Thursday 19 May 2022

Top 5: The Return of Super Sentai S.H. Figuarts

Top 5: The Return of Super Sentai S.H. Figuarts

This weekend marks the official release of S.H. Figuarts Zenkaizer, and as such a day many fans thought would never come – the grand return of the S.H. Figuarts Super Sentai range. After a string of releases between 2011 and 2015, Bandai's line of high-end collector figures from Toei's other massive ongoing tokusatsu franchise seemed to die a rather unceremonious death. Since then Bandai's candy toy division has breathed new life into collector-focused Sentai toys with the Super SHODO and Shokugan Modeling Project (formerly Super Mini-Pla) lines, and following the show's 45th anniversary Tamashii Nations have found the perfect time to bring the Figuarts range back to life. But what should it do this time to stop the line dying a painful death once more? In this month's top 5 feature I'm looking at five things Bandai should be considering if they want Super Sentai S.H. Figuarts to thrive once more!

5. Keep the momentum going 
S.H. Figuarts Don Momotaro

When Zenkaizer was first revealed, there was definitely the fear that this could simply be a one-off to celebrate Super Sentai's 45th anniversary. But thankfully it hasn't taken long for those fears to be put to rest, as Bandai have already announced that an S.H. Figuarts Don Momotaro from Avataro Sentai Donbrothers will be joining him later this year. And this is exactly what the line needs first and foremost – dedication. Even if we only end up getting the reds/leaders of the each team (although this isn't ideal – see further down the list), at least there would be both consistency and coverage for the franchise going forwards.

4. Work backwards as well as forwards 
Choujuu Sentai Liveman

Don Momotaro's reveal is a positive sign that Sentai Figuarts will continue with each new series, but there's plenty of entries from its 46-year history longing for representation as well. We can all sit there and pick which teams we'd like to see represented, but personally if Bandai are going backwards as well I’d like to see them focus on all the entries that didn't go on to become Power Rangers series though. Not that I'm saying Hasbro's Lightning Collection is any substitute for S.H. Figuarts (it certainly is cheaper though), but at least that way fans might get a wider spread from the franchise. There are plenty of pre-Zyuranger teams that would be amazing in figure form (Liveman immediately springs to mind), but all the newer shows that were skipped over (ToQger, Zyuohger, Lupinranger vs Patranger) as well as Kiramager would be in with a shot too.

3. We want villains! 

There's an ongoing belief that villain figures just don’t sell all that well in Japan, and when you look at something like the number of Kamen Rider villains Bandai have released over the years there may be some truth in that. But Kamen Rider has managed to get around this in recent years by making the majority of its key villains Kamen Riders themselves, so Super Sentai could easily do the same by focusing on the villains that are pseudo-rangers themselves. Rio, Mele, Dark Buster, StaCeasar…there are plenty of options that would go down well with fans.

2. Super Sentai is all about teamwork 
All Super Sentai

One of the biggest problems Super Sentai Figuarts faces that it's not just a case of releasing one figure – you really need the whole team to keep everyone happy. While admittedly Kamen Rider faces similar problems with the amount of Riders they cram into each series now, at the end of the day there's still a titular Rider so Bandai can often get away with dragging their heels releasing the others. If they don't release a Super Sentai team at a reasonable pace, people lose interest. Some would argue that full team packs are the way forward, but with the ever-rising cost of these things that doesn't seem feasible. Two-packs seem like a much safer bet, especially for ones where the only real sculpt difference between them is the helmet. For teams where they all have a unique suit (Zenkaiger being the prime example, but also something like Kyuranger) this might be

1. Finish what you start! 
S.H. Figuarts BoukengerS.H. Figuarts GorengerS.H. Figuarts Jetman

While ultimately Super Sentai Figuarts died because the things just weren't selling that well (and you can't convince me otherwise – I was there watching them all go on clearance back in the day), there's no denying that a big reason for those poor sales was that collectors simply didn't know what they were going to get. Tamashii Nations' habit of showcasing prototypes that never see the light of day is legendary, but Super Sentai's bad luck is particularly significant. Missing out on the likes of Rio, Mele and the SWAT Dekarangers is one thing, but half-finished teams is what really stings. Only two of Jetman, three of Boukenger and lonely Akaranger representing Gorenger. While the latter you could perhaps get away with, the other two are omissions that continue to frustrate collectors all these years later. Perhaps even worse is poor old Dairanger, who didn't even get prototypes made up for the rest of the team (I know the other three Jetman were just kit-bashes for Akibaranger but it doesn't make it any less painful). Even if Super Sentai Figuarts go away again after this, the least they can do is finish up all the teams they've started and leave things with a clean slate. It's much less painful that way. 

Are you looking forward to the return of Super Sentai S.H. Figuarts? What characters or teams would you like to see in the line? Let me know, as well as any ideas you may have for future top five pieces like this, in the comments below!


hama said...

I wonder why they haven't announce Gokai Red by now....

Anonymous said...

They also have to not be afraid to redo things. I think the inconsistency in the bodies also ruined the hype for the line back in the day. Each team seemed like another experiment to better articulation schemes at the cost of havign entire teams be skinny, too tall or boxy as heck when lined up for crossovers

Anonymous said...

Rio-sama and Mele pleaseeeeee