Collecting certainly has a gambling component to it. Sometimes, when a new action figure is released it can pay off to wait a bit and see if the price comes down or a retailer has a sale. Other times, that strategy can completely backfire. Such was the case with the S.H. Figuarts release of Kame-Sennin, better known to westerners as Master Roshi from Dragon Ball. A couple of years ago I started my Dragon Ball figure collection with a Goku from this line. Seeing how readily available he continued to be gave me confidence that a character like Master Roshi, a less popular though still much beloved figure from the anime, would play out the same way. It did not. Maybe Bandai had less confidence in the figure than it does some others, or maybe it had something to do with western distribution seemingly picking up after the figure’s release, but this guy came and went pretty fast. Subsequent figures have not, and I scored several this past summer on a sale, but Master Roshi was seemingly lost.
Well, I finally gave up. When Bandai released a Jackie Chun figure, which is basically Master Roshi in black and with a wig in place of his glasses, I figured that closed the door on a re-release. And thus I was forced to turn to the secondary market. To lessen the blow, I actually sold some figures from my collection that weren’t going to see a shelf which essentially paid for this one, but it still stings to know I could have had this figure for considerably less had I acted sooner. Is there a lesson here or did I simply just play the game and have it go against me? If there is one, it’s simply make sure you get the figures you don’t want to live without. I can have a Dragon Ball collection without a kid Chi Chi and be content, or without a version of Bulma that only appeared in the show’s ending credits. I cannot have one without Master Roshi though.
For this figure, Bandai opted to present Master Roshi in his somewhat official outfit: his orange and blue martial arts uniform. He has quite a few different looks in the manga and anime that are a bit more casual, and if I’m being honest that’s how I tend to picture him in my head, but by going in this direction it gives the figure a bit more versatility. You can go for a comic pose, pose him with his shell, or display him ready for a fight. He can’t do his bulked up Kamehameha pose, but that’s to be expected as it basically requires a whole new sculpt. The figure stands right around the 5 and a half inch mark which allows him to scale pretty well with the rest of the line. His trademarked red and green sunglasses are removable and fit on both of his heads and they rest well on the figure. The orange and blue are both plenty vibrant and it’s mostly just colored plastic. There’s no real paint flourishes on display here which is par for the course. Bandai certainly could have opted for something here to bring out the folds in the shirt, but it’s really not supposed to possess many as it hangs long and loose on the character in the show. I think it looks fine, but I know some others out there wish there was a little more flair to these figures as far as paint is concerned.
Master Roshi comes loaded with the usual assortment of articulation. It’s certainly needed to get him into various martial arts poses, but with this figure the articulation does detract some from the sculpt. The issue lies with the shirt which is very large relative to the figure. Bandai obviously felt it couldn’t do something like a soft rubber piece over an articulated figure and have it work, and they’re probably right. Instead, a lot of the joints have to be baked into the shirt and it does give it this choppy, scalloped, look. It’s unfortunate as it’s a bit of an eyesore, but ultimately, I think Bandai made the right call since the alternative would be to have very little articulation in the torso and arms. Perhaps soft goods could have been utilized, but that would have been just as, if not more, controversial a choice. The only area of the sculpt that does sort of bother me resides in the character’s elbows. There’s a big, circular, component that just jumps out and looks unnatural. The good thing is, simply posing him with bent elbows largely conceals this. Roshi does have a peg hole on his back to keep his shell sturdy, but if you don’t want to display him with that on, Bandai provided a little, orange, peg to fit into that hole to cover it up. Considering the hole is on the figure’s back, this really wasn’t something Bandai had to do, but it’s pretty cool that it did.
Master Roshi’s shirt may look a bit odd, but at least it does deliver in making this figure fully articulated. His head has the usual range of motion expected of this line. He can look up, but not down much as his beard hinders him a bit. There’s a joint at the base of the neck, but the head moves so smoothly that it’s hard to move the neck without taking the head off completely. The shoulders have terrific range and are also butterfly-jointed with that part of the articulation being completely hidden by the shirt which is pretty cool. There’s a bicept swivel and the elbows are single-jointed with his hands are on ball joints. They are buried a little in the sleeves so the range might not be as great as other figures in this line, but it’s fine. In the torso there’s a lot going on with upper torso articulation and waist articulation. The upper torso basically just allows him to pivot a bit without full rotation. The waist is similar though you could probably get him to turn all the way around if you were determined, but I wouldn’t advise it. The legs are on ball joints and swivel just below that joint. He has double-jointed knees and terrific range at the ankle with rotation and rocker action. Lastly, we have the toe hinge for when he needs to get a little taller, maybe to sneak his perverted, old, man eyes over a window sill or something.
