Ben's Toy Box: Bandai Tamashii Nations Robot Spirits "Pacific Rim" Saber Athena
The original "Pacific Rim" debuted in the summer of 2013. The film was Guillermo del Toro's love letter to giant robots and monsters (aka Kaiju) from Japanese programs such as Gundam and Godzilla. The movie did not exactly break box office records, but its worldwide total was enough to justify a sequel due for release this month in the North America titled "Pacific Rim Uprising". While U.S. based NECA produced the toy line for the first "Pacific Rim" movie, this time out the toy duties have been given to both Bandai and Diamond Select. While Diamond Select's figures are due out in April 2018, Bandai's "Pacific Rim Uprising" started hitting stores in late February 2018 mostly via Toys 'R' Us stores and import shops. Released under the "Tamashii Nations Robot Spirits" sub-brand of figures, this marks a changed strategy for these figures which used to be entirely relegated to import shops.
"Pacific Rim Uprising" introduced a whole new generation of Jaeger mechs. These mechs were faster and more agile than their predecessors. Perhaps none showed this off more than Saber Athena. According to "The Art and Making of Pacific Rim Uprising" Saber Athena was intended to be "nimble and quick" and thus she has the most slender and narrow of all the designs among the five key Jaegers in the film. This design is reflected in the this figure. There are wing like protrusions on the back which echo similar designs on the head, forearms and legs. She has wide shoulder armor which leads to thin arms and legs with a narrow waist. She looks more like a thin ninja than a thick bruiser like Bracer Phoenix. While no official sources cite this, I cannot help but think that the design of the Labors from "Patlabor" had some influence on the design of this Jaeger.
Saber Athena is mostly an orange-red color. According to "The Art and Making of Pacific Rim Uprising" this was to give the feel of a vehicle used by the Coast Guard. A lot of her inner workings and smaller articulation points are gunmetal grey, suggesting the machinery underneath the red-orange armor panels. Black and white paint is used for several line, symbol and number details found on the figure from head to toe. While her deco looks a bit overwhelmed by the red-orange from a distance, up close you see a lot more fine detail.
This figure includes several accessories. There are two alternate hands, each set in an open hand position. The default hands are fists designed to hold her swords. In the film Saber Athena wields two swords which can combine into a larger one. This figure however includes three swords: twin swords and a larger one that represents the two others combined. These "plasma swords" have red-orange handles and electric blue paint on the blades representing the plasma energy.
Saber Athena has a whopping twenty five points of articulation. This includes five in each arm and leg and waist articulation. She also has a port on the back, allowing you to attach her to a Bandai stand for poses that would otherwise require hand support.
Saber Athena is one of my favorite new Jaeger designs. One thing I loved about the original "Pacific Rim" was the diversity in the design of the Jaegers. Athena represents a significant difference from the design of the other Jaegers in the film. She also lends a very "classic Anime" aesthetic to the team. This figure looks great and I really dig the articulation on it. If you are interested in getting your own Saber Athena figure, head over to BWTF sponsor BigBadToyStore to order yours today!