Tag Archives: tamashii nations

S.H.Figuarts Dragon Ball Super Event Exclusive Color Edition Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan Son Goku Kaio-Ken

He’s ready to rumble.

My isn’t that title a mouthful? This version of the classic character Goku comes to you from Bandai via New York Comic Con. If I were to simplify that title, I’d call it shiny Super Saiyan Blue Kaio-Ken Goku, which is still pretty wordy. I guess blame Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama for the obsession of stacking different power-ups in what I feel is an intentional bit of word play that he likely finds amusing. And I do too! At any rate, this is the last of the convention exclusives I ordered in 2021. All of the other ones, including other Dragon Ball related figures in Nappa, Goku, and Beerus, came from the world famous San Diego Comic Con. Well, that con didn’t actually happen in 2021 as it was virtual due to COVID once again. One of the few big cons to actually take place ended up being New York Comic Con, and while that one tends to be smaller than San Diego, some companies still like to issue event exclusives for it and that’s where this figure comes from. Bandai, in partnership with Bluefin Brands, made this version of Goku available at the event, but also made it available online for folks like me who weren’t going to journey to New York just to get a Goku. It meant a longer wait, but all things considered, this is one of the shorter waits I’ve have to endure in recent memory.

This box feels gigantic relative to other figures in the line, and with good reason.

This version of Goku hails from Dragon Ball Super and one of its first, major, arcs. The first two arcs of the show were adaptations of Dragon Ball Z movies, so this era is where Super really felt like its own thing to me. And it was just some tournament that was a bit of a friendly organized by two gods who happen to be brothers and share a rivalry. It introduced some new characters, most notably Hit, and it was during a fight with Hit that Goku dusted off his old Kaio-Ken technique. You remember that one, right? Kaio-Ken was all the rage for about five minutes when Goku took on Vegeta, but it was basically dropped after that. Yeah, technically, Goku used it against Frieza later on, but it was basically as a means to dismiss the technique which would essentially be replaced with the Super Saiyan transformation. It made Kaio-Ken one of those things fans had fun speculating on, “What would using Kaio-Ken as a Super Saiyan do for Goku?!” but the show was done with it.

Pissed off Goku.

If you need a primer on the form, it’s basically a technique that temporarily heightens Goku’s speed and power as a multiplier. He did it multiples of 2 and 3 against Vegeta, but would go up to 10 later. In Super, Goku turns to it after his Super Saiyan Blue transformation as the ultimate showing of his power at that moment in the series, though it’s not referenced much after. It does look cool though as Kaio-Ken by itself has a red aura, and combine that with the Blue transformation and you get a blue-purple look. It certainly made sense to explore the mode in figure form, and that’s what Bandai and Tamashii Nations did. And this being an event exclusive, they added some shine as well.

I love that shade of blue used for the eyebrows, so much so that I’d like to see other versions of Super Saiyan Blue Goku (and Vegeta) just go with that for all of the hair.

This version of Goku is obviously similar to other versions of Goku in the SHF line. He stands at about 5.5″ to the top of his forehead and roughly 6.75″ to the top of the hair when at his tallest. He’s basically in-line with my Super Saiyan Blue Goku, but this is actually mostly a differently sculpt. I don’t have it, but if I had to guess, this figure shares most of its parts with the Ultra Instinct Sign Goku which depicted Goku from his battle with Jiren. His gi is rather tattered so it needed its own sculpt to capture that. The only pieces this figure can share with the other blue Goku is the head, neck, and arms, though even some of that needed modification. I don’t have either version of Ultra Instinct Goku so this figure has more of a “new” feeling to me than it would others. It was honestly something I hadn’t thought much about until I had the figure in-hand.

The paint is rather lively on this guy and you can see the almost glitter quality in the shirt here.

