Wednesday 15 November 2017

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Body-chan -Kentaro Yabuki- Edition DX Set [Gray Color Ver.]

Release Date: September 2017 (DX version, grey body), October 2017 (Standard version, pale body)
RRP: 7020 yen (DX version), 4860 yen (Standard version)

When Bandai Tamashii Nations announced that they would be releasing their blank body S.H. Figuarts as part of a new range intended as drawing aids, no one quite expected them to take off the way they did. However the pair have arguably gone on to become two of the most popularised Figuarts in the entire brand, prompting a number of recolours and special event exclusives as well as a string of cheap knock-off versions. The fact that my original DX Body-kun review is the most viewed toy review on this blog by a wide margin speaks for itself. Now they’re back with two brand new versions done in collaboration with manga artists Kentaro Yabuki and Rihito Takarai, each bringing their own style and proportions to the Figuarts body. Like her predecessor the S.H. Figuarts Body-chan -Kentaro Yabuki- Edition comes in both standard and DX varieties, with the DX edition moulded from grey plastic and including a larger amount of accessories.

As this Body-chan having been produced in collaboration Black Cat and To Love-Ru illustrator Kentaro Yabuki it shouldn’t be surprising to hear that his art is featured prominently on the box, but just what art will surely raise a few eyebrows. Displayed even more prominently than the figure itself (which is boxed off to the side and visible through a thin transparent window) are two swimsuit-clad anime girls in a somewhat provocative pose, complete with the Tamashii Nations logo adorning their breasts. Quite a contrast to the neutral packaging of the original DX sets. In addition to the usual stock images the back also features an unfinished version of the same image, as well as a few basic steps on how the figure can be used as a drawing aid.

Just like the original figures these new blank bodies also come packaged with a short booklet that shows the figure in action as well as offering a few tips on how to put it to good use with your drawing. This booklet has a little more focus than the original however though as it features a step-by-step guide to the image used on the front of the box, using Body-chan figures as an initial model for the poses. For those buying the figure simply as a toy and not a drawing aid the booklet probably won’t be of much interest, but it’s a nice little bonus than makes these figures seem a bit more special than your average Figuarts release.

It’s immediately clear from Body-chan’s sculpt that this figure had a particular body-type in mind. From her well-endowed chest to firmly moulded buttocks, it seems the aim of the game here was to produce a female body suitable for buxom anime girls. That’s not by any means a bad thing, but it mean the figure might not be quite as good a reference for more naturally proportioned girls. But if this is the body type you have in mind then Body-chan should prove to be the ideal partner, with the new mould also bringing along other interesting additions such moulded toes instead of the usual sneaker-style toecaps. The lack of additional moulding makes Body-chan feeling lighter and perhaps "cheaper" than your average Figuart, but the build quality is just the same and the few bits of moulding she does have are of the usual high standard. The head even has a small smile moulded into for that extra spark of personality! Like before, Body-chan also sports a small hole in her lower back for a Tamashii Stage to plug directly in without the need for the claw adapter piece.

But regardless of your opinions on the sculpt itself, the level of articulation Body-chan has is top of the range. Utilising almost everything modern S.H. Figuarts body have to offer, Body-chan features ball joints in her head, neck, shoulders, abdomen, waist and wrists together with double-hinged elbows and knees, bicep swivels, ankle rockers and hinged toe sections on each foot. Strangely though the Body-chan mould uses the older swing-down ball-joint hips rather than the new fixed joints utilised on the Body-kun mould. One can only assume this was done to prioritise aesthetics, so that the leg sections could then be moulded without having an obtrusive ball-joint at the top of them. Without any armour or sculpting to get in the way of things the figure is able to use each joint to its full potential, making it the perfect drawing aid as well as an excellent practice piece for seeing just what these toys are capable of in terms of posing.

As was the case with the original blank body releases, these DX versions have a considerably higher accessory count to their flesh coloured brethren. While the standard version of the figure comes with a modest four pairs of alternate hands (along with three separate joined hand pieces), the DX Body-chan comes packaged with an incredible 10 pairs of hands, the three aforementioned joined hand pieces, alternate crossed arms piece, a pair of alternate sitting legs, sword, shield, ice lolly/popsicle and three different cups (coffee mug, teacup with saucer and a traditional Japanese tea mug). Once again Tamashii have pulled out all the stops to provide these figures with a good array of both weapons and lifestyle items, even if they’re all unpainted and most have to be removed from a runner like you would with a model kit. The shield is held in a similar way to both the S.H. Figuarts Captain America and various Figma Link figures, with both a handle for the figure to hold on to and an additional strap for support.

Of course if you own one of the original DX Body figures you can also use their accessories with this figure as well, although it’s worth noting this Body-chan doesn’t have a pair of hands suitable for holding the gun. Not really a problem if you’re getting it from the original Body-chan, but not much use if (like me) you only previously owned a Body-kun figure with sports much larger hands and wrist joints.

Also included as part of the DX set is extra articulated Tamashii Act 3 Stage, which includes a number of additional joints in the arm section as well as a three-prong claw adapter to give the body extra support when posing. The stand also comes with the blank body range’s signature storage box attachment, which fits underneath the standard base and has room to fit all of Body-chan’s numerous accessories inside. The hand trees even clip onto the sides of the box to prevent them rattling around inside! But on top of all that packs in yet another surprise to make the base all the more special. Also included are four table leg adapter pieces, which when plugged into the four corners of the base turn it into a Japanese-style table! The idea and execution is simple yet utterly genius, and the table’s height works perfectly with the fixed sitting-pose legs that are included with the set. Just when you think Tamashii Nations have pulled out all the stops when it comes to crafting the perfect stand for these releases, they go and do something else to prove that they’re still full of surprises.

The S.H. Figuarts Blank Body line has prioritised being the perfect drawing aid, but there was something captivating about the original releases that didn’t just also appeal to customisers but also to anyone who just wanted a really fun toy with a truckload of accessories. With these new versions featuring more defined sculpts the appeal feels more homed in on artists, but there’s still plenty for everyone else to enjoy here as well. S.H. Figuarts Body-chan -Kentaro Yabuki- Edition's “assets” make her a bit more limited in scope, but she’s still an incredibly fun figure to pose regardless of intentions. With the blank bodies have gone from being a surprising oddity to a popular sub-line in its own right, it’ll be exciting to see whether more artists are invited to bring their own styles and variations to the table as it continues to grow in the future.


Anonymous said...

Where did you buy your copy?

Alex said...

Hi, I bought it from Amiami. Not sure if they have the DX version still in stock as I preordered it a while back, but last time I checked they did still have the regular version!