*REVIEW* Play Arts Kai Metal Gear Cyborg Ninja

Intro

INTRO

We love Metal Gear. LOVE it. We also love toys. Lo-and-behold, Square Enix/Play Arts Kai, one of the coolest toy manufacturers out there, has combined the deuce and created one of the most successful toy lines in their mighty arsenal.
Today’s figure has been around for awhile, but we’ve just now been able to spend the appropriate time due this self-degrading Cyborg Ninja. We’ve been big fans of just about everything Play Arts Kai has put out recently. Will Grey Fox make a killing or disappear into the cloud of smoke that is action figure mediocrity? 

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Did you never learn to read? Don’t enjoy viewing all the pretty pictures we put so much time into photographing? Would you rather watch compressed, grainy streaming video? Then you should check out our brief video review!

PACKAGING

Cyborg comes in the same sort of box all Play Arts Kai figures are packed into. A big plastic window gives you a clear view of the prize waiting inside. Metal Gear’s 25th anniversary logo adorns the bottom corner to remind us all how old we are. On the back there are a few photos of Cyborg posed to tease you with a bit of his sexy-self. A thimble of apologies for the empty box photo. We didn’t dally long enough to get any sort of unboxing images when we got Grey Fox in hand. We tore that sucker open and got to the good stuff as quick as we could!

WHAT’S INCLUDED

The anguished ninja comes with his trusty ninja sword (a high frequency blade) suitable for slicing and dicing. He has an alternate hand that you have to swap out in order to hold said sword. On top of that he comes with a snap on laser gun arm. One thing of note is that both the hand for holding his sword and the gun arm are intended to be right handed. Apparently Play Arts Kai doesn’t want you to dual wield with your toys. That being said, the laser cannon will fit on either arm if you’re feeling particularly rebellious, you go-against-the-grain-toy-collector you.

THE BREAKDOWN

The first thing that struck me about Cyborg Ninja, and in fact what I can say is usually the first thing that strikes me about any Play Arts Kai toy, is just how good he looks. The sculpting and details on him are really very nice. If you didn’t know better, you’d swear this little guy was built head to toe of shiny metal and circuits. The fine folks at Squeenix really know their stuff when it comes to modeling character details.

I love the spinal column detail on his back, it’s spot on from the game. I kept thinking how cool it’d be if it was articulated and moved as you twisted his back around. It’s cool in its current form, none the less.

The glossy paint work on Cyborg is basically two tone, lots of gold and blue with a dash of grey. He pulls it off really well. There’s not a lot to complain about paint-wise, as checking him up and down, I didn’t find any bleeds or smudge details, save a few small spots on some seams. I’d say of all my Play Arts Kai figures, Cyborg Ninja has the best paint app and the least flaws. There’s a ton of little decal that really sell the cyborg aspect of him.

He’s nigh flawless.

I say “nigh flawless”  because he actually DOES have one fairly significant scar on his spotless hide. On his forearm there’s this odd matte smudge of paint. It’s like someone at the toy factory noticed an unpainted spot on him as he slid by on the conveyor belt, dipped his thumb in some crappy grey paint conveniently laying nearby and smudged over it to cover it up. I didn’t bother photographing it as it’s not showing up very well. In fact, it’s not terribly noticeable unless you know it’s there. It’s just a little odd since it does actually appear that someone went through the trouble of patching a blemish… they just took zero care when they did.

Articulation on Cyborg is what you’ve come to expect with Play Arts Kai figures. There’s quite a bit of it, and most of it works really well for some dramatic and fun poses. It does seem like ol’ robo Ninja has a little less articulation than Snake did, which seems off since he’s a ninja and he should be able to bend and twist as such to kiss the back of his own knee caps if he felt the need. Despite that, I was able to get him in just about any pose I wanted to with only a few exceptions.

I always feel like I’m relearning something about action figures whenever I start to play with a Play Arts Kai figure. As per the usual, Cyborg is loaded with various points of articulation and much of it is pretty intuitive if you’ve ever played with a toy at any point in your life. However, there’s a few little tucked away hinge and rocker joints you may not catch on your first outing. One of these is located at his shoulders.. pull them in towards his chest and they pop away from his sides. While it gives him a bit more reach than he had before, it’s not super natural looking. One thing it IS good for is that it allows for a certain lonely Ninja to pretend he’s making out with a hot babe..

