Wednesday 14 June 2017

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Gavan Type-G Space Squad Ver.

Release Date: May 2017
RRP: 6480 yen

Hindsight can be a wonderful thing, but on occasion I’ve looked back at some of my older reviews and been too generous in the past. The original S.H. Figuarts Gavan was definitely one of those times, as I originally failed to truly highlight the off proportions and incredibly flimsy wrist joints which broke shortly after publishing the review. However four years later it seems Tamashii Nations also felt they could do the original Space Sheriff better too, releasing a brand new S.H. Figuarts Gavan Type-G ahead of the release of the Gavan/Dekaranger crossover movie Space Squad. This Gavan will also be followed up later this month with an updated version of the original, coming as part of a web exclusive 2-pack with the Saibarian. Like all Metal Heroes Figuarts thus far, both are Tamashii web exclusive releases.

Gavan’s packaging is simple but dynamic, featuring a nice big shot of the figure in his signature pose against a fitting space backdrop. The name is written in nice big lettering along the side, however the “Space Squad” addition is curiously only present in the Japanese text along the bottom next to the film’s logo. The back only has three stock images of the figure, one of which is with the forthcoming classic Gavan renewal. Given this release was done for Space Squad it seems a shame to not have any images of him with the Dekarangers, but then I suppose Tamashii Nations are trying to quietly brush Super Sentai Figuarts under the carpet so don’t want to draw any attention to them even when it is warranted.

Chrome, chrome everywhere! The highly reflective vac-metallised finish of the original Space Sheriff Figuarts is back once again, which means being sure you have clean hands before handling this figure so not to leave fingerprint smudges all over it. Despite Gavan having been revived for a brand new audience (well, sort of anyway) in 2012 very little change was made to the suit, so Gavan Type-G is just a retro-tastic as his predecessor was. The differences between the two are entirely cosmetic, with Type-G replacing the original suit’s multicoloured button look for a more streamlined blue and purple readout panels. Similarly the helmet’s eyes have also been changed to fit this new colourscheme, going from orange to an electric blue. It’s barely enough to be called an update at all, but works wonderfully as a Gavan for a new generation. All of those details have been faithfully moulded onto the figure and look superb, it’s just a case of keeping all that silver clean.

When put side by side with the original Gavan mould it’s clear that there some differences between the two, but it’s much less extensive than collectors may have original thought. The most significant difference is the torso area, which is now far better proportioned and no longer has a weird pop-up waist joint. More importantly the wrist joints are much stronger, as the flimsy thin ball-joints of the original have now been replaced with the sturdier, standard Figuarts variety. But other than those two points it’s really much of the same – the same articulation layout, the same chrome finish and (roughly) the same accessories. While the changes were never going to be as extensive as a Shinkocchou Seihou update, they aren’t really comparable with that of the Black, Black RX and Shadow Moon figures either. This new Gavan is certainly a better figure, but calling it a “renewal” like the original Tamashii Nations display placard did feels like its overselling it a bit.

Because this figure is so largely similar to the 2013 version, it means there hasn’t been much of a leap forwards in terms of articulation. Gavan features a ball-jointed head and neck, ball-jointed shoulders and wrists, double hinge elbows and knees, a double-jointed waist section, swing-down hips, ankle rockers and hinged toe caps. That’s still more than enough for a figure with no sort of armour limitations, but it would have been nice to see Bandai go the extra mile with modern style hips and collapsible shoulder sections to give the arms more reach. What’s on offer here is more than passable, it just doesn’t feel particularly new.

Gavan’s accessories include the obligatory alternate head with lit up eyes, three pairs of additional hands and three different versions of his laser blade. Pretty much the same as what came with the original release, but this Laser Blade is the “Origin Version” – his new weapon in Space Squad. The only real difference between this and his original though is the hilt, which is a more dynamic, almost medieval design. The first of these laser blades features a standard silver blade, while the second is a blue-lit up version for Gavan’s powered-up attacks.

The third sword replaces the standard blade with a translucent blue slash effect, again similar to those included with the original Gavan Figuarts. Although fairly basic in the growing world of action figure effect parts it’s a nice little piece that makes poses that little bit more dynamic, and it’s always nice to have these kind of parts included with figures rather than bundled off separately somewhere.

S.H. Figuarts Gavan Type-G Space Squad Ver. is a curious figure. While undoubtedly an improvement over the original, heavily dated mould it isn’t quite the renewal one might have hoped for, and thus falls short of the higher standard set by some of the newer releases from the last two years or so. It isn’t perfect, but owning a properly proportioned Gavan whose hands aren’t at constant risk of snapping off is a pretty good feeling nonetheless.


Anonymous said...

I can kind of see you with your camera in Gavan's shiny armor.

Alex said...

I know XD I don't have the set up to take pictures without having myself reflect in the armour, which was a bit frustrating but oh well!