Monday, December 2, 2013

S.I.C. Kiwami Damashii Kamen Rider Hibiki Part 1

A weird character design for a weird start of the product series

Reviewing another small-sized collectible after MS Gundam Seed Heroines 9: Lacus Clyne. ^^

Came out in January 2009 (and subsequently reissued in July 2010) as the pilot release of its action figure series, this is S.I.C. Kiwami Damashii Kamen Rider Hibiki. ^^ I received this figure in late September 2011, so I believe it's the reissued version.

With over 30 regular and limited releases since its debut in 2009, the S.I.C. Kiwami Damashii line has become a very important merchandise series for Tamashii Nations. Similar to the connection between Super Robot Chogokin and Soul of Chogokin in terms of its main objective, S.I.C. Kiwami Damashii is the "miniaturized" version of S.I.C., featuring smaller-sized Kamen Rider action figures with S.I.C. design treatment. Initially, I viewed its creation as a mean to fill in the gap between irregular releases from the "main" series (S.I.C.), which is limited by large size, high level of details expected by the collectors, and of course expensive selling prices of its releases. The release issues with S.I.C. were very apparent in 2008, as only six items came out of that series for the entire year, inclusive of four from "Kamen Rider Den-O", which was the Kamen Rider TV series broadcasted the year before. While the scarcity in releases gives all the figures from that line a sense of exclusiveness, it's obviously not good for business. ^^; The issues were seemingly addressed by the newly created S.I.C. Kiwami Damashii - smaller releases, omission of die-cast materials, fewer details, fewer gimmicks and option parts, resulting in much lower production cost and selling price for each figure. It's much easier for folks who are already running out of space to store or to display their Kamen Rider action figures too. ^^ The rationale behind its creation and benefits of the series in general seem to apply to Super Robot Chogokin, in relation to Soul of Chogokin, which is why I mentioned it earlier on.

Oddly though, unlike Super Robot Chogokin which is still going strong at the moment, S.I.C. Kiwami Damashii seems to slow down a lot in terms of its releases this year - just four releases, all from "Kamen Rider Kuuga", with three of them being Tamashii Web Shop limited items. ^^; It seems to have inherited the same exclusiveness in terms of releases from its main series, and that represents a very obvious change in merchandising focus. At the same time, the S.H. Figuarts series is going stronger than ever before. Perhaps the solid support for that series prompted Tamashii Nations to expand on it more, especially after the inclusion of so many other non-Kamen Rider character series into that action figure line in the last two years or so (and the collection is still growing ^^). The attention seems to be drawn away from S.I.C. and S.I.C. Kiwami Damashii with so many releases from the S.H. Figuarts line, causing them to be pushed to the side, at this moment that is. ^^ However, with the everlasting support for Kamen Rider in general, I don't think the two series are going to stay limited (in terms of release number and availability) for too long. ^^

Going back to this particular S.I.C. Kiwami Damashii action figure, the selection of Kamen Rider Hibiki as the pilot release of the series seemed like a mystery to me. ^^ There's nothing wrong about the design of Kamen Rider Hibiki itself, but having a Kamen Rider with its TV series ended more than three years prior to the start of this action figure line, and its S.I.C. version released for just as long as the debuting figure for the new product line is odd. Perhaps the folks at Tamashii Nations were throwing darts at a board in order to decide who to be selected. XD However, the weird design of Kamen Rider Hibiki itself (weirder than most other Kamen Riders that is ^^;) does seem like an interesting subject to test the viability of realizing Kamen Riders with S.I.C. design treatment into smaller-sized action figures. Perhaps that's the simple rationale behind Kamen Rider Hibiki's selection. ^^

I still think that the dartboard reason is more fun though. XD

I only watched a few random episodes of "Kamen Rider Hibiki". While I prefer the look of his upgraded form, Armed Hibiki to the initial blue and red suit with silver armors, it's a very awesome design nonetheless. Its mask, which seems like a piece of clear purple glass with red sharp roots crawled over it from both sides is very unique, but beautifully so in my opinion, especially its gradient purple color scheme. Its unique look still holds up till today I think, even though there are other weird designs from series like "Kamen Rider Decade", "Kamen Rider OOO", and "Kamen Rider Fourze". Very much like Kamen Rider Kiva, the design of Kamen Rider Hibiki always seemed to me like it was meant for the S.I.C. treatment right from the get-go, which was indeed released in March 2006. A beautiful S.I.C. action figure with great design and plenty of gimmicks it is, one which I'm still hoping to get one day. ^^ This S.I.C. Kiwami Damashii figure does seem to capture much of the larger original version's look and feel, albeit much smaller in size and with fewer special features incorporated. For liking the character and its miniature S.I.C. design, I added this S.I.C. Kiwami Damashii version of Kamen Rider Hibiki to my collection, while searching and waiting for its bigger equivalence. ^^

A very small overall package it is. The figure and almost all of the accessories included can be seen through the front window.

Closer look at the figure and accessories through the front window.

Side and bottom views of the package.

Simple introduction of the figure on the back of the package.

Very brief introduction to the main series (S.I.C.) and the pretty much defunct S.I.C. Takumi Damashii (匠魂) gashapon line.

Comparison of the package design to that of Kamen Rider Blade King Form (released in September 2010).

The paper "holder" and separate tray that contains the figure.

Unlike the other four Kiwami Damashii action figures reviewed in the past (Garo, Dan, Kamen Rider Blade Jack Form, and Zero), the folded instruction sheet for Kamen Rider Hibiki is not hidden inside the backdrop between the cards, but is placed at the bottom of the package, sandwiched between the tray and its cover.

Front view of the package content.

Front view of the package content without the cover.

Closeups on the content.

Rear view of the package content.

Closeups on the content.

A simple hard paper cutout as the package's backdrop.

The folded instruction sheet.

The instruction sheet shows the package content and how to configure Kamen Rider Hibiki's weapons.

Straight out of box S.I.C. Kiwami Damashii Kamen Rider Hibiki.

A look at this S.I.C. Kiwami Damashii action figure's accessories and option parts in the next posting. ^^

No comments: