Toy Fair 2015: Square Enix Play Arts’ Alternate Heroes Take Center Stage
Though Square Enix may be more famous for its video games, the company's had a lot of success over the years with its action figure properties in the Play Arts Kai line as well. Initially Square focused on its own properties but during the past decade, we've seen the company interpret various movie and comic book licenses in its own unique way. Toy Fair 2015 featured a smaller sampling of Square's upcoming Play Arts Kai figures, but what we saw showed the company still has an incredibly unique eye for design.
The Batman: Arkham line will continue with new figures based on the upcoming sequel, Batman: Arkham Knight. We'd seen an unpainted Harley Quinn prototype last year, but this updated version certainly captures the mood of the game and the essence of that universe's Harley. The same could be said of the Batman from the line, which is armored to the nth degree, but somehow maintains a slim silhouette--something many of Square's other Batman figures have a hard time doing. There was even an Arkham Knight at the show (along with his many guns), but anyone hoping for a glimmer or tease of new characters will just have to wait until June. Nearly every exhibitor at the show was keeping the Arkham Knight cards close to the vest.
As nicely detailed and articulated as the Arkham Knight figures were, it's the Batman Timeless series that will likely draw the most attention for Square this year. That, or the new Marvel Variant line, but we'll get there in a moment. Featuring various versions of Batman throughout history, such as the Wild West and Bushido eras, this Variant Play Arts Kai line is one of Square's most ambitious yet. Where before we had stylistic interpretations of DC characters in their normal guise, these Timeless versions of Batman give us but a glimpse of what happens when you let the wild minds at Square go crazy with designs.
Some fans may balk at the idea of Steampunk Batman, but honestly, how many more versions of Batman in his standard suit do you really want or need? It's a little refreshing to see that DC is letting companies experiment with the big characters, whether or not you feel the final product is successful or not. The Timeless line is just the beginning, too, as Square might have some more ideas that take familiar faces in new directions coming in the future. A lot of that depends on the successes of these attempts, but if we can expect more outrageous and outlandish concepts, consider our interest piqued.
We wouldn't have gotten the Batman Timeless line without the DC VPAK series first, and now Square is turning its eyes towards Marvel in that same vein. Teased back at New York Comic Con last year, the Marvel Variants series will open with Iron Man and Spider-Man, who for the first time was shown in full, rather than just concept art. Thor also made his Square Enix debut alongside concept art for Venom, the line's first villain. While the DC Variant line did have its share of female figures, the Marvel line so far is skewing heavily in favor of the men. That won't always be the case, as several hints were dropped that a certain lady who likes to lurk in the shadows might be joining the roster in the future.
Previously, Square's Toy Fair showings were packed with figures, but many were often shown off well before they would ever reach market. With this year's smaller set of reveals, Square intimated that the idea was to focus more on releases in 2015 than teases of things still 12-16 months away. Hopefully that idea is something Square can follow through on, and we'll be staring at some of these figures on our shelves instead of wishing they were available.