Saber's ride really shines
Whatever happened to the ex:ride series? Max Factory and FREEing released more than 35 of them in 2010, everything from roller blades to jet skies for figma. But then the line simply dropped off. 2011 saw only one new release while 2012 saw release of a mere two. That was it. And those last three were all special SPride releases, not something more common like surf boards or skis. They even managed to not release the Black Trike from Black Rock Shooter: the Game, the only unreleased ex:ride release to date. We'll probably never know for sure why the ex:ride line only had one good year or why they haven't announced any future releases, but I doubt it was an issue of quality.
Figure Name: ex:ride SPride.05 Saber Motored Cuirassier
Jumping right in, we should take a close inspection of the box itself. It's mostly matte black on the front and sides, the only splash of color coming from the Fate/Zero logo on the ends. A window on the front gives you a partial view of the bike that doesn't really do much to liven up the packaging. The only image on the box that actually shows figma Saber from Fate/Zero riding the Saber Motored Cuirassier is a darkened, black and white image on the front. Seems like a strange way to package a figure, but I guess when it's something from Fate, then just existing is all it takes to sell and you can save on colored ink.
The back of the box is a little more interesting. It still feels a bit dark and only features one image of the bike itself with nothing showing the other things in the box.
Oh yes, there's more in there than just a shiny bike. Saber doesn't really have the proper range of motion in her neck to get her head pointing up enough to pose properly on the bike so a new hair piece that allows for more clearance is included. And to make sure her hands are positioned properly on the handle bars, they've also included some special hands. Lastly, a clear stand is included that can be slipped under either tire to keep it upright.
Now that it's out of the packaging, we can take a closer look at the bike itself. It's a lot of silver, but an attempt was made to help break up the monotony. The bulk of the body is textured like brushed steel and coated in silver paint. Problem is when you paint that large of a surface, you increase your chances of finding defects, and this one isn't without them. Probably just mine, but the section just in front of the seat has a big ugly swirl mark. Thankfully, it can only be seen from the top or back and Saber covers it while she's riding. Not much to say about the handles since the armor covering the bike also covers all the interesting stuff you would normally see. One major drawback of the armor is that it really restricts the movement of the front wheel to nothing more than a slight tilt to the left and right.
The engine is full of details, most still recognizable from its normal form as a regular motorcycle. The big green orb on the side is made of translucent plastic and the back side is painted, probably in the same silver as the rest, to give it a neat effect like a crystal ball. They're well hidden, but there are actually peg holes similar to the ones you find on the back of a figma on each side of the engine that allows for more posing options. There's also one underneath. We'll talk more about that later. The skid plate under the engine and the exhaust pipes are beautifully chromed plastic. If I didn't know better, I would have thought it was polished diecast. The only blemish I could find here is at the very tip of the exhaust where they had been taken off the screws at the factory. However, they're considerably small and you'd really have to look for them to notice them.
Both the front and rear wheels have some truely amazing details! Lots of groovs and divots are etched into the rims. They absoultely look like something that was turned out of a machine shop. Even the brake pads are in there as seperate parts. The best part is that both tires are made of rubber! That probably doesn't sound too exciting, but getting rubber tires on a vehicle is like getting diecast on a robot. It's an expectation that's often unfulfilled.
Now let's see how Saber looks matched with her ride!
She fits it well with a little twisting to get her adjusted just right. Her boots rest nicely on the rear rests and her hands are flexible enough to wrap around both the handles and the brakes. She has to lean forward to accomplish this, which makes that extra clearance from the special hair piece extremely useful. Add the wavy hair that comes with the figure and you've got some more dynamic posing options.
I mentioned before that the bike had stand peg holes hidden on the sides and underneath and this is where they come into play. A regular figma stand isn't big enough so I'm going to use a di:stage for this part. Unfortunately, despite using the bigger stand, the arm just doesn't have what it takes to support the bike on its own so I'm using the bike stand to help prop it up. It works, but I'm thinking the bottom hole isn't all that useful anyway.
The ones on the sides, however, are great because they can not only be used to lift the bike in different ways, but also tilt it to the side. Here, you can see the bike is tilted a bit to the side with Saber leaning in the opposite direction. For this purpose you could probably even get away with the standard figma stand. If not for these holes, you'd be extremely limited in what you could actually do for posing the bike.
One last point I want to make is that with all the posing and photographing there's been a lot of silver paint transfered onto the inside of Saber's leg. I can't say for sure if this is a common transfer from normal use or the results of having two hot 200 watt lamps shining on them for an hour, but it's a little discouraging either way.
Final impression? It's a great looking piece with enough details to help break up all the silver and looks even better with Saber on top. Paint detail is good, but the swirl on top and paint transfer onto Saber is disappointing. The added chromed plastic and rubber tires do win it some extra bonus points, though. The addition of peg holes, though not all useful, do come in very handy. And the extra parts for Saber are a must! All in all, it's a good piece and I'd recommend it with a fair warning due to some of the problems. If you've got a Fate/Zero Saber and have the shelf space, then this is the ultimate complimentary piece and accessory to go with her!
[Huge thanks to HobbyLink Japan for providing this review sample!]
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