As Hemingway wrote, my descent toward becoming a degenerate mobile gamer occurred in two ways: gradually and then suddenly. For much of the last thirteen years, I’ve spent most of my gaming time playing World of Warcraft, to the complete detriment of other games as well as the updating of this site. However, I’ve since acquired a distaste for both the game and its creators, fueled partially because of the deteriorating quality of the game and also by the recent revelations regarding the conduct of Blizzard’s employees. It’s difficult to remain sanguine about a pack of men whose behavioral maturation process can be traced in a direct line from the crib to the frat house.
I began playing Azur Lane during its global launch in August 2018 as sort of a respite from my grievances with Warcraft’s gameplay systems, and I started playing Epic Seven a year later for much the same reason. Both games gradually eroded my enthusiasm for playing Warcraft and consumed more of my gaming time over the successive years. When Shadowlands launched late last year, I felt that it was time to throw in the towel; it’s now been ten months since I played World of Warcraft and I feel much the better for it. Epic Seven is my primary game now, and those who are familiar with it know that it carries with it its own rage-inducing idiosyncrasies, but as yet I find myself unable to muster the same level of negativity towards it, even during its worst moments, as I felt for much of the last few years I spent playing Warcraft.
This discursive diatribe actually has some bearing on the content of this site. Some of my favorite figures are ones from relatively obscure visual novels and eroge. That’s due primarily due to the distinctive and attractive visual designs of their characters, and I think many mobile games – particularly gacha games – appeal to the same sensibility. Certainly it’s a major reason why I play both Azur Lane and Epic Seven, and it’s why I’m curious about similar games such as Arknights and Counter Side.
Despite its age, Lineage II has been a popular source of inspiration for figure manufacturers. Thus far, Good Smile Company, Orchid Seed, and Max Factory have made figures of its characters. That’s gratifying to see, as Lineage II has some very attractive character designs. It’s not atypical in that respect; this may be over-generalizing, but I’ve long thought that Korean MMOs – a group that also includes TERA, Aion, Blade & Soul, and Scarlet Blade Online – have some of the best character designs in video games. The Kamael is the latest such figure to be released, and it’s the third Lineage figure to be produced by Max Factory; we’ll be looking at them in reverse order.
Being someone who dislikes world PVP combat in MMO games, I didn’t have much interest in playing Lineage II when it first came out. However, I loved the character designs, particularly the female dark elves, and eventually I gave it a shot. I liked my dark elf fighter’s starting costume very much, but even that wasn’t enough to overcome the monotony of the gameplay and I called it quits after my free one-month trial period.
I still like the character designs though, and I’m glad to see several figure manufacturers bringing sculpts bearing their likenesses to market. Orchid Seed is the latest to do so, and here we have the elf. No name, no character class, just Elf – although one can infer from her staff that she is some sort of finger-waggling, babble-chanting spell-flinger, as these sorts of conventions are eternal in this genre.
Now this is a figure that I never thought I would own. The dark elf female was originally produced back in 2007 and sold in limited quantities in Japan. Those on this side of the pond had to contrive alternate means to acquire her, which usually entails exorbitant expenses. As my means were quite limited back then, I had to pass on her, much to my chagrin. My regret was compounded by the reality that in this hobby, if you miss out, you seldom get a second chance.
Imagine my surprise when I discovered that she would be sold this summer not by Japanese retailers like Hobby Search or HLJ, but by Entertainment Earth and Big Bad Toy Store, each an American toy retailer that principally offers American products. I got my preorder in with the quickness and the dark elf arrived last week. There are lots of reviews of her already – this figure being two years old – but here are my thoughts.