Wednesday 3 May 2017

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Ex-Aid Action Gamer Level 2

Release Date: March 2017 (3-pack), April 2017 (Individual)
RRP: 15,768 yen (3-pack), 5184 yen (Individual)

Bandai Tamashii Nations have made some rather unexpected decisions with the mainline Kamen Rider S.H. Figuarts lately. Not only was there a surprising lack of Kamen Rider Ghost figures, but seemingly obvious mass releases like Kamen Rider Drive Type Trideron ended up as web exclusives. When it came to announcing Kamen Rider Ex-Aid Figuarts Tamashii Nations had even more surprises up their sleeve, revealing that Kamen Riders Ex-Aid, Brave and Snipe would initially be released as a 3-pack set going by the name of the S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Ex-Aid Action X Beginning Set. Those not interested in buying all three need not panic though, as individual releases were announced to be following shortly afterwards. 

This overall review of the set begins with the title character of the 18th Heisei Era Kamen Rider series (27th overall) – S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Ex-Aid Action Gamer Level 2.

Given that it’s a 3-pack the Mighty Action X Beginning Set comes in some fairly hefty packaging, showing off all three figures in sections of their respective colours. From the front it looks just like three standard Figuarts boxes have been stuck together, only with an added bit of thickness to get fit the figures and all those accessories in. Interestingly the back is very different from the usual mass release figures in that it lacks an abundance of promotional stock images of each figure, instead going for one big dynamic group shot in the centre. Inside the box the contents are spread across two clear plastic trays – one for the figure and their additional hands, and a thinner one underneath for the weapons and bonus display base. 

Meanwhile Ex-Aid’s individual box is considerably different, featuring a bit more flourish as well as the usual S.H. Figuarts packaging image placement.

Buying the Mighty Action Beginning set doesn’t just mean you have the ease of getting all three figures at once though. Also included in the package is an exclusive Mighty Action X display base, big enough to fit at least all three figures on. The base is actually in fact a re-deco of the pre-order bonus originally released with S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Gaim, only replacing the four golden Rider logos with a metallic magenta Mighty Action X graphic. While there aren’t any Tamashii Stage display arms included, the base has three separate ports to fit them to give the figures that little bit more security. All in all it might not seem like much, but it’s a great bonus that makes this 3-pack feel that little more special in the face of the three figures getting their own individual releases.

Mighty Jump! Mighty Kick! Mighty Mighty Action X! 

Ex-Aid might not be the most orthodox looking Kamen Rider, but one can’t deny that Toei have really captured the anime-esque game character aesthetic brilliantly with these suits. As well as being both bright and quirky, they all do an incredible job of highlighting the overall theme and the specific game genre of the individual suit (in this figure’s case, good ol’ fashioned side scrolling platformers). Tamashii Nations have done an equally fantastic job sizing that suit down into figure form, with the Figuart sporting some excellent moulding and paintwork. The base body is completely done up in a gorgeous shade of metallic pink, which contrasts with the additional green, black and silver sections (as well as the wonderfully gaudy luminous yellow Driver). The chest details are printed behind a piece of transparent plastic to keep them protected, as are the chibi-style eyes peeping through the visor. The iris sections also have the traditional reflective Kamen Rider compound-look, making them pop that little bit more even if they could be a little brighter.

After a dip in quality last year with Kamen Rider Ghost Ore Damashii, Kamen Rider Ex-Aid thankfully brings current Rider Figuarts back up to their usual high standard. The new-style hip joints are back, along with the usual array of ball-joints, double-jointed elbows/knees, bicep/leg swivels, ankle rockers and toe-cap hinges. The torso joints felt surprisingly stiff at first, but once played around with a bit provided an excellent range of motion for some top notch action poses. Due to the collar the head does have a tiny bit of hindrance when it comes to looking sideways, but the figure’s still perfectly capable of pulling off natural looking poses. Finally the sliding shoulder guard connection has been significantly proved, with these clipping onto the arm securely rather than popping onto a tiny ball joint. They may still fall off from time to time when posing, but are far less fiddly to fasten and move out of the way of the shoulder joint like a treat.

The Gamer Drive is fully functioning, with both a working lever and removable Gashat. Accuracy-enthusiasts will be disappointed to hear that not only does the Gashat included lack any of the Mighty Action X game detailing on the grip, but the cartridge section has also been shortened to presumably fit better in its designated slots. It’s a bit disappointing given how crazily accurate small accessories like the Astro Switches and Lockseeds have been in the past, but if the makes the piece somehow fit into the belt easier (and it does fit fairly tightly), then I’m all for it. As well as fitting in one of the Driver’s two slots, the Gashats can also be inserted into the Kimewaza Slot Holder and the back of Ex-Aid’s Gashacon Breaker.

In terms of accessories Ex-Aid comes with a four pairs of swappable hands (including fists, weapon holding, splayed and signature pose hands) and both the Hammer and Sword versions of the Gashacon Breaker. Rather than be transformable like the show version/roleplay toy, the Figuarts version features two separate weapon parts which peg onto a single handle. Given that the handle isn’t especially large or extravagant it’s strange Tamashii Nations didn’t just produce it as two different weapons entirely, but I suppose this way leaves at least leaves some interactivity. The Gashacon Breaker is both nicely moulded and well-painted, and as previously stated both versions can interact with the Gashat for added “Critical Stike” accuracy.

Given the show’s wildly different aesthetic when it comes to suits, S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Ex-Aid probably isn’t going to be to everyone’s tastes. However regardless of your feelings towards the series itself, this figure is not only a gorgeous representation of the titular character but also possibly one of the most photogenic Kamen Rider Figuarts yet. With his metallic pink finish, luminous green accents and nicely detailed chest plate, Ex-Aid is vibrant, colourful and lacking in any sort of moulding to hinder that wonderful Figuarts range of articulation. It almost feels like an apology for the drop in quality on the Ghost releases, bringing the current Rider figures back up to a quality just below that of the more premium Shinkocchou Seihou releases. Whether it’s through the Mighty Action X Beginning set or the subsequent individual release, S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Ex-Aid is not a figure to be missed!

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