Wednesday 8 November 2017

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Star-Lord

Release Date: September 2017
RRP: 6264 yen (Japanese Edition), $84.99/£99.99 (Western Edition)

With the Marvel Cinematic Universe now truly engrained into the S.H. Figuarts line it’s become customary to expect at least one figure from each new film, and Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 has proved to be no exception. September saw the release of both S.H. Figuarts Star-Lord and a Rocket/Groot 2-pack, both as Tamashii web exclusives. However whereas Rocket still curiously remains exclusive to Japan, Star-Lord follows the recent trend of enhanced Western releases for Marvel Figuarts – coming bundled with effect pieces in the same way Doctor Strange and Spider-Man had earlier.

Star-Lord comes packed in the usual small-style windowless web exclusive packaging, which has been given a suitably colourful cosmic backdrop. The front of the box features a nice big image of the figure alongside the figure’s name, company/film logos and a great Star-Lord logo graphic in the top corner. The back then has the usual array of Bandai stock images, which also feature their own unique backdrop rather than Bandai’s standard one.

When it comes to figures based on actual actors, sculpt quality is always going to be the burning question on everyone’s minds. Tamashii Nations’ efforts when it comes to the Marvel Figuarts have ranged quite a bit over the years, but particularly with the release of Doctor Strange earlier in the year they definitely feel like they’re on the up. Star-Lord is perhaps their best offering so far, with the headsculpt almost perfectly capturing Chris Pratt’s facial features even if his charisma is a bit more difficult to capture in figure form. The rest of the figure’s sculpting is equally impressive, with the jacket especially sporting a significant amount of moulded detailing. Similarly the colours and paint apps are spot on, particularly that distinct blue t-shirt every geek shop was selling months before the film was even out. Yes some space bum in a leather jacket might not seem quite as exciting as the more-traditional costumed heroes, but Star-Lord looks just as cool here as he does onscreen. Hasbro’s Marvel Legends may be able to offer a more affordable Star-Lord, but there’s just a quality to Figuarts that is rarely beaten at this scale.

Articulation is as you'd expect for a Figuart, with only a few minor limitations to speak of. From the head down Star-Lord sports ball-joints in his head, neck, torso, waist, shoulders, hips and wrists along with hinged elbows and knees, ankle rockers and a hinged toe-cap at the end of each foot. The shoulders are also able to swing outward for additional clearance. While that's a pretty good selection, there are a few oddities to speak off. First and foremost are the elbows and knees, which are only single hinges rather than the double hinges you usually find. While this honestly doesn't affect articulation a whole lot, it is noticeable to anyone overly familiar with the brand and those odd instances you want the arms to have just that little bit more clearance. That said, even with the usual hindrances a jacket usually brings to a figure Star-Lord's shoulder joints are surprisingly good, and provide a much wider area of motion that some figures with similar builds.

Star-Lord’s accessories consist of two alternate pairs of hands, his signature pair of blasters and an alternate helmet head. The helmet has always been something that’s been a bit hit and miss in the past when it comes to toys (few seem to be able to replicate the on-screen look without making it look too toy-like) but Bandai have done a great job here and swapping between the two heads isn’t any trouble at all. The blasters are also nicely sculpted and faithful on their on-screen versions, even if there isn’t a lot to them outside of their unique space-age design. Of course the Western version also comes with a selection of recoloured smoke Tamashii Effects parts, which may look a little strange but certainly fit the Guardians aesthetic. With the knowledge that these things exist the standard version does seem a little bare, especially after Spider-Man came with all manner of parts and Doctor Strange had more hands than you could ever need. But then what else a Vol. 2 Star-Lord could come with? If it were the original an argument could be made for the Infinity Stone or his walkman, but when it comes to the sequel there isn’t a whole lot that immediately springs to mind.

S.H. Figuarts Star-Lord is another winner for the Figuarts’ Marvel Cinematic Universe range, with Bandai’s definitely raising the bar when it comes to getting the actor-likeness just right with the headsculpt. Brilliantly detailed sculpting more than makes up for somewhat unusual articulation, but when it comes to accessories the standard version does feel a little bare compared to the more lavish Western edition. Guardians fans will definitely want to pick him up, but the question remains whether Tamashii Nations will get around to making at least Gomora and Drax to go along with Star-Lord and Rocket/Groot. Fingers crossed they do, because this is a team where owning half just doesn’t seem enough.

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