Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Super Mario & Playsets (S.H.Figuarts)

S.H.Figuarts Super Mario
Super Mario is too popular and iconic that it's almost a crime not to be able to recognize his face. He is the Muhammad Ali of the world of video games and probably a part of mankind's history. But to me, Mario is just a childhood memory holding a special place in my heart- the first ever video game character I got introduced to before everything went hi-def. My girlfriend, Elaine thinks he's cute (like a stuffed animal sense of cute) but like all other guys, I think it's the mechanics of the game that make him "super", and that what made me become a fan! Ironically, I don't play the games anymore but with this S.H.Figuarts release, I was just too excited to get one of my favourite characters to go into my collection along with these playsets.











On to the figure! Each of these sets are neatly packaged with standard S.H.Figuarts windowed boxes with the figure along with the pieces showcased behind its clear plastic. The boxes don't have any "Mario-themed" artwork from the game at all, but instead we see all these pictures of the action figure and all these accessories you're getting from these sets. The "Main Set" contains Super Mario while Playset A and B are technically just add-on accessories that would give you more display options. Most importantly, you gotta get the Main Set. Though A and B are not that essential but to me, it feels incomplete not having them both. And so here's what these boxes contain:

Main Set

Main Playset
Super Mario Figure
Mushroom x1
Question Mark Block x1
Coin x1
Coin Stand (short) x1

A

Playset A
Gumba x1
Question Mark Block x1
Regular Blocks x2
Coin x1
Coin Stand (short) x1
Coin Stand (long) x1
Attachable Peg Piece x1
Figure Stand Assembly x1

B

Playset B
Gumba x1
Coin x1
Turtle Shell x1 + Double-End Pegs x4
Pair of Hands x1
Coin Stand (short) x1
Coin Stand (long) x1
Warp Pipes x2

Like most playsets, the whole gimmick with the S.H.Figuarts Super Mario is to create some really good scenarios and/or environments, which are made possible by these eye-catching accessories. My idea of a good scenario is to use a combination of pieces from those three different sets (Main Set, Playset A & Playset B) I've mentioned, and that's the reason why it is recommendable to get all three of them because it's a lot more fun! Probably the most common scenario that most people like to make is by having Mario suspended right below a question mark block (or ?-Block) as if he's trying to jump-hit it. The only drawback I've found is that the height of this "invisible" pole holding the ?-Block (along with these regular blocks) is too short and enough to make this entire scenario a bit odd. Using these green warp pipes from Playset B, you can simply put Mario on top of either one of them as if he's rising up. These pipes have different heights and depths with the lids being interchangeable to give you some minor options.



Also, Playset B gives you the "turtle shell" which is the only accessory that Mario can wield. Of course, you can't have him hold it with his fisting hands. Mario has a pair of opened-palm hands and a pair of double-pegs that connect the turtle shell with the hands together. Getting Mario to stand or fly, he needs this figure stand (from Playset A) with an articulated neck that goes to his back via a special removable peg piece for Mario. The sculpt and paint job of each are nicely done and the amount of accessories just blows everything out of the water! ...but of course, it is a playset.


The paint job is simple and solid to which I'm actually impressed, with the red, white and blue all painted neatly without the bleeds. Also, I like how they added a bit of gloss to the brown boots. It's the figure that doesn't need colour shading or any paint wash. This is how I want a Super Mario to look like; nothing more, nothing less.


I got no major complain with the sculpt and body mold at all. Super Mario's body is suppose to be anatomically interesting with a fat head and small torso. But from what I've noticed over the years, his physique has been changed, remodelled and reincarnated by Nintendo. A slimmer and taller version of Mario could be the one from the Super Smash Bros. game to which by the looks of this one, doesn't match that description. I believe this is rather the classic version of Mario we've seen in a lot of Super Mario video games which to me, looks much better!


If you're a fan of the S.H.Figuarts' super-poseability feature, then (sad to say) the Super Mario may get your nerves in distress. The articulation on this figure fails to meet the standards, but in fairness, this is probably the most articulated Super Mario you can find out there but still at a mediocre level. Being the classic version of Mario, it is considerably acceptable for his big fat head to only create such a small amount of movements but it is just strictly limited to the point where he better off not get a neck-joint at all. Mario's shoulders are on ball-pegs that don't really make the difference. His arms can barely raise, he got single-joints at the elbows and just rotation at the wrists. Mario has no waist rotation- huge disappointment! Probably the only saving grace for Mario is the articulation at his legs. The legs can kick forward via a swivel, spreads at a limited amount, the knees bend close to 90 degrees and he got rotation at the ankles plus ankle pivots.


