Monday 20 June 2016

Toybox REVIEW: Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger Minipla Zyuoh Wild

When it comes to milking toku fans of every penny they have, you can’t be a good old fashioned animal-themed Super Sentai series. Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger showed that this theme is perfect for producing a menagerie of different animals for a variety of mecha combos, and it looks like current series Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger is going to follow suit. The second combination to be introduced into the series is Zyuoh Wild, which combines Zyuoh Tiger and Elephant’s cube robots with Cube Gorilla – partner of Zyuoh Eagle’s second animal power Zyuoh Gorilla. The lower body parts are interchangeable with those of Zyuoh King, and along with Cube Giraffe and Mole these eight cubes can combine to form the mighty Wild Zyuoh King. Bandai’s second wave of Zyuohger minipla candy toys includes the three components of Zyuoh Wild – Gorilla, Tiger and Elephant as well as the second of the team’s auxiliary animals, Cube Mogura (Mole).

In terms of packaging this year’s minipla offerings have slightly diverged from the norm, featuring an image of the model itself on the front of the box rather than the in-show suit. Not only that but they all feature the same image, leaving only the numbering and lid image to differentiate each box from each other. On one spine you’ll find images of this wave’s contents, with the back featuring a better look at each component as well as the combined Wild Zyuoh King Form. The model is split across five separate boxes, with Gorilla spread over two and Tiger, Elephant and Mogura all one box each. Those buying a case of these kits will receive a box of 12 – two complete sets of Zyuoh Wild with a randomly packed two left over (I personally received one half of Gorilla and Elephant.

As usual the images below will be of a painted model kit (with liberal use of stickers), so for any comparisons with a solely stickered version of it please also consult this review.

Spread over two boxes Cube Gorilla is obviously the most complex of the bunch, but the additional parts also allows for a lot more in colour variety. With the Zyuohger minipla now using multiple plastic colours Gorilla needs a lot less stickering/paint than you may think, with parts moulding in black, red, white and Bandai’s trademark sickly gold colour. However if you are painter the kit has lots of moulded detail to give you direction, and looks a lot better with a touch up of all the gold parts. Articulation-wise Gorilla sports moving shoulders, jointed shoulder cannon, hinged faceplate and even rotation on the lower waist/feet section.

Gorilla’s transformation to cube mode is remarkably similar to that of Cube Eagle’s, which isn’t all that surprising given how both of them are torso components in their respective combinations. All it requires is removing the gun, flipping the face down, re-pegging the arms further upwards and then swinging each shoulder section backwards. The cannon piece doesn’t make up any part of the cube so is just left to one side here.

Cube Elephant is particularly interesting kit, not only because of its design but also since the sticker usage feels a lot less egregious than usual. The kit doesn’t feature all that much moulded detail so getting the more intricate gold sections perfect would be tricky, and paint can’t quite match up to the boldness of the foil elephant logo stickers. Just be sure to top coat the kit when done to make sure all the stickers stay in place! However you decide to decorate it Cube Elephant looks great – minimally articulated but definitely one of the most imposing cube animals. Elephant features a slightly moving head as well as hinged trunk section.

The transformation to cube mode simply consists of flipping the back half down straight and pegging the pieces together. The cube itself is nice and flush, as well as pretty solid other than have a gap running through the middle of it. The transformation may be basic, but visually it has a certain origami quality to it that makes Elephant’s design a bit more notable than some of the other cube animals.

Next we have Cube Tiger, who in many ways feels like a successor to Wanmaru from last year’s Shuriken Sentai Ninninger. Not just because they’re obviously both white, but also because of the similarities in moulded detail which requires a bit of panel lining to bring out the full effect. Unfortunately this is also another kit where some of the detail has been left out of the moulding process, so stickers like the “5” numbering are essential unless you have a really steady painting hand. Cube Tiger also features a number of moving parts – the head/neck and tail are able to move up and down, while the claws resting on the top of the robot can also be brought down into attack mode.

Transformation requires a small amount of disassembly to bring all of the parts closer together. As the front section opens up, the back pieces are removed and re-pegged in holes to bring them closer to the centre and from there it’s just a case of flipping the head and tail up to give it the cube shape.

Finally this leaves us with Cube Mogura, who as an auxiliary weapon cube isn’t quite as intricate as its wave mates. Mole is quite easily the most basic of the Zyuohger minipla thus far, with its thin straight frame feeling rather reminiscent of the ToQger trains. Its main weapon is a drill nosecone, which is moulded again in that sickly gold plastic Bandai loves so much. The kit uses a very minimal amount of stickers, and even diverges a bit from the show design in terms of colouring for them. Mogura’s eyebrows are yellow in the show, but here they’re done in gold!

