Following the exciting release of S.H.MonsterArts Nargacuga comes the most recognizable monster of the Monster Hunter franchise, Rathalos! This incarnation of Rathalos is seen in Monster Hunter: World. Thanks to the partnership between Tamashii Nations and Capcom, the creation processes utilizes the 3D CGI data, bringing Rathalos from game to the real world! Rathalos is released as a general sales item in Japan and made available to the US through Bandai Namco Collectibles (Bluefin). Unlike Nargacuga, Rathalos comes with a larger price of $127.99 MSRP. As details were released, the price began to make more sense when it was revealed that Rathalos is a much larger figure than Nargacuga, with a wingspan of almost 16 inches and bundles with extras. In an effort to make this release a stand out from past S.H.MonsterArts figures, it is the first winged monster to come with detachable open and folded articulated wing parts, a much desired feature that many had hoped for with the S.H.MonsterArts King Ghidorah (2019) figure. Now that it’s been implemented, how did it turn out? Is the figure worth the higher price? Let’s get to it.

 

Design:

 

A little trivia for those who aren’t familiar with Monster Hunter. Rathalos is a large bi-pedal wyvern that essentially is the king of the skies in this franchise. Not only does Rathalos possess a dangerous fire breath ability, its talons are also equipped with poison! Thankfully the figure doesn’t or we’d all be in trouble! Jokes aside, Rathalos’ design is incredibly faithful to what’s seen in the game (MHW). As mentioned earlier, the figure was created from the 3D CGI data and looks 100% accurate to the source material. The head looks great with meticulous detailing throughout. I like that Rathalos has a grin to its facial expression, which looks great when the mouth is closed. Most monster figures look better with their mouths always opened, but Rathalos pulls it off open and closed. The crest of the head features some fantastic sculpting and sharp to the touch, it represents the armored hide very well. The ears are very detailed. The tip of the nose is smooth and on point with typical dragon designs. The inner mouth expertly crafted and features some actual depth. The teeth are sculpted perfectly, sharp and spaced out. Even the tongue has some additional details rather than just a flat piece of plastic! The chin also features a spiked beard, for lack of a better description.

 

 

About 60% of the body (topside) is sculpted to have a rough armored hide, with many points large and spiked along the back (from head to tail), and even on the topside of the thighs. The detailing here is incredible with so many fine details. There is no piece of armor that is identical to another. The underside of Rathalos is smoother to the touch, but still retains details that are accentuated by the paint application. It’s similar to common skin textures associated with dinosaurs. The neck is long and very pointy. The Pectoral muscles look great and have smooth definition. The abdomen is small by comparison and almost looks like Rathalos doesn’t have much of a gut. The hip/crotch area are in keeping with traditional dragon design aesthetics.

 

Unlike Nargacuga, Rathalos doesn’t have hands. It features traditional wyvern wings as arms with claws sculpted onto the upper portion of the wing tips. These claws are large and pointy with subtle detailing of a bone like textures. The arm portions are muscular and use a variation of dinosaur-like skin texture. I like the shoulder design as it looks like armored shoulder pads. The wing itself is divided into three segments to allow for articulation and thankfully, due to how large these segments are, the sculpting remains consistent and does not look like an eyesore. The texture and detail on the membrane is definitely a step up for winged creatures in the line and fairly thick (looking at you King Ghidorah ’19). Throughout most of the membrane, it’s got that rough dinosaur skin/wrinkled look. The edges of the membrane transition to more of an armored look with sharp torn edges. It is consistent with the overall aesthetic, I love it.

 

 

The legs are a repeat of the bi-pedal design seen with the Nargacuga figure, but with much more variation in details. The thighs continue with the armor hide with larger sculpted armored parts towards the knees. The metarsal portion of the leg is consistent with the detailing seen on the chest, subtle but effective. What I appreciate here is that the bone parts are detailed which help give definition to the overall leg design—very life like. The talons are terrific and sharp in design. Being spread out adds to the ferocity.

