Wednesday 31 January 2024

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Absolute Diavolo

Release Date: November 2023
RRP: 9350 yen

Although the epic conclusion to the fight between The Kingdom and the Land of Light is still yet to be told, Tsuburaya Productions aren't going to let Ultraman fans forget about the story they're weaving in Ultra Galaxy Fight any time soon. The same can also be said for Bandai Tamashii Nations, who quickly followed up the release of S.H. Figuarts Absolute Tartarus with a second Absolutian to join the fight against the Ultras. S.H. Figuarts Absolute Diavolo is a Tamashii web exclusive release and key player in the Ultra Galaxy Fight story - having a historic rivalry with Ultraman Regulos and as well as battling Ultraman Trigger in a bid to obtain the Eternity Core.

S.H. Figuarts Absolute Diavolo comes in standard windowless Tamashii web exclusive packaging, using the same design template as the modern Ultraman releases and the same colours as Absolute Tartarus for uniformity. The front of the box features a nice big image of Absolute Diavolo as he appears in Ultra Galaxy Fight, with the logo underneath again specifically noting these releases as from The Destined Crossroad. In addition the usual book-end style image on the one side of the box you'll find stock imagery of the figure on the back, showing off the figure in a handful of poses as well as the highlighting the accessory included for Tartarus. Inside the figure and accessories are on a moulded plastic tray, and despite not having all that much in the way of accessories Bandai have included the instructions on a paper sheet - clearly they had plenty to say about how the articulation works. 

The second of the Absolutians to appear in Ultra Galaxy Fight (although he first debuted in Ultraman Trigger), Absolute Diavolo follows in the footsteps of Absolute Tartarus when it comes to design - featuring both armoured and muscle detailing on that shining golden body. Absolute Diavolo however is much bulkier than his associate, with a much more armoured design to convey his preference for sheer strength. His head is adorned with two curved horns reminiscent to that of the Minotaur. Another key difference is that Absolute Diavolo has a set of red markings around The Kingdom seal on his chest - these are that of the Cosmo Buffalo Style, which he obtained on Planet D60 after killing its former grandmaster Alude. As far as looks go its another winner from S.H. Figuarts, with that beautiful gold paint   really making the design stand out. Certain elements of his design also make up for some of the shortcomings present on Absolute Tartarus too - for example the eyes could still do with being a bit brighter, but because they're bigger they don't fade into the silver face quite as much. Even though it isn't a "larger" figure in the same way something like the Ultraman Suit Jack is, enough thought has gone into this release to make sure it scales well with Tartarus and the other Ultras AND looks imposing in its own right.

Absolute Diavolo shares a very similar articulation structure to his fellow Absolutian, with a body consisting of;
- Ball jointed head, neck, torso, waist and wrists
- Swivel hinge shoulders and ankles 
- Butterfly joint shoulders 
- "Drop down" ball jointed hips
- Double hinge elbows and knees
- Single hinge toe sections
- Bicep, forearm, thigh and lower leg swivels
Those large shoulder pads are also attached to the arms via ball joints on double hinged connector arms, giving them an extremely impressive range of motion that allows them to pull away from the shoulder joint entirely. It's a technique Bandai have used on Figuarts for years, but I don't think I've ever seen it executed as well as it is here. Thankfully unlike Absolute Tartarus, Absolute Diavolo doesn't have soft plastic coat tails to get in the way of his hip articulation either. He does have soft plastic pieces covering his crotch and rear, but they don't really get in the way AND serve a far more useful purpose. Presumably due to those large thighs Bandai have opted to go the drop down hip route on Diavolo, which makes sense but would leave that dreaded gap between the crotch and leg pieces. However those soft plastic pieces actually cover the gap, with the legs designed so that those large thighs can then tuck into the gap and under the crotch piece to allow for more wide-legged poses. The end result isn't perfect (and can lead to the black paint around the rim of the thigh rubbing off), but it's more than I expected. Truthfully Diavolo is a bit of perplexing release because there's just as much good here as there is bad. The elbow bend isn't great and the torso/waist joints can hardly move, but the shoulders and knees (as well as the fact there's that additional swivel directly under the knee) are fantastic. The ankle tilt isn't great either, which means you can't get the full effect from those huge feet when it comes to balancing.

Absolute Diavolo keeps it pretty simple when it comes to accessories, with the main bulk of them being five additional pairs of hands. Altogether this gives him closed fists, knife-strike hands, two pairs of open hands, pointing hands and a pair of specific two-finger pose hands in total. While like the situation with Absolute Tartarus it would have been nice if some effect parts were included with the release to represent his energy attacks, Diavolo only coming with hands makes sense given his basis as a martial artist and foil to Ultraman Regulos. And as far as choice goes, the selection they've got here is pretty good - not quite as imaginative as Regulos' selection, but enough to give Absolute Diavolo plenty of variation when it comes to brawling and/or martial arts poses. The frustrating thing is that, again like Absolute Tartarus, Bandai have opted to only include one pair of hand guards that need to be removed and shared among them. Having to repeatedly take these tiny pieces off and reattach them is frustrating enough, but it also doesn't help that Diavolo's don't fit very well on a lot of them. Simple pairs like the closed fists they slot in fine, but for some of the more unique offerings it takes some force just to get them to stay in place. While they then should theoretically stay in, mine still had a habit of pinging out just from moving the elbows or wrists slightly. Not ideal for such small pieces that are easy to lose.

Absolute Diavolo does come with one slightly more interesting accessory as well though, and it's...another hand. Only this one is actually for Absolute Tartarus, and it's an additional left hand holding Diavolo's Absolute Heart - the core of his being that allows him to revive a limited amount of times. It's a nice little extra, and given that Diavolo has been defeated by both Leo, Astra and Regulos as well as Trigger and Ribut it's an item that's certainly earned its place among his accessories. Is it the kind of thing you'd display? Possibly not if you own both Tartarus and Diavolo and were displaying them together, but it's nice that the option is there at least.

S.H. Figuarts Absolute Diavolo is a very slight step up from Absolute Tartarus when it comes to execution, but still overall seems to fall short of what the Ultraman range has constantly proven its capable of. Absolute Diavolo's added bulk makes for a far more satisfying figure, with the colours and sheer shelf presence of the design making up for its shortfalls when it comes to articulation. That said, the accessory count is pretty basic and even more so when the hand guard issue is taken into account. Again it's wonderful to get some humanoid Ultraman villains that aren't just Dark Ultras and given his appearances in Ultra Galaxy Fight, Ultraman Regulos and Ultraman Trigger Absolute Diavolo has more than earned his place in the line. That also means there are a lot of fantastic figures out there he'd look great beside, so maybe that's reason enough to add him to your collection.

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