I have to admit that lately, I haven’t been too enthusiastic about Good Smile Company’s or Alter’s figure lineups. It doesn’t take any extraordinary talent at prognostication to look at a seasonal anime chart and guess which shows are going to get Good Smile Company figures and lately, Alter’s been eminently predictable as well. Unfortunately – for me, specifically – many of the characters they make figures of don’t interest me or come from shows that I don’t know much about. That leaves Max Factory in the role of the eclectic scale-size figure maker. They’re not nearly as capricious as, say, Daiki Kougyou or Yamato, but well, when one tires of buying Nanoha or Vocaloid or Strike Witches figures, one takes what one can get. Fortunately, Samus Aran surely doesn’t count as a compromise.
Samus Aran is, of course, the lead character of Nintendo’s acclaimed Metroid series. It’s an odd circumstance that, even though I’ve been a video game player for most of my life, I’ve never really played any of the Metroid games. It’s an even more unusual situation given that as a kid, I worshiped Nintendo. I bought as much Nintendo merchandise as I could (which wasn’t a lot, admittedly, being that I was a broke-ass little kid). I watched the Super Mario Brothers Super Show as often as it was on (which wasn’t often, since I was living in Korea and thus subject to whatever programming Armed Forces Korea Network wanted to air). I begged and begged my parents to take me to see The Wizard. Finally they got someone to chaperone me and I got to watch it; I don’t remember which family member got stuck with that task and it’s probably for the best that that whole experience be buried and forgotten.
That youthful zealotry poofed in a single day: the first day I played Phantasy Star II and Sonic the Hedgehog on my cousin’s Sega Genesis. After that, I forswore any allegiances and good feelings I held for Nintendo and converted to the church of Sega. I got a Genesis, a Sega CD, a Game Gear, and a Saturn. When the Saturn tanked, I turned to PC gaming rather than renounce my faith. It wouldn’t be until the Xbox came out that I would return to console games (another strange fact: it was not Halo that drew me back to consoles; it was a somewhat-obscure snowboarding game called Amped).
Although I’d still label myself a Sega fanboy – as much as one can be these days – it’s apparent that Nintendo’s franchises survived the transition from 2D to 3D in far better shape than Sega’s. Games in the Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, and Metroid series continue to gain acclaim while Sega’s most famous franchises lie dormant or, at best, have found middling success in the contemporary gaming world.
That said, from what I recall hearing, Metroid: Other M – the game that this figure derives from – got a bit of a mixed reception. I’ve read criticism regarding Samus Aran’s depiction, in that she was presented as less confident and more subservient than she was in prior games. Though it’s a bit disappointing to hear that, I guess it’s not too surprising to learn that her portrayal is inconsistent; after all, Samus has the peculiar historical distinction of being one of the most asexual (when in her power armor, surely one of the most recognizable designs in all of gaming) and yet most blatantly sexualized characters (from the endings of her side-scroller titles) in all of video games.
And that brings us to this figure, which presents Samus in her sexy suit rather than her armored form. She’s made by Max Factory – who’ve, as mentioned, have been rather unpredictable about what scale-size figures they’ve done, disregarding their Vocaloid figures. She’s sculpted in 1/8 scale, standing a bit under 23 centimeters tall.
Regardless of her comportment in the game, this version of Samus looks confident, deadly, and seductive. She stands in a statuesque pose, left hand settled on the the curved swell of her hip while her other hand holds a large handgun. Her icy, uninflected gaze gives away little of her personality – probably a good thing, in this case.
Samus’s body is sheathed in a tight-fitting bodysuit that hides everything yet leaves little to the imagination. Her Zero Suit – surely one of the finest innovations in the illustrious history of the Metroid series – reveals a tall, lithe body more reminiscent of American-style comic book art than of stereotypical Japanese anime styling. Her long legs, broad thighs, wasp waist, and strongly-muscled shoulders call to mind the art of Jim Lee, Andy Kubert, and other famous comic book artists of the 1990s. The one element that demurs from such a comparison is her bust size, which is a bit smaller than what one might otherwise expect. Or at least, her breasts seem smaller than what fan artists usually give her, for what that’s worth.
It’s hard to overstate the length of her legs. Samus is said to be 6’3″ tall, which explains her imposing stature, though I wonder if there’s an in-game reason for her height or if she’s just an unusually tall woman. At any rate, her body looks fantastic in her Zero Suit. It’s painted with an attractive metallic finish, significantly enhancing its visual impact and appeal.
Samus’s face is fixed in a neutral expression, evincing little emotion. From some angles, her face takes on some of the hallmarks of the characters from recent Final Fantasy games, such as a narrow nose, thin chin, a sharply-angled jawline, and, from a distance, vaguely androgynous features.
Looking closer, the feminine characteristics of her face become obvious. Also, one can observe how the dynamic movement of her hair provides a striking contrast to her steely look.
Samus also comes with a little buddy, this floating Metroid dude. It mounts on a transparent plastic pylon so that it can hover by her side.
Samus Aran is a fantastic figure, one I’m very happy to own. Max Factory’s sculpting and manufacturing quality are top-notch, and beyond those mundane technical concerns, Samus looks great. She resolute demeanor is palpable and the sexiness she effects while appearing completely competent is very attractive. Her skin-tight suit obviously looks fantastic, hugging all the right places and showing off her body to its greatest advantage. It’s a great figure of a character who, despite her popularity, doesn’t get enough figures. Hopefully we’ll see more video game heroines get worthy figures in the future.