Now I know some people, especially fans of the video game bought this figure just to put on a Super Smash Brothers display collection, and so here it is with the Figma Link and the Figma Samus Aran. This figure stands about 4.25 inches tall and Super Mario does seem compatible with these figure but I would have wished he is leaner and scaled-down especially the head.


Despite all that articulation issues and some not too intelligently executed accessories, the Super Mario may be a great figure to have in your collection but just prepare yourself and be warned about its flaws, especially if you're an articulation junkie. As far as the rendition and likeness to the character, everything is perfect. You can't find a better Mario figures other than the one from S.H.Figuarts by Bandai Tamashii Nations.


Thursday, 28 August 2014

Piccolo: Dragon Ball (S.H.Figuarts)

S.H.Figuarts Piccolo
This next Dragon Ball Z character is not your typical little green dude on a flying saucer coming from outer space. Meet Piccolo, a kung fu-trained BA with a name of a flute-like instrument from another planet notable for his insect-like feature and eastern Indian dress code. He is one of my top favourite characters up there with Gokou and Vegeta in the Dragon Ball universe. I finally got me my own Piccolo figure from S.H.Figuarts and I am very pleased that they reissued such a prominent character for DBZ collectors like me.















Now to the figure! This is yet another amazing work by Bandai Tamashii Nations. Although I'd say the paint application is not that perfectly done unlike the Son Gokou figure. Notice that the shade of purple on Piccolo's torso is not the same as the ones on his legs. Apparently, it is not that obvious once this figure is on a display shelf, but on a still camera, the mistakes are visible. The rest of the paint job otherwise, is nicely done. I am fairly satisfied with the choice of colours even with its simplistic application.


The selling point with this figure to me is the sculpt and body mold. No large looking hands or oddly long or short extremities; he is anatomically proportionate. Also, I like how the wrinkles over his clothing are sculpted; forming like waves crumpling together around the edges and corners. Piccolo's insect-like arms are nicely done with all these grooves swerving and almost looking like fingerprints alongside with these yellow thingies sticking out from it. The one thing that surprised me though is that Piccolo suppose to have pointy white fingernails. The ones you've seen here are short with black nail polish, which is I believe not accurate. You might think that I'm nitpicking but this is not what Piccolo-fingers look like.


If the S.H.Figuarts Son Gokou got the kamehameha effects, Piccolo's unique accessory is his... folded arms. As simple as it is, Piccolo's crisscrossed/folded arms is one of his signature pose. Installing this accessory/interchangeable part is a pain in the neck, like you have to keep both shoulders aligned once you replace his regular arms into this one solid piece of plastic. Along with it, comes this "half-bib" that latches unto his folded arms, which completes this entire gimmick. Also, Piccolo has four (3) interchangeable hands: fisting hands, high five hands, grabbing hands, and one (1) two-finger pointing hand.


And furthermore, Piccolo has 3 interchangeable heads: the turbaned head, the regular head (without the turban but with the highly pliable soft plastic antennae), and the angry-faced head (with veins popping, no turban and so forth). Last but not his least accessory is his white cape that has that flowing effect and kind of windswept to the right to make that more dynamic pose.


The articulation on the S.H.Figuarts Piccolo is the same as with our Son Gokou figure. The neck is on a ball-joint that lets his head lean at different angles and rotate. Shoulders are on ball-joints that work like armpit pivots along with hinges that allows his arms to move laterally. He has rotation at the biceps, double-joints at the elbows, ball-jointed wrists, double ball-jointed waist, double ball-jointed hips, swivel at the upper-thighs, double-jointed knees, hinged ankles with an ankle pivot and toe articulation.


So we finally get to see Piccolo size-compared to Gokou. Without counting the hair, Piccolo stands just a little bit taller than him. Despite the issue with the paint and source material, this figure is still must-have especially if you're a Dragon Ball Z fan because of the overall looks and design. You probably couldn't ask for a better Piccolo figure other than this one.


Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Son Gokou: Dragon Ball (S.H.Figuarts)

S.H.Figuarts Son Gokou
It really took me awhile to decide whether to get these S.H.Figuarts Dragon Ball Z figures or not, mainly because I was still looking for a space in my room to accommodate this "family". Now I finally decided and got a lot of catching up to do. The first and coolest Saiyan-dude that I'd like to introduce from this family is Son Gokou, and since everyone knows this character then... why not start with him! He's notable for his colour and size changing hair, and his destructive kamehameha which can obliterate almost anything in its path. Gokou is the iconic superhero from Japan who always gets pitted against Superman that most DBZ fanatics believe he can bring the Man of Steel to his knees... and this is where I enter the debate and piss them off! Though inferior to Supes limitless strength, Gokou is an instant favourite of mine because of his characterization and his unique powers and abilities just can't be rivalled by any other superheroes.









S.H.Figuarts Kamen Riders, Sentai Rangers, Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z figures got one thing in common and that's the packaging. All these Japanese imports are the same with the entire figure showcased inside this windowed box. The only difference are the artwork and design in which in this box, you can see a screen-toned portrait of Gokou at the side of the box and a Dragon Ball Z label at the bottom.


Out from the package, you can see a clean cut accurate rendition of Gokou based off from the anime series. You probably all know that this is not the Super Saiyan version of Gokou with the golden yellow hair but the first Gokou we saw in DBZ Season 1. And this... is like coming straight from the cartoon show where it highlights all that bright solid colours on Gokou's classic suit. Also, there are a few noticeable colour shading that's shaping the muscles over his arms. Again, this is a show of how Bandai S.H.Figuarts is using simple paint applications effectively.

"...spirit bomb!!"

The figure is a spot-on representation of the character. All the wrinkles on his clothes, his hairstyle and the definition of his muscles are sculpted nicely and designed well to hide the joints a little bit. That being said, this action figure may give you that illusion of being a statue, and that's a good thing!

clear stand not included

This Gokou is loaded with accessories; just by looking through the windowed box alone would tell you that. However, I really wish this figure has that kamehameha blast/shooting effect and not just this one (like in this photo) where it made him like he's about to throw his signature move. Still it is a decent accessory that create for those moments, and it's fun to use while you try to get him in that pose.


Surprisingly to me, Gokou's interchangeable parts are the ones I had fun with the most. He's got a total of five (5) different facial expressions also creating those moments with the most common one (of course)- the stern look. He has the angry face with readable lips ("kamehameha"), two (smiling faces), and a face which looks as though he's in trouble (Gokou in trouble? How??). Also, he got five (5) different pairs of hands- a pair of fisting hands, finger-spreaded hands, flying/saluting hands, the "kung fu-move" hands, and lastly, his gripping hands that can hold his maturing kamehameha. Plus, there's a bonus- he got the one hand that do his teleportation move! The amount of accessories is just mind blowing!


Articulation-wise, the amount of joints is a lot and mirrors that to the amount of accessories this figure has. Gokou's neck is on a ball-joint which lets his head to rotate and pivot side to side. Sadly, his head can't look up very well. He's got another joint at the lower part of the neck that allows his head to move forward. His shoulders are on double ball-joints with an articulated shoulder pads for extensive movements. There are swivel at the biceps, double-jointed elbows and ball-jointed wrists on his arms.


Moving on to his torso, Gokou got this double ball-jointed waist made special for these S.H.Figuarts DBZ figures that allows him to lean at any angle and rotate 360 degrees. With his belt suspended around his waist, it doesn't hinder articulation. Just like the waist, his hips are on a double ball-joints. He has swivel at the upper thighs, double-jointed knees, rotation plus pivot around the ankles and hinged toes. The only articulation that I want this figure to have is a bootcut rotation which would have been useful.


To the tip of his hair, Son Gokou stands 6.3 inches tall and unfortunately not ideally in scale with some of the Marvel Legends figures. If there is one word I'd like to describe this Son Gokou action figure, that word would be AWESOME! Right now, this is the best Son Gokou figure out there that can't probably be beaten. If you're a fan of the anime and want to start your Dragon Ball collection, you may wanna include the S.H.Figuarts Son Gokou by Bandai for it's something you might wanna love.


Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Samus Aran: Metroid- Other M (Figma)

Figma Samus Aran
If you're one of those guys who haven't played Metroid back in the late 80's and still hasn't played it today because you just don't wanna get yourself a Nintendo Wii, then you're like me- clueless as to who this Megaman wannabe is while thinking that this character is a dude! Who would have thought this hero is a heroine when every part of her body is covered? If your eyes are not as keen as that of a hawk, then you wouldn't notice those lovely curvaceous waist and butt, and those long slender legs. Samus Aran is right up there on the list of top female video game characters along with Chun Li and Lara Croft! She's probably the answer to Capcom's Megaman, and Figma's finest video game figure it created.












Personally, I think this Samus figure needs interchangeable heads where I can switch between her ala-Master Chief type of helmet and an unmasked version showing her pretty face. Instead we got five (5) different interchangeable left hands- three (3) of which are somewhat unnecessary like the "thumbs-up" hand, the "high-five" hand, and the hand that's sort of holding a melee weapon or something but not sure where I could use it because she doesn't come with any wieldable weapon! It's interesting! The clenched fisted hand and the "relaxed" hand which can also be used to hold and stabilize her arm cannon are those I like best.


And speaking of that arm cannon, it comes with two (2) different interchangeable nozzles- the standard one which has a narrow diameter, and the more aggressive type which has a wider diameter. Also, with these comes two (2) different pink translucent blast effects that are interchangeable. Both blast effects can fit right into any of those two nozzles, but I always pair up the aggressive type with the double-shot blast effect because to me, it makes more sense. Moreover, Samus Aran comes with the infamous Morph Ball which (you might know) is what she's gonna turn into when she's dashing and charging like a crazy bowling ball. And like all Figma figures, this figure also has the ever useful Figma clear stand.



Besides rolling herself like an armadillo, Samus has the ability to fly at short distances thanks to these jet boosters behind her shoulders. No flame effects to go with it unfortunately, but the sculpt on this figure is pretty game accurate. Based off from the 2010 Metroid game, Figma didn't miss on the very important details like her big rounded shoulder guards, her pointy knees and ankles, and the overall contour and shape of her body armour as well as the line works that gave rise to her unique design.


When it comes to paint application, this figure can be almost compared to a brand new car! Other brands or toylines may give you that sloppy paint job with colours overlapping at each other but you can't see that with this Samus figure. Not only that I'm impressed by its consistency and tidiness but also with the addition of gloss and a few glitter dust coating the figure. It's done masterfully and I got no complains about it.


The articulation on this figure is more than enough to allow plenty of natural poses. Samus' head is on a ball-jointed neck that lets it rotate, lean side to side but sadly due to the nature and size of her chest armour, her head can't look up. Her shoulders are on double ball-joints that allows full extensions of the arms and articulated shoulder guards to keep them out of the way. Elbows and knees are on this "disc-type" of joint almost works as a double-joint! There is no waist rotation but a diaphragm joint/swivel filling the role. Samus' hips are on that ball and socket type of joint that gets her to kick at an ideal range. She has upper-thigh rotation and ankle rotation with pivots.


Without further ado, let's have a Super Smash Bros. scenario- Link vs. Samus Aran! Both are in good scale as they were made by the same company. Nothing could probably give you that excitement, especially if you're a huge fan, to see your favourite game characters made into plastic. For non-gamers and action figure collectors, you will still love the Figma Samus Aran not only because of its playability and design, but also it has that adult collector value in it. Honestly though for me, I love playing with it.


Thursday, 7 August 2014

Hawkeye (Marvel Select)

Marvel Select Hawkeye (Classic)
While we wait for Hasbro to get their own version of the Classic Hawkeye, which they have already confirmed to be released next year, I would like to do this review on the Marvel Select Classic Hawkeye that I had couple of years ago. This Hawkeye action figure is probably the one that Hasbro should compete with because, personally, I think this is how we should envision when we talk about a Classic Hawkeye and Diamond Select Toys brings that to the table. This Hawkeye surely hits the bullseye!















