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Review: Kotobukiya's Cu-Poche Saber




Hello avid readers, Lunatique Rose Cosplay is the name and reviews are my trade! Today I will be reviewing Kotobukiya’s Cu-poche Saber/Altria Pendragon figure. As a long time Good Smile Nendoroid fan, I will be comparing the craftsmanship for the Nendoroid line to the Cu-poche line! I’ve never owned a Cu-poche figure before so I’ll be writing my thoughts as we go, without further ado, let’s begin!



CHARACTER HISTORY:
First let’s get a bit of background about this character. Saber (AKA: King of Knights, Altria Pendragon) is of course the main love interest in the erotic visual novel by the name of Fate/ Stay Night made in the later 2000s by Type-Moon. This figure is based on her expanded design in Fate/Grand Order, a mobile game belonging to the Fate franchise. Saber is the historical King Arthur Pendragon (genderbent) who laments her past and wishes to win the Holy Grail War in order to rewrite history. Her idealistic personality is one of her key features and defines her every move. An upright character with a strong sense of justice, raw untampered beauty, and a reserved smile, she is admired and loved by the other characters in game as well as players of the game and viewers of the Fate animated series. Her mainstay royal blue dress and braided bun with ribbon hairstyle has made an impression in animation since release and her design to this day is an icon that tens of thousands of fans recognize.


BOX DESIGN:









The box for the Cu-Poche line has English subs attached to the title texts, which is great for Western buyers and collectors. Nendoroid has this feature too, I think Japan’s noticed that their buyers range has expanded out of the homeland, an excellent feature. Very similar to Nendoroid’s box styling, the side panels are filled with poses of the figure in action, while the Nendoroid line fascinates with clear panels, the Cu-Poche focuses on the figure itself; minus points in intrigue design, but good advertising. If there was a quality score on keeping buyers interested, this gets an A.




The box top is an adorable peek-a-boo image of Saber’s face looking out over the edge of the number designated to the figure, in this case 48. Flipping the box over to the backside, we see that the figure’s finer points are being discussed albeit only in Japanese.  I won’t go into translation mode right away as I want to surprise myself, but a few points are: the different face plates that the figure is included with, ‘smiling face’, ‘angry face’ etc, and describing extra pieces to help in poses, for example the optional sword stand. The cautionary details are discussed with English translations which is super helpful; notes about unpacking the figures gently due to product build is a great way to ensure the product is handled with care. Great work so far, Kotobukiya!







The back of the box includes a lot of information about the figure's hazards, materials it was made from, how to contact Kotobukiya with inquiries and more.


UNBOXING:



Opening the taped box with a sharp knife, it becomes very apparent that Kotobukiya and Good Smile are both really concerned about their product arriving safely, there is transparent plastic bags for every piece in the 2 part vacuum seal-like packaging. The Sword (Excalibur), Sheath (Avalon) and Cape are actually sealed in a tape-like packaging which keeps them from shifting from their designated spots. Each face plate has their own spots as well as Saber’s crown. The far bottom right panel is a holding slot for the figure stand and extra hand pieces.





Now that I’ve taken everything out of the packaging, I notice there is one difference in the packaging. While Good Smile seals all their packaging, if you tear it open to remove the pieces, the packaging is no longer usable; Kotobukiya has allowed open ended slot pockets for their stand and figure pieces so that when not in use, they can be fitted back into the pockets for prolonged protection. I gotta hand it to them, great job on this storage design; with these, there’s no need to recycle or toss the bags when they can be stored and used as protective wrapping forever!



 
FIGURE:
This figure comes with:
-Saber default (1 default face plate, hair bangs and back of head, 1 default ahoge, body & legs, 2 default open hands)
-2 extra face plates
-4 extra hand pieces (2 closed fists, 2 sword wielding fists)
-1 fabric cape
-1 crown + ahoge
-1 Avalon sheath
-1 Excalibur sword
-1 sword stand assistant (not shown)
-2 figure stand assistants





On inspection of the face plates, the detail work is done with decals to ensure identical face-expressions for every figure; this is pretty common in the small figures that come out of Kotobukiya and Good Smile. There is a bit of a sheen from the eyes which speaks of a different decal producer, Good Smile has fairly matte looking decals for their figures. The sheen doesn’t distract from the rest of the figure so let’s move on.














The back of the head features a clear lock mechanism that is similar to the Nendoroid’s system (Nendoroid face plates slide into ‘neck’ ball joint that is designed to attach to head of every nendoroid). 



























A full overall review of the pre-assembled Saber figure, I can say they stuck very closely to the original design. One key point is that her skirt is in three pieces to assist with dynamic poses, similar to the Saber from Good Smile. That being said, the Cu-poche Saber is easily ‘taller’ than the Nendoroid Saber in build, there is more waist shown in this figure than the Nendoroid equivalent making the character look more defined. This is purely an aesthetic choice but it’s nice to see that the two figure companies have taken different approaches to the same character.













