If someone were to ask me what the meaning of mixed blessing was, I think I would have to
point them to the Dragon Ball Z line. First it started with over priced import figures
that were barely action figures. Then Irwin began to produce their own figures and it
seemed like everyone has cause to rejoice. That was until Irwin went belly up. But then
Jakks stepped in and bought the license. Until now it has been hard to say whether this
would prove to be a positive change or not. Their first three series were left overs
produced by Irwin. Series 14 gave us another unique character and for very different
versions of the core characters: civilian Vegeta, Teen Trunks, Goku in is new blue gi and
another all new version of Buu. But now it seems that Jakks may be showing their true
colors as the problems that have plagued wrestling fans seem to be rearing their heads in
the DBZ line. We have already seen the random scale changes begin with the new Striking Z
Fighters and Dragon Ball GT line. And now that series 15 is hitting shelves, it seems to
be following down the same dark path. I picked up four of the five figures: Cyborg Frieza,
Battle Damaged Mystic Gohan, Battle Damaged Super Saiyan Goku and Battle Damaged Vegeta.
The fifth figure that wasn't present at the time was Super Saiyan 3 Gotenks.
Packaging - 8/10This is one place where Jakks has really stood out and the new series is no exception. Each card has an image of the character on the top of the card along with the logo. The bubble includes two inserts, one with the figure information, character image and which part of the cartoon it comes from and one with some Japanese writing that I can't read. The figure is displayed prominantly in the center of the bubble with any accessories along the left side. But the most interesting feature is the bubble itself. rather than the standard retangular bubble they are shapes like a dragon ball on a rock. They even went the extra mile and included three stars on the top left of the bubble and even painted them red. The back of the card shows the entire series, the striking Z Fighters, power up figures and stadium. The overall result is a very attractive package evenif the back is a tad bland.
Sculpting - Cyborg Frieza 8/10 Vegeta 6/10 Gohan & Goku 5/10Frieza is and excellent rendition of a character that is fairly complex by DBZ standards. All of the textural details of the cyborg parts are present and well done. And the organic portions retain the clean lines of Frieza's final streamlined form.
Vegeta looked like a simple retool of Irwin's original Vegeta figure but it is actually a completely new sculpt. Aside from the obvious battle damage to the body armor, the entire figure has a taller and slightly slimmer look. His head has also been scaled down to be more in proportion with his body. The new version looks better especially with the figures from the recent waves. But to be honset, I think the original stocky version is probably more on model with the early anime. The head sculpt is also vastly improved. The giant nose and "what is that smell" expression are gone, replaced by a proper sneer that is more fitting for the prince of all saiyans.
Gohan is another completely new sculpt. He does look good but is just far too similar to the regular Mystic Gohan. In truth, every time I try to compare them I have to look for the battle damage to figure out which is the new figure.
Goku is the real disappointment. He is a straight reuse of the Irwin series 6 Super Saiyan Goku sculpt. It isn't a bad sculpt, but it isn't by any means a standout.
Paint - Vegeta 6/10 Gohan 5/10 Frieza and Goku 4/10Gohan and Vegeta both have fairly simple paint designs that are well executed. Vegeta's score gets an extra bumb for actually having an effective paint wash on the armor that helps to add a little extra depth rather than just making it look dirty as is so often the case. Frieza takes a big hit here due to Jakks' choice of colors for the metal sections of Frieza. Rather than just choosing a single color they went with a brushed paint effect that just doesn't work well on this scale. He simply looks dirty in my opinion. Goku take the hit do to the lame attempt to create battle damage with black splatters that look more like he lost in paintball. They did however try something new with his hair color. Rather than the yellow used for super saiyan hair on most figures or the gold that has been used in Japan and on a few limited release figures, this version has a nice metallic yellow paint for the hair. the added reflectiveness adds to the sense that his hair is actually glowing. Jakks could use a little improvement in their paint quality control though as all four figures from some clumpiness in the paint.
Articulation - Goku 3/10 others 8/10As I've said, Goku is a straight reuse of the old Irwin figure and it shows it age in this category with only 9 points of articulation. He is futher hindered by the preposed nature of the arms which have a decent range of motion but pretty much look the same no matter how they are posed.
Vegeta, Gohan and Frieza all feature the new levels of articulation with twenty, twenty-three and twenty two points of articulation respectively. All three have double jointed ankles (hinged and rotating), hinged knees, rotating hips, rotating waist, double jointed shoulders (rotating and hinged), double jointed elbows (rotating and hinged) rotating wrists, and rotating neck. Frieza loses the waist joint but adds a rotating tail and ball joint neck. But unfortunately the ball joint for the neck barely adds any range of motion. Gohan has an additional cut joint in each wrist and a hinged neck.
Accessories - 1/10Ok, DBZ figures have never been all that great in this area, with a few rare exceptions for the occassional sidekick figure. But this series has reached a new low. Between the four figures that I bought there was a total of five accessories: three more dragon balls, the breakable rock that we have seen several times recently and a sword with Frieza. Goku, who is already the weak figure of the series has nothing. Vegeta has the breakable boulder. Gohan comes with four more dragon balls. Frieza is the strangest of all though. He comes with a sword. That seems like a rather strange choice since Frieza met his end in this form when Trunks sliced him up with his sword, which is the entire point I'm sure. But the strange thing isn't so much that he comes with a sword or even that he can't hold it, it's that he doesn't come with Trunks' sword. He comes with Mystic Gohan's sword????
Value - Frieza 8/10 Vegeta 4/10 others 3/10Frieza is the winner of the four as it is a completly new version of the character that is nicely reproduced here despite the paint is slightly distracting and the joint for his tail seems a little weak. Vegeta isn't a terribbly exciting figure but he is nicely executed and a Frieza Saga Vegeta hasn't been available for quite some time. Gohan is a nice figure but is just too similar to the first Mystic Gohan that has only recently been cleared off the local shelves. Goku is just a poorly conceived reuse of a subpar figure whose only redeeming quality is the new hair coloring.
Happy Hunting:I found these at Toys R Us in Madison WI. They will probably be showing up at TRU stores nationwide over the next few weeks as the old stock dwindles down. They will also likely so up at Walmarts and possibly Targets in the near future.