Tuesday 19 January 2016

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Super Saiyan Son Goku Super Warrior Awakening Ver.

The S.H. Figuarts line’s humble beginnings may have started with tokusatsu and the Kamen Rider franchise but as the years gone by it has expanded further and further – delving into both anime and live-action film. Arguably one its most popular anime sub-lines has been the Dragon Ball Z range, which despite being mostly limited to Tamashii web exclusives in Japan has proven to be a huge success in the West and constantly has new prototypes appearing at events. With Dragon Ball back in the hearts and minds of Japanese viewers full-swing thanks to the recent movies and Dragon Ball Super series, Bandai Tamashii Nations have released their first mass release Dragon Ball figure in since 2010 with Super Saiyan Goku Super Warrior Awakening Version. This figure is based on Goku’s climactic battle with Freeza on Planet Namek when he first tapped into his Super Saiyan abilities.

Although the Dragon Ball Z Figuarts have been using the same basic packaging aesthetic since the first Super Saiyan Goku figure, the fact that there hasn’t been a mass release figure in the line for a considerable while makes Awakening Goku feel like something special. It seems that Tamashii Nations agree with this as well, not just because of the promotion they’ve given the figure but also because the box design and layout is completely unique. Goku comes in a white matte-finish box with the exposed plastic window on the left-hand side (revealing a good look at the figure itself but hiding all of the accessories) and the right taking up by a picture of the figure mid-power up. Both this image on the front and the back of the box also advertise the Tamashii Effect Aura parts – a separate release which I’ll talk more about further down in the review. It’s fairly simple but the packaging looks great – the matte white gives it an almost manga-look about it while leaving the pictures and the figure itself to really grab your attention. It’ll be interesting to see if future Dragon Ball retail releases (Beerus and Saiyan Armour Trunks) adopt this packaging style or if it remains a one-off.

An interesting thing to note is that the Japanese packaging denotes the figure as “Son Gokou”, the Western edition of the figure instead has “Son Goku” printed along with the Funimation logo at the bottom of the box.

Although this figure is labelled as the “Super Warrior Awakening” version, accuracy enthusiasts will quickly point out that this technically isn’t how Goku appeared when he turned Super Saiyan for the very first time. At that point his gi was far less torn and his torso was still covered, but Bandai have instead drawn inspiration from his appearance much later in the fight as his clothes became more torn. Not exactly a big deal or anything, but something worth noting just for trivia’s sake. 

The base Goku mould has gone through a number of different variants since its first release way back in 2010 - not just as Goku himself but also more recently as the Mystic Gohan figure. It stood the test of time for a while but with the advancements the line has made recently it is beginning to show its age, making it the perfect time for Bandai to roll out an all new-mould here. Sculpt-wise this figure really is a sight to behold. From the muscle detailing to the ripped edges of the clothing, Goku looks like he’s been pulled straight out of battle. The colouring is equally impressive, with some nice shading on both the orange gi and the matt-yellow hair. As for the faces, Bandai have used tampoed decals to get the look just right, and even though the older figures were serviceable enough it really does make a huge difference.

While the copious areas of exposed flesh do result in some slightly more obvious joint-cuts (particularly the knees), on the whole the sculpt feels fairly seamless and joints such as the bicep swivels are well-integrated. Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of this figure engineering-wise are the hips, which utilise an extending outwards mechanism only seen on a handful of recent anime-based Figuarts. These hips not only offer as good a range of motion as the pull-down variety, they also do it far more seamlessly. One could argue that the segmented build of the hips can prove rather unsightly on certain figures (see Naruto’s Kakashi for reference) but thanks to the various folds and tears here it looks just as great as it works. 

The rest of the articulation is to the usual Figuarts high standard, including a ball jointed head and neck, ball jointed shoulders, bicep swivels, ball jointed wrists, an ab crunch, double hinged elbows and knees, (limited) ankle tilts and a toe-cut hinge to cap it all off.

Moving onto the accessories and anyone expecting some sort of Kamehameha or similar beam effect part is going to be a bit disappointed, as Goku’s extra parts are made up entirely of additional hands and faces. Including the parts already attached to the figure in-package there are a total of three faceplates (stoic, screaming and a gritted teeth expression) and five pairs of hands ranging from standard fists to various fighting poses and of course Kamehameha-blast ones. All three faces look equally superb and the hands haven’t proven to be any trouble to take on and off, so there’s very little to complain about. Collectors who have already dipped into the Dragon Ball Z line probably have some effect parts to borrow from another figure, while newcomers might want to consider the great custom work being done by Can of Beams as an alternative. His products are well worth your money.  

Of course the real reason for the lack of effect parts isn’t how much it would raise the price tag, but rather that Goku’s November 2015 release also corresponded with the latest addition to the ever-growing Tamashii Effect range – Energy Aura Effects that come in both (Super Saiyan) Yellow and (Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan) Blue. There are probably some people out there scoffing at the fact Tamashii Nations are now putting out “sold separately” effect parts, but given the size and quality of them its understandable why they come under their own brand now. Some sort of beam effect would have been nice to get here, but the intention was always to cross-promote the figure and the effect part and for once I can’t really blame them. Goku is an amazing figure, but I sorely regret not immediately jumping on the effect parts to go with him. You can see from images online just how much they add to a display.

This may be my first foray into the world of Dragon Ball Z Figuarts, but I feel pretty comfortable saying that on quality alone Super Saiyan Goku Awakening Ver. is the very best the sub-line has to offer. The articulation isn’t just a cut above all the DBZ Figuarts that have preceded it, it also rivals the best of the S.H. Figuarts line in general. Between that and the brilliant sculpting work put into this figure all that’s left to say is that in terms of quality this should be THE go-to figure for anyone looking to pick up a Goku but not really sure where to start (unless of course you are looking for a specific version). The only real bit of advice I have when buying this figure is to get the corresponding aura effect parts to go along with it – Goku alone is well worth his asking price, but going that little bit extra will really bring out the very best of him.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Cool pics. I know nothing about it, but my nephew used to play Dragon Ball Z years ago. Dude is muscular!