Fate Testarossa is undoubtedly one of the most visible characters in anime culture, and it’s no surprise that figure makers turn to her again and again. For example, Alter is on schedule to release or re-release five figures of her this year alone – an astonishing number for a character who doesn’t even take top billing in her show. Lesser-known scale figure manufacturers also enjoy showing love to Fate; this particular figure comes from Banpresto, who I know more for making trading-sized figures and mecha toys than 1/7 scale figures. Regardless of my unfamiliarity with Banpresto’s products, I have a mandate to be the world’s biggest Fate fan who hasn’t actually watched her television series, and so I went ahead and picked this one up.
This particular rendition of Fate comes from her design in the Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha movie; it says so on the box and the lack of armor plating on her shoes and gloves give it away. The box doesn’t say what scale size she is in, but I would guess she’s 1/7 scale; she’s 20 centimeters tall and 1/7 scale would put her at around 4′ 7″ in real life. That seems plausible for a nine-year old girl.
The box does say that Fate is to be sold only in Japan as a prize. The Ichiban Kuji figures are apparently sold using a lottery system; you pay a small amount of money for a lottery ticket and you can win several prizes, including relatively large figures such as this one. Unfortunately, foreigners aren’t eligible to play, but fortunately these figures are not difficult to purchase on the secondary market, such as at Mandarake, which is where I picked this Fate up.
I did not have very high expectations for this figure – I haven’t seen much of Banpresto’s stuff and at 800 yen to enter the lottery, I didn’t think that Fate’s quality would be very high. Happily, I was wrong – sort of, anyway. Fate’s quality is certainly not at the level of some of the more consistent figure makers, but it’s certainly better than, say, the BEAT figures that I have. Or the Giga Pulse figures. Okay, that’s not saying much, but I was certainly surprised to see that Fate looks quite nice.
A less pleasant surprise was Fate’s base. It’s a white beveled square with magical ring imprinting – nothing too special there. When I first placed Fate’s feet on the pegs, she was very loose and when I removed her, I noticed that the pegs were shorter than they had been. I immediately thought I had screwed up and snapped the pegs off, but the holes in Fate’s feet were empty. I wadded up some adhesive putty under Fate’s right foot to keep her standing – you might be able to see it in some of the pictures – but I couldn’t believe that Banpresto had made the pegs so short. After finishing up the pictures, I looked at the base again and found something very unusual – the pegs retract back into the base if you put pressure on them. I was perplexed by this since probably the only time you would press down on the pegs would be when you are trying to mount the figure to the base – and that’s when the pegs retract. I’m half-wondering if I’m missing something completely obvious, but this seems like a big load of fail on Banpresto’s part. At any rate, I found that pressing down on Fate’s feet while pressing up on the bottom of the peg (from below the base) seems to make her stable and secure.
The paintwork is adequate – there is not a great deal of shading on Fate’s clothing or her skin, but Fate has a fairly simple color scheme and Banpresto’s work gets the job done. Her hair does have some subtle dark tones to keep it from looking completely boring. The sculpt also helps, as her twintails show a bit of movement that contrasts with Fate’s tranquil pose.
Speaking of the pose, I like it a lot, and I also like her friendly expression. Figures of Fate in her barrier jacket tend to go heavy on action poses and angry loli scowls. Alter’s recent figure epitomizes that convention, as does their earlier figure, and so do several other figures, such as FREEing’s oddball 1/12 scale one and Good Smile Company’s actsta toy, which comes with not just one but two frowning faces. Banpresto’s Fate, in contrast, sports a placid smile and a rather sedate pose. She’s wide-eyed and seemingly at peace as she clutches Bardiche.
It also helps that Fate wears comparatively less clothing than many of the other characters in the Nanoha franchise, and Banpresto emphasizes this fact by providing some castoff options. Fate comes with her big, billowing cape, though it doesn’t seem to attach to her; rather, it just drapes over her shoulders, though it fits well enough. She also separates under the red strap encircling her body below her bust; this facilitates removing her skirt. I think she looks pretty cute without her skirt and cape, and it makes her visual design a bit less cluttered. I like the simplicity of her appearance in this mode, particularly when contrasted with the complex shapes that comprise Bardiche.
Fate has a cute rear, which is appropriate; it wouldn’t be right if Fate didn’t have a cute rear.
I had low expectations for Fate but I’m quite happy with this figure. It’s not the most spectacular figure, nor is it particularly impressive as far as technical qualities go, but I think it has a warm and friendly charm that complements Alter’s action-hero Fates. I like her youthful, innocent expression, and I like her castoff options. And she was pretty cheap; not 800 yen cheap but not quite as expensive as most 1/7 scale figures go. This is a well-made figure of a happy, scantily-clad young girl and her battle axe, and that’s enough for me.