I?m a longtime Square Enix fan and a newly-minted adult. There?s good and bad that come with that: I?m finally able to drop some money on those ridiculous Final Fantasy XV Play Arts Kai action figures that most of my friends will judge me for, but I?m also trying to save money where I can (American student debt is real). So, I ventured into the *arguably immoral* world of knockoffs and tried to see if those imported, $120+ Japanese originals are truly worth the money.
My conclusion: They probably are. But I still came out unscathed. Let me explain.
Where I bought the action figures
I bought all four knockoff, Chinese-made action figures on Ebay. All of the listings admitted that these were not the real deal, but I took care not to order figurines from any listing that made claims like ?these are handmade copies, so products will vary from the picture.? I knew that if I got something really heinous, that would be the line the seller uses to shut down my request for a return.
I ordered Gladiolus for $46.46 USD (seller: vstargifts), Prompto for $39.99 and $2.99 shipping (seller: kenan323), Noctis for $48.29 and Ignis for $48.29. Both Noctis and Ignis ? the most expensive and most terrible knockoffs ? were purchased from lilyho1981. This seller immediately refunded me when I sent photos of the action figures and told me that I don?t need to return the items (you?ll see why). I got all four action figures within 3 or so weeks of ordering it and am satisfied with the sellers and their service.
So far, I have not seen any obvious knockoffs of Aranea, Cindy, Nix or Lunafreya. If there are fakes, they must be expensive ? as of Oct. 18, 2017, the cheapest I?ve seen a resell of Lunafreya or Cindy is $90. They?re usually much higher than that.
Here?s how they came out.
All in all, I?m very happy with Prompto and satisfied with Gladiolus. Noctis and Ignis, however, are utter terrors.
They pain my eyes and look like the ugly voodoo doll version that, say, the antagonist of FFXV might create to stick pins in. And aside from their hideousness, it was clear that the creators of the Noctis and Ignis knockoffs took no care for the product or the packaging. The cardboard boxing was cheap, easily rippable and items were flailing around loose in the plastic packaging. As for Gladiolus and Prompto, both came in sturdy boxes with great packaging, plus the details are generally all right. Whoever packaged Prompto was clearly in love with him, because his box came in a sturdy styrofoam casing and then a padded cardboard box that fit it like a glove.
I haven?t seen any knockoffs of Cindy or Lunafreya, but if I do, I?ll probably pass.
Prompto: The best of the four
Let?s start with the good news: Prompto was great. I have no real complaints. His hair is well shaded, his face is painted carefully and he has a great expression.
He, by far, as the most posable joints and can easily stand up on his own. The gun was a little difficult to get into his hand, but everything else works well. There is a tiny flaw with the plaid flaps in his shirt ? one side pokes out of the jacket, revealing that he doesn?t have a whole shirt underneath. The rest of his clothes, however, are highly detailed.
Gladiolus: Second best, but he suffered a knee injury
Gladiolus is only second to Prompto because I broke his kneecap off when I was trying to make him sit. His actual leg stayed together, but his kneecap is basically a plastic shield piece that gets tucked into between the upper and lower regions of his pant legs when he?s standing straight ? so, when I tried to bend make for a 90-degree sitting position, one of those knees popped out.
The two pieces of his scar doesn?t perfectly line up and his left eye is a little rounder than the right, but these details are honestly hard to notice, even when looking at the figure up close. You can pull back his jacket ? which is made of a soft plastic ? to see his Chocobo (?) tattoo on his left pectoral. His upper abdomen is a softer plastic, as well, allowing you to bend him forward a little bit (but he won?t stay there).
Gladio?s clothing is also quite detailed, like Prompto?s. The buttons on his jacket are painted well, you can clearly see the zipper and chain on the left side of his pants, and the back of his jacket is very well done. He?s also got skulls on his back pockets.
I was able to put the knee back in (the right side broke), but my fix wasn?t perfect. No more sitting for Gladio.
Ignis: An ultra-thin hunchback with uneven legs
Ignis is terrible. First of all, he?s hardly functional ? his two legs are different lengths, which makes it impossible to stand him without bending his knees or spreading his legs far apart at the hip. He also came dirty, with weird dried gunk on his face. Take note:
His glasses are cloudy and make it hard to see his eyes, though I heard this is the case with the real Play Arts Kai, too. He?s got some weird, pink acne-like paint marks on the left side of his mouth (it?s the same color paint as his lips). The little triangle of chest underneath his button-up shirt is a weird, metallic pink that makes it look like he?s wearing a sparkly top underneath.
