Monday 25 June 2018

Toybox REVIEW: Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger VS Keisatsu Sentai Patranger Minipla Pat Kaiser

Release Date: April 2018 
RRP: 1980 yen (1 complete figure, 5 boxes), 4536 yen (Full case, 12 boxes) 

With the phantom thieves on the loose, the Global Police Force aren't that far behind! Bandai continue the Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger VS Keisatsu Sentai Patranger minipla line into its second wave with the release of Pat Kaiser – the Patrangers' law-enforcing equivalent of the Lupinranger's Lupin Kaiser. This mecha combines the Patranger's three Trigger Machine vehicles together with the Goodstriker – the sentient piece of the coveted Lupin Collection that's happy to ally himself with both Super Sentai teams.

Like the previous wave Pat Kaiser is available as part of a complete five-box set, which features its own elaborate packaging. While the 12-box full case set will just give you the usual one-colour shipper box, the five-piece set comes in a smaller box featuring nice big images of the Pat Kaiser minipla and the individual components that form it. Unlike the Lupin Kaiser box each side actually has a different image of the kit, with the lid also featuring a nice splash of the actual Pat Kaiser suit alongside the three Patrangers. Inside you'll find you five boxes that make up this set – one each for the Trigger Machines and then two boxes for Goodstriker.

These individual boxes all then feature identical artwork to the larger box, right down to the choice of background. However it's hard to be too upset about the boxes using so few images when you consider that you quite literally have to tear these apart in order to build the models. Of course each box isn't completely identical though – they each have a designated number to denote what's inside, and if that isn't obvious enough then the top lid also the corresponding Patranger printed on it to make it extra clear. Inside you'll find the different coloured runners bagged together with a single piece of that trademark Bandai candy, with the instructions on how to build the models printed directly onto the inside of the boxes. 

(As usual the images that follow will be of a painted kit, so for comparison on what Pat Kaiser looks like using only the stickers provided for detail please check out this blog post)

The first box of the set contains Trigger Machine #1, and the first thing you'll immediately notice is just how much more colour variety there is with these kits compared to the Dial Fighters. While the Dial Fighters were moulded almost entirely in one colour (with the odd bit of black or grey for the flourishes), the Trigger Machines all contain parts moulded in black, white and then each one's designated colour. In the case of Trigger Machine #1 the white and black are actually the predominant colours, with the red mainly used for the cockpit and lightbar. The other thing that stands out about the Trigger Machines is just how much moulded detail all the white pieces have, which can be drawn out really effectively if you also like to panel line your kits. What these kits do have in common with the Dial Fighters though is that they also have areas that lacking the detail the stickers provide - meaning important parts like the side pieces with the numbering on them have to be done using the stickers. Additional detailing like the red wheel rims are also absent from the kit, so 100% accuracy to the onscreen or DX versions will need a little bit of paintwork. 

Nevertheless Trigger machine #1 is a rather neat looking futuristic police car, featuring an extendable front section which reveals its seventh (red) wheel to put it into attack mode. All seven of these wheels are free rolling, giving it an extra bit of individual play value as well.

Next up is Trigger Machine #2, which swaps out the red for a more un-police like green. The similar colour schemes add a nice bit of uniformity to the three Trigger Machines, even though their designs and functions are pretty different when you're admiring them close up. Trigger Machine #2 might be another free-rolling police car, but sports a slightly thinner frame as well as a front section that when placed into attack mode flips up to reveal a giant blaster. Trigger Machine #2 again requires a bit of extra paint for full accuracy, most notably here the white frame around the cockpit section (which is moulded onto the kit but not coloured in). For everything else though, the stickers should suffice nicely.

Patrolling in pink, the final of the three Patranger vehicles is Trigger Machine #3. Like #2 this has a slightly smaller frame than #1, but is again a completely different design of vehicle that just keeps the uniformity in all the right places. Trigger Machine #3's gimmick is its folded up baton section, which extends outward from the vehicle when in attack mode. However while this is a hinged piece on the DX toy, the minipla version requires you unplugging the baton piece from the top and then plugging it into the front hubcap. It can still extend outwards however, which is a nice little feature of the kit despite being a relatively simple thing to build. 

