Wednesday 25 November 2015

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider 3

Who’s that guy! 

Super Hero Taisen GP may not be a particularly good film, but it will undoubtedly go down in infamy for bringing one lost piece of Kamen Rider history to the silver screen. After initially appearing in a 1972 manga story battling against General Black, Kamen Rider 3 made the leap to the onscreen Rider universe in 2015 when he was reimagined as Shocker’s timeline changing ultimate weapon. This version of the character was F-1 racer Kyoichiro Kuroi, who defeated Riders 1 and 2 to alter the timeline. Forever burdened with guilt from his victory over the heroes, with the help of Kamen Rider Drive Kuroi eventually turned to the side of justice – helping defeat Shocker before fading out of existence.

Kamen Rider 3’s return to the franchise was suitably hyped prior to the release of GP, and his significance is also marked by the fact that Bandai Tamashii Nations actually made his S.H. Figuarts a mass release item. While not the first movie exclusive character to receive such a thing, it’s still a fairly exclusive club nonetheless.

When I first heard that Rider 3 would be joining the Figuarts line, my internal dilemma was where exactly he was going to fit in my display. Should he go with the Kamen Rider Drive Riders since he came from that time, or should he be displayed alongside Riders 1 and 2 like a proper Showa Rider? This isn’t the first dilemma of this kind either, with Abyss and Kiva-la also sort of skirting the line between two different series in the franchise. 

The packaging however aims to be the best of both worlds. Rider 3 comes in one of the new, slimmer style boxes first seen with the Drive figures but with a few Showa-inspired twists. The general layout is the same as the Drive characters, but the logo in the corner has been replaced with that of the Tachibana Racing Club. While the logo mainly serves as the emblem of the original Double Riders, it seems to have since been adopted of sorts by Shocker – appearing both on Rider 3 and 4’s suits and equipment. Rider 3’s box is also a bit thicker than previous ones in this style as the pieces are spread across two clear plastic trays inside. One houses the figure and the additional hands, while the smaller one underneath has the scarf and other accessories.

Kamen Rider 3 is the perfect blend of old and new. As iconic as Rider 1 might be, it’s fair to say that the design is getting on a bit in years (personally I love the retro charm of the Showa suits, but that’s just me). Kamen Rider 3 takes that base design and brings it nicely into 2015, combining it with obvious influences from the Kamen Rider The First/The Next films as well as some of the S.I.C. line re-imaginings. The rounded body armour of the original Riders becomes sharp and angular, fitting with the idea of him not only being a villain Rider – but that the Riders were originally intended to be agents of evil. As well as having demonic yellow compound eyes, the insect-mouth section of the helmet also solidifies this. Keen-eyed collectors might be quick to point out that the figure lacks the black wash the armour has on the actual suit, but otherwise it’s a pretty perfect representation of the character. 

Closer inspection of the figure will also reveal of numerous intricacies this figure has. Take the cuffs around the wrists and ankles for example – not only do they have chain links attached, but they also have Shocker logos sculpted into them. Meanwhile the Typhoon belt is tied in a knot at the back rather than looping all the way around. The colour combination used makes every little detail stand out, making Rider 3 stand out far more than his Showa era brothers.

However despite the obvious aesthetics changes it’s fair to assume that this Rider 3 body is still largely based off of 1 and 2’s various figures, which means there isn’t a whole lot of change when it comes to articulation. This is especially clear in the hips, which are of the swing-down variety rather than the newer style ball joints. Another little nitpick would be that the shoulders aren’t able to swing forwards like some newer releases, which again isn’t a deal breaker but does give the arms slightly less reach. Everything else here is as great as usual though, and Rider 3 is still able to pull off a wide selection of heroic (or villainous) poses. The scarf connects via a ball on the neck, and can be extremely fiddly to get on properly. That said, once attached it’s unlikely to ever fall off unintentionally and can be freely spun around to suit the pose.

Rider 3 also comes with a decent range of accessories, following in his brothers’ footsteps of coming with a variety of effect parts to make up for the lack in physical weaponry. Included here are an additional six hands in various poses (sadly no grabbing hands suitable for weapon holding or bike riding are present), Rider Kick effect part and ‘Typhoon Rocket’ effect parts for the belt. The Rider Kick part is actually identical to the one previously packaged with the ‘Shin’ versions of Riders 1 and 2, but in a greener shade of translucent blue plastic to make it feel a little more unique. Unfortunately, as great as the effect part looks it’s just as fiddly as ever and prone to falling off since it doesn’t really clip on properly. 

The Typhoon Rockets are a different story though. These are attached by removing and replacing the standard rocket pieces from either side of the belt. With each one featuring unique plug sizes for each side, they fit in snugly and aren’t likely to pop off without a bit of force. Since they do sit parallel against the figure there is a chance of the legs knocking them off or loosening them though so any wide-legged poses are instantly hindered. They look fantastic when attached though, and as a unique feature of Rider 3 definitely feel like much more of a highlight than the kick part.

For a character whose reputation probably counts for more than his actual appearances, Kamen Rider 3 is a pretty great figure. It's a bit of a shame he uses an older Figuarts build and doesn't come with his own unique Rider Kick effect part, but this is a solid figure nonetheless. This modern take on the classic Rider design looks fantastic with Showa and Heisei era Riders alike, so makes the perfect addition to collections of any shape or size. And by being a mass release figure, hopefully it shouldn't be too hard to track down either.

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