Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Review 17: Play Arts Kai Final Fantasy VII Advent Children No.8 Sephiroth

Noli manere, manere in memoria. Noli manere, manere in memoria. Sephiroth!...SEPHIROTH!!!

                Count me among the thousands that never get tired of that song. I can remember the first time I watched Advent Children. It was just about the greatest thing I ever saw, and I didn’t know a thing about FFVII. I could tell you that after the movie, my friends and I had a thing for big black leather coats. Call it a phase.

“Watashi wa, omoide ni wa naranai sa…”

                Sephiroth is that dude. That’s just what it is. The only thing better than a good hero, is an even better villain. Sephiroth is ranked universally among the best. Everything about him is cool. From his design, his hair, his weapon, his dark past, and his smug charm…he’s the villain everyone remembers. People of the Jewish faith may recognize his name as a very important tree detailing some verses and numbers that are, well…divine. 
Squad goals...
                Sephiroth’s story is one we’ve heard before. He was genetically altered to be a super soldier by birth. Always knowing that he was different, he was kept in the dark in his youth about his true origins, and fed some lies by the organization that created him. He joined SOLDIER, a military group for the Shinra company and quickly became the best. And not just the best, he was far better than anyone else. His power was something of legend even in his time, and although the stories were exaggerated, he is said to be even more powerful than that.
                Eventually, Sephiroth finds out some horrid stuff, and starts piecing together the truth about his lineage…or what he thought was the truth. He went mad, and went about taking his “revenge” on the planet for the wrong that humans did to his “ancestors”. He set a village on fire, and went to take an alien body he thought was his mother and ended up being “killed” (I know, lots of quotations here). He comes back years later with an elaborate plan to reach godhood. He then sends half-ass clones of himself to do his bidding trying to make his plan work. Eventually, he is thwarted by the series hero, Cloud Strife, and is killed after becoming a wing demon thingy, and an old-fashioned mano y mano duel. 
You guys didn't need this place, right?
                Guess that’s it, huh? Nah. Ol’ boy has a few tricks up his sleeve, and had a “larval” form of himself called Kadaj make trouble for the planet once again several years after Sephiroth’s death at the Northern Cave. Kadaj set out to find Jenova’s cells in order to fulfil his destiny and take on the mantle of Sephiroth once again. He gets the cells by finding her head, and after just about losing his life to a new and improved Cloud Strife, he slams the head into his torso, and *BAM* instant Sephiroth…huge magical sword included. Sephiroth, this time, has a new plan to follow Jenova’s plan, and use the planet as his ship to travel the cosmos…sacrificing the planet in the process. That is, if Cloud can stop it.
                Want to get the low down dirty shame on Sephiroth? Good. You should. His story is pretty detailed, and really does the best job of carrying FFVII’s illustrious legend. Know as much as you can here:

Review Time!

                Ok, so…box art. Unlike other, cheaper figures, Sephiroth stays to his roots, and is molded in Square’s own high-end figure line, Play Arts Kai. So, is it a toy? Yes, by definition. It is, however, a collectible that should be treated as such. So, the box art doesn’t sell itself by telling you what it’s all about. It has a few pictures in which to display a bit of the range of articulation, but nothing too dynamic. Besides a few warning labels and license bulletins, there isn’t many words detailing the figure either. It doesn’t have to. The box art has gratuitous amounts of black, and really relies upon two primary means of selling points: The opening panel at the front that reveals the figure. There, you can see what it has, if you can decipher what is what in a sea of ebon plastic. The other, and more obviously stronger way, is the reputation of PAK, FFVII, and Sephiroth in general. Sephiroth literally sells himself, so seeing him in PAK packaging, you know he will sell. Don’t believe me? The preorders go like wildfire, despite PAKs costing more than the average Japanese collector’s figure. Still don’t believe me? Look for this figure now. Right now. Unless you strike a deal on eBay or something, a legit one of these are going for a high price…if you can still find one.

