Continuing the Heisei era, Battra (Adult) joins the S.H.MonsterArts line. Released as a web exclusive in Japan, Battra is priced at $64.99 in North America. It’s not a bad price, but it isn’t greatest deal either. Unfortunately, being labeled a web exclusive tends to increase prices. Nevertheless, Battra is a long awaited entry and I was very excited for it when it was announced. The only figure I’ve ever owned of Battra was the 90s Trendmasters figure, which actually wasn’t all that bad given how cartoony that line was. That being said, I was looking forward to its screen accuracy and scale within the rest of the line. It doesn’t disappoint, however, it’s far from perfect.
Yuji Sakai continues his master craft with Battra by meticulously sculpting it to perfection. Comprised of mostly PVC and some ABS, it’s a pretty solid, yet lightweight, figure. The body is about five inches long and it has a wingspan a little over twelve and a half inches long! The head is made of ABS material, meaning it’s translucent. This allows for light from all directions to illuminate Battra’s eyes, which is a really cool effect. Past released figures that have had translucent eyes are able to illuminate, but the way they’re designed requires an incredible amount of concentrated light. In Battra’s case, you don’t have to use a concentrated light source to illuminate the eyes. Surrounding light, even in dim conditions, gets the job done. The mandible teeth and the surrounding tusks are shear and not blunt. The translucent horns on top of the head have many grooves and curves, giving them some depth for when the light bounces off them. Be careful of the horns as they are sharp to the touch. The sculpting of the head is very well done and manages to capture that menacing insect look that defines Battra’s dark nature.
The body has tons of intricate details throughout. What I like about the top/backside of Battra is that it looks like the armor that you would see in some insects. The midsection is topped with at least ten small rows of jagged bumps. The abdomen features larger plates of armor. It’s topped with at least nine rows of armored plates that almost look like a hybrid of feathers and scales. It’s very unique. Each plate of armor has vertical grooves that flow in a “V” direction. Another interesting design is the small translucent spikes/horns on the sides of the abdomen. In the film “Godzilla vs. Mothra” (1992), whenever Battra unleashed beams from its eyes, these little spikes/horns would illuminate along with the horns on its crest. These also illuminate, although they seem to require a little more concentrated light than the eyes do. At the tip of Battra’s abdomen is what looks like a stinger in the shape of a pincer claw. It’s similar to the ends of a centipede or a mouth of a horned beetle. However, it’s more of a design aesthetic rather than a defense mechanism as Battra can’t use it to sting opponents. It’s easy to bend, but I wouldn’t mess with it as it feels like it could snap with too much force.
The underside of Battra looks like a typical insect exoskeleton. Lacking the armor found on its backside, it is definitely the tender spot of the sculpt. The midsection is sculpted with deep grooves to accentuate that bit of exoskeleton that connects to the legs. It reminds me of the midsection of a grasshopper. The underside of the abdomen continues to look soft with no armor plating. Differing from the midsection, it looks less like an exoskeleton and has many vertical rivets that run down to the stinger.
The legs are insect-like featuring sharp, long, rounded, and flat surfaces. The legs are divided into four sections. The first section is small, no bigger than a few centimeters, and cylinder shaped, and it connects the midsection to the main part of the legs. The next section features a harder and rougher design, more similar to a hide from an amphibian than to an insect. The section after that is the other half of the leg, which features the similar cylinder design that connected the midsection to the legs, and seamlessly continues with the rougher material which eventually leads to the sharp talons. Both sides of this section of the legs feature the three little angled horns, (for six total). The talons are sculpted to perfection using smooth angular curves. What’s cool about the legs is that the third section can be folded under the second section for a better flight stance.
Mothra’s name is derived from the common Moth. Battra’s name is derived from… A bat? While I’m not entirely certain what type of insect Battra correlates with, it certainly has a bat-like aesthetic in its wing design. They’re beautifully sculpted and from a distance, it’s easy to say that it looks like an evil butterfly. The edges of the wings mimic this feature and are accompanied by many pointy edges. The wings also have small wave-like rivets instead of a flat feathery design. At the base of the wings, where they are attached to the midsection, is a rough surface, sculpted with many bumps and grooves. It looks like it could be armor, but it may be more like a tough hide instead. Toward the top edges of each wing design are two sharp spikes/horns, which can be used to tear into foes. A weird design aesthetic choice was to split the wing up into two parts. Perhaps this was to avoid breakage from the stress of the wings, but they’re pretty lightweight. Maybe they just wanted to add more articulation as they can both be separated, but it looks too weird. Thankfully both parts can be closed together for a more natural look.
