OTC Figure Review: SH Figuarts Avengers Endgame Ronin

In the recent fight for 1/12 dominance between Medicom MAFEX and Bandai’s SH Figuarts, I fall more on the MAFEX side of the fence with a smattering of Mezco than on the SH Figuarts side of the fence. The proportions of most of the SH Figuarts I’ve had my hands on have seemed a bit slight and have felt less than heroic. I make exceptions. I still have Darth Maul with his Sith Speeder, C-3PO and R2-D2 on my shelf, but for the most part, I’m preferring MAFEX and Mezco One:12 offerings. That may change in the future, but that’s where I’m at right now.

Having said that, I came at this Ronin figure determined to look at it objectively and evaluate it. At a certain point, I even tried desperately to like it. Then I busted out Marvel Legends Ronin and compared category by category. That’s where the wheels fell off and Sh Figuarts Ronin’s failings really started to show.

To commemorate how poorly this figure did in my estimation, I added a new category to my review. Price. A lot of this figure’s faults could have been forgiven if it weren’t an $80 figure to import. Go ahead and check out our Youtube video below and subscribe to our channel if you want more of the same.

Sculpt

The sculpt on Ronin is what we have come to expect from SH Figuarts. Every element of the outfit has tiny details executed to a high degree of accuracy. The knee armor has this repeated concave pattern, there are tiny buckles throughout the outfit, the zippers have tiny little pulls (sculpted, not working zippers, the sword has tiny little details from hilt to blade tip, and the shape of the fabric is designed to give the effect that it’s sitting naturally over Ronin’s body. Sculpt is probably one of the two categories where this figure actually matches expectations for the SH Figuarts line (don’t worry, we’ll get to the disappointments). Even the head, clad in a black balaclava, has small little breathing holes over the mouth and nose so small that they were difficult to photograph.

Paint

This is probably the second category where SH Figuarts Ronin matches expectations for what a figure from this line should be. To begin with, the eyes on the head sculpt are well applied and damn near photo-realistic for a figure at 1/12 scale. Ronin’s outfit is defined by its simple black color palette offset with flashes of gold and silver buckles. All of those tiny elements of paint application are executed well and there’s no smudging, painting outside the lines, or missed applications to be found.

Articulation

This is where the wheels start to fall off. Well, the left arm, I suppose.

Ronin’s underlying articulation is decent, but it’s thwarted at every turn by the outfit. The neck is ball joint at the base of the head with another one down at the base of the neck. The arms have a ball jointed shoulder, double-jointed elbow, and a ball jointed wrist peg. The problem is that Ronin’s shoulder caps limit him from being able to reach behind his back to draw his sword from his back sheath and limit him from bringing his arm in towards the center of his chest enough to re-enact that wiping-the-blade-in-his-elbow scene. The pictures above are about as close as I could get him. Yes, I know the blade is pointed down towards his arm and he’d cut himself. I just stopped caring about this figure at this point.

The first reason I got so frustrated with this figure is because the left shoulder ball joint continuously, repetitively, and easily popped out every time I tried to re-position his arms. Forget the limitations the shoulder caps provide. You won’t even get to those limitations with how lose this joint is.

Down at the hips, rather than the drop-down double ball joints on each leg that we’ve come to expect, there’s this upside-down “V” wish-bone sort of joint that attaches both hip joints. In the center, at the crotch, that V is statically mounted. So, your range of motion on the legs is already limited. Toss in the added limitation of the soft plastic skirt, and you can’t really pull off many crouching stealth poses. You can see my attempts in the photos above and I’m less than satisfied with them.

The knee is a double-ball joint, stopping just short of 180 degrees of motion. The ankles are a simple ball joint. They have a limited range before they pop off the joint. There is one point of toe articulation on each foot which I appreciate. However, given the limitations of the hip articulation, you’re going to find fewer instances than you’d think to put that into action.