What’s going to sell this guy beyond the sculpt is the paint job. The sculpt is fairly nice and I like the rips in the pants and shirt. The finish on the paint is of a pearl quality. The navy shirt takes on a metallic purple as a result and it’s pretty cool to handle and see how the light plays on it. The hair is a semi-translucent plastic with a touch of purple air-brushing, by the looks of it, which gives it a nice effect. The flesh is more saturated than we’re used to seeing due to trying to emulate the Kaio-Ken red effect. Bandai did have to do a lot more color-matching than usual though because of all of the rips in the clothing. The results are a tad mixed. The exposed portion of the chest could stand to be a touch more saturated as I feel like some of the navy color is showing through. The left knee is colored plastic, but the upper and lower portions of the leg surrounding it are painted and it’s not a perfect match. It probably won’t bother most on a shelf, but in-hand it’s pretty noticeable especially when the knee is bent all the way. This finish is also very glossy and gives the figure almost an enamel finish. It also has a different feel than most figures in the line. The plastic feels thicker and since almost everything has this finish applied it has a slippery feeling. That’s not a criticism, just an observation. Aside from the color-matching issues, my only real criticism for the paint is that I wish there was something applied to the torn parts such as a darkening to the interior parts of his pants. I just think it would help that part “pop” a bit more.

I can’t really complain because we get the aura effect with this figure, but we’ll never have enough Kamehameha effects.

The sculpt for this guy is overall pretty good. I already mentioned how the torn pieces of the gi look nice, and we get the usual musculature for Goku that other figures have. This one changes things up with some battle damage in the form of scuffs sculpted into portions of the arms, legs, and chest. I’m torn on if I think Bandai should have added some black linework to those scuffs to bring them out more as they’re not going to show from the shelf. This figure is going for a glowing aura look, so perhaps it would not have made as much sense, though I feel like in those moments Goku’s battle damage becomes even more noticeable in the anime. I could be wrong, I haven’t watched any of these episodes in years. One thing that did surprise me a little is there’s more evidence of mold release on this figure than usual. That’s those rough portions of the figure where it was removed from the actual tools used to create it. There’s basically a full tab on the underside of my figure’s right shoulder that makes it look like it was from a model kit no one bothered to snip. This figure also has those sleeves that peg into the shoulder which I really don’t like. Almost every Goku has that so it’s nothing new, but I’ll continue to complain until they find a better solution. Another common complaint is Goku also could be beefier. From the front, he looks okay. I’d probably widen the chest a little, but it’s mostly a nitpick. From the side though he looks thin. His chest doesn’t push out at all. It’s odd and almost comical. It’s also more pronounced because he doesn’t have the vest to add a little bulk, but this is something all of the figures in this line could stand to improve on. Goku, especially a powered-up Goku, should be thick and buff.

My lingering piece of criticism for this line is that nearly every character could stand to have some added girth. Goku should have a more pronounced chest when viewing him from the side.

There was a lot of new for me to take-in with the sculpt and paint of this figure, but articulation? That’s pretty much standard. His head is on a tiny, double-ball peg with another ball in the base of the neck. Despite that, he can’t really look up, but can look down. His head feels a little loose, but it seems to be holding a pose all right. The shoulders are on the peg and hinge system with a butterfly joint. The butterfly is really limited, but they at least colored it properly so it’s not ugly, just not particularly functional. There’s a biceps swivel and double-jointed elbow which bends past 90 degrees. The hands are on the usual ball pegs. In the diaphragm, we have the ball-hinge system so you can pull up on the figure if need be. It doesn’t really do a lot though as the figure can’t really crunch forward no matter what you do with the hinge, but he can bend back a little. Mostly, this joint just gives you some swivel and a little tilt, but you have to be mindful of paint rub. At the waist, you can swivel and the belt and rags is a floating piece. At the hips, Goku can almost do a split, kick forward, and kick backwards because he doesn’t have sculpted buns. There’s a little twist there too, and then your usual double-jointed knees below. The knee on the right has a bit more range backwards because it’s a standard, clothed, joint while the exposed left knee has reduced range, but still goes beyond 90 degrees. The ankles are on ball pegs and have the usual range for Goku’s boot design. It goes forward a little, back a fair amount, decent ankle rocker, and a lousy toe hinge. All of the joints are fairly smooth and required no break-in period, so that is always appreciated.

