Categories
Figure Review

Review: 1/8 Saber (Summer ver.)

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

30 replies on “Review: 1/8 Saber (Summer ver.)”

Hmm, I don’t have anything made by Alter.  Hmm.

While the figure does look nice, I can’t say I care for it.  Saber’s about the badass battle dresses for me.  At least the outfit’s not Generic Animu Girl stuff and actually is Saber (Lily)-themed.

Hnnn…I think I’d buy a Figma version of that.

LOL at the Engrish base. If that’s the only complaint you have, I can see that this figure is close to near-perfect quality. I was hesitant to order it, ’cause at first, I thought it was kind of a boring figure, there is very little to offer in terms of accessories or clothing, but the simplicity and price grew on me overtime and I eventually gave in and bought both Rin and Saber. I wasn’t too bothered with Rin’s ears, although I did see them as a little odd.

Love your photos, especially the ones where she’s standing in water, simply elegant.
So did you or Ashlotte order Miku Lat ver.? She’s around a similar price point, actually I was a little surprised at how cheap they’re selling her for at AmiAmi. I’m still waiting for mine to arrive. 🙂

Hehe, I’m glad you like the water shots! I had to get pretty dirty for those, and I almost broke my camera in the process. It would’ve been pretty sad if I don’t have anything to show after that embarrassing mess! =D

Yep, Ashlotte’s got the Lat Miku covered. He’s real excited about that figure too, and if the weather in Florida would cooperate, chances are we’ll gee it pretty soon!

I’m the total opposite of you with Alter figures, I own a lot of them chances are that if I buy a scaled figure it will be from Alter. Even more so since Alter tends to make figures of characters I like from some less popular works such as Muramasa or Odin Sphere for example.

Now, it’s time for regret, this Saber figure I really like. Due to a busy August I passed on her. She really is a nice reminder of the more simpler days, of the less elaborate and cheaper days.

I particularly like this figure because it’s Saber out of her usual armor or casual clothes, for all the Saber figures out there most focus on giving her a more regal look rather than a cute look like with this one.

Sigh… I wish there was such pretty greens where I live.

I admit, when it comes to scaled figures, my tastes are pretty pedestrian. Looking around my room right now and there’s nothing but Sabers and Vocaloid girls. It’s a good thing that I can count on Ash for some actual variety!

Hey, it’s not too late to get your hands on her! How’s your September budget looking? Saber is still in-stock at Amiami, and I doubt she’s going to vanish from online retailers overnight. I agree on the old vibe of this figure as well. The first thing it reminded me of was the Max Factory 1/8 Haruhi. I gave away the bootleg version that I had, but she really is a nice figure — it’s inexpensive, decent in terms of quality, and oozes with personality. I still consider that figure to be the benchmark of the day. I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing more figures like that now. Elaborate is nice, but a cheaper alternative (that isn’t a beach queen) would be nice.

Haha, I definitely wasn’t expecting the scene when I left the house that day either. The plan was just to get some grassy fields and random flowers into the frame and be done with it, but thanks to a detour into the corner of the woods, I came across this pleasant surprise. Another good thing about it was the fact that it was relatively secluded. Still, I had to strain my ears to listen for intruders — my skin is not quite as thick as Ash! ^^;

I ought to take Saber out of her box.  She looks pretty good, and it’s nice to see a figure with fairly nondescript clothes.  I mean, I like my figures with plugsuits or minidresses or bondage harnesses or war panties, but it’s nice to see a figure that looks more or less ordinary.  Particularly when it’s a high-profile character like Saber.  Though I’ll be honest, if anybody wants to make a figure of Saber in a bondage harness or war panties, I will buy it in a heartbeat.

I don’t really get the Engrish bases either; I’m almost wondering if they think it’s funny.  All their StrikerS figures had really, really awful Engrish on the bases; it was so obviously bad that I think it had to be intentional.

I am all for the idea of bondage Saber. There’s even a in-game CG of Saber in bondage! She could use some proper attire in the form of a harness, but the spirit is there. I’m sure the president would appreciate a fetching pose like that.

Maybe the busted Engrish on these display bases are easier for Japanese people to understand. Maybe it’s something related to word order and direct translations. That would actually make sense, since their priorities would obviously lie with the less English-literate domestic customers. Obviously, cultural globalization has not come far enough. We need to have those fish-munching nips to speak AMERICAN.

