Wednesday 13 September 2017

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Kamen Rider Skull

Release Date: August 2017
RRP: 6480 yen

When the S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou line kicked off three years ago many assumed it would prioritise brand new versions of the titular Kamen Riders of each series (along with the few forgotten ones), with their order based on their original release dates in the mainline. While this has remained somewhat true, the line has now grown to accommodate villains, alternate forms and additional riders – both as mass release figures and Tamashii web exclusives. Given the popularity of Kamen Rider W, it’s no surprise to see that the line’s first movie Rider is (and as a retail release no less) S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Skull. First appearing in Kamen Rider x Decade & W: Movie War 2010 before later getting his own segment the following year in Kamen Rider x Kamen Rider OOO & W featuring Skull: Movie War Core, Kamen Rider Skull aka Sokichi Narumi is the founder of the Narumi Detective Agency, Shotaro’s mentor and of course Akiko’s father.

Kamen Rider Skull comes in the usual fancy Shinkocchou Seihou packaging, which have remained completely uniform since the line started. The top lid features a stylised headshot of the figure along with solid black spines and the name in fancy silver lettering, while the white back section features the usual stock images and product information. Inside the figure is spread across two white plastic trays – a larger one for the figure itself and a smaller one underneath to house the impressive array of accessories.

While at its core Kamen Rider Skull may simply be a remould of the standard Double body, the little differences that have been made are enough to make it feel like an entirely new identity. Gone are the classic compound eyes and bug-like antennae – replaced with that striking skull head sculpt that harkens back to Shotaro Ishinormori’s earlier creation, Skull Man. The metallic silver head compliments the moulded matte black bodysuit beautifully, as do the highlights on the wrists, ankles, shoulder pads and of course the rib cage markings on the torso. Topping it all off are the striking white fedora and burlap muffler, which perfectly captures both the texture and wornness of the material it’s made from. The Lost Driver is fully functional and even includes a tiny Skull Memory that can be removed from the Driver and held by the figure/inserted elsewhere. As was the case with Double himself the difference between this and the original Skull is incredible, and all of a sudden what could easily have been considered a passable figure before now looks extremely dated. Even though Skull’s on-screen appearances are minimal it didn’t take long for him to become a firm fan favourite, and with a design like this it isn’t hard to see why.

Through sharing the same base body as Double one can expect the same high quality level of articulation present on that figure, and Kamen Rider Skull can seamlessly pull off all the poses you’d ever want to put the hardboiled detective into. It’s the layout of ball-joints in the neck, shoulders, torso and wrists along with double-hinge elbows and knees, ball-cut hips, ankle rockers and single-hinge toes – nothing out of the ordinary, but nevertheless the best of what the Figuarts line has to offer. Even the muffler is connected via a small ball-joint (which in turn pins the piece wrapped around the neck down to the body), allowing it to be positioned into both static and windswept poses.

As per the usual course for Shinkocchou Seihou figures Kamen Rider Skull comes with plenty of accessories, so much so that it’s worth breaking down into multiple sections! The obvious inclusions are of course five pairs of additional hands, two swappable mufflers, two fedoras (both pristine and the ripped version following Skull’s fight with the Taboo Dopant) and of course his signature weapon - the Skull Magnum. In-show the gun itself is a repaint of Double’s own Trigger Magnum, but as that combo is yet to be released in the line this marks its first appearance in this newer, more detailed form. Like Accel’s Engine Blade it has full Gaia Memory compatibility, meaning the front can be pulled down to put the gun in "Maximum Mode" and the Skull Memory can be properly inserted into the revealed cavity.

However the accessories don’t stop there, as Shinkocchou Seihou Skull also comes with an alternate Skull Crystal head to replicate his “incomplete” appearance in Movie War Core (previously released as an entirely new figure in the mainline). This version of the helmet not only lacks the S-shaped crack running down the centre, but is also iridescent as opposed to solid silver in colouring. But the bigger surprise here is that Skull’s heads don’t swap out like an ordinary Figuart – instead the head itself splits in two clips around a piece fixed to the neck joint. It’s a pretty bizarre change to see in a line that’s done things pretty much the same way for nearly a decade, but anything that means applying less force to ball joints is definitely a plus.

Skull’s final set of accessories relate back to the flashback sequence in the Begins Night segment of Movie War 2010 – not only has an inactive version of the Double Driver been included, but so has the briefcase that stored it. This can not only just be opened, but inside are fitted spaces for both the Driver and all six Double Gaia Memories (four of which are of course are currently unreleased). This is an incredibly cool bonus accessory, but although the pieces fit into their designated sections nice and tightly the Memories are a bit of a pain to remove afterwards due to their tiny size. Putting them all in would make a great display for sure, but it would have perhaps been better if they were either fixed into the case itself or Skull also included separate Memories so that you wouldn’t need to borrow from the other Double figures.

Kamen Rider Double CycloneJoker is one of the best figures the Shinkocchou Seihou line has to offer, so it shouldn’t be much of a shock to hear that one cut from the same mould has turned out just as good. S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Skull is another entry in Figuarts’ very best, combining a wonderfully executed figure with an incredible selection of accessories from Skull’s two movie appearances. The fact it’s a mass release figure and not a web exclusive is just the icing on the cake. Fans of Kamen Rider W won’t want to miss out on this, and when Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Eternal finally makes his debut in January the show’s popular quartet of Riders are going to look magnificent together.

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