The figure delivers Hawkeye in his classic blue and purple outfit accurately. And when I say accurate, it means that as if he almost came out from the pages of the 1960's or 70's comic books. He just looked clean with no obvious paint defects. It's pretty interesting that while we see most Marvel Select have some good eye-catching paint jobs, the Select Hawkeye didn't get the same treatment but the simplicity still worked effectively. There's a little paint wash and shading going on but you can't really see it. The exposed fleshy parts are solidly painted with one colour that's consistent all through out.


From a distance, a Classic Hawkeye can be easily recognized by his three basic features- the ala-Wolverine type of cowl with the "H" at the front, his chain mail chest armour (reminiscent of Classic Cap's), and his loin cloth along with the utility belt. The attire and body are sculpted authentically to the source material. By the looks of his overall physique, there is no doubt that he got relocated to a gym. The musculature is not too lean nor too bulky; it fits the athletic-type superhero.

For accessories, we begin by looking at Hawkeye's weapons as these are his "superpowers" so to speak. Note that the quiver straps are glued across his torso and so it's irremovable; also making the quiver at his back locked in place, albeit rather you can use the quiver to store all his arrows into its cavity except for the arrow with the explosive tip and a Janet Van Dyne (a.k.a. Wasp) sitting on it. While this quiver may gave that illusion of a dozen purple arrows, Hawkeye only use and carry four (4) of them- a regular arrow, two (2) "headless" arrows (which I will get into later), and the "Wasplosive" arrow that just got mentioned.


Hawkeye's bow is the only accessory he has which I hate unfortunately. Everytime you pull its rubbery string, the bow bends in this awkwardly twisting sideway movement instead of naturally curving back. Furthermore, the string doesn't go far enough across his chest leaving you no choice but to have him neutrally hold it. But the base stand is what I am astonished about!- it gives me a preview of what the ending of the Avengers: Age of Ultron would look like. So this is where we use the headless arrows- put each of them into these bullet holes of a slain Ultron minion.


Marvel Select figures are considerably not very poseable. They are action figures with a blend of being statues and so as this Hawkeye. The head is on a ball-joint but interestingly it cannot do an up-down movement. The arms have ball-hinged shoulders, single-jointed elbows, and wrists that can only rotate without the flexion. He got waist swivel and ball-hinged hips that allow his legs to move forward and back without the loin cloth getting in the way (because it's a pliable plastic). The legs got swivel at the upper-thighs, single-jointed knees and hinged ankles. Sadly, no rotation at the boot area!


I'd say this is a must-have Marvel Select Hawkeye since this is the only Hawkeye we got from this toyline that renders that original comic book version of the character. I am a huge fan of this classic outfit and I like how Diamond Select Toys had done with his paint and sculpt. However, I wish they could have executed the functionality of his bow properly, and wish that they are not too stingy with the articulation. But overall, it is a great figure with a price that's affordable.


Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Nova (Marvel Legends)

The new Marvel Legends Nova figure from the Guardians of the Galaxy Wave is the most anticipated figure; making him the highest selling action figure compared to other figures in this set for a lot of obvious reasons. He is not a movie figure and could attract anyone who loves him in the comics. And in terms of paint job, sculpt and articulation, this new Nova beats the old Nova from the Nemesis Build-A-Figure Wave in all those areas. You may not be as familiar with his origins and lore as you're with guys like Iron Man and Spider-Man but hopefully with this yet another fantastic job by Hasbro, you'll draw some interest on Nova- a character that might also get a movie of his own (fingers crossed).

Marvel Legends GOTG Wave Nova

Released earlier this month, the figure also adopts the new Marvel Legends packaging which I probably don't need to get into the details. Through its window, you can see Groot's right arm which you'll definitely gonna need when you build your Groot Build-A-Figure.


With the added shoulder guards, arm bracers and shin guards, it's considerably excusable to assume it's a new body mold but... surprise surprise! The Black Panther (or Bucky Cap) body mold is back and utilized once and for all. For a superhero with an average physique, I think this body mold suits him perfectly. The only major changes Hasbro did with this mold are the sculpting of those "disc-like thingies" over his pecs, the line work around his torso and apparently the gears and armour fixed and/or glued on top of his arms, legs and shoulders.


