Thursday 3 January 2019

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Zero

Release Date: November 2018
RRP: 9990 yen

While S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Garo may have taken a whole four years to go from its initial Tamashii Nation event reveal to becoming a reality, Bandai Tamashii Nations were much quicker at following it up with another high quality GARO release. Why settle for just the Golden Knight when you can have the Silver Fanged Knight too? Rei Suzumura has arrived as the second non-Kamen Rider release for Figuarts' premium offshoot - S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Zero. Coming seven years after the release of the original Zero Figuart, this new edition follows in its footsteps as a Tamashii web exclusive. It's also one of the pricier standard sized Figuarts on the market too, originally selling for the same 9990 yen price tag as Garo himself.

A Shinkocchou Seihou release that wasn't from Kamen Rider was a pretty big deal at the time of Garo's releases, and the packaging itself showed that off too by giving the standard two-piece box a glossy black makeover. This has been carried over to Zero's release, with the front featuring a bust of the figure in an action pose. The blue flames added to the Ginroken in the shot is a nice touch, and makes these boxes far more appealing than the rather basic (albeit premium-looking) Kamen Rider ones. The sides feature Zero's name not only in the GARO logo font but also silver foil lettering, while the underside features a handful of stock figure images in various poses. Inside you'll find the figure housed on a moulded white plastic tray, with a smaller tray underneath holding all of the accessories.

The first thing you'll notice about Shinkocchou Seihou Zero probably isn't the insane amount of detailing the figure has, but rather that unlike Garo it's simply painted in metallic silver rather than given a chrome finish. This was the right decision not only because it's more accurate to the onscreen suit, but chrome silver just wouldn't have worked in the same way that the gold did for Garo. But while it might not have that instant glow that Shinkocchou Seihou Garo does, when it comes to the actual sculpt and paintwork of the figure Zero definitely stands toe to toe with it. Every little detail from the suit has been faithfully replicated to the figure, complete a nice bit of blackwashing and panel lining in certain areas to make the details stand out (just look at the teeth on the head sculpt!). Working together with that bold silver paint job you also have the matte black undersuit, as well as sharp metallic blue in the crotch area and pale green sections running down the limbs and "belt". When it comes to paintwork these green sections are perhaps the most impressive of all, as most of them also sport extremely fine markings. These are the kind of paint apps that could have easily gone wrong, but every single one of them looks to be perfectly applied. Shinkocchou Seihou Zero is however a bit of spiky figure, so be carefully around the ears, wrists and lower legs - not only because they might be a little fragile, but also because I wouldn't put it past them to draw blood either.

It might have more to do the fact that this figure isn't covered head to toe in vac metal chrome finish, but from the initial images it wasn't quite as easily to tell how significant of an upgrade Shinkocchou Seihou Zero was compared to how it was with Garo himself. However put the two figures side by side and you can see just how much of an overhaul this is. Figure sculpting has come a long long way since 2011, and this Zero sports significantly better proportions and detailing. The gunmetal grey of the original figure has been replace with a far more accurate silver, and in turn the pale sections have been toned down significantly. Added detailing includes finer grooves on the armour itself, as well the Makai language markings that were completely absent from the original figure. This also extends to the accessories as well, which on top of being resized also now sport the appropriate markings.

However the good thing about this figure not being all chromed up is that it's a much nicer figure to handle when it comes to the articulation. Not just because there's no risk of it becoming a fingerprint magnet, but also but it just feels that little bit more sturdy as well. Zero sports a ball jointed head and neck, ball-cut shoulders, bicep swivels, double hinge elbows, ball jointed wrists, ball jointed torso and waist sections, ball cut hips, upper leg swivels, double hinge knees, ball-cut ankle rockers and a hinged toecap on each foot. The shoulder sections aren't quite as interesting as Garo's free-floating collar piece, but are attached to a raised ball joint on a hinge so that they can move freely from the arms and not impede articulation. However it is important to note these are literal suits of armour mostly brought to life by CGI, so there are some areas where articulation is restricted. The most notable of them being the hips, which have a pretty minimal circle of motion. I stand by the figure being able to do what it needs to do though, and whether its standing on its own two feet or with the aid of a stand looks pretty damn amazing in any pose you put it in.

What the Shinkocchou Seihou DOES have in common with the original release though is the fairly low accessory count, which is actually pretty much identical. Included are two alternate pairs of hands (of the open and weapon holding variety), Zero's twin Ginroken swords and finally an alternate hilt piece for the combined Ginga Ginroken formation. Whereas the original release simply had the two swords peg together, the Shinkocchou Seihou goes for a bit more screen accuracy by making the hilts completely removable so that there's no visible tab parts. The blades then simply slot on top with ease and are ready to go again. It's a fairly meagre accessory count for sure, but without moving into the realms of effect parts (note to self: buy some green and blue flame parts) it's pretty much everything a Zero figure needs to come with. Garo's accessory count was fairly slim too, and there was no way that Zero was going to outdo him.

Unlike the original S.H. Figuarts Garo which has very quickly begun to show its age, the original S.H. Figuarts Zero is still a fairly solid figure. I gave it full marks back in 2013 and would still defend it now. But S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Zero is one of those rare releases that seems to perfect perfection. Putting the two side by side highlights just how much was missing from the original release, and while that may still be a good figure in its own right it simply doesn't compare to this. To give it the same price tag as Garo might be a bit of a bold move on Bandai's part, but as far as detailing goes the upgrade is just as significant. GARO Figuarts are few and far between these days, so this is another one that's not worth missing out on.


KamenFox said...

What a way to start the year off with a bang, god damn!

DarkFaiz said...

Definitely needs some green and blue flame effects