Saturday 20 September 2014

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Kamen Rider Hibiki

SH Figuarts Kamen Rider Hibiki

Bandai Tamashii Nations have been painfully close to releasing every single main Kamen Rider in the S.H. Figuarts line for a while now, but 2014 is definitely the year that's seen them draw even closer to that goal. The Showa era has seen some pretty surprise figures in the form of Kamen Rider Shin and (the forthcoming) Kamen Rider ZO, while the Heisei era Riders are still missing two of their key players (though Kiva's Emperor Form has admittedly been produced). However launching off the back of the special renewal Kamen Rider Kabuto figure, the line's biggest gap is finally closed.  Kamen Rider Hibiki has at last arrived!

Return of the sexy box

Fancy~Trays of wonder

Being another one of Tamashii Nations' premium 'Shinkocchou Seihou' Figuarts releases, Hibiki follows what was started with the renewal Kabuto figure and ditches the standard packaging for a snazzy iPhone-esque box. In similar fashion the front lid features a close up photo of the figure, with the words "Masked Rider Hibiki" neatly indented on the sides. The backside of the box features a few pictures of the figure in various poses, but is considerably more scaled back than what you usually see from Figuarts boxes. Inside you'll find quite the treasure trove of things, with Hibiki and his accessories spread across two different plastic trays along with some other premium surprises.

Doing his classic pose

That sculpting!Dat ass!

TransformationOngeki Da!

Anyone who's watched Kamen Rider Hibiki, his AU episodes in Kamen Rider Decade or any of the various crossovers he's popped up in will know he's one of the most unique looking Riders out there - to the point where many fans mistakenly believe that the series was never actually intended to be part of the Kamen Rider franchise. Every little detail that makes Hibiki so unique has been sculpted PERFECTLY on this figure, from the muscly body to the leathery loin cloth and ornamental Oni head adorning the helmet. Hell, this figure has sparked much conversation just from the effort that went into the ass! The metallic purple the base suit uses is stunning, and is only further emphasises by the highlights of silver, red and gold around it. What I really like about the colours though is the use of tones and shading on the brown and reds - they really add that extra layer of depth to the figure.

The Figuarts articulation is as superb as usual, with Hibiki not lacking in a single area. Altogether the figure has a ball-jointed neck, ball-jointed shoulders, a double ab crunch, ball-jointed hips, double-hinge elbows and knees, ball-jointed ankles/wrists and a pair of toe hinges to top it all off. The shoulder pads can niftily move up and down the shoulder in order to cover any unsightly gaps and make poses look as natural as possible.

Here come the drums

Powering upSuch beautiful effect parts

Drum solo!

While the Kabuto renewal both surprised people and divided opinion by ditching the standard Figuart ball-jointed hands in favour of Figma-style hinged peg wrists, Hibiki goes and mixes things up again by returning to them once again. The line has seen a variety of different balljoint wrists used in the last year or so, and Hibiki proves a trend-setter but using a new style once again. This time the connector pieces are small, mushroom-shaped ones - which may be a little fiddlier to get on but seem to offer a lot more support and feel less likely to break. The Gaim figures have also showed a lot of promise with their new style wrist balljoint as well, so hopefully Bandai will settle on using one of these types for all their figures in the future.

And finally, even the belt has a number of fun features! To begin with the Ongekikou Kaentsuzumi piece (i.e. the centre piece) can be unclipped and held as an accessory, replicating the part of his Ongeki Da finisher (which later sees the disk grow to a much larger size). Sadly no large version is included with this release, but there's always hope it could come with a different Hibiki Oni or additional accessory pack somewhere down the line. Secondly the figure also comes with holstered versions of his Ongekikou Rekka weapons, Disk Animals and Onkaku Tuning Fork - all of which can replace the small plastic peg parts already inserted (as if the accessory was actually in use). Its worth noting that these things can be INCREDIBLY frustrating to peg on the belt while its attached to the figure, so to be honest you're better off popping the top half of the figure off in order to get them in securely.

3 flavours of Disk Animals

*Ding*"What do I do with this again?"

With the first handful of accessories covered, it's now time to look at the other joys Hibiki comes packaged with. Also included as his two Ongekikou Rekka drumstick weapons, which feature removable heads to be replaced with a pair of beautiful flame effect parts. Next is a beautifully moulded version of the Onkaku Tuning Fork, rounded off finally with three Disk Animals in disk form - Steel Hawk, Azure Wolf and Green Ape. Despite looking like they can, these disks cannot plug into the peg on the Tuning Fork and the centre hole is far too small.

Despite this rather impressive array of additional pieces, keen eyes might notice there are a few things missing from Hibiki's arsenal that showed up in the series. The most obvious of these are some transformed disk animals, which seem like a bit of a missed opportunity considering similar scaled figurines have showed up in the Fourze and Wizard lines. But on top of this there's also no sign of an extended claw hand or alternate open-mouthed "fire breathing" head. One possible answer for the omission of these could be that both hail from before the series underwent its retooling, and were apparently scrutinised for being too violent for kids. It may be possible that Toei/Bandai want to leave that side of the series in the past, but as a figure for adult collectors little things like that wouldn't have gone amiss.

Time to learn about the sculpting process!

Pity I can't read JapaneseS.H. Figuarts Skeleton when?

Hibiki also comes with a small 'S.H. Figuarts Concept Book' included, just like the one seen with the renewal Kabuto figure. The text is entirely in Japanese so your understanding of it all may vary, but the pictures alone make the inclusion worth it. You get to see just how much effort is put into these premium releases, and how the figure itself was build from the ground up with a scaled skeleton. Hey, that'd be a pretty cool release wouldn't it?

Premium clubBest Decade world? Best Decade world.

When renewal Kabuto was released it begged the question of just how much better S.H. Figuarts figures could get, but now Kamen Rider Hibiki has come along and shown that even Kabuto wasn't living to the line's full potential. Taking what was started with the first premium release and subtlety improving on it in different ways, Hibiki couldn't have made an impact on the line in any bigger way. With his incredibly detailed sculpt, vibrant colours and legion of accessories (which STILL doesn't seem to cover everything), he's pretty much everything you could ever ask for in a Figuart. With the direction of the line in seemingly safe hands, I honestly can't wait to see what they have in store for the inevitable Kiva figure or whatever past Rider they plan to renew next.

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