REVIEW: Square Enix Play Arts Kai Cowboy Bebop
Super-Articulated, Stylized Figures of Spike Spiegel And Kai Vicious...
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If you grew up in the late 1990s and early 2000s and were a fan of anime, you probably watched the 26-episode fan-favorite anime series Cowboy Bebop. Featuring somewhat controversial content, a killer soundtrack, engaging characters, and a futuristic story reminiscent of the wild, wild west, Cowboy Bebop was the first anime to show on Adult Swim back in 2001 and is considered by most to be one of the most influential and commercially successful anime series in history. In fact, Cowboy Bebop has been in syndication for the last decade and is unlike any other anime you've ever seen.
Of course, the success of Cowboy Bebop is in no small part because of the amazing characters, especially series' protagonist Spike Spiegel and his former friend-turned-arch nemesis Kai Vicious. Now, fans of the series can pick up superbly-detailed, highly-articulated action figures of the two main characters thanks to Square Enix and their ever-expanding Play Arts Kai series.
Like previously released Play Arts Kai figures, both of these figures feature similar gate-fold collector-friendly packaging designs with series' specific graphics which catch the eyes on both the exterior and interior. Inside, a clear plastic window provides a look at the figure inside, which is held in place by a durable molded tray which protects the figure and accessories.
Both of these packages feature the sharp, angular graphics reminiscent of the anime series' introduction, Spike in blue, Vicious in red. Likewise, both feature the brick wall interior on the inside of the gate-fold door which provides some basic information about the characters, the Cowboy Bebop storyline, and the pair's rivalry.
Based on character designs by Toshihiro Kawamoto, both Spike and Vicious come to life in accurate and impressive 3D action figure form thanks to the artists at Square Enix, who have ensured both figures feature the long, thin limbs and stylized clothing seen in the anime. Both Spike and Vicious feature their particular suit pants, jackets, button-up shirts, neck ties, and dress shoes. One wouldn't think this would be the casual attire of a couple of gun-totin', sword-swinging anime characters, but - as mentioned before - Cowboy Bebop is unlike other anime.
Both Spike and Vicious feature minute details which immediately add authenticity to the characters and assurance to die-hard fans who've seemingly been without high-quality Cowboy Bebop collectibles the last 10 years. Everything from collar clips, lapel pins, individual buttons, clothing straps, collar decor and other seemingly minor details are all captured here, again ensuring accuracy and detail.
Square Enix had done an excellent job of again ensuring screen-accuracy is kept; from the colors of the clothing and accessories to the subtle shading to ensure the figures look just cartoony enough to seem screen-accurate, but not too human realistic. The anime-style eyes and skin tones are present as are the impressive tones of blue shades worked into Vicious' jacket and the black tones worked into Spike's blue jacket and pants. These are spot-on what the characters look like in motion on the screen and Square Enix can know they've done a great job of capturing the characters as they appear in the show.
As with all Square Enix Play Arts Kai figures, each includes character-specific accessories. Spike includes a total of five interchangeable hands (open and closed, gun-holding) as well as his signature pistol while Vicious includes a total of four hands (open and sword/sheath-holding) as well as his signature sword and sheath.
Vicious also includes the cormorant which sits upon his left shoulder. In fact, the cormorant even includes an interchangeable wing which provides two unique looks (below).
As previously mentioned, these figures - as a part of the Play Arts Kai line - feature the series' hyper-kinetic articulation, to include a variety of joints from head to toe which ensure a wide range of dynamic posing opportunities. Both Spike and Vicious can be posed in a multitude of action and static poses, ensuring fans of the duo will find at least a few they'll enjoy on their display shelf. Or, if they're like me, they'll simply keep them handy for whenever they feel bored and want to have some fun posing and playing with two of the coolest characters in all of anime.
Individual joints include ball jointed neck and head, hinge chest/shoulder, ball & twist shoulder joints, twist & pivot elbows, wrists and ankles, ball joint and chest, ball-joint hips, cut upper thighs, double pivot knees, and cut foot joints. In all, a total of 24 or more joints are included in each figure.
COST & OVERALL IMPRESSION
With a suggested retail price of $69.99 each, casual fans may shy away from spending nearly $150 to have two of the coolest anime characters of all time in action figure form on their shelf...but I'm guessing anyone who's a fan of Cowboy Bebop won't find that a problem. Die-hard anime fans have been waiting for years for a high-quality action figures of Spike and Vicious and there's no better example of these characters as action figures than right here. Considering the screen-accuracy, high level of articulation, the impressive sculpting, and the character-specific accessories, the Square Enix Play Arts Kai Cowboy Bebop figures makes for a great addition to any Cowboy Bebop or anime fan's collection. Get yours today wherever fine action figures and collectibles are sold!
- pictures and words by Jess C. Horsley
- samples courtesy of Square Enix