Monday 13 July 2015

Toybox REVIEW: 66 Action Kamen Riders Wave 6

These days my favourite months of the year are always the ones that bring along a new box of 66 Action candy toys. With the Ultraman selection strangely quiet at the moment (there's been no new announcements since wave 2 hit a few months back, so hopefully something come forth once Ultraman X hits screens), the series that started this wonderful little line is back for its sixth wave. This time the selection of Kamen Riders Bandai have on offer include Kamen Rider Mach, Kamen Rider Accel, Kamen Rider Kuuga and Shadow Moon.

We're 24 figures into the line now, and with the only real change in packaging being the coloured streaks behind each figure everything that needs to be said about the boxes has pretty much been exhausted by now. I still wish they'd drop the plain white backgrounds on the back in favour of the Ultraman line's more scenic approach, but then these are the kind of boxes that get ripped open and instantly forgotten about anyway. It's all about that figure spread out across an insanely long plastic bag inside, and of course that delicious piece of soda flavoured candy.

In previous reviews I’ve also mentioned the case assortments for each wave, but here is where I’m instead going to issue an apology and a disclaimer: there is no set assortment for these cases. You’re guaranteed at least two of every character (and most likely one of each if a specific character also has a variant), but what the other two in the box (making up the total number of 12) is anyone’s guess. I personally ended up with three of Mach and Shadow Moon, while others got Kuuga or Accel instead. This has proved to be rather frustrating if you plan to split a case evenly with someone, since this wave also includes a variant figure…

Once again Bandai have pretty much nailed it with the selection available in this wave. A character from the current show, a popular secondary Rider, an all-important main Rider and an iconic villain. When you think about it like that, in terms of variation it's probably the best the line has put out so far - each figure fits a different purpose, and there's no alternate forms that double over on previous releases. In terms of the overall figure build there hasn't been any real changes since the previous wave, the 66 Action line now seemingly in a good enough place that Bandai don't feel the need to constantly tweak the base body between waves. With balljoints covering the neck, waist, shoulders, hips and ankles and hinges in the elbows and wrists, every bit of the body is nicely covered to allow ample articulation and varied posing possibilities.

As a general comment the sculpting and paintwork seems to be as sharp as ever for these little guys, with perhaps Mach suffering a bit due to be made out of almost entirely white plastic. Entirely white figures can be difficult to get looking good at a bigger scale and price point, so it's kind of to be accepted that he was probably going to suffer here a little bit. That isn't to say Mach is flat out bad though - it's still nowhere near the worst looking 66 Action Kamen Rider figure. Personally, I'd still give that title to Gaim Kiwami Arms.

And of course as per the norm for 66 Action releases now each figure also includes a minimally-articulated stand which can also function as hand storage. Over the last couple of waves the stands went through a couple of changes, but with nothing having been altered here it seems that Bandai have settled on the perfect version. And considering the price point of these things, you can really argue with getting an articulated stand (there’s a ball/socket joint where the two pieces meet) that also gives you a place to put the spare parts. In this wave the stands come in the red and white varieties – red with Accel and Kuuga, white with Mach and Shadow Moon.

As usual the wave kicks off with a figure from whatever Kamen Rider series is currently on the air, and in wave six’s case it’s Kamen Rider Mach from Kamen Rider Drive. With three Drive-timed releases and three separate characters from that show (with the next wave also promising a fourth), one has to wonder why the earlier waves just kept sticking to the same two Kamen Rider Gaim characters instead of going for a more varied selection. Anyway, Mach is a nicely scaled down figure, and even comes complete with the visor lifting gimmick! The muffler/scarf is also a separate piece that plugs into the figure – a definite improvement over 66 Action Kamen Rider 1 (whose muffler was fixed permanently to the figure) and Kamen Rider W (who lacked his altogether). In terms of accessories he comes with two pairs of hands (closed fists and weapon holding- which also perfectly double for Mach’s flamboyant posing) and his personal Zenrin Shooter weapon.

Moving back in time the wave jumps to 2009, adding a third Rider to the 66 Action Kamen Rider W family with Kamen Rider Accel. As far as looks go Accel is definitely the most visually impressive figure of the entire wave, sporting a nicely detailed, bulky build and featuring a number of clip on parts for all the various bike pieces that hang off his body. The headsculpt is even possibly more accurate than the one included with the Figuart (which infamously needed a better version included with the later-released Accel Booster figure)! On top of all the aforementioned bike pieces, Accel comes with two pairs of hands and his Engine Blade. 

