Thursday 6 March 2014

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Domon Kasshu

SH Figuarts Domon Kasshu

If you're familiar with the S.H. Figuarts toy line, you'll more than likely know of the plight of Mobile Fighter G Gundam - and more specifically, Master Asia. S.H. Figuarts Master Asia was first seen at a Tamashii Nations event way back in 2009, and still hasn't been released. Since then, Rain Mikamura and Alleby Beardsley also joined Master Asia in the "Figuarts that may never be released club". So if you're a G Gundam fan, things pretty much suck for you.

However there is a slight silver lining - the most important G Gundam figure got a (mass) release even if it is destined to spend the rest of its life alone. Domon Kasshu was the eighth figure to be released in the line, practically making it Figuarts royalty. With G Gundam having just rocked my world, it was a matter of time before I scoured the aftermarket to get my hands on one (note: I bought him when I was about 15 episodes into G Gundam...the need was that strong).

Old School Box Art

The King of HeartsRed Tray! Red Tray! Red Tray!

Domon Kasshu is an old-school Figuart, so naturally he has a suitably old-school box style. Even before taking a proper look at the box you'll notice that Domon's contents tray is red rather than the standard clear plastic Bandai have been using for years now. Its a nice change, and the red looks really good with the equally striking red text on solid gold box colour scheme. The bottom-left corner of front has a black & white picture of Domon lifted straight out of the show, while the back has numerous pictures of the figure in front of an obligatory "King of Hearts" crest. The box itself hides Domon's accessory count, but once you open it up you can see that its rather impressive (more on that later).

"This hand of mine is burring red..."

Neo Japan's finestThe best ass in all of Gundam

The overall sculpt is pretty good and a great likeness to Domon (well, the screaming face looks a bit weird in static but it does the job), however it is where the figure starts showing its age. The joint cuts are all extremely visible (particularly in the crotch area) which kinda spoils the flow of the one-piece pilot suit. The joints themselves are all notably looser than a more current Figuart, which sounds a lot worse than it actually is. If anything it just makes the toy feel a lot more flexible - kinda fitting for a martial artist. Another sign of the figure's age is the random use of die cast metal - here on the combat suit's gold antennae-things.



Sadly it isn't just the sculpt that shows off Domon's age, as my figure also suffers from some pretty horrible quality issues. To begin with, the tiny ball joint that holds the left shoulder pad to the shoulder crumbled less than 10 seconds out of the box (using the tiny Figuart-hand balls for a connection was a horrific idea if you ask me) - a bit of blutack hides the breakage well, but its still not nice to have a brand new figure break on you. 

Even if you wanted to consider this my own fault, there are plenty of issues here that weren't. The two alternate face pieces have noticeable red paint stains along their jawline, making it seem like Domon has taken a bit of a beating and has the bruises to show it. The other big issue came while swapping the hands around for poses, where the joints would literally come apart as I removed the hands. I don't mean break, the balls would separate into two pieces - one stuck in the wrist, one in the hand. This happened no less than four times while taking these pictures. Admittedly it's far better than the joints just breaking on me, but it's incredibly frustrating and then terrifying (for fear of breakage) to put the joints back together. It may have been acceptable for Figuart in 2008, but coming up to seven years later its a little harder to swallow.


Beam sword!Sekiha Tenkyoken

As I mentioned earlier, Domon packs an incredible amount of accessories which really helps to soften the blow of the bad QC somewhat. It's quite literally everything you'd want from a Domon Kasshu figure - 15 hands (including "King of Hearts" crest right hand, Shining finger hands, God/Burning figure hands and even a single 2-hand piece to replicate his concentration pose, among others), 3 faces (standard, screaming and concentrating), translucent green beam saber, energy effect part for the torso and finally a red "Sekiha Tenkyoken" fireball effect part. Some of these parts were barely in the show!

Domon is also one of the lucky Figuarts to be graced with his own stand, however this one especially stands out as it might just be the coolest of them all. It isn't a personalised Tamashii stand he comes with - it's the motion sensor cockpit area of the Gundam! Sure it may just be a cheap plastic ring, but it's a fantastic idea for the stand and makes the overall package that much better. That being said, when I call the stand cheap plastic I really do mean that. The pieces are model kit-like quality, and the stand arm is rather stiff and sometimes feels like it could snap at any minute. But of course, unless you have an elaborate pose in mind you can just forsake the arm and use the base without it.


If Domon Kasshu was a modern Figuart he's probably be one of my favourites. It's incredibly flexible, has a good likeness of the character and features a very impressive amount of accessories. That's pretty much all of the criteria I base a figure's success on. However sadly Domon isn't a new Figuart, and despite deserving recognition for being the eighth figure in the line he has some really notable problems. The alternate faces could be better, the stand feels cheap and the QC issues are just too much to ignore. G Gundam fans will surely adore this figure and owning it will only make them pine after Master Asia, Rain and Allenby even more, but as a reviewer the problems are too much to overlook. Still a great figure, but also a symbol of just how far the S.H. Figuarts line has come over the years.

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