"The 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 guest author."

Ridureyu is back with another look a cool Revoltech figure - take it away, R!

After about half a year of reviewing Revoltech's Fist of the North Star toys, I've finally made it to the main hero!

Fist of the North Star was an incredibly influential anime and manga, setting the template for most action series throughout the 1980s and '90s.  This includes the idea of an impossibly-powerful hero.  Although nowhere near, say, characters from Dragon Ball Z, Fist of the North Star's main hero is pretty much invincible.  He could probably mix it up pretty well in either Marvel of DC's universe.

The setting is shortly after nuclear war transformed the earth into Mad Max-land, only since it's Japan, the place is filled to the brim with supernatural martial arts.  Kenshiro is the heir to Hokuto Shinken ("Divine Fist of the North Star"), an 1800-year old martial art that uses acupressure points to kill people.  Think Kill Bill, only a whole lot messier.  It isn't the only result, but Kenshiro's favorite tactic is to pop his enemies' heads like bloody balloons.  This series is gory beyond all reason, although it somehow managed to maintain a good plot with complex characters.  Fist of the North Star follows Ken as he searches for his lost love, clashes with his brother over successorship to Hokuto Shinken, and generally splatters bad guys everywhere.  Toward the series' end, he travelled overseas to learn the secrets behind Hokuto Shinken, and ended up training a student to be the martial art's next successor.

Hokuto Shinken is powerful enough that Kenshiro might as well be invincible, with only very few enemies in the series ever giving him a challenge.  To avoid "boring invincible hero syndrome," the a lot of the series focuses on the people around him, most of whom die pretty terribly.  Kenshiro's near-constant manly tears helped set another trend in action anime, too. 

Revoltech (pronounced like "revolver," not "revolt") is a company owned by Kaiyodo which specializes in a very specific, modular ball-and-socket joint.  Their figures universally have great articulation, and can be pulled apart or swapped around to accommodate alternate hands, heads, or whatever.  This figure is Number 21 of the Fist of the North Star line, and one of the most recently-released so far.  As of this writing, none have been announced beyond number 23 (Raoh in Ken's Rage garb), but let's keep hoping!

This particular figure is of Kenshiro as he appears in Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage (Hokuto Musou in Japan), the newest Fist of the North Star game (Released in late 2010).  The game advertised new costume designs for the characters, which ranged from subtle changes (Jagi) to massive overhauls (Shin).  As for Ken, his costume is more or less the same kind of outfit he wore in the series, only fancier.  He generally stuck with a pseudo-Mad Max leather jacket, jeans, and a shirt.  The Ken's Rage outfit just dolls it up a lot.  Is it worth it?  Well, let's find out!

Packaging - ****
Revoltech toys  have a standard packaging design, and Kenshiro is technically no different.  He comes in a window box with a plastic tray designed to hold everything.  The pieces all fit without twisty-ties, rubber bands, tape, or excess force needed to remove them.  Ken's nestles in pretty nicely, no different than anybody else in this line.  You can also easily pack Ken and all of his stuff back in, thus making storage a breeze.  The box also includes a shot of Ken as he appeared in the game, which is a nice touch.

Sculpting - ****
Kenshiro has a pretty consistent look all through the Fist of the North Star manga, although his character model matured a little over time.  Try to imagine what would happen if Bruce Lee, Mad Max-era Mel Gibson, and Sly Stallone had a baby, and you've pretty much got it.  This was slightly different in the anime, where Ken's appearance really varied based on how much money they spent on the episode - he might look like Bruce Lee, or Stallone, or a monkey, depending on the episode.  At the very least, the new remake movies and new game have managed to keep him looking good.  Ken's face is quite good, if just a little young.  It seems to match Kenshiro at the beginning of the series more than how he was at the middle or end, although this isn't really a complaint.  They also did a good job with his hair, keeping it very '80s without being too '80s, if you catch my drift.  He had a couple of similar-but-different hairstyles in the series, and the anime also gave him an occasional Bruce Lee bowl-cut.  This matches how he looked in the game, which is pretty close to how Ken's hair was at any given time.

Of course, the main issue with this figure is his outfit.  In the series, Ken was generally either seen in his usual shirt-jacket-jeans combo (although he had a few different styles, most people don't realize that), or shirtless when he was bringing the pain.  That latter one showed off the seven scars on his chest in the shape of the Big Dipper, put there by the very first major villain of the series.  Thankfully, Koei chose not to completely overhaul Ken's outfit, instead just making it fancier.  It's the same basic thing he usually wears, except with added designs all over the place.  A lot of players really prefer his original look and choose to use that costume, but it's not that bad a problem for me.  The tassels on his belt are kind of odd, but that isn't that big an issue.  The biggest eye-catcher on the whole thing is that fire pattern going up one leg of his pants and then to the back of his jacket.  It's nicely-done, and it's good to see that the sculptors didn't skimp out on all of that complicated detail work.

