Wednesday 7 November 2018

Toybox REVIEW: Nendoroid Guardian

Release Date: August 2018
RRP: 5370 yen

With Breath of the Wild going on to become of the most popular and beloved Legend of Zelda titles of all time, there was no way that Good Smile Company were going to stop at just one figure. While fans are still sadly waiting for a properly proportioned Figma release, the Nendoroid line definitely went all out with its version of Link. So what's next? Zelda? Maybe one of the four Champions? Not quite. Instead we have the Nendoroid Guardian – the ancient six-legged automatons created by the Sheikah to help in the fight against Calamity Ganon. Unfortunately for Link, Ganon's malevolence is now in control – and the Guardians patrol Hyrule Castle ready to attack any invader.

The Guardian comes in fairly standard Nendoroid packaging – though the size of the box is a little different to accommodate the wildly different shape the line is usually used to. The black colourscheme on the front is a nice way of conveying just how terrifying it is when you encounter these things early on in the game, while all the faint Hylian/Sheikah markings laid on top give it the suitable Legend of Zelda feel. The back of the box features the usual array of stock images, and then inside you'll find the figure and its accessories laid across a clear plastic tray. One of the accessories is also taped to the back of the card insert, so be sure not to forget about that if you happen to be one of those people without the space to store boxes.

From the box pictures alone you can already tell that this is one of the most unique and coolest looking Nendoroids produced, and Good Smile Company have done an utterly fantastic job at taking the game model and shrinking while a) not losing any of the key detail and b) somehow still making it look "cute" enough to fit in with the rest of the Nendoroid line. The soft plastic look of the dark brown body with sculpted light brown raised sections has an almost clay-like look to it, which feels rather fitting for a technologically advanced but still ancient weapon. The bits of red paintwork underneath really pop against those predominately dark colours, even if they don't have quite the same majesty as the pulsing glow of the in-game model. Even the underside has been faithfully recreated, right down to that glowing blue centre which the player should slash like they've never slashed before. Then finally you have those stubby little tentacles, done up in lavish pearly white paint with gold trim. It's like the unholy cross between a Dalek and a Tachikoma from Ghost in the Shell - a murderous mono-eyed killing machine, but one that somehow manages to look adorable while it's doing it.

Articulation is where things get even more interesting, as the Guardian's wildly inhumanoid shape means movement isn't quite the same to what you'd get from a typical Nendoroid figure. The head is able to rotate a full 360°, though it doesn't seem to be attached via a standard ball joint as there's no lateral motion to go with it (trying to take the head off to have a look doesn't fill me with much confidence it won't break either). The eye is also fully moveable so can be positioned as you see fit. The only other articulation on the figure comes from the six legs, which can be rotated at the point they meet the body and also feature ball joints (though the movement isn't exceptional) midway down. Honestly that doesn't sound like a whole lot of articulation, but give it a little more in the legs and it's everything a fully-fledged Guardian would have as well. Since that doesn't really seem feasible on a toy that's still somewhat going for a semi-deformed look, what it does manage is satisfying enough. It's amazing just how much personality can come from the head and eye alone, given that Guardians don't have any personality to begin with.

Fairly light when it comes to additional parts, the Guardian's main accessory is a two-piece laser blast effect part – an attack which has undoubtedly bested every Breath of the Wild player at some point and continues to be a nuisance even with the right skills and protection. Attaching the beam first requires replacing the eye to an alternate version with a socket in the place of the pupil, and doing so requires removing half of the Guardian's face as you would with any normal Nendoroid. The connection between the two parts however is extremely tight, and it does feel like you're at risk of breaking the figure when trying to do so at first. However once that's done the eye swap is incredibly simple, and with the faceplate back on all you need to do is plug the effect pieces directly into the eye (first the circular flash effect, then the beam itself). As it's attached to the eye, the beam can then be positioned accordingly. It's a fairly basic set of effect parts but does the trick wonderfully, and really captures the menace of the Guardians even when they've been shrunk down to this cute Nendoroid size.


Also thrown in the box is another accessory for the already well-equipped (especially if you bought the DX edition) Nendoroid Breath of the Wild Link – the Ancient bow, a much better weapon for taking these titans down in combat. It also goes much better with the Ancient arrow included with Link than his standard bow. The Ancient bow is a nicely detailed (albeit simplified) version of the in-game version, and like Link's other weapons separates in two to fit into the figure's hand.

The final accessory is one that both the Guardian and Link (well, Link less so given the context) can enjoy – a translucent black "Game Over" effect screen mirroring the very screen that appears on the game when the player is killed. Since the screen is translucent, you're able to see the figures behind it – making it perfect for both accurate and imaginative displays. As far as novelty accessories go, this is a really clever one and a lot more fun than it may seem. Also thrown in the box is a larger version of the standard Nendoroid display base, though with the Guardian able to stand comfortably without need of support this will probably just be left in the box most of the time.

The Nendoroid Guardian might not seem like the obvious choice for a second Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild figure, but it's undoubtedly a far more interesting one. Shrunk down to Nendoroid size without losing any of the design's charm in the process, this palm-sized weapon of mass destruction doesn't just make a great companion piece to Link – it's also just a wonderful little display piece on its own. Though it may lack the outstanding range of accessories the line usually supplies its figures with, it's wholly unique design and sculpt is far more interesting trait. Nendoroids in general might not be everyone's cup of tea, but for Zelda fans this is definitely one not to miss.

1 comment:

Oar said...

This thing shouldn't be cute but it is and I'd love to have it terrorise other toys