Tuesday 15 July 2014

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Zangetsu Melon Arms

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Zangetsu

It's safe to say that the S.H. Figuarts figures of Kamen Rider Gaim and Kamen Rider Baron blew many fans away, making anticipation even higher as Bandai begin journeying through the multitude of Riders the show has. Coming as release number three is the least seen of the four "core" Riders of the show - Kamen Rider Zangetsu aka Takatora Kureshima. With Takatora upgrading to the Zangetsu Shin version of the suit fairy early on this original version hasn't made a whole load of appearances in comparison to Gaim, Baron and Ryugen. However the timing of this mass-release Figuart couldn't have been much better, as the original Zangetsu suit made a grand return in what has been one of Gaim's best episodes so far.

Delicious green flavour

I'm more than just a Gaim remould!

We've already had orange and banana, so now its time for the Gaim Figuart packaging to take on a delicious melon flavour. Nicely matching the light green of Zangetsu's melon armour, the box a melon "core" print on the clear window accompanied by some rather nice shots of the figure itself. I really like the use of the individual Rider insignia on the back of the boxes, and hope that this will continue beyond the first four mass release Riders. Sadly no first run bonuses this time around, but I think Gaim and Baron provided more than enough on that front.

By Heaven's Decree!

The Ripe MelonObligatory Zangetsu buttshot

Takatora(batta)Musou Saber!

And here stands the white Armoured Rider in all his glory. With them both taking inspiration from Warring States-era Samurai, you'll see that Zangetsu looks incredibly similar to Gaim. Not just in the body, but the Melon Arms itself also has very similar visual cues. White a colour that goes with pretty much anything, so it's no surprise that the base suit works so well with that metallic lime green armour, compliment with dashes of gold, silver and black. Once this that is especially impressive on Zangetsu is the overall texture of the figure, not only on the armour itself but also the web-like sections on the arms and legs.

On closer inspection however, the problems with Zangetsu begin to emerge. White plastic always seems like a difficult thing to work with (even if you ignore the eventual problem of yellowing), but there's an inherent cheapness to Zangetsu in certain areas. It's not so obvious in pictures, but the figure is slightly off-white, with different sections featuring slightly different shades. Some areas (particularly the hands) even have an almost translucent quality to them! On the subject of the hands, mine have trouble locking into place. It isn't bad to the point where I'm concerned that the wrist joint is about to break like I get with other figures, but they don't seem to quite lock into place the way most other Figuarts seem to. Curious indeed.

That aside, articulation is still top notch - sporting everything seen on the previous Kamen Rider Gaim Figuarts. The shoulder pads are also attached via a hinge, so can be moved up and down accordingly with your arm posing.

Dual wielding like a boss

Lock on!Melon Musou Zan!

The Gaim Figuarts have already proved to be coming with a fair amount of accessories, and Zangetsu seems like no exception. A total of 10 alternate hands are included in the set, ranging from closed fists to grabbing hands and a selection of splayed fingers. The included Musou Saber is identical to the one included with Gaim, other than the Gaim insignia sticker on the gun barrel being replaced with Zangetsu's. 

When Gaim was released some fans complained of issues clipping the Musou Saber to the slot provided on the belt, however I had no issues with my own copy. But when it comes to Zangetsu these issues have become far clearer to me. The box is sloppily put together, with obvious glue marks where the two pieces have been connected. The Saber itself slides into place easily, but once there is almost impossible to remove without a fair degree of force. At the moment it's a more a minor issue than anything else, but one I've had to take a real note of to avoid any accidental breakage in the future.

Melon Defender

Shield Handle no.1Defending humanity

Shield Handle no.2Getting a bit Captain America

Next up is Melon Arms' and thus Zangetsu's signature weapon, the Melon Defender. This huge shield features a lavish paint job, combing the primary colours of Melon Arms' colour scheme into a really effective package. While as simply a shield it doesn't feature any special features of its own, Bandai have done a nifty little trick by including two separate handle pieces. The first is a vertical handle like you'd expect (and as seen on the Arms Change and 66action figures). However the second is a horizontal handle that could be placed at the top or bottom of the shield. This is much more suitable for poses were Zangetsu is using the Melon Defender as an offensive weapon, adding even more variation to what would otherwise be a solid piece.

Charging up that DriverItty bitty little locks

Then of course finally Zangetsu comes with a closed version of his Melon Lockseed, which can be replaced with the opened version on both the Sengoku Driver and Musou Saber. The Driver itself also features the moveable lever seen on both Gaim and Baron, so that Zangetsu can charge up for that finishing strike.

The big bad white Armoured Rider

Melon PartyHow underpainted you look my dear AC...

3 down, plenty to go!

As I've probably said before on this blog, Zangetsu is without a doubt my favourite Rider on Gaim and Takatora my favourite character. But somehow I find myself somewhat let down with the Figuart, much like how I was with the Arms Change figure as well. It could just been that bright white plastic is a very difficult thing to work with, but there's certainly an element of cheapness to the figure that hampers the sterling quality of the Gaim Figuarts. That quality is definitely present on Zangetsu (you only need to look at the Melon sections to see that), but it's being held back.

A must own for Gaim/Zangetsu fans? Most definitely, but just be warned that as good as this guy is Gaim and Baron have set the bar incredibly high. Here's hoping it is a white plastic thing and we're back where we started with the next release.

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