Thursday 7 December 2017

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Amazon Neo

Release Date: October 2017
RRP: 5940 yen

The hunt continues as Bandai Tamashii Nations move forward with Kamen Rider Amazons’ second season! As well as capping off the core (Amazon) cast from the first season in October, season two kicked off with the release of S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Amazon Neo. An Amazon whose life was steeped in tragedy, Chihiro simply wanted to control his insatiable hunger and live as peacefully as possible. His life changed when he met Iyu and joined the 4C Amazon hunting squad, however these turn of events eventually revealed him as both the son of Jin Takayama/Amazon Alpha, the source of a whole new breed of Amazons and as such, purely by victim of circumstance, humanity’s greatest threat.

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Amazon Neo comes in smaller variety of box that’s becoming increasingly common for the line, coloured with a smoky blue effect against a black backdrop to give it that murky Kamen Rider Amazons feel. The figure itself is only really visible from the waist up, as the rest of the box’s front is taken up by a nice big image of the figure in a suitably feral pose. The features a similar selection of images, with one in particular doing a good job of conveying just how much of Chihiro’s life is suffering. Like the previous mass release Amazons figures (as well as the original Kamen Rider Amazon), have also released their own exclusive variant with additional accessories. This version of the figure comes in a wider square box, featuring a plain brown colour scheme mirroring Amazon’s own shipping boxes.

As well as adding some much needed blue to the colour spectrum of Amazons Riders, Kamen Rider Amazon Neo is unique in that his Neo Amazons Driver also adds a technological aspect to the suit. This is later continued in the show with Kamen Rider New Omega, but the end result is nowhere near as effective as it is here. The colour placement is just sublime. You have the metallic blue body broken up by some highly effective red markings, then that the gunmetal grey of the armour on top to compliment it. The pièce de résistance is of course the head, which features blood red compound eyes obscured under a translucent yellow visor (the same yellow is used to great effect on the Driver’s eye as well). It’s a brilliant little design trait, and translates excellently to the figure. However it’s the finish that really sets Neo apart from the other Riders in terms of them as action figures. The combination of the glossy blue undersuit and the armour’s matte finish is both a visual delight and adds an extra sense of quality to the feel of the figure. Even if Neo isn’t your favourite Amazons design, there’s just something about the overall presentation of this particular figure that puts it a cut above the others.

Though Neo’s armour sets him apart from his completely organic predecessors, the base body remains the same meaning there’s little to no change in articulation. This means the old swing-down style hips are still present, however to their credit they don’t feel as out of place here as one might expect. It might just the wider variety in textures or darker colourscheme masking it, but their implementation and usage doesn’t break up the look in the same way it does with Alpha or Omega. The additional armour doesn’t seem to have restricted the rest of the body in any way either, with Neo free to make the most of all that fluid articulation. One minor gripe is that if the shoulder pads happen to pop off they’re a bit frustrating to clip back on, but that’s more of an annoyance than a flaw.

Neo’s accessory count consists of two pairs of alternate hands, a loose Amazon Injector (the syringe-like capsules that are inserted into the Neo Amazons Driver) and an alternate right forearm with the Amazon Neo Blade fixed into it. As needless as the latter piece might sound having the blade fixed directly to the arm is actually far better than having it as a separate piece. There’s no hassle about getting the weapon into Neo’s hand in proper position, and the arm itself is nice and simple to swap out. That combined with the nice level of detail the blade has is almost enough to make up for the rest of the accessories, which are pretty underwhelming. Neither of the additional pairs of hands are any good for holding accessories, making the Amazon Injector rather useless since it doesn’t interact with the Driver either. Now Neo could have easily come with his other weapons to make up for this, but then what would be left to pack in with the inevitable release of his Jungraider bike? Exactly the same tactic was done to fill out Omega’s arsenal, so there’s no way Bandai aren’t going to repeat the same strategy to help sell an identical bike with different coloured eyes.

Of course those who purchased the exclusive version of the figure will also receive some swanky flame effect parts, just like the ones included with the versions of Alpha and Omega as well as the Tamashii web exclusive Sigma. Neo’s version are done up in a rather nice two-tone orange/red colour to resemble his onscreen transformation, nicely setting them apart from the red/white ones included with Alpha.

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Amazon Neo is a surprising figure, surpassing some of Amazons’ more popular characters in terms of execution but still falling just short of perfection for similar reasons. This is one instance where picking up the version may definitely work to your favour, as without the additional flame parts Neo’s accessory count does feel a little bare. Nevertheless, the blend of textures to separate the organic and mechanical parts has turned out wonderfully, making Neo a rather unique release amongst his Amazon Rider contemporaries. As currently the only wholly new Kamen Rider Amazons season two character in the line, here’s hoping he’s joined by the Crow Amazon in the near future.

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