Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Valkyrie Rushing Cheetah

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Valkyrie Rushing Cheetah 01

Release Date: July 2020
RRP: 6050 yen

Long time S.H. Figuarts collectors will be used to some of the strange decisions Bandai Tamashii Nations make when it comes to which characters are retail releases and which are Tamashii web exclusives, but even then there are still times where placement can feel unjustified. When Kamen Rider Zero-One came onto the scene it immediately boasted an extensive cast of Riders, including the never-seen-before of appearance of a female Rider right from the get-go. As a result A.I.M.S. technical advisor Yua Yaiba immediately gained a firm fan following, but despite her prominence S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Valkyrie Rushing Cheetah still joins the line as a web exclusive. It might be because deep down Bandai still don't feel women characters sell as men, or it could simply be that there's simply no room in the Zero-One range to have any more than two retail releases. Either way, that's sadly the situation for this somewhat landmark Rider. Yua's journey throughout the Zero-One series proved equally tumultuous, going on to act as ZAIA's lapdog before eventually turning against Gai Amatsu and later inadvertently becoming instrumental in the rise of Kamen Rider Ark-Zero. By the end of series, Yaiba goes on to forge her own path - becoming the new commander of a now-independent A.I.M.S Squad.

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The second of the Zero-One Tamashii web exclusive releases, S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Valkyrie Rushing Cheetah comes in windowless packaging sporting a white and orange colour scheme (much like the Rider herself) and A.I.M.S. Squad branding. On the front of the box is a large shot of the figure in a signature Valkyrie pose, along with the character name and various series logos. One spine of the box continues this image, whilst the other has a more aesthetically appealing "spine" look again featuring the character name and a separate figure image. On the back are a few more shots of the figure inside, showing off just what that articulation is capable of. Inside the figure and accessories are neatly laid out on a clear plastic tray, and like the other Zero-One Riders Valkyrie has open hands attached in-package as opposed to the usual closed fists.

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As a fellow A.I.M.S. Rider Kamen Rider Valkyrie shares the same basic design traits as Kamen Rider Vulcan, however the base body isn't quite identical. The limbs are all the same size, however the torso is a little smaller to give figure a more feminine shape. This makes Valkyrie a touch smaller than the other Zero-One Riders, but nothing noticeably drastic. Coming over that sleek white body suit is the right side's cheetah armour, giving Valkyrie striking metallic orange colour scheme that goes beautifully with those yellow compound eyes. Cheetah motifs aren't a new thing to Kamen Rider yet Valkyrie does it in a way that feels fresh, and the feline details in the helmet feel particularly sharp. The combination of the metallic orange and grey go so well with that glossy white plastic, and even in the areas where the moulded detail isn't brought out with panel lining it doesn't completely fade into the design. Other nice touches included the clawed right foot, further adding to that cheetah design in a subtle yet striking way. Valkyrie's is one that looked great on screen, but a high quality figure is a great way to really appreciate all the detail close-up too.

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As it was with Vulcan, Valkyrie's Shot Riser transformation device is completely removable from the belt piece and also features a removable Rushing Cheetah Progrise Key. One thing I did notice on my figure is that the Progrise Key was very stiff inside of the Shot Riser, and did take some coaxing to remove (once it was out though, it was able to be slotted in and out without any further problems). Again the Progrise Key isn't especially detailed but does have the minimal identifying marks in the right places - such as the orange backing plate and tiny cheetah logo, which can be partially seen through the Shot Riser's clear window piece. While it's pretty cool that the A.I.M.S. Riders' transformation devices also double as their primary weapons, unfortunately it does leave the possibility that the figures might not come with much else in regards to accessories - something that'll be discussed further down in the review.

