It's been a little while since the last entry. Work's kept me busy (and tired), so I apologise.
Without further ado, here's another entry of:
#1 BM! Project Den-O
#2 RAH Kuuga
#3 BM! Project Hibiki
#4 BM! Project Decade
Today's entry:So what's with this one?
Kabuto was and remains as a fairly special character to quite a number of people. His series marked the 35th anniversary of the entire Kamen Rider franchise. This meant lots of things, from littering the show with tons of little homages, as well as a return to many 'basics' of Kamen Rider, such as bug-motif designs and the yelling of "RIDER KICK!" for special moves once more.
With the show's fast pace and nice designs, it was also a series that drew in a lot of new fans, and indeed, it was one of the first full Kamen Rider TV series that caught my attention (although it wasn't the first that I watched in its entirety).
The writing didn't really hold up as well as the action and the designs did however, with lots of plot holes and plot devices that got introduced at various points of the show and got promptly forgotten. A few characters were also horribly redundant, and let's not forget that with Kabuto's arguably Gary Stu-esque level of power and skill, it created the 'Kabutard' fan. The kind of fan cut from the same cloth as a 14 year old Dragonball fan, who believes that Kabuto is TEH BEST RIDER LIEK EVAR HE JUST CLOCK UP AND BEAT EVERYONE and all that jazz.
Despite the lousy movie, sloppy writing and stupid fans, Kabuto had a pretty good cast of actors, especially Mizushima Hiro as Tendou/Kabuto himself, whom I have a totally heterosexual man-crush on. Despite some arguing that the character was overpowered and the like, Mizushima had the charisma and style to make the role work for him, and indeed, he became the household name in Japan he is today thanks to Kabuto.
So with his popularity and all, it was only natural that Kabuto would be the 3rd figure for the Bandai-Medicom Project to release, hot on the heels of Hibiki. I only got my Kabuto figure a good several years later, due to the fact that I started on the hobby late. Thus, I got him after a good number of years of having read various things and comments on the figure before taking the plunge, not all of which were necessarily positive.
Would the strength and value of the character to me conquer everything?So is he any good?
On several levels, he's definitely pretty good, one of which is sculpting. Kabuto in his casted-off Rider form is a very slick design indeed and arguably the most favourite amongst the Heisei Riders for many fans. His compound eyes are in Full Force (HAHAHA GEDDIT?!) here in a gloriously accurate blue, and thanks to his horn, he strikes a very nice, mean profile.
His armour and henshin belt are also rendered excellently as well. Every little ridge and line detail is present and accounted for, and the horn on his zecter can move too. Even the little symbols on his rear buckle and clock up side pads are present, and the lining on his body suit is perhaps my favourite detail of all. Definitely extremely sharp and show accurate, as Kabuto should be.
Kabuto comes with both versions of his weapon of course, in both its gun and kunai modes. As you'd expect, they're done nicely as well, with every detail present, right down to the 'ZECT' logos printed on them, and the kunai's blade having a silver-orange gradient effect.
Kabs' also comes with a multitude of hands, I dare say even more than the average Rider figure. Aside from the usual relaxed, holding and fisted hands, he also comes with a hand specifically for pulling his zecter horn, as well as his 'to the heavens' pointing hand. This is definitely a nice touch, as it helps give the figure the ability to pull off all the characterful poses Kabuto's known for.
The suit also manages to straddle a fine balance of being nice and fitting, but not too tight, allowing you to do a good amount of poses that Kabuto should do. The fact that Kabuto doesn't exactly do a whole lot of acrobatic stuff helps, but it's nice to know that he can do a convincing roundhouse kick with little fear of having a Rider Pants Rip.
Anything to look out for?
When Kabuto was released, I read plenty of articles and the like online, reflecting mixed opinions on the figure when it first came out. I initially thought it was the internet being the internet again, being full of whiny idiots who make mountains out of mole-hills.
But sometimes, there is a degree of truth to the idiotic babbling of internet idiots, and one of those things is the unfortunate fact that Kabuto's QC is pretty poor.
It's puzzling too. With the excellent quality of the Kamen Rider The First duo, and the overall decent standard with Hibiki as well, I was quite taken aback when I opened my Kabuto.
There are the smaller problems such as the paint applications. There is a noticeable amount of slop and bleeding on the armour, most notably along the edges of the red 'pecs' that bleed onto the black base. There are also tons of tiny little chip and rub marks all over the place. For my figure in particular, there were chips along the sides of his horn, and some rubs along the thigh pieces and shoulder plates.
However, I consider these things to be relatively minor and easy to overlook. What really disappointed me however, was the fact that my Kabuto's shoulders (and some spots on his back) were faded *right out of the box*.
