4 INCH-NEL ROCK VOLNUTT

Title: Rock Volnutt
Manufacturer: Sentinel (SEN-TI-NEL)
Toy Line: 4 Inch-Nel Collectible Action Figure
Release Date: JP: 2017/07/30
Series of Origin: JP: Rockman DASH
EN: Megaman Legends
Made in: China
Method of purchase:
(for review)
Pre-order via Amazon JP
 
Written By: HF
Publish Date: 2017/08/02
Last Updated: 2017/08/02

A bit of back-story: The Rockman DASH series never really received the merchandise treatment on the same level as its other entries of the franchise. Though there has been the rare Gashapon figure collection and promotional items released for events such as the Tokyo Games Show (TGS), not many of these have been widely known or discussed outside a year or two of releases of the trilogy (including Tron ni Kobun / Misadventures of Tron Bonne), and have therefore remained a niche. Around the late 2000s, I started looking at the cheap but high poseable Revoltech series by Kaiyodo, and have noticed how similar the joints system looked to the mechanical motif in the DASH Series (huge ball joints), and have always wondered if they would make use of these design similariries to release action figures of them, and how many of the DASH series' designs were toy-like enough to really make all kinds of them.

Of course, that never happened as the Revoltech lineup slowed down partly due to greater demand for the nicer-looking Figma lineup by Good Smile Company. And then Sentinel's 4-Inch-Nel series of Rockman action figures happened.

And so the release day of this long-anticipated Rock Volnutt 4-Inch-Nel is finally here (alongside the Shooting Star Rockman from the Ryusei/Starforce series). First announced during WonderFes 2017 (Feb. 2017), I knew I had some obligation to own and review one for obvious reasons (and also the fact that these figures' prices can only go up from here onwards). With that in mind I placed my pre-order via Amazon JP shortly after it was made available around late March.

Needless to say, I was quite excited for this release much like everyone else. Having had some great impressions from the Classic, EXE, and X releases prior to this review, I once again opened this now light-colored package (previous ones up to now have all been dark blue) with great expectations. Does it live up to its price point and expectations? Let's find out in this review.

Overview


As mentioned above regarding how toy-like the DASH designs have been to begin with, Rock Volnutt being converted to an action figure of this quality feels like a seamless transition; from a fully segmented body design and its exaggerated foot and body proportions, at first glance this is an incredibly faithful take on the original design by 4-inch-nel, with nothing really out of place at first glance.

Straight out of the box, Rock comes with a swappable head with his helmet on, the Rockbuster arm part, and both left and right open hands.


On the other hand, at least this one face seems to fit nicely in multiple situations.


Like with all 4-Inch-Nels up to now, the figure is painted with a consistent matte finish, with the color scheme and design based on Rock's original DASH 1 (Legends 1) appearance. The armor colors uses a mix of blue with two different shade of light blue, with gray used for joints and minor touches of the armor. The transparent glass-like parts stay consistent and are painted with a bright red on the inner ears of the helmet, the bottom of the feet, and the small hole on the Rockbuster (along with a bright yellow for the power gauge).

While the crafting of the figure has been well-executed in general, some uneven surfaces caused by some mix of (relatively) poor painting (with some blobs here and there) and seam-filling between certain parts like the legs. Again keep in mind however that these are extremely minor flaws, but I found it worth mentioning as the cyclinder-oriented design for this particular action figure made these flaws stand out more than the others.

Another minor nitpick would be the color accuracy of the lighter light blue color, which according to official art had very slight hues of green making it slightly aqua-ish and not a clear light blue. All things considered this is (again) a really minor nitpick and does little to take away from the quality of the figure itself. After some digging around, one possible reason for this is that the color scheme and less obvious details was partially based on concept art found in the guidebook.


What I found surprising about how they handled the head parts was that unlike the previous 4-Inch-Nel parts (where only the face plate was changed), they actually treated them as two heads with no parts swapping between them whatsoever. Both normal and helmet heads include their own moveable neck piece, resulting in two "smug yet heroic confident" face plates (though shaped slightly different to fit into each head part and neck pieces.

Though not mentioned anywhere (apparently), the head pieces could be taken apart as shown, possibly to allow additional face plates to be fitted in as part of an expansion pack of sorts. Considering how Rock's modular motif allows for all sorts of add-ons, this is most likely to be the case. Perhaps one nitpick is that the front padding of the helmet does not extend outward as much as it does in official art, though this could possibly be due to poor figure balance (given Rock's head is pretty big for this one). Otherwise it is a very minor issue.

Due to how the neck piece slides into the torso at an angle, this causes the head to tilt forward when turning left or right. Though the big hair on the default head occasionally gets in the way of head turning, the helmet version can turn with no problems whatsoever, and does so smoothly.

