East meets West in the Variant Play Arts Kai figure series where Square Enix redesigns characters from Star Wars and releases them as action figures. To date, Darth Vader, Boba Fett and the Stormtroopers have been released. While Variant Play Arts Kai did not publish the scale, these figures feels about 1/6 scale. I am pretty impressed with this figure line, as there was much thought put into the figure’s design. Star Wars Villains now even more menacing than they already are, and in an elegant way. The overall quality of the paint jobs is satisfactory with no blemish or smudges in the paint work.
No expense has been spared for ball joints in the neck, arms, and legs for full articulation. All joints were of an extremely tight fit, but just nice to the point where there is a satisfying click every time I moved any joint.
This reminds me of the joints from the revered Revoltech Action Figure series which also clicked when moved. All figures also balance well on their 2 feet independently. The bases would only come into play when attempting complex poses like Boba Fett jetting across the sky.
The retail packaging for this series is premium and is something you would want to keep even after removing the figure. The outer layer of the box features impressive art of the figure within and there is actually a magnetized cover that flips open to reveal the figure with a preview window. Clearly, Variant Play Arts Kai is confident of the figure’s paint job and has no qualms flaunting it.
Pulling out the contents, you would see the figure in a “snap tight” plastic packaging and a kit which eventually assembles into the base for the figure. The “snap tight” feature of the packaging is helpful as it makes the box reusable to store its accessories.
I was pleasantly surprised after opening the boxes to find that all of them had a base included. Before opening up the figures, I wondered if I should have bought stands for the figures. Thankfully, it was not necessary. Upon a closer inspection, I noticed the stands actually came in spruces and required some assembly. Together with the supplied plastic tool and a pack of screws, the three pieces were put together in a flash and fit well. The only additional effort I needed was to use a pen knife and remove the excess plastic flash which might otherwise get in the way of the base’s moving parts. Variant Play Arts Kai was also thoughtful enough to provide 2 different claws sizes to hold the figure as well. I tested the base and it was stable enough to even hold Boba Fett in a simulated mid air flight pose.
For Darth Vader, you could see the folds of the cloth parts, circuits on the chest and belt and ridges and curve details on the armor clearly. The cape is made of soft PVC which creates a cloth-like illusion. Vader is also coated in gloss, giving him a metallic finish. The only slight negative of this figure is that while posing with the stand, the cape actually gets in the way. While the cape might be soft enough to move. I am slightly worried that over time, the cape would warp and be forced out of its natural position.
The Sith Lord is accessorized with 2 different light sabers and 6 different variants of Vader’s Fist (Pun intended to pay tribute to the 501st Legion). One of the lightsabers is a classic lightsaber, while the other is a lightsaber in motion, which I thought was really flashy and unique. One of Vader’s fist also features a red force fire on his palm, giving the effect of Darth Vader emitting energy with his hands – Who needs force lightning?
The Variant Play Arts Kai Boba Fett figure is really cool. You can see every battle scar in the form of dings and scratches on his armor, and of course, the iconic dent on Boba Fett is included. Even the cape provided is tattered and torn with folds, making it look very realistic. Other details include ammo clips, hidden blades and a gun holster at his rear hip. Boba Fett’s articulation points is different from others as Variant Play Arts Kai gives Boba Fett’s left and right leg different articulation locations. In addition, there is an addition ball joint just for Boba Fett’s cape.
A few minor gripes with the figure is that the antennae could not be rotated to be used as an eye visor. However, it should not be an issue as most people would keep it up anyway. Furthermore, the fist which is supposed to hold the EE-3 Carbine Rifle does not reach the trigger, and feels that Boba is on alert mode instead of firing.
The Variant Play Arts Kai Boba Fett has many accessories and clearly the best mix as well, it comes with a redesign of the EE-3 Carbine rifle, a pistol and 2 knives. But wait there’s more! Also included is a flamer with the flame effect with a stand, and 2 jet pack blasts for Boba Fett’s flying poses. Combined with 4 different fist variants, these accessories gives Boba Fett a large variety of poses. In our opinion, with Boba Fett being an iconic character, the unique articulation for different poses and its accessories, this is my favourite Variant Play Arts Kai figure from the Star Wars series hands down.
The Variant Play Arts Kai Stormtrooper redesigned gives it a very cybernetic look. Its features very sharp panel lines and has a rifle holster. The helmet is also more angular than the classic Stormtroopers. The Variant Play Arts Kai Stormtrooper had the smallest packaging box among the three figures I reviewed and its accessories is quite lackluster.
With only a standard rifle, a heavy machine gun and a tiny blast effect, I was actually hoping for swap-able shoulder pads or a backpack of sorts. However, the lack of a cape gives the figure plenty of freedom to do different action poses, including squatting and aiming poses. A saving grace is that that both guns are painted with a nice gunmetal finish and has details of the buttons painted on. Both guns also have articulation points. The standard rifle has a foldable stock and may fit it on the Stormtrooper’s holster on the waist. The heavy laser machine canon comes with a foldable bi-pod which can be deployed for more pew pew.
Almost every aspect of these three figures scream quality. Not only do they come with extremely high quality paint finish, the variety of articulation that each figure affords is tremendous. No worries of joints coming loose as they are of extremely good fit that would see many extended play sessions.
The only weak link here would be the mentioned lack of Stormtrooper accessories. Clearly the black sheep in the series.
All things considered, these three figures would definitely make a great centrepiece for any adult Star Wars Collector. Also, as the three figures were all from the same series, their fists and accessories are interchangeable among the 3 figures. You could let Boba Fett use the force and wield a lightsaber, and lend the Stormtrooper Boba Fett’s knifes to recreate some melee poses.
As the Variant Play Arts Kai Series are usually manufactured with one run only, it would be wise to quickly grab them off the shelves before they disappear. It would be prudent to pre-order these through your local store to secure the recommended retail price of US$155. A decent price for such a quality product.
Over time, as these figures are only manufactured in a single batch, they could fetch a high price on eBay. I have seen the Variant Play Arts Kai Quiet going for US$500-US$1000, nearly 5 times its retail price! In fact, both the Variant Play Arts Kai Darth Vader and Boba Fett have gone into the “Collector” price range on Amazon and eBay, and maybe it is high time to get the Variant Play Arts Kai Stormtrooper figure before its prices increases. And, look out for the upcoming Variant Play Arts Kai Darth Maul too!