Hi everyone, it's been a little while. The starting of my first job back at home has kept me a little busy, but I'm back with another installment of:
So what's with this one?
Quite a fair bit actually. Kamen Rider Decade in itself, was a brilliant, brilliant concept. Want to push a big new product, a large new toy line, tie it in with the rest of your franchise's history to commemorate a new milestone in its history AND save on costs at the same time? That's what Decade was and more - revisiting all the previous 9 Heisei Kamen Rider worlds, using a protagonist that could turn into ALL of them and use their abilities that just so happen to be the same cards used on their brand new card-based arcade game, Ganbaride.
Seriously, I wish I had thought of it first, as it's a bloody brilliant idea and it most certainly generated a *TON* of excitement. I myself, personally recall the day before the first episode of Decade was to air. I was still in Boston then and I remember downloading a program that streamed Japanese TV to me live (in this case, from TV Asahi) and sitting by my computer that Saturday evening, which coincided with Japan's Sunday morning, and waiting with abated breath for the episode to begin. When it started, it really blew me away with its explosive beginning, a huge war of an epic scale, and a quick taste of everything Decade was capable of. A change to Kabuto AND Faiz, featuring a Clock up AND Autovajin?! And into Hibiki too?! All in one episode?!?! Suffice to say, the episode ended way too quickly, and I looked forward to the next episode, with full confidence of a new series that would blow me away.
As much as it pains me to say it, after the first 2 episodes or so, the quality of Decade as a series, began to steadily, but rapidly decline in nearly aspect. The writing was constantly spotty at best, atrocious at worst with plot arcs being mostly rushed messes, poor characterisation with an extremely unlikeable main cast (with Kuuga being the only exception), and the budget being cut back drastically with every episode. Even at its best, Decade soon became little more than rather empty fanservice and product plugging, being essentially what Kamen Rider's always been about; a 20 minute toy commercial; just without any of the heart, soul and passion that normally comes along with a typical Kamen Rider series.
Plot arcs were wrapped up haphazardly, characters refused to develop, the actors got increasingly more unlikeable...the list goes on. Even its best offerings; the return of Tetsuo Kurata as Black/Black RX, and the All Riders movie, weren't enough to save the lousy execution of the series. Decade, while a commercial success, to myself and many fans, was a flop in terms of its quality as a good show.
Being a collector that relies heavily on how a character is portrayed and depicted in his respective media when buying a product, it would be easy to think that the odds were stacked against Decade when his BM! Project figure was announced and then released. An expensive, high end figure of a character that I cared very little for? Surely this wouldn't turn out well?
So is he any good?
However, lousy character doesn't necessarily translate to a lousy figure, and Decade is definitely a testament to that. Decade was the eighth release from BM! Project (not counting mail-aways and exclusive figures), and he is a shining example of how far Medicom had come as a 1/6 figure maker.
Whether or not you like Decade's design when it first surfaced, what cannot be denied here is just how accurate the sculpting of his BM! Project figure is. This is hands-down, this is quite the show-accuracy paradise - the helmet's shape and form is sculpted perfectly, as is the armour and its distinctive 'X' shape.
Even Decade's inner suit is done extremely well, with the two colours being separate pieces of fabric stitched together to form the complete suit, flowing seamlessly with his thigh armour pieces - just like the actual costume. It's also really nice to see that Decade is rendered accurately in his self-quoted 'Magneta, Not Pink!' colour, making this the most accurate Decade figure on the market (The SIC is stylised, and the SHFiguart is the wrong colour entirely).
The only real slight hiccup here is that for some reason, his Decadriver belt seems a little under-painted. While the sculpting and printed details are all present and accounted for; especially everyone's favourite detail, the 9 Heisei Rider symbols; other arguably smaller details were left out. The 6 buttons at the side remain completely silver, and the surrounding mechanism on the buckle could've been a lighter silver instead of the dark gun-metal gray here.
Still, this is an extremely minor nitpick, as the belt's other features more than make up for it. For starters, the fact that it even *has* a feature. That's right folks, with the included 10 Kamen Ride cards, the BM! Project Decade is one of the only Decade figures that can actually slot cards into his belt and 'Kamen Ride' into the other Riders show accurate style!
In a rare, RARE move from Medicom, Decade comes with a plethora of accessories to help facilitate his primary gimmick, and frankly, only saving grace. All his weapons are present and accounted for as expected. But in addition to that, Decade comes with *TWO* sets of his Decadriver belt and Ride Booker card holder in its 'book form', one belt that's sized just for Decade, and the other that's an adjustable version.
