MEDICOM'S ULTRASEVEN

There are different ways that collectors express their weird obsessive-compulsive tendencies. Some collectors of Ultra series stuff might want to own every single version of a hero or monster ever produced. I have a different form of the madness-- I want to own the one that I think is the best rendition. There may not be much difference, since my quest to find the ultimate Ultraseven in 12" articulated doll format has meant making my own when I didn't know that one was available, then buying two of Marmit's versions, and now this-- Medicom's version. What wretched excess: That's probably every single version that's ever been produced!

For the purposes of this article, I regret modifying my 2nd Marmit Ultraseven-- It invalidates a useful comparative yardstick. Until I heard of Medicom's release, I'd been happy with my modified Marmit version. There were a few things that I thought could be better, but perfection is always elusive. Recently, the thing which bothered me most was his height: He was 12.25" inches tall, counting the "Eye Slugger" thing on the top of his head. That's slightly tall-ish by 1:6 scale standards, where many of those dolls measure in at roughly 11.5". This wasn't Marmit's fault, since I'd replaced the articulation armature with a Volks Neo Guy doll (So I don't know how tall it's supposed to be). However, there was no getting around the fact that he looked taller and beefier than many of the slightly short-ish garage kit Ultra-monsters I'd recently acquired, and the combination just didn't look right. Of course, before I bought the Medicom version, I didn't know how tall it was, despite the fact that it's described as 12"/30 cm (which is often just a general scale indicator). You never know for sure until you actually see these things side-by-side, in context. I was really curious though, since Medicom is slated to release an Ultraman version 'C' at the end of the year. If their Ultraseven was a better size match for my collection, I knew that I'd be interested in getting their Ultraman to replace my even taller 12.5" Bandai Ultraman. If not, then I wouldn't.

I tried to resist because it seemed so demented to buy yet another expensive Ultraseven doll. I waited through the preorder phase at HLJ until they stopped taking orders, and resisted ordering even when for a brief period, orders were reopened. I thought the matter was closed until they started showing up on eBay at slightly lower than (the high) retail price. Experience has shown that after the first pass through, prices rise. How could I resist?

Shipping cost from Hong Kong was typically painful (but I think that's the new reality, and that's probably only going to get worse). The shipping time was approximately 7 days, and the package arrived in much better condition than the average crushed continental USA UPS deliveries I've received.

medicom marmit ultraseven
medicom marmit ultraseven

The answer to my big question was "yes"... Medicom's Ultraseven measures slightly under 12" at the top of his slicer, which is more compatible with the height of my vinyl Ultra monsters. It may not sound like much, but a small difference in height can impact the overall mass and scale appearance.

The doll's outer suit is removeable, once you do something about the plastic dorsal fin that surrounds the zipper and is glued together at the top. Underneath, a rubber mantle provides the shaping for the "ultra boobs" and the ridges on the shoulder blades. Beneath that, a sleeveless padded suit secured by sheer velcro covers the rest of the body, down to the ankles. Underneath that, an additional cumberbund of padding is secured at the waist. The articulation armature, (or "figure") is the massively articulated and somewhat ugly RAH301 model, cast in red. It's kinda kewl that Medicom goes through the trouble of producing custom armatures for each doll in the series.

The comparison with the Marmit Ultraseven is one that only a true anal-retentive geek could appreciate:

  • The color isn't quite as dark red as Marmit's-- it's lighter, which I think better matches the actual costume's color (as well as I can tell from the uncertainty of video and photos). If I could nudge the color, I'd nudge it slightly towards orange.
  • The suit's material is thinner, and feels less padded (the padded look comes from the inner padding suit). However, it doesn't mimic the wrinkle and fold characteristics of the actual rubber suit any better than the thicker Marmit suit. This is perhaps the single biggest flaw of both, and they both have severe crotch-creep issues. Marmit's first version had a seamless rubber suit, but at 1:6 scale, it suffered from the problem of scaling materials-- it didn't retain the properties of the full scale material since it was thicker (so it would withstand handling), and was hardly poseable. In my opinion, the rubber material wasn't practical for a poseable doll-- it was more like a mixed-medium, semi-poseable garage kit.
  • The suit's texture more closely resembles the rubber suit. Marmit's has a visible grain and pebbling that's characteristic of faux leather.
  • The painted stripe pattern on the front may or may not be closer to the actual costume's, depending on which picture you're comparing it to. The Marmit version in my photos doesn't show a fair comparison since I've replaced the armature-- I assume that the apex was intended to be closer to the mantle armour.
  • Medicom provides 4 pairs of gloved hands, while Marmit provides 3; the additional pair is an open-handed sculpt.
  • The glove sculpt is more detailed and accurate, showing the ribbed pattern on the back of the glove. The boots are likewise more detailed, with a bigger footprint than Marmit's.
  • The semi-rigid plastic used in the gloves and boots is softer (hope it remains that way), so that the inner "flipper" hand articulation (which is uncharacteristically tight) can put a slight bend in the wrist.
  • The mantle and shoulder armour sculpt is cleaner and more flexible.
  • The head looks less squashed, especially at the top.
  • The mask doesn't have a seam across the top from two-piece construction.
  • The neck is covered by a flexible plastic and doesn't have a seam.
  • Medicom's articulation figure is very tight-- much tighter than the Neo Guy and the original figure which came with the Marmit doll.

There are a few deficiencies:

  • The zippered back fin has a strip of somewhat stiff plastic film sewn in to hide the zipper. Near the top, it prevents the material from following the shape of the shoulders and juts out, which looks very wrong. (should be trimmed back, or cut off) It also degrades the side view profile, since it prevents the material from following the arch of the back.
  • Mine came with a few minor paint blemishes: a tiny bit of silver paint on the front of the outfit & a bleed out of silver paint where the neckpiece goes under the mantle.
  • The neck covering is flexible, but not quite flexible enough for the neck's rotation articulation to handle-- it doesn't hold a head-rotated pose very well. (This is a natural limitation of this type of flexible material-covered joint, including the torso in a twist pose).
  • The poseability doesn't live up to what you'd expect from the mega-articulated armature. Even though the hinges are very tight, some poses are hard to achieve due to the tightness that the padding and outer suit impose. The doll cannot be posed with its arms straight down & parallel because there's too much "meat" between the arms and upper torso.
  • I think the waist or midsection looks a little flat and shapeless. This might be improved by removing the cumberbund padding(?).
  • Minor point: The detail wash on the boots and gloves was an unnecessary production step since it doesn't look great (raises the detail of the parting line?) and doesn't fit the overall look (nothing else is weathered).

Point-by-point, Medicom's is a superior rendition of Ultraseven, with a number of improvements over Marmit's version... but with a few of its own deficiencies. However, I believe that the overall difference isn't significant and probably wouldn't matter to most sane people. The picture below lets you compare proportions of Medicom's version (right) to the actual costume: I've slightly desaturated the color to remove that distraction. I think the Marmit version (center) captures the overall look and fit of the actual costume pretty well, perhaps even better than the Medicom version-- despite losing on points.

medicom marmit ultraseven

The Medicom version also cost more, and totaling the bucks I've spent so far on this quest makes me feel exceptionally decadent. Ah well...The money's spent and I've greased the wheels of commerce, so I shouldn't dwell too much on the "was it worth it?" question.

At the beginning of the article, I mention the difference between collecting every version and focusing on the best version; another difference is that when you collect the best version, the dethroned version loses display rights and gets put into storage or cannibalized... As a Korean merchant might say, "There can be only Won!" Time to do some customizing...

medicom marmit ultraseven

 

--11/19/05

 

MEDICOM'S ULTRASEVEN V2

07/19/15- Late to the party, again... In the decade that I'd been away from the daikaiju thing, Medicom had been busy re-releasing their Ultra-series products with the added tag, "Renewal Version". These re-releases usually had some improvements over the original release, like a stronger armature that didn't break quite as easily. Stuff that maybe they should have done properly the first time?