I can see people being against translucent plastic for Super Saiyan hair, but I do think this figure draws attention to how bland the approach to the hair was for the standard release. Granted, the figure on the left retails for only 30 bucks.

The other unique aspect to this release comes with the accessories and packaging. The optional hands and expressions are fairly standard. We get a stern look, scream, smirk, and a teeth-gritting expression. All of the faces are well painted and I love the shade of blue used for the eyebrows. I wish that was the standard shade of blue for this form of Goku. For hands, we get a set of fists, martial arts pose hands, Kamehameha hands, and wide open “Solar Flare” hands. For a box, he comes in this oversized standard box with the usual event exclusive coloring. It’s oversized because this Goku comes with an aura effect! That’s certainly unusual, and also why this guy cost $60 instead of $50, but it’s worth it. I love effect pieces and for this particular form it’s needed. It’s the standard aura piece, of which I have a yellow version already, and it comes in three pieces: a rear blast and two side pieces. It’s cast in translucent plastic with red at the edge and blue on the inside. The plastic is soft and and partially hollow. The only thing I don’t like is the translucent nature of the plastic means more of the seems are visible, especially towards the bottom of the center piece. It’ll get the job done though, and I hope it doesn’t get that sticky residue my other aura piece has acquired over the years.

If you like what you see then this figure is a worthy addition to the Super collection. If you’re someone who never cared about this version of Goku then you’ll probably be content to skip it.

This version of Goku is another good selection by Bandai when it comes to event exclusives. Not everyone needs a version of Goku so specific to one look from the show that doesn’t show up much, and the paint application is something that will appeal to some more than others. I thought this figure looked great in the promotional shots, so when Bandai made it available online I said “Why not?” The actual figure in hand pretty much lives up to my expectations. It’s eye-catching and fun and I love adding another aura, even if this one is really specific to this version of Goku. My guess is that most people who bought this are happy with it. I don’t think it’s good enough to win anybody over who didn’t see a spot for this in their collection, but those who want it should be content. Since it was an event exclusive, it’s currently sold out at MSRP so only secondary options are available. This strikes me as the type of release that might be high right now, but could come down in time as it is a bit niche. If you missed out and are having second thoughts, just keep an eye out. Who knows? Maybe a good deal will come around sooner or later.


The Robot Spirits RX-79 (G) Gundam Ground Type Ver. A.N.I.M.E.

We are entering the world of Robot Spirits!

When it comes to Mobile Suit Gundam I am a casual fan, at best. Like a lot of people my age, it wasn’t really something that was on my radar until Cartoon Network started airing Gundam Wing in the late 90s, and once it did, I would pretty much watch whatever Gundam series Cartoon Network chose to air. It was around the same time that Bandai started bringing some of its Gundam model kits state-side. I had my opinions on the shows, but I always loved the look of the mobile suits, and in particular, the ones featured in Wing. I would pick up a few 1/144 scale and 1/100 scale kits over the years, but mostly dropped off in the early 2000s. I only had so much room for toys, and money, and the kits were pushed aside in favor of other things.

A standard box with a teeny, tiny, window.

When it comes to the actual anime series, I am most definitely a fan of The 08th MS Team. It’s my favorite of the Gundam shows I’ve engaged with, so when I saw that the main Gundam from that series was slated for release this year, I decided to give The Robot Spirits a shot. The Robot Spirits strikes me as the mecha version of the Tamashii Nations S.H.Figuarts line of action figures that I am most definitely familiar with. Just like how Bandai has Dragon Stars and SHF for its Dragon Ball figures, there’s basically a Target version of Gundam and Robot Spirits with the Robot Spirits being more high end, and thus, more expensive. I had never seen nor held or even sought out information on the line and when I saw this version go up for pre-order I decided to keep myself in the dark and just react to it when it finally shipped.

Let’s rock!

