At last, Bandai of America have gone
back to importing Japanese moulds for their Digivolving toys, in
the form of the Hybrid Digivolvers. As the number of Japanese
moulds is small, due to a decline in ratings, and hence
merchandise, in Japan, Bandai is also expanding the line in the
US with more of their own moulds - the smaller Spirit
Digivolvers, which transform from the Spirit straight into the
Note that I am only applying ratings to the individual toys, not the combined forms.
TAKUYA AND THE SPIRITS OF FIRE
These two toys are sold separately, but I'm reviewing them together because of their combined forms, which we'll come to later. They come packaged in Digimon form, but I will begin with the Takuya and Spirit forms, just because I feel like it.
The first, and most important thing, to point out here is that Bandai of America have actually added something to all the Hybrid toys - the human shell. With the original Japanese toys, the Spirit was accompanied only by the "moveable body" that you attach the armour parts to in order to form the Digimon, but Bandai of America went a step further, and created shells of the human character to store the moveable body inside. It's a remarkable notion to actually think Bandai of America did something to *improve* a Japanese toy, but they did!
Anyway, moving along. There's not actually a lot to say about the Takuyas and Spirits forms, as they really don't have any play value. Takuya's only articulation is at his shoulders (but I'm not really complaining). In a very welcome change from the Tamers Digivolver line, the Spirits are fully painted - but unfortunately, the Takuya shells are not, lacking paint apps on their goggles, the decals on the back of their hats, and all over their sneakers and socks. I'd figured that the Spirits were fully painted because they were Japanese moulds and the shells weren't because they were American, but the Digi-Warriors for this line are also Japanese moulds, and they're not fully painted, so, I dunno...
One complaint that I would level at the two Spirits, though, is that I wish they would clip onto their hexagonal bases, rather than just sit on them.
To transform the figures, you first remove the heads and arms from the Takuya figures, then split the body shells in two down the side, and remove them, leaving the moveable bodies. Detach all the armour pieces from the bodies of the Spirits, and attach, pin and snap the armour pieces on their respective moveable bodies, creating Agunimon and BurningGreymon (check out the pic on the bottom right to see what the moveable and Spirit bodies look like). It's not that complicated, but there are a lot of pieces - you could likely manage doing it on intuition the first time, if you're not fond of using instructions. The Spirit bases and bodies are simply set aside for these modes, as are the pieces of the Takuya shells. I rather wish that there were a way to reconnect the arms to the shells without the bodies inside them, as it would lower the number of spare pieces cluttering up my shelves, but you can't have everything...
The principle at work here is the same as the Japanese Armour Digivolvers from season two, but the Hybrid Digivolvers have it slightly easier, because the Spirits just look like the Digimon, scrunched up, while the Digi-Eggs did not. This carries over to the Spirit Digivolvers, which work to the same tune as the American Armour Digivolvers - but because of the above fact, these toys are much better than the 02 crowd.
Agunimon is an impressive sight when set alongside other Digivolving figures, considering his height and quality paintjob (of course, ChaosGallantmon stills owns his ass, but I digress). He has points of articulation in his neck (side-to-side and up and down), shoulders, elbows (side to side, up and down), wrists, FINGERS, waist, hips, knees and ankles. He's almost a Digi-Warrior! In fact, now that I think about it, the sheer Digi-Warrior-esque quality of this and all the Hybrid Digivolvers is probably the reason that this season's Digi-Warriors were given action features - just to make them stand out as a bit different. Note: Agunimon has two joints in his knees, but their real use - to make digitigrade (that's "backwards knees," kids) legs for Aldamon - is not employed here.
The armour pieces all fit securely to Agunimon, though the shoulder pieces inhibit his articulation there just a little. While nice looking, it can also be a bit of a struggle to get Agunimon into a cool battle pose, because you have to twist his arms around at the elbows before you can bend them up (as if he were throwing a punch, say), and when you do that, the forearm armour is relegated to the underside, leaving the black moveable body arm dominantly visible, and it makes the arm look sort of... uh... 'gimpy.'
Overall, Agunimon is a nice looking, show-accurate toy, but he's the most basic of the Hybrid Digivolvers. Not that that's neccessarily a bad thing.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
BurningGreymon is definitely the more striking figure of the two, making use of some much large armour pieces, as well as his large wings and tail. He is articulated in all the same places as Agunimon, except the fingers, and has a few more points besides - one joint at the base of each of his wings, and one at the base of his tail. He, unlike Agunimon, makes use of the extra joint in each of his knees, to give him his digitigrade legs. He occasionally has some stability problems, tending to wobble around on a shelf. The arm-posing problem that Agunimon has remains here, but it works a little better on account of the colour of the moveable body and the armour pieces are not as different as they are with Agunimon (and BurningGreymon's hands are the kind that rip you a new one, rather than deck you). However, some of his armour peices are prone to popping off, especially his two pieces of pelvic armour. You'll also find you'll have to his give his torso armour a good hard push to get it to lock in place.
The figure does not, however, quite manage to capture the bestiality of the character on the show, and it also feel a little cluttered, mainly due to the wings and overlarge feet and shin armour. The arms also have trouble stowing away properly in Takuya mode (as you can see the picture of Takuya and the B Spirit, above).
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Aldamon is the form produced when Takuya uses the two spirits together, as we'll be seeing later in the series. Unfortunately, Aldamon's design disappointed a lot of fans when they discovered he was simply a mix-n-match of Agunimon and BurningGreymon's body parts.
To form Aldamon, you use Agunimon's moveable body - the instructions don't say this in words, but the picture shows you use the body that has human hands, which BurningGreymon's moveable body does not have. The majority of the armour pieces used are BurningGreymon's (torso, shins, feet, wings, tail, forearms), with only Agunimon's head, shoulder and thigh armour in use. The instructions erroniously stated that BurningGreymon's shoulder pads are used, when you're actually supposed to use Agunimon's (thanks to Grimlockmon for pointing this out!). As noted above, you now make use of the second knee joint in Agunimon's Spirit body. BG's moveable body, the two Spirit bodies, their bases, the Takuya shells, and the remaining armour pieces are all simply set aside in a small mountain for this form.
Aldamon is really little more than BurningGreymon with Agunimon's head. It's not even an *interesting* mix-n-match. He's largely unremarkable, although it IS nice that the toys are capable of assuming this form - though it really does highlight the commercialism of season four, given that the character seems to have been *specifically designed* so that the toys could assume his form.
The Spirits of Fire are the Spirits of AncientGreymon, one of the ten legendary warriors from the Digital World's past. By combining all of the armour pieces from both Agunimon and BurningGreymon together with the two Spirit bodies, you can create this hulking creature.
The process by which you form AncientGreymon is definitely far too complicated to begin telling you about here. To summarise - the front end (Agunimon's Spirit body) is basically most of Agunimon's pieces with BurningGreymon's head, torso and wings. The back end (BurningGreymon's Spirit Body) is most of BurningGreymon's pieces, with Agunimon's torso. And if you're curious, Agunimon's face stores in the stomach. The moveable bodies, the Takuya shells and the Spirit bases all sit aside for this mode.
AncientGreymon is rather... horse-like. If the horse had been shot up with a highly dangerous, unstable, untested mutagenic drug. He's free-kay, baby. He is articulated in his neck, his shoulders/hips (all four of them, whatever you want to call them), and in two spots on his digitigrade back knees. It's definitely an unusual mode, but it's also definitely a nice addition to the toys that I would rather have than not - it's clear that some serious design work and hard graft went into creating these two toys, and the results are two of the nicest figures we've seen in a while.
Well, except for ChaosGallantmon. Booyah, bitch. :)