Review by SentaiSeiya
Now that ToQGer has come to an end, a new entry in the Super Sentai franchise has begun. The series for 2015 is Shuriken Sentai Ninninger. As you may or may not have guessed from the title of the show, the theme for this year is ninjas and their shurikens. The villain of the show is an evil demon that lay dormant in a shrine, where it was sealed by the Last Ninja using some special shurikens. One day, the demon is released from the shrine by another monster. So it’s then up to the descendants of the Last Ninja, the Ninninger, to put that demon back in its place before it wreaks havoc on humanity.
In usual Super Sentai fashion, the Ninninger have machines at their disposal do that they can deal with the monster-of-the-week after it has becomes super-sized. Rather than having a consistent theme between the mechas, the Ninninger employ an eclectic mix of machines and robots.
First up, let’s talk about AkaNinger’s mecha, the Shinobimaru. It looks like a cool combination of an older Super Sentai robot design and a ninja.
The spikes on the head remind me a bit of Battle Japan’s helmet.
Shinobimaru proudly displays the Ninninger logo on his chest. The eyes feature a nice metallic blue paint job that really make the peepers pop. The only real downside of this is that the metallic paint fails to capture the warm glow of the lightbulbs in Shinobimaru’s eyes that we see in the show. No biggie though.
In the show, the Shinobimaru is a very agile robot that can serve as a standalone fighting unit. However, this is a DX Super Sentai release with design choices that favor the combination of the individual toys over the articulation of said toys. So it is to be expected that this version of the Shinobimaru can’t quite pull off the acrobatic feats of its on-screen counterpart.
Heck, even its legs are stuck together. The Shinobimaru, however, isn’t completely devoid of articulation. The Shinobimaru’s arms rotate at the shoulder and the knees are on a hinge. So you can at least fake a running pose with the toy.
AoNinger pilots a blue dragon.The Dragomaru isn’t the meanest looking dragon, but it is a decent design.
The face reminds me a bit of Genocider’s (from Kamen Rider Ryuki) ugly mug. Like with Shinobimaru, Dragomaru’s legs are stuck together and they don’t look that great the front. Also like the Shinobimaru, Dragomaru suffers from a case of fist-crotch.
The chest features the Ninninger logo.
Dragomaru's hands move up and down, but not as much as Shinobimaru's.
So far, the mechas for this line have been pretty well in line with what you would expect for a ninja team. However, this is where things start to get a little weird. Even though last year’s Super Sentai was all about trains, the powers that be have managed to sneak a train into this year’s Super Sentai.
I present to you the Byunmaru, the MomoNinger’s train. Refreshingly, the Byunmaru’s design is very futuristic and sleek. Therefore, nothing about it is reminiscent of the trains in ToQGer.
At about 17.5 inches long, the Byunmaru is the longest of the toys in this set.
The front of the train features a mostly pink, black and gold paint scheme.
The rear part of the train trades in the pink for some white and a massive hole.
The hole is there for a reason, which we will discuss later.
The underside of the Byunmaru has wheels on it, so you can roll the train about.
The wheels are very much like the wheels featured on the ToQGer trains. So I guess when I said earlier that nothing about this trains is reminiscent of the ToQGer trains, it wasn’t 100% true. It was more like 99% true.
In the show, the hole in Byunmaru’s rear compartment serves as a storage place for another one of the Ninninger’s mecha, the Wanmaru.
Shironinger pilots what looks like a white wolf, but is in fact a doggy. The Wanmaru toy is the smallest and most basic of the five that make up the Shurikenjin.
The mostly-white body of the dog is really bland looking.
The only thing it really has going for it, in my opinion, is that you can open its mouth.
So far we have had toys based off a ninja, a mythical creature, a form of high-speed transportation and man’s best friend. So why not a dump truck as the KiNinger’s vehicle?
The dump truck is appropriately named Dumpmaru. It is a big block of yellow and black plastic. There is good reason for the Dumpmaru to be this big, as it a major component for the Shurikenjin.
Dumpmaru is proper looking toy dump truck, which is given some character by the shuriken symbol at the front of the vehicle.
The transformation for Shurikenjin is surprisingly satisfying, but not overly complicated. There is enough clicking, clacking and moving of parts to make this a fun toy to play with. The forming of the Shurikenjin is a nice departure from the over-simplified transformations of the ToQGer line.
Besides being a better toy to play with than any of the ToQGer trains, the Shurikenjin also looks fairly good and original. The only part of the toy that reminds me of a previous Super Sentai mecha are the legs, which are fairly reminiscent of the Gokai-Oh's legs.
As for size, the Shurikenjin is actually a hair taller than the ToQ-Oh, but packs a lot more design punch into a toy of such size.
