Saizo Kirigakure and Chacha Asai - Goemon
Hot Toys

Goemon Saizo and ??? sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys

   "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."

Jeff Parker is taking a look at a pair of new Goemon figures - tell us all about him, Jeff!

Thank you as always to our Captain… Toy, that is!

Here I am, back with two more figures from Goemon: The Movie, which tells the legend/folklore story of a once noble warrior who falls from grace, but is (as legends always require) given the chance of redemption. So as far as the back story goes, I’d recommend you visit my first review of Goemon Ishikawa, the titular hero from this story, he’s kind of the Japanese equivalent of Robin Hood.

I was hugely impressed with that first figure, and considering he’s from a movie I hadn’t even seen yet (in fact I still haven’t), then I was amazed at how cool I found him, and it made me realise two things-
1.    I need to see the movie… as soon as I can!
2.    I would need to get the next two figures in the line!

And so, now here we are with Saizo Krigakure, the black clad Ninja, and Chacha Asai, Goemons love interest, in her beautiful pink, red and orange fiery gown.
So, can they live up to the promise of that first figure, lets find out?

Saizo Kirigakure and Chacha Asai Goemon sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys

Saizo Kirigakure and Chacha Asai Goemon sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys
Saizo Kirigakure and Chacha Asai Goemon sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys
Saizo Kirigakure and Chacha Asai Goemon sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys
Saizo Kirigakure and Chacha Asai Goemon sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys
Saizo Kirigakure and Chacha Asai Goemon sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys
Saizo Kirigakure and Chacha Asai Goemon sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys
Saizo Kirigakure and Chacha Asai Goemon sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys
Saizo Kirigakure and Chacha Asai Goemon sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys
Saizo Kirigakure and Chacha Asai Goemon sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys
Saizo Kirigakure and Chacha Asai Goemon sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys
Saizo Kirigakure and Chacha Asai Goemon sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys
Saizo Kirigakure and Chacha Asai Goemon sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys
Saizo Kirigakure and Chacha Asai Goemon sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys
Saizo Kirigakure and Chacha Asai Goemon sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys
Saizo Kirigakure and Chacha Asai Goemon sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys
Saizo Kirigakure and Chacha Asai Goemon sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys
Saizo Kirigakure and Chacha Asai Goemon sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys

Packaging ***1/2
Although these are obviously specific to the two new characters, they also follow exactly the same basic layout as the first one. So they’re mostly white boxes, designed in a landscape format. The front carries a large photo of the characters head as portrayed by the actor, alongside the foil embossed movie title, whilst the back has a picture of full figure next to a black and white image of the head sculpt. The side panel is held in place magnetically and lifts to expose a window with the fully dressed and constructed figure nestled within; on the opposite panel is full list of the Hot Toys production credits.

So as I said on the Goemon Ishikawa review, these are beautifully designed and understated boxes, they don’t have the wow factor that some of Hot Toys most notable packaging has, but they are still mighty fine, and suit the subject matter perfectly. I’m especially liking the feint, subtle background patterns that differ from character to character, nice! 

Sculpting- Saizo ****, Chacha ***1/2
As a collection, the three figures in this series are like a bit of a dream team in terms of the talent that has brought them into being. First we had Kojun’s work on Goemon and now we have Yulli bringing us Saizo, with Hiroki Hayashi sculpting Chacha. It’s fair to say that with these three figures you have a virtual ‘who’s who’ of some of the most important talent working on 1/6th head sculpts in the last few years.

So kicking off with Chacha, it’s another beautiful piece of work by the master of female head sculpts, I already have his Scarlett Johansson figure from The Spirit and received Sheva Alomar from Resi 5 at the same time as Chacha, so there is no doubt that this man knows how to sculpt beautiful women.

