It's been a while, but I'm back with another installment of:
IntroductionWhich brings us to today's entry:
#1 BM! Project Den-O
#2 RAH Kuuga
#3 BM! Project Hibiki
#4 BM! Project Decade
#5 BM! Project Kabuto
#1 BM! Project Den-O
#2 RAH Kuuga
#3 BM! Project Hibiki
#4 BM! Project Decade
#5 BM! Project Kabuto
So what's with this one?
The year was 2008. Kamen Rider Kiva was pretty much in full swing, with its movie having graced theatres some months back, and its series making full steam ahead towards its finish.
But wait! There was still ANOTHER Kamen Rider series that was still making a boat load of money! Indeed, this series in question still had several plot points left unresolved, lots of fans demanding more and most importantly - a lot more money to be made from it. Yes folks, that series that was still alive and kicking almost a year after it had ended was none other than Kamen Rider Den-O.
So the good folks at Toei did what any studio would do - make *ANOTHER* movie to give us one more round of Ii jyan, ii jyan, suge jyan-ing, one more round of the Imagins, and one more round of time-travelling train hopping. Only this time, it was advertised that this would be the last, and after this movie, it was time to say good bye to Den-O and the Imagins.
OR WAS IT?!
As many cynics expected, the chances of Toei letting their biggest cash cow rest was about as likely as hell freezing over, and Den-O continues to get movies produced for it even until today.
While the impact that 'Sara ba Den-O' could have had was severely watered-down due to Toei's excessive milking, one thing did come out of that movie that got the interest of many fans; the new character, Nogami Koutarou aka Kamen Rider New Den-O.
Pimped out as the all-new main character, New Den-O caught the eyes of many people. His background hinted as some hopeful forward progress in Den-O's story, gave us glimpses into the futures of the established characters we knew and loved, and soon got quite a bit of attention. Most importantly, he looked *DAMN* sexy, with his super-sleek design that even got the interest of several non-Kamen Rider people.
Despite all the hype, he didn't really turn out to be anything beyond the typical young-cocky-hot-shot type character that bore a grudge against the older, established character, no thanks to the limited screen time a movie provides for character development. Hence, it was a bit of a surprise when Medicom announced, and then proceeded to show the prototype of their figure of New Den-O himself. It's rare to see Medicom do 'non-main' characters, and it's also a bit of a risk for them to do characters that got very little development and screen time. Did it pay off?
So is he any good?
In a few words: HELL YES. In many words, yes yes yes yes yes ye- you get the picture.
While New Den-O as a character is just kinda-passable, BM Project certainly hit a home run with his figure. Every little detail in his strong design is captured here perfectly in 1/6 scale - his colours, his sleek lines, and my favourite part, his AWESOME head sculpt.
The head sculpt is probably one of the best of Medicom's works, with every little nuance and angle that made the costume so eye-catching captured here extremely faithfully. It has the right amount of sharpness to make it look edgy, yet still looks heroic enough to not be mistaken for a bad guy.
The armour is no slouch either, with awesome detailing on the chest plate, which very much resembles that of Den-O's own Climax Form. As per the usual Medicom standard, nothing but sharp and crisp detail here. It also addresses an issue that plagued Den-O in that it's much less bulky and thus, New Den-O can rest his arms much closer to his side and thus, suffers much less from the infamous 'Chicken Arm Syndrome' that many of his predecessors did. To top things off, the Dengasher pieces on his belt are permanently attached, so no more annoying pieces falling off everywhere!
If that wasn't enough, there's a ton of insane detail on the *back* of the costume that was also captured on the figure extremely well. The crazy shoulder pads have a train-track design that runs all the way along the back and through the shoulders and collar, making for a very intricate and seamless look that both drives the train motif home without being cheesy.
But that's not all folks! New Den-O also comes with a plethora of accessories, one of which is a healthy array of hands. Where the actor fell a little short in portraying New Den-O to be as interesting as he could be, it was suit actor Seiji Takaiwa that totally did the trick for me.
