Tomopop Review: Play Arts Kai Garrus Vakarian


Everyone's favorite spacebro/love interest, now in poseable form

Shepard was not so good. Ashley was decidedly middle of the road. So that leaves the best of the three characters featured in Square Enix's Play Arts Kai Mass Effect 3 line, Garrus, as the last one to review. Anyone who's played the trilogy would probably concur because Garrus is the best spacebro you could ask for (and if you don't ... well, I'm sorry you feel that way).

Naturally, his was the figure I was most excited about ... and subsequently, the most nervous about. Turian bodies are a whole lot different than human ones and I wasn't sure how it would be as a poseable figure. Do we have anything to worry about? Come on past the jump and find out!

Figure Name: Mass Effect 3 Play Arts Kai Garrus Vakarian
Figure Maker: Square Enix 
Retail Price: US$64.99/¥6,200 
Available At: HobbyLink Japan | Otacute | Hobby Search | AmiAmi | Play Asia | Plamoya | Entertainment Earth | Big Bad Toy Store

How about one more time with the same box layout? Don't expect to see anything different here: it's the same nice box we saw with Shepard and Ashley, except tweaked for Garrus. Let's get him out of there and see how the figure looks:

Out of the box, Garrus is what we might expect to see from the Play Arts Kai line. Ready for combat in his big bulky armor, Garrus features the same joint layout as Play Arts Kai Shepard, along with a few changes we'll discuss in the review. From a distance, he looks as how Garrus should appear, which is always a good start.

He is, on the other hand, top-heavy because of how his armor is and the Turian anatomy. That means Garrus is a bit easy to tip over. There's not much Square Enix could do about that except include a stand with him (which they did not do, like normal), but with some patience, he does balance out. Guess he could have used a few more ... calibrations.







... Oh come on, you knew I was going to make that reference at some point in the review. 

As I usually do, we start at the feet. Garrus' feet prove to be an interesting part of the figure: they are accurate with the shape of Turian feet, including the high "heel" of the foot, but this gives Garrus a smaller profile on the bottom of his foot. As such, there's less of a base for stability and with the added armor weight, it adds to the balance issues that can pop up. On the other hand, the legs are sculpted with proper details from Turian armor design, like the fins on the outside of the legs and the two-toed boots being separate from the thigh parts of the armor. The design benefits the layout of the joints, as all the gaps in the armor are where the joints would be placed, except for the joints at the ankles.

On the other hand, my Garrus had some scratches on his armor. Wear from combat? Maybe not so much; it's probably just a case of paint being accidentally scrubbed off somewhere along the production line. 

Moving on up, we get a nice glimpse at Garrus' torso, which is where all the top-heavy problems come from. It's a rather bulky and wide piece of PVC, with joints in the mid-torso and waist that offer a limited range of motion. The paint is the proper coloring for Garrus as he appears in Mass Effect 3, before you ask why he is so silver and not so dark blue. The detailing is pretty nice, and like Shepard and Ashley, he's got ratcheted joints at the hips which make him a lot more stable. And this Garrus needs all the stability he can get.

The detailing continues on the arms of Garrus' suit. There's a little bit of a paint fade from dark gray to metallic silver on parts of the armor to simulate shading, and it's acceptable, but the little bit of scuffing on the paint surface really caught my eye first. It only seems to show up in direct light (I'm looking at Garrus as I write this up and can't really see it) so it's not a major issue for me, but for some of you, I imagine it might be. There's also some "hidden" joints in the middle of Garrus' upper arm, which are incredibly helpful when you're trying to get Garrus to hold his weapons in a proper pose.

Like Ashley, the shoulder pauldrons on Garrus' armor are jointed, giving him extended range of motion. In this case, it's a simpler ball-and-socket joint, but it works really, really well and was a pleasant surprise to find. The gap between arm and pauldron isn't as big as it is in the photo, either; I left it like that for illustrative purposes, but you can put it flush on the arm without any problems.

There's one more thing to really look at here ...

Well, Garrus' head leaves me with mixed feelings. The underlying sculpt is really, really detailed and I imagine it'd look nicer if the paint wasn't glazed on top of it like sugar frosting on a donut. So once again, the paint rears its ugly head with a splotchy look on Garrus' face and head: too thick in some places and too spotty in others. The colors are at least right and the translucent PVC eyepiece is a nice touch ... but the inconsistent paint job really overshadows everything else.

