Thursday 29 December 2016

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Zoffy

While the Ultra Series’ move from its own Ultra-Act line to the S.H. Figuarts brand might not have won everyone over, it can’t be denied that Bandai Tamashii Nations have shown the series a lot of love in the process. In celebration of Ultraman’s 50th anniversary, in a few short months collectors have been treated to Ultraman, Baltan, Zetton and now the year ends quite fittingly with the release of S.H. Figuarts Zoffy. Although his sole appearance in the original series was its final episode “Farewell, Ultraman”, Zoffy has gone on to appear in numerous iterations of the franchise – leading the Ultra Brothers and standing as one of the most respected Ultra Heroes. 

Despite receiving a re-release in 2013, the original 2012 Ultra-Act figure eventually became of the most sought-after releases in line – fetching high prices on the aftermarket until a web exclusive version was released in 2015. It’s only been a year since and now the Figuarts version has arrived, giving buyers an early chance at grabbing the Space Garrison Captain.


So far the Ultraman Figuarts line has shown off some really great packaging, and Zoffy's is no exception. While the individual releases might not be as extravagant as the 50th Anniversary Ultraman set, they've really managed to capture that retro look of the show itself and the inclusion of the actual suits (as opposed to the figure) on the front is something I wish Tamashii Nations would do more often. Zoffy's packaging sports a very suitable red and silver colourscheme, with the figure nicely on show via the window but most of the accessories hidden. The back however shows these accessories off via a number of stock images, and when opened you can also find them all safely housed on the tray along with the figure.

To the untrained eye it may seem like there’s very little difference between the various Ultramen that have come and gone over the years, but even to the more in-tune fan there’s little to differentiate Zoffy from the original Ultraman. While the red markings on his body is slightly different (featuring extra rings on the legs and much thicker arm patterns), eyes are more likely to be drawn the 12 studs protruding down from his shoulders and the further three on each arm. The chest studs were later revealed to be his ‘Star Marks’ (medals of honour) while the arm ones denote his rank as the Space Garrison Captain. Regardless, the differences between Zoffy and Ultraman are minimal and perhaps something that only someone really truly invested in the series will fully appreciate.

The Ultraman Figuarts line has done an utterly fantastic job so far of making the figures look like tiny suit replicas and Zoffy certainly is no exception, although this was to be expected of slight remould of Ultraman. The rugged matte finish gives off the same feeling you’d imagine the suit itself to have, combining the look of a 1960s suit with the engineering and finish of a modern toy. The downside to this however is that the paint is really easy to scuff, to the point where getting a figure straight out of the box that’s completely immaculate feels like a lucky break.

Upon the release of S.H. Figuarts Ultraman there were complaints from some of floppy (to the point of almost useless) limbs, however I just thought it worth mentioning that I personally didn’t have those problems with my figure and the same goes for Zoffy as well. Whether Zoffy suffers from the same issue is unknown, but if it’s anything like Ultraman then it’ll simply be luck of the draw. Zoffy displays a good range of articulation that’s almost identical to Ultraman’s – right down to the stiff shoulders that feel like they’re at constant risk of breakage and/or paint scuffing. The unrestricted hips and excellent neck/torso articulation however means like his subordinate Zoffy is great for getting into all sorts of monster-grappling poses.

Despite only appearing in the original Ultraman for a few short minutes, Zoffy still manages to come with plenty of accessories - proving that Ultra Heroes are still the winners when it comes to getting the most for your money. Included with the figure are five additional hands, alternate red colour timer, the Beta Capsule Zoffy uses to revive Ultraman and even an M87 Ray effect part. The attack doesn't even feature in the series itself, which makes it all the more awesome that Bandai chose to include it here and not save it for a different series "version" of the character that may or may not come out somewhere down the line. Unlike Ultraman's Specium Ray this effect plugs straight onto Zoffy's wrist in place of a hand, and has been nicely moulded in translucent blue plastic. The downside is that the lengthy beam gives the figure a number of balance issues, to the point where it's extremely difficult to pose the figure in the correct stance while applied. A Tamashii stage would of course prevent this, but since they are rarely ever included with these figures it does stand out as a bit of a flaw.

If you were hoping that the colour timer piece would be easier to remove here than it is on Ultraman you'd also be dead wrong. The effect it takes is not worth the damage you could potentially do to the figure trying to pull the blue one out, and should only be attempted if you're that desperate to have a energy-less Zoffy as part of your display.

However not all of Zoffy's accessories are specifically for Zoffy! Also included is an alternate head with dimmed eyes, which while identical to Zoffy's is actually meant for Ultraman as it is to represent  his near-death state during the show's finale. Together with the red colour timer piece and Beta Capsule this makes for a really good display option, since not only is it something straight out the series but also the only thing Zoffy really did in the show apart from take Ultraman home afterwards. Thanks to that unique neck joint swapping the heads is ridiculously easy, and free from any fear of breakage whatsoever. Even when the Ultra-Act line was still going Ultraman toys were extremely good at giving you pieces for either really dynamic displays or scenes straight out of the show, so it's great to see the S.H. Figuarts line continuing that tradition.

Much like Ultraman himself, Zoffy is a pretty standard Figuart elevated by the inclusion of great accessories. However with significantly less than the 50th Anniversary set, there isn’t quite as much here to raise things. With such a minor role in the original series and such a similarity to Ultraman himself, he’s also a figure that’s only really going to appeal to the most dedicated Ultra fans. But hey – a retail release Zoffy this early into the line is by no means a bad thing and ensures Ultraman isn’t completely overwhelmed by alien/kaiju releases. If you’re a fan of the show or the character be sure to pick him up while he’s readily available, but otherwise there isn’t much here that Ultraman has already covered.

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