Saturday, February 2, 2013

Review: S.H. Figuarts Perfect Cell

By Justin L. Weinzierl (Editor in Chief, Import Monsters)

Introduction:  As one of the main villains of the Dragon Ball Z series, Perfect Cell was ridiculously powerful. Created by Dr. Gero to be the perfect biomechanical being, the aptly named Cell was composed of the cells of several of the strongest fighters in the universe...  including Piccolo, Goku, and Vegeta!!  Needless to say, once Cell's transformations (caused by the consumption of other organisms, including his fellow androids) were complete, he was nearly unstoppable!  So what's a nigh unkillable being to do?  Throw a fighting tournament, of course!  And not just any tournament...  The Cell Games would determine the fate of the Earth itself!!

S.H. Figuarts Perfect Cell is somewhat of a dream figure for yours truly.  He was my favorite villain in the entire Dragon Ball franchise.  Whether it was his insect-like appearance, his smarmy attitude, or his awesome combination of abilities, Cell really resonated.  Seeing as he placed number one on a character poll for the next DBZ Figuart, mine was apparently not an isolated case!!

So was the figure worth the wait?  Read on and find out...

Package (3/5):  Cell's package is primarily bright green and black, with silver letters.  A graphic of Cell's face, neck and upper torso (fashioned from green dots on black), wraps around from the front side of the box to the right flap.  The left flap (as well as the back) has promotional images of the Cell prototype.  On the back there is the standard S.H. Figuarts blurb, and a brief description of Perfect Cell's biography.  All in all, this package should be awesome...  but I find it a bit on the plain side.  It's definitely not as nice as some of the S.H. Monsterarts packages.   

Sculpt (4.25-5/5):  I really wanted to be able to give the sculpt on S.H. Figuarts Perfect Cell a  flawless 5/5, but one main reason prevented me from doing it.  The sculpt is actually inaccurate to Cell's overly buff appearance on Dragon Ball Z!  Whether it was to increase the range of articulation, to save some plastic, or improve upon his appearance, what we get here is a sleeker, more streamlined Cell.  Particularly thin are the arm and thigh sculpts.  Cell's thighs (on the animation model) are about equal to his calves in size.  Yet here the calves bulge noticeably thicker.  Dragon Ball Z purists may be put off by these differences.

I, on the other hand, am not.  At the risk of committing high treason, this interpretation of Cell's physique is actually preferable.  It's still very recognizably Perfect Cell:  All the insectile armor, the helmet-like crest, the smooth black wings etc. are present.  Details like the spots on his hide (all individually sculpted!!) are very sharp.  His unarmored purple portions (in areas like his shoulders, thighs, and abdominals) are sculpted with grooves resembling naked muscle.  Combined with his insectile armor it feels very organic.

Speaking of which, Perfect Cell's black portions nicely contrast his green shelled portions.  They're very smooth, almost metallic.  It resembles the chitinous exoskeleton of a beetle.  The wings in particular are amazing.  And they can be very expressive, flaring our when fighting, or folding against his back when in a relaxed pose.

Overall, S.H. Figuarts Perfect Cell's sculpt is fantastic, if a bit stylized.            

Paint (4.5/5):  The paint work is excellent across the board, with small details like Cell's spots expertly applied. Cell is molded in glossy black for his armored portions, so there is obviously not much detail there. His green shelled portions (molded in a drab olive green) have brownish shading applied. It looks excellent, and adds to the overall three dimensional look of the figure.  There are a few miniscule instances of paint slop (particularly on his eye lines and black fingernails).  They are, however, nearly too tiny to notice.  They don't distract from the overall paint scheme, however....  Which is excellent, all in all.

Articulation (4/5):  There's only one word that's appropriate for most of the articulation on S.H. Figuarts Perfect Cell...  Amazing.  Starting with the head, there are two neck joints.  This really helps, as the overhanging nature of the back of Cell's head would otherwise limit the movement there.  He still can't look upward very far, but he can look in almost any other direction. 

