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Astro Toy
SH Figuarts Mario

by David Cabrera,

SH Figuarts Mario And Accessories
Series: Super Mario
Maker: Bandai
Price: $65 with accessories, $25 without

This is an interesting release for Bandai. They've been doing videogame figures for the past few years under the “D-Arts” (D as in Digital) label... but the figures were noticeably inferior to Bandai's usual work in both aesthetic and physical quality. The line was quietly discontinued; the final release was a Noel Vermillion that didn't look like much of an improvement.

And so this brings us to Mario. The plumber is a pretty major character, and as such this release was heavily promoted by Bandai. (Good Smile got Luigi for a Nendoroid, as a consolation-prize. However, it's not a D-Arts. It's an SH Figuarts, which is Bandai's usual high-quality figure line. Is the difference merely in branding, or is Bandai making amends for previous lousy videogame figures?

It's the latter! This is obviously, out of the box, much better than anything the D-Arts line ever produced. Mario is a very simple character, but that doesn't mean that any detail has been spared in sculpting him. The box does not call out a particular Mario game, but the sculpt exactly recalls the Mario we've seen since the Nintendo 64 game in exacting detail, without a speck of paint out of place. My only nitpick is with the highly visible seams on the arms and legs.

Again, a great improvement from D-Arts, where they absolutely would not have bothered to make sure that Mario's moustache and hair were different colors.

The articulation is also there, mostly in the legs. The head barely moves at all-- just head-nodding, not even a side-to-side swivel. Given his stumpy body, you're not going to get much more out of Mario in the way of poses than the ones he does in the game. You know, “run” and “jump”? Mario's a simple man, of simple means and simple goals.

Oh, but about jumping... the stand doesn't come with the base figure! You need to buy one of the accessory sets for that. We'll get to this later, but the accessory sets don't just contain items you'd consider “extras”. Anyway, the stand is a little tricky: arrange the posing arm in a Z-shape or it'll collapse easily.

The stand also comes with parts so that you can set up Mario hitting a question block with his head. The block is suspended on a second clear plastic rod attached to the stand. Cute.

Accessories on the base figure are slim but effective: you get the Super Mushroom, a question block, and a coin. The coin is in gold chrome-y plastic that you're going to instantly get dust and fingerprints on, sorry. There are replacement hands, but again, they don't come with the base figure.

So this small range of accessories gets us to what is really going on with this toy. The base price of $25 is extremely attractive for Japanese toys, right? After all, the minimum at the figma price point is more like $50! Well, there's a catch.

The base figure is cheap to lure you in, and there are two more $20 accessory packs that add some nice extras any Mario fan will definitely want... and also, the things that would have been included with the typical $40-50 action figure, like extra hands, a stand, and (this is cruel) the piece that attaches Mario to the stand. As such, the real cost of the figure, with all the trimmings, came out to $65 total for us. The base Mario is not really at a bargain price, it's the first payment of an installment plan.

Set A comes with more blocks and a Goomba, so you're going to want that. Set B comes with a warp pipe and a Koopa shell, so you're really going to want that!

The Koopa shell comes with two different sets of securing pieces to make absolutely sure that Mario can hold the shell both horizontally-facing and vertically-facing. They aren't completely necessary, so I just didn't use them.

The warp pipe has two openings: one is flat so that things can stand on it, like in the game, and the other is slightly recessed so that figures can sit partly inside of it.

So I did this immediately.

Of course, when you're done, you have enough toys to set up your own Mario stage. It's a very clever idea that people online have already gotten very creative with (perhaps you've seen “Mami in the warp pipe” already).

This is a great set, but make no mistake, it's meant to be bought as a set. Bandai has made the classic toymaker move of putting essential parts into other boxes so that you have to buy them all to get the whole package. Buy just the Mario figure, and you're going to feel a little left out. I'm happy to see Bandai making a good videogame figure, and hope sincerely that the bad days of subpar D-Arts cash-in figures are behind us. Also, Bandai should make Chogokin figures from the old CAPCOM game Tech Romancer/Kikaioh.

We bought this figure and the accessories through Amazon Prime and thus didn't pay for shipping. The whole thing is $65 shipped with Prime. The base figure is 24.99 from Bluefin and the accessory packs are 19.99 each. If you don't have Prime, expect about $20 or so to ship all this stuff.

When he isn't killing time on fighting games and mahjong, David Cabrera makes moe 4-panel comics about videogames at Kawaiikochan.You can follow him on Twitter @sasuraiger.

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