Raijin Comics Original Figure Kenshiro
Review by VF5SS
This figure was provided by Jungle Hobby Shop.
Hokuto No Ken is a classic anime and manga series that practically shaped the world of long running Japanese brewed martial arts epics for decades to come. All your Saint Seiyas and Dragonball Z's owe a lot to this pioneering work featuring musclebound men using incredible fighting styles to wage their battles across a post-apocalyptic wasteland. The hero, Kenshiro, is the successor to Hokuto Shin Ken and is capable of causing his enemies to violently explode with a mere touch. His overall look was inspired by actors like Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Lee with the added wardrobe of Mel Gibson from Mad Max as the final part of Kenshiro's ultimate 80's ensemble. Hokuto No Ken is such a long lasting and recognizable property that it still gets new spinoffs and merchandise made to this day.
Despite all this it never really caught on in America. Under the English title of Fist of the North Star, the series languished with a poorly dubbed version of its feature film and an incomplete release of both the manga and anime. While the rest of the world fell in love with the series, American just scoffed at the over the top violence and spotty English translations that failed to gain any traction here. There have been efforts to rectify these mistakes with the entire anime being made available on Crunchyroll and numerous fan translations of the manga. The damage had been done though as the series never reached the same heights some say it could have achieved.
When the market for manga in America exploded in 2002, Raijin Comics, a division of Japanese publisher Coamix, served as a monthly anthology that brought high profile titles like Fist of the Blue Sky, a prequel to Fist of the North Star. The fact that the character of Kenshiro still had clout with American consumers made it possible for Raijin Comics to team up with Kaiyodo to produce a limited edition action figure. So dial up to AOL and get your trendy cellular phones out 'cause we're heading back to about twelve years ago with this review!
When I first got this figure in the mail I was genuinely amazed to see it in one of those impossible to open plastic clamshell packages. These things are even less collector friendly than regular cards and usually require a sharp pair of scissors to open. Still the figure looks great even when it's in mint condition. The packaging is eye-catching and totally looks like it should still be hanging on a rack in a Newbury Comics.
The back has a powerful illustration of Kenshiro done by manga artist Tetsuo Hara as well as pictures of the toy.
This is the face of a man who has achieved ultimate sorrow.
The package promises some "eye water." I can't wait!
Actually it's the name of the sculptor, Enoki Tomohide (but let's just run with the joke anyways).
Also the figure may cause injury if improperly used. I'm sorry but you may only have seven seconds to live after reading this review.
The cardboard backing has additional lettering and the image of a flaming big dipper as a nod to Kenshiro's seven scars.
Once unleashed from his clamshell coffin, Kenshiro exudes that typical Kaiyodo swagger with his crotch thrust forward and an inability to stand straight up. He is mostly made out of PVC plastic with some hard ABS used in some of his joints.
At around seven and a half inches tall, Kenshiro is a pretty sizable figure. He's much larger than Kaiyodo's more recent Revoltech figures based on Hokuto No Ken characters. Although given the haphazard and often heavily stylized scaling in the series, having Kenshiro tower over others isn't necessarily a bad thing.
The hunched up shoulders and slightly arched back reflect a more stylized depiction of Kenshiro is often posed in the series.
Kenshiro's head sculpt pretty good with his dour expression and feathered hair looking about right for a figure this old. His brow is a little too pronounced which makes it difficult to see his eyes without shining light right underneath his chin. Unfortunately the choice of a big metal pin for the neck joint makes him look like Frankenstein.
No boy! No cry!
Upon closer inspection I think I see where the "eye water" comes into play as it appears Kenshiro is crying. The slightly misty eyed look with an extra dab of shiny white paint seems to be a deliberate attempt at manly tears. Fans of the series know that the few times Kenshiro weeps means a terrible tragedy has befallen the world.
The figure is well detailed all around and features excellent shading on his outfit.
That one arm wrapping that keeps bursting off his bulging muscles is well executed with a crisp sculpt and paint that makes it look appropriately weathered.
All the little zippers and buttons on his trademark vest are picked out with silver paint. And if I may add, Kenshiro's tight red shirt shows off his pectoral cleavage quite nicely.
His boots feature some engraved detailing with shiny gold paint.
