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Bracer Phoenix

Pacific Rim: Uprising
by yo go re

Wow, the new version of Jean Grey looks really different!

A Mark V brute that can still run with the VI's, Bracer Phoenix shoots from the chest, with a centrifugal vortex cannon that is as spectacular as it is deadly.

Yep, she's a Mark V Jaeger, which means Bracer Phoenix is as technologically advanced as Australia's Jaeger, Chunder Dingobaby. Since the Fives were launched in 2019 and Uprising takes place in 2035, that means by the time we're introduced to this little firebrand, she's older and more outdated than the Mark I Cherno Alpha was in the first film!

If you stand Bracer next to Striker Eureka, you can definitely see some similar design trends that were apparently are going to have been all the rage next year. The shape of the chest, for instance, or the texture on the abdomen. Even the shape of the head has some parallels, though this one just has a single eyeslit instead of a bunch of windows, and the jawline flares out to make the head look like it belongs to a stronger 'bot.

Pacific Rim: Uprising did away with the national origins for the Jaegers, but Bracer Phoenix is apparently a Chinese design - thus the nickname of "the Shanghai Shield." And yet its design directive seems to be "what if Operation Desert Storm were a robot?" It's thick and armored and bristling with guns, the legs bend backward like an animal's, and the big armored plates on the tops of the shoulders look like it's carrying around military bunkers. Even the colorscheme - a sandy brown that seems as though it was inherited from Horizon Brave - makes it look like it comes straight from the Gulf War.

Like Crimson Typhoon, Bracer Phoenix has three pilots; unlike Crimson Typhoon, that doesn't translate into any strange anatomy. Rather, the superfluous member of this throuple mans (well, "womans," honestly, because Viktoriya Malikova is the one who drops into the gunner pod) the Vortex Cannons. Unfortunately, there's a missed opportunity here: in the film, the guns can swivel around the sides of the Jaeger to point backwards; here, they're fixed in place. Now, we're not saying that Diamond Select should have articulated the guns on their tracks, so they could actually slide around in real life, but making them separate pieces so you could take them out and plug them into the back would have been cool.

All NECA's Jaegers were the same general size, but DST is really changing things up. Remember how Gipsy Avenger was 8½" tall? Bracer Phoenix doesn't even break the 7" mark. Is that a mistake? Bad planning? Poor quality control? Not at all - if you compare the official heights of the characters on a size chart, you'll see that all three of the figures in this series are accurately scaled to one another. DST could have bumped Bracer up to giant proportions, but they knew not to.

BP may be tiny, but there's no short-changing the articulation. The figure moves at the head, shoulders, elbows, wrists, chest, hips, knees, ankles, and toes. The ankles and shoulders are those weird new joints the other two figures have had, but we get some more traditional ball-and-socket joints, as well - often connected to those same new joints. It's very poseable! The left knee on mine is a little loose, but not to the extent that the toy won't stand: just to the extent that it tends to squat rather than standing tall.

Despite its small size, Bracer Phoenix gets the fewest accessories out of any of the Series 1 releases: just an extra pair of hands. Gipsy Avenger got extra arms and weapons, Saber Athena had her swords, and Bracer Phoenix gets fists. They're nice fists - the right hand has a simple metal plate on the back, while the left is wearing some kind of device that appears to be a big robotic boxing glove, a huge chunk of armor with spiked knuckles. Actually, other than the nipple-guns, all Bracer's weaponry seems to be on the left: the steel glove, three guns on the forearm, two missile-pods on the thigh... and then nothing on the right. Huh.

DST isn't the only company making Pacific Rim: Uprising figures: there's also Bandai/Tamashii Nations, with their Robot Spirits line. And while we were sent this figure for review, I was still more excited for Diamond's versions than Bandai's: you get a better size at a lower price, so while Bandai's Bracer Phoenix comes with interchangeable chest-guns, that's its only advantage.

-- 05/26/18

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