Monday 20 November 2017

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Genm Zombie Gamer Level X

Release Date: October 2017 
RRP: 6264 yen 

Since first hitting the line with the level 2 forms of Kamen Riders Ex-Aid, Brave and Snipe back in March, the Kamen Rider Ex-Aid S.H. Figuarts line has slowly been chugging away with the level 5 forms of the aforementioned characters together with the same Kamen Rider Lazer forms. However since it's debut there's been one figure collectors have been especially looking forward to, and with his level 2 form predictably being announced as a Tamashii Nations 2017 event exclusive it's no surprise to see the show's fourth Rider joining the line in this form first. A Tamashii web exclusive, the ultimate game master and self-proclaimed god Dan Kuroto has arrived with the release of S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Genm Zombie Gamer Level X. Or as many fans simply refer to him as,  Dangerous Zombie.

Kamen Rider Genm Zombie Gamer comes packaged in some rather basic windowless web-exclusive Figuarts packaging, with a few design elements common to all of individual Kamen Rider Ex-Aid releases (the preview 3-pack being a bit more unique among them). The black and purple Genm colourscheme is perfectly suited for both the character and as a backdrop to the figure itself, but all in all it’s fairly bland packaging by Figuarts standards. Not that it really makes a huge difference here though, as Genm is the kind of figure you’ll just want to immediately open and not care too much about the box itself. Inside the figure and accessories are spread across a single tray, with the Gashacon Sparrow placed underneath the figure in its own little compartment rather than boxed off to its own smaller tray.


First introduced in the shocking finale to Ex-Aid's twelfth episode, it didn't take long for Genm's Dangerous Zombie form to become a firm fan favourite. Opinion on the Ex-Aid suits can seem fairly divided within the fandom (even more so during these early episodes), but most were pretty united on this monochrome monstrosity - punctuated by silver skeletal plating, a blood red status screen with empty health bar and cracked red visor revealing a piercing blue eye underneath. It's a truly magnificent suit loaded with all sorts of asymmetrical detailing, and Tamashii Nations have appropriately brought their A-game to shrinking it down to figure form. Every detail has been moulded to perfection, the colours pop in every place they should, the chest graphic looks exactly as it should...finding any discernible flaw in this figure is like looking for a needle in a haystack. It really does look fantastic, taking the Ex-Aid silhouette and twisting it into something that makes Genm far more than a simple "evil repaint".

Genm Level X is the first Ex-Aid Figuart to come with a new Driver piece, utilising the Gashacon Bugvisor rather than the standard Gamer Driver. In figure form the functionality is pretty much the same, although the Bugvisor only has a slot for one Gashapon rather than the three you’ll find on the Gamer Driver (two on the Driver itself and then one in the Kiwazama slot holder). As expected the Dangerous Zombie Gashat is completely removeable, however sports a shortened cartridge section and no unique identifiers other than colour. The Dangerous Zombie Gashat is also noticeably smaller than the previously released Gashats - presumably to scale better with the Bugvisor but then the DX items are all the size so is a little strange to see it here.

Whilst not pictured in this review the Bugvisor belt is removable by simply separating the figure at the waist joint and sliding it off, so can be replaced with a Gamer Driver from another figure to represent the resurrected Shin Kuroto Dan as Kamen Rider Genm Level X-0. The Zombie Gashat will still fit in the Driver regardless of the size difference. Whether Bandai will release level X-0 as its own figure is unknown (and if they do any version without a recoloured Mario pipe is a waste), but in the meantime at least collectors have the knowledge that they can put together their own if they have the right pieces lying around. 

Of course the suit design and Kuroto himself where just two of the elements that made Zombie Genm such a fantastic character. The final element was the brilliant body language suit actors Yuya Nawata and Yuji Nakata injected into their performances, which further emphasised Genm's undead nature and Kuroto's unhinged state of mind. Any Figuart Genm would need to be able to recreate these sort of poses in order to be a success, and this figure has pulled it off fantastically. There's nothing especially unique about Genm's articulation in comparison to the rest of the Ex-Aid Figuarts, but everything works as it should and the end result is just magical. As per most modern Figuarts the shoulder pads can be pulled downwards out of the way of the joint when posing, then put back into place once you're finished. You can even adjust the two protruding "collarbone" sections accordingly! But special praise really needs to go to the toe joint here, an area which is probably overlooked by a lot of people but absolutely essential to many of Genm's signature poses. It's amazing just how well these figures can balance on just the smallest amount of surface area, with collectors far better than posing than I pulling off some incredible shots without the aid of a Tamashii stage. But for the rest of us, be sure to have a stand handy just in case balancing proves tedious. That extra bit of support is never a bad thing anyway.

Genm’s accessories include five pairs of alternate hands, a number of which are in suitably ridiculous poses to maximise the figure’s zombie-posing potential. Also bundled with this set is the Gashacon Sparrow, the signature weapon of Kamen Rider Lazer Level 3 which was stolen by Kuroto following his death. In fact Genm went on to use the weapon more often than Lazer did (not counting movies and specials), making the fact it comes with this figure whilst Lazer Level 3 hasn’t even been released all the more unintentionally appropriate. As per its functionality in the show the Sparrow can be wielded either as a bow (Arrow Mode) or split into twin sickles (Sickle mode). The two pieces stay together fairly well in Arrow Mode, though it can be a little fiddly at first when getting the figure to hold it. For extra accuracy you can even remove the tiny tab that holds the pieces together when put in Sickle Mode, but (as the instructions quite clearly state) be careful not to lose it because the piece really is tiny. Also pre-inserted into the weapon is a removable Girgiri Chambara Gashat, which is scaled to match the larger Gamer Driver Gashat rather than the Dangerous Zombie one. This back colouring also makes it a dead ringer for Prototype Gashats as well, perfect for any Genm Level X-0 custom you may have in mind.

When a figure is as highly anticipated as S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Genm Zombie Gamer Level X was there’s more often than not the expectation that the finished product won’t live up to the hype it’s generation. Thankfully Kamen Rider Genm is not one of these figures. You can search high and low for flaws, but Tamashii Nations have really excelled themselves on what quickly become one of the most beloved suits (and characters) in all of Ex-Aid. It’s fantastically sculpted, highly poseable and includes plenty of hand options to suit a character as expressive as this. Dangerous Zombie is undoubtedly one of, if not the best Figuarts of 2017. Unfortunately with the Ex-Aid Figuarts proving extremely popular on the aftermarket value has skyrocketed since release, so if you ever see one for a price you’re prepared to pay be sure to grab it while you can.


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