I have a confession: I am a huge sucker for androids. I distinctly remember crying for the films A.I, Bicentennial Man and Iron Giant. I bawled my eyes out over the kinetic novel Planetarian. And as you may already know, I have already reviewed two androids on this blog already (Hatsune Miku and Drossel). Now that you are acquainted with this fetish of mine, you should not be surprised by my instant fascination with Aegis (also spelled Aigis in the game) ever since I encountered her in the PS2 RPG game Persona 3.
Persona 3 is a rather unconventional JRPG produced by Altus that combines element of traditional dungeon-crawling turn-based RPG with elements of social simulation. The player spends just as time defeating enemies as making friends and attending class. While this dynamic seems questionable at first, I was surprised by how mutually complementary these two game elements are to each other, as well as the genuinely interesting characters and well-written dialogue. The game’s charm effortlessly triumphed over my thumb which is usually rested precariously above the “skip” button, and before I knew it I had poured over 90 hours into this game.
Aegis is a combat android that joins the player’s party midway through the game. She’s somewhat like the Tin Man of Wizard of Oz in her eventual acquisition of a “heart”. While she is a charming enough character in her own right, I was sold long before by her pseudo-steampunk aesthetics. The brass shoulders and hips, as well as the headphone-like cooling vents had me admiring Aegis long before her personality shone through. However, I soon realized that I was rather late in my discovery when I looked for Aegis figures on the internet. The 1/8 scale Aegis figure produced by Alter had been absent from the inventories of online retailers for ages, and all that remained was the questionably sculpted version by Kotobukiya. Thankfully, I was able to snag the Alter version at a decent price. However, while the figure looked great, it wasn’t a very accurate representation of the character, and while I overlooked this in the beginning, it started to bother me as the months rolled forward.
Then came the announcement of Aegis’ Figma treatment by Max Factory. Her figma incarnation certainly was less detailed than the full-sized figure treatment, but its facial expressions simply looked spot-on. I wasn’t crazy about getting having two figures of the same character in the same look, though, so one of them had to go. I remained on the fence regarding the problem until I checked the eBay price for the Alter Aegis – there was only one up for sale at the time and it was going for no less than $300 US. Anticipating a dip in sale prices as the Figma version becomes better known, I jumped at the opportunity and parted with Alter Aegis for around $270.
Do I regret it? Nah. Never mind the fact that $270 is a lot of bloody money – while Figma Aegis lacks the intricate shading, flawless paint application and the size of the Alter statuette, its great articulation, accuracy to the source material and the sheer fun factor more than compensates for its shortcomings.
“Slim” and “tall” are definitely the key words here. Aegis’ lack of clothes means there isn’t any bulk around her figure. As a result, you have a very streamlined line running down from her waist right down to her feet – and what a line! The length of her legs is almost frightening. Character designer Shigenori Soejima definitely wanted to push for sex appeal with those legs, and it definitely shows here. Each leg is significantly taller than the torso and head combined. Even her lack of conventional feet is made to emphasize the sheer length of her lower appendages. When supplemented by the overwhelmingly white colour scheme, the figure has a very slick and clean look that is very befitting of a lean mean killing machine.
In terms of accuracy, Figma Aegis is very faithful to her in-game dialogue illustrations. This is especially true in the shape of her hair. While the Alter version featured a very neat bowl cut, the Figma features a slightly less round haircut in keeping with the game. The “headphones”, hips and shoulders are painted with a metallic finish, which, along with the machinegun chambered wrists, remind us that she’s not quite human.
Here I ran into some difficulties in my judgment. I’ll begin by stating that Aegis, like all other Figmas, is a small toy. As such, one cannot expect the same level of precision as larger scaled figures when it comes to the details. That said, the standards for small-scaled articulated figures are definitely rising. Though I don’t quite like the sculpts of the Revoltech Queen’s Blade figures, there’s no denying the impressive amount of detail present on their latest releases. By all means, for an action figure, Figma Aegis isn’t a lousily detailed toy. However, given the current standards that we have, she isn’t quite exceptional either.
If anything, Aegis has a great sculpt. The folds of fabric along her torso, her S.E.E.S armband and the inner portion of her hips give the toy subtle touch of realism. While the triangular windows on her brass shoulder joints are only painted black for the sake of structural integrity, the windows on the brass guard of her hips are actually hollowed out. Mechanical details are also present on her wrists and the inner portions of her hips and shoulders. To top it off, Aegis’ signature red bow is crisply molded as a separate piece and attached to her center of her collar, much like a centerpiece ornament.
