Play Arts Kai Kingdom Hearts 2 Riku

        Kingdom Hearts 2 released in Japan in December of 2015.  In the US in March of 2016.  In what has become an odd theme in my life, I've been waiting an entire decade to see Kingdom Hearts 2 Riku (a.k.a. "congrats on the puberty, Riku") in action figure form.  I think I quite understandably gave up that hope some years ago, so... imagine my surprise when an unpainted prototype popped up, seemingly randomly.  ...Actually it was less like surprise than one very long noise of anguish and everyone who knew me considerably well sighing, but nevermind that.
        I waited.  I saw.  I pounced the second the pre-order went up even if it felt like a bit of a gamble; the Play Arts Kai line had seen some retooling several times.  And a huge price increase.  The last Play Arts Kais I'd bought were some of the first: Dante, Nero, and Dissidia Squall.  Gorgeous and awesome, and at a $40-ish price point... but not really the best at sturdiness.  Then in comes the newer line, twice the price and then some... I just didn't know.  I thought this, of all figures I never thought I'd see, was worth the leap of faith.

        This is what I saw upon opening the shipping box.  Hi there.  Hi there a lot.
        On a side note, I'd forgotten how enormous the PAK boxes were.  Geez.  I mean, it's a lovely presentation, with a fold-out flap so you can see the figure on the right side and a write-up on the left, the flap actually held in place with magnets (which I cut off the box immediately for later use, naturally).  But the box itself is just.  So big.  And definitely a larger chunk of the final price than I'd like.  But, moving on.

        The inside flap.  Making sure to remind you via slap in the face method that Riku has seen some shit.  Kid's been through a lot, to say the least.

        And now he's trapped in plastic!  I have to admit, the "etched glass" effect on the bottom right side of the plastic window is actually super awesome.  It's a neat little touch that I'm a little torn about: at once, I kinda love it.  But I also know it's still a small part of why the price is hiked up.  That's S-E for you, inspiring love-hate.

        Then there's that lovely back of the box to stare at for a moment.  Also more than a little painful for a Kingdom Hearts fan, but surely that's why you have to free Riku from his box imprisonment and get rid of it altogether.  After securing the magnets!

        Ooooooone nitpick, though.  S-E.  You cannot give a product with a shoddily-closed jump ring to a jewelry maker.  You just can't.  I stare at you with judgment.  To be fair, the actual jump ring here is solid and actually very high quality.  BUT NOT CLOSED PROPERLY.  POINTS OFF.  But I did it myself, so.  Well, good.

        Then I pulled out the back card under the figure itself and was given an unexpected project.  ...Y-yay..?
        Actually, while I wasn't prepared to build the stand myself, I hadn't actually thought he'd come with a stand at all.  For a long time they didn't, so this was a pleasant surprise; especially in the fact that it's quite sturdy and actually pretty nice as far as stands go.  Didn't take too long to put together despite my dread, either.

        Freed from the box at last!  ...Not that he was in there long, but.  So of course you have Riku himself, along with his Way to Dawn Keyblade (which is exceptionally nice, by the way), three replacement hands (two fists and one "Keyblade holding hand"), and the stand.

        So let's just take a moment to appreciate the stand, shall we?  It's got set adjustable heights, first off, which is kind of neat and very sturdy, and then two "holding claws", one small and one large, that can both be used at just about any angle for any sort of "action shots".  Which I'm sure I'll make ridiculous use of at some point in time.  But right now it just looks like an alien creature.  Which is also a decent feature in my book.

        At last.  At long last.  Looking all pensive and stuff.  Probably about his shoes.  Because those are brand new shoes, Riku.  Where the hell did you get them?  And new clothes, for that matter?  Oh nevermind.
        So.  Articulation.  Seems that S-E has continued taking a cue from Revoltech with "clicky joints" (easily moved but slightly locking), which I'm sure some people will hate... but they're really helpful for keeping certain joints IN PLACE.  Like LEGS.  And KNEES.  Which I had a lot of problems with on previous PAKs.  There are also some surprising points of articulation, like the balls of the feet AND the ankles, not one or the other.  The knees... still look a bit weird, but they work well.  And while there is a separated/articulated chest and abdomen, the rubber clothes actually cover that up so you can't see it.  I like that feature and can understand why it wouldn't work with the pants, since they'd have to be a lot thinner and more flexible.
        Also shiny gold snaps on his vest collar.  ...Just pointing that out.

        This.  This is Riku.  This is the challenging little shit I know and love.  Weird knees and all.  And as you can see, the stand really does kind of just fall into the background.
        Also, a decent look at the Way to Dawn.  It's really solid plastic this time around, and the eye is... really creepy.  I can understand some nitpicks; it's standard paint job stuff, a few nicks here and there that are completely repairable, and the eye on one side is actually looking slightly to the right... which is kind of interesting.  It's "imperfect" but well detailed and still looks good, as well as the key chain looking damn good even if it's not real chain.
        A note on that specific Keyblade-holding hand, though.  I was terrified to try and bend the fingers open to get the hand around the hilt.  I guess I really shouldn't have been, as they are very flexible, but still do be careful.  They're built well, but all plastic has a breaking point.

        "FIGHT ME!"  ...Well, he needed a silly pose.  He's actually fairly easy to balance (on  ahard surface, anyway), though I'm not sure if it's the figure itself or the fact that I haven't worked out the joint tightness yet, but he does tend to lean back a bit and needs a little compensation for that.  Then again, I mean... it's Riku, so it suits his personality.

        You knew this was coming.  Not only is it an ass shot, but a shot of how the knees actually work.  So yeah, kinda weird, but they're still pretty damn steady, and that's the important thing.
        And also ass.

        And finally, here's KH1 Riku and KH2 Riku.  Puberty gives many gifts.

        "Gonna call you 'squirt' from now on."
        Unfortunately, Play Arts KH2 Sora and Play Arts Kai KH2 Riku are definitely not to scale.  Close, but.  Surely this was only to present a reason to make an updated Sora.  Which they did.  But I'm kinda happy with mine, not-to-scale or otherwise.

        And finally my last Play Arts Kai and my newest one together.  Many improvements have been made, particularly in the shoulders and overall stability of the joints themselves.
        Now the tough question: was he worth the asking price?  If I'd paid the full $100 USD for him?  Aaaaaahhh, I don't think so for me personally.  Sorry, S-E.  I wound up paying about 3/4 that, though, and I gotta say... I don't think it's wasted money.  The detail is good, the scale is actually really nice (even if it doesn't match the older figures), the motion and poseability is pretty fantastic, the hands don't feel like they're going to break when you swap them, it feels like good, heavy, quality plastic in my hand.  While the price point means that I'll be able to afford far fewer figures from this line, it also means that the ones I do invest in will be quality.  At least, if S-E continues down this road.  The FFXV figures are going to kill me, though.
        I'm happy with him.  Not just because he's one of my favorite characters, but because it's a well-made toy that feels meant to be played with as much as posed.  I'm... pleasantly surprised, I have to say.  Even if his knees are still weird.  I guess that and the jump ring can be forgiven for all of the amusement this will allow me.