TMMN Reviews: Bandai S.H. Figuarts Mega Man Zero Figure (Warning: Image-Heavy)

Well, this has turned into a fine mess. Not the figure, I mean; rather, the situation leading up to this review.

You're probably thinking to yourself "Why this figure? Why now? And what about Alexx's "Facts & Figures" reviews?"

Following my video review of Bandai's D-Arts Ultimate Armor Mega Man X figure, I had some hopes of doing video reviews of figures as a regular thing. Truth be told, that was longer ago than I realized, and as I tried to pull things together, the things I needed just kept drifting further and further apart. I waited as days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months, and along the way, other things came up that led to them being pushed to the background. All the while, though, it's been eating at me.

I've given up the video idea for now, and I'm going oldschool with my review of this and the other things I've had sitting around, waiting for a video series that would never materialize. Instead, I'm just going to try to finally get these figures done and give them the long overdue attention they deserve, hopefully easing my conscience a bit as we head into 2017 (so far, it could be going better).

Oh, and as for Alexx's reviews? He's still doing them; in fact, he's got another in the works as we speak as we try to better tweak the format for this site and its nuances. So please look forward to those as I do my thing here for the time being.

On with the show!

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Too late for boxing day, sadly.

Double-O Zero in...

Not an ounce of fat on him...

"Look, Zero, we've told you before: You can't have a Sentai team with no one but yourself!"

First, of course, we have the box. As striking as the unusual (for Mega Man) orange/red deco is, and much like with Ultimate Armor X, this one isn't so great for displaying the figure, given the large decorative "Z" that adorns the box's front, obscuring part of the figure and its accessories.

Besides the color scheme, the biggest difference is Bandai's change from the D-Arts line to making it a part of the regular S.H. Figuarts line -- possibly the first and last of the Mega Man releases to do so. The Mega Man Zero is featured prominently beneath the character itself, and in case anyone was tempted to call him by the name of the series, the tag above the Bandai logo reminds you that he's just Zero.

As usual, the sides and back of the box feature pictures of the figure emulating some of the most iconic poses struck over the course of the series, primarily from the first game, given that's where his accessories hail from. Ah, if only there were accessory packs to give us the Chain Rod, Recoil Rod, and maybe a second Z-Saber.

Your parents help you hook it up. Then again, these days, you might help your parents hook it up.

In addition to instructions (now featuring English!), the S.H. Figuarts Mega Man Zero Zero figure comes with everything you see here.

You've got the base figure, his signature ponytail, an interchangeable "shouting" face, three sets of interchangeable hands, the Z-Saber, the Buster Shot, the Shield Boomerang, and the Triple Rod spear.

While I don't have a size comparison handy, this Zero is actually just a little shorter than the Ultimate Armor X figure by about a head, if even that.

As noted above, Zero's golden mane does not come attached; instead, you need to plug it into the back of his helmet.

The neat thing about his hair here is that it's actually articulated. I don't know if the Mega Man X Zero figures featured this, but as best as I can tell from pictures online, he doesn't -- or at the very least, not to this degree, since they're much bushier, solid pieces.

There are four points overall: Two strands each have their own on a hinge joint which connects to a solid piece, which connects by another hinge to the double-balled piece above. And, when plugged in, that acts as the last point of articulation.

The double-ball joint section also features a cover to hide some of that connection, but be warned as it tends to come off without too much difficulty.

(Also, please forgive my photography -- the hair looks a lot paler in the above picture than in real life.)

"The head-tilt means 'sass'."

"I don't think I'm comfortable with this..."

The ponytail fits in snugly to the back, completing the look of the figure. It doesn't take too much for it to come out, so be forewarned when attempting to pose the figure.

If there's one downside, it's that the curve causes the ponytail to come down the figure's back in an odd sort of manner, as seen at right, which is something you have to watch out for when balancing the figure as well. Flipping it around may work for some people, though then it curves outwards at the end with some pointed tips.

I haven't tried any durability tests, but the hair feels a bit rigid, with little to any bend to it, so be careful so as not to break it.

That said, Zero's a pretty dynamic character, so maybe the intent wasn't to have the hair fall down his back; instead, a windswept whoosh of sorts completes the look when you pose the hair as seen in the above pics.

At center, I tried to capture Zero's traditional standing-still pose from the games with both hair extensions flowing dramatically the same way. At right, the same pose, but I decided to have the hair going different ways, perhaps due to more volatile conditions.

"I just don't understand why the Wii Zapper didn't receive more support..."

Here, we have Zero posing with his Buster Shot gun in a firing position, complete with one of his hands designed to hold the weapon in a believable manner. There really isn't much more to it than that; no firing effects or anything, so let's talk about articulation here.

Not counting the hair, Zero features -- by my count -- about 26 points of articulation. His head moves on a ball joint, allowing him to look up, down, left, and right, and the neck itself is on another joint in his collar to further assist with how he turns his head.

Each shoulder has two points of articulation, a ball joint in the torso and another in the top of the arm, allowing him a pretty good range of motion, allowing him to do things like move his arm across his chest. The elbows each feature two hinge joints, allowing for a nice double-bend bicep curl, and the hands -- whichever ones you choose to use -- feature a ball joint which allows for bending and turning.

