Monday 27 June 2016

Toybox REVIEW: Megahouse G.E.M. Series Ash (Satoshi) & Pikachu & Charmander (Hitokage)

The G.E.M. Series line must be making a lot of collectors’ childhoods feel pretty satisfied right now. Not content with just pumping out the cast of the original Digimon Adventure series, the static figure line from Megahouse is also currently working its way through the original cast of the long-running Pokémon anime. After kicking things off over the last few months with Jessie and James from Team Rocket, Megahouse have now turned their attention towards the protagonists with two simultaneous releases in June 2016. First up is Satoshi – better known to Western fans as Ash Ketchum, with both Pikachu and Charmander (Hitokage) in tow.

The packaging for this line has always been commendable but Ash's far surpasses what has come before him - mixing in a blue sky countryside backdrop with the usual array of Pokeball logos and various other dynamic shapes. The box is also considerably smaller than the previous releases, for obvious reasons that the review will go into a bit further down the page. As always, the character names are printed using the English alphabet but reflect the Japanese names instead. 

This figure depicts Ash in his original outfit, which he wore from the very first episode all the way up to the end of the Johto League. Since then the outfits have been changed between each region. Ash is a rather curious release in that he feels rather different to both Jessie and James, to the point where you could easily assume it’s from a totally different line. The age difference between him and Team Rocket accounts for the size difference but the overall paintjob here is different too, with more tanned skin and considerably more shading. Unlike Team Rocket this figure is also incapable of standing without the aid of the base, as Ash is posed mid-running with neither foot flat on the ground. The head is attached via a ball joint and so can be moved about, which is great news as its default package position makes it impossible to see his facial features at eye level.

But what really sets Ash apart from the two Team Rocket releases is that he not only comes with one, but TWO Pokémon partners. Pikachu was a given, but Charmander has also been included clinging on to Ash’s leg. While I have absolutely no objections to Charmander’s inclusion, I do find it a little confusing given his appearance in the anime is far more limited than either Squirtle or Bulbasaur. Charizard is the only that’s not only more relevant, but far more memorable even within the confines of season one alone. That aside both Pokémon look great here, some really nice sculpting as well as bright vibrant colours (along with the use of translucent plastic on Charmander’s tail flame). The only disappointing thing is that both are completely fixed to Ash without any moving parts, while the previous releases were both separate from their human partners. Arguably it makes the statue pose far more dynamic , but at the same time makes the overall package feel like a little bit less than what you’d gotten before.

Finally a personalised white base is also included, featuring nice blue silhouette prints of Pikachu and Charmander along with Pokéball markings and the characters’ Japanese names. Interestingly the base is considerably smaller than the ones included with Team Rocket, with a radius just wide enough to keep the whole figure inside. Given how much less room it takes its far more preferable to the larger Team Rocket ones, but it is just another strange example of how different this figure feels to what came before it.

Between Jessie, James and now Ash the G.E.M. Series Pokémon line has proven to have some rather variation in terms of quality. While it’s hard to deny that Ash is undoubtedly the best painted out of the three figures, the fact he is only made up of a single piece does detract from this somewhat. The smaller size isn’t reflected in the price tag either, with hasn’t changed and continues to show that this line is only for those desperate to add the Pokémon anime cast to their collection (and an incomplete cast at that). That said, Ash is perhaps the easiest one to justifiably buy without any need of the rest of the cast so that’s something worth considering as well.

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