Tuesday 24 August 2021

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts SC-1 Sevenger

S.H. Figuarts SC-1 Sevenger 01

Release Date: June 2021
RRP: 7700 yen

Ultraman Z was a great series that brought us a brilliant new hero with plenty of cool alternate forms, as well as bringing back fan favourites like Zero, Geed and even Ace. But despite the amount of cool Ultraman action going on in the series arguably the real hero of Z wasn't a giant from the Land of Light, but rather a rather determined robot that was always doing its best. Right from the very first episode Sevenger melted the hearts of Ultraman fans across the world, and even though he was eventually phased out in favour of other robots its grand return in the finale was nothing short of glorious. Such was his popularity that S.H. Figuarts SC-1 Sevenger was pretty much inevitable, but what perhaps wasn't was this Tamashii web exclusive release completely selling out of preorders in a matter of days. And this was just one in many Ultraman Z web exclusives selling out, making the Ultraman Figuarts line more lucrative and desirable than ever.

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S.H. Figuarts SC-1 Sevenger comes boxed in typical packaging for the Ultraman range, though a much thicker box akin to the various alien/kaiju figures that we haven't really seen in the line (save for a Zetton repaint) for some time. The front of the box looks particularly good with its two shots of the Sevenger suit – one close up and another slightly behind complete with background. One side of the box is just plain with the character name and various logos, whilst the other features that cool spine-like profile image seen on the Ultraman releases. On the back of the box you'll find the usual array of promo images, showing off the figure in various poses along with its accessories. Open it up and you'll find Sevenger and all its accessories neatly laid out on a moulded plastic tray, with a couple of pieces even stored away underneath the figure itself.

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As Ultraman fans will know Sevenger first appeared in Ultraman Leo all the way back in 1974, but for its reappearance in Ultraman Z was given a much-needed modern makeover. The essence of the original capsule monster was kept perfectly intact, but more precise mechanical detailing was added to the suit to truly bring it into the 21st century. All that detailing has been faithfully recreated by Bandai Tamashii Nations for this S.H. Figuarts release, and it's great to see them diving back into other aspects of the Ultraman universe after mostly Ultramen themselves for so long. The figure is nice and solid with its thick cylindrical body and limbs, whilst the varying silvers and greys used on the body give it a nice variety of colour and depth. All of the paint apps have been perfectly applied, and other areas like the clear plastic chest piece and vibrant headlamp-like eyes immediately grab your attention. There's no wonder the character was so popular, Sevenger is the perfect blend of cute and powerful – combining classic and modern character design in the way Ultraman manages so perfectly.

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Sevenger comes with a number of alternate parts to recreate its various expressions and states of activation. Among these are three pairs of alternate eye parts – standard, closed and X-eyed. Replacing the eyes consists of poking out the long cylinder pieces from the back of the head (using a special tool provided), swapping the eyes to your desired pair and then slotting the cylinders back in from the front. It's a surprisingly elaborate process, but far smoother and easier that awkwardly trying to pull the eye pieces out of the whole head. Each cylinder has four grooves cut into them for the eyes to click into place, but the clever thing is that the standard eyes can lock in at two different notches, resulting in two different expressions when as the eyelids slant in different directions. One fierce and determined, the other more uncertain. Each set of eyes imbues the figure with the personality a Sevenger figure needs to have, and the fact Bandai managed to do it in such a hassle-free way really makes cycling through the various expressions fun. Another piece included is an alternate red battery gauge to fit onto the figure's back, signalling that the robot's three minutes of power are up. This piece is extremely small (and thus very easy to lose), but again Bandai have managed to do it in such a way that swapping it out with the blue (full) gauge is surprisingly easy. All you need to do it push the top of the piece up as though it were a switch, pull it out of the back and replace accordingly. Compare that with something like most Ultramen's colour timers, which are an absolute nightmare to remove without scratching the paint. Given that the gauge is on Sevenger's back most people wouldn't even see this even when displayed, but you've got to appreciate Bandai going the extra mile to include it – it just wouldn't be Sevenger without the promise of it inevitably running out of power.