Medicom's second version of Ultraseven, released in 2011, had some aesthetic improvements that made it very attractive to me in my obsessive quest to get what I consider the "ultimate" version. (This degree of obsession is reserved for certain things like Ultraseven because that show played such a big part in my interest in this stuff.)

It was difficult to find much information about this release. Granted, this is waaay after-the-fact, super-niche stuff, and this was a re-release during a time when there were a lot of other 1/6 products that commanded more attention, especially those from Hot Toys. Even if I'd been paying attention when it was released, I doubt I would have been very excited by it because based on the skimpy details given in the official product literature, the improvements seem to be subtle, and the price high. The best info I found came from SUPEKUTORUMAN DX (a Brazilian website). The 2011 article (which references this article!) compares the two versions and gives insightful commentary. It's what convinced me to get V2.

The main aesthetic improvement is the use of a cast rubber suit instead of the sewn pleather suit used in the first version. Besides better capturing the texture and properties of the actual rubber screen suit, the sculpted approach allows a level of detail fidelity that wasn't in their first suit, such as including to-scale simulated seam detail, and excluding the pleather suit's tailoring seams running up the arms and legs. Overall, the rubber suit just looks and fits better, particularly around the crotch area. It's also taller than the first version, which isn't a selling point for me; fortunately, you can remove shin spacers to make it about 1.1 cm shorter. It's still taller than V1, but it fits with the scale of my other 1/6 daikaiju... and I'm willing to be less fussy about that.

The approach is similar to Marmit's original rubber-suited Ultraseven kit, but far more refined and without requiring the customer to figure out how to paint the silver stripes so that don't easily peel or scratch off (it's impossible). Cool concept, but in practice, a nightmare for the average customer; that's why they came out with their pre-painted second version with a vinyl suit. Medicom's RAH armature is a big improvement as well.

I realize that there is no "ultimate" version, and it's a compromise of finding one's preferred mix of features. As with all rubber-suited figures, posing is far more limited than one with a fabric suit. My original homemade Spandex-suited Ultraseven is far more poseable, but looks like...Spandex! If you remove V1's inner padded suit, it's much more poseable, but the suit is baggier. V2's rubber suit isn't removeable-- or doesn't appear to be. While there may be a zipper down the back, the stiff plastic fins that surround it are glued together.

The sculpted rubber suit, though more accurate than a fabric one, can never look as accurate as a sculpted non-poseable (statue) figure, like CCP's or X-Plus'. It's that simple tradeoff of looks vs. playability or form vs. function or sculpture vs. doll that's always in the background for stuff like this. The V2 figure resides in the zone closer to static sculpture than V1: The costuming looks accurate and the figure is more versatile for posing than a static sculpture. However, V1 is considerably more versatile for posing-- which is a different type of "looks" --at the cost of a less accurately fitting costume. In that sense, the comparison between the two for "looks" is dead even.

I've only recently become more sensitized to the rubber vs pleather thing. My original review from 2005 (above) doesn't even mention that the V1 figure has a pleather suit. That simply wasn't on my radar at the time. When I later (2006) got Medicom's Ultraman that did come with a rubber suit, that still didn't trigger a blip. I think it was because pleather was used in so many other specialty costumes (notably Cy Girls) at the time. It had rubber suit-like properties with some advantages, like making figures easier to pose than rubber suits. While I did wonder how long the rubber suits would last, I didn't think to question whether pleather could stand the test of time. Ten years later, that popped up on my radar: CY GIRLS PLEATHER SUCKS!

So far, that flaking issue hasn't affected any of my Medicom pleather-outfitted figures, and maybe it won't. However, it has made me more suspicious of the material.

V2's rubber suit clearly looks better than V1's Pleather suit (ignore the yellowed mantle). However, the photo to the right shows about the most extreme posing I could do with V1. The arms won't lift much higher, the elbows won't close much tighter and the torso won't hold a much of a twist pose... You get the idea. I didn't put V1 to much of a test in the left photo, but he can raise his arms over his head, fold his arms in front, kneel, etc., by virtue of his baggier costume.


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