Seems it’s time for another Saber, this being the fourth iteration of the popular character from the massively popular Fate/stay night series by TYPE-MOON. Encompassing a range of media; from visual novels to anime to manga and music, it’s a financial juggernaut in Japan. Saber herself is the loyal servant of the main character Shirou Emiya, though she has more fans than he ever will. Strong and agile, Saber is a powerful warrior, with an expressionless, cold exterior that masks a softer, more feminine side – you know the sort. This version of Saber, Saber Alter, could be considered her grim-dark side.
In a complicated sequence of events that I’ll only lightly skim over, Saber turns into this ‘alternative’ version of herself in the Heaven’s Feel route of the visual novel, which can only be reached after completing the Fate and Unlimited Blade Works routes. Consumed by darkness in a battle with Avenger, Saber becomes this evil version of herself, serving Sakura, who then faces off against her original master Shirou; what will happen?!
I don’t care. I care about the figma, not so much it’s history, and so let’s get back to her. Saber’s costumes have always been the most interesting part of her presentation, and Saber Alter delivers once more. Kitted out in a dark array of colours in elegant mediaeval-inspired armour, purple is the main colour, dominating in varying shades all over. The shiny plates of armour have red veins (or is it blood?) running all over them, giving a freaky evil look to Saber Alter. These parts protect her torso, forearms, and part of her dress.
A lighter violet makes up the immediate dress showing underneath, with a smoother texture and matte finish. Interestingly, the shoulder pads have a slight cut on them disguised as a fold in the fabric which in turn allows for flexibility when moving Saber’s shoulders, while still retaining it’s original look – clever. The two outer parts of Saber’s dress are of a harder, less flexible plastic, though two figma joints are deftly hidden at (not in) her rear to allow easy movement of these parts, something that is always appreciated when posing figma with such extravagant dresses.
The final layer in Saber’s dress is a rippled black front, which shares the same style for a part that’s at the back. Though rarely seen, it’s appreciated for the effort (the back part I mean). This is made of a soft black plastic and adds just that little extra to the overall look of Saber Alter. Saber’s boots are made of the same sombre lustre with streaming tears of blood that cover the rest of her armour, and I’ll be damned if these things don’t look like dragons, with all those layers, coarse colours and SHARP edges. Saber’s arms and legs are dangerous bits of gear, so be careful you don’t hurt yourself when posing.
Thankfully we have Saber’s hay-coloured hair to contrast it all, otherwise it’d nearly be depressing to look at. Her hair done up in the classic Saber way (a long-haired version of Saber would look pretty damn hot now that I think about it), with that bun at the back and the long bangs and fringe at the front. Two front hair pieces are provided, one which has a stylised armour plate covering Saber’s eyes, which looks both freaky and cool at the same time. How she sees though I have no idea, but she can do magic, so what would I know. This part has her bangs floating to her left slightly, topping off an intimidating face (or lack thereof).
The other hair piece lacks the armour and the floaty parts, but is there specifically to let us see the Saber Alter underneath. Ahh! Purple armouring goes all the way up to her cheeks, with those blood red veins creeping across her face, she’s under possession! Saber’s usual green eyes are replaced by freaky yellow ones, creating an unfamiliar being. Two faces are with this figma, one of Saber looking calmly though seriously ahead, mouth pursed. The second face has her yelling, mouth wide open and eyes glaring during battle. The option to have these faces with or without that armour face plate is a nice option, because you’ll enjoy looking at both.
Ten hands are included in the package. There was a surprising amount of ‘set’ hands (hands without moveable parts re: the wrist) with Saber Alter too: three pairs. There is the usual closed fist pair, slightly-open hands pair, and a pair of grasping hands set on an acute angle. The jointed hands include another pair of grasping hands, a pointing left hand and a right open hand with fingers splayed. I only came up with nine hands total, meaning I missed out on a ‘set’ slightly-open left hand, so I was disappointed in that regard. The hands go nicely with the armour though, and offer enough range for poses. Let’s hope I don’t need that left hand any time soon!
Only one main accessory is in the box for Saber Alter: her sword. Upgraded from the usual Noble Phantasm, this version of Saber’s Excalibur is dyed in glossy black and abound with bright red engravings running the whole way. Just when you think Saber Alter couldn’t get any cooler, she whips out a freaking black sword, which let’s face it, there should be more swords this colour. There’s no scabbard to slide this beast into, and why would you want to hide it anyway? A fantastic looking bit of kit.
Shame she can’t hold onto it for hell. For each of the hands provided to hold, Saber could not grip Excalibur with its own gradient, meaning the gap was loose and the sword would slide about all over the place like some sexual joke that I’ll refrain from telling. Though not impossible to fix, it’s quite disappointing to see that none of the hands would hold the sword by itself. Keeping with the complaints, while effective, the blood vein paint job could’ve looked much better in my opinion, and some parts were slightly off in the finished product.
The boots and arms, as stated are sharp, and hurt when creating poses and the missing hand was another disappointment. I don’t know what else could’ve been included with Saber Alter, but she’s a very barebones kind of figma; with just the hands, regulation stand and carry bag, and one accessory, it’s a bit hard to justify it, even if Saber still looks amazing. But that’s just it, I think, we’re paying for a brilliant-looking figma. The poses you’ll create with Saber Alter are excellent – complimented by that big dress, black sword, cute possessed face and badass mask. Lacking in some key areas but making up for it with pure awesome style, Saber Alter is a confusing recommendation.
Originally posted 28-07-2010 here.