So what's with this one?
Good ol' Kuuga, the guy whose series' success helped to revitalise the entire Kamen Rider franchise as a whole, when it first aired in 2000. Many say it felt very much like a Showa 'Rider show in many aspects, yet it also set the stage for various characteristics that would soon be the norm for all Heisei Kamen Rider shows. Faster action, heavier usage of CG effects, and the concept of the main Rider having 10 billion forms to change into.
Of course, Medicom normally just does a Rider's 'main' form, and in Kuuga's case, we have good ol' Mighty Form. The release of Kuuga marked the first entry for Heisei Riders under Medicom's own Real Action Heroes (RAH) in-house banner, resulting in the creation of Heisei Riders being released in 2 different sub-lines. Everything from Hibiki onwards being under BM! Project, and anything before it (so far), being RAH. Being an RAH, that comes with some great plus points - but also a few of its own drawbacks. Either way, Kuuga's become quite a bit of the contemporary 'classic' hero in his own right, with the popularity of the original show and his recent appearances in Kamen Rider Decade, so Kuuga's release was met with some anticipation from myself, despite never having seen his show...yet.So is he any good?
For the most part, I'd say he's a very decent figure. Kuuga's design appears rather simple at first glance, with not much in the ways of armour compared to some later Riders, or even his later forms. But more dedicated fans would know that he has multiple 'Grongi' engravings all over his collar, belt and waist - detailing that's captured beautifully here.
Although this isn't the first time we've seen these tiny details captured on a Kuuga figure (the SHFiguart does a really sharp job at it too), seeing it so excellently rendered at this scale is another thing altogether. His henshin belt is perhaps one of my favourite ones amongst the Heisei Riders, with its center and side buttons being especially nice - and them having their respective Grongi engravings too!
I get a real kick out just admiring the work on the belt, especially more so since I own the Complete Selection version of it myself and seeing just how accurate it is.
Of course, the other parts of Kuuga are relatively nice too. Like all the other Riders, Kuuga has nice, large compound eyes, and a fairly strong head sculpt. However, Kuuga's head sculpt, upon heavier scrutinisation (and some input from more long-time fans), Kuuga's sculpt does not actually match up with the helmet in the show entirely. Upon seein some clips of the show, and even shots on the box itself, the RAH's head sculpt is indeed, noticeably longer and sharper at the chin, as opposed to the show's more rounded helmet.
The helmet's sculpt is a relatively minor issue however, in comparison to another main issue I have with the figure - the armour itself.
"Wait, didn't you say it was awesome just earlier?"
Yes, I did, attentive reader. However, it was in reference to the engravings on it, which I will repeat again, are excellently done. However, while the engravings near the waist are done on an awesome looking metallic red painted surface, for some reason the rest of the armour wasn't. Instead, it has a flat, almost raw, red colour to it, making it look rather flat and almost 'unfinished'. While it could be argued that this is meant to be the original Godai Yuusuke Kuuga, who did indeed have a flat red armour as opposed to Decade's Onodera Yuusuke's metallic red, some gloss could've been added here to help the armour 'pop' more. However, that wasn't the case and it unfortunately, does rob Kuuga of a lot of potential visual appeal he could've had. He still doesn't look terrible by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a little weird when his SHFiguart has a better looking red going on for him.Anything to look out for?
Kuuga has a good, healthy amount of upper body 'give' and can move his arms and head about as much as he pleases. It's when we get to the lower body, where we start to have some problems.
While his suit fits him very well and maintains a good, realistic body line, it is a *little* bit too tight for him. This unfortunately, does get in the way a little of certain poses characteristic to him, such as kneeling on one knee after a Mighty Kick. This also makes doing a more extreme-looking kicking pose a very difficult task, and my Kuuga actually has a tiny split on his pants due to my own attempt (oops).
It *is* possible to work around it and get him to do most of the poses you'd want Kuuga to do however. One just has to be mindful of his restrictions and how much 'give' the suit actually...well, gives. Kuuga's body is extremely sturdy, but the tightness of the suit tends to make his limbs 'bounce' back if you stretch it too far. So don't push it, 'lest you split the suit like I did, or worse yet, break a limb.
Other than that though, Kuuga's a relatively hassle, fuss-free figure, mostly thanks to his clean and simple design. No dropping off accessories, no weapons to drop, no worries. Just your Rider, his hands, and the ass-kicking he can do.How much is he and is he worth it?
Much like most of the Rider figures, a lot of it depends on how much attachment you have to the said character. Fortunately, like Den-O, Kuuga's a great character, whether it's the Godai or Onodera version you're familiar with. The strength of his character and the fact that any good Heisei Rider collection *needs* him, are further supported by the fact that Kuuga's also a relatively cheap and easy figure to get. He's very plentiful on sources like ebay, Hobbylink Japan, and wherever that sells Medicom figures to boot. Closing thoughts?
Kuuga isn't a perfect figure by any means. He has a few notable drawbacks which definitely bug me, the biggest one being the overly tight-nature of his suit preventing him from fully achieving all the poses he's meant to do. Still, no decent Rider collection is complete without him, and Kuuga does fill out a Rider line up very nicely. Take into the fact that he's easy to obtain and relatively easy on the wallet (as far as Medicoms go, again), and really, you could do far far worse.My personal rating: 7.5/10
Next up: Hibiki!