Thursday, September 1, 2011

SIC Kiwami Tamashii Garo & Gouten Review

Fan of small scale figures, tokusatsu, and armored knights? Then, maybe you should check out Bandai's SIC Kiwami Tamashii line for Garo. Created by Keita Amemiya, also known for his work on Kamen Rider ZO & Zeiram. Garo is a different kind of Tokusatsu show, with graphic violence, nudity, and mature themes. It has a strong gothic style aesthetic shown with some of the art to some of the set designs. Its kamen rider meets devil may cry(maybe not as cool as dante though,heh) As far as tokusatsu shows go, its probably not the greatest, but its certainly not bad. If you're a tokusatsu fan at all, I reccomend giving it a shot. I enjoyed it enough to watch the series and all attached specials/films except the most recent requiem. And with that, we'll get into the review for the main titular character and his steed, Garo & Gouten.

Both figures are sold separately with Gouten just released back in June. Both are packed in the standard collector friendly packaging as all of the other SIC kiwami tamashii figures. Hasbro and some of the other companies that do 3-4.5in figures could learn a thing or two from Bandai's SIC line. A good portion of western toy packaging features carboard to plastic blister style packaging which usually leads to many simply ripping the contents out and trashing the outer remains. (how grusome,right??)
Seeing nice packaging like this is always welcoming and refreshing. Also, when units like this are on the pegs at a retailer, it looks very slick and clean. Perfect for endcaps and featured displays. I'm personally not a fan of weird shaped packaging on my figures(even to save on costs.) Though, I suppose if a company can't keep their Quality control for paint apps for numerous lines, I can't expect more,right? Besides, I'm not in the toy industry; Just another old kid nitpicking,heh^^
Garo's packaging has a nice design without being too "busy." His packaging trim is character themed as all of the other knights of the line feature an image of their helms on one side and their logo crest on the other.
The back features a few static poses along all the usual needed info,logos,barcodes,etc.
Gouten's packaging is in a much larger package and features similar packaging trim as the rest. Wonder if Zero's steed will ever get a figure release as well,hmm....
Back packaging shows a dynamic pose of gouten and featues its usage with Garo and the included accessory, zanbaken. More on that later though, ON WITH THE FIGURES!
Standing roughly around 4 inches or so, Garo fits well with other kiwami tamashii figures, but he may be a bit tall next to some of your 3.75 inch figures and perfectly fine with others. The kiwami tamashii height has always somewhat struck me as odd, but with the detail work and articulation on these figures, one can't complain too much.
Depending on which source you're comparing, Garo seems well proportioned to some and a bit too lean for others, similar to how most folks like the proportions of the gurren lagann revoltech, but the proportions weren't exactly 100% show accurate. Personally, I don't mind this as it allows room for more dynamic posing later.
Throughout the figure, tons of well sculpted details and paint work all over. It doesn't looks like many details were missed. Such a small figure to be so detailed.
His initial articulation could seem a bit underwhelming, but keep in mind, this is an armored knight. Not exactly expecting crazy ninja posing articulation here. And its not to say that this figure doesn't have decent articulation.
While the range of articulation is inhibited by the sculpt, Garo's still capable of pulling off any pose within that range realistically.
And some points of articualation were more surprising than others. The legs actually feature double jointed knees, which is always great.
The arms originally were the weakest points for me due to the articuation limitation vs applicable range. The arms feature an elbow hinge and swivel forearm, but no shoulder or upper arm swivel. Due to the shoulder armor limitation, this made the arms extremely subpar. Some quick mods to the arms fixed that no problem as the upper pegs of the elbow joints are just glued. Check out this thread to improve your garo's arm articulation.
I can't get over how detailed this figure is!
Not too many accessories for Garo, but all fitting for the figure.
We get a few hands. A pair of closed fists(left), one sword holding hand(center), and a pair of slightly gripping open hands(right). We also get his sword as well as some ornamental hanging armor pieces for the back of Garo's armor.
We also get this beautifully sculpted knight's cape.
The hanging armor pieces are part-swapped for the cape which features the pieces sculpted on it as well. The hanging shoulder pieces can also swivel for poses. The gold trim on this cape looks really great and nicely done.
The cape itself is actually semi transparent plastic which allows light to pass through the bottom of the cape's trim giving off this really cool golden radiance glow effect.
Here's a closer look at Garo's signature weapon, the fanged wolf sword. Very detailed work.
Nice painted lines and intricate sculpt.
Garo's blade fits easily into his holding hand with no issues.