There are a lot of nice detail and paint throughout the body of the Shurikenjin’s 11 inch tall body.
The arms feature a shuriken-inside-a-lantern logo on the shoulders. Each of the hands has claws on the knuckles because claws are a staple of ninja weaponry.
Besides the claws, the Shurikenjin has two weapons, both formed from parts of the Dragomaru. The wings of the Dragomaru combine to for the shield that rests on the left arm.
The shield features some nice detail molded into the plastic. I only wish there was a bit of color on it other than blue, to make the details pop out a little better.
The tail of the Dragomaru becomes the sword.
As for articulation, the Shurikenjin can move better than most DX Super Sentai toys. It can pull of the standard arm raising.
Furthermore, the right hand can actually rotate the right hand.
This is due to the fact that the arms rotates in order to hide in dump truck form. It is nice to have a rotating had because the toy to perform a proper side slash with the sword.
The Shurikenjin also has a good mount of leg articulation thanks to the Byunmaru's thigh and knee joints.
One of the gimmicks of the Shurikenjin is that the torso, formed by the open-box bed of Dumpmaru, becomes a cockpit for another mecha to ride in.
So the Shurikenjin is a robot piloted by a robot piloted by the Ninninger. In its first combination, the Shinobimaru acts as the pilot of the Shurikenjin.
Another gimmick of the Shurikenjin is this black puck.
The black puck includes the face of the Shurikenjin. It is also the part of the toy that houses the electronics.
Each press of the button at the top of the puck will give you sound effect from a set cycle of sounds: the names of the Ninninger’s mecha and a sword sound effect. When the puck forms the head of the Shurikenjin, the clips on the puck set off the catchy ninja tune for the Shurikenjin.
Another one of the gimmicks for this line are the collectible shurikens, which can be used with the black puck and also the Ichibantou, the transformation sword of the Ninninger.If you were lucky enough to score a first release of the Shurikenjin, it comes with the shurikens for all 5 Ninninger. Later releases will only come with the red and blue shurikens.
Each shuriken is unique, but they all have the same “N” on the inside of the shuriken. The blue shuriken has the “N” on the side that I did not photograph. The white, pink and yellow shurikens can be placed on the black puck to give the Shurikenjin a different colored hat.
The blue and red shurikens can also be placed on the puck, but they have proper combinations to go with the shuriken. Placing shurikens on the puck has no effect on the sounds that play from the puck, which plays the same sounds regardless of the shuriken that is paced on it. While this means the sound gimmicks for the Shurikenjin aren’t quite as sophisticated as the Kyoryujin’s battery reading gimmick, I am perfectly okay with this. I would much rather have a fun toy with an okay sound gimmick than a simple toy that relies substantially on its sound gimmick to increase the play value of the toy.
Now let’s check out the special combination for the blue shuriken.
For now the only other mecha that is able to sit in the pilot’s seat of the Shurikenjin is the Dragomaru.
In this combination, Shinobimaru becomes the left arm for the mecha. The tail and wings of the Dragomaru, which were the sword and shield of the Shurikenjin, are once again a tail and wings for the Shurikenjin Drago.
This combination is hunched forwards on the robot’s bent knees. It is a fun alternate combination that adds more play value to the toy. Remember how I said that the Dragomaru reminds me of the Genocider from Kamen Rider Ryuki? The Shurikenjin Drago reminds me of that mirror monster even more. I fell like Kamen Rider Ouja should make a cameo to pilot this form.
The face plate for the puck doubles and the bottom jaw for the dragon’s face on the blue shuriken. The new head sits atop the Dragomaru’s face, so you will end up seeing both faces.
When you place the black puck on Shurikenjin Drago's head, it plays a differnt tune for the Shuriken Drago combination. When the peg on Dragomaru's head makes contact with the black puck, it activates the song.
Time for the closing remarks. From the moment I started playing with and admiring the individual toys, I felt something that I haven’t felt with either the ToQGer or the Kyoryuger line: an immediate appreciation for the toy line. The Kyoryuger line won me over as the line progressed. The ToQGer line has yet to impress me. But the Shurikenjin has restored my faith in PLEXs Super Sentai designs. I have heard that the design team for Ninninger is the very same team that worked on the Tokumei Sentai Go-busters toys, which were very ambitious. While the Go-Busters designs tried to do too much and didn’t succeed at doing it all, the Shurikenjin proves that the design team has learned from their mistakes and is back on the right track. Hopefully Bandai is also back on the path of making toys that excite both children and adults who appreciate the Super Sentai line for its play value and quality.
|Posted 1 March, 2015 - 09:17 by SentaiSeiya|