Monday 11 February 2019

Toybox REVIEW: Meisho Movie Realization Ronin Jango Fett

Release Date: October 2017
RRP: 9504 yen

Bandai Tamashii Nations has more than earned its reputation for high quality and screen-accurate figures through its S.H. Figuarts and Robot Damashii lines, but among some collectors is equally renowned for the ingenious re-imaginings it's given to franchises over the year. The most prominent of these are the Kamen Riders (as well as other tokusatsu properties) of the Super Imaginative Chogokin (SIC) line, but in 2014 it also turned its attention towards Star Wars with its Meisho Movie Realization line, and then the Marvel Universe in 2016 with the similarly named Meisho Manga Realization line. Both lines re-imagine its characters with traditional Japanese styling, and given how much George Lucas borrowed from the samurai aesthetic when creating Star Wars it's truly a match made in heaven. Meisho Movie Realization Ronin Jango Fett is repaint of the Boba Fett figure released nearly two years prior in November 2015 – which in typical Boba Fett fashion now fetches a rather hefty price on the aftermarket.

Tamashii Nations produce a lot of different lines and while they all have great packaging designs to some degree, if you're familiar with a lot of them you can immediately tell some are more special than others. The Meisho Movie Realization line (and presumably the manga offshoot as well) are one such case, with the figures coming in the same kind of lidded two-piece boxes that are reserved for the "top of the range" S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou line. These boxes however are much bigger to accommodate the larger figures, as well as flatter because the increased size means that the accessories can lie comfortably around the figure rather than sitting underneath in a separate tray. The single figure image along with the various logos and matte black background make for an immediately striking lid, while the underside is a bit more standard Tamashii Nations fare with a selection of stock images of both the figure inside and its accessories. Inside Jango and his accessories can be found housed on a moulded black plastic tray, but perhaps my favourite touch of the whole ensemble is how the inside lid has the familiar "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..." text printed on it. It might just be some text against a solid black background, but for Star Wars fans those words immediately generate excitement. 

As previously mentioned Ronin Jango Fett is a repaint of the 2016 Ronin Boba Fett figure, with only a few slight alterations made to the mould to differentiate the two other than simply by colour. As well as lacking the shoulder cape, Jango sports remoulded shin sections that lack the weapon clips that were on Boba's. Regardless of this the main difference between the two though is the colour, with Jango sporting cleaner silver and blue body armour that lacks the various Mandalorian markings and symbols. Though the colours aren't anywhere near as appealing or iconic on the original design something just immediately clicks here. Maybe it's that the Ronin redesign lends itself better to a plainer colour scheme or that Boba Fett uses a lighter palette, but I definitely find myself preferring the Jango colours when it comes to this particular figure. But whichever version of the figure you prefer, the sculpting is exactly the same and that's what really sells it. Each and every one of the Movie Realization figures successfully retains all the aspects of the original design that makes them instantly recognisable as Star Wars characters, but at the same time perfectly blends it with a feudal samurai aesthetic. From the plated skirt armour to the puffy bodysuit and moulded sandal boots, Jango is covered in nods and homages to that era of Japanese history. The moulding and detailing are unbelievably good, but what really sets the figure apart are the textures. The belt and holsters genuinely look like they could be made of leather until you look at them up close. Combine that with the smooth finish of the silver armour and the rough finish of the blue undersuit, and you have a toy that flawlessly gives off the illusion of being made of different materials. 

Functionally Jango's helmet features a moveable range finder, and the jetpack simply pegs onto his back via a single plug so can be attached and removed at your leisure (it comes in the box unattached).  

Articulation is the only aspect of this figure that isn't near-flawless, and even then the design is actually a lot more flexible than you'd expect on first glance. Like nearly every Tamashii Nations figure Jango is absolutely loaded with joints, and its only the areas where the design has a lot going on that that articulation begins to be hindered. Altogether Jango Fett features a ball jointed head and neck, ball jointed shoulders and shoulder pads, bicep swivels, double hinge elbows, forearm swivels, ball jointed wrists, a ball jointed waist, ball jointed hips, thigh swivels, double hinge jointed knees and finally ball jointed rocker ankles. Despite the increase in height and mass that's pretty much the same as an S.H. Figuarts has to offer, only with a few omissions in certain areas and a few additions in others. The forearm swivels in particular are a really nice touch. The only real point of contention here are the hips, which being covered by that rather elaborate skirt armour can only pull off a fraction of what they're capable of. However the Movie Realization line is one of the few times where I'd argue that design absolutely trumps functionality, and even with that in mind Jango can still pull off a fair range of action poses that'll look great in any display. Personally my bigger problem (and it's not something that is the fault of the figure itself) is that Bandai don't really offer any sort of display stand suitably for figures of this scale. Here you have a figure with a jetpack yet no effective way to display it in mid-air poses? Seems like a big oversight on Bandai's part.

Though the base figure may be exactly the same as Boba, Jango's accessories are actually a little different which in turn changes some of the smaller flourishes on the figure. Both figures come with eight additional hands, but whereas Boba included a sword, rifle and six blades (which clipped onto the toy's shins) Jango comes with the sword, two pistols and a single dart-like blade that clips onto his left wrist. The sword and pistols can be stored on the sheath and holsters fitted to Jango's belt. Much like the figure itself the pistols are gorgeously detailed, complete with a moving matchlock piece to show just how accurate Tamashii Nations can go when they want. An additional feature the toy has is that the rocket section of the jetpack can be removed like a missile, but with no real way to display it launching it's more functional than it is practical. A cool novelty for sure, but hardly the toy's most exciting feature.

Meisho Movie Realization is a toy line that I've wanted to get into for a long time and not jumping in sooner is one of my biggest regrets. A lot of the figures are fairly expensive on the aftermarket, with only a handful still able to be bought brand new from the usual list of Japanese retailers. Star Wars Meisho Movie Realization Ronin Jango Fett might not seem like the obvious starting point for newcomers, but it's a surprisingly good one. It's one that can be easily found for less than its original price, and even for a repaint the figure has a lot of individual character. The silver colour armour is much less smoother slide into the line's wild stylisation than Boba's pastel colour scheme, and the minor switch up in accessories is enough to make it feel a little different even though fundamentally they're the same thing. But most importantly it shows off everything that makes this line so immediately eye-catching – that insane level of detailing and Japanese stylising that fits the cast of Star Wars to a tee. Star Wars figures are everywhere, but not many are this cool.

No comments: