Thursday, 15 July 2021

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider 2 (THE FIRST Ver.)

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Release Date: October 2010
RRP: 2750 yen

S.H. Figuarts have come a long way in 13 years, but even with the arrival of the Shinkocchou Seihou range you can’t necessarily rely on every character to get a new figure that does the suits justice. Cinematic remakes Kamen Rider: The First and Kamen Rider: The Next are two such examples – the mould of which the majority of characters/variants share was one of the first Figuarts releases back in 2008. When Kamen Rider 1 (THE FIRST Ver.) hit shelves he was quickly followed by S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider 2 (THE FIRST Ver.), rather amazingly covering the reimagined Double Riders in both their movie appearances a whole year before their original television counterparts were released.

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Jumping back in time means jumping back to a more standardised age of S.H. Figuarts packaging, where the majority of figures came in basic square silver foil boxes with black lettering. As a pre-Kamen Rider W instalment in the franchise the figure is denoted as "Masked Rider 2 (THE FIRST Ver.)" rather than the more familiar (not to mention trademarked) "Kamen Rider" we've seen since. One touch I particularly miss from these older boxes is the image of the actual suit in the bottom corner, which these days (at least on Rider Figuarts anyway) tends to be another toy image instead). Both spines of the box simply have the name of the release printed on them with no additional images, and then on the back you’ll find the usual array of promotional images. Open the box up and you’ll find the figure (and accessories) neatly laid out on a moulded plastic clamshell tray. Note that neither muffler is attached to the figure in-package, but it’s really easy to pop off the head and place one around its neck.

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Much like Kamen Rider 1's blue costume in the film, The First's Kamen Rider 2 similar takes on a colour scheme inspired by the character's initial appearance in the original 1971 series. The blue armour of Rider 1's suit are swapped out for a bright metallic green, with the boots and gloves also done in green (as opposed to the more familiar red they would later become). The helmet has a white stripe running through the middle and a silver mouth plate, whilst the compound eyes and straps of the Typhoon belt are now a bright red. The bright metallic colouring of the suit might evoke the later "Shin" suit more than the darker colours of the original, but in terms of placement there's absolutely no doubt where the inspiration lies. Mould-wise the figure is nearly identical to Kamen Rider 1, which itself a reuse of The Next body with a new head sculpt. However Rider 2 has a couple of extra details other than colour that separate him from Hongo. First off the shoulders are missing the studded shoulder pads, and the familiar stripes have been added to both the arms and the legs. One of my favourite details though is the gloves and jacket sporting the sinister Shocker organisaemblem. This little logo is printed in black on the gloves, and gold on the back of the jacket. It's a nice little detail that I was worried the toy might miss out given its age, but it looks great and helps separate the two Riders all the more. There's no denying the figure is dated – you only need to take a look at the thinner body and more simplified moulded to see that, but it's a reasonably good representation of that fantastic suit. The metallic colours are stunning, and even back then Bandai were covering these figures with moulded fabric folds to give the designs depth. It’s a shame all the printed copyright info is so pronounced on the back, but at least that's something the line eventually grew out of. Of course you also can't forget those diecast feet - a staple of the older releases which was slowly phased out over the years that gave these figures some real weight.

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The colours might be different but that base body is exactly the same as Kamen Rider 1's, so as far as articulation goes you're looking at exactly the same thing here. The execution might have evolved considerably over time, but even dating far as back as the very first S.H. Figuarts mould the general design and layout of body really hasn't changed that much at all. Altogether Rider 2 features;
- Peg hinge head
- Ball jointed lower neck, torso, waist and wrists
- Swivel hinge shoulders and ankles
- Butterfly joint shoulders
- Drop-down ball jointed hips
- Double hinged elbows and knees
- Bicep and boot swivels 
There really are a lot of things to like here even with how dated this release is now. But then again, even if things like the peg hinge head feel antiquated that's still being used on Ultraman Figuarts to this day. It's a very flexible figure all things considered, but age catches up to you and those drop-down hips really are something you have to watch out for. It's very common for these things to just deteriorate and break without any provocation, to the point where the site I bought the figure from had a warning on the listing despite it being unopened. A good Rider Kick might be the staple of any good Kamen Rider figure, but I can see me sticking to punches for the most part with this release. The only other real flaw are the ankles, which don't quite have the tilt to keep the figure completely flat-footed in certain action poses (those diecast feet certainly help with weight distribution though). There are other little things you could nitpick about (like how a lot of the shoulder range makes the arms look dislocated), but structurally the rest of the body is pretty solid.

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Rider 2’s accessory count is again almost completely identical to Rider, but with one slight change. Altogether he comes with two muffler pieces (static and windswept) and three additional pairs of hands to compliment those closed fists. These extra pairs consist of two different sets of posed/grappling hands and the standard knifestrike for all your henshin pose needs. The (not so) big change to these accessories is that windswept muffler, which is a different mould to the other included with Rider 1. However as both Riders have the same colour muffler, if you have both releases you can share them between both figures. As previously mentioned, the muffler pieces are extremely easy to switch over thanks to the figure using a peg for the head as opposed to a ball joint. It might not seem like much, but given these Riders were more just standard fighters the absence of anything particularly flashy is to be expected.

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I was surprised just how much fun I had with Kamen Rider 1 despite its age, and S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider 2 (THE FIRST Ver.) proved to be equally as much fun the second time round. Yes the sculpt will never measure up to anything the line has done in recent years and I live in fear that those hip joints will crumble on me too, but for the being I really can't argue with the price I was able to pick it up for (around 2000 yen). Kamen Rider: The First might not be a great film (and The Next is even worse) but those movies had some incredible suit redesigns that deserve far more love than they get. Since that love isn't likely to come from the Shinkocchou Seihou line any time soon, this will have to do.

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