Friday, 1 November 2019

Toybox REVIEW: Meisho Movie Realization Ronin Boba Fett

Release Date: November 2015, September 2019 (Reissue)
RRP: 9680 yen

If there's one regret I have as a toy collector, it's taking until 2019 to get into the Meisho Movie Realization line. Bandai Tamashii Nations' Super Imaginative Chogokin-esque reimagining of iconic Star Wars characters styled like warriors from feudal-era Japan was a stroke of genius, and judging by the price some of these figures command on the aftermarket collectors seemed to think so too. The third release in the line way back in 2015 was Meisho Movie Realization Ronin Boba Fett, and much like any limited run figure based on the original (though no longer canonically) Mandalorian bounty hunter it's one that will cost you a pretty penny on the aftermarket. That is until four years later however, when a surprise reissue was announced for Western territories such as the US and UK. This was a particularly unexpected move on Bandai's part, since there's no sign that the figure ever received the same treatment over in Japan. But as an opportunity to own a figure I regret not picking up all those years ago for a price not too far off Japanese retail, I certainly wasn't going to question it.

Movie Realization Ronin Boba Fett comes in a stylish two piece box, with the black lid piece featuring a nice big image of the figure in a suitably cool pose with shadowy lighting for extra impact. Bandai have kept this image (and thus the figure itself) as the main focus of the lid, with both the Star Wars and Movie Realization line logos kept relatively small despite the large surface area to work with. Buying the 2019 reissue I was quite surprised to see Bandai have actually made some slight alterations to the packaging to bring it up with current practices – such as the replacement of the standard red Bandai logo with the new blue one used for high end collectibles, as well as the addition of the foil Tamashii Nations authenticity sticker. The white underside of the box features a number of images showing off both Boba Fett and all his glorious accessories, and then inside you'll find those contents spread neatly across a moulded black plastic tray. Like the rest of the Movie Realization line, the inside of the lid also has the familiar "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…" printed inside for that Star Wars added touch.

Outside of the design itself the first thing that’s immediately noticeable about Movie Realization Ronin Boba Fett is how it uses a much lighter and more pastel-like colour scheme compared to the real deal’s more olive-coloured armour. Admittedly when I first saw this figure I wasn’t the biggest fan of it, but over time I’ve really warmed up to it - the palette fits the design far better and is very reminiscent of Japanese artwork from that era. Moving onto the sculpt itself, and wow have Bandai brought their A-game to this release. If it isn’t just the sheer imagination that blows you away with this design, then it’ll be all the intricacies to it that truly bring it to life. Between all the armour plating detail and all the various textures used to convey different materials (metal, leather etc.) there’s just so much to take in here. All of Boba’s various Mandalorian markings have been carried over to this design faithfully along with his cape and Wookie braids, yet somehow they don’t make it feel any less genuine whatsoever. Sure the jet pack doesn’t quite sell you on this being a real-life suit from Feudal Japan, but the research was definitely put in to make this feel like a convincing blend of both historical and Star Wars technology.

Underneath that ornate, bulky armour lies a surprisingly articulated figure. Ronin Boba Fett features all the same high quality Tamashii Nations joints you’d expect from their various other lines, using a combination of hard and soft plastics to make sure it’s all able to move to a respectable degree. Altogether he features ball joints in his head, waist and hips along with swivel hinge shoulders, bicep swivels, double hinged elbows and knees and ball jointed ankle rockers. The wrists are interesting as they’re a little different to what you usually find on a Tamashii figure - a flat hinge connection with an added ball joint for the hand to pop onto. The result is a movement that isn’t quite as fluid as what you might find on an S.H. Figuarts figure, but a much sturdier build fitting for a figure like this. The shoulder pads are also connected to the arms via additional ball joints, allowing them to float freely and move around with the arms. While of course the design leads to some areas being a little more restrictive than others, but overall you can get a pretty good range of motion out of the figure. Most Boba Fetts struggle in the hip area thanks to all those pouches, why should this be any different? Finally as an added bonus, the appropriately styled range finder can pull down to sit in front of the visor.

Like any good bounty hunter, Boba Fett is also loaded with plenty of weaponry to make sure he gets his prey – dead or alive. His main weapon is his signature blaster rifle, which of course has been reimagined to fit the Samurai era. In doing so it becomes far more detailed, painted up beautifully to look as though it's made of wooden panels and weathered metal. In addition to that Boba also comes with a short katana blade, accompanied by a sheath which can comfortably clip onto the side of his belt. But if that isn't enough there are also six additional daggers of various shapes and sizes – five of which clip onto his ankles and the sixth clipping onto his left wrist to mirror the original suit's wrist-mounted rocket launcher. These particular accessories are small and can be a little fiddly to clip onto the figure (particularly the ankle-mounted ones), but the fact they're all completely different is really nice and help sell the character as a bounty hunter with plenty of tricks up his sleeve. Of course there are also a total of ten different hands included to ensure Boba can hold all of these weapons, and finally his jet-pack if you choose to consider that an accessory rather than just part of the costume. Curiously Jango Fett's jet-pack included a removable rocket but that doesn't seem to be the case here, or at least I can't pull the rocket out without feeling like I'm about to break the whole thing. Despite the two packs looking near-identical other than the paint job, maybe this was just an extra feature for Jango? Not that it matters, because the figure wouldn't really be able to do all that much with a removable rocket and he's got more than enough to play with even without it.

Bandai put an exceptionally high level of quality into all of their Tamashii Nations products, but there are a select few that go beyond being just toys and almost feel like pieces of art. With the sheer amount of ingenuity that goes into the Meisho Movie Realization line they certainly qualify as that, and Star Wars Meisho Movie Realization Ronin Boba Fett is one of the best it has to offer. Traditional Japanese aesthetics and the iconic look of Star Wars collide in this figure that's ornately sculpted, surprisingly dynamic and loaded with all sorts of fun extras. Due to its astronomical aftermarket price Boba Fett was beginning to feel like something of a holy grail, but thanks to this unexpected reissue the figure feels more accessible than ever before. Star Wars toys are rarely as unique as this, so be sure to grab him while you still can.

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