Monday, March 21, 2022

Nendoroid Figures by Good Smile Company

I was chatting about various dolls with my friend L last month, and when Calico Critters and Li'l Woodzeez came up, L mentioned that some of the furniture and accessories for those fuzzies can work for Nendoroid figures, too.  I had only a vague idea about what Nendoroid figures were at that point, so I did a deep-dive into the brand to see if it might be a fun topic for the blog; it most certainly is!

Nendoroids are popular four-inch tall hard vinyl figures with a Japanese chibi design.  The brand includes a wide range of characters that tend to be based on video games or anime series.  There are a lot of Disney-related figures, too, for those who aren't into anime or video games.  The Nendoroid interpretation of Rapunzel from Tangled is especially sweet.  Nendoroids are made by Good Smile Company, and since I'd just been talking about Good Smile in reference to the newest Blythe dolls, I figured this would be an interesting time to review something from this company.

Nendoroids are pricey--especially for such a small toy.  Most newly-released figures cost about $60, although some models are more expensive.  Characters that have sold out can go for well over $100 on the secondary market.  Because of this popularity and demand, there's an insidious supply of fake Nendoroids out there, tricking people left and right on platforms like Amazon and eBay.  In this review I'll take a look at one of my favorite characters--Link from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild--and compare him to a fake version that I found on eBay.  Here's Link:

Nendoroid DX Edition Link from Breath of the Wild¥6,600 (~$55).

I browsed multiple shops for several days before settling on Link.  I was also very tempted by Rapunzel:

Rapunzel, $60.99.
I also considered the red-haired Black Widow, who has extra articulation:

Endgame DX Black Widow, $89.99.
And pretty much any character with a horse caught my attention:

The horse wasn't the only thing about this figure that caught my attention.
I was also intrigued by the Nendoroid dolls, which are taller and have very different bodies:

Chika Fujiwara, $74.99.
I decided on Link because I love the character (I've probably spent 120 hours on Breath of the Wild during the pandemic alone...), and because I love horses.

I'm also going to look at one of the Nendoroid dolls--but not in today's post.  My goal is to publish that review within a few days of this one, as a two-part series.

But for now, let's take a closer look at Link and his horse!  I found this set on eBay for just over $100, which is actually a "good" price on the secondary market right now:

Authentic Nendoroid DX Edition Link from Breath of the Wild.
The window box is attractive, with a mix of text and photographs.  An important thing to note about the front of the box is that there's a small sticker underneath the product number that says "Official Nintendo Licensed Product:"

That's a good detail to watch for if you're trying to avoid fakes.

The sides of the box each have a small decorated circular window surrounded by more photographs of the figures:

Here's the back of the box:

The fake Nendoroids can be very difficult to identify in pictures.  Not all of them come with boxes, but for those that do have boxes, the boxes look almost exactly like the originals--especially from a distance.  

Here's my fake Link's box:

This box came damaged, but I'm trying to ignore that difference.  For the most part, it looks exactly like the real thing.  Notice that it even has little details like the Good Smile Company logo in the upper right hand side.  Somebody just took all of the ethics of copyright law and threw it out the window.

Fortunately, the official Nintendo sticker is missing, which is a good clue that this is fake:

Another thing to notice, although it's nearly impossible to detect in auction photos, is that the graphics of the fake box are less clear and the colors are slightly different.  Probably because it's a scan of the original.

Here's a GIF comparing a box details from the original and the fake.  The fake has slightly darker, more orange tones and is not as crisp:

Here's a comparison of one of the photos (again, the fake has more orange/red tones and is not as clear):

These details are quite subtle, though, and would be all but impossible to distinguish in an eBay auction.

I took a few side-by-side comparison photographs, too:

Nendoroid 733-DX packaging for the authentic figure (left) and the fake (right).
You can see from the side, in particular, that the knockoff box is just a hair shorter than the original:

Nendoroid 733-DX packaging for the authentic figure (left) and the fake (right).
And here are the two boxes from the back:

They look identical to me.
Not all of the characters will have a Nintendo seal on their box since not all Nendoroids depict Nintendo characters, but other companies might have a similar sticker to be on the lookout for.  The best way to tell if it's fake or not is probably by price; if it's new-in-box and relatively cheap (in the $30 range), it's probably not authentic.  Also, most of the fakes come from China.  

eBay feedback results will not necessarily help you determine authenticity, either, because some people (like me) ordered a fake on purpose and are satisfied with the purchase, and other people will never even know they have a fake.

The authentic Link and all of his accessories were stored in a molded plastic shell that slid easily out of the main box:

The box has a beautiful image behind the window that was mostly concealed by the plastic shell:

It's a peaceful scene from Hyrule:

The Breath of the Wild map is gloriously vast, but I figured out where this scene must be from (The Great Plateau) and took my Link to that exact spot for a visit:

The weather was a bit cloudier when I visited, but you can see all of the same landmarks.

