Programming note - Sorry for the slightly sloppy photography in some of these shots. I'd set up a background sheet but underestimated the sheer size of the figure and as a result the sheet often isn't big enough. Apologies and hopefully it won't happen again.
Hey guys, in my last review we looked at Alter's Nanoha Takamachi from their Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS line, and found her to be more than satisfactory to say the least. But, as anybody who's seen the show knows, where Nanoha goes, Fate will invariably follow. So today we'll be taking a look at another in Alter's StrikerS range, their 1/7 Fate Testarossa-Harlaown Shin Sonic Form figure.
I don't think it even needs to be said by now, but yeah, this is a big old box. Unusually, Fate is placed in the box sideways rather than the more traditional facing-out-of-the-front arrangement, a clue as to the slightly unorthodox proportions of the full figure, which we'll get into later. For this reason, Alter have also inserted a window into one side of the box so that her head and face can be seen from front on. The other side has no such panel, just a standard cardboard edge. The back, as was the case with Nanoha, has no photographs but instead a silhouetted outline of the figure, which I personally think is rather classy, and certainly helps the box to stand out. There's some ridiculous gratuitous English written on the back, although 'The lightning wizard' is correct at least. The entire box is decked out in Fate's trademark black and yellow. Overall, the effect is restrained but still striking, a nice, classy balance.
Out of the box, Fate comes in three trays, the first holding the figure herself and her additional hair part, the second an assortment of weapons and the third her base and stands. It's all very well packaged and neatly slotted together.
One of the most striking things about this figure of Fate is her magnificent hair. As we can see here, the hair actually comes in two parts. One of her pigtails is permanently attached to the figure, the other is a piece which pegs into the side of her head. It isn't an ideal arrangement, but was obviously a necessity to fit her into an even vaguely reasonable box.
Once deboxed and with her hair plugged in, Fate can be sat upon her base. As a 'flying' figure she's suspended in midair by two metal rods, which plug into her base and the soles of her boots via simple friction pegs. Her own weight and balance conspire to keep her firmly attached. It's a simple but secure way to suspend her and the effect is very striking. Using real metal for the rods adds a nice touch of class, which unfortunately is taken away again by the base. It's not the worst I've seen but using a pure white base with a character who's mostly dressed in black like this is a terrible clash, and in any case a plain white base just looks tacky and cheap. As with Nanoha the terrible engrish scrawled onto the back of the box is reproduced here on the base, though Fate avoids Nanoha's horrible garish pink lettering for her own marginally more bearable yellow.
Fate comes with two different weapon sets allowing two different display setups. First up is her Riot Zamber, and this thing is....well, see for yourself.
That's not a gashopon down there, it's a full size figma. This thing is COLOSSAL. A further illustration...
My hands are not small, they're big clumsy man hands. This thing is bigger than most kitchen knives, more than a foot long and quite frankly the biggest toy weapon I've ever seen, bigger than some 1/3 Dollfie weapons. Fortunately it's a well crafted piece of kit - that long handle is metal and though transparent acrylic is always delicate at best the sword blade doesn't feel like it'll shatter on touch. The Zamber comes apart at the hilt, allowing the handle to be easily slotted through Fate's 'gripping' hand and the blade to be attached afterwards.
Posed with the Zamber, Fate takes on literal epic proportions - she's more than 60 centimetres deep at this point and as a result will only fit onto the deepest of shelves - bear this in mind before laying hands on her. The sword is so long that it actually requires a stand of it's own, as seen here, preventing the nose dipping and warping the hand that grips it.
We can see the stand a little better from this angle. It's just a clear plastic rod with a slot on top that allows the blade to sit in it. This is one of the figur'e best angles, we can see the dynamic pose, the epic weapon and the awesome hair all in one sweep.
This angle gives us an even better look at the hair, which really is a masterpiece. It's expertly sculpted and contains a ton of individual strands, and the wonderful pose really adds to the energy and movement you can feel from the figure.
I've got to say, as striking and as overwhelming as the Riot Zamber is, I don't honestly like to display Fate with it. It's simply too huge, too comically oversized. It looks funny rather than dramatic, and takes focus away from where it should be - namely the figure itself. Just my two pence of course, but I far prefer her in her other configuration.
