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Bandai: S.H. Figuarts Shohei Ohtani

Ever since the demise of the original Starting Lineup figure line, I have had very few chances to combine my action figure and baseball collecting passions. Yeah, I know McFarlane does their Sports Picks line, but that has never really been my bag due to my need to have figures that I can actually pose (and they love to not make figures of people I am most interested in buying). But now, Bandai has come through with an S.H. Figuarts release of Japanese baseball phenom Shohei Ohtani, and if you don’t know his name yet, he is about to take America by storm.

Despite living in an age of hyperbole and media frenzy, calling someone the “Japanese Babe Ruth” still carries SERIOUS weight in terms abilities and, of course, expectations. Nevertheless, that handle has been applied to Ohtani, and while he has been a member of the baseball team with the greatest name in the history of everything, the Nippon-Ham Fighters (yes, they are owned by a food processing conglomerate), MLB clubs stateside have been licking their chops at the idea of landing the next generational Japanese talent. He pitches, he rakes, he seemingly does it all, and the release of this figure could not be any timelier as he is expected to sign with his choice of MLB club as early as next week. Sadly, my Royals are not in those sweepstakes, but I did not expect that to be the case anyway.

I have been fortunate enough to actually go to a professional baseball game or two in Japan, and I can tell you there is nothing like it. It is so much fun being a part of the crowd, so in getting this new figure, I actually have a tinge of nostalgia to go along with it. Plus, with Ohtani’s imminent MLB signing, this might be a very nice celebration and send off of his time with the Fighters. The fact that he both hits and pitches gave Bandai a lot of options for accessories and interchangeable parts, and in true SHF fashion, they have included a lot. If I was a better customizer, and if these things weren’t like $60 apiece, I would probably buy several more of these figures and go to work on making some of my favorite Royals players.

That said, this is probably the best the Shohei Ohtani is going to ever look in action figure form, and regardless of the actual person, I am really pleased to have an S.H. Figuarts baseball player figure in my collection. Not all Figuarts releases are home runs (wokka wokka!), but man, when one hits on all cylinders, it is hard to beat in teams of quality and execution. This is one of those instances, and everything from the likeness to the articulation to the accessories works very, very well, and if Ohtani never plays baseball professionally in Japan again, this is a hell of a sendoff.

When a figure is based on a real person, the make or break point is generally the likeness, I think that Shohei-san is well represented here. There are two faces, one is more placid with a thoughtful expression, and the other is more “in the moment” and celebratory with and open mouth. I really like the first one for reading pitch signs, and maybe even a focus for an at bat, but am likely going to default to the former for my display (even though I was originally planning on posing with a bat) because it works so well. With more manufacturers entering the “face printing technology” game, Bandai is going to have to continue to improve to show why they are industry leaders at this junction, and Ohtani is a good representation of that progress. Along with the new The Last Jedi Kylo Ren, he enjoys much cleaner printing than what we have seen before, and the dotted stippling of the technology is starting to blend a lot better, so I am happy with this, and excited for the future.

The articulation in this figure is right on par with what you should be expecting from an SHF release at this point, both in scheme, and engineering. I have been playing with this figure for a couple of days now, and I am pleased with all of the realistic baseball poses he can achieve. Pitching stances and delivery poses are the most dynamic here, I think, but you can get the full bat swing motion step by step here as well, from the stance to the full follow through. I have not played around with tradition defensive positions, be they infield or outfield quite as much, but everything from dives to picks can be possible there, thanks to the thoughtful articulation scheme and the fluid range of movement for most of the joints. The logo-ed stand is actually really nice, and I am not even a big stand guy, and this does, of course, help with the balance on some of the more dynamic poses.

Also helping with all of the on-field realism is the accessories, and really, save for a giant chaw of bubble gum or sunflower seeds, this figure has just about everything. With this figure, you get different hands, and within that set are pitch grips, and those with batting gloves (VERY nicely detailed) to help on the offensive side, you get his glove, bat, batting helmet, and the aforementioned alternate face portrait and Fighters logo stand. Oh, and you get an alternate right shin with the guard in place for when he takes his ABs — that is a very nice touch that I appreciate. That covers just about everything you need, I guess I could wish for a loose baseball, and maybe some outstretched hands to help create sliding poses, but there is some much here, I am pretty happy.

What a fun figure! I love action figures! I love baseball! So, yeah, I was probably a mark for this from the start, but Bandai did a nice job with this figure, and Ohtani is a generational talent, so I think he is deserving. As I said, by this time next week, he will likely be in an MLB uniform, so that could be a cool release variation down the road, but again, nothing is going to be the Nippon-Ham Fighters. If you are an Ohtani fan, or just a baseball fan in general, this is a great piece, so I recommend you pick it up right away.

12 thoughts on “Bandai: S.H. Figuarts Shohei Ohtani

  1. Well, there’ll be Hiroshi Tanahashi’s (Japanese pro wrestler) figure from SHF soon, they already put a prototype on the Tamashii Nation 2017 next to SHF Masked Rider Kabuto (which he’s a big fan of).

  2. Have you seen the new SHF with real fabric?
    There’s an image of Hanamichi Sakuragi (from basketball themed comic Slamdunk) circulating around after the Tokyo Comic Con 2017, so it’s not impossible to see those sports figure in the future.

  3. This along with their WWE and Tiger Mask figures, makes me hopeful that they’ll one day make figures from New Japan Pro Wrestling…specifically some of their more iconic wrestlers (native and gaijin) from the 80s and 90s.

  4. I’m happy seeing the Angels and Mariners trade away prospects in the hopes of signing Ohtani. Should make it easier for the Astros to stay on top.

    Seeing Yankees fans act like spurned lovers is also great.

  5. No interest in baseball, but if they start doing NFL or NBA players I’m in trouble…

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