If you’re a long time follower of my blog or you read my posts on Twitter you’ll know I love Fist of the North Star (Hokuto No Ken) and it was my introduction to anime. You may or may not know that I really like my action figures too. Well recently those two passions came together with the release of Japanese company Medicos Fist of the North Star figures! I’ve never collected any of Medicos previous releases, the prior figures in the super action statue line (ultra-poseable action figures) were all based on JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. While I enjoy JoJo a lot, its designs are nowhere near as appealing as those of Fist to me.
There have been an insane volume of Fist figures released since the 1980’s, however a large percentage of them outside of high end collectors statues and premium figurines have been pretty terrible. Perhaps it’s the depth of detail in Tetsuo Hara’s art that means a lot of the characters when reproduced in 3D only vaguely resemble the source material. Maybe it’s just bad luck. For a long time the Kaiyodo revoltech figures were among the best but unfortunately despite a lot of attention to detail, poseability and great accessories the face sculpts on most characters were pretty bad.
Enter Medicos in 2021. Does their representation of Kenshiro honour a classic manga and anime or should they have had their fists broken and their memories erased? Read on to find out.
So the first release in the line aptly enough is the titular Fist of the North Star himself, hero Kenshiro, master of martial art Hokuto Shinken. He comes packaged in a window box with plastic trays for the accessories, however if you were to see him in a store you probably wouldn’t be able to get a good look at the headsculpt because he’s packaged with a plastic bag over his face (to protect the paint sculpt maybe?).
Speaking of accessories he comes with three additional pairs of hands, an alternate headsculpt, an energy attack that attaches to his fist and a series of “after image” hand effects so you can replicate the iconic Hyakuretsu Ken (one hundred crack fist) attack. He also comes with a stand and adjustable arm to hold and pose the figure. You won’t need the arm unless you’re doing some crazy air poses though as he stands perfectly well on his own.
Another accessory included is rather unusual: “cut out and keep” speech bubbles featuring iconic quotes from the manga and anime. I bet you can all guess what at least one of them will be, yep “You’re already dead!” is included along with “Abeshi!” ( a well known death scream from a bandit in an early chapter of the manga).
Let’s start with the face sculpt. I think they did a pretty good job with this. The thing to consider, when it comes to a long running manga is that the art changes over time. If you read the volumes of Hokuto No Ken in succession you can really see the evolution of Tetsuo Hara’s drawing style. A similar thing happens with Anime of course, because so many people are working on it and no two draw exactly the same. Taking all that into consideration I imagine it’s tough for a sculpt artist to accurately nail one look that defines the character but I think they’ve achieved it pretty well here.
The regular face sculpt is a calm, stoic Kenshiro, whereas the alternate one has a shouting open mouthed sculpt. While the shouting one is well sculpted I think maybe they could have done with one that looks more angry or had Ken’s trademark death stare, as his eyes and brow don’t look that different to the regular one to me. Considering many of the villains Ken kills are to avenge or protect the innocent and he’s constantly appalled by the actions of the bad guys he encounters, it would have been apt to include one. Perhaps they weren’t going for angry and simply wanted him to be vocalising his traditional martial arts “Kiai” noises like one of his real life inspirations Bruce Lee. Personally I’d have liked one that looked like he was screaming with rage and another where he looks calmer but is giving his enemy a contemptous glare. What we get is good though and definitely resembles Kenshiro.
Paint is excellent throughout with a really high level of detail and no defects. I love that they gave Ken’s hair a slightly blue tint as Hara often draws him in colour illustrations such as manga covers, posters and merchandise with this blue reflective sheen in his hair. It’s a nice touch that pays homage to one of his creators and his manga origins.
One thing I find a bit weird as a design choice is that they went with the one shoulder pad, one arm pad look from later in the manga. At the beginning of the story Ken has two ornate shoulder pads over a leather jacket. Later his original jacket is destroyed in a fight with Raoh and he is next seen with a slightly different jacket with the look represented here where the left pad is strapped to his actual arm. Perhaps the sculpt artist preferred this look? I do find it odd though as when people picture the character they often think of the “classic” look and that’s how he’s usually represented in a lot of modern media including videogames and merchandise.
It also might have been nice to make his jacket open a bit so you can see his seven scars or even make it removeable but this is by no means a big deal. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see another release at some point with a bare chested Kenshiro.
So what about articulation? This one really ticks all the boxes. His diaphragm can move, he has an ab crunch, double jointed limbs, jointed toe section on both feet and a swivelling neck peg. One small issue I have regarding his design though is that they used ball joints for where the arms attach to the body which are visible. This means if you put his arms up high you can see a rather unsightly large ball joint underneath. I wish they’d went with the traditional hinge/pin joint combo, however I’m guessing this is probably a hold over from their JoJo line and there’s likely an engineering reason, more durable joints perhaps?
Another cool thing about the articulation is that Ken’s right shoulder pad lifts up out of the way so that it doesn’t hamper the arm movement which is a nice touch. The bottom line regarding the articulation is that if you can think of a pose he can probably do it unaided and if not he’ll likely be able to do with the addition of the stand/arm.
The accessories and switchable parts are really easy to attach. If you want to remove one of Ken’s hands all you need do is get a firm grip and pull and they pop off easily, you never feel as if you’re at risk of breaking the hand peg. The head needs a bit of wriggling back and forth to get it off the peg and then it pops off with ease. Attaching the other head sculpt is easy too and doesn’t require too much force. However his hair is so spiky it will leave indentations in your skin!
The energy effect is meant to replicate the scene where Ken and Raoh do the same punch attack at the same time, their fists blazing with the energy of their fighting spirit. To attach it you do so in the same way you would a regular hand except it needs to be put on over the arm and then attached via peg. The one hundred crack fist effect parts are a little more fiddly due to the fact the holes to attach them are rather small but it’s not too difficult.
All in all I really love this figure. It does all the important stuff right but for the premium price I feel like Medicos maybe could have given us a few more accessories. Personally I would have included a ragged post apocalyptic poncho, perhaps some nunchucks (it’s rare that he uses them in the anime and manga but it’d have been a nice inclusion) and maybe an aura effect that would clip onto his shoulders or back to replicate the many scenes we see him radiating energy in the manga and anime.
Some action figure companies are releasing additional accessory packs lately and I feel Ken would be a good choice for this treatment. All the things I’ve mentioned would be welcome, maybe a bearded 1986 movie Ken headsculpt or sunglasses Ken from the Asura island arc ? A Ken crying tears of sorrow? (In the unlikely event anyone at Medicos is reading this I hope you’re taking notes!)
The arm ball joints don’t bother me too much but then again I don’t expect to have him in a lot of poses where you can see them but be aware if that might put you off.
Easily swappable parts
Impressive paint applications
Would have liked a few more accessories and at least one more headsculpt
Arm ball joints under his arms are a bit of an eyesore.
CRAIG’S RATING: 9/10
In case you can’t tell I’m all in for this line and am getting every figure if possible. Expect a review soon of the Raoh figure which I also have in my grasp (as you can see).