Final Fantasy VII
Sephiroth, Vincent, Tifa

Sean Teeter, our very own college bum, sent this review along ages ago - and I promptly lost it.  I did come across it this last week though when I was cleaning up the old mail box.  Take it away, Sean!

I was so impressed with the trio of Final Fantasy X-2 figures Square Enix produced a while back, that it was a no-brainer when it came to picking up the latest batch of figures to hit the shelves.
The Final Fantasy series is a juggernaut in the gaming world. They make up one of the longest running series as well as one of the most populous title-wise. Being an X-Box player however, I’ve never owned a single entry in the series. The last time I even played one of them was on a friend’s N64 years ago. 

The game made the leap to the big screen a while back with Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. Despite having beautiful graphics and A-list voice-casting, many movie-goers found the film to be dull story-wise –plus a lot of fans were disappointed that the flick didn’t have much of a connection to the game series.

However, Square Enix seems to have learned from these mistakes and have released a new Final Fantasy film: Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children bringing popular characters to the screen –albeit, the small screen for most people, via DVD.

In conjunction with the movie, Square Enix has released three figures based on the movie versions of Tifa Lockhart, Vincent Valentine, and the villain Sephiroth. I was really high on the X-2 figures –I still think they’re some of the best-looking ones in my collection—so this group has a lot to live up to. Does Square Enix manage to pull off another set of fabulous figures?

Packaging -  **1/2
Each figure is packaged in a decent sized box with clear plastic windows on the top, front, and sides. The front has the character’s name and figure number in small font above the FF title. The back has a shot of the figure along with some small photo art showing a few various poses. The X-2 packaging certainly had more color and graphics going for it, but these are completely collector friendly. 

Sculpt - ****
I was blown away by the sculpting on Paine and Yuna in the FF X-2 line. Rikku was the weakest of the three, and I still gave her a three and a half star rating.
Here, I’m still blown away. These three are excellent across the board. They’re easily some of the best-looking sculpts I’ve seen on figures of this scale all year. 
Tifa is the weakest of the bunch solely because her look is more mundane than her counter parts. Her zip-up vest and the shoulders of her undershirt are sculpted as one piece, but the bottom of the undershirt that sticks out is a separate part to accommodate articulation. Her shorts, sneakers, bows, and weird over-alls/dress combo all match the screen shots I’ve seen. The X-2 figures suffered a bit from the generic anime face sculpt. While it’s still slightly present here, the look of the figures seem much closer to the source material this time around. The sculpted bow on her left arm will probably give you some trouble if you handle her roughly. It’s a bit on the fragile side.

Vincent is probably the most striking of the trio. His outer soft-goods cloak is nicely detailed with ragged edges, wrinkle, and a series of buckles running down the front. The cloak does hinder his arm movement, but you can still get some decent poses out of him. His body suit is covered in wrinkles and creases as well as a series of straps on his right leg and his torso. There’s a large holster hanging from a peg on his right thigh for Cerberus. The gun fits a bit snuggly, but overall it works out just fine. The armor plating on Vin’s left arm and boots are excellent and make him look nice and menacing. His head sculpt is close to the source material and looks appropriately wan. Of course you can hide the bottom of his face with his cloak collar for variety.

As striking as Valentine is, I think Sephiroth takes the big enchirito. His outer soft-goods trench coat is open at the waist and features a line of unbuckled straps on each side. At the waist is a strap with a soft peg. You can either display Sep’s coat open or closed. Underneath he has his beginner’s S&M outfit: buckled thigh-high boots, leather pants, and chest straps. His double-plated shoulder armor is jointed through the ball-joints underneath, allowing for unfettered arm movement. The hair sculpt is dead on the money when compared to the character design. The face manages a nice balance between the classic Anime beatific male and a touch of coldness. He’s a handsome devil . . . emphases on the word devil . . .

Paint - Vincent, Sephiroth: *** ½; Tifa: ***
Okay first thing’s first: there’s not a single spot of bleeding on any of these figures. The paint ops are clean and nicely done. However there’ a dominant theme to be found among this trio: black is slimming and economical. Each figure is decked in ebony from head to toe. Vincent and Sephiroth have silver buckles thrown into the mix. Vin also has the gold on his toes and left arm. His red cloak is molded in its color.

Tifa has less with only the white detailing on her shoes and shoulders. The pink paint on her ribbon was chipping off right out of the box so I had to dock her points for that.

