Astro Toy
SH Figuarts Kamen Rider Fourze and Effect Set

by David Cabrera,

SH Figuarts Kamen Rider Fourze and Effect Set
Kamen Rider Fourze
Maker: Bandai
Price: $40-50 for figure, $20-30 for set

Alright, everyone, this one's going to be an experiment. Did you know that there are three scheduled Astro Toys in April? Did you know that I'm a huge fan of Kamen Rider Fourze, the franchise's 40th anniversary show written by Gurren-Lagann's Kazuki Nakashima? (I've even snuck it into the column a couple of times already...) I've had the Figuarts Fourze figure on order for months now, and I was going to pay for it myself... but its arrival lined up perfectly with the extra Sunday in our schedule. It was begging for an article, and anybody who's following me on Twitter knows I can't shut up about Fourze...

So what we're going to do this week is break somewhat out of the mold and cover Kamen Rider on Astro Toy. I will say it up front: this article is a test-- every oddball Astro Toy is to some degree a test-- and if it's popular and people like it, we'll start taking tokusatsu heroes into consideration at the column. There are certainly enough toys for it. Pass the column around if that's something you're interested in seeing! Of course, I wouldn't mind a Garo on my shelf.

Let us again examine the stages of otaku merchandise. Back when Fourze first started airing, I bought this UFO catcher toy for about three times what it was worth at New York Comic Con. Like the kids watching at home, I just could not wait to have the character on my shelf. About six months later, here we are with a real action figure. The difference in quality should be apparent at a glance.


space time!

Fourze fans will note that the crouching pose is not perfect: this figure can't squeeze itself together that tight. It kind of looks like something else, huh? Yeah. Anyway.

The goofy astronaut Rider who wants to make friends out of everybody in his high school, Fourze is looking really good here. I've said before that I suspect Bandai's people are simply better at sculpting suits and armor than human beings, and here we can see how lovingly they detail those suits. The all-over lines on the suit are crisp, the trademark eyes are semi-translucent, and the paneling on the suit is perfect. Articulation is excellent as expected from this line: the shoulders are even double-jointed.

The only ugly point is the Fourze Driver belt, the source of power that transforms our hero Gentarou into Kamen Rider Fourze. As you can see, the paint on the removable Astro Switches (they like to fall out on their own) is really sloppy. Sure, they're tiny, but they still look bad even at a glance. No image on the display, either. Also disappointing: the trigger-like appendage that Gentarou pulls to transform on the show is immobile. I just saw the life-size belt at a con for $200... maybe they want me to buy that instead.

Here Fourze is pictured with a life-size Astro Switch, because I had one on hand.

Accessories in the box are the rocket and drill weapons. In the show, flipping one of the switches on the belt causes a weapon to materialize on Fourze, so here we have the two favorite weapons: Rocket...

And Drill. These pieces are full replacements for the forearm and lower leg. It's really lame of Bandai not to include the weapons for the other two switches on the belt (Radar and Launcher): indeed, they're sold separately!

The lack of extra hands is also dismaying for a character who's very expressive even in a full-body suit. As a series fan, I need a pointed-finger hand and I need the famous Bro Handshake. Neither is provided. I bet they're sold separately too.

Because of the nature of the character and his expansive armory, Bandai will be releasing hundreds of dollars worth of expansions for this single figure, and variants for when the costume changes along with the weapons. The first weapon set is available now: I passed on it because it cost an unbelievable $25 for four tiny plastic weapons: the highlight was the UFO catcher crane hand. Future weapon sets look to be the same way (there are 40 Astro Switches and likely eight weapon sets!), but stuff like the one-legged pogo stick will be a bit harder to ignore for series fans like me. Like Gentarou says, “There's nothing that's useless in this world!”

However, I did buy an extra package for Fourze that is truly cool: the stand set. I have been using a stand all this time, but the base figure does not come with it! As usual with Bandai stuff, the stand is sold separately-- and as usual this is a total ripoff-- but in Fourze's case it comes in a fancy accessory set with extra bits for both the Rocket and Drill accessories.

For the Rocket accessory we've got a huge, solid brick of plastic exhaust. This thing is true overkill, and it is heavier than anything else in this set. It's so heavy that it will drag Fourze's arm down, so you'll have be careful when posing. No idea why they decided to go with something so damn huge and heavy, but it does make for a cool display.

For the Drill, a separate stand that is supposed to be destroyed concrete. This bit has cleverly placed “stray rocks” into which Fourze's feet snugly fit or lean, so that the figure doesn't fall over in this pose.

Rider Rocket Drill Kick!

I'm a big enough fan of Fourze that I was going to pay for this one myself, so it definitely passes the “worth it for a fan?” test... but unlike last time we bought into this model (Gaogaigar) I don't think the weapon sets are priced fairly at all. Fourze was about $40 on Big Bad Toy Store and the stand set ran us about $20. As usual with Kamen Rider, the Figuarts Fourze avalanche should continue for at least a year or so. Jeez. Anyway, I just saw Fourze all over the place when I was at I-Con a few weeks ago, so the figure shouldn't be at all difficult to find.

If we never cover tokusatsu stuff again, be advised that Figuarts for those series are usually pretty damn good. Further, be advised that Fourze, despite being performed by human beings, is the best kids' anime running right now. Just saying.

Oh, but who else? You know, Neco-Arc is a frequent visitor to outer space herself. In Japanese, I believe she says:  “Uchuu.. kinyaa!”

When he isn't killing time on fighting games and mahjong, David Cabrera gets hype about anime, manga and gaming at Subatomic Brainfreeze. You can follow him on Twitter @sasuraiger.

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