Toy Photography Advent Calendar Day 14: SH Figuarts Kamen Rider Zero-One

Figuarts are fun to look at every once in a while. My general issue with them as a whole product series is that within a technological generation, they’re often all very similar to each other. You get advancements generally line-wide. One figure will be the first of its kind, but it quickly spreads out and maintains whatever the new status quo is. So they’re more interesting to me to pick up occasionally, and usually only when a suit design or something really jumps out at me.

Truth be told, this latest dive in the SHF pool started when I had a chance to pick up the Premium Bandai or Tamashii Web Shop or whatever it was Figuart of Izu (or “Is”, as the official Romanization goes; but I watched fansubs which rendered the name as it was spoken, so that’s what I stick with), the android secretary to Kamen Rider Zero-One. I could have preordered it myself earlier for maybe slightly cheaper, but it’s a Figuarts with an actor’s likeness, and let’s just say that the history of those has been troubled more than not. So everybody was a little nervous how it would come out. But it turned out good, and I was regretful. Until one came up for sale from a friend I occasionally transact with. But then came the next problem: I didn’t actually have Kamen Rider Zero-One, and by this time it was no longer available new and cheap. I eventually got Zero-One from the same person who’d sold me Izu, which had the upside of netting me a couple extra accessories as a bonus. But this whole endeavor wasn’t exactly cheap.

Right, so Kamen Rider Zero-One is the first Rider series to debut during Japan’s Reiwa period. I liked the show (mostly) and the costume and prop design was a pleasant throwback to earlier entries. It all just spoke to me more than Rider had in quite a few years. Good characters too. All the elements were there to want to have at least a couple of figures. Fortunately, that feeling has not returned for the two series since Zero-One. That is to say it’s fortunate I haven’t felt moved to want to get figures of the suits. It is meanwhile unfortunate that I haven’t liked the design work again enough to want figures of them.

Zero-One’s Figuart was designed as a gateway drug, basically. The original SRP via Bluefin was $35, where typical SHFs anymore are like double that. But Zero-One’s entry-level pricing is very representative of what you get out of it. The low price point is managed by having functionally no accessories. There’s an assortment of option hands, but that is literally all the figure comes with. That’s what $35 gets you in this line these days. To get the Attache Calibur, Zero-One’s default weapon, you actually have to get two other figures. The briefcase mode is one of Izu’s accessories, while the sword mode comes with Kamen Rider Vulcan, if I remember right. It’s a touch annoying, but thankfully the sword mode calibur was one of the bonus parts given to me with the Zero-One I bought.

Otherwise, Zero-One is a Figuarts. There are some minor changes compared to the Ex-Aid figures I looked at last year, involving changes in construction with the hips and thighs, though the functional outcome is more or less the same, just the legs are able to look like solid limbs through more range of movement than some older figures managed. Poseability I find is a little hindered because Zero-One’s feet are either a little too rounded, or want to naturally sit at a slightly off angle which makes the figure want to topple over in even kind of simple poses. I did manage a few one-legged stances that stayed stable at least long enough to get photos of, but this was not really the experience I was anticipating. Seems like a Tamashii Stage would be your friend for this one.

For her part, Izu is more limited. Designed with a long coat and a miniskirt, leg poseability is generally much reduced compared to a normal figure. The arms have a freer range of movement, but the upper arms use a style of bicep swivel I remember from some sentai Figuarts that avoids having a cut joint in the bicep. But the range of the swivel is thus limited, and in some poses may work even less. Izu’s not exactly an action hero in the secretary outfit, but it’s bothersome to see the potential effectively be locked away. The faces were also not what I was expecting. I get the sense these had the details printed on, which leaves a sort of rough texture to the face, especially when examined a little bit closely. Kuroto Dan, by comparison seemed to go with more traditional sculpt and paint methods. The likeness is good, but it’s not the look or finish I had expected.

Oh! I almost forgot, Zero-One does sort of come with one other accessory. The most terrifying of all: The SHF-scale transformation gadget. Zero-One has a removable Progrise Key in the driver. While it is not quite as small and vanishing as a Ranger Key, Gaia Memory, or even one of Dangerous Zombie’s Gashats (which I’m pretty sure I did briefly lose one of during photography last year), it is still distressingly small. At least it’s highlighter yellow, so it ought to stand out against most carpets if dropped. But scary as the part is for being so small, it is kind of neat to be able to look through the driver’s tiny window and see the even tinier Hopper icon on the Progrise Key appear when you slot the key in. But I’m gonna just leave it there forever. It’s safer that way.

It’s gonna be a shorter blog entry today, just because there’s not a lot I feel like I can say about a Figuarts anymore. But I did have fun getting it in front of the camera, and just spending time looking at all the shapes and tremendous surface detail. The design is really pleasing to me and I’m happy to try to share that as one of my 25 Days of Photography; it’s just not all that interesting to talk about.