Grey Fox: “oooh baby.. ooooh sweet lordy.. muah muah muah…”
Snake: “dude…”

I think Snake’s on to him.

As I mentioned before, the hand that Cyborg holds his sword in is the same arm that you’re supposed to remove when you put on the laser gun arm. Thankfully, you can ignore that if you choose and toss the laser gun arm on his left side, leaving his other arm free to swing a sword around. If the scope of the canon being on the far side from his body doesn’t bother you, I think he looks particularly cool in this setup.

Play Arts Kai figures have always felt solid and well made. They have a heft to them that gives you the impression that the toys are built to last. For the most part that’s true. PAK toys are some of the higher quality figures out there. That being said, a few things continue to bug me about them. One is the articulation system. It’s not that the system itself is bad, it’s actually pretty advanced for this scale of action figures. The problem lies in the fact that most of the joints are held together by simple swivel ball joints which are unreliable in how well they stay in place when posing the figure. It works well in most cases, but on literally every PAK figure I’ve owned there’s been at least one that comes off in your hand the second you try to bend or twist it. With cyborg, I had two spots like that. The first and most noticeable was his right leg, which kept popping off at the hip. It’s incredibly easy to pop back on, but it’s annoying when you realize how well set in place the other leg is. Why couldn’t they both work equally as well and just STAY ON? The second piece is less a joint and really just a part of him that comes off absolutely every time I move his arm, his elbow pad. I imagine I could put a small drop of glue in there to keep it from happening if I wanted, but again, it’s strange to me that I’m having so much trouble with one while the other stays securely in place as you’d expect it to.

Arms or legs popping out of their joints is probably nothing new to those of you who collect Play Arts Kai figs. It’s a weird QC thing that I’ve heard countless people gripe about  all over the webs.. but I think they’re getting better at remedying at least the more common issues. In most cases, any QC problem you’ll come across will only amount to a small annoyance on an otherwise great figure.

The one thing that bothered me the most, however, wasn’t the randomly self severing limbs, but the tiny skinny baby elf feet Cyborg Ninja is cursed with.

You have to be some sort of toy balancing Jedi to get him to stand up and stay standing. The heft I was speaking about earlier that gives you that “quality” feeling whenever you pick up a Play Arts Kai figure is working against Cyborg in this case. Those little toes are just not meant to hold full grown Ninjas. I can’t tell you how many times I’d get him balanced on a shelf, where he’d sit for 30 minutes.. all the way up to a couple of days, only to have him randomly crash to the floor thanks to a rogue gust of wind. I had a similar problem with PAK’s Arkham Asylum Joker, which frustrated me to no end, until I finally relented and put him on a stand. I’m much happier now.
If you pick him up, I’d recommend either leaning Cyborg against something or getting a figure stand for him as well. You’ll save yourself some unneeded frustration and be much happier if you do.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Cyborg Ninja may not take Snake’s place at the top of my Play Arts Kai hill, but he’s still a very solid and awesome figure. If you’re a fan of Play Arts Kai and Metal Gear, then you should have him in your collection. At $60 plus, I wouldn”t give the recommendation lightly. I really do believe you’ll be happy with him chilling on your shelf.

Just remember that occasionally a limb or joint may pop off. At most, it’s a minor annoyance and not a big deal because they should pop back on really easily. Fox’s main demon is his inability to easily stand unassisted.. a truly strange problem for a ninja to have. Go get yourself a figure stand or pose Cyborg in a way that doesn’t require him to balance on the two legs Dr. Clark gave him and you’ll forgo many a stumbling frustration.

Square Enix Play Arts Kai has released yet another high quality, awesome looking figure. While not cheap by any stretch of the imagination, these guys are less than most collectors’ toys go for and look just as good in many ways. I’m loving this toy line and how Play Arts Kai is handling it. I can’t wait to see which character they roll out next. At the very least, Cyborg has quadrupled my anticipation for when Raiden FINALLY comes out next month. I’ve been anxiously waiting for him to ship since I saw the prototype at SDCC this last year.

We’re counting the weeks!

Review to come!

