S.H. Figuarts: Tiger and Bunny
Barnaby Brooks, Jr.
All is lost. I’m stuck halfway between tokusatsu and anime and the toys. My God, the toys.
It seems the Figuarts goal is to be as accurate to the source material as possible while maintaining a high amount of articulation. When you look at the characters from Tiger and Bunny, an anime about a superhero reality show in which heroes are granted points based on heroic acts, you can see that some of the designs might pose a problem in this arena. Barnaby is one-half of the superhero duo the show focuses on, so it’s essential that they nail the figure if they plan to release all 8 heroes and other characters.
Will Bandai rise to the occasion and make a highly poseable action figure with well-hidden articulation or fall prey to its own celebrity?
Barnaby (or Bunny, depending on how awesome you think Kotetsu is) features the standard window box of the Figuarts line. The character is easily seen, though the accessories are mostly packed out of sight.
One thing I like about the Figuarts figures I have is that the insert features a friction bubble over all the accessories. This way it stays locked down without the use of tape, which is great for photos and play and absolutely necessary considering the scale of many of the accessories.
I can’t tell if this little feature on the back is meant to be a joke or a feature of the figure, who has real-world corporate sponsors, but it tickles me either way.
I gotta hand it to Bandai. This figure is damn near flawless. This figure depicts Barnaby in his powered down state, which basically just means the pink Tron-like details aren’t glowing and neither are his eyes.
Bunny’s sculpt seems to feature all the requisite features of his armor in the show. One of the more interesting elements of the armor is that it’s not as complicated or segmented as most anime armor or mecha suit, instead focusing on a more aerodynamic, streamlined look. It’s very cool and very unique, with large patches of white that draw the eye as well as transparent bits here and there for flavor.
He’s basically a walking iPod.
Also included in the package are a relaxed pair of open hands and an alternate right leg to display him in his “Good Luck Mode,” a sort of super-powered up state that transforms the appendages of the users into giant robot-looking things for ultimate smackdown. According to the show, they don’t actually allow for any extra power, but look super awesome.
To swap the legs, you have to tug downward on it, which gives me serious concerns about the life of the hip joint, but so far I’ve had no issues.
Bunny’s package also includes a stand, which I believe is one of the Stage Act variety, but I’m not familiar with them enough to know which one. It’s a very pretty pink clear plastic and features his superhero name as well as his secret identity, which in this rare case happen to be the same thing.
Overall, the paint is not awful, but does seem to be laid on a pit thick in certain areas. It’s packaged with a few plastic baggies meant to protect some of these areas from rubbing together, but unfortunately mine still came right out of the box with a nice big patch of pink paint ripped off the arm and fixed solidly to his torso. This is a rather expensive toy to be dealing with paint defects, and most e-tailers won’t replace a toy for this reason, so you might want to buy from somewhere like Amazon, where it’s sure to be more expensive but who’ll replace just about anything no questions asked.
Well he looks pretty good, all told. How does he move?
Figuarts figures are designed to move. While he’s got a lot of joints, some of them are just restricted enough to cause trouble.
Let’s do the run-down: Hinged upper neck, ball lower neck, hinged shoulder pads, ball socket inner shoulders, swivel hinge outer shoulders, swivel biceps, double hinged elbows, hinged forearm armor, ball socket wrists, ball torso, ball waist, hinged inner hips, ball socket outer hips, swivel thighs, double hinged knees, swivel ankles, hinged ankles, rocker hinged ankles, and hinged toes.
Now he can get into a lot of neat poses, from the classic Iron Man Adi Granov shot to a bare-bones sitting position, both of which are fairly convincing and allow him to be posed both dynamically for action scenes and subtly for comedic ones. In fact, his hip articulation is becoming standard for the Figuarts line and allows for a ton of motion. Basically, the hip can be pulled downward before rotation so that his kicks can go much higher than a standard ball joint would allow.
Well, that looks great! Are you just nitpicking again, Wes?
Perhaps. What problems I have with the articulation stem not from the amount of joints, which is uncanny, but from clearance and mobility issues.
For all the joints in the midsection, his ability to bend in any particular direction is extremely compromised, mostly confined to swivel action. His neck, while excellently hinged for downward motion can’t look up at all, leaving a straight-on stare as his maximum upward range. The armor that comes in around his neck renders the lower neck ball almost useless, and as you can see from the photo above, makes paint chipping on the jaws a regular danger. Finishing off with the feet is the range of the rockers. The rockers are excellently jointed, but the armor again restricts the ankle just enough that he won’t be able to stand flat-footed in extreme poses.
That being said, the inclusion of the stand does help to offset some of the issues you might face. After all, the feet are made of die-cast metal, which adds a lot of weight and stability when posed correctly. In addition, the Good Luck Mode leg is a very light plastic and jointed very similarly to the regular leg, so you can still get a lot of great poses there as well.
Barnaby thinks I’m just being a nitpicky silly goose, but for the price, I really expected a lot from this toy. This, of course, brings us to…
I picked up Barnaby Brooks, Jr. for 52.95 from ToysLogic through their Amazon store. This is about the average price for the toy. Unfortunately, it’s not average for the line, which is usually closer to 30 or 40 dollars per figure. Well he’s got the stand, which is nice, I’ll admit. I love having stands that allow for dynamic posing. He’s got the Good Luck Mode leg, an awesome addition that really looks good on him. He’s got one extra set of relaxed hands, a nice bonus for different poses. Finally, he has a swappable armor piece for his forearm which says Amazon.co.jp as his corporate sponsor.
Normally, you get a lot more hands with Figuarts toys, so the extra set they toss in kinda just make you wish you had more. The swappable armor piece is okay, unless you’re like me and didn’t even realize that he’d changed sponsors at all throughout the season and though he always had the Amazon gauntlet. More hands would have really made this set a better deal, but the inclusion of an open-masked alternate head would really have sealed the deal, especially considering he spends a good amount of time every episode with his mask open so he can talk smack about Wild Tiger.
Barnaby’s a 5” scale toy that’ll cost you at least 50 bucks. He runs on the large side for the scale due to the armor, but with the small amount of accessories, limited poseability (for the line), and less than perfect quality control, I can’t say he’s much of a value.
Remember that I just reviewed SIC Stronger and Tackle, which I paid less for and got two larger figures with better poseability and better gimmicks. Barnaby is a really solid figure, excellently represented from his animation model. However, at more than fifteen dollars higher than his fellow Figuarts figures, you should really expect a lot more for your money. I recommend this figure only to extreme Tiger & Bunny fans who plan to collect all the heroes from the line. The fact that his teammate, Wild Tiger, is notoriously difficult to obtain only adds to his plight. There should be a reissue in the spring for both figures, but I strongly doubt this highly popular anime will lend itself to discounted prices and fully expect this figure to remain at a premium for quite some time.
If you’ve got the cash and are a fan, then you’ll probably enjoy the figure quite a bit. Casual fans of the show or of toys in general should pass this one up.
Thanks for reading and as always, it’s just a toy. Open the darned thing.