Play Arts Kai Aranea Highwind

        Long, long ago in the foreign realm of... late 2017, "financial situations" arose and I unfortunately had to make my very first pre-order cancellation.  Every so often I saw that she was still available through various retailers, usually at a decent reduction, but kept hoping for "someday".  Then I'd actually planned to pick her up sometime at the end of this year, after other things could be purchased and finished.  Taking another glance at my usual haunts revealed that she just straight up was not as available as she used to be, completely missing from resellers and of course climbing in price on Ebay (assuming any of those were official figure listings; bootlegs fascinate me but I'm not paying that much money for a bootleg).  I saw my chance during a winter holiday free shipping promotion and decided: you know what, why not now before she starts climbing in price everywhere or disappears altogether.
        I love Aranea.  The more time I spend thinking about her and the longer I play the game, I just appreciate her advice and attitude more.  The badass with a heart of gold, mercenary with a conscience.  Skilled, self-assured, and making full use of her... assets.  Plus a biiiiig lance.

        I was so happy to pull this out of the box.  She was marked as being delayed by three days due to sudden bad weather, but showed up when she'd initially been scheduled to anyway.  Runs a tight ship and all that, you know how it is.

        And back of the box, because may as well.  ...I worry over the "Keep this related information for future reference."  Too late now, box is in recycling.

        And of course the open window.  Such nice figure photography here, but it just makes me want to build her ship too.  I also really like the dragoon logo on the protective plastic sheet, so I kept it.  Along with the magnets that hold the front flap closed because those are good magnets, okay.  But enough time admiring cardboard.

        THERE SHE IS!  With that slightly toxic painted plastic new toy smell.  Comes complete with six interchangeable hands, her hair and ponytail pop out to be replaced by "armor bits", and that lance.  She also came with the standard PAK stand, but to me that is more a source of nice small nuts and bolts than anything, and that's fine.

        Alright, yes, early ass shot, but I'd completely forgotten that the "dragon tail"/ponytail flail(?) is slightly articulated.  It's... very fun.  And the wing cape and that tiny little bow tying her hair back...  I love her okay.

        More on her height versus her lance's height.  ...Giving Sephiroth a run for his whatever, but more on that later.  I was surprised that her cape bits(?) were actually articulated for "action poses" I suppose, but they turned out to be helpful for balance too.
        Also be admiring her boots because they are amazing death boots and she basically has armored chaps and what's not to love.

        That is her.  She is here.  She doesn't have semi-translucent hair like the Advent Children Sephiroth, but it is certainly a little shiny regardless.  You can see some really nice armor detailing, and even some little metal bits on her boots reflecting off the flash. 

        So now we just straight into the "how I can tell she was a the end of the series production line".  To be fair, a lot of this "messy paint" might actually be because she's been in a box for over two years.  Not all that tightly-fitting plastic, but still molded to keep the figures in place.  The still-flesh-colored belt and O-ring bits are... not quite consistent with the quality of the main four protagonist figures before her.  Still, it's not bad, it's just noticeable all together as telltale.
        Some of the joints, though.  Again we get into joints that are much, much too tight.  Also again, this may be an issue of being boxed for so long; her knees are extremely tight and were very difficult to manage right away, and it wasn't at all an issue with cold plastic.  They're still a little worrisome now, but appear to be loosening up a touch.  The interior holes for the interchangeable hands really needed a tiny bit of hollowing out with the tip of a craft knife, however, since her awesome hand armor drew the slightest bit of blood while I was trying to get hands changed out.  So yes, the armor is actually a little sharp, but only if you're not expecting to have to push way harder than you ought to for something to fit.  An easy fix, anyway.  And I will heal.  ...I assume.
        Also of note: she was produced around the time as, and in the same factory with, PAK Advent Children Sephiroth, which I also have.  I received him and opened him immediately upon release, and while his paint wasn't bad, it did chip very easily.  Still does, actually, but tiny fixes aren't a big deal or unexpected.  If I really want to add paint to her, then I can without trouble.

        A little of that black paint on the gray surface just looks like it rubbed off for whatever reason.  But as you can see, there are still plenty of awesome fine details regardless of... maybe a fair amount of paint issues.  They're all fixable.
        Of note: her armor has just that little hint of blue-onyx finish that makes it look metallic.  Very much a throwback to the FF8's Omega weapon for me.

        A size comparison.  Sephiroth does still technically have the longer weapon... but only just.  ...Length and girth, finally united.  

        And this lance is pretty fancy alright.  It separates into three pieces to slide into her closed hands, and the top and middle piece took a little work before I could get them to slide together and apart smoothly.  This is not a subtle weapon.  ...But then no Final Fantasy weapons are.  There's also some nice detailing to focus on before death hits.

        Then the helmet.  Always quite loved this thing.  Her "regular bangs" slip off so this can go on, but it takes a bit of effort at first.  The plastic is relatively soft and easy to bend, which makes it much easier than it could be.  It's also got that same metallic sheen as the rest of the armor and just looks like it is worn by someone who wants you dead.  Which is usually true, so congrats on the design.
        Then more of the ponytail flail.  Tail-thing.  Whatever it is, it's neat and also looks deadly.  It took some time to get the ponytail to fit properly, but again I take it that's just because the plastic's been sealed and untouched in a warehouse somewhere for a couple of years.

        Finally the sash detail.  Very much in line with the other PAK figures, and I do really like the flowy fabric lines along with the very soft flexible plastic.  Definitely makes moving and posing easier.

        Not to have a second ass shot or anything, but... I wasn't sure what this was.  Looks like a scabbard, I suppose.  It's sealed so I doubt anything was meant to go in there, just an interesting extra.
        Despite the paint flaws, was she worth the wait?  To me, definitely.  I ultimately managed to snag her for the same price as she would have been pre-ordered and delivered by EMS, so there wasn't really saving anything, but it sure wasn't a loss.  Her joints aren't as smooth moving as the main four guys and her shoulders don't rotate upward as much, but then it may only be a matter of loosening them up with movement.  The detail is good, she looks slick, and I am just... overall pleased.  I'd love to get my hands on the rest of the FFXV PAKs, but we'll see whether or not that proves possible in the future.