Pros:

  • One of my favorite Metal Gear characters fully realized
  • Square Enix knocks the sculpt out of the park… again
  • Quite a haul of articulation
  • The paint and details are really well done, despite one odd blemish
  • Love the laser canon arm and displaying him with it and his high frequency blade.

Cons:

  • Skinny little baby elf feet are no match for Cyborg’s body heft – he topples easily
  • A few joints will probably pop off when you’re posing him
  • It’s probably isolated and unique to mine, but the shoddy paint patch work on his forearm is an real eyesore


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*review* 3A’s Metal Gear Solid REX

INTRO

As far back as I can remember, I’ve been an avid gamer. That joyous affliction is the result of my folks starting me on the fast track at a very young age. They had an Atari 2600 already in place in the living room before I was born, just waiting for me to be able to hold the controller in my tiny, baby hands. Games like Pitfall, Berserk, Centipede and Q Bert, were all at some point a part of our collection. All classic games and iconic characters that, even in my youth, struck various important chords to my psyche. A few years later, my folks purchased a Commodore 64 for their office, which I loaded up with a bunch of old keyboard clicking games like Kung Fu Master and Summer Games.

But gaming didn’t truly hit it’s full stride for me until the release of the Nintendo Entertainment System. The NES was responsible for game after game of trend setting, classic goodness.

Mario, Zelda, Bionic Commando, Punchout, Final Fantasy, Metroid, Contra, Ninja Gaiden and of course, Metal Gear.

Fast forward to 1998 and the great Hideo Kojima and Konami released Metal Gear Solid on the  original Playstation.

Bam.

To this day,  it remains as one of my most memorable video game experiences. The story, art, gameplay, characters, all of it. A historic game made only better on the PS2 with MGS 2: Sons of Liberty. While the Metal Gear series continues with spin offs on a variety of systems and numbered releases.. MGS2 maintains it’s absolutely epic status and remains steadfast among my top 10 favorite games of all time.

SO! I could go on and on about the Metal Gear series, how much I love it, how much the games and their “sneaking missions” shaped the types of games I play and enjoy most.. but that’s not why you tuned in.
We’ll move forward and take my Metal Gear Solid fanboydom as firmly given.
METAL GEAR SOLID REX!!

If you’re reading this page then you probably know at least a little bit about the young toy company, ThreeA. They announced they’re partnership with Konami/Kojima way back in 2009. The first toy to be released from the international handshake was to be Rex.

Being a massive Metal Gear Solid AND 3A fan, my ears perked up, my heart did a leap and my wallet ran off to hide in the shadows. A match made in.. “Outer Heaven.”

Whamp whaaaamp.

That was back in late 2009/early 2010. Suffice to say, it’s been a slow roasting process. Ashley Wood, who’s ties to the Metal Gear franchise go deep, continued to pump out fantastic designs from his own worlds for us to pose, photograph and play with. But despite how fantastic the larger majority of those were, they couldn’t satiate the craving of Metal Gear fans. It seemed like someone over on the official 3A forums was asking practically daily for more information, any information, about REX.

The year of our Lord, 2012 just also happens to be Metal Gear’s 25th Anniversary and just in time too! In February the massively pregnant wait came to an end as REX finally hit bambaland.com for a whopping $490 buckaroos! The seemingly steep price tag didn’t stop fans from throwing their money at their computer screens and yelling “Take my money! Take it all!”

The excitement was palatable.

3A has put out a ton of great, sometimes downright AMAZING, toys over its short four(ish) years in operation and today, I have REX sitting here on the table in front of me.

As we’re coming up to the tail end of 2012… let me tell you this,

stuff just got real.

PACKAGING

Do I need to say it? This box is HUGE! Look at the two crazy cute slobbery fifty pound pups sitting astride it. It’s silly big!

I had to laugh when I popped the lid open. The oh so iconic “!” beaming up at me like a pretty girl’s smile. Wrestling it from the packaging took some real doing. I recommend you snag a friend or friendly hobo to assist you. Keep him or her around, because you’ll need them for the next part too.

Ash’s inks dot the front of the box calling back to his work on the epic Metal Gear Solid graphic novel. On the back, we get REX SPECS(tm) and a little background on him.