Kenshiro is 6" even, which may make him look a little small when standing next to other 6"-scale figures (most of them have at least half an inch on that).  A lot of recent DC figures are even taller than that, and will positively dwarf poor Kenshiro, so there may be some scale issues.

Paint - ****
Just as with all the other Revoltech figures, Kenshiro's paint is fantastic.  His costume really got a lot of love this time around, with tons of tiny paint apps everywhere.  The fire pattern is flawless, buit so is the silver filigree on his jacket, or the rivets on his shoulder pads.  Everything looks like the right material, including the detail work on Ken's boots.  His skin seems a little "rosy" when compared to other figures in this line, but that just helps set him apart a little bit.

The work on Ken's head is also pretty good, especially with the faint outline to bring out his hair.  His face seems just a little soft, but again, it's "young" Kenshiro, not quite how he appeared by the end of the series.

Articulation - ****
Hellooooooo, Revoltech articulation!  Kaiyodo really hit a gold mine with their Revoltech line.  Technically, Ken has roughly the same number of articulation points as a good Marvel Legends figure, but the unique construction of these joints gives him an impressive range of movement.  The pieces come apart reasonably easy, which is good - it means the figure won't break, and there are lots and lots of alternate heads and hands in this line.  It's still important to work each joint when you get a new figure, and try to find the best ways to keep him stable, though.  But if you want, you can put Ken in pretty much every pose from the series.  His basic fighting stance doesn't take too much work, and he can do a lot of the various flying kicks/punches/head-splattering karate chops he is known for.  You can even mimic that goofy "Heaven Breaking Stance," which looks like he's trying to rub his belly and pat his head at the same time.

One nice detial is the construction of his neck joint.  Somehow, they have managed to give this figure a ball-jointed neck that actually lets him look up and down!  That just blows most Marvel or DC figures out of the water.

Accessories - ***
To start out with, Kenshiro comes with a basic Revoltech accessory set: two alternate sets of hands, one head, a stand, an orange coin (you can redeem those for bonus items... if you live in Japan) and a little orange box to hold everything.  Swapping hands and the head aren't too hard, although you should probably swap them all a few times to get the joints working right before settling on one.  He has a pair of closed fists, flat hands in a chopping pose, and open palms.  Unfortunately (and this is part of the reason for a half-star deduction), Ken does not have hands sculpted to hold anything, nor does he have hands for any of his more-specific Hokuto Shinken moves.  Pointing fingers or "thumbs-out" hands would have been perfect, but alas, they are not to be.  His two heads are calm and shouting, which fit most situations.  Sure, a "crying over somebody who died" head would fit, but he usually looked pretty stoic at those times, too.  The stand is very good for either standing of aerial poses, just like all Revoltech stands.

Kenshiro also comes with some extras - energy effects for his fighting moves!  Although these aren't really accurate to the series, they are for the game.  And besides, they're cool if you like that sort of thing.  There is one rounded-edge ball that can fit over his fist like a glove, or at the tip of his foot.  He also has a piece meant to fit around his ankle or wrist, which fits certain kicks as well as the "Boulder-Splitting Wave" chop (which was never used to split boulders, only skulls). 

The other two are really fantastic in how they fit the series.  Ken's most famous attack, the "hundred Crack Fist of the North Star," was basically a massive spam attack.  Think E. Honda's move from Street Fighter, only with exploding heads at the end.  In fact, it probably inspired the Street Fighter version, but that's another story entirely.  The sculptors decided that the best way to represent a cloud of flying fists was to just sculpt it.  They are the same color as the energy blasts, but both hundred-crack-pieces work like swapped hands, and can fit with a few different poses.  Nice job!  The only problem is that, because they are huge, it might be somewhat difficult to see  Kenshiro behind all those blue hands.  You can even try to replace a foot with them, which kind of works somewhat.

Value - **1/2
At $25-$30 on average, these figures will make your wallet hurt.  But then,you're really not paying that much more than you would for a MOTU Classics figure, and the quality difference is tremendous.  These Revoltech figures showcase the same level of quality as high-end 6th scale figures, which does help soften the cost a bit.  A little.

Things to Watch Out For -
Some figures might have a minor smudge or two, perhaps from his hair, but I really can't think of anything else that's a problem.  Remember after posing Kenshiro to tighten each joint so he doesn't start looking too goofy, of course, but that's standard for all Revoltech figures.

Overall - ****
I really have no real complaints about this figure except for the lack of hands.  The costume might be off-putting to people, but there are traditional costume-Kenshiro figures out there.  Three, if I recall correctly!  This figure goes well with the other Ken's Rage-themed figures in this line, and makes me hope for more.  I'd love to see Jagi's in-game redesign get released, after all!

Where to Buy
Amazon often has some, and PowerAnime gets a vote of confidence from me.  eBay is also good, although you probably should just search on Google and see who has this figure.  Japan imports are odd in that way.

This product was purchased for the review by the reviewer. Photos and text by Ridureyu.

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