Final Fantasy Creatures Kai boxed set
following is a guest review. The review
and photos do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Michael Crawford
or Michael's Review of the Week, and are the opinion and work of the
|Ridureyu is back tonight with a
look at some great Final Fantasy figures - take it away, R!
The Final Fantasy franchise has a long, long history in console gaming,
and it's no surprise that it has also gotten tons and tons of
merchandising over the years. One of my personal favorite toy
lines from the series has been Final Fantasy Creatures, a mini-figure
line launched in 2001 that showcases the various monsters in these
games. Over the years, the F.F. Creatures brand has changed a
few times, first to Final Fantasy Master creatures (larger, more
details and fragile statues), and then to Final Fantasy Creatures Kai
(smaller and closer to the original figures, but still large and
detailed). The original toys came blind-packed in little
pieces, which improved toy durability (better for something to come
loose than break off), Master Creatures was in window boxes, and Kai is
blind-packed like the original. The new toys generally
measure somewhere between 3" and 3 3/4" scale, about a head or two
shorter than the average G.I. Joe.
Final Fantasy Creatures Kai Volume 3 (that's a mouthful!) was a
six-figure series based on the Eidolons from Final Fantasy XIII - sort
of magical transformers that bonded with the playable characters and
kind of acted as the "summons" of the game. The Japanese line
was blind-packed with five "regular" figures and one "secret" chase
one. The U.S. release was a single boxed set of five -
including the secret figure, but oddly dropping one of the regular
ones. For those who are curious, it's Alexander, a big,
bulky, castle-like robot. You can find a Japanese Alexander
on eBay for about $10-$20 at the moment, which is far cheaper than if
the secret figure had been left out.
So, how do these fancy-schmancy tiny statues hold up? Let's
|Packaging - ***1/2
The figures come in a gigantic window box, which shows off your toys on
one side and then shows pictures of your toys on the other.
But the big thing is, you need to KEEP this box if you want to store
your figures safely, and I'll get to that under "Sculpt"
later. The box is ginormous, but it does a good job showing
off all five fantasy robots, and just stands out well. The
interior trays hold the figures in nicely without using rubber bands or
twisty-ties, or hugging them so closely as to scuff the
paint. Western manufacturers really need to take notes on
this, because I see Japan consistently one-upping them on packaging!
Sculpting - Bahamut:
**** Hecatoncheir: **** Brynhildr: ***1/2
Shiva Sisters: **** Odin: **** US FIGURES: ***
I know what you're thinking. "Different scores for the US
figures? But aren't they the same toys?" Well, yes, except
for one thing: The US boxed set figures come in one piece,
with all their parts glued together. This may seem
convenient, but makes each figure more fragile and harder to storage -
you can no longer just disassemble one and put it in a box, now you
have to plan how to protect them at all times. Seriously,
gluing them together has roughly doubled how delicate these little
things are. You MUST keep the original packaging, if you want
to take my advice, to store and move these figures without risk of
breakage. Period. Before, if one took a tumble off
the shelf, there was a fairly good chance that they would get knocked
apart, ready for reassembly. But now, a fall is pretty much a
guaranteed break, so plan accordingly. I have included a
photograph of an assembled Hecatoncheir next to the separate pieces of
the Japanese release, so you can see what I'm talking about.
But aside from THAT, these toys are incredible! Even at their
small scale, they are seriously works of art - the first one from this
set that I got my hands on was a Hecatoncheir, and I must have taken
three hundred photos of it over the next few days. Final
Fantasy has always used highly-stylized art, even from the early days
with Yoshitaka Amano's sketches. Final Fantasy XIII is easily
the most sci-fi of the series, and the art designers really outdid
themselves crating the mystical Eidolon machines. I couldn't
get over how they looked in the game, and now I really can't get over
how the toys look in-hand.
But enough of generalities, let's move on to specifics!
