Thursday 18 February 2016

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Chaser

The sometimes unpredictable nature of S.H. Figuarts’ release pattern can be both a blessing and curse. On the one hand it means you can enjoy new releases from a series months after it has finished its run, but on the other it can also mean long waits for important characters or forms – with the chance of it being a Tamashii web exclusive getting ever higher. Kamen Rider Drive’s Kamen Rider Chaser is the perfect example of this – only releasing in January 2016 despite becoming quite the main form of the Roidmude Chase (aka Mashin Chaser and Proto Drive) in the final third of the show. The added cost a Tamashii web exclusive usually brings is likely a negative to a lot of people, but at the same time it usually ensures everyone has a fair chance of grabbing one while the preorder window is open. But enough rambling, it’s time to take a look at the newest hero to join in Drive’s fight against the Roidmudes!

Kamen Rider Chaser comes packaged in the new style narrow boxes used on all of the Kamen Rider Drive S.H. Figuarts releases, however lacks the clear plastic window seen on the mass release figures. In its place is a nice big headshot of the figure, complete with the Drive logo in the top corner and an appropriate black with purple lettering colour scheme. The back and left spine feature more images of the figure, along with a close up shot of the Shingou-Ax head and its main gimmick. An interesting thing to note is that upon opening the package you’ll find that Chaser’s antennae is separate from the figure and will need to be pegged in manually – presumably to avoid any breakages that might come with it being factory glued.

n some ways Kamen Rider Chaser could be considered as “perfect” version of Mashin Chaser. After all his transformation does first involving changing into his Mashin Chaser parts, before casting off the entangled motorcycle parts to reveal a more refined and powerful form. Its relative simplicity is almost the polar opposite of Mashin Chaser, however their shared design cues help maintain a very obvious link between the two. Chaser keeps things simple in terms of colour too, which both in favour and against the figure really. The accuracy can’t be faulted, but the shade of grey the suit uses does give off a bit of “unpainted grey plastic” vibe at times which can be hard to ignore when there’s so much of it. However that metallic purple highlighting piped around the body really gives the suit that much needed additional flare to make it work, as do the orange vehicle reflector compound eyes. The suit isn’t exactly without moulded detail either, covered in little dents, muscle sculpting and of course the half-engine block head and hydraulic-looking head crest. 

While this probably doesn’t come as a surprise to many collectors (after all, it was never a feature on the show itself) but the tire attached to the figure’s back cannot be removed, and thus Chaser is not compatible with any of Drive’s various Tire Koukans or the wings from the Mashin Chaser Viral Core set. It might have been a nice little feature to add to the figure, but with this line being all about accuracy the compromises they’d have likely had to made somewhere wouldn’t be worth it.

The articulation is just as great as ever, with Kamen Rider Chaser taking full advantage of the full range of movement offered by the latest Figuarts releases. With nothing in the way of restricting armour there are very few poses this figure can't pull off naturally.

Whether it’s due to his Tamashii web status or simply the fact that the character’s debut came relatively late (both show and toy-wise), Kamen Rider Chaser is pretty light on the accessory count. All that’s included here are three pairs of hands (closed fists, gripping hands and a splayed open pair) and his signature Shingou-Ax weapon. Many fans hoped that this release would also include an additional Break Gunner since Chase continued to use that weapon while in this form, but unfortunately that isn’t the case despite the gripping hands being far more suited to that than the axe. But on the bright side the Shingou-Ax looks fantastic – very nicely detailed and in perfect scale with the figure itself. It even comes with an alternate clear plastic window piece with one side darkened to recreate the axe in its “stop” and “go” modes when charging up the “Full Throttle Trigger” finisher. The darker plastic doesn’t quite give off the intended effect when connected to the axe as you can only very barely see the difference, but it’s a nice little addition nonetheless.

As was the case with Kamen Rider Mach, Chaser’s Mach Driver Honoo features a moveable section which can swing up to house his tiny Shift Bike (which is pre-attached to the figure in package). The Shift Bike is held in via a peg and can be removed and replaced with any of the alternate bikes you might have picked up from the various Mach-related releases. The bikes themselves can also be attached in the same way to the “Signal Landing Panel” (aka the side) of the Shingou-Ax to mimic preparation for the weapon’s finishing attack.

Kamen Rider Chaser might feel to some like a fairly basic release that wasn’t deserving of being relegated to Tamashii web exclusive statue, but the figure is of the same high quality that made the other Kamen Rider Drive releases so great. While perhaps not quite as eye-catching as the monstrous Mashin Chaser, this is a design that runs with relative simplicity in comparison and really makes it work. All it needed was a little bit more variety in the accessories and that really would have sweetened the package even more. For fans of Drive completing the trinity of heroic riders seems like a no brainer, so be sure to grab one before the aftermarket prices begin to take their toll.

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