Thursday 20 November 2014

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Kurokage Matsubokkuri Arms

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Kurokage

If the Tamashii Nations 2014 event taught us anything, it's that there's still plenty of Kamen Rider Gaim S.H. Figuarts releases to come that will take us well into 2015. But as far as this year is concerned, we're beginning to wind things down with the last few releases from this series. The original generation Sengoku Driver armoured Riders are almost completed, and here we get a little bit closer to a full set with the release of Kamen Rider Kurokage Matsubokkuri Arms (aka pinecone arms). This figure was a Tamashii web exclusive, originally released at the end of October.

Box Front

Box BackInsert Tray

As another web exclusive release Kurokage comes in a typical windowless Figuarts box, decked out in the usual Kamen Rider Gaim decor. The figure is pictured ready for action against a pinecone cross-section backdrop, the back and spine of the box taking on a rather fitting dark brown that's almost near black. The back features a few more pictures of the figure (along with a visor closeup that Tamashii Nations have been pimping on the Gaim boxes) again Kurokage's personal emblem, which kinda looks a slightly rotated "no smoking" symbol. Simple, but it works I guess.

Kurokage takes to the stage

Figure frontFigure back

Posing KurokageMore posing

Before we truly begin the review it's worth noting that this particular Kurokage figure is based on the original "unique" version of the Rider - Ryoji Hase. Since (to put it in the least spoilery-way possible) Hase doesn't appear throughout the whole of Kamen Rider Gaim, the suit later shows up as the standard arms for Yggdrasil's numerous troopers. In the past there has been various debates about whether these two versions of the Kurokage suit are identical colour-wise, but honestly they're pretty much identical save for the Sengoku Driver (which I'll go into a bit further down). The troopers may appear more in the course of the show, but Hase has much more of a larger impact on events and as a unique character it makes sense for the figure to be of him.

Weapons at the ready

The Kagematsu close upReady for the finisher

Down on one kneePowering up

Kurokage's black base body is very similar to that of Gaim and Zangetsu's only lacking the padded areas on the chest/hips, the forearm/leg markings and changing the plated shin/wrist guards to silver rather than gold. Matsubokkuri arms is a rather effective combination of browns, black and silver, covered in raised sections to evoke the look of a pinecorn. What I particularly like about the Kurokage design is the helmet, which goes for a straight visor look rather than the two-eyed variations the other Gaim riders have. This element definitely makes it feel more like a mass production suit, but even as Hase makes the design stand a little bit more out from the crowd.

Odds are if you're buying this figure it won't be your first foray into the Gaim Figuarts (and if it is, let me say you've made a really odd first choice), so I should be fine in simply saying that the articulation is just as good as its been across the board. The shoulder pieces are able to freely move away from the arms to avoid hindering posing, and despite their outward bulk are small enough to not prove any sort of annoyance when doing so.

Kurokage & Gridon

Nut Bros vs. ZangetsuKurokage defeated

Taking a hit from Kachidoki Arms

Web exclusives can be a little hit or miss when it comes to accessories, and amongst the Gaim releases so far we've had figures that have come with impressive amounts of goodies and also ones that could be considered to be a little lacking. Admittedly Kurokage doesn't have a whole lot that he could have come with, but on face value it's fair to lump him in with the "slightly lacking" section of releases. Altogether he comes with a mere six hands (closed fists, open hands and weapon holding hands), signature Kagematsu weapon and closed Matsubokkuri Lockseed. A few more hands could have been a bit nice, and since this is the Hase version of Kurokage maybe even a damaged version of the driver? It sounds like an unlikely accessory, but after Bravo came with a glass of wine its fair to say even the most unlikely of things get a shot sometimes. Hell, even an alternate mass production version of the Driver would have been a good idea for those into army building.

The Kurokage faceplateThe Matsubokkuri Lockseed

Of course, it wouldn't be a Gaim Figuart review without mentioning the functioning Sengoku Driver with swappable Lockseeds! As I mentioned earlier in the review this is the Ryoji Hase version of Kurokage, noted by the inclusion of a yellow-strap Sengoku Driver with Kurokage faceplate rather than the silver-strapped mass production version. It would have been very easy for Bandai to cheap out in this area and just used the blank faceplate belts (I half expected it with Bravo and Gridon as well), but they've continued to be thorough and not just provide the version of the character with a face behind the mask but the one with the most detail too. The closed Matsubokkuri Lockseed is just as well detailed as the ones that have come before it, able to switch out with the open version attached to the belt and any other Figuart weapon that has an area for the lock to attach (although the only really relevant one is Gaim's DJ Gun).

The Armoured Riders released thus far!

As I patiently waited for Kurokage to arrive I can honestly say I wasn't expecting a whole lot from him. Sure I expected a figure that was of the usual Gaim Figuart quality, but more along the lines of a "good" release (ala Gridon) rather than an utterly fantastic one (ala Kachidoki Arms). Having little attachment to the suit or character (both Hase and the troopers) also attributed to this. Kurokage certainly managed to exceed my expectations, but still feels a little lacking in comparison to some of the other releases we've been spoiled with recently. It's also very much a completionist figure, something that can get even more complicated if you start factoring troopers an army building. Dedicated Gaim collectors will certainly get a kick out of this one, but its not necessarily a purchase that's essential to everyone.

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