That would be with her twin Riot Blades, as displayed here. Fate's 'forward' hand can be popped out at the wrist and easily replaced with another 'gripping' hand, allowing her to duel wield these much more compact swords. Each of these two Blades is essentially a miniature version of the large Riot Zamber - metal handles that attach at the hilt and clear acrylic blades.
As we can see, though the Riot Blades are a lot smaller than the Riot Zamber, they still protrude a fair old bit and you're going to want to be careful where you put her.
The riot blades also come with an optional 'eneragy cable' which attaches the two together. The spiked caps at the end of the blade handles can be removed and the end of the cable simply pegs into the space. It's a neat display option, though I don't use it personally as I think it looks a bit restrictive, but for those who are dead keen on show accuracy it's a welcome boon.
Let's dig into the nitty gritty detail then, and as always with Alter there's an absolute ton to praise here. Starting at the bottom, check out the detail on these feet. In Shin Sonic form Fate wears some rather complex armoured boots. But Alter have resisted the temptation to simplify the design, instead molding each plate as a distinct layer, giving the boots a really great, chunky look that sells the armour idea perfectly. Note as well the perfect pain application on the red, blue and silver strips near the ankle, with no paint spill across any of the layers. The same applies to the gauntlets, with their flamboyantly oversized cuffs captured perfectly.
This groin and lower body section is just an absolute masterpiece in figure design. Notice how the left leg realistically has the muscle pulled tight, creating a 'sharp edge' just as a real leg would in this pose. Notice on the left leg how the flesh slightly 'bulges' around the edge of the legging, helping the impression that this is an actual piece of clothing being worn and not just another layer of pain on top of the leg assembly. Look at the wonderful way on which the belt and front panel have been sculpted to convey the air rushing past them, streaming out in a suitably epic way. Take a look at the left hip and chest and you'll see how wrinkes have been moulded into the surface, again to reinforce the idea that the character really is 'wearing' clothes rather than just having them painted on. Speaking of paint, notice how there isn't a drop of it out of place, with the black piping on the belt being a particularly painstaking example. There's too much to praise here.
Fate's face is excellent in it's execution, though I have to question the expression somewhat - the generic shouty mouth can look a tad dopey from some angles. Fortunately (as I'm sure you've noticed by now) it's covered from most angles by the sweep of hair in front of it. Again, the devil is in the details - check out the way the individual joints have been painted into her gauntlet fingers or how the hair ribbons are painted with the same glossy acrylic as the rest of her outfit.
From this rear view we can get another look at that magnificent hair which makes the figure stand out so. The hair itself is another reason why the figure is so big - as you can see from the side-angle shots it protrudes quite a fair way behind her. Once again the sculpt effortlessly conveys motion and action.
One complaint that I do have is that the 'plug in' pigtail doesn't quite fit perfectly, resulting in this slight gap in the connection. She also, unavoidably, has a rather prominent seam line across the top of her head, but both of these issues are only really apparent if you look straight down on the figure.
I also feel obliged to report that my Fate has a very faint seam line running down her left leg, though it can be readily felt under the fingers. Having talked to a few people who also own the figure, it appears this is a one off case, so it's not really something to worry about. I'm a little disappointed but it can't be seen 90% of the time anyway.
Group shot time!
Nanoha and Fate, no doubt preparing to inflict a serious befriending on some lucky soul
They grow up so fast....
Fearsome foursome in full flight.
As I'm sure you can tell, I totally recommend this figure to any fan of MGLN or indeed any fan of figures in general. A few things to bear in mind though. Firstly, there's the aforementioned space issue - you'll need a huge shelf to display this girl and detols and regular bookshelves are completely out of the question. There's also the question of availability to consider - while Fate was reissued in February of this year and therefore isn't as ludicrously rare as her counterpart Nanoha - she can still be a little tricky to track down, so expect to pay a premium over RRP.
If you can get over those issues though, then go wild. You'll get a fabulous figure that's sure to draw the eye, and they'll even throw in the world's most ludicrous sword to boot. Can't argue too much with that.
ARRRGGH SABER WHAT ARE YOU DOING THAT DOES NOT BELONG TO YOU