The plastic shell secures all of Link's accessories (including an extra head!) nicely:

And there's an extra container at the back with some of the smaller items:

Unboxing the fake Link was a nearly identical experience:

The box has the same backdrop picture of Hyrule:

With all of the details of the original:

Deja vu.
The items are packed in exactly the same way:

Although two of the accessories arrived broken--or so I assumed.  You can see the the arrow is in two pieces and the sword is missing its handle:

There's even an extra compartment in back:

Both sets come with nearly-identical instruction pamphlets, but you can see that the imitation pamphlet has low-quality printed images:

Knockoff instruction manual with printer artifacts (left) and the original instructions (right).
I don't want to bore you with a full review of both the original figure and the fake, so from now on I'll focus solely on the authentic Link, jumping in every now and then with comparisons to the knockoff.

Here's everything after I removed it from the plastic shell:

Many of the larger pieces came with little plastic sheets inserted around them--presumably to protect the paint from rubbing and damage.

I decided to focus on Link and his stand first:

The stand base is a square of plastic with an array of holes in the top.  There are two attachments for this base; one to hold Link and one to hold his horse.

The larger of the two attachments fits into a hole on Link's back.  The attachment reminds me of a gas pump:

Fill him up!
The other end of the attachment fits snugly into the base.  This system does a really good job of supporting Link, but the length of the stand was puzzling to me at first:

When all of the segments are extended, this stand catapults Link pretty high into the air!!
The stand feels very secure, though, which is nice.

I'm walkin' on sunshine, whoa-oh!
With some folding and maneuvering, the stand can be collapsed so that Link's feet are firmly on the ground:

Link doesn't actually need a stand for his basic poses, but it's a nice thing to have on hand for action shots.

For those who are not familiar with The Legend of Zelda video games, let me take a sec to explain that this isn't what the Link character looks like in the Breath of the Wild.  Here's a rendering of Link from that game:

He's very dramatic and pseudo-realistic.

The Nendoroid version is more similar to the cartoonish iterations of Link, like perhaps the version from Link's Awakening:

Nendoroid Link is about four inches tall, so he's significantly shorter than my Barbie Signature Style model, Lina:

Barbie Signature Style doll next to Nendoroid Link.
He's about the size of a Barbie baby...but with an enormous head:

Link is just a bit taller than the Calico Critter and Li'l Woodzeez Dads:

Nendoroid Link with Li'l Woodzeez and Calico Critter figures.
So L was absolutely correct when they said that Nendoroids can share some of the fuzzies' furniture!

Nendoroid Link with Li'l Woodzeez, Honey Bee Acres, and Calico Critter figures.
Link's favorite piece of furniture is this large Woodzeez bed.  It's perfect for resting after a long day of battling Bokoblins:

Just right.
For his small size, Link's body has quite a lot of detail, and more points of articulation than I expected:

The molded costume has many intricate little parts, and the paint job is nearly perfect:

Here he is from the back:

And from the side--note the little blue earring and the carefully-painted gauntlets:

The small imperfections in the gauntlets are hard to see with the naked eye:

Link has ten (eleven if you count his ponytail) points of articulation.  His neck is a rotating hinge, which is a bit unusual.  This means that he can look from side-to-side:

And also up...

...and down:

But he can't tilt his head from side to side.

In fact, the head is designed to be completely removable, so we can get an excellent look at the neck joint!

The hinge is ball-shaped, which suggests ball-jointed movement, but the ball is actually a hinge, so the flexibility isn't as good as a standard, free-moving ball joint.

The ponytail, on the other hand, is a simple ball joint, and so it can move around in all directions:

Which is good for replicating the look of a strong wind:

Here's the ponytail removed, so that you can see the connection:

Link's arms have a peg attachment, so they can rotate around in all directions:

They are also removable!

Here's a closer look:

The lower part of each arm can detach from the blue sleeve section, too.

Link does not have any elbow articulation, but he comes with extra arm pieces that have bent elbows:

He looks ready for action with these arms!

Link's hands have a peg attachment to the lower arm, and so they can spin around and also be removed:

He comes with several alternate hand options:

Many of the hands look like they're designed to hold a specific accessory:

Like this bow, perhaps:

Here are all of the arm pieces together:

I think there are 24 different combinations for the right arm and 16 combinations for the left arm, which makes 384 different combinations overall!