 

 

The tail design strays from a traditional longer dragon tail and is more like a club/scorpion type of design. It reminds me a lot of Megaguirus’ tail actually… The topside of the tail continues with the heavy armored aesthetic while the underside is smooth. At the base of the tail are six large spikes, similarly seen in a Stegosaurus. The tip of the tail looks like a stinger with the sculpt looking like it was previously sheathed-- a nice touch. It looks fantastic and the variation of details is refreshing.

 

Overall, I would describe Rathalos as a well-balanced/portioned design and 100% accurate to what is seen in the game. Just like Nargacuga, it doesn’t get any better than this.

 

Articulation:

 

Tamashii Nations continues to improve seamless articulation engineering with Rathalos, avoiding gaps while maintaining a good range of motion. Rathalos is able to pull off many poses and will dynamically look fantastic on anyone’s shelf. That being said, it doesn’t come with some difficulties in getting those poses. To elaborate, Nargacuga’s articulation is simple and effective while also having the benefit of being a quadruped—meaning that it’s grounded and able to hold itself in most poses without support. Rathalos on the other hand can be top heavy due to the large wings and legs that don’t have nearly as much weight to counter them. Rathalos will require supports for anything dynamic, but even so, the amount of articulation it comes with has a lot to offer.

 

The head is on a ball joint, but is restricted by the sculpt of the neck. It can twist left and right with ease with a good amount of motion, but tilting in any direction is limited. Thankfully, the neck articulation makes up for this and offers an awesome amount of range of movement. The neck is comprised of 6 points of articulation. This in combination with the head allows for Rathalos to have increased range, allowing for 90 degrees in any direction. It can look at the sky or directly at its feet. The mouth is designed just like Nargacuga’s, using internal pegs hidden inside the crest of the head. This allows for the mouth to open very wide. The tongue is also articulated allowing for more expression in the face, a nice bonus!

 

 

The chest and abdomen areas are comprised of 3 points of articulation. The chest area has decent left to right movement, however cannot lean backward due to the sculpt of the armored hide on the back. That being said, one of the articulation gimmicks with Rathalos is the ab crunch feature. It’s a little difficult to understand looking at the manual, but to perform this, the middle section of the abdomen must be pushed inwards, into the gut. This allows for the chest to lean forward, sheathing the middle section. This looks great when Rathalos is in a flying pose and looking down at its foe. Speaking of flying pose, you’ll need to use this ab crunch feature in order to place Rathalos on its dedicated flight stand (more on that in the accessories section). I really dig this feature and it adds so much versatility when posing Rathalos. The hips offer similar range of moment as the chest and can be pushed inward toward the middle section to make it look like Rathalos is curled up.

 

The choice for segmented wing parts on ball joints may rub some collectors the wrong way. In my opinion, the parts being divided in to bigger segments doesn’t look so bad. If we take a moment to look back on the articulation engineering used for Destoroyah, I think we can all agree this is still an improvement. Although, I do miss the subtle hinged design seen in Fire Rodan… The wings have 3 points of articulation, with the membranes attached on ball joints to the main arm that allow for some extra expression. Starting with the main arms, the bicep and shoulder articulation offer the greatest amount of movement. While the wings can not flap all the way backward, roughly 65 degrees which is still a good range of moment, they can definitely be posed forward at a far better range (roughly 80 degrees thanks to the other points of articulation). Even though the wings are segmented, Rathalos is still able to pose its wings and still look good, even if there are overlapping parts. As mentioned earlier, the membranes are also attached via ball joints which allow for movement and swappable parts. The smaller membrane uses one ball joint, limited movement due to sculpt. The middle section of the folded wing and open wing has two ball joints and allow for slight tilting in either direction. The top portion of the wing uses one ball joint and offers a great range of movement. This range is enhanced when swapped out for the open winged parts. That being said, these pieces tend to droop due to being top heavy. This isn’t so much of an issue with the wings in their folded form as it is in their open form, but something collectors need to be prepared to adjust accordingly. I was able to manage to keep them stationary by placing them a little over the middle section of the wing. One may consider coating the ball joint with clear floor polish to tighten the joint (use at your discretion). Other than that, the wings articulation engineering works and delivers some great poses.

