Play Arts Kai – Venom Snake (Metal Gear V: Phantom Pain)

Intro:

This will probably be a pretty quick review… the clocks ticking down 2014 and as of this writing, it’s already 2015 in parts of the world. I want to get this review out before 2015 hits the states!

Anyone who’s been following me here on RtR since the beginning (Has it been 3 Years already?) probably knows by now that I’m a huge Metal Gear fan. I’ve played and replayed all the titles from the Metal Gear franchise more times than I can count.. Metal Gear III and Sons of Liberty especially stand out. While I’m chomping at the bit for Konami to release Phantom Pain, I’ve managed to resist the game bait that is Metal Gear Ground Zero. I’m admitably curious to play what some have called a glorified demo, but I’m saving all my “next gen” Metal Gear cherry for when Konami FINALLY releases their next MGS blockbuster sometime in 2015.

The same could be said of the latest line of MG figures from Play Arts Kai. At SDCC last July, I got to see first hand the oncoming wave of figures. On display they had the Phantom Pain SDCC exclusive bronze, the retail and the Ground Zero version of Venom Snake. The Phantom Pain versions looked so incredibly baller to me with some material layering work like I’ve never seen before from Play Arts. The Ground Zero version looked nice.. but I wasn’t as excited about the glossy blue “sneaking suit” as I was the desert worn getup he sports in Phantom Pain.

When I noticed that the SDCC exclusive bronze version was labeled “Available Now”, I grabbed the closest PAK sales rep and said (in what I’m sure was an overly excited and probably way too high for my age sounding voice) “Can I get one of these please?!” pointing dramatically at the bronze exclusive. The sales rep replied in a friendly, but with a hint of “I hope this psycho doesn’t spaz out on me” sounding voice, “Oh.. I’m sorry, we should have taken that sign down. That guy (pointing at random guy in line) just got the last one.”

“Oh.” I said in a deflated, suddenly saddened whisper.

“But hey, we have the Ground Zero version still available if you want it!” offering it up with a crooked grin as if it were some sort of penance for allowing some other dude to buy MY Bronze Snake.

I glanced at the shiny, slim and sneaky Ground Zero Snake and considered it a moment. Then I glanced at the retail Phantom Pain Venom Snake and at the small sign at it’s base that read… “Coming in December 2014”.

“No thanks, I’ll wait.” I said, in what I imagine was a very Kiefer Sutherland/Venom Snake-like voice…

then I turned and walked away awesomely.

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*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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Top 10 Toys of 2012

It’s that time again people! The end of 2012 brings with it the dawn of 2013, which gives us good cause to levy the hammer and proclaim our picks for the top 10 toys of the year! It was a little tricky compiling this list. For one, I’m slightly touched by a fever.. one in which cowbell has no power and only various heavy doses of sudafed seems to keep somewhat tamped down. For another, I realized going over my shelf that each toy in the list has it’s own set of qualities that seem to outshine some yet are overshadowed by others. While one toy may be incredibly fun to play with, another may look impossibly realistic thanks to an astounding sculpt and/or paint job. What merits equate “Toy of the Year”?

As with any review, 99% of it is opinion. In this case, the opinion happens to be mine. I hope you’ll find some common air here and there but even if you don’t,  I’d love to hear from you and get your thoughts. Let us know what your top 5, 10, or heck, 100 toy list is this year!

To qualify, the toys need to have been shipped/delivered within 2012, though not necessarily released (sold). 

Without further ado, the top 10!

10. 3A x Bandai Zaku Gundam Inspirational Model

I’ll say it now to get it out of the way, I’m a big fan of what Ashley Wood has done so far with 3A’s Gundam license.

The purest may disagree with me. Ashley Wood’s Gundam Zaku creation polarized fans of both 3A and Gundam when it was released earlier this year.  Many fans called foul after seeing that Wood unceremoniously got rid of the mono eye that’s been so inherent to the Zaku character. Others saw it as simply a hybrid of sorts, between 3A/Ash’s own gas mask-sporting Noms and Bandai’s iconic evil robot. While I could understand the disappointment some fans may have felt seeing the design stray so far off track from what was expected, I was more than blown away by just how dynamic the figure came out. As a friend of mine said, “Zaku looks like more of a giant space marine than a Gundam robot.”  So it’s called Zaku, but it doesn’t really look like Zaku? Strangely, I have zero problem with that. I truly hope it’s not the last we see from the partnership.

You can read our full review of Zaku here.

9. Play Arts Kai Metal Gear Solid: Solid Snake

As the only non-3A toy on the list this year, Ol’ Snake is the odd man out. Still, the joy of seeing Square Enix Play Arts Kai releasing such a great quality version of one of my favorite characters in video game history soundly earns him the spot. I can’t WAIT for more classic Metal Gear Solid figures to roll out from this line.

Read our review of Solid Snake here.

8. 3A Action Portable (AP) Zombs

We never did get around to writing a review for these little buggers, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t get around to playing with them to our heart’s content. The action portable Zomb infestation was easily one of the most exciting events for 3A fans this year.  With several blind boxed (carded) options to be hunted down, the BST action reached a fever pitch. Ultimately, the excitement died dramatically once they actually started to land on doorsteps. Fairly heavy saturation of certain variants caused their perceived trade/sell value to plummet and many can still be had for a song. Which is awesome, because these brain chompers are awesome!

So ready your vocal chords! The enjoyment of these little guys definitely continues and if you’ve yet to grab any yourself, they shouldn’t be too difficult to track down.

7. 3A HK ReVenture Old Guard Tomorrow King

I hesitated putting this guy on the list since they were relatively difficult to get a hold of. You either had to be one of the lucky souls to actually attend 3A’s ReVenture event in Hong Kong or be lucky at the draw to snag the few “left overs” dripped to Bambaland a few weeks afterwards.

The reason he’s here is because he is a classic Tomorrow King, through and through, the design of which is so near perfect, it’s difficult to explain what makes it so. Somehow, Ashley Wood and 3A have hit the nail squarely on the head with TKs, and fans claw at their screens and jazzercise in unison each time a new one  comes along.

While the red shirt variant wasn’t on the top of my list among the four available, I still count my lucky stars to have scored him. He’s earned a spot both front and center on my shelf, as well as right here in the top ten.

Read our Old Guard TK review here.

6. 3A WWRp/WWR Caesars

Yeah, I combined Caesars in both scales for my number six spot. The massive and mighty 1/6 WWR Caesar is astonishing to see on display. Since I went with an EMGY colorway, mine is set up with my other EMGY figures and he looks amazing. From the paint details to the articulation, everything is spot on. That being said, I don’t ever remove him from display or even try to repose him. He’s a little too cumbersome and tucked back behind other things to easily manipulate. Instead, he sits there to be admired in all his glory from a safe distance.

On the other hand, the 1/12th WWRp Caesars are the perfect size to pose and play with. While we still haven’t gotten an official review together for them, I’ll go ahead and spill the beans that these guys may be 3A’s perfect 1/12th robot toy. I can’t compare apples to apples as I chose the JEA and RIP colorways for my WWRp opposed to EMGY in WWR, but I can say that I’ve interacted with them a lot more. They look and feel more like toys and so I end up treating them as such.

So at one scale, 3A’s Caesars are astonishingly BA to look at, on another, incredibly fun to play with. In my eyes, it’s a tie. A win – win, whichever way you go.

Read our full WWR EMGY Caesar review here.

5. 3A Jungle Vet

We’re only at the halfway point of this top ten list, yet we also happen to be at the toy that I had the most fun with this year, Jungle Vet. Of the many “sold blind” new Adventure Kartel figures, he was among the most anticipated. I admit, I assumed he wouldn’t warrant such bated breath. Boy was I wrong.

Despite his kit-bashed appearance, the combination of articulated fingers and mono-eye contributed to making Jungle Vet one of the most fun and often posed toys in my collection. The photoshoot for our review lasted all day, and it was one of the few times that it didn’t feel that way.

You may be tempted to shoe-horn in here a member of the Finger Gang or even King Thumb himself as they share many of the same traits as Jungle Vet, but I think JV’s Ankou head with it’s rotating eyeball give him the edge. That and he was first!

JV is a goofy, and most importantly, FUN addition to anyone’s collection.

Read our full review of JV here.

4. 3A Real Steel Ambush

If you had asked me 6 months ago if I’d have a toy based on the Dreamwork’s Real Steel movie in my collection, much less in my top ten of 2012 list, I’d have given you a sideways glance that’d cleave you in twain. The movie was.. well, it was what it was. Big CG robots, punching each other time and time again to the tune of a thin script and a fairly silly plot. The idea of making kids toys based off the line is a no-brainer. On the other hand, the thought of making a high-quality, expensive, designer toy based on the franchise sounded nuts.

3A didn’t see it that way. They played to their strengths and showed the industry how it’s done. They took a mediocre, second rate, movie character and turned into one of the coolest, most surprising and detailed toys in my collection. If you have him in yours, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you don’t, good luck finding one for a reasonable price as they’re pretty scarce. The good news is, it looks like Atom is right around the corner. I wouldn’t miss out if I were you.

Read our full review of Ambush here.

3. 3A Queenie of 7 Bones

The 7 Bones collection from Ashley Wood’s Popbot line is one of the most readily collected amongst 3A fans. To the majority of Popbot aficionados,  it’s hard to go wrong with Tomorrow Kings. They’re basically samurai crossed with jedi in hip, urban gear. So, generally epic. They are assassins and warriors for your showcase that are as fun to play with and pose as they are awesome to have on display. Tomorrow Queens on the other hand, have always been relegated to simply standing there due to their vastly more limited articulation/clothing combination. To many, they come off as glorified if not overly sexualized barbies with bigger boobs and slightly more fire power. Many love them, but the love isn’t nearly as widespread. I’ve had a few in my collection over the years, but they’re always the first to go when some collection thinning is in order.

