Wednesday 30 March 2016

Toybox REVIEW: Bandai Figmes Dragon Ball Z Minifigures

Ever since LEGO started delving into the world of licensed franchises everybody has something they would like to see the construction toy juggernaut tackle. Unfortunately the wait for Dragon Ball Z themed LEGO has proven rather fruitless, so Bandai have decided to take things into their own hands somewhat with a new candy toy line - Figmes. Whether exactly this is a one-off or a line Bandai has expansive plans with is yet to be seen, but looking at this set they've certainly started things off with a bang. Included in this set are Goku, Vegeta (in both normal and Super Saiyan varieties), Piccolo, Kuririn, Freeza and Cell. If you've ever dreamed of adding the Z Fighters to your LEGO collection, then this is one set of candy toys you won't want to miss out on.

Each figure comes packaged in a small red box featuring the Figmes logo, a selection of character images (the front lacks images of the standard Goku and Vegeta figures) and of course the Dragon Ball Z series logo. The back then displays the whole assortment included in the wave, along with a number with is also printed on the plastic bag inside. Unlike a lot of Bandai candy toys these figure are COMPLETELY blind boxed, so there's no telling who you might get until you open it. Those buying a whole case will receive ten figures, made up of the entire set along with two randomly packed doubles. And of course, being candy toys each box also includes one piece of soda-flavoured bubblegum. 

While these figures have an all to obvious likeness to LEGO's own brand of minifigures, the quality isn't quite the same. That isn't to say that Bandai's offerings feel especially cheap, but the plastic has an almost translucent quality to that it you definitely wouldn't see with LEGO. While largely compatible with LEGO figures, the main difference to note is that the connection between the heads and hair on these figures is slightly different. Rather than a raised section the head instead have a hole straight through the top, which is there the the hairpieces/hats plug into. Unfortunately this means that they aren't completely compatible with LEGO brand minifigures unless of course you take the head off with them.

Covering these figures in numerical order, the first one of the set shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. Of course it's Son Goku - who else could it have been? This Goku figure is based on his time spent on Namek, where he donned his iconic orange gi with his own symbol meaning 'wisdom' or 'enlightenment'. The gi is nicely detailed with everything it should have, and the hair nicely moulded. I believe Bandai made the right choice going with a determined facial expression, as it nicely conveys both the battle-hungry warrior side of the character as well as his light-headed obliviousness. 

Of course where there's a normal Goku figure, a Super Saiyan version naturally isn't far behind. Rather than include a separate head/hairpiece with the standard Goku, Bandai have instead opted to make this a different figure altogether. Super Saiyan Goku uses exactly the same body as the normal Goku figure, however the head now has a green-eyed angry expression and the black hair has been replaced with the all too familiar golden yellow locks. It would have been nice if Bandai had gone for a battle damaged gi for the body instead, but I guess a few repaints needed to be shoved into the set and this was the easiest way to go about it.

Where Goku goes Vegeta isn't too far behind, and so the Prince of Saiyans is the next character to receive the "totally not LEGO" minifigure treatment. Vegeta comes in the blue jumpsuit and Saiyan armour he wore from the Namek saga onwards, which lacks the shoulderpads and waist sections of his original armour. The armour is painted straight onto the figure and unfortunately not an additional piece worn over the top, which is a shame because not only would the figure have a bit more meat to it that way but it would also mean it could be removed for a Buu-saga look Vegeta. Still, the facial expression is especially good here - if there's one thing a good Vegeta needs, its a good smirk and this definitely has that.

So of course Vegeta also gets the same treatment as Goku did, with a Super Saiyan version taking up the fourth spot in the wave. Again the body is completely identical to that of the standard Vegeta figure, while the head and hairpiece are new. However unlike Super Saiyan Goku who received a completely different hairpiece, Vegeta's is simply a blonde recolouring. 

Now that the Saiyans are out of the way it's time to move onto some of the more interesting offerings in this wave. Piccolo is especially interesting as he comes with variety of additional parts, including a hat (in place of a hairpiece), cloth cape and plastic shoulderpad section to fit over it. This not only makes the minifigure bulkier, but can be removed to reveal Piccolo in simply his purple training outfit. Unfortunately his ears are attached to the hat so have to come off with the clothes, but even without them the figure still looks pretty good stripped down.

Rounding off the Z Fighters for this wave is Kuririn (or Krillin if you'd prefer), a figure which many will be disappointed to hear is the same size as the others rather than being noticeably shorter. Body-wise Kuririn may seem identical to the two Goku releases, how the gi does actually have two major differences. Not only is it lacking the blue undersuit, but the emblem on the back is of course Master Roshi's. So if you're looking for a late-Dragon Ball/early Dragon Ball Z Goku, all you need to do is stick Goku's head on this body. Kuririn is also one of the two figures in this set to not use any sort of hat or hairpiece, revealing the rather prominent hole on top.

A Dragon Ball Z minifigure set would hardly be worth its asking price without a few villains, so to round things off are the show's two most iconic villains. First up is Freeza, who recently gained a (short-lived) new lease on life in the Resurrection 'F' movie and accompanying Dragon Ball Super adaptation. Sadly Freeza is quite possibly the most underwhelming figure in this set, both due to a lack in finer detail and general boringness. As soon as the set was announced I was curious as to how Bandai were planning to handle Freeza's tail, and the answer was clearly 'not very well'. The tail not just only drawn onto the back of the body, but done in particularly cheap-looking way. While a 3D tail might have been asking for too much, drawing a wiggly line and then calling it a day isn't the most ideal of alternatives.

Rounding off the set is my favourite Dragon Ball Z villain (well, after Vegeta) - Perfect Cell. After the plainness of the Freeza minifigure, Cell is a considerable improvement sporting lots of nice detail as well as a 'hat' for his horn-like protuberances and shoulder pad piece which includes the wings and sucked in tail. All unpainted of course, but the moulding is there and it looks great.

While in terms of quality Bandai's Figmes line isn't quite up to LEGO's high standard, the fact these are both in scale with and compatible with LEGO means they're definitely going to catch the eye of collectors. It would have been nice if Bandai had thrown in some additional pieces with these guys (whether they be in the form of accessories or alternate heads) but they're certainly off to a good start here. It'll be interesting to see if this was simply a one-off or if Bandai has plans for another wave of Dragon Ball Z figures, or even expanding the line to other obvious money-spinners like Sailor Moon or One Piece. I'm still mourning the apparent loss of the 66 Action line Bandai, don't pick me up and then instantly knock me back down with another line that's just begging for more.

No comments: