Welcome to a new and hopefully not regular feature on TSS that I’m calling ‘The Late Review.’ What is The Late Review? Well, whilst I will always try to review something a few days after the said product comes out, something’s not possible, be it due to financial reasons, slow delivery or what is more likely, my own lazy bones just doesn’t want to do it, things can get delayed. In today’s case, it’s a bit more complicated. Anyway on with the review.
The night before a new game is set to be released, you can usually find a large crowd staying up, constantly clicking refresh on their tracking info, giving public updates as to where their order is. This only adds to the excitement of fellow fans in a similar situation.
There’s not much else that provokes such anticipation, I can only think of two other things, the first, an expected new game announcement, the second, a First4Figures statue delivery. It’s easy to understand why, these statues are some of the largest pieces of videogame merchandise you can buy, they’re instant talking points if you have one on display and they’re some, if not the most expensive pieces of merchandise you can buy… and it glows in the dark.
The range of Sonic statues have mostly been quite dramatic in their appearance, Knuckles is punching the ground, Metal Sonic looks like he’s flying in, Super Sonic is just at the end of his transformation and classic sonic… is poking his nose… ok one exception to the rule. Tails however is a little different.
The first thing that comes to mind when I look at the statue isn’t ‘that looks so cool,’ it’s ‘that’s kinda cute.’ At first glance, it’s not as dramatic as past statues, Tails comes across as being cute, whilst this is a common stereotypical description of the character, it’s hard for me to deny it, Tails looks cute. That’s by no means a bad thing, however, first impressions can be deceiving, and this statue is a good example of that.
When you get past the initial impressions, the statue is quite dynamic in its own right. Just look at what Tails is doing, he’s running at full speed through the Mushroom Hill Zone, kicking up a dust or cloud of wind behind him. His fists are clenched and he’s not touching the ground. It’s a pose that doesn’t say ‘I’m a sidekick’ or ‘I’m a minor character’ looking at this statue, you could be mistaken for thinking he’s the flagship character.
Moving away from Tails for a moment, lately F4F have been trying to make their statue bases just as unique as the statues themselves. Tails is no exception; in fact Tails probably has the best base that a Sonic statue has ever sat on. Why is this a big deal? Well, a problem with past statues is that the bases haven’t really had much character to them, it’s been very basic. In fact my Metal Sonic base is obscured by other stuff right now, the bases are just boring, so keeping them clear isn’t much of a priority.
But this base is full of character and really does help set the scene. Granted the Mushroom Hill Zone is a slightly odd choice, the game it appears in is Sonic & Knuckles, whilst Tails is playable in that game, be honest, when you think of Tails, do you associate him with The Mushroom Hill Zone? But saying that, it’s good that F4F have created a zone which is outside what I call ‘the usual suspects.’ They’ve taken the iconic imagery from that zone and incorporated it into the base extremely well, not just painting the base the correct colours, but actually creating an environment for the statue to be placed in.
It’s hard to fault the statue based on appearance, there are one or two things that I’m not too crazy about, his mouth for instance looks really strange. It’s hard to describe but it just looks really odd and maybe just a little goofy?
Another thing I’m a little indecisive about on this one, Tails is kicking up a wind/dust trail behind him. I can’t put my finger on what it is, but something about this doesn’t seem right, I think it’s supposed to be modelled off the spin dash from Sonic 2. Whilst it looks a little bit like it, theres just something about it which doesn’t ‘look’ right, I think it’s because in the game, the dust/wind cloud from a spin dash seems to go in the other direction to the statues base? Might be one for you to debate in the comments.
When constructed, the statue feels strong and secure. The limbs are held securely in place and the mushrooms don’t feel weak on the base either. Tails feels secure against his tails, it’s a solid secure statue… However… it does have its problems.
And now we get to one of the main reasons why I put off writing this review for so long. The quality control from F4F is completely abysmal. What I am about to say is based on my experience and I am still quite angry about this, so if you’re the kind of person who won’t hear a bad word against F4F, you’ll probably not like the rest of this review.
Tails does have some issues and they’re quite serious ones which question if there was any quality control done at all before they were sent out. It might be excusable if this were a one off problem, but this is becoming a disturbing trend with statues from F4F, since Metal Sonic, every statue has had a problem with it, and it’s not just tied to one statue, it doesn’t take long before the same complaints pop up. Don’t know what I mean? The following are a list of common problems that each statue has had, you can easily find people complaining about these problems after a short google search if you want to verify this.