What I did find amusing is how the neck can possibly extend to unnatural lengths if pulled up high enough to just barely stay in place (I believe this is just part of the joint system that allows much flexibility). While it doesn't look too awkward op-close, this odd height of As shown below though, even with that in mind this doesn't really make it any less off-putting.


Each arm consists of the shoulder & upper-arm, a rotating/two-way joint, lower arm, ball-and-socket joint, and the hand. Once again, having a single limb consist of this many parts allows for a good amount of flexibility despite how bulky it is... until you try to bring Rock's arms straight out.


What's shown in the picture above is quite literally as far as the shoulder can be pushed upward. As shown above, the shoulder cannot provide even a 90-degree upward rotation for the arm. My guess is that the shoulder piece design had its potential movement flexibility sacrificed in favor of visual accuracy, preventing this Rock from ever having his arms out wide.

That disappointing bit aside, I was surprised that the shoulder and upper-arm was molded into a single part, though this made sense for durability reasons as the rotation is handled by the joints between the upper and lower arm instead, thus eliminating the need for unnecessary friction between two matte plastic parts.

Once again, the metallic pin joints are visible mostly on the arm parts, though understandably so as that's where the lower arm flaps are located, which get pushed in by the upper arm when bent towards it enough.


Another point that I found interesting to bring up as well is how this is possibly the first time we ever saw Rock's open-palm.

Up to now, all of the official art of Rock's DASH 1 design shows him with his hand closed, with the only detail we could make of it being engraved holes at the bottom. What I noticed right away is how the holes were not aligned parallel to the base of the arm, and consist of 3 holes arranged as such. I was a bit puzzled at first, but I had a look at the official artbook and found out that there was a single concept sketch piece which portrayed Rock's open hand being exactly as such. Knowing Capcom's lack of consistency in the design and artwork for the DASH games, I didn't mind it too much even if it was interesting to look at how the final design for the action figure came to be.


Much like the arms, the legs consist of a similar parts structure including both an inward flap and extending knee armor piece which move when the leg is bent far enough. The active mechanism is very smooth, and can be played with naturally without any extra force or need to change any parts. The legs connected to the power body is done in such a way it allows plenty of freedom in how the leg can be positioned, allowing for all sorts of poses. Unlike the arms though, the metallic pin for the rear leg flap is not visible. For the sake of consistency, I believe the pin is there* but was able to be covered up thanks to the thickness of the lower leg.

* I have tried checking for it using a neodymium magnet, but they did not stick even on parts which are exposed. This leads me to think that these metallic pins are actually aluminium.


Due to the the giant feet of the original design however, there is very little flexibility in terms of how far the feet could bend forward or backward. Even though it's sufficent for helping balance when using both legs or one, it contrasted quite a bit compared to other feet of the 4-Inch-Nel lineup (though inevitably so).


Accessories


Once again accessories are minimal, consisting of the helmet head swap, a pair of open hands (closed being the default), the Rockbuster, and the standard transparent posing stand and support arm.


The Rockbuster functions pretty much like the default lower arm, with a flap that folds in allowing the upper arm to push against it for more flexibility in movemenet. The Rockbuster itself is nicely detailed, with the power gauge and glass-like part inside painted. Considering the amount of detail that went into the Rockbuster though, I found it to be a bit of a shame that there is no natural way to rotate its detailed side such that it always faces the camera.


Conclusions
Given how DASH-related merchandise (let alone action figures and model kits) are so few and far between, it is a little bittersweet to finally get an action figure of this version of Rock. And what a nice release it was! Minor nitpicks in the finishing aside, the 4-Inch-Nel Rock is a gimmick-free and faithful recreation of Rock Volnutt in action figure form. I am however mostly disappointed with how restricted the movement of the shoulder parts were, which felt out of place given how much more flexible the rest of the 4-Inch-Nel releases have been, and that it did not look unfeasible given Sentinel's approach to their previous releases of generally favoring poseability over plain visual asthetics (that would be the purpose of scale figures).

But despite what I didn't like about this figure, it does not change how well-made it is overall, and thanks to its small size and non-flashy appearance it would look great in any collection. Also considering how the head parts can be disassembled with individual face plates (per head type), I would not be surprised if they announce add-on parts for Rock Volnutt in the future.


What I liked:
  • Great attention to detail, painting included even for small parts such as bolts and in hard-to-see places
  • Torso flexibility allows great freedom of rotation and tilt despite bulky build
  • Minimal need for swapping parts
  • Leg and arm parts fold in and stick out when bent far enough, allowing high degrees of movement
  • Joint parts of the original design integrate themselves well with actual articulation points
  • Decent price
What I didn't like:
  • Paint looks a little sloppy especially for the legs when seen up-close (based on package obtained)
  • Neck can be lifted/extended to unnatural distances from head
  • Shoulder-torso joints has very poor range of movement without good reason, preventing arms-out poses common with action figures

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