Friday 29 June 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Lazer Turbo Bike Gamer Level 0

Release Date: May 2018
RRP: 5940 yen

Bandai Tamashii Nations might now be getting into full swing when it comes to Kamen Rider Build S.H. Figuarts, but as far as Tamashii web exclusives are concerned there's still plenty of room for more Kamen Rides Ex-Aid releases! After previously appearing in the line in both his level 2 and level 5 forms, everyone's favourite medical examiner comes back from the dead as S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Lazer Turbo Bike Gamer Level 0! Following his resurrection by Kamen Rider Cronus, Kiriya Kujo adopts this as his default Rider form - appearing as an opponent to the CR Kamen Riders before double-crossing the Genm Corporation President and revealing that his loyalties always lied with Emu Hojou

Every so often S.H. Figuarts will come out with a style of packaging that just works in every colour variant for every figure, and so far the Ex-Aid range definitely seems like one of those. Kamen Rider Lazer Turbo comes in the usual windowless box style of Tamashii web exclusive packaging, taking the Ex-Aid layout and redoing in a rather striking black and yellow colourscheme. The front of the box features a nice big profile shot of the figure, while the back features the usual array of Bandai stock images. Inside you'll find the figure and its accessories packed on a single clamshell tray, however it's a little deeper than usual as the weapon is stored underneath the figure rather than to the side of it. This was also done with both the Kamen Rider Genm Level X and Para-DX Level 99 releases (among numerous others), and is a nice little way of keeping the overall box size nice and trim.

After Kamen Rider Lazer previously appeared as a chibi Level 1 Rider, a bike and then two bulky humanoid forms, Kamen Rider Lazer Turbo's more streamlined form seems like a breath of fresh air even if it is more in line with the rest of the Ex-Aid Riders. But damn, what a form it is. The black and silver body suit goes beautifully with the added yellow and metallic and pink of Laser's base design - making that base Ex-Aid body stand out far better than any of the previous riders have. Adding to this gorgeous colourscheme is Lazer's unique head design, which admittedly may not be to everyone's tastes but certainly feels pretty unique even among the Ex-Aid Riders. Both the actual headsculpt and the level one head located on Lazer's back have been perfectly sculpted, with the actual head's eyes even showing a marked improvement over the ones previously seen on the Level 5 figure. Lazer Turbo is just a loud, colourful and wonderfully unorthodox looking Kamen Rider - which means it pretty much ticks every box a good Ex-Aid Rider should. Throw in some top level sculpting from the Bandai Tamashii Nations team and you've got a real winner on your hands.

As we've learned from previous releases the base body used for the Kamen Rider Ex-Aid Figuarts is among the best in recent years, adopting the most modern articulation and engineering techniques so that the end figure doesn't feel too far away from the higher-end Shinkocchou Seihou range. What really makes these bodies stand around are the fixed yet highly versatile ball-jointed hips, which were not only absent on the Kamen Rider Ghost figures but again curiously overlooked on the Kamen Rider Build range in favour of the older swing-down variety. Since Turbo is the streamlined version of Kamen Rider Lazer this means the figure can take full advantage of all this articulation, and the result is a highly expressive figure that just oozes Kiriya's "bad boy with a heart of gold" demeanour. The size of the head combined with that raised collar section does mean the neck joint doesn't have a lot of space to work with, but the rest of the body is just fluid S.H. Figuarts goodness. Ball-jointed shoulders with small articulated shoulder pads, a double-jointed torso, double-hinge-elbows and knees, ball-jointed wrists, satisfyingly smooth ankle tilts and of course the aforementioned ball-jointed hips – Kamen Rider Lazer Turbo is a joy to pose and a figure you'll find yourself picking up to mess with again and again.

Kamen Rider Lazer Turbo's accessories include six additional hands and the Gashacon Sparrow, which had previously been included with Kamen Rider Genm Level X. But although this may be the second time owning this weapon for some people, the lack of a Lazer Level 3 figure means this is the first time it's actually coming with its "proper" owner (additionally the same weapon coming with two figures doesn't seem like much when you think back to how many Kamen Rider Gaim Figuarts came with Sonic Arrows). The Gashacon Sparrow can separate and combine into both its Arrow and Sickle modes, and generally seems to hold together much better in Lazer's hands than it ever did in Genm's. The Gashacon Sparrow also comes with its own removable Girigiri Chambara Gashat plugged in, which while barely noticeable does make it that little bit more accurate for those "Critical Strike" finishers. All in all it's not a huge or unique array of accessories, but given that Lazer Turbo was a very late-game addition to the series that relied more on alternate forms it is pretty much everything you'd expect the base figure to come with.

Of course as per the other Kamen Rider Ex-Aid Figuarts the Bakusou Bike Gashat is also removable from the Gamer Driver, which in turn features additional Gashat slots in both the Driver itself and Kimewaza Slot Holder as well as a moveable handle. Like the other Gashats it isn't completely screen accurate as it lack both an extended cartridge section and the Bakusou Bike graphic, but can be inserted into any weapon with a Gashat slot.

After Kamen Rider Para-DX turned out somewhat disappointing it was easy to feel like S.H. Figuarts had already given us the best Ex-Aid had to offer. However S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Lazer Turbo Biker Gamer Level 0 isn't just a fabulous return to form for the series, it's also one of the best figures Bandai have produced from it. Having only previously been released in his mostly static level 2 bike and chunky, throwaway level 5 forms Kamen Rider Lazer was the one main Rider still crying out for a great figure and Lazer Turbo is just that. With perfect detailing and a streamlined body that can make the most out of all that S.H. Figuarts articulation, this is the Kiriya Kujo that you'll want as part of your collection.

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