Thursday, 14 November 2013

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Black (Renewal)

Bandai SH Figuarts Kamen Rider Black Renewal

While the S.H. Figuarts line is arguably still near the top when it comes to toy quality, that doesn't mean there's no room for improvement. The line is a good few years old now and the age of some of the early releases is beginning to show, especially when stacked up to some of the most recent Kamen Rider figures. It was only a matter of time before Bandai Tamashii Nations started to tread the path of renewal figures, something that's already in effect in their similar Ultra-Act line. And what better way to kick off new versions of beloved characters than with one of the most popular Kamen Riders (and apparently, most popular Figuarts) - Kamen Rider Black! Black's release was also timed with a brand new version of Battle Hopper, who won't be included in this review because I stupidly passed up on pre-ordering it.

Bandai SH Figuarts Kamen Rider Black Renewal

Bandai SH Figuarts Kamen Rider Black RenewalBandai SH Figuarts Kamen Rider Black Renewal

The original Kamen Rider Black figure had to deal with the bland silver Figuart packaging of old, so this new version is a nice way for Bandai to the box a well-deserved makeover too. It seems green is in, with a nice dark colourscheme and pictures of the figure with some Photoshop wizardry thrown in for good measure. The back of the box also features a picture of him riding Battle Hopper, to further rub salt in the wounds of those silly people who didn't buy them alongside each other.

Bandai SH Figuarts Kamen Rider Black Renewal

Bandai SH Figuarts Kamen Rider Black RenewalBandai SH Figuarts Kamen Rider Black Renewal

So here he is, the all new Kamen Rider Black. In reality a picture can say more than words ever will, so before I begin just take a look at this picture of him next to the original Black release from 2009 (credit to the ever wonderful blogger Hacchaka). Kinda makes the old one look like a budget toy doesn't it?

The detail this figure has is absolutely astounding. Not only does the crotch piece feature leather creases (that's something I never thought I'd see myself praising), but the inside legs also feature seam marks! Bandai really went out of the way to make something that was as close to original suit as possible, and a labour of love to this classic Kamen Rider. The matte black finish is just beautiful, and topped off by the striking yellow/red/silver stripes and those wonderful compound eyes. Black has a fantastic range of articulation, with even the typical swing down hips seemingly having gained an extra bit of care. While this tried and tested method of articulation works just like it usually would, the design of the crotch/legs make it seem a lot less intrusive and notable - to the point where it took me a while to register that it even was the same joint system! This allows for a more natural range of motion without having to cut into the leg like the Ryuki Riders do.

If I had one minor complaint, it would be the way the shoulder pads are attached which can leave the joints exposed when posing. However if you play around with it a bit it isn't too hard to mask.

Bandai SH Figuarts Kamen Rider Black Renewal

Bandai SH Figuarts Kamen Rider Black RenewalBandai SH Figuarts Kamen Rider Black Renewal

With such a beautifully sculpted figure, surely there must be some sort of trade-off right? Well there is...kind of. Anyone expecting a generous accessory count with Black is going to be sorely disappointed, as altogether he comes with a grand total of 10 hands. Granted he didn't use any weapons in the show itself, but this release doesn't include any sort of effect parts or a Tamashii Stage either. Would that have been too much to ask? The basic Wizard releases had their own stands, as do most of the Ryuki Riders (who all also have a boatload of accessories) so why not here? And even without weapons, Black's signature "Rider Punch" and "Rider Kick" moves had some pretty flashy graphics so effect parts would have been perfect.

Still, judging the hands alone there's a good range included and none of them feel over-sized. As well as the obligatory closed fists and grabbing hands (which can be used with the new Battle Hopper or so Black can wield Shadow Moon's Satan Saber), we also have a couple of transformation and battle stance poses.

Bandai SH Figuarts Kamen Rider Black Renewal
Satan Saber not included.

Bandai SH Figuarts Kamen Rider Black RenewalBandai SH Figuarts Kamen Rider Black Renewal

Yes the accessory count is rather poor (but still maybe not as bad as poor old Kiba Ranger), but is that enough to knock Kamen Rider Black down? Not a chance - even with only a few hands to his name this is without a doubt one of the best looking and most accurate Figuarts Bandai have put out to do. The level of detail is simply amazing, while the new style body retains all the articulation you'd expect from a Figuart while at the same time disguising some of the more unsightly joints. The renewal Kamen Rider Black REALLY puts the "art" back in Figuart, and if this is the standard Bandai are setting I can't wait to see the renewal Kamen Rider Kabuto next year.

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