Friday 25 May 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Alien Zarab

Release Date: April 2018
RRP: 5940 yen

It's been nearly two years since the release of S.H. Figuarts Ultraman and since then the line has moved onto the casts of Ultraseven and The Return of Ultraman (in addition to covering newer shows like Orb and Geed), yet by way of miracle Bandai Tamashii Nations still seem dedicated to the original Ultraman series. The latest invader to join the ever-expanding line is deceptive Alien Zarab, who first appeared in episode 18 "Brother from Another Planet" and is notable for being the first alien to actively intimate an Ultra hero after deducing the identity of SSSP member Shin Hayata. S.H. Figuarts Alien Zarab was another Tamashii web exclusive release, which is likely to be the fate of any original series character as the Figuarts line moves forwards into future franchise instalments.

There's been enough Ultraman S.H. Figuarts now for the boxes to well and truly settle in, with Zarab's joining the previous releases in a colour coordinated brown offering. Like the other Tamashii web exclusive figures this box lacks a transparent front window, but offsets it with a nice big image of the Alien Zarab suit from the show (complete with translator). On the back of the box is the usual array of Bandai stock images, and inside you'll find the figure and accessories neatly laid on a single clamshell tray.

While Alien Zarab might not have quite as striking a design as the likes of Baltan and Dada, there's still something effectively intimidating about this looming, dome-headed alien. What Zarab lacks in colour it makes up for in moulding, with the entire body covered in raised, vein-like sections that give the figure a great-looking texture. By contrast the silver of the head is nice and smooth, with the hollowed-out eye sections and tiny starfish mouth giving it some great depth and detail. Basically while Zarab certainly isn't the most extravagant Ultra alien by any stretch of the imagination, his reputation in the series more than speaks for itself and Bandai have down a great job shrinking that suit down to figure form.

One of the joys about the Alien Dada release was finally getting an Ultraman creature with a more generic humanoid design, meaning that they could at long last make the most of all those joints without any significant limitations. The good news here is that Alien Zarab's body is even more streamlined than Dada's, making it work pretty much like a standard Figuart if it weren't for that giant domed head. At least that's how it should work in theory, as the elbows still aren't quite as moveable as they should be and the arms can barely raise at all thanks to way the head extends over them. However the ball-jointed torso and waist sections, bicep swivels, drop-down ball-jointed hips, double-jointed knees and ankle rockers are very much appreciated.

From the way the tray is laid out it seems like Alien Zarab comes with quite a lot of accessories, but in reality it's just a handful of the most important things. In addition to the obligatory three pairs of swappable hands Zarab also comes with iconic translator - a gloriously 60s piece of handheld kit decked out with buttons and even articulated antennae. The buttons and speaker point are all moulded onto the translator as well as painted, making it nicely detailed and a dead ringer for the onscreen version. As was the case with S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider 1, Bandai seem to have learned that fragile parts can break, so have also included a set of alternate antennae just incase any unfortunate accidents happen.

Rounding off the accessories are the two pairs of ear pieces - longer, protruding ones for when Zarab is at human size and then a sunken pair for when he grows to giant size. Both fit into the designated holes rather comfortably, but in the case of the sunken ones getting them out can be a bit of a hassle. Not only do you have to remove the head entirely, but you also have to carefully poke them out from the inside. Because of this Bandai have kindly included a special poking stick to get into that crevice fingers cannot, which rather inexplicably resembles some sort of violin case. Since it's inclusion wasn't initially advertised with the figure, it doesn't really make a whole lot of sense what it's for until you look at the instructions. Still, the inclusion of both ear parts is a really nice touch - giving the figure some nice display variety.

Though he might not look quite as colourful or memorable as some of the crazy aliens that inhabit the Ultraman universe, S.H. Figuarts Alien Zarab is another solid addition to a line no one ever thought would get this extensive. Like Dada it's another figure that can (for the most part) make full use of that high quality S.H. Figuarts articulation, and while the accessory count is relatively small Zarab still comes with everything he needs to make it complete. S.H. Figuarts Alien Zarab won't ever be a priority over the likes of Baltan, Zetton, Dada or Mefilas but if you're looking for another foe to bolster your collection then you could do a lot worse.

No comments: