It’s without a doubt that Japanese toy companies such as Yamato or Play Arts Kai take exceptional pride in the pieces they create. The high quality attention to detail and superb articulation make these toys the prize pieces in any collector’s display. Square Enix’s premium toy brand, Play Arts Kai, makes no exception in their second set of Halo: Reach figurines. But how do they stack up with their domestic counterparts from McFarlane Toys, and are they worth the extra forty dollars?
Late last year it was announced that Square Enix’s Play Arts Kai toy division would be creating two sets of action figures for Halo: Reach. The first included Noble Six, Emile, and Jun. Whereas the more recently released Set 2 made Kat, Carter and Jorge available. I decided to pick up set 2 and see how they stacked up with the action figures made available by the Todd McFarlane’s version. While you would have higher expectations from a more costly toy, the attention to detail will simply astonish you. This review, we'll be concentrating on the Kat figurine.
Kat comes out of the box with one M9 High-Explosive Dual-Purpose fragmentation grenade, an MA5 Assault Rifle, and her traditional M6G Sidearm. Each character is done in exceptional detail, with mounting poles on each piece to be able to stow the weapons in the applicable locations on the Spartan’s armor. The hands are interchangeable with a second set in the box to allow for more realistic poses.
The figure itself is made in a heavy duty PVC plastic with some metal parts for her robotic arm. Standing in at just over 9 inches tall, this figure simply dwarfs the six inch McFarlane version. While the level of detail is far more outstanding in the Kai version overall, you take a particular notice in two features. The first and most prominent is the robotic arm. Individual components in the arm have more detail and the arm itself has more mobility than in the McFarlane version which essentially looks like a thin, lumpy, glob of an arm. Second, is in the shape of the figure itself. While both figures are noticeably more feminine than the male counterparts, the articulation in the legs and the movement of the hips allow for a more feminine pose than the McFarlane version; which with its stiffer figure just looks like a smaller framed Spartan with a big chest.
The Play Arts Kai versions of the Halo Reach figures aren’t completely without complaint. The mounting rods on the grenades and weapons aren’t removable which kind of takes away from the figures when you take the time to put them in a pose only to have little rods sticking out everywhere to remind you that it’s a toy. Furthermore, the parts are more sensitive than they look. It was only a matter of minutes before the rifle had broken at the barrel and its mounting rod. Thus being gentle when you have heavy hands is a definite must.
Overall, it really comes down to personal preference and the amount of cash you have on hand. While the McFarlane toys are just fine for those on a shoestring budget, the Play Arts Kai figures are definitely more of a long term investment. They’re made in far more limited quantities which makes them highly likely to be a good investment over time as well. As a matter of fact, the Emile figure from Set 1 is already sold out. You might want to act fast if you’re going to collect them all!
One last thing to consider. While Square Enix does offer them on their site, they seem to order them ad-hoc from Japan. My Kat figure took about four weeks to arrive while my other figures ordered from Amazon arrived in less than a week. So if you’re looking to get it rather quickly, you might want to consider getting them from Amazon.com.