And obviously it has for I now have my figure in-hand after 6 or 8 months since I placed the pre-order. My first reaction upon getting this thing is, “Wow, this thing is small!” The box is larger than a SHF release, though it’s still a resealable cardboard box with a window and a blister inside. Only the window here is tiny so you basically can just see the head and a portion of the torso of the figure inside. As for the figure, it is indeed small. This mobile suit, which is hundreds of feet tall in the show, is a mere five inches and actually a tick under that officially. That’s not necessarily a bad thing on its own, but it did surprise me. I know a lot of Transformers fans were a bit surprised at how small the RED subline turned out, but my RED Soundwave looks like a giant beside this thing. Again, not really a bad thing assuming the line scales well from figure to figure, but I emphasize it because some people might be surprised and not in a good way. Me personally, I’ve always found smallish figures to be kind of charming, which is at odds with my also loving big, chunky, figures. I just see it as a quirk of a line and it’s fun, but that’s just me.

None of these figures are made by the same company so no expectation of scale exists, but this Gundam is quite the little guy. Left to right: Banpresto Weltall, Gundam Ground Type, Hasbro RED Soundwave. and Super 7 Voltron (rear).

Size out of the way, the figure is largely as expected. It certainly feels similar to a SHF release. The plastic is fairly light and the figure is comprised of numerous small pieces. In that respect, it also reminds a lot of the old model kits that I used to assemble, only more durable and more refined. There’s lots of detail in the sculpt, especially on the head. I’ve always liked this unique shade of gray this suit is presented in and Bandai pretty much nailed that aspect. Also like SHF, there’s not a ton of paint to speak of, but there’s probably more here than on some of the Dragon Ball figures I have. There’s a metallic green applied to the eyes and a line of red beneath them that looks quite sharp. There’s some smaller details done in black and some red and yellow paint applied to certain areas. And what is there is remarkably clean. I don’t see one smudge or soft edge on any of the painted parts. It’s also possible some of the applications are decals, like the green at the top of the “crown,” which looks good too. I think the only criticism I could levy on the presentation of this figure is that it doesn’t look like something made of metal. And it’s not, but the suit in the anime is. That would take a more elaborate paint job to add cel-shading. They could have tried to give it a glossy finish, but I’m partial to matte when it comes to my figures so I won’t go that far. That’s a matter of taste though, what’s here is done quite well.

Does it make sense for a giant robot to sneak around like this? Probably not, but it looks cool!
Now that’s what I call a gun!

Aesthetics are one thing, but what a lot of people buy these high-end imports for is the articulation and a Gundam presents some challenges, and some opportunities, given it’s unique look. There’s definitely a lot here and I think Bandai did a pretty good job of balancing out the aesthetic and the articulation. The head sits on a ball peg and it has range up, down, tilt, and the usual swivel. There’s a fair amount of space carved out for the head too so while you always have to be mindful of parts rubbing, the head is fairly protected. The shoulders are on ball pegs and the shoulder pad, or pauldron, has some wiggle. There’s actually two butterfly joints, one in the shoulder and then another in the chest. Neither offers much range, but neither one also takes away from the sculpt so I suppose it’s fine. The shoulder can swivel on that ball peg, so it’s basically your biceps swivel, and the double-jointed elbow has terrific range. The hands are on ball joints and sit rather deep in the wrist and provide ample range in all directions.

When guns won’t do, you reach for the beam saber.
There’s an optional “flash” piece for the base of the blade that I think is supposed to represent the blade being first fired-up.

The torso is where Bandai can’t really do much. There is an ab crunch, but it just tilts forward a small amount. I was always terrible at geometry, but it looks like it’s maybe 30 degrees. There’s even less backwards. There is a swivel at the waist, but it’s more like a pivot as it doesn’t move much in either direction. That’s basically it for the bad articulation, as below the waist is fine. The hips are just ball joints, but the figure can kick as far forward as the “skirt” pieces will allow. Those are also on ball joints and can be manipulated or even popped off entirely, if you wish. The thigh twists, or pivots, at that ball joint and the knees are double-jointed and can be bent all the way back. The ankles are on more ball pegs and they’re a bit more limited than other spots, but you still get some forward and back as well as tilt. The piece going over the feet is attached to a ball peg on one side so it can be moved out of the way to a certain degree. The center piece of the foot is also articulated and can be bent forward, which just mostly gets it out of the way so that the toe hinge can be used. I say toe hinge, but the joint is basically in the middle of the foot. It’s a bit unusual, but it works to make the feet more dynamic and to get the figure into certain poses, like a kneel-down. And because the figure is pretty light and the feet large, it’s pretty easy to pose and position.

