6 February 2019

SO-DO Kamen Rider Build 1

Kamen Rider Build’s been over a while now, but what a show it was. Full of lovable characters, plots that stand out even among twenty years of continuous Kamen Rider on TV, a near-perfect balance of pathos and comedy, and also a lot of different forms. From the TV screen to the movie theatre to the DVDs, to the arcade machines, there were a tonne of Rider suits made for Kamen Rider Build – some more memorable than others. And, with me being in a nostalgic mood, what better way to have a retrospective of such a great series than to follow through the SO-DO line and see what memories it stirs up?

"I've got the Winning Formula for procrastination!" - Me, writing way more than I need to

What’s that? Why don’t I just watch the show again if I’m so nostalgic? No, no, I’m far too busy for that.
First, a little backstory. Starting with Kamen Rider Ex-Aid, Bandai began producing small, cheap figures in a spin-off of their SHODO line. While SHODO would revisit the show’s history, SO-DO would work as part of their product for the airing Rider – a cheaper alternative to the “Gimmick Figures”, as they’re commonly called (Level Up Rider Series / Bottle Change Rider Series, for the relevant ones). However, while the LVUR Series could cover some Riders, nowhere near everything saw a release – indeed, it’s common in many gimmick lines for later Riders to see no figures whatsoever, such as Poppy, Lazer Turbo, or even Cronus. Adding to this, if a form debuted away from TV screens, it was unlikely to ever see a figure at all (in the mainline, at least, don’t @me with the sheer amount of Premium Bandai Gaim stuff). 

Which is a shame, as some of the designs looked amazing.

SO-DO, on the other hand, due to a quicker release schedule, cheaper production cost, and a few Premium Bandai box sets, was able to put out figures for close to every form seen in Ex-Aid. Every Level Up form? You got it. The Youtube exclusive video game forms? Of course. Juju Burger, which showed up for one episode and was never mentioned again? I own that! It was pretty damn comprehensive, and the only thing I'm certain wasn’t released was “Totema Genm”, a form so obscure I’m not gonna mention where it’s from to infuriate you.

Surprisingly, not a Stageshow form.

So, that was Ex-Aid, and it looked to be a similar scenario at the start of Build. With many of the Bottle Change Rider Series known to be filled by the first wave of Best Matches, it looked to be up to SO-DO to cover most things debuting after, as well as the stuff Figuarts wouldn’t touch, even with Tamashii Web Exclusive gloves on. We’ll start with Wave One, or BUILD1, as it’s known, and work our way through.


BUILD 1 takes us back to the very start of Build, composed of forms debuting in Episode 1 and 2, because that’s how Kamen Rider works nowadays. It’s how it’s worked for years, no use complaining when it means more toys to review! To recap the events, we have our amnesiac hero, Sento Kiryu, trying to get a job researching Pandora’s Box, an evil artifact brought back from Mars that split the country in three with giant walls, turned the leaders into paranoid, hate-plagued jerks, and is acting as a catalyst for war. Standard kids show fare. Of course, that’s not the only problem, as mysterious creatures called Smash keep attacking, which Sento fights as Kamen Rider Build, because it makes him feel good. He then gets roped into rescuing the best boi, Ryuga Banjou, when he escapes the experiments of Faust, after being thrown in jail for a crime he didn't commit, going into hiding in their secret cafe base with Misora, an anime idol, and Souichi, the owner, with absolutely no secrets whatsoever. It beats joining the A-Team, at least. Banjou was arrested for the murder of genius physicist, Takumi Katsuragi, and he proclaims his innocence. The gang don’t entirely believe him, and then Faust goes and murders his girlfriend. Overall, not a great day for Banjou, but he got a free fullbottle out of it, so that’s something. Build got off to a great start, with plot hooks that, well, hook, an introduction to our core cast cast that feels natural, and some good action. But now, toys.




We start at the very beginning with Kamen Rider Build’s main form, RabbitTank. I remember when it was first revealed, and people loved it, especially after the devisiveness that was Ex-Aid. It’s easy to see why, and I have to agree. Build looks fantastic. Blue and red make quite a combo, as any Kikaider fan will tell you, and the mixing of a Rabbit and a Tank for our main powers? Classic Rider. Well, not classic – I’m still shocked we never got a Grasshopper Fullbottle - but the motifs blend well, and RabbitTank sets the stage for the many, many designs that follow in its footsteps.

