Just when you thought the S.H.MonsterArts line was being dominated by Godzilla figures, Tamashii Nations throws a curve-ball from nowhere… Introducing: S.H.MonsterArts X Monster Hunter! With the critical success of Monster Hunter: World (MHW), its expansion DLC (Iceborne), and new live-action movie, Tamashii Nations didn’t hesitate to partner with Capcom to bring its monsters to the real world using state-of-the-art 3D CGI data creation processes. The first up is none other than the ferocious and feisty Nargacuga, as seen in MHW: Iceborne! This figure introduces two new elements to the S.H.MonsterArts line: 1. This is the first figure from a video game franchise. Every release up to this point has been from cinema. Thanks to modern graphics and gaming technology, it’s clear that Monster Hunter was pursued for their lifelike creature design. 2. It is also the first quadruped figure in the line! Nargacuga debuts as a general sales release in Japan and made available in the US through Bandai Namco Collectibles (Bluefin). With an MSRP of $79.99, and the inclusion of first edition accessories, it’s sure to garner attention from Monster Hunter and Godzilla Fan’s alike. Without further ado, let’s see how Nargacuga looks in our real world!

 

Design:

 

Nargacuga is a welcomed addition to the S.H.MonsterArts line being a quadruped. While many have been holding out for an Anguirus or Baragon, this figure gives collectors an idea on how Tamashii Nations would execute said characters. For those that are not familiar with Monster Hunter, Nargacuga is a quadruped panther-like wyvern (a type of dragon). As mentioned earlier, the figure was created from the 3D CGI data used from MHW: Iceborne and it looks unbelievably fantastic! Comparing it to the source material, I can’t find any sort of flaws. The head is ferocious in expression whether its mouth is open or closed. The teeth are intricately sculpted and very tiny aside from the two lower fangs. The snout has a sort of beak-like aesthetic. The rest of the head is covered with fur which is surprisingly translated well for a figure made from plastic and not using actual threads of hair, although that could be interesting!

 

 

About 80% of the body is covered with fur textures. The underside of the figure is more consistent with traditional dragon scales/armor. Nargacuga’s body is generally slim yet muscular. What’s great is the top of the body accentuates the fur, almost like a cat with its fur standing up as it intimidates its foe. The tail especially has some interesting details as it nears its end, as it looks like the tip is sheathing something (more on that later). I can appreciate that the articulation engineering doesn’t break up the sculpt and that it is mostly consistent throughout. Looking at it from your shelf you may not even realize that there is articulation at all!

 

 

The arms are big and muscular with four segmented wing pieces. The membrane on the wings looks great, although can look messy/inconsistent depending on the pose, but that comes with the joys of articulation. One of the four winged segments is sculpted onto the elbow while the rest use ball joints. The edges of the wings, including the membrane, are sharp to the touch so exercise care when handling. The edge of the largest part of the segmented wings, which I’ll be referring to it as the wing blade, has armor-like detailing with a large blade on the ends. No doubt, it’s used as a weapon in fights. The palms of the hands and feet are well detailed and are reminiscent of a Bears. Its rear legs are smaller in size compared to its arms telling us that Nargacuga’s force comes from the front more so than the rear. The hind legs are sculpted very well and feature a blend of fur and dragon scales. The claws are short and somewhat nubby, but it works for this creature’s design. The feet and hands are closed together and not spread openly like most monster figures. It looks good when Nargacuga is on its fours but when posing it in an aerial or bipedal stance, it looks a little awkward. Perhaps alternate hand pieces would have been a nice option, but this figure already comes with some awesome accessories that will talk about later. It’s not a deal breaker by any means and just my personal preference.

 

 

Overall, the design and aesthetics are fairly accurate to what is seen in the game and as a fully realized figure from CGI data it doesn’t get any better than this.

 

Articulation:

 

S.H.MonsterArts has been around for almost a decade (10th anniversary is November 2021), and continues to implement new ideas with articulation engineering with almost every release. As this is the lines first quadruped figure, excitement was met with worry regarding how it would be pulled off. I’m happy to report that Nargacuga exceeds my expectations with its articulation engineering. It is well-thought-out and allows for surprisingly a great range of movement with little sacrifice to the sculpt. Being the first Monster Hunter release, Tamashii needed to get this right the first time around.

