Tag Archives: s.h.figuarts

S.H.Figuarts Dragon Ball Z Krillin – Earth’s Strongest Man

The Earth’s Strongest Man!

My Dragon Ball collecting was once simply focused on the original series, Dragon Ball, but has been expanding over the years. I’ve definitely leaned more towards Dragon Ball Super of late, but one of my Dragon Ball Z purchases last year was the event exclusive Nappa. I don’t know why I like Nappa so much. Maybe it’s because I, and many others, watched the Saiyan Saga of DBZ over and over because, for a long time, it was all we had. Well, we had the Namek Saga too, but that was far less interesting. When I got Nappa it became apparent right away that I had little to pair him with. I would add Piccolo, but presently I have him displayed with his arm missing as it was in the Raditz fight (I suppose I should get Raditz, but that’s not happening given his price on the secondary market). Then along came Krillin. Who better than Krillin to position facing off against Nappa? If I had liked the Kid Gohan that Bandai did I might have grabbed that, but Krillin seems appropriate and he’s a likable character too.

That whole “Earth’s Strongest Man” title would be more impressive if the Earth wasn’t full of Saiyans, Namekians, Androids, etc.

Now, when you get really into figure collecting, other, perhaps strange, things influence your purchases. I didn’t just want Krillin to pair with Nappa, I also found myself both curious and a little excited about some of the changes Bandai made with the figure. This is Krillin 2.0 essentially replacing an earlier figure released in the line. I never liked the aesthetic of that figure, but this one looked good based on the solicitation images. What also jumped out at me were the sleeves and abdomen. Yes, sleeves can influence my purchasing decision. Rather than have those little, blue, cuffs pegged into his shoulders, this figure appeared to have free-standing sleeves like an actual shirt. Is it dumb that I paid over 50 bucks for a toy based on how the sleeves looked? Maybe, but that’s toy collecting!

Things are a little strange looking under Krillin’s head, but this actually works pretty great.

Right now, someone is probably reading this and shouting to themselves, “This is the wrong Krillin!” And yes, I know, and I knew that when I bought it. This Krillin is based on his look during the Cell Saga where he has a blue undershirt and boots like Goku’s. The musculature is also more defined and less rounded, though I don’t know that Tamashii Nations would do that any different if this were a proper Saiyan Saga version of the character. I’m fine with the slight inaccuracy when it comes to my display and if a Saiyan Saga Krillin were to follow without the shirt and in the martial arts slippers I likely would not seek to “upgrade.” This is fine.

He’s small, but fierce!

Krillin, being one of the shortest characters from Dragon Ball Z, stands just a little over 4.5″ when you get him out of the standard window box. This figure comes out of the Vietnam factory which is still relatively new to action figure production for this line. Krillin certainly looks like a Figuarts release. There’s a lot of colored plastic and little that required painting. This edition of Krillin is also meant to be anime accurate so there’s no white on his eyes. There’s a lot of little, painted, details on his face that look nice. Aside from that, the paint is limited to his wrist bands, chest, belt and boots where a solid job of matching plastic to paint is on display. Where things look less great is on the legs. It looks like some shading was applied to the front of the pants, and that’s good, but it was only done on the lower pieces. The upper thigh is not shaded so it looks like mis-colored plastic and the shirt isn’t either. This has become a trend with the line and it’s a bit baffling. Why shade from the mid-thigh down, but no where else? It just makes it look like his gi is two different shades of orange and it’s unbecoming. Shade it all, please! The kneecap piece also appears to be shaded, but for some reason it came out glossier than the rest of the leg. It could be a different type of plastic was used there. It’s especially noticeable with the right knee on my figure.

What is going on here?!

Even with the iffy shading, the figure looks like Krillin and it’s shortcomings won’t be picked up by most when it’s on a shelf. And how good it looks on that shelf will depend on how well the figure is articulated and able to hold a pose. This is where the Vietnam factory has show its inexperience as sometimes the joints don’t feel quite up to par for this line. And with this figure, we have some new stuff to talk about. Krillin’s head is unique in that it basically sits on a drum, or barrel, instead of a ball-peg. There’s a double ball-peg within that, but it’s certainly odd to see. I can only assume this was done to close some of that emtpy space that would exist without it. Since Krillin is bald, Bandai doesn’t go with faceplates since those are usually hidden by a character’s hair. The drum approach looks a bit odd when the figure is head-less, but it works just fine. It’s just very squeeky when rotating the head, but the range of motion is there. The only thing Krillin can’t do well is look up unless you’re using the ab crunch too. It looks like the base of the neck should be able to move, but mine won’t budge so perhaps I’m mistaken.

He does make that face a lot.

In the abdomen, that new style of ab crunch works fine as he can bend back a little and forward a lot. There’s a ball joint in the waist that also adds to the range of motion and provides rotation and tilt and I like how it looks. These shoulders though, they’re pretty interesting. So what we have is a ball-hinge that pegs into a socket in the chest, which pegs into another below it. The orange and blue pieces you see are just floating bits and the actual joint is cast in blue. The upper shoulder is also just a piece that fits inside the blue shirt cuff and over the blue joint in there which the arm pegs into at the biceps. All of your up, down, and in and out movement at the shoulder comes from that ball and socket joint inside the figure. It works okay, but you have to fight with that orange piece at times which will pop off it’s peg and create some ugly gaps. The left shoulder on my figure is also especially stubborn and I had the whole thing come apart at one point. I should have stopped and taken a picture for this review, but I was afraid I would forget how the whole thing went together. The setup for this joint makes it surprisingly difficult to just raise and lower the arm on the shoulder hinge as it’s tough to get the needed leverage. My arm came apart because the biceps joint was taking on too much of that so the peg popped out. Bandai uses shallow pegs, likely to prevent snapping of the joint, so it doesn’t take much to cause it to pop out. The butterfly joint also doesn’t function too well. I found if I forced the orange cuff to rotate back I could get Krillin’s arm across his chest, but I don’t think it’s designed to do that and it created unsightly gaps. The butterfly joint is rarely a strong suit of these figures so I don’t consider it a great loss, but it’s something that has to be mentioned. At least the shirt cuff looks better though! The rest of the arm is a standard double-hinged elbow and ball-hinged wrists which work fine.

“Goku! Senzu bean!”

The shoulders are a bit sloppy, but below the waist things are just fine. Krillin can do full splits and he has his double-jointed knees. He does have sculpted buns so he can’t kick back all of the way, but can kick forward. There’s a thigh twist and the ankles are on ball-hinges. The way the boots are sculpted though limits the range, especially out on the ankle rocker. He also gets almost no range going up on the foot, but he can go back a decent amount. There’s also a toe hinge which works fine, but doesn’t really add anything of value. Lastly, the knot in his belt is articulated so if you want the ends to appear like they’re blowing in the wind you can do so.

Not the best Kamehameha pose, but it’s not like the Goku figures are that much better.

Krillin moves okay, I think the shoulders need some more work, but I like that they’re exploring other solutions for that joint that isn’t just pegging a chunk of blue plastic into the figure’s shoulder. And when it comes to accessories, Bandai took care of the little cue-ball. Krillin comes with four portraits: stoic, yelling, teeth-gritting (with a side-eye), and scared. I like getting four, but we are definitely missing a smiling portrait. Oddly, such a head isn’t being included in the Battle Armor Krillin that was recently up for order (not that I would have bought a second figure just to make this one smile). What’s here is done well though, and as I mentioned before, the subtle paint work on the expressions is all clean and applied well. In addition to the heads, we get six sets of hands: fists, open, martial arts pose, Kamehameha hands, two-finger pose hands, and open palms with peg holes. There’s also a bonus 13th hand that’s grasping a bag of senzu beans. The peg holes on the open hands are for Krillin’s blast effect: the Destructo Disc! It’s cast in translucent, frosted, yellow, plastic and has a buzzsaw design. The peg is pretty short, but it fits in the hand and looks okay. Because it pegs into Krillin’s hand, it can’t be used with the stands that peg into a blast effect so it can only be positioned above Krillin’s hand. There might be stands I’m not aware of that could work with this to depict the Destructo Disc in flight, but you won’t be able to do that out of the box.

I love all of the headsculpts, and the bean bag hand is fun, but who is really going to display him doing something other than this?!

The one additional drawback with this figure is becoming a common one out of the Vietnam factory and that’s in the joint tolerance. And it’s at those shoulders again. The right shoulder on my Krillin is pretty loose, so it’s easy to move and position, but the weight of the Destructo Disc makes it want to sag. The left shoulder has the opposite problem as it’s quite tight and getting his arm straight up for the proper pose was trickier than it should be. Plus, Krillin rarely uses his left arm for the Destructo Disc so I’d prefer to pose him with the left. Hopefully as the factory releases more figures these details get cleaned up, but for now, it feels like a roll of the dice when a figure shows up with the “Made in Vietnam” language on the front.

Nappa! Don’t touch it!

Krillin 2.0 is a solid entry in the S.H.Figuarts line of Dragon Ball Z action figures. Yes, I was a bit hard on some aspects of the figure, but that’s because this is a $55 release and we should have high standards for a figure at that price point. If this were a $30 Target release then some of these would be easier to overlook. Even with the warts, the figure displays well enough as long as you don’t get one with a shoulder so loose that it can’t use the energy effect. Mine is a touch finicky, but it’s holding up so far and at least I can swap the effect to the left arm if I absolutely have to. I like that they’re trying new things, and giving us updates to the older figures that are dated at this point. I just think maybe they over-engineered these shoulders and they could accomplished the same look, with something simpler. This figure is definitely worth getting if you like Krillin, want to upgrade from the old one, or are rounding out your DBZ display. And as a general release item, there should be plenty in stock at MSRP if you still need one.


S.H.Figuarts Dragon Ball Super Event Exclusive Color Edition Beerus

The God of Destruction has arrived.

Let’s take a break from the Goku and Goku-adjacent figures and talk about a totally different character: Beerus. Or should I say Lord Beerus: God of Destruction! Beerus made his debut in the film Battle of Gods which essentially became the premiere of Dragon Ball Super. He’s some sort of cat creature who happens to be charged with destroying worlds within his assigned universe. Being a god, he’s only sort of a villain. I guess if he were a Dungeons & Dragons character he might be considered Chaotic Neutral, or maybe Lawful Evil? I honestly can’t remember if there’s a rhyme or reason to his destruction. When we’re introduced to him, he is seeking out the Super Saiyan God and has come to Earth in search of, who else, Goku. If Goku can’t impress him and show him the power of a Super Saiyan God, then he has no use for Earth and will destroy it, so I guess he’s lawful? Anyway, he’s one of the best new characters to come to the show so I’m happy to add this event exclusive edition to my collection.

Like many a Dragon Ball villain there’s a lot of power packed into a somewhat unassuming frame with Beerus.

Beerus embodies the power of a god and Dragon Ball villain, while also displaying the traits of a cat. He gets sleepy, can be petulant, impatient, and certainly carries himself in a regal manner. And like many characters in this universe, an easy way to please him is via his stomach. He loves food and it’s the food on planet Earth that initially spares the world from his destruction. He’s quite threatening, but easily slips into a comedic performance as the scene demands. He’s terrific. And this figure is actually an old one from 2016. It was part of Bandai’s San Diego Comic Con collection of exclusives from last year. Premium Bandai’s website basically couldn’t handle the volume of people interested when the item went up for sale, so they offered a make-up sale a couple of days later that was for a second batch. I really wanted the Nappa they released, so I just went for that because the site was so slow and buggy that trying to add multiple items to my cart felt like a risk I just couldn’t take. However, when the second sale went up I gave in and grabbed both Beerus and the Super Saiyan God version of Goku.

“Come at me, if you dare.”

