Wednesday 25 May 2016

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Ghost Ore Damashii

It’s that time of a year again where the latest Kamen Rider series makes its first jump into the world of S.H. Figuarts. 2015-16 is the year of Kamen Rider Ghost, so things are kicking off with S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Ghost Ore Damashii – the base form of the titular rider. “Ore Damashii” means “My Soul”, as in this form is all Takeru Tenkuji as opposed to the various legendary hero Eyecons he acquires over the course of the show. While personally I can’t say I’m much of a fan of Ghost as a series, that’s a discussion best saved to have in a few months time. In the meantime, let’s take a look at the first figure from a series that certainly has plenty to offer the line in terms of scale.

The Kamen Rider Drive figures introduced a new, slimmer style of packaging for the Kamen Rider Figuarts and this has been continued on for the Ghost line, with the general layout of the packaging remaining pretty much the same. Kamen Rider Ghost Ore Damashii comes presented in a colour-appropriate black box with orange and white highlights, with the character’s emblem boxed off in the top-right corner. The window for this particular box is relatively small, with much of the space taken by the main image and text running along the bottom. The window should also have a gold foil sticker on it, advertising the figure’s first run bonus. This is taped to the back of the inner-tray and sealed inside a black plastic bag.

Also thrown into the box is a small flyer advertising a number of other Kamen Rider Ghost Figuarts due for release soon. These include the Machine Ghost Striker, Kamen Rider Specter and Ghost’s Musashi and Touken Boost Damashiis. Not included here are Kamen Rider Necrom or Ghost Grateful Damashii, the latter of whom was only just announced around the time of this figure’s release.

Judging the figure on sculpt alone this is another winner for the line. Ghost’s rather unique look has been perfectly carried over to the Figuart, with the hoody made from a soft malleable plastic that sets it apart from the harder type used for the body. The black and orange colourscheme is nice and striking, with some really great paintwork demonstrated on more intricate areas like the chest and arm/leg patterns. Best of all is the headsculpt, which inverts the usual Kamen Rider compound eye format by making the face the reflective surface and the eyes solid black. Covering it is a mask of transparent clear plastic, which adds another level of depth to this great helmet design.

One of my favourite details on the figure is the Ghost Driver, which has a removable front plate to reveal the demonic sculpting inside (along with a better look at the Ore Eyecon). Sculpting these details so finely seems really unnecessary given that you can barely see them when the front plate is on, but to Bandai’s credit it looks utterly fantastic.

However when you begin to look at this figure’s articulation that positive first impression begins to fade away very quickly. Whether it’s an unavoidable by-product of Ghost’s design, a lack of trying on Bandai’s part of a mixture of both, this figure is severely limited and it’s mainly because of that damn jacket. Let’s start with the ball-jointed waist section, which can barely move at all without first pulling the top half upwards to loosen it – and even then it’s only a minimal improvement. The shoulders aren’t much better either, also heavily restricted by the thick rubbery sleeves surrounding the upper arms. Again there’s a bit of a cheat fix to this but tucking the sleeve bits inside the joint space to give it make the shoulders more flexible, but the problem here is that this can lead to bending the strap bits on the top of the sleeve and leaving some rather glaring stress marks. Topping it all off are the hips, which aren’t necessarily bad but are definitely a step backwards. Rather than utilise the new style joints seen on the more modern and Shinkocchou Seihou Figuarts, Bandai have decided to go back to the old swing-down style for Ghost’s release. This may likely be so that the legs can swing down out of the way of the hoody’s bottom, but it immediately makes the figure feel dated as a result. Everywhere else articulation is great, but these three key areas really bring the figure down. Compared to the knock-out releases of the past two years, just how Bandai dropped the ball here is quite perplexing. 

The other weird thing about this figure is that it rattles. Nothing is broken but it’s hard to trust a figure that makes a noise just from you picking it up.