Master Roshi has a solid assortment of accessories and interchangeable parts. For starters, he has an optional head that’s basically his pervert face. It works with or without his glasses and it’s not hard to imagine many fans posing him in such a position. Only thing missing is a way to make it look like his nose is gushing blood. You can also swap the bearded portion on each head in effect doubling your range of available expressions. He also has five sets of hands to go along with the fists he comes packaged with. He has gripping hands for his staff, a set of pointing/pinching hands, a set of martial arts styled hands, an open left gripping hand for use with the Dragon Ball, a left hand making a “peace” symbol, a relaxed open palm left hand, and a firm open palm right hand. He has his trusty staff or cudgel and his three-star Dragon Ball. And then, of course, he has his big old turtle shell. It clips into his back and it also has straps that can pop in to make it look like it’s something the character simply slipped his arms through. The peg on the back of the figure makes it sit nice and I really like the sculpt of this thing. It has that very “Dragon Ball” look to it as far as the texture goes with lots of line work and I do enjoy the almost lilac color it has. Bandai even saw fit to make the middle panel of the shell removable so you can still use the action stand with the figure, whether he’s wearing the shell or not. Lastly, Bandai included an action stand for him which is always appreciated. It’s a real nice allotment of stuff that Master Roshi comes packed with. If anything is missing, I guess it would be Turtle? That’s probably asking too much though since he would require quite a bit of plastic. The only other obvious omission is the lack of Kamehameha style hands. I guess Bandai didn’t see the point since he can’t bulk up, or maybe they figured they’d include those hands with the Jackie Chun release. I can’t say I miss them since I wouldn’t pose him like that, but I can see that being a disappointment for some. Especially Dragon Ball Z collectors who may have wanted to line up all of the Z fighters performing Master Roshi’s signature technique.
Making use of Roshi’s accessories is not quite as smooth as it is with other figures. His head pops on and off just fine, though you do have to make sure the ball-joint is orientated properly. The hands are a bit trickier though. The cuffs of the shirt mean the pegs are recessed and they want to move all over the place when pressing a hand onto them. I don’t feel like I’m ever in danger of breaking anything, but it is annoying. The straps on the shell are also a bit troublesome. I find it’s easier to insert the top peg first on each strap before putting it on Roshi’s back. Then you have to kind of finesse the bottom pegs into their respective hole. It at least doesn’t need to be real snug, but if you don’t have patience for such things it could drive you mad. Once you have the setup you want, the hands at least all function the way they should. He can hold his staff with either gripping hand with no problem and the Dragon Ball rests in the open hand just fine. He also stands well with or without the shell on his back making the action stand Bandai included feel unnecessary which can free it up for another figure in your display, should you desire such.
Master Roshi fits in well with the other Dragon Ball releases so far. I maintain that the kid versions of Goku and Krillin are a bit too big, but it doesn’t stand out as much with Master Roshi as it does with Bulma. She’s still the odd one of the bunch though as she should probably be taller than Master Roshi, but instead she’s pretty close in height. It almost looks like he’s designed to scale to Goku and Krillin, with Bulma and the others scaling better with each other. The only other disappointing aspect of the display is just in the choice of attire. Roshi mostly wore this get-up during the training sequences where Krillin wore his yellow gi and Goku sported his blue pants and white tank top look. By the time the two get their Turtle School gi, they’re at the World Martial Arts Tournament where Roshi is in a formal, black, suit. Oh well. I’m definitely glad this version isn’t in the black suit, but I am still partial to his beach bum look when Goku and Bulma first meet the old man.
Acquiring this figure of Master Roshi more or less finishes off my humble Dragon Ball collection from Bandai. The only other figures released in the line include an alternate version of Bulma, Jackie Chun, Lunch, and kid Chi Chi. I don’t really feel a need to grab any of those, though if Jackie and Lunch ever make it to a sale I could be persuaded. The big omission so far is a Dragon Ball version of Yamcha and I would like to have him. Tien, Chiaotzu, Grandpa Gohan, Adult Goku, and Piccolo Jr. would all be intriguing as well. And if they could get an Oolong into one of those releases that would also be great. At least with Master Roshi in the fold I no longer feel like I have a major hole in my collection. He looks awesome and he really is one of my favorite characters from the show. Hopefully he won’t be my last acquisition from this line.