And it's true there’s a lot to like about Build’s aesthetic. The striped torso is visually interesting, and the designs on the visor, displaying the “element” the fulbottle is based on is a nice twist on the classic antennae. I like the little tank gun / rabbit ear spike he has on his shoulder – I’ve no idea what the point of it is, but it looks cool, and adds to the general asymmetry. The feet are something I didn’t even realise until I got the figure – one designed to look like a rabbit’s paw, the other featuring tank treads! It’s little touches like this that create interest, even if they’re simply posing on a shelf.

I'm aware of the hands, they're the one major flaw.

Genius physicists memorise Fleming's Right Hand Rule, even when their right hand is stuck in a circle.

Daleks will return next time, I promise.

"Hey Banjou, watch me flex on this flex tape!"

And you can get a lot of poses out of him! Having the budget of two sets, Build features clip on shoulder pads that allow his arms to lift above his head, something ZO wishes he could! Add that to a waist swivel, semi-decent hips, balljoints most places you could want them, and RabbitTank (and all the other Best Matches who share his base body) can pull off a fair few poses. He’s obviously not figuarts level, but he’s plenty enough for looking nice on a shelf. As long as you don’t mind the hands.

Unfortunately, RabbitTank doesn’t include any true accessories, not even a stand. Instead, each half body comes with a solid black half for it to pair with, which features no paint, no articulation, and no fun. I forgot to bring it with me to college, so I didn’t even take photos of it. That’s how bad it is.


Now, we move onto GorillaMond, which occupies a very weird place in Build’s early days. You see, they had to promte the Best Match gimmick early on, which means GorilaMond was built up as the big “form swap”, featuring in both of Build’s appearances in Ex-Aid, as well as debuting to big fanfare in Episode 2. After that? Practically nothing. Toei used it to drum up interest, and dumped it by the side of the road along with all the other initial forms (looking at you, Musashi Damashii), which is a shame. GorillaMond has a lot to love about it.

This is the ideal male body. You may not like it, but this is what peak performance looks like.

Are Harambe references outdated in 2019? Survey says yes.

For a start, the colours are really swishy. The browny/orange on Gorilla seemed a little odd in-show, but it works nice in hand, especially on the massive bulky Gorilla arm (The Muscle Glove, as the wiki tells me). Speaking of, I love the Muscle Glove. It works to set this form apart from RabbitTank, and gives it the persona of a bulky bruiser. If Build forms were seperate Riders, this would be the Hulk.(RabbitTank would be Iron Man, obviously).

That’s not to say Diamond isn’t neat, either. The pale blue is the obvious colour scheme, and while the little diamond details are stickers, they stay on well after a coat of glue, and give the figure some nice torso detailing. The shoulder pad is a little more annoying to put on, since it curves, but I managed in the end. Overall, a much more refined persona than the bulky Gorilla halfbody, which is why they work so well together. The faceplates this time are a really pointy diamond (ehh, alright) and a gorilla’s fist (amazing).

Get used to this kind of image.

Sento's attempts to swat the fly were ineffectual because of his massive glove of doom.
 GorillaMond has the exact same articulation as RabbitTak (and practically every other Best Match), so I won’t go over it in detail. He does, however, come with a stand (included in the Gorilla half), as well as the Drill Crusher in Sword Mode (included with Diamond). It isn’t able to switch to Blaster Mode, but the drill blade (?) can come off, if you have somewhere to attach it. While it looks a little goofy in Gorilla’s Hands, Diamond looks fine holding it, but it’s obviously meant to go with RabbitTank.
Despite it's name, did Sento ever use this as a drill?

The one thing scarier than the Hulk - the Hulk with a stick.
 Sadly, there aren't any removable Fullbottles to play around with, though at this scale, I'd be worried about accidentally inhaling one and dying. Killed by gimmicks isn't the way I want to go.



