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Pacific Rim: Uprising
by yo go re

While you would have had to turn to Bandai if you wanted Raijin or Shrikethorn, Pacific Rim: Uprising's third kaiju, Hakuja, gets a Diamond Select Toys release.

A category IV Kaiju, Hakuja can harness the elements of stealth and surprise by plunging into the ground, burrowing beneath the feet of its target to emerge in an explosive surprise attack. The beast's bone-plated spike tail can act as a stake through the heart of an unlucky Jaeger, and its magma-powered bloodstream pumps molten lava through the muscles of each limb.

Well that sounds pretty badass, doesn't it? Of the three new monsters in Uprising, Hakuja is the one most like those in the first movie - in that it shows recognizable influences from real-world animals. It's long and low, like an alligator, but it's not a near-direct lift like the first movie's crocodilian Raiju was.

For example, Hakuja has six legs, which makes him look more like a tardigrade than anything else. They each have their own armored plates on the upper and lower segments, somewhat like a crab shell, matching the ones that line the top of its back. The clawed feet are held at weird angles, suggesting a mole's awkward appendages and fitting with the notion that it digs through the earth. And of course, the tail ends in a devilish little tip.

The head is quite weird. The lower jaw is split in two, and ends in a pair of big, up-turned spikes. Small sharp fans flank the pointed tongue, and there's no upper lip, leaving those fangs exposed as well. The top of the head has a flat, angular plate that's shaped like a sting ray or a stylized pterodactyl's wings. That seems like it would be a liability while tunneling.

DST's kaiju is brighter than Bandai's were. The brown is a warmer shade, with more red in it, and the (non-metallic) blues are closer to green. There are small yellow dashes all over the surface, and if you flip the monster over, there's a metallic line down the center of its belly, like the vein in a shrimp. And other little lines branching out from that.

DST's kaiju has better articulation, too, though that's not really saying a whole lot. The four rear legs have swivels where they meet the body, in the middle at the elbow, and inside the armor as an ankle, while the front pair have all that and additional hinges in the shoulder. The head has a swivel/hinge neck, and a hinged jaw. That's generally better than not having those joints, but the style of them makes finding any useful pose very difficult. Like, even getting all four of the back feet on the ground is a chore, and requires some of the limb segments to nearly be turned upside down. Good luck finding more than one pose back there! It might almost have been worth just making those limbs non-mobile, and adding more joints in the front legs.

According to the official size chart, Hakuja should be the smallest of the PR Uprising kaiju, but since DST's toys are in a larger scale than the Sofvi Spirits line, it ends up nearly the same size: only about 4¼" tall, but a good 11" long, even with the tail curled back toward the front. There is a Bandai Hakuja available, but DST making one meant I didn't have to try to track it down at some obscure store.

It seems this is the only kaiju Diamond will be releasing - Pacific Rim: Uprising was not as good as the original, so don't expect this license to get milked for years the way NECA was able to do. Still, that leaves a definite missed opportunity (beyond just the Jaeger "Murder Witch"). One of the few kaiju NECA didn't get the opportunity to make was Onibaba, the big crab one; the same Onibaba that appears during a training sequence in this movie. Even if they only have the rights to this sequel and not the original, Diamond Select Toys could have made a figure that directly added to existing collections, one that fans had been hoping for for years.

-- 06/18/19

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