Thursday 30 May 2019

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Ant-Man [Avengers: Endgame]

Release Date: April 2019
RRP: 6264 yen

Bandai Tamashii Nations are usually fairly content with releasing S.H. Figuarts months after a series has started or a character has made their onscreen debut, but for big cinema releases they've increasingly been rolling out figures to coincide with their initial release to capitalise on the hype. The massive hype behind Avengers: Endgame has seen the company pull out possibly their biggest turnaround yet, with not only all the figures being announced the same month as the film's release but also the first selection of them arriving a mere few weeks later. Among these initial releases is S.H. Figuarts Ant-Man, a character who despite being absent for Infinity War plays a key role the conclusion to the Marvel Cinematic Universe's first ten years.

For their Avengers: Endgame releases Tamashii Nations have chosen to adopt somewhat plan packaging that somewhat evokes the Quantum suits used in the film, which isn't all that surprising since (despite the suit themselves barely being in the film) that seems to be the direction most merchandising seems to have gone in. More detailed artwork that looks exactly like the Quantum suits would have definitely been more eye-catching, but there is a certain elegance and uniformity to these plain white boxes. What's perhaps most interesting is that the front of the box doesn't have any images of the figure or character on it whatsoever, with most of the free space taken up by the Avengers: Endgame logo. The back however is the usual display of stock images showing off the figure, and inside you'll find Ant-Man and his accessories stored on a single moulded plastic tray.

What's immediately sets this figure apart from previous Ant-Man releases is the inclusion of an unmasked Scott Lang head, which is surprisingly fitted as the default head for the figure in-package. Bandai's facial sculpting has come a long way over the past few years, especially when you compare this to something like the Age of Ultron Thor release. From a close distance the head is an excellent likeness to actor Paul Rudd, however when you look at it close up the blurring and dotting from the printing do make it look a little less appealing. That however is probably the only real complaint when it comes to the sculpt on this figure, because on the whole Bandai have done a magnificent job here.

Scott Lang head aside this Ant-Man is near-identical to the Ant-Man & the Wasp version released in 2018, but with a few minor tweaks that may or may not be worth buying the figure all over again for. The suit itself does have a slightly more vibrant paintjob, though honestly it's barely noticeable. The more exciting changes are with the helmet, which now has eyes sculpted behind the translucent lenses. It's a really nice touch that you rarely see with Figuarts, and definitely makes the figure standout from the previous release despite only being a minor different. The underside of the helmet is also painted flesh-coloured, which is some excellent attention to detail given that you can only really see it when you pop the head off the joint.

But if you didn't happen to buy the previous version of this mould then there's a fair few differences to the Captain America: Civil War Ant-Man figure that are well worth mentioning. Returning to a look much closer to the first Ant-Man film this figure has considerably better detailing – utilising both a more vibrant shade of red and better texturing on these sections. The helmet is more rounded and more detailed, with a darker shade of silver and splashes of red to made the whole thing pop. Opinion on the suits themselves will ultimately vary, but objectively this is the far superior looking figure in terms of sculpt and detail.

Under that new suit though its essentially the same figure in regard to articulation, but given that this was one of the stronger points of the first release that isn't by any means a bad thing. Ant-Man features a ball jointed head and neck, ball-hinge shoulders, hinged shoulder pads, bicep swivels, double hinge elbows, ball jointed wrists, ball jointed torso and waist sections, swing-down ball jointed hips, upper leg swivels, double hinge knees, ball-hinge ankles and the usual hinged toe section at the end of each foot. Tamashii seem fairly insistent on sticking this style of hip joint on most of their Marvel releases for whatever reason, but at least the sculpt and colour of the suit do a good job of masking any gaps created when pulling the legs down to make full use of their motion.

Other than the aforementioned Scott Lang head, Ant-Man is sadly extremely bare bones when it comes to accessories. The only other parts included are two additional pairs of hands – an open pair and an item gripping pair presumably to be used with the "giant" ant accessory (originally bundled with the Western release of Ant-Man & the Wasp version, but a separate release for the Endgame range). It's all well and good including that pair here, but it's not much use unless you plan to buy the ant as well. It’s a shame that the 15mm figurine included with the Civil War figure has been dropped for these subsequent releases, since it was a fairly low-effort accessory and seems like a fairly logical piece for an Ant-Man figure to come with. Still the Scott Lang head seems like a fair trade-off, and the joy of having an Ant-Man action figure is that suddenly everything can become an accessory! Sure it might not be ant-sized, but being able to display him alongside household items and it to look natural is pretty fun. Alternatively, grab a few of those Tamashii OPTION ACT building sets and you've got yourself a decent Giant-Man display too.

When I reviewed the original S.H. Figuarts Ant-Man I commented that it was a great figure that was severely let down by its lack of accessories. Truthfully not much has changed since then, but nevertheless there's just something much for likeable about this version of the character. Whether it's the inclusion of the Scott Lang head, the better looking suit or the touch-ups they made for this Endgame release, it manages to be a pretty great release despite the mostly non-existent extras. If you've already picked up the Ant-Man & the Wasp version there might not be enough here to warrant double-dipping, but if not this is definitely the Ant-Man you'll want for your collection.

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