Wednesday 23 December 2015

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Knuckle Kurumi Arms

Back in May 2014 when Bandai Tamashii Nations released the first of the Kamen Rider Gaim S.H. Figuarts figures, fans wondered just how long it would take them to get through the rather extensive cast. Just look at the similar sized Kamen Rider Ryuki for example, which had the first of its 13 Riders released in August 2011 but wasn’t completed until November 2014 (and still has a few Contract Monsters missing here and there). But although Gaim still has a few movie exclusive Riders, bit-part characters and monsters left untouched or without a release date, the main cast was neatly rounded off at the end of November 2015 with Kamen Rider Knuckle Kurumi Arms. Another Tamashii Web Exclusive, Knuckle returns Gaim to its roots with another standard armoured Rider, following on from the completion of the New Generation Riders with Kamen Rider Sigurd in the previous month.

Here we are again for another lesson in fruit (and nuts) cross-sections, with Kamen Rider Knuckle's packaging continuing the standard Kamen Rider Gaim design of the figure against a white background featuring their corresponding fruit (in this case, a walnut). The colour chosen for the spine and background is a very fitting orange, which isn't quite far off the pale orangey-brown colour some walnut shells can be. The back also features multiple pictures of the figure in various poses, along with that eyes closeup Tamashii Nations are so keen to show off with this series.

Upon opening the packaging you'll be treated with the sight of Knuckle with normal hands attached rather than his Kurumi Bombers, but once you've gotten over how strange this looks you'll find all of the pieces spread across the single plastic tray.

Despite being based on the hard-shelled walnut, Kamen Rider Knuckle is a fairly light armoured character compared to some of the more extravagant designs that have come out of Kamen Rider Gaim. The Arms itself consists of small sized chest and backplates, alone with oval-shaped shoulderpads which sit fairly close to the arms. These, along with the helmet's backsection, are primarily coloured in a pale orange colour which even when painted can't help but look a little plasticy. This is definitely true of the Kurumi Bomber hands, which aren't painted and so don't even have a much lesser finish to them. Still, the colours are accurate to the suit itself and contrast nicely with the silver linings and black undersuit. Knuckle is in fact the second character in Gaim to use a black undersuit (the first being Kurokage), but thanks to the brighter armour colours here it feels so much more effective and little touches such as the fabric like folds are all the clearer.

Minimal armour means minimal articulation hindrance, so Knuckle is comfortably able to pull off the poses expected of him. As a physical brawler you'll want to get all kinds of punchy action poses out of him, and Tamashii Nations have you nicely covered as usual. The shoulder pads are attached via double balljoints on a moving arm, allowing them to come away from the arm when posing only to be slotted back into place when ready. The usual excellent array of balljoints and double hinged elbows/knees takes care of the rest. The current Figuarts body is a thing of near-perfection, which makes it all the more baffling why it seems Bandai are returning to the old "swing-down hips" variety with the Kamen Rider Ghost figures next year.

Meanwhile Knuckle’s accessory count is perhaps one of the more interesting (and debatable) parts of this release. Kamen Rider Knuckle’s signature weapons are the Kurumi Bombers – a pair of giant, walnut-like boxing gloves which Knuckle uses to live up to his name. As part of Kurumi Arms itself these are officially designated as weapons, but for those who’ve watched the series it isn’t hard to just accept these as Knuckle’s default hands. After all – he doesn’t have any armours (aside from Jimber Marron which also has giant glove hands), which mean his proper hands are permanently hidden outside the transformation sequence. That however hasn’t stopped Bandai from including three pairs of standard hands here (closed fists, open palms and what look to be item/weapon/bike holding hands), which will most likely be completely ignored in favour of the Bombers. Still, at least it gives customisers something to work with if they’re making their own Knuckle forms. 

Rather than fitting over the fists, the Kurumi Bombers plug directly into the wrist joints like any normal hand would. With the socket being inside the gloves attaching them obviously restricts the movement of the joint to the point where the only thing it can really still do is rotate. But to be honest, that’s about all you need a giant pair of fists to do.

And of course, who could forget the additional closed Kurumi Lockseed to compliment the open one already attached to the Driver? It’s been a while since we last saw a Sengoku Driver among the Kamen Rider Gaim Figuarts but as you can probably guess nothing has really changed – the Lockseeds can be detatched from the central plate and swapped accordingly, and the belt’s “knife” lever is on a peg and can be moved up and down. The one thing that perhaps is worth mentioning about Knuckle’s Driver is that he is the only figure to have a silver strap belt with no Driver faceplate. As a pretty late addition to the show, Knuckle’s Driver is one of the mass production variants and as such lacks the face plate and yellow belt.

Although Lord Baron’s release in June 2016 suggests that we aren’t completely done with Kamen Rider Gaim just yet (there are still a fair few others left unaccounted for too), the arrival of Kamen Rider Knuckle does feel a little like the end of an era. As the last main character in the show to be accounted for, those who have been collecting this series’ figures since Gaim and Baron first released a year and a half ago will doubt have a huge sense of satisfaction from finally having the full line up on their shelves. It helps that Knuckle himself is also a pretty great figure – perhaps lacking in comparison to some of Gaim’s more notable releases but still a high-tier Figuart in his own right.

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