When it comes to quality and consistency, I doubt many figure collectors would disagree with the claim that Alter is the best maker in the bishoujo figure industry. Yet despite my tremendous respect for Alter, I don’t actually buy all that many figures from them. The only two Alter figures I owned were eventually sold off. That makes me feel a bit conflicted, because while I’d rather support Alter over any other figure maker out there, they don’t seem to tackle characters I feel strongly about all that often.  I would always admire the Alter figures I see in reviews, but it was never enough to make me budge.

However, a change came about a few months ago when I saw Alter’s Summer Saber up for preorder. Its white outfit and black hair bow instantly reminded me of my GSC Saber Lily, and therefore I felt that the acquisition of this new Saber was redundant. But after some contemplation over the following couple of weeks, I started to warm up to the new Saber on the block. She’s charming, she’s cheap, and she’s got that promise of Alter quality behind her. Of course, there was still that issue of redundancy, so I decided to sell off Saber Lily to a friend. I’m sure some of you would think that I was crazy for doing that, but in truth I never fully warmed up to that figure, and besides, I could’ve used the hefty wad of cash to cover my broke ass!

Now that the summer Saber has finally arrived, I can safely say that I don’t regret my choice. What she lacks in flashiness in spectacle she makes up for with her elegant and simple charm. Hit the jump to find out what I mean!

First impressions

I confess:  the first impression I had of the figure was not positive. Rather, it was something along the lines of “bloody hell, this thing is tiny!” But when I placed her next to the GSC 1/8 Miku, I realized that Alter did not cheat me in terms of scale, for the figure measure a healthy 19cm tall. Rather, because of Saber’s simple outfit and slim profile, she feels undersized, at least initially. Thankfully, the small size is well justified by Saber’s low price point, so there’s no reason to dwell on that.

Issue of size aside, I really like Saber’s body language here. Her pose is by no means complex, but I dig the way she puts her weight on her left leg, as well as her slightly tilted hips and shoulders. There’s a slight s-curvature in the way she stands which exudes feminine charm like gentle perfume, and together with her emerald eyes and gentle smile, the figure feels refreshingly elegant.

The figure comes with the postcard that conveniently features the illustrations on which the figure is based on. There are a bunch of differences between the source and the adaptation: Saber’s hair bow is a good deal larger in the illustration, and the creases and lines on her clothes give them a stiff look as opposed to the softer, more rounded look of the figure’s clothes. I think Saber’s clothes look a lot better in the illustration, though that’s mostly due to the shadow cast by the trees overhead, so I suppose it isn’t really a fair comparison.

Closer look

Starting from the top, Saber’s got a good head on her shoulders. The mould for her is very sharp and shading is applied subtly. Like GSC’s 1/7 Saber Lily and Saber, her hair is of a low-tone blond. Personally a prefer a more golden tone, as the hair looks slightly dull under my room lighting, but when properly lit it looks golden (no pun intended).

Unlike the more well-known Saber figures out there, the attire on Alter’s summer Saber is decidedly minimalist, comprising of only camisole and shorts. It looks really, really comfortable because it looks so lightweight, and the smooth finish gives the outfit a silky look. There’s shading to adorn the wrinkles on the clothes, and they look great for the most part. The only complaint I have is regarding the slightly uneven application of shading on the edges, and even that you’d have to look really closely to notice.

Saber’s armpits, collar bones shoulder blades and cleavage are all nicely sculpted. None of these particularly stand out – in fact, the figure has noticeably less cleavage than the postcard illustration. I’m not really bothered by that, though; as much as I like cleavage, a big crack down Saber’s chest might end up looking too distracting, detracting from the casual aura of the figure as a whole.  Of course, this is just conjecture, as I highly doubt that I’d ever complain about good cleavage.

Like virtually any other bishoujo figure, Saber is supported by a pair of supermodel-length legs, and because she is wearing no socks or shoes to speak of, her legs look even longer than they actually are. Can you believe Saber’s only 153cm tall according to the in-game stats? Fancy that!

If you look closely at Saber’s hands and feet, you’ll find a pearl finish on her fingernails and toenails. Given the fact that each nail is only around a millimetre in width, this is a pretty darn impressive bit of detail.

The base is a simple white disk with the silhouette of a glassy field printed onto it, along with some moonrunes and “a sometime summer holiday” written near the edge. It still baffles me that no one involved with the figure bothered to run over that line with someone who knows English. You’d think that a country in which everyone learns English right from grade school would have no shortage of people with at least a competent grasp on the language. But weird Engrish aside, I really like the display base. The combination of light green and white gives off a really refreshing impression much like the rest of the figure, and I rather like the typography for the moonrunes.

Final say

Here’s the thing about Alter’s summer Saber: if you’ve got a pair of functioning eyeballs, then you probably already know whether you want it or not. The only thing to take away from this review is that there are no major quality control issues and the display base is looks very nice, because everything else you can discern from the official photos. From a technical standpoint, the summer Saber is like most Alter figures – virtually perfect. So in the end, it all comes down to a matter of personal taste.

In a market full of flashy figures, Alter’s summer Saber decidedly goes against the current with its simplicity. Though I doubt it’s the kind of figure that can win everyone over when there are so many more ambitious takes on the character out there, I like it a lot. The ability to evoke a feeling is the number one thing I look for in a figure, and through its pose, expression and attire, the Saber achieves that end by giving off an air of serenity. Even in the corner of my cluttered desk, the sight of her still reminds me of a cool breeze on a hot summer day. Not bad for the ~3800 yen I paid for her!

I’ve considered getting the accompanying Rin figure as well, but after Ashlotte pointed out the absolute immensity of her ears, I was no longer eager to have her. Still, I like Saber a lot, so if I see Rin in the bargain bin, I’d probably grab her. If you ever see her on sale, be sure to let me know!

Pros

  • Refreshing feel
  • Pearl finish on fingernails and toenails
  • Low price

Cons

  • Engrish on the display base