The chest features what I think is a ball joint concealed beneath his vest, allowing for a good bit of ab crunching and rotation, while the waist joint doesn't offer a whole lot, but nonetheless allows for an extra bit of bending.

The thighs are connected by another double-ball joint in a similar fashion to the shoulders, allowing him to do the splits, high kicks, or whatever else I only wish I could do with my own legs. Similar to the elbows, the knees each feature a pair of hinges, while the feet are connected with -- best as I can tell -- a ball joint beneath the gold boot cuffs and a hinge connecting to the feet themselves, allowing for a range of turning and tilting as necessary.

Put simply: Zero is every bit as flexible as he looks, perhaps even more so, and probably more than his 21XX counterparts.

"Rocket slap, go! Shield Boomerang, go! Rocket wrist, go! Enchanted golden cufflinks, go!"

"It not only shields me from bullets, but also from my father's disapproving glare."

Taking advantage of the design is the Shield Boomerang, which has a neat swirl effect molded in both translucent green and clear plastic surrounding a white disc. It attaches to the figure's arm in a special way. Rather than something so mundane as clipping on, it requires a bit of arm disassembly, as seen at left.

Basically, you need to remove the hand, and from the hand, remove the pegged ball joint and the gold wristcuff from Zero's gauntlet (this works on either hand, by the way). You'll want to put the cuff aside, and basically try to reassemble everything with the cuff attached to the Shield Boomerang in its place.

The new cuff is supposed to be held in place by a friction plug as it's slid along the edge of the arm, but I'm not sure the surface area there is quite sufficient for the job. I mean, it works, but I often found the Shield Boomerang coming loose, and it never quite felt as secure as I'd have liked it to be to have him wielding it with any regularity.

Before we move on to the remaining weapons, let's put Zero in the right mood. And to do that, he must undergo a frightening transformation!

"Do I feel a draft?"

"Waaaait a minute..."

As with others in the series, you swap faces by removing the front of Zero's helmet. The back doesn't come off, but if for some reason you just want an empty Zero helmet to sit on your desk, what does come off does a pretty good job of keeping all the key parts intact.

Underneath, we're met with an almost frightening baby doll-looking face that is the savior of the human race. As it turns out, Zero's greatest secret isn't the identity of his creator, but rather, the receding hairline he's taken on after a couple of centuries. Along with the flowing hair, all he needs is a mustache to have a real Hulk Hogan look going on.

Anyway, as you can see, the faces vary between calm/stoic and someone who's a bit peeved at someone or something off to the left of him. Admittedly, it looks a lot better once you get the helmet back on, and I'm sure he appreciates it, too.

"By the power of Skull Castle!"

Here, we've got Zero wielding his signature weapon, the Z-Saber. The Zero series version of the trusty sword doesn't feature as much detail as the X version, but it does look true to the games with its bone-like white handle and translucent green blade.

Sadly, as noted above, only one comes with him, so you can't pull off that neat double-Saber pose featured in some of the later games' art.

For this and the Triple Rod, you'll want to swap at least one of the hands into the gripping hand. The hands are rubbery, so with these (as well as the Buster Shot), you're going to need to pull them open a bit to slide the weapon handles into place. Once in, they hold firm pretty snugly.

In what is a rather nice touch, there are two other pieces of the figure which are removable as you please for display purposes. With the Z-Sabers forming the backbone of Zero's entire arsenal throughout the first three games, there are two small pieces which plug into Zero's holsters (one on each leg) that can be removed when he's wielding one or two weapons at a time.

These pieces are tiny, though, so remove them at your own risk!

Last, but not least, we have the Triple Rod. While it doesn't feature its namesake extending action as in the game, it nonetheless looks spot-on, basically being an inversion of the Z-Saber with a much longer handle and a much shorter blade, cast in the same translucent green plastic.

It should be noted that both this and the Z-Saber feature some pretty sharp and rigid points, so be careful with them, and don't let the young 'uns play with them! It's better to be safe than sorry.

And that's pretty much it for the Mega Man Zero S.H. Figuarts figure. As with the rest of the line, it's a quality piece, but -- barring your own judgment call, of course -- you may want to heed the "Ages 15 & Up" label on the box, as it's far more functional as a display piece (or, say, filming stop-motion animations) than as a play piece.

If you're a fan of this iteration of Zero, this is definitely one to get. And with that, I leave you with this group shot of all the figures I'm trying to get reviewed now as I get caught up, in case you were wondering what's next -- or just want some sort of frame of reference for the size:

"You mean to tell me that after I got my hair done, you're sticking me in the back row?!"

Oh, and one other thing: My utmost and sincerest apologies to the folks at Bandai and Bluefin Tamashii Nations. It was never supposed to take this long, and I'm sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.

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For my previous reviews:

The Mega Man Zero figure is available now at a suggested retail price of $50.99, and less at Amazon (with free shipping). A sample for this review was provided to us by Bluefin.