Monday 24 September 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Grease

Release Date: August 2018
RRP: 6264 yen

It's an unfortunate truth of the S.H. Figuarts line these days that no matter how much of a main character a particular Kamen Rider may be, the way Bandai Tamashii Nations release these figures its almost certain that someone will end up as a Tamashii web exclusive rather than a general retail release. Kamen Rider Build got off to its odd decisions pretty early with the standard Kamen Rider Cross-Z being an exclusive while the less prevalent Cross-Z Charge was a general release. S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Grease is the latest Build character to join the line, with Hokuto's own Kazumi Sawatari kicking off what will most likely be a string of Tamashii web exclusives from here on out.

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Grease comes packaged in a typical windowless Tamashii web exclusive style box, done up like the other Kamen Rider Build releases but with a fitting black and gold/yellow colourscheme. It really feels like the wider S.H. Figuarts boxes are a thing of the past now, with most Kamen Rider figures coming in these far more space-conserving thin boxes unless they have a particularly large accessory. The front, spines and back of the box all feature images of the figure in various pose - all of which were used for the initial promotion of the figure and are also featured on Tamashii's own website. Inside you'll find the both the figure and its accessories spread across a single clamshell tray.

Given that the two suits share the same power source there are naturally some similarities between Kamen Rider Grease and Kamen Rider Cross-Z Charge, the main one being that they of course share the same basic suit, product spec markings on the legs and strange paper lantern style helmet. However their respective Sclash Jellies each add their unique parts to that base suit, and between those and the difference in colour schemes theres enough going on to make each Rider feel unique. Grease's shiny gold paint job works beautifully with that matte black undersuit sticking out underneath, with the colours also bringing out all the great moulded detail on the torso and arm sections. Similarly sharp are those Robot Jelly logos printed on the shoulder pads, which add a nice bit of flat colour mostly shiny surfaces. Topping it all off though are the murky grey helmet and chest plate, which Bandai have done a fantastic job of shrinking down without losing any of the impact they have onscreen. While they may not be quite as immediately eye-catching as the icy blue used on Cross-Z Charge's translucent parts, but together with the gold it works to produce a much less toyetic design that's arguably far more memorable. Finally you have those red eyes glaring out from underneath, which like Cross-Z Charge could perhaps do with being a little brighter but it isn't anywhere near as noticeable here. When this Figuart was first revealed there was a lot of talk about the figure looking slightly off, but in hand it's pretty much perfect. Definitely one of, if not the, best Kamen Rider Build figure that's been released thus far.

The Sclash Driver is a solid piece that can be removed from the belt itself, though it's worth noting that the connection between the two pieces feels a lot tighter here than it did on Cross-Z Charge. The Robot Sclash Jelly can be removed from the Driver and placed in the included Twin Breaker accessory, and the lever to the one side of the belt can move up and down as it does on the show. There is however no Sclash Jelly crushing to speak of.

Since it's the same base body it also means the articulation is pretty much the same as Cross-Z Charge, with one little addition that definitely makes all the difference. As far as the standard stuff is concerned there's the usual ball-jointed head, neck, shoulders, torso, waist and wrists, double hinged elbows and knees, swing-down ball-jointed hips, ankle rockers and hinged toecap - all of which work to the usual S.H. Figuarts perfection. Of course with the shoulder pads being as boxy as they are the shoulder joints do suffer a bit, but that's just the nature of the suit design and I'm not sure there's anything Bandai could have realistically done to alleviate it. However Grease's design also adds some rather satisfying rotating shoulder sections, which can be moved into a thruster-like position just as they are when Grease launches into his finishing attack. It's a very little addition for sure, but touches like these can make or break a figure and considering many were worried whether the figure would be able to do it or not - it's nice to see Bandai not forget about little details like this.

he "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). Grease's Twin Breaker is completely identical to the one included with Cross-Z Charge, so can switch between Beam and Attack Modes simply by rotating the cannon sections and extracting/retracting the central gold spike. It's a nicely detailed weapon but the gold paint on the spike can get scuffed very easily, so be careful when pulling the spike out just in case. Unfortunately Grease's lower arm sections are a lot more chunky than Cross-Z's so the Twin Breaker so it doesn't sit flush against the arm unless you twist it, but the important thing is that it doesn't really impede the articulation in any way. And of course if you also have the Cross-Z Charge figure, you can display Grease dual-wielding Twin Breakers just like he did in episode 40. The figure may have an additional left hand specifically for holding the weapon, but they also fit comfortably in the standard item holding hands with a little bit of manoeuvring.

Rounding off Grease's rather nice little array of accessories are the Robot and Phoenix Full Bottles, which come into Hokuto's possession at the end of his debut episode. Like the ones included with previous releases the two bottles are really nicely painted and detailed, and can fit into both the Twin Breaker and the Sclash Driver. Of course this means they can also fit into any Bottle-specific port on any other Kamen Rider Build Figuart, the notable choice being Build's own Build Driver. While you're probably not going to get a Figuarts-scaled set of all 40 Bottles or all of Build's forms as Figuarts any time soon, but it is nice to get some little accessories like these for display options.

It's definitely a shame that S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Grease was given the Tamashii web exclusive treatment rather than being a retail release, but given how prevalent he is in the series Kamen Rider Build fans are unlikely to let this little detail get in their way when it comes to getting their hands on one. While Grease might not be as immediately striking as Cross-Z Charge when it comes to colours he is undoubtedly the better figure, making every bit of unique moulding count so that the two suits don't feel all that similar. Between the striking gold colour scheme, beautifully moulded translucent parts, impressive articulation and nice range of accessories ticks pretty much every box a great Figuart should. Whereas you might be skipping Cross-Z Charge for one of Banjou's more prevalent forms, Grease is a "one and done" figure that'll make you sure don't miss out on any of that translucent plastic part goodness. Even if you're patiently waiting for the teased Kamen Rider Grease Blizzard Figuart, the original is something you definitely want to get your hands on.

1 comment:

Oar said...

Aside from the first Build's lacking of accesories, every one of these has been hitting it out of the park in my eyes. Any particular ones you're looking forward to down the line?