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Bruce Lee

SH Figuarts
by Monkey Boy

Bruce Lee is just the best. I've said it before. But I'm saying it again. Bruce Lee is awesome. I've been waiting for an action figure company to really come and take full advantage of the possibilities a Bruce Lee line has to offer, but so far only Art Asylum has really come up with anything, and those were some time ago (and also lacking in articulation). I've often thought NECA could give us a decent range of 7" style figures, with the fleshtone plastic they used for their Rocky and Dutch figures, but alas it has not happened yet.

Two Japanese companies have stepped up to the plate, however. Good Smile and Bandai have both come up with standalone Bruce figures. I'll be reviewing the Bandai SH Figuarts version today, because it is objectively a better figure than the Figma. But just because one is better, does it mean it's worth getting? These type of imported figures typically aren't cheap, so you really have to know what you're getting before dropping around $50 or more on one. Let's take a look and find out!

The sculpt of this figure is great. His body is muscly but small, just like Bruce was, with sculpted cuts and very little body fat. The figure also manages to handle his baggy pants well, keeping the puffy look while still allowing for decent articulation. Unlike the soft, cartoony Figma version, this one is very detailed, with an exceptional Bruce likeness on all four of the interchangeable faces. It definitely has more detail than you might expect for the size.

And that's really the one downside. This figure is short. Bruce Lee was indeed not particularly tall at 5'7", but this figure takes it to an extreme. Six-inch scale figures are usually a little upsized, but Bruce is a solid 5½" (around 14 centimeters). This might seem accurate to a 6" scale, if you're assuming 1 inch = 1 foot, but as I said, this scale of figures is typically upsized, i.e. not every hero is six feet tall, but their figures are typically 6" (or bigger). I don't know how tall Spider-Gwen is supposed to be, but I doubt it's taller than Bruce Lee. He'll look a bit odd with your Marvel Legends figures, is what I'm saying.

But with how awesome he ends up being, you might not mind so much. His articulation, for example, is insane. He's got balljoints at the top and base of the neck, hinged swing out deltoids, peg and hinge shoulders, peg biceps, double-hinged shoulders, balljointed and hinged wrists, a balljointed chest and waist, peg and hinge hips, peg thighs, double peg and hinge knees, balljointed ankles, and mid-foot hinges. There really isn't an iconic Lee pose that he can't handle.

And he's got a lot of accessories to use with all that articulation. He has the aforementioned four faces: at rest, exhaling (eyes forward), exhaling (eyes sideways), and crazy wide-eyed open mouth wail. Of these, the sideways eyes is my favorite and most iconic, but your mileage may vary. To switch them, you just pop the front of the head off. The seam is very well hidden when the face is in place and secured.

He also gets 11 different hands: two open hands (fingers together), two open hands (fingers splayed), two fists (closed), two fists with holes for weapons, two hands with "martial arts pose" style fingers, and a thumbs up. They pop off the wrist pegs easily, and really help you achieve a wide variety of looks.

He also gets four weapons: a pair of nunchaku, a staff (referred to in the instructions as a "long cudgel"), and two short staffs ("short cudgels"). They slip in and out of the appropriate hands easily enough, though the instructions note they may cause paint rubs if used for too long in any one pose, so be aware.

That's a decent amount of accessories, but there is one glaring omission: he has no stand. This is the one place where the Figma figure has the advantage. It's really unfortunate that such an amazing figure can't do a flying kick pose, or some other crazy jumping feat, due to lack of a stand. You can purchase Tamashi Nations/Figuarts stands separately, but they aren't ­cheap. Considering the already-steep price for this figure, you may not want to spend the 25 bucks or so for a pack of stands (though, to be fair, there are three to a pack).

It occurs to me that I have not discussed the paint yet, possibly because it's the least exciting aspect of the figure. It's well done, but in a way that makes it not stand out one way or the other. The faces are very well done, with a lot of care on the lips and eyes in particular. The rest, however, is basic skintone and black for the pants and shoes, with white for his socks. There is some subtle shading in the skintone, but it's so light as to be almost unnoticeable unless you're really looking for it closely. The paint is more than adequate, but I guess I can't help but shake the idea that the NECA skintone plastic would be amazing with this figure.

Despite the few flaws with this figure (small size, lack of stand), it's definitely the best Bruce for the price. If you want to go bigger, you could always go with the Hot Toys or Enterbay quarter- and sixth-scale stuff, but you'll run out of room and budget quick. If you want something that can decently fit in with your smaller figures, with some exquisite detail and playability, this is the Bruce figure for you.

-- 04/01/16

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