Monday 22 June 2015

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Yoshi

It’s baffling how it’s taken them so long to realise it, but recently Nintendo have really gotten wise to the fact that people want toys of their various gaming properties. All of a sudden Nintendo figures have started popping up everywhere, from both various Japanese manufacturers and the World of Nintendo line here in the West. But while Good Smile Company seem content tackling the major players from the likes of Zelda, Metroid, Kid Icarus and Fire Emblem, it’s Bandai Tamashii Nations that are covering everyone’s favourite series about a plumber that never actually does any plumbing. After the successful release of Mario, Luigi and a number of accessory sets, S.H. Figuarts in now turning its attention toward the wider Super Mario cast. And even though there was plenty of different places for Bandai to start, it probably comes as no surprise that next up would be Yoshi – the brothers’ long-tongued, egg-throwing dinosaur buddy that first appeared in Super Mario World way back in 1990.

After a brief green interlude with Luigi's box Yoshi's take things back to more usual territory for the Super Mario Figuarts - that rather fetching combination of yellow and white. As usual the box is much smaller and thicker than the usual Figuarts boxes, due to the differing height and bulk of these characters. Not much to say other than that - it's the usual fare of stock images (of both Yoshi alone, the accessories and alongside some of the pieces that come with the accessory playsets).

But what makes Yoshi extra special among the Super Mario Figuarts releases is that this is the first one to feature a first run bonus part! Coming as a surprise announcement long after the figure initially went up for preorder, Yoshi comes packaged with a 1-Up mushroom set. The exact contents of this will be discussed further down in the review, but for now all there is to say that it comes in a rather plain green box.

Given the S.H. Figuarts usually deals with humanoid characters with reasonably realistic proportions, it’s amazing how well they adapted to the stumpy, cartoony builds of the Super Mario characters. Although, that should probably be expected given that the line did merge with D-Arts just before Mario’s release (and these, the Pokemon and Digimon figures are reminders that it’s still very much alive here). The smooth matte finish helps it look like it jumped right out of the game, with the glossy boots complimenting them nicely. It's extremely light on paint apps, instead opting for the more natural look of different coloured plastic pieces. The only real paint apps as such are the eyes, which are flawless in execution but hardly so complex they're worthy of extra special praise. Articulation is as great as you’d expect, with the figure boasting an articulated jaw, ball-jointed neck, ball-jointed shoulders, hinged elbows, rotating wrists and finally ball-jointed hips and feet (although neither of the offer a whole lot of movement, the shoes basically little more than a slight tilt either side). The only obviously place articulation is missing is at the knees, and with those stumpy legs joints there would have proved to be more unsightly than practical. 

If you are anything like me when I first opened this figure, you may be wondering how exactly parts like the eyes and mouthpiece are changed. The whole eye section (including the eyelids) pegs off of the head, which then grants you access to pop off the front eyepiece and peg the alternate one in accordingly. Meanwhile to swap the mouthpiece out in favour of the extended tongue simply pop the whole head off of the body, which allows to you swing the jaw further down. From here it’s just another case of popping off the inner mouth section, and then pegging the alternate one in its place.

Like Luigi before him Yoshi defies Mario’s rather lacking accessory count, providing a good selection of pieces that don’t negate the need for the accessory packs but at the same time don’t make Yoshi feel like a bare bones release. The box includes the aforementioned alternate eye piece (which looks straight on rather than slightly to the right), alternate mouthpiece with extended tongue, alternate open right hand, an alternate open left hand holding one of Yoshi’s signature eggs, and finally a green-base Tamashii stage with miniature arm section. It’s a great selection that encompasses both of Yoshi’s main abilities, and the solid plastic tongue is surprisingly long (just over the length of the actual figure). My only minor gripe is that the egg is permanently attached to the hand, while I’d have quite liked a loose one to trail behind him like in the games. Perhaps in a future playset? Who knows. 

Personally I’d have like to have seen a baby Mario or eyepiece looking downward (specifically for Yoshi’s ground pound move) but that’s getting into wishful thinking territory – especially with the former. It’s obvious that these figures have been intended to stay as generic Super Mario as possible, and the egg-throwing is about as close to the Yoshi’s Island games as Bandai want to get right now. But with so much playset potential for the Super Mario series, there’s always some hope that these things might turn up somewhere down the line.

But perhaps the most curious pieces in Yoshi’s vast accessory count are the two alternate shell pieces – both different sizes/shapes and with clear plastic ‘seat’ shapes jutting out of them. These of course are to allow both Mario and Luigi to ride Yoshi just as they would in the game! Both pieces are specifically designed to accommodate each figure’s respective builds, with them slotting into the available space as you would expect them to. While the two figures both sit in the chairs rather comfortable, the instructions do give a pretty noticeable warning about the paint on either figure rubbing off on contact, so you might want to be careful when putting them into position.

And voila! Now your Super Mario Figuarts can ride Yoshi into action! Sure the clear backpiece on the shell does mean that a little cheating is involved to get either figure to ride Yoshi, but given how impossible it would be do otherwise (due to the impracticalities of both the character and figure designs) this is barely an issue at all. The clear plastic is not all that noticeable from the side view, and most other angles is obscured to the point where you almost forget it’s even there.

But on top of all those wonderful in-package accessories you also have the first release 1-Up bonus, which consists of a bit more than just the mushroom itself (which, true to the game is a repaint of the red variety packaged with Mario). Also stashed in the box is the 1-Up text that appears when the player collects the extra life, along with two clear pieces to clip the text to either Mario or Luigi’s fist. So not only can you pose the figures about the collect an extra life, you can also pose them having received one as well! Between the accessories Bandai have included in these figures and the various accessory packs, the potential for level dioramas just keeps getting better and better with this line.

Admittedly I may be slightly biased because Yoshi is my favourite Super Mario character, but this is another absolute winner for the line. The articulation is fantastic, the accessory count is wonderful and the addition of a first run bonus was a very welcome surprise. With a fire flower Mario hitting later this year as a web exclusive I wouldn’t be surprised to see different coloured Yoshi appearing someday in the same vein – something I wholeheartedly welcome if they come with parts to reflect their unique abilities in Super Mario World. With Nintendo really kicking their merchandising into high gear lately I have little doubt this line is done just yet, but the big question is where it going to go next?


Poe Ohlin said...

Good to know Yoshi's SHF is great, he's always been my favorite too. I'd love to see at least the rest of the main cast (Peach, Warior, Waluigi, and DK) be done so I can do SHF Mario Party. But if we're dreaming here, Shyguy. I need a SHF Shyguy.

Best learning toys said...

Cute green frog toy there. Like it with Mario guy together. Thanks for the pics