Few video game franchises are nearer and dearer to my heart than Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear. I’ve played, if not beaten almost every game in the series including the port of the very first Metal Gear when it was out on the NES back in the 80’s (don’t do the math.. yes I’m at least that old). There’s something about Kojima’s characters and their stories that are so compelling and interesting, I found myself constantly hungry for more. A few years later I found myself scouring comic shops and books stores for the artwork of Yoji Shinkawa. Along with Yoshitaka Amano of Final Fantasy fame, his artwork kicked everything else game art wise in the teeth with how crazy energetic and magnetic it was. I still have game guides from the 90’s simply because it was chock full of his work.
Growing up, Metal Gear and Final Fantasy essentially rented time shares at my house. I’d bounce back and forth between the franchises, squeezing as much gaming juice from them as I could until the next game rolled around. Other than perhaps Final Fantasy 7, few games can compete with how much time and energy I invested into Metal Gear Solid and Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. I’ve played through the fantastic Snake Eater at least five times front to back.
All that was written to simply express to you that I am a fan. A big, massive, huge, gigantic (loaded to the gills with redundant adjectives) Metal Gear fan. Now that I finally have in possession my first Metal Gear action figure of one of my favorite video game characters of all time, I came to an incredibly shocking realization. This is my first Metal Gear action figure.
Akin to Play Art Kai’s other figures, Snake comes in a big box with a front panel window to give you a peak at what’s in store. This is Metal Gear’s 25th anniversary and from the decal on the lower right on the front you can see that this figure is an official part of the celebration! The classic Metal Gear Solid Logo stands out the most while the bulk of the text is written in kanji. A few pics of Snake looking dangerous decorates the back of the pack and perhaps aims to inspire you once you break him out of his plastic cage.
Snake’s default getup has him equipped with a little thunder and a little lightning. Also known as closed clinched fists. If you want him to actually HOLD the two guns he comes with, you have to switch them out with the included extra set of hands. One hand can hold the grip of his rifle or holstered side arm, the other hand is used as.. for lack of better term, “cupping”. I think it’s a little weird that they didn’t include a tactical knife in the arsenal since it’s always been a constant companion of Snake’s since day one. It’d also would have been cool if they threw in either the classic cardboard box that Snake used for bypassing baddies or the girlie magazine he used to distract them.
I can’t tell you how much I anticipated this figure to arrive. It seemed to take forever since everything I get from 3rd party sources tend to ship to LA before it gets resent back to us here in Hawaii. Things from Japan tend to scoot right past us, touch down in California, then boomerang back our direction. This sometimes adds an extra week to my wait time in getting an order in. Since my wait has been so long, I’m not going to make you wait any longer to get the overall gist of my opinion of Snake. In fact, I’m going to risk electively ruining this whole review for you and cut right to the punchline. I’m really happy and impressed by how well Play Arts Kai rocked Solid Snake.
The moment you take him out of the box you’ll notice how amazingly well sculpted and detailed he is. All the little straps and buckles are perfectly painted,the rivets in his shoulder and knee pads are neatly placed. Snake’s expression is one of thin lipped determination. He’s an impressive site, wholly true to his in game persona. I’ve heard Play Arts Kai mess around with their scales quite a bit on their figs but I have nothing to compare that to other than Batman and Joker. Snake is a pretty big fellah and measures just the tiniest bit taller than his DC buddies.
To continue the comparison of Snake to Play Arts Kai’s Joker or Batman, I’d say he feels more solid that they did. All of Play Art Kai’s figures seem to have significant heft to them, but even the thinner bits like straps and packs feel sturdier on Snake than Bats or J-money. Something else I’m learning about these figures is that they all have a floating midsection that’s not really attached to anything underneath the surface and just sort of sits to cover the tops of the hips/legs. It works pretty well and looks fine for the most part, but on this particular figure, his mid section seems to favor one side quite definitively, over the other leaving a good deal of the top of his right leg exposed. I had to adjust it every time I posed him or it would move itself to one side and look completely out of whack. (I know, I know, double entendres for DAYZ.)
Solid Snake’s face is relatively well done as they captured his in game likeness almost perfectly. He looks stern and ready for anything. However, his eyes are painted to point slightly up. I assume so he appears to be intensely peering up from under his headband. It works fine in most cases, but in some poses he can look a little unfocused. In fact, they might not be painted QUITE as aligned as they should. A bummer considering how “cool” Snake should look. Hard to look cool and cross eyed at the same time. Speaking of the headband, the straps in the back can be rotated left or right which is a cool touch to get that “wind blown” look you’re after. The frown marks sculpted on the band as well as the hair sculpt are also pretty well done.
The default fists Snake is sporting are a little odd simply because they not particularly dynamic or useful. They don’t look aggressive like the sorta fist you’d hit somebody across the jaw with nor can they hold anything. A set of more dramatic hand styles would have been appreciated. The hands also appear a little small, but that could just be my eyes playing tricks on me. The other odd thing is how the hands sit inside the forearm. They’re not centered on the wrist but are substantially offset to one side. I’m not sure why this is. I don’t get the added benefit of this other than making the joint all the more apparent.
Snake comes with a single hand that can hold a weapon. It’s capable of handling the task, though it’s not as tight as I’d like it to be on the pistol grip. It’s also kind of a pain to get him to hold his rifle given the unforgiving plastic of the weapon and the general bulk of Snake’s torso. The open or “cupping” hand is a little more interesting than the tiny fist, but it’s kind of a one trick pony. I’ll restate that I really wish Play Arts Kai would have included another set of more dramatic hand sculpts.
Moving around the figure, I’m really impressed (once again) with all the detail Play Arts Kai managed to squeeze into Solid Snake. I love the details on his boots, particularly the cleats along the sides of the toe. Most impressive of all is the sculpted detail in the various straps, pads and buckles. Even in hand, you may find yourself convinced that some of these are actual cloth and not plastic. The gun strap is a great example of this.
Getting Snake to balance, while not necessarily difficult, can be a little tricky. I’m sure there’s an industry term somewhere I could use but I’ll describe the joints as clicking/segmented joints. What this means is that there are only certain positions around each joint that will allow it to hold in place. Like the ticking of the seconds hand on a timepiece. This gives you a sturdier lock onto a pose, but the trade off is that you lose the ability to finely adjust the particular joint. You have to click the figure into a pose, and then see if he stands. If the weight is off and you need to slide a leg forward a millimeter, you most likely won’t be able to because the joint won’t lock into that increment. Long story short, when you get Snake standing make SURE he’s actually going to remain that way. Sometimes he’ll stand there for a few moments until one of those joints settle into place sending him toppling over.
The articulation on Snake is pretty darn good. I think I’m STILL discovering the seemingly random swivel joint here and there. One thing I really dig in how they handled masking Snake’s joints opposed to the way they engineered Batman and Joker’s. They ingeniously covered up the double knee and elbow joints with knee/elbow pads. It’s so much more natural looking. Even in more extreme poses, Snake doesn’t look ridiculous. Snake has a collar around his neck that, while cool looking does impede his range of movement a little. I don’t mind it too much since I haven’t put him in too many poses that stress the turning of his neck, but you might.
Another touch that puts Snake in the “win” category a little higher than Joker or Bats is that his shoulder joints are hidden from site thanks to his shoulder pads. Joker’s were just absolute eye sores that killed any sense of a cohesiveness in his suit jacket. Batman’s shoulder joints were covered by his cape, but the heavy rubber used there limited his movements pretty substantially. Snake’s solution is probably the best compromise. The shoulder pads do still hinder his movement a little bit, but they looks great and the trade off is well worth it.
I had a problem with Snake’s pistol silencer. Since it’s packed attached to the pistol and holstered at his side, pressure from the packaging caused it to deform and bend. It leans slightly to the left, so to say. I’m sure it’s a pretty easy fix, heating it up a little with a hair dryer then putting something heavy on it to straighten it out should do the trick, but we shouldn’t have to “fix” our new toys the second we get them. Packaging it by itself would have resolved the issue completely.
My current favorite setup for Snake is having it swung over his shoulder while he holds his silenced pistol at the ready. I really like the straps on the assault rifle, both functionally and visually.. but had some trouble getting Snake to actually HOLD his assault rifle. Part of the reason I had such a difficult time getting the assault rifle to fit is because for whatever reason, Snake’s right arm keeps detaching at the elbow. I wouldn’t call it broken since it can be popped back in, but it certainly doesn’t hold in place like it should. This is very similar to what I experienced with The Joker with his shoulder constantly popping off. Throughout the entire photo shoot I had to work around this little issue. It’s a shame because all of the other joints on Snake hold extremely well! I’m beginning to wonder if this is just a “thing” you have to put up with if you collect Square Enix/Play Arts Kai figures or a fluke. I’m tempted to contact the shop I got him from and see what my options are for a swap as it’s become pretty darn annoying at this point.
Overall I’m impressed with what Play Arts Kai pulled off with Solid Snake. I’m extremely happy to have him on my shelf. That being said, I’m a huge Metal Gear Solid fan and this particular figure is that of my favorite video game character. It’s possible that I may turn a blind eye to some of his faults. Not to the degree in that I didn’t note them, or don’t care about them.. but that I might more easily overlook them. If you were just picking this guy up because you heard of the series or just thought he was a cool looking toy to add to your collection, you might find these or other issue with him more pressing and they may more readily rub you the wrong way. From the lack of fun or interesting accessories (smokes, box, girly mag) and unimaginative hand options to the misaligned eyes and right leaning midriff… or in my case, the freaking arm constantly popping out of socket… Snakes certainly not perfect.
But for me, Solid Snake rocks, warts and all. I love the classic MGS story and characters and really hope Play Arts Kai plans to release each and every one of them. I honestly can’t wait to have a shelf full of them. We’ve already seen a few teases of Meryl Silverburgh, Solidus Snake and Raiden. Based off what I’ve gathered so far, they’re going to be worthy additions to any fans collection!
- Faithful likeness to the in game character based off Yoji Shinkawa’s character designs
- Some really impressive sculpted details
- Great articulation throughout
- Really nice solution to the otherwise ugly double jointed knees and elbows
- The beginning of a classic line of Metal Gear figures
- Arm popped off at elbow right out the box.
- Crazy bent silencer. Had to straighten it with hot water. Shouldn’t have had to do that.
- Eyes are painted slightly off
- Unexciting hands and accessories.. where’s the box, smokes, magazine?
- Can be a little difficult to balance