Friday 24 July 2015

Toybox REVIEW: Figma Solid Snake MGS2 Ver.

Poseable video game figures seem to be all the range these days. We've got Bandai covering Super Mario rather nicely with their S.H. Figuarts line, Max Factory dipping into various Nintendo franchises with Figma, and Square Enix's Play Arts doing their usual thing and covering various franchises when they're not too busy doing Marvel, DC and Star Wars variants. Metal Gear Solid however is a franchise that has never really been short of toys, but it's arguable how many of those are actually good. MacFarlane Toys made a good effort back in the day, and since then Play Arts and Revoltech have taken over the fray. Now Figma are stepping up to the podium with their own version of Solid Snake based on his appearance in the 2001 game Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty for Playstation 2. With a price tag of 7222 yen he's a bit more expensive than your average Figma, but with this release balancing both the Revoltech's articulation and the Play Art's sculpt it's fair to say his announcement caused quite a buzz amongst the figure collecting community.

While the plain solid-colour decor of Figma boxes has gotten rather boring and/or unremarkable by now, I have to say Solid Snake is one of the few characters it really works for. The military green is a perfect fit, but my favourite aspect of the box has to be that image of Snake smoking a cigarette on the spine. I don't think you can get a much better picture of a figure looking like it just doesn't give a damn.

As both the Figma and S.H. Figuarts line venture more and more into the realms of live action and semi-realistic video games, the quality of head sculpts has been repeatedly called into question. It isn't just an issue of neither company being able to get it quite right, but the fact that on a regular basis the final product never manages to quite live up to those initial prototype images. Unfortunately as you can see here, Solid Snake is absolutely no exception to this rule. While it doesn't quite miss the mark as much as other figures, it certainly lacks the gruffness that was initially promised. Nevertheless at least it actually looks like Solid Snake, so thankfully avoids joining Figma Indiana Jones in the "what the hell were they thinking when they made this" category.

Once you get over this slight face disappointment, the body itself as actually pretty great. The colours are a dead ringer for the game model, and the entire figure is covered in a  wash to bring out all that extra detail in the suit. On which note, there is tons of detail in this suit. Admittedly most of it is just little touches here and there, but altogether it makes the figure look so much better overall. Not quite sure it fully justifies the raised price tag Snake suffers from, but I guess we'll just chalk that up to licensing fees shall we?

Solid Snake features the standard level of Figma articulation, which easily puts him above previous versions in the playability department. Some particularly nice touches are the double ball-jointed shoulders and the torso, which is separated at the middle to allow for even more movement. Unfortunately this also seems to be the weakest point of the body, with that particularly joint feeling noticeable looser (and thus floppier) than the tight-by-comparison body. The hips don't allow for the widest array of movement, but it's as much as you're probably going to want to be getting out of a Solid Snake figure.

Like most non-anime based figures Solid Snake includes a standard face sculpt with moveable eyes. Removing the face is a little more complex than your average figure (it requires removing the top part of the head before pulling the face off), but once you've done so you'll see that the back of the faceplate features exposes the eye mechanism. Included in the set is a long piece of plastic (for some reason a lot bigger than the one included with the Avengers Figma) which you can poke into the little dents in the eyes to move them around at your leisure. However rather than just put them into sensible positions, but can also turn Snake's eyes completely white or just pop them out altogether for a truly terrifying soldier.

With Solid Snake keeping a veritable utility belt of weapons in the games (just where does he store all of that anyway), it's no surprise to see that the Figma comes bundled with a good selection of accessories. First up we have an alternate teeth-clenched faceplate, six pairs of alternate hands, tranquilliser gun, M4 machine gun, machine gun shooting effect part and four cigarettes - which is pretty handy as these are quite possibly the smallest accessories I've ever seen and could VERY easily get lost. Of course, this is all on top of the usual things you find bundled with Figma - an articulated stand, plastic bag for accessory storage and replacement wrist joint just in case of any unfortunate accidents. Had you ordered Snake from Good Smile's online store, you would have also received an extra accessory in the form of a handgun with silencer. I couldn't tell you whether it's the USP or the SOCOM, but since this is from Metal Gear Solid 2 I'm going to assume it's the USP. A bit annoying if you wanted to kit out Snake's arsenal a bit more, but with two guns already bundled with him I don't see it as a huge loss.

So quite a few accessories, some of which are better than others. The alternate faceplate can only best be described as awful, and the effect part isn't exactly the best looking piece either (though nowhere near the level of awfulness as that face). The guns on the other hand are both great, and as small as they are the cigarettes aren't quite as fiddly as I expected them to be. One pair of hands has a small hole between the fingers to slot them in securely, and once you get them in they shouldn't rattle around or fall out if you move the hands. Moulding them hands might have been a little easier, but at least Max Factory had the forward thinking to include four incase any got lost.

Among Snake's more curious accessories is a thin plate of clear plastic with two rectangular indents, which go together with one pair of Snake's outstretched hands - which have matching rectangular tabs at the fingertips. These are to recreate Snake hanging from a ledge, either to hide from unwitting soldiers or move across a thin ledge where walking is impossible. It's a great bonus feature, however getting the figure to balance against a surface without toppling the plastic piece above him proves to be quite the challenge. If you want a figure where you can truly put your posing and balancing skills to the test, this might be it. The tiniest bit of weight in the wrong place can bring the whole figure crashing down, which is potentially a recipe for disaster since the pose is Snake hanging from a ledge. Even if you manage to get it down perfectly, I personally wouldn't recommend trying this from any high places.

But of course the most important accessory here is the one no Solid Snake figure should be without - a cardboard box. But not just any cardboard box, the cardboard box. Featuring the same "The Orange" print from the game itself, this literal cardboard box (as in, it's even made of cardboard) comes flat-packed and requires assembly and gluing. While part of me wishes it had been something a little sturdier or could fix together with tabs rather than needing glue, I have to respect Max Factory for going all the way when it comes to accuracy. Once assembled the box is big enough to mostly cover Snake, though perhaps not quite enough to completely cover him. Maybe if the figure was a little more nimble in the articulation department, but I personally didn't have much luck in fully hiding him. There isn't a whole lot more to say other than that really - after all it's just a cardboard box. But all Metal Gear Solid fans know that this is one of the most important things to have in Snake's arsenal and that alone counts for everything.

Those buying Snake from the Good Smile Online store would have also been treated to an additional cardboard box, this time with a Figma shipping crate deco. A nice little bit of tongue in cheek humour, but certainly not a necessary accessory by any means and nowhere near as interesting as the previously mentioned SOCOM. 

Despite some rough edges here and there, Figma Solid Snake is a pretty satisfying figure all around. Even with its flaws it is still definitely the best poseable Solid Snake figure, far outclassing any of Revoltech's offerings and the larger, considerably more overpriced Play Arts figures. Even without the Good Smile store bonus parts there's a bundle of great accessories included with the release, with Max Factory showing some good ingenuity in working out how to reproduce some of the game's most iconic moments. I'm not entirely this is the beginning of a whole line of Metal Gear Solid Figma (the line isn't exactly known for doing complete casts and there's no sign of that Gurlokovich soldier that was originally unveiled at the same time), but if Max Factory were prepared to make a few more of them I'd definitely be interested in checking them out. Especially if a certain cyborg Ninja was their next target...

...and no, I don't mean Raiden.

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