Accessories

And then comes the real disappointment. Ronin comes with the following accessories:

  • an additional head (left-looking eyes)
  • left and right open hands
  • left and right sword-gripping hands
  • a sword
  • a sheathed sword (non-removable)
  • an empty sheath with peg to attach to his back
  • an empty sheath without a peg.
  • a hood (more closely an element of the figure itself than an accessory, but because it’s removable, let’s give it the benefit of the doubt)

Let’s address the alternate head. The only difference between the two is that one is looking straight and the other is left-looking. In my opinion, unless the eyes are fully articulated to let you pose them wherever you like, just don’t even bother. I’m saying that because, the choice to include “left-looking” seems so arbitrary. Is “left-looking” such an integral missing pose that we need to include an entirely separate head? It opens up the floor for questions like: why not up-looking, down-looking? Hell, why not right-looking? In fact, I would say that you are so seldom going to go out of your way to change the head for a left look, that this “accessory” amounts to no added value at all. When compared to the much less expensive Marvel Legends figure, which comes with an alternate hand and throwing stars, I think the vast majority of consumers would rather an additional weapon than this “alternate head”, if you can even call it that. Are we being Punk’d? Where’s Ashton Kutcher?

Bandai recently solicited Scarlet Witch and that, again, is being solicited with a “left-looking” alternate head. At least the hair is (supposedly) slightly different on that head. If I had one request for Bandai, stop doing this. Drop the price by twenty bucks and leave the extra head out if it’s just going to be “left-looking”. Either that, or swap it for an accessory with some posing value.

Then, there’s the sheath. First of all, the sword could have just been fitted into a single hollow sheath rather than providing (1) a sheathed sword accessory; (2) an empty sheath with peg; and (3) an empty sheath without peg.

As a side note, these sheaths are made out of a hard brittle plastic and are extremely fragile. I was gingerly placing the un-pegged sheath into Ronin’s hand (in a futile attempt to figure out the purpose of that variant accessory) and it snapped right in half.

Let’s leave alone the fact that the Marvel Legends figure proves that you only need one hollow sheath that the sword can fit into and deal with the two alternate empty sheaths included. One has a peg to attach to Ronin’s back, the other does not. I suppose the logic may be so that Ronin can hold the un-pegged sheath and you don’t have to worry about that peg showing in a picture or on display. I doubt anybody cares about that concern. But then, the sheath with a peg is oriented a different way than the sheathed sword. The opening is pointed down towards Ronin’s lower back rather than up towards his shoulder. What this means is that, even if you manage to pose Ronin’s hand on the sheathed sword on his back, you can’t follow up that look with an unsheathed sword in hand and empty sheath on his back. It will be positioned the wrong way.

Adding to the frustration is that the pegs don’t fit into the hole on Ronin’s back tightly. I was constantly placing it back in while posing Ronin. The last straw is that, even if you posed Ronin without the sheath on his back, the sheath strap along his torso is molded to the figure as a part of the sculpt. By comparison, the Marvel Legends sheath is fully removable, chest strap and all.

I was left completely baffled by the alternate head and multiple sheaths. In the end, when you remove the irrelevant accessories from the offerings, this is the real list of accessories you’re left with.

  • an additional head (left-looking eyes)
  • left and right open hands
  • left and right sword-gripping hands
  • a sword
  • a sheathed sword (non-removable)
  • an empty sheath with peg to attach to his back
  • an empty sheath without a peg.
  • a hood (more closely an element of the figure itself than an accessory, but because it’s removable, let’s give it the benefit of the doubt)

Packaging

The packaging is what we know from previous releases. In conformity with previous Endgame releases, this box is finished in a nice matte white. You have a window box, obscuring some of the contents. This leads to hope that there’s more included than shown. There isn’t. Don’t give me hope, Bandai.

Price

Then there’s the price. This is the real kicker. For all the failures, frustrations, and headaches above, this figure can be purchased for a whopping $70 to $80 depending on where you get him.

Now Marvel Legends have their own limitations. They are by no means perfect. But, to avoid all the problems with this SH Figuarts Ronin release, and at least have the opportunity to pose Ronin with throwing stars, why not save the sixty-some-odd bucks and grab the Legends?

Summary

At the end of my video review and photo session, I put Sh Figuarts Ronin and Marvel Legends Ronin next to each other. I messed around with Marvel Legends Ronin for the first time since his release earlier this year. I found myself having fun. I wasn’t frustrated. I wasn’t upset about how expensive the figure was. I was one happy, satisfied consumer. It’s as simple as that. Marvel Legends Ronin is more fun.

In the end, I gave up on this figure. I couldn’t keep fighting it to try and make it do what I wanted it to do and be what it wasn’t. If you’re a SH Figuarts Marvel collector, I would strongly advise you give this one a miss. If you buy it out of some sort of collector’s compulsion or obligation to complete the line, you’ll be disappointed.

Sorry that review was a bit of a downer, but sometimes they come out that way.

Thanks for reading, thanks for watching! As always, more later! DrunkWooky out!

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