Wednesday 28 June 2017

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Alien Mefilas

Release Date: May 2017
RRP: 6480 yen

Ultraman has enjoyed a successful range of retail S.H. Figuarts releases so far, but with the line now also moving onto Ultraseven it was inevitable some would eventually be Tamashii web exclusives. The previously released Alien Baltan 3-pack was an obvious choice from the very beginning, but now the line moves into new moulds and monsters with S.H. Figuarts Alien Mefilas. Making his first appearance in episode 33 of the series (The Forbidden Words) and recently appearing in Ultraman Orb as the Planet Invasion Union leader Don Nostra, Mefilas is the fourth alien/kaiju to be released in the Ultra Series Figuarts range.

Mefilas’ packaging is generally the same as all the other Ultra Series releases that far, only with a few minor differences. As well as the box being noticeably wider than usual, as a web exclusive it also means there’s no window to show off the figure inside. Instead there’s a nice big stock image on the toy in its place, alongside the actual suit photo that have adorned all of these Ultra boxes. The back shows off the usual array of stock images, and inside the figure is packed on a single plastic tray.

Whereas the previous Ultra Series aliens/kaiju have had very clear influences in their design, Mefilas' inspiration is a lot harder to pin down. There's a certain feline quality to the face, but other the body itself is just a black humanoid shape. It's a great look though, with a real "alien" charm to it that helps Mefilas stand out as one of Ultraman's more popular rogues. As usual the sculpting on the figure is absolutely superb, with Tamashii Nations nailing all the various textures and creases present on the suit itself. The predominantly black body means Mefilas isn't quite the colour explosion Alien Metron is, but the limited use of it makes the silver areas of the face stand out all the more. The same goes for the translucent blue eyes and golden mouth...thing, which like the suit also has a bubbly texture to it. While Mefilas may not have one of the most striking designs, it works just as effectively even alongside the likes of Baltan or Zetton.

Thanks to their bulky designs articulation has sadly been the weakest aspect of the Ultra creatures, and unfortunately none of them have been able to make use of the full range of motion the Figuarts line has to offer. That said Mefilas does the best job yet, with plenty of surprises hiding under that portly black body. As has been with the case with all of them so far the head design completely negates any movement the neck joint has to offer, but unlike the others Mefilas does have some limited up and down motion. These work brilliant with the two ball-joints loaded into the torso, but again don't offer much horizontal movement but have plenty of vertical range. The arms and legs are the usual array of ball joints shoulders and hips with double-hinged elbows and knees, however these are the areas where the usual limitations begin to show up (particularly in the shoulders). The same goes for the wrist joints, but the ankle rockers are surprisingly manoeuvrable given how little of the joint is on show. As usual what you're getting with these figures is the kind of motion the suit would be able to pull off, rather than a real representation of the line's abilities. In Mefilas' case though, it's not enough to pose a real problem and the figure is actually capable of far more than you perceive.

For figures that seem fairly limited in their posing options most of the Ultra creatures have been pretty good when it comes to accessory counts, with Mefilas again coming with a nice range of additional pieces. Included here are three extra hands (one pair of hands and an additional wider left hand) as well as a "Pair Hand Ray" effect part. This effect part is a little bit more lavish than the ones released with Zetton, as it not only tails off into an explosion effect (replicating it matching up to Ultraman's Ultra Slash) but also features a small stand piece to keep it properly balanced. If you've handled any of the Ultra Figuarts who come with beam effects you'll know that getting them to stay upright with a long effect shooting out can sometimes be a bit tricky, so this is a very welcome feature. Like Zetton's beam, the Pair Hand Ray is fixed to its own pair of hands which then plug into Mefilas' wrist joints.

But that’s not all! Mefilas also comes packaged with an alternate Ultra Slash hand for S.H. Figuarts Ultraman, a piece which was sorely missing from his release. Much like the various ray effects the Ultra Slash is fixed to the hand, so unfortunately can’t really be displayed a distance away from the figure as if it had just been thrown ala Ultraseven’s Eye Slugger. A pity, but it still gives Ultraman a few more posing options which is always a good thing. Some might argue that this piece should have come with Ultraman in the first place (after all, it did with the renewal Ultra-Act figure), but given that Ultraman already came with a pretty big selection of accessories I don’t think holding one back is too much of a dick move from Tamashii Nations. Unless this was specifically how you wanted to pose your Ultraman and had no intention of ever buying Mefilas, this just feels like a neat little extra that offers fans something beyond that of just the figure itself.

All of the Ultra aliens and kaiju released so far have been fun, but because of their designs have always felt somewhat limited in what the S.H. Figuarts line can offer them. Slowly they’ve been getting better and better, and with Alien Mefilas they've finally hit that sweet spot. The design can make less-restricted use of the articulation, the accessories for Mefilas himself are fantastic (never have alternate hands felt so welcome) and there’s even a bonus piece for Ultraman thrown in. It’s a bit of a shame the best one so far is also the only web exclusive, but all things considered Alien Mefilas has come out brilliantly. And if the preview images for the forthcoming Alien Dada are anything to go buy, web exclusive Ultra creatures might get even better.

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