However, though one would be hard-pressed to find any major faults in her sculpt, the paint work cannot stand up to the same level of scrutiny. The brass edges of her torso are not painted evenly, her “headphones” are downright blotchy on close inspection, and though Max Factory certainly seemed to have tried very hard, the grey parts of her fingertips (which are supposed to be gun barrels) are pretty messy on some of her optional hands. Does this mean that the paintjob on Aegis is all bad? Not at all – they’re just not perfect, and we all know perfection to be a very, very elusive trait. On the plus side, the silver bands along her torso, shoulders and neck, as well as the hoops above her hips are very well-executed.
Since Aegis doesn’t have any clothes that would get in the way, the range of movement for this toy is lovely. The arms can bend around 135 degrees while the legs can bend around 140. All of the hands are jointed at the wrist. Figma joints are hidden in the shoulders and hips, which means free movement without sacrificing joint strength.
The hips are slightly hampered by brass guard, but here is where a hidden point of articulation comes in: the swiveling thighs. By combining the two points of articulation, one can pretty much put her legs in any pose you can think of. However, be warned: the thigh joints are brutally stiff. They are not likely to budge without damage unless you heat up the part with hot water or a hair dryer, and even after that they still feel rather uneasy, though manageable.
Personally, I would have liked a similar joint to be applied to the arms, either at the bottom of the brass guard or at the top of the gun chambers (or both), but as it stands, the arms do their jobs well enough to avoid any real criticism.
The three faces Aegis comes with are the angry face, the smiling face and the expressionless face, all of which made splendid transitions from the game art to three dimensional forms. (Personal point: I can’t shake off the image of Figma Billy Herrington’s face when I look at Aegis’ smiling face. I know they look nothing alike other than their toothy smiles, yet the association remains engraved in my brain. Am I the only one who sees this?)
She also come with five pairs of normal sized hands including: fists, hands meant to grip something (no handheld accessory is included in the package), open palms with joined fingers, open palms with separated fingers, and open palms with fingers meant to be interlocked together (pictured below).
Like Figma Drossel, these hands feature thicker nubs without the round ball at the end, making the task of changing hands risk-free. These hands also fit into the hand organizer much more snugly than Drossel’s hands, so you won’t find them scattered about all over the place when you reach out for it in the complimentary Figma Ziploc bag.
Ironically, these hands don’t quite fit the figure’s wrists all that well. You will notice a segment of the nubs are actually exposed. This is due to the concave design of the wrists, which prevent the hands from being fully inserted into the wrist. To be clear, the hands are not at the risk of falling from their places, but the rather uncomfortable fit is still a bother to look at.
The bullet magazines that can be inserted into the slots on her wrists are pretty detailed. However, they fall from their slots very easily. If you bump into them while posing, they will undoubtedly fall off and tumble into the most hard-to-reach crevice in your room. This problem is made worse by the inherent instability of the figure due to the design of her feet. Max Factory has been so kind as to include a pair of “hoof helpers” to make it possible for the figure to stand by itself without the aid of the Figma display stand. In reality, they don’t work very well, mainly because of the lack of ankle articulation. As a result, the weight of the figure will almost always rest on three tiny points of contact with the surface. This means that any slight upset of the surface will likely send the figure tumbling down and the magazines flying. If you plan to display the figure on your desk or any other place which you might bump into occasionally, you have been forewarned.
The other hand accessory is the hilariously comical rocket fist. Adored with the skull and crossbones, this gigantic hand fits over the wrist. The hand itself can be rotated to your liking, while the bottom half remains stationary. I don’t recall seeing this in the game, so I can only suppose this is one of those hard-to-get secret weapons. Whatever it is, the big bad rocket hand makes for some hilarious poses and is an excellent addition to the package.
My friend John, who also owns this figure, has informed me that the Figma display stand does not fit easily to the hole located on the back of the figure. While I found it to be a tight but serviceable fit, he was not as lucky as he warped the plastic peg of the display stand in the process. Just another thing to watch out for. Remember: when you doubt, hot water or hair dryer.
What makes robot-girls such a hit with the otaku crowd? Is it simply the mixture of science fiction and pretty girls? Or is it the sense of security one feels knowing that a pre-programmed robot will never purposefully break your heart? I can theorize all day on the question, but it doesn’t take long to see why Figma Aegis is well-liked. Great articulation, sculpt and character design make this Figma a must-get for fans of Persona 3. She certainly has flaws, but asking for perfection in a mass-produced toy is like asking a drunkard to multiply fractions – not very smart. As a reviewer, I am a buzzard looking to pick off every tiny morsel of imperfection from the carcass of my subject. You, however, will not be spending your time nit-picking, as the healthy mind would be too busy having fun with a great toy in spite of its minor faults. Keep that in mind and you’ll find Figma Aegis to be a great addition to your collection.
Superb accuracy to the source material
Striking, elegant design
Slightly rough around the edges
Extremely stiff thigh joints
Magazines fall out too easily
Very unstable without the aid of the display stand