Wednesday 16 January 2019

Toybox REVIEW: Nendoroid Kamina Review

Release Date: November 2018 
RRP: 4444 yen

Dig the wax out of your ears and listen close! The bad reputation of Team Gurren echoes far and wide in Giha Village. When they talk about its badass leader, that man of indomitable spirit, that paragon of masculinity, they're talking about him - the mighty Nendoroid Kamina! That's right, after nearly ten years since the last Gurren Lagann release Good Smile Company have finally returned to Gainax's beloved mecha series to round off the core trio of main characters - two years after the series has celebrated its tenth anniversary, but close enough. Simon will be joining the line later in 2019, but first it's time to celebrate the release of the man who first inspired him the pierce the heavens and kick logic to the curb. Kamina has finally arrived on the scene, and if he has anything to do with it you'll certainly hear about it. Just who the hell do you think he is?!

With nearly 1000 releases under their belt now, the Nendoroid packaging has gone through a fair few changes over the years. A few years ago the boxes moved a simpler two-colour format that's seemed to stick for the most part, and now they've also begun to take size into account. Granted I don't buy a whole lot of Nendoroids so can't say for sure when they brought this in, but Kamina's box is much smaller than the usual squares these figures come in. A by-product of this is that the tray inside no longer has space to store all of the parts included, so all of the alternate body parts (sans the faceplates) are now sealed in connecting bags taped to the back of the tray. It's a bit of an odd choice since it means there isn't anywhere to put these parts when you put the figure back in its box, but given how storage space can be a big issue at times I'll always welcome smaller packaging sizes.

If you happen to have purchased Kamina from Good Smile Company's own online store, an additional accessory will be included loose from the box – packaged in its own opaque black back with the figure number and "Nendoroid Kamina" written in Japanese.

And here he is, the man whose name parents use to get their children to behave – the one and only Kamina! Despite lacking Kamina's manly stature this Nendoroid still absolutely captures everything that is inherently "Kamina" about his design. The faceplates in particular do an amazing job of conveying that signature Kamina attitude, but the body sculpting manages to be just as impressive all things considered. The paintwork on the figure is equally sharp, with the blues used for the hair and tattoos a particular highlight other than of course than glorious cape. The cape itself is removable and simply sits between the head and body with no joint locking it into place, and as the stand plug actually fits in underneath it there isn't any holes spoiling that sharp Team Gurren logo either. Even though Yoko came out all the way back in 2009 and it's been an excruciating wait for more Gurren Lagann Nendoroids since, I'm almost glad it's taken this long for Kamina to be released. Like any long-running toy line the quality has come leaps and bounds since then, and Kamina really shows off the best of what Nendoroid has to offer right now.

Being a Nendoroid Kamina doesn't have all that much to offer in the articulation stakes, but as usual Good Smile still manage to pack a fair bit into such a small figure. Kamina features Nendoroid-branded ball-cut joints in his neck and hips, along with rotating shoulders and hands, a ball jointed waist and even ball jointed feet. The latter is something I've never seen on a Nendoroid and really makes a big different when it comes to posing the figure and still have it stand flat-footed as though it could hold the pose without the aid of a stand. Nendoroid do something offer more articulated figures as part of their "Nendoroid Plus" range but in previous experience I've found that these figures aren't really designed to pull off a lot of articulation so the end result is actually pretty detrimental. Striking the right balance is very much a fine art here, and Kamina pulls it off just with as much manly energy as you'd expect him to.

Among Kamina's accessories are an alternate open-mouth grin faceplate, an opaque (complete with white reflection lines) pair of shades, a pair of crossed arms, a sheathed version of his extremely oversized katana and an additional left arm with a gripping hand to hold it. Like most Nendoroids, the hands themselves can be unplugged from their respective arms for more variety as well. Changing or removing the shades is a bit of daunting task at first since it’s difficult to see just how they connect to the face, but after a few swaps it quickly becomes manageable. The shades are actually connected to the front hair piece via two hidden pegs, and can simply be popped out once this piece has been removed from the head. The shades aren't made from the thickest plastic so make sure to push them out from around the plug area rather than at either end where they could bend or snap. While both pairs look pretty fantastic on the figure, the opaque version definitely adds that little bit extra Gainax magic to the design and really ups the figure's coolness factor. Proper crossed arms should be mandatory with ANY Gainax protagonist figure, so it's also nice to see GSC include interlocking ones for a seamless look rather than ones you have to just press together to look right. It's a shame that the sword only comes sheathed as it denies buyers the ability to recreate that moment where the sword just keeps extending, but since he didn't actually use the sword all that much during the series it's not that big of a loss.


However you're prepared to get a bit emotional over a plastic toy, there are a few other accessories in store. Also included are a bloodied face, relaxed arms, sitting down leg parts and the chair section of Gurren's cockpit – all used to recreate Kamina's dramatic death pose from the end of episode eight. Despite it being such a big moment in the series, it's not something I'd have ever expected Good Smile to recreate so faithfully in Nendoroid form. Of course the cockpit isn't completely limited to the death pose either, so you can also have Kamina sit looking badass doing the Gainax pose or doing his signature point. It's a look that would go brilliantly with a larger scale Gurren or Gurren Lagann figure as part of a display centrepiece. Though on the other hand this does highlight what Kamina is perhaps lacking the most – a stern face. Four faceplates might sound a bit excessive, but when you consider that other Nendoroids have come with more and aren't any more expensive you do have to wonder why Good Smile went with two similar expressions rather than a bit more variety.

Kamina's GSC Store bonus accessory is a circular display base featuring the Team Gurren skull logo, with a single hole that's compatible with the articulated arm included for the default display base. It's a nice little extra piece for those interested, but by no means something essential that should have come within the main box itself. Really this is what every GSC Store bonus should be like. Too many times have Nendoroids and Figma alike lacked a crucial accessory only to have it locked behind Good Smile's (free from store discounts and lower shipping fees) own online store. These pieces should always be enticing, but definitely not necessary.

Despite Gurren Lagann's popularity Kamina figures/statues are strangely few and far between, and affordable ones are even more of a rarity. The proportions and aesthetic might not be to everyone's tastes but Nendoroid Kamina is just the kind of figure the character has been crying out for, and hopefully might one day open the doors for a properly proportioned poseable figure. The sculpt oozes every drop of Kamina's pompous badassery, and though there may be room for improvement Good Smile have thrown in a nice variety of parts that don't just draw from the obvious. It only took just under a decade to get here, but better late than never right?

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