Wednesday 19 February 2014

Toybox REVIEW: Arms Change AC01 Kamen Rider Gaim

Arms Change AC01 Kamen Rider Gaim

The annual gimmick line isn't usually something I pay close attention to when it comes to Kamen Rider. They've been around for years now, Wizard's WAP (Wizard Action Please) and Fourze's FMCS (Fourze Module Changer Series) just to name a few - but with collector-orientated figures like S.H. Figuarts available why would I look at the kids' line? That's what a lot of collectors have probably thought in the past, but it seems things have changed with Kamen Rider Gaim. True the Figuarts for Gaim are coming later than usual (May rather than the usual February), but even ignoring that factor the Arms Change line has been a MASSIVE hit - apparently showing a 310% improvement in sales over the Wizard line and cementing itself as one of the most popular Kamen Rider toylines of all time. 

So naturally I needed to get in on the fuss. The result was coming away with four AC figures along with a little bonus that was what inspired me to get in on the line in the first place. For the rest of the month I'll be documenting my Arms Change experience (as I will unlikely be buying any more from the line for reasons that'll be clear in later posts) started with the obvious beginning - AC01 Kamen Rider (or Armored Rider if you'd prefer) Gaim.

The front of AC01 Gaim's box

And here's the back of Gaim's boxInside you'll find both the figure and all these lovely accessories

As you can see the Arms Change packaging is a bit more exciting than your standard Figuart packaging, featuring a rounded edge, top flap and a clever window design that shows off the line's gimmick well. As a toy primarily aimed at children (feels a bit redundant saying that) the design is suitably loud with lots of colour and bold text. They even show off the compatibility with the AC Baron figure on the back of the box, just to urge you to spend more money on an additional banana costume for your figure.

Base form Gaim - close up!

A rather naked looking Kamen Rider GaimAnd here he is from the back

So here we have the 'naked' base form of Gaim, which uses the shows other main motif of the Sengoku era of Japanese history. Though far more simplistic than say a Figuart, the toy still has a pretty good level of detail to it - the padded chest pattern is all moulded in, as is the (unpainted) Sengoku Driver. However the head does admittedly have a giant gaping hole cut into - all of which is to accommodate the gimmick which will be elaborated on further into the review.

The base Arms Change figure has a surprisingly good level of articulation, featuring a ball/socket jointed head, ball jointed shoulders, bicep and upper leg swivels, hinged elbows and knees, rotating wrists and even ball/socket jointed feet. There's no swappable hands to worry about here, but that doesn't mean you're stuck with fixed hands! The figures are jointed in two places - meaning the index/middle and ring/little fingers can move as two separate parts.

I may not have armour but I have a sword dammit!Conquering the orange

In base form Gaim also has his trust sidearm - the Musou Saber! This sword/gun (although the gun element is rarely seen in-show) combo can be gripped fairly well by either hand, although it is still looser than a fixed fist would be. When it isn't being wielded by Gaim, it can be clipped to the side of the Sengoku Driver via the peg provided.

But enough about boring base forms, it's time for Gaim Orange Arms to take the stage!


ORANGE ARMS!Fruit-headed riders are all the rage

The Arms Change line's gimmick is that it features fully transformable fruits, which are completely swappable with all the figures in the line to create any number of fruity combos. While this does forsake accuracy when the armour is placed on the figure (since the suits themselves cheat somewhat and flatten it out), it does provide far greater playability and make the line far more than "a cheaper version of Figuarts for kids". 

In fruit form looks much like you'd expect it to - a giant armoured orange. It's very faithful to its onscreen appearance, folding up into circular shape with the holes on being exactly where the should be. The Gaim figure has small indents in the torso to make sure that the armour not only stays on tightly, but that it can also be posed with a giant fruit on its head like in the show. From here it's time to complete the transformation and make the magic happen...


Orange Arms Gaim arrives on stageArmour from the back


The transformation to Gaim Orange Arms is a fairly simple process - the four segments of the orange fold downward in their respective directions, with the tips of the shoulder armour folding upward again to complete the panels. The same goes for the chest plate, which folds back up over the bottom half of the orange's front. Finally the helmet section slots into the gap in the head, covering the of the helmet as well as giving Gaim the visor decoration that goes with this respective fruit. While in the packaging the helmet section is packaged away from the fruit, it actually clips inside of it and thus can be part of the entire thing rather than a separate step. The fruit can also easily be folded back up over Gaim's head with ease (helmet section included).

Like I mentioned earlier the Arms Change version of Orange Arms is considerably bulkier than its onscreen counterpart, but gives the same overall impression of badass samurai fruit armour. Its also much lighter on the detailing - moulded entirely in orange and thus lacking any of the silver interior. But despite the added bulk Gaim's articulation isn't hampered in any way - the shoulder pads are hinged so can move upwards with the arms. Sure the figure can raise his arm particularly high at the shoulder, but it can't even do that in base form either.

Double sword fighting timeMore swords!

Along with Orange Arms comes a second weapon for Gaim - the Daidaimaru, which is exactly how it looks and a slice of orange in the shape of a sword. Again this is lacking any of the silver detailing like the armour, but if this proves to be a major issue then a silver paint pen should fix up any problems you have. The Daidaimaru suffers from the same gripping issues as the Musou Saber, but to this figure's credit it really isn't a major issue if you're making sure the finger sections are closed up tightly. While it can't be stored anywhere on Gaim's body when not in use, the Daidaimaru does have the additional feature of being able to combine with the Musou Saber - plugging into the bottom and creating the ultimate in fruit salad slicing weaponry.

When in doubt, connect the swords"This is my stage now!"

The Arms Change towline has gotten so much hype since Kamen Rider Gaim started airing that I didn't think there was any way AC01 would live up to the near universal praise its gotten. However consider myself pleasantly surprised by this toy - what it sacrifices in accuracy it makes up for in fun factor. And boy is this toy FUN, to the point where I'd say it's the most fun toy I've fiddled around with in a long time. There's no stress of hands potentially breaking or worry that the joints can only take so much pressure, just a sturdy toy that's fun to pose and transform back and forth. The forthcoming S.H. Figuarts may look like works of art, but the Arms Change line should by no means be ignored. And given the prices it goes for no, it's no surprise that it hasn't been.

With Gaim this good, it's no surprise that I went and bought another three.

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