                Design: Sephiroth, for such a complex and loved character has some pretty simple duds. Sporting leather pants, leather knee-high boots, a leather jacket, leather crossed suspenders over his chest, and a set of simultaneously out of place and just right silver pauldrons, Sephiroth’s look is recognizable instantaneously. Adding to his “straight out of the Japanese Matrix” look, Sephiroth has a full head of shiny, flowy, marvelous silver locks that normally seem to find some wind to flow in whenever Sephiroth is around.

What else are these hands good for?

Paint: Let’s start off with the obvious, shall we? This figure is 90% glorious ebon landscape with 5% silver hills, and another 5% fair flesh valleys. There aren’t a lot of colors needed for this figure. I will give credit where it’s due: just about every curve and wrinkle on the coat and leggings are accented with a bit of silver somehow. Even the parts that aren’t accented are conformed to accent the light that hits it. The pauldrons. We can’t get enough of those pauldrons. Their metal is fully equipped with a rustic look that attests to Sephiroth’s prowess on the battlefield. His chest is exposed for the most part, so expect lots of flesh colored paint there. On to the head: you guessed it, flesh colored face and silver hair. There is more than one shade of grey here to really give that hair a flashy look. Sephiroth has lady-like lips, and they recreate that here with a dark brownish hue. Last is his eyes. Sephiroth has turquoise almost snake-like pupils, and they are recreated in full effect here. Just the tip of the spear for the entire head sculpt.

Articulation: If you know anything about PAK figures, you should recognize one thing…ratchets!! This is a big and relatively hefty piece of plastic. The biggest movement pieces have ratchet joints, which I welcome, honestly. If Transformers toys have taught me anything, it’s that if it’s over 7 inches, and more than a single pound, then get the ratchets in. 8 clicks back to front minimum on the arms and 6 minimum on the hips. Let’s get the coolest part out of the way: The head has a ball joint connecting it to the neck. The hair is made of malleable plastic affixed to the head, but there is another ball by the back of the neck that houses more hair. It’s just an articulated part of hair for flair and moving out of the way. The neck is ball jointed at the top and bottom. The arms are connected with ratchet joints that go front to back, but friction joints in and out. The pauldrons are a nice touch. The bottom is glued just under the outside of the shoulder and the top is glued via a plastic tab that connects to close to his collars. The biceps are on swivels, with ball connections similar to the hair piece on both sides of the forearms. From there, you can plug any of the hands in that you want. The torso’s plastics are not the same pieces. The jacket is a separate malleable plastic. The torso is divided into two parts, for what little of an ab crunch it affords. The hips give you some of the strongest ratchets in all directions with swiveled thighs and double jointed knees. Don’t be fooled, however. This is still a PAK fig, so chillax on your double-jointed expectations. The heel isn’t touching the buttocks anytime soon. In fact, it’s less of a bend than Vergil has. The ankles have a ball ligament and pivot. Feet have a toe bend and foot pivot as well.

Special Parts/Accessories: I’m torn about this. On one hand, I feel like I got shorted. On the other hand, I don’t know what else to ask for. You get a grand total of 6 extra parts; two neutral open hands, one slightly different open right hand, one left grab hand for the sword, the sword, and the wing. Starting with the hands…easy stuff. Pop them off the ball connection and replace. The sword fits into the one hand ONLY. So much for creativity, huh? Next, the Masamune. Sephiroth’s definitely not compensating for something’s, larger than life’s, unsheathable’s signature sword. The thing is roughly 14 inches long, making it much taller than the character it belongs to, and certainly longer than another famous Japanese sword as a Square Enix figure…Vergil’s Yamato. Finally, we have the wing. Sephiroth is the one-winged angel, and this figure makes sure everyone knows. Start by removing a panel in his back by the right shoulder. The piece fit matches the connection of the wing. Once the wing is connected, you’ll find it articulated at the base of the connection by yet another (you guessed it) ratchet joint. The second joint is yet again ratcheted in a ball connection. Allowing the fold of the wing. The final joint is a friction joint this time, allowing the spread of the wingspan.
Don't tell Vergil...Sephiroth is bigger than him.

