S.H.Figuarts Akibaranger Akibared
Bandai Tamashii Nations
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
|Yik Hai Chan is back with a
look at a great Japanese import - take it away, Yik!
Thanks to Michael for this great opportunity and for providing a
platform to have my random opinions heard!
1993 was a memorable year for me, not only being one of the first times
actual violence was aired during Saturday morning TV, it was the first
time a group of rainbow coloured superheroes morphed, fought and
conquered screens across the nation. Back then, I’m certain
not many would have believed that 2013 would be the Power Rangers 20th
anniversary. However, over a decade and a half before Mighty
Morphin’, kids over in the far east of the world were experiencing the
first ever Super Sentai show, Himitsu Sentai Goranger, the original
Japanese senpai that Saban’s (and for a while, Disney’s) Power Rangers
series would eventually use footage from, since its 16th instalment,
Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger, as well as loosely based story retellings.
Last year was Super Sentai’s 35th anniversary, where the series of the
year was full of worthy tributes and well deserved fan
service. However, this year, along with the accustomed
team-of-the-year, a 13 episode parody side-series under the name of
Hikounin Sentai Akibaranger (Hikounin meaning Unofficial) was aired
during a late-night time slot. The show was based in a
real-world environment where Super Sentai was a kids’ television show
and followed two twenty-something otaku and a high school student, as
they fought against semi-real issues affecting Japan’s Electric Town,
Akihabara, caused by an evil corporation, all of which was only
happening in their imagination. That’s right…the sexy boss
character, the cannon-fodder drones, the monsters of the week
supposedly corrupting Akihabara (Akiba for short) and even morphing
into the Akibarangers were all delusions in our heroes minds, driven by
geek-infused fantasies , all the while trying to become an “Official”
Super Sentai team, recognized by Toei, the company that produces it.
The show was geared towards the young adult to middle-aged men who all
grew up watching Super Sentai at some point in their childhood, just
like the main character (it even had a tagline “Good kids shouldn’t
watch this!”), and continued on with the tributes and fan service that
were well received last year. I describe the result as a live
action version of a gag Super Sentai anime. It subverted,
averted and blatantly parodied Super Sentai troupes and idioms, had
themes of breaking the fourth wall (sometimes without actually breaking
it!) and even had an anime as a show-within-a-show!
I’ll be reviewing the first of the Akibaranger S.H.Figuarts, Akibared,
produced by Bandai Japan’s collectors division, Tamashii Nations, who
heavily sponsored the show. Akibared is Nobuo Akagi, a 29
year old delivery boy, who not only loves all things Super Sentai, has
delusions of talking anime girl standees, one of his cute female
customers as well as becoming a real hero.
A norm for S.H.Figuarts releases, what we get is a nice compact window
box package. This time around, being based upon a tribute
show, the white background, rainbow strip and starry design is very
much designed with the Goranger’s logo in mind, giving it a very retro
feel. The figure and accessories are clearly visible and
there’s no mistaking the packaging is for the Akibared figure with a
good amount of promo art and photos all over it. While the
text is in Japanese, there are short blurbs about Akibared, his weapons
and even Inordinate Powers (more on that later). What’s more,
apart from the tape on the sides, its 100% collector
friendly! No tape on the inside trays mean that you can
easily pop the figure and its accessories in and out to your heart’s
The actual live action suit for Akibaranger doesn’t use the age old
custom of spandex but uses fibreglass and rubber, more in line with
Super Sentai's sister show, Kamen Rider.
Because of this, the suit is slightly bulkier, especially due to the
extra shoulder armour. S.H.Figuarts tends to use a common
base-body which then has the details sculpted and added over
it. Due to this, Akibared comes off a little thin where his
upper torso could have been a little bigger and his legs a little
thicker. However, I do understand that maybe the shoulder
armour would have hindered the arm articulation even more had it been
made bigger, so I'll take it as a catch-22.
That aside, it is a wonderful looking figure, measuring in at around 6
inches tall. The helmet sculpt matches the show perfectly,
even down to the raised air slits on the sides and the anime-style
hair-like spikes at the top. Since it's not based on a
spandex suit, the design is more complicated to translate it into a
smaller scale but its done well here. I did say it was
slightly small but the best feature is the shoulder armour and
abdominal area which has a clear red piece covering a sculpted
pattern. Its effect is incredibly show accurate and I'm glad
Bandai went the extra mile instead of just using glossy paint to
replicate the effect.
While only primarily featuring red and black, the paint application is
nothing short of perfection. I can't see any noticeable paint
bleed while all the minor details such as the line patterns on the
helmet and suit are carefully panel lined.
All the red parts have a glossy finish, as well as the entire helmet,
where the black visor gives off a realistic miniature
reflection. Finally, all the white logos on Akibared are
printed on and are clear and crisp as well as being appropriately sized
for this scale.
Advertised in promos as having “super mobility”, it certainly wasn’t
lying. With S.H.Figuarts being like a japanese equivalent to
Marvel Legends and DC Universe, you’ll not only come to expect plenty
of articulation but it’ll be as seamlessly integrated into the sculpt
as possible. One of the best examples is the waist
joint. The figure is actually split into two parts, between
the abdomen and the hips, and then connected via a ball joint which is
cleverly hidden by the belt.