Metal Sonic: The ‘foot’ connection isn’t big enough, in some cases it’s impossible to get on, in other cases it will only fit half way, and in my case the leg was completely broken off when I received mine. Also issues with the bases being scratched or poor paint jobs, as well as faulty LED’s which make it look like one side isn’t lit up very well.
20th Anniversary Statue: Despite being ‘not for sale’ there was a very common problem in which the hands wouldn’t fit onto the arms.
Knuckles: There was an issue in which the fist wouldn’t line up with the base correctly.
And with Tails? He too has some serious construction problems. Tails’ tails fit into the base via a pin connection, the problem? The hole is far too small. With my statue I was applying a lot of force and it wouldn’t go in, it would barely go in half way and was not secure at all, it would move easily to the touch.
Problems didn’t end there.
Tails himself connects to his tails via a similar pin connection, this too wasn’t large enough, Tails wouldn’t fit all the way on, resulting in him being very loose and insecure. It would have been too risky to leave him on display like that. Just the slightest vibration and he would have fallen off.
Now… why wasn’t this picked up during the QC testing? How on earth did this pass?
How did I fix it? Oddly, by not doing much, I got the tails to fit onto the base by just leaving them sat on there and occasionally pushing down on them. Eventually they fit into place, this process took well over an hour before I had it in a state that I was happy with. The body however, I had to apply some ‘DIY’ in order to make it work, as well as some force which had me very worried about breaking the statue.
This is completely unacceptable. Remember when I said that these statues are some of the most expensive pieces of Sonic merchandise you can buy? Why was this problem not picked up? F4F constantly claim that they test every single statue individually, if that’s the case, how is this possible? If they are tested individually, how is it that Metal Sonic was sent out with that foot problem being as widespread as it was? How come this statue would not be built without the customer doing some DIY on it in order for get it in a satisfactory state?
But you want another example as to why the claims that every statue is tested is not true?
Since building the statue, there’s another issue which came to light. That being… I can’t take it apart anymore. The holes in which the pins fit into are so tight that I now can’t take the thing apart. I dare not try too much force on it in case I break either Tails or the mushrooms on the base, so again I ask, exactly when and how was this tested in the quality control? Because obviously they had to build the statues right in the first place? So how on earth did they take it apart again if I couldn’t even get it built until I did some work on it and now find it won’t deconstruct at all?
And the problems don’t end there.
On closer inspection, there’s problem’s with the paintwork too. Tails has a small chip on his ear, whilst this is small and you don’t notice it unless you are looking right at it. No way should this have been missed.
And no, due to the way it’s packaged, there’s no way it could have been done in transit. But it’s a small chip, maybe it was missed in the quality control? Yes that’s possible… so how did they miss the big black scuff marks all over the white paint?
Should point out here, that isn’t my photo, for some reason I didn’t take photos of this problem on my statue, but the marks were more or less like the one depicted above. Source of this photo? First4Figures forums.
For me, this was the final hint that there was no care or attention done at all, on the body; the base and the tails, there were noticeable black scuff marks on the paint. Whilst I have now been able to clean these off using a bit of kitchen roll and water… why on earth did they send a statue out with black marks on white paint!? How is that even possible to miss!? Its black paint marks on white paint!? Just… How do you miss that!? And if I have to use another interrobang in this review I’m going to scream.
So instead of constructing the statue and sitting back admiring how awesome it looked, most of my day was spent performing DIY on it and scrubbing it clean. Maybe I wouldn’t have been so angry and upset if the last time I got a statue from F4F it hadn’t arrived with a broken leg and was a gift from my mum who was quite upset that the second statue she’d bought me as a christmas gift had arrived broken. In the unlikely event that F4F actually reads this, if your quality control department exists, which from the statues you send me I don’t think it does, sort it out it.
Now odds are, someone is probably thinking, ‘You can return the statue you know?’ Yes I do know… let me tell you how that process works. When my Metal Sonic arrived broken, I instantly took photos of it, emailed them to F4F. A few days later I was told the following.
“We will send you a new statue”
That was it, no ‘send the other back’ no ‘send us a processing fee’ just ‘we will send you a new statue.’ As well as an expected date which was a few months away.
The date comes… no new statue. Emailed again and was told there had been a delay of a month. A month after that, no new statue. Another email is sent, did not get a single reply. I had to contact them via their official forums, facebook and email before I finally got a reply from a forum moderator 2 days after my query which said ‘I’ll get someone to look into this.’ I didn’t actually get an official reply from anyone at F4F to what was going on
By this point I had given up on F4F ever getting back to me
In total I was waiting about 10 months before I got another email which said “We will send you a statue after you send us evidence of the originals destruction.”
