Play Arts Kai Edward Elric
by David Cabrera,
Play Arts Kai Edward Elric Series: Full Metal Alchemist
Price: around $40
Oh, hello there, everybody. I was just watching the first episode of Panty and Stocking on repeat. Are there toys to review? Yes, I'll be right over.
I'd actually been avoiding Square's Play Arts line: I'm neither crazy about their looks, their playability, or their high price. They got better with the Play Arts Kai “my God, would you look at those things we just made? Let's do this over” line, but I'm still very cautious. I was planning to buy Bayonetta for myself, but balked when I saw exactly how ugly the figure was up close. But I'm going to put those misgivings aside and give a Play Arts figure a fair shake anyway.
Full disclosure here: I haven't watched Full Metal Alchemist. Either one. I know, I know. I should. You're right.
Right away I'm going to get to something that bothered me from the moment I saw the box. Were my eyes playing tricks on me, or are Ed's arms way, way too long? When seen standing inside the box, Ed's fingertips actually reach his knees. It's on account of how low his shoulders are: check out the huge gap at the shoulder joint.
When you get the figure out of its box, it becomes clear that this was a deliberate sacrifice in design: the gap is there so that Ed's arms will have room to move, and when he raises his arms (or just shrugs), it creates the illusion that his arms are, uh, where they're supposed to be. With his arms down, though, Ed looks like he's feeling particularly mopey, or perhaps is a goblin. Or Eeyore. I'm not convinced this sacrifice was warranted.
The intent of this figure is definitely to be a display piece first and an “action figure” second. To that effect, the sculpt is spot-on with great attention to detail and the paint is quite good all around: gradients rather than flat colors go a long way towards selling the look. The coat, gently shaded to suggest a bit (not a lot) of wear, stands out.
Articulation is not so hot: While I prefer sturdy, stay-put joints like these to the super-posable but often-rickety Revoltech and Figma lines, this figure's only got absolute basics: the double-jointed elbows are about the only bit that's out of the ordinary.
You guys know that I like gimmicks. Is there a gimmick here? Well, it's not really that sort of figure, but the answer is kind of: Ed's floppy rubber coat (the vest is also floppy) is very easily removable. There are replaceable arms for use without the coat, including Ed's bare automail arm, which would be wrong to leave out. That's about it for accessories: there's a replacement head with a “I'm in a fight” grin, so you can take Ed from business to party mode in a moment.
There are three problems with Ed coatless: the droopy shoulder issue is even more pronounced, for one. Secondly, this figure really can't make any cool fighting poses you might want to put Ed in. Third, the coat is probably the best-looking thing in the box, and it's something of a shame to discard it.
While the figure seems to stay up just fine on its own, Square has kindly included a just-in-case display stand. The stand is a gigantic clone of the kind you see on a Figma or Revoltech figure (and is probably responsible at least in part for the high price tag), but without the elegance or function. There's no hole for a peg on the figure-- aesthetics, you know-- so the figure has to be cradled around the body with a huge, plastic claw which doesn't actually fit the body and may or may not slip out of place.
It's possible, though difficult, to pose Ed up in the air, but the claw really mars the look of the whole thing. On a Revoltech or a Figma, the little crane is visible, but it's in the background: this jumbo stand and its claw make themselves impossible to ignore. I don't think Square honestly intended people to use this stand to display anything, but rather tossed something in there to check it off the list. At least you'll have something to hold up your 12” figures with.
Not unlike the Robot Damashii line, this is an acceptable figure that's unfortunately priced ten dollars more than it's worth, and just out of impulse buy range. Even if I were a fan of the material (from my point of view I have to ask myself “Well, what if it was an Acguy?”), I don't think I'd put down $40 for this guy. Of course, Square is well aware that the characters it has rights to (let's not even get into Final Fantasy) are unstoppably popular, so perhaps this is like the “Square-Enix tax” that the company puts on its DS games. Hey, at least it's a decent figure: you should have seen the old Play Arts Ed!
Where to buy?
When he isn't killing time on fighting games and mahjong, David Cabrera gets hype about anime, manga and gaming at Subatomic Brainfreeze.
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