Friday 5 May 2017

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Snipe Shooting Gamer Level 2

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

Joining Kamen Rider Ex-Aid and Kamen Rider Brave as the final figure in the S.H. Figuarts Mighty Action X Beginning Set is Kamen Rider Snipe Shooting Gamer Level 2 – aka genius radiologist Taiga Hanaya. After losing his medical license after failing to save a patient, Taiga initially battled against the Bugsters alone – collecting Gashats along the way as he believes as the only one with nothing to lose, he should be the only one to fight. As well as being part of this special Kamen Rider Ex-Aid 3-pack, Snipe also received an individual release shortly after the set’s initial release. Interestingly this figure’s individual price is slightly higher than that of Ex-Aid or Brave’s, possibly due to the cape driving the cost up.

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 Snipe's individual box is considerably different, with 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.

Ba-Ba-Bang! Bang Ba-Bang! Yow! Bang Bang Shooting! Go!

All of the Ex-Aid Riders are pretty outlandish when it comes to the general Kamen Rider aesthetic but even among them Kamen Rider Snipe is pretty unique. Sporting a luminous yellow cape, a fringe covering his right eye and a scoped helmet emblazoned with the letters “STG”, the designers really nailed the tongue-in-cheek look of a “Shooting Gamer” with this suit. All of that detail has been perfectly shrunk down to Figuarts scale, with clash of the deep dark metallic blue bodysuit clashing wonderfully with the gaudy yellow of the cape, driver and body detailing. The fringe piece isn’t glued to the helmet and attached via a peg, so can actually be removed to reveal the eye masked underneath. But as great as Kamen Rider Snipe looks, there is one big inaccuracy with this figure – the visor on the level one head on the back is painted glossy black, whereas in the show it’s very clearly red. The black might match the level one heads on Ex-Aid and Brave for a more uniform look, but the fact remains that it isn’t correct. Unlike the white collar on Brave is a lot easier to overlook, this is the kind of inaccuracies a collectors’ line like S.H. Figuarts shouldn’t be making.

Of course Snipe’s striking design comes with one huge drawback – the cape, or more specifically what the cape means for the right arm articulation. The cape is made from three pieces of solid plastic (one around the neck, one surrounding the shoulder and the other draped underneath) connected on raised ball-joints, so they are able to somewhat move out of the way when raised and posing the arm. However given that one of these pieces surrounds the entire shoulder area, the range is still severely limited in comparison to the opposite shoulder. A cloth cape might have fixed this (and judging by the forthcoming Dark Knight Batman Figuart it’s something Bandai are finally willing to experiment with), but arguably it wouldn’t have looked half as good because the actual cape isn’t cloth – it’s a plasticky canvas fabric that doesn’t seem all that common on toys (due to degradation issues maybe?). The end result is hardly ideal, but it doesn’t feel like Bandai were just lazy when it came to designing this. 

Outside of that arm though the rest of the articulation is great, making full use of that modern S.H. Figuarts body type. The very minor head-turning issue all of the Ex-Aid Riders have because of the collar is a little more noticeable on Snipe thanks to his wider head, but it’s still not to the point where it causes the figure any real problems.

Snipe’s Gamer Driver features a working lever, as well as two Gashat slots and a removable Bang Bang Shooting Gashat. Which Gashat it is though can only be determined by colour, since there’s sadly no tiny graphic on the handle section. Additionally like the other Riders’ Gashats the cartridge section is noticeably shorter, presumably to allow a more secure fit into its designated ports. As well as the Driver Gashats can also be plugged into the Kimewaza Slot on the side of the belt, or the port at the back of the Gashacon Magnum.

Snipe’s accessories include four pairs of swappable hands (closed fists, open hands, weapon holding and signature pose) and his personal Gashacon Magnum weapon. Rather than make the gun transformable between the handgun and rifle modes, Tamashii Nations have instead included a separate extended rifle piece which pegs onto the gun in place of the folded handgun part. So out of the three Ex-Aid Riders released so far there’s been a rather inconsistent approach to the weapons, with Brave’s Gashacon Sword retaining its gimmick while the Breaker and Magnum have alternate parts in their place. That itself isn’t really a problem (though making it transformable wouldn’t have been that hard), but frustratingly the rifle part doesn’t peg into the gun very securely so is prone to just falling out if disturbed. As previously stated, Gashats can also be plugged into the back of the Magnum for added “Critical Finish” accuracy.

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Snipe is a fantastic looking figure, but slightly inaccurate detailing and that problematic cape means it just falls short of the high standard set by both Ex-Aid and Brave. The sculpt and general paintwork can’t be faulted though, and outside of that right shoulder that wonderful Figuarts articulation is all still there to get some great poses out of. All in all though the Mighty Action X Beginning Set is a fantastic way for collectors to pick up the three main Ex-Aid Riders in one fell swoop, especially since the difference in price is fairly negligible to buying all three separately. For those only wanting to pick up their favourites though it was fantastic that individual releases followed so quickly, and it’ll be interesting to see if Tamashii Nations ever adopt this sales strategy for future multi-Rider shows.

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