Unlike Nappa, this version of Beerus is a better use of an event exclusive. I loved that Nappa, but he was a re-release of a figure done in his proper animated colors. That’s something most fans probably wanted from the original release, and making him an event exclusive kind of sucks. Since it ended up being easy to get, I guess little harm was done other than some folks felt compelled to get two versions of the same figure. With Beerus, his change is subtle. I don’t have the original release, but from what I can tell, the main difference is just in the collar-like shirt he wears. I don’t know the proper name for the garment, but it’s the blue and black item he wears over his shoulders. The original was a standard matte look, while this one is done with a shiny, chrome-like, finish. It looks cools, and it’s the type of thing that owners of the previous figure probably don’t feel compelled to buy, while those looking to fill a hole in their collection aren’t settling for some glow-in-the-dark variant or something.

The dreaded Finger Poke of Doom!

Being that Beerus is an older release, there’s going to be some dated things on him. Let’s start with the aesthetics. He looks like Beerus from the show/movie. His default, stoic, look captures that of the character and a cat as he appears content, but those narrow eyes have a menacing quality to him like his mood could change at the drop of a hat. His skin is a pale gray-violet which works well with the blues and blacks of his attire. The only shading on the figure is on the front of the pants while the other painted flourishes are rather clean. The sculpt is rather nice as it captures how thin the character is and Bandai did a great job at the hips which don’t jut out like the Goku Black I looked at recently.

These two literally do not see eye-to-eye.

As nice as Beerus looks, there are a few nitpicks to find. His neck gets a bit gappy where it meets the upper chest, and I wish his face had a wash or something on it as it looks rather plain. His nose should probably be darker than the rest and just some subtle paint touches on some of the lines, as we saw with the Super Saiyan 4 Goku, would really bring out the features. His feet appear to be cast in blue plastic, which is rather odd. I only know this because some blue is peaking out of the seems and at the pins in the toe. And lastly, he also seems a bit too tall. Beerus stands at about 5.75″ to the top of his head, 6.625″ to the top of his ears. Goku is about 5.625″ to the top of his head, so his eye level is lower than that of Beerus which doesn’t look right. It’s been a few years since I watched Dragon Ball Super and it wouldn’t surprise me if Beerus was drawn shorter in that than he was in his debut feature, sort of like how Vegeta was suddenly taller when he became more of a good guy, but I don’t think even this is accurate to Battle of Gods.

Yeah, that doesn’t look right.

Aside from the paint, this release is the same as the older one so the accessories included are also the same. They’re just appearance accessories, so optional heads and hands. In addition to the neutral expression, Beerus also has a yell and a yawn. Both look terrific and I think all three portraits have worth in a display as the more comedic yawn is still a spot-on depiction of the character. With the hands, things are less interesting as Beerus comes packaged with fists and can swap to gripping hands, open hands, and he has a right, sort of clawing, hand. It’s a gesture he uses when firing some of his attacks and could also be used as a “Come here” gesture. What’s curious though are the gripping hands as he has nothing to grip. Was there a short-lived directive at Bandai to make sure all of their figures came with gripping hands? It’s bizarre, as Beerus doesn’t wield any weapons in the film or show so they really are useless. I would have preferred more style posed hands, or maybe one with chopsticks and a bowl of ramen or something. There are no effects parts either, which is always bummer. It does help that Beerus doesn’t really have a signature attack, but he could still have something.

Those knees aren’t pretty. On the plus side, these yawning head is great!

Where the figure really feels dated is with the articulation, which also factors into the appearance somewhat. The head is on a ball hinge, like what Bandai uses for the wrists. It’s okay, but once the head is on you don’t really know where the hinge is so it doesn’t function super well. Also like the hands, it’s something you have to battle with just to get those heads on. There’s a ball joint in the base of the neck so he can bury his chin and also look up a bit with the usual rotation and tilt. The shoulders have part of that collared garment pinned to them, like most of the Goku figures do with the his sleeves. It’s a bit unsightly, and you need to be careful with those pieces as they will slide under the chest part and could get scratched. It’s a ball hinge so the shoulder can move up and down a bit, but the butterfly joint is useless due to the chest piece getting in the way. There’s a biceps swivel and double-jointed elbows and a ball-hinge wrist. In the torso, there’s a diaphragm cut but it’s pretty tight. It feels like a ball-hinge so if you pull up on it you can get him to crunch back. Leave it low and the figure makes some uncomfortable noises when rotating there, and he doesn’t get much forward crunch either way. The ball-joint at the waist is a bit better and that’s where you’ll get rotation and a little tilt.

Note the single tear squirting out of his right eye.

At the hips, Beerus has hinged ball-joints that drop down. Leaving them in the up position results in a nice looking joint that is reasonably functional out to the side and kicking forward and back. Dropping the leg doesn’t add a ton, just a little extra clearance on the kick, which is probably why we don’t see this joint too much anymore. The knee is where things really get poor though as Beerus has just a single joint with no cap on the front. When you bend that knee, you just see the joint at the kneecap and it’s ugly. It’s unfortunate because that yawning expression would lend itself well to certain sitting, bent knee, posing that will expose this shortcoming. This is simply just an outdated joint, as some of the early SHF releases featured the same, and has been retired in favor of what we see on other poufy pants characters like Goku. It’s too bad they couldn’t fix that for this release. At the ankle, we also have the old ball-peg system. You get good movement back, little forward, and the rocker is just mediocre. There is a toe hinge, but I don’t have much use for toe hinges. Beerus, being a cat, also has a tail and that’s connected via a ball-hinge. You get some decent posing out of it, but the tail itself doesn’t articulate further. It’s soft and pliable, but does not have a wire in it so it’s fairly static. It’s a thin tail, though, so I’m fine with it not being segmented for articulation.

Beerus is right to yawn in Nappa’s direction.

Beerus is an old figure with a shiny coat of paint added to go along with a fancy box. The sculpt has aged well so he should still look the part on your shelf. I have some nitpicks with his size, but I largely think he looks good. He just shows his age primarily with those knees and it’s the one thing I would definitely change. This isn’t a budget release, after all, as he retailed for $50 so it would have been nice to see an upgrade made there. Even factoring that in, I still think he’s worth the price tag and I do find myself quite charmed by this release. He’s very much an essential character if you’re collecting Dragon Ball Super. Since this figure was an event exclusive, you’ll need to seek him out on the secondary market. Big Bad Toy Store is carrying this edition, but at a significant markup (more than 100%) so you might be better off on eBay or Mercari. I like the figure, but I don’t $100 like the figure so I guess it will come down to how important it is for you personally to add Beerus to your display.

“Buy me or the Earth is destroyed!”

S.H.Figuarts Dragon Ball Super Goku Black – Super Saiyan Rosé

Wine enthusiast Goku has arrived.

Our last look at an S.H.Figuarts release was the Dragon Ball GT Super Saiyan 4 Goku. Now, we look at a figure from the series that effectively replaced GT: Dragon Ball Super. And perhaps the most popular villain from that new series is Goku Black. Without getting into spoiler territory, Goku Black is basically an evil Goku from an alternate timeline. It’s more complicated than that, but a big part of his saga is trying to figure out how he came into existence so I’ll refrain from elaborating. All you really need to know is he looks like Goku, which isn’t exactly new territory since we already have Bardock, who looks just like his son, and there was Turles from the Tree of Might who also looked like Goku, though he’s non-canon. Goku Black is actually worthy of looking like Goku and being the true doppelganger as he’s extremely powerful and also quite evil – the usual Dragon Ball enemy.

Goku Black is part of the series of S.H.Figuarts releases going to mass retail like Target. I had forgot about him until I came across him in store recently. I had seen this release on retail outlets online for the “budget” price of $35 and for some reason I didn’t make the connection to Target. This figure is a reissue, so that’s part of the reason why it can be priced so low relative to other SHF releases, and it omits some accessories (like effects parts) from that past release. The surprising part is that this figure is quite different from Goku. All of the Goku’s at this price point have basically been the same figure with a different deco: Goku, Kaioken Goku, SSGSS Goku, SS Goku. Goku Black basically only gets to recycle the hair and left hand from those figures. It’s possible parts of his body are shared with other releases (like Zamasu) that I just don’t have, so Bandai apparently got what it needed to out of the original tools and can put this guy out there for cheap. Still, I was surprised to see him head to Target before a more popular character, like Vegeta, but I wasn’t necessarily disappointed either.

Coming up with poses for this guy feels tricky without accessories.

This edition of Goku Black is in his Super Saiyan form, which he calls Super Saiyan Rosé since his aura is pink. The original release from 2018 came with extra heads and parts, but this one is just the super version. I always like to get the extra stuff, but I’d honestly never use the non-transformed head so I can’t really complain. The hair has that pearl finish we saw with the Super Saiyan Blue Goku and it is an attractive piece. It’s also the exact same mold as that previous Goku. That’s kind of it though as far as what he shares with that Goku as his left ear has an earring, so he gets new faceplates, and his right hand has a ring as well. For clothing, he wears a black bodysuit with a purple tunic over it. It’s not form-fitting like the body suits Vegeta is so fond of, so there are sculpted folds and wrinkles in the forearms and biceps as well as the pants. The torso is basically one piece, while the bottom of the tunic (including the belt) is an overlay. There’s a little shading on the front of the figure, but it’s fairly subtle. Most of the figure is molded plastic, but since the colors are deep and more muted than typical Dragon Ball costumes, it looks pretty nice. There’s no mis-matching colors and the little bits of painted details, like the jewelry and face, look nice.

What’s the matter, Black? Someone pee in your cereal?

There are two areas of the figure that don’t look great to me. The first is the shoulder area where Bandai is utilizing that peg system for the sleeve cuffs. This allows the arms to move unencumbered, but the sleeves do stupid things as a result and result in gaps. You can fiddle with them so that it looks okay in most poses, but it always felt unnecessary. The other part that doesn’t look great are the hips which flare out to an abnormal degree. His hips are wider than his shoulders which is pretty crazy and obviously not accurate to the source material. And it’s not the overlay causing the problem as that’s actually tight against his hips and thighs. It’s just a weird design.

Also, no flight stand included, but you probably could have guessed that.

When it comes to the articulation, we have some good and some not so good. The head is a double ball peg, though it might be of an odd design like we’ve seen on characters like Lunch and Kid Goku. It basically provides rotation, tilt, and together with the joint in the base of the neck allows the character to look down. He can’t really look up though as the cuff of his tunic blocks that, but I suppose Goku Black looks up to no one. At the shoulders we have those ugly sleeves, but aside from that the butterfly joint works fine as the shoulder can move up and down and he gets decent range going across the chest. The interior of the joint is painted properly too, unlike some of the Gokus we’ve seen. Biceps swivel, double-jointed elbow, and wrist peg all work as expected. Ball joints in the diaphragm and waist provide twist and tilt and also allows Black to crunch forward and bend back an acceptable amount. The hips, despite being ugly, at least function well as the character can do almost a full split and the thighs swivel. His double-jointed knees work very well, but it’s at the ankle where things kind of suck. He just has those ball-peg ankle joints which don’t provide a lot of range and are prone to popping off if you push it too far. He can bend the foot back okay, but he can’t really go forward and the ankle rocker sucks. The toe hinge is tight, but also really small and I don’t see it adding much.

Aww, they’re twins!

The articulation on this guy is largely acceptable. It’s really just those ankles that I don’t like and the sleeve system up by the shoulders. All of the joints are nice and tight without being overly tight. Nothing is loose, and despite being a cheaper release, this guy feels like a SHF release. Which means, as a budget release, his only true weak area is in the accessory department. This guy just has optional parts, so no effects pieces. It’s unfortunate because those pieces are already tooled, so for Bandai the only cost is plastic. I get it though, translucent, purple, plastic isn’t exactly usable on a lot of things so it probably costs more than most parts as the machines have to be loaded with the stuff and there’s probably a lot of waste involved. Nevertheless, I can still be disappointed. Black comes with four portraits: smirk, yell, side-eyed teeth grit, and a scowl. For hands, we get fist hands, open “clenchy” hands, martial arts pose, and one two-finger Instant Transmission right hand. The clenchy hands and martial arts ones have a slightly different shape when compared with Goku, but they’re fine. Each right hand has the ring sculpted and painted as well. It’s an adequate assortment of stuff, there’s just nothing to put it over the top.

In hand, Goku looks far more paler than Black, but the flash of the camera says otherwise.

The Super Saiyan Rosé form of Goku Black is a solid release made even better by the $35 price point. Marvel Legends comes with less stuff and are now hitting $25 or more at retail, so $35 for an average SHF release is practically a steal. And I think he looks, and feels, more premium than most of the Goku releases at that same dollar amount. I think that’s mostly a result of the color palette in use as that orange plastic we see with Goku has a cheap vibe. Even Black’s skin tone is more saturated and warm and all together just more pleasant to look at. While I miss the effects parts, I don’t miss them enough to want to pay the after market rate which is around $200 these days.

This guy is available at various specialty shops online and should be arriving at Target now. I grabbed him because, when he first came out, I was trying to stay away from collecting Dragon Ball Super, but now I regret passing on some of them. I mostly got this guy in hopes that Bandai will re-release the Dragon Ball Super version of Future Trunks as he would pair well. Hopefully that’s in the cards along with Super Saiyan Blue versions of Vegeta. And if not, Goku Black is still a worthy addition to my humble display.


S.H.Figuarts Dragon Ball GT Super Saiyan 4 Goku

Step into the (not so) grand tour!

In the world of Dragon Ball, there are varying opinions on which version of the anime is superior. Dragon Ball Z is unquestionably the most popular, but there are people (like me) out there who swear by the original Dragon Ball that came before it. More recently, Dragon Ball Super has entered the fray and it’s a worthy successor to DBZ that may or may not be finished. Really, what few debate is what occupies the lowest rung of the Dragon Ball ladder: Dragon Ball GT.

Dragon Ball GT first premiered in 1996 after the conclusion of DBZ. Series creator, artist, writer Akira Toriyama was finished with Goku and the gang, but he was more than willing to let Toei continue the story because presumably it was easy money for him. Over the years, a level of trust had been established between the two as Toei produced numerous Dragon Ball movies which were created in-house with Toriyama still on-hand to design new characters. The films were all non-canon, but GT would represent a chance for Toei to truly broaden the scope of Dragon Ball.

If the goal was to create something demonstrably different from the other Super Saiyan forms, well, then mission accomplished.

The results were mixed at best. Toei, seemingly recognizing that Goku had long surpassed his peers by the end of DBZ, redesigned everyone and gave Goku some new traveling buddies in his granddaughter Pan and the now adult Trunks. And perhaps to capture the adventuring spirit of the original Dragon Ball, Goku was turned back into a child and set out on a quest to collect the Black Star Dragon Balls. During his journey, he would unlock a new ability: Super Saiyan 4.

I like the painted details on the face, but I don’t know that we need the “butt” in the center of the forehead on a stoic expression like this one.

Back in Dragon Ball Z (or just Dragon Ball for the manga purists), Toriyama conceived a new level of power for Goku that caused a minor transformation in that his hair would turn blond and his eyes teal. This was the Super Saiyan transformation, and really, the series could have ended with Goku’s unlocking of this ability and toppling Frieza, but it didn’t. Goku needed to keep getting stronger, so what’s stronger than a Super Saiyan? Super Saiyan 2! By the time the story was concluded, Goku had advanced to Super Saiyan 3. All three levels were fundamentally the same, except the shape of Goku’s hair changed with the third level being the most dramatic in that his hair was several feet long. Also, he lost his eyebrows for some reason. It’s not surprising there wasn’t a ton of imagination in these transformations. With the original, Toriyama has joked that he mostly designed it the way that he did so that he no longer had to color in Goku’s hair since the manga was in black and white and yellow hair would just be white.

For Super Saiyan 4, Toriyama decided to get creative. I’m not sure if Toei requested something different, or if this was Toriyama’s will, but Super Saiyan 4 definitely breaks the mold of other transformations. And being that most people aren’t really into Dragon Ball GT, it’s become the show’s only lasting legacy as the look does seem to have its fans. There’s certainly enough fans that Bandai and Tamashii Nations decided to bring the look to the S.H.Figuarts line in time for the show’s 25th anniversary.

A McFarlane approved side eye portrait.

If you’ve never seen Super Saiyan 4 before, well, it’s certainly a trip. In an effort to bring the Saiyan race back to its primal roots, Super Saiyan 4 mixes the look of the classic Great Ape transformation with that of a humanoid Saiyan. For Goku, this means his body becomes coated in a hot pink fur (why that color, I have no idea) and his tail returns. His hair still gets demonstrably more wild, but remains black. The hallmark of the look from a hair perspective is the tufts of hair that rest on the character’s chest. His eyes are also rimmed with red and the iris becomes gold with black pupils. His disposition seems to shift as well with Goku becoming cocky, and even a touch sadistic. Goku loves fighting in the same manner as a kid loves playing any competitive sport, but Super Saiyan 4 Goku might actually enjoy dishing out pain. As a design, it’s certainly garish, but it’s so outlandish that it kind of works. I know when I first saw images of this form back in the 90s I found it shocking and absurd, but over time I have come to appreciate it for its uniqueness.

They were able to ditch the sloppy look of the butterfly joints on past Goku releases, but this could still use some fine-tuning.

Despite that, I’ve never considered myself a true fan of Super Saiyan 4. I wouldn’t say I’m indifferent, but it doesn’t bother me that the look has basically been rendered non-canon by Dragon Ball Super. It is interesting though and that’s why I’m hear to talk about the action figure. The Tamashii Nations take on the look is largely as expected. It does some things well, and some things not so well. It’s also the first figure in the line that I’ve purchased that was made at Bandai’s new factory in Vietnam. What does that mean for the figure? Well, anytime you have someone completely new to something get added to a process there’s going to be some growing pains, and this figure certainly seems to suffer a bit from such.

I guess the one on the right s now the true Super Saiyan 4? Or is it actually 5?

This primal take on Goku stands at about 5.25″ to the top of his visage and a tick over 6″ to the top of the hair putting him right in line with other Goku figures in the line. He comes in the same, familiar, window box with an assortment of parts and effects to make the figure feel complete. The default expression for Goku is a stoic one. There’s a little bit of paint on the face to highlight the creases in his brow and under his eye which is all applied cleanly and does add a lot to the figure’s expression. I’m not sure we need the center line in the forehead, as it’s not something that appears frequently in the artwork. It kind of gives him a “butthead,” but it’s something I’m getting used. It certainly isn’t needed on a stoic expression. The hair looks appropriately wild to the point where it can be hard to manipulate the head on this guy without pricking your finger.

Flight stand not included, but definitely useful.

Below the head we have a mix of colored plastic and painted parts. The neck is flesh-colored plastic, while the chest is painted. There is a slight different in the color of the flesh which is always a bummer. His chest also sticks way out, consistent with the character’s look in the show, but it makes his neck appear to sit pretty far inside the figure. It also doesn’t help that there’s a noticeable gap between neck and chest. The pink portions are colored plastic save for the little bit on the hands. There’s sculpted texture, and it looks fine. The paint around the flesh-colored portions of the chest is not the cleanest, but it’s not so bad that I’m convinced Bandai’s standard factory in China would have done any better. The belt is a floating piece of plastic and the mustard pants feature a hint of a wash on the front of the figure, nothing on the rear. The colored components seem to match just fine, and on the rear of the figure is the tail which features the same sculpted fur as the arms and torso.

Screaming head or smirking head? Tough call, but it’s one largely dependent on what you want to do with the neat effect piece.

Bandai did a good enough job here with the look of the figure that I think any Super Saiyan 4 fan out there will be pleased. The colors and proportions look right to me, and the mix of portraits are also quite suitable for this version of Goku. In addition to the default expression, we have three more: smirk, side-eyed teeth gritting, and yelling. All feature the same clean paint apps and the selection is so good that it’s hard to settle on one. The bangs on Goku pop off to access the face plate, and one of my nitpicks with this guy is the hair doesn’t sit flush on the top of the head cleanly. I find myself constantly fiddling with it to get it to look as best it can. It’s not something that will be noticeable on a shelf, but in-hand it does become apparent. The fit is also loose, and I had the face or hair fall off when swapping hands. Goku also has an assortment of hands to utilize including fists, martial arts pose hands, wide open palms, two finger hands, Kamehameha hands, and Kamehameha hands with pegs. The pegged hands are for use with the energy effect, something we rarely get. It’s a translucent pink ball with 6 rods that can be inserted into it. It then pegs into one of Goku’s hands and looks pretty rad. I can’t imagine many collectors declining to utilize it in their display. Uncharacteristic of this line, I found the hands actually difficult to swap. Pulling them off of the figure is easy enough, but getting them on is a pain. Is this just a result of the new factory not being used to this sort of thing? It feels like it because I’ve never had to heat a figure from this line before, but for some of these hands I opted to.

A nice touch here is that the figure features a sculpted rip in his pants for the newly sprouted tail.

The other area where things feel a little off is with the articulation. This edition of Goku has basically all of the points of articulation one expects, but the engineering could have used a little more quality control in a few places. Most notably, it starts at the head. The figure really can’t look up, but that’s because of the hair. To make up for this, the two large strands on the back of his head are actually articulated, as are the two that hang over the chest. He can look down and that’s easy because his head is pretty floppy. It’s not so bad that he can’t hold a pose, but just a little pressure on the back of the head will send his chin diving into his throat. The base of the neck is articulated, but I can’t really get it to do anything which is unfortunate since it has that gap in it. At the shoulders, we have a modified butterfly joint with a newer ball peg and hinge setup. This gets rid of some of those floating pieces, but also leads to more gapping issues. I think this joint would look great on a standard Goku, but a shirtless one isn’t optimal. There’s also that flesh-colored paint to be mindful of as you don’t want the paint to rub off. He also has a biceps swivel, a double-jointed elbow that bends past 90 degrees, and ball-pegs at the hands. In the torso, we have ball joints in the abdomen and waist so he can rotate and pivot with a decent crunch forward and back. Again, watch the paint on the abs as you don’t want that to scratch. At the hips, he has legs that can do full splits and kick forward, but the sculpted butt cheeks prevent him from kicking backwards. There’s a thigh twist, double-jointed knees, and the standard ankle ball-joint. The range at the ankle is poor, and the toe hinge is too loose to really add anything. The ankle itself is also loose and standing him can be more tricky than typical of this line. The knee joints are fine, but in a first for me with this line, I had the knee cap pop off when bending it. It just tabs on, but it’s going to be annoying if it keeps doing that. He also has a ball joint where his tail meets his body. There are no other joints in the tail so it’s posing is limited, but I’d rather that than a bunch of ugly ball joints throughout.

“Don’t you dare talk shit about me and my series!”

The articulation, overall, is fine it’s not the usual “feel” I’m used to with this line. Some parts feel a little rougher than usual (the shoulders) and others are too loose for my liking. It’s understandable given the circumstances, and the move to the factory probably helped keep the price down as he’s $60, but a part of me wishes they handed them some lesser characters first before going right into such a unique look. Aside from that, the weight and overall feel is still excellent and this is certainly worthy of the S.H.Figuarts branding. Just the added paint on the face makes him look a lot nicer than the Super Saiyan Blue Goku I have and I do like the removal of some of the floating pieces in the shoulders and hips. If they didn’t stamp it right on the box where this thing was made few would likely question it. And I think this factory will get better, in time. Supposedly, the final form Cooler came out of the Vietnam factory and turned out great, so maybe they already have things mostly figured out.

As for Super Saiyan 4 Goku, this is a rather bizarre and unique look for character made even more so by the dismissal of Dragon Ball GT in favor of Dragon Ball Super. The series was never really canon to begin with, but since Toriyama designed the Super Saiyan 4 look most treated that part as canon. And maybe it will be again some day, or some variation on it, but for now we have the various Super Saiyan God forms. I don’t expect Bandai to go to the GT well too frequently in the future, though I suspect we’ll be seeing Vegeta in his Super Saiyan 4 form eventually and maybe even Gogeta. It helps that some of these parts can be reused for both figures, namely the arms, and it’s a subline that can trickle out and won’t command a ton of resources. As a weird little footnote in my Dragon Ball collection, I like this guy. I was going to pass on it eventually, but decided to give-in to curiosity. And it turned out to be $60 well spent.


S.H.Figuarts Dragon Ball Lunch

Here comes Lunch! Err, Launch?

It’s no secret my preferred take on the world of Dragon Ball created by author/artist Akira Toriyama is the original one: Dragon Ball. Of course, in the manga it’s just all Dragon Ball up until the more recent Dragon Ball Super, but for anime viewers there’s Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, Dragon Ball GT, and Dragon Ball Super. Of the four, I feel comfortable declaring Z the most popular, and after that might actually be Super. Dragon Ball is the more adventure-focused of the anime. Being that these unfold chronologically (well, except GT, but we don’t need to talk about GT), Dragon Ball is the one that features a kid Goku before he becomes a super powerful Saiyan warrior. I like the more grounded action, even though it’s still not even remotely realistic, and there’s a ton of humor spread throughout. All of these shows have a formula, but with Dragon Ball, I feel it’s less obvious.

Dragon Ball has never been super popular in America. We got both it and Z in the mid 90’s, but with far more emphasis placed on the sequel series. That one famously bombed out of the gate too, with Ocean Group dubbing around 100 episodes and so much material was cut that the episode count differed from the Japanese version. One of those casualties was the character Lunch. She appeared in Dragon Ball fairly regularly, but her appearance in Z was more like a cameo. It was apparently deemed not necessary, and since she totes a gun perhaps it was also considered too violent. As a result, Lunch was a character I only ever read about for a long time. There was a long hiatus in dubbing the series so us American fans had to either buy bootleg tapes or just be content reading about the series online. I mostly read about it, and Lunch was always a character I wanted to see in action since she sounded quite unique.

She looks like a nice girl.

Because I read about her first, I’m still conditioned to refer to her as Lunch. When Dragon Ball was eventually dubbed and released in America, her name was changed to Launch. It’s actually a pretty clever update as her personality is centered around her “launching” into a fit of anger. Lunch, by default, is a kind, sweet, and rather meek young woman. She’s also quite shapely and a natural target for the perverted Master Roshi, and unlike Bulma, she takes his crude advances in stride. However, anytime she sneezes she transforms. Her hair changes color from blue to yellow (is Lunch the original Super Saiayn?!), but that’s not the most dramatic part of the change. Her personality also completely morphs turning her into an enraged, gun-toting, maniac! Seriously, where does she keep that gun normally? Once she goes blonde, she just whips it out from somewhere and just starts blasting. When her target is Roshi, it’s hard to argue the old man didn’t deserve it, but she’ll also perceive basically any male in her sight a threat and often poor Goku will bare some of the brunt as well.

Someone looks excited.

The Dragon Ball subline for Banda’s S.H.Figuarts line of collectibles has decided that Lunch is the only worthy entry for 2021. It hasn’t been a fast moving line like Z or even Super, but just one figure in 2021 is a little disappointing for Dragon Ball. I’m sure some are also disappointed that lone figure wasn’t a desert bandit Yamcha or a first appearance Tien, but for me, I like getting another female character into the display. The franchise is pretty short on them, and we can only have so many versions of Bulma, so Lunch feels like a solid inclusion. Unfortunately, she came with a decent price hike as the MSRP on this one is $65. Such a price is not unheard of for this line, but as we’ll get into, this isn’t one of the more over-stuffed releases we’ve received in the past. Costs went up like crazy last year, so this could be a symptom of that. Or, Lunch carries a small premium because Bandai doesn’t figure to sell a ton of figures of her. The Super Saiyan 4 Goku comes with more stuff and is five bucks cheaper and might even feature less parts reuse. The real answer is probably both, but given how small the Dragon Ball line is I wasn’t about to pass on Lunch just because she was 5-10 bucks more expensive than I would have predicted.

Uh oh. She sneezed…

Lunch comes in the typical SHF window box and in her default persona. She stands a tick over 5″ to the top of her hair putting her right in-line with Bulma, whom she likely shares some parts with (most notably the legs). This means, like Bulma, she doesn’t scale well with Goku or even Roshi, but that’s because they seem to exist in their own scale as a means of keeping the kid characters from being tiny. She’s also sporting her traditional attire: green, spaghetti-strapped tanktop, yellow short-shorts, brown gloves, green ankle warmers, red sneakers, and a red ribbon in her hair. The tank top is just painted on, but it looks quite clean and the green matches the ankle warmers rather well. They have little buckles on them which are also painted cleanly and the yellow stripes on the shoes are also well done. The only issue with the paint is that crotch piece for the shorts is cast in yellow plastic, while the rest on her thighs is the same, but it’s likely PVC and the result is there’s a color variance. It’s subtle, but it’s also there and a disappointment. The blue hair appears to have a wash applied to the bangs area which looks nice, but is also the only shading to be found on the figure. That’s not a surprise given this is SHF and this figure features a lot of bare skin, but the blonde hair would have benefitted from the same.

Time to run, old man.

And she does come with both portraits because this is Lunch and that’s pretty central to her character. The default one is her smiling and it looks like the character. She can also swap to an excited look and to the all important sneezing face. For her blonde look, she has a smirk and a side-eyed glare. The only one I’m not sold on is the smirk as her cheeks look rather puffy for some reason. The glare is probably my preferred expression, but I do wish we got one more for the blonde version of her yelling and just looking really pissed off. Like I said, we needed both versions of Lunch in the box, but I’m slightly bummed the blue-haired look got three portraits to the blonde’s two because I think most will display her as a blonde.

Now he’s in trouble!

And most will likely opt for the blonde look because she only has two accessories and the favored one works with that look. And that’s her submachine gun. She comes with fists in the box, but has a right, trigger, grip for the gun and a loose gripping left hand to sort of cup it. The other optional hands are two open hands which are good for a sneezing pose or to hold the last accessory: the all important Dragon Ball. Lunch comes with the pearl painted ball which is what SHF has switched to after releasing 7 translucent balls already. There’s a lot of plastic here just in the two heads alone since her hair is so big, but there’s no covering up that this is an underwhelming assortment of accessories. Especially at that higher price point. Another portrait for her blonde look would have helped, and maybe a blast effect for her machinegun would have gone a long way.

This setup is definitely interesting.

The articulation for Lunch is familiar, but also introduces some new things. And that’s mainly at the head. Her head is connected via a double ball peg that actually pegs into her hair, and not her head. It has a bend in it so her head sits low enough, but it is a bit of a pain in the ass to swap heads on this figure because that peg wants to move when you’re trying to fit it into the hair. It’s a lot easier on the blue hair, because that’s how the figure shipped. It’s also definitely easier to swap with the face plate on it as that helps to prevent the peg from moving too much. At least it’s a sturdy ball peg so I never feared breaking it, but it was annoying. Swapping the faces requires pulling off the bangs first and it can be a challenge to get the face off without popping the hair off of the neck, which can be a touch frustrating. Once in place, it moves around okay. Her hair obviously is going to limit her range, but there is a hinge in the back of her hair to help alleviate some of that. She can look up and look down a bit with the usual rotation and some tilt. I think you get enough, but it is a bit weird to look at initially.

She can’t quite aim her gun convincingly two-handed, but she still poses all right with it.

Beyond the head, the rest is pretty much in-line with both versions of Bulma released in this line. The shoulders are on ball pegs so they rotate rather well. There’s no butterfly joint, but her bust would probably have impeded one anyway had it been installed. The elbows are single-jointed on these disc-like pieces that I’ve never liked that much. The range is great, but when the arms are extended they look kind of funky. The wrists are ball-joints and with the gloves there’s plenty to hide them so no complaints there. There’s a diaphragm joint that works in tandem with a ball joint at the waist. Lunch can tilt up there well and she can bend backwards probably farther than you need her to, but there will be some gapping issues under her shirt. Crunching forward is not great and it exposes a gap near her waistline on the back of the figure. It’s hard to imagine her needing to crunch forward more than she can, but it’s always a bit bizarre to see figures that can go back better than forward. At the hips we have standard ball joints, but the cuffs of her shorts limit their range. She can’t do a split, but can nearly reach a full horizontal kick. Her buttcheeks prevent her from kicking back really at all, but you do get a thigh twist. The cuffs on her shorts can be a bit finicky as sometimes they leave a gap in crotch area and I find myself tweaking the left leg, in particular, often to try to mitigate that. At the knees we have basically the same situation as the elbows, only here the disc piece is on the back of the figure and basically hidden. The ankles are ball-jointed so you get great range there and they also included a toe hinge, if you feel it’s needed.

This is definitely my favorite expression in the set.

I’m pretty happy with how Lunch can move around. The only thing she can’t do well that I wish she could is a two-handed firing pose with the gun. Her bust just gets in the way which is a character design issue more so than a figure one. I suppose it helps that her portraits aren’t really firing portraits which lend themselves better to casual stances as opposed to action ones, not that Lunch never fired her gun with nothing but a smirk in the show. Her hair does make her more top heavy than the Bulma figures we have so I’ve found her a little tougher to stand, but nothing dramatic. It’s just something you have to be aware of and take into account when posing her.

The scale is a bit wonky in this line, but she fits in with Bulma, at least.

I think Lunch turned out pretty well. I have come criticisms, but most of them are of the value nature and not direct criticisms of the figure itself. And where I do have them for the figure, I chalk them up mostly to me being nitpicky, but that’s what a review is for! She looks terrific on a shelf amongst my other Dragon Ball figures. She looks better when paired with Bulma than she does Krillin or Goku, but she can also handle being near Master Roshi too. She would look even better though with Tien, and I do hope there’s more in store for Dragon Ball as far as S.H.Figuarts is concerned. There’s still plenty to mine from that series, and a few characters that I would definitely deem essential, but time will tell what Bandai has planned.


S.H.Figuarts Bulma

Bulma’s back and packing a bigger gun.

It was a little over a year ago that I took a look at the S.H.Figuarts release Bulma – Adventure Begins. I believe I mentioned in that review that the figure I was reviewing was the second Bulma released by Bandai/Tamashii Nations for the SHF line of action figures based on the classic manga/anime Dragon Ball by Akira Toriyama. It was that version of Bulma that I was interested in because it depicted her as she appeared in the very first episode of the anime. The previous version of Bulma had not interested in me as she was in her Mad Max-like outfit from the show’s ending credits and some promotional art. For whatever reason, that version of Bulma has apparently appealed more to companies looking to make collectibles based on the show. When Irwin launched their own line of Dragon Ball toys in the early 2000s, they too went with that look. A lot of statues and other collectibles have gone with it, and I guess it’s just because these companies view their clientele as mostly male and males want to buy the rugged version of Bulma with the machinegun, not the one with the ponytail and pink skirt.

I’d wager most who buy this figure will pose her exactly as she appears on the box.

As someone with a fairly modest Dragon Ball collection, I definitely do not need versions of characters that didn’t even make it into the show. However, the past year being what it is, boredom and clearance pricing has led me to make some purchases I otherwise would not which is why I’m about to tell you all about the first version of Bulma released in the S.H.Figuarts line. Simply titled “Bulma,” this is that biker/raider/whatever iteration of the character. I believe it’s based on artwork by Toriyama, but otherwise those ending credits are where I know it from. It appears about 30 seconds into it and is preceded by quick shots of Bulma putting on her gloves and loading her gun. She’s positioned with a dirt bike too, and the Irwin release included the bike as a stand, while this version is just the figure. It’s certainly an interesting look as she’s covered in bandages and for some reason her pants are missing a leg. Her hair’s in this side ponytail and her name is emblazoned on her shoulder pad. She looks cool, a bit of a rugged cute, she just never looks like this in the actual anime.

“Is that ME?! What am I wearing?!”

