Sunday 18 August 2019

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Victory

Release Date: June 2019
RRP: 6480 yen

Now that the Ultraman S.H. Figuarts range is truly in full swing, it feels like anyone's guess as to what could come next. For many years the line seemed to simply follow the pattern of covering an older Showa era series each year along with what's currently airing, but now it's also begun digging back into other areas of the back catalogue with releases like Ultraman Zero, Ultraman Belial and Ultraman X. Now it comes one step closer to completing that New Generation Hero line up with the release of S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Victory. Like X this is a significant release as the character was previously denied an Ultra-Act release, debuting just as the line was winding down prior to the franchise's integration into S.H. Figuarts

S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Victory comes in a very sharp black and yellow box that matches two of the character's key colours, and in usual fashion for Ultra Series figures the packaging has a nice big image of the actual show suit on the front. However interestingly the front of the box also features a picture of the toy as well, most notably one of the EX Red King Knuckle accessory. It's quite unusual for the front of a Figuarts box to draw such attention to an accessory, which makes you wonder if there's anything more to it that might become clear in future releases (Victory has several other UlTrans abilities after all). The back of the box features a nice selection of stock Bandai images (including a repeat of the Red King Knuckle one from the front) that shows off the figure and its accessories, and then inside it's all housed on a single moulded clamshell tray.

As an Ultraman born from the Victorium Stone on Earth and originally heralding from an unknown planet, Ultraman Victory is slightly different from your typical Ultra from the Land of Light. Even though a predominately black colour scheme has become common with Ultraman series succeeding Ginga, Victory's head design, V-shaped colour timer and lack of back fin remain more unique among his peers. As usual Bandai have done a fantastic job with the sculpt and colours, and even with the exposed joints breaking up what in the show is a one piece bodysuit the figure still conveys that as best you can on an action figure. One thing that particularly stood out on Victory was the little moulded ripples around the joint areas, which replicates the bunched up rubber on the suits the same way you often see fabric folds and creases on other S.H. Figuarts releases. But while the black, red and silver colour scheme is a winning combination, what really makes Victory pop are the translucent yellow areas on the head, wrists and shins. Most Ultras tend to only dabble in blue (or red depending on the colour timer) and clear translucent parts, so Victory's bright yellow is a nice break from the norm. Prior to owning the figure Victory was far from one of my favourite Ultraman designs, but having it hand really made me appreciate how such subtle differences come together to make an Ultraman that feels particularly unique. 

Bandai Tamashii Nations have pretty much nailed the base body for Ultraman figures now, so while releases differ quite significantly design-wise in terms of articulation they're all pretty much identically. Ultraman Victory features a peg hinge head with ball jointed lower neck, butterfly-jointed swivel hinge shoulders, bicep swivels, double-hinge elbows, ball jointed wrists, ball jointed torso and waist sections, ball jointed hips, thigh swivels, double hinged knees, swivel hinge ankle rockers and a single hinge two section at the end of each foot. The shoulder pads can also rotate slightly on either side to give the arms better clearance, though they do still limit overall shoulder motion a tiny bit. That's about the only notable issue Victory has though, as even the ankle rockers manage to provide a respectable range of movement even with slight obstruction from the shin guards. This is a figure that really shows off the full range of articulation S.H. Figuarts has to offer, and any pose you might have in mind it'll surely be able to pull off.

Ultraman Victory's accessories include six additional hands (weapon holding, knife hand and open hand pose pairs), an alternate red colour timer, the Shepherdon Saber sword and of course the EX Red King Knuckle the box was so eager to show off. The hands and colour timer are pretty standard Ultraman accessories so there's not much to talk about, so instead let's focus on the weapons. Like most other modern Ultras Ultraman Victory has a wide variety of different powers and there was no way Bandai was going to be able to include them all, but those they did decide to include here were absolutely the right choices. For a start they focus purely on Victory's UlTrans abilities rather than generic Ultraman powers, which means two completely unique accessories rather than another general beam effect. The Shepherdon Saber is a fantastic-looking sword, both because of its brilliantly sculpted hilt section and translucent blue crystal-blade. Of all the melee weapons to have come with an Ultraman so far, this is one of the best. But the real winner here is the EX Red King Knuckle - a hulking piece of soft(er) plastic which replaces Victory's entire right arm. The Knuckle fits tightly into the exposed elbow peg, and though doing so basically sacrifices the elbow joint the result is a Victory who really looks like he means business. The softer plastic means the figure can hold the weight of the Knuckle on its own but actual poses will require some additional support from a Tamashii Stage or similar articulated stand. All that along with an easy to change colour time (something else Ultraman Figuarts have significantly improved on over time) and you've got yourself a great selection of accessory pieces. And with Ultraman Zero and Ultraman X having shown there's scope for accessory packs, who knows if there's more coming down the line one day.

After completely missing the mark with Ultraman Blu and Ultraman Rosso, Ultraman Figuarts have thankfully gotten back on track with S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Victory. This is another release that hits that "Perfect Ultraman figure" sweet spot, combining a perfect sculpt with near flawless articulation and a great range of unique accessories. With this figure Bandai Tamashii Nations get one step closer to completing the New Generation Hero lineup, and with both Ultraman Ginga and Ultraman Taiga due before the year is out it's only a matter of time. If both of those can match Victory's quality, then 2019 will be one hell of a year for Ultra collectors.


Makotowaru said...

I hope you know that almost all the ultras from the shf line have a rotation above the elbow to make up for no shoulder rotation? I don't mean to sound like an asshole but I'd just like to point out how bandai has not over sighted on the articulation!

Alex said...

No no, I knew - I'd just forgotten to list the bicep swivels! Honestly I think Bandai have done an excellent job on the Ultra figures so far.