His shoulder joints consist of an internal ball joint attached to a hinge.  This allows a simply incredible range of motion in the shoulders.   The shoulder pad (AKA, Perfect Cell's natural armor) is attached to the shoulder by a hinge joint, which allows it to sit naturally on top of it in almost any position.   This allows for a simply incredible range of motion in the shoulders.  The bicep joins the shoulder via a swivel joint, and the elbows are double hinged.  Despite the muscular build of the arms, they are able to bend almost 45 degrees inward!  Finally, the wrists are ball jointed and allow all the wrist-bending motion you could want.

Perfect Cell's torso is ball jointed under the pectorals.  The range of motion is decent, and he can hunch in tandem with the ab crunch to simulate looking down or being punched in the chest (by S.H. Figuarts Gohan, perhaps?).  The ab crunch is actually a post with ball joints on each end surrounded by a sheath that represents Cell's unarmored portion.  The ball joints themselves are actually a bit limited in motion.  However (as mentioned earlier), when used with the upper torso joint he can still lean over to a decent degree.

Cell's thigh joints consist of the Figuarts' trademark shifting ball joints (where the thigh meets the pelvis), paired with a swiveling upper thigh joint.  The knees are double hinged, and have an awesome range of motion (almost as much as the elbows). Cell's ankles are ball jointed.  While they have great side to side motion, they are unfortunately not able to move much front to back (largely due to the shape of Cell's lower leg armor). This prevents the toes from pointing straight down (in a flying pose, for example).  The ankle joints are also where the biggest issue with the articulation lies:  They're just too loose!  Cell is a heavy figure to begin with, so this doesn't help his balance in the slightest.

Finally, Perfect Cell's wings are ball jointed. They have a great range of motion, and can stick almost straight back at a ninety degree angle.  They also have excellent side to side motion.  All in all, S.H. Figuarts Perfect Cell has great articulation, which is marred slightly by extremely loose ankles.

Accessories (5/5):  As is the case with most S.H. Figuarts releases, Perfect Cell comes with an excellent amount of accessories.  In addition to his default scowl, he comes with two additional faces:  a cocky, smirking face and a maniacal, screaming face!  Both alternate faces look fantastic and add a TON of character to the figure.  You can swap them effortlessly, and they fit snugly inside the head piece.  

In typical Figuarts fashion, Perfect Cell comes with several alternate hands.  Like the additional face plates, the hands add a large amount of variety and character to what could have been a "one-note" figure.  Included are six pairs:  Two splay-fingered hands, two grasping/gesturing hands for dramatic poses, and two hands for the Kamehameha.

Speaking of which, the Kamehameha itself is a large and somewhat elaborate five piece display.  First, there's the beam itself, which (in all honesty" isn't quite as cool looking as it could have been.  Instead of resembling a beam weapon, it looks very much like a strange elongated teardrop.  Some more effort definitely should have been spent on sculpting an accurate representation.  That criticism does not apply to the stand itself, however.  The stand includes a patch of earth with a groove cut out of it (obviously representing the Kamehameha's incredible power), two awesome energy waves (which curve outward vertically), and a support arm for the actual beam.  Altogether it's actually a cool little display.  It would be an  amazing display, but the beam itself is a bit underwhelming.

Last but not least, we have the coolest accessory of them all:  A crossed arms piece that swaps out with the regular arms for extra attitude!  This accessory plugs right in where both biceps meet the shoulders, and they honestly look fantastic.  It's a great idea, as normal articulated arms would likely not be able to assume such a pose.  All in all, S.H. Figuarts Perfect Cell has a great variety of cool accessories, that will ensure that frequent figure posers will be satisfied for quite some time!  


WATCH OUT!  Perfect Cell's stinger is VERY sharp.  Keep out of reach of small children (the warning on the box states ages 15 and up).

Overall (4.5/5):  The only thing really keeping S.H. Figuarts Perfect Cell from a perfect score is the aforementioned issue with the loose joints and the sculptural inaccuracies.  If you don't mind a slightly stylized version, though, I would highly recommend this figure to Cell fans, Dragonball Z fans, and fans of anime figures in general!  In fact, this figure has inspired me to pick up some of the DBZ Figuarts I missed!    


  1. Very, very nice review Justin! Enjoyed reading it! And lol at Belial vs. Cell. That would be interesting if Belial ever shrank down in size like the other Ultras.