Hello, my name is Dan and I'm an anime junkie. Well, I'm not quite bad enough that I need to look for a twelve step program,
but I do find myself more interested in some of the anime shows than most of what's on network television. And one of the
shows that has kept me from walking down the dark path to reality TV has been Fullmetal Alchemist. Of course, as with any
good cartoon show, action figures can't be far behind. While most of what I've seen for the show has been small PVC figures,
a company has produced a series of three more traditional action figures including both Elric brothers and Winry Rockbell
which have now been imported to the US.
Packaging - 4/10The packaging design for these figures is extremely minimalist in design. Each figure is packed in a small box with windows on the top, side and front panels to see the figure. The Fullmetal Alchemist (FMA) logo is under the front window along with the character's name print over a metal sprocket. Why they used a sprocket for a license that uses a extraordinary number of circular designs is beyond me. Those two elements are repeated on the bottom and one side panel. The other side panel has a brief synopsis of the concept of equivalent exchange from the show. The back panel adds a single photo of each figure. Beyond that, the only other thing on the panels is the background pattern of brushed metal which makes reading the text about equivalent exchange very difficult. The figures themselves are packed in a simple plastic tray with most of their accessories visible through the window. It isn't unattractive packaging, but there is nothing there to draw your attention to it.
Sculpting - 9/10The sculpts for all three of the figures are excellent. An incredible amount of attention was paid to even the smallest details. They did a particularly good job of sculpting the figure so that the articulation has only a minimal impact on the figure. Unfortunately the scale of the figures is a bit of a problem. Winry and Ed seem to be okay, they are both about the same height. But Al is far too small. Ed should only come up to around Al's elbow and should be dwarfed by the Al's girth. But instead Ed comes up to his shoulder.
Paint - Ed 8/10, Al & Winry 9/10The paint work on all three figures turned out quite well. Winry has the simplest paint job of the three. The only intricate paint work is her eyes which came out perfect. Al has a far more elaborate paint scheme but it turned out just as well, or close to it. There are a lot more small details like the symbols on his shoulders. Even the alchemic symbol that binds Al's soul to the suit of armor is painted on the inside of the armor. There are a few minor problems. The soft rubbery parts such as the ponytail seem to be prone to some splotching. It looks like those parts were handled and or packaged before the paint fully dried. The other issue is more a matter of personal preference. The armor has a glossy finish to it, sort of like a well polished car. But it is supposed to be an antique suit of armor. A flat, more worn finish would have been more appropriate. Ed didn't turn out quite as well as the other two, but is still a very attractive figure. Like Al, there are some slight problems with the paint on the softer outer coat. In this case the figure must have been assembled to quickly and some of the red paint rubbed off onto the figure's back. There are also a couple of small stray paint blobs on one of the arms, but that seems to be the exception rather than the norm. Like Al, Ed has a questionable choice of paint finish though it is limited to his boots. The upper section from the heel to the ankle has the matte finish you would expect on a boot. But the toes have a gloss finish. But none of these are serious problems and all three figures look great overall.
Articulation - 5/10The packaging claims that each figure has over 16 points of articulation. But that count is quite low. Both brothers have 24 points of articulation and Winry has 20. Edward's articulation includes:
Accessories - Winry 6/10, Ed & Al 9/10Winry comes with two extra sets of hands, a spare head and two tools. The spare head has her wearing her bandana. The three sets of hands (one on the figure and two extras) include a pair of fists, a pair of grasping hands and a pair of wide open hands. The tools are a large pipe wrench and an adjustable wrench. The accessories are nice, but they don't provide anywhere near the variety of posing options that the other figures have. Ideally, it would have been nice to have parts to change her into either her full jumpsuit or dress. I realize that both options are fairly unrealistic though.
Al comes with just three accessories, an extra pair of hands and the stray cat that Al looks after in the show. The two sets of hands include a pair of fists and a pair with slightly curled fingers which allow him to hold the cat. But what really sets the figure apart is that both the head and chest panel are removable. Both can be pulled off. Once the head and chest panel are removed, the plate to which the head connects can also be slid out and the chest panel replaced to recreated the empty armor look that comes up in the show from time to time. You can even keep the cat inside Al. (And you don't have to worry about it meowing.)
Ed has the most accessories of the three. He comes with five extra hands, three extra arms, a blade for the automail arm and the large spear that Ed forms in the first episode of the show. That is a lot of accessories and there is a reason for them. The figure is packaged with Ed wearing his red overcoat. The matching red arms can be removed along with the coat. The two black arms can then be installed to create a figure in his usual black clothing. Several people have complained about the inclusion of two of the same arms, either left or right. But the black arms are designed so that by turning the bicep joint 180 degrees, the same arm can be used as either a right or left arm. The third arm is Ed's bare mechanical left arm. It is a nice addition, but since there isn't a way to remove Ed's black jacket, it looks a bit strange to have one arm sleeveless. Ed comes with quite a few extra hands. There are two sets of gloved hands: fists and with open palms. There are also three additional left hands with Ed's bare automail. There is a fist and a hand with an open palm to match the gloved hands. There is also a grasping hand. There are two pieces that attach to the forearm of the automail arm. One is the plate that the arm usually has. The other is a blade. Ed's final accessory is his spear. It is a nice replica of the one from the show, but the figure can't hold it. The only hand which can even remotely hold anything is the extra grasping mechanical hand. And at best it can only loosely hold the spear by the thickest parts on either end.
Value - Al & Ed 8/10, Winry 5/10The prices for these figures varies widely, both by location and by figure. The funny thing is that for once, the female is figure isn't the expense short pack. Most of the locations I've seen have charged the most for Alphonse, usually at least $17 or $18 or more. Ed and Winry are usually priced for a few dollars less. I picked up all three for $16 apiece at Wizard World Chicago. I don't mind that price for Ed or Al at all, I was, am and would be glad to pay it again. But Winry might be something to pass on until you can find her for a lower price.
Happy Hunting:While these were originally import figures, they have since been made available through Diamond Distribution. As a result, the figures are now available from a variety of stores. Comic shops are one obvious option. But they have also been showing up in Suncoast stores as well. There are online options as well. House of Anime.com, which is from whom I bought the figures at the convention, has them listed on their site. Unfortunately they are not still $16 as they were at the convention. Tower Records has Ed and Winry available for $15 each, but it looks like they have sold out of Al.