They made her boobs smaller *unforgiveable*, haha just kidding I think she looks pretty ^_^.
Her relaxing pose radiates a summer feeling this is really nice and I like her simple dressup, this dark ribbon suits her especially good. I also like her slightly friendly face expression, it is very close to Sabers personality.

Seeing Saber relaxed like this reminds me of the part in the VN/anime when Shirou went on a date with Saber. A chill Saber is super-cute, so it’s definitely good to see her like this. Maybe she’s vacationing at Rin’s summer villa? Now that would make for a fun side story!

Really nice photos. Did you just randomly find a river somewhere while walking down the street?

I think I prefer simple figures like this, where the appeal is in the subtle details like the slight tilt of the hip as you said. You’re making me want the Rin pair for this figure. Too bad she doesn’t come with her trademark thigh high tights.

Also, I can’t unsee the Rin’s ears anymore, thanks.

About the Engrish, I think they just do it to sound cool more than anything. I bet if you added random German or something to your everyday speech you’d be one cool cat. Maybe…

Not exactly — I went to the same park I did my outdoor Miku shoot at. This time I was looking for some water as Ashlottte suggested, so I ended up cutting into a dirt path that leads me to the river and viola — the perfect little stream that’s not too shallow and not too deep! I wouldn’t have noticed the path if not for the directions of a helpful stranger, so I’d say that I lucked out. =D

Hehe, blame Ash for that! His ability to nitpick is too good for his own good!

I certainly understand why English words would be cool, but come on, would a few minutes’ worth of proofreading really hurt? There’s a shitload of native English speakers in the world — just have someone read your line and ask them whether it makes sense or not, Alter!

Incidentally, I really hate when people splice languages together in real life. It just sounds so awkward when spoken. Just look at Takako from Hanasaku Iroha…*shudders*.

Looking at your Miku shoot, I’m jealous of where you live. Full of green and trees full of blooming flowers. Seriously, what the hell, it’s like out of a story or something.

Haha, I somehow think that in their heads the broken English sounds perfectly coherent. And I know what you mean about the mixing languages thing. Some people here mix Spanish and English to make some sort of made up language that I can’t understand, even if I speak both fluently.

As I’ve just got myself a DSLR and learning to use it, I am very impressed with your photos in this review Chag. I’m so happy for you that you are now doing outdoor photography without shame difficulty. Although it seems you’ve picked a place with low population, next time you should do a photo shoot in a busy market or restaurant 😉

It seems you went out during the perfect season and found the perfect place to take those photos. There are such wonderfully defused lights for those outdoor shots. The colour of the green harmoniously matches Saber’s clothing and expression.

Also, I know exactly what you are talking about with GSC’s Saber lily. No matter how long I pondered on the purchase of her, I could never really see enjoyment in owning her besides “bragging rights”. There was no, love at first sight or acquired taste, I simply saw her as another bland figure. Her rendition just never appealed to me so in the end I did not buy her.

In terms of Alter, you are spot on in saying that they AFAIK never have issues with their figures. Maybe you need to play more games? :p I love almost all of the non-anime figures they’ve made, namely Gwendolyn, Aegis and Dizzy.

Here comes the technical questions:

What lens are you using?

For the opening photo I’m guessing you had to have a large aperture to reduce shutter time and DOF? It would have been a nightmare keeping the camera still while holding it in an awkward position.

How many shots did you actually take? (In total for the outdoor shoot and just for the first picture)

Are you shooting RAW?

How do you process your photos? Sharpening is probably guaranteed but what else do you recommend?

“the attire on Alter’s summer Saber is decidedly minimalist, comprising of only camisole and shorts.”

For some reason, while reading that and looking at the close-up of her crotch above I read it as “comprising of only camoltoe and shorts”. WAT.

Without shame? Hah, I wish! Every time I heard someone approaching, I had to grab the figure hide it somewhere out of place. I was conspicuous enough in the middle of the stream, and the fact that Saber looks a lot like a barbie doll from apart did not help! I’m not sure if I’ll ever be as shameless as Ashlotte. Market or restaurant? Oh boy, that seems unfathomable! ^^;

I was overly harsh on my Saber Lily reviews due to wild expectations of my first “high-end” figure. But still, that solemn expression on her face doesn’t stack up well to the triumphant Excalibur’s fierceness and Saber Alter’s menacing glare. When I looked at that figure I didn’t really feel anything, despite all its shiny glory, and I think that’s what ultimately the straw that broke the camel’s back for me.

