Monday, May 3, 2010

S. H. Figuarts Dragon Ball Kai Piccolo Figure Review

S. H. Figuarts Dragon Ball Kai Piccolo Review

I suppose I'll give a quick preface to start off so everybody knows what I'm talking about.  First off:  Dragon Ball Kai.  For those who don't yet know what the series is, basically it's Dragon Ball Z with mostly all the filler (content that didn't appear in the original manga) cut out.  Basically this means no more 5 minute staring contests, no more 20 minute attack charge-ups and no more Garlic Jr. saga at all.
The series has been running in Japan for the last year or so and the S. H. Figuarts line of high-end action figures has been releasing toys for the series.  Piccolo was the first figure released, followed by Super Saiyan Goku.  In the coming months, normal and Super Saiyan 3 versions of Goku will be made available, a Super Saiyan Gohan with an interchangeable Super Saiyan 2 head is coming and a Vegeta, presumably Super Saiyan, will also be released (as I've discussed previously).

On to the review.  First, let's take a look at the box.
A nice display, and a well-designed box.  
The right side has a pointillism image of Piccolo that wraps around onto the front a bit.
The back shows a few different shots of the toy as well as several bits of info that I can't read.
(just a closer and slightly higher shot of the back)

I am not an MISB collector (that is, Mint Inside Sealed Box) so let's have a look at the important part now:  The toy itself.
Partially opened, we see that every piece has a spot designated for it which makes it easy to store those not in use if you simply want to display your figure.
The figure comes with three heads.  The first, which comes already connected to the body, is just a neutral expression.  The second has him scowling, looking to his right with veins bulging.  The third has his signature weighted turban.  Changing the heads can sometimes be annoying because the ball-joint they connect to is on a hinge that likes to flop backwards when you push down.  With enough attention, and really not too much, to how your positioning the head before you push it down it shouldn't be much of a problem.
Three pairs of hands as well as a fourth right hand for the Special Beam Cannon/Makankosappo position come with the toy.  Changing these works much the same as swapping the heads.  The wrist has a hinged-ball joint, though this one presents the hinge issue discussed above far less often.
As you can see, the pairs of hands include fists, open-palm with curled fingers and open-palm with straight fingers.
And last (ish) of the accessories:  The cape.  As shown in the image, there are two interchangeable fronts.  If you refer to the opening image and the image that shows all the accessories in the package, you'll see one of the pieces is Piccolo's arms folded.  The smaller cape front is shaped so that if you have the folded arms on, it looks like the rest of the front goes behind them.
Swapping the cape fronts takes some force but is manageable and not hard to do.  Attaching the folded arms, however, is my biggest issue with the figure.  The connection points on the shoulders just seem to be really stubborn and I have yet to actually get the folded arms firmly attached to both shoulders at the same time.
Despite small feet, the toy stands quite well (even while wearing the cape) with little fiddling to get the balance right.
Same pose, sans weighted clothing.  In terms of design, the figure does a very impressive job of blending great articulation (which I'll get to in a bit) and eye-pleasing aesthetics.  However, something that stuck out at me ever since first seeing pictures was the design of the legs.  In the anime, most of the characters wear baggy pants and they're always widest near the bottom.  On this toy, the pants are widest around the knee.  When the knee joints are fully bent, the calf settles in a bit of a groove on the rear of the thigh so I can understand why the widest part is where it is.  Still, it almost looks like the thigh and shin are the wrong way around.  This is far more noticeable on the Goku Figuarts.
Starting to play with articulation here.  Two joints at the elbow allow his arms to curl about as much as a real person can as opposed to the 90 degrees or complete lack of elbows more common in toys.  The pegs that connect the arms to the shoulders allow the arms to rotate inwards and outwards.
His 'sleeves' are actually separate from his torso and connected to his shoulders via ball and socket joints.  This really helps to keep his shirt accurate without hindering the articulation of the shoulders.  However, it can take some time to get these little pieces in a position that doesn't make it so apparent that they're not really part of the shirt.
The feet connect to the shins with ball joints which allow you to tilt and rotate them as you see fit.  The toes, or rather the points of his booties, are on hinges which allow you to tilt them as well.
Hidden by the sash is a joint that allows the chest area to tilt in any direction.  You can also pull the chest up ever so slightly to increase how much tilt you can have.
There are two joints at the knee which, just like the elbow, allow them to bend about as much as a real person could.  Contrary to how the (blurry) photo looks, the hidden joint is the same colour as the pants, it just happened to catch a bit of light.
You can also actually dislocate the thighs a bit to allow for a greater range of movement in the legs.

In the end, there's no much one can fault this figure for.  The articulation is wonderful, the sculpt is beautiful and the accessories are pretty much all you would ever need to represent the character.
If you're a Dragon Ball fan and a toy collector, that's all the reason you need to have this figure.  If you're a parent perhaps considering this toy for a child, then by all means get it; though you may occasionally be called upon to help with connecting things.
Personally, with just this one toy, I've fallen in love with the Figuarts line.  As I mentioned in the past, I have Gohan preordered and will be getting Vegeta as well.  From there, I'll likely get any character that interests me because these toys are just really very nice.  They feel like little works of art when you play with them.

Extra Notes & Random Thoughts:
-The Gohan toy depicted in the opening image is not the Figuarts, it's just a toy I've had since I was around 11-years-old.  It seems to be in decent scale with Piccolo; just a small bit too tall.
-The S. and H. in the brand name stand for Simple Style and Heroic Action, as seen on the back of the box.
-All the photos for this review were taken with my DSi, hence the low quality.
-Toy collection seems to be becoming a more common hobby.  It's certainly not for everyone, just like anything else, but it's very nice to see it becoming accepted rather than so ludicrously over-criticized.
-Despite Dragon Ball Kai technically not having a manga to its name; even though it is more manga-accurate than Z; this Piccolo figure depicts his manga colour-scheme with muted yellow muscles and a red sash.  In the anime, Piccolo's muscles are pink and his sash is blue (not counting the movies).
-The purple on Piccolo's torso is of a slightly different shade than the purple seen on his pant-legs and 'sleeves'.  A lot of photos seem to make this more apparent than it really is in person.

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