WHAT’S INCLUDED

First thing to fall out was a ThreeA catalog featuring a bunch of toys you can’t get anywhere but Ebay or via fan based BSTs.  Next, to my surprise, was a couple of instructional booklets. Yes, there are booklets aimed at instructing you in how to play with your toy. Believe it or not fellows, you’ll probably need to read it and refer to it often. More on that later.

Also included is a little plastic wrench-like tool which you’ll want to keep close at hand. It’s your new buddy.

THE BREAKDOWN

I was unable to show the ornate process of me actually removing this guy from his box. I contorted myself in ways I’ve only seen tiny, exotic acrobats twist. As I tried to support the heft of the box and pull the styrofoam trays free, I kept wondering to myself “Why didn’t I wait until my wife got home?”

Keep that friendly hobo close, he’ll come in handy.

The long rail gun is separate from the rest of REX proper and snaps in with zero fuss.

It’s possible I’ll say this a few times, so steel your resolve… “REX is huge!” I don’t even know where to start with him. There’s a ton going on with gears and removable pieces layered all over him. Not only is REX huge, he’s complex. There’s with good reason he comes with two instructional booklets and a tool.

I thought it best to start with some of the technical bits before I rushed out the door to snap away in strange territory. As mentioned, the gun is separate and has to be attached, as does the antennae to the satellite dish. There’s also a baggy full of tiny bits that attach to each of his legs as well.

Even though I didn’t plan on doing any of my night shots until later, I went ahead and installed the batteries for REX’s various light features. He takes three AAA in the gun and three AAA under his head. Bring your own to play, none are included. The rail gun’s side pops off rather conveniently for a quick install. The head lights require you to unscrew a tiny screw underneath REX’s head to access the panel. You can light up the rail gun by pushing an easy to access button on top, but to turn the head lamps on, you have to hunt for a wee switch towards the bottom/back of his head. Easy enough if you have light.. an absolute pain if you don’t.

REX has a ton of removable panels scattered all over his body. The booklet will illustrate exactly where all of them are, but I thought it was fun to leave much of it up to discovery. The following pics showcase a few of the panels you can take off. Kim and company did a great job at accurately mimicking the body damage REX takes in MGS 4 all of which shows off the faux mechanics that make this monster work. It’s pretty fun popping them on and off to mix up his look.

(UPDATE: Since publishing this review it’s come to our attention that you may, in fact, be able to remove all the panels from both legs. However, I was unable to remove all the panels from the right leg due to how tightly they are attached. It’s possible they’re sealed on by paint but they literally feel permanently attached so I am not going to force them. We apologize for any misinformation. Most of the other removable panels on the body are still only one sided.)

It may be a confusing to some that you can knock off panels on one side but not the mirror side. For example you can almost completely strip down his left leg, but there’s nothing to remove on his right. I didn’t realize this at first and started cursing a little under my breath when I couldn’t get a matching panel to pop off like it had on the opposite side. It’s particularly confusing on REX’s back area because the side that isn’t meant to come off has some give to it and looks to have the same creases and recesses as the other. The only thing that seems to stand in the way is a small screw drilled underneath, through the middle of it.

It’s not a big deal and may not be off-putting to you in the least. I just thought I’d share my confusion so it doesn’t throw any of you who like to jump right in and start messing with things without reading the instructions first.

For the most part, I think I’ll keep his panels intact but I like the asymmetry you can achieve by taking a few off here and there. The satellite looks far more interesting without it’s cover.

After putting all the panels back on I thought I’d attempt to get accustomed to how REX moves around before I headed out to do the rest of the shoot. I popped out his heel supports and extended his toes to get a more dynamic and alive pose.

At this point you can que 15 minutes of me trying to figure out why the legs would not support his weight. Each time I got him into a pose I was happy with, he’d buckle either left or right.

It turns out that my REX’s leg joints were twisted 45 degrees down on both sides. I only realized that after staring at the booklet and comparing it to what I had. Below is a pic of how your leg joints should look out of the box.  An easy way to tell, is that the metal mud flap-like things should be hanging from the front of the leg joints, not the bottom as mine were. It may not really matter in your case, but in mine the rotation joint that originally faced forward was a good deal looser than the joint that should have been. Thus causing the buckling under his weight. After I turned them to face correctly, my problem went away.

So what if your REX has ill-rotated leg joints or what if you want to just move the legs in general? Well there’s the right way to do it and a “do at your own risk” way.

