First, a bit of backstory: When I travelled to Japan in 2010, I was a committed member of Team Ultraman. All of my pre-trip toy research was devoted to learning about Ultraman, or specifically the various Ultraman kaiju. And when shopping in Japan, I loaded up on Ultraman stuff - vinyl, gashapon, blind boxed stuff, etc. I can vividly remember being in Kiddy Land and looking at the Kamen Rider stuff and saying, "I don't want any of that. Kamen Rider's lame."
Oh, what a fool I was! Such is youth. I think I preferred Ultraman because he fought all these awesome and weird giant monsters, while Kamen Rider was just a regular human-sized guy. But I still ended up getting some Kamen Rider stuff on the trip, just because I thought they looked cool. Visiting the Toei Studio Park helped bring me on board too, what with all the Kamen Rider costumes and props they had on display. It was hard not to get swept up in it all! So I was already starting to come to my senses.
Last year my wife had some family stuff come up and ended up taking an unplanned trip to England. Turns out my birthday fell during that time, and it was the first one she missed in like 14 or 15 years. I'm like a kid when it comes to my birthday (among other things), so I was pretty bummed out. I ended up spending the day with my brother, and we visited a comic shop that stocks Japanese stuff. At the time, I had been watching episodes of the original Kamen Rider on Youtube, but struggling to get into it. It was entertaining, but a little too quaint for me. Still, I had Kamen Rider on my mind.
I ended up getting this guy. I remember that even when I still wasn't on Team Kamen Rider in Japan, I still made a point of taking a picture of Decade and Diend at Toei Studio Park, because I just loved the way they looked. We went back to my brother's place and looked up the first Kamen Rider Decade episode (or "Masked Rider Decade" - which ever, "kamen" means "masked" in Japanese), and I was blown away by the first scenes.
I don't know if Decade's show tops a lot of fans' lists, but for me it was the perfect way to get into the Kamen Rider universe. The show features all of the newer generation Heisei riders up to that point, but some of the actors and character names had changed, making Decade's stories take place in alternate realities from what Kamen Rider fans were used to. I went into it brand new though, so I loved it. You got a taste of all these different riders, so it felt like taking care of a huge chunk of my Kamen Rider schooling at one time.
Kamen Rider Decade is a rider who has lost his memories. He doesn't know which reality he comes from, so he jumps from one dimension to another trying to find his way home. The problem is, his presence is causing these dimensions to crash in on each other, and the only way he can save them all is by defeating the main riders from each world. Decade is seen as a devil or "destroyer of worlds" by the other riders, though he's eventually able to befriend them while taking on the real bad guys in the story. I'm not really sure about the logistics behind all that, and there were some pretty big plot holes over the course of the show, but it wouldn't be a Japanese series without a bit of head scratching about the whole thing. Anyway, confusions aside, I was justing eating it all up. And while working my way through the Decade episodes, I got into Kamen Rider Gaim, and then W, OOO, and Fourze.
It didn't take me long before I realized that what I had seen as Kamen Rider's weakness was actually his strength. Sure, he usually doesn't fight giant kaiju, but the human-sized kaijin he does fight are just as weird and cool as the big guys. Due to the giant size of Ultraman and his kaiju, the best parts always come at the end of the episode. The human sidekicks try to battle the monsters on their own, and then Ultraman comes in at the end and saves the day. Kamen Rider can been seen multiple times throughout an episode, so the whole thing just feels much more action packed. That's why I switched sides, and am now a proud member of Team Kamen Rider. I just wish I got there sooner.
But enough of the rambling backstory, what about the figure that started all this? Well, this Kamen Rider Decade is part of the collector aimed S.H.Figuarts series from Bandai. These figures are loaded with articulation and sport some incredible detailing. They look like they jumped right out of the TV shows! One of the main thing that sets the Figuarts stuff apart from other toylines is the detail given to the masks eyes. The eyes of a Kamen Rider's mask are always what gets my attention first, yet sadly most other rider toys are missing the detailing. Wether it's the classic insectoid compound eyes, or some other crazy stuff, you can still have a nice rider toy without those details, but it goes a long way when it's there. It just makes the figure feel complete, for me.
Over the last year, I've come to realize that some of these S.H.Figuarts guys can be pretty hit or miss. Thankfully, I started out on the right foot with Decade. Some of these figures feel a little fragile, but Decade is nice and sturdy. His joints all work well, and they blend in nicely with the figure, where some super-articulated figures sacrifice their looks for joints. Another nice feature here is that Decade has metal feet, which adds some weight to the figure and makes him easier to stand up.
Now I have a confession to make. When it comes to posing action figures... well, I suck. I'm just not a big poser like some people are! If I take the time to do it, I can probably come up with something nice. I knew this was going to be a big post though, so I didn't really take that time.
That's why we end up with poses like this one. It still gives you a nice feel for the articulation, right? Right!? Anyway, at least Decade isn't one for a lot of flashy poses.
His shoulder pads are articulated too! This allows for greater arm movement, and the shoulder pads actually bounce around like that in the show, so it just feels like extra attention to detail. Must allow for greater arm movement for the suit actors too.
I was trying to go for a classic "Rider Kick" pose in this pic, but like I said, I'm not a poser. And yeah, that's my finger still visible from when I was trying to get the effect to work. Not a poser!