These are the most interesting hands, and their shapes makes me think they're designed to be used with the bow and arrow:

At first I couldn't see how the gripping hand would work with the bow because there's no opening between the fingers.  But it turns out that the bow comes apart in the middle, like this:

So the red handle can be slid into the hole between the fingers:

The arrow has a little peg on one side:

And this peg inserts into the hole in the hand to secure the arrow:

There's also a notch on the flocking that inserts into Link's opposite hand, although this connection doesn't work very well for me.  Overall, it's a pretty clever design!

I'll talk more about the hands and how they connect to the accessories later, but let's get back to the articulation for now.  I still haven't gone over the lower body joints:

Link has a rotating joint at his waist, so his upper body can turn from side to side:

And can be separated from his lower body:

Once the upper body is detached, the bottom part of Link's outfit can be lifted off:

This makes it easy to see the legs, which each have a ball joint at the hips:

The set also comes with another pair of legs that are bent at the knees:

Here's how those legs look in place:

I love the little molded smiley faces on the insides of these joints!  They're a hallmark of Good Smile Company:

The bent legs make the extendable stand a lot more useful.  Link can jump around now!

I think I've covered Link's eleven points of articulation now (neck, ponytail, shoulders, upper arms, wrists, waist, and hips).  But he has one more seam that runs along the front of his head, and this looked like it had a purpose:

As I discovered, the seam allows the front of Link's hair to be pulled off, revealing a removable face!

For some reason the inside of Link's hair cracks me up:

It looks like a silly face to me:

I also think the head looks funny when the front of the hair has been removed but the face is still in place, like this:

It's as though Link's brains are exposed:

Now that you've had an overview of how a basic Nendoroid figure works, let's see how the fake version compares.

One of the clearest differences between the authentic figure and the knockoff is smell.  The authentic figure does not have any smell that I could detect, but the fake had an overpowering chemical smell from the moment I opened the package.  It's very unpleasant and reminds me of the bad-smelling Blythe imitation.  

Other than the smell, it's hard to tell them apart at first glance.  I'll put this picture here without any labels in case you want to try and guess which is which:

If you look really closely, you can see that the hair on the right is a bit more detailed, the skin tones are slightly different, and there's a defect in one of the straps on the left:

Fake Nendoroid Link (left) and authentic Link (right).
Here they are from the side:

Fake Nendoroid Link (left) and authentic Link (right).
And from the back:

Fake Nendoroid Link (left) and authentic Link (right).
Each figure has two holes on his back (one for the stand and one for an accessory).  You can see that with the fake version, the two holes are painted and look dark.  On the authentic figure, the holes are unpainted white vinyl.

Here's a closer look at the authentic Link's outfit:

On the fake version, one of the strap connection points is out-of-place and the paint is less crisp.  I can also see more unevenness in the texture of the vinyl, especially on the legs:

Another area of difference is on the boots, where the authentic Link has a dark brown area painted at the top of each boot:

And the knockoff Link does not have this detail.  Also, the seam at the top of the boots is wider here:

Overall, though, you can see that it's still quite difficult to tell the fake from the real version just by looking at the two together.

I started to notice a bigger difference as I handled the two figures.  I removed both of their heads:

The knockoff is on the left, the authentic version is on the right.
The neck joint looks the same, but with fake Link, the neck peg falls out of the head really easily:

This means that the head is frequently falling off.  In fact, it falls off every time I turn Link upside down.

The knockoff body comes apart the same way as the authentic version:

But the connection point for the outfit piece feels loose.

It's sad that you can't even use the Good Smile smiley face on the inside of the leg to tell an authentic Nendoroid from a fake.  The smile is on the knockoff leg, too:

Another thing is, every time I tried to manipulate fake Link's body in any way, his arm would fall off:

The knockoff head comes apart exactly the same way as the authentic Link's head:

But the pieces do not fit together quite as snugly, so the face plate falls out as soon as the hair is removed.  It's just not as satisfying to manipulate this figure.

The loose limbs and loose head were making me a little crabby at this stage, which is perhaps why I saw a different kind of face on the back of fake Link's hair:

Here are the two face plates side-by-side:

Fake Link (left) and authentic Link (right).
You can see that fake Link has a bit more red in his complexion, and slightly lighter eyebrows.  Also, the plastic on the inside of fake Link's face is not as smooth and even:

The two hair pieces are almost identical, but the connection points on the knockoff's hair are painted:

Fake Link's hair (left) and authentic Link's hair (right).
The face plate holders look a bit different, too, with fake Link's plastic just a bit sloppier:

You can see that the differences between these two are subtle, but there are some themes: the knockoff has connection points that are painted, while the authentic figure's connection points are plain vinyl.  This might be part of the reason for the other big difference, which is that the connection points are more precise and secure on the authentic figure, while the imitation figure's pieces fall apart easily.

The stands of these two dolls are very similar, too:

Imitation stand (left) and original stand (right).
There's a slight difference in the color of the plastic.  Also, I think it's funny that the Nintendo copyright is more visible on the fake stand than on the authentic one:

Fat lot of good that copyright did.
Just like the doll, the stand connection points on the knockoff stand are not as strong as they are on the original.  So while Link can be mounted in a jumping pose...

His arms fell off immediately, and then the top part of the stand fell off and Link went tumbling to the ground:

And this broke his ponytail:

Hairline fracture.
So, yeah.  The knockoff might look convincing, but the quality is significantly inferior.

I'm going to shift back to talking only about authentic Link for a moment so that we can look at his extra head:

This head has a hinged peg, and so it can be inserted into the body the same way as the first head:

The head has a shouting face and a cloak that resembles the dramatic Hylian Hood from the game:

Here's the hood from the back:

The hood splits into two parts just like Link's hair, which gives access to the removable face plate:

Notice how none of the connection points are painted.
This face can be used with the regular hair, too:

The imitation Link has the same extra head, and--as you'd expect at this point--it looks almost identical to the original:

There are some very minor paint differences, particularly around the opened mouth:

Imitation Link's extra head.
Authentic Link's extra head.
One other noteworthy difference is that the seam on the imitation head's hood can not close properly.  There's always a gap on the left side:

This knockoff reminds me so much of the building block market.  LEGO products fit together so beautifully, and yet none of the cheaper alternatives I've ever tried have stayed together nearly as well.

There was clearly a lot of effort put into replicating the appearance of this figure.  Those efforts were largely successful, but apparently the quality and precision of the pieces are not as easy to recreate.

Link comes with a ton of little accessories that are accurate to the Breath of the Wild game.  Here's the group of extras from the authentic set:

First, there's a Sheikah slate--the tablet device Link uses to carry out various activities in the game:

One of Link's many hands is well-suited to gripping this slate:

There's also a shield that looks like the Traveler's shield from the game:

This is a cool-looking shield, although it represents a fairly basic item in the game.  It would have been fun to have the more iconic Hylian Shield.

The shield has an adjustable handle on the back:

And this handle fits into one of Link's hands really well:

There's also a Traveler's bow, an Ancient Arrow, and a quiver:

It's odd to pair the relatively simple Traveler's bow with the most powerful arrow in the game, but there you have it.

Here's Link showing off his ability to hold the bow and arrow:

And the quiver can mount onto the small hole in Link's lower back:

Link also comes with a sword and scabbard:

The sword's handle is removable:

Which allows it to be inserted into one of Link's closed hands:

The hilt of the sword is also removable:

And the hilt and handle can be inserted into the scabbard to make it look like the sword is sheathed:

I wasn't really sure how the scabbard was supposed to be used with Link, so I had to resort to reading the instruction booklet:

Apparently the center of the shied comes out, like this:

And then the attachment piece for the stand can be inserted through both the shield and the scabbard so that they look like they're slung over Link's back:

I prefer it when Link is holding the shield and the unsheathed sword!

Link's other two weapons are a Boko club and a Woodcutter's axe:

The Boko club has a detachable handle, just like the sword, so it can slide into a closed hand.  The axe fits into one of Link's open gripping hands:

Link's last small accessory is a bird thigh snack.  I hope he cooked it first:

Nom nom.
I didn't spend too much time looking at the imitation accessories, but as you might recall, several of them looked broken when they were still in the box.  In fact, pieces that had fallen apart were things that are designed to come apart.  Sadly, the handle of the sword is missing.  I assumed it'd kicking around in the bottom of the box, but it was gone.

One generalization I can make is that the knockoff accessories come apart much more easily than the authentic ones.  As an example, here are the two versions of the Ancient Arrow:

Fake Ancient Arrow (top) and original (bottom).
You can tell which arrow is which because on the knockoff, the peg that connects to the hand is painted brown.

The shaft of the arrow is notched at the point where it connects to the tip.  The authentic arrow has a more precise notch, and this make the connection more secure:

Authentic arrow (left) and imitation (right).
I was so thrilled that Link's accessories include a horse companion!  There's another version of this same figure that comes with many of the same accessories, but not the horse.  Where the fun in that?

The horse comes draped with several sheets of plastic, although it's hard for me to fathom that they add much in terms of protection.  The plastic shell seemed secure enough on its own.


This horse isn't Epona, the steed who accompanies Link in games like Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess.  It's a more generic bay horse that was featured in the Breath of the Wild advertising.

Horses are one of my favorite things about the Breath of the Wild game.  I always collect as many of them as possible (five), and they're a critical part of my gameplay.  Here's a screenshot of my favorite horse, Kaya, wearing her Ancient Bridle and Saddle:

You can get Epona is this game, but only if you have a certain Amiibo, which is a bit of a pain.  Epona is wearing the standard tack in this photo, which is probably more what Good Smile was trying to replicate with the Nendoroid:

I don't currently have Link's bay horse in my stables, but I went and captured a wild one so that you can see what this kind of horse looks like in the game:

The horses in the game are gorgeous.  I love them.

The Nendoroid version isn't very realistic, of course, but she's a total cutie! 

I'm going to name her Soka, after one of my favorite BOTW horses (and one of my favorite game locations):

She has one little fleck of white paint on her left leg, but otherwise the paint work looks excellent:

Soka has eight points of articulation.  Her head is ball-jointed, and so it can move up and down:

And also from side to side:

She can also cock her head a little bit, which is hard to appreciate in photos, but looks really sweet:

Her tail is a ball joint, and so it can lift up and down and spin all around:

It's great that Soka's legs are articulated, but they can't bend very much before she topples over.  I decided to get the stand set up so that I could properly demonstrate her leg joints.

The stand fits into a little hole on the bottom of Soka's belly:

While we're looking at Soka from this angle, take a sec to appreciate her detailed hooves!

The stand can be positioned inside one of the many holes in the base, which gives Soka the stability to strike some neat poses:

All of the legs can rotate at their attachment point to the body, and then the front legs have additional hinge joints at the knees.

Soka can rear up:

And buck!

The front legs angle outwards as they rotate upwards, which looks pretty strange:

I don't think I've ever seen a horse do this particular move:

It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A...
I discovered an extra little point of articulation as I was extending Soka's head.  When her head tips upwards, there's a section of the mane that hinges up to accommodate that movement:

When the head is moved back into its normal position, sometimes the articulated section of mane still sticks up:

That's pretty cute.
But it can easily be pushed back so that it's flat with the rest of the mane again:

Soka is wearing a saddle and three equipment bags.  The bag on the left has a small hole in it:

There aren't too many of Link's accessories that will fit inside this hole, but I managed to get the quiver of arrows to stay there:

All three of the saddle bags can be removed, leaving behind pegs and holes on Soka's body:

Soka's saddle is also removable and, ironically, has to be removed in order for Link to ride her:

If Link is using his straight legs, and they're in a side-to-side split position, he can sit fairly securely on Soka's back:

However, if Soka rears up at all, he topples right off!

Because the stand design is so flexible, it's possible to use Links's stand and Soka's stand together on the same base to keep Link firmly in the saddle no matter what Soka's position is:

I like to imagine the moment when Link first met Soka.  

She's a wild thing, and didn't really want to be tamed at first!

But Link spoke softy to her, fed her a lot of apples, and finally got her to calm down:

When Soka realized that Link intended to sit on her back, though, she had another moment of rebellion...

But with lots of reassuring pats on the side of the neck, Link finally earned Soka's trust.

Let's see how Soka compares to the knockoff version, who I'll name Faro.

Faro smelled really bad right out of the package, just like imitation Link.  But his paint was carefully protected with little plastic sheets:

Faro looks just like Soka, although his saddle bags fall off really easily:

There's a slight difference in coloring, too, with Soka having more red in her coat than Faro:

Knockoff Nendoroid horse (left) and original (right).
Faro has a paint defect on his saddle's girth.  It's a bit hard to see here, but there's some stray green paint on the top part of the back girth:

I found Faro's stand more difficult to use than Soka's.  If you look closely in this next picture, you can see that the attachment peg on Faro's belly can't be inserted all of the way in, so the connection is not secure:

I still think Faro is the best part of the knockoff set.  His only problems are that he smells bad, has a small paint defect, loses his accessories frequently, and can't use the stand very well.  But he doesn't really need a stand.

Link decided to adopt him:

It's always good to have an extra horse.
Imagine the Bokoblins' looks of terror when they see this trio riding towards them!

Once I'd figured out how Link, Soka, and all of their accessories worked, I had some time to play!  And these little figures are very fun to play with.

I like the simple combination of Link, Soka, and a sword:

I also like changing Link's face plate back and forth and wish he'd come with more expressions!

He can be happy, like he's galloping through the fields with no worries whatsoever:

Or maybe he's on a calm ride, admiring the scenery and hoping to find some good target practice balloons:

Or perhaps he's checking his Sheikah slate, planning out his next trip on the map:

Please proceed to the highlighted route.
I also like the happy face paired with the hood.

I'm imagining that Link, eager for one last little adventure before bed, has pulled out his trusty sword and is venturing into Ginner Woods to clear out some Bokoblins and rescue a few stranded foragers:

Link's fighting face is even more fun.  He looks like he's shouting into the wind, ready for anything!

When I play Breath of the Wild, Link is usually riding a horse and armed with his bow and arrows.

