Three things cannot be retrieved: The arrow released from the bow. The word spoken in haste. The missed opportunity. – Hazrat Ali
I have to confess, I wasn’t an immediate fan of the Bandai Tamashii Nations Samurai line when it first appeared. Those who know me, know the bulk of my collection are highly detailed 1/6th scale figures. At 7″, they are also too large to be compatible with 1/12th scale figures (Hasbro, S.H. Figuarts, etc.) which I have a smaller collection of. But they looked so cool, and I couldn’t help but pick one up when I had a discount at my local action figure store. And now…I’m kind of obsessed. If you are as well, you may not have to read this review, but if you’re on the fence or just want to know if he’s worth your hard-earned money, read on.
WHAT’S IN THE BOX
• Samurai styled Stormtrooper Archer
• Folding Bow
• FIve arrows
• Katana and Scabbard
• Eight hands; pair of fists, closed grip, open grip, bow-holding hand, arrow nocking hand
SCULPT – 10/10
As with all the Tamashii Samurai Stormtroopers (so far), the sculpt is fantastic. This one differs from all the other releases in that it’s topped with a jingasa; a cone-shaped hat normally worn by samurai while traveling or encamped. It was typically lacquered to make it waterproof. Although it would normally not be placed ON a helmet it still makes sense, in that the archer would need to keep rain out of his eyes to have a clearer sight of his distant target. Then again, this being a Stormtrooper, means he’d probably miss anyway.
PAINT APPLICATION – 10/10
Superb details, finishes and nice touches of weathering are fairly ubiquitous to this line and this figure is no exception.
The details are really amazing for a figure of this scale. Every connecting knot on the armor is painted very precisely, weathering, including rust on the shoulder pauldron/shield, is on-point and there are very few, if any, blemishes. This is the quality you’re paying for. It’s all very well sealed and you can put these guys through their paces without too much worry about chipping/scratching.
Stormtroopers have never made for the most articulate figures. Armour covering almost every square inch save the joints doesn’t exactly make them the stuff World Chase Tag Championships are made of.
But these guys are a little better in that respect than your average aim-challenged trooper. You get a little more than a 90º bend at the elbow, shoulders rotate 360º and have a good range of motion upward limited slightly by the shoulder armor on the left arm (which is also attached with a ball joint and moves nicely to accommodate arm movement.) and moreso on the right shoulder with the large “sode“/ shoulder guard.
The head movement is decent for the amount of armor on the helmet. The neck guard (shikoro) is made up of three stepped bands which will collapse a bit to allow the trooper to look up a bit more than if it had been a solid piece. It also looks very authentic and is just one more attention to detail on this figure.
A ball-joint swivel waist gives full rotation but only limited backward bend and even less forward due to the upper waist armor. The lower waist armor, called “kusazuri” is flexible and separate from the thigh pads (haidate) and allows for some very good ball-jointed thigh movement. Knees are not only hinged (about 100º of swing) but also swivel right/left about 30º in total which may help with some precise poses. Ankles are ball-jointed and hinged for upward/downward positions. The joints are nice and solid. The archer holds a pose well and has surprisingly good balance for the top-heavy look of the body.
The open grip hand pairs hold the katana and/or the scabbard well. And the arrow gripping hand convincingly holds the arrow in place. My one big gripe is with the hand meant to hold the bow. While it’s not entirely easy to get the bow in the grip to begin with, once you manage to…it’s loose. The bow tends to flop around in the grip and it’s nearly impossible to get it to hold in a natural position. My solution has been to use some blue tack or other tacky material on the grip to hold it in place for shooting or shelf posing.
PRICE POINT – 9/10
Starting at around $70, the Tamashii Samurai figures fall into the higher end range of under 12″ figures. But, like one of Bandai’s other line of figures, S.H. Figuarts, the value is evidenced in the attention to detail and build quality.
If you do purchase one (and don’t you want to now?!) you can look forward to them holding their value very well for the foreseeable future. This is a popular line and a limited run makes the aftermarket prices soar for authentic pieces.
If you are purchasing one second-handed – or even “new” on ebay or the like – beware that there is a well-stocked knock-off market for these figures. If the price seems too good to be true – it’s likely a fake. Be sure to ask if you’re in doubt and make sure returns are accepted if you receive an inauthentic piece. You will likely be able to tell by the loose joints or shoddy build of the phonies.
OVERALL DESIGN – 10/10
It’s…beautiful. Despite it not being able to hold its weapon of choice well and the lack of a bowstring (which likely would have been a problem anyway) it is now my favorite figure in this line. The cone-shaped jingasa helmet, the wild shoulder armor and the huge Imperial symbol on its chest just make this guy stand out so sharply on the shelf even next to his brethren. If you have any of these figures, you already know you need this one. And if you’re contemplating getting into them, this is a great one to start with.
Just be warned; like the arrow in the opening quote, your innocence cannot be retrieved once you are entrapped by these Imperial samurais!
Trevor is a New York based Creative Director and owner of The Brand Counselors. He has a growing collection of 75+ 1:6th scale stock and custom figures (and more and more Lego sets). Toy photography melds his childhood dreams of comic book illustration and film directing with his design talents and – in his mind – justifies the money he spends on these things. He has been featured on CNN.com and Spoiler Free Movie Sleuth. When he’s not shooting, he enjoys kayaking with his wife, catching up on good TV and building seemingly endless custom figures.