Monday 10 May 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger Change Heroes Twokaizer

Release Date: April 2021
RRP: 2200 yen

Super Sentai has it pretty rough these days when it comes to action figures of its heroes. Over in the West we may have numerous Power Rangers figure lines, but over in Japan it's clear that the mecha are the things that make the money - especially with the tragic demise of the Super Sentai S.H. Figuarts range. There have been varying gimmick ranges over the last decade or so, but never really anything consistent or seemingly at the same scale - it's only really with the introduction of Bandai's SHODO candy toy line is Super Sentai getting anything relatively consistent. However 45th anniversary series Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger is also bringing along its own gimmick line - "Change Heroes", derived from the fact that its four robotic members are able to switch between both humanoid and animal/vehicle modes. The line has also included a figure of Zenkaizer himself, and now its sixth release comes in the form of Change Heroes Twokaiser! The sixth ranger of the Zenakigers, Zox Goldtsuiker is a "World Pirate" that travels between parallel dimensions. His main form is heavily based on the Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, with additional forms based on both the Chouriki Sentai Ohranger and Samurai Sentai Shinkenger

Change Heroes Twokaizer comes in some beautiful blister-style packaging, which Japan pulls off far better than the US as it’s much easier to open without having to completely damage it. All you need to do is cut the tape around the flaps on the back and gently pull the plastic forward. If you ever need to store the figure again, the flaps will hold the blister to the card even without the tape. The backing card shows off a nice big image of that gorgeous Twokaizer suit, while the blister shows off the figure and the top halves of each additional mode the figure has. Meanwhile the insert card in front shows off the two modes in all their glory, as well as hiding away the rest of the accessories (each neatly stored in their own plastic bags). On the back you’ll find images of the figure in all three modes, but most of the card is taken up with the standard Bandai company information. When you open the blister up there isn’t actually an inner tray inside, so the figure will just comfortably slide out as it’s lifted. The backing card can also fold open, revealing instructions printed on the inside.

Twokaizer stands at approximately 4.5” tall, which puts it roughly in scale with some of Bandai of America’s older Power Ranger figures but nothing particularly recent from either Power Rangers or Super Sentai. As far as sculpting goes it’s a reasonably good-looking figure - excellent proportions and moulded detailing even if the joint cuts are pretty obvious across the whole body. There are however is a lot of paint apps completely missing from the suit. The most obvious one is probably the lack of silver detailing on the helmet (most notably around the visor), but there’s plenty more going down the body - no red collar, no black detailing on the shoulders, missing belt colours, half-painted boots and gloves etc. At the end of the day it’s a budget figure so you have to expect that sort of thing, but personally I think the silver trim around the visor would have made a huge difference to the overall look of the toy. There’s no denying that it has a very “pre-assembled model kit” feel to it, and I’m not just talking about that plastic gold colouring either - if you pop the torso off the joint you can even see the same kind of connector piece they use in all their model kits. On the plus side, that makes the figure extremely easy to disassemble and repaint more accurately should you so desire. Overall for collectors it’s the kind of figure that’ll scratch that Twokaizer itch, but at the same time leave you wishing there was something a bit more substantial available as well. 

Twokaizer comes packaged with the Geardalinger in both its gun and sword modes, which are entirely moulded in gold plastic but exceptionally detailed given the size and price point (again, perfect for repainting if you have the skill). The weapons peg comfortably into either of Twokaizer’s hands, allowing for plenty of gun-wielding action poses.

But while the joints might look a bit unsightly, you certainly can’t fault the figure’s poseabily. This is an extremely poseable little figure for its size and price point, featuring all of the following; 
- Hinged upper neck/head, elbows and knees 
- Two-way rotating shoulders 
- Lower neck, bicep, wrist, waist and thigh swivels 
- Ball jointed shoulder pads, hips and ankles 
With the figure being less preoccupied with aesthetics there isn’t a whole lot here that gets in the way of the articulation either - even the shoulder pads can lift up a reasonably impressive amount to not get into too much way of the arms. Though a few more ball joints on the upper end of the figure might have been nice Twokaizer certainly has them where it counts the most, the ankles especially being crucial in getting the balance right for action poses. Additionally in his standard Gokaiger mode there’s a small socket located at the back that’s just perfect for display stands, giving you even more options when it comes to display. This is definitely the area where this toy excels the most, as it’s just a whole lot of fun to mess around with and pose. It’s what many collectors would probably describe as a “desk toy” - one you’re just constantly picking up to fiddle around with rather than putting in a single pose and then displaying in a shelf or cabinet. It’s a kid’s toy through and through, and a really charming one at that.

Articulation is just a bonus feature though, as arguably the main draw of this figure is its ability to cycle between all three of the Super Sentai teams Twokaizer draws power from. The first set of additional parts this toy includes is for his Ohran Form, accessed through the powers of the Ohranger and his younger brother Ricky. In this form Twokaizer gains a new shoulder and skirt sections, the latter of which features all of the Ohranger visor shapes (annoyingly not in order of the number of sides, but technically in the order of how Ohranger Robo connects). The toy can change into this mode by removing the standard shoulder pad section and replacing them accordingly, as well as plugging the skirt piece into the back of the figure and wrapping it around the legs. Due to the scale and price point there are some inaccuracies with the suit here, such as the lack of star logo on both the helmet and chest. Both the skirt and shoulder pads are ball jointed so not to get in the way of the arms and legs and keep it nicely articulated, however the execution doesn't really work for the skirt piece here. Since the central piece is fixed to the left side of the skirt, it just looks kind of silly when the legs are spread apart and the skirt splits. Still, the armour pieces look really good with their metallic paint - arguably better than the figure itself when it comes to finish. 

Also included are the parts for Twokaizer's Shinken Form, his Shinkenger-powered form accessed with his brother Cutanner. This form sees Twokaizer adopt a red coat similar to that of Shinken Red's Hyper Mode, while Shinken Red's visor shape (the kanji for "Fire" appears on his chest and helmet). Although again the toy leaves out a number of paint apps on the form (such as the black trim and gold on any of the Shinkenger logos), overall the form has a much cleaner look to it than Ohran does. It helps that the coat tails simply drape either side with nothing required in the middle, but this form even has the fire kanji symbol to go over the Gokaiger one on the chest. Given that they managed to pull it off here, it makes it that little bit more disappointing that Ohran Form doesn't have the star in its place as well. Connecting the parts to change into this mode is largely the same as it was previously, only here the torso part of the coat splits in two and wraps around the figure's torso. The tails simply plug into the back the same way Ohran Form's skirt does. 

Change Heroes Twokaizer was never going to be a replacement for S.H. Figuarts or the like, but it is exactly what you’d expect it to be - a fun and very interactive toy that can be purchased for a very reasonable price. Gripes like the lack of detailing or minor inaccuracies can easily be overlooked with that in mind, but it is a shame that Super Sentai figures in general seem to trail behind Kamen Rider ones so much. For about 500 yen extra you can nab yourself a RKF figure for example, which on top of being bigger just has much better build quality in general. To see Super Sentai get something like that regularly would be the dream, but for now the Change Heroes and SODO lines seem like the best we’re going to get. Not bad by any means, but suit designs as beautiful as Zenkaiger’s deserve so much more as well.


Oar said...

This was a surprise. These kind of toys don't pop up as reviews very often here. Honestly the lack of any change to the head between forms is what kills it for me.

Alex said...

Yeah these figures aren't usually the kind of thing on my collecting radar but I just had to have some sort of Twokaizer. Totally agree about the heads - it's a shame because I think Bandai could've easily charged a little more to fix those issues and people would have still happily paid.