So this is iconic Link to me:

I think he spotted a Guardian!

He readies his Ancient Arrow and springs from the saddle...

As he jumps into the air, time seems to slow as he aims directly at the Guardian's eye:

Soka expertly swerves out of the way as Link's arrow releases:

And it's a direct hit!  The danger is gone and now Link can scour the remains for valuable parts.

As absurd as I found the ultra-tall stand at the beginning of this review, now I find it perhaps my second favorite accessory after Soka.  Since Link is always leaping and jumping around in the actual video game, it's really fun to recreate that energy with this version of Link:

I wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of this particular attacking dash...

Another direct hit!

Bottom line? I'm so thankful that L introduced me to the world of Nendoroids.  These little figures are an excellent size, and fit into the palm of a hand.  Despite their unobtrusive size, they have a nice weight and feel substantial.  Link looks great on display, yet can easily be stored with all of his accessories in a small ziplock bag.  All of the Nendorids I've looked at have charming faces and elaborate outfits with bright, crisp paint work and excellent detail.  Link has an impressive amount of articulation, with swappable body parts that enhance his posing potential even further.  All of the accessories are accurate to the Breath of the Wild game, and they all work in clever ways with Link's interchangeable arms and hands.

Link's horse, who I named Soka, is by far the best accessory in my eyes.  Horses are such a big part of the Breath of the Wild experience, and so it always feels wrong to see Link without a horse at his side.  Soka doesn't have as many points of articulation as Link, nor does she have many removable or interchangeable parts, but her head and leg articulation are very satisfying, and she has a ton of personality.  I wish her balance was a little bit better without the stand (she can't move any of her legs very much before she falls over), but the flexibility of the stand helps make up for this.  It's great that she can rear, buck and gallop--all with Link on her back, securely held in place by his own section of the stand.

There were very few things that frustrated me about Link and Soka, but I did find myself irritated by some of the smaller parts.  For example, a few of Link's hand variations fall out too easily.  Also, since many of the accessories have to be disassembled before they can slide into Link's closed hands, I'd occasionally find myself in a situation where just as a pose was about to be ready for photography, something would fall out of place, starting a cascade of misfortune.  The Nendoroids would not be good figures for people who dislike fiddling with tiny objects or who have trouble with fine motor activities.

It was interesting to compare Link and Soka to their knockoff counterparts. All of the little irritations I had with Link's hands and smaller accessories practically disappeared relative to the hassles of the knockoff figures.  I couldn't manipulate fake Link at all without his arms falling off.  His head falls off all of the time, too.  Also, the stand connections are so weak that Link can't be supported in most positions.  Faro's saddle bags don't stay in place, and his stand connector doesn't fit correctly.  As if that weren't enough, all of the knockoff items smell strongly of chemicals.  Despite the nearly picture-perfect replication of the packaging and figures' appearance, the imitations are not anywhere near as well-made as the originals.  For toys that rely on precision and fit, this discrepancy is painfully noticeable.  I have to strongly advise against purchasing a fake--for so many reasons, not the least of which is that you're basically getting $30 of bad-smelling trash that's taking something away from Good Smile's excellent product.

For anyone shopping on eBay, Amazon, or the like, beware of Nendoroid-type figures in the $30 range that ship from China.  These are very likely to be fakes.  If you are looking at mint-in-box figures, look for a sticker on the front of the box like the Nintendo sticker I showed you on Link's box.  Many characters will have an authenticity sticker like this. You can't really trust the Good Smile copyright or logo, since these things are being replicated ripped off.  If you have a de-boxed figure in your hands, the best way that I've found to check for a fake (other than the smell) is to look at the connection points (the two sides of the hair or headwear, for example).  If these areas are painted, the figure is probably a fake.  Also, knockoffs will feel less stable, with parts that don't fit together well, are loose, or fall off too easily.

The sticker prices on authentic Nendoroids seemed very high to me when I first started investigating this brand.  However, after comparing the quality between the original and a cheaper knockoff, I have a good sense for what what the extra money gets you (other than an original versus a counterfeit, of course).  The only thing I can really do with knockoff Link is find a pose that he can balance in and then leave him alone so that nothing falls apart or breaks.  That's not much fun.  In fact, it's really annoying.  In contrast, the authentic Link was a delightful, resilient little companion who offered hours of posing and body re-arranging diversion.  I'm happy to have paid a premium for the precision and design that went into such a high-quality toy.  

But as much fun as Link and Soka were (and they were a lot of fun!), just wait until you see the Nendoroid doll that I have to share in the second part of this series!  In my opinion, she takes the Nendoroids to the next level.  I can't wait to see if you agree.