 

The head is on a ball joint which allows for some great expressions as it can tilt up and down and a little to the right and left. What I really appreciate about the head articulation is that it can also cock its head, akin to your dog hearing a high pitch frequency. It also reminds me of an expression Baragon does in the classic NES game, Godzilla Monster of Monsters. The articulation in the mouth is a bit different compared to most releases because the hinges are hidden within the cheeks of the upper mouth. The hinges are pegs and not ball joints which allow for the upper and lower mouth to open simultaneously. This allows Nargacuga to open its mouth quite wide to allow for a ferocious roar pose. The neck also has a total of five points of articulation which allow for some serious movement to the left and right. Looking upwards is a bit more limited but still has a good amount of range. This is due to parts of the sculpt where the accentuated fur stops other moving parts. When Nargacuga looks downward, it’s a different story and has a great range of movement. It can effectively look down at its feet.

 

 

The torso consists of two points of articulation. The upper torso is quite limited when twisting left to right and it can’t lean backward due to the sculpt. This means that Nargacuga at best can slightly curve it’s back upward. If you want to achieve a roaring in the air pose, the neck articulation will take care of it. However, the design of the torso also allows it to do an extreme ab crunch which makes for some fantastic pose opportunities. It works well for on all fours, a bipedal stance, or even in an aerial attack pose. The lower abdomen segment has a wider range of movement when it comes to twisting it left or right, making up for the upper abdomen hardly twisting at all. This segment also cannot lean backward due to the sculpt. Moving both of the segmented torso pieces together to get your pose will offer more of a natural look and while seemingly offering the illusion of more articulation than what’s really there.

 

The arms have a decent amount of articulation, six points in total. The arms are attached to the shoulders with large ball joints. Out of the box, these are rather tight. If you want to loosen them up, rotate the arm in a 360-degree motion until you feel it’s just right. For moving the arms while achieving your favorite pose, I don’t recommend moving the shoulder parts to much as the arms tend to pop out easily. You can get more motion by rotating the biceps which is easier. The bicep, elbow, and forearm have a good range of movement which works well given its unique design. What I mean by that is that the elbow has a wing piece sculpted into it while the bicep and hand have wings on ball joints. The ball jointed segments don’t get it in the way of movement and flow nicely. The inner elbow also looks to have some sort of webbing which slides in and out of the forearm and bicep thanks to precise articulation cuts. Regarding the winged segment on the bicep, it is on a ball joint but movement is extremely limited and looks to fill gaps depending on how the arm is posed. It’s essentially more about function versus pose ability. The winged blade is attached to the hand using a single ball joint and has a decent amount of articulation compared to the other segments. Underneath the winged blade is a smaller winged blade that can be unsheathed and slide out from its hidden spot. It definitely adds more to Nargacuga’s ferocity. The wrists have a satisfactory amount of articulation allowing them to twist a little in just about every direction. The palms of the hand have one point of articulation and move slightly upward before popping out of their sockets. The palms cannot move downward due to the sculpt, which is my only gripe when it comes to the articulation engineering of this figure. When Nargacuga is on all fours it works great, however in a bipedal stance or leaping through the air pose it can look awkward like Nargacuga is surrendering. I wonder if may be having the claws sculpted closed together may have something to do with it? We’re so used to seeing most monster figures with open clawed hands, so it is a bit different to see something like this. This is just a personal nitpick and in its current form I still think it’s good.

 

 

Unlike most monster figures in the line thus far, Nargacuga’s hind legs sport a different engineering. They have six points of articulation and mostly resemble a cat’s rear legs. The upper leg attached to the hip has a decent range of articulation where Nargacuga can do the splits, not that it’s a pose that most will try. This also allows Nargacuga to lay flat on its belly to replicate poses like when it’s been downed by Hunter or enemy monster. The knees have good range of articulation. The ankles are surprisingly responsive and have decent mount of movement. The palms of the feet have similar articulation engineering as the hands and can only tilt upward, however this is okay as the feet should have limited range so that they can support the weight of the figure.

 

The articulation engineering in the tail is fairly straight forward with six points of articulation. Despite having similar sculpted details as the back, the tail can be posed upward like a scorpion fairly well. Posing it downward is just as good. The ab crunch gives the illusion that the tail has much greater articulation when Nargacuga curls up into a ball. The tail movement left to right is absolutely fantastic and can almost touch its elbows. It’s amazing that a tail with six segments can achieve far more articulation than a Godzilla tail that has 12 points or more of articulation (of course this has to do with sculpting and the way that the articulation engineering is implemented).

