Monday 12 September 2016

Toybox REVIEW: Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger Minipla Cubes Condor, Kuma & Komori/Condor Wild & Wild Tousai King

The fourth wave of Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger minipla/candy toy model kits may seem small, but its components certainly add up to much bigger things. With Zyuohger the Movie: The Heart Pounding Circus Panic having recently hit Japanese cinemas, this wave introduces the film's exclusive cube animal Cube Condor, along with its combined form of Condor Wild. However just to make sure collectors don't necessarily skip over what could be considered an inessential mecha, Bandai have also snuck Cube Kuma and Cube Komori into the mix - the final two of the show's four auxiliary mecha. When combined with Zyuoh King, Zyuoh Wild and Tousai Zyuoh, these 13 animals can be brought together to form the mighty Wild Tousai King!

Wave four of the Zyuohger minipla comes spread across a total of six boxes, with Cube Condor taking up two slots and Cubes Kuma and Komori one each. The remaining two boxes (numbered three and four in the set) are repacks of Cubes Elephant and Tiger, re-released due to their involvement in the Condor Wild combination. While some may be happy simply picking up the new animals, others might want a second Tiger and Elephant to display in addition to their already growing menagerie so props to Bandai for giving them that option. That said the case breakdown is definitely weighted towards to the new kits, with the 12 box case broken down to 3x Cube Condor, 2x Cube Komori, 2x Cube Kuma and then one each of Elephant and Tiger. 

As usual the images that follow are of painted models, so if you wish to see how the kits look with only the stickers applied please check out this review in addition to my own.

Like all movie exclusive Super Sentai mecha Cube Condor is of course a remould, however it isn't a remould of the Cube Animal you may immediately think of. Despite them both being birds Cube Condor is actually a remould of Gorilla rather than Eagle, although admittedly all three are very close in build structure to begin with. Redoing Gorilla's base body in a lavish purple plastic, Condor's new pieces include a long neck/head section which plugs into the front of the body (the underside of Gorilla), a new chest piece and an additional head/tailpiece to plug into the bag. All of the gold pieces are moulded in bright yellow plastic, but a touch of gold paint will both make the kit more accurate to the onscreen version AND match the stickers much closer. If you aren't a fan of stickers however you'll be pleased to know that all of the detailing is moulded directly onto the kit itself, making painting the kit a simple case of following the guidelines provided. 

Just like how Cube Gorilla's giant cannon has to be removed for the cube mode transformation, Condor's head/neck section must also be unplugged and left to one side here. Once down the transformation is a simple case of folding the "wing" pieces (although even in animal mode they just look like arms hanging to each side) on the bottom of the body. Doing so and closing the hinged windows also reveals Condor's "0" numbering, making it technically part of the Cube Animal's proper lineage while also not getting in the way of the show's numbering flow.

Removing the head/neck piece and turning the tail piece around to remove the head (the piece needs to be removed, spun around and reinserted) forms a torso section, which can be connected to Cube Tiger and Cube Elephant in the usual stacking formation to create CONDOR WILD! Despite being an obvious remould of Zyuoh Wild the new pieces and royal purple/gold colouration really make this combination stand out. Like its namesake Condor Wild also has a weapon of its own - the condor head/neck which also functions as a rather nifty blaster weapon.

Articulation is one area this combination isn't going to falter in either, with Zyuoh Wild already arguably the best of the Zyuohger minipla mecha in terms of overall poseability. The range of the legs has been covered in previous reviews, but the upper half sports two-way moving shoulders, fully realised elbow joints, rotating wrists and then a waist swivel to top it all off. Unfortunately just like Zyuoh Wild it doesn't have any neck movement, only this time it isn't because of a giant backpack which the head is connected to - instead the wide head sits over two pegs that block out any movement. And of course the lower sections of Condor Wild are also interchangeable with Zyuoh Shark and Lion, so you're free to switch things up to a different formation should you so wish.

All in all while Zyuoh Condor/Condor Wild doesn't bring anything particularly new to the table, it's a great remould that is boosted by a great colour scheme.

However many people can take or leave the movie exclusive mecha, and for them the main draw to this wave will be the inclusion of the final two components to the Wild Tousai King combination. The first of these is Cube Kuma, who was discovered by the Zyuohgers at the top of the rather appropriately named "Axe Rock Mountain" in episode 13. Like the previous auxiliary animals Cube Kuma is a rather simple kit even by minipla standards, with only the face and cube symbol included on the decal sheet. The body however also features plenty of moulded detail, which can stand out all the more with a quick paint wash or touch of panel lining.

With the unlikelihood of Cube Panda appearing in the minipla line, completists may also want to consider grabbing an extra Kuma kit to drench in gold paint.

Kuma's transformation to cube mode solely consists of folding the animal in half via the hinge that runs through the middle of the body. Once done the cube can be flipped onto its side, properly revealing the exclamation mark detailing (which has a chunk taken out of it thanks to the hinge running through it). Front the front and sides Kuma looks like a fairly consistent cube, but then when you check it out from the back you can clearly see that animal head poking out with a giant axe blade sitting on top of it.

Of course the biggest draw to Cube Kuma is the axe mode, which finally gives Wild Zyuoh King a decent weapon to pose with. As suspected the combination looks far better with a weapon in hand, although the lack of elbows will sadly remain a problem regardless. Still, the axe itself looks great - nice and chunky with a big thick blade that looks especially good with some silver paint applied. The weapon can be wielded by any of the four mecha formations, pegging directly into the fist holes via the handle.

