An iconic hero gets a super-fun figure
Kamen Rider sure has a confused history in the west. Its first venture started in 1995 as an incredibly goofy Power Rangers spin off simply called Masked Rider. That series took Kamen Rider Black RX all sorts of places it probably had no business being and the toy line was extremely lacking even for the time. Then a second shot was made more recently in 2009 with Kamen Rider: Dragon Knight, a somewhat better adaptation of Kamen Rider Ryuki that seemed to suffer from flawed marketing. Sure, Bandai in America put a lot of figures out, but they were mostly bad concepts and gimmick heavy. Plus, they didn't get a lot of attention at department stores. Dragon Knight was so different from the original that Max Factory was able to licenses it apart from Bandai for their figma lineup in 2010.
Meanwhile over in Japan Bandai has been cranking out tons of great Kamen Rider figures over the years between the heavy detailed and gritty S.I.C. line to the show-faithful S.H. Figuarts line among other neat things. Thanks to Bluefin we've got a distribution channel on this side of the Pacific to keep us on top of the latest coming out of the east.
One of the newest figures to come out through Bluefin is the original Kamen Rider in his second (Sakurajima) costume from the S.H. Figuarts line. This is the character that the rest of the franchise is based on and many other shows borrow from and reference endlessly. Follow me after the jump as we explore one of the most iconic characters to come out of Japan.
Starting right off we'll take a look at the box. Notice that much of the text on the front is in English, and it actually names him as 'Masked Rider 1'. I wonder if they're aware that the name has a bit of a stigma associated with it thanks to the cheesy '90s version. The window takes up most of the box front making all of the contents visible. The black and white art is nice and doesn't overshadow the contents at all. The red background of the box is also very effective in showcasing the dominantly green figure.
Inside the box you get a pretty good mix of parts including eight additional hands for a total of 10, a sword, both a relaxed and dynamic version of his scarf end, and an effect part for some explosive punching action. What you don't get, which is not entirely unusual for S.H. Figuarts, is a stand for posting. Not really sure why Bandai does this when other figure lines, including some of their own, do include them. Because of that you'll be seeing me using a Max Factory di:stage for some of the posing further in.
Here he is, Kamen Rider 1! This is really a great looking figure of the character. Despite the pretty bland pallet, he has a lot of subtle details that work together to make the figure really pop.
Taking a look at the head you'll notice his mask has eyes made from a metallic, textured red base covered by a clear dome. This gives them some amazing depth compared to other Kamen Rider figures that have simply textured and colored the outside of the eye. They also colored the little green dot between his eyes, certainly an application other lines might have skipped.
The details of his antennae are pretty impressive as well. They're very tiny, but have some great details. You really only notice the seam on them up-close like this. Mine does have a little bit of un-removed flashing on one side, but it's not terribly noticeable. With all the neat details in the head I really wish they would have done something more interesting with the scarf. I mean, they did give it option parts, but it's still just a blob of bright red plastic. Could have used a paint wash or something to bring out some details in it.
Another great spot for detail is his belt. It's hard to tell in pictures because it's so well made, but the red part in the middle is actually behind a clear plastic window. It's another great detail that tells you this is a something designed for collectors, and not just another toy.
Let's shift gears and talk about articulation. Here's Kamen Rider 1 doing something most figma can't do. Sure they've got great articulation, but they struggle at basic poses like this thanks to some of their mold restrictions. There's nothing blocking his shoulders so you get full range of motion in them. There is one flaw in the arm articulation: No upper arm swivel. Sure there's a joint at the very top of the arm, but it's restricted by the part of the upper arm covering the joint causing some restrictions. Also, since the elbow is just a bending joint there's no rotation there either. So, while he can happily signal touchdowns all day, he can't rub his own belly.
The shoulders are also socketed into the body which allows the shoulders to slump or rock forward and back. Good stuff. The hips, on the other hand, are double jointed allowing you to pop them out of the hip socket a bit. Seems pointless at first, but then you wouldn't be able to do poses like this:
That's about as high of a kick as you're going to get out of any action figure and still look natural. It also helps that he has three joints in his body which allows him to bend forward more naturally than the two joints that other figures have.
Of course, if you can bend forward he can also...
...bend backwards! Check it out, pretty natural looking right? It's hard to do something like this with other figures because they don't have the combination of shoulder, body, and hip articulation. But did you notice something else going on with the feet?
Articulated toes are another place where this figures excels allowing for more dynamic posing. All in all this is about as articulated of a figure you're going to find, if only he had a better swivel to his arms. Still, his slim build and simple form with lots of solid joints makes for one of the most fun action figures I've handled.
Let's talk about accessories next.
Unlike figma that include the joint in the hand, these figures place the joint in the wrist, similar to Revoltech. It makes for a nicer looking hand, but it's a rather frightful process. See, that little stem between the two balls? It looks solid, but it's actually got a gap at the bottom so it's only as half as thick as it looks. Further more the hands are really snug on there so it takes quite a bit of pressure to get the hands on and off. Every time you take a hand off and on you wonder if this is going to be the time when the joint breaks and you're out a figure.
The sword is, well, a sword. Not a whole lot to say about it. It looks great, and has a lot of detail and an eagle head on the pommel. Otherwise, it's a sword.
The effect part is is great, though it only has one real use, a punching pose. It serves its purpose, but doesn't have as much use as an impact effect you could stick to his fist, or foot, would.
All in all it's a great figure that's a lot of fun to play around with. The articulation is great, the detail is great, and the accessories are just enough to get by. There's very little room for improvement aside from the scary wrist joint. A figure this articulated without a stand is a bit disappointing, but it's still a figure that I can highly recommend. I mean, who wouldn't want a figure that can pose like this?
Be sure to check the gallery, there's a lot more pics in there.
[ Special thanks to Bluefin for providing the review sample! ]
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