Thursday 15 March 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Kamen Rider Eternal

Release Date: January 2018
RRP: 7884 yen

If there's one series the S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou line has shown a particular dedication to in the last year or so, it's Kamen Rider W. That isn't all that surprising really, given both the show's popularity and its surprise semi-revival last year with the ongoing Kamen Rider W: Fuuto Detective manga. First came Kamen Rider Double CycloneJoker at the end of 2016, followed by Kamen Rider Accel and Kamen Rider Skull last year. Now Bandai Tamashii Nations are kicking off 2018 with the last of the show's Riders - the villain of its summer movie Kamen Rider W Forever: A to Z/The Gaia Memories of Fate. However unlike the others S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Eternal was unable to escape the fate of being a Tamashii web exclusive, making him a little pricier than the others. But as you'll see further down in this review, the figure has a few surprises in store to try and justify this cost.

In usual Shinkocchou Seihou fashion Kamen Rider Eternal comes packaged in a suave two-piece box, the top of which features a filtered headshot of the figure. On the bottom are a selection of stock images, which do a great job of detailing both the figure and its numerous accessories. Inside you'll find the figure and a handful of accessories stored on a deep plastic tray, and then the hands, cloak and other pieces tucked away underneath on an additional thinner tray.

Now that the S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou range is pretty established Tamashii Nations could easily just maintain the high standard they've set with previous figures and the line would be a success. But with every new figure it seems like they've managed to somehow constantly excel themselves, and Kamen Rider Eternal is definitely no exception. The colourscheme may be a relatively simple one, but the execution isn't just effective - it's damn near perfect. From the exquisite pearly white finish of the bodysuit to the metallic blue flames that are even painted across the elbow joints, the whole figure is beautifully sculpted and painted. In addition to the blue are also some splashes of silver to break up the white a little bit more, as well as those piercingly effective yellow compound eyes.

However the truly incredibly detail is only apparently when you give the figure a closer inspection, taking in the fact that Etenal is armed with 26 detailed T2 Gaia Memories. Tamashii could have so easily just shoved a bunch of translucent plastic parts on the figure and called it a day, but each one has both the Memory logo and soundbox painted on to make it as accurate as possible. It's this astounding level of detail that puts Eternal among the very best Shinkocchou Seihou has to offer, even if Eternal himself is one of those characters everyone seems to either love or hate.

Of course the articulation is still top notch as well, making this superior to the original Kamen Rider Eternal in both looks and poseability. The Double mould is just as good as here as it was with both CycloneJoker and Skull, with the additional bulk of the Memory Holder parts not limiting the chest or shoulder movement in any significant way. From head to toe there's a ball jointed head, neck, shoulders, torso, waist and hips, double-hinge elbows and knees, ball jointed wrists, ankle rockers and of course a single-hinge toe cap to round it all off. In addition to all that the Lost Driver has a functioning levered section, so can be placed in both active and inert states depending on whether there's a Gaia Memory inserted.

As you'd expect from a Shinkocchou Seihou figure (especially one in the Kamen Rider W range), Eternal is also jam-packed with accessories. Included here are six additional pairs of hands, three in-scale Gaia memories (Eternal, Unicorn and Zone), his Eternal Edge knife weapon and swappable empty Memory Holder parts for the chest, back, leg and arm. As per the other Kamen Rider Double figures the Memories are compatible with the Lost Driver, the Maximum Slot and Eternal Edge or can just be held by the figure - whichever you decide be careful not to lose them because these things really are tiny! The alternate Memory Holder parts are also nice for a more default-looking Eternal, even if you do lose all that beautiful detail from the mini Memories. On top of that the hand selection here is great, including basic pairs like relaxed palms and weapon holding hands as well as the all-important thumbs up/thumbs down hands any worthwhile Eternal figure needs to come with. And if that's not enough, then there's still one more piece as well...

Rounding off Eternal's accessory count is undoubtedly the most interesting and hotly talked about piece of all – a fabric “Eternal Robe” cape with a bendable wire rim! Previously shown off on both the Dark Knight and Justice League Batman figures, Eternal is the first Kamen Rider (or even tokusatsu in general) Figuart to feature such a piece – though judging by the fact the forthcoming Ultraman Geed Royal Mega-Master figure has the plastic variety Tamashii Nations aren't completely switching over just yet. The only plastic piece of this cape is the thick collar section (which can loosely plug into the empty Memory Holder chest piece for extra support), while the thin bendable wire runs down the sides and across the bottom. This means you can bend it pretty much entirely to your specifications – whether it be a dramatic windswept look or simply a natural default position. 

But as fun as it may look, getting the cape bent into a natural shape is actually a lot trickier than it looks. There's definitely an art to knowing just where to put the folds for a natural look, which I'm sure comes over time but may seem a little disheartening at first when you compare your efforts to the pictures on the box. Thankfully no matter how good you are at it the cape still manages to photograph excellently as you can see here, proving that bendable fabric capes like this are definitely the way forward.

There really should come a point where I need to stop saying that every S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou is a must have figure, but until Tamashii Nations stop making these toys as good as they are then that probably isn't going to happen any time soon. Whether you love or hate the character S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Eternal is yet another winner in the consistently brilliant Kamen Rider W range - combining that tried and tested body mould with a few new tricks to keep the release interesting. The fabric cape is just the icing on the cake, and hopefully it's success will encourage Tamashii Nations to adopt this on future figures rather than just falling back on boring old plastic variety. As the last of the four W Riders this figure rounds off the collection for those not looking to get into alternate forms and the like, and it's a pretty satisfying feeling to see Bandai go four for four on them.

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