The actress who portrayed Chacha is Ryoko Hirosue, who some might recognize from the 2001 French movie- Wasabi , although that is to do her a great disservice as she has starred in many, many popular movies in Japan. She’s a very fresh faced, pretty girl, and Hayashi has done a fantastic job of capturing her likeness here, I’m especially fond of the delicate work on the upturned sweeps at the edges of her mouth, but it’s the gentle observations on the shape of her eyes that really set this sculpt apart, here they are slightly shut, showing the beginnings of the smile that is so accurately captured with the mouth. Her nose is also wonderfully realised, it has quite a distinct shape, both from straight on and in profile which is unmistakably translated into this sculpt. I think the shape of her face is just a tad too thin and long here, as its very oval, and after looking at photos of Ryoko, her face seems just a tad more heart shaped. So the lack of breadth to her face makes her nose seem a little too wide in comparison to the rest of her head, it’s very slight though, perhaps I’m being over critical. Her hairstyle in the movie, and indeed her whole wardrobe is very sculptural, you could even say architectural in it’s precision. So to try and convey its ‘perfect’ nature it was decided to make her have a plain black sculpted hairstyle like Goemon himself, and to be fair I can’t imagine this style being executed any other way, well, not on a mass produced level anyway. The top part is quite domed and falls close to the head ending in a feathered fringe at the front with two collar length panels hanging in front of her ears, then sweeping over her shoulders from the back of her head are two much longer ‘ribbons’ of hair that fall over her chest right down to her waist. She also comes with four hands, which is not only cool for Chacha here, but means that at long last we have a good selection of female hands for other bashes that aren’t gloved… thank the maker! All are delicately observed and come in a selection for general posing and to hold her two accessories. One is even in a pretty convincing gun grip, so I have a feeling Hot Toys know just how much collectors are crying out for some alternate female hands.

Saizo is a completely different kettle of fish after the gentle beauty of Chacha. He has a hard steely expression, as befits the demeanor of a murderous Ninja assassin. The actor portraying Saizo is Takao Osawa who I have to admit I’m not familiar with, but yet again Google came up trumps. Of the three figures in this series I think he has the most distinct features, which Yulli has (as per usual) captured with her inimitable flair. His expression is very serious, and the brow between his eyes shows the creases of determination or anger, but whichever it is it works very well for the character. His hair is swept back towards the small ponytail he wears at the back, and the rest of his hair hangs down to his collar, both these pieces at the back are stuck on as separates, but because of the style where the hair is drawn back it makes the join virtually seamless, the detailing is beautifully carried out, meaning you can see virtually every strand. He also comes with a selection of five hands, a sword grip right, a shuriken grip right, a general grip/relaxed left and a pair of fists. All are gloved and designed to fit under the hand guards attached to his forearms, remember when switching hands to observe the black elastic that is attached to the underside of these guards as it runs under the palms.

So to sum up, both are striking pieces of work, but as much as I like the execution of Chacha’s hair, it is the one part of the figure that stops it looking 100% ‘real’. I feel this is much more down to the unusual nature of the actual hair style, meaning as an observer it isn’t a style many… if any have seen in our day to day lives, making it harder to relate to as being ‘real’.

Paint- ****
I can find nothing to fault on either of these, and their simplistic perfection leaves me with very little to say. It would appear that both the actors involved here must have either worn coloured contact lenses for their portrayal of these characters or had them digitally altered. As both Takao Osawa and Ryoko Hirosue definitely appear to have brown eyes, where as in the movie they are given turquoise and blue eyes respectively. Once again JC Hong has given us spookily good representations of this feature, as both figures eyes look ultra crisp in their definition, while also looking wet and glossy, which helps them catch the light very convincingly. Chacha’s skin tones are subtle but perfect, just like the beautifully clear, clean complexion of a woman wearing flawlessly applied make-up.

Saizo’s flesh tones show a much more complex use of paint and colours, but still have that delicate JC Hong touch. The other two figures in the series make much more use of the translucent base plastic for their over all flesh tones, but Saizo’s is fully painted. His base skin colouration is quite dark and mottled, showing his distinctive freckles and moles, his lips are also quite a dark tone, but if you check the images linked to above you’ll see that this is still a very accurate representation, and they look totally natural when set against his over all complexion. His hair is the only of the trios to be painted, as well, but the colour has been kept relatively flat so as to fit well with the other figures, whilst still managing to look glossier in the raised parts of the sculpt and matte in the grooves.

The accessories also have some paint effects, most of Saizo’s are to give the effect of being metal, but my favourite piece is Chacha’s fan case (which conceals a dagger), as it has some simple, but elegant lacquered effects.

Articulation - Saizo ***1/2, Chacha ****
Saizo comes on a narrow shouldered TT with a sculpted neck, meaning he really gets to utilize the fact his outfit is ‘mostly’ non restrictive, especially from the waist down with those funky split toed Ninja boots. However, he does suffer from a little loss of mobility at the shoulder and elbow because the chain mail section obviously has no intrinsic give to it, but you’ll still easily achieve at least a 90 degree angle at the elbow and the shoulders can be manipulated into most reasonable positions, just not too many high above his head. However, I was pleased that like Goemon there is more than enough strength in the body to hold the metal sword up, even though it’s quite weighty.

