The Guardian of the Absolute Universe joins the S.H. MonsterArts super articulated action figure line in his incarnation from the 1996 film, Gamera 2: Attack of the Legion, sequel to the previous year's Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (1995).
Gamera's inclusion into the S.H. MonsterArts line is long overdue and opens up many brand new possibilities for the series - like, just imagine of an S.H. MonsterArts Legion? Or how about Iris from Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris (1999)?
So how does this heap of turtle meat stack up against the many figures that have come before it? Let us take a look!
First, we'll take a look at Gamera's box. Interestingly the packaging design is pretty much the same as that of the Godzilla figure releases of the past year. I find this particularly intriguing considering that figures such as the S.H. MonsterArts Alien, Predator and King Kong have come in boxes that have entirely different designs to differentiate them from the Godzilla releases.
I'm quite fine with how Gamera's box remains consistent with the Godzilla box designs.
And now onto the figure itself!
Gamera is certainly one impressive figure. It is much larger than previous speculated. Body size is perhaps the main reason for that. It is still shorter than most of the Godzilla releases (which we'll get to later,) but the attention to detail given to it by suit sculptor, Sinichi Wakasa, is certainly most impressive. The skin folds, facial details, claws and such are sculpted to perfection.
When we turn the figure around to look at it from the back, we get a glance at Gamera's distinctive shell, which has quite a bit of detail in of itself.
Gamera's facial details have been perfectly replicated on this figure. The eyes are a glossy white with green irises. The teeth and tusks are meticulously painted individually.
What I found pretty neat, in regards to overall detailing on this figure, is that the claws have a nice color gradient to them. They start out with a dirty brown at the base where they meet the skin, and then brighten up as they sharpen.
The articulation on the S.H. MonsterArts Gamera (1996) is, without a doubt, amazing. Besides the normal, jaw, and leg articulation, the tongue inside the figure's mouth can be adjusted. The tail is fully segmented, allowing one to position it in anyway they like, and there is so much range to the joints that dynamic posing (as seen above) can be easily achieved without the need for a stand and base.
One of the most brilliant aspects about this figure is that you can open its shell on its underside to reveal Gamera's mana core. As a word of caution, however, the shell pieces can easily fall out of their ball joints if handled too rough. It took me a bit of time to get the shell open just right. Also, if fiddled around too much, the joints become loose and the shell segments might open up when leaned forward.
However, the result is pretty great and one of the highlights of this figure. The core itself is semi-translucent. While a light-up gimmick has not been implemented into this figure (much to my personal chagrin) customizers have succeeded in adding in LED lights inside the figure to give it a light-up effect.
When scaled with the S.H. MonsterArts Godzilla (1995) [Birth ver.] Gamera stands a tad shorter, however, this scaling seems natural since this incarnation of Gamera stands at around 80 meters, shorter than the 100 meter tall Godzilla. These two figures go great together when pitted against each other in battle dioramas - which you'll see at the end of this review!
In regards to accessories, Gamera does pack quite a punch! First we'll take a look at his Plasma Fire Ball Effect Part. The fire ball itself is well sculpted the effect part fits perfectly into Gamera's mouth, securing it in place. The base is recycled from the Atomic Breath effect parts for the S.H. MonsterArts Godzilla figures. It was recolored to better accompany the fire ball. Instead of a jointed Tamashii Stand, we're given a pole. It's certainly different from what we've been given before, but limits one's ability to create dynamic poses with Gamera unleashing its signature fire ball attack.
Not to worry, however. One can easily swap out the pole for the normal Tamashii Stand.
Next we have a set of parts to transform Gamera into its flying form. The procedure to change out parts is relatively simple. Replace the arms with the wings, and then the lower half of the body can be pulled out to make way for its bio-jets. Finally one just needs to plug in the flight stand into the flame base and there you have it!
If one feels a bit more adventurous and wants Gamera's flying form to be displayed higher than what's given, then one can plug in the flight stand into one of the larger buildings in the Godzilla Effect 2 or Toho Weapons 2 sets. It's stable enough to hold Gamera if balanced properly.
So, what else is there to say? The S.H. MonsterArts Gamera (1996) is certainly another excellent addition to the figure line. Hopefully this is the first in a line of Heisei Gamera figures that Tamashii Nations will eventually reveal over time.
Is it recommendable? HIGHLY! This is a fantastic figure. It's definitely right up there as one of the best S.H. MonsterArts figures, in my opinion, next to Godzilla 2000 Millennium and Kiryu.
Also be sure to check out Shusuke Kaneko's Gamera trilogy from 1995-1999. They are among the best-of-the-best when it comes to Kaiju films and tokusatsu special effects overall. You will not regret it!
NOTE - Forgive me if this review felt a bit rushed. Bad weather last week has caused problems with our internet connection and I had to write this review in a limited amount of time.