Saturday 14 February 2015

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Blue Beet

S.H. Figuarts Blue Beet

Forget Kamen Rider and Super Sentai, if the Tamashii Nation 2014 event taught us anything about the S.H. Figuarts line it's that it will soon be the time of the of the Metal Heroes. The Space Sheriffs came a few years ago, but at the event Bandai previewed a whole host of other heroes from the franchise and already 2015 is shaping up to be a great year. Megabeast Investigator Juspion will be joining us in May, but before then we have a likely more familiar hero - Blue Beet of the 14th Metal Heroes series, Juuko B-Fighter. Of course, those who grew up with Power Rangers and its various offshoots will also know him by a different name - the Blue Stinger Beetleborg of Big Bad Beetleborgs.

The best thing is that this isn't just a one-off release either, prior to the figure's release in January (as a Tamashii web exclusive), the rest of the team have been confirmed to be following - along with Blue Beet's infamous evil twin Black Beet. Black Beet will be coming in April, with a two-pack of G-Stag and Reddle following in May - all web exclusives of course. Along with the forthcoming Kikaider 01 figures, this is possibly my favourite year for Figuarts yet.

Box Front

Box back

The lack of a clear plastic window front on the web exclusive Figuarts has provided more opportunity for some really great box art, and Blue Beet is the perfect example of that. The front screams that 90s techno aesthetic the Metal Heroes franchise utilised so well, whether it be through the backdrop, the effects used on the left-hand side picture or the bold "BEETLE FIGHTER FONT". Admittedly it does kinda look like Blue Beet is drilling into his own ass on the front, but other than that rather unfortunate position it's an incredibly striking design. The same goes for the back, which pits the figure against a nice black drop with accompanying blue lightning. It looks so good it's almost enough to make you forget that there's a kickass figure inside. Almost.

Roll call time!

Figure frontFigure back

Inputting the MagnumReady for battleInput Magnum fire!

The S.H. Figuarts has produced some real winners in the past few years. Even ignoring the top-tier Shinkocchou Seihou releases like Kamen Riders Kabuto and Hibiki, figures such as Gaim, Blade and Ryuki have shown how good Tamashii Nations are when it comes to sculpting these figures. But Blue Beet really is something else. With the amount of detail the B-Fighters have you might think that something would get lost along the way, but all the little grooves and detailing across the body are completely intact. The colours are vibrant and best of all there isn't a lick of chrome on this figure, despite the shiny paint job potentially giving you the illusion otherwise. So not only do you needn't worry about the figure being a fingerprint magnet like the three Space Sheriffs, but paint flaking shouldn't be much of a concern either. It's like this figure couldn't get more perfect when it comes to the sculpting!

Articulation is of the usual Figuarts standard, coming loaded with ball joints in the head/neck, waist, shoulders, hips and wrists. Meanwhile the elbows and knees make use of the line's standard double hinge joints, with the feet sporting numerous points of articulation to maximise balance. The only real downside to this near-perfect toy are those hips. By giving Blue Beet the new (I say new, more like modern/current because it really isn't all that new anymore) style of hip articulation Tamashii Nations was able to give the figure a decent range of movement without compromising the sculpt, but the trade-off is that thanks to those rather wide upper leg sections the range is rather minimal. It's no so much that the figure is incapable of things like crouching, but the more extravagant wide-legged poses you see Figuarts capable of aren't really a possibility with this guy. Combined with the small rectangular feet, this also means action posing can sometimes be a little tricky. Thanks to the great ankle articulation and various swivel areas balance is by no means impossible, but when everything else is so perfect on this guy those hips can't help feel like a bit of a downer.

Blue Beet leaps into action

Obligatory flashy weapon poseStinger Blade up closeTakuya saves the day

Moving onto accessories, and unsurprisingly Blue Beet is no slouch in this area either. He comes packaged with a total eight alternate hands, which is pretty middle ground for a Figuart - not a notably high amount, but certainly enough that you don't feel he needs more. The B-Fighters' standard Input Magnum is also included, which can also be stored comfortably in the holster on the figure's right leg. All the colours and details are spot on, right down to the moulded key pad section glued to the side. Goes really nicely with the "button inputting" hands that were included amongst the selection.

Onto Blue Beet's more unique accessories (i.e. the ones that won't be included with later B-Fighter releases), and first we have his personal Stinger Weapon - the Stinger Blade! This is comprised of two parts, the blade itself and the wrist mounted section. The latter part features a hinged handle, so that it can be gripped firmly by the figure and then adjusted to rest comfortably on the forearm. Meanwhile the blade simply plugs into the wrist section and can be turned much like how it spins on the show. 

The Stinger Drill

Stinger Drill in actionStriking a pose

But as viewers of B-Fighter will already know, the Stinger Blade can't always cut it - particularly in a fateful battle against Black Beet. This is why Blue Beet is then given an augmented Stinger weapon - the enormous Stinger Drill. This giant drill is a separate piece that connects to the wrist piece of the Stinger, attaching in the same place as the blade piece does. The side pieces are connected via hinges, so are able to swing upwards and out of the way when connecting the two sections together. To go with the drill is also an alternate "window" piece for the bottom of the frame, tabbed in a different place to give the effect of the piece sliding down to expose the turbine inside. While the blade was simple yet impressive, the drill on the other hand brings out all the intricate detailing of the Stinger weapon. The Figuarts line has always been able to pack huge amounts of detail into tiny accessories, but with something as hefty as this they can really show what they can do.

The only thing truly missing from Blue Beet's arsenal here is his colour-coded Pulsaber, which will be coming later down the line as an accessory in the G-Stag/Reddle 2-pack. So while collectors' only planning to pick up this figure may not have the option of displaying their figure with it, they're still not exactly short of choice.

90s Saban heroes united

With Figuarts GavanGokai Change! B-Fighter!

S.H. Figuarts Blue Beet has really kicked off the new year in style. Even with the disappointing hips the figure is truly a marvel to behold, bringing along a new style and aesthetic to the line. All that bulk and detailing nicely sets him apart from his Kamen Rider and Super Sentai associates, yet together they still pull off that same level of awesome. Juuko B-Fighter and Big Bad Beetleborgs are already salivating over this figure so trying to win them over would just be wasted words. But if you're still on the fence about him, hopefully these pictures have been more than enough to sway you. 2015 is off to a very good start and I can't wait to see what else is in store for S.H. Figuarts collectors.

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