TokuNet staff writer Malunis shares his favorite examples of suit reuses in the Kamen Rider series.
Before we begin, some context needs to be established. Though I don’t know the exact way in which Toei handles their tokusatsu, we do have a general idea of how TV business works, as well as the idea of making suit parts for TVs and movies.
For starters, it can be assumed that the network gives Toei a set budget to work with for each show, and they have to make that work as best as they can. On the subject of suits, the tried and true method involves creating steel molds of the parts you want to produce, at least for the armor. Steel molds, whether it’s for a costume or a toy, are expensive to make.
A common reuse you’ll see in Rider shows is, well, the multiple Riders. Typically most of them will share a similar design scheme, as far as the undersuit is concerned, though that’s not what we’re here for. I wanted to talk about the ones that make you question if they went back to a steel mold to make a new part, or if they just completely erased any chances of a certain character/monster making a comeback by destroying an old suit.
Before we go over these, let’s look at the suits that spurred the subject in my mind: The “Miriders” from Kamen Rider Zi-O. Perhaps in an attempt to make more one-time-use suits at a lower budget, these Riders all use suit parts from previous series – some more obvious than others.
Shinobi might be the most clever out of all of these, due to the amount of work going into hiding the original. The suit is taken from Kamen rider Ghost, minus the parka. I would hazard a guess that it’s the Dark Necrom suits from Kamen Rider Ghost The Movie, but it could be just about any suit that uses this template.
The details on Shinobi’s chest are painted on, with Ghost’s oddly chiseled chest still visible. The helmet is where they mix things up, adding a helmet from the Ride-Players of Kamen Rider Ex-Aid, with a shuriken added to it. Also, the small blades he uses in battle are directly lifted from Kamen Rider Fuma, the ninja Rider from Kamen Rider Ex-Aid The Movie.
Before we get to the others, let’s also talk about Hattari, the other Rider to appear in Shinobi’s own spin-off. Essentially, Hattari’s entire suit is Kamen Rider Dark Drive from Kamen Rider Drive The Movie. It’s a technologically advanced Rider being repainted for a ninja, which is something you’re either going to find clever or super obvious – I’m in both camps.
If you look closely at the small bit of visible visor on Hattari, you can see the original blue visor still present, and the fins on the top of the helmet are barely hidden, not to mention the blue stripes visible under the orange wrappings.
Quiz is one you can guess from a mile away – it’s a Ride-Player suit from Kamen Rider Ex-Aid, and the color placement isn’t terribly out of place for that series either. As a reversal on what they did for Shinobi, this uses a helmet from Kamen Rider Ghost. Briefly, I wondered if the feet were from Lazer’s Chambara Bike Gamer form since those have black and gold, but they’re in the opposite spots.
Kikai is the most straightforward of all, as it’s simply a Guardian from Kamen Rider Build. Which is still quite clever, because it’s parts of a non-Rider being repurposed this time, and it’s thematic to this robotic hero.
Last of these Riders is Ginga, who is unfortunately very obvious. The bulk of this suit comes from Kamen Rider Fourze’s Meteor Fusion States form from Kamen Rider Fourze The Movie, with not much in the way of alteration apart from the lack of forearm parts and the gold being painted purple to match the suit.
The lower legs, likely to remove the very obvious Fourze parts, are taken from Kamen Rider Meteor without much alteration.
The helmet, however, is very clever; It’s Kamen Rider Mage from Kamen Rider Wizard, with a black mask piece covering much of the jewel face to create eyes.
Kamen Rider Den-O has a movie, Climax Deka, with a one-off villain called Kamen Rider Nega Den-O. From a design standpoint, Nega Den-O is your straightforward evil recolor – they changed Den-O Sword Form from red to purple, then added flames. But the surprising twist is that they did this all digitally; They added flame stickers to the Den-O Sword Form suit, then digitally recolored it. The above image is my attempt to reverse-engineer their coloring job.
There is confirmation for this in the magazine reveals at the time, where you actually see Nega Den-O in all his red-armored glory. Magazines use photos that were likely taken before any post-production, so it makes sense for that to slip by.
Likewise, the Detail of Heroes photo book actually features some photos of Nega Den-O, with accompanying text to explain their process. It really did just come down to applying flame stickers that could be peeled off once filming was wrapped up. For the Detail of Heroes book, they had to make a new set of stickers to apply to the suit, so the photos you get in the book are yet again digital edits.
The ZECTroopers from Kamen Rider Kabuto are in more things than I bet you were aware of. They’re the canonical example of suit reuse, and I love spotting them.
These suits were given some gold and had lions plastered onto the eyes to make the Leo Soldiers from Kamen Rider Den-O, subordinates of the Leo Imagin. In Kamen Rider W Returns: Kamen Rider Accel, they show up in black once again as Masked Soldiers led by the Commander Dopant. These have new heads.
Then we have Movie Taisen Full Throttle, the crossover between Gaim and Drive, but this one is weird. The villain of Gaim‘s story, Megahex, summons various mechanized enemies, which includes Kurokage Troopers. The magazine reveals show us a set photo that actually didn’t make it into the movie, where we see these mechanized soldiers wearing the Sengoku Drivers.
In the movie itself, armorless Kurokage Troopers appear instead, then the armor attaches to finish off their transformations. It’s unclear why the change was made. The suits look like they were virtually the same as the Masked Soldiers, albeit with apparent alterations to the head.
Kamen Rider Zero-One offers some interesting display pieces in Aruto’s laboratory, namely the past models for the Humagears.
The one that gets the most attention, seen in flashbacks to Daybreak, is the return of the Guardians from Kamen Rider Build! They just keep coming back. The giveaway is the shoulders and forearms, as well as the general shape of the body. The details have all been smoothed out with a new head.
Next up is one is Megahex from Movie Taisen Full Throttle with a new head and a removal of cloak.
And lastly, this one took a bit to identify, but it is undoubtedly Delu-Knight from Hikonin Sentai Akibaranger, a rarity in which Sentai items get repurposed for Rider – the parody Sentai no less.
Finally, we end with another piece of Kamen Rider Zero-One parts reuse, because they’re kind of interesting choices.
Kamen Rider 001 is featured in Reiwa: The First Generation, a take on Zero-One using the Forceriser. While it uses some parts seen in other Forceriser users, the undersuit – and even the leg and arm armor pieces – are taken from Kamen Rider Build‘s Night Rogue.
In the show, we have Kamen Rider Ikazuchi, which follows a similar trend. This one uses the undersuit of Blood Stalk, as well as some parts of Night Rogue on the arms.
These reuses are somewhat intriguing since they are such prominent things. Sure, 001 is a one-off movie form, but for a Rider suit in a show, you wouldn’t expect a bulk of the suit to come from a previous series. Likely, the notion was to simply reuse parts for minor characters who wouldn’t have much screentime, such as the Miriders in Zi-O.
As an honorable mention, here is Kamen Rider Cronus from Kamen Rider Ex-Aid, who uses the cloak from Gemn’s Wizard Gamer form, which itself is naturally from Kamen Rider Wizard.