the arms can provide a pretty satisfying bend nonetheless. Similarly the shoulder pads may be on their own floating ball joints, but they sit quite close to the arms themselves which can get in the way if trying to raise them up a full 90 degrees. Popping off the shoulder pads revealed that this isn't actually a design flaw though, and more that that the joints they're sitting on were a little stiff. Overall it's not really a notable departure from what collectors see in most S.H. Figuarts, but on par with what you'd expect from a new release.

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In addition to the previously mentioned Shot Riser and Progrise Key pieces, Kamen Rider Vulcan also comes with four additional pairs of hands (closed fists, two accessory holding pairs and a pair of wide-fingered pose hands) and the Attache Shotgun weapon. In show the Attache Shotgun is also able to fold up into a briefcase, but sadly the one included here is simply a static piece. Nevertheless it’s still a very nicely detailed weapon, and given how Vulcan’s belt is already a weapon it would have been very easy for Bandai to omit this entirely and feel justified in the decision. But instead Vulcan doesn’t just have an excellent range of hands to pose with, he’s also suitably armed like any member of A.I.M.S. should be.

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Rounding off the accessories is the Attache Calibur, the sword-based Attaché weapon primarily used by Kamen Rider Zero-One. The Calibur’s inclusion came as a bit of surprise to collectors, given then Bandai’s instead tended to bundle the main Rider’s weapon off with their (usually Tamashii web exclusive) bike for the past few years. But it looks like they may have finally got the memo and realised that packing it in with the more expensive secondary Rider makes a lot more sense, and it’s more likely to guarantee a second sale from more casual buyers. Like the Shotgun Attache Calibur unfortunately can’t fold up into its case mode but looks great nonetheless, and the yellow paint used even has the same glow under a black light that Zero-One himself has. Kamen Rider Vulcan already had a pretty impressive array of accessories, but when you throw in something for another figure that many felt they wouldn’t be getting otherwise you have a really great release on your hands.

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Zero-One himself was a good indication that S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Vulcan Shooting Wolf was going to turn out as another winner, but Bandai really pulled out all the stops here to produce a figure that might be even better. Taking all that brilliant engineering from Zero-One, Vulcan comes out swinging with fantastic detailing and even better proportions. While it might not have the allure of glowing paintwork and a lower price tag, all those accessories certainly make up for it. More secondary Riders that come with parts you’d usually bundle with bikes Bandai, and more incredible releases like this please.

1 comment:

Oar said...

This is such a nice figure. I've never thought this too much while looking at them in the show, but the AIMs riders are really slick and hi-tech but in a different way from Zero-One. Looking forward to more from this line, at the very least one from metsubojinrai to round off the different factions!