Kenshiro's singular shoulder pauldron has a basic metallic shine to it.
Underneath is the copyright information for the figure. Kenshiro is a 2002 vintage toy! That's over a decade ago now!
Kenshiro comes with a small selection of accessories that consists of two extra hands and a pair of nunchaku.
But I'm supposed to be a genius!
Impressions of Amiba aside, swapping Kenshiro's hands is pretty easy. They plug into the wrists with a thick peg that ends in a small ridge so the hands stand in once attached.
Both of his extra hands feature a hole in the palm for attaching nunchaku. They also remind you that he is kung-fu Jesus. The pointing hand featuring movable fingers while the open palm hand has an extra hinge in the wrist.
"You have lost the right to live beyond today!"
Most of Kenshiro's joints use Kaiyodo's old "mono-shaft" system when the figure is sculpted with lots of cut swiveling parts connected at odd angles. The idea is that all of these working together allow the figure to pose without a lot of clearly visible joints.
Overall the articulation on this figure is passable. It's a far cry from the dynamic flexibility of a modern Revoltech and is even lacking when compared to other mono-shaft figures. Movement is imprecise with some of the joints feeling a bit gummy. It's the kind of figure that needs to spend time in the freezer and then gently moved to break excess paint that may have stuck the joints.
Kenshiro's legs do still have a good range of motion as the hips can splay out a bit and his knees can bend ninety degrees. His elbows can also bend about that much. The biggest issue is how his ankles are just a pair of cut swivels in his boots. They don't move in a logical manner and don't even tilt inward enough to keep his feet flat on the ground.
Despite his wonky ankles he still stands up well enough.
There's still a lot of manly swagger in this old figure.
And he's definitely got the right attitude. There's some interesting joint work going on inside his chest like a pair of moving pectoral regions that allow his arms to travel inward at the shoulder. His upper arms also have a bicep swivel that moves right below his bulging shoulder muscles.
He can still rear up for a strong punch! The sculpting in his chest does an admirable job of hiding the swivel joint right below his pecs. The only thing that give it away is the travelling disconnected zipper on his vest.
Kenshiro can sorta turn is head left or right and that big honking metal pin lets him looking downward a little more than usual.
The nunchaku peg delicately into his palms and feature a real metal chain. Despite barely ever using them a lot of figures tend to include this weapon because hey Kenshiro is part Bruce Lee.
The back of the box features a nice shot of Kenshiro holding the nunchaku in that familiar pose with one end in hand the other tucked under his arm.
In actuality this is really difficult to pull off because there is no good way of securing one end under his armpit without just jamming it in there and hoping for the best. Maybe if there was an extra hole in Kenshiro's side so the nunchaku could plug in then I could see this working.
This figure was released before included display stands were widely used so I had to improvise a bit with a Tamashii Stage Act 5. Sadly this Kenshiro cannot do a proper jump kick.
And so he falls down having not performed the Hokuto Hiei Ken. This leads us to another weird thing about this figure.
So in an attempt to articulate Kenshiro's hips without messing up his posterior, this figure is designed with a rubbery flap that does not even attempt to stay connected when his legs are posed. It looks so wrong and feels very squishy but I'm sure all of us reading this review cannot help but stare.
Since the butt flap isn't noticeable from the front, I say pose away! At the very least this figure can do the Hokuto Ujou Moushouha! Souther doesn't stand a chance!
"Of this review I have no regrets! I hold an open hand to the heavens as hope for a brighter tomorrow!"
In the end the Raijin Comics Original Figure Kenshiro is an odd curiosity from the beginning of the collector's toy market and the North American manga boom. While it is outclassed by modern toys in terms of articulation, it's still a serviceable toy that every fan of Hokuto No Ken should totally buy because it's such a weird time capsule I find it is worth the price of admission. Even if you just want to hang it on your wall as a memento to the past it still looks great in the package. It is much less an action figure and more an adjustable statue, but one that has enough size and swagger to make it a noticeably addition to your collection. There's so much merchandise of Kenshiro out there that sometimes it's fascinating to take a closer look at an older piece like this.
Jungle Hobby Shop has these for sale for only 840 yen! That's a great price for this figure!
|Posted 15 January, 2014 - 14:17 by VF5SS|