Bah, I do play games — the wrong kind of games! The Japanese like their JRPGs and visual novels too much, and I miss out on a bulk of what Alter does =/. I played through a bit of Odin Sphere but then put it on hold. I like the story, but the gameplay didn’t grab me. I should get back into that game, though. My lack of enthusiasm for fighting games can be partially blamed on the lack of friend I can regularly hang out with for button-mashing fun. The arcade scene is dead in my city, and whenever I went online for MvC3 and SSF4, I get my ass handed to me brutally (often with cheese) — not very fun. As for Aegis I had Alter’s original Aegis figure and will definitely get their upcoming version.

Welcome to the DSLR camp, Sloth! =D I was using a Nikon D40 with a 18-70mm F3.5-4.5 lens. It’s not macro, it doesn’t have image stabilization, it doesn’t have a big maximum aperture, and the camera’s noise performance leave something to be desired. I used the maximum aperture that my camera was capable of in the river shots because I needed to keep the shutter speed reasonably fast, which was not easy. It has hard to keep the camera steady and and a LOT of the shots turned out to be blurry. I had to crank up the ISO sensitivity to 800 in some of the shots (including the top shot), which made the photos noise-tastic. I must’ve taken around 30-40 shots in total and around 6 attempts at the top photo. Very few of them were actually presentable =/

I always shoot in RAW format for the increased flexibility during post-processing. I upped the clarity, vibrance and colour saturation in Adobe Bridge in addition to exposure compensation. I didn’t do any sharpening because of all the noise in the photos. Instead I used Topaz Denoise (a photoshop extension recommended to me by Tier) to clear up the noise, which was amazingly effective. During the course of the shoot, I definitely felt the limitations of my equipment that I don’t usually notice when shooting at home on a tripod, but thankfully a photographer’s equipment does not make or break a photography — all you need is a little know-how to work around your limitations!

As for the camel toe comment…hehe, I can’t blame you — I didn’t even know what a camisole is until a couple of weeks ago when I had to ask a female friend about what the heck Saber’s wearing. Once again, figure blogging has proven to be surprisingly educational!

Yes, while I cannot fault Saber lily on a technical level I did not feel she had the strong impact on me she did everyone else. It was simply “That’s nice” *close page*.

Seriously Chag, are you me? I’ve gone on and off for Odin Sphere for the past 2 years and still haven’t finished it. While it has awesome art and a mildly interesting story (it seems everyone has daddy and mommy issues) I was never impressed with the gameplay. Too much hack and slash that required little to no brain.

Well, in terms of visual novels you’d have no shortage of figures from what I’ve gathered. All of the big companies do a fair amount of VN figures so maybe you just haven’t played the ones alter released.

I-I can be your partner for fighting games i-if you want. I-It’s not like I-I want to play SSF4 with you or anything. B-baka. PS3?

Now I’m even more impressed. You took that photo without IS?! No matter how you did it I think the results turned out very nice. I’ll take note of those things you listed and I’ll check them out.

Haha, looks like I might have found another doppelganger! We have many things in common, you and I. =)

Gah, I actually sold my copy of SSF4 after I gave up on the it. Now I regret doing so, because it seems to be everyone’s go-to fighter. Add me (Chag89) on PSN anyways, though!
Hehe, it wasn’t a big deal~ I took these photos when it was around 12pm, so even though there was a lot of foliage overhead, there was still a serviceable amount of light — a lot better than indoors, at least. But yeah, Topaz Denoise, definitely check that out if you have noise issues — the difference it makes is huge!

Another? We should all have a meet up or something, maybe we’ll all gattai to form a magical lobster.

Well SSF4:AE can be had for very cheap, esp in your neck of the woods I presume due to higher population for used game sales and general lower game prices. There will also be another update patch to the game in 2012 so you’ll get another surge of players later on, so I recommend picking it up again. That said, I also have Blazblue CS and Arcana Heart 3 so we can play those too. I’m not very good at them though – too devoid of talent and too lazy to become good through practice.

We should! Too bad one of them lives all the way in Germany. Speaking of which, where are you situated? I really need to find a get-rich-quick scheme one of these days so I can travel around the world. I must munch on sausages with my merry Kraut friend, amongst other things!

I’ll definitely consider getting into fighters after I find a steady job. I feel hesitant to get too deep into fighters without an arcade stick of some sort. It would suck to have to start learning the motions from scratch again when I outgrow the pad. What other multiplayer games do you play, Sloth? I haven’t used PSN for a long time because I had been using custom firmware, but now that I’m going legit, I’m looking forward to playing some online multiplayer. I like playing shooters, so I’m keeping an eye on uncharted 3 and BF3. What about you?

