Friday 22 July 2016

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Lord Baron

More often than not S.H. Figuarts collectors will find themselves left with a relatively incomplete cast from a particular series, but there are occasions where Bandai Tamashii Nations really do go the extra mile. The last two and a bit years have seen the cast of Kamen Rider Gaim grow and grow within the line, to the point now where the only things missing are some movie Riders, Overlords, some forgettable alternate forms and an even more forgettable epilogue villain. Considering there are now 23 figures out of 22 releases, that isn’t bad at all. However all things much eventually come to an end, with no more Gaim figures currently on the horizon. However if this is the end, Bandai are sure ending it with a bang. Their latest Tamashii web exclusive release is S.H. Figuarts Lord Baron, the Overlord version of rival and eventual villain Kamen Rider Baron. After eating the Helheim fruit and gaining his new powers, Kaito Kumon sets about destroying the world and then using the Golden Fruit to rebuild it. The only obstacle left in his way is Kouta Kazuraba, leading to an ultimate showdown where only one can survive.

After so many releases, the Kamen Rider Gaim packaging is beginning to have bit of a nostalgic charm about it. Surprisingly it doesn't go for quite the same "evil" aesthetic as the Ryugen Yomi box did, instead using standard white + fruit colour mix the other figures went for. That said, the backdrop and blood red certainly give the packaging the sinister edge it needs. The box is also a little thicker than usual, with the figure inside a bit chunkier than your standard Rider. Opening the box reveals some interesting little changes from the usual Figuarts packaging. Baron’s sword is taped to the back of the box rather than be part of its own tray, and the figure itself is packaged with the open hands attached rather than closed fists.

Impressive sculpts are something that Bandai has excelled at in recent years, but Lord Baron almost feels like a new standard for the line - and that's counting the higher-end Shinkocchou Seihou figures as well. On visual level this figure is a work of art. From the crazy patterns running across the body to the glistening colours and flame-like markings across the coat tails, Lord Baron is a phenomenally detailed figure where no part is without its own little intricacies. Given the almost stained-glass window effect on the torso and arms, its no wonder that this design is often compared to the Fangires in Kamen Rider Kiva. Small details like the asymmetrical horns stand out so much more here than they could in the show, and seeing the suit scaled down and this close up gives you a new appreciate for just how brilliant of a design this is. I own A LOT of Figuarts, and I don't think I have any quite as bursting with detail as this one.

However such an elaborate design ultimately has one downfall – restrictive articulation. While Lord Baron’s top half remains relatively unscathed (save for a bit of shoulder pad hindrance), the fastened plastic coat tails running around the bottom heavily affect the legs. In terms of figure build its still very much all there, but the soft plastic skirt has very little leeway so the only real area you have to work with is the space encompassed inside it. However, having to hold the figure upside down and adjust the hips/knees in such a small space isn’t a particularly easy job either. To say Lord Baron isn’t capable of ANY poses would be a lie, but the figure certainly isn’t capable of some of the stuff the suit pulls off in the show itself.

Lord Baron comes packaged with a small but fair range of accessories, which is understandable since you can clearly see that most of the cost has gone into the figure itself here. Included are eight additional hands and his sword, the Guronbaryamu. The sword is not only large and detailed, but features a removable hilt to make it far easier to get into the figure’s hands. By not being a Rider Lord Baron also has the rare honour of being the only Gaim figure (excluding bikes) not to come with any Lockseeds. Some scale Hellheim fruit might have been nice if you want to get into what this figure COULD have gone with, but it certainly isn’t an essential.

The final accessory is a broken version of the Guronbaryamu, specially to replicate the finale where Kiwami Gaim shatters the end of the blade and stabs Kaito with the broken piece. Both the remaining piece of the sword and the broken tip are included, however Kiwami Arms’ hands aren’t really able to hold the tip firmly. A bit of careful balancing can do the trick, but it’s the kind of situation where the tiniest movement will instantly knock it out.

All in all Lord Baron is a pretty great way to cap off the Kamen Rider Gaim Figuarts range (for the time being at least). What the figure lacks in articulation it makes up for in incredible detail, standing out amongst the other releases as the most unique and eye-catching figure Bandai have put out from the show. In a toy line where both villain and non-Rider designs seem few and far between, every single one has to count – and Lord Baron undoubtedly does. Whether your S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Gaim display encompasses all 23 releases or just a few choice favourites, the Banana Overlord is not one to miss out on.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just realized that the box art is actually a Helheim fruit. Amazing.