following is a guest review. The review
and photos do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Michael Crawford
or Michael's Review of the Week, and are the opinion and work of the
|Jeff Parker jumps in tonight
with a look at another new release from Hot Toys - tell us all about
Thank you as always to Michael, still THE Captain Toy, and the Sensei
of toy reviewers if you will.
I admit it, when I first saw this figure announced I thought ‘Kamui
who?’ In much the same way I did when I first read that Hot Toys had
landed the Goemon
license. But then, as is oft the case with Hot Toys figures, they
release the spec and pics
and your jaw just kind of hangs there for a moment while you take in
what you are looking at. In this case it’s Kamui, a young Shinobi or
Ninja who has turned his back on the clan who trained him and who he
once fought along side. But the thing is you can’t just leave a Ninja
cell, you either have to be killed or kill them all, as if you dare to
reject them, they will spend the rest of their lives hunting you down.
you see the problem young Kamui here has, he must constantly move,
never put down roots and never form any friendships, because as soon as
he does he will be found, and even if he can move quickly enough to
evade his relentless pursuers they will still mercilessly slaughter any
people he has even made the slight acquaintance of. The story takes
many twists and turns and numerous characters are introduced along the
way, but at its core this is the premise of Kamui’s ongoing adventure.
It started life as a Manga strip created by Sanpei Shirato, but was
then made into a 26 episode Anime originally shown on Japanese TV back
in 1969. So fast forward 40 years and here we finally are with a live
action movie version,
and from what I’ve read the main reason for this was the story is so
special effects laden (vintage sea-faring pirate galleons, daggers
whistling through the air, arrows deflected with Katanas and flying
shark attacks) they needed extensive CGI scenes to bring it to the
|The character of
Kamui is played by Ken'ichi Matsuyama who many will
know for playing L in the Deathnote movies, to say he is a heartthrob
in his native Japan might be an understatement, and he is definitely
something of a box office draw in many Asian countries.
though like me you may have thought ‘Kamui who?’ or even ‘Ken'ichi
Matsuyama who?’ I still have a strong feeling this will be a big
seller, hell Sideshow have already sold out, and just like Goemon the
movie still hasn’t even been released in the US yet, in fact it’s only
received a couple of screenings in the UK at film festivals so far. So,
if you aren’t familiar with the character, the story or the actor, do
you still need this in your collection?
Well, if you like the
Jidaigeki style and you need your regular fix of hi-end 1/6th goodness,
and if you happen to be a fan of Hot Toys chief sculptor Yulli, well,
a rule I like Hot Toys packaging, in fact I usually like it a lot. They
seem to find ever more creative ways of reinventing the wheel, but
sadly this box just doesn’t float my boat. It’s nice, it’s tasteful,
it’s well constructed… but it doesn’t excite me. It’s main colour-way
is grey and a dark red, the red is over printed onto a mezzotint image
of Kamui, and where the over print occurs we get an interesting moiré
effect. The one aspect I do really like is the heavy use of Japanese
typography, it’s written vertically down the page in a bold
calligraphic style. The side panel is held down by a magnetic seal, it
lifts and opens to the left showing the figure and his accessories
through the large window. Inside it’s the usual vac formed tray, but no
twisties are used.
So, depending on your sensibilities this
might appeal a lot more to you than it does to me. There’s no denying
it’s an attractive and subtle piece of work but it just don’t rock my
OK, look at this sculpt, no seriously look closely at this sculpt, then
take a look at some pics of Ken'ichi Matsuyama like this
or I guess more specifically this
then I defy you not see how this is approaching utter perfection. The
thing is Matsuyama actually has quite an unremarkable face (I mean this
in a good way), but he’s almost androgynous from some angles. It’s the
kind of subtle face that sculptors the world over would struggle to get
right, but get it right Yulli has (Hmm Yoda I sound like).
thing is all of his features are soft; the curve of his cheek, the
slope of the nose and the distinctive pout of his upper lip, and it is
all captured here beautifully. The hair is handled in the same way HT
seem to produce most of their Asian characters hair, in that it is a
separate stuck on piece, made from glossy black vinyl.
do the same thing and it’s very effective. It’s worn in a raggedy style
here, with loose strands hanging down at various points, other parts
are swept back to a long ponytail but the nature of the pliable vinyl
used means it can sway and bend without hampering the neck articulation
too much at all. He also comes with six hands, two are fists, two are
gripping and two are in the kung fu, tiger-claw position.
even though I’m sure Kamui Gaiden is a fine and entertaining movie, I’m
still pretty sure this figure is going to end up being bashed into
quite a few figures of ‘L’,
and whilst I can’t complain about that, it seems a shame to spoil what
is such a great looking figure straight from the box!
