Friday, 14 May 2021

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Kamen Rider Black

S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 01

Release Date: April 2021
RRP: 7700 yen

The S.H. Figuarts line has been running long enough now that we're seeing plenty of Kamen Riders previously released be redone as part of the "true bone carving" S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou range, but it's only now that we are seeing a Rider that had previously been remade be done for a third time. And outside of the original Kamen Rider himself, if that was going to happen to any Rider it was going to be Kamen Rider Black. Bandai Tamashii Nations released the first Kamen Rider S.H. Figuarts figure all the way back in 2009, with a renewal version with updated proportions and accuracy following in 2013. Fast-forward nearly nine years and the renegade Century King has returned once more, almost perfectly timed with the announcement of the Kamen Rider Black Sun reboot due next year. S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black was a retail release, pushing the envelope for the line even further as it uses rubber shoulder covers to create an even more seamless sculpt. 

S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black Box 01

S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black Box 02S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black Box 03S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black Box 04S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black Box 05

S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black comes in the standard two-piece packaging the line has used since it's beginning, which somehow manages to look all the more striking when the Rider himself is all black as well. The headshot of the figure (as usual done with that strange filter Bandai use to make the figures look more textured, although this time it isn't that far off the real thing) just looks gorgeous on that solid white backdrop, and in turn works well with those completely black side pieces surrounding the lower half. Those sides also feature the English text name for the figure in foil silver letter, which given this is a pre-Kamen Rider Double release is printed as "Masked Rider Black". On the underside of the lower half you'll find the usual selection of figure images in various poses, and then when opened the figure on a moulded white plastic tray. Stored just underneath is a second plastic tray housing all of the accessories.

S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 02

S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 03S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 04S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 05S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 06

S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 07S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 08S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 09S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 10

Shinkocchou Seihou releases have always been the cream of the crop when it comes to S.H. Figuarts - the main line just simply can't compare to them most of the time. On top of that "true bone carving" method that gives these figures lifelike proportions, the level of detail on these figures is just something else. It's only in-hand do you get a real idea of just how incredible this Kamen Rider Black is. It isn't just the look of this figure that they've tried to make as close to the actual suit as possible, it's the materials as well. The shoulders, crotch area and ankle guards have all been produced using soft rubber to hide the joints. Visually this is especially impressive in the shoulders where there's all that brown muscly detailing. The armour itself been given a number of different textures, from leathery sculpting to both gloss and satin finishes. The sides of the torso even have the clasps sculpted onto them underneath each shoulder! The head sculpt is perfectly proportioned, with vibrant compound eyes and (re)movable antennae which is ideal for avoiding any unnecessary breakages. Short of removing all of the visible joints entirely, it's hard to imagine an articulated Kamen Rider Black figure looking any better than this.

S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 11

S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 12S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 13S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 14

The 2013 release of Kamen Rider Black was certainly no slouch and could easily stand comfortably with some of the more recent Figuarts releases, but the level of detail on the Shinkocchou Seihou really goes to show just how much that still missed the mark when it came to suit accuracy. It's not just the proportions and finish we're talking about here - even the head shape and detailing weren't quite correct on the old version. The Vital Charger was also weirdly sunken into the body of the 2013 version, whereas here it's sticking out proudly like any good transformation belt should. Given some of the issues this figure has articulation and QC-wise there's certainly merit to holding onto the older version and passing on the Seihou if you missed out on a preorder, but when it comes to looks alone the two just don't even compare. The Shinkocchou Seihou range just get closer and closer to looking like miniature versions of the onscreen suits, and in that respect Kamen Rider Black manages to raise the bar yet again.

S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 15

S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 16S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 17S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 18S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 19

S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 20S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 21S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 22S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 23

S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 24S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 25S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 26

