Wednesday 7 January 2015

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Baron Lemon Energy Arms

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Baron Lemon Energy Arms

Every year Bandai holds a Tamashii Nations event where they showcase the latest figures from the brand, from S.H. Figuarts to Chogokins, Robot Damashiis and more. But as well as showing off forthcoming releases (or in Bandai's case - simply teasing things that may never get released at all), these shows are also an opportunity for some limited edition event exclusives. Previous Figuarts exclusives have included Kamen Rider Joker and Kamen Rider Den-O Super Climax Form, but 2014 was the year of S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Baron Lemon Energy Arms. Making Kaito Kumon's mid-season upgrade from Kamen Rider Gaim came as a surprise to fans, as many were sure such a prominent suit would simply get the web exclusive treatment.

But no batted an eyelid, because usually these exclusives are later offered as usual on the Tamashii webshop. However unfortunately this year the exclusives were only made available later via lottery, causing a scramble to get these figures while you could and a speedy hike in value. If you already have one consider yourself lucky. If not, I am saddened for your wallet's loss...

Box Front

Box BackInsert Tray

Being the rather special release that he is, Lemon Energy Baron comes with a box design that's very different to the aesthetic we've previously seen with both the mass release and web exclusive Gaim figures. The front features a large image of the figure on one side, next to a target style image that works quite well with the whole Sonic Arrow thing the Next Generation Riders have going on. It's an extremely dynamic front, which is good because the back is ridiculously plain. It's simply an all yellow background with the Tamashii Nation 2014 logo in silver, outlined with red and a silhoutte of the figure on top of it. I definitely think the whole "less is more" thing it has going for it really works, especially compared with the bold front side. And since this is the kind of exclusive that doesn't really need to be showing off the figure, Bandai have definitely gone in the right direction to make things a bit more striking.

Baron Lemon Energy On Stage

Figure back

Posing the figureMore posingBaron's new toy

Kamen Rider Baron Lemon Energy Arms is a bit of an oddity, as it's the only occasion in Kamen Rider Gaim of a character regularly using another character's fruit arms as a regular upgrade. This is apparently because it was very much a last minute change to the series thanks to Kaito's popularity, with the suit itself being cobbled together from spare parts. The change to lemon also kind of makes sense, given how it was Ryouma's Lockseed of choice and there were clearly multiples lying around (Gaim getting his own copy too). 

With the event happening in at the end of October, this is actually the debut of Lemon Arms in toy form (S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Duke wasn't released until the end of December). But even though this is just the original Kamen Rider Baron body with a new head/new armour dumped on it there is one little difference that sets it apart from Duke - the Baron emblem adorning the chest plate. But enough about the minor differences, let's just talk about how utterly gorgeous the figure looks. Lemon Energy uses the same red/silver/yellow colour scheme as the original Banana Arms figure, perhaps to much greater effect thanks to the increase in yellow parts. That fantastic bubbling effect present on all of the Energy Riders runs across all of the armour, and even shows up in the yellow eye pieces on the helmet. On the subject of the helmet, while the back may be identical to that of Duke's I think the smaller front half allows some of the details to be shown off a little better - such as the little silver pipes just under the "earphone" parts. Sure it looks a bit like Baron with cat ears, but for a cobbled together suit they did a pretty amazing job of finding two halves that go together so well.

Taking aim

Strange posing copied from BandaiOn the attack

Readying the finisher

The articulation proves to be just as good as the sculpt, with the cape jointed in such a way that it can move outward as well as side to side. The right shoulder guard is also articulated, so is able to freely move out of the way of the arm while posing and then comfortably cover it again like it should. The base body itself is just as well articulated as all of the Kamen Rider Gaim Figuarts, nicely showing off everything this great sculpt is capable of. All of these figures have been loaded with ball and double hinge joints, so if you're an articulation nut who likes to display your figures in dynamic poses you sure won't be disappointed.

Buyers be warned that there have apparently been some QC issues with this figure, not so much in the build department but more in the finish - something which seems to sadly be becoming more and more common with Figuarts. Issues include poor paint application and general scuffing, which is pretty bad form for a such high-end limited number exclusive. My copy has a little bit of silver flaking around the top of the legs, but thankfully is largely unnoticeable. If you get a good figure that's free of any noticeable issues, then you'll be able to see properly just everything on this figure pops.

More posingArrow + Lockseed

Drawing back the arrow

The biggest downside is that as a New Generation/Genesis Driver Rider, Baron's accessories are mostly things that buyers have seen plenty of times (and will continue to see with future releases). Included are nine alternate hands, along with two versions of the Sonic Arrow (standard and drawn back). At the time of release both Sonic Arrows had been included with Zangetsu Shin and Gaim Jimber Arms, and in the future with Duke (now released), Sigurd and Marika (prototyped but no release date) - so by the time the Gaim Figuarts are done collectors are going to have a fair number of those accessories. However despite being the same yet again the matching reds makes the weapon look especially good with Baron, so at the very least he'll be one of the best on the shelf holding it.

Some of the hands are also slightly different to the ones included with Banana Arms, and if you own both then you can combine your accessories for even more posing possibilities! 

The Lemon Energy LockseedLockseed in Driver

Finally there's the closed Lemon Energy Lockseed, which can be switched with the open version connected to the belt and attached to the cavity on the side of both Sonic Arrows. Like all Gaim figures it's a welcome addition, but being the whore that the Lemon Energy Lockseed is once again it's nothing exclusive. The open version comes with both Gaim Jimber Arms and Kamen Rider Duke, while the closed version comes with just Duke.

Baron x2

With Jimber GaimTeaming up with Kachidoki

Kamen Rider Baron Lemon Energy Arms is another one of those hard figures to give a final verdict too. There's definitely a lot of factors working against the figure - conceiving it as an event exclusive was a bad idea in the first place, to make it only available via lottery is even worse. On top of that it doesn't really have anything unique about it, instead being a mash of an existing figure with an armour from another Rider with a bunch of repeated accessories. But despite all of that, Baron Lemon Energy Arms was a key power-up in show even if it was a kitbash - and boy does it look good. The yellow and red go absolutely perfect together, giving it a strange sense of uniqueness even though its just Baron in Duke's clothes. Completists will want this figure for sure, but even those with a more casual interest in Kamen Rider Gaim should consider it if they can find it for the right price.

No comments: