Thursday, August 22, 2013

Tamashii Nations December 2013: S.H. MonsterArts Godzilla 2000, Utra-Act Utraman Zero, S.H. Figuarts Agito Burning Form, and more!

Come on over and discuss the new reveals at Toyzilla!

S.H. MonsterArts Godzilla 2000 for 7560 JPY

Utra-Act Ultraman Zero 2.0

Metal Build Destiny Gundam

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Agito Burning Form

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Review: S.H Monsterarts - Destoroyah Evolution Set

From the darkness of human folly, it rises. The ultimate weapon, reincarnated as a living organism.
And now, S.H Monsterarts brings this terrifying evolution to life in the form of a Tamashii Web exclusive set.
But, does this set live up to the expectations of collectors? or is it simply ... an articulated horror? Read on ...
After releasing Godzilla 1995, Godzilla Junior & Adult Destoroyah, Tamashii Nations decided to give Monsterarts and Godzilla collectors in general the complete kaiju package. All 3 adolescent stages of the mighty Destoroyah which hails from the final Heisei film, Godzilla Vs Destoroyah. That meant what was the exciting inclusion of the "Flying Form" Destoroyah which has little to no exposure in this hobby outside of model kits. So it was a Monsterarts first.  
This set was released last month and is now ready for purchase at any online outlet that is supplied by Bluefin.
                                   Packaging: (4/5)                                

Unlike past releases, This one ( alongside the S.H Monsterarts King Kong ) displays the actual figures on the front, rather then using film stills as box art. While it looks fantastic, it doesn't quite feel the same as the movie stills, as they are what made these boxes unique next to other Tamashii Nations lines.  Other wise its your standard Monsterarts Box. Of course it contains the plastic housing that holds the main figures & extra body parts. The usual.
Also this box lacks another key feature that many collectors are used to seeing, A window. However the upcoming S.H Monsterarts Godzilla 1964 also lacks a window ( But pertains the movie shot box art formula thankfully). This has led to some to suspect that this is how it will be for Web Shop Exclusives to come.  
Now, this set contains 3 figures. This review will go over each one individually starting from the smallest. Which brings us to this little guy.
Destoroyah - Crab Form:
Sculpt & Paint Applications: (3.8/5)



If Monsterarts ever delved into the world of capsule figures, this is probably the closet to that concept we will ever get since this thing is, TINY. Sculpted by Yuji Sakai, This figure looks really nice and very detailed for such a small piece of PVC. It hard to imagine how all those ridges and rough textures were carved into something of this size. But it is not perfect however, as some areas look slightly smudged like the head and legs for example. This was most likely due to being limited on how much detail could be squeezed on to such sculpt. The paint job is a mixed bag with perfect applications in some locations ... and pretty lackluster ones on other parts of the body.

For example, the choice of purple and crimson hues for the head, spikes, appendages, legs, claws and tail are spot on in terms of accuracy. There is also a bit of black paint blended in to strengthen the lighter colours and makes for a nice contrast. Then we get the eyes and mandibles which honestly look pretty bland. What I mean is the eyes are just plain yellow. Not bright or dark but plain. While not a huge eyesore ( no pun intended ) they could of gone for something better. If memory serves me correct the capsule toy had a mix of yellow & orange for its eyes which is just about right. The mandibles look like they were just dunked into a can of white paint ... and it does look sloppy at angles.

The chest area looks like a piece of cheese and tomato pizza that was scraped off and pasted onto the figure with a finger. That is how the paint job makes it look I swear!

So at this point, the paint job is less then one might desire but on such a small figure like this one that can be forgiven.

                                                                      Articulation: (2.9/5)

Now this is were lies the first issue of this set. Articulation can be found in the main arms, the two mid section legs and the 2 large appendages erecting from its back. Doesn't sound like much? Well, that's because it really isn't ...
I mean only 2 out of the six legs can move ... Why is that? Why cant the other 4 have articulation? It just seems so bizarre that in a line KNOWN for its articulation that we would get something so half hearted. I am not asking for the world on this aspect but at least give the other legs rotation. And OH NO, I wont have the "limitations" excuse being shoved down my throat on this one. They COULD of incorporated the appropriate ball joints here, they have done so for the next figure in this bundle. And for how pricey this set is a little more movement on this guy would of slightly justified such price tag.
Honestly, it feels like they threw this in just for laughs and it is out of place in this set in terms of articulation. But this is certainly not the worst ... that title belongs to this guy.
Destoroyah - Aggregate Form:
Now, before I go any further it must be said - people who browse this blog and read our reviews may know by now that each one contains a "Watch Out!" segment. Well for this set ... THIS PIECE OF SH- *Ahem* I mean this particular figure takes up a good chunck of that segment for this review. So lets proceed with the only overall good thing about this figure ... to me anyway. 

Sculpt & Paint Applications: (4.7/5)

 It must be said, Shinichi Wakasa out did himself this time round with a sculpt of this magnitude. While not breath taking like the Perfect Form Destoroyah, one cant deny the effort that was put into this figure. A very good proportion of the details from the actual prop are all present. Every ridge, bump, groove and spike can be found here. The legs and claws are exceptionally well done and look sharply smooth. Heck, one of the reasons I love this line is because there are some details on these that you never notice nor even think about in the movies. case in point - the under section of the main body. I had no idea it actually looked like that and originally thought it was just a area of crimson purple. So a huge kudos to Wakasa for delivering a fine sculpt once more.
Other then the mandibles, the paint applications are splendid. Like with the Crab Form, a nice mix of reds, blacks and dark purples really bring out those details and makes it look quite menacing to boot. But unlike the former the eyes here are perfect. They have the yellow hue just right. Did I mention the paint also looks glossy? That is a nice touch if it was intentional and seems fitting considering these creatures are crustacean in origin.
Sadly, the mandibles once again look as if they were dipped in white paint ... Although it is not as sloppy lookling as the former. So top marks on that front. But unfortunately ... my praise for this figure ends here.


Alright ... the least I can do is address the positives first. The articulation placement is spot on and where it should be. It can be found in the neck, pincers, claws, legs, under legs, appendages and tail. So it has a lot.
But the crippling issue it has is actually common in a few Monsterarts. The main difference is the sizing. For instance, if a joint is loose or tight on a MogeGoji figure there are several ways to address the problem without the fear of LOOSING Anything. With this figure its a whole different story. The first problem lies with the main pincers. I don't know if the plastic is loose or if the ball joints are weak, but on my figure the pincers are so loose that one slight tug/pull or turn and they just pop off with minimal resistance. This wouldn't be such a annoyance if they ACTUALLY STAYED ON ... The amount of times they came off for this review was ridiculous and quite frankly I was getting flash backs to the hands of my Ultra Act Red King which was a nightmarish experience. The next issue concerns the arms that connect to the pincers ... the ones on mine cannot move an inch. I tried with evert ounce of force my fingers could put on to move them. And honestly it seems like there's no articulation there whats so ever. Which makes no sense at all. So, you give the Crab Form articulation in the arms, but completely devoid the Aggregate of it? ...
Oh, it doesn't end there. Next in line are the smaller legs underneath the body. Jesus Christ ... You got a mix between claws joints that fall off with the slightest effort which are a pain to reattch, and legs that refuse to budge. I know there is articulation in that section because some of them can move with no problem. Why is this an issue? If I didn't take pictures of this figure on our guest bed I could of lost some of the parts, because it can be that easy to loose them if your not careful. 
The main legs are not too bad ... but can still be quite cumbersome when you got some that move smoothly while others are rock solid and can get in the way of each other.
The tail connection is a nightmare waiting to happen. Both the Crab & Aggregate come with a tail each that you have to attach. But the linkage with the Aggregate one is weak and WILL fall out with the slightest tap. It refuses to stay in, even if you push while moving it.
The Appendages erecting from its back are not too bad ether. Just watch for the top segments, they love to come off. But thankfully reconnecting isn't as painful. 
"But John, why don't you apply nail polish to tighten them?" Again, due to how small the joints are on this thing I don't think it would work the same way ...
Look, sorry if that came off as whiny and I don't hate this figure out right. But having to juggle between getting a decent pose and getting it to stay together while taking pictures took up more time then it should of. 
Easily the iceberg of this set, The Aggregate Destoroyah is riddled with issues that should of undergone further testing to see them sorted out.
OH! Two things I almost forgot to mention. The Aggregate figure is the only one to receive an accessory. An alternate head part that features an extended second jaw. 

