Friday 5 June 2015

Toybox REVIEW: 66 Action Ultraman Wave 2

66 Action Ultraman Wave 2

Although its fair to say that Bandai's 66 Action candy toy line has been a resounding success, so far only the Kamen Rider franchise has managed to scrape more than wave out of it - with both Dragonball Z and No More Piracy seeming to be a "one and done" affair (though to be fair it isn't like they could do much more with the latter anyway). That's all changed now though as the Ultra Series/Ultraman selection has returned for a second wave, treating fans to a further four figures from Tsuburaya's landmark tokusatsu series. Collectors can now expand their 66 Action collection with the likes of Ultraman Taro, Ultraman Leo, Ultraman Tiga and the Alien Magma.

Boxes Front

Boxes BackBox Contents

As much as I love everything the 66 Action line has been doing with the Kamen Rider side of things, I just don't understand why their boxes can't be as nice as these. It's amazing how much difference a colourful backdrop on the front and and nature landscape on the back can do to make it look a lot less generic and clinical. Ignoring the fact that I buy these by the case load and so they arrive in a plan single-colour cardboard box, THIS is the kind of packaging that would catch my eye in a store. Inside you'll find all the figure pieces concealed in their own little bags, along with one piece of soda flavoured bubblegum. Getting that bubblegum always feels like some sort of treat, because despite being a variety of different candy toys over the years these are the only ones that have ever had anything other than the usual soda candy piece.

The case assortment for this wave is 3x Ultraman Taro, 3x Ultraman Leo, 2x Ultraman Tiga and 2x Alien Magma. Thankfully no chase figures either - though with the Kamen Rider waves dipping in and out of doing them every so often it seems like only a matter of time before one crops up here too.

One of my favourite aspects of the 66 Action line is that despite being cheap toys with somewhat exaggerated proportions, it seems to be constantly progressing over time to make them better with every passing wave. The first wave of Ultra Series figures quickly became some of my favourites in the line upon release, and then this second set has gone and improved things once again. Not so much in the sculpting this time around, but the overall paint job and presentation of the things. The only really downside to the first wave was its use of light grey plastic instead of silver (which I passed off as a budgetary thing and still kinda do), however this wave's characters have all got a rather spiffing shiny silver paint job - not only making them look much more accurate to the suits but also better looking figures in general. Which is great for these, but really does make the older ones look cheap in comparison.

Articulation is as fantastic as ever, and regular 66 Action buyers should know exactly what to expect by now. However if you're new to the line, you can look forward to a ball-jointed head, shoulders, waist, hips and feet along with hinged elbows and knees. Extra articulatory surprises include bicep swivels for extra movement, along with a hidden joint inside the torso that allows the waist balljoint to swing forwards and backward for extra movement. Between these guys and the amazing looking 4" SHODO line, Bandai are really knocking candy toys out of the park at the moment.

Included standsUltraman Tiga's bonus stand part

The first wave of Ultras were among the first 66 Action figures to include stands, but in the short time they've been away they've already received a much needed upgrade. These stands are the same as the ones used in the fifth wave of Kamen Rider figures - taller, sturdier and with the extra hand slots only on the base rather than weirdly placed on the arm piece as well. Taro and Leo both come with black stands, while Tiga and Magma have grey ones. Tiga's even includes an extra piece which can clip onto the bottom to hold a specific accessory of his. What accessory you ask? Well, you'll just have to keep reading to find out!

Admittedly I'm still a bit of a newbie to the Ultra universe (having only seen a handful of shows and only having very basic working knowledge of those I haven't), but Ultraman Taro has quickly become something of a favourite of mine. Not just because of his rather comical prominence in Ultraman Ginga (where his life truly is pain), but also because I'm a fan of his design in general. Ornamental chest plate and massive horns? Can't get enough of them. Anyway, this is Ultraman Taro, start of the sixth Ultra series which aired between 1973 and 1974.

Sadly Taro is actually probably the most plain of the figures in this wave - sporting no unique accessories and a pretty generic selection of hands (three in total). Nevertheless he looks superb, and really shows off how much difference a splash of proper silver paint can make. When you consider that the first wave of 66 Action Ultramen didn't really come with accessories (Ultraseven aside), this makes Taro just as good as them in a playability department and a notch above in terms of overall presentation.