The sculptor spent extra time working on Saber's bun and braids as you can clearly see the indent of every plait, even her ribbon has been meticulous shaped into the perfect bow.






The paint job is very acceptable, with small areas where the paint hasn’t touched or there is an error in fine detail work. It’s not wholly noticeable but it does say something about Kotobukiya’s QC standards. I have circled an area that the paint is noticeably flawed for inspection. The silver priming paint is visible through the gold paint/top coat. Even with these small blemishes, I do enjoy colours they chose for the metallic parts of Saber's outfit; the silver they painted her armour is a gunmetal silver that isn't the same shade as her sterling silver sword. This adds some contrast to the figure which is much appreciated on camera.








EXTRA PARTS:





Saber’s Excalibur and Avalon are highly ornate, with only minor paint flaws.  I can’t criticize since most of these details are so small it is difficult to even slot a fingernail into the indent that the paint should fill. Moving onto the fit, the sword fits snugly into the sheath and doesn’t come off without some effort, the mold is immaculate; removing the sword from the sheath doesn’t damage the paint job at all.















Another part of the figure is Saber’s replacement ahoge and crown which are hilariously attached together. While silly, it is an ingenious design for fitting as that means the crown doesn’t need to be anchored onto Saber’s head with anything but the ahoge.











Lastly, the small extra hands that come with the figure are designed in sets of two; one set are standard fists, and the second set or fists are fitted with holes for holding Saber’s sword in hand. The paint and meticulous sculpt of the hands are to be commended. I will hold off on looking at the cape for now.











Let’s try some posing now shall we!





POSING & STAND:


The beauty of the Cu-poche figures actually lies in the stand. I was astonished when I pulled out the stand for Saber: it has a sheet of metal as its base. Saber’s feet have two strong magnets on it that stabilize her and keep her on the stand WITHOUT THE USE OF THE CLEAR FIGURE STAND ASSISTANTS! That’s amazing, the first time I’ve seen a figure company come up with a stand that is so hands free, most figures incorporate a stub for the figure’s legs to be attached to the stand, others use the stand assistants which act as arms to keep the figure upright, but magnets? Never seen that before, and it is surprisingly stable too! Here are images of her with the stand assistants and without.









 Universally, mobile figures with interchangeable parts have stand assistants which are clear, arm-like, protrusions usually attached to the figure's backside and to the stand to provide extra support for the figure.


Cu-poche's magnet stand design renders the stand assistants unnecessary unless the figure is doing an action pose that lifts its feet from the stand.






Now, onto my first pose, I have attached Saber’s right sword wielding fist to her arm and replaced her standard ahoge with her crown. Her legs are a bit difficult and stiff to move but I imagine that’s because of the magnet cores weighing it down a bit. Very dynamic stance don’t you agree? Her facial plate is the angry plate, it suits her disposition very well for attack poses. The stand is able to accommodate the dynamic poses well because of the magnet feature but I would still keep the stand assistants on hand just in case.






Now for the cape, this second pose incorporates it as a majestic salute to the Fate Grand Order final ascension. The figure includes a well-made, blue fabric and white fur cape with a faux clasp in front. It attaches to the figure by removing Saber’s head and lowering the cape onto her shoulders with only the neck attachment joint showing. Once it is on, replace Saber’s head to complete the look! Because of its size, the cape is a bit finicky, but with good placement, the figure really does look complete!

                    
                             Lower the cape onto neck attachment. 
Replace head and, voila!




Lastly is the sheath, I placed the sheath onto Excalibur and repositioned the sword into a resting position. I tried the sword stand but it is more of a precautionary display piece since the sword can sit on the stand just fine without it. Saber looks adorable with her gentle smiling face too!

"I ask of you. Are you my Master?"

THOUGHTS FOR IMPROVEMENT:
With so much potential for dynamic poses, I was surprised the figure didn’t come with additional swords that showcased more of Saber’s attacks from the game and anime. Likewise, Saber’s hair could have benefitted with a second bangs attachment to create an illusion of movement. The paint work needs a bit more quality checking but the overall paint quality was spot on. Maybe in the future Cu-poche will release a Deluxe edition since Saber is so popular.


What to take away from this review:
Packaging and Box: 5/5 stars
Paint work: 4/5 stars
Poseability: 5/5 stars
Stand design: 5/5 stars
Extra parts: 3/5 stars
Cute level: 5/5 stars
Ingenuity: 5/5 stars
Affordability: 4/5 stars


Final Notes:
As a figure, I found Saber’s design and mobility very satisfying. She’s clearly well designed and good for display; I think if Cu-poche did an expansion on her, the figure could stand to be exceptional. My favourite features to her design are the efficient magnetic stand system and of course her cape and cute crown. It really shows how much Kotobukiya cares about their functional design aspects, I expect Cu-poche will become even better with time as they are still a newer line compared to Nendoroid, and I can’t wait to see more characters from them. If you’re looking to pay homage to the Fate series, the Saber Cu-poche is definitely a collector’s piece I recommend.



12.APR.2018


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