The figure basically matches that art to perfection. About the only difference I notice is she has a little grime on her exposed knee in the picture that Bandai didn’t bother to paint on. She’s about five inches tall, which makes her a little taller than Kid Goku, but doesn’t really put her in true scale with anyone in the Dragon Ball line save for maybe Tao. It’s basically a choice Bandai had to make when doing the kid characters for they’d have to be really small to be truly in scale. Bulma comes with her goggles which are basically just intended to be held or draped over her neck as they are in the image. To do so, you just pop her head off and that’s how you complete the look. A lot of the details in her sculpt are done with separate pieces like the satchel at her hip and the shoulder pad on her left arm. I’m not sure if the pad is glued on or just pegged in, but the satchel is pegged and it can be lifted up. The straps across her back and left thigh are sculpted in and painted and the paint application is very clean. The only paint issue I can find concerns some of the hands where the blue rectangle isn’t perfectly lined up with the sculpted-out area for it, but it’s very minor. I really like how her boots turned out and even the little clasps on those are painted silver without slop which is kind of incredible. My only real criticism with the sculpt and paint of this figure rests with the hair. I wish there was a wash or something added to the figure’s hair to reduce the very plastic look it has. It’s matte, but that shade of blue comes out looking a little like Play-Doh.

Look! She can put her gloves on!

This figure likely shares parts with the other version of Bulma and her articulation is essentially the same. Her head sits on a fairly large ball-peg and can rotate, tilt, and look down quite a bit. Her hair prevents her from being able to look up though. At the shoulder she has ball-pegs with a small butterfly joint. She can raise her arms out past 90 degrees at the side, though you have to work with the shoulder pad on her left arm, and rotate all around. The arm swivels basically at the shoulder and above the biceps. At the elbows, she has the SHF disc joints which aren’t my favorite, but it’s what Bandai seems to go with when it’s sculpting characters with thin arms. She can bend past 90, but the joint is rather funky looking when the elbows are not bent. At the wrist she has ball joints with great range and the joint isn’t as awkward looking as it is on some figures because her hands and wrists are fully gloved. In the torso she has a ball joint just below her bust. This allows her to tilt and crunch forward and back with really no gapping issues. It works in conjunction with a ball-joint at the waist resulting in her being super flexible. At the leg, she can lift her legs out to the side a fair amount, but can’t pull off a split. She kicks forward and back to about 90 with a thigh twist up by the ball-joint. The knees use the same disc system as the elbows so they’re single-jointed, but allow the figure to go a little past 90 there as well. The joint here works a little better from an aesthetic point-of-view as the disc is only visible from the back. Below the knee, she surprisingly doesn’t seem to have a boot-cut, but she does have ball-joints at the ankle. They’re a bit limiting though, likely due to the sculpt, so she can’t go forward and back too far and the side-to-side “rocker” action is a bit limited as well.

Dragon Radar: don’t leave home without it!

Bulma is sort of like a tale of two figures when it comes to the articulation: great on top, so-so below the waist. She can still do whatever you need her to. She’s more than capable of hitting the pose from those ending credits, as well as the other product shots on the box. And when it comes to her accessories, there are no problems there as well. Her main accessory is that machinegun she’s seen casually holding in the art. It has a sling that pegs into the rear and side so she can wear it over her shoulder, hold it by the top, or hold it in a more conventional firing position. The gun has a very long stock which makes it a challenge to position properly if you want her to look like she’s actually firing the gun. Not impossible, but it’s definitely not the position Bandai prioritized when developing it. She has those goggles I mentioned which are well-painted and look nice wherever you choose to put them. They just can’t actually fit across her face. She also has the Dragon Radar that the other Bulma comes with. This one has a different decal that doesn’t show any Dragon Balls. Just like with that Bulma, this one comes with a special right hand for the Dragon Radar to peg into since it’s such a small accessory. Definitely try not to drop it on a carpet. She also has an assortment of other hands and most seem like they serve a specific purpose. There’s a set of curved, open, hands that appear intended for holding the Dragon Ball or possibly handlebars. There’s a right, trigger, hand, a right fist, and a right, open, hand. That open hand appears to work in conjunction with a left hand that’s almost a fist, but her thumb is forward in a pinching position. Based on the rear of the box, it appears to be to simulate her pulling on her right glove (the open hand) which is certainly specific. There’s also a left, pointing, hand and a left gripping hand for holding the gun by the top of it as she is in the art. Lastly, there’s a five-star Dragon Ball and I think I now have all seven, plus the “pearl” one that came with Jackie Chun.

One flaw with this line is that Bulma basically scales with no one.

To go with all of that stuff are two additional portraits. Bulma comes with a standard smile in the box, plus an open mouth smile and a winking face. Swapping them is simple as her hair comes off granting access to the face-plate. What’s kind of neat is she can also use the face-plates from the second Bulma release. The smile expressions are basically the same, except this version has a band-aid on her cheek. The open mouth on this Bulma has her looking to her left, while the other is looking straight-ahead. The main difference between the two is the winking face for this figure, and the terrified scream on the other. I can’t see myself swapping faces between the two releases, but it’s nice to have that option. If you wanted to, you could also place her on the SHF Bulma’s Motorcycle accessory, though she doesn’t fit as well as the other Bulma. That’s due to the crotch piece limiting the legs at the hip so it’s a bit tricky to get her all the way down onto the seat and have her feet where they’re supposed to be. It can be done, but that bike definitely works better with the other Bulma since she has a new skirt piece specifically designed to get her properly seated.

It’s a bit of an awkward fit, but if you want to, Bulma can ride the motorcycle.

This is a solid release from Bandai for the SHF line. Despite this version of Bulma never appearing in the anime proper, it’s still associated with an iconic image of the character so it’s not as if it’s unwanted. It’s different enough from Bulma – Adventure Begins that it serves a purpose. It can do the pose that it needs to do, but it also has a range of other possible poses that all look good on a shelf. The only changes I’d make to the figure would be to improve the grip on the trigger hand and apply a wash or something to the hair. Otherwise, I’m happy with the sculpt and paint and the articulation is sufficient for what this figure needs to do. This wasn’t the version of Bulma I decided I needed to have for my Dragon Ball collection, but now that I have it I’m certainly glad it’s here.


S.H.Figuarts Piccolo: The Proud Namekian

A real proud one.

When the S.H.Figuarts line was launched years ago and Dragon Ball Z was at the forefront, it wasn’t Goku who got to be the first figure out of the gate. Nope, it was Piccolo. That figure caught my attention when it was announced even though I had not purchased a Dragon Ball figure in quite some time. I came close, but ultimately never did pull the trigger. The line originally adhered very close to the original Dragon Ball manga so Piccolo sported a light purple gi with yellow, puffy, things (whatever that portion of Namekian anatomy is), and a red sash at the waist. An event exclusive version would follow that depicted an anime color scheme and by all accounts it seemed like most people really liked this figure.

Piccolo looks like a fun guy…

Of course, time being what it is, Bandai has had numerous opportunities to improve upon that original figure. The mechanics of the average SHF release have been altered to create more articulation and better sculpting. As a result, the figures released more recently tend to look quite a bit better than the original ones, even though when those first ones dropped few could imagine a DBZ figure looking any better. Many of the original figures have received updates, but it took awhile for old Piccolo to finally get his. Released towards the end of 2020 though was Piccolo: The Proud Namekian. This figure is a complete do-over with basically nothing retained from the original figure. For longtime collectors of this line, this figure was overdue and just judging it based off of promotional pictures seems to indicate it’s a superior product, but how much better is it really? Well, time to find out!

I don’t think he really wants to come out.

Piccolo comes in the standard SHF window box, but he comes a bit different from what some may be used to. Piccolo has a lot of stuff on him right out of the box. I suppose it’s not surprising to see him with his shoulder pads and turban/helmet thing, but I was a little surprised to see that he has the crossed-arms pose in the box. That look is probably the signature Piccolo look so it’s not that surprising that they would go with that pose, it’s just surprising because usually that crossed-arm piece is an included accessory and not the default pose. Instead, Piccolo’s arms are just kind of chilling right there beside him since the crossed-arms pose is one piece.

Let’s cast this stuff aside for a minute.

Anyway, I’m going to start off discussing Piccolo without all of that stuff. He stands around 6.5″ which puts him on the taller side, but he’s probably not as big as he could have been. His size does kind of vary at times in the anime and the character literally can grow to any size, though that’s a seldom used power kept in his back pocket. Out of the box, he has a big, missing, chunk in his back and that’s because his cape is going to peg into there as well as some other pieces. When not wearing the cape, he has a filler piece that’s made to look like his purple gi and it plugs right in. Mine isn’t quite flush on the right side and I wonder if that’s intentional to make it easier to remove? Either way, it looks good to my eyes and it’s on the figure’s back so it’s not something I’m terribly concerned about.

Bandai included a plug to hide all of the ports on the figure’s back, which is expected of a $60 action figure.
I’ve had this Piccolo animation cel on my wall for 20 years so I’m very accustomed to his face. This scene takes place right after Piccolo’s fusion with Nail on Planet Namek.

Piccolo’s default expression is a stoic one. It looks okay, but something about the face seems a touch off to me and I’m not sure what it is. I think his eyes maybe too small and there’s too much “face” below them. The angle of the jaw is probably off too as it should come in tighter towards the center of his neck. I do not like that they painted his mouth red since he does not and has never had red lips so that choice is odd to me. He has his antennae though and they can be pulled out and if you really wanted to you could reposition them. Do be careful though as I once dropped an antennae from my King Piccolo figure and it was a pain to find in my very shallow carpet. I can’t imagine how hard it would have been had my carpet had more volume. Piccolo is depicted in his anime color scheme so purple gi, a very saturated green flesh tone, pink musculature or whatever we’re calling those, with red trim and a blue sash. He’s the “proud Namekian” as we’re calling him so I guess that makes this figure a late Frieza saga version or perhaps a Cell saga version of the character. Prior to that, he was a straight-up villain who wanted to avenge his “father” by killing Goku and then take over the world. He gradually turned to the side of good, thanks to his bond with Goku’s son, Gohan, and by the time he arrives on Namek to confront Frieza and see his home world for the first time he’s very much a good guy. Piccolo doesn’t really change much visually throughout the course of the show, so it’s not that important. In Dragon Ball, he had slightly different anatomy that included pink kneecaps, but otherwise he’s been pretty consistent ignoring the whole height thing I mentioned. Which is good, because this guy can fit in wherever you need him to. If you want him fighting Frieza that’s no problem or maybe you want to put him up against Android 17? That should work too.

This is a figure that definitely benefits from some effects parts.
Obviously, this is the more appropriate charging pose for Piccolo.

From a sculpting perspective, the figure is pretty solid. The gi he wears is sort of nothing new as a lot of characters wear something similar. And in the case of Piccolo, he looks like a scaled down version of King Piccolo and even a lot of the hand options are the same. He has a decent amount of paint since the red and pink portions of his body needed to be painted and it’s all quite clean. His gi looks to largely be unpainted though, likely because it’s a very dark color to begin with. I do wish it had more of a matte appearance because it’s quite shiny. That sheen does help to accentuate the folds, but it doesn’t help to create the illusion of realism. The only other critique of the overall sculpt and paint I have is that his upper body looks a touch undersized. Piccolo is a pretty beefy dude, or alien, whatever, and I feel like his shoulders could be a little broader and his chest a bit more pronounced. I’m guessing, they had to find a happy medium that worked with both the shoulder pads and without since it’s not as apparent when he has those on. I still think he looks good, but if I could improve something that would be it.

I much prefer this face to the more stoic one.
This figure is very stand-friendly.

Of course, if I was unimpressed with the basic, combat, look of Piccolo I could switch to his default look which includes the shoulder pads and cape. In order to put them on (or take them off) you simply pop the head off of the figure and slide the shoulder pads over it. There’s an opening on the back for the cape to peg into and the peg rotates so you can position the cape however you see fit. You can technically use whatever portrait you want with the cape, but Bandai included two heads that work with the turban: a stoic one and a yelling one. The expressions are both duplicated without the turban piece so I dislike the stoic one here, but the yelling one looks great. It just doesn’t work as well with this look since Piccolo usually ditches his weighted clothing when fighting, but he does engage in some fisticuffs with this on here and there. It’s a good look though and if I liked that stoic expression more I’d have a hard time not displaying the figure this way, but I think I’ll go in a different route ultimately.

If I liked this portrait this would be a hard pose to resist.
Though if you want that cape flowing out behind the figure you’re going to need a lot of shelf space.

