The year was... well, I don't remember what the exact year was. It was the late 90's, after Gundam Wing had exploded in popularity on Toonami, with merchandise all over the place.
I was visiting one of my old haunts at the time, Rebel Base Comics & Toys (at their old location), and happened to see a very large, very intricately detailed Gundam model -- well above the normal grade you normally see, filled to the absolute brim with detailing. Now, I've never been what you would call a huge Gundam fan (I've enjoyed looking at it from afar, checking out the forest rather than the trees, if you will), but I could tell that this was an absolutely exquisite piece of work from Bandai.
"Bandai," I thought. "They also do Mega Man (well, Rockman) model kits. What if they were to design a Mega Man figure at this level of quality and detail?"
Now, I'll grant you that I had some very different ideas from anything that Bandai or anyone else would ever put into production. I imagined a Mega Man or X with a removable helmet, hair underneath, maybe even some sort of artificial skin (i.e. rubber or a soft plastic or something). My ideas might have bordered on unrealistic, but nonetheless, I always dreamed of a premium Mega Man figure.
Over time, though my expectations had waned, I had always dreamed of a higher grade of Mega Man figure than the "Mega Armor Series" had provided us. We eventually got the S.H. Figuarts figures from Bandai, and I thought that was as good as we could expect. But then, some two decades (give or take) from when the dream began, TruForce Collectibles stepped up to raise the bar.
From the start, it's clear that this is not your typical Mega Man toy (in fact, I hesitate to even use the term "toy" at all here). Outside of the shipping box and tissue paper wrapping, the box is designed in a classy way, with a nice depiction of the figure using light and shadow across a black background and a pair of logos informing you that this is part of TruForce Collectibles' "Designer Series," likely so named due to the involvement of Capcom designer Keisuke Mizuno.
The box itself is made of a quality card stock which isn't especially durable, but carries a different feel from your typical boxes and cardbacks -- it's the type of material you can leave fingerprints on, if you're not careful. Along the sides are raised lineart images of X, while the back shows some of the poses the figure can take and runs down the features and accessories.
The front flap of the box opens up, revealing the figure and accessories inside, while the flap itself shows the original art from which the figure was designed. These images are highlighted by various in-fiction specifications regarding X's body and systems, some of which (like the Apogee Motor) I believe are all-new.
At the bottom, we're given some insight into who the figure's designer is and how they went about coming up with this version of X.
When first removed from the packaging, X will have some additional plastic wrapped around a few of his joints that will need to be removed.
He includes a number of accessories which would not be out of place with your standard S.H. Figuarts figure, including an alternate face, a pair of alternate hands, one X-Buster, two of the "Apogee Motor" jets for his back, and four different effect shot pieces (five if you include the center spike which separates from the yellow blast).
Beyond that, there is also a display stand with two articulated arms to help with posing, two small batteries which need to be installed, and two instruction sheets -- one for the battery installation in the X-Buster, and another for various other features and functions.
The figure itself is highly detailed, featuring a much greater number of details than your normal or even Mega Man X8 designs of the character, all while maintaining the same familiar silhouette fans have come to know and love over the years.
In addition to including more black trim and a third shade of blue to highlight some elements, there are also various markings which remind you both that this is a Maverick Hunter (per the insignia on his chest) and a robot (or Reploid, if you must), with warnings and other extremely fine print notes spread across his body.
One gets the feeling that if X were designed today instead of two decades ago, this might be what he would look like.
Both of X's hands and forearms are removable, allowing you to swap in open hands or the X-Buster as desired. The way in which this is done is similar to the S.H. Figuarts figures, but still different.
Rather than the plug being on the removable parts, it's instead on the elbow joint, plugging into the forearms or X-Buster with a satisfying click that lets you know it's firmly in place. The forearms then plug into the hands with ball joints which allow for a wide range of wrist movement beyond swiveling.
In terms of articulation, it's hard to put a number of points on this guy, because there are just so many bits that move and unfold that it feels like I'm discovering a new one every time I handle him. Even his shoulder armor is articulated with a hinge that allows you to move the arms in and out without accidentally knocking it off, and they're attached to the arm itself, allowing it to move with the appendage instead of hindering its movement. And don't even get me started on the detailing that goes into something like the second bend of his knee, giving him a full range of motion in that joint as well.
Trying to sum everything he can do up: He has full neck rotation on a ball joint, though he can't look straight up with it due to the helmet's shape preventing it. That said, there is a second joint at the base of the neck which allows him to look down, and you can actually make him look up through a combination of his neck, chest (also on a ball joint, I believe), and ab (yet another, I think) joints working together. You know, if making X look up is something you just want him to do.
