Sunday 26 June 2016

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Specter

Kamen Rider Ghost's entry into the S.H. Figuarts line continues with the release of the show's secondary Rider - Makoto Fukami aka Kamen Rider Specter! Although Specter initially fights against his childhood friend Takeru Tenkuji is how own quest to gather the 15 Heroic Eyecons and restore his sister Kanon's body, he eventually joins with Ghost against the fight against the Ganma forces. Kamen Rider Specter is the second figure from the series to be released in the line, following on from Kamen Rider Ghost Ore Damashii's release the previous month.

Specter continues the new slim style of Figuarts packaging that really feels here to stay at this point, with the box sharing a similar layout to both his predecessor and the various Kamen Rider Drive figures that kicked off the size change in full swing. The front of the box features a nice figure image of the figure along with a transparent window and the Specter eye logo in the top right corner. The back and spines then feature further images of the figure in various action poses. Interestingly here the special first release bonus sticker is fixed to the box itself, rather than the window like it was with Ghost. Inside you'll find the figure and accessories on the usual clear plastic tray, with the first release bonus taped to the back in a number of connecting bags.

Kamen Rider Specter is a straight remould of the Kamen Rider Ghost Ore Damashii figure, with the only differences between the two Riders being the helmet, colouring and body decoration. Whereas Ghost uses a vibrant orange colouring for the suit highlights, Specter opts for a cool metallic blue which has really come out well on this figure. The light blue pulse lines running down the body really stand out against the black, with the metallic paint really making the whole thing pop. The Specter logo emblazoned on the torso (which features two horns as opposed to Ghost's one, much like the helmet) is done up in a pale yellow, which again really stands out on the mostly solid black body. The reflective blue surface of the head is equally striking, but personally I feel the black eyes don't stand out quite as much as they should - especially compared to Ghost where your eyes are immediately drawn to them.

Once again the cloudy plastic front of the Ghost Driver is a removable panel, revealing a highly detailed silver plate underneath. The Driver also has a small tampo of the Specter Eyecon logo in the centre, which doesn't seem like much but is pretty impressive for its size.

But of course the same mould means the same problems, and boy did Ghost have a lot of them. Between the limitations of the shoulders and waist joints because of the jacket, the rattling shoulder joints and Bandai's decision to revert back to using the old swing-down hips for these releases, Specter is once again a figure that feels like it should have come out two or three years ago rather than in 2016. It's a huge shame because all the usual areas of articulation are just as flexible as they are on any other Figuart, it's just those jackets that seem to be bringing the whole thing down. 

Perhaps the biggest surprise with Specter is that he actually fares slightly better accessory-wise than Ghost did. Where as Ghost only came with an additional two pairs of hands to compliment the closed fists, Specter actually comes with three - open palms and two alternate sets of gripping hands. Specter also comes with his own raised hood, which swaps out with the lowered one in the same way as Ghost's. Whereas the lowered hood tabs in the back of the jacket, the raised one tabs into a small hole on the top of the figure's head which is covered up by a tiny rectangular plug. Once fixed in the bottom of the hood can then be tucked under the head for a more natural look, with the figure not loosing all of the head's poseability in the process.

Along with the hands and hood parts is the Gan Gun Hand, Specter's personal weapon which also has two different modes it can switch between - rod and gun. The transformation to gun mode simply requires closing the finger section into a fist shape, revealing the gun barrel hidden underneath. The Gan Gun Hand also has a sliding orange pump section - primarily used in the show to switch between the two modes but also functioning like a shot gun pump in the process. The moulding and paintwork of this weapon are fantastic, but it is an absolute nightmare to get the figure to hold it properly. The included trigger holding hand just can't seem to get a tight enough grip on it, which leads to much frustration when trying to post it well in a two-handed position.

However as previously mentioned Specter also comes with his own first release bonus accessories! While these accessories will naturally be omitted should Specter ever get a reissue, since for now they're packaged inside the box itself buyers hopefully shouldn't have any trouble not getting them on the aftermarket. Included with Specter are five in-scale Eyecons - Specter, Tutankhamun, Nobunaga, Edison and finally the Kanon Eyecon. The standard Eyecons all look great, with the three Heroic ones all done up nicely in metallic paint. The Kanon Eyecon also sports completely different moulding to the others - smaller, with an extended back and a protruding "tail" piece. Like any gimmick parts in the S.H. Figuarts line these pieces are tiny and extremely easy to lose, but thankfully fit into Specter's hands nice and firmly. It's also great to see Specter coming with some Eyecons when they felt bizarrely omitted from Ghost's release, even if the chances of getting all of them at this scale seem low. 

Minor aesthetic differences and a different accessory count may make Kamen Rider Specter feel like an all new toy to some, but ultimately it's pretty much the same deal as Ghost was - a toy that LOOKS absolutely superb, but functionally has some rather glaring issues that the S.H. Figuarts line should have gotten over at this point in time. It's still arguably a cut above a lot of figures in this price range (and certainly a more appealing alternative over the Ghost Change figures if the gimmick doesn't work for you), but the line has done far better in the past and will undoubtedly also do so in the future - so it's a little strange why the Ghost characters feel like a blip in a recent streak of excellent figures. And with Tamashii Nations seemingly holding back on a lot of the various form changes the show has to offer, one has to wonder how much faith they have in this mould as well.

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