Pardon? After you first tell me that you’ll send a new one, you then don’t meet the original date, you then ignore my requests for an update and keep me waiting nearly 10 months after I first showed you evidence of the statues damage. You now want me to trust your word that I can put a hammer to it and things will be all fine and dandy?
No. F4F, you had lost virtually all my trust and respect by this point. This was an expensive gift from my mother at Christmas, it was really upsetting to see her so upset when I took it out of the box and we saw the damage… 10 months of waiting, no updates, no replies to my requests for an update… and you still want me to trust you to that level? No chance.
Tails was the last chance to restore my faith in you… Oh, he’s faulty too… Right.
And so ends any trust I had with F4F. I’m not spending a fortune anymore on statues if they’re not going to do any quality control on them. So if you’re not going to listen to emails or complaints, maybe you’ll listen to your finances. I have cancelled my order for Modern Sonic, I will not buy another statue from you again until there is clear evidence that your quality control has improved. Bad paint jobs, construction issues, faulty lighting and poor to no customer service mean that I’m no longer giving you my money.
Reading this back, I know I’ve ‘gone off on one’ and I didn’t want to have to have written this in the way I have. I wanted to sit here and say that, “this was an amazing statue! My experience with F4F was smooth and a great one. Go and buy a statue” But it hasn’t, and I cannot recommend that people go and buy the next one.
Let’s not forget, these statues are expensive. Did you know that the original F4F Sonic statue only cost £60 brand new, now they cost over £150. If anyone from F4F is reading this, may I ask exactly what all this extra money being used for? Could I suggest you use some of it to invest in some cleaning equipment, I hear dusters are not that expensive. A nail file to make the holes a little wider and deeper, those are not that expensive. I should know since those were the tools I had to use in order to fix the problems that you decided to send my way. Or maybe use some of that extra money to just upgrade the quality control department so they… how should I put this… actually do some quality control?
Right, I think I’ve been angry for long enough now.
I don’t particularly want to end on a bad note, the version I got was the ‘Exclusive’ version, which means it has a bit of a party trick. As with the other exclusive range of Sonic statues this one lights up. Now there has been some criticism about the fact the mushrooms light up and nothing else, I for one, disagree with this.
Consider this, the Mushroom Hill Zone in the game is set during the day, but how many times have you seen either a game or movie which has a forest with giant mushrooms that glow at night? Is it too far a stretch of the imagination that the mushrooms would glow at night? Take a look at fantasy games like Trine 2, you’ll see wonderful examples of mushroom themed levels set at night, one thing they all have in common, the fungus glows.
So what do the lights look like? Quite amazing! I’ve had the exclusive Super and Metal Sonic statues, and I have to say, the glowing mushrooms are the best lighting effects F4F have done to date. The lights are bright and the slow pulse that occurs gives it a great sense of life. If you turn the lights out then there is some light spill onto Tails and he looks pretty cool, though that does mean you can only enjoy it sitting in a room in the dark.
Since my nighttime photography isn’t that great, if you want a visual example as to how good the lights look in the dark, check out this video I uploaded a while ago. The lighting demonstration is at 8:50.
Whilst the Knuckles statue took the lighting effects to the base in order to create a scene, Tails is much more dramatic, and it greatly benefits from it. This should be a major consideration for future statues, instead of it being just ‘sparks’ which attempt to give the illusion of speed, which by the way is getting a little old. Incorporate the lights into the base and into whatever scenery is on it. Here’s something to think about. Shadow has recently been teased, it doesn’t take much to guess that his jet shoes will have lighting effects/sparks? Well, if he’s on say Speed Highway, why not have some zones assets and incorporate the lights into it? E.g. traffic lights that light up? Warning barricades that light up and flash? Just something other than sparks by the feet. Tails by far is the best lighting to date, looking at the lighting for Modern Sonic, I stand by that claim.
So then, would I recommend this? Well… if you’ve read the whole review, you can probably tell I’m still quite angry. I don’t honestly know, I want to say yes, but given my experience and the state of the statue when I received it, that’s not going to happen.
Remember at the start when I said how fans stay up late in anticipation of these things? Part of that anticipation was to what number statue we had, now that anticipation is fear as to if our statue is intact or in good condition.
Tails looks great, the lighting effects look great, you decide if the problems the statues have can justify a future expense… Looking back on the Sonic statue history and all the problems that they’ve come with. For me, this was their last chance, and they blew it.