ChaCha is on the female TT it’s a great base body with a lot of very well engineered articulation, some of it well concealed under her silicone torso. However, it’s still not quite up there with her male counterpart. But what she lacks with no double knees and slightly restrictive hips and shoulders, she makes up for with that cool seamless torso and it’s ability to bow forward, arch back and tilt from side to side. It’s also worth pointing out that I’m awarding my scores as pertaining to the relevance for these two characters, so while the ‘action’ Ninja Saizo loses a whisker for his loss of articulation in his arms, the regal Chacha is actually more than capable of any pose you could want her in, especially in this particular outfit, in fact I took a few extra photos here, that might not be pertinent to this character, but they show just what else she is capable of!
So, I’m still very much looking forward to how the Triad- Alpha and Eva bodies turn out, but for now Hot Toys still reigns supreme in the arena of articulated, and all importantly accessible base bodies.

Outfit ****
Chacha’s outfit brings to mind some of the incredibly ornate couture dresses that Natalie Portman wore in The Phantom Menace, not one of them in particular, but more the general, regal but fantasy feeling that they evoked. However, even though it looks like a fantasy creation it still shows lots of the characteristics of historically accurate Japanese formal dresses. Parts are like a Kimono whilst the back has elaborate panels of starched and folded fabric, again adding to its sculptural look and reminding me of the complex fabric origami that makes up the rear of a Geisha’s robe.

It comes in two parts; the base dress is made from beautifully sourced material that shows layers of different coloured fabric. Over this she wears an even more ornate sleeveless tunic with petal shaped layers that radiate over her shoulders, these petal shapes are all edged with wire so they can be pushed into the position you want. The colour palette is very passionate and fiery, all vivid reds, pinks and oranges and is very complex in it’s construction, congratulations to Hai Lim at Harue for replicating it so well at this scale. Her feet are in the new high-heeled shoe position, so the shoes she wears are… you guessed it, high heels. It’s the first HT female figure I’ve had with this configuration of foot, of course Machiko also came in high-heeled boots, but there was no foot within them. Chacha’s shoes are very delicate, to the point she even comes with a small printed sheet telling you not to fiddle with the tiny straps too much, as they are prone to breakage. But don’t be too concerned as I handled mine as I would any other figure, and they certainly seemed robust enough for general posing.

Saizo’s outfit is the antithesis to Chacha’s, as by comparison it is relatively plain and black, but it still manages to cram in a ton of finely observed details and tailoring into its make-up. Again it is fabricated by the Harue Creative team, and it’s realized fantastically. He has soft pliable Ninja boots, very similar to Goemon's, these are a dream to pose your figure in, and mean virtually no articulation is lost at the ankle. He then wears soft black cotton pants and a black wrap over shirt that is bound then tied around his waist. Over this he wears his amour, it’s two separate sleeves that are attached by two separate cords wrapping around the body. From the front it looks a little like a bullfighters Bolero jacket, but when viewed from behind you see the nature of its construction. These sleeves have a geometric pattern printed onto them, mimicking its armoured texture, but on top of these are the actual rigid armoured panels and between them, where the elbows need to bend is a panel of real metal chain mail. This does mean a modicum of articulation is lost at this joint, but it’s a price I’m more than willing to pay for the fantastic attention to detail.

If anyone out there is collecting the DiD Samurais, this would compliment them very well as a Ninja sidekick, in fact Saizo’s face guard is very similar to the one my Date Masamune came with.
In short, they are two stunning outfits!

Accessories - Saizo **** Chacha **1/2
So what do we get?
Saizo has-
-  Metal sword
-  Back mounted sword belt and scabbard
-  Traditional face guard with throat cover
-  Hanzo’s Shuriken star (Throwing knife)
-  5 alternate hand sculpts
-  Kunai Knife
-  Figure stand with nameplate

Chacha has-
- A knife (disguised as a fan case), at least that’s what it looks like to me!
- A folding fan
- 4 alternate hands
- Figure stand with nameplate
It’s not often that I mention the designer/sculptor of the accessories, but Dickson Yip is worthy of note here, not only for his work on Chacha’s delicate accessories, but also for the work on Saizo’s and Goemon’s twin metal swords, both have some beautifully observed work on their engravings and the scale looks just about perfect. Saizo’s sword differs only from Goemons by it’s leather and fabric bound handle, but knowing as I do that these two charcters share a history of training under Nobunanga, and that he had a Darth Maul style double ended sword, then something tells me these two blades don’t look similar for no reason, check out my Goemon Cosbaby review to see it in action.

The scabbard to hold the sword is worn in the traditional Ninja style across his back, this is adjustable on a sliding buckle and because of it’s positioning it doesn’t over balance forwards like Goemons, which was worn at the waist. It also carries plenty of detail, is bound in strips of leather and attached to the belt with metal loops.

He also comes with the same Shuriken and Kunai knife that Goemon did, but it’s cool that they don’t have to share, it would have been too easy to give both just one of these two accessories each. Lastly he has his face amour, this is in the style of traditional Samurai face plates, did you realize Samurai even used to armour their dogs? Me neither!

