Sunday 16 December 2018

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

Release Date: September 2018
RRP: 7020 yen

Ever since Kamen Rider Kabuto was released back in 2014, the S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou line has been providing collectors the best of the best when it comes to Kamen Rider Figuarts. However for the most part the line has been extremely Heisei era-centric, with it only expanding into the Showa era last year with the release of Kamen Rider 1. But this year has seen a fair few expansions in the line, not only branching outside of Kamen Rider with Golden Knight Garo but also continuing to delve into the Showa era with both Rider 2 and S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Amazon! A character not only being beloved for being rather unique among his fellow Riders, Kamen Rider Amazon is still particularly relevant even now thanks to the recent Kamen Rider Amazons series. That makes him the perfect choice for the premium Bandai Tamashii Nations treatment.

Kamen Rider Amazon comes boxed in the usual S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou style packaging, which hasn't really changed much at all over the years but has at least kept a premium and consistent look among these rather special releases. Two things perhaps of note though are the holofoil Bandai Tamashii Nations seal of authenticity, and the fact that the Bandai logo is now blue rather than the standard red - a move the company made to differentiate their standard and collector-orientated lines. On the back of the box you'll find a number of images showing off the figure in various poses, and inside the contents are spread across two white plastic clamshell trays - one for the figure itself, and the other for its accessories.

While I personally don't have the original S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Amazon figure to be able to compare just how much has changed with the Shinkocchou Seihou release, you only have to do a quick Google search to see how much of an improvement there is. As well as SIGNIFICANTLY improved proportions, the Shinkocchou Seihou offers a complete overhaul when it comes to sculpting and detailing - etching all of those red vein-line lines running across the body into the body itself rather than just being painted on. Even the joints themselves have this detail added onto them, making the solid coloured joints that plagued the original Amazon (as many other S.H. Figuarts releases) a thing of the past. Kamen Rider Amazon is not only undoubtedly the wildest and most unique Showa Rider design, its also one of the most unique in Kamen Rider period and this kind of high quality treatment was long overdue.

However Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Amazon comes with a "but", and if you aren't unbelievably careful with this figure is can be a pretty big one. The included instruction flyer warns that the GiGi Armlet attached to the left arm is a fragile piece, but just how fragile it is is something else entirely. The tiniest bit of pressure into the wrong place will lead to it straight up breaking off, which is something I learned the hard way less than an hour after taking the figure out of the packaging. Being careful around it is one thing, but when there are two areas located so close to it that require some degree of pressure (both the left wrist joint and the horrible obstinate muffler joint) it's so easy for your finger to just slip and knock it. The original figure got around this by making the GiGi Armlet a removable piece, and a figure as expensive and "premium" as this should have really followed suit. I'll freely admit there was some clumsiness on my part (and thankfully superglue did the trick when it came to repairing it), but with over 100 Figuarts in my collection I'm hardly new to what you should or shouldn't be doing with these figures. Even a small fall could easily break this piece off if it lands the wrong way. Breakages like this just shouldn't be happening.

That rather annoying design flaw aside though, there is a lot to love about this figure and the level of movement it can pull off is a big part of that. Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Amazon features a hinged jaw, ball joints in his head, neck, torso, waist and wrists, ball-cut shoulders and hips, double-hinge elbows and knees, bicep swivels, flexible ankle rockers and then of course the single hinge toe cap to round it off. The muffle piece also attaches via a ball joint, so can be moved and rotated as you please to suit a variety of poses. The torso is particularly interesting as it isn't just the upper pectoral section and the waist that move - there's also an additional cut in the abdomen to provide even more movement. Admittedly that may not sound very different to what you usually get with an S.H. Figuarts figure (particularly the ones part of the Shinkocchou Seihou line), but Amazon pulls it all off in a way that feels even more fluid than usual - perfect for all the feral animal-like poses this figure needs to be able to perform,

Amazon's accessories range from four alternate sets of hands (three pairs of clawed open hands for fighting poses/general Amazon savagery, and then an additional pair of weapon holding ones), two swappable muffler pieces (one static and the other windswept, similar to the ones previously seen on the Shinkocchou Seihou Double Riders) and then two alternate Condorer belt parts - a buckle with centre section removed, and then the separate centre section which can be held as a weapon. In the show this piece would then go on to form the core of the Condorer Rope, which has been inexplicably omitted from this release so the figure is left with the rather underwhelming-looking saw formation. Shinkocchou Seihou figures have become less and less about including every essential accessory with each release, but the amount this comes with compared to the original is pretty embarrassing. Not only did the original have the Condorer Rope, but it also had a swappable combined GaGa Amulet piece and a Dai Setsudan slash effect part. That latter piece is perhaps the most glaring omission of all, and something that a character like Kamen Rider Amazon would have really benefitted from.

But I'd have been happy to forgive all of that if Bandai had just found a way to include a spare GiGi Amulet part. If the Double Riders can both come with swappable antennae, there is absolutely no reason they couldn't have figured out something here - especially with the piece being as fragile as it is.

S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Amazon is another fantastic release for Tamashii Nation's premium offshoot of their most successful line, and in a perfect world I would be praising this one just as much as I have every other release the line has put out so far. But the ridiculous fragility of the GiGi Armlet combined with disappointing omission of important accessories makes this release fall just short of the others. Should you add S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Amazon to your collection? Absolutely. Is it worth replacing your original Amazon with? Undoubtedly. However its fragility is something that could have easily been avoided, and because it wasn't it's a figure you need to take care with more than you would otherwise.

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