Saturday 22 February 2014

Toybox REVIEW: Arms Change AC02 Kamen Rider Baron

Arms Change AC02 Kamen Rider Baron

After the Arms Change Gaim figure proved to be such a roaring success, I was very eager to check out more of the figures the line had to offer. However despite being the second release in the Arms Change line, Kamen Rider Baron is in fact the last figure I bought of the five I own. This was less out of preference, and more because he proved to be the hardest one to get at an affordable price (seriously, these things are reaching crazy prices). Next up is the second Rider to appear in Kamen Rider Gaim - Armored Rider Baron, aka Kaito Kumon - leader of the rival beat Rider team "Baron".

The Banana Rider joins the fray!

Forget the Banana, there are grapes coming soon!The contents of the fruit box

One thing I never really mention that I love about Japanese packaging is that even though lines have to conform to the same box shape/design between figures, it's still usually far more exciting than the generic backing cards you get with a lot of Western figure releases. Naturally Baron has a very similar box to Gaim, swapping out the orange/blue colours for a more fitting yellow/red combo along with some great pictures of the Baron figure. Also included on the back is a preview for the next figure in the line - AC03 Ryugen. It's a shame the teaser doesn't include a picture of how the Budou (Grape) Arms looks on either Gaim or Baron, but at the same doesn't feel the place to complain about Ryugen.

A naked Baron

The Knight without Spear!Buttshot

Unlike Gaim who features a Japanese Samurai motif for his base suit, Baron is based more on European knights - complete with a chain mail-style chest and knight helmet visor. The moulded textures are very nicely done, as are the colours and armoured pieces on the legs, arms and helmet. If I had to make a complaint I'd set the grey plastic doesn't look well stacked up against the painted silver sections, but these seems like a minor thing when you consider that the majority of the chest area is going to covered by armour.

The articulation is exactly the same as it is on the Gaim figure, but if you haven't checked out the review the full rundown is - ball/socket jointed head, ball jointed shoulders, bicep and upper leg swivels, hinged elbows and knees, ball/socket jointed feet (movement is very limited), rotating wrists and articulated finger segments.

Gearing up for action"I don't need weapons to kick your ass."

Unlike Gaim, Baron doesn't feature any sort of sidearm in his base form so there isn't really a lot to say in this department. Baron's not really a sword fighter so it wouldn't make much sense for him to come with a Musou Saber (plus that's Japanese-themed so the motifs would kinda clash), but I can't help feel that some Riders are getting a better deal than others. Besides, its not like any of them really spend prolonged forms for time without the Arms anyway.


BANANA ARMS!"I have a banana for a head, is this a problem?"

With the base figure out of the way, it's time to talk about Baron's primary fruit of choice - Banana Arms. This rather impressive-looking giant banana is a bit more striking than Gaim's orange, combining base grey plastic with a nice amount of gold paint and moulded plating details. Like before the banana can be securely clipped to Baron's chest, allowing for a few amusing moments to take in a giant banana-headed figure before transformation.




Not that Orange Arms' transformation was complex by any means, but Banana Arms manages to be even simpler while at the same time feeling fairly innovative. The two ends are both double hinged, allowing them to swing away from the main body and curve as shoulder pads. The front plate simply folds down, while the top of the banana swings up to be in line with the back before the whole section swings down to align with the back. Despite the extra hinge being there, the top piece cannot fold further up into the back because its blocked by the chunk of plastic that the helmet piece attaches to. Instead it sadly just hangs there kinda awkwardly.

Banana Arms feels more streamlined than Orange does in certain areas (namely the front and back panels) but on the whole the giant shoulder pads make it a far more restrictive piece. While they are capable of folding up to give the arms some excess movement and have sections cut out of them (which double to hide the hinges when in fruit mode), having them in accurate position renders most forward arm movement virtually impossible.

I use my lance like a swordDo you find me a-peeling?

Of course Banana Arms wouldn't be complete without Baron's main weapon, the brilliantly named Banaspear. This awesome looking weapon (the hilt in a peeled skin!) fits perfectly in Baron's hands, and even has a nifty little additional feature that I didn't even notice until after I shot the picture gallery. The lance (which may as well just be a sword given the way Kaito uses it in the show) section can be extended by just pulling up on it.

Beat Rider battle!

With two figures in-hand, it's time to look at the interchangeable gimmick the Arms Change line also offers buyers! And to be honest, Baron with Orange Arms isn't a particularly pretty sight to behold. The bright orange clashes horribly with Baron's red/grey/silver, and the Japanese-style armour really doesn't work with the base body either. Just as well that Gaim Banana Arms is the complete opposite and works PERFECTLY - almost better than Orange Arms does. The golds, the silver, the metallic blue - it all just clicks so well that its no surprise that this combo actually appeared on the show at least once (so far). I'm not a big fan of the banana horns behind Gaim's gold helmet crest as the two look as if they're competing a bit, but on the whole everything just works.


Can't help but feel Baron got the short end here...

AC01 Gaim was a pretty perfect figure and AC02 Baron follows in its footsteps as another amazing entry into a line most collectors would usually forget about, but I don't feel it's quite as good as its predecessor. Baron is a great figure and definitely worth of your attention, but the shortcomings of Banana Arms in both simplicity and articulation restrictions make me feel a little less of it on the whole. I'm not really sure if the forthcoming Figuart will be able to rectify these problems for me, but its still a few months until I have that in hand. And for now, I'm pretty happy with what I have.

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