Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts director Tetsuya Nomura is working on creating a Variant Play Arts Kai Batman figuring. Its origins are quite surprising, since it comes from a game project, a game concept that perhaps influenced character designs in the Kingdom Hearts series.
Nomura explained this in an interview with Siliconera at the San Diego Comic-Con this week.
Square Enix has been working with DC Comics to create Play Arts Kai figures for quite some time. How did you get involved with creating this Variant Play Arts Kai Batman figure?
Tetsuya Nomura: Many years ago, I worked on a different project and the concept and idea was kind of already there. Unfortunately, that project didn’t pan out and it never saw the light of day. When the merchandise team started expanding into the DC Comics Variant figures, they approached me and said, “We remember you drew a sort of Batman design back then. Would you be able to share that with us?”
Was this project a game?
Yeah, it was game-related. It didn’t even start development as a project, it was just a concept and ideas, not a full game. Since the project was canceled, I can’t talk much about it.
The Batman figure, especially its armor, reminds me of the Kingdom Hearts series and the armor Keyblade users wear [in Birth by Sleep].
Actually, to be honest, the project that never got off the ground was done before Kingdom Hearts was conceived. It might be the opposite—the design from that early project influenced Kingdom Hearts and armor design in that series.
The cape kind of reminds me of wings. Was that your intention?
When it comes to Batman, one of his iconic features is his cape. In my mind, I also wanted to have bat wings and the core concept was the to have bat wings exist with the cape design.
Are you working on more Play Arts Kai figures or more Variant Play Arts Kai figures with DC?
Next to the prototype of the Batman figure at our booth is another display case with a teaser. That’s also part of my project. We’d like to stay within the Batman series and we are going to have more figures coming in that line.
For the second item, the design is complete and the sculpting is done. Hopefully, we can reveal that in the near future.
[Editor’s note: The animal tracks in this photo are a clue to who it might be.]
As a character designer, what about the Batman universe do you find interesting?
I find the concept of a dark hero intriguing. Rather than having a straightforward hero fighting for justice, an iconic brooding hero with his own inner demons is an appealing part of the Batman series. The story itself isn’t a cheerful tale either, it has a dark tone which is also appealing.
How is creating a 3D game character different from designing a figure?
The design process and steps to take for figure creation and character creation in 3D are actually pretty similar. With a game character, you have a backbone and setting for the story. There’s a narrative, but for a figure there is just that object someone purchases. Of course, with Batman there is a backstory. That might be the biggest difference between creating a 3D game character and a figure.
When making this Batman figure, every time we had to submit any sort of figure design or concept to the licensor, we had to give an explanation of what the concept is. So, we did have to craft a narrative for this particular Variant Play Arts Kai Batman.
In the end, it wasn’t that different. Maybe the largest difference is the wings. If this was a game character, you can show the movement of the wings opening and closing. With a figure, you need to figure out where to place the parts to make that mechanic work when someone is looking at it.
Can you tell us about the back story for the Batman figure?
We haven’t announced details yet. We’re figuring out how to announce those.
There are a lot of Square Enix figures based on your characters. Which figure is your favorite and what characters did you make that you want to see figures of?
I’d love to have figures of the three lead characters from Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep.
And, hmm… it hasn’t been released as a figure yet, but it would probably be Batman. For other characters I would just look at a 2D image to review it. For this figure, I worked with the sculptor directly so I have a soft spot for it.