Welcome to another installment of Chad Still Plays with Toys! Today, we’re going to check out Ban Dai’s Kamen Rider Shodo-line, specifically Shodo Outsider 2! Now, I know you’re probably thinking, waitaminute, I’m still waiting for part 2 of the CSPwT: Boss Fight Studios Review! Yeah, well, they shipped me a toy with the wrong feet. It took almost a month for them to mail out the correct foot to make it right, so they’re kinda dead to me right now. I’m sure I’ll go back and finish part 2 eventually, but for now I’m gonna let my consumerist displeasure cool and wait for my customizing enthusiasm to kick in again. It did stop me in my tracks, though, as far as being excited about their products—you know, the ones that cost enough that BFS should send the right thing the first time—anyway, let’s pause and look at something where I care much less about the specifics… Kamen Rider!
If you missed my last review of Kamen Rider toys, it’s worth noting that I still know next to nothing about the franchise. Basically, the same company makes Ultraman toys, and I stumbled onto these, too. Unlike Ultraman, I don’t have a burning desire to find out the backstory, although I’m sure it’s great. I just like ‘em because they’re cool 4 inch toys. They help to fill the gap left by my beloved 4 inch scale Joes and Marvel Universe toys, usually at a fraction of the cost of other specialty figures in the scale.
Most of the 4 inch action figures feature an impressive 18 points of articulation, and they include extras like multiple hands, heads, or weapons packed in each box. There are some trade-offs, however, as hands frequently will fall out or off of figures. That’s the price you pay for interchangeable parts. Even in heated play, figures rarely break outright, (think “pew, pew, smash, boom, smash, “Oh, they humanity’” style play). They fall apart but don’t actually break. You just have to slide them back together again. It’s mildly aggravating, but did I mention they have candy!
I’m as casual a fan as can be, when you consider the fact that I’m usually importing these from Hong Kong. I only sometimes eat the candy gum. I don’t know who any of the characters are or what the writing in the box means.
I didn’t even realize the Shodo line had shifted to the Outsider line, of which this is the second wave. I just occasionally scout the auction website like Ebay and see if there are any new sets in my price range, and then I bite. I always consider it a bit of a gamble, as you put your order in and wait. By the time the figures arrive, sometimes one or two months later, it’s usually outside of the return/refund window for Paypal. Knock on wood, I haven’t had any issues of things not showing up. Being delayed for months, sure, but they always have shown up to this point.
Once they do, I let the box sit on the porch for a few days (I’m sure I’m on some kind of list for importing items from China mid-pandemic) to let the anticipation build and any germs to dissipate. Then, I get to crack things open and start making my own stories! Some might see this as consumerist cultural appropriation–and they’re not wrong. But I have no ill intention: it’s fun for me, the folks selling the toys get theirs, and we’re all happy in the long run. And if I ever do start watching the seasons upon seasons of Kamen Rider–look out! I’ll already have the collection to play with!
Now this “Outsider” wave is an offshoot of the Shodo Vs. line, somehow. Is Vs. done? I dunno. In my last article, I established how in my head, Kamen Rider is like a Japanese SHIELD offshoot—so with this Outsider line, I’m imagining they’ve invited Scott Hall and Kevin Nash…wait not those guys, but other Outsiders into the Kamen fold.
Up first in this wave is Masked Rider Ouja, or as I see him, Cobra Commander: Robot Racer Edition. Check out that cool serpent-style helmet, the Cobra staff, and the killer purple, chrome and black with gold highlights of the suit.
This is definitely the big bad’s new battle suit when people step out against his evil organization. I’ve always wanted to see him embrace purple, too. It’s more regal for an aspiring despot. Maybe after a feud with Destro, he starts seeking out new weapons suppliers, a Japanese special forces operation, perhaps, and this is what they concocted. Since I think the Masked Riders are the good guys, maybe this armor is from a period where Cobra Commander is forced to go into the battlefield alongside the Joes, whether it’s against Destro or some greater evil. He still has that awesome spiral sword that’s wicked no matter whose side he is on! There’s the sword and Cobra staff, he’s got cool Cobra belt buckle, and three 1/2 sets of hands (fists, open hands, grippy ones–and an extra right hand with a communicator of some sort). Of course he’s the commander: why else would he come first in the wave (Commander #1!) and have that maniacally cool pose on the box. It all adds up!
Pre-order-wise, this figure was the one I was least excited for, but once I had him in-hand, all of the pieces came together quickly to make him an awesome addition to the collection.
Figure 2 is Masked Rider Ryuga, or in my mind, Ninja Racer Snake Eyes.
He’s primarily black and a charcoal grey with gold and silver highlights. He’s got a dark flame dragon insignia both on his belt buckle and on his helmet–and he comes with an additional helmeted head with red on the visor. That is definitely action figure blood spray, because Ninja Racer Snake Eyes has seen some shizz. He’s the rider operative you send in when you want a job done and don’t want any questions. ‘Cause he isn’t talking no matter what!
He gets a wrist holster that looks a lot like a dragon head (more on that later). NRSE has obviously been paired up with Cobra Commander: Robot Racer to simultaneously get the job done and keep CC:RR in line.
Bad moon rising? More like Bad snakes rising! There’s more to these Snakey Commandos than meets the eyes, to borrow a line from another popular 80’s toy line.
The third figure actually doesn’t remind me of any big-name GI Joes. Instead the Outsider originally named Horse Orphenoch reminds me of a smash-up of a couple of concepts.
There’s a little Beta Ray Bill, thanks to his skulls reminding me of horse/unicorn imagery. Are they horses or are they dragons? Maybe dragon unicorn horses! There’s some Silver Samarii action here, too, as he’s rocking that primarily grey/ dulled silver look. He’s definitely got some knights of the round table action going on here, too. Maybe even some of the Boss Fight Studio’s Medusa-struck stone soldiers. It’s a lot going on here. His armor, with all its designs and rivets looks really imposing. I especially like his horse-shoe chest emblem. He comes with a seriously awesome sword and shield as well as three interchangeable sets of hands: grabby ones, open ones, and fightin’ fists.
As far as my mental storyline is concerned, he’s the first boss on the way to the big bad. As a toy, he has more mobility than you might expect. His shoulder horses don’t impede his motion because they connect at the bicep instead of the shoulder. That means the shoulder connection can shift as necessary for movement’s sake. And if you really wanted, you could pop off the unicorn skulls from the shoulder pad (they insert right back on)—but why would you? If I were to register a complaint, I do wish he had just a bit more in the paint app department. He gets highlights on his helmet plume and belt buckle, but a little more silver or white could have gone a long way to bringing out the details of this figure. Regardless, this guy’s awesome and fits in as one of the crazier knights in any medieval story you’re telling.
So back to my head-cannon, this figure, we’ll call him Greyshoe—I’m bad with names—he’s going to be the primary line of defense for Cobra Commander: Robot Racer and Ninja Racer Snake Eyes before they can get to …
Our 4th figure, Apollogeist, which translates to the Spirit of the Sun God. I like it.
He gets to keep his given name! He comes with the wicked sun-shield and a double barrel sun shotgun?! He’s definitely a bad guy because he’s rocking the black suit with red designs, but he also has a white cape—which means he’s someone with bad methodology, but good intentions—in his head, at least. As a toy, he’s reminiscent of the more human looking Gelshocker Combatants to me, maybe because of his gloves and lack of Rider helmet. His helmet is an intimidating black and red cross between Star Wars’s General Grievous with edgy Mickey Mouse ears. As an action figure, this figure probably is the least exciting for me in the wave, primarily because the stationary white cape interferes with the red and black helmet, which I liked more in the pictures than in person. Once I ditched the cape, I was able to appreciate his interesting black and red solar designs, but I still wasn’t crazy about that helmet. That shield definitely rocks, though. Apollogeist definitely has some interesting pieces, but altogether I’m not impressed.I’m thinking he might get retrofitted with a new head once my customizing bug bites again.
It’s worth mentioning that he comes with four sets of hands—two hands to hold his weapons (the sun-shotgun plugs into a piece that’s permanently attached to one hand), two fists, three open-gloved hands, and one shield holding hand.
For the purpose of my story, Apollogeist is the faithful knight who has been tasked with guarding the temple of the dragon. A temple that hides a secret power so vast, only the utmost of ninja could unlock and contain its power.
Otherwise, it has corrupted every other man (or robot ninja) that has ever dared try to use the power. Unfortunately, it’s the only way for Ninja Racer Snake Eyes and Cobra Commander: Robot Racer to face the vast evil that’s compelled them to team up.
Speaking of teaming up, that brings us to figures 5 and 6 of this wave: Dragblacker (A-side) and Dragblacker (B-side), which combine to make Dragblacker!
I’m no master when it comes to names, as I traditionally come from the Mitch Hedberg school of naming things—what does it do? It blends stuff? It’s a blender. I’m going on break!—but naming a black dragon Dragblacker is a bit on the nose, even for me. Maybe not. I did name the grey guy with the horseshoe emblem Greyshoe. Still, all names aside, this is an interesting choice for this toy line. Instead of going the build-a-figure route with one part spread out to the whole wave that many 6 inch lines have employed for decades or creating a separate larger, pricier figure, Ban Dai chose to split this dragon up between 2 packages. Even the case pack out was reasonable. In a 10 figure case box, every other figure comes with a double except Dragblacker, which isn’t bad. I’d much rather they split the big guy and only give you one of each piece in the box than go the other routes.
