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Tomopop Review: Max Factory's Zero Suit Samus Aran

4:00 PM on 09.11.2012 // Chris Seto

Aran what you'd expect

Hurrah for globalisation! With figure companies now noticing the size of the markets outside of Japan, we have started to get figures which are distinctly aimed for western buyers. The Bishoujo figures from Kotobukiya are a good example of this and Max Factory also decided to give it a shot with two figures of Samus Aran from Metroid. The Metroid series isn't particularly popular over in the land of the rising sun. Historically, the series has always sold much better in the west so it's unlikely that Max factory had their local market at the front of their minds when they announced these two figures at the winter Wonder Festival.

Figma Samus will be getting her own review later on but for now, we're going to focus on the fixed pose Zero suit Samus. Is she worth adding to your collection? Only one way to find out.

Let's get it on!!!

Figure Name: Zero Suit Samus Aran
Figure Maker: Max Factory
Retail Value: ¥7,429
Available at: Amiami

Aside from the lack of popularity in Japan, there's another issue regarding any figure of the star bounty hunter. Aside from her armour, which has stayed very similar in it's base state and her Varia Suit, which is pretty much how everyone recognises her, there's no solid design on how Samus looks without her armour! Her look changes with each game, which makes it a little hard to decide on her design. In the end Max Factory went with the design which appears the most, the Zero Suit. First introduced in the GBA game Metroid: Zero Mission, it has appeared in Super Smash Bros. Brawl and also the most recent addition in the series, Metroid: Other M. It's from this game where most of the cues are taken.

The box is pretty much designed to show off the figure as much as possible without actually needing to take her out of the box! There's an obligatory window to view inside for those curious, but there are plenty of shots on the front and sides showing off Samus in her blue glory!

As for the back, we get a few other angles, including an all important back shot and a bit of the extra item provided with the figure, a Metroid! Almost makes you wonder if one needs to take her out of the box!

Once you do, you can get down to business. The pose chosen for this rendition of Samus is one which exudes sexuality and confidence, which is rather ironic in both cases as we mostly see Samus in her armour and in that form, she's as asexual as they come. Just try to make the figma look feminine!! No wonder the reveal at the end of the first game was such a shock!! As for the confidence side, remember that this figure is based off her design in Metroid: Other M, a game which reduced Samus to a screaming wreck when she encountered an enemy which she has defeated THREE times in previous games, and at least twice canonically!! You'd think that she'd be able to stand up to said enemy by now! But I digress ...

The Zero Suit design itself is very simple and leaves little to the imagination. It's a skintight metallic blue jumpsuit with no visible seams and has her armour appear over it when called for. That doesn't leave much leeway for any additional details, but the figure does well with what it has to work with.

For the face, Other M moved away from the more western look which Samus has sported in older games (Metroid Prime, for example) and moved it more towards a more Japanese/anime look. Her bangs have also been shortened, and the beauty mark is a recent addition to her design. Her expression is one of an ice queen. Giving away pretty much nothing and showing little emotion, kind of what you would expect from the main character of the Metroid games!

Even though her hair is tightly bundled, her sculpt does allow for a little bit of movement. Her ponytail looks like it's being blown in a breeze, which compliments the pose rather well!

One nifty little thing about the facial design is that, provided you're facing her directly, Samus will always look at you, even if you're looking down. It gives her quite the cool scowl, don't you think?

Time for the chauvinistic pig in me to come out for a bit, but given that Team Ninja was involved with the development of Metroid: Other M, You'd think that Samus would be better ... endowed, considering their track record. Here, she seems positively modest! Guess they focused on her behind more ...

What do you guys think?

In her Zero Suit, Samus only has access to a single weapon, her paralyser gun. The gun itself reminds me of a cross between the original GunCon controller for the PS1 light gun games and the Lawgiver pistol seen in the 1995 Judge Dredd film. This one only comes with non-lethal ordinance though. It looks sufficiently robust and simple yet retains a certain sci-fi feel to it.

Looking at her back, we can see the distinct pink markings which have something to do with her armour. At least that's what the cutscenes in the game imply. You can also see the holster for the paralyser gun. Where did she hide that anyway? Surely it can't fit inside her Varia Suit?

The markings also appear on her left hand and breast. I can only assume that the right hand doesn't get a mark because that's where the gun goes! That, and a lot of the technology in Metroid is never explained. How does that morph ball actually work??

One other thing of note when you look at the figure is that Samus has really REALLY long legs!! Like, Bayonetta long! You don't notice it so much when you look at her from the front but from the side, those proportions don't quite look right!

And, if you ever forget, the base gives you a prominent reminder as to which game the design is based from.

But Samus isn't the only occupant of the package; you also get a mature larval Metroid! These are the most common ones you encounter in the game and make for a nice little addition to the package.

The design sticks very closely to what one expects to see from a Metroid. There are 3 nuclei at the top which are surrounded by a translucent membrane. Max Factory did a good job of making the membrane and they also gave it a little green tinge to give it a more organic feel. If you look closely, you can also see some veins painted on the membrane as well! And, of course, they put in the accursed mandibles which latch onto Samus tightly while it proceeds to suck your life away!

Overall, the Metroid is a very impressive addition but there's one thing which stands out ...

Despite the fact that the metroid comes with Zero Suit Samus, the size of the Metroid seems to fit the figma more! You can see that it quite comfortably wraps around the figma head similar to what you'd expect in the game ...

But it doesn't work so well with Zero Suit Samus!

As it stands, Zero Suit Samus is a figure which isn't really a must buy, yet would be a welcome addition to fans of the series, assuming you can get past any stigma you might hold against Metroid: Other M. Samus lacks a dynamic pose, or lots of little details, but she is very well made and even without her armour, you can still see the elements of her character which have made her so endearing. It's pretty hard to design a figure when the base model has fluctuated as much as Samus has over the years, but Max Factory did pretty well! The really hardcore fans might lament how the figure seems to be adding more sexuality into her character design, but Nintendo has been doing that for ages now. Max Factory is simply towing the line. In any case, she's still the stoic, (mostly) silent, power suit wearing, kick-ass bounty hunter she has been since I first controlled her in Super Metroid (I played the first 2 games much later) and the fact that she even has a figure to call her own is a small miracle in itself. We'll just have to wait and see if this is a one-off or if the trend will continue.

Acquisition rate: 100%

See you next mission!

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Chris Seto, Associate Editor
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Chris is one of the many tomopop writers. While often hibernating (even in the summer), this creature will often arise from his slumber to cover some of the more niche parts of the japanese figur... more   |   staff directory

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