Tuesday 11 November 2014

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Mega Blaziken

S.H. Figuarts Mega Blaziken

With the last Pokémon S.H. Figuarts release being Lucario and the D-Arts Charizard figure commanding some rather insane aftermarket prices, I'm sure to many collectors expected Bandai Tamashii Nations to continue going down the Super Smash Bros. route and have Greninja as the next release. But it seems Bandai had different plans, and one that ties in nicely with another imminent game release. Just a month before the release of Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire comes Mega Blaziken, also marking the first mega evolution in the D-Arts turned Figuarts line.

Box Front

Box BackInsert Tray

Had it not been integrated into the S.H. Figuarts earlier this year Mega Blaziken would have undoubtedly been a D-Arts release, and I think its quite nice that Bandai have kind of honoured that memory by retaining the same style of packaging the original D-Arts releases had. Considerably thicker than a standard Figuarts box and featuring a side view of the figure rather than a straight-on window/tray, the packaging is done up in a fiery orange with foil decoration around the window and a greyscale image of the character. The black back features the usual posed images of the figure, along with a boxed off image to show off the special stand included in the release (more on that later in the review).

Out of the box

Figure front viewFigure back view

Action posing!Mega evolution!

I've said this before in my other non-tokusatsu Figuarts reviews, but holding these figures I still struggle to consider them part of the Figuarts line. It's not because there's any sort of dip in quality, but because the Pokémon figures just have such a different build to the humanoid figures that they feel like something completely separate. Anyway, if you've ever handled a Tamashii Nations product (be it Figuarts, D-Arts, MonsterArts, Ultra Act or whatever), you know the kind of quality to expect from them. Sure there are always duds, but in general these figures look and feel superb - and Mega Blaziken is no exception. The sculpt is really well realised, and the joint cuts aren't too noticeable that they cut into the smooth look the Pokémon figures have (no unsightly bits like Mewtwo's tail or Charizard's neck here). What really completes it is are the streams of fire jutting out of the arms - you can never go wrong with a bit of translucent plastic.

Showing off its balance

Blaze kick!Martial arts posing

Fire punch!

Thanks to those lovely wide and flat feet, Mega Blaziken can balance only on one leg quite impressively - increasingly the pose potential from the wide range of articulation all the more. The figure boasts ball joints in the head, neck, shoulders, waist, hips, wrists and even FINGERS (that's right, each finger is connected by its own tiny joint), while double hinged elbows/knees and bicep swivels finish up the look. It would have been nice to get a hinged mouth for a little more pose diversity out of the figure, but Bandai obviously decided to put the surprises into the feet instead. You see those tiny white talons on the bottom of each foot? Those are articulated too! It's only bunch of simple balljoints that didn't really need to be there, but somehow still makes to add a little bit of extra "ooh" factor to the figure.

Springing into action

Blaziken's unique standFire uppercut!

Aerial attackDouble kick!

The Pokémon figures have never been ones to come with a massive array of accessories, but each release Bandai have put out has managed to come with at least one effect piece to properly capture their special attack (Charizard has a flamethrower, Lucario has an aura sphere etc.). Unfortunately this trend comes to a crashing halt with Mega Blaziken, who has absolutely no unique accessories of his own to speak of. I realise that there are translucent plastic flames jutting out of the figures wrists, but to include no effect parts whatsoever seems utterly crazy. Would a clip-on blaze kick fireball been so hard to do? Of course, the real answer to this lack of parts is simple - Bandai want you to buy the separate Tamashii Effects Flame piece they've only just released instead. Bah.

Perhaps in a way to try and cover up this rather grievous oversight, Bandai have done something a little different with the usual Pokéball stand these figures come with. Rather than the standard "clear with black markings" version, Blaziken gets a special mega evolution version moulded in black plastic with shiny silver markings. The arm included is a standard version (rather than the pathetically small one that came with Lucario), perfect for aerial fighting poses like kicks and uppercuts. It's certainly nice, but doesn't quite fill that void left by an absent effect part.

Lucario vs Mega Blaziken part 1

Lucario vs Mega Blaziken part 2Red and his Blaziken

Blaziken with Xerneas and Yveltal

Mega Blaziken could have been the perfect release. The figure itself is beautifully sculpted, extremely well balanced and has a pretty flawless range of articulation. However dropping that crucial effect/attack part from the release is a massive oversight on Bandai's part, as despite all the fun poses you can get the figure into it doesn't quite look as specular as the various other Pokémon releases blasting out their special moves. Still the high quality and effort put into it makes it difficult to feel too disappointed, especially if you just happen to have some other fire effect parts from other figures lying around somewhere.

No comments: