Friday 24 August 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Cross-Z Charge

Release Date: July 2018
RRP: 5940 yen

S.H. Figuarts release patterns can be confusing at the best of times, but every so often Bandai Tamashii Nations will go and do something truly baffling. After announcing the first Kamen Rider Cross-Z suit as a Tamashii web exclusive, S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Cross-Z Charge was almost immediately revealed to be a retail release. At the time this made sense given that the first Cross-Z suit was quickly replaced as Ryuga Banjou traded his Build Driver up for a Sclash Driver, but in hindsight makes a lot less sense as the Charge suit was quickly sidelined for good as the original Cross-Z returned - eventually being replaced by the Great Cross-Z and Cross-Z Magma suits (both of which are also web exclusives). But all that aside, Kamen Rider Cross-Z shows up in Kamen Rider Build as the action heats up and the war between Touto, Seito and Hokuto begins. Utilising the experimental Sclash Jelly, Ryuga finds his reason to fight - but will this be enough to overcome the dangerous side affects these new powers are having on him?

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Cross-Z Charge comes packaged in the usual smaller sized boxes most of the more recent Kamen Rider figures have used in the past few years, closely matching the Kamen Rider Build RabbitTank's design template with a more fitting light blue and silver (well grey) colourscheme. As well as showing off a decent amount of the figure itself, the transparent window also has some sciencey graphics printed on it to give it that extra bit of Build flare. The back features a nice big boxed off section showing off the figure in three different poses, and then inside you'll find the toy and its accessories spread across a single clamshell tray.

Perhaps the main reason that the Kamen Rider Cross-Z Charge suit has been so divisive amongst the (English speaking at least) fanbase is just how fundamentally different it is from the other Cross-Z suits. This shouldn't come as too much of a surprise given that it works off a completely different Driver and power set to the others, but while the others are fairly identical in their base designs (Great  Cross-Z being a straight repaint of the original), Charge is an altogether different beast - sharing more in common with Kamen Rider Grease than any of Banjou's other forms. First you have the shiny silver armour, which really pops on this Figuarts release - especially together with those matte black undersuit. Then on top of that you have the translucent blue dragon chest emblem and outer helmet, the latter of which features all the markings of the standard Cross-Z helmet when viewed up close. Now the silver is nice, but it's the translucent blue that really makes this figure stand out. It goes together with the silver just beautifully, but even viewed on its own it's just a gorgeous shade of electric/ice blue that harkens back to the likes of Kamen Rider Meteor. Then you have all the extra touches like the perfectly stencilled dragon symbols on the shoulders, the nicely detailed Sclash Driver (complete with working lever) and blocky detailing on the limbs that add that extra bit of depth to what would otherwise seem like a fairly basic suit. The compound eyes are perhaps a little bit on the dark side for it to be 100% accurate to the physical suit, but they still have that desired effect of burning under all the cool clear blue. On screen this suit may have not worked quite as well as all the others, but as a toy everything just hits the right note. It's just a damn cool looking figure.

The articulation is also to the usual high S.H. Figuarts standard, with many of the perceived troublesome areas proving not to be quite as problematic as possibly expected. There's no denying that the boxy shoulder pads do add some limitations to the upper arms (particularly in the case of the left arm when it also has to deal with the dragon emblem rising from the torso), but the articulated joints that have been built into them do a good job of making them workable. The waist joint also has to contend with that bulky Sclash Driver, but worst case scenario you can also pull that off then reattach it once you've found your desired pose. The rest however is that  fluid Figuarts goodness, with every ball and hinge joint working to full effect to pull off some truly great posing. Even though this is a newer figure using the somewhat outdated "swing down" ball-jointed hips, the hips themselves are sufficiently tight and any gaps caused from pulling them down are nicely obscured by the way the parts blend into each other. It's not the best S.H. Figuarts has to offer, but it's certainly not that far off it.

Cross-Z Charge's main accessories include the "Sclash Jelly Riders"' signature Twin Breaker weapon, along with five additional hands (one pair of open hands, one pair of item holding hands and then an extra left hand for holding the Twin Breaker). The Twin Breaker can be displayed in both Beam Mode (with the Blaster barrels facing forwards) and Attack Mode, the latter of which sees the barrels swing backward to reveal gold spike protruding out of the centre. Like the figure itself the Twin Breaker is beautifully detailed and painted, though its worth airing on the side of caution when it comes to the spike as that gold paint can very easily get scratched. Most importantly despite just how chunky the weapon is it thankfully doesn't impede the arm articulation in any notable way, so Banjou is still just as capable of those great punching poses you'll want to get out of him.

Then of course finally you have the selection of "so small that you will certainly lose them if you sneeze" accessories, which include the Dragon Sclash Jelly fitted into the Sclash Driver, the Cross-Z Dragon fitted into the Twin Breaker and the Dragon Fullbottle fitted into that. All three items can be removed from their respective pieces, with the Sclash Jelly also able to fit into the Twin Breaker and the Fullbottle into the Driver. For such tiny pieces all three of them are really nicely detailed - the Dragon and Sclash Jelly sporting some sharp paint apps while the FullBottle has some nice moulding work as well as more of that gorgeous translucent blue plastic. Between these and the larger accessories, it's hard to argue that Cross-Z Charge doesn't come with everything he could need.

There are plenty of reasons that S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Cross-Z Charge isn't going to top many collectors' shopping lists unless they happen to be Kamen Rider Build completists. Visually it's easily been the most divisive amongst fans, it's undoubtedly the one the show dropped the hardest (despite how quickly it seemed to replace the original suit) and yet for some inexplicable reason it's the only one Tamashii Nations are choosing to make a general retail release. However if you can somehow get past all of these things, you'll find that Cross-Z Charge is a pretty great figure overall. The silver paint job combined with the translucent plastic pieces is absolutely gorgeous, and unlike Kamen Rider Build RabbitTank the figure actually comes with all the accessories he should. The fact the figure has come out so well definitely bodes well for the forthcoming S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Grease, which of course shares many of the same design elements. It feels strange recommending a figure that probably no one is going to buy (had Magma been announced when this went up for preorder I would have skipped on it as well), but take a chance on it and you won't find yourself disappointed.


Anonymous said...

Now that Build is finishing, do you think Zi-O will have big shoes to fill ?

Alex said...

In one way yes I do, but in another I'm expecting Zi-O to be a very different kind of series to Build so I don't think I'll find myself comparing them too much!

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