Hot Toys are a Hong Kong based company, they don’t actually do that
many Asian movie stars, but when they do, they really seem to get some
special treatment. Not only has Yulli lavished her talents on the
sculpt for Kamui, but JC Hong has pulled off another one of his
faultless paint apps which has been reproduced by their factory to such
an amazing finish that you just cant imagine how it is managed on a
mass produced level. The painting here is nothing short of astounding,
beautiful skin tones with subtle mottling and graduations, the lip tone
is distinct enough from the general flesh colouration without being
‘lipstick’ like at all, but as always it’s those glossy eyes that
really bring this figure to life. The eye brows also bear the closest
of scrutiny, with individual hairs being evident and all the hands have
some gentle tones applied as well. Put simply there is nothing here to
complain about, just a striking piece of work. How do they do it… no
has a trade, the trade of NINJA, the art of invisibility, the ability
to become a shadow (all be it a very deadly shadow), but a trade
And as amoral as it may be considered, the act of
being a gun for hire, it is soooo much more cooler than being a plumber
(to any plumbers reading this I appologise, and I assure you your trade
is more cool and more in demand than mine… sadly). But if you were
given the choice of journeyman ‘Ninja’ assasin… or… journeyman plumber…
what’s your choice… EXACTLY, the prosecution rests!
So what am I
getting at here, well, being a Ninja who blends into shadows you expect
dark colours… no, a Ninja, lets face it you expect black, BLACK
(they lock me under the stairs and make me eat pins!) Black!.
Kamui here doesn’t want people to know he’s a Ninja, he wants people to
think he’s a plumber… well, not a plumber but any other job, in fact
any other job rather than a Ninja!
And so our young hero is
dressed in the attire of a vagabond, his garments are a hotch potch of
different fabrics patched and stiched together. It’s a mixed media
outfit consisting of cotton, hessian, suedette, pleather, vinyl,
ribbons and cords. His feet are sculpted as bound leather mocasins with
a double ended ball joint so there’s a great range of movement here as
well. The shins and forearms are wrapped in a tan leather that is then
bound and tied with cords, under these he wears a pair of light cotton
trousers. On his top half he has a woven hessian under garment (like an
Edo period kevlar vest), overwhich he wears his patterned patch work
long shirt (it kind of forms an overlapping skirt over the trouser
tops) and lastly a suede wrap-over long sleeveless waiscoat (think
Japanese Jedi) tied at the waist with a multi-coloured fabric belt, the
back of this belt also has an elasticated loop to slide the Wakizashi
Saya (small swords scabbard) into, the main Saya holding the Katana
(long sword) is worn in the traditioanal Ninja style over his back,
held by a cloth belt.
So as a basic run down garment by garment
that is his wardrobe, but Keith Lai who put this costume together has
done a fine job of replicating materials to make this outfit look
pretty much perfect. I’m especially impressed by the taditioanal
patterns used on the patch work shirt, as the details are just amazing.
And the big, big bonus is that the nature of the various garments and
the way they are tailored to fit, means it all hangs very convincingly
and Kamui loses almost none of that all important ‘Ninja’ articulation,
leading us on nicely to…
Kamui comes on the slim True Type (TT), which I covered in this link here,
it’s a body that a lot of 1/6th fans know pretty well by now, and it
suits this character fantastically, as it lets the clothing hang
naturally and means you can get him in some great action ‘Ninja’ poses.
And even though both his swords are solid metal, the joints are all
good and firm so he’ll have no problem holding them up even in more
This particular figure has the two-jointed neck
meaning it has a god range of circular motion both where the neck joins
the shoulders and the head. I prefer action figures this way, as the
word ‘action’ has always gone hand in hand with articulation, well, for
me anyway. I know the sculpted neck works better for some characters,
but what we gain in aesthetic we lose in the ability to pose naturally.