To do it the right way, you need to break out the included black plastic tool and put it to use. You may also consider grabbing your friendly hobo as a spotter as well.

Warning: Please use hobos, friendly or otherwise, at your own risk. Hobos don’t know no better than to ride the rail.. they may wander off with a few of your things in a gunny sack if you don’t watch them carefully. 

I believe the idea with the tool is to give the quad-hinged joint some counter support to your twisting. There’s a substantial amount of resistance in the leg joints, necessary I assume to support the toys weight. That being said, I found some of the joints to be a good deal too tight. Twisting one leg out will put noticeable strain on the neighbor joints, something that I’m positive could lead to breaking if not handled carefully. The tool is there to help prevent that. In the images below, I tried to demonstrate somewhat how to use the tool.

In the image above, I’m using the tool to go across the top of a joint while I swing out the leg, which uses the neighboring joint. This gives the joint I’m NOT using counter support against the pressure I’m putting on it. I’m not 100% sure I’m using as intended but it seemed to work well for me. Don’t worry, it comes with it’s own instruction sheet so you can decipher the best way for you to use it yourself.

With or without the tool, it was a little stressful having to apply that much force to rotate a joint, particularly when loud cracking and popping sounds accompanying it.

Taking REX on the road for some more interesting atmosphere was fun. I had about two dozen or so people stop and ask what the heck I was doing. I’m sure more than a few were concerned of the nuclear capabilities of this guy.

Confused civilian: “Whoa. What is that thing?”

Me: “It’s a toy robot”

Confused civilian: “Is it a transformer? My kid has those..”

Me: “Uh.. sure. Sort of.”

Confused civilian: blank.. long stare followed by walking off a few steps, only to stop and look back warily.

Rest easy civilian, I got this.

Once you get your nerves in check, posing REX is pretty fun. I found myself approaching him as more of a puzzle than something you’d simply grab and toss into a pose.  You have to think a little bit about what you want to go for before you do it. It’s difficult for me not to look at him as some sort of menacing, mechanical K-9, so I just went with it. Opening up the cockpit, lowering the head with the backend in the air, we could be playing fetch..

..or nuking a small village.

You can get a pretty wide variety of looks out REX simply by changing his leg configuration  The back heels have 3 different positions (and everything in between) that cause Rex’s look to go from rested to full alert.

The way his front of his legs extend is pretty nifty. You flip up the toe gates, which kick the motion into gear, then just pull out a bit. It only extends the leg maybe an inch, but it’s cool and gives a surprising amount of lift to him.

The body articulation on REX works a few different ways. You basically have a central, groin area that the leg joints attach to. From there you have the front end (head) and back end (tail) on their own support arms that can be lowered or raised. The back-end also slide extends to allow for more wiggle room.

The rail gun is just so cool looking. 3A didn’t originally design it or anything, but they did a bang up job at recreating it.

The joints attaching the rail gun and satellite allow you to swing them in or out, as well as push them slightly forward or back. I naturally wanted to raise the gun up and down like you would expect to be able to do with a tank-like vehicle, but to raise or lower the nose of the weapon, you have to raise or lower the entire back portion of REX. This seemed a little inconvenient and took a little getting used to, but I believe it holds true to the source material so shouldn’t really be an issue.

One thing you may have already heard is that 3A didn’t implement any kind of head rotating articulation that the in-game REX appeared to have. In the game, Konami made REX much more alive and animalistic than what we’d generally relate to a nuclear tank-like weapon. I assume 3A’s decision was due to how much REX weighs and that adding a rotating joint would risk leaving him with a slack, hanging head. The harshly clicking joints are tight for a reason. It’s been bemoaned by many, but once you actually see this guy, I think you’ll understand just how complex and impressive he is.

While his head doesn’t rotate around, you can cheat to get similar looks by using the well designed multi-jointed leg hip/torso articulation. Through some finessing you can twist the entire body one way and the legs  the other and he’ll look as though he’s panning the landscape for Snake. It would have definitely been nice to have but after spending some time with him, I don’t miss the idea of rotation too much.

One thing that did slightly annoy me was that some of the little panels, particularly the vents on his legs, just will NOT stay in place. Some are literally just resting there thanks to the grace and magic of gravity. Just posing him and clicking a stiff leg out can cause 3 or 4 of the little covers to pop off and go jettisoning across the room. Just be mindful of that when/where you’re posing this guy so if one does unintentionally spring free, you won’t lose pieces.

