Monday 21 August 2017

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Vegeta [2017]

Release Date: July 2017
RRP: 5616 yen

With Dragon Ball Super now over 100 episodes in, it’s fair to say that the Dragon Ball franchise is back in a big way. The same goes for its S.H. Figuarts line too, which has crawled back from the odd web exclusive every so often to a string of regular releases that are both retail and exclusive. August will see the long awaited release of S.H. Figuarts Nappa, with Tienshinhan and Yamcha figures to follow the end of the year. With so many Saiyan Saga-era figures coming, it seems only fitting that there’s also a brand new S.H. Figuarts Vegeta based on his original antagonistic appearance – finally getting the retail release treatment he deserves like the Super Saiyan version did last year.

As a “new style” Dragon Ball Figuart Vegeta comes in the newer white matte packaging rather than colourful glossy style boxes reserved for the old figures and premium colour reissues. The box uses blue as its secondary colour, matching up nicely with the various jumpsuits Vegeta has worn over the years. The box features the usual array of stock images, however Bandai should be commended for their absolute savagery in cross-promoting the forthcoming Nappa figure – showing off how great he looks alongside Vegeta but reminding buyers that preorders have long closed for the item.

Curiously Vegeta is packed with the single cross-armed piece connected to the body, rather than the individual articulated arms.

Other than the fact that this Vegeta utilises the new, more articulated body used for the Dragon Ball Figuarts, there is another pretty significant difference between this and the original version. While the first Saiyan Saga Vegeta figure featured an impressive amount of shading across the body and panel lining to bring out the armour’s detailing, this new one instead opts for a much cleaner look. Compared side to side it almost feels like one is a comic book/manga version and the other an animation model. So if you were a fan of the detailing on the original Dragon Ball Figuarts this one might disappoint you initially, but rest assured Vegeta makes up for it in plenty of other ways. The sculpt is much sharper, and the bold matte finish screams “premium product” far more than the glossy plastic of the original figure. Word of caution though – the yellow shoulder pads are extremely easy to scuff, as I found out when the right one made contact during the head while switching arms and left a rather large mark on it.

But of course the big draw is that the new body brings along with it a far greater range of articulation, allowing far better poses than the original was ever capable of. As well as a newly implemented ab joint Vegeta also makes use of the new anime Figuart hip system. While this segmented look may look unsightly to some, here it’s perfectly hidden by the lower sections of the armour. On the subject of the armour, unfortunately due to the design both the lower pieces and the shoulder pads are fixed to the torso and only moveable via a basic hinge joint – given them the ability to move out of the way of the limbs but still restrict them somewhat. The ball-jointed ankles used for the feet are also a little on the strange side, providing a decent range of motion but looking a bit unconnected in certain poses. Those minor quibbles aside, Vegeta has the usual high standard of Figuarts articulation and will look perfect alongside the newer range of figures produced in the last few years.

In addition to the aforementioned crossed arm piece Vegeta also comes packaged with two different scouters (one showing a simplified version of a power level reading), two alternate pairs of hands (perfect for Galick Gun and Big Bang Attack poses), an additional left hand with crushed scouter for obligatory “It’s over 9000/8000” poses, an alternate outstretched tail, three additional faces and an alternate back headpiece which lacks the plug area for a scouter to attach. That’s a pretty impressive selection of accessories, but the only truly new piece here is the readout scouter – everything else was also included with the original Vegeta figure. Still, better that Tamashii Nations match the accessory count rather than omit something important just because it’s a better looking/engineered figure. The alternate tail is made of a soft plastic and features an internal wire, allowing it to be positioned and posed to your liking.

The best part about this figure including an extra head is that it can be fitted onto the new Super Saiyan Vegeta Figuart – giving him the one accessory to make that figure feel complete. Sure the colours don’t quite match up with the body, but the head is a perfect fit and the fact it can be used without sacrificing the Saiyan Saga version’s head is a huge bonus. While it’s a bit much to advocate buying a whole new figure just for an untransformed head, if Tamashii Nations aren’t going to make it an option with the figures themselves this method is a lot better than nothing.

S.H. Figuarts Vegeta is another winner for the Dragon Ball line, which right now is undoubtedly the best it’s ever been in terms of quality. Here Bandai have crafted the perfect upgrade to the original Saiyan Saga Vegeta figure, making it different enough to be considered different/an improvement but also keeping everything that made the original a success. Its flaws are minor at best, and the figure is going to make a fantastic companion piece to Nappa when he’s released in a few weeks’ time. While the Dragon Ball line should certainly keep pushing forward with new characters, hopefully it’ll still have time to go back and revisit old favourites like this one again.

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