Wednesday 20 August 2014

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Gridon Donguri Arms

SH Figuarts Kamen Rider Gridon

Even though Kamen Rider Gaim is approaching its end as a series the S.H. Figuarts fever is still very much in full swing, as the first of the Tamashii Web Exclusive releases joins the group and begins the coordinated effort to get as much of the cast released as possible. In what was probably considered by most as a surprising move, the first web exclusive figure is the acorn-themed rider Kamen Rider Gridon, the armoured Rider alias of Team Invitto leader Hideyasu Jonouchi. While Gridon is largely a comic relief character who only played a small part in the beginning of the series, his role has grown since allying himself with Kamen Rider Bravo and now could be one of the key players in the series' climax.

Inside of the Acorn

Hammer of justice

Gridon may not have a fancy window box like the mass release Kamen Rider Gaim Figuarts, but the packaging largely follows the same style with the front featuring a rather large acorn cut in half. Not quite as recognisable as an orange or banana, but whatever. No window means the picture of the figure on the front is larger than the actual size, while the back is just the same as a typical Figuarts box. The use of the individual logos on these Gaim boxes is a really nice touch though, and I'm still not quite sure what makes the heads of these figures so extra special that they deserve closeup shots.

Also worthy of note is that the figure's box clearly labels it as "Donguri Arms" despite it being Acorn in English. Not that anyone should have expected otherwise, but this confirms that where the fruit doesn't share the same name in Japanese as in English (Orange, Melon, Banana etc.) the English text on the box is going to have the Japanese name. Same will go for Kachidoki and Kiwami Arms when they're released.

Never Give Up!

The Nuttiest of RidersKnight of the Oak Tree

My name is not Ornac!Operation Ground and Pound

Come on!
Donguri Arms!
Never Give Up!

And thus arrives S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Gridon in all his glory, somehow managing to beat certain other main Gaim riders to release. His base body may simply be a retool of Baron's with a brand new head, but the predominately brown colour scheme helps Gridon feel unique even among the wider Kamen Rider family. Figuarts Gridon utilises a lighter shade of brown to his Arms Change counterpart, which may look odd on first glance but certainly isn't any less accurate. The paint application on the Donguri Arms pieces are especially good, with the copper, silver and (rather muted) gold managing to stand out even amongst all that brown.

With the same body type as the other Gaim Riders, poseability is still at the top of its game with Gridon boasting over 20 points of articulation. The acorn shoulder sections (or pauldrons if you want to use the correct Medieval terminology) are attached in an especially interesting way - with a small piece of plastic that clips to the shoulder but boasts a small ball joint at the other end. This allows a fairly decent range of articulation for such large parts. Problem is the arms are so stiff on my Gridon bicep swivel is near non-existent, causing the pieces to pop off their clips frequently and frustratingly.


"Does my name HAVE to be Gridon?"Squirrel? Where?

An interesting additional tidbit is that Gridon doesn't have the same wrist joints as the other Gaim Figuarts that have been released so far. While I previously praised the new style ball joints they use for having reinforced connections to prevent breakage, they are still incredibly tiny. Gridon throws that completely out of the window with ones that look positively enormous by comparison. Better yet is that the connection piece nice and thick so can easily take the kind of force swapping Figuarts hands requires. It'll be interesting to see if the rest of the exclusive Gaim figures go a similar route in the months to come.

Stop. Hammertime.

Falling overSurprise!

In what hopefully isn't going to prove to be a trend with the web exclusive Gaim releases, Gridon has a rather small accessory count in comparison to his mass release counterparts. This could however be down to Gridon's status as a lower-tier Rider or the fact that the character simply doesn't have a whole lot to come with. Gridon comes packed with six swappable hands (closed fists, open "Lockseed holding" hands and weapon holding hands) and his signature weapon - the Donkachi hammer. The Donkachi is very nicely detailed, which makes up for its lack of any real functionality. While all the previous Gaim figures have had some level of interactivity/swappability with their weaponry, this is just a solid piece suitable for bashing things over the head with.

Acorn Sparking!A bunch of Acorns

And of course, it wouldn't be complete without the inclusion of the closed Donguri Lockseed either, which can be swapped with the open version on the functional Sengoku Driver. The Driver also features a scaled sticker version of the Gridon faceplate, which just goes to show how much effort Bandai Tamashii Nations are putting into getting these figures as accurate as possible.

"You aren't Ryugen..."

"Hase? Where are you Hase?"Struck down by a melon

Genius joke
"Hammer Bros."

Gridon isn't exactly one of Gaim's lead characters, so if you're someone trying to avoid the slippery slope of collecting the entire set then this isn't exactly a bad place to start. On the other hand, he's also far from a throwaway character either given that it looks like he may be one of the characters to actually survive until the very end. But whatever your feelings on Gridon or largely comical characters may be, the figure itself is another winner for the Gaim line. Certainly not Gaim or Baron level of winning, but certainly another testament to just how far the line has come in such a short space of time. Extra credit should also be given for how accurate he is to the show version - as just like the real Gridon he fails to look anything other than comical in any pose he's thrown in. And that my friends is the makings of a fun figure right there.

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