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Although the proportions slightly differ all the engineering in there remains the same, with Valkyrie sporting the same articulation as her fellow Zero-One Riders. Altogether that includes;
- Ball jointed head, neck, torso and waist
- Double jointed shoulders with both ball joint and swivel hinge connections
- Swivel hinge ankles rockers
- Double hinged elbows and knees 
-Single hinge toe sections
- Bicep and thigh swivels
The Zero-One base body has been an absolute joy to play around with and none of them have done it better than the A.I.M.S. Riders, with that buttery smooth movement working perfectly with that sleek design/sculpt. It's worth noting however that the shoulder pads are fixed much more closely to the arms than most other Rider Figuarts, and it's only the one on the right arm that's actually ball jointed. The shoulders offer a crazy amount of movement, to the point where you can pull the the swivel hinge part almost entirely out of the socket and leave it exposed. This makes the arms extremely versatile, but at the same time it means it's easy to pose them in a way that just makes them look unnatural and/or dislocated. The torso and waist ball joints also flow nicely, which is surprisingly given the clunky Shot Riser that's sticking out just in front of it. Throw in those typically great Figuarts double hinge joints as well as some superb ankle joints, and you can see why the line is at the top of its game with these releases.

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Unfortunately Kamen Rider Valkyrie didn't just draw the short straw when it came to being a web exclusive - she also got the shaft on accessories as well. Assuming we count the Shot Riser as being part of the figure and not a separate weapon, Valkyrie's only accessories are four additional pairs of alternate hands (closed fists, two pairs of item holding hands and a pair of signature pose hands) - making her the only one of the core Zero-One cast without a unique accessory. Zero-One has the Calibur (albeit packed in with Vulcan, though given Zero-One was half the price of Valkyrie that's forgivable), Vulcan has the Shotgun, Horobi has the Arrow and Jin has his wing parts. That list might have covered off all the Attache Weapons, but there are still other things Valkyrie could have come with. For example there are all the Attache mode/folded versions of the weapon, which would have gone nicely with the folded Calibur that's coming with Izu. Even closed Progrise Keys, something that have been surprisingly missing from the line since the start, would have been a great option. Yes you can pose her with all the other accessories (and she looks great with them), but the lack of something unique just feels like she was lower effort than the other releases.

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S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Valkyrie Rushing Cheetah is a release that in theory should be every bit as good as Vulcan Shooting Wolf was. It has the same high quality sculpting and articulation, and that metallic orange colour scheme really helps cement her as both a striking and memorable design. However on the other hand it's almost like Bandai went out of their way to make this feel somewhat "lesser" that the rest of the cast. She has the same base price as Vulcan, but is also a web exclusive (so extra cost for all those outside Japan) AND comes with much less. The biggest disappointment in all that is that if you were solely comparing the two on the figures alone, I actually prefer Valkyrie to Vulcan. As arguably the most prominent woman Kamen Rider there's ever been Valkyrie is definitely a figure Zero-One fans will want to add to their collection. Unfortunately with her currently going for roughly double her original price on the aftermarket, if you weren't able to get a preorder in beforehand this is one hefty purchase.

3 comments:

Oar said...

Both AIMs Riders are slick and cool, but I've since become a bigger fan of the Valkyrie's orange colours that really pop. Plus the slightly more interesting face.

Will you also be doing reviews for Jin and eventually Thouser?

Alex said...

Yep, will definitely be doing both. Even got a scale version of the dog to go with Thouser!

John said...

Long time S.H. Figuarts collectors will be used to some of the strange decisions Bandai Tamashii Nations make when it comes to which characters are retail releases and which are Tamashii web exclusives, but even then there are still times where placement can feel unjustified. When Kamen Rider Zero-One came onto the scene it immediately boasted an extensive cast of Riders, including the never-seen-before of appearance of a female Rider right from the get-go. As a result A.I.M.S. technical advisor Yua Yaiba immediately gained a firm fan following, but despite her prominence S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Valkyrie Rushing Cheetah still joins the line as a web exclusive. It might be because deep down Bandai still don't feel women characters sell as men, or it could simply be that there's simply no room in the Zero-One range to have any more than two retail releases. Either way, that's sadly the situation for this somewhat landmark Rider. Yua's journey throughout the Zero-One series proved equally tumultuous, going on to act as ZAIA's lapdog before eventually turning against Gai Amatsu and later inadvertently becoming instrumental in the rise of Kamen Rider Ark-Zero. By the end of series, Yaiba goes on to forge her own path - becoming the new commander of a now-independent A.I.M.S Squad. میثم ابراهیمی