Germany? This isn’t Ashlotte right? I’m from Australia where everything is upside down and kangaroos are the transport of choice.

Yeah, I really do find playing with joystick much more fun. It also helps replicate that arcade experience. I really don’t see why you haven’t got one yet if you’re in to fighters. I had to pay $300AUD for my Madcatz Tournament Edition back when it was first released and there was a shortage. Nowadays I hear people from the USA getting them for $60 brand new. Even at their retail price of $100 something dollars it’s not a bad investment considering it’s the price of a normal figure these days and you don’t have to worry as much if you sweat or drool on it. But even if you don’t play on a stick at first it’s no big deal because the technical skills you learn on pad is directly transferable to stick.

I play a wide variety of multiplayer games, although I’m not particularly good in any of them I do enjoy them all. Starcraft 2, League of legends, CS etc. Uncharted 3 looks sweet I’ll get that when it comes out. But when it comes to FPS I much prefer the mouse and keyboard over controller so I’ll be getting BF3 on PC, not PS3.

Nope, my merry Kraut doppelganger is Blowfish. I talk him on IM and IRC sometimes, and I often joke about him being my white German twin because we dress very similarly and have a bunch of commonalities between us.

Ah. I’d get BF3 on PC as well, but my computer is a steaming pile of crap. It can’t even run LoL at a decent frame rate, though I still try to play it. Add me (Chag89) and Ashlotte (Vispo)! The first thing I do after I land a steady job is to get a computer with a reasonable amount of performance. I haven’t a penny to my name right now, so I can’t afford any figures/games/gaming accessories at the moment, but mark my words, I’ll get to it…eventually!

I’m kind of the same with Alter figures. They look top notch but they tend to do characters I’m not interested in or they put them in relatively bland poses. Saying that I’ve finally got an Alter figure myself (which I still need to review) and I must admit she looks fantastic. I’ve also got another figure on pre-order from them so hopefully she’ll look awesome.

I can’t say I’m all that impressed with this Saber, or Rin for that matter. They both lack flare and to me don’t look like the characters they’re based on. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing if you like the characters it’s not something that’s going to make me jump up and buy one. But then when you take in to account Sabers price I guess she’s worth it. I notice Saber has less discount than Rin on amiami xD.

Your outdoor shots look great. Looks like you found a quiet spot to focus on taking pictures and not have to worry about passing predators. Falling over doesn’t sound much fun though :P.

Also completely unrelated to the figure, disqus plug-in is a pain in the ass. I have to enable all its’ tracking crap just to see comments.

Thanks for the compliment! =D There are too many damn people in the city of Toronto, so being able to shoot at a secluded place like this pretty hard to come by. Freaking predators everywhere, clawing away at my nerves with their prying eyes. I hope i’ll get lucky and find more spots like those in the future as well.

Bah, what is this tracking crap you speak of? I’ve considered switching back to WordPress for comments, but my old comments can’t be imported back into WordPress for some reason. Let me know what the exact problem is and I’ll try to fix it!

Ah no, I doubt it’s a ‘fixable’ issue, it’s just the way the plug-in is designed. Basically if I disable the disqus javascripts or the comment tracking system nothing appears. I need to enable it from my side to see and write comments unfortunately. The tracking crap I refer to is the platform keeping a public history of comments, and it attempting to link accounts from other ‘social media’ websites. From my point of view it’s a pain having to enable and disable it, but yeah don’t go making drastic changes for 1 user, I’ll live with it.

Wait, you posted this like a month ago.  Where the hell have I been for the past month?  LOL

Beautiful pics of Saber (or Sabre heehee) out in the wild, particularly the shot at the stream.  The gamble you took really paid off, beautiful reflection, bokeh and definitely in love with the green!  What lens were you using for the photo?

Hehe, thanks! I used a Nikon DX 18-70mm F3.5-4.5 lens (the only one I own) for these shots. The bokeh was pretty easy to manage given the big empty spaces around Saber, but the biggest problem I had was with the lack of light. I had to take some of these shots at ISO 800, which does NOT look good with my D40. Thankfully, Tier recommended me the Topaz Denoise add-on for Photoshop, which did wonders in making the shots presentable.

I’m glad that the photos have been so warmly recieved. When I initially showed the shots to Ashlotte, he said the green stuff in the background looks like barf/sludge! If you were there, you would’ve heard my self-confidence crashing through the floorboards.

Leave a Reply to Visual Fanfare Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *