Monday 30 April 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Alien Guts

Release Date: March 2018
RRP: 6480 yen

Bandai Tamashii Nations' impressive dedication to the Ultra Series and its inhabiting creatures continues with the release of S.H. Figuarts Alien Guts! Undoubtedly one of the most iconic aliens from Ultraseven, Alien Guts also hails from some of its best episodes – the two part story "The Seven Assassination Plan". After carefully analysing Ultraseven and his human disguise of Dan Moroboshi, a squad of Alien Guts were able to successfully defeat, capture and crucify the hero. It was only thanks to the efforts of the Ultra Garrison that Seven was eventually freed and able to defeat them. More recently the race have also appeared in the Ultraman Orb movie, as well as being a key character (albeit in a VERY different form) in the second season of moe monster girl spinoff anime Kaiju Girls.

Alien Guts' packaging is in the uniform style of the Ultraman S.H. Figuarts range, featuring foil silver swirls and a picture of the onscreen suit used as the front's main image. The box is also done up in a fetching light blue that nicely matches Guts' colourscheme. The rest of the box is business as usual, with the back featuring multiple images of the figure in various poses and showcasing the accessories included in the package.

If there's one thing Tamashii Nations get right when it comes to Ultra monsters, it's the sculpts. Alien Guts doesn't just meet the high standard already set by previous releases, it quite possibly excels it. The figure is covered head to toe in a number of raised areas and textured sections, the most obvious the etched markings covering that oversized cranium. Bandai also really nailed the colours, with high praise again going to the bright blue and yellow sections on the head which are really striking against the body's more muted palette. The one minor niggle the sculpt has are the eyes, which despite being done in translucent green plastic kind of just sink into the surrounding black area and can't be noticed from a distance. Admittedly the eyes look that way on the suit as well unless viewed from certain angles, but when you compare it to how piercingly creepy they look on the front of the box you kind of wish the figure had that kind of impact as well.

Sadly the same positive words can't be said about the articulation. In previous reviews I've commented how the poseability of the Ultra monsters seems more akin to what the physical suits are capable of rather than what a highly-articulated action figure is, but with some of the more recent releases they've seemed to be swaying towards what most S.H. Figuarts are capable of. In this respect Guts definitely feels like a step backward, with rather noticeable restriction in the shoulders, torso, waist, hips and knees. All the joints are there, but none of them seem to pull off all that much. And since the hips can't really move all that much, it also limits Guts' balance - something especially irksome when you have a head that big. On the subject of the head, the neck can move up and down a tiny little bit but again it isn't all that much, just enough to make the figure look slightly downward instead of straight on. It's understandable that bulky alien suits aren't going to be as versatile as humanoid bodies, but when a line sells itself on "heroic action" and "character expression" you kind of expect a bit more than just an exceptional sculpt.

Alien Guts' personal accessories consist of a single Paralysis Ray effect part, which is permanently connected to an additional pair of hands. The beam part itself is extremely accurate - not in regards to colour but the moulding itself is really nice too, especially the thicker part around the hands. Despite the toy's limited shoulder movement it isn't too difficult to plug the part in either, as the arms can come together close enough to fit the hands in without having one or both hands pop out every few seconds. Ultraman monster Figuarts have never been that expansive when it comes to accessories but even so this doesn't seem like all that much, especially when the Guts show multiple variations of their beam attack over the course of the episodes. A Beam Bind effect part would have been especially good here, since then you could really pose Guts capturing Ultraseven rather than having to awkwardly prop a beam next to him and hope it looks good.

Much like how Alien Mefilas came with the Ultra Slash accessory for Ultraman, Alien Guts also comes packaged with an additional accessory intended for S.H. Figuarts Ultraseven. In this case it's a mid-throw Eye Slugger effect piece made from translucent plastic and fixed to an additional right hand. Since you can't really pose Ultraseven mid-throw with the standard Eye Slugger pieces an effect part like this is most definitely welcome, but that isn't to say it doesn't come with it's own issues. Unfortunately this is the kind of effect part that only really looks good when posed in the way the box shows you, and despite numerous attempts I just can't get the arms to pose as closely together as Tamashii Nations seem to think they can. So while this is a nice option to have for Ultraseven's signature move, it's not really going to replace the Emerium Ray or Wide Shot parts he originally came with.

Despite the line seemingly getting better and better with every subsequent release, unfortunately S.H. Figuarts Guts turned out to be a little bit of a disappointment. As usual the detailing on the figure is immaculate and really can't be faulted, but the woefully limited articulation is a hard thing to look past on a toy with this kind of price tag. The accessories are undoubtedly a nice touch, but certainly nothing exceptional either. Finally while you can hardly hold it against the figure, this is one release that just doesn't look right unless you plan to buy two. "The Seven Assassination Plan" is probably my all-time favourite Ultra episode I've seen so far so maybe my expectations were a little high, but Guts definitely falls short of the high standard Bandai have built up over the past few years.

1 comment:

Ink'd Kaiju Dude said...

I own this guy. The limited articulation is a bit disappointing. I can understand the head not being able to look around much since the sculpt prevents it (though it can move up and down), but double jointed elbows and knee joints would've been nice for more expressive positions. Also, the head is so heavy and large that it's kinda hard to stand it up at times, haha. The color and detail is very nice, though. I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of my Twintail and Pandon pre-orders to see how those are.