It's worth noting that Kuma also comes with an extremely important extra bit which isn't part of the animal itself. Pictured above is a much larger version of the pole piece that runs through the body of Zyuoh King, which the head is then attached to. However this piece is then later used as Wild Tousai King's "Big King Sword" (although it seems more of a rod/lance/poker in practice), attaching to the robot's right arm. While the original piece is perfectly fine on the DX, the minipla originally opted for a smaller piece on Zyuoh King which didn't run through the whole body - thus not impeding the articulation in any way. The issue didn't need to be fixed until now, and arguably this is the biggest reason to pick up these sets in terms of combo completion. Komori and Kuma simply dangle on the legs and could easily be ignored, but the robot is going to look pretty stupid without one of its primary weapons.

The third and final new addition to this wave is Cube Komori, a bat mecha that made its debut in episode 21 of the series. Cube Komori is built almost entirely out of dark blue pieces, with a few bits of yellow thrown in to give the wings some additional colour. As such there aren't a whole lot of stickers included with the kit either - just the face detailing and exclamation mark for cube mode. This means paint-wise there isn't much to do either, and other than filling in the face the only thing to possibly consider is giving the yellow pieces a little bit of panel lining should you feel that way inclined. Despite being rather basic Cube Komori is a fun little kit to play about with, sporting two hinged points of articulation on each wing.

Komori transforms into a simple little cube, with the wings folding up perfectly in front of the body to give it its shape. The cube is a solid blue colour with minimal detailing, topped off with the rather prominent exclamation mark emblazoned on the front. As has been the case with most of the auxiliary animals there is no detailing on the panel underneath, so unless you happen to be a really confident painter you'll need to stick with using the sticker here.

Like the other auxiliary Cube Animals Cube Komori also sports a third weapon form, in this case a giant boomerang primarily used in the show by Tousai Zyuoh. The transformation into boomerang mode is almost non-existent, and simply requires straightening Komori out fully and then flipping out  the handle piece on the tip of the right wing. Pegging straight into the robot's fist the weapon can be held by Tousai Zyuoh, Wild Zyuoh King, Zyuoh King and Zyuoh Wild - although its size does make it look a little ill-fitting with the latter two combinations.

With all 13 cubes in hand its now time to bring them altogether for Zyuohger's biggest combination thus far - WILD TOUSAI KING! Not an especially striking name, but one that undoubtedly combines all three of its main components. As you can see the Lion and Elephant cubes act as Tousai Zyuoh's new feet, while Cube Wolf becomes its new left arm. Tiger and Shark sit comfortably on each shoulder as Eagle and Gorilla take the middle, with the head (what was once Tousai Zyuoh's left arm) plugging in on top. To round things off the auxiliary Cube Animals just kinda hang off the legs, while each arm gets its own weapon in the form of Zyuoh King's (now much larger) sword and Gorilla's huge cannon.

Wild Tousai King is definitely an odd combination. The way Tousai Zyuoh is built means that this combo is essentially just the same with a lot of cubes pegged onto it, but it certainly has a weird charm to it. The 1-2-3-4-5 numbering being so prominent is a nice touch, even if there isn't really any rhyme or reason to their placement. Aesthetically the minipla version is leaps and bounds ahead of its DX counterpart, not only sporting more agreeable proportions but more importantly split legs. The lack of a gap is annoying on all the DX combos but this is the one where it really brings things down.

However as more and more parts get piled on that great articulation the minipla line is known for is eventually going to falter, and Wild Tousai King is definitely that point as far as Zyuohger is concerned. As well as having to suffer from Tousai Zyuoh's lack of elbows this combination also has to struggle with hindered leg articulation. All the joints from the Tousai Zyuoh combo are still present, but now they have to deal with four random animals pegged onto the sides and giant cubes for feet. On top of all that there's no neck to speak of either, thanks to the way that the head plugs onto the Gorilla cube. But ultimately it's less about there being a lack of articulation, and more about the model kit not having the strength to hold itself together in any particularly elaborate poses. But as always what you can get out of it is still a hell of a lot better than anything the DX is capable of, and with the minipla also sporting better proportions you may find yourself suddenly attached to this initially polarising combination.

While none of the animals included in this wave may seem like “most-own” kits individually, together they’re a nice little bunch that compliment the previous releases rather nicely. Cube Condor is a great addition to the growing range of move exclusive mecha, and while its movie appearance may or may not amount to all that much the toy itself is an excellent remould with plenty of life of its own. Meanwhile Komori and Kuma’s main draw might be their implementation into Wild Tousai King, but as weapons they add an extra spark to the much smaller combinations as well. Wild Tousai King itself may look to be the point where the combinations start going downhill structurally, but even then it’s still a sturdier and more interesting kit than some of its predecessors. With only one big release left to go, anticipation is riding high to see if Cube Whale can make 2016 a full year of great minipla.


Anonymous said...

Excellent review as always, I am surprised you didn't mention the extra arm brace piece for Wild Zyuoh King. The one which attaches to gorilla to prevent it from drooping while holding the Kuma Axe

Alex said...

Oh man THAT'S what it's for! Haha, I just thought it was a random gorilla piece that had been left on the sprue for some reason. Wouldn't be the first time that's happened, but that makes so much more sense!

Chris B. Bacon said...

>Wild Tousai King is definitely an odd combination. The way Tousai Zyuoh is built means that this combo is essentially just the same with a lot of cubes pegged onto it, but it certainly has a weird charm to it. The 1-2-3-4-5 numbering being so prominent is a nice touch, even if there isn't really any rhyme or reason to their placement.

If it means anything at this point, Odd numbers are on the figure's right and Evens on the left (other than 1 and 6, obviously),