Samurai Showdown
Haoh and Hanzo

Tonight's guest review is from Sean Teeter, but it's not Star Wars this time around.  Instead, he's bringing you a look at a couple of the Samurai Showdown figures - go for it, Sean!

Samurai Showdown: Haohmaru & Hanzo Hattori

I was very impressed with the Vampire Hunter D figures that Epoch and Cworks produced. So, when I had a chance to snap up the entire set of their Samurai Showdown figures for $20 –through Side Show Toys—I didn’t hesitate.
SNK’s Samurai Showdown fighter series has somewhat faded from the public view over the years, but it still remains one of the most popular fighting arcade series of all time. The fighters have also made the leap from the videogame screen to Anime as well. While these figures have been out for a few years, they’re tough to come by outside of Japan. Cworks has produced four fan favorites from the long line of warriors: Haohmaru, Hanzo Hattori, Nakoruru, and Shiki. I’ll cover Shiki and Nakoruru in the next review. First up are the boys . . .

Packaging - **1/2
The large blister card looks nice enough. The graphics are well done and displayed nicely, but the bubble is too thin for the heavy figures within. Out of the four figures I bought, only one bubble wasn’t smashed at some point or another. Everything looks fine; I just wish the card were sturdier.

Paint - Haohmaru: ** ½; Hanzo: *** ½
Haohmaru has pretty basic colors: white outfit, black trim, and red wristbands. There’s quite a bit of bleeding around the black detailing, which is very disappointing because of the simple pattern involved. His face looks fine except for the cheesy application of his five-o’clock shadow. Over all, he’s just kind of lackluster in color.

Hanzo fairs much better with nicely applied red and gold detail on his armor. There’s very little bleeding here, even on the smaller ops. His armor has a nice gray wash to bring out the feeling of metal. He’s much better than his counterpart.

Sculpting - Haohmaru: ***; Hanzo: *** ½
In general the sculpting looks pretty good on these two. Haohmaru is a pretty accurate three-dimensional representation of his videogame counterpart, down to his wild hair. Unfortunately this is not entirely a good thing since his crazy bangs impede his head movement. His ponytail is a separate piece that plugs into the back of his head, but the peg seems to be a tad flimsy. Time will tell if it will hold up or not. All this extra weight also makes him semi top-heavy. He can stand fine on his own, but on if his legs and feet are turned properly. His outfit is nice enough though; all the creases are in the right places and they’re rendered nicely. 

Upon first appearance, Hanzo looks a little buffer than he does in the game, but it’s an illusion caused by his enormous shoulder pads. The metal pads are sculpted nicely as are the wrinkles in his outfit. There’s some really nice detail here, especially in his shin pads. There’s a sword permanently sculpted in its sheath on his back; I think it would have been better just to have sculpted the empty sheath instead, that way the sword could have an nice resting place outside of his grip. As it is, you can kind of tuck the sword in along side the sculpted one in certain poses, so that he has two swords sheathed.

Articulation - Haohmaru: **; Hanzo: ** ½
For a figure that has twelve points of articulation, Haohmaru has an incredible lack of poseability. He has cuts at the neck, waist, knees, ankles, shoulders, biceps, and wrists, but he’s almost a statue. Except for his arms and waist, all Haohmaru’s articulation does is allow for slight variations in his limbs. He can do some basic resting poses with his sword, but no action stances. He just stands there, looking smug. 
Hanzo suffers from similar problems with his sixteen points, but is allowed a slightly greater range of poses, especially with the arms. He has cuts at the shoulders, biceps, wrists, waist, thighs, and swivels at the elbows, knees and ankles. The shoulder pads limit his arm movement, but the elbow swivels make up for a lot of problems there. His leg articulation only allows for slight variations in his stance, but they work better than Haohmaru’s. Unlike the samurai, the ninja can actually hold a battle pose or two.
In the end however, both figures are somewhat disappointing in this area. They could have been so much better.

Accessories - ***
The problem with figures based on videogames is the lack of accessories found within the game associated with the characters. What can you really include besides the weapon wielded by the character?

Haohmaru comes with two swappable left hands –one permanently holding his Sake keg, the other open-palmed, his sword, and a stand. The sword is definitely the winner in this lot. Its sculpt is nicely rendered and the paint ops are nice and clean. The sculpt of the Sake keg is so that Haohmaru can only hold it over his shoulder. The stand is a simple black oval with one foot-peg. It’s nothing special, especially since Haohmaru can stand just fine on his own. These items are just a little lacking in the end, but I can’t think of anything else that should have been included.

Hanzo comes with a slightly wider selection: one helmeted head, one unmasked head, his ninja sword, three throwing stars, two interchangeable right hands (one open; one closed), and the same black stand that comes with Haohmaru. The two heads are nicely rendered, but the unmasked one looks a little small on the body. The throwing stars look nice as well –all three are different shapes—but the way Hanzo holds them is a little sloppy. Just like Leila’s goggles from the Vampire Hunter D series, Epoch has globbed on some semi-adhesive goo to one side of the stars, so you can stick them to Hanzo’s hands. Off course all three hand sculpts are of closed fists, so this looks kind of ridiculous. He can hold one star at a time in his grip hand, but that that’s it. The sword looks good as well but seems to be too short for a figure this big. 

Durability - ***
I felt the need to include a new category with these figures. After having quality issues with my McFarlane Predators and the leg articulation on my Vampire Hunter D figures, I decided to check out my other figures for sturdiness. Luckily these two are pretty rock solid (unlike the female figures). Hell, you could put a dent in someone’s forehead if you threw Haohmaru at them. The only fragile points are Haohmaru’s hair and Hanzo’s sculpted sword on his back. 

Value - ***1/2
That’s three assuming you get them on sale for $20 for the complete set of four at Sideshow Toy. At $5 a figure, that’s a pretty good deal. I’d probably place their highest reasonable price at $8 a pop. Unfortunately, it’s hard to get them under $14. Let’s just say that I wouldn’t have paid $10 a piece for these. They look great, but you can’t do squat with them.

At this point, it really depends on how badly you want these figures. As I’ve said, it isn’t easy to find these figures at decent prices. I’ve never seen them anywhere other than the Internet either.
Cosmic Clutter has Shiki and Nakoruru for $14.50 each.
Treasure Island Sports has the set of four for $52.95.
The Anime Corner Store has them for $14.98 a pop.

Overall - Haohmaru: ** ½; Hanzo Hattori: ***
They looked awesome in the package, but my excitement began to droop after I opened them up. All in all, these two look great sitting on the shelf –they’re very nicely sculpted and look like their game counterparts. But, you can’t do a damn thing with them; there’s very little poseability with Haohmaru, and Hanzo just barely makes his three-star rating by the skin of his paint ops. There’s no interaction possible between any of the four figures in this set. If you’re an Anime nut or a fan of the videogame series, go ahead and pick these up, but try to hold out for a low price. The deal at Side Show will probably be over by the time this review gets posted, as they are in limited quantities. Look around; they’re out there somewhere. 
For everyone else, go look for Epoch’s Vampire Hunter D figures. Not only are they superior to this set, but prices have also been dropping all over the web. 

Figure from the collection of Sean Teeter.

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