Thursday, January 12, 2012

Mugenbine DX Mugen Pharaoh Part 1

Alternate Transformers

While the design of HCM-Pro Seravee Gundam is uniquely creative, as evidenced from the transformation and combination of the two Gundams and the weapon, but it's nothing when compared to this figure, or the entire product series to be exact. ^^

This is DX Mugen Pharaoh from Bandai Candy Toy's Mugenbine series.

On a side note, the final result of this Mugenbine candy toy item can in some way be considered as an action figure, which is why I made a rough comparison of it with HCM-Pro Seravee Gundam just now, but it's definitely more than that. ^^

The Mugenbine series is certainly not as active right now as it was two or three years ago. I remember there was a period back then when there would be an average one or two releases per month from this series. As of now, Machine Robo Next Magnum Police to be released this month will be the latest successor of the series. Technically it's no longer part of the Mugenbine series, since it's labeled as the first release from the Machine Robo Next series, but the title Mugenbine can still be seen on its official website, so I still consider him to be part of that "family". ^^ The product idea is still very much the same anyway, it's just marketing tricks and product re-branding at work here. Anyway, the previous release before Magnum Police was Evolbine 3 Mugen Lightning, which came out in early July 2011, and the two release before Mugen Lighting: Evolbine Mugen Burning and Evolbine 2 Mugen Tornado were released in August 2010 and January 2011 respectively. The decline observable from the long gaps in between new releases is pretty obvious there.

Since I started it at the beginning of this posting, it's hard not to compare the outcome of the lineup for both HCM-Pro and Mugenbine series and notice their somewhat sad similarity in product boom and decline. ^^; In merchandising, or business in general, it's pretty normal though.

Anyway, the design of the different Mugenbine releases is really creative. In a nutshell, each new release in the series comes as a set, and each set has a few figures that can transform into various forms via part-swapping. When all the figures come together and have a grand mix-match of parts, you get a big combined robot, which is always the title robot indicated for that particular set. For example, for this DX Mugen Pharaoh set, the boss is called Mugen Pharaoh. ^^

In addition to the transformation gimmick, there are parts with simple swivel, peg or ball-type joints that allow the different figures and combined robot to move. If you follow the assembly instruction closely and get the exact intended robot, there is room reserved for all the joint areas, so in many ways, the combined robot can move just as well as many non-transformable action figures. ^^

Of course you can also choose to not follow the instruction and go ahead with your own mix-and-match creations. ^^ On top of that, the major pegs and slots incorporated on all the figures are compatible with each others, so you can add in a couple more sets, either the same one or other sets from the product lineup to realize your own crazy ideas.

And that's very much why they call it Mugenbine. ^^

Individual creativity aside, the intrinsic design of the various releases is very cool. Mugen Pharaoh as one of the earlier releases, which features a few figures with the theme of ancient Egyptian mythology coming together to form a robot Pharaoh, can be considered a rather simplistic design. ^^; You can clearly see an "evolution" of how things get more and more advanced in subsequent releases after Mugen Pharaoh. For example, Mugen Enou (ムゲンエンオウ) is formed by combining Mugen Ashura (combination of six figures with ancient Indian mythology theme from the Fighting God Beasts set) and Mugen Ryufire (combination of six figures with fiery fire theme from the Fire Dragon set). Evolbine 3 Mugen Lightning mentioned earlier on has three forms for each individual figure, and all of them can still combine into a giant robot, or its alternate form of a dragon. The different vehicles in Magnum Police can be freely assembled into different limbs of the robot, so the combination possibilities is pretty much limitless, especially if you get more than one set of that. The vehicles can also combine with each others as well, so folks who are not into combining robot can have combining vehicles as well. ^^

All the Mugen craziness! ^^

Having listed a few "crazy" ones, ^^ Mugen Pharaoh seems much more "subtle" in the series. ^^ That certainly doesn't make it any less interesting though. ^^ Personally, instead of looking at the combination possibilities, I actually like the linkage of ancient Egyptian mythology theme established on all the figures and the combined robot more. ^^ And among all the different releases, Mugen Pharaoh still stands out to me as one of the better combined robot designs. ^^ In favor of more combination possibilities and higher playability, more pegs and slots can be found on figures in newer sets released after Mugen Pharaoh, which is understandable, but not really appealing to look at, especially for that one form that you like and prefer to display it to be. Also, in favor of more alternate forms per figure or as a set, some figures just don't look as good in their combined robot form in my opinion. When so many gimmicks must be considered and incorporated into the releases, something has to go for the equation to be balanced. For Mugen Pharaoh, it's the final look of the combined robot that received the emphasis, which is the determining factor for me in getting it too. ^^

As a candy toy release, each figure comes in its own little box, but as you can see, that's not the case for this version of Mugen Pharaoh. ^^ This is actually the reissued box set with change in the shade of gold used for some of the parts, which came out in November 2009. I actually knew about this box set when covering some news about it on my old blog before the release date. ^^ The original separated figures were released in January 2008. The price for the entire set (1,575 Yen inclusive of tax) is actually the same if you get the box set or the separate figures.

A bit of holographic effect can be seen on the box, to show off Mugen Pharaoh's weapon effect I suppose.

The holographic effect on the box sort-of gives the box art image a CGI-like look, even though the action pose shown is really possible with the actual figure. ^^

Introduction of the figures and Mugen Pharaoh on the back of the box.

More shiny effect to be seen from the eyes, mouth, staff and sting of the different figures.

Various other combination possibilities are also shown on the back of the box. ^^

Design on the various sides of the box.

The figure's name printed on the flap is immediately visible when the box is opened, which is a very nifty design in my opinion. ^^

Lineup featuring a few other Mugenbine releases.

While the box is obviously newly designed for this box set release, the packaging of the different figures certainly aren't.

Each figure is sealed within its own plastic package, plus a separate one that holds all the foil stickers.

Figure No. 1: Mugen Anubis

Figure 2: Mugen Sphinx

Figure 3: Mugen Ra (falcon)

Figure 4: Mugen Scorpion

Figure 5: Mugen Sobek (crocodile)

Five foil stickers for all the figures.

A two-page instruction sheet for the assembly of each figure, and of course the combination to form Mugen Pharaoh.

Since there are five figures in this set, the first part of this review series will be on individual figures, followed by of course the grand gattai. ^^ Previously, I had plans of panel-lining and painting the figures as well. There were reviews on this that I read of back in the days when Mugenbine was very popular, but looking at the amount of work I have right now and the time I can spare for this extra work, I think I'll just be sticking with foil stickers for everything. ^^;

I just want my Mugen Pharaoh! XD

Before that, a look at all the figures in their "plain" form first. ^^

[Mugen Anubis]

The arms are still attached to the runner.

All the parts to form Mugen Anubis.


The face of Mugen Pharaoh that is concealed beneath Anubis's head.

The head moves via a ball-type joint inside the neck.

Standard, somewhat limited articulation design for the arms and shoulders.

With no skirt armor restricting the legs' movement, the articulation is pretty amazing for a candy toy figure. ^^
But despite the awesome design, Mugen Anubis will not be the one forming Mugen Pharaoh's waist. ^^

A bit of action poses for Mugen Anubis with the staff.

A makeshift alternate "beast mode" for Mugen Anubis. ^^

Moving on to the other four figures in this set in the next part of the review. ^^

1 comment:

LEon said...

Hey this is really a cool series and it is the first time I see it! From Bandai and I didnt even know it. Cool man!