Wednesday, 13 January 2021

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Momotaros Imagin

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Release Date: October 2020
RRP: 7150 yen

If there’s one Kamen Rider series you should never discount the popularity of, it’s Kamen Rider Den-O. Even though Bandai Tamashii Nations have released nearly every S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou figure that isn’t of the titular character as a Tamashii web exclusive since 2017, Den-O was always going to be the one that got a few extra coming to retail. And that’s because these days it isn’t really Ryotaro Nogami who’s considered the star of the show, it’s the Imagin. So while we still patiently wait to see what Bandai have in store for Kamen Rider Zeronos, S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Momotaros Imagin has arrived in the meantime to tide us over. The third release in the Den-O range, Ryutaro’s first and most prominent Imagin partner was a no-brainer for the Shinkocchou Seihou line. With the original S.H. Figuarts figure having been released all the way back in 2009, Momotaros was long overdue the kind of high quality up date this line has repeatedly delivered.

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Momotaros comes in standard S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou packaging, which hasn’t changed at all since the line was started back in 2014. It’s a fancy two piece box which features an effects-laden closeup image of the figure on its lid, while the black sides feature the character name in silver foil lettering. Note that Bandai have opted to name the figure “MOMOTAROSIMAGIN”, either so that there’s absolutely no confusion about exactly which Momotaros is in there, to avoid further connotations with the Japanese folklore hero MomotarĊ or simply because they feel “Imagin” is an equally important part of his identity. Alternatively, it's more likely to just be about keeping that branding/trademark in circulation. The underside of the box is where you’ll find the usual stock images of the figure and accessories, who is also depicted here alongside the Tamashii web exclusive Kamen Rider Den-O Plat Form figure. Open the box up and you’ll find the contents spread across two plastic trays - one for the figure itself and then a smaller one underneath for the accessories.

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Influenced by Ryotaro's mental image of MomotarĊ "the Peach Boy", Momotaros is a bright red Oni with a devilish face and long curved horns. He was initially annoyed by this appearance, but it's the perfect fit to his brash, hot-blooded personality. It's rare to see non-Rider figures in the Shinkocchou Seihou line so Momotaros is something of a treat, although Bandai clearly haven't made any less effort despite the simpler detailing his suit has. The finish on this figure is sublime, with the bright red armour standing out beautifully on the brown undersuit thanks to its glossy appearance. All of the black detailing has been done with moulding and perfectly applied paint apps, while that demonic head sculpt pops with its cold black eyes and silver teeth. As always the main thing this version has over the original is proportions, the original looking extremely slimmed down and lanky in comparison. This new figure hasn't just been designed to stand comfortably against newer S.H. Figuarts releases, it's also been designed to look as close to the actual suit as possible. As such the undersuit has plenty of fabric detailing moulded onto it, particularly around the waist around where you really get a sense of how that fabric sits on the body. Also around the waist sits a belt with a peach belt buckle, a separate piece from the figure like the belts on any other Kamen Rider figure (or most Figuarts in general for that matter). But as great as these figures look, there's always at least one area to take some caution with and of course Momotaros is no different. Those shoulder spikes aren't just a little sharp, they (along with the horns for that matter) would be prime areas for breakage if any accidental tumble should occur.

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The S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou line is constantly pushing Tamashii Nations figures forwards when it comes to articulation, and Momotaros is another release with some interesting tricks. Altogether the figure has;
- Ball jointed head, neck, torso, waist and wrists
- Swivel hinge shoulders, hips and ankles
- Double hinge elbows and knees
- Single hinge toe sections
- Bicep and thigh swivels
In addition to all that, the shoulder pads are connected via moving ball joints should that they can raise and lower to work with the shoulder articulation. All of these are the usual things you’d expect to see from the line, but there’s one other thing Momotaros has going on that immediately makes him stand out - his butt cheeks. Yes you read that right, the butt cheeks. Each cheek of Momo’s butt is fixed directly onto the leg to allow for better hip movement, but even more significant than that is just how they work. As the legs move, the butt pieces are able to slide in and out of the hip assembly - not only allowing for more movement but also a far more seamless sculpt. Bandai have done a similar construction with their various Spider-Man figures, but even those are anywhere near as fluid or easy to use as Momo’s. There isn’t any worry of pushing the legs too far here, and nothing every gets stiff no matter how far forward or backward you bend the leg. The end result is a figure where crouching, kneeling and squatting are an absolute joy to pull off, without any of the potential worry of accidentally breaking a hip. The implementation has been pulled off so flawlessly here that I hope to see something similar carried over to further figures in the future. On top of that you have the already impressive range of movement the line (or just S.H. Figuarts in general) has to offer, making Momotaros nearly as expressive as his on screen counter part. The neck articulation is a little restricted by the rather large collar surrounding it, but that’s a minor complaint at best. 

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With the original Momotaros figure including a whole Den-Liner table and chairs set at one point (if you bought the DX version that is), the Shinkocchou Seihou version already has some stiff competition when it comes to accessories. But while sadly there isn’t any quite as extravagant as that included here, what we do get is still a pretty decent assortment of items. Altogether there are 11 additional hands, his personal sword and a cup of Den-Liner brand coffee with accompanying saucer - a lot more than the standard version of the original Momo came with. There’s a great selection of hands included here, ranging from pointing and weapon holding hands to more specific posed ones to ensure the figure can properly pull off that iconic “Ore Sanjou” stance. The sword is a unique design in-keeping with Momotaros’ oni-like aesthetic, simple yet elegant and nicely coloured with black highlights to bring out all the moulded hilt detail. It also fits into the hands perfectly without any need to heat the fingers up before hand, which is always a plus on expensive collectors’ figures like these. Finally we have the cup of coffee, immediately recognisable as one of Naomi’s concoctions with its red and blue foam. The cup fits comfortably into the non-paired right hand included in the set, with the cup’s handle looping around the finger so that Momo can hold and drink it properly. It’s the kind of ridiculous accessory you’d expect from an Imagin figure, and I hope the rest come with similarly fun accessories when they’re eventually announced. Of course there are always other things that you can picture the figure coming with (a loose version of the Den-O Belt might have been nice, especially since Momotaros effectively IS Den-O these days), but overall it’s a pretty solid set and compatibility with some of the extra pieces included with Sword/Gun Form just enhance it all the more.

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Given the standard of the Shinkocchou Seihou line I expected S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Momotaros to be a great figure, but I wasn't quite prepared for just how good it is. Although it might not be breaking the mould with gimmicks in the same way OOO or Den-O did, Momotaros is just an all-round great figure that pushes the envelope in its own subtle ways. I never thought I'd come out of a review praising articulated butt-cheeks so much, but it seems only fitting that Momotaros would reign supreme as the peachiest of them all. Highly expressive with tons of personality, with Momotaros this good it's going to be very difficult to say no the rest of the Imagin when they're inevitably released.

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