Wednesday 17 May 2017

Toybox REVIEW: Uchu Sentai Kyuranger Minipla KyurenOh Set 02

Release Date: March 2017 
RRP: 2268 yen (1 complete figure, 6 boxes), 4536 yen (Full case: 2 complete figures, 12 boxes) 

The first Uchu Sentai Kyuranger set got this year’s Super Sentai minipla line off to an amazing start, but with only five of the nine main Voyager mecha represented in the set Bandai almost immediately followed it up with a second KyurenOh set. As the core component of the Kyuranger mecha this wave includes a re-release of Red’s Shishi Voyager, along with the Sasori, Tenbin, Hebitsukai and Washi Voyagers of the remaining four Kyurangers – Sasori Orange, Tenbin Gold, Hebituskai Silver and Washi Pink.

Just like the first wave KyurenOh set 02 has been made available both as a standard case or an individual set, with the latter coming in its own colourful packaging that’s much more appealing than the boring green/brown case boxes. The set is comprised of a total of six boxes (two for the Shishi Voyager, and one each for the rest), with a 12-box case being made up of two complete sets. The individual set packaging features some nice big stock images of the kit against a space backdrop, as well as including images of the individual modes and the rangers whose respective Voyagers are in included in the set.

Inside you’ll find the standard individual boxes, which like the last wave each feature identical art of the model rather than the different images of the suit seen on previous series’ packaging. The front features a nice big image of KyurenOh that nicely shows off the kit’s articulation (arguably the main selling point of the minipla line these days), while the back shows off another combined mode image along with shots of the five individual modes. A rundown of what each box is denoted on the spine, with each component numbered from one to six. Along with the runners inside is a single piece of soda-flavoured candy, with the building instructions for each kit printed on the inside of the box. The final box also includes an additional instruction sheet for the combination.

The first two boxes of this set belong to another Shishi Voyager, which is completely unchanged from the one included with the first wave with the exception of one Kyutama sticker. For collectors who buy these kits by the wave/case repeat figures often feel like a waste, but with the Kyuranger line it actually makes sense given how the limb components work. This way buyers can choose have two KyurenOhs on display, each with the full range of limbs in use.

The one difference though is that rather than include a repeat version of the Shishi Kyutama, Bandai have mixed things up slightly by including an attack sticker in the place of the cockpit one. The new sticker isn’t especially visible through the clear red plastic, but clear enough to be noticeably different. Even though it’s just one sticker that’s been changed, swapping the repeat Kyutama out for a variant version was a great idea on Bandai’s part. This way it has value even to those who don’t have any need for a second Shishi Voyager.

The first of the new Voyagers included in this wave is the Sasori Voyager, the scorpion-themed mech of Sasori Orange. Although the animal motif is quite obvious this feels like one of the more mechanical Voyagers, thanks to that big cockpit-like dome on the top of the body. While the model sadly doesn’t feature moving claws, it does however have a double-jointed tail to go with the leg and front section articulation used for the transformation. The sticker sheet included with the model adds details for the white body detailing, tail parts, cockpit and claws – most of which can be done using paint should you prefer that instead. The claws also have a similar asymmetrical colourscheme to the leg panels on the Shishi Voyager, with one panel on the left claw in gold while another on the right claw coloured brown.

Coming along with the Voyager is the Sasori Kyutama, which goes back to following cockpit/constellation two-sided core seen with previous Voyagers. The initial coolness of having Kyuranger cockpit stickers has kind of lost its edge in the light of the forthcoming SP variants of the kits (where the stickers have been replaced with actual figurines), but are still a very nice touch.

The third component included is the Tenbin Voyager, a Libra Scales themed robot which transforms into a humanoid form when the Tenbin Kyutama is connected. As a humanoid mecha the Tenbin Voyager is undoubtedly one of the best individual kits in the Kyuranger line released so far, sporting outward shoulder articulation, hinged elbows and knees as well as ball-jointed hips and feet. Sadly there’s no head movement to complete the set, but given the design this doesn’t come as a huge surprise. The model is made primarily of gold plastic pieces, with some dark grey thrown in for the torso frame and light grey for the Kyutama and disk centres. There’s also plenty of asymmetrical stickers to keep the pattern going, most of which can be easily duplicated with paint too.

The good thing about this set is that none of the Kyutama core stickers are obscured by their respective colours, with the Tenbin Kyutama stickers being nice and clear through that translucent gold (is translucent gold plastic a thing or is it just a yellowy brown?) sphere. The Tenbin Voyager is also quite unique in that it’s one of the only two Voyagers to have an alternate mode for when the Kyutama is not attached – a semi-convincing set of scales.