I had heard about this issue from a few people, mostly ones that had owned Kabuto for a period of time. The faded areas aren't too noticeable right now, but I can only anticipate that they'd get gradually worse overtime if one isn't mindful on how he keeps the figure. Definitely, DEFINITELY keep him away from direct sunlight, or Kabuto'd soon turn into a shade of pink that can rival Decade in no time.
Another more major issue with Kabuto is his durability. Kabuto has tons of little naggling issues that really started to bug me. Velcro on his armour is weak and bits tend to fall off even if you're only a tad vigorous in your handling of him. The shoulder pads and the elbow pads are the biggest culprits here, detaching if you even look at his limbs funny. They reattach on okay, but I do anticipate that I'd replace the velcro in the near future.
Kabuto also has a few high-breakage areas too. Yes, his horn does flip up in the show when he casts-off (CHANGE BEETLE!), and yes it is cool, I love it too. But for god's sake, don't try to recreate that here - the horn on the figure will snap like a twig, and has for several people who were unfortunate enough to drop the figure on its head.
Another major issue here is the body that's used with Kabuto - it's rubbish. This was a good while before Medicom did the much needed durability upgrade to the RAH 301 Kai body. While the articulation is still the same excellent level back then as it is now, the durability of the body just isn't anywhere near as good as it needs to be to support it. The body is highly susceptible to breakage and in Kabuto's case, it's much more likely to happen due to the tightness of the suit. I was extremely careful with my Kabuto whenever I wanted him to do a Rider Kick and even then, the right hip eventually just gave way without barely a warning. Ironically, the tightness of the suit was good enough to hold the broken leg in place, and for months, I left my Kabuto as it was and he still held up and posed fine, broken hip and all.
My advice is to cannibalise a newer Medicom figure for its newer, more durable RAH body and replace the default body with Kabuto. I was fortunate enough to have a spare Super-1 figure (review of him to come soon!) who had an excellent quality body. Kabuto's armour comes off with just a clean cut to the side, and everything slips out easy-peasy after that. Some quick redressing later, and I had a much more solid, heftier feeling Kabuto that can bust off any pose I wanted him to do without any fear of breakage.
The difference between the older and newer RAH body is so dramatic that I highly recommend anyone who likes posing their Rider figures to do the same for their Kabuto. Get a cheap, newer Medicom figure (I hear Indiana Jones or the Joker are good choices), do the swap when you feel the time is right (most likely after the default body breaks), and carry out the process. You'd be MUCH happier with Kabuto then, as I am now.
How much is he and is he worth it?
As much as I've been harping on about how much a particular character means to the buyer when it comes to determining the value of a Medicom Kamen Rider, this is one case where this is definitely true.
Kabuto was a very easy figure to obtain for several years after his release, being obtainable for barely over US$200 with shipping from even expensive sources like ebay and the like. But yet again, 'All Riders' happened, and Kabuto's prices have suddenly shot up and his availability had plummeted. Kabuto can fetch easily over US$250 now, and even higher from certain sources.
Kabuto is a cool character, one that I definitely like a fair bit. The figure definitely looks awesome and has a lot of presence to him, with his striking colours and edgy design. However, Kabuto was definitely one of the least satisfying BM! Project figures I've bought. Having a few naggling issues with the paint is one thing, having his crappy default body *AND* the paint issues all at once is another altogether.
Kabuto is an essential piece to complete a Rider collection, no doubt about it. For big Kabuto fans, he certainly looks great as a centerpiece. However, his multiple QC issues that seem common across most pieces of Kabuto make him difficult for me to recommend him to casual buyers even at his original price, even less so at the inflated prices he goes for now.
It really hurts me to say this, as Kabuto is I say again, a character I like a fair bit despite his show being grossly overrated. Kabuto looks and moves with a style and confidence that no other character has been able to replicate, and his powers and gimmicks are ones many still imitate till today.
However, Kabuto is definitely one of the weaker figures I've bought. I felt really underwhelmed when I first got him, with his multitude of QC issues. While replacing his body definitely helped me to warm up to him a ton, it's still not something that one should have to do, especially with the prices he commands these days.
Yet, I remain really torn, as the figure still looks great. Even in a sea of Rider figures, Kabuto still stands out amongst the crowd, and he's one of the shorter figures to boot! He really shines when you just display him doing his signature poses (the pointing to the heavens pose always pleases), all calm and confident, and it simply looks fantastic.
In the end of the day, it really, really comes down to either how much you like Kabuto, or how serious you are about completing a Rider collection. If you can, try to search for a piece that's more reasonably priced, check the condition throughly if you're able to, and once again, I definitely recommend swapping out the body if a more durable one is available to you.
Kabuto isn't a terrible figure by any means, but he is definitely one with problems. If you've low tolerance for naggling QC issues, then he's an easy skip. However, if you're a big Kabuto or Kamen Rider fan, he's still an essential piece. Shop smart, be prepared to do a little bit of customising, and you'd be much happier.
My personal rating: 6/10
Next up: New Den-O (Strike Form) !