Astro Toy with Rob Bricken: Sephiroth & Riku Static Artsby Rob Bricken, May 10th 2009
Writing about anime toys is hardly the toughest job, but it's not exactly a cakewalk. Writing 1000 words about anime toys can be a little daunting, especially when it comes to the statues, and as you may have noticed, there are very few toys I manage to get my hands on that are actually good. And beyond that, there are very few toys that I actually want. I mean, I like toys probably more than 99% of the world's population, but I'm 32 — I have plenty of toys, and not much room. They have to be something special to make the grade and my limited shelf space. Even last week's great Gurren Lagann gashapon didn't do it.
All of this is a roundabout saying that one of the benefits of writing “Astro Toy” is that ANN is mighty enough that some companies are sending me toys and statues now, which is cool, and some of them are ones that I covet with all my heart, like the recent Kingdom Hearts figures from Square Enix. And this is an even more roundabout way of me proving my critical independence. Because Square Enix recently sent me two of their Static Arts statues, and although I have little doubt they'll be making more FFVII or KH toys in the future that I'd gladly punch a kitten for, I'm not going to give these things a wonderful review just for the promise of future toys.
That's not to say these Sephiroth and Riku statues are bad, not by any stretch of the imagination. Clearly, they both look pretty darn cool, and that's the biggest factor you should consider when thinking about purchasing them. Since the pics take care of the statues’ positive qualities, it falls to my words to discuss the negatives.
Let's start with Sephiroth, who stands at 14-inches tall. Sephiroth is the more dynamic of the two statues, obviously; his trenchcoat-thing swirling around him, his arm raised… well, I'm not sure why. He's probably summoning magic or something, but since there's no representation of that by his arm, he looks kind of like he's raising his hand in class to ask a question.
That's not the worst problem in the world, but there are other odd things about the statue, including the base. It looks kind of cool, but I don't have the faintest clue what it's supposed to represent, and remember, I wrote a ridiculous 150-page college thesis on the damn game. I guess it could be a very large representation of the Black Materia, but I always imagined those as smooth, and this is very detailed and covered in iridescent details, which makes it look vaguely like a craft project. The flames are a nice touch, though.
The biggest issue that most folks will likely have is with Sephiroth's sword; it's an astounding 16 inches long, and thus not only taller than Sephiroth himself, but the entire statue with base. It's ludicrously long, although I kind of like it, just because it's so absurd. It's also a little difficult to get properly positioned in his hand to stay at the proper angle; it tends to droop unless jammed in just right.
Also unfortunately, much like many of the Square Enix Play Arts figures, Sephiroth's face is pretty emotionless. The back of the package — which features the original hand-made statue and not one of the production copies — shows Seph with a wonderfully flat look of disdain. But as you can see above, the production copy looks mildly perturbed at best.
I have even less to say about Riku, actually. He's 12-inches tall and in a less dynamic pose then Sephiroth, hoisting his Keyblade over his shoulder like so many Final Fantasy protagonists like to do (although Riku is left-handed, which is unusual). Both the Keyblade and Riku's outfits are excellently sculpted, but neither have a mind-blowing level of detail.
Moreover, I don't have the faintest clue what his base is supposed to be. There's black goo, a big angel wing, some rocks and a bit of a fallen column… I played both Kingdom Hearts games all the way through, and I have no idea. Feel free to elucidate me in the comments.
Again, neither of these statues is bad, and the problems I've mentioned about are mostly nitpicky. If you like the poses, you'll like the statues — Square Enix does good work. But here's what I can't help but thinking how I'd rather have the action figures.
Seriously. Although the statues of Sephiroth and Riku are bigger, I'd much prefer the shorter but articulated versions of them from their Play Arts incarnations. Really, the sculpting is practically as good on the toys as on statues, although that's more a credit to the action figures than a knock on the statues. You can definitely get any of the Sephiroth figures to match the Static Arts’ pose, and although I don't own a Riku figure, I feel pretty damn confident you can match his as well. Plus, you can pose them in whatever other poses you'd like. And admittedly, the figures are much cheaper.
On the other hand, statues get you far less grief from non-nerds for statues than action figures. You can blame thousands of years of fine art, but even statues of videogame characters get cut a little slack, because statues are considered art, and action figures are considered for kids and immature adults. Again, if you like the poses and bases of these two Static Arts statues, you're not going to be disappointed with them — and they're available for sale of at Square Enix USA's online shop as you read this — Sephiroth is here, Riku is here. But for those on a budget or those who just want the characters and not necessarily statues of them, there are some fine alternatives out there.
You can read more of Rob Bricken's bitter, needlessly mean-spirited thoughts on toys and many non-anime subjects over at ToplessRobot.com (which is safe for work).
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