Wednesday 14 October 2015

Toybox REVIEW: 66 Action Kamen Riders Wave 7

It's been a little while since we last saw them, but Bandai's ever popular 66 Action candy toy line is back for a brand new seventh wave of mini-scale articulated action figures! This time the line bids its grand farewell to the reign of Kamen Rider Drive, as well as throwing in another two key Riders from that all important Heisei era lineup before throwing in a little surprise at the end too. So if you're a fan of Kamen Rider Chaser, Kamen Rider Blade, Kamen Rider Agito or even Kamen Rider 3 - this is one wave that you'll definitely want to check out.

We're seven waves into this toy line now and I've said nearly all there is that can be said about these boxes. Although one thing I will point out here that I found quite interesting (if completely unimportant) is how Rider 3's box has the image layout mirrored to how it is on the other three boxes.  Previous boxes in the series have had that layout too, it just stuck out to me here since he's the odd one out. Anyway it's the same drill as always, with the back of the boxes also featuring some other images of the figure along with the rest of the wave's assortment. Inside you'll find the figure pieces spread across a selection of connected plastic bags, along with everyone's favourite piece of soda flavoured candy.

With the case assortments having proven to be completely random it's unknown which you could end up of three should you buy a whole case, but you will definitely end up with two complete sets at the very least. There's also no variant/chase figure included with this wave, so what you see on the boxes is exactly what you get.

Wave seven offers fans another pretty great selection of Kamen Riders to choose from - a key Rider from a current series, two titular Riders from the past and then one wildcard movie Rider just to keep things interesting. While perhaps quite not as varied as the previous wave's offerings, it's still a pretty solid lineup that fills in some of the more major gaps in the collection. There hasn't been any changes to overall build of the figures, with each one offering the usual impressive level of articulation and movement. The full breakdown once again is - balljoints in the neck, waist, shoulders, wrists and ankles, bicep wives, hinged elbows and knees and finally rotatable wrists thanks to the plug system used to switch the hands. Unfortunately the downsizing when it comes to the hand count we've seen with the last few waves also continues here as each one only comes with two pairs of hands - a pair of closed fists and then one unique pair.

That isn’t the only downside to this wave either – it looks like the days of included stands are well and truly over. Despite tinkering with the original design in the last few waves and getting them to a point where they were a rather beneficial inclusion, there’s no “traditional” form of stands to be found here at all. Instead each figure comes with a rather underwhelming black slab of plastic with four plug ports on the top and a groove cut into one side (making it kind of look like a jigsaw puzzle piece). The ports are for the spare hands to be plugged into, while the groove can neatly fit one of the figure’s feet in order to keep it into place. Effective I suppose, but pretty or dynamic they are not. The figures are perfectly capable of standing on their own two feet, so this isn’t the kind of stand that was required at all.

First out of the box is predictably another entry from Kamen Rider Drive, and this time it’s Kamen Rider Chaser! It’s worth mentioning how much better the Drive figures have been handled in this line as opposed to the Gaim ones previously – we’ve gotten all three unique Riders (plus Mashin Chaser) from Drive yet Gaim only provided two (maybe three depending on how you want to look at it) different Riders out of five different figures. So good going Bandai on omitting any of Drive’s form changes from the 66 Action line, and I hope this pattern continues with Kamen Rider Ghost figures if that series proves to have a similar number of Riders. 

Sculpt-wise Kamen Rider Chaser looks pretty fantastic, but in the paintwork department he definitely leaves something to be desired. Whereas the live-action suit has splashes of silver to the body, the 66 Action figure has been moulded completely in a dull grey colour – with not even any silver thrown in for the helmet either. A while ago I would have shrugged this off as a budgetary thing, but with 66 Action Ultraman figures getting shiny silver paint jobs I see no reason why Chaser can’t get the same. The same applies to the Signal Axe accessory, which has been entirely moulded in black without any paint applied at all. Previous weapons at the very least have had the blades painted silver, so it would have been nice for them to at least include something here. Chaser’s unique hands are obviously a pair of weapon holding hands, and the figure can hold the Signal Axe in other hand.

Moving back in time as these figures usually do, the next stop is Kamen Rider Blade. Another well detailed representation of the Rider in question, Blade is a great figure with decent paint apps – he may be missing all the finer nuances of the suit (such as the red lining on the chest or any of the gold), but the silver sections all prove enough to ensure the figure doesn’t look completely bare. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for the included Blade Rouser, which again is moulded entirely in black with absolutely no paint apps whatsoever. It’s a pretty detailed sword which inevitably is never going to look the way it should on a toy like this, but no paint is pretty shoddy – especially when it’s moulded in the wrong colour in the first place. As expected the Rouser can’t clip onto Blade’s holster in anyway way, but much worse is the fact that the figure can’t even hold the damn thing very well either. You can probably make the grip tighter with some hot water, but all in all there some pretty notable disappointments to what is otherwise a fine figure.

In a perfect bit of timing with the Shinkocchou Seihou release, the third character in the wave is Kamen Rider Agito in his Ground Form. Agito’s black, gold and silver colourscheme is pretty hard to mess up even at this scale, with Bandai doing a pretty great job on both the sculpt and paintwork – only really missing out the tiniest of details that would have proved impossible to replicate at this size. Interestingly Agito’s two head crests (the standard and extended out versions) are included as separate pieces to the head, which are then plugged on. I was quite surprised by this since it isn’t at all noticeable that they aren’t part of the head, and both fit on nice and firmly. Agito’s unique hands are both in unique fighting stance poses, so you should be able to mimic at least some of the poses the larger Agito figures are capable of.

Rounding the wave off (and somewhat messing up the numbering pattern – sure he’s technically a Showa era Rider but didn’t make a notable debut until this year) is popular newcomer Kamen Rider 3, who until Super Hero Taisen GP was a mostly unknown character from a one-shot manga in 1972. As you might expect Rider 3 bears some similarity to the Rider 1 figure from the very first wave of 66 Action Riders, however with a much more detailed sculpt and the added articulation the line has benefitted from over time. The other notable difference is that Rider 3’s scarf is a separate piece that can rotate around, rather than being moulded onto the bottom of the head. The paint on Rider-3 is perhaps the most vibrant of the entire wave, and while the chains on the arms and legs are left unpainted this is perhaps more forgivable than some of the other omissions that have been made elsewhere. Rider 3’s alternate pair of hands are traditional “henshin” pose ones, which can also neatly double as karate chop action.

Despite featuring one of the best selections for a 66 Action wave, the latest set of Kamen Riders are missing some of the wow factor that made previous waves so extra special. The previous two waves have both featured stands and figures that really go above and beyond what’s expected, while these guys are lacking stands and in some cases rather minimal on the paint apps. Still, if you’ve been a big fan of the line so far this is very much more of the same, so even with these suddenly surprising flaws there’s still plenty to enjoy here. The sculpts are otherwise great, and the articulation hasn’t suffered one bit. The big question though is whether this is it for the 66 Action line? There still hasn’t been a solicitation for a new wave, and with the SHODO candy toy line now moving into nicely detailed and highly articulated figures is there still a place for everyone’s favourite line of mini Riders? Hopefully the full arrival of Kamen Rider Ghost will shed some light on this, but in the meantime fans will just have to keep their fingers crossed.

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