Square Enix Final Fantasy XIII-2 Play Arts Kai LIGHTNING
The popular heroine brings good and bad with her newest figure release…
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Despite a slew of controversy regarding its story and linear gameplay, Final Fantasy 13 has become the fastest-selling title in the franchise. The original game dealt with the fictional world of Gran Pulse and the floating city of Cocoon. Controlling Cocoon is a powerful government called Sanctum that rules by fear of the Pulse, “purging” citizens thought to be “infected”. Lighting, a former government soldier, turns against them to protect her sister Serah who has become an l’Cie, or servant of the god-like fal’Cie, enemy of the Sanctum. As the game progresses, Lightning teams up with several people who have their own reasons for fighting, each who in turn becomes an l’Cie including Lightning herself. The newest adventure continues the story of the first, set three years later. Serah is trying to find her missing sister along with a new character named Noel who fights to prevent a dark future from coming true. Square Enix now brings their latest adventure from video game to collectibles with a new series of Play Arts Kai figures based off Final Fantasy XIII-2 and kicks things off with main heroine Lightning!
Lightning is packaged in a special collector’s box that sets the figure apart from other releases in the Kai series. While previous releases had an open front window and side windows, the box is totally enclosed with a front opening flap. The box is primarily shades of pink with the game's logo on all sides and imagery of the figure on the front and back. On the inside flap is a brief introduction that sets up the plot of the game. Behind the figure is a full-color insert that features the pillar and feather design on the box. The window shows off the enclosed figure and insert and is highlighted by printed feathers on the plastic that continue the design of the box. The figure itself and her accessories are protected and kept in place by a clear clamshell tray with a cover.
I have been an avid fan and collector of Square-Enix’s Play Arts series for some time now, due to both the awesome sculpting and articulation and the fact that the figures are based on some of my favorite games of all time. When they had first announced the Play Arts Kai series it was a bit of a shock as they were asking long-time fans to accept new figures in a larger scale from all their previous figures at a higher price point. But upon seeing the figures and the extensive line they had planned for Final Fantasy 13, we as fans accepted the change and embraced it, and we have now seen an incredible amount of cool figures spanning from Halo Reach and Resident Evil 5 to Batman and God of War. They even gave us some of our older favorites in the new scale as part of a Dissidia Play Arts series.
However, now it seems almost inexcusable to me that they would release Lightning and Serah from Final Fantasy XIII-2 as part of the Play Arts Kai series, but at the old scale and at a $15 higher price than the previous game’s figures. I’m not sure if this was a mistake or intentional, but it’s a slap in the face to fans who embraced the new Kai series, as the new characters will not fit in with our new Final Fantasy XIII line.
So after all that being said, the new figure still looks amazing. Her multi-faceted armor is smooth and sleek with tons of small details such as clasps, rivets and buckles. It contrasts nicely with the various textured leather pieces such as the arm guards and skirt. Her outfit is completed by her new feather skirt, which hangs down to her ankles, each feather sculpted individually and textured realistically. While it looks cool and is made of flexible PVC, it still hinders her movement and articulation a bit. And speaking of articulation, Lightning features around 32 points of articulation total, including around 8 points in each arm and 5 in each leg. Her head sculpt is done extremely well and the hair has an interesting look to it, sculpted in a clear painted PVC.
As far as accessories go, Lightning includes two extra hands, a removable shield, and her new sword. The new sword is closer to a traditional gunblade and it’s unique look and cool details make it one of the highlights of this piece. Both her sword and shield feature symbols and script related to the Goddess Etro and her new role as guardian in the game. One thing I noticed that was missing in this figure and another thing that doesn’t make sense given the higher price is a display stand. The inclusion of this would have also helped with the posing issues related to her skirt.
One thing I have noticed improved greatly over previous Play Arts figure releases - and I must commend Square Enix on - is paint apps. It has always been a problem with the line, having run-ons and bleeding, but this figure is almost flawless in the paint department. I only found very minute issues around her feet and it is certainly impressive considering just how many intricate parts there are. Her armor is shiny silver set upon a black bodysuit; this in turn is highlighted by dark purple “leather” areas. Everything looks crisp and clean, even on small places like buckles, straps, and studs. The figure also has perfect applications on their faces and the transfers used for her eyes and brows. She also features some light airbrushing on her arms, hips, and leg armor.
As disappointed as I am with the size on this figure and the new Serah, they are both outstanding looking figures that keep with the quality and standards expected from the Play Arts line. I do hope the sizing was a fluke and most of the continuing Kai series figures are of the larger scale. But I would definitely want any remaining FFXIII-2 figures such as Noel Kreiss or the game’s antagonist Caius Ballad. Final Fantasy XIII-2 Lightning is available now from Square Enix’s online store and many other fine retailers. Serah Farron will be available tentatively in March. Final Fantasy XIII-2 is available now for the XBOX 360 and Playstation 3 game systems.
Review and Photos by Michael Klein
Review Sample Courtesy of Square Enix