Astro Toy with Rob Bricken: Final Fantasy VII Play Artsby Rob Bricken, May 4th 2008
CLOUD, TIFA AND AERITH
Series: Final Fantasy VII Play Arts Vol. 1
By: Square Enix
Cost: $25 each, $60-75 for the group
It's taken long enough, but Square Enix has finally figured out that their little Final Fantasy series of games are quite popular. Hence the company has taken it upon itself to make decent action figures and collectibles for its games, from Final Fantasy VII to Final Fantasy VIII and even Final Fantasy X (but not Final Fantasy IX, thank god). As opposed to Square Enix's Formation Arts (which are mini-statues/figurines) or Trading Arts (glorified and highly expensive gashapon), the Play Arts lines are actually full action figures.
After two waves of Advent Children figures, Square Enix finally got around to making the original Final Fantasy VII. The first wave consists of the best-known love triangle in Japanese RPGs, the noble flower girl Aerith Gainsborough, top-heavy freedom fighter Tifa Lockhart, and total screw-up Cloud Strife. Like all of Square Enix's Play Arts, each figure stands a bit less than 8-inches tall; each figure has around 22 points of articulation, although Tifa's short skirt and Aerith's long dress make their leg joints more or less useless. Despite this, the figures are each somewhat poseable, Cloud more than the girls; he can hold his sword menacingly in front of him, behind his back (kind of), or he can get down on his hands and knees as he contemplates how he stole his sword, clothes and heroic status from someone else. It's fun!
Each figure also comes with four extra hands, if you're into that sort of thing, Cloud of course comes with his Buster Sword, which is literally exactly as tall as he is, while Aerith comes with her staff, and Tifa comes with chronic back pain. (Zing!) The figures are nearly as detailed as the figures of Cloud and Tifa from the Advent Children line, but they're not supposed to be. The figures do an excellent job of taking the details of their outfits from the game and adding a reasonable but not inaccurate level of detail: Tifa has white boxing tape over her left fist, while Cloud's metal shoulder pad-thing has a few dents and scratches, and even the pockets on Aerith's jacket reveal their stitching.
The faces are perhaps most remarkable. The sculptors have managed to find a happy medium between the pinched, “realistic” look of the CG versions of the character from the original game, and the more “realistic” faces of Advent Children; the result are faces that look as good as you think they be, but are in fact much better than if the sculptors had crafted them exactly like they were in the game. If, for some reason, you're a big Advent Children fan but not a regular FFVII fan—and I have assume someone is, somewhere—this Aerith figure would work just fine in your Advent Children Play Arts collection. The face will be a little off, but unless a third AC Play Arts series is announced, it's the best you're going to do.
One caveat—if you're a big FFVII fan, and are hoping to collect the entire team, give up now. The Final Fantasy VII Play Arts Vol. 2 line-up has been announced, and it consists of Yuffie, Vincent, Red XIII (with a Moogle-less Cait Sith, that jerk) and Sephiroth, due around August. Square Enix will almost certainly not be making either a Cid or a Barret figure, ever. I actually asked the company at the New York toy Fair if they were, and when they said no, I begged, then I cried, and then they kicked me out. So understand you will not be able to ever complete your FFVII collection. This makes me incredibly sad, and keeps me up at night sometimes. This is my curse, which Square Enix refuses to do anything about, no matter how many letters I write them.