Piccolo comes with plenty of things, though there’s at least one thing absent. For starters, he has five heads: stoic, stoic with turban, yelling, yelling with turban, and a teeth-gritting looking to the side expression. The heads intended for the turban don’t have a skull-top, but a chunk of plastic with a key on it so the turban can only go on one way. The other three heads have a full top and antennae. The yelling and teeth-gritting feature added veins and both look quite nice. The open mouth on both yelling heads are fully sculpted and the paint is pristine. For as much as I dislike the stoic expression, I love the other two. Piccolo also has the crossed-arms piece mentioned earlier. To use, you disconnect the arms just below the should and plug that piece in. It’s a bit tricky, but it can be done if you make good use of the butterfly joints. Just be careful about putting pressure on the shoulder piece because it has a cap that kind of just floats on it which can slide down and pop off on you. For hands, Piccolo has the usual assortment: fists, style pose, open palms, and a Special Beam Canon right hand. He also has an arm stump that clips on the left shoulder and features some sculpted, purple, blood dripping off of it. This is great if you have a Raditz figure and want to recreate that scene, though we sadly don’t have a barefoot Goku to go with it. Lastly, there are two plugs for the rear of the figure intended to be used with a Tamashii Nations stand (not included). It adds a port for the stand to plug into under the cape, and the larger of the two plugs is intended to help the cape stay up. The best application for this is so Piccolo can achieve his floating, meditative, pose. I do wish they had included an eyes closed portrait to really sell this, but oh well. The only big, missing, item is, of course, a blast effect. This guy is crying out for a Special Beam Canon effect piece and I really wish it could have been included. Seriously, if it means another 5 or 10 bucks added to the MSRP then just do it, Bandai!

I love that they included an arm stump!
This looks pretty bad ass, but it would be so much better with an actual effects piece.

Piccolo has plenty of stuff, but what good would it all be if he can’t be positioned well with it? Worry not, for he’s about as articulated as anything in this line. The head is on a ball peg with another joint at the base of the neck, and since Piccolo is bald, he has no restrictions in looking around. The shoulders are quite impressive as he has a butterfly joint, ball-hinge, and another hinge that allows the arms to drop down. This is to better accommodate the shoulder pads. The butterfly joint can swing out extremely far, which I believe is to make it easier to get the arms-crossed attachment on and less for actual posing, because it would look ridiculous to pose him like that. He swivels just past the shoulder at those ports where his arms come off and has the usual double-jointed elbow and the spacer piece looks quite lovely. The wrists are ball-jointed and the red trim helps hide them without hindering the range. In the diaphragm, you have a ball-hinge so he can rotate and pivot, but also crunch forward and back. There is some gapping if you go too far, and as usual, you want to be mindful of the parts rubbing against each other. At the waist he can twist and pivot and at the hips he can kick forward and back about as far as you need him to and swivel at the thighs. The knees are double-jointed and look okay when going past 90 degrees and the ankles are ball-jointed as well. They aren’t the best, though it could be due to the shape of the character’s shoes, but I don’t have problems standing him. He has a toe hinge as well, but it’s not particularly useful. Lastly, the cape is articulated so the ends can slide out for a more dramatic pose. It can also pivot up and down and you could turn the peg at an angle if you wished. It’s kind of funky because it’s in 3 pieces, but I think it works better than a wired, cloth, cape for this aesthetic. The superior option would probably have been to just do two capes, one just hanging and the other blowing, but maybe this was the more affordable option.

I brought in one of the effects pieces from my Yellow Power Ranger figure and it works okay.

Piccolo has all of the parts and articulation to really achieve the bulk of his signature poses and looks from the show. He can bring his hands together for his Cell saga energy blast, and his range of motion on his arm is perfect for the Special Beam Canon charging and blasting pose. The open hands work as a Masenko attack or if Piccolo wants to steal Tien’s Solar Flare he can do that as well. In terms of just posing, I like the style posed “claw” hands and the fists. The grimacing expression really adds a lot of personality to the figure so he can look angry or desperate with a touch of worry too. If the box included the stand and a blast effect this would be the total package as far as I’m concerned. One thing I also like about the figure, is you can use the “claw” attachment on the stands to support the figure if you want to, but I actually prefer to just peg into the figure either via those included adapters that work with the cape, or with the port on his back for the actual cape. He’s a very dynamic figure, which is what most want and expect from this line.

We have to do the father-son picture!
A time paradox!

Bandai’s 2.0 approach to Piccolo is a very good attempt. He’s definitely an improvement over the original, which is over 10 years old at this point, and does a good enough job of capturing the character’s likeness from the anime in certain poses. I do wish his default expression looked better and I feel like the character could have been bulked up a touch in the shoulder area. Also, the shiny-ness of the pants is a bummer. And there’s the lack of a blast effect of some kind, but that’s a criticism for the entire line as so few figures come with that. Even so, this figure has a lot of display options at his disposal which is great for collectors like me who enjoy changing things up every so often. I’m going with a wounded, Special Beam Canon, charging pose for now, but who knows what Piccolo will be doing 6 weeks from now? If you’ve been holding out for a better Piccolo from this line, this will probably get the job done for you, even with the obvious room for improvement.


S.H.Figuarts Nappa – Event Exclusive Color Edition

Here comes Nappa!

When it comes to my S.H.Figuarts collection, I’ve been able to largely keep to just Dragon Ball. And by Dragon Ball, I mean the original anime and manga that centered on a young boy named Goku. Even though that’s my favorite edition of the venerable series, it doesn’t mean my favorite is the one shared by millions across the globe. Most fans prefer Dragon Ball Z to any other iteration of the anime (the manga just kept the name Dragon Ball until Dragon Ball Super became a thing) so there is ton more merchandise for those fans than there is for me.

Now, just because I have a preference, does not mean I dislike Dragon Ball Z. Like many American viewers, I saw DBZ way before I ever saw Dragon Ball. I saw it briefly when it was on a broadcast network in my area really early in the morning, but I became a fan when Cartoon Network started airing it. The popularity of the show led the network to center a whole block of action cartoons, most of which were anime, around it and Toonami was born. During those early days, only the first 56 episodes or so were dubbed in English (it’s confusing because there was enough material cut that the English dub had a smaller episode count for awhile), and since the show had failed to catch on initially, there were no plans to dub more. Those same episodes then aired over and over so we American fans came to know those characters and arcs rather well. And one of the early villains of the show was the Saiyan warrior: Nappa.

I hope you like yellow and black.

Nappa arrived with Vegeta following Raditz’s defeat with the idea being to get vengeance for his fallen comrade. Even though he viewed Raditz as weak and pathetic, there was enough Saiyan pride in the grunt to want to seek revenge. His comrade and superior, Vegeta, had other ideas though. He cared nothing for Raditz and only wished to find the Dragon Balls so he could wish for eternal life. Unfortunately for Nappa, Vegeta’s lack of affection for Raditz extended to him as well, and when Goku delivered a devastating blow to the warrior that left his back snapped in two, Vegeta decided to put the beast down rather than help him rehabilitate.

Yeah, I know, it’s the wrong Vegeta.

As a result, Nappa’s presence on the show was fairly brief. He shows up, beats up the lesser fighters, and then gets to be the sacrificial lamb to Goku in a bid to demonstrate how far the warrior has progressed in his training. Still, I always thought he was a really effective bad guy. A remorseless killing machine who just loves to fight. His design is simple in that he’s just a massive piece of man-beef with a bald head and moustache. He wears the giant Saiyan armor that was still rather new to viewers at the time, but has shown up in a myriad of places since, and just really looks the part of a guy you wouldn’t want to mess with. So many villains in the show are intentionally drawn small and unimposing as series creator Akira Toriyama seemed to enjoy toying with expectations. Nappa was different, though also kind of the same since the much smaller Vegeta was considerably stronger than him.

I love that scouter look.

A few years ago, a version of Nappa was released in the Bandai/Tamashii Nations S.H.Figuarts lineup that was really tempting. A comic book store near me had one on display in a glass cabinet, but I never could bring myself to bite on it. He even got marked down eventually, a paltry 10%, but a discount nonetheless, and I still passed. That version of the character had more of a manga appearance. His armor was basically black and brown, but he still looked cool. In the anime, his coloring was slightly different which happened from time to time. His shoulder pads were more of a yellow and the black portions had a blue hue to them. That was my Nappa, and when Bandai unveiled a version of the character that matched that appearance I finally gave in.

“Hands off the tail, Namek!”

During the virtual San Diego Comic Con in July, Bandai put what would have been its exclusives on its Premium Bandai webstore. The whole thing was a shit show, and getting from one screen to the next was incredibly tiring as the website was just overrun by collectors looking to buy one of the five Dragon Ball exclusives. It took me over an hour, but I did get an order in for Nappa. I had to wait over a month for delivery though, which funny enough, makes Nappa the first SDCC exclusive I have received in 2021. Either because the global shipping crisis delayed release, or because manufacturers expected they wouldn’t need to have product on hand for a physical con, most of the exclusives ended up being pre-orders. My NECA purchase might arrive in October, or it might arrive in December and my Mondo purchase is dated January. My guess is the reason for the delay is actually a combination of both reasons spelled out, but ultimately, it’s a case of “it is what it is.” You want this stuff? Cool, you got it, but you’re going to have to wait.

These chop hands really draw attention to how massive his hands are.

Nappa arrived in the usual SHF window box only this one features a black and yellow motif to accentuate that it’s an event exclusive. My event exclusive Kid Goku was packaged similarly, though I never did post a review of that figure since he’s the same as the other Kid Goku, just with a blue gi instead of orange. Nappa is a chunky boy. He’s not the tallest SHF figure I own, but he’s probably the heaviest. He stands just a tad shy of 7″ and really fills out the package he comes bundled in. He’s a great figure to hold as he looks and feels like a collector grade action figure. The plastic is firm and each, individual, piece has a lightness to it, but the sum of its parts results in a nice heft for this guy. All of the musculature is well sculpted and the anatomy and design of such really echoes the source material well. As is the case for most of the figures in this line, there’s not a ton of paint, but what’s there is clean. Nappa actually commands more paint than usual as his gloves and boots feature some gray piping with mustard braids around the wrists and ankles. The mustard yellow of the abdomen, shoulder pads, and skirt pieces are all painted and there’s even a slight wash on his muscles. The painted portion of his upper chest area matches the sculpted flesh color of the neck well. The only paint application that looks a little odd to me is the moustache on his smirking head because it doesn’t follow the crease of his smile on the right side. I don’t think it’s supposed to though, it’s just one of those things that looks odd. I’d have to closely inspect the source material to see if I’m wrong, but it only looks odd when the figure is placed right in front of your face. Otherwise, I have no complaints about the aesthetics of this guy.

He’s a bit of a ham for the camera.

Where the SHF line rises above most is in its ability to wed these impressive sculpts with a ton of articulation. Nappa has a whole bunch at his disposal and it’s all of the stuff you would expect. He has a ball joint at the head plus another at the base of the neck so he can look all over the place including up and down. At the shoulders, he has a ball joint plus a butterfly joint. Because of the bulky armor, he can’t bring his arms out and across his chest as well as some figures. The shoulder pads are on hinges so they can be moved out of the way, but the bicep hits the edge of his pec. There’s a biceps swivel and double elbows, but his arms are so thick that he can’t bend past 90 degrees. On the plus side, none of the plastic joiner pieces are over-exposed to accommodate a truly wide range of motion so his arms look pretty nice in whatever position you place them in. His hands are attached via ball pegs, and even though they’re recessed in those gauntlets he’s wearing, he can still move them around pretty well. In the abdomen, he has a ball-joint that I don’t think is hinged. At least, mine won’t go up. He can bend back okay, but not forward very well and you definitely have to be mindful of the upper chest area rubbing on his abs and ruining the paint. At the waist, he has a very small ball-peg that basically just affords swivel rotation. There’s a little tilt there, but nothing game-changing. At the hips, he can kick forward and back about as far as you would ever need him to. There’s a thigh twist and double-jointed knees that go just a tiny bit past 90. At the ankle I believe we have a ball-joint. It’s nice and tight, which is what a big figure like this needs, but doesn’t provide a huge range of motion. There’s also a toe hinge, but it’s not very good and is kind of ugly because the joint is too far forward.

