Saturday 14 March 2015

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Side Machine

S.H. Figuarts Side Machine

S.H. Figuarts vehicles - one of those things I'm sure many collectors wish they owned more of, but often don't have the space or funds to buy them on top of the constant flow of figures. The recent Kamen Rider-1 & New Cyclone set was my first foray into the world of Figuarts bikes despite nearly four years of collecting, and while no means a regrettable purchase not quite enough to persuade me to add them to my constantly growing want list. When it comes to the Kikaider franchise though, that's a different story. Joining the Kikaider and Hakaider Figuarts are their respective vehicles - the Side Machine and White Crow, to round off the releases from the original Android Kikaider series before moving onto sequel Kikaider 01. This review takes a look at Kikaider's Side Machine, which was released as a Tamashii web exclusive at the end of November 2014.

Box Front

Box BackInsert Tray

The Kikaider boxes have proven to be some of the most unique/interesting packaging by Tamashii Nations in recent years, and it's great to see the Side Machine continuing this highly effecting minimalist trend. The front is mostly black with vector-style art of the bikes yellow areas and Kikaider belt emblem, while the back features an image of the bike in all of it's glory. While both Kikaider and Hakaider came in notably small boxes, the same can't be said for this monster of a bike. It's not especially big lengthways, but in terms of width and weight it's a pretty hefty piece.

Kikaider & his ride

Side view 1Side view 2

Front viewCloseupFrom the back

So here we have Kikaider's Side Machine in all of it's glory, which is a modified version of a Kawasaki GT 500 Mach III motorcycle. Interestingly the bike was an entirely different model when being used by Jiro in civilian mode, going simply by the name of "Sidecar". Now Bandai Tamashii Nations have been at the motorcycle game for a while now thanks to their numerous Kamen Rider releases, and while the Side Machine certainly benefits from these years of experience it's also bringing something new and unique to the table. It's not just unique looking, it's bulky and oozes the retro charm that make the original Kikaider designs still so endearing today. As you'd expect the wheels are free rolling, and thanks to the sidecar the bike doesn't require any sort of stand to stay upright. In case you were wondering the sidecar is not removable, and since that was never a function of the bike in the series wasn't something that was ever really required of this release.

The finer details might seem few on its predominantly yellow shell, but what is there is both crisp and clear. The red lines running across the body, the circular logos, the numberplate - everything looks fantastic. Of particular note at the handlebars and speedometers - a detail that could be overlooked so easily but adds that little bit extra realism to the whole package. The small translucent-plastic circle on the left handlebar is also removable, which is probably for the best to avoid breakage when it comes to sliding Kikaider's hands into place over them. Just keep in mind that it is a small piece, so be sure to make it's placed back it tightly afterward otherwise it could easily slip out and be lost forever. 

Included stickersSticker placement guide

For those who like their toys to be as accurate to the screen model as possible, the Side Machine also comes with a sheet of Kawasaki motorcycle decals! I can only assume there were rights issues that prevented these logos from being printed straight onto the bike itself, but including stickers is the perfect compromise. Personally I'm still undecided on whether to apply them to my bike, but having the option there is just another plus in my books.

Kikaider rides again!

From the blue sideChasing down DARKFrom the red side

Driving offStunt jumping

When it comes to Kamen Rider bike releases, there's usually a few extra bits thrown in for good measure. Nine times out of ten it's just basic things like a stand (be it a simple disc or proper Tamashii stage), alternate handlebar parts and specific gripping hands for the accompanying figure, but things definitely worth mentioning regardless. With the Side Machine impressively taking up almost all of the insert tray it's packaged in, there's no so much here to talk about. Figuarts Kikaider already came with a pair of gripping hands, so the only accessory here is an extra pair of handlebars. These are completely identical to the ones already attached to the bike, so they're only here simply so you have a spare pair handy in case of any breakages. It may seem a little excessive but it's nice to have an emergency backup - if only Tamashii Nations could apply the same logic to the figures' wrist joints.

Making the bike "fly"

An unexpected passengerUsing the sidecarHakaider's evil plan

Hakaider escapes

But I've saved the best until last, and it's quite easily one of the biggest talking points about the Side Machine - the Side Car. This is actually the first sidecar motorcycle to be released in the S.H. Figuarts line, but I expect it to be followed by at the very least Kikaider 01's Double Machine eventually (and who knows, maybe Kamen Rider Kaixa's Side Basha one day). Although in-show the sidecar was reserved mostly for Mitsuko and/or Masaru Kohmyoji, when it comes this release it's open to everyone! While some of the more armoured Figuarts will probably have trouble getting in there comfortably, both Kikaider and Hakaider had fit in there perfectly. 

Kikaider ready for action

Riding off into the sunsetWith Kamen Rider-1

While there isn't a whole lot to say about it in a review (after all, a bike is a bike) that doesn't mean the Side Machine isn't worth your time - in fact it's the complete opposite. While the price has taken a bit of a hike on the aftermarket recently at the time of release it was extremely good value for what you're getting - a wonderfully sized and unique motorcycle that looks great with it's designated figure AND has the potential for a whole lot of other fun thanks to that sidecar. Only the most dedicated of Kikaider collectors are likely to consider picking this up, but considering the base figure came with so little this bike is exactly what it needed to inject more life into him.

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