 

 

Rathalos’ leg articulation is implemented very well, managing to hide gaps while offering an awesome amount of pose ability.  They’re secure and won’t pop out at the slightest touch. There are six points of articulation (excluding the claws). The knee and ankle articulation is top notch, very fluid in movement and can easily adjust according to how Rathalos is standing. Speaking of standing, Rathalos is able to stand on its own, provided the wings, body, and neck counter each other (because physics). For more dynamic poses though, you’ll need external supports since the weight of the wings and body cause Rathalos’ legs to fold under it (more notably when using open winged parts vs. folded). If you have difficulties with this, look into adding a coat of clear floor polish (at your discretion) to the ball joints on the legs to tighten them up. The talons are articulated and are able to stand flat or can be closed while in flight mode. Having the talons on joints also works well for grappling other figures in fighting stances. It’s a nice touch. HOWEVER!!!! Do be careful while handling the talons as they use very small ball joints. Particularly the back claw. The range of the back claws are very limited, so make sure that there’s not too much weight against them or they’ll break!

 

The tail, short as it is, has eleven points of articulation. Thanks to the sheathing design, the tail has an incredible range of movement. It can swing left to right quite well and even twist in parts for more dynamic poses. Tilting it backwards has a surprising amount of movement, and thanks to the tip being on a ball joint, it can almost touch its back. Tilting forward, curling it towards the chest, is where the tail has the greatest range of movement. It’s satisfying to have Rathalos curl up in to a ball, a great resting pose. The tip of the tail can actually touch the top of the chest, amazing!

 

 

Overall, the articulation engineering on one of Monster Hunter’s most iconic creatures has some great ideas that can mostly be performed. While there are elements that can be more difficult when it comes to balancing the figure and finding the sweet spot for posing, it is super satisfying when its all said and done. The joints on the figure are fairly tight aside from the top segments of the wings that tended to droop. If supports are used, collectors will find posing much easier, although at the loss of more dynamic poses. Having the option to use folded or open wings is such a great feature and I hope it continues for future S.H.MonsterArts winged characters. As far as gaps go, nothing to unsightly, it’s pretty well sheathed.

 

Paint:

 

Rathalos is a beautifully painted figure-- a refreshing addition to the S.H.MonsterArts line. Rathalos’ color palette consists of blending shades of red with black weathering on the top side while the underside is a flesh toned dragon hide that is decorated with brilliant markings and accentuated with shading. This figure is mostly airbrushed and the blending is absolutely amazing. Starting with the head, the upper jaw and crest feature a good amount of shading to accentuate the details. The lower jaw is mostly flesh toned with light airbrushing of red around the cheek bone areas. The beak and chin spike are painted a solid black. The inner mouth uses dry brushing to accentuate details the roof of the mouth and gullet. The tongue is a flat light brown, but the sculpt casts shadows that give it some definition. The teeth on the lower jaw are painted perfectly white. The top teeth, not so much and are muddled with the paint from the gum line. There’s still white on the tips though! The eyes are digitally painted blue with black pupils. Both look aligned and are facing forward. Bear in mind that teeth and eye paint seem to vary between figures. Each segment of the neck is painted very well and consistent throughout the top and undersides. The shading and weathering effects work well to accentuate the armored hide and muscle structure of the neck.