But wait, there’s more! Much like the Ryuki figure of the previous wave, Accel also has a rather nifty additional feature – he’s able to transform into his motorcycle mode! The transformation is a little bit fiddly since it involves taking all the bike parts off and replugging them in different areas (as well as adding a few extra ones on), but follow the instructions printed inside the box and it’s straightforward enough. Once in bike mode Accel isn’t exactly the most stable of figures (bits fall off easily and balancing is a nightmare even with the included “stand” block), but it’s still exceptionally cool to see the figure be able to pull this off. What would have made it really perfect would have been if W came with some hands so he could actually grab the handlebars.

Finally making his debut in the 66 Action line is "Mr First Heisei Era Rider" himself, Kamen Rider Kuuga! And predictably Bandai have chosen to go for his default Mighty Form for this release rather than branch out into any of his other variants. Makes perfect sense to me, base forms should also be priority in terms of releases. Question is whether we'll see any of his other forms any time soon - there are plenty of other Riders that should be released first, but with Tajador appearing in the previous wave who knows when one of the other colours might pop up.

As a weaponless brawler character, Kuuga is unfortunately lumped with the least interesting selection of accessories - merely coming with two pairs of hands (open hands and closed fists). While downsizing the amount of alternate hands has been a fair trade off for the leap in quality since the earlier waves, it sucks that the Riders without weapons just have to go without rather than getting more hands to make up for it. Still, Kuuga really does look pretty great - when I was reviewing the recent Figuart I thought there was something beautiful about Kuuga's simplicity and that's definitely still the case here.

And for the final figure of the wave the line takes another welcome trip back in time, providing fans with a third figure from the Showa Era as well as another villain figure – Shadow Moon. Without a doubt the most iconic of the "evil Riders", Shadow Moon looks just as sinister in all his silver glory even at this scale. My only major complaint is that the grasshopper legs protruding from the arms are separate pieces, and just do not want to stay fixed in their slots. The fault is a combination of the fact that they’re extremely thin and the slots for them not particularly deep, making it incredibly frustrating to have them just pop off every time you move the arms. That said, gluing them into place wouldn’t really affect things so I guess that’s also an option. 

Similar to the Figuart version Shadow Moon comes with the Satan Saber, but only the shorter of his Shadow Sabers from Kamen Rider Black RX. So it can be accurate to his appearance in either series or simply dual-wield them both like the evil badass he is. Also included are two pairs of hands – a pair for holding the weapons and a pair of closed fists.

Usually that would be all, but as mentioned earlier this wave of figures has brought back the exciting (or dreaded, depending on how you look at it) chase figure! And given the selection of Riders included with this wave, it should come as no surprise that it’s a Kuuga form. That form being Rising Mighty in particularly, which makes sense since it’s the only one that didn’t require excessive remoulding for new parts. 66 Action Kuuga Rising Mighty is almost a straight repaint of the standard Mighty form, save for the added gold ankle piece on the right leg (for all those ridiculously overpowered Rider kicks Kuuga has become renowned for) and thicker arm gauntlets. Other than that the main differences are the addition of gold bands around the chest and forearms, adding a splash more colour and regency to the design as well as accentuating some of the Grongi markings adorning his body. The swappable hands are also identical to the standard Kuuga figure. 

As far as variants go it’s perhaps not as desirable as Dark Kabuto (a completely different character) but more unique than the alternate Eternal included with wave 3 (which just added a plastic cape into the mix). If you’re buying an entire case of these things it shouldn’t be that hard at all to get a hold of, but will likely throw away any plans to sell of the spares as a complete set (unless you get exceptionally lucky with the assortment that is).

Offering it's usual high standard for cheap little toys, a great selection of characters and some nifty gimmicks to keep things interesting, wave six has proven to be one of the most diverse and exciting range of 66 Action Kamen Riders yet. I keep feeling that eventually the bubble is going to burst and these toys will stop being fun, but clearly that time hasn't come just yet. Like last time the smaller selection of hands is the only real nitpick here, and is perhaps something that will feel like more of an issue when there isn't a specific gimmick character to offset things. But for now, this is another wave of mini Riders that surely will not disappoint!


mikoarc said...

I think I love this volume too. Two riders that I love most will come next week to my hand.
It's a sad that Kuuga didn't come with thumbs up right hand pose, it is his mark.
And Shadowmoon mouth part, it looks too light silver or maybe just the angle or lighting from your photo? I think it should be darker in that part like in his SHF.

Random Internet Surfing Guy said...

I actually thought the variant would be Amazing Mighty, since a black Kuuga is better than another red.