Articulation - Tifa, Sephiroth: *** ½; Vincent: ***
Tifa and Sephiroth come with twenty points of articulation: ball-joints at the head, shoulders, and hips, along with cuts at the biceps, wrists, and thighs, as well as pegged elbows, knees, ankles, and feet. Vincent has eighteen points –he’s missing the thigh cuts found on the other two. The waist joints on Tifa and Vincent are limited ball-joints while Sephiroth has a cut joint. Each once can hold numerous action and static poses –no loose joints here. Vincent’s arms are limited by his cloak. The hip joints are all limited to one extent or another, but are flexible enough for a variety of stances. The articulation also blends in with the sculpting pretty well which isn’t always the case in figures with any type of pegged joints. 

Accessories - Sephiroth: *** ½; Vincent: ***; Tifa: **
The X-2 figures each came with two sets of hands: one empty, one with weapons. With these figures, the weapons are separately sculpted –which I prefer. However, Tifa seems to get left behind here. She comes with two sets of hands: gloved fists and an ungloved, open set. They look fine and work well, but compared to her counterparts she just comes up short. I haven’t seen the movie so I can’t think of what else could have been included.

Vincent comes with two exchangeable right hands and his gun Cerberus. The hands do their job –one open, one for gun-slinging—but the real highlight here is Vinnie’s sidearm. The Cerberus gun is a friggin’ beast! This has to be one of the best weapon sculpts I’ve seen in this scale. The detailing on the triple barrel is reminiscent of medieval Europe, with its silver detailing culminating in the three heads of Cerberus at the ends of the barrels. The chain hanging from the grip is metal, but the pendant is a light plastic that will tear easily. A small metal charm would have been better. I also would have liked an extra “claw-hand” with a different sculpt.

Sephiroth comes with a total of six hands: a pair of fists, a pair with open fingers, and a pair of gripped. And what do we hold in Seppy’s gripped hands? Why his big freakin’ sword, that’s what. The Masamune sword is just over nine and a half inches in length, making it slightly taller than the bad guy himself. The detailing on the handle is very nice. The sculpt is uneven to give the handle the look of being wrapped by hand. The blade looks great and has a nice sharp tip that little kids everywhere are going to be accidentally poking themselves in the eye with. There is a molding line running down the spine of the blade that detracts from the finished product though.

Each figure also comes with the same stand found in the X-2 line, except the plastic is shot in translucent black. 

Durability - Vincent, Sephiroth: *** ½; Tifa: ***
Each of these figures are of the highest quality when it comes to design and materials. The little straps and bows on each could snag and tear, but the big thing to watch out for is the fragile ribbon on Tifa’s right arm. 

Value - ***
This rating is because I caught two of these figures on sale. Unfortunately I doubt you’ll be getting them at three-star prices since most sites are asking around $20 each, which is a bit nuts. I got Vincent and Tifa on sale at Tower Records for $14.99 apiece. Sephiroth is a bit harder to find at a decent price. The lowest I’ve seen him at is around $18. You’ll definitely want to check Ebay for competitive prices. As these are imports, they will run a bit higher than other figures out there.

CornerStoreComics has the best regular price at $17.99 each, and have the next set of three up for preorder. 

Overall -  Sephiroth: ****; Vincent Valentine: *** ¾; Tifa Lockart: *** ½
In some ways these figures seem stronger than the X-2 figures. The sculpting is much closer to the source material, especially the heads. The designs on Yuna, Rikku, and Paine were probably more intricate –and they were certainly more colorful than this trio—but I think the variety among the Advent Children line is better. The designs on Vincent and Sephiroth are very cool and highly detailed. Both guys really stand out on the shelf and display very well. Tifa certainly looks great but is a bit lacking in the accessory department. Even as the least of these three, she’s still a solid figure.

Sephiroth and Vincent are almost statue quality and make for excellent display pieces. Tifa suffers in comparison to these two, but compared to most other figures she comes up tops easily. The lack of accessories other than the extra hands does kind of hurt her final score next to the other two. 

I would highly recommend any of these figures to fans of the series or anime collectors anywhere, but I’d do some comparison shopping before buying --$20 a pop is just too high, although it is cheaper than spending seventy of more on a statue of equal quality and no articulation.

I’m really looking forward to the next series of these figures. The previews I’ve seen look really groovy, especially the Cloud boxed set.

Packaging - **1/2
Sculpt - ****
Paint - Vincent, Sephiroth: *** ½; Tifa: ***
Articulation - Tifa, Sephiroth: *** ½; Vincent: ***
Accessories - Sephiroth: *** ½; Vincent: ***; Tifa: **
Durability - Vincent, Sephiroth: *** ½; Tifa: ***
Value - ***
Overall - Sephiroth: ****; Vincent Valentine: *** ¾; Tifa Lockart: *** ½

Figure from the collection of Sean Teeter.

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