Friday 14 November 2014

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Hakaider

S.H. Figuarts Hakaider

2014 has marked the year that the S.H. Figuarts toyline has truly started to delve into some of the great tokusatsu relics of the past, and if the news from the recent Tamashii Nations event is anything to go by this will be continuing long into 2015 and beyond. But before the line begins to properly dig into the world of Metal Heroes, there's another iconic series that's in need of a few more releases. Hot on the heels of S.H. Figuarts Kikaider comes the android's eternal rival Hakaider, based on his appearance in the original Android Kikaider series. Like Kikaider this was also a Tamashii web exclusive, originally released at the end of October 2014.

Box Front

Box BackInsert Tray

One of the immediate highlights of Kikaider's Figuart was that beautiful box that it came it, so I was very eager to see how Hakaider's box would turn out. The end result is just as fantastic as I had hoped for, with Hakaider coming packaged in the same smaller-sized black box simply featuring the character's coloured facial details and a bold "Hakaider" name tag. The back also features a similar design to Kikaider's in that it only has one full body image with two close-ups eitherside, but here the red/blue colour scheme has been swapped out for a more Hakaider-like yellow and red instead. Simple yet elegant, these Kikaider boxes have been my favourite in a long time and I hope the trend continues with the release of Kikaider 01 next year (along with any other Kikaider figures that may be announced in the future).

Hakaider out of the box

Figure front viewFigure back view

Ready to kill KikaiderSome typical villain posing

If you're unfamiliar with Android Kikaider or have only seen more recent iterations of Hakaider (such as the Mechanical Violator Hakaider or Kikaider REBOOT movie versions), I can believe that the original may take a bit of getting used to. Depending on the angle you look at it, that face can range from looking like a demonic robotic killing machine to a grinning muppet. However if you're able to get past that and see the underlying terror in that almost-smiling face, you'll come to appreciate just how striking Hakaider's design is. Decked out in almost entirely black with dashes of yellow, silver and red on top, you can't get much more of an "evil robot" colour scheme than this. Another really nice touch with the design is the translucent red eyes, which rise upwards out of the head to partially cover the the exposed brain.

In my Kikaider review I commented on how the figure had a glossy feel to it, possibly to replicate the vinyl suit worn by the suit actor in some of the show's fight footage. However I also commented on how this was a bit of a double-edged sword - it made it slightly more accurate, but also resulted in a bit of a cheaper feel to the figure. The same kind of goes for Hakaider, but perhaps due to the prominent use of black plastic doesn't feel quite as cheap as his heroic rival. The sculpt is also covered in folds and creases to make it look even more realistic and like an actual suit rather than a static piece of plastic.

Articulation-wise Hakaider may be more like some of the older and Super Sentai Figuarts releases rather than some of the newer ones, but that's still nothing to scoff at. The "swing down" ball-jointed hips may be beginning to show their age, but other than that Hakaider show's off a very impressive range of mobility. There's even bicep swivels to (possibly) make up for the fact the shoulders are somewhat hindered by his large shoulder guards.

Brain exposedWith the brain removed

But I'm sure the burning question on all of your minds is "Is Hakaider's brain removable?". And yes answer is yes, yes it is! The brain features a deep groove down the middle to keep the plastic dome in place, while its underside is held into place by two small pegs that slot into holes on the top of Hakaider's head. This of course means there's no way you can display Hakaider brainless with the dome attached (unless of course you balance it on the flat surface and have if cover more of his face than it should), but since the character never looked like that on the show anyway it isn't really a big deal. But a removable brain opens a whole lot of fun for having Hakaider on the operating table, and means the forthcoming Kamen Rider Duke figure will have a nice substitute if we never get a Hakaider REBOOT figure.

The brain - while nowhere near as detailed as Kikaider's mechanical innards, is also fairly nicely sculpted. It has that squidgy brain look nailed down perfectly, and is covered by a number of red, blue and yellow wires. Lovely.

Holster leg attached

Dramatic pointingFiring the Hakaider Shot

Ready to fireMore gun pointing

While Kikaider's hand-to-hand combat style meant accessories were non-existent outside of a (albeit very good) range of hands, Hakaider on the other hand has a little more variety to him. While he also comes with an decent array of eight hands (one pair of closed fists, two pairs of open hands, one pointing left hand and a gun holding right hand), Hakaider also comes with his signature weapon - the elongated Hakaider Shot pistol. It isn't a particularly intricately sculpted piece, but the silver chrome finish really makes it feel that extra special. Also included is an alternate right shin piece, which has a built in holster to store the weapon when it isn't in use. You're probably thinking "surely that could have just been the standard leg piece", but if you look at any picture of classic Hakaider you'll see that half the time he doesn't actually have a holster area for the gun. So by providing buyers with two options, this figure can go for accuracy and practicality. Good going Bandai!

Hakaider arrives!

Kikaider vs HakaiderTaking a punch

Recreating Saburo's final moments

As far as Figuarts go when it comes to sculpting and overall engineering Hakaider isn't particularly notable or impressive, especially in a year where items like the Kamen Rider Gaim figures and Shinkocchou Seihou sub-line (aka the new Kabuto and Hibiki figures) take elevated the line to all new heights. But even with that in mind, there's just something that little bit special about Hakaider. Not only is it a simple but incredibly striking design, but the figure just oozes personality and manages to be a whole lot of fun even with a limited accessory count. After the disappointingly average Kikaider figure, Hakaider excelled my expectations and reminded me that I love the character enough to buy every version Bandai are willing to churn out. Anime, Kikaider 01, Hakaider Squad, Mechanical Violator and Kikaider REBOOT versions - if you make them Bandai, I'll take them.

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