So what's with this one?
Kamen Rider Black is undoubtedly one of the most popular Showa Kamen Rider shows around, and for some pretty good reasons. The story, while standard, was (mostly) excellently told, with the tale of Minami Kotaro and his half-brother, Akizuki Nobuhiko and that ill-fated night of their 19th Birthdays and how they got kidnapped and both modified into good ol' cyborgs. The acting was pretty good, especially from lead actor, Kurata Tetsuo, who played Kotaro, and the music is some pretty epic stuff.
But I strongly believe that while Black does get a bit overhyped at times, one reason why people love the series this much is due to not so much the hero, Kotaro/Black himself, but rather, Nobuhiko - or more specifically, what became of him.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Nobuhiko, who eventually became the almighty Shadow Moon, was one of the biggest draws to the series. The very first, fully-fleshed out and unique 'evil Rider' character, who also had a dramatic, and tragic connection to the main character, helped give the show many of its most memorable scenes. Not just being another direct copy of the main character with a yellow scarf, Shadow Moon had his own look, feel, and even his own array of special moves and weapons. It's no wonder that he got really popular for a 'bad guy', and remains one of the most favourite characters amongst fans of the old school.
And really, how could you not like him? That menacing posture with his clickity-clackity grasshopper limbs against his thighs that were most definitely too-awkward for the suit actor to do many scenes with (causing them to randomly disappear in several shots) is totally something only Shadow Moon can pull off.
Toei knew you can't keep a good character down, and hence he was brought back in All Riders vs Daishocker. This time, he was Tsukikage Nobuhiko, butler and loyal caretaker to Kadoya Sayo, the neglected sister of Kadoya Tsuksa/Kamen Rider Decade. He was a pretty different character to the original Nobuhiko, lacking his heavy-weighted backstory, but I felt he was a lot more menacing and did a decent job despite his limited screen time.
With all his popularity, Shadow Moon's one baddie that's probably had the most consistent number of figure releases, if not one of the only. With the release of Black's new RAH figure, it was logical to assume that his dear-ol' brother would follow right after him. True enough, he did, but not quite in the conventional way, which brings me to a new section:Mail a- what?
Shadow Moon was given a limited release, being what Medicom calls a 'Mail away order' figure to Kamen Rider Black. What this means is that if one wanted to get Shadow Moon by the official method, he would have to first purchase Black. Every copy of Black came with a special 'ticket' or mail order form that one would fill in (or these days, input the code in their website), and then send to Medicom along with the necessary money. After some waiting, Medicom would mail Shadow Moon directly to one's home.
Medicom generally does this for figures that usually wouldn't really sell too well if released regularly. Doing this lets Medicom more easily estimate how many figures to produce, so that they don't overproduce them and get clogged.
Normally, this usually means a mail-away figure is something 'optional' to collectors. A figure that's of a non-essential character, such as a Rider's human alter ego, but if a collector so wishes to add that bit more 'prestige' to his collection, he could order it if he so chose to do so.
But at other times, Medicom does it simply to be jackasses, and makes the mail-away figure an actual *essential* character, such as Kamen Rider ZX or Shadow Moon right here. Doing a figure like this as a mail-away also gives Medicom greater control over their pricing. With the mail-away service also only being available to Japan, this makes importing the figures very expensive for 3rd party stores and of course, the consumer.
Thus, mail-away figures are usually an expensive fare, even more so than Medicom figures already are. But with all the fuss and trouble, mail-away figures usually become very desirable to the more hardcore collectors, being limited, and filling gaps in the collection that would otherwise never be filled.So is he any good?
Shadow Moon most definitely at the very least, looks freaking awesome. Right out of the box, the figure captures his intimidating profile extremely well, with his shiny armour and detailed ridges and nuts.
His head sculpt is *dynamite* and looks almost completely faithful to the prop's sculpting, with its green eyes and fang-like teeth in the front.
But perhaps what I find arguably more impressive than the head sculpt, is simply how accurate and intricate the whole suit of armour is. Every piece that the suit actor wore in the series and movies is represented here, and you can almost imagine where every piece goes and how it fits. From his belt, to his 'metal diaper' and his leggings, Shads' is definitely dressed to kill.
But of course, how can anyone forget those grasshopper limbs? They're all here in their full glory too, with hopper legs sprouting from his forearm guards and his ankles. This really drives the whole classic 'Kamen Riders = Grasshoppers' motif of the Showa Riders, and while he's a bad guy, there's no denying that Shadow Moon is very much a Kamen Rider in his own right.
But wait, there's more! Shadow Moon may not have too many accessories, but he most definitely comes with everything he needs, one of which is his signature weapon - The Satan Saber.
This beaut is a pretty simple looking piece, but it's still done extremely well. The handle has tiny red plastic jewels on it, with a nice, clear red blade. It even comes with a sheathe, despite it not being seen all that often - bonus points!
The Saber fits into Shads' hand comfortably and complements him so well that I rarely ever pose him without it!
Altogether, Shadow Moon and his Saber come together in one really slick, evil looking package that hurts so much, but is oh-so-good.Anything to look out for?
With a figure as intricate as this, some hiccups are unfortunately, inevitable, and Shadow Moon's no exception.
In case it wasn't obvious enough, the hopper legs on the costume are quite precarious. I've not heard of any breakage issues yet, but I really, really wouldn't want to try my luck, especially on the forearm ones.
They also came a little uneven and lopsided on my piece, especially on the ankle legs. Medicom really should have made them articulated, so one could adjust them manually, but no such luck.
It's not really noticeable, but when you have a figure as rare and *expensive* as Shadow Moon, all the small things will start to drive you crazy.
Shadow Moon's antennae are also really small, tiny, and unmovable. This can be a problem, as the ones on my piece are also somewhat uneven, and there's not much I can do about it. I also would never, ever want to imagine what would happen if he took a tumble to the floor face-first...
Shadow Moon's underlying pleather suit also doesn't seem to be of too-great a quality - it looks fairly thin and not quite as robust as the pleather suits on most of the regular Riders. Definitely don't leave him in a pose that bends his elbows too much if you don't see yourself moving him for a long period of time, as I can definitely see it flaking in the long run if 'provoked' like that.
His body, while durable enough, is pretty restricted in the costume. He can do some basic poses, but otherwise don't expect too many crazy stunts from him. But then I'm sure the suit actor had similar problems too...How much is he and is he worth it?
Shadow Moon cost big money when he was released, due to the reasons aforementioned above. He easily ran collectors a good US$300 and above, which to be honest, is a TON of cash.
These days, his prices are absolutely astronomical, especially if you're crazy enough to hit ebay. He goes for anything upwards of US$400, that is, if you can even find him.
And to be very honest, that makes him very difficult for me to recommend him to anyone who isn't a hardcore Black fan, or a completist. While he looks great, he has a couple of naggling issues (the hopper legs, the suit) that shouldn't be on a figure this expensive that hold him back some.
However despite that, he *does* look very awesome, and he makes an excellent villain to all your heroic figures, Rider or otherwise. If you are very certain that you want to get him, I highly recommend hunting other sources, such as yahoo.jp, or even getting a friend to head to Japan for you, to try to find a more reasonable deal.
Again, shop smart, and take care of him when you get him, and you'll be satisfied.Closing thoughts?
Shadow Moon is one of those figures that many people would love to have, but the pricing generally scares most of them away. He has some naggling issues, and his pricing gets pretty damn insane at times.
But he is such a prominent character in the franchise, and the figure captures his essences so well that I can't imagine any hardcore Rider fan being without him in his collection.My rating: 7/10
Next up: Ryuki/Dragon Knight!