That all changed with Queenie. Unlike much of what we see out of 3A, from clothing to sculpt, Queenie is/was completely new. As the leader of 7 Bones, Ash thankfully saw it fit to give her a new, more articulated body as well as a bit more dancing room in her pajamas.  She’s also the only 3A figure to carry a bo staff and sport an eyepatch (other than Bleak’s dog, Custard). She’s still curvy and almost awkwardly big boobed, but she comes across as a no-nonsense tough girl who can handle herself on the battlefield.

Queenie feels like an individual and all her own. Among the  multiple variants of Zombs, Tomorrow Kings, Grunts, Dropcloths, Caesars and Popbots, that’s an incredibly refreshing thing.

I’m crossing my fingers that 3A has more unique characters like her in store for us in 2013.

Read our full review of Queenie here.

2. New Noms 4th and 27th

When I saw the new Noms at SDCC this year, I was ecstatic in the confident knowledge that I had broken down just weeks prior and pre-purchased both. Behind the shiny clear glass, they looked amazing. The new Noms consist of Nom 4th, a fit redesign of the orignal Nom De Plume and Nom 27th, a dark all new take on the classic design, under the guise of “disciple”.

In that glass case on the showroom floor, Nom 4th was the show stopper. Once the boys finally landed on my porch and I got them free of their packs, Nom 27th took the lead by a nose with his cool hooded shirt and substantially more menacing appearance. I bounce back and forth between which I prefer, thus the shared ranking on the list.

Ashley Wood claims these are the Noms he wished he could have made from the beginning, had money been no object. A generous host of gas mask hoses, actual laced boots, sheathed dual guns and baton as well as some truly lovely stitching support that claim. I still love the classic Nom designs with Jung De Plume being a prize in my own collection, but the new Noms certainly have the character and style befitting the Nom name.

If you missed out on 4th and 27th, don’t loose hope completely.  If you’re interested in grabbing a 3AA 2013 membership, come January, you’ll have a chance to grab Blanc Hunter as part of the deal!

1. Blind Cowboy and Ghost Horse Super Set

I knew what my number one was going to be long before I sat down to make this list. There isn’t anything else like it out there. This duo stands out in a room, regardless if they’re stuffed in a crowded display case or set up all Lonestar on top of a bookshelf.

Alone, BC himself is actually one of the more.. muted figures to come from 3A this year. He’s not perfect. His hat is a little on the puffy side and his white shirt lacks the fit that you probably wish it had thanks to a weird velcro strip. He’s also light on a few accessories that could have taken him to the next level. It’s not that he comes bare-arsed or anything. He’s got a gaggle of hand canons strapped around his waist, a cool red poncho draped over him and a dirty bandage covering his scarred visage. He’s got character, it just doesn’t come screaming out at you when he’s by his lonesome.

Paired with his trusty and very dead steed, Ghost Horse, they become a different thing altogether.

Few pieces can match the presence of this set. Toy enthusiast and annoyed wives alike have marveled at it on various occasions.

BC & GH summarize what makes collecting high end designer art toys so satisfying.  It’s a near perfect balance of something to play with and something to admire. You have  the action figure element, with guns and boots and bandages, and then you have the artistically and impeccably executed Ghost Horse sculpt that could make you question what exactly defines something as a “toy.”

If you want to read more about our opinion of this set, you can check out one of the thickest and most picture stuffed reviews out of the RtR chamber to date right here.

As an initially planned one-off, those who missed the set looked left to drink their own tears for the foreseeable future. Luckily for you, 3A decided to release a second run in 2013 dubbed the Dead Equine Super Set , essentially a monotone version of the same set.

That means that those of you chomping at the bit to add the Blind Cowboy Super Set, our official pick for 2012 Toy of the Year, to your collection have a very good shot at making that happen.

That also means that 2013 already has a Toy of the Year nominee!

Some Honorable Mentions:

3A Light and Shadow Oya Set – I’d have tossed this set in the top ten in a second but I feel that since they were gifted/awarded, never available for sale and are incredibly rare, they’re not really a release at all. They’re still awesome though!

3A’s Metal Gear Solid REX – He’s still set to ship out soon. A tiny handful of people somehow ended up getting their orders around the same time we got our review sample, but the official shipment hasn’t gone out and isn’t scheduled to do so until February of 2013. Keep your chin up REX, there’s always next year!

Thanks so much for a great year guys! We really appreciate you guys swinging by and checking out the stuff we’re doing. We have a few new things planned for 2013 that are sure to up the ante around here and we’re excited to show you!
See you in 2013 with more in depth, photo-filled toy reviews!

Happy New Year!

– Knives

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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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