When Balance goes Naga isn’t too far behind, and the Hebitsukai Voyager is another humanoid mecha that transforms from a serpent head. With two Voyagers sharing virtually identical parts the general look and articulation are exactly the same, only with a new headsculpt, weapons and minor detailing. The kit is made up from light and grey plastic, with an added bit of gold for central head crest. Again there’s a fair number of sticker for the various stripes running across the body, which aren’t too difficult to paint on instead.

The Hebitsukai Kyutama is another one where the stickers are all nice and clear inside, proudly displaying Hebitsukai Silver in his Voyager cockpit as well as the Hebitsukai constellation symbol. Like the Tenbin Voyager it also as an alternate mode for when the Kyutama is not docked, in this case being a rather impressive looking snake head.

Finishing off the set is the Washi Voyager, the bird-themed vehicle of Washi Pink and the last of the original nine Kyuranger Voyagers to be awakened. The Washi Voyager is comprised of light grey, dark grey, pink and gold plastic pieces, with stickers required for the face, leg detailing and the pink strips running across the undersides of the wings. On top of a working neck and opening beak the kit also has fully articulated wings that can both rotate and move up and down, as well as legs which have limited forwards and backwards movement.

Rounding off the individual parts is the Washi Kyutama, which is particularly striking with its hot pink sphere.

The transformation to KyurenOh is pretty straightforward, and for the most part is just turning parts around on the Shishi Voyager and flipping up/folding pieces of the Washi and Sasori Voyagers. Tenbin and Hebitsukai are a little more involved though, and while primarily consist of making the robots kneel down and folding the torso frame down can be a little confusing at first if done completely blind. There’s also a bit more difference between them in arm and leg modes, which explains why the additional combination instructions go into extra detail when it comes to those two components. Other than though it isn’t like there’s anything different between these parts and the ones included in the first set, as everything clips together in exactly the same way.

With these parts KyurenOh is noticeably less streamlined than the standard “1-2-3-4-5” combination, and lacks a traditional Super Sentai colourscheme as the red body combines with pink, orange, gold and silver parts. The Sasori and Washi Voyagers are fairly straightforward and basically look like animal parts hanging off a robot body, but the Tenbin/Hebituskai Voyagers feel a little more ill-fitting. As feet they look great from the front, but from behind the parts extend out and back quite a bit – spoiling the otherwise flush shape of the combination. The same applies to them as arms, with the Tenbin Voyager barely even convincing in this mode. Meanwhile the Hebitsukai Voyager might be huge, but it’s hard to criticise it because what’s not to love about a giant snake hand? Basically all four limbs feel like the auxiliary mecha you’d usually get in a three/five-piece Super Sentai series, rather than simply an alternate configuration of the base mecha. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but rather the easiest way to highlight the differences between the two KyurenOh sets. Of course each limb can freely change between being an arm or leg, and together with the Ookami, Oushi, Chameleon and Kajiki Voyagers there’s a wide range of KyurenOh combos to choose from.

A few oversized limbs don’t seem to have had a particularly detrimental effect on KyurenOh though, as the combination can still make good use of all those joints that have been packed into the Shishi Voyager. This includes a fully turnable head, two-way shoulders, a waist swivel, two-way hip joints and hinged knees. The limbs then add elbows and adjustable feet into the mix, as well as being fully rotatable at their connection points. Unlike the Kajiki and Chameleon Voyagers the Sasori and Washi Voyagers don’t have extendable elbows built into them, but both do however come with additional elbow pieces to arrange a full range of motion when used as arms. The Tenbin and Hebituskai Voyagers aren’t so fortunate however, so any elbow movement they have comes solely from the ball joints that hold the vehicle and Kyutama together. Still, there are plenty of great poses to be gotten out of this kit and the fact it does it all while keeping the Kyutama connection gimmick intact is all the more impressive.

Although these new limbs don’t quite have the same sleek charm as the first wave’s selection, KyurenOh set 02 more than makes up for this by providing more exciting individual modes which in some cases have just as much play value as the combined mode itself. Despite the somewhat clunky nature of the new components, the great range of articulation offered by the Shishi Voyager core keeps KyurenOh both highly articulated and incredibly fun to pose, along with some simple yet imaginative transformations. Whether you like your minipla stickered or painted, the Kyuranger line is really shaping up to be one that shouldn’t be missed out on. With the main nine Voyagers safely out of the way, it’ll be interesting to see how the Kyuranger line fares as it begins to tackle the other Voyagers and mecha combinations the show has to offer.

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