I don’t think Saber needs any great introduction. She’s easily one of the most iconic anime characters from the past decade and I can think of precious few characters who have received more figure reproductions.
Saber Lily was introduced as a new variant of Saber’s character for the Fate/unlimited codes fighting game series. This new “form” swaps Saber’s traditional blue & white long-sleeved dress for a cream & black sleeveless dress and her unique braided hairstyle for a bow and ponytail. The new look serves to meaningfully differentiate Saber Lily from Fate/stay night-era Saber while retaining the key visual cues that make Saber instantly identifiable.
This 1/7 scale figure, titled “Distant Avalon” in reference to Saber’s Arthurian origins, by Good Smile Company was the first scale figure to be based on the Saber Lily design. Preorders opened in late January of last year and she was originally scheduled to be released in August before a series of delays pushed the actual release date back to November. I didn’t actually receive my particular Saber Lily figure until late December after a mishap with my original preorder forced me to find a second source for the figure at the last minute.
I probably toiled over this review longer than I should have, but I felt like it was time to make some changes to my setup. I experimented with a number of different lighting setups and backdrops before settling on the setup you see here.
For lighting, I wanted to achieve a more evocative feel in my photos. My light tent does a great job reducing harsh glare, but it also tends to eliminate most of the shadow from the scene. After reading Figure on Cheap Lighting over at HappySoda, I decided to set aside the light tent for a while and try a DIY setup similar to what super rats describes in his article. This setup didn’t net me instant success, but it did get me to start looking at ways I could reposition lighting around my subject to achieve different results. In the end, I went with a subtle variation where I pointed the overhead lamp at the back wall rather than directly down on the figure to give me some extra light without producing too much glare off Saber’s semi-glossy armor.
For the backdrop, I really just wanted to avoid using the black-to-white gradient yet again. While the neutral colors make it very versatile, I felt like things would get boring quickly if every review I did used the same backdrop. I tried craft paper in a few different colors before eventually switching back to one of the EZcube backdrops that I got with my light tent. It’s not my ideal color choice for this figure, but I liked the resulting photos with this backdrop better than any of the others, so there you go.
For most of last year, I was quite convinced that Saber Lily would be the best figure I purchased in 2009. Black Rock Shooter came along later in the year to steal some of Saber Lily’s thunder, but I think expectations around the community were universally high for this figure, even after months of delays.
So how does the final product stack up? Very well, I think.
Aside from not actually delivering on time, GSC has executed nearly flawlessly with Saber Lily. Seriously, aside from jabbing at GSC for being late, I cannot think of one meaningful complaint to make about this figure. (1) It’s Saber. (2) The pose is good. (3) The paint work and detail are excellent. (4) It’s big. (5) The display base, which is normally an afterthought on most figures, is remarkable in itself.
- Premium quality — Everything about GSC’s Saber Lily oozes quality. The paint work, sculpt detail, and fit are all uniformly excellent, bordering on perfection. Good Smile Company has a reputation for excellence in the figure industry and their Saber Lily is flagship product material.
- Character appeal — This one’s a bit subjective. Saber’s a very popular character, but I’m sure there are those that don’t see her appeal. Personally, I’m a fan of Saber and almost anything related to TYPE-MOON, so any new figure featuring her would instantly attract my interest. A lot of sculptors seem to have trouble with Saber’s face, but I think GSC more or less nailed her features with this figure.
- Large scale — It should be obvious by now, but I like my figures a tad larger than the 1/8 scale standard usually provides. GSC’s Saber Lily is officially a 1/7 scale figure, but GSC seems to be a tad conservative in their measurements, so she could easily pass for a 1/6 scale figure from another manufacturer. Think of it as getting more figure for your money.
- Detailed base — I’ve already touched on the awesomeness of the Saber Lily display base several times, but I really feel like GSC went the extra mile here. They could have easily slapped a solid piece of plastic with a couple pegs and a painted Fate/unlimited codes logo on this figure and nobody would have thought any less of them for doing so. Instead, they gave us a highly detailed painted base with a metal logo that looks as good as anything you would see in official product photography. The effect the extra attention to detail has on the overall figure is definitely noticeable, so I can only hope this becomes a trend in the figure industry.
- Delays — This figure was originally scheduled for a June 2009 release and she ended up slipping all the way to September after two or three different delays. The final product is excellent, so I’m inclined to feel that it was worth the wait, but the series of delays for this figure were some of the worst I’ve seen on any figure I’ve tried to purchase.
Boring Financial Data
- Purchased from: King Anime (eBay.com)
- Order date: 8-Dec-2009
- Base price (USD): $119.99
- Shipping cost (USD): $10.00
- Total (USD): $129.99
Boring Technical Data
- Shipping weight (figure + base + accessories): 364 g
- Shipping weight (packaging): 463 g
- Shipping weight (shipping box): N/A
- Shipping weight (total): 827 g