His shoulders are not on ball joints, but with the number of hinges and swivels in place, they might as well be. Heck, this might be even better. He can lift his arms up and down, in and out, and as you can see in the pic at right above, even bring his arm further out to fold across his chest. There's a hinge inside the shoulder, at the top of the arm, and swivel just beneath the shoulder at the top of the biceps. Two hinges make up the elbow, giving it a double-bend, and again, the hands are on ball joints with a pretty good amount of freedom.
X's thighs are on ball joints, and can further extend to allow for a greater range of movement. The knees, as mentioned, have a double bend, with the second joint sliding down further when bent to give even more motion while exposing some cool mechanical detailing.
The feet are also on a ball joint... or two. It's hard to tell without taking it apart, but there is some sort of system in place which allows the foot to slide out further so that it can move more as well. The shape of X's boots don't really allow for any ankle-rocking action, but there is just a little there if you need it, and they rotate as well. Plus, if you don't mind the separated look, pulling the feet down can add a bit of height to him as well!
One feature of note is that the figure is made with a combination of plastic and die-cast metal, and near as I can tell, the bulk of the metal is in X's lower-legs. The result of this is that he remains incredibly stable while standing -- so much so that you can even get a pretty good Michael Jackson impression out of him, as seen above at right. Who knew X was such a smooth criminal?
One of X's most noteworthy attributes is his ability to wall jump, and while this figure can't do that, you can at least make him look like he can with the attachable Apogee Motors.
Just pop off the two small panels on the back of X's torso armor and plug the new pieces in, and away you go!
Swapping faces is just like with the Figuarts figures: Just pop the front of the helmet off, remove the face place that's attached, plug in the other, and put the helmet back on. Now X can scream at Sigma all night long!
Another cool feature included are the panels on the back of X's boots. On mine, the left boot takes a little more force, but using your thumbnail, you can pull open a panel that unfolds to reveal a rocket booster. Now you can have X dash or wall jump even more believably!
Closing is a little bit more of a trick, though, as the flap first folds down, then you have to push the whole thing back into the leg. Still, it's pretty satisfying to do, once you know how it works.
Finally, we come to the X-Buster itself. In order to get the most out of it, you'll want to install the two included batteries, which requires disassembling the weapon into the three pieces you see above. Put them back together per the instructions, twist the barrel, and you've got light-up X-Buster power!
Just be sure to note that if you're not using it for prolonged periods, you'll want to remove the batteries to avoid corrosion.
Whether or not you've installed the batteries, you can also attach a variety of effect parts to the barrel of the X-Buster to give it different looks. While the light looks good on the bare X-Buster, though, attaching more pieces of plastic (even translucent ones) diminishes the effect a bit.
Also, a word of warning: These effect parts are sharp, and in the case of this next piece, kind of heavy for its size. Be careful so as not to hurt anyone (or yourself) with them!
Here we have a full-charge styled shot. You can display it with or without the burst surrounding the barrel, but as noted, it's a heavier piece. As such, either way you decide to go, it's going to weigh the arm down a bit, and you might want to use one of those articulated arm pieces with the display stand to keep it upright.
Now, if you want to go for a super-huge blast (which you'll definitely need the display parts for, unless you want X to look like he's blasting himself to the moon), you'll need to remove the center spike as seen above and replace it with the part that looks like a clear Buster barrel, which emulates how that piece locks on to the other parts.
Incidentally, I tried to get everything working together in tandem, with X unleashing a huge charge shot while in a dashing pose with all his jets out. Sadly, I couldn't make that one work on account of all the weight distributed throughout. This is the best I could manage:
Suffice to say, this is quite a figure, and probably the best, most detailed version of X we've ever seen -- and possibly will ever see. It's not the huge kit I imagined while standing in a comic shop so many years ago, but for its size and price, it's still quite good, and will look good in any collection -- especially among more contemporary characters, though the scale may not work as well among other Mega Man figures, such as those from the Figuarts line.
There have been several variations of the figure over the last year or so, and if they all maintain the same standard of quality across the line, you should be good with any of them.
And once again, my apologies to the folks at TruForce Collectibles and Bluefin Tamashii Nations for taking so long with this review!
For my previous reviews:
- Mega Man Zero
- Ultimate Armor Mega Man X (video)
- Figuarts ZERO Sigma (video)
- Bass and Treble
- Mega Man, Rush, and Metool
You can also check out my review of Bandai's S.H. Figuarts Mario and Luigi figures at PoisonMushroom.Org!
Mega Man X is available now at a suggested retail price of $79.99. A sample for this review was provided to me by Bluefin.