One of the biggest differences between Ignis and the rest is that the quality of materials used to construct him is comparably much worse. Notice the fracture lines across the side of his face and in his hair. The builder also neglected to put on his hair correctly, revealing the hard edge of plastic that ends his face. That?s supposed to be tucked underneath his flap of hair.
Do you see the weird gunk on his cheek bone and neck? Not sure what that is, but I?m glad I got a refund.
Below is a picture of Ignis standing on his own, which was incredibly difficult to pull off. I basically had to stagger his legs apart and bend one at the knee for him to stay upright. This is because Ignis? legs are two different lengths.
The other strange thing is that he?s got a hunchback. Though this looks all right from the side, seeing him from the front or back is a bit odd. It totally ruins whatever pose you could give him because he reminds you of your hurting Grandpa.
His range of motion was also odd. While Gladio and Prompto have pivot joints that make it easy to put them in various poses, Ignis is lopsided at the hip and really can only bend his leg (pictured left) outward while the other stays the same. His arms can swing behind him or forward, though, as well as make a wingspan. That?s much better than what Noctis could do.
Noctis: The tragically disfigured main character of a $400 billion video game
There?s a lot wrong with Noctis (and no, it?s not that he?s supposedly unprepared to be King). The most obvious problem is that his right eye is crooked and his left one is actually not finished ? there?s a slash of silver paint that got left behind in the corner of his left eye. His hair mold is also the only of the four to have zero shading. It?s all one tone of black.
His head is turned downward, which makes him stick out from the rest of the characters, and his body also has the worst hunchback (much worse than Ignis?). He looks like his shoulders are being raised at all times.
Noctis? body, though more functional than Ignis?,is the worst of them all in terms of design. His ankles expose the circular knob joints, unlike all other characters. He?s also incredibly disproportionate, with short arms comared to the other guys and a really top-heavy, upside-down-triangle shaped abdomen. His skinny legs can hardly support his heavy upper body, which makes him really hard to stand. I?m actually leaning him against the pillow for this shot.
Then there?s the problem with his motion: He literally can only raise his shoulders upwards to the amount pictured above, and his elbows can?t really pivot in a way that allows for anything other than the chicken dance pictured above. His shoulders do lot allow his arms to swing forward or backward, so Noctis can basically only make this position or show off his short-armed wingspan.
His legs can take the widest stance out of all the characters, but I can tell I will break his knees if I bend them at all.
Noctis is the ultimate loss because, unlike Ignis, I can?t even display him on the shelf if I position him just right. He?s too ugly and too limited.
At least Ignis? and the Noctis? weapons look nice, because they certainly aren?t functional. The handle of Gladio?s sword is removable, which allows you to slip it through his fist and add the blade back on. I haven?t found any such feature for Noctis? swords, leading me to believe that there was no intention of putting it in his hands or that the paint on the plastic accidentally glued the hole shut. Ignis? swords do come apart between the handle and the blade, but the opening is so loose that it keeps falling apart after I put it in his hands.
(Update: As a kind reddit user pointed out, the spear included with Noctis appears to be an imitation of the add-on included in the Ultimate Collector?s Edition ? or UCE? set).
Left: Noctis? weapons, right: Ignis?. Don?t mind the old, abandoned, trash-picked table I placed these on.
Would I do it again?
It?s not my place to advise you to buy knockoffs (please, don?t scold me for it ? I already know!). I would say that, had I not gotten refunds for Noctis and Ignis, I would have been really pissed.
I?m happy with Prompto and Gladio and they were worth the money. I?m considering investing in a real Playarts Kai Noctis, though I heard that they?re not all that great, either. I really didn?t like the photos of the Ignis genuine Playarts Kai, so I may skip on that one. Not sure.
Feel free to comment with any questions. To close, here?s a picture of the whole gang. I guess they can work as a metaphor for one of the game?s greater themes: Nobody?s perfect, but friends stick together? I don?t know. That Noctis is not going on my shelf?