The new vs old stands.

It also comes with a stand. Unlike what I’m used to with a PAK, this stand comes in pieces on a runner. You have to build it. Not that I mind, oh, not at all. It just isn’t the norm. What is unique to this stand is the tightening tool. It’s a hex head apex instead of a conventional Phillips head screw. Just be careful. The tool is designed to tighten the stand, sure, but the stand’s hexagon gets a pretty good torque…too much torque. In fact, the plastic tool may not be strong enough to get the top of the armature set. You will need it tight. Sephiroth is heavy, and the stand will collapse under his weight. It did a lot for me. In fact, it broke for me. Insert sad face. Luckily, NECA happens to have some pretty boss stands for big figures. It works for me.

Comparison: For those of you wondering how Sephiroth stacks up to his Play Arts predecessors, I’ve got the 411 for you. Is it a better figure? Oh, absolutely. Without a shadow of a doubt. It’s taller, better plastics, more articulation, grungier look, and of course, the wing and stand. The new jacket is very malleable, whereas the older toy had a stiff  and less flowy jacket. The first figure has a sense of less wind blowing than the new one. The first also has no ab crunch, no good head movement, no ball connections, and no ratchets. Maybe less hands, but I remember both hands being able to hold the sword. The pauldrons are another deal. Where they are glued on the Kai ver, they are separate, wholly white pieces on the originals with their own up and down articulation a piece. The stand if different as well. It was simpler and sturdier, honestly, but it wasn’t built for anything more than just…simply…standing there. No dynamics with the originals…you were really just happy to own the figures in the first place.

Overall Score: 9/10 AKA: Tight AF. This guy is the shi-az-knit.  For his hulking size, he has all of the standard articulation of a common figma. More than a few, at least come to mind, and this is even with that huge, flowy overcoat. The new head and hair allow for some real good posing that we couldn’t even have considered before. The sword is a great big piece of silvery death and angst. The one wing…that one damn wing, is a black sail of advent villainry hell bent on achieving godhood. I don't necessarily care for the lack of effect parts, or the fact that the sword can only be held in one hand...especially for that high ass price tag. 
So…should you get him? Really? Do you have to ask? Well, the actual answer isn’t just a simple “yes”. There are some criteria you need to strictly follow. In order: Can you find him? Good, you’re on your way. Can you afford him? Even better. You’re gonna need some funds…at least 120 USD just to be safe. Finally, do you need him? There are several reasons to have this guy: you have/want a Cloud, you collect PAK, this guy just looks amazing, you just want this thing ‘cause you just want it(this guy), etc. if your reasoning isn’t strong enough, don’t sweat it. Great as he is, unless FFVII is something skr8 up awesome to you, than a pass on Sephiroth may not be too bitter a pill to take. I mean, for the money, you can buy two figures that you actually want, or several model kits if that’s your fancy. However, if this is what you want, you shall not be disappointed. I guarantee it…for what it’s worth.
Man, I added those wings over 10 years ago...

People keep comparing these two.

"This may be fun..."

NECA makes some really good stands...

Here are some examples of Sephiroth in action:
(Sorry, they're in English. I know, shame on me.)

He makes it all look effortless...

Look, people. This thing is friggin’ sweet. This character is friggin’ sweet. Pretty iconic, really. If you give a damn about FFVII, which is pretty much the father of all American(at least) interest in the Final Fantasy series, this guy belongs with you. He’s tall, dark, and oh so very handsome. He’s got the evil, the power and the charm to make you want to be part of his movement. He’s the villain fallen from grace. The once hero everyone looked up to. The inheritor of a memetic legacy, and he will never…ever…be a memory. 

Happy Hobbying, everyone!!!

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