Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Toybox REVIEW: Figma Gridman (Primal Fighter)


Release Date: September 2019
RRP: 6296 yen

There seems to be plenty of options out there when it comes to SSSS.Gridman toys, but which one is the perfect choice isn’t as obvious as you may think. Megahouse kicked things off with a fully transforming, but small and somewhat overpriced release with their Acti-Builder version. Then Good Smile Company went bigger with their DX Full Power Gridman set, but their 90s style design came with a whole bunch of problems. Meanwhile Bandai got in on the action with the Super Mini-Pla line, but their similarly high price point also came with the condition of having to build the thing yourself. Finally there’s the Nendoroid - a perfectly well-made but super deformed style figure. But if that wasn’t enough choice, Good Smile are back with a third go with Figma Gridman (Primal Fighter). Produced by Max Factory, this version of the titular hero makes up for the lack of combining capabilities with superior articulation and poseability.



Admittedly I’ve been out of the Figma game for some time now (collecting priorities have changed etc.), but even so there are a few things about Gridman’s box that strike me as being a little different from the norm (or at least what used to be the norm). For a start Gridman isn’t actually part of the mainline Figma range, instead having the number designation of SP-114. More significantly though the box is a little bit shorter than the usual size of Figma packaging, and deviates very slightly from the layout as well (the grey section at the bottom is much smaller for example). The general layout of images across the spines and back is largely the same however, as is the big window at the front which shows off Gridman in all his glory. The box size change also affects the tray inside though, as it’s missing the usual “pouch” section at the bottom where you can store the hands and stand pieces once opened. In addition to the accessories laid out on the tray one sword piece is taped onto the back, with the stand also floating around loose behind it.




Even before getting this figure out of the box, the first thing that’s abundantly clear is that this isn’t going to be the Gridman figure for everyone. For a reason that still isn’t quite clear to me (although I have my theories), Max Factory decided to produce a heavily stylised version of Gridman for the Figma line - and whether it works or not is entirely going to be based on your personal tastes. The shoulder pads are much larger, the head sculpt is far more angular and the spindly Evangelion-like proportions have been exaggerated for maximum effect. With TRIGGER often styling the design like this for the action sequences it makes sense, but in it the absence of any better figures on the market right now it does feel like a bit of a niche route to take. If you can get behind the design though, rest assured you will be getting a figure that oozes the typical Figma quality. The colours are vibrant, the sculpting is sharp and everything looks exactly as it should. Even with the stylising it looks unmistakably like Gridman leapt out of animation. The blend of tokusatsu heroes and anime-style proportions make this a match made in heaven for Figma, though I’m sure TRIGGER’s strong relationship with Good Smile Company had a lot to do with this collaboration. Who knows if Bandai will ever get their own stab at the series outside the Super Mini-Pla line, but in the time being this is a very respectable alternative.





The big advantage to the stylised design though is that this figure looks EXTREMELY good when posed. Max Factory have clearly gone for this look to replicate all those distinctly TRIGGER moments in the show and they’ve pulled it off pretty flawlessly. Altogether Gridman sports Figma-style hinges in his neck, elbows, knees and ankles along with ball joints in the shoulders, wrists, torso, waist and hips. Even more articulation has been added through bicep and thigh swivels, and then to top it all off those oversized shoulder pads can also move via their own raised ball joints. Over the years Figma have really perfected the art of articulation of every joint is buttery smooth, allowing for maximum flexibility and a wide variety of suitably over the top poses. With Figma’s main output tending to be anime schoolgirls it’s easy to forget how good they are at action figures, but they definitely nailed it when it came to Gridman.






On top of the usual articulated Figma stand Gridman also comes packaged with four additional hands (dynamic open hands and weapon-holding ones, to compliment the default closed fists) and his Gridman Calibur Sword, which includes both a standard blade and a swappable forced-perspective version. Swapping the two blades simply involves removing the black/grey hilt piece (which is separated in the box to begin with), unclipping the blade and then replacing the piece accordingly. While the accessory count does feel rather measly (only four extra hands feels especially stingy), there’s no denying that the perspective blade is exceptionally cool. Not only is it the kind of unique accessory that only Max Factory would come up with, but it fits the whole exaggerated aesthetic of the figure perfectly. Nothing quite like a figure that can pull off the Obari pose flawlessly. But where’s the Grid Beam effect part? That seems like such an obvious accessory to include, and the Nendoroid came with it so why not this too?




Figma Gridman (Primal Fighter) is a great figure, but at the same time it’s also a pretty odd one and certainly not one that’s going to be for everyone. Between bricky DX toys, vinyl kaiju and now super stylised action figures one has to wonder whether the aim at Good Smile Company was to go as 90s as possible for the SSSS.Gridman line, rather than simply just put the most accurate figures they could. Figma Gridman is super dynamic and super poseable, but in vanilla poses looks significantly off from the source model. That said, it’s a hell of a lot of fun to pose and by far the best SSSS.Gridman figure on the market - so if you’re a fan of that trademark Trigger exaggeration then you’re sure to have a blast with this.

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