This makes reenacting all the scenes where Decade 'Kamen Rides' into the various other Riders a snap and an absolute blast to do. Not only does this help give you a ton of display/play options (especially if you print out your own custom cards), but it also adds more play/display value to your other Heisei Riders as well, as they can all now technically be 'two' variants of themselves.
Decade's quality is absolutely top-notch and a good example of Medicom at their 'A' game. The paint is very clean work with very little bleeding of the magenta and white (always a tricky thing), the suit is well tailored and most of all, the body is rock solid. Decade is a very solid figure to display and play with, and is easily one of the highest quality offerings from the brand so far.
"This is going to tickle a little..."
Anything to look out for?
No figure is perfect of course, and Decade is no exception. Decade's suit is a pretty snug fit, and while you won't have any problems with his arms, it's his legs where you'd best be a bit careful in handling. His trousers are a bit of a low fit on him and thus, prevents him from spreading his legs too wide. This prevents you from making him take very wide stances or doing any crazy splits.
However, since Decade rarely did anything remotely too interesting physically (considering what suit actor Seiji Takaiwa had to work with, I certainly don't blame him), this shouldn't be much of an issue, as Decade can still do good enough kicks to suit him.
You would definitely want to look out for his accessories too, primarily his Ride Booker Sword. The blade and black 'holster' bit are pretty long, making them susceptible of snapping off if you drop it.
His Decadriver buckle likewise, is a little fiddly in its operation. Instead of being a single piece that opens and rotates like the SIC version, the BM! Project Decadriver actually requires you to remove the buckle and replace the base with an 'opened' version, where the buckle magnetically attaches onto to represent the belt in its opened state. You'd best take care in this process, 'lest you scratch any paint, but it shouldn't be too difficult.
Perhaps my biggest gripe with the accessories are the cards themselves. Slotting in and out of the Decadriver is generally easy, but taking them *out* can be a different matter altogether, with certain cards being more willing to come out than others. The cards themselves are also really cheap and flimsily made, being printed on very thin pieces of cardboard. The SHFiguarts version's cards are actually *more* solid, although granted, they don't need to fit in anywhere.
Aside from these, Decade doesn't really have any big issues.
How much is he and is he worth it?
Unfortunately, Decade was released right smack during the height of the All Riders hype, as well during a period where the prices of toys in general were hiked significantly. Likewise, Medicoms have increased in price a fair bit, with BM! Project figures perhaps having gone up in cost the most amongst Medicoms' offerings.
While Decade isn't extremely difficult to find, with him still being in stock on HLJ amongst a few other sites, he certainly isn't cheap in the least bit. With shipping, Decade would normally set you back by at least US$250 and higher, and that is a *lot* of money. His price will only get higher as stocks of him dwindle, and they're dwindling fast.
Whether if he's worth it to you really depends on how much you actually like Decade as a character, or how much of a Rider collector you are. If you can't stand Decade (and that's easy to do) and don't care for finishing off a collection, then you would save yourself a lot of money by skipping him.
However if you're like me and can't bear to leave out any single character, especially one as central and important as Decade admittedly is, he is at least very worth the money. Being able to recreate many of the fanwank scenes in the series, as well as being a great central character for your Heisei Riders, definitely makes the fact that he's expensive go down a lot easier.
Getting a figure of a character you don't really like or care for, especially an *expensive* figure, isn't normally the best of ideas. But sometimes, what the character represents, as well as how well the figure is made, can sometimes overcome what the character is like, and that's exactly what Decade here is to me.
While I will not go back on my opinion that he's a poorly written character with a crappy actor to boot, I cannot deny the fact that this is still a damn fine figure of a character that represents a huge milestone in a franchise I love. And honestly, it seems that most Rider fans tend to eventually accept every character introduced into the franchise, much like a family, with All Riders being a huge family reunion. And you can't have a family reunion with any member missing, whether he's the retarded half-brother or the jerk of a cousin you wish got run over by a bus.
On these (demented) reasons alone, Decade's easily one of my favourite Medicom Rider figures that I have, and I highly recommend him. Whether or not you like his character, any one who wants to complete a Kamen Rider collection simply cannot go without Decade, especially a Decade that's as high quality as this.
My personal rating: 9/10
Next up: Kabuto!