Today we continue our look at my long quest to find the "ultimate" Ultraman figure. One thing I didn't mention was that there had been vinyls for years; in the late 90's, the standard Bandais were fine for play, but usually only had articulation at the arms. They were inexpensive, and had a certain charm to them, but I wanted more...
|The front of the box (identical for all three in the series)|
Enter Banpresto, who has made tons of great Ultraman stuff over the years, including video games. Around 2000 or so, I got wind of these "super-articulated" figures, and every description at the time couldn't help from using word "Mego," because the closest comparison with an American product was the old Mego dolls from the 1970's. This is actually a pretty good comparison, although these figures are smaller in scale, at around 6" tall, but they do have bodies with cloth costumes, just like the old Megos. There were three in the series: Ultraman, Ultraseven, and Tiga, who was still the Elmo of the series at the time...wait, not that I mean he was molesting children; rather that he was overused in marketing!
|The back of the boxes, with "action poses"|
The problem is, they are much more frail in comparison than their American counterparts. Even a bit emaciated (the calves and forearms are super-thin). The joints tend to get loose very quickly, and they refuse to stand normally. While they are uniquely designed, and look good, you would need doll stands to display them. The joints are pretty fragile as well, and the plastic used in the pins of the joints is very cheap. I don't much like how Ultraman's wrists (and ankles) show as if he is wearing his little brother's costume.
Here is Ultraman and Seven facing a 1994 Bandai Baltan. It took several minutes to get them to stand, and even then, Ultraman is still looking downward. Oh well.
|Because of Seven's gloves, he doesn't have the wrist gap that Ultraman suffers from (the costume tucks under). However, he just won't stand up straight, and has to be sort of hunched over to get him to stand.|
|But, it's Ultraseven, so it's instantly cool.|
|Also, his fin (or Eye Slugger, for you obsessive types) is removable. A nightmare for kids, but a really cool addition for collectors. Not that he can actually HOLD it, though...|
Overall, I love the uniqueness of these figures, and the original concept, and would buy them again. Wait until we look at the Ultra Act figures, though; they are ground-breakingly amazing.