Rounding off the set is the two-part Goodstriker model, which is completely identical to the one that was previously included in the Lupin Kaiser minipla set. Being considerably larger than the Trigger Machines means there's a bit more you can do with Goodstriker, and so despite it being a minor transformation the model can be changed into both its Dial Fighter and Trigger Machine forms simply by flipping a few sections up or down. As mentioned in the previous review Goodstriker also needs a little bit of work if you want it to be completely show accurate, but since the plastic doesn't have of the face detailing moulded on you're pretty much stuck using the often-ineffective wraparound stickers. Stickers like that are especially worth gluing or sealing onto the model kit, because even if you think you've applied them perfectly them inevitably ending up beginning to peel off after a while.

Altogether it's once again a case of Good Striker practically dwarfing the three Trigger Machines, highlighting just how much of the two robots is him rather than the actual team member vehicles. Since the Trigger Machines have a little to them in terms of size and gimmickry they feel a little more substantial than the Dial Fighters did, but honestly not by a whole lot. What both sets do have in common though is just how good they look together, especially when you contract the single primary colour look of the Dial Fighters with the police-like uniformity of the Trigger Machines.

Though Pat Kaiser is for the most part exactly the same as Lupin Kaiser other than exchanging the Dial Fighters for Trigger Machines, there is one subtle difference in the way you transform Goodstriker as well. Whereas Lupin Kaiser has the leg panels folded down to reveal two red sections on the lower leg, Pat Kaiser keeps them folded up to show off the silver mechanical detailing instead. Other than that it's exactly the same though – Trigger Machines #2 and #3 plug into the exposed plugs on each side to become the arms, while Trigger Machine #1 plugs on top and then folds down to reveal Pat Kaiser's face. While Trigger Machine #1 does have a Pat Kaiser face built into the actual model, sadly it's far too small to be in any way effective. To compensate for that Bandai have also included a larger false faceplate separate from any of the models themselves, plugging directly into the revealed socket just in front of the smaller built-in face.

Keisatsu Gattai! Pat Kaiser!

The core of the robot may be exactly the same but the differences definitely help to make Pat Kaiser feel separate enough from its phantom thief counterpart. The predominant use of white in the Trigger Machines' design works well with the black Goodstriker body to create the image of a police-themed robots, with the Ranger-coloured sections complimenting it nicely to give it that clear Super Sentai look. The somewhat chunkier silhouette also lines up pretty nicely with the onscreen model, and the only additional ports hinting towards future combinations on show are the two plugs sticking rather obtusely out of the hips. As previously mentioned in the Lupin Kaiser review these kits are noticeably smaller than the Kyuranger range, but overall scale pretty well with the rest of the Super Sentai minipla from the last couple of years.

Articulation-wise the core of Pat Kaiser is of course the same as Lupin Kaiser, sporting a waist swivel, two-way hips, upper leg swivels and hinged knees. The way the Trigger Machines provide the articulation is pretty different however, and ultimately what Pat Kaiser the weaker of the two when it comes to the combined form. Trigger Machine #1 adds no articulation to the robot whatsoever, so the head is constantly stuck looking forward. Admittedly the same can be said of Lupin Kaiser, but the fact the head sticks out so much further on Pat Kaiser makes it all the more noticeable. The arms meanwhile feature their own in-build plug joints to provide the usual two-way movement, but there aren't really elbow joints as such. Instead there are what could be be described as hinged hand joints, which give the hand sections (alternatively, the parts where the weapons are) some forwards and backwards motion. Unfortunately the back ends of the vehicle prevent them from having that much motion, and the lack of a swivel joint means the baton is stuck facing forward. It isn't a bad range of motion per se, but it definitely feels a lot less fluid than Lupin Kaiser's.

Despite the core of the robot being exactly the same as the previous release, Minipla Pat Kaiser is an interesting little model kit that does things both better and worse than Lupin Kaiser. The individual  Trigger Machines are far more intricate builds with plenty of moulded detailing for more advanced modellers to bring out, but overall the combined mode feels much weaker because of the limited arms and completely static head. In spite of the differences though I'd be hard pressed to call one better than the other, and the pair look excellent side by side despite this (currently) being impossible on the show itself. While initial reception towards the forthcoming X-Emperor and full Trigger Machine/Dial Fighter combination don't seem overly positive, at the very least these are two nice little kits that are well worth your time and money.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Whats your opinion on the show so far ?