Sunday 26 November 2017

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Dan Moroboshi

Release Date: October 2017
RRP: 6264 yen

If there's one area of tokusatsu properties that Bandai Tamashii Nations have left almost completely untouched, its our heroes' civilian identities. Whether it be Kamen Rider, Super Sentai, Metal Heroes, the Ultra Series or something else, there's just so much untapped potential that would undoubtedly be snapped up by fans in an instant. It seems Tamashii have finally cottoned onto this, with the tail-end of 2017 revealing human figures for three iconic heroes from three separate franchises. And with 2017 also being the 50th anniversary of Ultraseven, what better place to start than with S.H. Figuarts Dan Moroboshi. While Retsu Ichijoji and Takeshi Hongo had previously been seen at events, the human guise of Ultraseven came as a complete surprise to everyone - first appearing in magazine scans just before preorders started.

Dan Moroboshi comes in a box done up in a similar style to his fellow classic Ultra Series Figuarts, this time done up in a light blue colourscheme that nicely matches the Ultra Garrison uniform. The front also features a nice big image of Dan from the show itself, a touch that I've personally really liked about this particular series of boxes. The back of the box features the usual selection of Tamashii Nations stock images (complete with a guest appearance from Figuarts Ultraseven), and inside you'll find the figure and its accessories evenly spread across a single tray. 

With Figuarts human sculpts being quite hit and miss in the Marvel range and Tamashii's last attempt at a civilian tokusatsu character eight years ago being an unmitigated disaster, quite a bit was riding on Dan Moroboshi if this is to be the start of what will hopefully be more civilian figures in the future. And as far as sculpting goes this figure definitely passes the test. Not only is the head sculpt a great likeness of actor Kohji Morisugu, but there's so much other sculpted detail that's gone into the Ultra Garrison uniform as well. All of the additional white lines have been moulded onto the body, as has the black x-stitching running down the arms and legs. Elements like the Ultra Garrison logo on the chest and the belt buckle have been painted to perfection, while the lower sections of the belt actually hang as loose pieces rather than being fixed to the crotch piece. Tamashii Nations really couldn't have done any better with the likeness, and by choosing a neutral face sculpt they've swiftly avoided any of the unintentional hilarity that usual comes with something a little more dynamic. 

With Tamashii Nations have come so far in regards to real-life sculpts, it seems especially odd that the articulation on this figure feels like a regression. Though admittedly not to any serious extent there are a few oddities with Dan that one can only assume were done in the name of a "cleaner" sculpt. The figure utilising the old style swing-down hips doesn't come as much a surprise, but the use of single hinge elbow and knee joints over the usual double-hinge variety is (the same thing was also recently done with Star-Lord). While a single joint does arguably act more humanoid than the usual style, it does take away a minutiae of movement that buyers will be used to. The swing-down hips are also much more awkward for things like sitting poses, such as recreating the famous conversation with Alien Metron from 'The Targeted Town'. I in fact even managed to break the hip on my figure whilst trying to get Dan in the pose properly - an accident I blame myself for more than the figure itself, but strongly feel wouldn't have happened if Bandai would just stick to the newer, much better hips.

Other than that the articulation is of the usual Figuarts standard though, sans a bicep swivel which would have been nice but again would have broken up the sculpt (not that it stopped the shoulders and waist joint doing it anyway). The head and neck joint are particularly good hear, especially with the way that the collar moves to coincide with the movement. All in all it's not a huge departure from what one should usually expect from an S.H. Figuarts figure, but enough to question why little changes have been made to the usually flawless template.

Dan's accessories consist of two pairs of additional hands, an additional right hand clutching the Ultra Eye, a separate Ultra Eye piece, an alternate right wrist with activated Video Seaver communicator, Ultra Gun and finally an alternate head wearing the iconic Ultra Garrison helmet. The helmet even features a moving visor which covers the face (mainly used as emergency breathing equipment), which is a really nice touch given it was pulled down in the show quite rarely. The only real oddity here is the individual Ultra Eye piece, which makes perfect sense in theory but not in execution. None  of the hands are really suitable for holding the Ultra Eye, and even if they were why would you use it when the alternate right hand is already doing the job perfectly? It's useful for having another figure hold it as an accessory (and the thing was stolen a fair few times to be fair), but it's such a small piece it would be incredibly easy to drop and lose unless you have something which was able to hold onto it tightly. Still, this is a simple but highly effective range of accessories included here.


Human persona S.H. Figuarts are something fans have demanded for a long time and while S.H. Figuarts Dan Moroboshi perhaps wasn't everyone's first choice to kick things off, he's a perfect choice given both the status of the character and the celebration of Ultraseven's 50th anniversary. A fantastic likeness of Kohji Morisugu and a wonderfully detailed figure, but somewhat flawed thanks to a slightly different articulation layout to what we're used to. Nevertheless Dan Moroboshi is an must-have for Ultraseven fans and an excellent start to what will hopefully be a string of similar figures (Shin Hayata is a must). With Retsu and Hongo quickly following, fingers crossed there'll be more of these announced for 2018.

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