Friday 1 April 2016

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Kamen Rider Decade

Kamen Rider releases in the S.H. Figuarts line might not be as frequent or as plenty as they once were, but the Shinkocchou Seihou sub-line releases have ensured that they're still the ones everyone still talks about. Despite only a handful of releases in the past three years, Shinkocchou Seihou offers the very best Bandai Tamashii Nations have to offer - combining the usual Figuarts quality with improved sculpting and accuracy to create perfect replicas of the onscreen suits. With the exception of Kamen Rider Hibiki (who was a brand new entry), the releases have all followed a specific pattern as well - mirroring the release of the main Riders as they originally debuted in the S.H. Figuarts line. First came Kabuto, followed by Kuuga and then Agito - and now it's the time of the Destroyer of Worlds and tenth Heisei era Kamen Rider - Kamen Rider Decade.

As has been the case with all Shinkocchou Seihou releases, Decade comes packaged in a rather special looking two-piece “iPhone” style box. The top features a filtered close-up of the headsculpt and “Masked Rider Decade” stamped in silver lettering across the black sides. The bottom features a few full-body images of the figure. Inside the figure and its contents are spread across two trays, with the figure itself on the top and a smaller accessory tray hidden underneath.

Although a direct comparison with the original Kamen Rider Decade Figuart can be found just below, you don't need that to see just how much of an improvement the Shinkocchou Seihou version is. The S.H. Figuarts line has come a long long way in seven years (crazy to think that the original Decade figure is nearly that old) and this new version utilises every bit of that advancement. Although the body sports immaculate sculpting, eyes are immediately drawn to the DecaDriver - now properly scaled and painted with tiny logos of the nine previous Heisei era Riders. The backing plate even has the word "Decade" moulded into it! The only area compromises have had to be made due to this being an action figure are the cuffs around the wrist, which have had a section cut out of them to maximise articulation in the elbow region. A very small price to pay for the movement it allows, and something that in no way takes away from the beautiful look of this figure.

Prior to the announcement of Shinkocchou Seihou Decade I can’t really say that I was unhappy with my original Violent Emotion release. However as was the case with the release of the Ryuga Garo, the arrival of a new figure with modern Figuarts engineering has highlighted just how dated and antiquated the original seems in comparison. The Shinkocchou Seihou release is larger, sports better sculpting, more accurate colouring, more vibrant eyes and far superior articulation. It does lack the die cast metal feet of the original, but honestly die cast is overrated when it comes to this line so nothing truly of value has been lost. Kamen Rider Decade might have been as desperate of a renewal as Kabuto, Kuuga or Agito, but the upgrade has certainly made a huge difference.

Along with an improved look comes improved articulation, with this new Decade sporting all the highly versatile joints that have helped make the line so popular. Although the sizeable shoulder pads do offer some restriction in that area (just like the real-life suit would), the fact that they are connected via a peg with a ball joint at either end allows that a good degree of versatility when posing. The figure also sports a double ball-jointed head and neck section, an extremely poseable ball-jointed waist section, "new" Figuarts style ball-jointed hips, ball-jointed wrists, double-hinge knees and elbows, ankle rockers and the obligatory hinged toe-section to cap it all off.

Shinkocchou Seihou Decade’s accessory count is largely similar to that of the original Decade Figuarts, however as you’d expect the weapons have gone through a rather notable upgrade in terms of moulding, detail and accuracy. However Bandai have also thrown in a few brand new surprises into the mix as well. Included are four additional pairs of hands (including a pair which look to be compatible with the previously released Machine Decader) and the Ride Booker in book, gun and sword forms. All three feature a peg to clip onto the side of the best (although why you’d want to do this with the gun and sword pieces I don’t know – maybe it was just for consistency?), and the book version is also capable of opening up to reveal moulded card storage detailing.

Also included is an alternate “Violent Emotion” head, which is the form Decade takes in the Kamen Rider x Kamen Rider W & Decade: Movie Taisen 2010 movie when he accepts his role as the “Destroyer of Worlds” and partakes in the Rider War. This form was also the second version of the original Kamen Rider Decade Figuart, which also included a slightly more accurate standard head as a bonus. To some it may seem like the only difference between the two heads is the forehead ‘jewel’ (which is purple instead of yellow here), however this is one other difference – underneath the eyes the black section continues off the helmet shape and flick upwards, creating two little wing-like protuberances. The differences may be minimal, but the two are still different and it’s great to see that head also included here for a release that’s as complete as possible.

But arguably the most exciting accessory that comes with Decade is the one that is also completely unique to this release – a removable DecaDriver with alternate ‘open’ front piece. This front piece can be clipped onto the figure without having to remove the whole belt, and (like the standard version already connected) features a small slit where a card can be placed. This accessory isn’t just exciting for the Decade figure, but a removable DecaDriver FINALLY means it can be placed on any other figure with a removable belt – thus creating Decade when he transforms into any of the previous Kamen Riders. Taking figures apart to remove their belts may seem like a scary process, but if you’re prepared to brave it you will find that the results are ever so satisfying.

Finally, what would a Kamen Rider Decade release be without a selection of cards? While the original featured a number of cards which required to be cut out, they were strangely absent from the subsequent Violent Emotion release. This Decade on the other hand features a sheet of 15 beautifully detailed and laminated cards, pre-punched and ready to be removed. These cards include all 10 Heisei era Rider form cards, the Illusion, Slash, Blast and Invisible Attack Ride cards and finally Decade's own Final AttackRide card.

So far the Shinkocchou Seihou sub-line of S.H. Figuarts has provided nothing but near-flawless figures, and unsurprisingly Kamen Rider Decade is no exception. A wonderfully unique suit that was just begging for this treatment, this Kamen Rider Decade is another masterpiece in affordable figure design – the sculpting is immaculate, the articulation is impressive and finally the release is jam-packed with a great array of accessories. If you were on the fence as to whether your Decade figure really needed the upgrade, the answer is a resounding yes. 

The line is taking a little diversion next with some new versions of Kuuga’s Ultimate and Rising Mighty forms, but I for one can’t wait to see who the next Rider it decides to tackle will be. Will Kiva finally round off the Heisei Riders? Will Tamashii Nations continue to follow the line’s original release pattern and give Double a much-needed update? Or will the previously revealed Gattack and Diend figures make their debut? Only time will tell!

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