Besides details and articulation, S.H.Figuarts stuff gives you extra hands, accessories, and sometimes even heads to add more to your figure. I don't know what Decade was going for in the above pic.
Neither does he.
Like I said, Decade's look appealed to me early on. I love the barcode inspired look that he and Diend have going on, and he even manages to make pink armour work. Sorry, that's magenta armour. Remember that. One thing I've never been a fan of is his weapon. It starts off as a holder for Decade's various cards that give him the powers of other riders.
The card holder opens, which is nice, though I would have liked getting some tiny card accessories to go with it. Other Figuarts riders come with cards, so I know it can be done!
In the show, Decade's card holder also turns into a gun, so this figure comes with one of those too. The card holder is removable from his hip, so you don't have to worry about seeing it while it's supposed to be a gun.
I think this gun mode is why I don't like the weapon. It's not very powerful looking, and it could have been used better. It would have been cool if Decade used his various rider cards to make different kinds of blasts fire from the gun, but as far as I can recall, it's just a gun.
The card holder can also turn into a sword, which is a bit cooler. In the show, the sword flips open like a big switchblade. That feature would have been fun here, but I can live without it. Either way, it's nice to get a figure with all of the necessary accessories in one package, plus the different hands needed to use them accurately. There's even a pair of card-holding hands, but again, sadly no cards.
This figure will work perfectly as your default Decade, but it's actually "Violent Emotion" Decade, as seen in Kamen Rider W & Decade: Movie War 2010. This is Decade's "destroyer of worlds" form, and while not drastically different, makes him much more powerful. This figure comes with two heads: his normal one, seen above, and his Violent Emotion one, shown below.
In his Violent Emotion state, Decade's yellow Signal Pointer on his mask goes purple, and the eyes take on a more sinister and aggressive appearance. Supposedly his magenta colour becomes a lighter shade, but I can't see it. Even in the movie, he looks like regular Decade with a slightly different mask to me.
It's nice to be able to pull off this look if I want to, but I didn't actually like this part of Decade's story. After everything that happened in the series (like Decade befriending the other riders), I didn't really buy his sudden leap back to "destroyer of worlds" in the movie. As such, I prefer to leave the regular Decade head on the figure.
But this isn't the end of my Kamen Rider Decade spotlight! Now that I'm a proud member of Team Kamen Rider, I'll obviously be buying a lot of Kamen Rider toys. But my favourite riders, the ones where I invested in watching the shows, deserve something extra special.
The S.H.Figuarts figures often ain't cheap, and the bikes are usually even more expensive. Decade's Machine Decader definitely was. In fact, I had originally assumed that I wouldn't bother with it. But no matter how much or how little they're used in the shows, a Kamen Rider needs a bike (or a car, if you're Kamen Rider Drive). I'll buy any rider figure that I think looks cool, but only my special riders will get a bike.
I'm not usually a vehicle guy when it comes to toys (hell, I'm not a vehicle guy in real life), but when the vehicle works as an extension of the character, I'll bite. Some riders are less tied to their bikes than others, though Decade used his often enough. The bikes can also look more or less like a part of their rider's theme, and I love how the Machine Decader carries over Decade's barcode look.
At this point, I only have the bikes for Decade and Fourze, but it really seems like the bikes are much less hit or miss than the figures. The Decader feels so sturdy I could probably throw it across the room without really worrying about damaging it. I would never do that, but I feel like I could.
Decade's logo appears on either side of the bike, and it's a nice crisp image.
It shows up on his li'l licence plate as well! I think it's funny that Decade even has a licence plate.
COP: What seems to be the problem.
CITIZEN: I'd like to report a masked vigilante on a motorcycle!
COP: Can you describe the vehicle?
CITIZEN: Yeah, it was all white and pink. Actually, white and magenta. And it looked like the guy riding it.
COP: Looked like the guy on the bike... And did you get a good look at the licence plate?
CITIZEN: Yeah, uh, it was a picture of his face. Well, his mask.
COP: Dispatch, keep a lookout for a guy riding a bike that looks like said guy, with a picture of the guy's face on the licence plate. Over.
I bet they'd still find him. Dude kinda stands out.
The Machine Decader features a fully functional kickstand, but it also comes with a transparent base so you can display it looking like it's actually moving. You wouldn't want the kickstand down for that. That'd be ridiculous. It also comes with a set of hands for Decade to use while riding it and a second throttle (which, to me, looks exactly like the first one that comes packaged on the bike). Sometimes the head-scratching confusion from the shows carries over to the toys.
Decade looks pretty badass on his bike, though, which only reinforces my 'special things for special riders' mantra.
I don't know why it took me such a long time to start covering Kamen Rider on the blog (I mean, it literally took me a whole year to get here), but you can be sure to expect more in the future. With Decade being my Kamen Rider, I'll be getting back to him sooner or later, not to mention Diend. Then there's my other special riders like W, OOO, Fourze, and Gaim, plus all the other ones I've picked up just because I liked the figures.
Kamen Rider's become one of the main things that I collect, and on this day that is also my birthday that is also the anniversary of my being on Team Kamen Rider, it seemed like the perfect time give it it's due here on the blog. Until next time...