Based on my reaction to today’s news of a fully poseable, well-made action figure of Link and a quick look at my personal collection of plastic miniature gaming heroes I have come realize. The more deep or developed a character is, the less likely they will make a great action figure. Master Chief, Sonic, Kratos, Dante, Cloud, Squall, Sora, Altair and many more are all hanging out on my shelf and look great together in glorious crossover fashion, but I can’t say I’ve really ever cared about these characters when I play their games. They’re just a lot of fun to look at and play as.
Link is a very well designed character. He’s tough, but not overly masculine, he wears green, and rocks the classic sword and shield combo favored by many princess rescuing heroes. That said, how deep is Link really? He has little to no actual personality; he’s just an in-game avatar. Uncharted’s Drake on the other hand is a very interesting character with flaws, quirks, relatable motivations. There was even a huge discussion among game commentators when his sexuality came into question. So how is his action figure? Well, it’s just some guy with a gun. My Gray Fox figure is a robot ninja with a kick ass sword and arm gun that I can’t for the life of me remember seeing in the game. My Ryu Hayabusa figure features almost stupid amounts of articulation and comes with both the Dragon Sword and whatever those giant tonfa things were.
It’s thought-provoking to see so many examples of character design that really went one way or the other. One one side you have your Nathan Drakes, who win you over with their personalities and character development. On the other side, there’s Dante with his huge sword and bad ass red coat. When it comes to video games both are equally valid routes to take based on necessity. All Kratos needed to kill mythological creatures in the thousands was some basic motivation. Some character development would have likely made his later games more interesting plot-wise, but angry Kratos was all I needed to have a good time. After all, I was jumping onto griffins and murdering them mid-flight before returning to my black pegasus that was on fire. However, I wouldn’t have finished Uncharted if I didn’t enjoy Drake’s shenanigans and well-written dialogue. It was cover-based shooting at its most boring basic. Gears of War doesn’t have interesting characters, but I tolerated that because its cover-based shooting has dude-bros that settle their differences using guns with chain saws on them.