Tuesday 7 November 2023

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Mefilas (Shin Ultraman)

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Release Date: June 2023
RRP: 8250 yen

2023 has been a fantastic year for Ultraman S.H. Figuarts releases, particularly in when it comes to last year's box office hit Shin Ultraman. Now that the film is out and there's no obligation to keep spoilers at bay, Bandai Tamashii Nations have hit the series hard and covering as much of the main cast as they can. Mefilas is the second alien threat to appear in the film, orchestrating all of the planet's kaiju-related events and attempting to take over by offering the world governments Beta Box technology. S.H. Figuarts Mefilas (Shin Ultraman) is the third Tamashii web exclusive figure from the film, and fifth released overall.

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S.H. Figuarts Mefilas (Shin Ultraman) comes in the usual windowless Tamashii web exclusive packaing, with the colour layout a simplified version of the alien's face. This is very similar to how the Ultraman boxes have been based on their body patterns, but the added blue and gold in the middle to match his "eyes" make it extra striking. Also note that the figure is simply labelled "Mefilas" rather than "Alien Mefilas" like the original series version, as it's implied that this is the character's name rather than the race in Shin Ultraman. Each side of the box features images of the figure in a variety of poses, with the back also highlighting the various accessories included in the set. Inside all those pieces are laid out on the usual moulded plastic tray, with the accessory instructions printed on the (considerably elongated) inside flaps.

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As with all the characters in Shin Ultraman, Mefilas has been given a new design that, while sleek and modern, does not stray too far away from the original version. For a start this Mefilas is far thinner, with a body shape and proportions more akin to Ultraman himself. His face has also had a massive overhaul, retaining the same basic shapes but now far more alien in appearance. Gone is the almost feline facial structure, with the eyes replaced by a sinister blue visor with gold trim underneath. It's different, but still very recognisable as Mefilas. Bandai have done a really good job on getting the weird angles and shapes of his body correct, and it's nice to finally fully appreciate the design in a way that the film itself doesn't necessarily let you. The legs have this great ridged texture to them while the body has this great classic tokusatsu suit feel, complete with a zipper-like pattern running down the middle. Anno and the design team knew exactly what they were doing with this film - Mefilas is everything you could could want from an update of the classic 1966 alien.

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The articulation on this figure is pretty similar to what one would expect from a modern S.H. Figuarts release, but due to some of the unorthodox elements of the design things do get a little odd in places. Altogether Mefilas features;
- Ball jointed face, upper torso, mid torso, waist and wrists
- Swivel hinge shoulders and ankles
- Double jointed elbows and knees
- "Drop-down" ball jointed hips
- Bicep and thigh swivels
Despite the abundance of ball joints added to the face and torso, it's important to note that one of these add a great deal of overall movement to the figure. It's enough to make the posing feel a little more natural, but certainly not enough to make the figure feel more "human" as such (especially when it comes to moving the face part). The use of such blatant drop-down hips is also a bit of surprise for an S.H. Figuarts release in 2023, particularly given the gap it leaves when you pull the leg down for the full range of articulation. But it's not so much the articulation itself that's the curiosity here, but rather the choices of the parts that surround these joints. For example rather than the usual ball jointed shoulder pads this figure has pop-on pads that clip onto the indents on the shoulder joint. Not a terrible design in theory, but it does mean they have an annoying habit of popping off when you're posing the arms. The ankles are also surrounded by a soft plastic piece that covers the joint itself, and on my copy the right piece inexplicably split just from me using the ankle joint as intended. It isn't a major breakage and honestly most people probably wouldn't even notice it was there if not for me pointing it out, but it is annoying when bits like that break despite posing the toy as it's supposed to be posed.

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Mefilas comes with a great selection of accessories that neatly cover off all of his main abilities in the film. Included here three additional pairs of hands, an additional right hand gripping the Beta Box Igniter and a Grip Beam effect part. The hand selection includes a pair of closed fists, open hands with splayed fingers and then finally a rather special pair that has the hands split outwards to really give him an appropriately alien look and feel. The Beta Box Igniter is beautifully detailed, complete with the spike at the bottom rendered in translucent red plastic. It isn't glued into the hand itself so looks like it could be removed with some force, but with it being gripped in-package I didn't attempt it. Finally there's the Grip Beam, a thin translucent yellow lighting attack not too dissimilar from the original's attack. Like most beam effects in the range, it is affixed to an alternate hand piece. Also in true Ultraman fashion it's a pretty long beam so definitely looks the part, but unfortunately Mefilas' thin wrists aren't the strongest so can struggle to hold it up horizontally for long periods of time.

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And of course it wouldn't be an Ultraman release without a little something for Ultraman himself, and once again we're getting into some nice scene specifics with this release. Also included is the Beta Box which Mefilas plans to hand over to over to the Japanese government, only for it to be stolen by Ultraman and the SSSP. Along with this is an additional right hand for Ultraman so that he's able to hold the accessory. While it may only be a small silver rectangle with minimal detailing, fans of the film will be able to recognise it straight away so it's great to get little pieces like this that relate to key scenes. Usually it's just effect parts, but the last couple of Shin Ultraman releases have covered those off pretty nicely.

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As one of the standout characters in the film S.H. Figuarts Meflias (Shin Ultraman) is one many fans are going to want for their collection, and for the most part Bandai have delivered a figure that lives up to the line's high standard. There are a few oddities here and there engineering-wise which are likely due to the overall design, but between the fantastic sculpt and great selection of accessories Mefilas definitely feels like one of the more comprehensive Ultraman releases we've had in a while. With Fake Ultraman (although a proper Zarab would be great too, hollow as he may be) and Zetton also available that's technically all the alien villains of Shin Ultraman covered now, but it would be great to get the kaiju as well to truly complete the film's line-up.

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