As part of the promotion for the film Dragon Ball Super – Super Hero, Bandai released a wave of action figures from its S.H. Figuarts brand of characters from the film. The neat thing was, these releases were actually really cheap relative to other SHF releases with a MSRP of just $35. Of the four, the only one I grabbed initially was Goku as I was looking for a base version of Goku and that figure really stood out as better than the alternative to me. I was tempted by Piccolo as well because the headsculpts looked like an improvement over the figure I have, but ultimately I didn’t want to spend money for some new heads. Another temptation for me was the new Gohan. Depicted in his “Ultimate” form, the adult Gohan from the film looked really interesting because it would appear he’s on a newer body that could see some reuse down the road. At the end of the day though, I’m not a huge Gohan fan so I decided to pass. The question was rendered moot too when he sold out really quickly as there’s a legion of Dragon Ball collectors out there who have been waiting for a good interpretation of Ultimate Gohan.
Then Bandai put up for sale on its Premium Bandai webstore two characters from the film: Gamma 1 and Gamma 2. They’re the “sort of” villains from the film and I liked their look. I wasn’t sure if I liked it enough to pay the Premium Bandai upcharge to get them though, but once I finally saw the film, I ended up taking the plunge. The thing with those figures is they both come with optional parts for the Ultimate Gohan figure. I suppose I could have sold those parts to recoup some of the expense of those two figures, but instead I just went in for more and purchased the Gohan figure. Retailers opened up some additional preorders for him, at the slightly inflated price of $40 (he may have started off there too and I just forgot), and I grabbed one of them. I’ve had the figure for about a month now, and let me tell you something: I love it!
Gohan comes in the usual window box and should look fairly routine from outside the box. Once removed, he stands just shy of 5.5″ to the top of his face, closer to 6.5″ if you want to go to the top of the hair. Gohan from the movie is depicted in his classic Piccolo training uniform. It’s a purple gi with red sash and he has the big, chunky, shoes he and Piccolo both feature in the movie. He basically only distinguishes himself from Piccolo via his black wriststraps. He’s in his “Ultimate” form which was his ascended form he learned from the Elder Kai during the Buu Saga. It’s basically Gohan’s ultimate form, hence the name, though it doesn’t come with a flashy transformation. If anything, he just has slightly bigger, spikier, hair. He’s also jacked and that comes through in the sculpt. It’s an interesting juxtaposition to Goku who keeps going through all of these different forms and hair colors to get more powerful, but his kid just bulks up a bit. I kind of like that about Gohan, though he has his own wild transformations too.
Like most figures in this line, Gohan is largely composed of molded, colored, plastic which minimizes the need for paint. I suppose “need” is a strong word and certainly a subjective one as many (myself included) would like to see more paint on these releases. It’s much harder to criticize them for that though at this lower price point. With Gohan, there appears to be a hint of shading on the legs, which they like to do for some reason. It’s not as visible with Gohan as it is with Goku and his orange gi, which almost works out better for Gohan. It adds just a touch of depth and comes across well. It’s also helped by the fact that the purple is quite matte on this figure giving him a nice finish. The chest is painted and it’s not a perfect match to the neck and arms. The chest has a matte appearance, while there is a touch of shine on the neck, but it’s not awful. The red sash is a separate, floating, piece though it is rather snug on the figure. It may cause some paint transfer if you’re not careful. Lastly though, the faces for this figure look terrific. I don’t know what Bandai did to improve their facial printing, but keep it up. The previous Goku figure looked nice, but Gohan is even better. These faces all look fantastic and it really brings the figure to life. The hair also looks nice and it’s even tricky to figure out where the seem is to remove the bangs because the fit is so good. The only blemish is a bit of mold release, roughness, on the side of the hair. It’s not very noticeable from a shelf, but it does kind of suck and I considered trying to exchange it, but opted not to. Aside from that though, I think this figure looks wonderful.