There is also a slight amount of articulation with the second jaw in the normal head. But by that point I was too fed up to continue messing around with it even more ...
But then, I saw something in the sky ... descending from the air in a ray of light like an angel of hope. Was it a bird?, was it a plane? No, its! - ...
                                                                  ( It has to be done! )
 Destoroyah - Flying Form:
By far the best figure in the entire set ( and the one I was looking forward to the most ). And even though it didn't come with a stand I didn't really care at that stage ( ... heheh "Stage" ).
         Sculpt & Paint Applications ( 4.7./5 )

 Shinichi Wakasa also sculpted this figure and once again did a splendid job. It is as if it came flying out of the silver screen. Not one spike, tusk, groove, ridge, bump nor texture was spared on this figure and it shows. The wings also look great and the wing flaps are quite smooth to the touch. The horn and eyes were crafted from Translucent plastic and under certain lighting conditions can glow. Also theres the appearance of a strange orb like formation were the claws are hidden, a testament to how well this thing was accurately crafted.   
And once more, the paint does the sculpt justice. Infact I dare say this has the best coloration of the three as for one the chest doesn't look like pizza (haha). There's more red and black applied to this piece, but man the way they were mixed sure grabs attention. And unlike the others, the teeth look great, and thankfully the tusks are not friggin plain white! They're some sort of dark bone esque color and it works.   
Theres also the pinkish purple colour used for the wings which add a nice variety to the rest of the dark palette used for the body.
Articulation: (3.9/5)

Not only does it have the right amount of articulation, but it also works! HUZZAH! Makes me so glad I did this set in chronological order ...
Anyway, articulation can be found in the jaw, head, neck, wings, under claws and tail. Most of it stays together and has a motion range as good as the sculpt allows which is just about right. The head and neck can rotate and move in all directions but generally looks better if posed up or down. The wings are slightly restricted and can only move in certain directions, and while one side is a bit loose they hold together well, definitely better handled then the former figure ... ugh. All 6 claws underneath the body have some movement and can only go side to side, which makes sense since they cant really do much anyway in that position.    
However, this one also has a loose tail ( >_> ). And while its not as weak as the Aggregates it still requires patience to try and get it to hold a certain pose. Surprisingly as loose as it fells it never fell out once.  
On a final note, the ball jointed lower jaw makes a comeback. I noticed this when moving it about. 


                                                                  FINAL VERDICT:
 To say " I am disappointed " is kind of an understatement. To be brutally frank I am more gutted then anything the set turned out like this. The idea of a chance to set up an in scale recreation of the scene with the Destoroyah Aggregates crawling all over Godzilla was just too good to be true. That and the fact the Flying Destoroyah was getting a slice of the action is icing on the cake ... And honestly, we could of gotten that if more extensive testing was done prior to release. Its ironic that the only really good figure in this was the one who also got it's first. The Crab form figure is ok at best while the Aggregate was pretty much this lines equivalent to Sonic The Hedgehog 2006 ... I mean it. Its such a shame to because the sculpts are really good for they're size, but the lack of &  polarised articulation that only works when it wants to is a major buzz kill.
Even with King Ghidorah's cursed wing joints I still got my moneys worth in terms of everything else. I say that because there is NO WAY ON EARTH this set is worth the price I payed for it ... I don't hate this set altogether.
If theres only one word to describe this set its this ... RUSHED. Thats the only logical explanation I can conjure up for it. Is this set truly bad? No, we still got the Flying figure and at least the Crab Figure wasn't a frustrating experience. But is this the worst Monsterarts? Well I can definitely say that this is the weakest entry for Monsterarts this year. And the only Monsterarts to date that really bummed me out. Guess that's what I guess for getting too excited ... This set had so much promise. There for this set gets a 3/5 from me ( the flying form is what saved this set from getting much lower ). I only recommend this set to Hard core Monsterarts collectors ( like myself ) & Destoroyah fans. Other wise, forget it. Your much better off saving up for Biollante or something.
And for the love of god, DONT GET THIS AT FULL RRP. Just don't.
No matter what people are saying about the upcoming Mosugoji it already looks more promising then this.
This is John Thomson, the Import Monsters sniffer dog signing off.