Leading the pack is the "Secret" figure, Bahamut. That's the
dragon-ish one with purple wings. Bahamut has a long Final
Fantasy history as the king of all dragons and the strongest summon,
and in this game he is an eidolon bonded to Oerba Yun Fang, and
transforms into sort of a bird-thing. The figure's texture is
slightly different from the others in a way that a rubber or vinyl
coating is different from sheet metal. He almost looks
organic until you look closely and realize that it's just
dressing. His draconian features show through in the design,
even though this is the most humanoid Bahamut we have ever
seen. The wings are translucent purple and shaped very well,
almost like those of a butterfly. They are hard plastic
rather than soft, though, and likely his most fragile parts.
The pose is a pretty generic "Open" stance, showing off the
figure. It's well-balanced, and not likely to take a tumble,
which is extra-good if you shelled out the cash for the Japanese figure.
Next is Hecatoncheir, named for the hundred-armed giants of Greek
mythology. I counted, and Hecatoncheir has thirty - one open
cluster of ten arms on each side, and two closed on his back, like
spires. Hecatoncheir is the eidolon of Oerba Dia Vanille, and
transforms into a two-legged mech with gatling guns (though this toy
doesn't. Don't try). This toy is just incredible.
Mere pictures do not adequately represent it - it's hard to photograph,
after all! The sheer level of complexity and detailing in
something smaller than any G.I. Joe is astounding, and this little guy
has honestly taken a rightful place as one of the best-made figures I
have ever seen! Aside from the multiple individual arms,
Hecatoncheir is standing on a base that resembles something H. R. Giger
might have designed for the Alien franchise. The two
arm-spires in its back are probably its most fragile point, and it is
slightly weighted in the back, so situate it away from
ledges. But seriously, I can't exaggerate how awesome this
The smallest of the group is Brynhildr, Sazh Katzroy's eidolon that
turns into a race car (no fooling), and is named for the famous
valkyrie. Of course, this being Final Fantasy, Brynhildr
looks nothing like a valkyrie, or even Norse, for that
matter. Instead, Brynhildr resembles a combination of knight,
demon, and jester all combined into one fire-aligned
automaton. This is the smallest figure in the set in that she
has vaguely human proportions and keeps her limbs close, but
Brynhildr's massive weapon also makes her the tallest, the crest of her
staff reaching G.I. Joe height. Despite her size, Brynhildr
is just as well-crafted as her allies, and the complex designs on her
armor seem to evoke actual clothing patterns, despite the lack of
cloth. Her proportions are amusingly feminine, raising the
age-old question first brought up by the female Transformers.
Her base looks like fire, which matches her attacks pretty well,
although the figure tilts a little to one side even while on
it. Brynhildr's massive staff is obviously the figure's focal
point, and really is quite a work of art. You will, however,
find that the rest of her is painted just as well. But I
would give Brynhildr on minor complaint - she has a few sculpted
"flames" on her arms and cape that just do not look as detailed as the
rest of the figure, and it's easy to not even notice them in the first
place. That takes some points off the figure, especially as
it contrasts with the translucent flames in her base.
Fourth in line is Shiva - or rather, fourth in line are the Shiva
sisters. In a move that threw Final Fantasy fandom for a
loop, XIII sees longtime series mainstay Shiva split into two separate
creatures, though they mostly act in sync. The sisters,
Stiria (the blue one) and Nix (the white one) are aligned with ice,
bonded to Snow Villiers, and transform into a motorcycle.
Hmm, odd. Female robots that change into a motorbike and
share one mind among two bodies, now where have I heard that
before? Yeah, it's pretty obvious that FFXIII took a few cues
from the sudden resurgence in Transformers' popularity
recently. But anyway! The Shiva sisters have the
most complex pose of any of these figures, and apparently are the
hardest to assemble in their Japanese versions. The statuette
as a whole is so well-made it's incredible - this is the most dynamic
of all the poses, with both sisters caught in mid-leap and surrounded
by a splash of ice. They are suitably feminine, certainly
more so than the bulky Brynhildr, and you can identify the kibble from
their transformation. Speaking of that, the level of detail
even on their motorcycle wheels is nothing short of amazing!
The figure also leans a tiny bit to one side, though it should not have
any balance issues, and is pretty sturdy aside from that.
