Go beyond time,
Run through the skies,
For this planet!
So goes the first verse of the theme song for Kamen Rider Black, the Japanese show that featured one of the 1980’s greatest heroes– or so it seems. I often order figures based solely on their badassery, and the recent S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Black figure, from Bandai Japan, caught my one good eye… especially since he was available alongside his wicked insect-themed Battle Hopper dirt bike! All I knew of this guy was the overpowering need to have him in my collection, and once he arrived we headed to the great outdoors for a closer look!
Naturally, as any lazy dude is bound to do in matters of ignorance, I used the teachings of YouTube to regale me with the illustrious career of this Japanese powerhouse via subtitled episodes. From what I can gather: Kotaro Minami and his brother Nobuhiko are given up by their Dad to the Gorgom (a cult made up of floating creeps with laser-claws) and are supposed to have surgery to become the, oddly-named, Century King, Black Sun. Or they’re supposed to fight for the title. Or not. It doesn’t matter really, because Kotaro escapes. Things happen, the plot thickens, and lo and behold Kotaro becomes Kamen Rider Black! *Cue video montage of dirt bike action*
The sculpt of the figure is simplistic, but that’s exactly how it needs to be. Like the Figuarts Power Rangers, Kamen Rider Black is built to look like a guy wearing a suit. Between each joint, a fiber-like pattern breaks up the overall smoothness of the uniform. The belt draws your eye with its intricate tech and the crotch-piece has multiple wrinkles to mimic the leather of the real thing. Yep, leather crotches are just one of the many (necessary) perks when fighting evil while straddling a speeding two-wheeled monster! The helmet is the most eye-catching part of Black’s getup with its thin antennae and translucent, multi-faceted eyes. The Battle Hopper also matches up well to its on screen counterpart. And by that, I mean, “It looks like a Honda that’s had a fiberglass grasshopper motif added to it”.
If cleanliness is next to godliness, then Bandai’s painters are once again attempting to become color-coded deities. Somebody needs to stop them before their vengeance and anger destroy us all! Doom! Doom is upon us! Calming down, I will say that the paint is very well applied, and noticeably so, when it comes to the pinstriping and detailing on the helmet. Still, anytime a figure is mostly molded in a solid color, I feel pulled towards wanting more highlights. I thought some dry brushing would help distract from the huge swaths of black– so I covered him in dirt to test the theory. The results? Inconclusive. The Battle Hopper is equally done to perfection with no fuzzy edging beteween the striping. There’s just really very little to bitch about. Boring, I know.
Articulation for Kamen Rider Black is what I’ve come to expect from the S.H. Figuarts line: sweet, smooth, plastic nirvana. A ball-joint head, ball-joint lower neck, ball-joint & swivel/hinge shoulders, hinged shoulder pads, swivel biceps, swivel/hinge elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, ball-joint torso, ball-joint waist, ball-joint & hinged hips, dual hinged knees, dual swivel/hinged ankles, and hinged toes round out the list of poseable parts. As for the Battle Hopper, its wheels rotate, the kickstand works, and the back is sping-loaded to simulate a rear suspension. Sadly, the handlebars can’t turn the front forks, so Black is forced to ride only in straight lines, like a child on a bike for the first time. Don’t worry, a tree’ll stop him!
Next, we’re gonna talk accessories. You like the word “hand”? Geez, I friggin’ hope so, because that’s pretty much the gist of what Kamen Rider Black is packaged with! Hands, hands, and more damn hands! The guy is lousy with ‘em! He’s got hands for punching, hands for chopping, hands for riding his bike, hands for using the brake, and open hands for looking relaxed and easy to start a conversation with at parties! They pop onto the wrist peg easily and there’s no worry about them falling off in an embarrassing kinda way when fighting monsters or giving hugs. The Battle Hopper has a clear plastic wheel chock, making it possible to have Kamen Rider Black appear to ride for freedom while on your shelf. It also has a clip that is attachable to Bandai’s figure stands so wheelies and sweet jumps can be the norm.
As it stands, I’m glad I took a chance on these toys. I’m also pretty stoked to have finally discovered the disturbingly-amazing Kamen Rider Black television series! I’ve already tossed a couple other Riders on pre-order, so I’ll be seeing if they are fit to hang with Black soon enough. If you’re interested in picking this figure up for yourself, hit up your local comic shop or favorite online retailer…or fly to Japan. Whatever.