Now it’s time for a flood of photos.

There’s so many cool little details on REX. The machine gun underneath him is one of my favorites.
edit: It was called to my attention that it isn’t a machine gun at all but actually a FE laser. The same one  responsible for slicing Gray Fox’s arm off. Thank for the help!

The afore mentioned removable panels shows a variety of cool engineering underneath.

His paint application is top notch and stays on par with the best of what 3A has ever offered. Also, since some have asked and just in case you can’t tell from the photos, REX is mostly an unsaturated green in color.

Here you can see some of the light details 3A worked in. I love the fact that the screen for the driver has a small light that you can only really see if you’re practically in the cockpit. Details man.. amazing details!

Other than the glow from the cockpit, you get 4 flood lights which basically look like Rex’s eyes and of course the ever impressive rail gun lights which pulse just before it evaporates your neighborhood.

Oh yes, I almost forgot to mention..

REX can also do this..

Yes, REX can stand completely upright without heel support in appropriate T-Rex fashion. He’s obviously intentionally designed to, but it’s challenging to balance and you need a good level playing field to do so. It’s totally worth the effort because he looks absolutely bonkers this way. REX just got huge-ER!

Just amazing.

We thought a good way to really show off the lighting system 3A has built into this guy, was to shoot him at night. Setting our shutter speeds to slower than your average bear, the fun really began.

(Editors note: Some extra lights were used for illumination and effect. IE REX does not have body glow or back lights)

The cab lights are really bright. Even with the hatch closed, blue light still spills out. I know this is basically a fun gimmick, but having the cool rail gun’s pulsing light effect made me wish there was an accompanying sound effect. Even cooler would have been having some sort of metallic/animal-like scream.
Real quick, I have to give props to my supporting wife who is responsible for many of the awesome night time photos you see here! Go team us!

On second thought, perhaps silence is golden. Everyone knows that toys with sound effects are the unholy work of Mephistopheles.

I wanted to show a few silhouettes of REX to give you a little better idea of how his back heel positions change his appearance.

THE FINAL WORD

3A’s Metal Gear Rex. Man, Oh man is he something special. If you were fortunate enough to pick one of these guys up, you’re in for a real treat come delivery day. Personally, I can’t wait to see how some of you guys will display him with the rest of your collection. He huge so he takes up a big chunk of real estate and isn’t necessarily to scale with much else I’ve seen.. (mini mates maybe?).  I have a few of the Play Arts Kai Metal Gear figures that I think would look cool sitting next to him, even if the scale is completely out of whack.  It’ll be interesting to see what you do.

Technically, there are things going on with Rex that I’ve only ever seen hints of before in 3A’s own Real Steel Ambush figure. They continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible in realistic, highly articulated, borderline seamless (the toy aspects, joints, buttons, etc.. are well hidden) toy robots. You will be in awe.

But there’s something else that struck me about Rex.

There’s really only so much you can do with him. He’s not a humanoid with articulated fingers and arms, carrying a bunch of weapons. He’s not a Transformer, jumping from vehicle to fighting robot with a few clicks. He’s basically, a very sophisticated vehicle. You can move his legs around to a half dozen or so different ways, tilt his head and body up or down and play with his light features. That’s really it. Combine that with the fact he’s somewhat challenging to pose, made easier only with the help of a friend or friendly hobo, it takes away some of the impulse to move him around very often, so after a few days, you probably won’t.

I’m not pointing this out as a negative, I’m pointing this out to manage expectations. Rex has a lot going on, with a lot of cool things to discover and move around. But most likely you’ll find a pose you’re happiest with and leave him like that, fondling only occasionally to trigger the rail gun lights and open/close the cockpit/jaw.

The fact is, I wouldn’t call REX just a toy. If anything, he’s too much of a toy.

I’d  more appropriately call him a display piece. Heck, he’s the CENTER piece.

He’s the one thing that your non-toy collecting friends will notice above all else when they walk into the room . They’ll scan over your collection of Hot Toys, 3A, Sideshow, vintage Transformers and GI Joes with dull, lifeless eyes, possibly mumble a few, “neat”s or “cool”s.  All the while, they’re quietly internalizing the question of their friend’s manchild-ness and how they can segue this unfortunate turn in activities into a drinking game.

