Monday 11 September 2017

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Orb Origin

Release Date: August 2017
RRP: 5940 yen

The biggest downside to the Ultra-Act line coming to an end and the Ultra Series being incorporated into S.H. Figuarts is everything began afresh. With Ultraman Ginga the last “new” Ultra-Act and Figuarts going all the way back to the original Ultraman, newer Ultras such as Victory or X have sadly gone without high-quality articulated figures. However things are about to change, as Bandai Tamashii Nations launch a number of Figuarts releases from 2016’s Ultraman Orb and start a new wave of modern Ultraman figures. Kicking things off were a double bill of figures based on Orb’s true form – S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Orb Origin released as a general retail figure, while S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Orb Origin The First (based on his appearance in the Amazon Prime exclusive Ultraman Orb The Origin Saga) was unsurprisingly released as an Amazon exclusive.


Whereas the style of packaging has remained consistent across both the Ultraman and Ultraseven figures released so far, Bandai have adopted a slightly new layout for the Ultraman Orb releases. As well as a very fitting circular window, Orb Origin’s box features a nice big illustration of the character as well as a nice silvery colourscheme. On the back is the usual array of stock images, and inside the figure and its accessories are spread across a single plastic tray.

As I’ve previously stated on this blog the mantra of the Ultraman range seems to be to produce figures that are as close to the original show suits as possible. This strive for accuracy continues with Ultraman Orb Origin, only modern technology means better costumes which in turn means better looking figures! Ultraman and Ultraseven may be iconic and their Figuarts both amazing representations of the suits, but you just can’t beat the bolder colours and sharper details Orb Origin has. Even the eyes have a compound-like texture to them which is a lot less noticeable when illuminated on the show. While Orb Origin may not have a particularly complex design it’s nevertheless been beautifully captured in this figure, and the predominantly black and silver colourscheme is a nice break from the heavy reds of most Ultras. If there was one complaint to be had it’s that the circular colour timer (nicely moulded as it may be) doesn’t fit onto the chest especially firmly. It isn’t so loose that it immediately drops off but it really doesn’t take much movement to dislodge it. On the one hand it’s frustrating, but on the other it’s nice to finally own an Ultraman figure where swapping the colour timer doesn’t feel like an exercise in damaging the thing.

This praise for Orb continues through to the articulation, which is the usual high standard offered by the Figuarts line without the joints behind potentially impeded or any armour or raised body sections. Ultraman Orb Origin features a peg joint head, ball-joints in the neck, shoulders, torso, and wrists along with double-hinge elbows and knees, “modern Figuarts style” ball-cut hips, ankle rockers and hinged toe caps. Going by both past experience and reviews from others it seems pretty much every Ultra Hero Figuart has suffered from some sort of joint issue, ranging on both ends of the spectrum. While I personally haven’t had any experience with significantly loose joints on my figures, I have had a few with tight hips and Orb isn’t any exception. That said, other figures had it much worse and the hips are beginning to loosen up just from use. And if you are worried about breaking it, then Shock Oil really does do wonders. Can’t recommend it enough.

With the majority of Ultras relying on beam attacks, Ultraman Orb Origin’s accessories feel like a nice change of pace from what one would come to usually expect from these figures. Included are four alternate pairs of hands, a swappable red colour timer ring, the form’s signature Orbcalibur sword and an alternate faceplate with none of the elemental symbols illuminated. As mentioned earlier in the review for once the colour timer is incredibly easy to swap out, which more than makes up for the fact that it isn’t quite as secure as it perhaps could be. Meanwhile though the faceplates of the Orbcalibur switch out in a rather nifty way – by pushing the back of the central circle the whole piece moves forward, giving you easy access to unpeg the illuminated plate and replace it with the blank one.

All in all it’s a nice bundle of accessories that certainly makes a change from the usual “Specium Ray variation” accessories, but given how expansive Ultraman accessories have been in the past it does feel a little light. How about additional Orbcalibur plates with only one of each elemental symbol illuminated? Or given the abundance of effect parts usually included with these figures, some sort of slash/attack effect? What was included is perfectly acceptable, but just doesn’t feel quite as dynamic as the Ultraman, Ultraseven or even Zoffy Figuarts releases.

With the Ultraman Figuarts seemingly going in chronological order at the moment to coincide with each show’s 50th anniversaries (so expect Ultraman Jack sometime in 2018), it’s great that Bandai Tamashii Nations are also jumping forward with the more recent shows to ensure the newer generations of Ultras aren’t left in the lurch. In terms of quality S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Orb Origin feels like the best Ultra Hero release yet, let down by an accessory count that doesn’t quite match up with the precedent set by previous figures. Still, as the first figure likely to appeal to both Ultra-Act and Figuarts buyers this isn’t one to miss out on, and with the likelihood that Ultraman Geed is soon to follow hopefully this means a steady flow of new generation Ultra Series figures going forward as well.

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