Anyway, I digress, the mask fits snugly by means of a thin elastic thread, but as cool as I find it, I like the face sculpt too much to cover it up, so I’ve posed mine holding it in his hand. Speaking of which he has the selection of hands I mentioned above and also comes with a classic black HT figure stand, but don’t waist that amazing ankle articulation by having him stand bolt upright in his stand for goodness sake!

Chacha doesn’t come with anything like the amount of goodies, and as I still haven’t seen the movie I don’t know what else she could have come with, if indeed anything. But her two accessories are still beautifully carried out, she has an oblong lacquered object, that at first I took to be a case for her fan, but it pulls apart to expose a hidden knife blade, which I’m sure is important in the movie. She does also have a tiny and incredibly delicate fan, hence why I thought the other item was a case for it. The multiple sections appear to be laser cut and are super fine in their construction, they spread open and hold a folded sheet of paper with a traditional image printed on it. Lastly she too has a stand, and although I did get her to stand just fine, this one may be more useful because of those dainty feet and ornate shoes.

Value for money- Saizo ***1/2, Chacha ***1/4
As I said about Goemon Ishikawa in his review, it’s pretty impressive that all three of the figures in this series have sold out from Sideshow, given that the movie hasn’t even been released in the US or Europe yet!

They had them available for $149.99 each but with a little work you should have been, and indeed still be able to pick these up for between $120 to $140.

I based my score on a cost of $135, and for that price both these figures are a very good deal, in my opinion. Saizo manages a whisker more than Chacha because of his cool accessories. But there’s very little in it.

Fun Factor ***1/2
These are, as is always the case with Hot Toys 1/6th figures, aimed at serious collectors. The kinds of obsessive who remove them from their boxes as carefully as possible, who store the empty boxes in labelled filing systems, who don’t even display their figures in natural sunlight or let other family members hold their collectibles for fear that the acid in their fingerprints will discolour them over time, they keep their figures displayed in dust free glass cabinets, in temperature controlled environments… well, yeah, actually, these are an investment dontchaknow!

So, if these are aimed at that rare geeky breed (collectiblesnocturnusobsesiveanal) why are they just screaming to be played with!

Luckily I’m not too anal when it comes to my toys (though my wife may beg to differ). Mine are on shelves not in cabinets, and I tend to rotate my displays every couple of months. I like to pose my figures and I don’t mind (some) people handling (some) of my toys occasionally, hell, most of the fun is garnered from posing them every time I go past them. But, it stands to reason that these are not in anyway meant to be actually ‘played with’… well, not by children anyway!

That’s not to say the basic figures aren’t constructed in a robust way, because they are, but if anyone under the age of say eight or nine got hold of them you can guarantee Saizo’s scabbard would break within minutes and Chacha’s fan wouldn’t survive it’s virgin opening (and no that’s not a euphemism). So as a collectible I feel happy giving them the same mark as Goemon, almost a full score! But as a toy, bearing in mind we would be talking about a $140 toy, well, that would be a different matter!

Overall - *** 1/2
These fully deserve the same score as Goemon, and as a set they look most impressive together. The price is fair, the head sculpts are outstanding and the paint apps are so strong they lift the quality of those sculpts even higher.

The outfits are beautifully tailored and the accessories are very well thought through and put together, in short there’s not too much to count against these. In fact the only things keeping them from that elusive full score are Saizo’s slight loss of articulation because of his outfit and Chacha’s hair… which I’ve already been over at length!

In fact Hot Toys worst enemy is Hot Toys itse
lf, they have become such perfectionists that unless they deliver the now ‘expected’ perfection (in the eyes of the beholder) every single time, they end up being judged against their other ‘superior’ products… but no one said it wouldn’t be tough at the top.

Where to buy
Like the Goemon Ishikawa figure these were available with Sideshow for 4149.99 each, but are now long gone. I cant find these listed with any of Michael’s sponsors except-

Big Bad Toy Store - $ 139.99

Meaning these are both $5 cheaper than the actual Goemon figure. You can also try eBay, where I saw them with ‘buy it now’ prices similar to those quoted in the ‘value for money’ section above. Good luck tracking them down, they’re definitely worth the effort!
Saizo Kirigakure and Chacha Asai Goemon sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys
Saizo Kirigakure and Chacha Asai Goemon sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys
Saizo Kirigakure and Chacha Asai Goemon sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys
Saizo Kirigakure and Chacha Asai Goemon sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys
Saizo Kirigakure and Chacha Asai Goemon sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys

Saizo Kirigakure and Chacha Asai Goemon sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys

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

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