 

 

Overall, the articulation engineering on Monster Hunter’s first figure in the S.H.MonsterArts arts line is stellar and a perfect example of what Tamashii Nations is capable of when it comes to super articulated figures done well. The joints are tight out of the box, and few joints fell off during the photography shoot (only the right arm at the shoulder socket seemed finicky). Nargacuga is so versatile that even after messing around with it for an hour I’m still able to come up with some unique poses, be them silly or accurate to the game. There are times though where hyper extending points in the neck and base of the tail can reveal some unsightly gaps, but can be mostly circumvented.

 

Paint:

 

At first glance, Nargacuga looks to have a simple paint scheme comprised mostly of shades of navy blue with a touch of light purplish pink hues on the wings. Up close, there’s little more than meets the eye. The body is about 90% a navy blue with touches of weathering. This comprises of the head, the neck, the backside, part of the arms, the legs, and most of the tail. The head naturally has a little more to offer with a faded burgundy line from the eyes to the ears, which kind of ends in a purplish white towards the tips. The blending is superb on the ear tips, however, the painted line from the eye to the ear is just a solid streak with no blending. The eyes are a nice gold color, however it’s hard to really see it unless you’re looking closely. The snout is a metallic blackish gray blend of paint which accentuates the details. The inner mouth is light pink with some blood red dry brushing for emphasis on details on the sculpt. The tongue is a flat pink with no shading or dry brushing. The teeth are quite small and painted white with some spots here and there that could have used a little more attention. The two lower fangs are painted well. Under the lower jaw, it features a nice blending of gray which goes throughout the whole underbelly.

 

 

Nargacuga’s underside, or chest/underbelly, is much more colorful than its topside. The primary color is a light gray with lots of brownish-bronze blending where the navy blue meets. This is all airbrushed and it’s quite effective. Because the coloration is somewhat metallic, it looks more bronze in some areas, specifically around the chest and near the hip sockets. Even parts under the tail have a little bronze tint. Going back to the arms, they also feature the light gray blend all the way to the palms. The blending is exquisite thanks to airbrushing technique. Unlike the bottom of the arms, the top part uses light purple wash that is dry brushed to accentuate the scales. This continues all the way to the top of the claws. The claws are painted a solid navy blue with no blending, same for the claws on the feet. The winged segments are a nice airbrushed blend of the navy blue with light purple edges – – beautifully done. The legs are mostly navy blue with weathering and a little gray on the bottom and backside of the legs and feet.

 

 

Nargacuga also comes with some accessories as well which I definitely want to touch on regarding paint. It comes with an alternate head piece which features a more enraged/angered version of Nargacuga. This piece features a bright red line from the eyes to the ears and continues to feature the spectacular blending effects seen on the original head. I personally will be using this head piece instead of the normal one as I like the coloration better. The broken tree base for the stand is painted a charcoal brown color with some weathering throughout. The edges of the wood have a light gray wash to enhance the details but also differentiate from the topside aesthetic. It does look really good. The two wing attachments for full flight mode are also painted consistently to match the other parts of the wings that are on the figure. The battle-damaged tail piece is painted consistently with the rest of the tail. The part where it’s been sliced looks superb as the bone parts look just as one would expect. The meaty bits are a deep red with some dark red highlights around the edges. The dry brushing sort of looks bloody like it really was just sliced! The alternate tail piece, when Nargacuga is in attack mode or enraged, continues with the navy blue, however, features a metallic silver coating to enhanced the spiked tail, as if all the sudden the fur had hardened into a solid piece of dragon armor. And lastly, the miniature Hunter bonus piece is unpainted, done intentionally. The idea behind this was so that collectors have the option of painting their Hunter to whatever aesthetic they please. Just like in the games where you can change your armor as you progress, this gives collectors an opportunity to create their own Hunter, how neat is that!

