Saturday 9 August 2014

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Lucario

S.H. Figuarts Lucario

Clearly the death of the D-Arts line wasn't enough to stop Bandai Tamashii Nations continuing what they'd started with the Pokémon franchise, branching out of the original generation of games to tackle some more modern monsters. From Kanto we now take a journey over to Sinnoh with the release of the fourth generation Pokémon Lucario, an ever popular choice for a figure thanks to his bi-pedal build and prominence in one of the movies. Of course, the fact this release is well timed with the lead of Super Smash Bros. certainly isn't going to also contribute to video game fans picking it up...

Not a D-Art

I choose you!Plenty going on inside

In my previous S.H. Figuarts Mario review I joked that the integration of the D-Arts line into Figuarts meant little more than having a different name slapped on the box. That assumption has proved to be dead on, as Lucario features exactly the same box as the previous four Pokémon D-Arts releases - with the exception of having the Figuarts logo in the place of the D-Arts one. This is by no means a bad thing, since they are in my opinion some of the best box designs Bandai are churning out. The beautiful Lucario-blue colourscheme is complimented by foil areas and fancy black and white art of the Pokémon itself. The box is also pretty wide thanks to the deep insert tray inside. The sign of a nice chunky figure and/or plenty of accessories.

Go, Lucario!

Lucario: The Aura PokemonSteel/Fighting type

Pokémon and the other video game characters may be part of the Figuarts line, but don't be fooled into thinking these figures feel the same as your typical Super Sentai or Kamen Rider Figuart. They may share similar joints and articulation, but the shorter, chunkier sculpts feel so different its no surprise that they were once part of a completely different line. Simply yet beautifully detailed, Figuarts Lucario is a perfect representation of Ken Sugmori's design. And while a little fiddling about is required to get it just right, Lucario is fully capable on standing balancing solely on his toes! This was one of the things that concerned my most about the figure, so it's great to know that it can stand accurately without the need of a stand for support.

Lucario's neck features a ball/socket at both ends, allowing both the head and the neck a full realistic range of movement. This is also the case for his stomach area, giving both the chest and the waist identical articulation. The arms are attached via ball joints at the shoulders, and then the elbows and paws are movable via hinges. Meanwhile the legs are attached via ball/sockets at the hips, and moving downward feature double hinged knees, ball jointed ankles and hinged toes. Additionally Lucario's aura-sensing 'dreadlock' appendages are attached via ball/sockets (and thus can be lifted and moved around freely), and the tail is also connected via a ball joint. Unlike Mewtwo or Charizard there's no segmented tail so movement is more limited in that regard, however it does make for a much more seamless sculpt.

No aura escapes Lucario

Lucario used metal clawSensing Aura

Fighting blind

Just because he doesn't have articulated fingers or swappable hands, that doesn't mean Bandai have skimped out on some cool accessories for the aura master Pokémon! First up are three different eye pieces - a straight on look, one with the eyes moved slightly to the left and finally a closed-eyes look of concentration! Rather than these be swappable faces changed in the usual way, Bandai have been rather clever about it and instead made these internal pieces which fit inside the head. Swapping them out isn't any more difficult either - all you need to do is pop off the head, remove the 'dreadlocks', split the head in half and remove the eye section.

While admittedly two of the eye sections have minimal difference between them, its surprising how much a slight eye movement can change the expression. However the concentration face is the real winner here just for the SENSING AURA potential of it. An alternate angry looking face with an open mouth might have been nice, but it still certainly tops Mewtwo's one stoic look.

Aura sphere!

Never pass up a free standAura blast!

Of course it wouldn't be a Tamashii Nations Pokémon release without a signature move effect part, so the aura sphere is also here in the form of a giant translucent blue ball with ridged rings surrounding it. Its a bit more lavish than the aura sphere you see in the games/anime, but who'd prefer a boring round blue ball over this? The aura sphere doesn't have specific pegs or places where Lucario can hold it, but thanks to its wide spaces between the rings it shouldn't be too hard to get stably into Lucario's flat paws.

Finally Lucario also comes with the signature Pokéball Tamashii Stage, which features a second arm for the aura sphere to plug into as if its being launched. These stages being included in every Pokémon release thus far really seals the deal in them being value for money, especially with the inclusion of second arms for attack poses. The arms included are a little shorter than the usual Tamashii Stage arm however, so if you're looking to get Lucario in any aerial poses like I have here you will need to invest in some additional Tamashii stages for the longer arms.

Incoming!Final Smash

Lucario joins the brawl!

Lucario might not have the wide appeal of the first generation Pokémon that preceded him, but I've come away extremely impressed with a figure I only really rushed out to buy to fill out my Super Smash Bros. roster (after Charizard I'm beginning to fear the aftermarket prices of these figures). Bandai have certainly perfected what they started with Mewtwo, creating a bi-pedal Pokémon figure that's far more stable despite suffering the same sort of foot challenges. Throw in some alternate eye parts,  a stand and an effect part and you get a really dynamic figure that will undoubtedly shine in any type of display. It may not seem like a standard Figuart, but its certainly deserving of the title and standard the toy line has set.

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