Wednesday 24 August 2016

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Ant-Man

Of all the new media Bandai Tamashii Nations has dug into for the S.H. Figuarts line, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has got to be one with the most worldwide appeal. After working their way through Iron Man 2, 3 and Avengers: Age of Ultron, the line has now began the tackle latest big event to hit screens - Captain America: Civil War. Following the obligatory new versions of both Captain America and Iron Man, relative newcomer Ant-Man has arrived as a surprise mass release figure! Although Civil War may not be the first movie outing for Scott Lang, his solo outing was overlooked by Bandai making this first Ant-Man in the Figuarts line and a much needed boost to Team Cap.

The packaging is the first to take Marvel Figuarts into the realms of the new thinner boxes, with all others previously having opted for the original square packaging (with exceptions for larger figures like the Hulk). It's also somewhat amusing that while Ant-Man himself is visible from the large clear window, the bottom of the box actually features a Civil War logo and images of Cap and Iron Man duking it out. "Ant-Man" isn't even printed on the cardboard, instead placed along the side of the window. The back and spines are thankfully more character centric, featuring some great images of the figure in various poses and accessories. The backing card also features a nice little graphic of Ant-Man's helmet printed on it, which is a nice change from the usual boring silver backing cards.

Based on the Civil War version of the Ant-Man suit, there are quite a few distinct differences between this figure and the Ant-Man movie suit that's most likely more familiar to people. As well as the helmet being different the belt and gauntlets are a lot cleaner, and the suit is generally free of the circular red lights that the original had running through it. Basically it's just a lot more refined than the original, which makes sense since it would have inevitably been perfected between the events of Ant-Man and Civil War. Given that Ant-Man is probably the closest thing the Marvel Cinematic Universe has to a Kamen Rider, it's no surprise that Bandai are right at home with this figure. The sculpt is great, and the body is covered in leathery texture that really stands out. The helmet also looks great, with the lenses made out of a nice translucent plastic for extra effect. Many early pictures/reviews of this figure showed the silver paint to have a goldish sheen to it, and while that's certainly true to an extent it isn't half as noticeable as they might have you believe. Both in hand and when photographed.

The Marvel figures have been a bit varied in the body types they've used which leads to some being a bit more poseable than others, and while Ant-Man might not be sporting the latest and greatest he certainly isn't lacking in the articulation department. As well as the usual Figuarts' array of balljoints and double hinged elbows/knees, Ant-Man makes good use of the classic "swing-down" hips - however here even when brought down Bandai have done a pretty good job of keeping that unsightly gap covered up. The hinged shoulder pads also don't get in the way of any shoulder movement either, giving Ant-Man a great range for all kinds of action poses.

With rising costs accessories have been an area that a lot of Figuarts have suffered in lately, but Ant-Man might just be a new level of underwhelming for the line. To start with he only comes with one pair of alternate open hands to go alongside his standard fists. Now Ant-Man isn't the first figure with next to no hands (Kiba Ranger is one that immediately springs to mind), but its rare that a mass release figure comes with so little variety. Not many distinct expressions might spring to mind, but surely a hand about to press his size-changing button should be a given? 

Ant-Man does come with one unique accessory though, and that's a small "ant-scaled" figurine that stands around 15mm in height. The figurine naturally doesn't have any moving parts, but is nicely detailed and generally scales pretty well with both larger figures and anything you might have lying around to make it look like Ant-Man has shrunk down in size. But that's all there is to this figure - no more hands, no unmasked head, nothing. Maybe if Tamashii Nations were more eager to sell this figure as Giant-Man as well as simply Ant-Man (it was announced before the movie was released though so spoilers etc.) then there might have been more potential for accessories. As well as a mini Ant-Man figure, they could have also included mini Team Iron Man figurines for the larger figure to terrorise. The bottom line is that Ant-Man is just lacking that special something to make him stand out, whatever that may be.

In almost the opposite to the S.H. Figuarts 50th Anniversary Edition set, Ant-Man is a great figure that's completely let down by a woeful accessory count. The figure itself is great and undoubtedly one of the Marvel movie characters best suited to this toy line, but Tamashii Nations seem to have done the bare minimum to make this figure in any way exciting. With an RRP of 6264 yen (approx £50/$66, though subject to discount with most online retailers) a few more hands should have been the absolute minimum. It doesn't even feel like it's because Bandai didn't want to take a risk on him, because they made him a mass release figure, a luxury that wasn't afforded to Black Panther or even more prominent Avengers Black Widow or Hawkeye. S.H. Figuarts Ant-Man is a great looking figure, but as a package whether it's better than the far cheaper Marvel Legends figure is definitely up for debate.

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