 

 

The chest and abdomen areas use excellent airbrushing with weathering detailing along the sides of the torso. The center of the chest has a dark brown cross shape coloration to emphasize the depth of the pectoral muscles. The topside of the arms are a blending of washed-out reds with some weathering while to underside blends between the red and flesh tone colors. The backside of Rathalos is painted a more vibrant red with black shading down the middle row of the armor hide. The weathering throughout the backside keeps it from looking like a cheap toy. The claws on the wings are black with a blend of washed-out reds near the base, very happy to see that these were not dry brushed.

 

As mentioned earlier, the wings are beautifully done and one of my favorite features. In the past, Tamashii has struggled with pattern design on winged monsters like Battra. Their methods improved with Mothra but even then, it was noted that some markings were missing when compared to the source material. Rathalos, however, nails it. The pattern design reminds me of tribal symbols and definitely aides in the overall aesthetic. The pattern is colored a dark brown which works well against the lighter colors. On the topside of the wings: a blend of flesh tones on the edges that transition to the washed-out reds towards the arms. The underside of the wings: mostly flesh toned with weathering in parts. The topside of the wings are more colorful, but either side look amazing. One thing to note though is that the smaller segmented wing on the right-side seems to be a brighter flesh tone color compared to the rest of all other segmented wings, but that may just be the case with my figure as it doesn’t appear to be the case with other photos I’ve seen online. As mentioned earlier, Rathalos comes with open winged parts that expand on the detailing and coloration already seen in the folded wing parts, but infinitely a better display piece. The pattern design and coloration are stunning and well executed. The lower set of swappable wing parts are also more balanced in coloration compared to the folded set. Most collectors are likely to use the open winged parts because of this. It also just looks cooler than the folded wings.

 

 

The legs are painted very well. The outer thigh area is consistent with the topside of the arms’ washed-out reds and the lower legs are flesh toned with some light airbrushing of washed-out reds on the tops of the ankles and talons. The blending is subtle and done well with these parts. The claws on the talons are also airbrushed black and tend to have a slight overspray towards the base. It sort of makes the talons look like there’s some dirt on them, which I think works. The underside of the talons are a flat flesh tone color with no shading or blending—some details of the sculpt are lost without that.

 

The topside of the tail continues the paint application seen on the backside. The base of the tail has more blacks than reds and blended quite well—it still matches the overall aesthetic. The spikes on the base of the tail are solid black, with the underside having some slight blending of gray. Unlike the claws on the wings and talons, the paint here looks globbed on, like these spikes were dipped in paint. It’s only noticeable when you look up close though. The tip of the tail, the stinger, is flesh toned with the stinger blended with black—very well done. The underside of the tail is light on color, yet manages to look the best of all the flesh tone paint application with the blending of reds and weathering effects.

 

Overall, the paint applications on this figure are fantastic and well thought out. It doesn’t feel rushed and parts like the pattern design are handled with precision. That being said, as it is a more colorful figure, it does have its share of small hiccups here and there. Even though I’ve been mostly positive with the paint applications, I have to mention after handling it so much during this review, paint began to flake off parts of the sculpt including the crest, the chest, and the spikes/claws, so do handle it with care. My advice is to place it on a soft surface like your lap while posing it and then place it on the shelf or table. Other than that, Rathalos is a beautiful center piece that will command attention from those that gaze upon it.

 

Accessories:

 

Hooray! Rathalos comes with accessories to enhance its pose ability and overall value. It comes with opened winged parts, a fiery flame effect piece, and a dedicated stand with supports. The stand supports are completely unique to Rathalos and do away with the traditional Tamashii Stage Act stands that tend to come with most S.H.MonsterArts figures. It offers two different types of support: folded wing and flight mode. These supports attach to a large circular base, and while Rathalos is able stand on its own with folded wings and open wings, they may be necessary for some poses. When crouched with either sets of wings, the legs tend to collapse under the weight of the figure. If you don’t want to use the stand supports, the folded wings touch the ground when crouched and can provide extra support. However, as I mentioned earlier, I found that doing this causes the paint to flake off from the tips of the claws, so do this at your discretion. The stand supports are on articulated ball joints and can be posed to better support the folded wings to suspend them in the air. The cradle is positioned in the front of circular base to better support Rathalos, if needed. With or without supports, it still looks great.

