Saturday 24 June 2023

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Live Bat Genome/Jackal Genome

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Live 01

Release Date: February 2023
RRP: 8250 yen

With S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Evil having been quickly rushed out the door for the Kamen Rider Revice range, it's been a surprisingly long wait for what many would consider to the the series' "true" secondary Rider. But nearly a year after S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Revi and Kamen Rider Vice hit shelves, the Igarashi siblings are finally complete with the release of S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Live Bat Genome/Jackal Genome as a Tamashii web exclusive.

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S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Live comes in the usual windowless Tamashii web exclusive packaging, kitted out with the standard Kamen Rider Revice layout that we all should be used to by now. The front and back of the box use an off-white background, while the sides use cyan and yellow - altogether perfectly capturing the core colours of Live's suit. Alongside images of the figure in various poses the Bat Vistamp symbol appears both on the front of the box, and then again on the back as a background image. The box is also a little thicker than your average S.H. Figuarts packaging, and this is because inside the figure and accessories are spread across two plastic trays - with the thinner second one housing all the parts needed for its form-changing gimmick.

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One thing I hadn't really noticed until I posed Kamen Rider Live alongside my other Kamen Rider Revice Figuarts is just how different this suit feels in terms of aesthetics. While the others (particularly the other Igarashi siblings) have armour that feels more moulded in the shape of their body, Kamen Rider Live sports a much more "boxy" look with elaborately moulded armour parts. Not really a criticism - just more of an observation. Overall the figure is really nicely detailed, with all the various colours immediately catching your eye. Some might pop a little TOO much though, because something definitely feels a little off about the yellow used here. While I don't want to go as far as to call it inaccurate, it certainly feels more garish here than it did onscreen. Maybe the visuals of the show just muted it a little bit more? It doesn't spoil the figure by any stretch, but it certainly made me stop and think "maybe this colour doesn't work quite as well with the rest" in a way that the suit itself didn't. A potentially bigger problem with the figure is the choice of material used for the coat tails/skirt parts surrounding the legs. The Figuarts line seems well past the point of using hard plastic for bits like this now, but Live uses a really rubbery material that has "eventual disintegration" written all over it. And even if that isn't the case, it's the kind of material that picks up nicks and blemishes really easy - something that's especially obvious on bright white colouring. It isn't all bad though - the black/silver/metallic cyan undersuit looks incredible, and the way the visor flitters between opaque orange and translucent compound eyes is really well done too.

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Articulation on the Revice figures has been very impressive so far, which to be fair is also true of most recent-series Kamen Rider Figuarts for a few years now. Altogether Kamen Rider Live features;
- Ball jointed head, neck, torso, waist and wrists
- Swivel hinge shoulders and ankles
- "Drop down" ball jointed hips
- Double hinge elbows and knees
- Single hinge toe sections
- Bicep and thigh swivels
The shoulder pads also connect via hinged ball joints to give them a (very limited) range of movement when posing the arms. Despite my reservations about the rubbery skirt pieces one thing I will say is that this material doesn't get in the way of posing the legs at all, so Live can enjoy the full range of motion those hips have to offer. The hips however are a point of curiosity though, because while they technically aren't different in design to the other Revice figures there's definitely a much more obvious gap between the crotch piece and legs - something the older style drop-down hips on Figuarts frequently suffered from. Maybe it's just because them being so close to bright white parts makes it stand out more, but it's nearly impossible on my copy to have both legs sitting parallel to one another and close to the crotch piece. Upper body articulation is fantastic though, even with those boxy shoulder pads preventing the arms from being raised outward a full 90 degrees.

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Kamen Rider Live comes with a pretty extensive array of accessories, the first of which you might not even class as an "accessory" as such because it's part of the Two SiDriver. The Livegun component of the Driver can be removed and used as Daiji's signature handheld weapon, with Bandai also including an alternate barrel piece to give it better proportions when used in this form. The Bat Vistamp attached can be also be removed and switched with any other of the Vistamps released in the Revice Figuarts range. It isn't a terribly remarkable looking weapon, but it's nicely detailed to the usual S.H. Figuarts standard. Also included are four pairs of alternate hands, including neutral, posed and weapon-holding hands to compliment the default closed fists.

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Like Kamen Rider Evil, Live is unique among the Revice range (as well as among a select few S.H. Figuarts Riders to have this gimmick in general) in that he includes alternate armour parts to switch between two forms. As with Evil, his Ex-Aid inspired Jackal Genome form has been included alongside the default Bat Genome. Among the swappable parts are an alternate faceplate/visor, chest plate, shoulder pads, back plate and Vistamp. Switching the pieces over is incredibly easy, with each of them pegging on and off of the base body with ease. I personally found that the chest armour was a little difficult to peg on tightly and so sometimes had a habit of popping off when posing the figure, but I'll happily take that over pieces that fit on too tightly that you then feel like you're about to break when trying to remove them.

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True to the Rider that it's based on, Live's Jackal Genome form is garish to say the least. Throwing a metallic pink visor and lime green torso armour on top of the suit's already bold colouring certainly is a choice. While the design itself looks good and carries off the Ex-Aid aesthetically nicely without being too directly slavish to it, the colours are a lot to take in. Maybe it would be better if the various bits of yellow on the lower half of the suit also turned green, but that would require a whole lot more alternate parts. Functionally these alternate parts are great though. Much like the Bat Genome armour nothing really impacts on the articulation, with the wing-like extensions on the backs of the shoulder pads made from soft plastic to avoid breakage. The form isn't as bold or iconic as Bat Genome (the alternate Vistamp forms quickly being forgotten about in the series as it moved on to proper upgrades) but any Kamen Rider Figuarts that's able to incorporate a gimmick like this without severely impacting the look or core functions of the line is pretty commendable.

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Rounding off the accessories in true Kamen Rider S.H. Figuarts style are a couple of piece for use with other figures. First up is the Kong Vistamp to add to Revi's growing arsenal of stamps, which can be held by the figure, stored in the slots on either side of the belt or slotted into the Revice Driver itself. Like the other Vistamps in the line it's really nice detailed for a piece of its size - both the Kong symbol and the stamp on the underside are really clear, and the metallic paint is crisp and vibrant. Finally there's also an alternate broken faceplate piece for Kamen Rider Evil, featuring the smashed eyepiece he received during his fight with Kamen Rider Live in episode 26 of the series. Since I don't own Evil I can't show it off properly as part of the review, but I do like it when we get episode-specific accessories like this. If you happen to own both figures, it would definitely make for a neat display of the two of them fighting.

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Though it took a surprising amount of time to release, S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Live Bat Genome/Jackal Genome is a nice way to round off the Igarashi siblings in the Kamen Rider Revice range. While the figure has all the sculpt quality and articulation that's made these figures such a resounding success as well as the form-changing gimmick, there are a few quibbles that prevent it from being quite the triumph that Revi or Jeanne were. There's definitely something overly piercing about that yellow that doesn't look quite right, but more importantly I'm not convinced that those rubbery skirt pieces will stand the test of time. That said this is still a very good figure, and if like me you aren't content with having Evil as your Daiji representation in your Revice display (or what to go the extra mile and have them both), this is definitely one to add to the shelf.

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