However, when they get to Rex, I can almost promise you their eyes will widen and their jaw will drop. The words you’ll hear will be something along the lines of, “Holy ..!! That thing’s freaking incredible!!”

And you’ll be standing there, arms folded and cocky, nodding your head.

“Yeah, he is. He most definitely is.”

I can’t wait to see what 3A does next with the Metal Gear Franchise. The unpainted RAY prototype was on display at this years Hong Kong Venture and from the photos, looked very impressive.  However, not much has been said on availability, price, etc. RAY may be just as REX was. A very long wait. It could be mid to late 2013 before we even get the chance to drain our bank accounts into another plastic MGS masterpiece. Which would mean sometime in mid to late 2014 before he joins our collections on the shelf.

Don’t lose sleep over it. REX isn’t human and won’t get lonely. RAY’s long development gives us time to save our pennies and enjoy one of the coolest pieces 3A has put out yet.

In the end, if RAY turns out anything like REX, it’ll be worth every penny and every second.

PROS:

  • Incredibly detailed, accurate portrayal of a beloved and iconic video game character
  • Highly sophisticated articulation
  • Impressive looking and functioning lighting system
  • Massive to the point of shocking
  • Fun break away bits to show off hidden details
  • It’s a Metal Gear figure done 100% right

CONS:

  • His huge size and very tight joints make posing him a little stressful/difficult (aka, hobo/tool almost required)
  • Some of the break-away panels do not stay soundly in place.

Huge thanks to 3A, Kim, Cody and Gimbat for sending me Rex to review. Thanks for the support guys!

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BEST OF SDCC TOY EXCLUSIVES

We’re super excited about SDCC 2012! The countdown has it hitting us in the face in just over two weeks! I’m not sure we’re ready.

Crap. Where’d I put my to-do list?

Any-who we wanted to bring you (in no particular order) a quick short-ish list of some of our favorite SDCC 2012 Toy Exclusives. Some of which you can pre-order RIGHT NOW! Some you may have a shot at in the near future and some of which you sadly missed the boat on.

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Venture Bros. Brock Samson (Bloody)

Price: $14.99

Where: Entertainment Earth

Status: available NOW! here!

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IDW’s Zombie VS Robot 1/6th Zombs

Price $100 (2 versions. blind)

Where: IDW’s Website

Status: Sold Out 😦

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Mike Egan’s Bones

Price: $45

Where: Comic Con 2012

Status: Coming Soon

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3A and Valve’s Square Companion

Price : $40

Where: Bambaland

Status: Sold Out 😦

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Play Arts Kai and Square Enix – Black and White Batman

Price: $65

Where: Square Enix Website store

Status :Preorder here, now!

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NECA’s Evil Dead 2 Ash figure

Price: $25

Status: ?

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Kotobukiya/ArtFX and Action Figure Xpress’s Black Widow Covert Ops Bishoujo Statue w/ Hawkeye Mask! Bishoujo Statue

Price: $65

Status: Preorder June 29th. More info here

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Kotobukiya’s NON-Attendee X-23 X-Force Version Bishoujo Statue

Price: $65

Status: Already out of stock.. but if you enjoy torturing yourself, read more here.

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McFarlane Toy’s Walking Dead Blood Hooded Michonne

Price: ?

Status: info here.

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Diamond Select’s Walking Dead Minimates two-pack

Price: $8.99

Status: Preorder here!

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Sideshow Collectible’s Captain America Rescue edition.

Price: ?

Status: On sale July 3rd 2012 here.

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Squadt gohst s003 [PLAYGE] by Ferg.

20 figures a day. 125 total.

Price: $125

Status: more info here!

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Luke Cheuh’s – Target

250 pieces

Price: ?

Where: here

Status: Available soon

We only scratched the surface here and there’s sure to be a ton more random toy goodness to talk about once we hit the gates.
See you in San Diego!

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*REVIEW* Play Arts Kai Metal Gear Solid Snake

INTRO

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.

Egad.

PACKAGING

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.

WHAT’S INCLUDED

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.

THE BREAKDOWN

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.

FINAL THOUGHTS

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!

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • 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


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