Takaiwa's performance in the New Den-O costume has to be one of my favourites, with a very relaxed, yet flamboyant way of moving and fighting that's really engaging and stylish. The way he rests his sword against his shoulder, holding it with both hands, the swagger in his walk and stance, and of course his excessive snapping, all scream 'devil-may-care-I'm-so-cocky-and-cool', and it was brilliant. Thankfully, the figure has ALL the hands he needs to help recreate Takaiwa's excellent performance, from hands meant for him to grip his buckle, to his finger snaps, you won't find him lacking in the least bit, and the figure oozes character.
Of special mention is his weapon accessory. In New Den-O's default 'Strike Form', which is the form represented in the figure here, New Den-O's Imagin partner, Teddy, transforms into his melee weapon, dubbed the 'Macheteddy', a pun on machete.
This accessory is really exceptional, packing a ton of detail and even some personality to it. The gun barrel, the obscenely huge blade, and even Teddy's grinning face on the hilt. It has the right blend of being a weapon appropriate to the edgy, new-aged version of Den-O and yet, also keeping to the more kid-friendly aesthetic to the series and of course, essentially being a living character. The weapon complements New Den-O perfectly, and it even makes me wish they did a figure of Teddy in his regular Imagin form as well.
Anything to look out for?
New Den-O was made well after Medicom had made improvements to the RAH body, and he likewise, has rock solid joints. Together with a suit that has a good amount of give to it, New Den-O can strike all his numerous cocky/flamboyant/show-boaty/fruity poses with ease.
Perhaps one of the main issues to be mindful of with New Den-O are the tips of his eye pieces. They stick out a fair bit due to the nature of his design and are very liable to break if you aren't careful with them. They glue right back on in case that does happen, but I wouldn't recommend pushing my luck with them unless if you like giving yourself heart attacks.
Another relatively minor issue is with the Macheteddy. It's significantly heavier than Den-O's Dengasher and other smaller weapon accessories of the other Riders'. While he can hold it with one hand just fine, I wouldn't recommend leaving him holding it as such for too extended periods of time. The weight of the weapon can slowly widen the grip of the hand, to the extent that its grip gets much looser and more liable to dropping the weapon. Some hot water will fix that hand right up, and New Den-O often wields his weapon double-handed anyway, so it's not a big issue at all.
Besides these small issues, there isn't really anything to look out for, as New Den-O's of generally excellent quality.
How much is he and is he worth it?
New Den-O, like Decade after him, was unfortunately part of the gang that got hit by the price hike. Even at release, while relatively easily available, New Den-O wasn't cheap by most standards. Now in the wake of 'All Riders', New Den-O has become significantly tougher to find, and bagging yourself a piece can easily cost a cool USD$260+ off Evil Bay, often more than even Decade.
Taking his high price tag and relatively little screen time between 2 movies (so far), New Den-O might seem like an easily skippable figure to most casual collectors.
However, New Den-O's story potential, while limited, has only just started to really grow. With him being the star for yet another Den-O movie coming mid 2010 and rumours of him finally having his own TV series, this will only increase his popularity even further. Take into the fact that New Den-O figures are generally rare, with even his SHFiguart commanding big bucks, makes it all the more reason to get him while his price range has yet to reach truly astronomical levels.
And really, he has overall excellent quality, has a good amount of accessories, and looks really sharp, which IMO, makes the high price tag easier to swallow. I personally feel he is worth the money, not just to Kamen Rider/Den-O fans, but to serious 1/6 collectors who appreciate cool costume designs too. New Den-O's design is strong enough to be a good grab for anyone who simply likes a cool looking figure that has a TON of personality.
The strength of a character's design being a key component to his/her's success is certainly true here with New Den-O. Despite being in only 2 movies, New Den-O has become extremely popular with Kamen Rider fans, with many liking him on a design-basis alone.
While expensive and not getting any cheaper, New Den-O seems like an 'optional' piece to most collectors. But I truly, strongly advise against skipping him, more so if you are a Kamen Rider fan.
He has some of the strongest QC amongst all the Rider figures I have bought, is good fun to play with, and I've a feeling we're only starting to see what the character has to offer us. Will he turn out to be the truly epic character he seems destined to be? Time will tell, but what's obvious now is that his figure is amazing - and there might not be another time to get a figure of him as good as this.
Next up: Agito!