Friday 1 June 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Freeza -Resurrection Ver.-

Release Date: April 2018
RRP: 5616 yen

You know that a toy line has hit a high point when it's releasing reissues and renewals of previously released figures alongside a steady string of brand new moulds. That's been the case for the Dragon Ball S.H. Figuarts range for some time now, and now that Dragon Ball Super has finished airing collectors are clamouring for those hard-to-get older releases more than ever. Bandai Tamashii Nations have now answered these cries with the release of S.H. Figuarts Freeza Resurrection Ver., giving the Emperor of the Universe a shiny new paint job along with some new accessories to reflect his appearance in the latest series. Better still is that this new Freeza is also a general retail release, whereas the original final form Freeza and Golden form Freeza figures were Tamashii web exclusive figures.

S.H. Freeza Resurrection Ver sports the fancy new style packaging given to all the "new" releases since the Super Saiyan Goku Awakening Version figure – predominantly white with boxed off images of the figure laid out almost as if they were manga panels. Freeza's packaging also used deep purple backdrops in addition to the white, which is just about as perfect a colourscheme as you can get for the character. Interestingly the box makes no reference to this being a "Resurrection Version" (at least not in English anyway), instead just proudly announcing the figure simply as "Freeza" across the box's window section. As usual the back sports an array of stock images showing off the various poses and accessories, and inside the figure and accessories are laid out across a single clear clamshell tray. Finally the included Tamashii Stage is in a separate bag taped underneath the tray.

First off it's worth noting that unlike the recent Goku and Vegeta figures, this Freeza isn't a brand new mould. It's a recolour of the original release, however presumably due to the new accessories (as well as Freeza's later prominence in Dragon Ball Super) hasn't been branded as a "Premium Colour Version" like the other reissues. Like the other recolours this new Freeza lacks the shading of the previous release, sporting a cleaner white body with carefully placed blue highlighting to properly bring out all the muscle detail. The purple sections also a much deeper shade, and the shoulder joints have been changed from white to an extremely dark purple (so much as that it almost looks black) to match the shoulder pauldrons better. Other than that the mould itself remains unchanged, and if you haven't handled a Freeza figure before the first thing that's probably going to hit you is just how small he is. Everyone knows Freeza is a fairly short character anyway, but seeing this figure that's about half the size of an average Figuart really puts it into perspective. Sculpt-wise the figure looks great, with the new colourscheme definitely lends itself to the animation model far better than the original did. The default headsculpt is just perfect as well – generic, but injected with just the right amount of Freeza's trademark sass.

Since it's an older figure (hailing all way back from 2013 in fact) the articulation is a little dated, but still holds up fairly well on a figure of Freeza's size. Altogether it features a ball-jointed head and neck section, ball-jointed shoulders and waist sections, double-hinged elbows and knees, pull-down ball-jointed hips, ball-jointed wrists and single hinge ankle joints. The tail (which is not attached to the figure in package) connects via a thick ball-joint, giving it full range of movement at the connection point. So compared to some of the newer Dragon Ball releases that isn't all that impressive, but seems to do the job nicely here. The much bigger problem with S.H. Figuarts Freeza however is balance. Despite having nice big flat feet that in usual circumstances would provide ideal stability, the tail is just so heavy compared to the rest of the figure that posing it without it falling backwards is far harder than it honestly should be. If the tail wasn't a solid piece it would be a lot easier, as you could reposition to alleviate the centre of gravity a little better. But no, a solid tail that nine times out of ten is just too damn heavy wherever you place. It's just as well that a Tamashii Stage was included with this release, because after a few minutes of trying to get the thing to stand you'll find mid-air poses a lot more preferable.

As technically neither a Premium Colour Edition or a brand new mould, Resurrection Freeza's accessory count is rather unique in that it's made up of both brand new pieces and ones ported over from the original release. As partly the basis of this release the most important accessory here is of course the halo, reflecting Freeza's 24 hour resurrection to participate in the Tournament of Power during the final arc of Dragon Ball Super. His surprise addition to the Universe 7 team brought about some really great character moments, as well as team ups fans would have probably once thought impossible. The halo connects via a tab which plugs directly into the back of Freeza's head, giving you the option to comfortably switch between alive and dead Freeza with minimal effort. In addition to that Freeza also comes with two alternate heads with surprised and screaming expressions, three pairs of alternate hands, a fixed crossed-arms piece, two tails of varying curvature (the longer one of which can also be cut in half), a pair of alternate feet with the toes curled and even a standard Tamashii Stage (which is something that never goes unappreciated). Annoyingly neither of the other heads are compatible with the halo, which feels like it kind of defeats the purpose of this being a "Resurrection" version of Freeza. Both expressions would have gone great with the halo and it would have taken no effort on Bandai's part to make them compatible.

So what's missing from the original release? Just one item, and it's hardly one that many will miss. The original Freeza figure also came with a rather nifty rock display base, which while a nice touch was hardly something that could be considered essential by any means. While the halo might not be an equivalent replacement and this figure is a bit more expensive than the original's base price (5616 yen vs 4725 yen), it was inevitable that something was going to be cut and better it be this than any of the other accessories carried over.

Of course it wouldn't be a proper Dragon Ball Figuarts release without a few effect parts thrown into the mix! This new Freeza comes with energy effects for both his Death Beam and Death Beam attacks, which were previously included in the original release but have now been done up in suitably fitting translucent red plastic. The Death Beam part also features a clear middle section, nicely transitioning into the red at each end of the part. The Death Ball connects via a clip which wraps around the figure's wrist, with the extended tab eventually placing the ball just above the hand as if it were floating above. Meanwhile the Death Beam doesn't connect to the figure at all, instead plugging directly into the included Tamashii Stage at the furthest end. Though neither effect part is especially extravagant, they are great representations of Freeza's main attacks and pieces like this are always welcome with Dragon Ball releases. It's just annoying how key figures like Super Saiyan Goku and Vegeta never seem to include them.

Though many will likely argue that a brand new mould would have been preferable, S.H. Figuarts Freeza Resurrection Ver. is nevertheless a fantastic way for fans to pick up a core Dragon Ball character they might have missed the first time around. Unlike some of the other older figures that were clearly beginning to show their age, the Freeza mould still holds up fairly well with the cleaner paintjob adding to that sense of renewal. All the key accessories from the original release have thankfully been retaining, on top of some flawed but very welcome additions that reflect some of Freeza's finest (not to mention surprising) moments in Dragon Ball Super. The Dragon Ball line is one of those ranges where you can either go all out or effectively limit yourself to a few core characters, but either way Freeza is definitely one not to miss out on.

No comments: