Here we are again, with another entry of:
So what's with this one?
Ahhh, Kamen Rider Hibiki. Considered the 'black sheep' of the Heisei Kamen Rider shows by many fans, Hibiki has the dubious honour of...having many dubious honours. Originating as a show that was not initially meant to be part of the Kamen Rider franchise in the first place, designs and aesthetics that were wildly different from the usual stuff (no bikes, no bug eyes, no yells of "HENSHIN!", no Rider Kicks, instruments), lots of controversial staff firings happening behind the scenes which affected the quality of the series - Hibiki as a show had many, many problems, and to this day, remains as one show that really divides fans.
Which is a pity, as if one can look past the "ZOMG IT'S NOT LIKE A KAMEN RIDER SHOW!" ness, Kamen Rider Hibiki was a very charming show that had lots of interesting ideas that was supported by a pretty good cast. Most of all, it had an AWESOME lead actor in the form of Shigeki Hosokawa, who played Hibiki. Hosokawa just oozed loads of that macho, care-free yet serious, funny-yet-stern 'big brother' charm to him that makes the women swoon and the guys cry manly tears. The show also had several really good messages to relay to the audience, most of them roughly revolving around the theme of finding one's self and eventually facing life's challenges as one grows up.
Good stuff like that.
Hibiki was the 2nd figure in the BM! Project line after Rider 1 from Kamen Rider The First, and the first of the Heisei Kamen Riders to get the 1/6 treatment. Naturally, there was a lot of anticipation for this figure as it was a taste of things to come.
So is he any good?
For sheer display and attention-grabbing value wise, Hibiki most definitely can't be beat. Hibiki's costume was touted to having Nippon's fancy-schmancy 'Mazora' brand paint on it, and Medicom similarly touts the stuff being used on the figure as well. The resulting effect is simply freaking amazing.
The paint has this awesome property to it where the colour slowly gradients from a brilliant blue to a vivid purple as you tilt and position it differently under a light source. It's also very reflective and Hibiki is *COVERED* in this stuff. The result is one brilliant, mind-blowing, astoundingly fantastic looking figure that really seizes your eyes fiercely and makes passionate love to them.
If the colour wasn't enough to blow you away, the rest of the costume will. Like it or hate it, as 'different' as the Hibiki Oni Riders tend to be criticised for, they are very intricate, exotic designs.
For starters, Hibiki's mask design alone has plenty of details unique to him and him alone. Everything from the intricate shape of his red 'mouth' detailing, to his horns and (my personal fave part) the little golden Oni face on his forehead are all present and very show accurate.
The rest of the armour, from the silver 'collar' bits to his 'abs' all flow together extremely nicely, really supporting the fact that Hibiki's Oni form is meant to be his 'true' organic form and not a costume like most other Riders.
Hibiki also comes with a ton of accessories, such as his henshin device, the Onsa Onkaku, his disc animals, and of course his Ongekibou Rekka taiko stick weapons.
While it's great that all this stuff is included and not skimped on at all in terms of detail and quantity, what's even better is how they all store on his belt.
Not only is this show accurate, but it also looks really nice, clean and practical, with all of Hibiki's gear within his reach for easy access. This looks really, really cool in itself, with my favourite bit being Medicom giving you 2 pairs of Rekkas; one short 'storage' pair, and one long 'combat' pair, for when he whips them out to fight. While getting his accessories on and off his belt can be pretty fiddly, as things tend to drop off now and then, the end result is definitely worth it.
With so much going for him visually, Hibki looks great, whether you have him in a fighting stance, doing his taiko drumming, or even just standing there. Take all his accessory options, as well as his multitude of hands (including his trademark salute), you have a figure that has a ton of display options, and looks great either way you choose to show him off.
Anything to look out for?
Hibiki as I mentioned earlier, was the 2nd release under the BM! Project label, and sadly in many ways, this shows. As amazing as the Mazora paint suit looks, this comes at a price somewhat.
Early runs of Hibiki figures had suits with paint that was sticky and tended to rub off against foreign surfaces. This resulted in the release of a 2nd run of Hibiki which apparently rectified this problem. My figure was preowned and from the first run, but I've yet to experience it myself, with several fellow collectors theorising that due to its age (I'm late to the game after all), the paint had the time to properly dry. Still, some bits of my figure do feel a little sticky, although no paint rubs off at all, it's better to be safe than sorry. Don't molest, I mean, rub your fingers too aggressively on the suit, definitely keep him away from direct heat and most definitely don't go sliding him up and down any surface. Why the hell would you want to anyway...?.
Another issue is also an unfortunately common one with early Medicom figure releases. The suit and armour are quite a snug fit over what I dub a 'Version 1.0' RAH 301 Kai body. The 'Version 1.0' RAH bodies were the type that pretty much what has gained Medicom a fair bit of scorn from some collectors, in that they used weak plastic and tended to be very brittle. Take a brittle body and cover it with a tight suit that restricts lower body movement a fair bit...yeah I think you know where I'm getting at.
Hibiki's poses are thus, fairly limited, especially in his legs. You most definitely do not want to make him do any crazy-ass splits or high flying stunts. But thankfully, you wouldn't need to, as Hibiki doesn't really do stuff like that anyway. He most certainly can still do nearly every pose you'd *expect* him to do, such as for instance:
In plain English; most of Hibiki's essential poses are pretty much various drumming stances and relaxed poses. With the exception of perhaps, a total standing-attention pose (as he also suffers from Chicken Arm Syndrome), Hibiki can do nearly any pose that he's *supposed* to do and looks awesome doing them regardless. Just be careful of his paint, and be mindful of his suit restrictions, and you'll do great. If you're damn keen on making him do yoga stuff, again, he's not for you (and you're probably retarded).
How much is he and is he worth it?
Whether if it's due to the divided fan opinion on the series, the fact that the show and toyline essentially bombed during its run, or the initial paint problems, Hibiki for quite a few years after his release, was pretty easy and relatively inexpensive to get.
Then Decade and 'All Riders' happened.
Since then, Hibikis, and most high-end Rider merchandise, have become much more scarce. Fortunately, he's still not *too* expensive. A quick search on ebay (which is still the WORST place to get these figures btw) shows he's still obtainable around the US$200+ range, which is decent for a BM! Project figure. But if you are thinking about getting him, think fast, as I have seen 'dry spells' for Hibiki where he simply vanished without a trace from online stores. I myself, had a bit of difficulty obtaining my figure and it wasn't until a friend gave up his collection and sold his Hibiki, did I finally get mine.
But if you like striking figures, intricate and unique designs and want to add a good dosage of visual flavour to your collection, Hibiki's definitely worth the money. If you're a big Hibiki fan and are looking to starting on a Medicom collection, you'd be crazy to not want this figure.
"Yoroshiku na, Shounen!"
Kamen Rider Hibiki is a pretty unusual, but very misunderstood show until that today, still gets much more flak than it deserves. While positively head scratching at times, it still is very entertaining, and it has probably one of the most charismatic lead actors the franchise has ever had, something which a few recent entries in the franchise have been lacking. I'm looking at YOU, Decade.
Hibiki is an awesome design and an awesome character. And if there's one thing Medicom is good at, it's immortalising awesome characters by giving them awesome figures (my god, that's a lot of awesomes).
If you're intending to complete a collection, you'd absolutely need Hibiki anyway as he adds a great amount of visual pop and variety. If you're a Hibiki fan that wants to 'graduate' from small to medium end figures, this is IMO, still one of the best Hibiki figures money can get you.
My personal rating: 8/10
Next up: Decade!