The cape really adds to the cool factor of this figure ^^
The cape really gives off this regal and royal knight kinda vibe, which makes sense as Garo is the highest title for the Makai knights.
And whats a makai knight without his trusty armored steed? Well, still a makai knight...anyways, onto the madou horse, Gouten!
Gouten is just as impressive as its rider, very detailed sculpt and paint work.
All the details on this steed are quite amazing.
The different shades of gold really add to it as well.
Gouten features additional articulation on its shoulder armor for only one purpose with another accessory...
The holes under the hinges are connectors for wings to transform Gouten into a winged steed! How do you get these wings since they're not included???
Sad news- the wings are part of a Tamashii Web exclusive, the SIC Kiwami Tamashii Winged golden knight, Garo. If you dig these, better hurry as prices will only go up for exclusives as time goes on.(my poor wallet!!!)
Back to Gouten, this is my favorite sculpted part of Gouten. The design of the armor plating is just so well done. The mane is also really cool. It really gives off this fiery mane feel to the figure.
Neck is ball jointed with a decent range.
Neck to head features and double hinge ball joint to really help Gouten emote for poses.
The mouth is of course jointed to open via hinge at the jawline.
The armor below the jawline also features a hinge as well!
All the legs of Gouten have the joints you'd expect from a horse.
So there's quite the number of joints on this accessory of a figure.
The rear legs are no different, also well jointed.
Behind the rear hooves, is additional armor which can hinge around sorta like heel spurs.
Tail is ball jointed but range is only that of a hinge joint.

Even the bottom of the Gouten and its hooves are detailed and painted. Lots of nice joints, but that kinda hurts its stability. Gouten has trouble standing.
"don't look at me, DON'T LOOK AT ME!"
If the joints were more stiff or had a hexagonal style peg in the circular holes to simulate ratchet joints, the figure could really take advantage of all its great articulation. Not to say it can't do a few cool poses...

This pose will require possibly two things: you cheat by using the tail to stabilize the pose, or you use an action stand of some sort. Oh, and lots and lots of patience.
Promo pics show Gouten with a chained reins. You get this threaded line. Not as cool, but its fine I guess. Gouten totally seems hit and miss, right? What could possibly make me really like this figure? how about...
Zanbaken, Garo's sword transformed into this crazy long buster style sword is an amazing addition to Garo's accessory count. Before this release, the Zanbaken was only available via a magazine exclusive or a tamashii web exclusive of taiga garo with the sword long ago. For me, this was reason enough to get Gouten. It was more like getting this hard to get accessory and getting Garo's steed as a bonus,heh ^^
Thanks to the scale and size of the figure and the accessories, the sword is light enough to pose absolutely no issues with posing.
As much as I like the regular fanged wolf sword, I think this sword suits Garo much better. SO COOL.

Even cooler with the cape!

Now onto the most frustrating part. Mounting Garo onto Gouten. The loose legs on Gouten really become a problem once you try and mount garo onto it. There's also no actual mounting point, only grooves on the horse where the saddle would be that mold to Garo's crotch.I ended up putting holes in Garo's feet and pegs in Gouten's feet guards for Garo. It added enough stability to make mounting easier, but posing is still very time consuming.

It is possible to mount garo with his cape, but its an incredibly tight fit so its not really recommended unless you're as patient as a saint.

So final thoughts:

In their individual releases, the figures looks amazing and have plenty of joints. But they're not perfect. Garo lack some movement in the arms and the neck which you can fix easily, but you probably would prefer not to have to do it. Both figures could have tighter joints so some friction increasing joint sessions are a must(rub clear paint, super glue, clear nail polish,etc into joint to make joints more stiff).

Out of the Two, Garo is a much stronger figure and more solid. Gouten's weak joints are a very big turn off. If not for the zanbaken add-on, Gouten would be an instant " do not get" for me. I can only recommend both to big fans of Garo. That and for folks who don't mind putting some work into their figures. If you do, Garo is pretty great and Gouten's major problems can be handled. Now, if you personally prefer bigger scale figures, save your money and get the S.H.Figuarts version instead That thing is like a work of art. Personally as a garo fan and as someone who like small scale figures more, I didn't mind putting the work into these figures and am personally glad I did as my issues with these figues are no longer an issue.

Thanks for viewing ^^