So for Kamui here this works 100% fine, and as I mentioned in the
outfit section, the feet are sculpted as the leather moccasins, so
combined with the double ended ball joint here, the ankles have a good
range for deep stances as well!
Kamui comes with a good selection, made all the more impressive by
those real metal swords.
The official spec lists-
- Katana long sword with Saya (sheath)
- Wakizashi short sword with Saya (sheath)
- Two iron fists (like knuckle dusters with lethal looking spikes)
- Two Kunai knives
- Small bag (Actually looks more like a bed roll)
- 3 pairs of interchangeable hands
- 2 Scallop Shells (not sure how these are used in the movie)
- Figure stand
I said, the swords take centre stage here, as like with the Goemon
figures they have solid metal blades, the grips are of the classic
design incorporating the Tsuba hand guard and Tsuka cord bound pommel.
Both have Saya’s (sheaths) included as well. As I went over above, the
smaller attaches to his belt while the larger is slung over his back on
a strap. The structure on both the weapons and scabbards is finely
observed, showing lovely details and finely rendered flourishes like
the Hamon (curved wavy line that is etched along the blade edge to show
where the folded steel is at its sharpest) on the swords and leather
textures and cloth bindings on the Saya. All the other accessories are
plastic, but the paint apps still manage to make them loo like little
facsimiles of the items they represent. The Kunai knives fit in the
gripping hands and the metal claws fit over the fisted ones, I’m not
sure what you are meant to with the shells (I feel like Sly Stallone in
Demolition man) but I’m putting them in the little draw string pouch
that hangs from his belt. The bag is bound shut with a piece of cord
and I haven’t tried opening it yet, it looks best just hung over his
back and tied in a simple knot over his chest, but it’s not essential
for the look of the character and I would imagine it was only used in a
Lastly we get the figure stand, all the writing here
is in Japanese which at least gives it a cool Asian vibe, but to be
honest, it will be staying in the box, as Kamui can stand very well
So, a good selection, beautifully crafted, full score easy!
I have no
problem with giving this figure a full score based on the RRP of
&149.99, but if you mooch around you can find him for as little
$130, and for that price he’s a gem. I have a strong feeling that
because of the licence being little known in the West, and having only
a cult following in the East, it may have lead to this figure being
made in smaller numbers. But that hasn’t lead to any cuts in the final
quality of the figure, in fact the lower numbers seem to have allowed
for some even tighter quality control, especially on those sublime
paint apps. So throw in the cool accessories and you have what just has
to be a full score item.
Factor - ****
This figure, like the one of Goemon Ishikawa
is just made for posing and playing with, it has a robust build and
accessories that don’t need to be treated like fragile eggshells.
if you are buying this because you are a fan of the character, or a fan
of the actor you will be very happy indeed. I have to admit I wasn’t
familiar with either, but I’m still very happy, he looks great posed
alongside my Goemon figures, but he’d look cool on any shelf.
I like this figure, I like it a lot, you can probably tell. Now I just
need to actually see the movie it’s based on!
so glad that the relative obscurity of this character and the Manga it
is derived from hasn’t lead to any cuts in the final quality of the
product. In fact it’s been one of my favourites amongst recent
know for many he will
get lost in a sea of T-800’s and battle damaged Iron Man figures, which
is a shame, because come the end of the year this little figure might
well make it into my top three. And I also have a feeling there might
be a few 1/6th fans out there trying to have complete collections of
the figures Yulli has sculpted for Hot Toys so far. As such this is one
of her nicest pieces to date, which sadly might slip under the radar
for many people with all the high profile licences hitting right now.
However I’m glad it didn’t slip under mine and I’d recommend it highly,
it’s an outstanding piece that sums just how well put together modern
hi-end 1/6th figures are these days, i.e. virtually perfect!
to Buy -
Sideshow have now long sold out of what I would imagine was a pretty
limited number anyway. He was available for $149.99.
Or you can try Michael’s sponsor below-
Bad Toy Store - $144.99
or hit eBay
where I’ve seen BIN prices of $129.99 to $179.99, good luck.
This product was provided free for the review by the manufacturer.
Photos and text by Jeff Parker.