When the Kamen Rider Ghost suit was first revealed, many wondered how Bandai would be able to do the jacket’s hood in figure form without sacrificing articulation. While the gimmick-focussed Ghost Change figure didn’t manage this all too well, the Figuart on the other hand has done a pretty good job. The figure comes with alternate parts for a hood up and hood down look, each plugging into a different place and neither notably sacrificing head movement. The down piece (attached to the figure in package) connects via a small port on the figure’s back, while the up piece pegs directly into the head. However doing so requires removing an extremely small piece from the top of the head designed to plug up the port and give the headsculpt a more seamless look. This piece really is tiny and has the tendency to fly off when removed, so be really careful when taking it off. By plugging the hood directly into the head, it rather nicely gives it the same level of movement someone in a real hood would have – the ability to move around inside of it but obviously restricted when it comes to side views.

As has sadly been the case with a lot of recent Figuarts, Ghost comes with a relatively small accessory count. In addition to the alternate hood piece Ghost also comes three pairs of swappable hands and the Gan Gun Saber weapon, which features a moveable hilt to switch it between sword and gun modes. Though it might be such an incredibly easy between the two modes that making it a single piece seems like a no-brainer, this isn’t always standard practice for Bandai so it’s cool to see them implement it here. However there are four notable flaws with this little array of extra pieces. Worst of all is the very significant absence of Ghost’s trademark pose/summoning hands or any loose Eyecons, which can only be described as baffling. The Gan Gun Saber also seems like to lack any ability to transform into naginata mode or split into the twin blades used by Musashi Damashii. They did a similar thing for Kamen Rider Gaim’s Musou Saber and Daidaimaru, so why skip on it here?

The real treat however is the figure’s first release bonus, which is a static in-scale figurine of Yurusen – Ghost’s not always that helpful sidekick of sorts. Love it or hate it Yurusen has made quite a name for themselves on the show, with some citing them as the best thing about it and others damning the appearance of an annoying little hand puppet in their “super serious” kids show. I most definitely fall into the former group, and being voiced by Aoi Yuuki only sweetens the deal. Though I call Yurusen a static figurine it may have some sort of head movement, but it’s so damn stiff it’s a little frightening to force it and find out for sure. As Yurusen floats they also come with a clear plastic stand, which connects with the figure via a small ball-joint to give it a better degree of movement when attached. As far as first release bonuses go this is a pretty good one, certainly not as extensive as the Drive range’s Tire parts but undoubtedly a piece that makes Ghost all the more enticing. Some would even argue that this is the best part of the release, and I can’t say that I blame them either.

Kamen Rider Figuarts have come such a long way in the last few years, but after the sheer brilliance of Drive and Gaim the Kamen Rider Ghost mould really feels like a step backwards. On a purely visual level it’s up to the usual standard for the line, but functionally there are so many limitations and flaws that really make Ghost not that much fun to play around with. The minor ingenuity of accessories such as the hoods and the Gan Gun Saber are novel, but not enough to make you forget that this release is sorely lacking in that area too. If Kamen Rider Ghost Ore Damashii had been a figure released two or three years ago it would be a pretty great figure, but now it just isn’t quite up to scratch. And with most of the other Kamen Rider Ghost figures using this same body, that makes you wonder how the line will fare in general.


Lolingstar said...

First, I'd like to say I disagree with the hip joints. I think the reason the did that was because of the thigh armor of the suit. Out of all the figuarts that has that type of joint, I think ghost did it the best. It creates a convincing illusion.

Now on everything else.... I agree with. The torso and pelvis is the worst aspect of the figure. I took it apart and I found nothing that justifies it having such tight ball sockets for the ball joints. It's so tight that on my Specter figuarts, I actually broke off the pelvis ball joint! I have mmpr, Gaim, and drive figuarts and they never had a tight joint. What was so different about ghost to make it create a ratchet noise?

Also, do you have any suggestions on how to fix a broken ball joint? Like reinforcing it with a metal pin or something? Please respond back, I at least like the specter design of the figure :,(

Alex said...

The Ghost mould is just an odd figure :/ a few years ago no one would have really complained but following on from 2 superb Rider figures it just feels like a step backwards. I don't know if its just Bandai weren't bringing their A game to the design table or there were just no ways around the quirks, but it certainly doesn't feel like a modern Figuart.

And oh no on breaking the joint :( a metal pin might work, do you have any pictures of the breakage?

Lolingstar said...

That's just it, it could've been like the standard figuarts. The ones I have work fine, but I can't understand why ghost is different. Ranger board definitely overrated it by calling it the best we've had.

Here's the issue in question:

Please get back to me as soon as possible. :,(