I couldn’t really get him into a kneeling pose to sell this one better.

Nappa moves reasonably well. Obviously, there’s no getting around that armor he wears. It’s big and bulky. The hinges on the various flaps help to some degree, but there’s only so much they can do. While I wish he could reach out in front of himself better than he can, I wouldn’t want to put any cuts in the armor to facilitate that so I’m happy with the choices Bandai made. It helps that Nappa doesn’t really have a signature energy blast like a Kamehameha or Special Beam Canon that he needs to mimic. He’s more of a brawler, and if Bandai ever did want to do a more articulated version of him they could also do a battle damaged one that doesn’t have the armor. As I mentioned in the prior paragraph, the lesser articulation means his joints mostly look really good. His elbows and knees look pretty great whether bent or out straight and there’s not a lot of gapping issues on him. The only area, besides the useless toe hinge, that I think looks a little unsightly is the neck. He’s always going to have a small gap there and since his neck is bare there’s no way to hide anything. The trade-off for the neck articulation is one I’d make though. He is an action figure, after all, not a statue.

Time to fly!

There’s a lot of plastic in Nappa, so it’s probably not surprising to see his accessory count is on the smaller end. Nappa comes with four, distinct, facial portraits. He comes with a smirking face, a yelling face where he’s looking straight-ahead, a yelling face where he’s looking down and to the left (or like he’s trying to look behind himself because there’s a guy grabbing onto him) and a smirking face with scouter. The scouter is non-removable so you only get one display option if you wish to use it. I always think of him as having the scouter on so that’s my preferred look, but I like the others as well. The head where he’s trying to look off to the side is definitely present so you can recreate the scene where Chaoz blows himself up why clinging to Nappa’s back. It’s even illustrated on the back of the box. I don’t have that figure though.

The base of the stand looks pretty cool, it’s just that Nappa isn’t the best figure for such a stand.

In addition to the alternate heads, Nappa also comes with 3 sets of hands. He has fists in the box, but also has grabbing hands and a set of hands that are in a “chop” position. I’m assuming he does some chops in the anime, though I really can’t recall specifics (maybe when he’s smashing up the jets) and the product shots on the box are of no help as none feature them. He also has a seventh hand which has two fingers extended. It functions like a cool, style, pose sort of thing and he may have done an attack that utilized such a gesture, or I could be mistaken. I think it’s present because that’s how he makes holes in the ground to plant the Saibamen. Of the sets, I definitely prefer the grabby hands, but all of them feel like they have use and I’ll likely switch them up, though I don’t know that I’ll ever display him sans scouter. That’s it though for accessories. As usual, there’s no blast effect which would have been nice. A big, mouth, blast would have been pretty fun and unique. I think the standard version might have come with a small one? Or the shop I used to see him at just happened to display him with such. That blast effect wasn’t the best, but I’d still take it over nothing.

Goku, on the other hand, works just fine. The third stand (not pictured) uses Whis’ symbol for the base.

That’s not all I have to talk about though. For SDCC, Bandai had four figures available plus a fifth set which was a box of action stands. They’re personalized to coincide with the figures they did and I grabbed a set. I think it was 40 bucks, but it got you 6 stands, 2 each of the following design: Goku, Whis, and a Saiyan Space Pod. I grabbed it because I really did need more stands and I thought they looked pretty slick. Unfortunately, when it comes to Nappa it doesn’t work too well because he is just so thick. The stand is designed to grab the figure around the waist and has some added crotch support, because even action figures need crotch support. The clasp really can’t get around Nappa’s waist, but he can at least be position on the crotch piece. You will likely need to tighten the screws in the stand as far as they’ll go to accommodate his bulk or else it will just topple. I like that the pack came with two of each style though since anyone who has the previously release Saiyan Saga Vegeta will likely want to use one with him. I do not have that figure, though if he ever gets a re-release I’ll probably grab one now. I was able to finagle a flying pose for Nappa with the stand, though I don’t think I’d trust it on a shelf. That means it’s more like a base for Nappa, and having the space pod as a base is kind of cool in its own way, but it would have been nice if it had been specially engineered to work better with the bulky Nappa.

This figure has some shortcomings, but ultimately it nails what it needed to the most and that’s the look. This looks like Nappa from Dragon Ball Z and he looks fantastic. It would have been awesome if they had found a way to make him move a little better, (and at least one of the product shots on the back of the box must be a render because he can’t wipe his mouth with the back of his hand) or stuck in a cool effects part, but he can definitely can hit all of the important poses for the character. Really, the biggest negative about him is now I want more figures that display well with him. A Saiyan Saga Vegeta is the most appropriate, but it did cause me to look at the recently released Kid Gohan, but I don’t think I need him. I considered Kaioken Goku, but he squared off with the unarmored Nappa so that doesn’t feel necessary. I did grab one figure, and I’ll tell you about him soon enough, and I also pre-ordered the new Krillin so Nappa should have a few guys to play with in due time. This is a guy that enjoys being violent, so I definitely need to feed him.

This dude looks good and he knows it. He’s not quite as tall as King Piccolo, but definitely chunkier.

This action figure is an event exclusive from Premium Bandai. Other retailers did buy some stock, but they tack on a sizable surcharge. Even with that surcharge, it looks like most have sold out so if you want him you may have to go to the secondary market. Some people are probably looking to flip him, and Bandai did open a pre-order window since their website was so terrible so some people (and possibly retailers) will get him in Q1 2022 so if you don’t like the prices right now you can wait and see if they improve next year. Bluefin Brands has also been hosting a pop-up shop that will be selling the con exclusives. They’ll probably only hit major cities like LA and New York, but maybe you have a buddy who can get to one for you or something. If you prefer the older version, maybe the release of the more anime-accurate Nappa has knocked the price down on that guy a bit. I’m pretty happy with him, even if my Saiyan Saga collection is rather light, and I don’t think any DBZ collection of S.H.Figuarts should be without a Nappa.


S.H.Figuarts Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan Son Goku

That is quite the mouthful, is it not? The Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan Son Goku is the latest action figure from Bandai’s S.H.Figuarts to arrive in Target stores in the US. This form of Goku is what happens when a Saiyan ascends to Super Saiyan God level, and then goes Super Saiyan again. Confused? You probably should be, which is why in-universe Goku proposed just calling the form Super Saiyan Blue because he just looks like his regular Super Saiyan self, but with blue hair instead of blond. And that’s cool! At least I think it is, but blue has always been my favorite color so that is all the explanation you really need for why I like it. And if you’re unfamiliar with it, that might be because you stopped paying attention after the Dragon Ball Z hype dyed-down for this form is from the more recent Dragon Ball Super. And if you liked DBZ back in the day and have slept on Super, I recommend checking it out because it’s pretty fun.

Do you like your Goku stoic?

The SHF line from Bandai and Tamashii Nations has become one of the premiere collector lines for action figure enthusiasts. It’s a super-articulated, 1/12 scale line that is known for its high level of quality. That can also mean a high price tag as well with many releases tagged for $60 or more at release. It wasn’t that long ago that the line was basically an import only affair, but US-based retailers have slowly been adding the line to their stores. Barnes & Noble and Gamestop were among the first places I encountered the line outside of online toy shops, but Bandai has wanted to make this a more accessible line and has partnered with American distributor Blue Fin Brands to make these things even more available. And also more affordable. That’s why you can now find some products at Target, which was unthinkable just a couple of years ago. And in order to appeal to a more casual Target shopper, Bandai has turned to Goku and a rather aggressive pricing strategy. Likely owing to the fact that the company is reusing the same mold over and over, Bandai has been able to price Goku at $35. He doesn’t come with as many accessories as other figures in the line, but he’s hardly bare bones. Bandai started with its standard Goku, then released the Kaioken version, and now it’s released the Super Saiyan Blue version. I suspect the new Full Power Super Saiyan Goku will show up as well.

Or do you prefer him smug? I like smug.

This seems like a pretty good strategy to me, especially because I may have never bought this particular figure otherwise. I’ve somewhat reluctantly begun to expand my Dragon Ball collection to include some of Z and Super, and this figure is the first one I have in hand. As I said above, I like the Super Saiyan Blue look. It’s just Super Saiyan Goku, but with cooler hair. I never had the opportunity to get this figure before and the only other versions I’ve encountered in a physical store have been the model kits or the Dragon Stars edition, and neither really appealed to me. I have wanted to cherry-pick a bit from the Dragon Ball Super, and to some extent Dragon Ball Z, releases so I was happy to see this figure get reissued as it was originally a released timed with the film Dragon Ball Super – Broly.

Of course, there’s also pissed off Goku.

Goku is about as good as any other SHF release I’ve purchased, and that’s a good thing. To the tip of his hair, he’s just shy of 6.5″ which makes him about a half inch taller than the Super Saiyan Vegeta I have from the same line. That looks about right for late era DBZ and DBS as Vegeta was gradually drawn taller than his original appearance (apparently, being good causes you to grow in the world of Dragon Ball), but was always kept shorter than Goku. He sports his traditional organge gi with his own kanji on the front and rear (accurate to the film) and a knotted belt. His undershirt, wrist wraps, belt, and boots are navy and his skin is quite pale, which is often how it’s colored when in one of his super forms. His hair is a dark, pearl, blue which is basically how it’s colored when the character lacks an aura. I was a little surprised Bandai didn’t try to create the illusion of an aura, but this looks good too.

And when Goku gets mad, he starts working on something…

As is the case with most figures in this line, Goku doesn’t possess a ton of paint. The gi is done in orange plastic with a slight wash on the front to add a touch of depth. Basically, the only painted parts are the facial features, blue sleeves, blue wrist wraps, the flesh of his chest, the kanji on his chest and back, and the red stripes and knots on his boots. What little paint there is has been applied in a clean manner. My only gripe is with the opacity. The white on the kanji needs to be thicker as some of the orange bleeds through it. The same is true of the chest which looks like it’s cast in blue plastic to match the undershirt and it shoes through just a little. It’s not too noticable though and I’m genuinely pleased with how well the flesh plastic of his neck matches the painted flesh. In total, the paint is fine, but since this is sort of a “budget” release it’s easy to wonder if that plays a role in the thin paint on the kanji.

Like the good old Kamehameha attack!
In case you prefer a side view of the destruction.

Beyond the paint, the sculpt for this figure is generally really good. Goku is a character than can be tough to get right for some reason as I’ve seen many figures where his head just looks too small. And I kind of felt that way about the standard Goku Bandai did and it’s why I never picked him up. Maybe it’s just the shape of the Super Saiyan hair, but this one looks better to me. His head might be a touch on the small side, but it doesn’t throw off the look of the figure. The gi looks terrific as far as the folds and such are concerned and they really did a great job hiding the articulation when Goku is in a vanilla pose. I’m especially happy with how the face turned out on all of the swap-able pieces. Anime characters like Goku sometimes end up with facial features that are too soft, but Goku does not suffer in that regard. His nose is pronounced whether looking at the figure head-on or from the side. I like the variety of expressions as they all very much scream “Goku.” The musculature of his arms looks “just right” to me. It’s easy to see why Bandai would re-release this base sculpt over and over because there isn’t much they could do to improve upon it.

Since I don’t have a proper Dragon Ball Super villain, King Piccolo is just going to have to take one for the team.

