Just last week, we reviewed Square Enix's Play Arts Kai Commander Shepard, and he was not that great. Maybe that's putting it a little lightly, but there are still two other Play Arts Kai Mass Effect 3 figures, so hopefully at least one is better, right?
We're just about to find out, because next up is Play Arts Kai Ashley Williams. Having not been much of an Ashley fan before, and not really digging her Mass Effect 3 look, I was a bit indifferent to her as a figure and she was admittedly the least of the three I was looking forward to reviewing. Can the Play Arts Kai possibly change my mind, or am I still as indifferent as before? And heck, is she better than Shepard? Once again, we jump through the Tomopop relay to find out!
Figure Name: Mass Effect 3 Play Arts Kai Ashley Williams
No shock: the box is exactly the same as Shepard, albeit with some different text and photos. Again, I have to say I like it as it's a lot nicer looking.
Taking Ashley out of the box, you can see she's got the thinner, female body Square Enix uses for their Play Arts Kais. Namely, that means smaller joints, which is something worrying to me because in my experience, small joints tend to be more prone to breaking. I'll actually touch on my experience with the smaller joints a little further on in the review, so keep reading to find out if my fears became nightmares or were unfounded.
As for the sculpt, it's Ashley in her Alliance uniform from Mass Effect 3, which I think looked dumb in the game and it still looks just as dumb here. That's on BioWare, though: at least Square Enix has got it sculpted and painted right, without much in the way of seams outside of the ones that exist because of the joints.
I generally like to start at the bottom and work my way up with these Play Arts Kai reviews, so let's start with Ash's legs. There's a good amount of detail and some fabric bunching sculpted into the piece around the ankles, with the joints that are normally visible (knees and ankles) also visible here. Paint is, for the most part, clean with few complaints. There's a weird paint transition to a lighter metallic blue up near her hip, which is mildly distracting but not always noticeable.
Just a heads up here: Ash does have joints on her feet (those aren't just seems) and they may be twisted a little bit when you get her out of the box, so be sure to straighten them out or she won't stand right. I think they're on there to give her more poseability ... but I never really found a pose that made them needed.
BOOBS. Errrr ... as I mentioned before, Square Enix has done a good job replicating Ashley's Alliance uniform and masking the torso joint (it's below her bosom, just like with other female Play Arts Kai figures) and the little things like the zipper are nice to see up close. There's not a lot of paint bleed here to worry about, either.
That dedication to detail comes around to Ashley's back, with some nice fabric tugging sculpted in around her waist. Speaking of that, I don't think her waist is too small for her proportions, which was something I did worry a bit about with the sculpt initially. The paint is a tiny bit rougher on the bottom of her uniform's top, but it's otherwise pretty average for the line.
Shepard didn't have much hair to pay attention to, but Ashley does, so let's take a look at how her long brown locks look. The answer is: pretty typical for the Play Arts Kai line, with some detail sculpted in and painted over. Yes, there's not much in the way of individual strands, and it's really just a sculpted-over chunk of plastic, but that's generally what we see with a lot of non-anime figures.
So, face time?
Well, it's not bad, especially from certain angles such as this one. There's a bit of shadowing around her eyes that really feels off, but it's far from the "OMG THIS IS AWFUL" feeling I got when I was looking at Shepard. What's odd to me, though, is she looks good from some angles and not so good from others. It's almost like there's two different heads that some invisible man is swapping out on me and I can't see him do it.
You can probably also see something else in the shot, so let's get to pointing that out:
There's a strange bit of residue on Ashley's cleavage. And it's just there, nowhere else. I really don't know what to make of the grime down here besides "quality control issue" and "not the first time I've seen the grime issue on a Play Arts Kai figure." Your Ashley may vary, and thankfully, this is the only "grime" issue on the figure.
Since I have no stand with any of my Play Arts Kai, I'm once more using my hand to hold Ashley in place while I show off some of her poseability. Here, you can get an idea of where the joints are and see the range of motion, which isn't too bad and is helped out by a unique little design choice:
Part of Ashley's shoulder armor actually folds down, extending her shoulder's range of motion quite a bit. It's a little stiff to move at first like any joint, but otherwise a good move on Square Enix's part and something they deserve credit for adding in.
I should also mention that little fear I had about joints proved unfounded. They really do feel sturdy, but I'd still take care when handling Ashley or any other figure with joints, because there's no such thing as an unbreakable joint!
Here, we get a look at two of Ashley's accessories: one is a set of identically-sculpted hands for holding her weapons. They're painted to match Ashley's uniform and actually sculpted quite well for such tiny pieces. They also lack the flash issues we saw on Shepard's hands. The best part, though, has to be that they actually hold Ashley's weapons properly and there's no bending involved in fitting them in there.
The other accessory is the M-23 Katana shotgun, which has some nice sculpting, but not the same level of detail on the grip and butt-end of the shotgun as it does in Mass Effect 3. It's a little bland, but alright.
You can do a kneeling pose as well, but the problem is that the bottom part of Ashley's "coat", despite being made from a flexible plastic, does hinder how far you can move her leg forward. A little bit of an annoyance, but not a figure killer by any stretch of the imagination.
Ashley's other accessory is the M-8 Avenger assault rifle, which should be awfully familiar to Mass Effect franchise fans. Why it came with Ashley and not Shepard is a bit of a mystery to me, but regardless, it's a great looking, scaled-down replica of the in-game weapon. Like the M-23 Katana, there were no issues getting it into Ashley's hands and the joints hold it firmly in place. Hooray for no drooping arms!
The only problem is ... well ...
Quality control issues strike again. The glue that held the two parts of the M-8 together came completely undone once I got it out of the package. It is easily fixable with some super glue, and over time the glue would probably wear down, but right out of the box is not a good sign.
In regards to Ashley, I find myself at a crossroads. She's clearly better than Shepard in just about every way, with better accessories (that actually fit in her hands with little effort), a level of poseability and stability I really wasn't expecting (again, thank you ratcheting hip joints) and joints that don't feel so flimsy, as they have on other figure lines.
But again, it's the little things hurting Square Enix and the Play Arts Kai line, namely quality control issues here and there, and the paintwork being done in spots. It's weird that I'll do this, but I'll say Ashley is a good, but not an "OMG MUST HAVE!" figure, with one condition: The problems on my figure may or may not be on yours, and you may have issues I did not encounter at all. If you're willing to risk that, she might be the best of the Mass Effect 3 line released so far.
I hope I didn't just tip my hand on the Play Arts Kai Garrus review that's next ...
[Thanks to Square Enix for sending Ashley to us for review!]
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