  1. It was so interesting to read your review, because my Nendoroid --Sora from Kingdom Hearts--has slightly different articulation. Like with your Link, almost every joint in Sora's arms is a separate piece that can come apart--his shoulder, arm, and hand are all separate pieces that attach to the together with a peg-and-hole joint. But he also has a little hinged elbow joint. Sora's peg joints don't attach securely at all, and his arms fall apart EVERY time I move them. Even if I'm not manipulating the joints and simply moving Sora from one place to another, something is always falling off. The tiny chain on his keyblade is attached the same way, so the chain is also constantly falling off. So despite him being the most articulated figure I own, he is also the single most frustrating to pose, and it's why I haven't gotten any other Nendoroids. No fun in having all that articulation and extra accessories and face plates if he keeps falling apart! I should note that his lower body doesn't have this problem. His hips, legs, and ankles can also freely rotate, and his knees can bend, but I don't have any issues with them coming apart. The hip construction is different, too, with no visible ball joints--and no Good Smile logo anywhere! In fact, after reading your review, I would have suspected my Sora was a knockoff, except that I got him directly from the Good Smile booth at the D23 Expo a few years ago. I mean, I guess it's still possible, but not very likely.

    I did get Sora in 2019, so maybe they've made some improvements in recent years. Your authentic Link seems a lot more sturdy than my Sora, so your review has made me willing to give Nendoroids a second chance! (My wallet is slightly less happy about this than I am :P )

    1. ETA: I checked, and Sora does have the Good Smile Logo on the ball of his neck, but nowhere else. So at least it's there somewhere (not that that's an indicator of validity, as your fake Link shows, but it's something)

  2. I have read every single one of your reviews, many more than once. This time, I could actually envision you just having a ball playing with these figures, probably more than any review you’ve done before. Must be the horse! I could see some sort of group therapy session where stressed participants, sitting around a big table, are each given a set or two to manipulate. (“play with” sounded Unprofessional)
    Can you imagine???!!!
    Too bad the good ones are so pricey, but many of the high quality Japanese products are. This was a lot of fun to read!

  3. Great review! I never knew much about Nendoroids and their prices always scared me off, but I didn't realize they're this customizable and articulated! I can definitely see the appeal, especially if the figure belongs to your favorite franchise. The closest thing to Nendoroids I have in my own collection are Funko Pops, but their quality and play potential pale in comparison to Nendoroids -- as can be expected from the price difference. Funko Pops are nice desk decorations and fun to have when other merchandise is hard to get (or isn't available at all), but that's about it. I'm looking forward to the Nendoroid doll review!

    P.S. the bootleg pun and YMCA horse pose both had me chuckling xD

  4. I'm not into chibi aesthetics so these figures seem too expensive to me no matter how much they cost, but for fans of the characters they are probably worth the price. I like how many customisation options there are and the tiny horse has better articulation than many bigger ones.

    What I liked more in this review was the "real vs fake" angle. It really is an eye-opener, isn't it? I have bought fakes over the years, knowing to expect a lower quality, but often the price was so low that it was a good bargain. However, in your case the figure is simply unusable. It's like a puzzle or building block set that has to be glued together, and that defeats the whole purpose. (As an aside, I did buy an unbranded jigsaw puzzle once. The price was a bit low, but not really enough to ring alarm bells. After putting a few pieces together - or rather, next to each other, as they were extremely loose - I examined the box and realised it was a Chinese bootleg. It was very frustrating to finish with cats running over it and blowing the pieces apart.) Some of the worst fakes make us really appreciate the engineering and quality of the real deal, which we otherwise take for granted.

  5. Oh wow, I've been collecting nendoroids for almost eight years now and reading your blog for half that time - to see a review of the figurine brand I collect on and off here feels like a weird fever dream for me! Good choice in nendoroid, too, though it's a bit of a shame Link doesn't come with the extra articulation a lot of newer, action-orientated nendos are starting to come with (as skimmed over, haha!). I find the figurines with the extra elbow and knee articulation are so much more fun to pose! But either way Link makes up for it in spades with his accessories and little Soka too <3 Even bootleg Link is doing his best, the poor guy. You can't help but love the little knock-off anyway, even though it's a myrid of frustration doing anything with them XD

    I wish an extra faceplate (the nendoroid standard is usually a healthy three) would've been included, though it's definitely not a dealbreaker either. Just look at his cute face-- or should I say his cute faces? As someone who got a bootleg as one of their first nendoroids... before instantly ordering an authentic one straight after bothering to do some research, it's funny how much bootleg nendoroids have improved since 2014. Especially in the hair... my old and only bootleg, a blond character similar to Link, looks like he's got clay for his strands LOL

    An interesting note about the neck joints/any ball joints on nendoroids: with enough willpower you can pull them out from their respective parts. Before the exact 300th Nendoroid released, their faceplates used to work quite differently and was a huuuuge pain. You had to disconnect the entire head from the body, and this would lead to a lot of neck joints being worn out - this is why a lot of modern Nendoroid boxes include an extra neck joint, which I've always appreciated since. However, there's one advantage in a neck joint that comes off easily - you can rotate it around to suit your neats, such as putting it back into the body on an angle so your character can tilt their head to the side, even while they're looking at you from the front! It's a bit of a diffucult process but I recommend giving it a try, if you can get the neck joint out that is. So much harder on these newer guys, though my traumatised self loves the process so much more as I'm always swapping out faceplates haha!

