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Tomopop Review: Bandai's Chogokin Saber

4:00 PM on 05.06.2013 // Scarecroodle

Hey there, pretty armored lady

It's no secret that Saber has seen a lot of merchandise in recent years. Some would even consider her a serious contender for the title of most overproduced Eastern character. Despite that, the armored version of Saber has only seen a handful of releases in a (non-SD) articulated format. Bandai's Chogokin Saber may not be the first such figure, but it seems to hold its own against previous releases.

More details in the full review after the jump.

Figure Name: Chogokin Saber
Figure Maker: Bandai
Retail Price: ¥7500
Available at: HobbyLink Japan

Chogokin Saber comes in an overly large box designed to accommodate her sizable display base and energy effect accessory. The packaging is stark white for the most part with gold embossed logos and character images for decorations. The size makes it somewhat impractical for storage, although it's nice enough packaging for a box that doesn't feature a window.

The inner packaging consists of three blisters, which hold Saber and her numerous pack-ins. The middle blister primarily held the first-run bonus, a plastic summoning circle that serves as an optional addition to the display base.

The accessory/bits count is as follows:

  • Three versions of the sword Excalibur (normal, invisible air, and an energy form)
  • Two scabbards (one designed to peg into an alternate hand)
  • Three alternate faces (gritted teeth, shouting, and a slight smile)
  • Five alternate sets of hands (not all of which are matching)
  • Two alternate hair and ribbon pieces
  • A large energy effect
  • A display base/stand (needs to be assembled)
  • (First run only bonus) A thin, plastic sheet designed to look like a magic/summoning circle

Bandai's Chogokin armored Saber is based on her Fate/Zero appearance which, as far as I can tell, is largely similar to her Fate/Stay Night armored incarnation (It may be worth mentioning that I have yet to watch Fate/Zero). Kaiyodo, Good Smile Company, and Enter Brain have all previously released figures of armored Saber. For comparison purposes, I've brought out GSC's figma armored Saber (right) which is often regarded as being the best among that group.

The most immediate observation will likely be the size difference, as the Chogokin version is substantially taller. There's also a marked difference in color, as the Chogokin sports a lighter blue that features more color variation as well as shinier armored bits likely due to the use of die-cast parts. The third most noticeable difference (other than the breastplates) is more visible from the side.

While both versions feature molded plastic dresses, the Chogokin version opts for a more rounded design. The Chogokin's skirt also differs from the figma version by being jointed to the waist (the figma's skirt pieces are mostly connected to the back portion) and features additional jointing.

These joints are generally strong enough to hold the pleats in place, providing clearance for running and other action poses. Please note that while the blue and white portions of the skirt are separate in the front, the other sections are fused together as one piece.

The armored portion of the skirt features the most articulation, as each segment has jointing. The armored portion and the other pleats are connected to the rest of the dress by clips, making re-attachment fairly easy and painless (unlike the nightmare of a piece sliding free on the figma version).

Despite featuring die-cast bits in the legs, the Chogokin Saber's natural balance is surprisingly poor. The skirt also makes it difficult to get an idea of how the joints should be moved, as they both conceal most of the legs and shift the balance on their own. Many poses will require use of the stand.

The base and stand are strong enough to support any number of poses, including leaping/flying displays. However, I wouldn't recommend leaving Saber in a flying pose for prolonged periods as she has a nasty habit of somehow coming off the stand or tipping the whole thing over.

For color, I've displayed her alongside Diamond Select Toys' Marvel Select Juggernaut. Saber may look small, but it's only because the MS Juggernaut stands over 9-inches tall.

The summoning circle can be attached to the top of the base. As far as first run bonuses go, the circle is really nothing special; it's just a thin, flimsy sheet of plastic.

The circle is really only good for displaying the character standing. Otherwise, it has a tendency of getting in the way. There's an additional transparent piece of plastic that can be attached (as shown) to raise the circle a little above the rest of the base. I imagine that this is just a first-run feature designed solely to complement the summoning circle.

As previously mentioned, the stand/base comes in several pieces. The two parts of the base can be attached together as shown or you could hook the stand into either piece. The latter option is useful for posing the character close to a tabletop or other surface.

You'll notice that the base includes a nameplate. Despite being just a sticker, the nameplace makes the display look quite a bit classier.

The energy effect is another really cool display piece. It's not large enough to fit around the display base, but it can be used to spice up any number from just an additional display piece (as shown) or for something like making a sword swing more dramatic.

Speaking of dramatic, I love the alternate ribbons. When used in conjunction with the alternate hair pieces, you can either simulate the effects of the wind (by posing both in the same direction) or a quick, spinning motion like a sword stroke (by having them posed "facing" opposite directions, like above).

Bandai's Chogokin Saber features the high amount of articulation that most fans expect from their higher-end lines. I should point out that Saber's shoulder pads can flip up for additional clearance (a feature missing in the figma version) and that she features a greater-than-average amount of foot pivot.

And yes, I'm fully aware that I have Saber holding two copies of Excalibur which is a physical impossibility but dual-wielding is cool.

Final thoughts? Bandai's Chogokin Saber is an excellent figure despite a minor issue or two. While I'm not necessarily sure that I prefer it to the figma counterpart, the Chogokin Saber is a great figure in its own right and is, at the moment, more readily available. The largest downside might simply be the price, as this is a more expensive figure.

[Big thanks to HobbyLink Japan for providing this review sample!]

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Scarecroodle, Associate Editor
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