Bring Arts Weltall Action Figure Review

 

img_4425One of my favorite games from my youth is the role-playing game Xenogears. I think I even declared it as my favorite game of all time when I reviewed it here a few years ago. I don’t know if it is my all-time favorite or not, but it’s still right up there because it did a lot of the things well that I enjoy in a game. Especially for a game released in 1998. In case you’re not familiar, Xenogears is a Japanese RPG published by then Squaresoft and released for the PlayStation game console. It was unique at the time because it chose to mostly stick with two-dimensional sprites for its characters, but placed them in a three-dimensional world. If you’re looking for a modern comp, think Octopath Traveler only with more jaggies – a lot more jaggies.

Xenogears told the story of Fei Fong Wong, an orphaned boy in his late teens with no memory of his past living in a quiet village that will not remain quiet for very long. The village ends up becoming a casualty of war, so to speak, as a battle causes a large robot to be deposited there. Fei ends up piloting this robot, referred to as a gear in the game, because he’s called to do so by an unspeakable force and he ends up bringing death and destruction to the village. Ostracized from the community, but in possession of this very lethal gear, Fei ends up getting caught up in something much bigger than he could have ever imagined. He’ll make new friends, encounter new foes, and even fall in love across two discs of gaming goodness. Things will get pretty wacky with split personalities and a destiny being revealed that seems to involve destroying God. It’s a head scratcher and probably more than a little pretentious, but damnit, that’s what we expected of JRPGs in the 90s!

 

I’ve played through and completed Xenogears on more than one occasion, and I’m sure every time I’ve engaged it I’ve thought to myself, “Man, it would be really cool if there were action figures for this game.” And for a long time, there were not. With 2018 marking the game’s 20th anniversary though, Square-Enix decided to partner with action figure company Bring Arts to do right by this game for the first time in a long time.

Bring Arts is known for collaborating with Square-Enix on several properties. The company’s figures are usually highly articulated and well-detailed, but also can be rather pricey. Finding places that carry them in the US can be troublesome, with places like GameStop usually only willing to stock a few figures of the most popular franchises. Xenogears, despite being permitted to brand itself as a Greatest Hit back in the day, is not a terribly popular franchise so I have not seen a single figure from the line in a physical store. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any carrying them, but it did mean I didn’t get too excited when I heard toys were coming.

 

Bring Arts first released last year a figure of Fei, as he being the star character that made sense. They then followed with a figure of Elly, one of the other central characters in the show. They look pretty good, but I took a pass because they’re not cheap and also not really what I dreamed of acquiring. Finally, Bring Arts just recently released it’s third figure:  Weltall. When I played Xenogears back in 98 it was Weltall and the other gears designed  by Kunihiko Tanaka that I was thinking of when I wished there were toys based on the property. Weltall is Fei’s gear, and he’s got a nice look to him. He comes across like a hybrid of a Gundam mixed with one of the orbital frames from Eva. It’s mostly blue with glowing red eyes and has wings, or fins, that don’t seem to do anything affixed to its back. Weltall doesn’t use any weapons in the game and instead fights as Fei does with martial arts techniques. It can shoot a Kamehameha like blast, but it doesn’t have guns or a giant sword

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SH Figuarts Vegeta for scale.

The Bring Arts version of Weltall is not to scale with the previous figures. It essentially exists in its own world as the figure itself is only slightly taller than Fei, even though Fei is meant to sit inside the gear and pilot it. It would have been cute if Bring Arts included a tiny Fei with the toy, but sadly the company opted not to. I don’t have Fei, or Elly, so it’s not something that really matters to me, but I suppose if you’re adding Weltall to a Xenogears display it might annoy you a bit.

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Weltall setting Vegeta up for his patented Stunner.

Weltall comes in a nice window box package that’s easy to get into. Once removed, Weltall has a nice feel to it. The figure is all plastic, but has a gun-metal finish to it that makes it at least resemble sheet metal from a distance. It would have been cool if Bring Arts could have included a lot of diecast with this piece, but considering the MSRP is around $90 maybe it’s good that it does not. The figure does feature swappable, diecast, feet which is pretty interesting. It reminds me a bit of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures from SH Figuarts which had diecast shins for balancing. Placing the diecast feet onto the figure allows it to more easily be posed in one-legged positions. Scratching is always a concern with diecast parts so you’ll want to take care when removing them, but they swap on and off easily and the paint application is consistent from plastic to diecast so they don’t look out of place.