Overall, Battra’s design is fantastic. Everything is proportional and it’s not fat like the old Trendmasters figure. It’s quite slim but maintains a menacing edge. I feel the illuminating eyes sell the look though. It’s my favorite design choice.
Looking back on the film “Godzilla vs Mothra” (1992), Battra doesn’t have a whole lot of movement, however, Tamashii Nations proves otherwise. The head has a good range of motion, most notably when tilting it downward at almost a 90 degree angle! The head can rotate left and right a little less than 45 degrees, enough for a cock-eyed look. The head cannot look upwards, as the maximum is a 180 degree line, making it flush with the body. This is due to the sculpting on the rear part of the head. Tilting the head left or right is also quite limited due to sculpting on the head’s sides hitting the midsection. The mandibles are fairly easy to open and shut. If you are big on symmetry, you may find it a little annoying that the articulation in the mandibles has little room for tilting upward and downward, resulting in a crooked looking mandible when closed. It can easily be pushed into the right place though.
The midsection has no articulation, but acts as an anchor for all the connected pieces. The abdomen’s articulation is a welcomed addition. The Battra puppet used in the film was rather stiff in this area, but Tamashii Nations has managed to add a hornet-like type of articulation. The abdomen is comprised of six points of articulation and, like the head, can barely tilt upward, with its maximum potential reaching a 180 degree line. However, it can tilt downward at about a 70 degree angle, achieving a pretty cool attack pose, like it’s readying its stinger. The abdomen can also tilt left to right at about 30 degrees. It’s limited, but it does add a more organic look to its articulation. The abdomen is rather stiff compared to the other body parts and with too much stress, it can pop off. It’s attached using a ball and peg joint, so it reconnects quite easily. The use of both hands when moving the abdomen is essential. Use one hand to grip where the abdomen connects to the midsection and the other to pose the abdomen. This will help prevent it from falling off. My only gripe about this is that when the abdomen is tilted downward to its maximum potential, it creates a giant gap where the midsection and abdomen meet, on the topside of the figure, exposing the ball joint and peg inside. It’s not a big deal and if it were closed, it probably wouldn’t be able to achieve as much articulation it can now. That being said, the abdomen is probably the best articulation point that Battra has to offer.
The legs’ articulation is mediocre. Each leg is comprised of four points of articulation using small ball joints. This isn’t an uncommon choice with this line and it usually does the job, holding pieces together while allowing for basic articulation. But this time, the ball joints seem to have issues with smaller pieces. Battra’s legs suffer a similar fault as the Destoroyah Aggregate forms’ tiny legs found on its underbelly, although only half as bad. They can fall out very easily from the slightest touch. Luckily they pop back in place easily. The legs use the assistance of a small washer/socket-like piece of plastic to supposedly help them stay attached. It can be frustrating to align theses smaller pieces to the body if they separate from a leg that falls off. Even worse, they’re so small that they’re quite difficult to spot. I suggest avoiding moving Battra over any carpeted area in case this happens. If you do lose that piece, it doesn’t seem to help all that much in terms of securing the leg to the body, but is rather an aesthetic choice. The legs can also be folded into each other. It’s difficult to do without ligaments falling apart, but it can be done. The legs initial articulation seems quite limited in how they’re posed. It’s difficult to spread the legs for a more dynamic attack pose, however, I found that the third section of the legs can be twisted to create a cool attack pose. Whether or not Tamashii meant for this function is unknown, but it certainly adds more to the figure’s capabilities. It’s a bummer they couldn’t just incorporate this movement without having to twist the legs. The talons are limited, but have the expected amount of articulation. They can rotate 360 degrees and can slightly tilt upward and downward.
The general question for Battra was whether Tamashii Nations had learned from the mistakes made with King Ghidorah’s wing design. Thankfully, they did. Although the wings feel cheap and brittle, the articulation is wonderful. Attached with a tube-like hinge system, they’re able to flap high and low. One of the complaints with King Ghidorah’s wings was that while they were able to flap upwards to the point that the tips almost touched, flapping downward stopped at a 180 degree line, flush with the body. Battra’s wings are able to move below the 180 degree line, and, with the help of the curvature design of the wings, they can faithfully recreate a resting or downward flap pose. An interesting point of articulation they added to the wings was to the lower half, which is sectioned off from the main wing. This means that Battra’s wings can be separated into two parts in different directions. In the film, the wings were never able to separate like this, so it looks weird. Thankfully you can move these sections together to make the wing look like a whole piece. This second section is connected to a similar tube-like hinge system under the main wing. I thought it was unnecessary, but perhaps it was a design decision to keep the wings from easily breaking? Either way, the weird pose can be avoided so it’s not much of a problem and it does provide some unique poses.
Overall, the articulation feels somewhat limited, but some pretty cool poses can be achieved with what’s available. Given the unique design structure of Battra’s insect legs, they did a good job. If you have big hands, prepared to be frustrated. I took a small amount of crazy glue and topped all the ball joints of the legs that attach to the midsection. Now they never fall off and are able to achieve the same amount of articulation as before. Just remember, use a small amount and not a glob of glue.
I have mixed feelings about the paint application used for Battra. The head, body, and legs are excellently painted. The head has a great array of different colors: red, yellow, and black. The eyes are predominately red, which works great with the overall motif. The mandibles and tusks on the face are perfectly blended with a yellowish white color. No paint splotches are present. The horns on its crest are a translucent orange-yellow color. Maintaining a perfect culmination of blending effects, they really shine. The whole body of Battra is mostly black, while the top features a red and yellow racing stripe pattern from its head to the stinger. On the midsection the red and yellow paint are delicately painted on the rigid bumps protruding from Battra’s armor. The pattern continues on the abdomen with the red being more prominent than the yellow. The yellow is outlined on the edges of armor while the red is mostly filled in. The stinger also has some neat fading from black to a yellowish white color at the tips. The underside of Battra is mostly black, with very minor yellow outlining on Battra’s abdomen.
Like the body, the legs are black while the talons and spikes/horns are yellowish white. The blending on the spikes/horns is very good, but the talons are a different story. Most of the talons on Battra are blended poorly and for some reason are black more than yellowish white. This may vary figure to figure, but in my Battra’s case, it’s not good. I would have liked to see the stronger paint application used on the tusks, on the talons.
The paint application used for Battra’s wings should have been the highlight for this figure. Unfortunately for my figure, that’s not the case. The pattern itself represents Battra’s iconic markings perfectly with red, yellow, and black colors. From a distance, it looks perfect. Up close though, the paint application is quite poor. It’s clearly a sprayed on decal for the wings. The left wing has a section of black that’s darker than the rest of the wing. The yellow outlines of the red are poorly blended against the black parts of the wing, which creates an unnatural digital looking dithering effect. The yellow parts of my figure aren’t as vibrant as they should be either because of it. Both wings have many markings that look like production flaws, where parts of the paint application seem to have double dipped, creating a vibrant line of color. This specifically can be seen on the yellow outlines. Parts of the red paint application look like they’ve been scraped during production, leaving random black marks in their place. The yellow outlines’ dithering is inconsistent and larger black spots appear randomly. There’s actually a spot on the wing where it looks like the figure or machine applying the paint application was bumped, resulting in a pattern offset with the rest of the design. This is all present on both sides of the wings. Perhaps I own a flawed figure, but I expected better than this. Hopefully other owners were more fortunate.
Overall, the paint application is mediocre at best. The body is really well done, but the wings and talons are sloppy. The talons I can forgive, but the wings, not so much. At least from a distance these flaws aren’t as noticeable, but I wouldn’t shoot a stop motion film with this particular figure.
Battra doesn’t come with any effect parts, but it does come with a flight stand specifically made for it. Though it’s not much, it’s an essential piece for a flying monster, something they forgot to include in the Destoroyah Evolution Set for the flying form. The base of the stand is similar to that found in the wall painting in “Godzilla vs. Mothra” (1992), where Battra and Mothra are shown fighting many, many years ago. The stand part that cradles Battra looks just like a mold of its under belly and it supports Battra’s legs. What I like about this stand is that it holds the figure in place without exposing a plastic pincer, as found on the Tamashii Stage Act stands. Granted, this method of holding the figure in place isn’t the sturdiest, so make sure Battra is properly balanced on the stand on a flat surface that can’t be easily bumped.
This is Tamashii Nations’ first endeavor with an insect type monster within this line. For the most part I really do enjoy the figure. It’s far from perfect, but it’s the best adaptation of Battra I’ve ever seen or owned in toy form. It’s not so much of an action figure as it is a display piece. Once it’s in a sweet pose, most collectors will probably leave it alone, and probably for a good long while. I don’t think it’s worth the $64.99 price tag. I would wait for $45-50. Articulation and paint aside, the sculpt is absolutely fantastic, making it is a great figure.
Is it a must have? No. Do I recommend Battra? Yes.
3.5 tokens of 5
"S.H.MonsterArts: The Articulation Series" does not reflect the official viewpoints or opinions
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