Play Arts Kai: Assassin’s Creed 2
Ezio Auditore da Firenze
By: Square Enix
$40 – $50
2007 was a huge year for video games, with a lot of companies tossing out top-notch product like it was candy. It was also a year with a lot of sequels. GTA4, MGS4, Mercenaries 2, Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, and Halo 3 really lead the charge of that old familiar that gamers were so used to.
Of course, there were also those few very new and different games, focusing on a wonderful balance between narrative and gameplay that just sucked gamers in. These new titles—Uncharted, BioShock, and Assassin’s Creed—have all spawned their own sequels since, and with good reason. They’re all wonderful games.
The figure I’m reviewing today comes from the sequel to Assassin’s Creed, a game that combines parkour, stealth, and reactive fighting with more traditional systems like platforming and sandbox gameplay to create a very unique experience.
The first game focused on what it means for an individual to be an Assassin. The second game is more about the Assassin outside of you, about legacy and family and oddly enough the community and hierarchy of the Assassins guild, which continues to awesome levels in Brotherhood. Over the course of the game the main character, Ezio (which means eagle apparently, the same way Altair means bird), goes from being a punk kid to an accomplished veteran over the course of many years. This figure represents Ezio in his final moments of the game, when he goes to Rome to confront his final opponent.
Play Arts has been known to “bring it” with action their video-game-centric line of figures. Recently, however, and for reasons unknown, they decided to go from their familiar 6 or 7 inch scale to a massive 10 inch scale (Kai) with better detail and supposedly better articulation. Unfortunately, many are reporting issues with fragility and articulation. So how does Ezio fare?
Play Arts Kai uses the same traditions started by the original Play Arts figures with very attractive window boxes.
The card art is cool and lovely and reminiscent of the art of the game, even including the Assassins guild crest on the inside back of the box after the figure is removed.
You can see the figure clearly in the box and his pose is somewhat iconic to the game. The plastic tray features a plastic overlay to protect parts and keep them in their positions. The box doesn’t waste a lot of space and is stackable if space is an issue.
The detail on this figure is absolutely stunning.
They really went to incredible lengths to etch out the details of his armor and it plays well against the canvas-like contours of his clothing.
And check out the leathery look of his cape. Against the armor, even without the paint, it is very clear through texture what type of material each piece is.
His sculpt is a bit on the thin side for the character, who should be wearing several layers of clothing and armor. I’d chalk it up to the style of the line like the Yamaguchi Revoltechs, but I don’t think my Snake from MGS has the same issue. However, the facial features are fairly reminiscent of the character and of course the design of the costume appears to be very accurate.
For accessories, Ezio’s loaded down, yet sadly is still missing a vital one.
He comes with two spare hands, one in a fist and one to hold his weapons. This is especially good as his regular hands are a bit too animatedly grabby for static poses. His weapons include Altair’s sword, the fan dagger that has a large and dumb name, and both his hidden blades. The right slide into his sleeve while the other replaces the closed blade on his left forearm.
The dagger isn’t the one I would have chosen, as I think it’s cumbersome and silly-looking, but the sword is right on and he can hold either tightly. The included instructions show how to remove the hands correctly, which I recommend taking a look at if you purchase the figure. This is one of the areas where fans have complained of breakage in the Kai line.
So what’s he missing? How ‘bout a friggin’ stand, man? Stands had always been standard in the Play Arts line, but seem to be getting rarer in the new Kai line. For figures this tall and heavy, stands are a no-brainer, especially when the character is know for crouching on rooftops. Designers need to start paying attention to the difference between designing a character and designing FOR the character. If they can’t get into their classic poses, then what good are they?
Ezio is also a little tall. In the game he is portrayed as a tall man, but not huge. This height combines with his skinniness to give him a sort of eldritch look that doesn’t match the character.
The only other major problem is the plastic of his cape and skirts, which is extraordinarily stiff for no apparent reason.
Overall, Ezio’s sculpt is very detailed and pretty, but some of the design decisions are a little baffling considering the figure came out so long after the game and still didn’t quite capture the look of Ezio.
Paint is gorgeous, and really makes the look comes to life.
It’s not perfect; there is some bleed here and there. For the most part, though, Ezio has wonderful paint including subtle gradients and washes to add to the depth of the piece.
The only suggestion I have for the figures in the future is to think about the texture of the painted item. The armor should have more of a shine to it and would really help to sell the look.
So, the sculpt is good, the paint is good. Play Arts is known for its articulation, so it’s bound to be good! Um, right?
Let me explain something about Ezio. He’s got joints. I can friggin’ see em. But most of them are either too stiff, too loose, or too restricted to be of any use.
Now I might be being unfair, because Ezio can get into some decent poses. His skirts rotate some to allow his legs to move out, but it’s so stiff he’s restricted. The ball joints in his chest and waist are fantastic and add some nice motion to the figure. But lookit these here:
Now how the hell is he supposed to get into any fighting, crouching, or action stances if his feet can’t frickin’ move? Apparently he’s not and spends most of his time standing there like a lemon.
Now I’m not saying he’s completely useless, but compared to the old Play Arts figure, the guy is crap in the articulation department. We’ll talk more in the value section. For now, I’ll say he’s just okay. He’s got some interesting joints, like a double ball sternum joint that allows his head some excellent motion as well as some weird triple-pivot shoulders:
This allows for minor inward rotation, and also acts as a standard swivel hinge shoulder with swivel biceps. Not bad. Well, bad. But we’ll get to that later.
He can get into some VERY basic fighting poses, but ultimately you’re just going to need a stand if you want him to do anything more than direct traffic.
Notice how the feet almost bend outward in this last shot? That’s cuz there’s frickin balls in there, but the plastic is so frickin hard you can’t move the blasted things without risking breaking his borderline osteoporotic ass.
Man, Ezio, you and me are done, professionally.
Ezio is running you about 50 bucks most places. Whew. For that kind of scratch, you should expect a lot. In truth, you get a lot. A gorgeously sculpted and excellently painted display piece is at your fingertips. And he’s friggin huge!
But the sad truth is that he’s just not the superposeable Ezio I’ve been waiting for since being let down by NECA. Apparently nobody yet knows how to put in a damned ankle hinge. I mean, he spends all his time brooding and hanging over rooftops or crouching. Even when he jumps crouches. This one will have none of that. He’s big, sure. But he’s so damned big he doesn’t fit in with any of your other toys unless you want him to attack your X-Men Deluxe 10-inchers from ’94, you cheap date.
This, combined with VERY loose joints in some key articulation points like elbows, hips, and wrists, and you’ve got problems even getting him to stand at times. In the video, he looks like a marionette. In hand it’s not quite so bad because you can tweak other joints here and there to make up for it. But the point is you shouldn’t have to.
Sorry, but at this price point, Ezio, you’re just average.
In my humble opinion, Ezio is not worth it. He’s a gorgeous display piece and a great conversation starter, but he’s just not the fun, accurate, and poseable toys that I’m used to from Play Arts.
And his knees look weird.
Thanks for reading and as always, it’s just a toy. Open the darned thing.