Sunday 4 January 2015

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Bujin Gaim Blood Orange Arms

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Bujin Gaim Blood Orange Arms

While it's true that most S.H. Figuarts deemed not worthy enough for mass retail end up on Bandai's own Tamashii Webshop, sometimes there are characters minor enough to go elsewhere for their release - a website that goes by the name of Unfortunately, this is also a place many fans have said exclusives go to die, with afterthoughts like the ZERO Kamen Rider Fourze Zodiarts ending up on there to minimal fanfare. However every so often you'll get a gem among these limited exclusives, and the latest release is Kamen Rider Bujin Gaim Blood Orange Arms. The main villain from the movie Kamen Rider x Kamen Rider Gaim & Wizard: The Fateful Sengoku Movie Battle, this November 2014 release is just further proof that Bandai really are dedicated to giving fans as much Gaim as they possibly can while interest is still high.

Box Front

Box backInsert Tray

Other than the tiny ToeiHero logo featured in the bottom right hand corner of the box, Bujin Gaim's packaging is virtually identical to the kind you would expect from a normal Tamashii Webshop release. This windowless box adds a touch of blood orange to the usual white background, depicting Bujin Gaim in a rather casual pose on the front (I personally would have gone with something a bit more evil looking, but the colours do a pretty good job of getting that across on their own). The back features the typical Gaim display of multiple images in front of a unique Rider logo background, although Bujin Gaim's logo is identical to Gaim's so it isn't really all that unique in this case. Of course the back also draws special attention to the visor detail, which in this case actually is something worth noting more than usual.

Bujin Gaim on stage

Figure frontFigure back

Firing awayMore posingReady for battle

Anyone who's seen The Fateful Sengoku Movie Battle should know full well that Bujin Gaim is a rather odd character. His backstory is a complete mystery, we never see the Rider's true identity behind the mask (all the more annoying since he's the only Bujin Rider physically different to his "real-world" counterpart) and his plan eventually has him giving up his legs to become part of a giant tree to grant him unimaginable power. He has some link to the Priestess of Fate which is never properly explained, and unlike many Movie Wars moments in Kamen Rider Gaim's encounter with him is never once brought up in the actual show. So when you look at all of that Bujin Gaim mostly comes across as a whole heap of wasted potential, but somehow still manages to look amazing onscreen while being such a one-note villain. Considering how Dark Kabuto offered very little to the whole Kamen Rider Kabuto experience though, I think Bujin Gaim will fit right at home with the other "Dark Riders" the series has created over the years.

Slashing and stuffMore weapons posingOn the attack

Standing victorious

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Bujin Gaim is a straight repaint of the original Gaim Orange Arms release, replacing the bright orange armour with a much more sinister crimson version adorned with thin black flames. There are also significant colour changes to the helmet, not only with the visor but also the mouthpiece (which features a black centre ala Jimber Arms) and a red crescent crest. After a number of preliminary pictures where the flame details were absent from the visor, Tamashii Nations went back to rectify this rather large oversight and I am happy to report that Bujin Gaim looks just as sinister as he should.

Repaints rarely feel like overly exciting figures, especially when you either already own the original version or it's of a character that's mainly going to appeal to hardcore collectors. But Bujin Gaim really is something worth talking about. The original was already one of the best figures the S.H. Figuarts line has ever churned out, but giving it an even bolder deco really breathes new life into it. The paint applications are all crisp and clean, the flames actually looking like flames and not just poorly painted black lines. The articulation is superb as always, the base suit Gaim mould clearly not having lost any of its stream just yet despite having already received a number of variations. Bunin Gaim may be a figure that's only going to appeal to a certain number of people, but those people certainly aren't going to come away disappointed.

Daidaimaru Naginata Mode

Readying an attackNaginata Musou Slicer!

Acting casual

As a straight repaint Bujin Gaim features completely identical accessories to standard Gaim, which is to be completely expected when the character had nothing particularly unique to call his own (other than a giant tree) and the figure's status as a ToeiHero exclusive. Despite being the same though, it's still a rather impressive selection - altogether there are ten swappable hands, a Musou Saber (which can be clipped to the side of the figure) and the Daidaimaru in bright red rather than the usual orange. Each weapon is nicely detailed, with the Musou Saber retaining the tiny sticker on the gun barrel the original release had. Both weapons can also connect at the hilts to become a single weapon, which like Gaim's version is simply named the Daidaimaru Naginata Mode. 

The Blood Orange LockseedSengoku Driver closeupLockseed on Musou Saber

Finally, Bujin Gaim includes both open and closed versions of his blood orange Lockseed (apparently taken by Micchy at the end of Sengoku Movie Battle, but inexplicably never brought up again), which can be attached to both the working Sengoku Driver and the Musou Saber hilt. The Sengoku Driver also features a tiny Bujin Gaim indicator on its side - identical to that of Gaim's other than the use of red rather than orange.

Vs. Gaim and Wizard

Defeating the Bujin RidersVs. Gaim Wizard Arms

When I originally preordered Kamen Rider Bujin Gaim I expected a pretty decent figure simply on the strengths of the proper Gaim, but I'd be lying if I said it wasn't to primarily ensure that I had figure representation of every Kamen Rider Gaim character. But in hand I've really fallen in love with this figure - Bandai have taken an already fantastic release and arguably made it even better with a beautiful deco that perfectly captures the character's status as an evil Rider. I'm not going to pretend this is something for everything (especially since aftermarket prices aren't likely to be particularly pleasant) as its not really an essential Gaim figure for anyone but completists. But if you are someone looking to pick this guy up, you certainly won't regret it. 

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