Monday 25 January 2021

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Brothers' Mantle

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Release Date: November 2020
RRP: 2420 yen per Mantle

If you ever need any proof that capes immediately make something cooler, look no further than the Ultra Brothers. The collective name of the legendary Ultramen that have defended planet Earth, these brothers in arms are amongst the most skilled warriors from the Land of Light and now done flowing red mantles as a symbol of their status. With the original six Ultra Brothers now available in the S.H. Figuarts line, the time had finally come for Bandai Tamashii Nations to release the S.H. Figuarts Brothers’ Mantle. Released as a Tamashii web exclusive, this add-on set finally gave fans the opportunity to truly turn their Ultraman Figuarts into the legends they have become - boasting pliable, fabric capes as opposed to the jointed plastic ones of the old Ultra-Act line.

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The S.H. Figuarts Ultraman range already has a few accessory sets to its name, and they’ve all stuck closely to the packaging designs of the figures themselves. The Brothers’ Mantle is no exception, adopting that same bright red and silver design we’ve seen on all the Showa Ultraman figures. Rather than feature all six Brothers the front of the box simply features the original Ultraman - both an image of the toy (where a transparent window would usually be showing off the actual figure) and the onscreen suit. It’s the back of the box where’ you’ll find a shot of all six brothers lined up with their mantles, taunting anyone who didn’t have the funds to buy six of these things straight off the bat. The outside of the box is all just business as usual, but open it up and you’ll find the inside to be a little different. There’s no moulded plastic tray here - just a cardboard structure neatly holding the mantle into shape inside a sealed plastic bag, along with a smaller bag housing the connector pieces. It isn’t particularly elegant but it is straight to the point.

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The mantle itself is a solid plastic collar connected to a fabric cape, which in turn has wired lining to make it pliable/poseable. This construction has been used on capes and skirt pieces in the Shinkocchou Seihou numerous times, most notably on Kamen Rider Eternal, Kamen Rider Wizard and the Raiga version of Garo. The main S.H. Figuarts line has done it a few times (such as the A New Hope and second Return of the Jedi Darth Vader figures), but it’s still pretty rare to see soft goods in it. With these being the price they are AND web exclusives though, an all-plastic version certainly wasn’t going to cut it. Fixing the mantle to the figures first involves clipping two horseshoe-shaped connector pieces to your chosen Ultra’s shoulders. Following that you’ll need to pop the head off the figure, slip the mantle over the neck and connect the two connector pieces to the sockets on either side of the collar. Once that’s done the mantle will be attached nice and firmly, and you can pop the head back on the figure. Using those shoulder pieces provides a more secure fit but also lessens poseability somewhat, so if you are struggling with a specific pose you can just place the mantle on without them. Although I’ve only pictured the mantle with the six original Ultra Brothers here, they can feasibly be used on any figure that you believe would look a hundred times better with a cape. 

The mantle itself is of excellent quality overall, sporting a shiny silver inner-lining as well as the main red colouring. The plastic collar is perfectly moulded to fit around the necks of all the Ultra Brothers, and looks great without having to deal with the extra tampering it would take if it were also made of soft goods. The one complaint I have is with the fastening around the front, which sadly isn’t a metal chain but instead a moulded plastic one. It doesn’t look bad by any means, but a metal chain would have definitely sat better. When posing the figures into something fancier than just a stoic pose, the plastic fastening has the habit of sitting completely straight instead of curving downwards like it should. Given that it’s already a highly pliable fabric cape, throwing in a tiny metal chain surely wouldn’t have risen costs too much either. When it comes to posing the mantle, as tends to be the case with S.H. Figuarts soft goods it’s a case of practice, trial and error. Moving the mantle is easy, but positioning it in a way that flows naturally and genuinely looks like it’s billowing in the wind is much harder. Just play around with it and see what works best, and the mantle’s range and tolerances soon become clear.

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So is the S.H. Figuarts Brothers' Mantle worth purchasing? That honestly depends on how you’re planning to display your figures, and ultimately how much you’re prepared to spend on it. The mantle itself is of excellent quality, but at 2420 yen per mantle (plus middleman and shipping fees for anyone outside Japan) these things really don’t come cheap - especially if you want a full Ultra Brothers display. To put it in perspective - one mantle cost me slightly more than Ultraman Z Alpha Edge did. I only bought one which I was planning to give to Zoffy, but putting it on all six figures for these photos and seeing Bandai’s own stock images I can definitely see the appeal. Maybe it would have been better if Bandai had given the option to buy multipacks of these figures (just like they did for Shocker Combatmen a few years ago), because it’s a big ask to get someone to buy six limited edition items in one go during a limited preorder window. While I personally don’t expect the price to inflate on the aftermarket, you never really know. The Brothers Mantle is an exceptionally cool piece of Ultraman iconography, but boy can it feel like an investment.


Anonymous said...

Ultraman Taiga Movie is on Youtube with Eng Subs -

Artriven said...

Yes I'm also planning to use mine with zoffy, at least to make him more different than with the shodai ultraman