Adding to my enjoyment is the articulation. I’ve been a little critical of the various Goku figures as I acquire more of them because that figure has some limitations and some features that are a bit of an eyesore. This figure doesn’t solve every problem that Goku has, but it comes close. The head is on a double-ball peg with another ball joint at the base of the neck. He can move around nice and smooth and there’s great nuance posing afforded by this setup. It’s only weakness it he can’t look up very well so if you wanted to position him in a flying pose parallel with the ground it would look awkward. The shoulders have a newer style of joint similar to what Krillin has which means theres no pegged in shoulder piece to look stupid. The sleeve is just a floating piece the arms goes through and it pegs into a ball and hinge style of joint inside the torso. The end result is you get some up and down movement at just the shoulder before even engaging the hinge which allows the arms to be raised out. You do have to work with the sleeve to get them horizontal, but it’s do-able. There is still a butterfly joint and that may be the only limitation here as he doesn’t seem to reach across quite as far as Goku. A Kamehameha pose is still possible, but a little less natural looking. The rear of the joint is cleaner, though there will still be angles where it looks unsightly. The joint is all cast in purple though so at least it doesn’t look as ridiculous as Goku’s where the interior is flesh-toned. The rest of the arms are typical stuff with a biceps swivel, double-jointed elbow that goes well past 90 degrees, and ball-peg wrists.
In the torso, we get a ball-joint at the diaphragm. There is no hinge in there to lift the upper torso higher which seems cleaner, but the figure also doesn’t have much range forward and back. He can pivot a bit on the joint as well. Below that is a waist twist which feels like a ball-peg of some kind. It mostly lets him twist, but you do get some nuance posing out of it as well. At the hips, we have some kind of a ball-joint that works very well. Gohan can achieve full splits and kick forward plenty far, though can’t kick back because he does have sculpted cheeks. There’s a thigh twist below that which is very smooth and the double-jointed knees both look and function well. At the boot, there’s a swivel and the feet are ball pegs. They don’t have much range going forward and back due to the cuffs on the shoes, but the rocker works okay. There’s also a toe hinge if you like those.
Most importantly, all of the articulation is really smooth. No stuck joints, no uncomfortable creeking or squeeking noises, and it’s all very visually appealing. That may not sit as well with some other folks as I can see some wishing Bandai sacrificed some of the form to get better range in places. The torso feels like the biggest issue as we could probably get a better ab crunch in there. The ankles also aren’t great, but I think that’s partly due to the character design and the shoes present. The shoulders still aren’t perfect, but I think they look much better this way and I’ll take the reduced range there for this visual. I would definitely be interested in seeing a new Goku on this body, though I don’t know what version (I did order the Super Saiyan 2 Goku, but it’s on the usual buck). Maybe a brand new Super Saiyan 3 or “Awakening Super Saiyan” Goku?
This is a bit of a budget release, but there are still some accessories to talk about. Unfortunately, they’re not particularly exciting. Gohan just comes with some extra hands and face plates. For faces, he has a stern expression, teeth-gritting, and a yelling one. For hands, we get fists out of the box plus Kamehameha hands, martial arts pose hands, and a set of open “Masenko” hands. That’s it. It’s expected given the price point, but still disappointing to only get a conventional spread of hands plus three facial expressions. An effect part would have been welcomed and, honestly, adds mere pennies to the cost. How about the Super Saiyan 4 Goku blast effect, but in yellow or blue? Just something to put in his hands for a Masenko effect, though his shoulders aren’t really made for the charging effect so maybe it’s better not to draw attention to that via an effect?
If this is the new, standard, body going forward for Bandai then I think it’s pretty good. It could be better, but I think we’ll get a lot of nice looking figures out of this. And even though there are some short-comings, I still love this releasae. And I don’t even consider myself a fan of Gohan. Nothing against him, I don’t actively dislike the character, he’s just not my favorite. This figure though is one of my favorites in the line and I’ve been having a blast with him just posing and fiddling with him on my desk while he waits for me to write this review. And maybe that’s partly what took me so long as I drew out the process. He’s going to head for the shelf soon and join his buddies, but I am definitely looking forward to getting those extra parts with the Gamma brothers so I have an excuse to mess with this one again. If you thought you didn’t need it for one reason or another, I must encourage you to rethink that. And at 40 bucks, this feels like quite the steal. This figure is way better than the Apocalypse I reviewed recently, a figure I did ultimately like, and it costs the same. While lesser companies are getting more expensive, Bandai is actually getting cheaper and that’s awesome. Keep it up!