Something a little bit different for the table top this week, and my first ever triple review! This time around we have the Unofficial Sentai Akiba Rangers by way of SH Figuarts. I’ve often seen these particular figures for sale at discounted prices, so I thought I’d watch the show and at least get familiar with the characters and setting before picking them up. Maybe even figure out why they’re often in the discount/sales section. Also, I figured it would be easier to review them all at once since they share a lot of similarities.
I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised with how funny the show turned out! The Unofficial Sentai Akiba Rangers show itself plays out like a comedy/parody series that both pays homage and sends up the Toei Company’s Super Sentai franchise that is still popular in Japan to this day. The story mainly revolves around the three main characters who get chosen to be Rangers, but their squad hasn’t been officially recognised as a Super Sentai group. So it’s up to them to find their own bad guys and fight them until they can get official recognition, as well as a sweet TV time-slot (and also merchandising 😉 ). The trouble is… that they can only do battle in the “Delusionary World”, which sort of complicates things further.
It was the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (This show adapted stock footage from the Japanese TV series Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger) that made Super Sentai famous in the West, and it’s something that’s later made fun of in the show. After having watched and enjoyed the show (two seasons worth), I’m glad to finally have figures of the Rangers in hand to review.
The figures themselves are very good representations of the characters. Bandai/SH Figuarts have made figures for other Super Sentai characters in the past, so figures of this quality are a bit of a no-brainer for them. Out of the packet, the figures feel sturdy and the joints feel like they have a pretty good range of motion, mostly due to the form-fitting nature of their outfits. In hand, they definitely feel like they can hold all the poses that they can do in the show which is pretty cool, and what you want from figures of this nature.
Each ranger’s outfit is mostly comprised of their signature colour (red, blue or yellow) with black boots and black gloves. Akiba Red features a mostly all black and red outfit with a silver belt and “mouth plate” on the helmet. Akiba Blue and Akiba Yellow also have a silver belt and mouth plate, only they both have white areas breaking up their colours a bit. Each ranger also has the same transparent/coloured plastic window over their chest which sports the Akiba Ranger logo. Akiba Red is also a bit taller/bigger than Blue and Yellow which makes sense from a scale point of view. Each character’s helmet has “sculpted hair” instead of the usual common theme/motif that the more official teams tend to go with, which is a bit different.
Each figure comes with a selection of different interchangeable hands with minor variations between sets. They all come with 2 different white scarves that plug into a little ball joint located at the back of their collars. This particular ball joint is very tiny and appears to be quite fragile, so extra care must be taken when swapping out scarves. Also included with each figure is their very own Moe Moe Zukyuun gun that not only facilitates their transformations in the show, but can also be used as a weapon and communicator in battle.
They don’t really come with a lot of accessories, since they tend to fight bare-handed or with their guns. Although, during the course of the show they acquire new (Outrageous!) weapons, the Dekaranger D-Wappa, the Boukenger Bouken Scooper and the Jetman Jet Winger, which are included with SH Figuarts Deka Red, Bouken Red and Red Hawk respectively. It is also confirmed that these weapons will also be able to combine to form the Outrageous Cannon!
The Rangers all move quite well and their joints are sturdy enough to hold most poses. They all share similar joints which makes it easy for doing group poses. The head is connected to the top of the neck piece with a ball joint, which is then connected to the torso with another ball joint. These joints allow for full rotation, but can only offer minimal tilting in either direction, which is mostly due to the shape of the helmet. The collar also hinders neck movement which can be a bit annoying at times.
The shoulders are connected to the torso with a ball-joint/hinge combination which offers a pretty good range of movement. The arms can rotate fully and can raise up to about 90 degrees at the sides. Red has a soft plastic covering at his shoulders which can help in pushing the articulation a little bit further, but the girls’ shoulders are moulded in a hard plastic which can be a bit limiting.
There’s a bicep swivel of sorts in Red’s upper arms which is hidden quite well by the design. I wasn’t completely sure if he had a bicep swivel at first, the joint was a little bit stuck and I didn’t want to force it too much. The girls have their bicep swivel inside the upper arm which works for them, but the range of movement is not as good as Red’s.
The elbows have a double joint which gives a really nice range, they can pretty much touch their own shoulders. At the wrists there’s another combination hinge/ball joint which works pretty well. The ball joint at the end of the wrists also makes it easier to swap hands around. The chest and waist have ball joints which give full rotation (at the waist) and also give a decent tilt in each direction
The hips have ball joints that offer a decent range of motion, but with the girls it seems to be hindered a bit by their skirts. Luckily, the skirts are made of a soft plastic so at least there’s a little bit of give there. It’s easy to pop the legs off the joint while trying to get into a “high kick” sort of pose, but at least it’s easy to pop them back on again.
At the knees there’s a double joint which gives a pretty good bend. The range isn’t as good as the double joint in the elbows, but it’s still pretty good. It’s funny that these sort of double joints seems to work well with the smaller-scale figures than with something larger like the Play Arts Kai range (see: peanut knees/elbows). I was expecting a little bit more articulation in the ankles due to the dynamic nature of these figures, but the combination that they have there is okay I suppose. The feet can rotate and tilt a bit and the rocker helps to turn them on an angle which helps with stability. There’s also a hinge near the toes which is a nice touch and it’s something that seems to be a mainstay with the more poseable figures these days.
I’m having a lot of fun with the Akiba Rangers. I started off not knowing anything about them and passed them off as just another Super Sentai series in a long (looong) line of Super Sentai series. In true proverbial fashion, I watched the show not knowing what to expect, and was really not disappointed. The show doesn’t take itself too seriously and the humour can be really cheesy at times, but that’s all part of its charm. It’s also worth noting that I was quite impressed with the action scenes as well. It’s your typical Sentai/Power Rangers fare with the martial arts and the sparks/explosions when characters get it, but the way that some of the characters get thrown around makes me really glad I’m not a stuntman. Some of those hits/landings looked pretty painful.
The figures on the other hand, I was expecting the usual high standard of figure from SH Figuarts, and again I was not disappointed. Once again, the figures follow in a long (looong) line of Super Sentai figures made by SH Figuarts, so it’s really no surprise that they continue with the same degree of quality. They are all very good representations of their respective characters and it’s pretty easy to get them to do their signature poses. It’s also worth keeping an eye out for their transforming mecha Itassha Robo, because what’s not to love about a Toyota Prius that’s decked out in anime decals and transforms into a goofy-looking robot?
It’s still possible to find the Rangers for a decent price, so getting the crew together wouldn’t be too difficult (maybe they’re less expensive since they’re “unofficial”?).