Monday 11 December 2023

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

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Release Date: September 2023
RRP: 16500 yen

Of all the changes made in Shin Ultraman, easily one of the most interesting ones was Zetton being a superweapon from the Planet of Light – summoned to Earth by Zōffy to eliminate humanity after their evolution is deemed a threat. While sharing the same visual cues as the original, this Zetton is wildly different in execution – a twisted convergence of shapes that utterly dwarves Ultraman. Looking at him you'd wonder how on Earth this thing could ever be a functional toy, but Bandai Tamashii Nations aren't ones to back down from a challenge. S.H. Figuarts Zetton (Shin Ultraman) is the final entry to their Shin Ultraman range in 2023, and it's definitely a case of saving the biggest to last. This Tamashii web exclusive is certainly not your average S.H. Figuarts release.

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If you weren't quite sure how big Bandai decided to go for S.H. Figuarts Zetton (Shin Ultraman) before seeing it first hand, then look no further than the packaging for this monstrosity – easily the largest Figuarts box in my collection and probably one of the largest overall. Despite its larger size however it's still done in the style of a typical windowless Tamashii web exclusive box – the layout matching the rest of the Shin Ultraman releases but done out in Zetton's signature orange and black colour scheme. Each side of the box sports an image of the figure (mostly from a different angle rather than a different pose given Zetton's limited poseability), while the back also gives a better look at the figure's transformation gimmick and the accessories included. Inside, the figure and accessories are neatly laid out across two moulded plastic trays. The instruction sheet for the figure is also considerably larger than your average Figuarts release, documenting where all the loose parts peg on as well as the transformation process.

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Upon the announcement of an S.H. Figuarts Shin Ultraman Zetton I wondered how Bandai were going to pull off a design that clearly looks like it was never intended to be a toy, and the answer is a resounding "not very well". Granted Zetton stands at a very impressive 340mm so is MUCH larger than you average Figuarts, but the execution of its eerie geometrical design leaves a lot to be desired. As you can probably guess the various parts (all of which are free-floating in the film itself) are held together by a tiny clear plastic frame, the parts of which are incredibly fragile. It only takes one little bit of pressure to have something snap off, and unfortunately there are some places where you can't even avoid applying pressure. To start with there are ten diamond pieces loose in the box that all need attaching to Zetton's body, most of them on frames that are smaller than the diamonds themselves. In many cases the sockets they're meant to go in are also smaller than the plugs themselves, hence the need to force them in without breaking something in the process. Despite what you might think from the size, it isn't very heavy at all – in fact it's extremely light, with the biggest parts being mostly hollow. I experienced a total of FOUR different breakages on Zetton whilst taking pictures for this review, by far the most I've ever experienced on a single figure. These included both cosmetic and structural damage, including; 
- The whole waist/leg section broke off almost immediately out of the box, being held together by two tiny clear plastic tabs (one of which snapped). Largely cosmetic as gluing it back together has made it far more secure. 
- One of the fin pieces on back snapped off whilst trying to attach the figure to the display stand. Admittedly this one was more my fault for holding it in the wrong place, as those fins are held on by the tiniest of tabs and even look incredibly fragile. Again largely cosmetic though – a bit of glue and it's hardly noticeable. 
- Whilst transforming the figure back to kaiju mode after photographing the cannon mode (more on that further below), one of the small plastic frames on the crotch that the diamond pieces attach to broke whilst trying to put them back on. A bit more noticeable than the previous two breakages but still repairable. 
- The transformation to cannon mode includes turning Zetton's legs backward 90 degrees at the hip joint. However the clear plastic joint on the left was so stiff that even the tiniest bit of pressure (no more than you'd usually use to move a figure joint) resulted in the leg strut crumbling in my hands. It has been messily glued back together (and most of the mess is covered by other parts), but the outward motion of the left leg is pretty much a no-go. Not sure how much it's affected the transformation, but it's safe to say I won't ever be attempting to transform this figure again.

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Articulation-wise Zetton's shoulders and hips are built from swivel hinge joints, while the arms and legs themselves are also attached via ball joints to give them their own range of movement. But ultimately the figure can't move very much at all, and certainly can't stand with the aid of its display stand. The rather sizeable stand is made up of a clear plastic baseplate and arm piece, to which the back piece of Zetton attaches (after being removed from the main figure) and then the main body slots back onto it. Truthfully this doesn't give Zetton a whole lot of support when attached to the stand, so you really have to make sure it's securely fixed to that back piece before letting so. If this thing takes a tumble, then almost certainly something is going to break off. Of course making sure it's securely fixed to the back piece also means applying a certain degree of pressure – another thing you have to be wary of because there's so many small parts around the torso area that could easily snap off.

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But moving away from my gripes about the figure itself for a moment, Ultraman S.H. Figuarts usually have great accessories and Zetton is certainly no exception. Also included here is a tiny Ultraman figuring that's in scale to Zetton itself, which can be attached to an articulated display arm which can in turn be added to the main display base. Sadly the Ultraman isn't fully painted (and is instead all silver), but is quite nicely detailed in his signature flight pose. It definitely adds a greater sense of scale to Zetton that you wouldn't get alongside the other Shin Ultraman Figuarts, and makes for a nice little extra to the overall display.

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The figure boasts a "transformation" gimmick of sorts to turn Zetton into its space-cannon form. Body-wise this mainly involves turning the arms to face forward and then lifting up/rotating the legs so that they sit in a similar position, but in addition to that all those little diamond pieces that needed to be attached to begin with need to be removed (along with some of the larger pre-attached pieces) and fixed to a separate clear plastic frame. The frame is then attached to the display stand via a separate port and the main body sits inside it, attached to the stand in the same manner as before. It's a rather fiddly process to get it all to clip together on the stand comfortably, and a point where the figure is at pretty big risk of having some of the more fragile parts snap off so definitely be careful. Considering this is there point where the majority of the breaks on my copy happened, part of me doesn't even want to recommend attempting it. What seems like a really straightforward transformation is hampered by how stiff the parts can be, and even the slightest bit of pressure in the wrong place can lead to one or more of the clear plastic parts crumpling in your hands.

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Among its accessories Zetton also includes an effect part to recreate its one-terakelvin (one trillion degree) fireball attack. This effect part can technically be plugged into Zetton in either mode, however it is mainly intended for the cannon form. Attaching the piece simply requires removing the two orange clear plastic breastplates and replacing them – the effect part being made up of one solid piece that plugs into both sides. It's a fairly standard S.H. Figuarts Ultraman effect part which feels rather small on the sizeable Zetton, but definitely makes display a little more dynamic.

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To round the review off with something positive though, like all of the previous Shin Ultraman releases this one also includes an extra accessory for Ultraman himself and this time it's a rather good one. Featured here is the giant Ultra Slash attack Ultraman launches at Zetton in the movie, which of course doesn’t do any damage to the titanic superweapon whatsoever but still looks extremely cool. The slash is a large milky plastic piece identical to previous Ultra Slash effect parts other than size, and comes with its own articulated display base. The cool thing is that Bandai have included two different adapter pieces so that it can be displayed either vertically or horizontally. Again its inclusion adds a nice bit of scale to Zetton, and could arguably make a showdown with Figuarts Ultraman look good even if the scaling isn't correct. Is it cool enough to let go of all the issues the main figure has? Absolutely not, but as far as additional Ultraman parts go it's definitely one of the more memorable ones.

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S.H. Figuarts Zetton (Shin Ultraman) was one of my most anticipated releases for the year, but not only can I say that this is easily the worst experience I've ever had with S.H. Figuarts – it’s also probably the worst toy/collectible experience I've had as well. Between the fragility of the parts held together by even more fragile clear plastic connectors and the amount of parts-swapping tiny parts that don't fit into their designated parts properly, nothing about reviewing this figure has been pleasant. The size of it might be nice, but if you're paying that much for a product that's advertised as being able to transform opening it up and then never touching it again hardly feels like a worthwhile purchase. If you're in the market for a Shin Zetton I'd recommend checking out Bandai's vinyl range instead – it might not be as big or detailed as this, but it'll cause you a whole lot less frustration.

(I can't deny that it photographs beautifully though, so there is that I guess.)

1 comment:

Manpig said...

My god, and for such an absurdly high price
What an absolute shame...thanks for the cautionary review, money saved at least...