Sunday 8 December 2019

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Boba Fett (Return of the Jedi)

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Release Date: September 2019
RRP: 6480 yen

Ever since Star Wars S.H. Figuarts first arrived on the scene in 2015, there's definitely been one particular character on fans' minds. Bandai Tamashii Nations' sculpt-work and the iconic Mandalorian armour seem like a match made in heaven, so a figure based on the galaxy's most popular bounty hunter should have been a given. But years went by, and other than the odd appearance at a Tamashii Nation or Tokyo Comic Con event there was no sign of Boba Fett. Which felt especially strange since Jango Fett was released in 2016. But fast-forward a few years and S.H. Figuarts Boba has finally arrived, though not the variation you'd immediately think off. Continuing the line's baffling omission of anything The Empire Strikes Back, this figure is instead based on the Return of the Jedi version of the suit – sporting some slight design and colour alterations.

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It's always exciting to get a new Star Wars figure in the S.H. Figuarts line but boy are these boxes pretty boring. They have that air of collector series figures and are uniform for the most part, but there really is very little to say about them. It's the usual black boxes with silver foil areas on the spines and back, with the front mostly space for a nice big window to show off the figure inside. There aren't any pictures on the front and text is kept to an absolute minimum, save for the bold Star Wars logo on the window itself in gold foil stencilling. The patterns on the one spine have always confused me a bit - when I first bought Darth Vader I wrongly assumed they were lightsaber hilts, but on closer inspection now I'm more of the thought that they are ship (possibly the Falcon?) sides. The other spine however features a nice big image of Boba himself, with more continued on the back of the box. There's even a guest appearance from the S.H. Figuarts Return of the Jedi Luke Skywalker figure in the top corner. Open the box up and you'll find Boba Fett on the usual moulded clamshell tray, with his accessories rather neatly arranged to either side of him.

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Truth be told there probably aren't that many casual Star Wars fans out there than even register there being a difference in Boba Fett's armour in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, however once you do realise them they become so abundantly obvious. The most significant changes are the colours of the arm gauntlets and jet-pack (which here is completely fixed to the back of the figure), which go from green to brown and yellow/grey/cyan respectively. Additionally the shoulder cape goes from beige to green, and the side of the helmet where the range finder connects from yellow to silver. The belt area also changes a little bit, losing the pouches at the front and the blaster holster on the right hand side. The weathering on the helmet also changes a little bit, with a less silver scuffing on the red visor outline and more to the top of the dome. That all cleared up now? Moving on then, Bandai have done a pretty great job when it comes to sculpting the figure and making all those colour variations clear, but there's still something that immediately stands out with this figure - it's just a bit too clean. Boba Fett's armour is scuffed and scratched to hell and back, and while Bandai have made a note to put all those silver marks in the correct places the paintwork is so cleanly applied that it loses all effect. It seems like such an odd thing to complain about since that's exactly what you usually want in a figure, but Boba here just feels a bit too much like an action figure. Darth Vader debates aside (and let's be honest, no company ever seems to get that sculpt 100% correct), Bandai have usually been pretty good at suit accuracy yet here they very slightly missed the mark - even if the end result still looks pretty great...the Boba Fett armour rarely doesn't after all. The actual sharpness of the paint apps really can't be faulted though, all the Mandalorian symbols have been exquisitely applied and there really isn't a single thing out of place. 

Moving back to the sculpt though, Bandai have definitely decided to go for functionality over total screen accuracy here. Pieces like the leg pouches are directly moulded onto the legs themselves (given them a sort of sunken-in look that isn't quite as pronounced onscreen) and the wires connecting Boba's right gauntlet to his upper arm are also moulded directly into the arm. Given the way the loose wires either restrict articulation or constantly fall out on other figures, I can't say I blame Bandai for taking this route even if it does lose a little nuance of the actual costume. All in all it's a really solid looking figure that oozes the usual Bandai Tamashii Nations quality, but for Star Wars fans who crave total screen accuracy there may be a few things to consider before buying.

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Boba's Mandalorian armour presents some potential problems when it comes to maximising poseability, and although the Return of the Jedi version is a bit less cumbersome than the Empire one Bandai have still made some interesting decisions with the sculpt in order to make it work. For the head there's the usual setup of a ball jointed head and neck section, and on top of that the range finder can swing down to sit over the top of the visor. Moving downwards the shoulders are connected to the arm via a hinge joint, which is then embedded into the torso to provide a wider range of movement similar to that of a butterfly joint. The arms then have the typical double-hinged elbow and ball jointed wrist, along with a bicep swivel and raised shoulder pads connected to a hinged ball joint. While they don't quite sit flush against the torso, more importantly they don't impede the shoulder movement to any significant degree. The torso sports a ball joint about two thirds of the way down and then another just above the belt, while the hips are the weirdly designed hinge/ball joint combo Bandai have adopted on a lot of their humanoid figures lately. The pouches on either side of the belt are also hinged, so can move upwards to give the legs a little more sidewards movement. As the leg pouches are moulded directly onto the legs rather than separate pieces they also don't seem to affect overall articulation very much, and then moving down there's the usual array of double hinge knees, hinge swivel ankle rockers and a hinged toe cap on each foot. Finally the jetpack nozzles are also attached via ball joints, so can be positioned freely even though you're only ever going to see them from the back. Despite there being so much going on with the armour Bandai have actually done a really good job on this figure - it doesn't have any of the articulation issues of the Black Series Boba Fett, and feels that little bit more sturdy than the MAFEX figure as well. The only real point of contention are the ankles. Ankle movement is pretty much non-existent on this figure, save for rotating the entire foot at a weird inhuman angle. The leg cuff completely negates vertical and horizontal tilt, which is especially annoying when trying to position the feet at a good looking angle for flight posing.

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Boba Fett's full range of accessories includes four pairs of swappable hands (closed fists, open hands and two sets intended for holding the rifle) and his EE-3 carbine rifle. Given Boba Fett's extremely minimal screen time in Return of the Jedi (or at all really for that matter) the measly accessory count isn't all that surprising, but then on the other hand he does actually use a fair bit of equipment in that film. Yes this figure comes with all the essentials, but as he used his jetpack in the film some blast parts for the nozzles surely wouldn't have gone amiss. Similarly a rope extension for his arm gauntlet could have been pretty cool as well. But in the end only the essentials tend to matter, and since this is the typical load out for a Boba Fett figure Bandai obviously didn't want to rock the boat too much. The rifle itself looks very nice, perhaps a little bit smaller than the ones included with the MAFEX and Black Series figures but certainly not inaccurate by any means. But what's really nice about this figure is how little of a struggle it is to get Boba to hold it properly. With both those aforementioned figures there's a lot of messing about and widening the hands required just to get them to grip it properly - here it just slides into the designated hands with ease and stays there.

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S.H. Figuarts Boba Fett is another solid entry in Bandai's growing collection of Star Wars figures, however given the surprisingly long wait fans have had he doesn't feel quite as good as he could have been. Minor quibbles aside this is a very good toy, but it looks exactly that - a toy. Unlike the MAFEX versions which went all in on screen accuracy (whether it was to the detriment of the figure or not), the Figuart chooses functionality over looks - resulting in an extremely fun figure to mess around with but one that slightly misses the mark on accuracy. The most important thing is though that both figures excel at those respective things, so depending on which you value more you certainly won't be disappointed with either choice. It'll be interesting to see if the line ever tackles an Empire Strikes Back version in a similar fashion, but then again Bandai would have to start acknowledging that the film even exists first.

1 comment:

M said...

Off topic: Genm Corp subbed Kamen Rider Build New World Grease. I can't wait to read your review of it !