And last but not least is Odin, Lightning's eidolon. Odin is
another character who has been in the Final Fantasy series for a very
long time, nearly always depicted as a horned knight riding Sleipnir,
his six-legged horse. This time, Odin transforms into the
horse! Some of its kibble can be seen on his shield, with its
oddly organic design, although he has folded it to hide the horse
head. And Odin is, without argument, outstanding, his
intricate armor showing more detail than even the complex
Hecatoncheir. Odin is surrounded by lightning, which streams
off both ends of his double-bladed weapon. This does give him
an extremely fragile stress point right on his wrist, though, which is
totally avoided in the Japanese figure, and might inspire me to get one
of those as a backup. Odin looks just as good up close as
from a distance, and is one of those toys you can photograph and show
to non-collectors - they won't believe how small it is when you tell
them! Just watch out for that wrist. Of course, I
should mention that, unlike the mythical Odin, this one has both eyes,
but he has always been that way in Final Fantasy.
As for Alexander (not included in the boxed set), it's a pretty cool
castle robot, but I do not have one. Perhaps when I do
acquire an Alexander, I will post an addendum to this review, but it is
sort of a figure from a separate series. Somewhat.
Zero slop on any of the figures. Period. The paint
is exquisite for this whole set, resembling a professional custom job,
not anything mass-market. Again, most people, upon seeing
photographs of these toys, assume that they are large
statues. I can't compliment the paint enough, or the use of
translucent plastic, or really anything about the coloration on these
eidolons. Bahamut even has tiny, tiny pinpoint eyes on his
face, barely visible but still there! I can't really say
anything else, except that perhaps I would have taken chrome instead of
flat red for Brynhildr, but that isn't much of a complaint, really.
Sometimes, some Final
Fantasy creatures would inadvertently have articulation because they
used round pegs, but that was a rarity. This toy line has
never been about articulation at all - though the Japanese release can
be modified a bit by taking them apart (example: Odin or Brynhildr's
weapons). But again, you really don't have these to be
poseable. Zero articulation is better than minimal
McFarlane-style articulation, as at least the toy isn't trying to be
something it's not - though it certainly is not as good as having a
full range of movement. Ah, well.
Again, unless you're taking them apart, these really do not come with
Factor - Variable
These are tiny little statues, so it's not like you're going to stick
Odin in your pocket and knock around. If you know that going
in, then they are great fun. But if you expect a
hyper-articulated figure, you might be on the way to
disappointment. Just keep that in mind.
Okay, this one is a little complicated. The boxed set SHOULD
cost you roughly $50, though I've seen it price-gouged up to $60 (and
as low as $30). $50 averages to $10 per figure.
Individual figures from this set will cost you roughly $12-$20, with
Bahamut's Japanese release going as high as $40-$50 regularly because
of its nature as the chase rare. So assembling the whole set
if you use the box and buy Alexander will cost you roughly $62-$70, but
buying the figures piecemeal will likely average out to $100.
And to be honest, even though they are fairly small, $10 is not a bad
price to pay for such a complex and attractive little work of art.
To Watch Out For -
Every single limb, spike, weapon, or protrusion.
Seriously. If these figures came apart the way they were
intended to, then it would be easy to disassemble and store
them. But since they're stuck, everything from Hecatoncheir's
back arms to Odin's sword is a potential worry. You should be
fine as long as you don't drop them or anything, though - there do not
seem to be any QC issues with these toys, and at the very least they
are not as fragile as the Master Creatures were. But this
really is my primary problem with the boxed set, and why I almost
considered the extra expense of buying them individually - Bahamut's
insane price is what tipped it over for me.
Overall - ***1/2
As little ministatues, these toys are incredible. The level
of detail on each of them far surpasses their price tag, although they
aren't really functional as action figures. No articulation
and some fairly fragile parts make them less "toy" and more "statue,'
but the artistry is more than enough to make up for it. If
you can snag the Japanese figures for cheap, then go for it, as they at
least are not glued together.
Where to Buy -
is good, eBay has the Japanese releases, and you can also try places
like Big Bad Toy Store. But to be honest, I'd suggest a
Google search just as with any import toys, as prices tend to vary
widely. You can expect about $10 in shipping, but that's not
bad, considering the size of that box.
This product was purchased for the review by the reviewer.
Photos and text by Ridureyu.