I should also mention that Garrus' head does have some articulation in the neck but the range is a little limited by the collar of his armor.

So let's take a look at the accessories, shall we? Like Shepard and Ashley, you get two weapons and two weapon-holding hands with Garrus. The hands are mirrored images of one another, so we've only used the right hand for these shots. It's sculpted and painted to match the regular hands on Garrus, and there's no issues with flash from the molding process on the fingers.

Poseability-wise, Garrus does hold poses as well as Ashley and Shepard does. Like I mentioned, he his a bit top-heavy so he's prone to leaning, but you can get him to stay in place with a little bit of work and the right angles. It's also a plus that you don't have to pose his legs at all kinds of crazy angles to get him to balance upright; this one is pretty close to the pose you see on the back of the box.

In his hands, Garrus carries the M-15 Vindicator rifle, which you can see a bit better from another angle:

Here they are a little closer up. The Vindicator fits snugly in Garrus' weapon-holding hand and doesn't take much effort to get in there. Unlike Shepard, all of Garrus' fingers feel firm and solid, with no worries about snapping one off trying to wiggle something in. The sculpting on the Vindicator looks like and the paint job looks especially nice here; why couldn't it be the same on the head?

The other accessory Garrus comes with his the M-29 Incisor sniper rifle. No Garrus figure should be without a sniper rifle, and once more, Square Enix has done a wonderful job sculpting and painting this piece. The scope did start to feel a little bit loose like Ashley's M-8 Avenger but it hasn't come unglued yet. 

Some of the detailing on the grip and chamber parts of the rifle is nice; I can't tell if the paint is supposed to be weathered looking or if it's just some thinned paint. Whether intentional or not, it actually turns out not looking too bad; maybe this is, as Bob Ross would say, a "happy little accident."

So why didn't I shoot it displayed in Garrus' hands? Well, because of the grip, actually. Because Garrus' fingers are so firm, they don't have any issues with possibly breaking off, unlike how I felt with Shepard's smaller hands. I initially shot these photos after thinking I might be telling you I couldn't get the Incisor in Garrus' hands, but after a little more hard work and a lot of figure jiu-jitsu ...

It fits snugly and looks great. The key, as it turns out and as Square Enix's directions do not explain, is that you essentially have to thread the Incisor's grip sideways into Garrus' hand, then slowly rotate it up and around so it catches the bottom finger and thumb in the proper spots. From there, the trigger finger should slide in. It's a bit tougher than I would have hoped and some folks might not get it right away, but at least we don't have ourselves another issue here.

And here Garrus is, lining up his next target down the Incisor's scope. You can't get it in position where it's directly in front of Garrus' face because this figure is not that flexible, but it still looks nice and the open hand lines up just right with the bottom of the rifle, so Garrus actually looks like he's holding it with both hands.

You know, at this point, I'm sounding like a broken record, but let's just say this: Garrus is about as good as Ashley was because despite all the good things about him, he has some noticeable faults. And the biggest part of why I say that is paint, paint, paint. The sculpt is great, the articulation is not bad besides the fact he's naturally top-heavy (dear Square Enix: please release your event purchase-only stands to everyone) and the accessories once again work with this figure as they should. But the paint job on the head is actually too thick and splotchy, and it obscures half the hard work Square Enix's sculptors have put into getting Garrus' face to be just right. It's a shame, too, because the Play Arts Kai line is getting better over time in all other areas besides the paintwork, namely in articulation.

I don't think I can give Garrus a full-throated "yes, go out and get him now" because of some of the issues addressed in the review, but if you can look past the face paint issues and the fact that your Garrus might be falling off the shelf unless you bolt him down or find a stand, you've got a decent addition to a Mass Effect fan's collection. 

[Thanks to Square Enix for sending Garrus along for the review!]

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Square Enix Play Arts Kai Garrus Vakarian reviewed by Brian Szabelski


Brian Szabelski
Brian SzabelskiEditor-in-Chief   gamer profile

Brian Szabelski is Tomopop's Editor-in-Chief, stuck with an ever-growing collection of figures and toys. When he's not posting on Tomopop, he can usually be found working on any number of project... more + disclosures


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