Thursday 26 July 2018

Toybox REVIEW: Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger VS Keisatsu Sentai Patranger Minipla Wave 03 VS Vehicles

Release Date: May 2018
RRP: 3780 yen (1 case = 10 boxes, 2 complete sets)

The third wave of Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger VS Keisatsu Sentai Patranger minipla arrives has arrived, and with some time to spare until the debut of Lupin X/Patren X and his X-Emperor this selection is dedicated to the various Lupin Collection VS Vehicles both teams have picked up in the series so far. Spread over five boxes, the wave features the Cyclone, Scissor and Blade Dial Fighters as well as the Biker, Crane and Drill Trigger Machines.

Unlike the previous two waves which were available as both cases and single figure sets, this third wave of Lupinranger VS Patranger minipla is only available as a ten box case. This means that if you're buying them directly from most online retailers you'll end up with an extra set as well. A complete case also means the usual plain green outer box, however inside you'll see that the individual boxes each have their own unique fronts – a first for the line in some time. Each of the boxes shows off the Lupinkaiser/Patkaiser combination with the included vehicle, and interestingly also only includes the logo for the chosen team. The fifth box then features Lupinkaiser Knight for a second time in a different pose, but also the full Lupinranger VS Patranger title to denote the fact it includes a vehicle for both teams. The back of each box however is identical - showing of the entire wave in the usual fashion. The instructions for each kit are printed on the inside of the box, and among the various runners and stickers you'll also find the usual piece of Bandai brand soda flavoured candy.

The first box of the wave contains the Cyclone Dial Fighter, a coaxial rotor helicopter with moveable rotors attached to hinged rotors attached to moveable sections. While the construction of the vehicle is fairly interesting with how all the moving parts work, the Cyclone Dial Fighter is undoubtedly the weakest vehicle in the the set. This is mostly due to one side of the rotor sections being entirely hollow and painfully on show when viewed from the left hand side - reminding buyers that as nice as these kits can look they're still just cheap model kits that cut corners when Bandai call for it. On the other hand the kit doesn't require many stickers at all, with the only ones being for the cockpit windows, the gold stripe running down the side of the vehicle and the silver turbines at the back. All could easily be done with paint, but in the case of the latter that would also omit the Lupinranger logo printed on the side unless you cleverly cut around the sticker to only use that part.

With Cyclone in the place of the Yellow Dial Fighter Lupinkaiser becomes Lupinkaiser Cyclone - the first additional formation to be introduced into the show. The green limb maintains the nice colour balance the standard Lupinkaiser formation has, however the sheer size of the Cyclone Dial Fighter gives the combination a significantly oversized left arm. Not only is it longer than the Blue Dial Fighter but it's also significantly wider, giving the combination a rather unsightly silhouette when viewed from the side. Size isn't the only way the arm feels cumbersome either, as the giant blades sticking out of the side managed to get in the way of the extendable elbow the vehicle has - limiting just how much feasible move it has there. These upgrades also highlight just how much better Lupinkaiser would look if it had been designed to have a neck joint. Action poses are cool and the waist joint does help alleviate some of the problems, but no matter what pose you put it in Lupinkaiser is stuck facing forwards.

Box number two changes things over to the Patranger side of things, containing Trigger Machine Biker. This is a police motorcycle vehicle complete with anonymous robotic rider steering it. Despite lacking free-moving wheels Trigger Machine Biker is a really nice little kit, with the white sections featuring plenty of moulded detail for panel lining should you be so inclined. Of course like the previously released Trigger Machines it also uses a fair number of stickers - pretty much everything that isn't moulded in white or black in fact. Most of these areas can be painted without any issue, but since areas like the side panels don't have any moulded detail those stickers are pretty much mandatory no matter how you choose to decorate the kit.

Replacing Trigger Machine #3 as the right arm, Trigger Machine Biker combines with Patkaiser to form Patkaiser Biker! Thanks to the uniform colour schemes of the Trigger Machines Biker looks right at home attached to Patkaiser's shoulder, but the obvious difference in vehicle design immediately gives it the appropriate look an alternate combination should have. While sadly not on a fully extendable wire the way Bandai have chosen to replicate the yo-yo like wheel weapon is pretty effective, with the wheel rolling along the plastic "wire" piece so that it can be adjusted and posed at various lengths. The ability to shoot the wheel out even further would be great, but the piece used is long enough that its able to be completely covered up by the wheel when returned to its default position. This is definitely one area where an alternate weapon piece that can be swapped out would have been perfect. However once again the Patkaiser really suffers from the lack of a neck joint - arguably moreso than Lupinkaiser because at least there you can sort of fake it by slightly rotating the faceplate. Poor old Patkaiser is permanently stuck facing forwards, which as you can see really hampers some of the great yo-yo wielding poses you can get out of the rest of the body.

