Review: Blue Dragon Shu and Jiro
According to Wikipedia, Blue Dragon was originally a video game, which has expanded into an animated series and a manga series.
Until my wife picked up the two toys I'm reviewing today, neither of us had ever heard of "Blue Dragon" in any capacity (well, beside a lightning-breathing, desert-dwelling beast... but that's a different type of game).
So, why pick up the toys? Because they were cheap. Very, very cheap. And, as we all know, it's good to have cheap toys around for custom projects.
Today, I'm going to review two figures picked up separately. They're fairly even, so I'm going to review them together. The characters are named "Shu" and "Jiro". Each comes packaged with a projector which seems to tie into the game somehow (I think they summon things to fight for them or something).
So, without further ado, lets look at these figures, released by Bandai and purchased at Toys R Us.
Okay. First of all, I can't comment in any capacity on whether the toys look remotely like their counterparts in whatever video game, anime, or manga they're supposed to resemble. I can speak with a little more authority on whether they look good or not. And verdict is.... pretty good.
Like I said, I don't know whether these are good representations of Shu and Jiro, but... how shall I put this? They are pretty good representations of Goku and Link.
I don't know for sure that's who they're based on, but the likeness is certainly there. Shu is a little different than Goku (of Dragonball fame, of course), though the clothes, coloring, and even hairstyle certainly invoke the character. Jiro, on the other hand, is a hat away from Link. Okay, to be fair, Link's appearance has varied so much over the past twenty-five years that anything in a green tunic with a sword could be mistaken for Link. But both my wife and I had the same reaction upon seeing the toy, so there's clearly something there.
Of the two figures, I like Jiro more. The tunic looks nice, and the toy, well, just looks cool.
That's not to say there's anything wrong with Shu. I like the hair style they've given him and, overall, he's nice. But the tunic makes a big difference in the figures' appearance, not enough to adjust the score, mind you, but enough to be noticed.
Scoring this kind of figure is tough, but I'm going with a seven. The paint is a little dull in spots and the detail is sometimes lacking. On the other hand, the overall look is good, and I do like the toys.
Packaging and Extras: +1
All right, the packaging doesn't make sense without the accessory, so I'm going turn this section upside-down and begin with the projectors.
The projectors are little lights that shine a picture of a dragon (for Shu) and what I'm told is a minotaur (for Jiro). These work surprisingly well, though I doubt most collectors will have a use for them. Still, you can see the image pretty well, which I wasn't expecting. I like Shu's a little better, because a blue dragon looks like a blue dragon while a blue minotaur looks like, well, kind of like a weird blue dragon or demon or something.
These projectors are contained in what appear to be a cross between a shield and a tank. There's a clip on the back, allowing you to connect the shield to the action figures (more on this below).
The packaging is designed to play up the action feature. A lot of space is devoted to letting you try out the projector against a white circle. Like I said before, it works. For what it's worth.
Other than the projector, Jiro has one other accessory: a sword. It's pretty nice, though I'd rather if it was a bit larger and maybe more detailed. Still, I'm certainly glad it was included.
I feel compelled to give them a bonus point for the projectors, since they work pretty well. Jiro's sword is nice, but if you're wearing a green tunic you better have a sword (or be able to pick one up in a nearby cave). Plus, his projector isn't quite as good, so it all evens out.
Play and Display: ----
Jiro and Shu have nearly identical articulation, though each is missing a point of articulation that the other has. Well, technically Jiro has every point of articulation Shu has, but it doesn't all work.
The figures share cut shoulders, neck, and wrists. They also both have legs that turn on a "V", but Jiro's tunic prevents you from using his for anything beyond subtle balancing. To make up for this, Jiro has a waist joint that Shu is missing. While the legs may seem like a bigger deal, I'm actually more upset about Shu's missing waist joint: the tunic justifies the leg restrictions, but I honestly can't understand why they left out such a useful point of articulation on Shu.
The wrist joints were a little unexpected: it would have been easy to leave them out. But they really open up some potential poses, especially on Jiro. Between that and his waist, you've got some choices on how you want to display him.
Price Tag and Final Analysis: 8/10
I really don't know how much these originally cost. Six bucks? Eight? It doesn't matter; they aren't worth it. My wife doesn't remember the exact amount she paid, but said it was somewhere around two bucks each.
At two or three dollars apiece, you're getting your money's worth. Assuming, of course, that you know these characters better than I do or you have some other use for them. These are well suited for a variety of customization projects: Link and Goku are only the most obvious. My wife hasn't determined what she's going to use these for, but, given the simplicity of the designs, there are quite a few options.
These guys are fairly versatile: with minimal work they could be turned into any number of anime or video game characters. As is, I suspect most people who see them would take them for Link and Goku. And a couple bucks for a Link figure is a pretty good deal.
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