The “swoosh” blade is pretty damn fun.
If it’s your preference, the beam saber blades can be turned into thruster effects.

The articulation is rather good, bordering on great, which is nice because this figure also comes with a ton of stuff. For starters, there’s 5 sets of hands: Open, tight grip, looser grip, trigger, and a relaxed set. Bandai includes a plastic “tree” to store them on too, which is pretty cool. There’s also the classic 08 shield which pegs onto the left forearm. It’s on a double-hinged piece so it can sit flush to the arm or be raised out and in front. The figure comes with two beam sabers and there’s a compartment on each “calf” that can open for storage of the beam saber hilt. There’s also five, translucent, red, attachments for the beam sabers: a burst, two thin blades, one thicker blade, and a swoosh effect. The burst can be placed at the base of any of the blades to add to the illusion, or you can go without. They look great, though the swoosh and thick blade are a tad heavy and I find the hilt prone to spinning in the hand of the figure when trying to pose it. The figure basically needs to grip the upper portion of the hilt to keep it in place.

Check the shield, baby!
Even the Joker might find this gun excessive.

The rest of the accessories kind of work together. There’s a frame that attaches to the figure’s back via peg holes. Putting it on removes the rear ab crunch range entirely, but since there wasn’t much to begin with, it’s hardly a loss. There are prongs on the top and bottom that are on hinges and can be folded out or against the frame. There’s also two thrusters on ball joints, and if you wish, the skinny beam saber effects can be inserted into them to simulate the figure blasting off. The frame is mainly for the large, gray, backpack which exists to store the firearms. The figure comes with two guns, a small, 100mm, machinegun a really big, 180mm, one. The guns can be broken down and attached to additional frames that can then slide into the backpack for total weapon storage. The clips for the smaller gun are stored on the side of the figure’s hips while the banana clip of the larger weapon just goes into the backpack. I’ll likely refer to the instructions for awhile when trying to assemble and disassemble the guns, but the frame for the larger one does have different sized holes to make it somewhat idiot proof. The actual guns, when assembled, are just colored plastic and I do wish there was some paint. I also wish we didn’t have to buy the options accessory pack to get some muzzle flash effects. Just one would have been nice because that pack is 50 bucks and I’m not sure if I’ll bite on it. It’s possible to use a beam saber effect for the guns, but it looks kind of silly and adds more weight to the 180mm gun which is already a hefty weapon.

Packed everything except lunch.

The backpack itself just slides onto the frame when the prongs are open. It’s fairly light, but so is the figure so adding it to the figure will throw off the balance. It’s not impossible to work with though and I still found the figure easy enough to pose even with a full backpack. I do find the beam sabers to be a bit more fun to pose the figure with, but the guns are cool too. The larger one is cumbersome, but it’s supposed to be. Usually in the show, the suit would drop to one knee and aim off of the shield (something you can replicate with the accessory pack) while the smaller gun is more of a run and gun style of armament. The way the guns break down can also make them a bit of a chore to pose as they’ll come apart at times when you’re not trying to do that, but that can also help in posing, so it’s a good and bad feature. The 180mm gun also has multiple methods when it comes to holding it, so there’s a lot of variety available when it comes to posing. I love the overall concept of the weapon storage. My only nitpick is the compartment for the beam saber hilts is surprisingly tricky to open. Every time I do it I think I’m going to break something. Lastly, there is one other accessory and it’s a second yellow “crown” piece for the figure’s head. I’m pretty sure it’s only included because it’s a small, rigid, piece of thin plastic that could easily break so it’s a good piece of foresight for Bandai to just give everyone a replacement.

The large gun breaks down into several pieces, while the smaller one just has a removable clip (the grey piece) and the shoulder support articulates.
They then go onto two base pieces which I’m actually getting the hang of doing without referencing the instructions. It helps that each piece is a different shape so you basically can’t put something where it doesn’t belong.
It then all fits neatly into the backpack. It’s snug, but it works.

