Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Power Rangers: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (S.H.Figuarts)

To "toy-review" each of these Power Rangers individually will probably be a good thing yet will take a lot of my effort and be a waste of my time since all five of these figures have plenty of things in common- articulation-wise and sculpt-wise. So I decided to review them as a team because it is time-saving and they look so much better when placed all together. It's like staring at a rainbow with a mix of kung fu, and I'm glad S.H.Figuarts Bandai made this happen for people who are fans of these bunch of "teenagers with attitude" (as Zordon would like to call them) with the affinities to fossilized creatures. Red, Black, Blue, Yellow and Pink Ranger of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers are reunited only to have their similarities and differences checked. So... let's go go, Power Rangers toy review!

S.H.Figuarts Power Rangers

The only unique feature about the Rangers when we look at them individually are the colours (obviously), the helmets and the special weapons that they carry. The "male rangers" virtually have the same sculpt and body mold. All these guys have that lanky swimmer body-type physique, which I find- less accurate since Jason (the Red Ranger) is the tallest and more muscular of the three, but it's not really that a big deal. Pink and Yellow Ranger on the other hand are a bit shorter plus with the boobs protruding shyly over their chests. Now here's a fun fact!!- the reason why the Yellow Ranger doesn't wear a miniskirt like the Pink Ranger is because in the original Japanese Power Rangers (Super Sentai Rangers), Yellow is suppose to be a dude! They sort of brought that original outfit when it came to America albeit rather played by Thuy Trang. So that's an interesting fact there.

There's nothing really much to talk about each of their simplistic paint application. The way they are painted is all the same except that they have their traditional colours designated to each with "white" as the only common colour they all have. Their "Power Morphers" (or buckles) are all intricately painted to make it look more akin to the show even with its pebble-like size. Moreover and even more surprising, the "gold coins" for each of these Rangers are embossed with their own signature logos. Zooming your camera closer to Red Ranger's buckle, you will see his T-Rex showing slightly in the middle. A Mastodon embossment for the Black Ranger, a Triceratops embossment for the Blue Ranger and so forth can also be seen.

While it's probably needless to show you the way they are packaged, the point here is to get us oriented with the Japanese release versus the International release so that we would be able to recognize them. If you look at the packaging on the Japanese version of Red Ranger, there are no "MMPR" logo included in its artwork, instead you can see the name- "TyrannoRanger" which is originally the real codename of the Red Ranger!

Whether it's the Japanese version or the American version, the action figure you get is the same! The only reason why I purchased the Red Ranger from Japan are the bonus accessories they've added. All five Rangers got their own Thunder Slingers (complete assembly), and Blade Blasters (not fully transformed) that goes into each of the Rangers' own holsters. Also, all five of them have their own pair of "fisted hands" and gripping hands strictly for holding the Slingers and the Blasters. Now that we've discussed the accessories that they have in common, let's go right down to the "special ones".

Red Ranger: What's special about the Red Ranger (Japanese version) is that he comes with an interchangeable belt and neck that sings to the tune of America! Interesting bonus features for a Japanese release. While the Blade Blasters for these Rangers don't actually transform, Bandai included three (3) different transformations of the Blade Blaster and an incomplete assembly of the Thunder Slinger. Last but not the least, the Red Ranger got his personal main weapon- the Power Sword! By having him wield the sword, the Red Ranger needs to a have a special gripping hands for it. He also have a pair of "T-Rex claw attack" hands and another gripping hands (to which I don't know what it's for) for a total of five (5) interchangeable pairs of hands.

Pink Ranger: Her personal weapon is the Power Bow (with the arrow). Among the five Rangers, Kim is the only Power Ranger who has a weapon glued to her fingers, i.e. her arrow. She got a special gripping hand designed to hold her bow, and a pair of judo-chop hands with the a left hand that is partially curved and angled that all connect to a ball-hinged wrist.

Black Ranger: Now this is where it starts to get interesting. The Black Ranger comes with a Power Sword and the Blue Ranger's Power Lance that are designed to play a part in building the Power Blaster. The Black Ranger comes with none other than his infamous Power Axe that he can also use as a shotgun. He comes with two (2) pairs of special gripping hands (made only for the Black Ranger) for holding his weapon in "axe mode" and one for holding it in "shotgun mode". In addition, he got just the one gripping hand (without a pair) for some unknown purpose. In total, he got four (4) pairs of interchangeable hands plus one without a pair.

Blue Ranger: Like our Black Ranger, the Blue Ranger comes with accessories that looked almost unusual in his set. Again, these are parts that will help you build the Power Blaster and this time it's Kim's bow and Trini's daggers. The Blue Ranger's personal weapon is the three-pronged double Power Lance on "staff form", which (in my opinion) should have been a bit longer. He also comes with a pair of Power Lances in their "dagger forms". And of course, he got a set of grips designed to hold his weapon plus a pair of semi-judo chop hands.

Yellow Ranger: Lastly, we have Trini the Yellow Ranger that just got released couple of months ago; following the Blue Ranger. She holds the last piece for the Power Blaster which is Zack's axe. Once combined together, it will form their super-duper ultimate weapon just like what we always see in the show. The Yellow Ranger has her own weapon- the Power Daggers, which also comes with the hands designed to hold it nice and tight. Also like all other Rangers, she has a special pair of hands but hers is doing a sort of "cat-claw attack!"

The articulation on all these five Rangers is phenomenal. Like the Green Ranger figure, these guys can also hit any kind of pose pretty much. The neck is on a double-ball hinged that lets the head lean at any angle and rotate at the upper portion of the neck as well as the lower area near the chest. They have these loose shoulder pieces that allows their double-ball jointed shoulders move at a wider range. Their arms have double-jointed elbows and rotation at the wrists. Diaphragm and waist rotation are incorporated per usual. Double-ball jointed hips, double-jointed knees, hinged ankles with ankle rockers are present as well.

The Red, Black and Blue Ranger stands on par with each other at 6 inches tall while the two ladies are maybe 2 or 3 millimeter shorter than the guys. If you're a Power Ranger fan, these S.H.Figuarts action figures are the real deal! With its tremendous amount of accessories and articulation, and close likeness to the Rangers, they are must-get figures to people who went crazy for them. Although I'm not too much of a fan but they are part of my "growing-up memories" and it's a great thing to have the best Power Rangers action figures that are in today.

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


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


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.