 

 

In flight mode, the stand has a longer extended piece that plugs into the back of the circular base. To place Rathalos securely onto the mount, it needs to be put into the ab crunch position. Push in the midsection and bring the chest down to the hips to perform this. This creates a gap in the back where the sculpt fits over the plastic mount. The mount is molded similarly to the sculpt on the back to make it easy to place. You’ll also need to attach the cradle piece to the base of the longer stand piece as well so that it supports Rathalos’ tail. Using the side supports, they can be swivel at base and the ball jointed arm supports can move in any direction to better support the position of the wings. But what if you don’t want to use the side supports? You can do away with those pieces as their function is added support in case Rathalos leans too much to the left or right. The majority of the support comes from the back mount and cradle for the tail. See what works best for your display environment.

 

 

As mentioned earlier, the opened wing parts are large and add to the gravitas of Rathalos. Swapping the lower segmented wings is easy as they are attached with one ball joint. The mid wings sections for both folded and opened wings are a different story. They attach using two ball joints sculpted onto the wings and are far more difficult to remove and swap. It states this in the manual as well, these parts are delicate and too much stress may cause breakage. The solution? Use a hairdryer or some form of heated air to heat up the sockets before removing these sections. This ensures a smooth transition when swapping out the parts. You’ve been warned! Other than that, it’s so cool that Tamashii has included these pieces and I truly hope that in the future for all winged characters, that this becomes the standard (or at least revisit the articulation engineering seen in Fire Rodan…). One collector may prefer folded wings over opened wings, or perhaps are needed for certain scenes for a photoshoot—they’re an awesome addition regardless if you thought you needed them or not!

 

 

The fiery flame effect piece is sculpted in a way that it fits inside Rathalos’ mouth, no stand necessary. It can be a bit finnicky to get into the right position so that it doesn’t fall out easily. Do be careful while inserting it as it may scrape the paint off the teeth if not seated properly. Once it’s in, boy does it really add to the meanness of Rathalos. Definitely a cool feature and I love that it doesn’t require a stand. Check out the below photos of it in use charging Nargacuga!

 

 

I think these extras will be satisfy most collectors-- adding more value to their purchase. Any extras from this line are a welcomed addition. I would have also liked to have seen a flamethrower breath effect piece or another type of support to show off Rathalos in a different flight pose, similar to what was provided for the King Ghidorah (1991) Special Color Version. But I’ll take what I can get as accessories are not common with S.H.MonsterArts releases these days. Keep them coming, Tamashii!

 

*The alternate flight stands seen in this review are created by Flight Pose and can be purchased here.

*The flamethrower effect piece is borrowed from S.H.MonsterArts Gamera (1996) figure.

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

 

Overall:

 

Overall, Rathalos is a terrific second entry for the Monster Hunter franchise, though many would argue this should have been the first! It looks fantastic, has a good range of articulation, and comes with accessories. Though it has a higher price tag, I think it’s definitely worth the value. It’s a large figure that commands a good amount of shelf space and an eye catcher. If you’re able to get it around $115, it’s definitely worth it. Rathalos is definitely a success and as of this writing, Zinogre has been confirmed as the next entry! It would seem that Nargacuga and Rathalos have made an impression among the collector communities and it looks like Monster Hunter is here to stay! Rathalos is available through retailers such as Amazon, Eknightmedia, and Awesome Collector. Be sure to grab one before it’s gone for good.

 

PS – If you just got your Rathalos figure, you may have noticed that the name on the box art is LIOLAEUS instead of RATHALOS. A friendly reminder that these products are from Japan and sometimes are labeled after their Japanese name. You got the right one, don’t worry!

"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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