Review by VF5SS
It almost goes without saying that the 1985 classic Super Mario Bros. changed the course of video game history in a way only the Great Giana Sisters could match. A pair of plumbers from Brooklyn ran, jump, and swam their way into being not only pioneers of an industry but cultural icons. However it wasn't until recently that Nintendo's omnipresent franchise has made great strides to warp into Toy World. Sure they have been some toys and collectibles of Mario and his friends over the years but it seems like nowadays there is a far greater selection of goods that go far beyond the occasional fast food tie-in and the Nintendo Cereal System.
Bandai surprised everyone by announcing an S.H. Figuarts of the jumping man. With an ever increasing number of video game characters getting their due as high quality action figures, Mario was oddly absent from some recent Nintendo crossovers with other manufacturers like Max Factory. Now a new player has joined the fray with this recent entry to Bandai's popular toy line.
Please watch my video review of Mario with both Diorama Playsets.
Mario Mario (of the Mario brothers) stands a little under four and a half inches tall. This makes sense as he is the shorter of the two siblings.
Bright colors and excellent sculpting help this figure capture the look of this iconic character right down to his Mickey Mouse approved overalls. While he is all plastic, Mario still feels quite substantial due to his husky proportions and big PVC head.
From front to back, Mario has a fairly seamless look due to some smart engineering in his articulation.
The face sculpt is the spitting image of the late Bob Hoskins with Mario's expression being wide eyed and happy in that infectiously adventurous way. Everything from his brown hair to his oddly mismatched black mustache and eyebrows are cleanly sculpted. His eyes are bright and sharply tampographed on. While he does not come with any other expressions or even a way to change out his face, Mario's positive demeanor is effective enough on its own and gets the Nintendo Seal of Approval.
Articulation wise, Mario does a lot with his rotund form with most of his major joints moving about ninety degrees. His design emphasizes a clean sculpt which has lead to some interesting bits of engineering. For example his hips move along a pair of hemispherical joints on either side of his pants seam so as to make his lower body look relatively whole. Despite his big noggin, Mario possesses a good sense of balance which is aided by ankles that articulate on a double ball-joint.
Mario's neck is a little weird though. You have to pull it off the joint a bit so he can look left or right. There's a fair bit of give to how much the ball-joint needs to be connected in order to work due to how beefy the setup is.
Without a head (Mario is dead) we can see some more of how the neck works. The ball itself it atop a hinge that allows Mario to look up or down.
And as an added bonus you can play around with Mario's floating head just like the start screen to Super Mario 64! Hold R and push A to give him a crazy face.
Again while he's not the most groundbreaking action figure, Mario still has a lot of personality and can do all the iconic SMB poses such as the idle animation from Super Mario 64! Now that's some next gen lounging around.
Out of the box, Mario is a pretty lean package accessory wise. You get one question block, one super mushroom, and a shiny gold coin with a clear display stand to hold it upright. It seems like S.H. Figuarts Mario is geared towards a very wide audience who may not be used to the usual practice of high-end action figures coming with a pile of tiny and easily lost bits. What you get in the box is a minimalist Mario experience that manages to be fairly effective.
Both the question block and the gold coin look like they came right out of the games. The coin is especially eye catching with its gold chromed exterior. Using its small clear stand, the coin can appear to float in the air just like in video land. If you collect 100 coins then you'll receive thousands of dollars in debt due to toy purchases (and maybe get an extra life).
And the power up mushroom is as adorable as ever.
"Hey come back here! Don't fall into a pit!!"
Sittin' on mad money.
Before I move on to the extra accessory sets, I want to take the time to show some of our younger readers the kind of Mario products that existed many, many years ago. Here is a hopping Raccoon Mario that came in a McDonalds Happy Meal as a tie in with Super Mario Bros. 3 (just like The Wizard). I lost the spring loaded base so it no longer jumps...
And here is the Parakoopa from the same set. Again he used to hop around (a common Mario theme) with the help of an attached bellows that made his legs move. However even robbed of his action feature, this Koopa matches well with the toy made about 24 years later.
Diorama Playset A (sold separately) is probably the most versatile of the two available accessory packs as it includes a special World 1 green colored Tamashii Stage with articulated arm and an adapter for Mario's back. You also get a Goomba, two brick blocks, a question block, a clear pole with block holder, and another coin with two display stands.
The Goomba is a chunky bit of PVC that looks as threatening as a sentient mushroom ever possibly could.
So long as one Goomba stands tall, even plumbers may fall...
Installing this stand adapter to Mario is quite simple. Just pop off the back of his overalls with your fingernail and plug in this new piece. Now Mario can attach to Playset A's Tamashii Stage or any other Bandai display stand (or similar product).
"Run forward and then quickly press Z and A to long jump."
The Tamashii Stage lets Mario jump higher than a froggie! He is nice and secure on the stand and the articulate arm lets you put him at any height in nearly any position.
The stand features several holes that can be uncovered by removing a small green plug. There you can attach the clear pole used for suspending the blocks in mid air. Place one of the coins on top and you can recreate the fun and frustration of finding hidden goodies inside the bricks!
Attaching a clear block holder to the pole lets you recreate many familiar scenes from the games.
With the accessories that came with Mario, the Playset expands for more platforming fun.
The extra display stands for the coins let them hover a bit higher off the ground. Also you can use the block holder to secure them together even without the pole. However the middle one will be floating free as it normally uses the pole as its peg.
Diorama Playset B (again sold separately) comes with a few repeat accessories like a coin and Goomba but adds a Koopa shell and two huge green pipe accessories. You also get a pair of extra hands for Mario and two pairs of clear pegs used to connect the Koopa shell to these hands.
While the extra hands are simple enough, the way they attach to the shell is a little strange. One set of tiny clear pegs lets Mario hold the shell with the neck hole facing outward. These are the bent pegs and plug into the leg holes on the shell with the shorter end going into Mario's hands.
You also get two straight pegs that orient the shell with the neck hole perpendicular to wherever Mario is looking. I find it a bit strange that even with how streamlined Mario and his two Playsets are, a little bit of Figuarts's extreme detail oriented nature made it into this product. Whichever way you prefer to have Mario hold his weapon of choice is up to you as either way works well.
Just wait for those Goombas to line up...
And let it fly for extra points!
A now for an everyday occurrence in the Mario world...
"Oh hey Steve, how was your day?"
"I got stomped on and chucked into a row of Goombas again."
"Ah yeah. Typical Wednesday for me."
The green pipes are especially fun pieces of scenery. The shorter pipe has a lower interior so it looks like Mario is popping out to scare Goobas with his jazz hands.
Normally the tall pipe has a shallow inside so Mario can stand atop it like in the games. However if you press down on the D-pad...
And Mario can enter the pipe! Well actually you can remove the top of the tall pipe and insert the short one to create this effect.
And because the tall pipe is hollow, you can use it to store accessories!
There's something rather charming about being able to have Mario pop up just about anywhere.
When you pile Mario and the two playsets together, it becomes apparent why everything wasn't included in one box...
Once everything is neatened up, the pipes add that little extra flair of Mario fun.
"Uh... I think I'm in the wrong video game."
A cool thing about the two Playsets is that you don't even need Mario to enjoy them. Just grab any old action figure and let them enter the world of mushrooms and giant pipes.
As a kid, my first Mario game was Super Mario Land for the Game Boy, which was later joined by the SNES pack ins of Super Mario World and Super Mario All-Stars. I've been playing video games for a long time but I never really thought about what it'd be like if the titular plumber got his own action figure.
"Hey it's a me! Mario!"
I feel like the S.H. Figuarts does a great job at capturing this iconic character in a streamlined package. While I understand the frustration over Mario not coming with a lot of accessories which may necessitate the purchase of the Playsets, but you have to remember that Mario's audience is far greater than almost anything else in S.H. Figuarts. As such, he needed to be adjusted to fit a wider market and to reach a certain price point. By himself Mario has an MSRP of $24.99 which puts him in the same price range as other common video game based figures. Even alone Mario is a tidy package that delivers some solid fun without the need for a lot of extra bits.
That being said, both playsets offer additional props and accessories for Mario to interact with and I think it's good that these are also readily available for about $20 each. Honestly with them being that affordable, I would even recommend them to people who don't have a Mario. All of the blocks, enemies, and coins are so well realized and iconic that you could easily have fun pairing this stuff up with a Power Ranger or Attack on Titan figure. Even if you want to limit yourself to one of the dioramas, Playset A will give you everything you need to power up your Super Mario experience.
For the longest time video games and toys were often fighting over people's money so I think it's good to see the two work hand in hand as Nintendo seeks to expand their flagship franchise into more than just the digital world.
|Posted 23 June, 2014 - 09:44 by VF5SS|