Even the transformation is extremely basic, consisting simply of flipping the drill nose upwards into the head and folding the body in half. Simple, but not necessarily in a bad way. It also makes a pretty solid cube, as opposed to the more kibbly ones of the main animals.

The combination and transformation to Zyuoh Wild works in almost exactly the same way as Zyuoh King, with the three cubes stacking upon each other and the lower two cubes then splitting apart to reveal the legs. However as was the case with Cube Lion the Elephant feature need to be completely removed and then reconnected using the available ball joint to give them a full range of articulation. Completing the transformation is Cube Gorilla’s cannon, which folds in half to act as a backpack of sorts. Inside this backpack is also the robot’s head, which sits nicely over the body but in fact only remains connected via the backpack. All that’s then left to do is open the antennae pieces outward to reveal the face, and remove the smaller black gun to give Zyuoh Wild a weapon of his very own.

In general shape and layout Zyuoh Wild may seem virtually identical to Zyuoh King, but the things that are different about it make it stand out like a whole new bot. Take the colour placement for example, which is far more varied than King's solid sections of red, blue and yellow. The torso section has both red and black as the primary colours, broken up with big sections of gold as well as those all important yellow strips. Moving downwards you have Tiger, which may be mostly white also has plenty of black parts to break it up (all the more if you've panel lined the detailing). Finally you come down to Elephant, which is just as much grey as it is black. It just works so much better than three solid colours ever would, and brings out the detailing all the more. The gorilla chest place and headsculpt also look great, all the more because the red, visor-ed head is such a stark contrast to Zyuoh King's more traditional Sentai robo head.

Zyuoh Wild is also another winner when it comes to articulation – sporting a waist swivel, two-way shoulder and hip movement, hinged elbows and knees as well as ball-jointed ankles. The only thing missing is a working neck, which wouldn’t have been impossible had Bandai opted to have the head actually connect to the body rather than just hover over it. Still the waist joint still allows for enough flexing and sharpshooting poses that the lack of a moving head doesn’t feel too significant.

However if Wild’s standard gun isn’t enough for you, Cube Mogura can also transform into an addition weapon for it (or Zyuoh King) to wield! Well, the word ‘transformation’ is used very loosely – a panel at the bottom flips up to reveal a peg to fit in the robot’s fist. It’s not much, but a big purple drill gun looks pretty cool nonetheless.

Of course the show doesn’t rigidly stick to these combinations of three and so neither do the toys. Tiger and Elephant were both introduced prior to Gorilla, so their transformation was first shown as an alternative form of Zyuoh King instead. Meanwhile Wild has also been formed made up of Gorilla, Shark and Lion too. The stacking style combination means that the components are all interchangeable within their designated position, so other combos such as Eagle + Tiger + Lion or Gorilla + Shark + Elephant are also perfectly doable.

With eight cubes in hand it's now time to go horizontal! As well as boosting the vertical cube stack up to four, the combined mode of both Zyuoh King and Zyuoh Wild (as well as Cube Giraffe and Mogura) expands things outwards as the Eagle and Gorilla cubes become the shoulders and arms. The leg transformation remains unchanged from the smaller modes, however here Cube Tiger remains in cube mode as the Zyuoh King head slots into the top. Gorilla's giant gun folds up and attaches to the front to form the chest piece, while the smaller gun splits open and pegs just in front of the head to form the new head crest. Plug the auxiliary cube animals onto each leg and Wild Zyuoh King is formed! The bulky super robot is the first multi-robo combination to appear in Zyuohger, and with more cubes on the way is certainly won't be the last.

However as is usually case with these larger combined modes, there are unfortunately some flaws. The loss of both head and waist articulation is a bit of a pose-killer, especially when combined with Wild Zyuoh King’s spindly mismatched arms. The thin arms were noticeable on the smaller robots, so here they look all the more ridiculous sticking out of those giant cubed shoulders. The positioning of them also leaves them with fairly useless articulation, with each elbow bending in different directions but neither being the proper one. This makes holding the sword a bit of an issue, but Wild Zyuoh King’s proper weapon (the Kuma Axe) is yet to come. However the leg articulation is just as good as ever – knee and ankle movement are great and the whole thing stays together even with the increased mass of parts.

Zyuoh King was an excellent starting point for the Zyuohger minipla line and thankfully Zyuoh Wild manages to also attain that very high standard, offering a fun set of model kits as well as a combined robot that shares all the same positives as its predecessor. Granted Wild Zyuoh King has some more notable flaws, but the same could be said of any combination as more and more parts are piled on – and the articulation is offers is still leagues ahead of the DX offering. Whether you keep to the stickers or spruce up your models with a splash of paint, Zyuoh Wild offers another four animals that are both fun builds and oozing with charm. 2016 is looking to be a great year for the minipla line, and I for one can’t wait to see if Bandai can keep this going with Tousei Zyuoh and beyond.

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