I started this site over 10 years ago with the intention of showing you Red XIII and the entire Japanese Final Fantasy VII line, pointing out how the US versions were different and everything. That never happened, but hey, no time like the present. This figure is a Japanese import, I know this because I got it months before the game hit the USA and the packaging, while similar, has a tell. The US (and western) releases have a big, ugly black "CHOKE HAZARD" box printed near the j-hook on the packaging, to the right of the hole. The Japanese release, obviously, does not have this as their safety requirements are quite different.
Video game figures were fairly uncommon in the 1990s, so when Toy Biz got the Nintendo and Capcom licenses, that was a big deal. McFarlane's Metal Gear Solid line was as well, and you can imagine how the RPG nuts (of which I considered myself one in the 1990s) felt when word got it out that around January of 1997, there were actual, honest-to-goodness Final Fantasy action figures to be had starting with Cloud Strife. Amazing!
Red XIII came later and was was a strange character. Generally speaking, Square RPGs didn't give you control of some weird hybrid of a lion, a dog, and loose native American stereotypes-- but here you go! Like many figures in the line, it straddles the fence between "action figure" and "statue," with only neck and tail articulation and no accessories. He has bracelets, tattoos, and some really great deco-- check out how the fur fades from dark to light, the feather paint, and all his jewelry. Despite really only being able to stand there and look good, Red XIII is a pretty decent little release, although it's a weak toy. It's a nice decoration, but it doesn't do anything.
The most fascinating thing about the toy is its packaging, which was designed to allow collectors to open it and then replace it. The bubble grips the cardback and slides right off, and is only taped-- not glued-- in place. This sort of thing is extremely uncommon in the North American toy market, but it's really nice when you run a toy review site and can, over 10 years later, go into your archives and get a packaged shot of a figure you opened many moons ago. Square-Enix and other companies have made other (and in some respects, better) figures so there's no real reason to track this one down if you just want a Red XIII in your collection. The Japanese release sells north of $60, while the US one orbits $30.
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