 

Overall, the paint applications on this figure are a breath of fresh air compared to some recent releases. I am a sucker for airbrushing versus dry brushed techniques and this figure has plenty of airbrushing to go around. Even though the figure is mostly a navy blue, there is some weathering throughout the sculpt which helps it not to look bland in color. I do wonder what this figure would look like, having fur texturing, if a black wash was applied if that would enhance the details? Depending on lighting, details will likely have the same effect as shadows are casted from the texturing. Either way, Nargacuga looks fantastic and hopefully a continuing standard for S.H.MonsterArts going forward.

 

Accessories:

 

As it is a first figure from a new franchise, it makes sense to include a lot of accessories and bonuses to get collectors hooked. The same happened when the Godzilla line was first introduced in 2011 and other franchises that were introduced as well (Kong, Alien, Predator, and Gamera.) Nargacuga comes with an alternate angered head piece, a destroyed tree base and stand which can be used to hold Nargacuga in a leaping or flight pose, two alternate wing pieces, a battle-damaged tail piece, and an alternate tail end for when Nargacuga is enraged, and as a first release bonus: an in-scale unpainted miniature Hunter figure. The Alternate head piece is the exact same mold as the head that shipped on the figure, just the aforementioned paint scheme is the only difference. The tree log base has some heft to it which is great because you don’t want Nargacuga to fall over so easily. The stand it comes with is a Tamashii Act stand with a bigger grip at the end to hold Nargacuga. If the stand is a little loose and Nargacuga is falling over, try tightening the screws. Don’t forget that gravity and balance also factor, so play around to get that perfect pose.

 

 

The swappable wing segments have ball joints sculpted in them so that they can pop in and out in the arms very easily. Be careful when pulling them out though because they are so small. Too much stress in the wrong direction may cause breakage. If you want to be extra cautious, I recommend heating up these areas with the hairdryer before removal. Adding these wing segments allow Nargacuga to perform full-fledged gliding attack pose. I most likely will keep these unattached as I like having the wing bladed segments tucked into the arms. In terms of articulation, movement is limited, but it certainly expands the expression of Nargacuga.

 

 

The alternate tail pieces pop on and off at different segments. For the battle-damaged tail piece, only the tip of the tail needs to be removed from the base figure. This is quite easy and effortless. It looks great and definitely gruesome. I’ll probably use this sparingly though in my display, but a neat inclusion nonetheless. The spiked tail piece is swapped out at the second to the last segment of the base figures tail. Unlike the sliced tail piece, this part is a pain in the ass to swap out. The tail is a hard plastic and there isn’t much else to really grip when you’re trying to push it into the ball joint. I HIGHLY recommend using a hairdryer to heat up the socket of the spiked tail piece to make it 100x easier than trying to connect it cold. Otherwise, it’s quite painful. Once the spiked tail piece is connected, you’ll notice that it is also articulated at the end! If you’re into stop motion you can move this around quite fast to get some good motion blur, much like a rattlesnake. Even though there’s only one point of articulation, it’s enough to allow for some decent expressions.

 

 

The miniature Hunter figure is a statue with a clear plastic support to hold it up. As mentioned previously, it’s meant for the collector to customize it however they see fit, otherwise it’s just a bland miniature. It’s a neat first bonus and I like that it’s in-scale with the figure. I only wish that more accessories like this would be consistent throughout the entire S.H.MonsterArts line.

 

 

*The Tamashii Rock Effect Set is sold separately and can be purchased on Amazon for $25 MSRP (while supplies last).

 

Overall:

 

Overall, Nargacuga is a fantastic first entry for the Monster Hunter franchise. It may have not of been everyone’s first choice but I think it was a good way for Tamashii Nations to show what they can do with it and also give us a quadruped for the first time in almost 10 years! No doubt its decision for commercialization capitalizes on its inclusion with the Monster Hunter: World DLC, Iceborne. It looks great, has a wide range of articulation, comes with accessories, and moderately priced. What more could a collector ask for? The Monster Hunter franchise has much to offer with unique and fantastic creatures, so hopefully this new entry will be a hit and be a part of S.H.MonsterArts line for years to come. Nargacuga is available through retailers such as Amazon, Eknightmedia, and Awesome Collector. Be sure to grab one before it’s gone for good.

"The Articulation Series" is independent of Bandai Tamashii Nations & Bandai Namco Collectibles LLC (DBA Bluefin). Though independent, "The Articulation Series" has a working relationship with these entities covering S.H.MonsterArts related news & media and is a source for exclusive and general information.


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