Finally, we have a form never seen in show – HarinezumiSoujiki! Or HedgehogCleaner, if you’re me and don’t speak Japanese. Why am I showing this, if it isn’t actually a form Sento ever used? Because neither of them have a Best Match, yet. You see, in show, both the Harinezumi and Soujiki bottles were introduced in the first couple of episodes to bulk up Build’s fullbottle count, as well as give him a little more variety in forms. However, their Best Matches (Syoubosha and Lion) weren’t introduced till much later (by which I mean episode 8 or so), so SO-DO couldn’t release them yet. Therefore, I’m gonna look at them together for now, because it’s much easier to pose a whole figure than each half separately. Incidentally, this is my proof you can be mixed-and-match halfbodies, which is a huge reason to get into SO-DO. All the swapability of the gimmick line, with more articulation and releases.

I have no idea why, but this looks so brooding.

Firstly, Harinezumi. I like it. It reminds me of a less green Funky Spike, and the different armour design stands out on my shelf, with how it covers the whole upper arm, not just the shoulder. He can’t hold anything because of how he's designed, but would he need to, with that fist? The faceplate is, obviously, a hedgehog’s prickles, which I respect. The white is nice, if a little bland, with little to break it up. It also suffers simply from being white plastic, which makes it look just a little cheap.

He looks perfectly normal when you can't see the giant hoover, though.

Then, we move onto one of Build’s more infamous armours. Yes, it has a vacuum cleaner for an arm. Is it even the stupidest form we’ve seen? Fourze had a toy which gave him a butterfly net. In any case, it manages to be so stupid it works for me, probably helped by how the show made it seem really versatile. From sucking up projectiles to blowing away guardians, I’m surprised by how much this one saw use in Trial Forms. The hoover tube isn’t connected to the upper arm, which allows the  elbow to bend, but can be visually bothering if you care about it seeming realistic. I prefer articulation over having a solid arm, so I like how it’s pulled off. The faceplate is a hoover nozzle, which is nice enough, and the teal colour is a shade of blue we haven’t had yet in this set. I’m surprised by how much I ended up liking this combo – the white and teal complement each other, and while it doesn’t quite have a stand-out personality in the way GorillaMond does, it pays off in looks. 

Admit it, Sento having fun with a metal detector is perfectly in character. You know he'd be happy to find anything, even trash.

Ignore the Fire Engine, that's for Wave 3.

Also ignore the rock, because I needed to rest it against *something*.

Accessories are: a Stand, as standard, a small tube to lengthen the hoover arm – simply pull off the nozzle, plug in the longer piece, then plug in whatever you want – and the Drill Crusher in blaster mode. This time, the drill piece isn’t removable, for whatever reason, but I’m glad it was released so early, especially considering Soujiki can’t actually hold it. Neither can Harinezumi. The weapon is purely meant for other forms, to encourage you to buy them.

"Banjou, I told you to take out the trash yourself next time!"

"My drill is the drill that will pierce - what's that? Guren Lagann references are outdated?"

The Drill Crusher is a cool weapon. No arguments.

Both of these look pretty good, not gonna lie.

GorillaSoujiki, on the other hand, does not.

Finally, here’s something I won’t do for literally every wave, because the amount of photos I’d have to take would grow factorially, but enough of these Trial Forms saw use that it seems worth it. Firstly, we have HarinezumiTank and RabbitSoujiki, from episodes 1 and 2. Then, RabbitDiamond and GorillaTank, neither of which were ever used. Sad times. Finally, we have GorillaSoujiki (From episode 3!) and HarinezumiDiamond (Never). Nome of them look super-amazing, but here they are. This is the kinda nonsense that makes Build the Rider with either the most of second-most forms, depending on how many medals OOO has that day. 

"Avengers, Assemble!"

(And I promise those equations are correct.)

So, to conclude, is this a good set? As much as I love the forms, I’m not sure I’d recommend it. It has a lot of positives to it – RabbitTank is obviously a must-have, GorillaMond both looks sweet, and is my representation for Takumi Katsuragi, and Harinezumi and Soujiki are BOJ’s designers throwing out stupid ideas and making them work. But RabbitTank can be found elsewhere, in a set with Cross-Z, who we’ll get to later, and while I, a huge Build-weeb, am all about the Best Matches, I can see why some people might not like them. Neither Harinezumi or Soujiki are amazingly memorable, only showing up in the big form rush of the first 10 episodes, and while GorillaMond has a few more appearances, half of them are from Ex-Aid!. If you’re really interested in the early days of Build, you’ll love them, but if not, there's plenty more to check out.

"The Genius Physicsit, Kiryu Sento, has arrived!"

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