Unless you’re buying by the case, BAFs are usually a pain. I don’t know if Shodo makes larger figures, but I’ve never bought them if they do. I shy away from the pricier collector sets. And I feel like if this were Hasbro or Toy Biz, they would inexplicably screw it up, giving you two A pieces and one B or vice versa. You would have one piece shelf-warming waiting for the next wave. Then because the store never sold that last fig, they don’t order the next case and you’re stuck with half a dragon.
The only way Ban Dai’s plan backfires is if somebody grabs set A or B individually. Why would they want to do that? It’s actually not inconceivable. Let’s see what they come with first.
Set A comes with the head, which has jaw articulation and is a big deal. It also has 5 dragon segments (one with an underbelly and attachable arms). If you just get Set A, your dragon will feel incomplete at best, as it just sort of ends without a tail.
The B-side set comes with a stand, five dragon segments (also including an underbelly with two arms), and the tail which features a sword as its flourish.
By itself, the B-side set would be fairly lame. Tail swords are cool, and the stand is neat, but who would want a headless dragon?
Put them together, and you get the complete Dragblacker. It’s impressive. It has 12 segments from head to tail, with two separate underbellies that have their own sets of arms.
So why would anyone worry about people picking up one set over the other? 2 reasons come to mind. The box illustration shows the dragon head attaching in place of a hand, so some might want an extra to do that thing.
The other thing you could do is take the remaining 5 segments (including the extra underbelly and arm set) and increase your dragon’s size by a third! I don’t have 3 sets to do this, but if I did, I would. If they ever show up at that one shop “with a guy,” look out. But then I would feel guilty about leaving just a b-side because nobody would want a headless dragon, so I would get that, too. I would just have to hope for at least another pair of dragon parts to come along, and then I could either have 3 regulation size Dragblackers or 2 giant Dragblackers with an extra Snake Eyes with dragon hand. Or some combination of all the parts. Snake Eyes does well with swords, too, whether they are tails or not.
So that brings us to the finale of our Outsider tale: Ninja Rider Snake Eyes and Cobra Commander: Robot Racer have vanquished Greyshoe, only to find Apollogeist standing in their way. After a lengthy battle, Cobra Commander uses Snake Eyes as a feint to distract Apollogeist and makes his way towards unlocking the dragon—until Snake Eyes, ninja master, proves that he is not an outsider, but part of the Arashikage clan, the only clan to ever wrest control the dragon. Snake Eyes had hoped to prove h is worth to the God of the Sun, but there is no time to do things the right way. Cobra Commander cannot be allowed to awaken the dragon. Snake Eyes activates his wrist gauntlet above his ancestral tattoo marking, and for a moment grows a dragon head from his hand! It doesn’t take long for Mr. “I wassss Once a Mann” Commander to hightail it out of the temple after seeing Snake Eyes transform totally into… the Black Dragon! (I told you I’m bad with names, but that’s better than Dragblacker!) Snake Eyes can no longer wrestle control of the dragon, for he has become the dragon. Apollogeist weeps as the Black Dragon storms out of the temple, ready to unleash his righteous fury all over the world.
What will become of our heroes next? Who knows. Most likely it will involve “pew! pew! Smash! and Bang!” sounds!You figure it out. I’ll probably forget by the time the next wave of these guys comes out anyway.
Masked Rider Ouja: Suprisingly excellent! A
Masked Rider Ryuga: There’s a reason Hasbro made a Snake Eyes toy basically every other wave—the dude is badass. This is a great toy that captures that spirit, whether they intended to or not. A+
Horse Orphenoch: An awesome looking figure that needed just one or two more brushstrokes to reach its full potential. B+
Apollogeist: This is a figure most likely bound for the custom bin. Everything but the helmet is great. White capes are cool, but it doesn’t fit here, either. I bet the parts make for some awesome toys, though. C+
Dragblacker: I don’t think I brought up the fact that Dragblacker falls apart just a touch too easily. Otherwise, he’s a neat idea executed well. Be warned, If I see any of these at retail in the wild, they’re mine! Hasbro, Jakks, and Spinmasters should take note. A.
The wave was a fun one, and I’m happy it made its way from Japan for my amusement.
Until next time, I’ll probably still be hanging out with my kiddo playing with action figures!