Friday 5 July 2019

Toybox REVIEW: Nendoroid Simon

Release Date: May 2019
RRP: 5093 yen

Where the mighty Kamina goes, his bro is sure to follow. Good Smile Company continue their launch of new Gurren Lagann merchandise with the release of Nendoroid Simon, following on from Kamima's long-awaited debut in the line at the end of last year. With his release GSC have finally at the very least completed the core trio of the acclaimed Gainax series, with Nendoroid Yoko having come out all the way back in 2009. Speaking as an unashamed Nia fan Good Smile still have plenty left to do, but at the very least it's amazing to see not only the show getting some love 12 years after its release but also seeing the characters finally get figures they deserved long ago.

Good Smile Company are pretty much the kings when it comes to uniform packaging in a Japanese collector line. Figma have been following the same boring old layout on their boxes for years, and while a little bit jazzier Nendoroid packaging hasn't been much better since its redesign either. The shape has remained pretty consistent, but recently Nendoroid has also started dabbling in narrower boxes as well. Simon's is certainly narrower, but offsetting that is the fact it's possibly the deepest box Nendoroid have ever done. This is because when you open it up you'll see that inside are two typically-deep Nendoroid trays – one for the figure and accessories, and another than holds a single accessory compatible with the Moderoid Gurren Lagann release. Why that needed a whole tray to itself and couldn't be added to the side of the figure in a wider box I don't know, but it's probably because they wanted it to be somewhat uniform with Kamina's packaging. Around the box are various stock images of the figure in various poses, along with a particularly fiery lid featuring both the Gurren Lagann and Team Gurren logos.

Nendoroid Simon is based on the child version from the first half of Gurren Lagann, which makes sense given that not only is it probably his more recognisable look but the Yoko and Kamina Nendoroids are also based on that time period. It's a simple costume consisting solely of a jacket and shorts (neither of which have in any way intricate designs) so a pretty much a walk in the park for GSC when it comes to sculpting and detail, and they in turn live up to expectations to create a figure that's true to Simon. The back of the jacket features the Team Gurren decal, however the figure shrinks it in size and places it further up the jacket so not to interfere with the plughole for the stand. Not strictly accurate to the design (though with the way details like that change in shots it's probably accurate to some point), but perhaps more importantly it allows the logo to remain unblemished. The face sculpt and hair shading are both really well done, and definitely show off that Nendoroid quality that's allowed the line to now surpass over 1000 releases. The Core Drill necklace is loose and pinned between the head and neck, so can be removed if so desired. In the grand scheme of things this version of Simon isn't a particularly detailed design and so would be hard to get wrong, but simply the feeling of finally having a Simon Nendoroid after all these years is enough to makw this release feel special.

As a standard Nendoroid release Simon's articulation is fairly minimal, but there's still a few points that allow you to slightly customise what the swappable parts allow. Simon features ball hinge joints in his neck and hips, along with standard swivels for the shoulders, wrists, waist and thighs. It's not very much at all, but it's more than enough to add a little personality to poses rather than have them look completely static. Though it's never been a problem with Nendoroids per se, the ball joints are really nicely covered up on this figure – particularly on the shorts which just look like simple cuts.

Simon's accessories include alternate face, hair and jacket parts to recreate his iconic "rebirth" speech from episode 11 and the Childhood's End movie, a pair of outstretched arms, a pair of crossed arms, a pair of arms with the hands in his jacket pockets, "pierce the heavens" pointing left hand, a item holding right hand, a holdable core drill and of course his loyal pig mole pet Boota. Boota is nicely sculpted, and in a similar scale to other Gainax/Trigger "pet" accessories released in the line like Chuck (Nendoroid Panty) and Guts (Nendoroid Mako). So if you're going for some sort of crossover display than these figures will look great together. The lack of a third faceplate is a little disappointing, but credit where it's due GSC really nailed all of the speech parts on this release. The face looks incredible with its determined expression and accurately sketched out features, and the spiked hair front completes the look perfectly. The windswept jacket part is nice and easy to swap out on the figure, and really gives it a dynamic feel that's often lost on figures like these. The drill-holding hand does grip the Core Drill handle fairly securely, but be warned this piece is TINY so it's best to be extra careful when handling it.

This of course all comes on top of the standard articulated Nendoroid stand included with every release, which here includes both a straight plug and an angled one to be used with the alternate jacket piece. Additionally if you happened to pre-order this figure from Good Smile's own online store, you would have also received a bonus Team Gurren display base identical to the one offered with Kamina.

However Simon also comes with one final accessory, and it's one that opens a whole new level of playability and interactivity for the toy. Also included is an alternate head for Moderoid Gurren Lagann with a grimacing face sculpt, along with additional stand/support parts that allow Simon to stand inside Lagann's head. Simon attaches to the stand block that gives him the height to stand properly inside the cockpit area, while a clear neck brace piece sits under Moderoid Gurren Lagann's head to provide extra stability and a hole for the basic Nendoroid stand to plug into. The extra head is a prebuilt variant of the Moderoid head using all the same parts and plastic quality, and like on the model kit you'll need to apply the nose and eyelid stickers to the face yourself. Simon can also stand inside the model's default head in the same way since there's no differences between the two other than face sculpt. Not only is the ability to display the two figures like this unbelievably cool, but you don't even need Moderoid Gurren Lagann to use it – the head works perfectly fine without the body. Sure it doesn't look quite as good as having the full body, but it's still far more appealing than the using the boring old Nendoroid stand. It did seem a little odd that GSC decided to go with a super-deformed look for the Moderoid kit when there wasn't really a precedent for it in the line, but with results like this I hope they consider it again for future releases as well.

Fans have waited a long time for new Gurren Lagann character figures beyond static, usually overly expensive statues and between some of these recent releases Good Smile have really made it feel like that patience has paid off. Nendoroid Simon exhibits all the best qualities of the Nendoroid line, along with the added bonus of compatibility with the Moderoid to make it all the more desirable. With both Simon and Kamina now on the market it's surprising GSC haven’t announced a Yoko reissue to go with them, or better still a Nia to round off that core cast. With both SDCC and Wonderfest on the horizon and new announcements likely at both, here's hoping GSC aren't completely done with Gurren Lagann just yet.

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