There’s also the ball jointed shoulders and hips which also have
articulation at the sockets, giving the arms and legs an even further
range of motion. While the thigh has a cut joint very high
up, close to the hip, the biceps no longer have the same which were
introduced via the Gokaiger Figuarts seen earlier in the
year. While it would have hurt the arm sculpt, since the
shoulder armour is a solid piece, the arm articulation is a little
hindered without it. Due to this, it cannot cross its arms
properly and, more specifically, hold or support its gun with both
hands like in his henshin/morphing pose or finisher move.
Apart from that, there’s ball jointed head, neck, torso, wrists,
ankles, double pin elbows and knees as well as single pin feet, all of
which all move easily but are very sturdy, to hold a large amount of
show accurate poses.
Included inside the package are eight additional hands, as well as the
closed-fists already attached to the figure, two scarf/cape pieces as
well as the Moe Moe Z-Cune in gun mode. All the hands are
sculpted equally well with good proportions and can be popped on or off
the peg of the wrists joints with a little force. Some are
more useful than others such as the ones for holding the gun or the
flat hands for Akibared’s roll-call pose but I’m sure you’ll be happy
to have some extra hands for when the occasion arises.
One of the two scarf/cape pieces are to be attached to the small peg on
the right of Akibared’s back to complete his uniform, one is sculpted
relaxed while the other is flapping in a small breeze.
The only piece of arsenal included is the Akibaranger’s common weapon,
the Moe Moe Z-Cune. It’s actually their henshin device,
initially a PVC figure of anime character Aoi from the
show-within-a-show, Nijiyome Academy Z-Cune Aoi, that changes into a
gun when the members morph. It’s wonderfully detailed even as
this scale and can be held using the correct hands.
Even with all the extra hands, the accessory count seems a little low
compared to the Shinkenger Figuarts. A miniature opened form
of the Moe Moe Z-Cune which they use to morph and communicate with
would have been a welcome addition.
If you’re lucky enough to have preordered this figure or purchased one
early, you’ll receive a first production run bonus which is an extra
thin white box including three clear Tamashii Stage stands, each with
an Akibaranger logo printed in either red, blue or yellow.
These are to be used with Akibared and the to-be-released Akibablue and
Akibayellow S.H.Figuarts. These stands require a little
assembly but are an amazing support piece to stabilize your figures or
for mid air poses. The joints of the clip and the arm itself
are strong enough hold Akibared firmly in place.
So what is the huge double cuff type weapon he is holding in one of the
photos? That is one of the Akibaranger’s Inordinate Power,
where at various points in the series, Akibared becomes so delusional
as a Super Sentai fanboy that he is able conjure up imaginary versions
of three "Official" Super Sentai heroes to help in their fight, who
will then change into a special piece of arsenal for the Unofficial
team to use!
Tamashii Nations has used this opportunity to not only create upcoming
releases of these three heroes but have included the Inordinate Power
weapon as a Bonus Part in the respective Official hero so they can be
used with your Akibaranger S.H.Figuarts! What we have here is
the Deka Wapper, being the Bonus Part included with the S.H.Figuarts
Dekaranger Dekared. While its good to see Bandai expanding
their line with new S.H.Figuarts for more classic Super Sentai teams, I
would have preferred at least one of the Inordinate Powers to be
included in each of the Akibarangers since their arsenal on the show is
a little on the low side already.
I’ll be including my views of the Deka Wapper in a possible review of
DekaRed in the near future.
The retail price in Japan is ¥3,200, the equivalent being approximately
$40/£25 depending where you are before any sort of import expenses are
added on. For a six inch scale figure, that is a little steep
but since it’s made especially for the collectors market, the overall
quality in terms of attention to detail, the design, the accessory
count and the plastic used is much higher compared to mass market
figures so it is justified in a way. A few more accessories
would have been appreciated, though.
If you’re lucky enough to get this via a Japan-based importer, you’ll
generally get between 10-27% off the retail price and if you managed to
get one from the first production run, you’ll get three free Tamashii
Stage stands as well.
As you can see from the photos, I had a lot of fun posing Akibared,
with and without the Tamashii Stage stand. The accurate
sculpt, the amazing paint job and sturdy articulation really makes this
a solid piece. However, due to it being aimed towards
collectors, having a number of small accessories and the price being
higher than most 6 inch figures, you’d be reluctant to give this to a
child, especially if the show isn’t aimed for them.
to Watch Out For -
When using the leg articulation, be careful of the knee
articulation. The knee pads are connected via a peg and can
be removed unintentionally. Also be aware that the special
Tamashii Stage stands are only available as a first production run
bonus so check with your seller to see if these will be included if you
buy Akibared from them.
Apart from a few minor issues in the structural design, S.H.Figuarts
Akibared exceeds the expectations set by their previous
releases. I not only await the remaining members of the
Akibarangers to be released with anticipation but also how future
releases could be improved. While the price point may be high
in comparison to figures of this scale, it is justified by the quality
in both material and design.
This product was purchased for the review by the reviewer.
Photos and text by Yik Hai Chan.