Square Enix's Play Arts Kai: Metal Gear Solid
Solid Snake and Cyborg Ninja in perfect figure form...
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The year was 1998 and I was a freshmen in college. My friend Chad from down the hall had rented a game called Metal Gear Solid and, while I was not yet an avid gamer, I knew enough from watching him play that this was a game I was going to not only love, but obsess over. The game was unlike others I'd played; I wasn't expected to "run and gun" or "hack and slash," but instead avoid detection and kill only when necessary. I had a variety of weapons and accessories at my disposal (including the now famous cardboard box) and there were a number of unique and interesting supporting characters and enemies that made the game even more engaging. Metal Gear Solid was, for all intents and purposes, my introduction to true, hardcore video gaming and my friend and I spent countless hours playing and replaying this addictive, inspiring, and amazing video game.
Fast forward more than a decade and fans are still obsessing over this amazing video game series, which has since spawned numerous sequels, statues, and collectibles, including the new Square Enix Play Arts Kai Metal Gear Solid line, which currently includes Solid Snake and Cyborg Ninja (above).
Both figures come packaged in a four-sided window box packaging with viewing panels in the front, top, and both sides. The white packaging colors feature gold lettering along with stylized graphics which accentuate the video game's logo. The back of the package features numerous images of the posed figure along with production information. The figure inside the package is securely protected thanks to a form-fitting plastic panel which holds the figure and all accessories in place and safe. Overall, the packaging is attractive, provides a view of the figure, and securely holds the figure until it can be opened and displayed.
Square Enix continues to impress with the Play Arts Kai line-up as these are two of the most impressive figures to come out so far. The figures measure at 10" tall each, which is larger than previously released Play Arts Kai figures.
The sculpting on this pair is nothing short of spectacular. The elegant, sleek, and futuristic Cyborg Ninja (aka Gray Fox) is as impressive here as he originally looked on our tube TVs 13 years ago. Various armor plates and panels feature perfectly symmetrical lines as well as visible minute screws and lock nuts, which provide even more realism and screen accuracy.
Solid Snake too features impressive detail, including all of the accurately depicted sneaking suit details: protective elbow and knee pads, armored plates, pouches, and straps. While some fans have criticized the figure's facial sculpt (below), considering the low resolution of the original game, the face here looks plenty accurate to me. Snake also features the previously mentioned details, including small divots in his knee and elbow pads which accentuating the futuristic look of the sneaking suit as a whole.
There's no doubt these figures look amazing. Solid Snake features a screen accurate blue, navy, and gray sneaking suit with gold accents on the elbow and knee pads. There is a good amount of shading throughout the figure's uniform, specifically on the pant legs and sleeves, which provides depth to the sculpt. While there are a few paint bleeds in a few spots, it's minor and mostly unnoticeable when looking at the whole figure.
Cyborg Ninja features an eye-catching metallic blue, gold and white paint scheme which stands out from other figures on a shelf. However, when compared to the character's colors in the original game, these seem inaccurate. Of course, I'm not sure a blue, flesh, and white figure would have looked correct and, as the production of this figure line is overseen by Kojima-san personally, I'm sure Cyborg Ninja appears as he's supposed to look.
The exoskeleton feature impressive shading throughout which again provides depth to the sculpt. Maybe most impressive is the small text on the armored plates - including "POWER LINES BELOW," "AVOID APPLYING PRESSURE," and "PRESS CENTER AND ROTATE RIGHT" among other phrases. These increase the detail on the figure and provide an impressive overall look to the experimental cyborg exoskeleton.
Both figures feature a generous amount of articulation, including rotating pin wrists and ankles, double-jointed (pivoting and ball-in-socket) shoulders, ball-jointed hips, ball-joint chest, ball-in-socket waist, and double jointed knees, pin elbows, ball-in-socket necks, twist biceps, and more. Solid Snake features more articulation than Cyborg Ninja, which is somewhat of a surprise as one would expect the Cyborg Ninja to have better poseability.
Of course the various articulation points allow for each figure to strike a number of battle-ready, stationary, and fixed poses which provide plenty of display options for those looking to make a unique display. One set of articulation points which are well worth mentioning is the Cyborg Ninja's unique shoulders, which feature ball-in-socket joints for posing up, down, left and right as well as well as a pivoting joint which allows the entire shoulder to move forwards and backwards. This allows the figure to pose the arms across the chest, making for a very unique option. Other Play Arts Kai figures (including the previously reviewed Kratos) also features this which is impressive.
Both Solid Snake and Cyborg Ninja include a number of accessories: interchangeable hands and character-specific weapons. Snake includes both his FAMAS rifle and SOCOM .45 caliber pistol with removable silencer while Cyborg Ninja includes his long high frequency blade (katana) and prototype railgun, which attaches to his right arm at the elbow. Each weapon is screen accurate and impressive.
The interchangeability of each figures' hands - to include Snake's gripping hands or fists and Cyborg Ninja's open palms or weapon holding right hand - providing various posing options. Likewise, Snake can sling his FAMAS cross-body which also makes for a cool look. Overall, while there are no doubt additional accessories Square Enix could have included with both figures (including the previously revealed open-mask Cyborg Ninja head sculpt which is now included with the Red and Blue Exclusive), those accessories included here provide a fair amount of unique looks and poses.
COST & OVERALL IMPRESSION
At $60 each, these aren't cheap. Of course, considering the 10" scale, the impressive amount of detail and sculpting, the generous amount of articulation, and a fair number of screen-accurate accessories, both Solid Snake and Cyborg Ninja make for impressive additions to any video game fan's figure collection.
At $60 each, neither of these can be considered "action figures;" they're better described as poseable, high-end collectibles. For gamers and collectors like me who prefer a smaller, poseable figure instead of a fixed pose polystone or resin statue, Square Enix's Play Arts Kai line has been providing us with a great selection.
I've been a fan of Metal Gear Solid for well over a decade so I'm biased, but I personally can't find a better sculpted, more impressive, accurate and affordable representation of either of these characters in figure form. Sure there are larger, more expensive statues and 1/6th figures as well as smaller, more accessory-laden action figures, but considering all aspects - sculpt, poseability, paint, accessories, and cost - these are the best and deserve to be in any Metal Gear Solid fan's collection.
Be sure to check out our PHOTO GALLERY HERE for over 60 images of each figure!
- review by Jess C. Horsley
- samples courtesy of Square Enix
"Until next time...have FUN with your figures!!"
Jess C. Horsley