Wednesday 9 November 2022

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Ultraman

S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Ultraman 01

Release Date: July 2022
RRP: 7700 yen

The 50th anniversary of Ultraman was a pretty significant time as far as toys were concerned, as Bandai Tamashii Nations finally said goodbye to the old Ultra-Act line and integrated the franchise into S.H. Figuarts. To commemorate the occasion, Bandai released a lavish 50th anniversary set which included a number of unique accessories as well as an exclusive Option-Act Building Set. Five years and multiple variants and re-releases later, the franchise is celebrating his 55th anniversary and it's time for Ultraman to level up once again. This time, the original giant of light joins Bandai's premium Figuarts range with the release of S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Ultraman – the second Ultra to have this honour after Ultraman Tiga. But with Tiga turning out a somewhat troubled release, would this Ultraman show off the same high quality the Kamen Rider releases have been enjoying for years?

S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Ultraman Box 01

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S.H. Figuarts -Shinkoccou Seihou- Ultraman come packaged in the same two-piece box seen across this range, however much like Tiga it features a series-unique colour combination of a black top piece and foil silver bottom half. The lid features a big profile image of the figure adorning it, with "Ultraman" written in silver foil lettering across each side. The bottom/underside of the box then features further images of the figure in a variety of poses, showing off its improved articulation and range of accessories. Open it up and the contents are spread across two moulded plastic trays – a deeper tray housing the figure itself and then a shallower one underneath containing all of the accessories.

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The figure is a brand new sculpt built from the ground up using the Shinkocchou Seihou "bone-carving" method, giving it more realistic and human-like proportions. The sculpt features a number of different joint cuts which detract from the one-piece look of the actual suit, but in terms of this being a dynamic action figure don't really detract from the overall look. One of the biggest questions upon the announcement of this figure was whether it would be using soft/rubbery pieces like Tiga did, and the short answer is yes it does – the torso, waist and crotch sections are all made from rubbery plastic that has been placed on top of a plastic skeleton. However this is only really noticeable when you press down on any of these sections, and in fact the upper torso section is still relatively hard in comparison to Tiga's. Of course time will tell how well these parts hold up over time, but as it stands currently Ultraman doesn't seem to have any of the QC issues that plagued Tiga. No reports of paint smudging or bleeding, no reports of the rubbery parts quickly degrading – it seems here they worked exactly as they were supposed to.

S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Ultraman 11

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Whereas the standard S.H. Figuarts Ultraman was based on a specific suit from the original series (namely the "Type C" suit), the Shinkocchou Seihou seems to take a more generic approach the hero with a high-quality look that matches modern versions of the suit as well. The Shinkocchou Seihou is both taller and bulkier, using a far more vibrant metallic silver as well as a slightly darker shade of red. The new sculpt portrays the idea of it being a suit far better, with creases visible on both the body and shoulders. With the head being slightly bigger thanks to the scale change the features feel much better defined, with the eyes also much larger and at a slightly different angle. Of course the most significant change of all is the articulation, which can be seen immediately when comparing the two.

S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Ultraman 15

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A Shinkocchou Seihou release usually means improved articulation, but it's far to say that this release features considerably more joints/movement than its predecessor. Altogether the figure features; 
- Ball jointed head, neck, torso, waist and wrists 
- Swivel hinge shoulders, hips and ankles 
- Butterfly joint shoulders 
- Double hinge/swivel elbows 
- Double hinge knees 
- Single hinge toe sections 
- Bicep and thigh swivels 
Significant improvements over the original release include the implementation of bicep hinges as well as better butterfly joints – both of which admittedly put more noticeable joint cuts in the figure but result in incredible movement. The shoulder cuts may look a little strange on first glance, but the ability to pull off the Specium Beam pose so seamlessly is an absolute dream. Ultraman also makes use of some of the more recent Shinkocchou Seihou engineering, particularly the double hinge/swivel elbows that have only been seen on a couple of Kamen Rider releases. Finally the lower half really benefits from the soft-goods crotch section, which makes crouching poses easier than ever.

S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Ultraman 27

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The accessories included aren't any we haven't seen previously with the S.H. Figuarts Ultraman releases, but in typical Shinkocchou Seihou style they've all been done better. Altogether this release includes 13 swappable hands (10 matching pairs and then three unique posed ones), alternate red colour timer, Specium Beam effect part and finally two UItra Slash effect parts – one fixed to a right hand and another loose one which can be attached to an (included) display stand. The display stand has two arm pieces of different heights, allowing you to pose Ultraman either standing or crouching to perform the slash. The inclusion of these Ultra Slash parts is arguably the most noteworthy thing here, with the original's having previously been bundled with Mefilas rather than Ultraman himself. This is a practice Bandai haven't stopped since either, as Shin Ultraman's are being bundled with the forthcoming Fake Ultraman release. But even with the more familiar accessories, there's a lot to like here. One of the biggest issues with the original Figuarts Ultraman was how difficult it was to swap the colour timer, however since the Seihou's sticks out much further that isn't an issue at all here. Once you get a good grip on the (still very small) piece, it should slide out of the torso easily. The hand selection includes the usual range of grappling and knife-strike hands, alongside Ultraman's signature Specium Beam and Ultra Slash poses. As per the rest of the Ultraman line the Specium Beam effect is fixed to a right hand, which gives the figure better balance and the ability to support the beam without the need for an additional stand. It's not quite the same shape as the one that came with the standard Ultraman, but it's similar enough in that they both convey the look of it on the show really well. As always Ultraman has so many abilities that it's practically impossible to include them all in one release, but the Shinkocchou Seihou has done an amazing job at covering all the basics.

S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Ultraman 43

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Ultraman Tiga might have been an unfortunate blip but S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Ultraman shows that the line certainly hasn't run out of steam yet – raising the bar once again as it puts the original S.H. Figuarts release to shame. Some might be somewhat sceptical of the use of soft parts given how Tiga turned out, but rest assured here they do nothing but benefit the figure – improving the sculpt and articulation without any of the previous QC issues. The 50th anniversary release had a plethora of great accessories to bolster the release, but here it’s the figure itself that's truly the wow factor (although the accessories here are pretty damn great too). Here's hoping we see a new Ultraseven of this quality in 2023.

1 comment:

Oar said...

i totally forgot a shinkocchou seihou ultraman was in the works. It doesn't feel that long ago since the special 50th anni one, wow...

It's pretty nice though, and as tragic as Tiga got it, at least ol Man-Niisan became the better for it... (Still funny to think that Tiga Power Type figuart is probably the best option for a Tiga figure now)