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Toybox Review: S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Z Original - Mexinter.net

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Title : Toybox Review: S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Z Original - Mexinter.net
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Toybox Review: S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Z Original - Mexinter.net

S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Z Original 01

Release Date: September 2021 
RRP: 4950 yen

At a time when any tokusatsu character getting a second retail release is becoming a rarity, for one to get another one nearly a year after their series has passed is quite the surprise. But clearly Bandai Tamashii Nations have been paying attention to the overwhelming popularity of their Ultraman Z figures, as S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Z Original somehow manages to escape the clutches of Tamashii web exclusivity. Though rarely seen in combat in the series itself, Ultraman Z's base form appears regularly throughout the series during both the transformation sequences and his various conversations with his host Haruki Natsukawa. It did however have a starring role in the Ultraman Z & Zero voice dramas that accompanied the show, as well as appearing in Ultraman Chronicle Z, Ultra Galaxy Fight: The Absolute Conspiracy and, most recently, Ultraman Trigger: New Generation Tiga.

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With there being little difference in Ultraman Z Original and Alpha Edge's colour schemes, there's very little difference in the packaging as well. While most modern Ultraman releases have kept the same general look for the boxes outside of colour, here the only real difference (other than the figure inside of course) is the name and image of the form. But on the back of the box you'll find a much wider array of images showing off what Z Original has to offer, both in term of posing/accessories and its compatibility with the previously released Alpha Edge. The signature "Chant my Name" picture against the transformation backdrop looks especially good – so much so that I wish Bandai had slipped that in as the inside backing card rather than the usual reflective silver one. Inside the figure, along with all its accessories, are neatly stored away on the moulded clamshell tray.

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Ultraman Z's original form takes the more straightforward Ultraman approach when it comes to suit design – a relatively streamline body with only a few pieces of armoured flourish on the chest, back and shoulders. Unsurprisingly the design takes some obvious design cues from Ultraman Zero (Ultraman Z celebrates Zero's 10th anniversary after all), particularly that blue, silver and black colour scheme with only a dash of red thrown in. While it isn't anything we haven't seen before, it is a very distinct colour scheme that sets him apart nicely from the other New Generation Hero Ultras. It's also one that Bandai have done a great job of replicating for the S.H. Figuarts release, with some great paint apps all round. The little detailed sculpting it has is great, and of course that head sculpt is just spot on to the suit. It's amazing how much of Z's personality is able to be conveyed in that expressionless face.

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The figure has the same great range of articulation collectors have come to expect from the New Generation Hero Ultraman figures, with a body that features the following; 
- Peg jointed head 
- Ball jointed lower neck, torso, waist, wrists and hips 
- Swivel hinge shoulders and ankles 
- Butterfly shoulders/pecs 
- Double hinge elbows and knees 
- Elbow and thigh swivels 
- Single hinge toe sections 
Although this is exactly the same articulation that is present on Alpha Edge, Original's less-armoured sculpt adds some slight improvements. Most significantly not only is it easier to pose the hips fully without those raised sections getting in the way, but there's also less chance of the silver paint scratching off along the way as well. Once again the shoulder pad pieces are attached on raised ball joints, allowing them to move freely from the arms when posing and in turn far more satisfying movement. Between that, those butterfly joint shoulders and the additional swivel given to the elbow joints Z Original has plenty to offer when it comes to upper body articulation. That isn't to say the lower half lacks in anyway either, with both a great knee bend and good ankle tilts that allow the figure to stay flat-footed in action poses.

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Ultraman Z Original comes with a fairly standard array of accessories for an Ultra release, but when you take a look at them a little more closely you quickly see how special these relatively normal accessories are. Altogether the figure comes with an alternate red colour timer part, six additional pairs of hands and a Zestium Beam effect part. That's right, after multiple Ultraman Z releases the character FINALLY has his signature beam part – and the fact it comes with a retail release as opposed to a web exclusive makes it all the sweeter. The Zestium Beam is an impressive piece of glossy blue and white plastic crackling with moulded energy bolts and a pointed cross-shaped end. The part even has a small hold at the end intended for the left hand to slip through, creating a far more show-accurate portrayal of the beam pose as well as nicely hiding any difficulties one might have putting the figure into said pose (although that said it isn't difficult at all to get perfect on this release). But as nice it is to finally get the Zestium Beam part, it's the selection of hands that really elevate this release. Not only have all the basic Ultraman staples been included (grappling hands, knifestrike/flight hands etc.), but there are so many that are specific to Z himself as well. Those outstretched "I ask you to chant my name" hands were a given, but going so far to include ones from his human-sized battle in episode seven or even ones from the Ultraman Z & Zero voice drama really show the attention to detail. Finally you've got the alternate colour timer, which is a fairly large piece so nice and easy to switch between.

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The Zestium Beam effect can also be used with the Ultraman Z Alpha Edge release, further adding to the array of accessories that figure was denied upon its initial release but has received through subsequent Ultraman Z figures. Similarly, thanks to both forms having silver hands all those accessories (such as the Z Riser that came with Jugglus Juggler or the Z Lance Arrow that came with Geed Galaxy Rising, pictured here) are also compatible with Z Original. While I'll never be a fan of key accessories being packaged in with other releases, it has been interesting to see Bandai slowly build up an array of weapons and effect parts for the character.

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While the more casual S.H. Figuarts collectors who aren't that bothered about picking up multiple forms may be satisfied with just Alpha Edge, S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Z Original is definitely the superior release. Despite only being marginally more expensive, you're getting double the number of hands as well as the effect part Alpha Edge should have arguably come with in the first place. While there may be little difference in the quality of the figures themselves (and to its credit Alpha Edge is the more intricate design), Original just has so much more personality thanks to the different areas they've drawn these accessories from. I may be a purist in that I think the base form should be an essential part of any tokusatsu display, but even if you don't have that mindset this is not a release you'll want to miss out on.



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