The third box of the set features the Scissor Dial Fighter, the second of the Lupinranger auxillary vehicles to be included in the wave. The Scissor Dial Fighter is a stylish black stealth bomber, complete with a fold out scissor weapon tucked away underneath the body. It's a simple but again interesting build with how the weapon folds out and then hides away again, but when it comes to detailing its a kit very reliant on stickers unless you're prepared to put a lot of work in. Even ignoring the silver paint job the grey plastic needs to look its best, the red and silver sections are a pretty big part of the colour scheme and rely entirely on stickers. Even if you were to paint them, details like the Lupinranger logo on the side would be lost without them.

Coming in at number four is Trigger Machine Crane, the construction themed VS Vehicle that ended up in the hands of the Gangler brothers Anidara and Ordordo before being liberated by the Patrangers. Trigger Machine Crane features a raising (but sadly not rotating) boom with extending end section, but strangely no moving wheels or free-rolling cyclinders underneath. It's another Trigger Machine covered in plenty of moulded detail perfect for panel lining, as well as areas that look good both painted or stickered. The only real colour divergence here is the crane hook, which is moulded in yellow plastic rather than the orange colour it should be. Given it's the only orange piece in the entire kit it isn't surprising Bandai didn't include a separate runner for it, but it is curious that they didn't include a sticker for it. But between the cab, side panels, hub caps and siren the kit probably fills out its sticker quota anyway.

The final box is rather unique one as it includes both a Dial Fighter and Trigger Machine, however both are much smaller vehicles that act as compliment pieces to larger ones in previous boxes. There's Trigger Machine Drill to go along with Trigger Machine Crane, and the Blade Dial Fighter to go with the Scissor Dial Fighter.

Trigger Machine Drill is a small Drill tank vehicle that features a retracting nosecone and two free-rolling cylinder sections in its base. Despite its size there's a fair few pieces to this charming little vehicle, not to mention a whole lot of stickering to do. The windshield, the side panels, even the tank treads - all are coloured using stickers if you don't plan to paint the model itself. When not in action, Trigger Machine Drill can be stored in the central section in Trigger Machine Crane - simply retract the nosecone and the vehicle fits snuggly in the space provided - giving the Crane a much fuller look overall.

In a similar fashion the Blade Dial Fighter is a small jet with bladed wings that can swing forwards to form a sword or scissor-like weapon. Compared to the CGI model used on the show the size of the blades are considerably out of scale with the wings tucked away behind them, but since the trade off for that is a much better combined mode weapon it seems like a fair price to pay (plus it still looks great, so not much harm there). Of course if you aren't a fan of that grey plastic then you might want to thing about giving the kit a silver spray, because as you can see it really makes the world of difference.

With the Crane and Drill Trigger Machines in the Patrangers' arsenal, Patkaiser becomes the mighty Patkaiser Strong! As was the case with Biker, Trigger Machine Crane replaces #3 as the right arm while Trigger Machine plugs into the #2's wheel to form a small but nifty drill lance/sword. Thanks to suit magic it's far better proportioned on the show itself, but doesn't look too bad on the toy either. Though the big gap in the middle of Crane might look a little unsightly as an arm it does however mean that the elbow is completely unobstructed, providing plenty of movement on top of that raising/extending crane arm. The fact Patkaiser is always looking forwards is still a bother, but the there's something about having yellow and white on each side that makes it work a little better than the Patkaiser Biker formation. 

Meanwhile with the Scissor and Blade Dial Fighters Lupinkaiser becomes Lupinkaiser Knight! This is probably the standout combination in the set, as the Scissor Dial Fighter makes a perfect built-in shield arm and the Scissor Dial Fighter is a perfectly proportioned sword for the Lupinkaiser kit. The shield arm can be a little strange to get to grips with at first thanks to its larger size, but the elbow functions nicely and allows for plenty of nice action poses. With the amount of black and silver already on Lupinkaiser the colours immediately blend together perfectly. All in all it's just a great looking combo so it's no surprise that it quickly became the most prominent of the additional mecha formations on the show itself.

Of course the combinations don't just end there either! There's also Lupinkaiser Cyclone Knight (Cyclone as the left arm, Scissor as the right), Patkaiser Strong Biker (Crane on the left, Biker on the right) and any other feasible combination you can come up with. The wonderful thing about the shared core body is that the limbs all fit on exactly the same, so the Trigger Machines can be used with Lupinkaiser and the Dial Fighters with Patkaiser. Just experiment and see what formations look best!

Auxiliary vehicles are usually the most forgettable part of a Super Sentai mecha's arsenal but Lupinranger VS Patranger Minipla wave 03 offers a nice little selection of models that are just as fun on their own as they are with their respective mecha. Though the Cyclone Dial Fighter could definitely do with some improvement, the rest are simple but fun builds that do a decent job of replicating the gimmicks of their larger counterparts. Any flaws they have as limbs are mostly brought out by the limitations of Lupinkaiser/Patkaiser rather than the vehicles themselves. As what will probably be the most overlooked wave in the Lupinranger VS Patranger minipla collection there'll be plenty of people that understandably skip them, but those who do decide to pick them up might just find themselves pleasantly surprised.

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