Sunday 31 July 2016

Toybox REVIEW: S.I.C. Kamen Rider Gaim Orange Arms

Bandai Tamashii Nations may have been providing collectors with highly articulated show-accurate Kamen Rider figures with the S.H. Figuarts line for over eight years, but they also have one line that's been doing more interesting things with your favourite tokusatsu characters for much longer. The Super Imaginative Chogokin (or simply S.I.C. for short) line has been going strong for the past  18 years, creating wild and highly detailed reinterpretations of characters that go far further than any suit could. Running a few years behind the current Kamen Rider show, the line has now begun tackling the highly popular Kamen Rider Gaim - pushing the traditional armour styling of the suits even further to the point where it looks like they could have jumped straight out of the history books. The first of these releases is of course Kamen Rider Gaim Orange Arms, with Kamen Riders Zangetsu, Baron and Ryugen soon to follow.

If the figure itself isn't enough to sell you on the larger size of a SIC figure, then the box itself should be more than enough. Kamen Rider Gaim comes packaged in a huge square box, featuring a large transparent window bordered by Helheim vines and fruit. The name is written across the bottom in bold white text, while in the top centre is the figure's numbering within the mass release part of the line (vol. 72). As usual the back features images of the figure in various poses, showing off its numerous features as well as the range of accessories included.

An additional bonus is that the gold foil backing card (complete with Gaim emblem) also doubles as a folding screen akin to the one included as a first release bonus with S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Gaim (albeit nowhere near as thick or sturdy). It does require folding by hand, however the creases have already been pressed into the sheet so it's pretty straightforward.

This S.I.C. reimagining of Kamen Rider Gaim strips away the gimmicky look of the Orange Arms armour, upping the detail of both it and the under suit to create a Rider that looks as close to a real life samurai as it can without taking away that all important Kamen Rider essence. The end result is a figure that is still very visibly Kamen Rider Gaim, enhanced with an incredible level of detail and paintwork. The attempt at realism isn't without its sense of over the top-ness though, with the helmet sporting a wonderfully excessive crest that can't by any means be practical. As the Chogokin in the name suggests the figure also has some die-cast metal pieces to add a bit of weight to it, namely the head-crest and "webbed" arm gauntlets. 

Oozing with detail, on a sheer aesthetic level this is some of the very best the S.I.C. line has to offer. Every glance at the figure exposes something you might have missed before, and unlike some other S.I.C. redesigns nothing here feels unnatural or so wildly different that it doesn't fit the character. It really does feel like a natural progression of the original suit, and the kind of thing that could have happened had Toei had the resources to bring such an elaborate design to life.

S.I.C. figures may not be as articulated as their S.H. Figuarts counterparts, but that certainly doesn't mean they aren't capable of pulling off their own fair share of great action poses. Gaim sports ball joints in his head, neck, shoulders, waist, hips and wrists, supported by double-hinged elbows and knees along with a pair of ankle rockers to give the feet an equally good range of motion. The hips don't have the same wide range as a Figuart might and are somewhat hindered by the surrounding skirt pieces, but still provide more than enough to get some wide-legged poses out of the figure. The large shoulder pads are connected to the shoulder joints via tiny ball joints, giving them some individual of movement of their own on top of what the body itself has to offer.

Accessories is something that S.I.C. doesn't take lightly. Even with characters who don't have a whole lot in the way of weaponry the reimagining aspect of the line allows each character to come with something memorable or unique. Kamen Rider Gaim is absolutely no exception to this, with an accessory count so sizeable that discussing it takes up just as much of this review than the figure itself. The obvious inclusions are three pairs of alternate hands (open, closed fists and weapon holding - the right and left of which are slightly different), Gaim's standard Musou Saber sword/gun combo and Orange Arms' signature Daidaimaru sword. Here the Daidaimaru has been reimagined with a larger, jagged blade that makes full use of the translucent orange plastic its made out of. Both weapons sport some exquisite paint detailing, especially the tiny Gaim logo painted onto the Musou Saber's handle/gun barrel.

When not in use, the Musou Saber can be stored in the fully functional scabbard, which slots comfortably onto the left-hand side of the Sengoku Driver belt.

Functionality is everything when it comes to SIC figures, even moreso than it is with the Figuarts line. As such the Musou Saber and Daidaimaru can of course connect into the Naginata mode, providing Gaim with a huge double-bladed staff to wield like a badass. The bottom of the Daidaimaru's hilt is hollow, so the Musou Saber just slots into it comfortably and locks into place.

Also included are a selection of Gaim's closed Lockseeds, including orange, strawberry (ichigo), pineapple (pine) and the Sakura Hurricane bike lock. Like the Figuarts toy these can be clipped onto either the Sengoku Driver or the Musou Saber, in the former's case replacing the open Orange Lockseed that's connected in-package. However an additional feature with the SIC is that the belt also has three additional ports to peg them on to the right-hand side, allowing a total of four seeds (i.e. all four varieties) to be attached to the figure at any given time. Of course, even though a SIC figure is bigger than a Figuart these things are still tiny, so be careful not to misplace them or they could very easily end up lost forever.

Truly saving the best for last, SIC Kamen Rider Gaim takes the stylisation and aesthetic to its limits with the ability to remove the Orange Arms armour pieces and display it just as you would traditional Japanese samurai armour. Included is a scaled-down "Gusuko Kake" (armour stand), complete with the Gaim emblem adorning the base section. Each piece of the Orange armour is able to clip off the figure, reattaching to the armour stand's mannequin-like structure. An alternate visor-less helmet piece is also included as an accessory, which fully embraces the ornate look with a die-case metal faceplate. Completing the display look is an additional stand to display both weapons in the traditional style.

Unfortunately without the armour attached the base figure isn't quite as complete as one might hope. As well as taking up a lot of the bulk the armour hides a lot of the joint connections, and without it the remaining figure is a thin frame with exposed joints and a rather noticeable chunk of waist missing. However the upside to this is it confirms that the S.I.C. Kamen Rider Gaim line will be fully embracing the Arms Change aspect of the gimmick, and it'll be really exciting to see how the combos will look as more Riders are released as time goes on.

Even if you're a show-accurate nut who is perfectly happy with exactly what the S.H. Figuarts line has to offer, every so often a S.I.C. reimagining will come along that just feels so right that you can't help but to pay attention. S.I.C Kamen Rider Gaim Orange Arms is exactly that figure. The traditional armour styling is just so perfectly done that you can't believe that Gaim has been done in any other way, and the attention to detail and impressive accessory count more than justifies the S.I.C. line's slightly higher price point. If you've ever held a passing interest in the line but never known quite where to dip your toes in, this is undoubtedly the place to do it. Of course, Kamen Rider Gaim is a big series with lots of Riders so you might end up with more figures than you originally planned to get - but that's a risk you should definitely be willing to take. 

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Cool model,but my favorite is Gundam series.