Saturday 16 June 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Kamen Rider 2

Release Date: May 2018
RRP: 6480 yen

Following the release of S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider 1 at the end of last year it was fairly obvious just where Bandai were going to go next. Since you can't do one without the other, so the next Kamen Rider to receive a much needed update in Tamashii Nations premium Figuarts range was of course the original's direct successor - Kamen Rider 2, aka Hayato Ichimonji.  A simple release but one that's essential for any completed Rider lineup, S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider 2 is the second Showa era Rider to join this highly regarded line.

As a Shinkocchou Seihou release this new Kamen Rider 2 figure is treated to the same lavish packaging as the rest of the line - a two-part lidded box featuring a nice big graphic of the figure on it's top side. The name of the figure is printed along the black spines in silver foil lettering, while the white underside features stock images of the figure presented in a particularly orderly way. Inside the figure is housed on a white clamshell tray with clear lid, and underneath is a smaller tray containing all of the accessories. Curiously Rider 2 isn't packaged in quite the same way as Rider 1 was - here both mufflers are stored on the accessory tray, while with the original release one came pre-connected to Rider 1 in package. There's probably no real reason to the layout change, but it's a strange thing to note nonetheless.

Like Rider 1 there have been various different versions of Kamen Rider 2 over the years, but the Shinkocchou Seihou figure has settled for the most widely known suit - the "Shin Kamen Rider 2" version that first appeared in episode 53 of the original series alongside Shin Kamen Rider 1. The key differences are the red gloves and boots in place of Rider 1's silver, as well as a single silver strip down the arms and legs as opposed to Rider 1's twin stripes. Later appearances would also give Rider 2 a black helmet to differentiate him even further, but as the figure is based on the suit's original appearance that's not present here. A shame really, because the black helmet version still hasn't had a proper figure outing and would have added a bit more variety to this release. Nevertheless, this repaint is still a sculpting work of art. The fabric billows, the chest section's texturing, the built-in turbine piece on the Typhoon Belt - it's an improvement over the original figure in just about every way. The added red sections even bring out some of the detail that wasn't so visible on Rider 1's silver. Admittedly the differences are minimal, but the base figure is just so good that it's just as impressive the second time around.

As was the case with Rider 1 the antennae on the figure are moveable, which isn't in any way accurate to the suit itself but does mean you can have them double as eyebrows and get Rider 2 to make some fairly amusing facial expressions. However moving antennae means that it's far easier to pose the head without accidentally breaking something, and if you're still worried about it they can also be removed altogether for easier handling/transport. And just in case something does break, Bandai have again included an extra pair of antennae in the release just to cover all bases.

Since it's exactly the same body Rider 2's articulation is also identical, but being part of the Shinkocchou Seihou line means that at least that identical articulation is also excellent articulation. Rider 2 features ball-joints in the head, neck, shoulders, torso, waist, wrists, hips and ankles along with bicep swivels, double-hinge joints for the elbows and knees, a single hinge toe-cap and ball-jointed pectoral sections to give the arms a little more clearance when bringing them forwards toward the chest. Those new style segmented ball-joint hips that have largely stayed away from the Kamen Rider figures are of course back again, blending in perfectly with the baggy folds of Rider 2's black pants. Despite the odd little flaw of the arms being able to rest parallel against the body, this mould really is the perfect combination of all the joint advancements Bandai have made on the line over the years - building upon movement that was already usually ahead of the competition with innovations that provide even more fluid posing than before.

Looks isn't the only area Rider 2 is virtually identical to his predecessor either, with the accessory count more or less similar as well. As well as the aforementioned extra pair of antennae the release also comes packaged with four alternate pairs of hands, an additional windswept muffler piece and finally one little unique piece which will be looked at further down in the review. The range of hands on offer here is good, but identical (in every way other than colour of course) to the ones that came with Rider 1. Interestingly while the two mufflers included here follow the same general pattern as the ones that came with Rider 1, they are in fact slightly different moulds - now giving you the choice of four different ones between the two Riders. All these accessories are nice, but really don't offer anything unique to the release. When two Riders look so similar I'm very much of the mindset that their toy releases should each have something that really make them standout from each other, and Rider 2 just doesn't have that. Given the amount of repaints the original mould had over the years that got a new accessory every time they rolled around (kick effect parts, weapons, giant bombs) Bandai are hardly short of options. Even just slightly remoulding that old Rider kick effect part would have sufficed - parts like that are always welcome and if Hibiki can include flame effects, why can't these have something for the most iconic attack in the franchise?

The one truly unique accessory in this release is only a small one, but something definitely comes with an emotional impact. Also included is an alternate handshake piece for both this and Shinkocchou Seihou Rider 1, with their right hands clasped together in a moment of partnership. This kind of accessory has been done elsewhere in other lines before, but it's still a new and unique piece for the S.H. Figuarts double Riders. If you've ever tried to convincingly put two figures in a shaking hands poses before you'll know how much of a godsend fixed hands pieces like this are, and even though the arms will still need a bit of working to get it looking good the end result always manages to look fantastic. Shinkocchou Seihou Rider 2 could have definitely done with a little more to truly separate him from the Rider 1 release, but this is still better than nothing.

The S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou line has churned out perfect figure after perfect figure and while S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider 2 is certainly no exception, the fact remains that it's little more than a repaint. A repaint that's both show accurate and holds significant value for Kamen Rider fans certainly, but one can't help but feel that in a premium line like this Bandai could have done a little bit more to make poor old Nigou stand out from his predecessor a little more. Kamen Rider 1 managed to get away with a minimal accessory count because Takeshi Hongo was released alongside it as an obvious companion piece, but the same can't be said here. Given all the accessories the various versions of the original Kamen Rider 1 and 2 mould came with, something like a Rider Kick effect or weapon could have easily been thrown in here too. S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider 2 is another fantastic release for Tamashii Nations' premier figure line, but if you've already bought Rider 1 you already know exactly what to expect.


Anonymous said...

I know this question has nothing to do with the post but what are your thoughts on Lupinranger vs Patranger until now ? Do you think the two teams are balanced

Unknown said...

It's not actually just a repaint, but is from a new mold. The texture and ripples of the suit is actually different from that of Ichigo. So although the two may share many similarities, Nigo is different enough from Ichigo to make it a figure worth having.