Monday 28 November 2022

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Carmeara

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Release Date: August 2022
RRP: 7150 yen

With the number of alien and kaiju figures it has produced over the years the Ultraman S.H. Figuarts range certainly isn't short of villain material, however it's also particularly exciting when a main villain turns up in the line. In Ultraman Trigger: New Generation Tiga the Giants of Darkness were an ancient race of beings that destroyed everything in their path, eventually arriving on Earth 30 million years ago in search of the Eternity Core. Sealed away after one of their own turned to the light, they awoke in the present day to seek revenge against their former comrade – Ultraman Trigger. The leader of the group was Carmeara, driven by her love for Trigger Dark and hatred toward Kengo Manaka for taking him away from her. S.H. Figuarts Carmeara joins the line as a Tamashii Web exclusive, and is notable for being the first female character to appear in the whole Ultraman S.H. Figuarts line.

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S.H. Figuarts Carmeara comes in the usual modern Ultraman style packaging - windowless to denote its Tamashii Web exclusive status and sporting a fitting gold colouring to compliment the black accents. The front of the box features a nice big image of the Carmeara suit alongside one of the figure itself, with another figure image featured on the side of the box to give it a cool bookend-style look. On the back there are further images showing Carmeara off in various poses (as well as the bundled beam effect for Ultraman Trigger Multi Type), and inside the figure and accessories are neatly laid out on a moulded plastic tray. 

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Much like how Trigger was designed as a new generation version of Ultraman Tiga, Carmeara is directly based on Camearra – the Giant of Darkness that appeared in Ultraman Tiga: The Final Odyssey. Both characters share very similar design traits, with silver and gold colour schemes that aren't too far removed from the Ultras themselves. To fully hammer home how similar they are, they also have their own Colour Timers. Being a more modern suit though Carmeara has a slightly more elaborate design than her predecessor, with additional black detailing across the suit as well as two ribbons which hang from her shoulders. The gold and silver colouring is particularly good on this release, giving the figure a real vibrance which enhances the sculpt. Elements like the flame-shaped translucent orange eyes, crystal-like Colour Timer and metallic purple lips might be small, but immediately draw your eye. The ribbons are made from a soft plastic that has some degree of flexibility, but aren't designed for specific posing. It's a shame since Bandai have been doing some really nice work with soft/wired pieces on Figuarts as of late, but as a standard release this is pretty much their usual way of doing things.

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The shared design traits with Ultraman also means that Carmeara has pretty much the same build in terms of articulation, altogether consisting of;
- Ball jointed head, neck, torso, waist and wrists
- Swivel hinge shoulders, hips and ankles
- Butterfly joint shoulders
- Double hinge elbows and knees
- Single hinge toe sections
- Thigh swivels
With some toy lines a smaller, feminine body shape can often lead to either restrictions in the articulation or elements being taken out altogether, but thankfully with Carmeara there isn't really much change at all. You've still got those fantastic double joints in the elbows and knees, as well as ball and swivel hinge joints spread across the body to provide a wide range of movement. That said, Carmeara certainly isn't without her flaws – though these definitely come down to how the suit design was tackled. Even with the hair pieces at the front made of soft plastic, the head doesn't have a whole lot of movement to it even if it's connected via a ball joint. But what's more noticeable on this release are the ribbon pieces on the arms, which despite being able to rotate do not have a whole lot of flexibility to them. Admittedly it's less about the joints they're connected to and more about the rigidity of the soft plastic used to make them, but it is a shame that they kind of just hang there in action poses rather than raise and flow as they would in reality. Even if they were connected via tiny ball joint to give them a little bit of lift independent from the arm it'd be something.

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Carmeara's main accessories include 11 alternate hands (ten matching pairs and an additional left hand) as well as her Carmeara Whip attack, which is in turn attached to its own additional right hand. Unlike the others though this hand is moulded in translucent blue plastic and connected to a small energy burst effect piece, which in turn has the whip extending out of it. The whip is a flexible wire covered in translucent blue plastic, and can be bent into any shape for your desired pose. The wire is reasonably sturdy and doesn't feel like it's suddenly going to snap if bent too much, giving Carmeara a lot of flexibility when it comes to getting great poses out of the weapon. Honestly despite the relatively simple execution of the piece it's a lot of fun, far more so than the generic beam effects or solid plastic weapons you tend to get with figures. The hand selection is also a lot of fun, giving the figure a wide range of attacking options as well as the means to do all her signature poses.

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And of course as is tradition with Ultraman Figuarts now (nearly) every figure from a series comes with an accessory for the titular Ultra, with Carmeara holding Trigger's Zeperion Beam for ransom. This is a wide, translucent white beam part very similar in shape to many others the line has put out, only with the added touch of lightning shapes rising out of it. One really nice touch is that there's also a crackle of lightning coming out just under the initial flash piece, which wraps around Trigger's wrist when connected to the figure. It's a really nice looking beam part and arguably "completes" the figure more so than the Circle Arms does, but it's still a shame that all these Trigger parts have to be put away with other figures. It's not so bad for someone like me who tends to collect most characters from a series, but not everyone is going to be that dedicated. While there was definitely room in Carmeara's box for something else, something as essential as the beam part should also be packaged with the Ultraman themself if you ask me. It's also worth noting that the beam part is only compatible with Ultraman Trigger and not Trigger Dark - not only because the attached hand is a different colour but also there's no way that lightning is going to wrap around Trigger Dark's thicker wrist.

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As the first female figure to join the Ultraman range (and it was LONG overdue), the announcement of S.H. Figuarts Carmeara was pretty exciting as well as a nice change of pace for the Ultraman Trigger selection. As the main villain you'd think her release was always secured, but in amongst the usual array of multiple Ultra forms and aliens/kaiju it's nice to see something a little more unique. While there are some minor nitpicks like how the ribbons have been handled, overall Tamashii Nations have done her proud - delivering a figure that's easily on par with most Ultras and sports her own unique (and cleverly done) weapon piece. While it seems unlikely that Hudram and Darrgon will get the same treatment, one out of three Giants of Darkness certainly isn't bad.

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