Tuesday 12 September 2023

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Terraphaser

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Release Date: June 2023
RRP: 9900 yen

While modern Ultraman series tend not to see an extensive amount of releases in the S.H. Figuarts line, one thing that can be said about Bandai Tamashii Nations is that they do make sure the essentials are all covered. This doesn't just mean alternate forms either, because Ultraman always needs at least one other character to partner with or face up against. And in the S.H. Figuarts Terraphaser, Ultraman Decker rather conveniently has both. The second Figuarts release from Ultraman Decker and its first Tamashii web exclusive, the Terraphaser is a giant robot created by the TPU to assist GUTS-Select in battle against both rampaging kaiju and the Sphere. However in reality it's true purpose was to be a super weapon created by Agams - an alien who had travelled back in time to enact his revenge against humanity for bringing their conflict against the Sphere to his planet. 

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As a larger than usual figure, the S.H. Figuarts Terraphaser naturally comes in larger than usual packaging. Not so large that it feels completely out of place with the rest of the line, but the kind of taller/thicker boxes we're previously seen in the Ultraman range for various kaiju figures. The design placement of the packaging is in-keeping with the usual "modern" Ultraman range, using the Terraphaser's main colours of black and blue. The front of the box features a nice big image of the Terraphaser suit alongside one of the figure itself, with further images of the latter on the back and side. Inside the figure and accessories are comfortably laid out on a moulded plastic tray.

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The Terraphaser is a completely new robot original to Ultraman Decker, however with Decker itself being a New Generation spin on Ultraman Dyna it has some obvious callbacks to the Deathfacer - a TPC weapon that similarly fell into alien hands when it became a servant of the Alien Monera. The main similarities between the two are the red light-up "face" on a blank screen and a left arm cannon. The Terraphaser sports a far more angular design to its predecessor though, as well as a clawed hand, fold-out chest cannon and striking black and electric blue colour scheme. The design has been beautifully recreated in S.H. Figuarts form, with plenty of blue paint apps running across that matte-black body to keep it interesting. What's really cool about the S.H. Figuarts version is that Tamashii Nations retained the chest cannon gimmick, with the two shoulder pad-like parts hinged so that they come down to the centre of the body to form the cannon. When up in their shoulder position, the inside parts of the cannon have some gorgeous blue and purple tampo detailing which further accentuates the overall design and colour scheme. Interestingly although it may look like pretty hefty robot, the figure itself is actually pretty lightweight - not so much to the point that it feels cheap, but certainly a lot lighter than you'd expect from just looking at it.

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With the robots more resembling the kaiju/alien Ultraman figures when it comes to construction, the Terraphaser's articulation is a little different to what you typically see on an S.H. Figuarts release. Rest assured the same high level of movement is there, but these figures are quite literally built differently. Altogether the Terraphaser features;
- Ball jointed torso, waist, shoulders, forearms, hips and ankles
- Swivel hinge shoulders
- Hinged elbows, right claw, knees and feet
- Bicep and thigh swivels
As you can see there's a much bigger emphasis on ball joints with figures like this, which allows for a similarly great range of motion whilst also making connection of the various parts a lot more straightforward. With bits needing to pop off to properly mess around with the accessories, them coming apart easily is always appreciated. While there are some limitations that come from it being a giant robot suit that wasn't necessarily intended to have a great range of movement, the Terraphaser is still surprisingly articulate thanks to its lightweight build. Certainly more than enough to get some good action poses out of it, whether it's throwing a massive beatdown to Ultraman Decker as his enemy or working alongside it as an ally.

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While the Terraphaser doesn't come with a whole lot of accessories (for itself), it certainly makes up for it in the size of some of those accessories. Clearly the King Joe STORAGE Custom's extending arm gimmick proved a big hit with the kids, because it's back again here on the Terraphaser. Only this time it's the right arm rather than the left, and it's more of a stretching effect rather than the fold-out arm King Joe had. Of course that information is irrelevant on the Figuarts version as the arm is an alternate part rather than a gimmick, swapping out at the bicep to provide an arm that's almost as long as the figure is tall! In fact it's so long that a stand piece has also been included to ensure that the figure can still balance when in use. The alternate arm also features an articulated claw so that the figure can still grab at things even from a distance. While it takes up a lot of space, it's nice that this feature was still included with the figure even if the gimmick itself was nixed. Also included is an alternate faceplate representing when the robot was under Agam's control, turning the generic triangle screen into a sinister-looking face. Replacing the faceplates requires removing the thin border piece around it, which can be a little fiddly to do by hand so I recommend a pair of tweezers to gently pry it off. That piece also holds the faceplate in place, so once it's been removed the plate should just fall straight out. It's a pretty basic accessory but undoubtedly the most essential one of all for the figure, allowing you to display the Terraphaser either as a Hanejiro-controlled ally or an Agams-controlled enemy.

Given that the folding chest cannon gimmick was retained for this release it might have been nice if a "TR Beam Cannon" effect part had been included as well, but presumably there was only room for one big accessory and the extending arm won out.

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Being a modern Ultraman figure it wouldn't be a "complete" release without something for Decker himself, as now we're moving into further releases from the series it's time to build up the arsenal of the base figure. Terraphaser kicks things off with the Ultra Dual Sword - Decker's Ultra Dimension Card-powered weapon that was passed on to him by Ultraman Trigger. An additional pair of weapon-holding hands is also included so that Decker can properly wield it. The sword itself is beautifully represented in Figuarts form, toyetic as it may seem in the show the lavish red and gold paint along with the detailed moulding really makes it an impressive little accessory. And even though S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Trigger Multi Type has the Circle Arms (providing you bought Trigger Dark that is), the sword looks just as impressive in his hands as it does Decker's. Personally I find swords are becoming a bit too commonplace in Ultraman these days, but it's nice to see these more character-unique accessories coming first over the fairly standard beam parts. Even if them coming with completely separate figures is still a little frustrating.

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If the last couple of years have taught us anything it's that robot allies are going to be a staple of the Ultraman franchise for the foreseeable future, and S.H. Figuarts Terraphaser continues to prove that this is by no means a bad thing when it comes to toys. While not having quite the same polish as Ultraman Z's STORAGE trio, the Terraphaser is nonetheless another great release - and arguably a lot more unique with it's completely original design and striking colour scheme. As well the sizeable figure you also get a nice number of accessories for both it and Decker, which certainly helps justify its slightly higher web exclusive price tag. The perfect partner piece to Ultraman Decker Flash Type, to the point where beyond Decker's alternate forms nothing else from the series is really needed as such (though I certainly wouldn't say no to an Ultraman Dinas figure). Here's hoping Ultraman Blazar's Earth Garon can continue this winning streak.

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