Nerd Rage - Update
September 7th, 2012
This is an idea I've been sitting on for a while. It all started a long time ago, in a location not stated in a really, really cliche way. Me and my friends were rewatching all the Star Wars films and we started addressing some of the funcionality of this universe: how many people have to man the Death Star? How far does one have to travel from post to post on a station the size of a small moon? How did the dianoga end up in the trash compactor?
The result was a concept for a tongue-in-cheek sitcom apartment show about two stormtroopers in their off time that addresses some of these behind-the-scenes questions and stretches of logic. I had always wanted to see this play out in live action, but it's not the sort of thing I have the money, time, or means of doing.
But I do have a webcomic. So I can use that.
And if you like my webcomic, you should head over to Dorkly to see a new strip I drew for them!
Skip down below for a review of Bandai's new Ultra-Act Ultraman!
Bandai - Ultra-Act Ultraman
This week’s review is for Bandai's new Ultra-Act Ultraman. Although the box doesn’t go out of its way to say it, this is actually the second version of the classic 60s hero. The first version was plagued with quality control problems and weak plastic. Deciding maybe it probably wasn’t a good idea to leave the line with a version of the flagship character that's completely terrible, Bandai has stepped in and released a much improved iteration of the hero.
This is actually my first Ultra-Act, so I was surprised when I actually got him beside my Figuarts and saw how much bigger he is. Ultraman towers at nearly 6.5 inches tall, to the Kamen Riders’ 5.5". Paint detail is clean and without slop. It’s red and silver, which may look a little flat to some, but but it's technically screen accurate. He is very intricately articulated, allowing for all his familiar poses. One detail I noticed out of the box – they actually have tiny black dots on the underside of his eyes where the eyeholes on the suit would be.
Despite the intense attention to detail with the eye-holes, the accessories for this figure take some artistic license. The two effects weapons – the Specium Ray and Ultra-Slash – are more dynamic than their on-screen counterparts (and previous release). He also comes with two dust-burst/explosions you’re supposed to place behind his feet. Try as I might, I just don’t get these. Was there something in the show I missed? Was this something from a movie I never saw? I initially believed they would clip to the feet in some way and give him a wider balance but they really just sit behind his feet, looking explosion-y.
Speaking of things that only happened in movies, the original release came with the Brother Mantle – a cape he and his brotherly Ultramen wore. This is apparently something you will recognize if you are Japanese and have seen these movies. I have not. Bandai later released a separate version of this cape for use with the other Ultraman figures. Ultraman v.1 was incompatible with this new, updated cape...
To attach the cape, there is a panel on the top of his back that pegs out. I would show pictures of that, but I was not inclined to buy a plastic cape for my tiny plastic Ultraman (hey, I draw my line at tiny plastic rocket exhaust for my tiny plastic Kamen Riders!) There’s also a second panel on Ultraman’s lower back that swaps with an alternate pack-in piece that allows you to attach Ultraman to one of Bandai's Tamashii Stage stands. I originally thought maybe this would allow for flight poses, but gravity alone causes both the piece and the peg of the stand to slowly dislodge. In other words, don’t try this at home, only use your stand to support less-aerial poses. I guess he’s too good for the regular claws of the Tamashii Stands (or, more likely, too heavy/large for the claws to stay gripped).
Ultraman comes with four pairs of hands: a clenched set, an open palm set, one where his hands are splayed, and a ‘karate chop’ set for his beam weapon/flying poses. He also comes with a peace sign hand (or 'v sign') and both color timers so you can recreate those edge-of-your-seat moments where his transformation period is almost up.
In the show, Ultraman spent 75% of his screentime crouched over, fingers splayed, while trying to figure out the best method to grapple the giant foam-rubber monster of the week. The designers have clearly taken this stance into consideration with this release of the figure. The fin on his back is broken into seven individual parts from head to butt, two of which float beneath the main parts and hide what would be gaps in his posture when Ultraman is crouched. His head gets a good range, letting him look forward while hunched over or standing straight. The elbows and knees are double jointed. My pictures don’t really do Ultraman's articulation justice. You’ll get enough range in his elbows to do the chicken dance; I wish I’d realized this before breaking down my camera set up, or there’d be a picture of this. >insert an Arrested Development joke here<.
Complaints: I hate to trash on this figure, because I love Ultraman, but he doesn’t feel nearly as ‘meaty’ as you would expect for a character of his size. I chalk this up to hollow components and a lack of diecast material Bandai has been pushing with modern figures. Most of the reviews I read while waiting for him to arrive said they all had tight joints but had heard stories of problems. I guess I’m one of the unlucky few, because mine had an extreme case of floppy-leg. Thankfully this kind of flaw can be easily repaired with a little acrylic finish.
If you like Ultraman and held off on buying the v.1 figure, I can’t recommend this guy enough. He’s super poseable and you really get a ton of accessories. At this point I normally link to some place and bring up price. He runs for about 3,200 yen before discounts, but all the usual sites seem to be out of stock. If you’re dying for a classic Ultraman for your shelf, it looks like you’ll be waiting for a reissue!