The paint job is well done! It has that beautiful reflective finish like that of an Iron Man figure, which covers probably 80% of his blue and gold suit. You can see bits of waves and swirls inside the plastic but these are just nitpicks. Overall, the paint on this figure looked clean and flawless.


While this may be the Black Panther body mold, the articulation with Nova has some slight differences. Particularly the legs where it usually has that rotation at the boot cut but with Nova, it got none and it's all because of these shin guards. Each shoulder guards have that flapping-type of articulation that allows you to raise his arm without it getting in the way, but the only downside to it is that it makes the figure look anatomically ugly.


Nova's neck is on a ball-hinge that allows his head to rotate and aim vertically but doesn't give you that ideal 60-degree chin lift to do a perfect flying pose. Furthermore, his ab crunch doesn't fully extend to the back making it a lot worse. Both his arms got ball-hinged shoulders, double-jointed elbows and complete articulation on the wrists. He got waist swivel, T-jointed hips, rotation at the upper thighs, double-jointed knees and ankle rockers with the hinges.


Nova stands at 6.5 inches tall and is in-perfect scale with the rest of the Legends figures. It is a two-thumbs up highly recommendable figure with the advice of a "Get him now!" before he's going to be sold out. I think I would include him in my list of favourite Hasbro Marvel Legends figures.


Thursday, 24 July 2014

Wolverine - Unmasked (Marvel Legends)

Marvel Legends Unmasked Wolverine
Aww... isn't he cute? But seriously, this is probably the most handsome Unmasked Wolverine action figure I've seen that may envy the most fabulous teen heartthrob! If you want to know which unmasked version of Wolverine I like, check out the Apocalypse Series Wolverine by Toy Biz. But I gotta tell you, I have never been this lost from looking at the eyes of a Wolverine. I'm pretty positive that it's the eyes that made it less intimidating and more cartoony. He's part of the new X-Men Legends Wave or the Jubilee Build-A-Figure Wave as this set comes with body parts of Jubilee... except for Wolvie right here.














You've seen it once and here it is again with its new collector-friendly and reusable Marvel Legends style packaging. The only minor feature of this packaging (obviously) is that it got this Toys R Us exclusive sticker right on that window, and as you can see- he doesn't come with Jubilee's BAF part. Having said that, you are but without that obligation to buy or not to buy this figure.



When compared to the ML Astonishing Wolverine, clearly the Unmasked Wolverine's suit leans towards being orange than the typical yellow one like we most see in the comics. Over the years, we've seen his spandex change from yellow to orange to brown then back to yellow, and so to me the colour really can't matter as long as the likeness and rendition is there. Hasbro finally corrected their mistake with this one after they failed to give "X-logos" on that Wolverine I've just mentioned. He finally got the the logos; one marked on his chest and another over his belt. And they improved on the claws by using a more metallic look as opposed to being just a gray plastic like what we've seen from the previous.


Right up his neck and down to his toes is all ML Astonishing Wolverine body mold. There are no major changes but just the new face/head sculpt along with the this cowl hanging at his nape. Regardless of whether you despise the look on that face or not (I despise it apparently), the sculpting is well done... for a clean good-looking Wolverine. The cowl is actually a separate piece (not glued) and just hangs loosely but immovable.


The long, soft and floppy claws are over! Having it reincorporated, I believe these are now Hasbro's standard Wolvie claws that we'll see with all the variations of Wolverines they will possibly make in the future. Again, just like the X-Force Wolverine and the Astonishing Wolverine (or freelance Wolverine as I'd like to call him), these short and sturdy claws are individually removable- a really cool thing for display options.


The only downside to his articulation is that you can't lift his head up to a 60-degree angle obviously due to the fact that he got this Beast-like hair sticking out at the back of his head plus that cowl. With this body mold, it still retained the shoulder blade joints. He got ball-hinged at the diaphragm that gives you that side to side rotation as well as act like an ab crunch. And the rest are just standard joints for Marvel Legends action figures.


Upon seeing the flaws and/or imperfections of this figure, there are two important things I would Hasbro to do in the future when they make another Wolverine; one- just give us two removable-interchangeable heads (one masked & one unmasked), two- do not make "the unmasked one" look like a Teddy Bear! As far as recommendation goes, it is highly recommendable if you're a "completionist" and if you can't get enough of Wolverine.