Sunday, 29 November 2020

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts The Child

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Release Date: September 2020
RRP: 3850 yen

Disney and Lucasfilm might have successfully been able to keep the Child (aka Baby Yoda) a secret in the lead up to season one of The Mandalorian, but in order to do so it meant there wasn't any figures or merchandise in sight at the height of his popularity. Fast forward to a year later and the midst of season two and the companies behind Star Wars certainly aren't going to make that mistake again, with just about every bit of merch you could possibly imagine on the shelves right now. Meanwhile Bandai Tamashii Nations are comfortably in the midst of their S.H. Figuarts releases, and The Mandalorian (Beskar Armor) means nothing without an S.H. Figuarts The Child to go with it. As you can expect from a character of this size Bandai are offering it as a much smaller (and thus cheaper, but S.H. Figuarts standards at the very least) release compared to their full-sized figures, but are also offering plenty of accessories alongside it to help convince you that the Child is worth your money.

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The Child comes in a scaled down version of standard Star Wars S.H. Figuarts packaging, however despite being smaller it's actually a bit thicker than your average Figuarts box. The downsize hasn't made any difference to the layout though - the front is still fairly minimal in design and predominantly taken up by the window, while the back has some (extremely adorable) stock pictures of the figure and its accessories. The spine image is fantastic too, although it's a pity it wouldn't work so well in a bookend style display because of the size difference. Inside you'll find the figure and accessories neatly packed on a moulded plastic tray, with a few extra pieces taped up inside a bag behind. The packaging also has a nice little green backing card, which isn't quite as useful as Mando's two sunset ones but makes a nice change from the usual reflective one.

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S.H. Figuarts The Child stands at around 35mm, which when you put him next to the Mandalorian himself means he stands up to about the top of his shin.  The sack-like clothing is predominantly soft goods with a solid plastic collar and sleeve cuffs, which definitely gives the body a more realistic and screen-accurate look as well as less rigid articulation. It also hides the unholy horror that lies inside, because take it off and you'll find that the Child doesn't have a real body at all. Instead he has some sort of sickly green frame, with a wide disc for a waist that allows the clothing to properly keep its shape. It's not that surprising that Bandai didn't attempt to sculpt any sort of body underneath given that they have absolutely no reference for it, but it's still pretty horrifying to see nonetheless. It's even creepier when you compare to the head sculpt, which is really nicely detailed. It's the paintwork on it that really sets it apart from similar scaled figures though, with the additional bits of brown on the face (as well as the ears) bringing out that detail and making it look less like a toy. It might be creepy on the inside, but here it's the outside that counts and what you can see looks pretty great.

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Whereas Hasbro are doing a good job to close the gap in quality between the Black Series and S.H. Figuarts given the drastic price difference, when it comes to the Child there's a huge difference in approach between the two companies. Whereas the S.H. Figuarts has soft goods clothing with a skeletal frame underneath, the Black Series offering is a thick chunk of plastic. The Figuarts version is also notably bigger, which makes sense given the more obvious attention to detail on it. You could argue that the added size makes the Figuarts one slightly out of scale, but if it is it certainly isn't all that notable. The truth is that given their size neither figure really had any right to be a separate release, especially at their respective price points. At least Medicom had the right idea to make him an accessory with the forthcoming MAFEX release, but the downside there is you aren't getting all the extra bits both of these figures have. Ultimately whichever one you go for, Disney and Lucasfilm are the ones laughing their way to the bank.

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Bandai may have skimped on doing a proper body with the figure, but the combination of soft goods clothes and a frame body gives way to some interesting articulation choices. Altogether the Child has a ball jointed head and shoulders, along with swivel hinge feet. While the absence of any real obstruction results in perfect movement for both the head and feet, the arms are a bit more fiddly than you'd expect a basic ball and socket joint to be. Not only are they fairly stiff, but moving them about results in the sleeves bunching up and revealing those unappealing stick arms hidden underneath. The figure could have also really benefitted with some wrist swivels, since his "using the force" pose doesn't look quite right without his claws twisted 90°. It's still fairly basic articulation in the grand scheme of things, but for a figure of this size it isn't all that surprising. You're never going to get the full range of movement the onscreen puppet has at something this scale, but between the optional parts and the articulation it does have you can at least cover off all the key poses.

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The Child comes packaged with two alternate heads (one with closed eyes and with his ears down and a sad expression), an alternate pair of hands and the iconic bone broth soup bowl from Chapter Four. One of my biggest grievances with the Black Series figure was how it couldn't really hold its bowl properly without either sticking it to the hands somehow or literally pulling the arms out of their sockets. Bandai have gotten around this by not only making the arms slightly longer, but the additional pair also have tabs coming out of the palms that can then plug into the bowl. The downside here is that the arms are quite fiddly to switch out. It's so hard to see what you're doing under the clothing that it's easier just to take the clothing off for the switch, and then on top of that you also have to take the cuffs off the old arms and put them on the new ones. It's not especially hard, more that it's a lot of work just to have the figure hold a soup bowl. The alternate heads however are a real treat. The ears-down head loses a bit of its lustre when looked at close up, but including optional expressions really help make this figure feel like the full package. They're also a lot less bothersome to switch out than the arms, which is always a plus.

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Rounding off the accessories is the first version of the Child's floating crib peg, which also includes an additional hatch piece, soft goods blanket and clear plastic display stand. The crib doesn't have quite as much wear and tear as the onscreen version but is still a great likeness, with the overall shape and detailing all present and correct. Sadly the hatch doesn't have a proper open/close function and just simply clips onto the front of the crib when in use, but it's good to have that extra piece even if it probably won't get all that much use in displays. The Child can both stand and lay comfortably in the crib, with the addition of the blanket really turning it into the most adorable display possible. Whether he's tucked up in bed or wrapped in the blanket and being carried by his surrogate father, the Child is ready to face any obstacle in the cutest way possible.

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S.H. Figuarts The Child is a fun little figure and has much more to offer than its Black Series counterpart, but the value for money really comes into question when you consider the price. Much like how Hasbro's was half the price of a standard Black Series figure, at a retail price of 3850 yen Bandai's is half the price of the Beskar Mandalorian. And when you compare the two, you really aren't getting half of what you get with that figure. Whether it's just because these companies can't realistically make money off these products if they price them any lower or that there's some serious price gouging going on (which is the more likely answer), it's seemingly very hard to get an individually-released Child figure that's worth the money. As previously mentioned MAFEX have turned theirs into an accessory, and now Bandai have curiously followed suit with their Din Djarin & The Child set. Neither really stand up to the quality Bandai have displayed with their offering, but just how much you want to spend on such a small (albeit important) character clearly depends on how much you love the little big-eared toddler.

1 comment:

ZachTron552 said...

"It also hides the unholy horror that lies inside"
I'm dying hahahahaha XD