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You only have to take one look at the figure to know that articulation is a pretty interesting one on this release. Of course Sevenger is fully articulated just like any other S.H. Figuarts figure, however true to the suit itself all of the limb's joints are covered in segmented plastic pieces to recreate the rubbery pipe-like connections on its arms and legs. This results in a body that's a little more limited than usual, but retains a screen accurate appearance. One could argue that Bandai could have used rubber goods to do this rather than plastic, but given how things have recently gone down with both Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black and Ultraman Tiga I'm glad that they didn't. Altogether Sevenger features; 
- Ball jointed head, upper torso, waist and wrists
- Swivel hinge shoulders and ankles 
- Butterfly joint shoulders 
- Drop down ball jointed hips 
- Hinged elbows, upper legs and knees 
As mentioned before, because it's been done with segmented pieces rather than a single flexible piece you do lose some bend in both the elbows and knees, but overall you can still get surprisingly good movement out of the figure – the addition of butterfly joints was a particularly nice surprise even though that's a standard part of Figuarts articulation. The torso, waist and hips (particularly with the way there's hinged sections just below the ball joints) are especially mobile, and combined with a ball jointed head Sevenger can turn in plenty of directions to make up for the more restricted arm movement. Those reasonably-sized feet are also great for ensure it stays balanced even when trying for something more elaborate with that big chunky body.

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In addition to the replacement eye and back parts discussed earlier Sevenger also comes packaged with three additional pairs of hands, the alternate drill hand attachment seen in the final episode of the series, alternate "Iron Fist Rocket" punch parts (both a loose forearm and replacement stump piece for the body) and clear stand parts to display the rocket punch mid-air. The hands are a nice range of open pairs to give Sevenger a little more posing variety than just the closed fists he's packaged with. Moving onto the weapons themselves, both alternate arm pieces connect in different ways – the drill attachment slots completely over the forearm and attaches to the wrist joint instead of a hand, whilst the rocket punch requires completely removing the forearm from the elbow joint. Be careful when removing the arm as all the pipe-like pieces surrounding the arm can easily fall off when there's nothing to hold them in place, which admittedly isn't a huge issue but can be a little fiddly to put back afterwards. The drill piece is nicely detailed and looks great attached, really giving Sevenger some ferocity (in its own stumpy little way) when combined with its angry eyes. The same goes for the rocket punch pieces, especially with the little bits of added moulded detail the ends have been given to make them look more seamless. The clear plastic stand piece included does the job well enough, but if you've got a Tamashii Stage handy that's a much better display option as the launched arm slots onto it perfectly. While a little missile mouth grill effect part piece would have been cool as well, this is a really great array of accessories for Sevenger. Between arm attachments and all the little expression/activation pieces they gave it, the release not only covers all the main bases but in doing so has considerably more accessories than most Ultraman Figuarts tend to. The only thing to hope for now is that Bandai throw in a pair of item-holding hands along with Delta Rise Claw so that Sevenger can wield Beliarok as well. That would be just perfect.

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S.H. Figuarts SC-1 Sevenger was one of the most hotly anticipated releases from Ultraman Z, and it's extremely pleasing to see that Bandai Tamashii Nations nailed it. This is one of the best Ultraman releases from the line in a while, capturing both the robot's undeniable charm with its fantastic sculpt and throwing in a whole load of accessories to make things even more exciting. With a similarly-scaled (and more affordable) model kit version also on the market you might wonder what Figuarts could bring to the table to make their version worth the extra money, and the answer is that higher-end S.H. Figuarts quality that the line always promises but doesn't always necessarily manage to deliver. Given how fast this sold out on the Tamashii web store it goes without saying that this is an extremely hot ticket item, so if you see one for sale be sure to grab it while you can.

1 comment:

Hibiki OS said...

Great review! I wish I picked this up instead of the Lights & Sounds Sevenger, which was up for pre-order before we had any indication we'd get a Sevenger SHF.