Wednesday 24 September 2014

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

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Zangetsu Shin Melon Energy Arms

After five impressive releases of original Sengoku Driver Armoured Riders, the Kamen Rider Gaim S.H. Figuarts line is now briefly turning its attention to towards the Genesis Driver wielding Energy Riders of the Yggdrasil Corporation. The first of this next generation of Riders to be released is Kamen Rider Zangetsu Shin Melon Energy Arms, a suit that had a much bigger impact in the series than the simple power-up many originally expected it to be. Starting out as an upgrade for original Zangetsu Takatora Kureshima, the Driver and its powers later moved on to his younger brother Mitsuzane, making it the only suit in the series (other than the Kurokage troopers) to have been used by more than one person.

Melon flavoured web exclusives

Zangetsu 2.0Get used to see those Sonic Arrows

As the second Gaim figure to be a Tamashii web exclusive, Zangetsu Shin comes packaged in a windowless box similar to what we last saw with Gridon last month. Of course this utilises a much more melon-y colour scheme of green and orange in addition to the white, the front featuring a large image of the figure standing in front of a rather juicy melon symbol. The back features the usual images in front of the green Zangetsu-logo emblazoned background, complete with a closeup shot of the helmet's eyes. While that last point has been a feature of all Gaim Figuarts packaging thus far, this is where I think the eye thing is REALLY warranted as you shall soon see. 

A new generation of Rider

Pimp my ZangetsuBrand new duds

SYMBOL POWERMoody sideshot

As you can see, Zangetsu Shin is a heavy retool of the original Zangetsu Figuart - featuring a brand new head, Driver and armour. The base suit itself also has some slight modifications, now sporting thick black sections on either side of the torso. Despite being a feature on both variations of the suit, the black lines on the feet are also a lot more pronounced on this version of the character. As a straight retool, Zangetsu Shin also uses the smaller peg wrist joints seen on both the original and the rest of the mass release Gaim Riders, rather than the thicker pegs seen on Gridon. With this in mind it seems incredibly likely that the incoming Gaim Jimber Arms will be the same, so it'll be interesting to see if Bravo also sports these thicker joints or if it was a one-off thing done for Gridon.

Meanwhile the Melon Energy Arms also sports a fairly similar colour scheme to the standard version, but a completely different shape. The symmetry of the original Melon Arms is completely gone, with the Energy version sporting one giant shoulder pad (complete with collar section) on the right hand side. The chest place is also much more varied, broken up into different sections - one of which featuring the Zangetsu crest. What stands out most about the new armour pieces is the beautiful translucent orange sections, which not only looking stunning but also feature little bubbles inside the plastic. They look fantastic on the armour, but combined with that thick black outline really make the eyes and helmet pop.

Comparing the melons

Energy Rider action!SODA!

As you can probably imagine, the giant shoulderpad does limit the right arm a little bit but you'd still be surprised how much motion you can get out of it. The extended green piece under the main section is hinged, allowing it to move upwards if its getting in the way or rest on the arm accordingly. On the other side, a completely exposed arm means lots of potential for the left side! The head may be noticeably larger on the Shin version of the suit, but can still turn appropriately without bashing into that collar piece jutting up from the side as well.

Sonic Volley!

Melon energy blastVictory pose

Unfortunately Zangetsu Shin's accessories are a bit more on the minimal side, with every Energy Rider using the same weapon rather than each receiving a unique one like the Armoured Riders do. But even with that in mind, Zangetsu Shin comes with pretty much everything you'd expect him to! Not only does his hand count come to a reasonably good total of nine, but he also comes packaged with two versions of the Sonic Arrow - a retracted version for general posing/using as a melee weapon and an extended one for posing using ranged bow attacks. Both bows also feature an intended area where a Lockseed can be placed, typically the removable one already inserted in Zangetsu's Genesis Driver. 

Such a dumb idea for a Driver, but somehow it worksThe tiny Lockseed collection grows

And of course, it wouldn't be a Gaim release without a tiny "sneeze and you'll lose it forever" closed version of the Melon Energy Lockseed. This minuscule accessory can be placed on the Genesis Driver or Sonic Arrow just like its standard counterparts, but unfortunately the Driver lacks any moving pieces so doesn't quite have the same level of functionality of a Sengoku Driver. That said, the Melon Energy Lockseed is quite a fun one to pass around your figures, depending on which character you're viewing your Zangetsu Shin figure as...

Battle of the Melons (part 1)

Goddamnit MicchyA new kind of villain

It's upgrade timeBattle of the melons (part 2)

Micchy goes bananas

I'm a Takatora fanboy through and through and consider the original Zangetsu suit to be my favourite in Gaim (as well as one of my favourite Kamen Rider suits in general), but it pains me to say that Zangetsu Shin is by far the superior figure. Every little problem I had with the original seems to be fixed for this release, and the premium paint job Bandai have given really is something to behold. I'm sure the Sonic Arrow accessory is going to get a bit boring considering there's another five Riders to be released with it, but right now it's also looking pretty spectacular.

Once upon a time this would have been an easy figure to skip for casual buyers as well, since both Zangetsu and Ryugen were mass release figures and therefore easier (and cheaper) to get. But despite those two suits proving to be much more important on the whole, the Zangetsu Shin suit has probably had more screen time then them both combined. It comes from an important part of when things really began to hit the fan in Gaim, and was featured in a lot of the show's big moments since its introduction. To tell you the truth, I think any Kamen Rider Gaim display is going to feel empty without it.

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