This figure is pretty damn impressive, but one thing we haven’t touched on is price. This guy did not come cheap. You will be hard pressed to find this priced below 60 bucks, and the places that have it that low probably have a fairly substantial shipping charge. Most places seem to price it at 70, which is what I paid at Big Bad Toy Store where it’s presently on backorder. That’s a lot of money for a figure that’s technically less than 5″ in height, and really it’s a lot of money for any figure. I was able to justify it because this is going to be the only Gundam line I collect and I presently have the desert variant ordered through Premium Bandai as well as the Zaku, Gouf custom Zaku, and the second option parts set which comes with the hover truck. I think once I have all of those together I’ll have myself a nice, tidy, display and I’ll be set on 08th MS Team figures. Basically, the only figure from the show I’m not interested in is the RGM mobile suit and I’m still on the fence when it comes to the option parts set (I wish they were like 30 bucks instead of 50). It’s great to see the 08th MS Team get some love from Bandai in this line and I’m certainly happy to dip my toe into it, even if I feel like I need to sell a kidney or something to get a full set.


S.H.Figuarts Dragon Ball Super Event Exclusive Color Edition Super Saiyan God Son Goku

Goku has officially ascended to godhood.

The last of my San Diego Comic Con 2021 exclusives has finally arrived and it’s the event exclusive version of the Bandai/Tamashii Nations Super Saiyan God Goku. Now, Dragon Ball fans might quibble with my title for this article as I called it Dragon Ball Super when this form technically debuted in a Dragon Ball Z film, Battle of Gods, which would then be adapted into the anime series Dragon Ball Super. I’m just going with what’s on the packaging, folks, but if I had to place a label on this version of Goku I would say it does feel more like a Dragon Ball Super thing. At any rate, it’s the same film that featured the debut of Lord Beerus, who we looked at last week and it was my desire to add Beerus to my collection that prompted me to just get Goku too. The two clash in that film, and this figure felt like a good one to pair with Beerus. I’m not actually too keen on the Super Saiyan God transformation, but maybe this figure will change my mind.

Super Saiyan God is characterized by Goku getting reddish-pink hair and remaining rather lean. Not quite early DBZ lean, but certainly leaner than Buu Saga Goku.

Super Saiyan God was the latest power-up introduced in Battle of Gods and it would be quickly eclipsed by the Super Saiyan version of that, the mouthful Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan. Or, Super Saiyan Blue for short. I don’t really understand the specifics of the whole thing, but basically, in order for a Saiyan to attain this form, he needs to have five other Saiyans lend them their energy which somehow becomes divine and leads to this transformation. The actual transformation gives the Saiyan a firey red aura, turns their hair a red-pink, and actually causes them to slim down as opposed to bulk up. Since the shape of the hair remains the same, they don’t necessarily look like a Super Saiyan, which is this form can then go Super Saiyan and become the blue version. How Goku (and later Vegeta) learn how to use this form without the added step of having other Saiyans lend them energy is either not explained or not explained well. Either way, it wouldn’t be Dragon Ball if there wasn’t some element of things being made up as they go along, would it?

You do have to fiddly with angles and those damn sleeves to get the best look. Here I failed as you can see the flesh colored piece inside the joint, which should be orange.

This version of Goku should feel pretty familiar to anyone who has handled one of the many recent Goku figures that Bandai has released. It’s the same body as the Super Saiyan Blue Goku I’ve already reviewed and Bandai has been able to get a lot of use out of this buck. The only difference I can see with that figure is the arms are actually smaller and leaner, which is appropriate for this form. I’m not sure if they’re the same as the Saiyan Raised on Earth Son Goku figure, since I don’t have that one, but it is nice to see a subtle difference between the two godly Goku figures since it makes sense. Outside of the biceps and forearms, the other difference really is just in the paint job and belt. This figure has a lighter orange to the gi likely to account for the aura and because it’s the event exclusive color edition. The belt is the Cell Saga era belt too which doesn’t feature a knot and the boots are a much brighter shade of blue. The laces are also painted red like the piping as opposed to brown. The choice of colors, combined with the translucent, pink, hair, does really help to create the illusion that Goku is glowing. It’s neat, and I think it works well for this form.

