Secret of Mana on the SNES is one of the iconic games of my childhood, and while I saw glimpses of the next instalment in gaming magazines like Super Play, the game sadly never made it outside of Japan until recently. Building a team of 3 main characters from an available 6, the opportunity to mix and match so you could experience the story from different perspectives was a fantastic move, and it helps that all the characters are interesting.
This marks my first fore into the Bring Arts line from Square Enix, the 6 inch poseable figures featuring some of the company's most beloved characters. My only prior experience is with their larger 12" Play Arts line with their Final Fantasy VII Remake Tifa figure, which is beautifully sculpted but occasionally limited when it comes to posing and accessories. For me, smaller is often better.
The two big hitters of the franchise are right here; Duran, the novice Knight with the huge orange mane, sizeable sword and bulky shield. He's accompanied in this set by the magical Princess Angela, resplendent in her flamboyant mage outfit, elegant staff and gorgeous pink/purple hair.
There's no doubt the pair evoke a classic sense of Japanese fantasy
It's fair to say that the two do look great together, though I am a bit miffed that in order to get Angela, I had no choice but to also pay for Duran. This inability to mix and match seems somewhat against the spirit of the original game, and while I'd love to pick up Reisz, I've no real interest in Hawkeye so I'm going to give it a miss, because at £179.99 from the official Square Enix store (shop around) it's a lot of money to leave sitting in the box.
Each figure comes with 4 sets of hands, 2 weapons (plus a shield in Duran's case) and some stands for a bit of stability - basically enough to create a good display with enough options to make it unique to your shelves.
The bodies use Figma-style swivel joints which seem to be a solid plastic but scarily thin on the pegs. This could be a problem over time if they become brittle, so I'd recommend being very careful when swapping hands and accessories around. Mostly these joints are stiff and able to hold a pose, though Duran's neck was a tad floppy which is an issue because it has to hold the weight of all that plastic hair. A bit of nail polish may help here, but the physics of the joint are just a poor match for the job. Similarly the jonts in Angela's legs are useless for standing her up - a ball-joint would have been a better match for both on the ankles, a one-way swivel just makes it very hard to get their feet flat, and even if you manage that, Angela's knees are prone to giving way. Long term, she'll be sitting or on a stand.
The weapons are beautifully sculpted and painted, I love the different ways that dragons are incorporated
This leads to another issue - articulation is about what you'd expect - sitting poses are possible, but anything beyond a 90 degree angle at the hip is out, so you can't sit them on the ground very naturally - you just about manage with Angela, but Duran's incredibly thick legs make him a chore to manouvre - in the end I just detached his leg for the picnic photo, which was no issue as it disconnects on a ball joint and worked for the purposes of the photo.
Paint is well applied in the main, though Angela has a splash of white on her glove, but generally it's spot-on. Metallic details on the golds, buckles and armour, nicely applied wash on the leathers and the skin tones are natural.
I'm always a little puzzled by Square Enix figures, as I'm an avid collector of the similar 1/12 scale(ish) figures, which are generally better in terms of poseablity, have more accessories and are very sharply sculpted, yet Square's offerings are more expensive and feel a little clumsy by comparison. That's not to say these figures are bad, but I'd really like to see what another company like Goodsmile or even Storm Collectables could do with the designs.
However, that's very unlikely so we have to work with what we have. These figures are solid and well-made, but they don't feel particularly well thought-out in places and I think improvements could be made in key areas to radically improve what's on offer. But if you're a fan of the characters, as I am, these are good representations and will look great on a shelf. If you're just looking for figures for display and aren't too fussed about Mana, I'd have a hunt around because I think you're really paying a lot for the exclusivity of the characters and there's better value out there.
Fans however will just be delighted these even exist!