Onimusha 2: Samurai’s Destiny
By: McFarlane Toys
Online for about 10 bucks
Okay, so last time we talked about McFarlane’s struggle with keeping the “action” in his action figures with the Tenchi Masaki review, which on the whole was a bit of a miss for him, despite the excellent sculpts and popular character choices. However, the days of the articulated figure weren’t completely gone at McFarlane Toys, and soon after they released a few of the best-articulated and most interesting lines of figures in their history. The first I can remember was the Spawn the Viking Age line. The second was a series based on the game Onimusha 2: Samurai’s Destiny for the PlayStation 2.
I haven’t played the game, but finding the figure hiding out in a trunk over at my mom’s house during our Derby party intact with all his accessories got me looking at this series as a whole again. I don’t know what the straw was over at McToys, but it must have been a humdinger to break the camel’s back of a company making toys like this. Let’s take a look.
“Last name first, first name last.” – License to Drive
Y’know. Cuz he’s Japanese
Well, no real surprise here. McFarlane has more or less been knocking it out of the park since day one when it comes to sculpt. The cracks in the leather and lines in the shirt and pants really bring out the texture of the clothing and you have to see the thatch pattern on the vest in person to truly appreciate it.
The vest (a collared, sleeveless haori as far as I can tell, but any help is appreciated) has a stunning crisscrossed pattern on it that is meticulously and flawlessly sculpted from collar to tails. The paint wash over the whole figure is also just dark enough to bring out all these tiny little details without really becoming muddy
Probably the second most famous samurai in Japanese history, Yagyu Jubei is something of a folk hero, with tall tales written about him because he had a short period in his life that is unaccounted for in history books. In the game, the character is based on late Japanese actor Yusaku Matsuda and from what I’ve seen the animators did quite a good job capturing the likeness. The figure is a little less fortunate, featuring a much pointier face and nose. The likeness really isn’t that far off if you were to stretch the face laterally. I almost wonder if the sculptors drew it in a bit to maintain neck articulation or if there was a problem when they shrunk down the 2-up. Alternatively, there may have been a problem with the actor’s likeness. It doesn’t bug me since I didn’t play the game, but it’s worth noting.
All in all, the paint and sculpt support each other very well to make this not only a highly detailed figure, but also a visually unique piece for your shelf or desk. It’s not perfect, with bleed here and there and minor imperfections, but nothing that ruins the figure or even draws the eye unless you’re looking for it.
And then there’re the weapons.
Yagyu Jubei features no less than 5 different weapons. A yari/spear, bow and arrow, double-bladed thingamajig that looks like something out of Blade of the Immortal, a European-styled bejeweled broadsword, and a katana-like sword. I use katana loosely there because the blade seems far too curved and wide to be a traditional Japanese sword, and with a mostly black blade I have to guess that it’s some kind of variation from the game. This is the only weapon to feature a scabbard– again it’s more of a departure from a traditional Japanese saya so I think scabbard is more appropriate.
Jubei’s katana also has a little hidden feature. Jubei’s weapon hand words on a peg/hole system. To fit into his hand, you have to remove the tsuka/handle from the blade and place the tsuka through the hole in his hand and attach the blade on the other side. It’s not a new approach and in fact his thingamajig does it too. What makes it interesting is that McFarlane took it the extra step and designed the sword so that it could be dismantled like a real katana.
Traditionally, the mekugi/pin can be popped out of the grip with a small hammer and the entire tsuka can be removed from the blade, allowing the user access to the tsuba/handguard and also the nakago/tang which holds the signature of the sword smith. They couldn’t duplicate it entirely as the nakago would have to extend too far into the tsuka and would likely break, but the tsuba is removable. I don’t know why you’d really want it removed, but it’s a helluva cool little feature at this scale.
Unfortunately, for some reason McFarlane made a really stupid error with the accessories in that Jubei can’t hold them. The katana works fine, as does the thingamajig, and the other sword can be worked into the grip at the expense of some sweat and maybe a little paint. But the bow? Spear? Arrow? What are these, decorations? The bottom pic of him holding the spear has it sort of resting there, which is too bad because it’s very rare to see a samurai toy sporting anything other than a katana. The grips could easily fit into Jubei’s hand if they were detachable like the other blades, but I guess they just ran out of money or patience or something so oh well! Joke’s on you, loser!
Okay, maybe it wasn’t that malicious, but this is a trend McFarlane Toys continues today with some of his other lines and still baffles all us fans. Maybe I can borrow Jon’s MOTUC weapon rack or something. C’mon dude, I KNOW you bought one.
And here’s where things get interesting. In these last days of the McFarlane articulated figure, the company was doing some really wonderful things.
Jubei is sporting a swivel neck, ball-hinged shoulders, swivel biceps, swivel elbows and wrists, an angled mid-torso swivel, swivel waist, ball-hinged hips, swivel thighs, hinged knees, and Revoltech-styled ankles. When I first saw those ankle joints in the Halo series, I assumed he got the idea from Revoltech or even the Hasbro action figure Transformers from the first movie. But lo! Here we are looking at a figure from 2002 featuring that articulation. And from a company that would become known for its “McStatues.” The swivel in the foot is actually point toward the toes a la Hasbro’s new Marvel U and Clone Wars ankles and allows the figure to remain flat-footed in extreme poses without having to make the foot any larger to accommodate.
All of the other joints work as expected with only a couple problems. The mid-torso cut is almost useless because it doesn’t have the clearance to turn much and the jacket is such a stiff plastic that it’s hard to access without turning the waist by accident. Also, the arms are hard to hang naturally at Jubei’s side due to the sculpt of the billowy sleeves. Still, those sleeves are also what make the elbows so functional. Since the sleeves end up basically as cylinders, you can spin the biceps backward and the elbows straight down, or have them to the front and use the cuts to bend the elbows. It’s a cleaver use of joints and it doesn’t break up the sculpt at all.
It’s not a perfect system, but it shows inventiveness and an understanding of what fans were missing. If the Halo line is any indication, listening to the fans isn’t really high up on McFarlane Toys list of “things we should do to be a toy company,” so this bit of deference was well-appreciated.
I bought him about 10 years ago when he first came out at, I believe, Meijer for around 7 or 8 bucks. That was about the asking price for the scale at the time, and really wasn’t that bad, especially when you count the accessories.
Nowadays you can find him online for around 10 or 11 bucks before shipping, which is still a pretty good price for a figure that’s held up as long as he has. He doesn’t show any signs of wear, paint problems, or looseness in the joints. After ten years, I’d call that a good deal and a sound investment.
I don’t recall the game really blowing the minds of anyone who played survival horror back then, so the connection to the character will be lost on most people. However, if you’re looking for a cool ronin-style figure with pretty good articulation in a six-inch scale, I don’t think you’d be disappointed in Yagyu Jubei. Plus, he’s probably the only toy of the character you’ll ever see that doesn’t feature an eyepatch or tsuba over the eye, so in that respect it’s kind of a unique collectible. He’s not a Marvel Legend or an SH Figuarts, but not everything needs to be, y’know? Regardless, Jubei is a lovely figure from an era when toys were starting to bridge the gap between action figure and fine statue and definitely has re-earned my respect as both a collector and a toy fan.
Thanks for reading and as always, it’s just a toy. Open the darned thing.