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S.H. Figuarts is a series of 14 cm tall action figures made by Bandai. This series pertains to the Tamashii Nations top brand, Bandai's label for high quality articulated figures that can be compared to Kaiyodo's Revoltech or Max Factory's Figma distributed by Good Smile Company. Tamashii Nations encompasses several other well known action figure lines, as Saint Seiya Myth Cloth or Soul of Chogokin.
The brand name is composed of the acronym for "Simple Style" and "Heroic Action" and the playword on the words "Figure" and "Arts". Indeed, in Japanese, figure is pronounced as fii-gaa (フィギュア) and arts as aa-tsu (アーツ), giving way of the new word fii-gaa-tsu (フィギュアーツ) by merging.
S.H. Figuarts actually came out at first with Kamen Rider figures in early 2008, but by mid-2009 started to expand with figures of other anime licenses as G Gundam, Kakugo no Susume (Apocalypse Zero in the U.S.), PreCure, and during 2010 with figures of Dragon Ball Kai and One Piece. The very first focus on Kamen Rider can be easily explained by the fact that S.H. Figuarts actually succeeded to the Chogokin derivated series Souchaku Henshin (a.k.a. S.H.), which was already dealing with this series and other metallic characters from similar live-action series. S.H. Figuarts departed from the Chogokin filiation by mainly using plastic material instead of die-cast metal, in order to easily produce more details, and by eventually including non-robotic characters.
Monkey D. Luffy
The very first version of S.H. Figuarts One Piece was the incarnation of Luffy. Released late August 2010 at ¥3,465, it came with several accessories enabling it to take the forms of the famous Gear 2nd and Gear 3rd attack fame.
Yellow Vest Ver.
In collaboration with Weekly Shōnen Jump and Toei Animation, Bandai ran a contest from August 9 to August 24, 2010 for 1000 winners to get the figure.
Portgas D. Ace
The second incarnation was Luffy's brother, Ace. This figure will also come out late August 2010 at ¥3,465.
The third S.H. Figuarts One Piece, Nami, was released late December 2010 at ¥3,300 without VAT.
The fourth S.H. Figuarts that was released in late May 2011 was Sanji, still at the same price of ¥3,300 without VAT.