The paint flaw on Goku’s left sleeve might seem like a minor thing to someone reading this, but for a figure with very little paint on it, it’s a bit ridiculous they can’t get it right. This is also the best pic for seeing how the vest and crotch are a different shade of orange.

Beyond those changes, a lot of the figure feels the same. There’s some shading on the front of the pants and abdomen, but that’s basically it. The other painted areas are the flesh color on the chest and the blue trim on the sleeves. Unfortunately, the left sleeve on mine was not painted particularly cleanly. The plastic on the face also doesn’t match the neck and chest as well as it could, otherwise, the painted details on the face look good. The plastic inside the butterfly joint is also cast in the proper color, orange, as opposed to flesh colored like my previous Goku figure so that’s a plus. There is no shading on the crotch area though, or on the upper torso, which will probably irritate some. I get their reluctance to shade the crotch because if it goes too heavy he might look like he pissed himself, but more shading would have been nice. It seems to be something the original release of this figure has over this one, as just looking up images of that reveals a more vibrant release.

He can assume the position, but the lack of energy parts is a bummer.

The figure also feels the same because the accessories are pretty much the same. You get four faces with this guy: stoic, smiling, teeth grit, and yelling. They all look fine, though I’m kind of partial to the stoic face for this form. As far as hands go, you get the fisted hands in the box plus flat palms, martial arts pose, Kamehameha, and wide open hands. Pretty much the only hand you don’t get is an instant transmission hand, but we have plenty of those in other sets so I don’t think it’s a loss. There’s no effects part though, which is always a bummer. Being an event exclusive, I wish Bandai had added an aura effect since this guy did retail for $50, but that’s how it goes.

Look! It’s the battle of the gods we were promised!

The articulation for Goku is, stop me if you heard me say it already, the same as past Goku releases. He has the floaty pieces in his hips to cover up the joint and the sleeves which peg into the shoulders that I’ve never really liked. He can look up and down no problem and the butterfly joints in the shoulders allow Goku to do his signature energy blast poses. His head is on the old ball-hinge the original release had, and not the updated ball peg which is much better. It works, but sometimes you have to fight it to get it to bend where you want it to. At least it works better on Goku than it did on Beerus since his entire head swaps and you can accidentally get that hinge facing in a direction you don’t want. The hips don’t go out very far to the side, but he can kick forward and back because has those floating pieces instead of a sculpted butt. The knees and elbows will get you better than 90 degrees while the ball-peg ankles are just okay. The toe hinge is bad. Most of the joints are nice and smooth, with the lone exception being the right thigh twist on my figure. This is a first for me, but that thing is stuck. I have never had this issue with a Figuarts release before, but one twist caused the leg to pop off. Thankfully, it’s just a ball and socket connection so no damage was done, but it is a bummer.

IS Beerus too tall or Goku too short? Considering one of these guys is the main character for the series from which all other figures should be compared to for scaling purposes, I’m going to say it’s the cat that is too tall.

Does this figure make me a fan of Super Saiyan God? Yes and no. I think the translucent effect with the hair and the brighter approach to the color palette work really well, and it’s essentially what you’re paying for if you get this exclusive. I think that approach to the hair is an improvement over the standard release from a few years back, but probably not enough of one to warrant an upgrade if you already have it. Otherwise, he’s a Figuarts Goku. It’s a good figure, I wish mine didn’t have that paint error on one sleeve, but aside from that it feels like a quality figure. I don’t regret my purchase, but I’m also not doing backflips. If you’re at all familiar with this line, then you should probably know if you want this figure or not. And if you do, and you have yet to purchase one, well you’re in trouble because the secondary market is essentially all that remains. The prices I’m seeing aren’t terrible, but they’re obviously more than the $50 it would have cost you last summer.

To close this out, will end with the gathering of the Gokus. You can see the different approach in color when comparing him to SSB Goku, and the leaner proportions. Goku Black is really an all-together different figure, but we’ll let him stand here anyway.

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.


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