In order to avoid a third consecutive gunpla review on this self-proclaimed multi-focus review blog, allow me take you back in time – back to the year 2008, when the Figma line was still in its stages of infancy. Though the has only begun, it had already secured licenses for a number of popular characters, one of them being none other than Saber from Fate/Stay Night, who is quite possibly the most merchandised character behind the Evangelion girls. Of course, being the Saber fanboy I am, I could only hold back my temptation for so long before caving in.
I was working an overnight summer job at the time, so during my hours of rest at home my ears were constantly on the alert for footsteps outside in hope for a mailman with my precious package. As the days passed, my anticipation grew to feverish heights. I’m sure I’ve spooked more than one neighbour with my crazed eyes as I peered outside of my window at the slightest footstep outside. Even when my body could no longer stand vigilant, the desire for that destined set of footsteps rampaged in my new collector’s mind, to a point where I would dream about receiving the package.
…In the end, I never got those footsteps that I craved for – only a delivery note instructing me pick up the package at the local post office. But perhaps more tragically, when I tore my Figma Saber out of her clear plastic prison, I found out the hard way that my self-inflated anticipation has betrayed me. While the Figma Saber (Armor Ver.) is not without merit, it suffers from too many serious flaws to warrant a recommendation.
To start on a positive note, the Figma Saber looks fine in a regular standing pose for the post part. When compared to her skirt, Saber’s torso may seem undersized, but exaggeration of leg length is a given in the world of bishoujo figures.
Saber’s armor is painted with a metallic gray that looks less burnished than the finish used on the Figma Saber Lily. While the figure may be too small to warrant any distinguishable shading, the armor does a good job at avoiding a flat appearance by its detailed sculpt. The individual metal bolts on her armor are clearly distinguishable, as well as the divisions and transition between the various pieces of plate on her gauntlets and tasset. Saber small chestplate is accurately decorated with blue markings in keeping with the visual novel, in addition to having black painted in the slits on its surface.
The non-metallic parts of Saber’s outfit are a mixed bag. While I appreciate the realistic-looking fabric folds sculpted onto her arms and the purple cloth that hangs between her legs (henceforth referred to as the “loincloth”), the skirt – which accounts for much of the mass of the figure – looks very rigid. While this works in a neutral standing pose, it looks very unnatural in any attempts to recreate action poses. Furthermore, in order to accommodate a wide range of movement for these parts, there is a gigantic gap between the two halves of the skirt on Saber’s backside, her royal dignity is scantily saved by a piece of soft blue rubber concealing her jointed bum.
In addition, the gold paint used on the figure is very dim. While the colour looks alright on the weapons, my copy of Saber seems to be the victim of some paint-skimping. Sometimes the dim gold paint barely even covers the base colour underneath, let alone provide the colour contrast needed in some parts of her outfit. You may notice that the bands on her shoulders in these photos are of a bright yellow colour, but I am sorry to say that these lines are the products of my own handiwork with a gundam marker and a toothpick. Such was the extent of my discontent – the actual product is just too much of a far cry from the promo shots.
Saber comes with three faces, all of which serious. There’s a contemplating face, yelling face, and teeth-gritting face. Sorry smiling Saber fans – you’ll have to grab the casual version Figma if you want a happy Saber. All three of the included faces capture Saber’s ass-kicking side with great accuracy.
Also included are two sets of bangs, one with windswept effect and one without. Like the rest of her blonde head, Saber’s bangs are unshaded but well-sculpted. I find myself almost always using the windy version for its added dramatic flair. And really, if Saber’s suited up in her armor, her hair probably should always be blowing one way the other, right? She pretty much only dons her armor when she’s in a fight, which would mean that her wind-enveloped sword give off a pretty strong breeze. Not to mention she’ll probably be dashing and jumping about, being the acrobatic king that she is.
Both Excalibur and Caliburn are included with Saber, along with their respective sheaths, all of which are very well-detailed down to the engravings on the blades. Each sword fits perfectly into their respective sheaths. The care taken in the production of these tiny swords definitely makes them a highlight of the figure.
Also included are eight hands which include: a pair of fists, a pair of sword-gripping hands, a finger-pointing left hand, an open-fingered right land, and a pair of open palms. While most of these are self-explanatory, the left open-palm hand is able to grip the scabbards and has an indentation in the center that allows it to rest on the end of the swords’ pummel with relative stability.
One complaint I have about the hands is the lack of variety for the sword-holding hands. Unlike the Sengoku Basara Revoltechs, the hands of Figma Saber cannot tilt forward and back (though the open-fingered, pointing, and gripping hands have sideway articulation). This means that Figma Saber can only hold her swords at a 90 degree angle, which severely limits the number of posing possibilities. While this may irk some, I highly recommend keeping a check on your frustration because the wrist pegs for Saber are very thin, and I’ve heard plenty of horror stories of snapped pegs and ball-jointed ends of the peg being stuck in Saber’s forearms.
Of course, like all Figma figures Saber comes with a clear display base. But because how bottom-heavy Saber is and how free her ankle joints are, she has a very easy time standing tall without it.
The top half of Saber is mostly standard Figma fare when it comes to articulation, so I’ll save boring details. Highlights include her double-jointed shoulders hidden underneath soft rubber covers, swivel-able gauntlets, and a very flexible waist surrounded by soft rubber parts.
Sadly, the bottom half of Saber suffers from a number of frustrating design flaws. Though Saber’s skirt looks alright in a neutral standing pose as I’ve written above, it becomes very awkward the moment you try to flare it out. Aside from the flexible rubber loincloth at the center, the skirt consists of two main components, each is comprised of an upper and lower halve that is articulated at the center. A triangular piece of Saber’s inner skirt is attached to the inside of each component; these parts can be retracted or swung out to accommodate Saber’ stance. But no matter how you look at it, the sculpt for the skirt is static — even if you swing out the inner white pieces when you put her in a wide stance, the skirt would still look extremely stiff and unnatural.
To make things worse, the shape of the skirt components are in the form of a very narrow “v”. This means there is virtually no room for Saber to move her legs front and back while concealed by the skirt. The only solution to this is to retract the aforementioned white inner skirt and have her legs pop out of the opening, which looks terrible in all sorts of ways. I know that I have to cut Max Factory some slack, since Saber is only the third entry to the Figma line, but damn, this figure would be much better if it featured a permanently kinetic sculpt for the skirt like the movie version of Nanoha or Reimu.
Skirt aside, Saber’s legs are well-articulated with plenty of breathing room around the ankles… not that it matters much under such harsh limitations.
Due to my former inexperience, I dived into the purchase of Figma Saber expecting to exploit the potential of Figma articulation to the fullest with an action-oriented character (as opposed to the dancing Haruhi girls). Instead, the figure ended feeling like a small-scale statue with a few joints and interchangeable parts thrown in. While the Figma Saber (Armored Ver.) stills looks decent just standing there, one can’t help but to question the prospective place of this figure in a collection when there are so many other Saber figures out there. Get this if you are a die-hard Figma collector, a Saber fanatic, or a Saber fan on a budget. Otherwise, I’d recommend skipping out on this one.
Accurate and expressive faces
Able to stand easily without the Figma display stand
Skirt opening effectively destroys the view from the back
Very thin and ball-jointed hands
Gold paint is way too dim
Very limited ability to reproduce action poses due to the severely limiting skirt
Swords can only gripped at one angle
Now I feel bad for wounding Saber with my words…