It's only when you get into the articulation and overall poseability of this figure do things get a little...complicated. Getting the basics out of the way first, as you'd expect from an S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou figure this thing is loaded with articulation. Altogether it includes;
- Ball jointed head, neck, torso, waist, wrists and hips
- Swivel hinge and butterfly elbows (PRESUMABLY - given that the joints themselves are completely covered I don't know this for a fact but they have largely the same movement as exposed Figuarts joints)
- Double hinged elbows and knees
- Bicep and thigh swivels
- Swivel hinge ankles
- Single hinge toe sections
For once the shoulder pads are actually fixed to the shoulders themselves, but there's enough of a gap between them and the torso to give the arms plenty of clearance for posing. That is if you even want to pose this figure with the arms raised, because it's only been a few weeks since release and the issues are already beginning to show. To add a bit of context to this review Bandai first teased seamless S.H. Figuarts bodies all the way back in 2016 at the annual Tamashii Nations event, but in typical Bandai fashion these were never heard of again following that. Fast forward to the announcement of Shinkocchou Seihou Black and its rubber parts, and you would naturally assume that Bandai had been tinkering with the idea in all that time. However in the little time there's been since release there have been numerous reports of the rubber shoulder sections beginning to tear when the arms are posed, which is the kind of stress they should be showing after years of being messed around with or kept in a specific pose. Ideally it shouldn't be happening at all, but all you need to go is google Hot Toys or Medicom wear and tear to see what can eventually happen. The bicep swivel on the figure is really satisfying and far more fluid than most Figuarts, but you then have to wonder if how much friction turning plastic on top of rubber is causing in the long run. The pictures in this review are fairly low-effort when it comes to posing because I just didn't want to risk damaging a 7700 yen figure that's already sold out everywhere. But on top of that fragility issue, the overall QC on this figure just isn't ideal in general. One Japanese reviewer had the elbow joint just break on them, which isn't surprising given how stiff they are. But while I acknowledge the fragility of the elbows, the much bigger problem for me was the left leg. The top half of the double jointed knee was completely jammed out of the box, and no amount of heat or shock oil application was making any difference - any attempt to bend it felt like it was going to snap the whole leg. Eventually I was able to gently pry it enough that I could get some sort of bend out of that top half, but it feels like there might be glue or paint just stuck up in there. Basically, that Rider Kick pose that's printed on the box itself? Pretty much impossible for my figure to do - there's no way the left leg is getting bent up the way it is there. 

S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black is a gorgeous looking toy, but it just isn't fun to pose. All Figuarts should be handled with kid gloves to some extent, but not like this. Certainly not with the risk of damaging your figure mere days after getting it. 

S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 27

S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 28S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 29S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 30S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 31

S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 32S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 33S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 34S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 35

S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 36S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 37S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 38

This version of Black doesn't really have much to offer in the way of accessories, but then that was pretty much to be expected since it was the case with the previous releases as well. Black's an entirely physical attack-based Rider and Shinkocchou Seihou doesn't really dabble in effect parts, so it mainly being alternate hands was always going to be the case. There are however also a pair of spare antennae included, just incase the pair attached to the figure get lost and/or broken. Bandai previously did the same thing with the Shinkocchou Seihou Rider 1 and Rider 2 releases, so it's nice to see that it'll probably be a running thing with any other Showa Rider releases we get in the future. But moving back to the hands there are an additional five pairs included (one more than the previous version), ranging from various signature pose hands to the usual knife-strike hands. Surprisingly no gripping hands included here, which pretty much confirms this release was never intended to work with the existing Battle Hopper or Road Sector bikes (the latter of which he can't fit into with the canopy attached anyway). Given that this is the phenomenally popular Kamen Rider Black we're talking about here it's hard not to believe there isn't at the very least a Shinkocchou Seihou Battle Hopper on the horizon. The selection of hands included here give Black a great variety of options for posing, assuming of course that you don't mind moving the arms and risking those shoulder joint coverings. Hand switching it also a treat on this release too, with no stiffness in the wrist joints or tight fits for the hands whatsoever. It's yet another example of just how perfect this release could have been if the overall QC and longevity had been thought about that little bit more.

S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 39

S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 40S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 41S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 42

S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 43S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 44S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 45S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 46

S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 47S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 48S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 49S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 50

S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black has quite possibly been the hardest review I've ever had to write in my 13 years of doing toy reviews. I genuinely believe this could have been the best Shinkocchou Seihou release ever - the level of detail on this figure is just jaw-dropping and far outclasses it's still-exceptional-to-this-day predecessor. But at the same time, how do you give a positive review to something that you're too scared pose properly? Somehow I was lucky to escape any damage to my figure doing this review, but with the way rubber/soft parts on toys tend to be it seems like that's going to be a problem one day no matter how careful you are with the figure. If certain Figuarts can have the colour drain from their plastic over time even when not in direct sunlight, then there doesn't seem much hope for rubbery parts. Sure you could just appreciate the figure in a fairly neutral pose (and the iconic Long Long Ago 20th Century walk pose from the end credits isn't far off that), but in that case a statue would work just as well. One can only hope that rubber shoulder coverings go the way of Shinkocchou Seihou Kabuto's hinged wrists and are never seen again, although the prevalence of soft parts on the forthcoming Ultraman Tiga (albeit not on the shoulders) may suggest otherwise. Shinkocchou Seihou Black is no doubt a gorgeous piece to add to any Kamen Rider collection, but it's one that comes with a lot of risks.

1 comment:

duagrentia said...

Ultraman Taiga? You mean Tiga?

The SS Black just arrived today and judging from these comments, I think I'll just keep the figure in the box.