    Ahh this comment's quite long now, but thank you for giving this series a go! I'm so excited to see which Nendoroid you're reviewing next -- I don't keep up with the newer releasesa as much as I used to so I'm intrigued to see what nendoroid evolves these little guys in your eyes. P.S: Link's stand... omg... it's soooo much longer than a normal nendo's stand and that terrifies me!!!!

  6. I'd heard of Nendoroid but never seen them before. The possibility and expressiveness is really impressive! Now I can't wait to see the doll.

    You had me laughing out loud with the bootleg and hairline fracture captions.

  7. Great review!
    I had to laugh at Link on his horse! His head is so big in comparison to the horse that he looks like a toddler riding a beagle!
    If you enjoyed Nendroids, perhaps you should try a Cu-Poche some time. They’re slightly bigger, and not as easy to find, and have better articulation.
    Looking forward to your nendroid doll review

  8. A) I had no idea there were FAKE Nendoroids!
    B) They made one of my favorite Disney character and I'm trying to summon the will to drop 100$ - 120$ on her.

  9. I burst out laughing at that YMCA pose. Thanks again for another fun review!

  10. Ohhh I had no idea there are fake Nendos out there! That‘s good to know!
    And thank you so much for your sweet review and the comparison ❤️

  11. Never expected to see discussion of one of my all-time favorite games on this blog! Definitely a title that'll consume your life!
    Chibi proportions really don't do it for me, but I can appreciate the Nendoroid figure as a really well-done collectible for the game all the same. It's fun seeing the items and weapons replicated like that.

  12. The original stand looks quite yellow, I wonder if that's it's age showing

  13. Wow!! Nendoroids are so cool?? They're like the perfect mixture of dolls, action figures, and character figurines! And how nice that there was a character available which you already liked! It must have been really cool to get to have a piece of merchandise of one of your favourite characters in addition to testing the waters with the Nendoroid series.

    I really liked the way you used the two face plates to make Link nore expressive- even when you were focusing on other things -like articulation-, it was cute and funny. (And so were those hidden "faces" and exposed brains XD.)

    Soka's so cute too... I would have absolutely loved an articulated horse figure like her when I was a kid! I loved how you posed Link with Soka, and with all his accessories.

    Despite your valid criticism of the knockoff figure, I must say I'm still shocked that the fake was so convincing! Even if the fake figure and accessories function far more poorly when handled, they look spookily similar to the originals. Not sure whether to be impressed or dismayed!

    On the subject of the fake, I wonder if the looseness of the connection points could be remedied by painting on a layer of clear glue and waiting for it to dry. Perhaps that would bulk up the connection points just enough to make them fit together more snugly? Just a thought. :0c

    Great review as always!

  14. I just restarted BOTW- on a second profile, I will not touch my original save file- so this review was incredibly well-timed! I actually saw the Guardian Stalker Nendoroid on clearance at Target once for about $17 if i remember correctly? (This was several years ago, though. I did not purchase it because I simply didn't want to invite that type of energy into my home, where I live.) My best friend has a Cardcaptor Sakura Nendoroid that is absolutely adorable, and I was highly tempted by the Phoenix Wright and Miles Edgeworth ones that went on preorder earlier this year, as well as every Hatsune Miku the line has ever produced. I have a Jakks Pacific BOTW Link action figure from GameStop that also came with tiny replicas of the Traveler's Bow and an Ancient Arrow (had the same thought as you about the low-tier bow versus the insanely powerful arrow!), as well as a fabric Hylian Hood- he can kind of hold the bow, but if you try to pose him so he's aiming an arrow his technique is abysmal. Obviously, being a $15 figure, he's not quite as detailed, but he's pretty fun if you ignore the fact that his quiver attaches to the butt part of his tunic and falls off the instant you breathe near him. He's not good at sitting either due to the quiver attachment being a peg that sticks out from the plastic tunic flap, but he does fit excellently in a Calico Critters bed I have. He's a fun little guy, but I admit this review has me more or less convinced I'll be saving for the BOTW2 versions of Link and Zelda!