Saturday 10 November 2018

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

Release Date: August 2018
RRP: 7020 yen

In 2014 fans got one step closer to a full S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider line up with the release of Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Hibiki, and though Kamen Rider Kiva was still nowhere in sight the fact Bandai Tamashii Nations were finally tackling Kamen Rider Hibiki suggested its other characters wouldn't be too far behind. What followed instead was nearly four years of silence, prompting fears that Ibuki, Todoroki and Zanki may be condemned to Figuarts limbo. However it's now 2018 and all of that has changed, most of all because Kiva is FINALLY coming. But before then the other three core Hibiki Oni are on the way, starting with S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Ibuki! Ibuki was a Tamashii web exclusive release, and Todoroki and Zanki will both follow suit next year.

Kamen Rider Ibuki comes in standard S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou packaging, which after four years you'd think would feel pretty commonplace but still does a great job of establishing that these releases are particularly special. The front lid features the usual close up headshot of the figure, while the bottom half features stock images of the figure laid out in a simple yet professional way. Open the box up and you'll find the figure and its accessories spread across two white plastic trays – one housing Ibuki himself, and the other for the plethora of accessories he comes with.

One of the biggest selling points of Shinkocchou Seihou Hibiki (as well as Kamen Rider Hibiki in general) is just how different the suits are to your standard Kamen Rider series. It's no wonder there are so many rumours flying around that the show was never intended to be part of the franchise in the first place, since the designs are all feel very unique and somewhat traditional in their representation of Oni. Based off the already wonderful Hibiki body with some major changes to the colourscheme and detailing, Ibuki is another fantastic entry for the Shinkocchou Seihou line. While admitted the dark blue bodysuit doesn't have the same wow factor as Hibiki's glimmering purple body, the combination of the dark and light blues along with the gold detailing is a similarly wonderful colour arrangement. The Hibiki figures are ones where you can really appreciate how intricate Tamashii Nations' sculpt work can get too - primarily for that ornate detailing on the head crest but also just the general work on the "pipe" shoulder straps, gauntlets and belt too. The codpiece even looks like real leather thanks to the its textured paint job. But if there's area of sculpting you've got to appreciate on these figures, it's that ass. The Hibiki cast are some of the best figures the S.H. Figuarts line has ever put out, but those asses really are something else.

If you already picked up Hibiki you'll know exactly what to expect when it comes to articulation, as despite the significant cosmetic alterations nothing is different when it comes down to engineering. Kamen Rider Ibuki sports a ball-jointed head and neck, ball-jointed shoulders with articulated shoulder pads, double hinge elbows, ball-jointed wrists, ball-jointed chest and abdomen sections, ball-jointed hips, double hinge knees, ankle rockers and the usual hinged toe cap to round it all off. That's an exceptionally good level of articulation, and given the Hibiki mould's more athletic build this is the perfect figure to take advantage of it all.

One of the best things about Shinkocchou Seihou Hibiki was just how many accessories he came with, so it's great to see that Ibuki is no exception. To start with the figure comes with two versions of his Onibue Onteki transformation whistle , two alternate belt clips holding the Onibue Onteki and disk animals, three inactive disk animals (in blue, green and orange translucent plastic flavours), four additional pairs of hands and an alternate faceplate with exposed mouth. Though unusual it's not the first time Tamashii have gone the faceplate route with the Shinkocchou Seihou range rather than the standard swappable head, as Kamen Rider Skull's crystal parts worked in a similar way. The range of hands is pretty good, though it is a shame no casual posing hands were included the same way they were with Hibiki. The more annoying omission for some might be the continued lack of transformed disk animals, but honestly with the amount of things this figure comes with you can understand that the line had to be drawn somewhere.

What Ibuki needs most of all though is his signature weapon, and Figuarts fans will be pleased to hear that it comes here in two distinct flavours. The first version of the Ongekikan Reppu included here is the standard gun mode, which is a trumpet-looking firearm that lacks the widened end. Honestly it doesn't look all that impressive as far as firearms go, but its ornate design and gold colouring fit with Ibuki's overall aesthetic perfectly. Like many of the other finer details on the figure the moulding is absolutely sublime too, doing a pretty good job of capturing all those intricate details despite the considerably smaller size.

The final accessory included is of course the Reppuu in trumpet mode, which sees Ibuki combine it with the Narukaze on his belt to transform it into an instrument. As was the case with Hibiki the Narukaze can be removed from the belt for accuracy's sake, though since it doesn't actually combine with the Reppuu here you can just leave it on if you'd prefer. For this mode there's a different hand so that the figure can hold the piece at its centre rather than the handle, which is much easier for positioning to the mouth but unfortunately a lot less tight fighting. However if you are struggling to position it the trick is to just position the figure so that it just looks fine from that angle. The difficultly comes from getting the arms to both come into towards the chest, which is far from impossible but can be extremely tedious at times. Still, this is arguably what you want most from an Ibuki figure and along with the mouth piece head looks absolutely fantastic when in use.

The rest of the Kamen Rider Hibiki are long overdue and S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Ibuki shows that base mould is just as great now as it was back in 2014. Ibuki might not have the same pearlescent colourscheme as his predecessor, but is just as impressive in every other way - combining cream of the crop Tamashii Nations sculpting and articulation with sharp paint apps and a range of accessories that even newer Shinkocchou Seihou releases struggle to keep up with. Kamen Rider Ibuki is one of my absolute favourite secondary Riders so I've been eagerly anticipating this release for some time, but regardless this is another brilliant release from Figuarts' best of the best. The fact the Hibiki Riders are just so unique in their designs just makes it all the sweeter.

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