Tuesday 3 November 2015

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Kiva-la

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Kiva-la is perhaps one of the most surprising offers from Tamashii Nations yet. As a movie-exclusive rider from five years ago with a total screen time of about 10-15 minutes, the character has somehow defied all odds to not only come out before the main series Rider her design is based on (Kamen Rider Kiva) but also be the first female character from the franchise to receive a mass release figure. Quite unexpected, but when you consider that Kamen Rider Abyss managed to do a similar thing a few years back it just goes to show that Bandai/Japan really love Kamen Rider Decade. Kamen Rider Kiva-la appeared in the movie Kamen Rider x Kamen Rider W & Decade: Movie War 2010 as the Rider form of series regular Natsumi Hikari, as she uses the power of Kiva-la to fulfil her role as the one to defeat the Destroyer of Worlds.

When it comes to packaging design, there isn’t a whole lot of pre-existing stuff for Kiva-la to go off. The previous Kiva and Decade figures both come from the early days of plain one-colour packaging, while Abyss appropriately borrowed the Ryuki design for his box. So what we get here is the new slimmer-style Figuarts packaging in a plain white finish, with a nice faded headshot of the figure in the corner. The box also semi-confirms (I say semi, because no one is going to start calling Basco ‘Vasco’) that the official spelling of the character as Kiva-la, rather than ‘Kivala’ or even the ‘Kivaara’ you might have seen floating around in various fansubs. The back of the box has a bit more colour to it however, with a simplified version of Kamen Rider Kiva’s stain-glassed window aesthetic used as a background.

Although technically classed as a Decade Rider, Kiva-la is for all intensive purposes a female version of Kamen Rider Kiva and as such borrows from the Kiva aesthetic instead. Kiva-la is a vampire-themed rider, complete with batwing shaped armour plating and a vampiresque helmet with visible fangs moulded into it. Kiva himself is a pretty ornamental Rider with plenty of intricacies to the suit, and if Kiva-la is anything to go by he is going to look fantastic when he eventually makes his way to the Figuarts line. Kiva-la is moulded in a beautiful pearly white plastic, with splashes of equally vibrant metallic purple paint to compliment the black and silver sections on the suit (along with a few touches of gold). The huge eyes show off the compound eye effect of the Kamen Rider Figuarts excellently, giving the helmet a pretty menacing look if captured in the right light.

But despite being released in 2015, Kiva-la is a figure that’s like been on Bandai’s back-burner for some time judging by the old style swing-down hip articulation she uses. Not that this is particularly a bad thing, since you can still get some incredible movement out of them for poses. As you’d expect the upper-shoulder articulation is hindered by those giant shoulder pads floating just away from them, but there is at least plenty of room to move the arm in the surrounding area that they encapsulate. A similar thing can be said for the ‘skirt’ piece surrounding the legs, which is actually hinged and so can swing back a little bit if needed. 

With high-heeled shoes and ankle-tilts limited by the silver gauntlets surrounding them, balancing problems was quite easily one of the biggest issues that could have befallen Kiva-la. However surprisingly her light frame means that balancing isn’t quite the issue I expected it to be, and while not quite as nimble as her flat-footed contemporaries she doesn’t have too much trouble standing in action poses. The other issue that usually comes with a smaller frame is smaller wrist joints, but again Kiva-la gets passed that with nice sturdy ball-joints that don’t ever feel like they could snap apart.

With only a very minimal amount of screen time to her name, Kiva-la is expectedly light on the accessories. Included with the figure are an additional three pairs of hands in various poses, along with her signature “Kiva-la Saber” sword. Though relatively simple the Saber does have a nice little bit of sculpting to it, and the colours and aesthetic are a perfect match to the actual suit. While it’s no surprise that Kiva-la is the kind of character that would come with the bare minimum, that isn’t to say there weren’t any other possible pieces she could have come with. A properly sized Kiva-la would have been a great accessory since she is pretty simplified on the belt, and if you want to get into the realms of wishful thinking the energy wings she sprouts during her ‘Sonic Stab’ finishing attack would have been great for a really nice “killing Decade” pose. Still, getting the figure the way we did is already way more than most people could have expected so it feels wrong to be too hard on the light accessory count – especially since in reality it didn’t miss out anything that important.

There are going to many people who complain about Kamen Rider Kiva-la getting the treatment she has when there are still numerous ‘more important’ Riders left unaccounted for in the S.H. Figuarts line. There are also others who are instantly going to overlook buying the figure for the same reason. However those people would be fools to miss out, because this is a surprisingly great figure. Sure the engineering is a little bit dated and it’s a relatively light release in terms of content, but the sculpting and paintwork really are something to behold. Kiva-la is a beautiful and (for now) quite unique looking Figuart, rounding off the Kamen Rider Decade cast in a great way. The fact she was a mass release figure means that she is more readily available, and in turn will hopefully mean more people think about giving her a fair chance. 

Besides, she’s also the closest thing fans are going to get to a modern Kiva figure in the line any time soon it seems.

1 comment:

Artriven said...

Totally agree, I also picked her up to fill up Kiva's place for now