People love the SHF line because of the sculpts, but also because of the articulation. Goku boasts as much articulation as pretty much any other figure in the line, which is to say he packs a lot. He has a single ball peg at the head/neck that lets him look down pretty far and up just a bit. Go too far back and a small gap will appear at the base of the neck. It’s okay, but not as good as some other figures. At the shoulders, we have the usual ball-hinge setup with a butterfly joint. The shoulder cuffs of the gi can be moved around as they’re just pegged into the arms which allows you to position Goku’s arms in almost any position you can think of, though he can’t quite reach across his body. Bringing the arms forward will, of course, create a large gap behind the shoulder, but he can do a decent Kamehameha so you’ll probably get what you want out of it. Unfortunately, the interior of the shoulder is cast in flesh-colored plastic when it should be orange so if you look at the figure from certain angles when in that classic pose it doesn’t look right. At the biceps, he has a swivel and below that a double hinge that does better than 90 degrees. The hands are on ball-hinges and the wrist cuffs hide the ball portion very well. In the torso, we have the SHF ball hinge so you can twist and pivot at the base of the rib cage, but also pull up on the figure to crunch him forward and back. At the waist is a twist, and below that we have what I think are ball pegs at the hips. He can kick forward and back just fine, but out to the side he’s a touch limited with his left leg, but for some reason his right is even more limited. I don’t know if the floating, plastic, “cap” Bandai used just isn’t lining up right on that side or what the deal is, but I don’t want to force it. He’s got a twist in the upper thigh, double-hinge knee, and ball peg at the ankle with a toe hinge. The ankle articulation isn’t great because it’s recessed so far in the boot. They could probably stand to do better there, but I have no issues standing him. The belt also features a peg at the knot so you can reposition it as needed. It’s a floating piece otherwise so it can also slide around.

“Keep you low power, Super Saiyan, stink away from me, Vegeta.”

The articulation is overall pretty good. It’s not the best SHF figure I’ve seen, but it does strike a pretty terrific balance between pleasing the sculpt and offering a wide range of motion. Really, the big negative is that butterfly joint and maybe the sleeves, which peg into the shoulder to move around, but can get kind of ugly in certain poses. They can be manipulated into something pleasing enough, but it feels like a better solution could be found. For $35 though, this figure is a terrific value. I don’t know that much really competes. Maybe the Tokka and Rahzar NECA released last year which averaged out to around 30-35 a piece? And I haven’t even mentioned the accessories. Goku comes with 4 portraits and four and half sets of hands. The facial portraits are stoic, smile, teeth gritting, and yelling. The hands are fists, open palms, martial arts pose, Kamehameha hands, and one double-pointing “Instant Transmission” right hand. Basically, you get everything you need with no extras. It would be awesome to get a stand or energy effect, but given the price I’d say you’re getting a solid assortment. The only facial portrait one could ask for that isn’t here is maybe just a cheerful expression, but that’s definitely not needed for the Super Saiyan Blue form. And when it comes to the hands, there’s none I could want that isn’t here. Goku isn’t a character that needs gripping hands and he can do all of his signature poses with what Bandai provided in the box, save for the ones that need a stand.

Just a couple of cocky Saiyans.

And that’s what this is, a low cost entry point into the SHF Dragon Ball line. It definitely strikes me as a sound strategy as I can see some people seeing this in a place like Target and picking it up on a whim and that leading them down the rabbit hole that is the SHF line. It’s even worked on me to a degree as I now want a villain, or at least someone, to pair with Goku. I definitely would like to get my hands on a Super Saiyan Blue Vegeta and I hope he gets a reissue at some point. I don’t know that I need the Broly to place on a shelf though. This is a line I intend to just cherry pick my favorite looks and characters and it felt right to add at least one Goku to the mix. And I like how he turned out. Could he be better? Yes, especially at that butterfly joint, but overall he looks nice and moves well enough that I think anyone who picks this figure up will be happy with it.

“Bye!”

S.H.Figuarts Juckie-Chun/Jackie Chun

It was about a week ago in my write-up on the Dragon Stars World Martial Arts playset that I bemoaned my decision to pass on the S.H.Figuarts release of Jackie Chun and I hypothesized I might rectify that. Well, it didn’t take me long to make up my mind as here I am to tell you all about Jackie Chun! The martial arts master and winner of the 21st World Martial Arts Tournament has been cast in plastic and is ready to join my humble Dragon Ball collection. What motivated me to finally pull the trigger on this guy was largely my completist nature. The Dragon Ball set from Bandai is pretty small when compared with the assortment of Dragon Ball Z figures, so why not get them all? I have the first Bulma Bandai released in my Pile of Loot at Big Bad Toy Store so the only one I’m missing now is kid Chi-Chi. I can’t get past her costume though, so I don’t know if I’ll ever pickup that particular figure.

“Boy, you sure do look familiar!”

The reason I initially passed on Jackie is because he’s very similar to Master Roshi. Not only do they look strikingly similar, they’re literally the same figure. For the most part. The only difference in terms of sculpting is the head and lower leg area, but the torso is the same. Jackie just dresses all in a deep navy blue, almost black, as opposed to Master Roshi’s much more colorful attire. And if you didn’t notice right away that they’re essentially the same, the give away rests on the back of the figure where Bandai just glued in the plug piece intended to seal the peg hole for Master Roshi’s turtle shell accessory. It’s a minor eyesore on Jackie, but the figure is helped out by the fact that we’re dealing in dark colors here and it is on the back of the shirt. At the same time, it’s a bit annoying since the shirt is in three separate pieces and one has to wonder how much money was really saved by not redoing it. At least he has a peg hole if you want to utilize a more dynamic stand.

He can pose.

Being that he’s essentially the same figure as Roshi, the articulation is also the same. That figure had some good and bad to him, and a lot that has to do with the clothing. The shoulders flare out and the wrist area is surrounded by large cuffs so it all limits the articulation a bit. The shirt is also intended to be a long martial arts uniform, and since Bandai doesn’t utilize cloth goods, the only way to properly articulate that is to “scallop” the sculpt and insert a series of ball-pegs into the torso. It’s not the cleanest sculpt in the torso as a result, but it’s not truly an eyesore either. Again, the dark color of Jackie works to the figure’s advantage in hiding this somewhat, but I do wonder how he’d have come out with a cloth robe.

He can siiiiiiiiing!

Bandai doesn’t use much paint with its S.H.Figuarts line, and it is a common complaint I hear from other collectors. Jackie is no except as he’s mostly just colored plastic. The only paint on the body of the figure is the white stripe and black fasteners down the center of the shirt and the gray soles of the shoes. The rest is reserved for the head and face where the eyes and eyebrows are well-painted. There may be a touch of a wash in the hair and beard as well which helps bring out the sculpted details and looks pretty sharp. His hair color has a gray to it, unlike Master Roshi’s all-white beard, which helps distinguish him further. The choice of doing the figure in a very dark blue as opposed to black is a little curious. As far as I can tell, his outfit is sheer black in the anime. And unlike many comic books, there’s no blue shading to speak of. I don’t know if this was based on information from Toei, or if Bandai just made an artistic decision not to go full black. As a result, under some light he looks a little blue and others a little gray, but always pretty dark. It’s not something that bothers me, I just find it curious. The finish is at least fairly matte which cuts down on the plastic sheen some figures in this line feature. Ultimately, the likeness is pretty on point and the sacrifices the figure makes in the sculpt to accommodate the articulation are worth it in the end.

“Ka…”

If you wish to know precisely how he’s articulated, I’ll run it down for you here. If you’re familiar with the Master Roshi figure, then skip ahead. Jackie has a ball peg at the head and base of the neck and he has some pretty solid range. Surprisingly, he can look down quite well despite the presence of the beard, it’s looking up that he’s not great at. At the shoulders we have ball-hinges with a butterfly joint. He can raise his arms out to the side better than expected and the butterfly joint allows him to achieve his Kamehameha pose fairly convincingly. There’s a biceps swivel below that and single-hinged elbows. The elbow is probably the least impressive part of this figure as they’re on these big ball-hinges that look funny from some angles. They also can’t achieve a 90 degree bend due to the way the sleeves flare out. It’s close, but not quite there. At the wrist are ball-joints which is a good choice since the sleeve works to conceal the ball-hinge which can be unsightly on other figures. In the diaphragm is a ball-hinge mechanism that mostly affords tilt and twist. Twist too far though and you end up with some ugly gapping. The hinge allows the upper body to lift up and crunch forward, but the shirt doesn’t seem to want to cooperate. A lot of rubbing occurs and I worry about smudging if utilized too much. Below that is another ball-peg at the waist allowing him to rotate and tilt. At the hips he can kick forward about 90 degrees and spread his legs out to the side almost into a split. He kicks back a little bit and the double-hinged knees basically give him 90 at the knee. There are thigh swivels and the feet are on ball-pegs. They’re not great, but the cuffs at the end of the pants were going to limit him anyway. There is a toe hinge as well.

“…ha!”

Jackie-Chun should be able to get into the poses he needs to be able to get into. Martial arts posing and energy blasting all are achievable. Helping him to do all of that are the loads of extra parts Bandai tossed in. Probably as a make-up for him containing a ton of parts reuse, Bandai made sure to give him an array of hands and facial expressions. He has the one head, but three separate faces. And like Master Roshi, you can swap the mouth and beard piece between the faces to mix and match expressions. You basically get angry eyes, serious eyes, and excited eyes to go along with a closed mouth, an angry yell, and a surprising, or singing, open mouth. That last one pairs with a microphone stick, as is the case with many Dragon Ball characters, there’s a serious side and a playful side to Jackie which this figure seeks to capture. As far as hands go, he comes with two crane pose hands which are unique as the peg basically goes into the underside of them to achieve the proper the shape. He also has two Kamehameha hands which are essentially the opposite as they peg into what I would call the top of the hands. He also has a set of peace sign hands, some chop hands, fists, martial arts pose hands, splayed open hands, and one gripping, right, hand for the microphone. Unique to Jackie are also swappable forearms. These are present so that he can roll up his sleeves. The arms separate below the elbow and the new ones just peg in. They don’t appear to be designated as left or right so either side works. They allow for more freedom with the hand articulation since this eliminates the cuffs from play, though another point of the figure that can come apart means there will be times you pull the arm off when you don’t intend to. A minor annoyance for an interesting feature. Lastly, there’s a 3 star Dragon Ball. This one has a pearl finish to it as I believe Bandai has already released seven standard balls so this new finish is being applied to the line going forward.

“No, Goku!”

Posing and utilizing these parts is all pretty painless. The hands pop on and off with minimal fuss, though the left arm of mine features a loose forearm connection so often the whole thing comes off when I’m just trying to swap the hand. The extra forearm doesn’t seem to peg in snug either so it becomes a balancing act posing him with the sleeves up. Unlike with Master Roshi, I don’t feel like we’re missing any expressions as far as the hands go, though a “drunken master” face would have been excellent. What’s really missing though is an energy effect. A charging one would have been nice, or just a Kamehameha attack since this guy is the master of that technique. I am guessing Bandai wants to do a Kamehameha Master Roshi that’s all bulked up and that’s why we don’t have that here. At least this time we have the hands.

Jackie Chun looks pretty good opposite the kid figures when placed on the World Martial Arts Tournament set. He is, more or less, in scale with them. It’s not perfect, but that’s more of a critique of the kid characters which were sized-up for the figure release. Bandai seemed to prioritize scaling Master Roshi, and Jackie Chun as a result, with Kid Goku and Krillin so he looks kind of silly next to Bulma, who is just way too small. King Piccolo towers over him well enough, though that figure should probably be bigger than he actually is. Scale is a limitation of this line in general and Bandai just seems to approximate it as opposed to trying to make it totally accurate.

I couldn’t quite get them into the double kick pose from the anime.

Adding Jackie Chun to my collection allows for me to pose him opposite Goku or Krillin, leaving Master Roshi to be more of a goof off to the side. I like that Jackie has the singing face and microphone for when I don’t want him on the battlefield, or I could just let him be the stern, wise, old, master watching silently. I liked the Master Roshi figure so it stands to reason I like this one. Is he essential for a Dragon Ball collection? Probably not, but it’s not as-if the character isn’t memorable. I hope Bandai continues to release more dedicated Dragon Ball figures so my display can continue to grow. They have Lunch/Launch coming this summer, but nothing has been announced beyond her. There’s still Pilaf and his gang, end of Dragon Ball Goku and Chi-Chi, Tien, and plenty more. I’d be interested in basically all of them, so hopefully Bandai comes through. Right now though, I have a fun little collection that’s pretty nice to have all on its own.

Yes, this’ll do nicely.

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