Thursday 25 February 2016

Toybox REVIEW: Nendoroid Kirby

Between Good Smile Company, Bandai Tamashii Nations and Jakks Pacific, one thing collectors don't have right now is a shortage of Nintendo figures. After years of fans clamouring for plastic representations of their favourite video game characters, it seems that everyone is clamouring for the golden tickets that are Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda,  Pokemon, Fire Emblem and more. One toy line that's managed to tackle all four of those franchises is of course Nendoroid, and now it's adding one more to that already impressive resume. The puffy pink sphere known as Kirby first appeared way back in 1992 in the Game Boy game Kirby's Dream Land (Hoshi no Kirby in Japan), before progressing on into a franchise that is still going on strong today. Kirby has also been a staple character in every Super Smash Bros. instalment thus far, as well as starring in his own anime series and several manga titles. Not bad for a character that can barely talk.

Given his body Kirby might seem like an odd choice for the Nendoroid line, and upon his announcement many collectors wondered just how Good Smile Company would go about tackling a character that is quite unlike anything they usually produce for the line. Proportionally he might seem right at home here, but how have GSC made this figure so much more than just a great-looking statue?

Despite his small stature, Kirby's box is actually longer than the usual square Nendoroid packaging to provide plenty of room for all the goodies packed inside. The box itself maintains the same basic design and artwork shared across the whole Nendoroid line since its rebranding a few years ago, albeit this time in a fitting white and pink colour scheme. That isn't to say that box doesn't have any wholly unique Kirby flare though, as the blue insert backing card has a cartoony cloudscape printed on it. I'm not sure how common it is for Nendoroid releases to get backing cards with their own unique prints, but this is the first one that I've personally come across in my experience of the line. It might not seem like much (especially since it's something many will barely even acknowledge), but in the wake of more uniform packaging its a great little piece that helps every figure feel a little bit more unique packaging-wise.

It should go without saying that proportionally Kirby doesn't have a single flaw. Admittedly there's very little to get wrong with a pink sphere with stubby arms and legs, but GSC have nailed it as far as sculpt is concerned. The paintwork on the face is superb, with the mouth itself not just painted on flat but actually dented into the faceplate. Even the feel of the figure is almost just as one might expect Kirby to be, with the body coated in a smooth rubbery-feeling plastic. There's a barely visible seam running around the body which is where the faceplate connects, but otherwise the only hole on the figure is a tiny one one the back where the included Nendoroid stand plugs in. So how do the limbs connect? The answer is magnets - each limb has a small magnet built into it, with the corresponding one built into the body itself allowing for an almost seamless connect that allows the limbs to run over the whole sphere. This isn't the first time the Nendoroid line has experimented with magnets, but in the past that seems to have mostly been limited to stand connection - this is a whole new ball game. Not only does the magnet feature make this Kirby completely accurate to the way his body works in the games, but it also in a way make it one of the most articulated figures the line has ever produced.

Unfortunately Kirby's rounded feet don't offer much in the way of balance, which is why a small pink plastic strip has also been included to plug into the back of the body to give it any additional support it may need. While I can understand how this might frustrate some, accuracy should definitely come first in this regard and I don't consider the need for a stand (be it the pink strip or the full one) that much of a hindrance.

Given the size of the box in compared to the size of the figure, you can bet that Kirby also comes with an amazing array of accessories as well. Firstly Kirby comes packaged with three additional faceplates - a puffed-up floating/inhaled enemy face, a cross action face and a signature inhaling expression to go alongside the standard happy face. All three additional faces are wonderfully detailed, all featuring varying degrees of moulded in detail and the puffed-up face adding an extra bit of bulk to the body. The plates themselves don't connect like the ones on standard Nendoroids either, instead twisting on and off into a firmly locked position. Also included is a nicely detailed Star Rod, which Kirby is able to hold onto properly thanks to alternate arm with a peg cut into inside. 

Collectors who ordered Kirby from Good Smile Company's online store will have also been treated to a bonus Maxim Tomato accessory, which pegs into the hand in a similar way to the wand.

But of course what would a Kirby figure be without some power-ups to go with him as well? Included with this release are the necessary parts for both the Sword and Fire copy abilities, which consist of both the hat and a weapon/effect part for each. The magnets for the hats feel a little weaker than the ones that hold the limbs in place, but they still do the job well enough and hold them in place. Just like the wand the sword plugs into the alternate hand, while the fireball effect part comes with its own smaller articulated stand to hold it in place just in front of the figure's mouth. As fantastic as the Sword pieces look, the Fire pieces really steal the show with their beautiful red and orange paint jobs. 

What is about to follow might sound like exaggeration or hyperbole, but Nendoroid Kirby is quite possibly the most perfect figure I've ever handled. That isn't to say it's necessarily the best figure I have or even my favourite one, but everything about it - from the sculpt, engineering and accessory count, is perfect. The use of a magnet-based system for accurate articulation wasn't just a genius idea on Good Smile's part, it was perfectly executed and I fail to see how they or any other company could potentially improve upon it. If you're a fan of the Kirby franchise, a Super Smash Bros. player, a general Nintendo fan or even just an avid Nendoroid collector this is one figure that shouldn't be missed out on. It truly is a masterpiece.

Nendoroid Kirby has already proved so popular that a reissue has already been announced for June 2016, so if you missed out on one the first time around be sure to get your preorder in now to avoid disappointment. Meanwhile a Nendoroid Meta Knight figure was also announced at this year's Winter Wonderfest, and while that may not be getting a confirmed release date anytime soon it'll be exciting to see the line apply that same brilliance displayed here once again.

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