For the next figure in the wave we move onwards to Ultraman Taro's immediate successor - Ultraman Leo. As one of the strongest Ultra Brothers, Ultraman Leo is adept in a variety of different martial arts and particular proficient in Space Judo. So as a particularly flexible character you can imagine that he immediately benefits from the great range of articulation the line offers, with the figure even able to comfortably pose on one foot in the right poses. Sure all of the figures could technically do that, but given Leo's background it seems especially fitting with him.

Ultraman Leo comes packaged with six alternate hands (two pairs, a right weapon holding hand and a left vertically-posed hand) and his Leo Nunchucks weapon. Although they're made of soft plastic so naturally somewhat malleable, personally I wouldn't recommend going about bending them into specific positions for fear of breaking the middle chain section. Still, they will bend naturally so if you've thought of a particular pose they will probably be able to take the strain of whatever you have in mind.

Rounding off the trio of Ultramen this wave is Ultraman Tiga, from the 1996 series of the same name (and the 11th entry into the Ultra Series). Tiga is an Ultraman of many forms, and this figure specifically of his default "multi type" form,  which offers equal parts strength and mobility. Tiga is rather nice entry into the line, particularly because he's the first 66 Action Ultra that isn't predominantly red - adding a nice bit of colour variety to what could otherwise be considered a rather samey looking bunch. However the downside to Tiga is that his body and hands suffer from that same  grey plastic that the first wave of Ultras were made from. While admittedly it doesn't actually look all that bad, it is a bit of a shame to see it here when Tiga's head and chest bands are painted silver. I guess that while silver parts are completely feasible for forthcoming Ultras, the line isn't quite ready to paint them head to toe in it just yet.

Tiga comes with three pairs of alternate hands, and a rather special accessory in the form of the GUTS Wing 1 - a high speed fighter used by the Global Unlimited Task Squad (or GUTS), the peace-keeping force of the Ultraman Tiga series. Though only cast in one colour, the GUTS Wing sports a surprising amount of detail - making what it's supposed to be instantly recognisable. It scales pretty well with the 66 Action Tiga figure, and Tiga himself is able to hold it rather comfortably in his open pair of hands. As mentioned earlier, this box also comes with an additional piece for the stand so that the GUTS Wing can be neatly pegged to the base so as to not lose it.

Like the first wave before it the last figure in this selection strays away from the various Ultramen the franchise has spawned over the years to shed the spotlight on some of the weird and wonderful opponents they've faced in that time. This time it's the turn of the Alien Magma, who first appeared in  Ultraman Leo. Responsible for the destruction of Leo's homeworld Nebula L77, the Magma were a brutal alien race that even gave Ultraseven a fair bit of trouble. This Alien Magma figure sports a really sharp black and silver colorscheme, compliment by that glistening golden mane of hair (hair products must be a big thing on Planet Magma) and those vacant translucent blue eyes. 

Magma comes packaged with two pairs of hands (open hands and closed fists) along with a hook and the Magma Saber - weapons he can transform his left and right hands into respectively. These plug straight into the wrists as though they were hands, so essentially double as both accessories and an additional pair of hands. Capable of a wonderful range of cool-looking poses, Magma is the perfect opponent for Leo as well as adding another bit of variety to the overall Ultra Series range. Unfortunately, both he and Baltan are still woefully outnumbered though. 

66 Action Ultraman Waves 1 and 2

I REALLY must be sounding like a broken record by now, but goddammit I love this toy line. Every time a new wave rolls around I wonder if it's going to be the point I get bored with them, but somehow they just manage to make me fall in love with them all over again. This second wave of Ultra Series figures improves on the already high standard set by the first wave, expanding the cast while at the providing both sharper paint jobs and excellent accessory pieces (where appropriate). With no wave 3 in sight at the moment I am a little worried that this might be it for the Ultra Series, but I really hope that isn't the case because so far I'd consider them among the strongest figures the line has to offer. And if this is the end well, this is one hell of a good note to end on.


mikoarc said...

66 line become better and better, I love this line :D

Ink'd Kaiju Dude said...

The 66 line is very cute. I hope they do more.