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The feet, see if you can tell which is diecast and which is plastic.

Weltall comes with additional hands for posing, including a set of gripping hands. Considering the gear doesn’t use weapons I’m not really sure what good gripping hands are, but they’re included. He has some “chop” hands and energy blast hands, which are permanently bent back. Same for the two fingers pose hands he’s got. The wings, or whatever they are, need to be attached to the figure manually and they snap on easily enough. I was concerned these pieces would throw off the weight of the figure and make it harder to stand, but they’re nice and light and I didn’t have any issues there. I heard some folks were dissatisfied with the paint on the first figures in this series, but I’m happy to report my Weltall looks great.

 

Weltall has a lot of articulation, some of which is rather creative. There are numerous plates on the figures body, some of which you need to swivel a bit before moving a limb. This isn’t a toy you ever want a kid to just grab and start fiddling with as a lot could go wrong. There are some sliding joints in the shoulders and thigh area that help make the limbs clear some of these plates so that the arm or leg can have a full range of motion. The ankles also extend a few millimeters for enhanced positioning as well which is really cool. The extra hands and feet all snapped off and on for me rather easily and this toy in general required little in the way of breaking-in. The only limitation I could find articulation-wise was with the chest and abdomen, which really aren’t able to do much. Since this is a robot, I suppose it doesn’t need a true ab crunch. The sculpt of the torso is also quite nice so at least nothing was sacrificed for the sake of articulation.

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The beauty of diecast feet.

Weltall comes across as a pretty high quality piece of plastic. The likeness is dead-on, and the inclusion of diecast feet was pretty neat. It does mean the figure comes with that hefty price tag though. The MSRP appears to be around $90, but I’ve seen the figure for sale at marks both above and below that figure. Diligence and patience are your friends if you want to get this figure for as little as possible. It’s a niche product, so there’s always the chance Bring Arts ships too many and it ends up on sale, but it almost seems too niche for that. I was fortunate to find a brand new figure on eBay that was an actual auction listing that started at a penny. As result, I ended up only paying around $65 for my figure. I say “only” but that’s obviously in comparison with the asking price as $65 for a six-inch scale action figure is a lot of money. As a result, this isn’t a toy I can recommend to casual fans and collectors. If you’re a diehard Xenogears fan like myself that has always wanted a figure of Weltall then yeah, go ahead and splurge, but otherwise you’re probably better off staying away.

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The figure also comes with a stand, but honestly, it doesn’t need it.

I’ve seen some individuals in the Xenogears fanbase openly speculating on what’s to follow Weltall. I’ve even seen some say they’re waiting for the red version of Weltall from the game, Weltall-Id, but that seems a bit risky to me. Bring Arts has not announced or shown any other figures from Xenogears, and I don’t expect any to follow. Since Weltall-Id could be done fairly easily, I suppose a future variant is possible (maybe a convention exclusive?), but new sculpts seem unlikely to me. This line feels like a rather simple celebration of the game’s age and three figures based on the most recognizable characters/gear feels like a fitting tribute. Would I want more? That’s actually a tough question. I love Weltall, and Weltall II was fine, but also not much different from Weltall 1. Of the other gears, I suppose Andvari was pretty cool and I did enjoy Fenrir, I’m just not sure I liked any of them to want to drop another 80 or so bucks a piece. Most of my favorite designs actually belonged to the bad guys, live Alpha Weltall and Wyvern, and I don’t know if Bring Arts would dare make figures based on those instead of another hero character. I guess we’ll cross that bridge should we get there.

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Blast away.

For now, this Weltall action figure is a pretty neat way to celebrate 20 years of Xenogears. It’s basically exactly what I wanted, just at a price point higher than I would have liked. If more gears come along I’ll certainly take a look, but if this is the only action figure I ever own from Xenogears then that’s okay by me.

 


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