Friday, 4 June 2021

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider 1 (THE FIRST Ver.)

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider 1 (THE FIRST Ver.) 01

Release Date: September 2010
RRP: 2750 yen

Back in early 2008 Bandai Tamashii Nations started up a brand new action figure range with the tag line of “simply style and heroic action”. That line was S.H. Figuarts, and 13 years later it’s evolved and expanded far beyond what collectors dreamed of at the time. And to think it all started with figures from Kamen Rider: The Next. However it wouldn’t be for another two years that the reimagined double Riders would be reissued in their Kamen Rider: The First looks. The release of S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider 1 (THE FIRST Ver.) was a very different time for the line - one where preordering wasn’t such a mad rush, and the figures themselves were far more affordable.

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Once upon most S.H. Figuarts packaging had a far more uniform look, which exactly the one you see above. Kamen Rider 1 (THE FIRST Ver.) comes in the silver foil box, relatively plain by modern S.H. Figuarts standards. Along with the transparent window showing off the figure inside the front of the box features the character name running along the side (printed as “Masked Rider” due to being from a pre-Kamen Rider W franchise instalment), and a picture of the movie suit itself in the bottom corner. This makes a nice change from the more modern Kamen Rider releases where the picture is usually of the figure rather than the actual suit. Both spines of the box simply have the name of the release printed on them with no additional images, and then on the back you’ll find the usual array of promotional images. For fans who’ve been following the line for a long time, that silver gradient background is a real slice of nostalgia. Open the box up and you’ll find the figure (and accessories) neatly laid out on a moulded plastic clamshell tray. Note that neither muffler is attached to the figure in-package, but it’s really easy to pop off the head and place one around its neck.

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Kamen Rider 1 (THE FIRST Ver.) is a repaint of the S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider 1 (THE NEXT Ver.) figure, with along with The Next’s Kamen Rider V3 was one of the very first Figuarts to be released. Whilst The Next’s version saw Rider 1 adopt a green colour scheme similar to the “Sakurajima” suit of the original series, The First adopted the light blue colouring (with pink compound eyes) of the first appearance suit. Personally I find it to be a much sharper look for the remake Rider 1, especially since its so distinctly different from the metallic green of The First’s Rider 2 suit. While the body for both The First and The Next suits remains the same, the two suits have slightly different helmet designs - whereas The Next sees Rider 1 return with a battered battle damaged helmet, The First featured a clean fresh off the assembly line look. Looking back on this figure a decade after its release you can see just how far the line has come when it comes to body portions. Make no mistake this is still a very cool looking release and would been pretty impressive at the time, but Bandai were definitely working with much thinner bodies back in the day. The detailing isn’t quite as pronounced either, with elements like the Typhoon belt looking rather squished in. What continues to be amazing about this figure though is the colours - that metallic blue is just stunning, as are those glossy pink compound eyes. The modernised biker jacket look of The First’s redesign continues to look brilliant in figure form, with the body sporting plenty of moulded fabric folds to give it a bit more depth. It is however pretty disappointing to see the copyright information written so blatantly on the back - even though these older figures are a bit more “action figure-y” it still kinda spoils the screen accuracy. The feet are also diecast metal - a staple of the older releases which was slowly phased out over the years. It’s easy to forget just how weighty these used to make the figures, and if you’ve only experience some of the newer releases it’s quite the surprise.

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But even all that time ago the S.H. Figuarts line was all about that articulation, and even though it might not be quite as perfected here as it is now the bare bones of the line really hasn’t changed that much over time (bear in mind this is still fundamentally the first S.H. Figuarts body ever produced). Altogether Rider 1 has; 
- Peg hinge head
- Ball jointed lower neck, torso, waist and wrists
- Swivel hinge shoulders and ankles
- Butterfly joint shoulders
- Drop-down ball jointed hips
- Double hinged elbows and knees
- Bicep and boot swivels
And in many case here the flaws don’t actually come from the articulation itself, but more in how it looks and how it impacts on the sculpt. A lot of the figure, especially in the upper body is very mobile - but then you also have some very obvious joint cuts, joints that are black plastic as opposed to coloured etc. These are things that have been ironed out over time, but really stand out when you go back and buy an older release. If you want to talk genuine flaws though, the legs on this mould are definitely one to look out for. The old style drop down hips have a habit of loosening and potentially breaking on ANY Figuarts that uses them (some of my Super Sentai ones have gotten particularly bad over time), but this figure in particular has been noted as one where they can just outright go at any time. This copy had never been opened prior to me purchasing it, but I can still feel some very clear fragility in the legs - posing it for those Rider Kick shots were especially tense. Handling with care should avoid any immediate breakages, but even then them loosening feels like a matter of time. The ankles aren’t especially great on the release either, despite the joint itself being completely exposed. The heavy feet ensure it can hold most poses no problem, but the tilt isn’t quite there (or at the very least is stiff enough that you wouldn’t want to force it) to make said poses completely flat footed. There are a lot of kinks, but the solid foundations of the line are definitely present.

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Kamen Rider 1 comes with a pretty limited range of accessories, which isn’t all the surprising since the movie was devoid of any flashy special attacks for the Riders. Combine that with the fact that this figure is largely a repaint of one of the earliest releases, and it’s pretty understandable how bare bones he is. Altogether he comes with two muffler pieces (static and windswept) and three pairs of additional hands. The range of hands included is pretty good, including a pair of closed fists, two different sets of posed/grappling hands and the obligatory knifestrike/henshin pose hands. As previously mentioned, the muffler pieces are extremely easy to switch over thanks to the figure using a peg for the head as opposed to a ball joint. Overall it’s a pretty standard set of accessories so there’s not a whole lot to say about them, and since the movie didn’t really inspire a whole lot of alternatives they get the job done nicely.

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11 years later S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider 1 (THE FIRST Ver.) is definitely starting to show its age, but is still a reasonably good figure that shows both how great the line started out and how far it’s come. The more exaggerated proportions are an easier to thing to forgive, but issues like the ticking time bomb that are those hips might have you second guessing just how extravagantly you want to pose this figure. Luckily the Figuarts for both Kamen Rider: The First and Kamen Rider: The Next are dirt cheap on the aftermarket, so even with their flaws are worth the asking price. Since it’s very unlikely these redesigns will ever get the remake or Shinkocchou Seihou treatment, this is are the best they’re ever likely to get.

3 comments:

Oar said...

I was wondering between the originals, the FIRST version, and the suit he had in the movie starring Ghost, which Ichigo design has been your favourite?

Alex said...

That's actually a REALLY tough one. My gut is telling me you just can't beat the original, but the Ghost suit is cool as hell and The First version is the PERFECT update. They're all really solid designs.

Big Boy said...

Something about the hair/neck always weirded me out. Especially considering the inherently odd proportions--the neck becomes even more weird looking