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The Level-Clear Gallery

Just the other day, I had my local comic book store order in yet another statue for my collection. It was the Bishoujo version of Street Fighter’s Juri (for anyone interested), as with the release of SFV imminent, it seemed as good a time as any to pick up some merch.

The fact that my gaming space is already inundated with resin renditions of virtual heroes did cross my mind as I placed the order; but my inner collector was quick to reassure me that we’d find some space for her somewhere.

He was lying of course, and I knew it.

Juri

I’ve collected statues of game characters for years now, and the first-world predicament I found myself in set me thinking about where it all began. Oddly, my obsession wasn’t born purely from a love of the medium, but from a side quest.

2003’s Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker featured a hidden, hard-to-reach area known simply as the ‘Nintendo Gallery.’ Comprised of a series of themed rooms, the gallery was curated by a character named Carlov, who asked the player for photographs of other NPCs. For every photograph delivered to him, Carlov produced a sculpture of the subject, and displayed it in an appropriate room.

Other than some personal satisfaction, there wasn’t any real reward for filling the gallery. But that certainly didn’t stop me from snapping away at Wind Waker’s denizens like an obnoxious paparazzi. The questline clearly resonated with me, so when Link wasn’t out sailing the Great Sea and saving the world, he’d be kicking back, admiring his collection.

Zelda Wind Waker

Ownership of a similarly impressive set of figurines became a kind of unconscious, personal goal, and thanks to companies like Kotobukiya and PlayArts, it’s a goal that’s become increasingly achievable as I’ve grown older.

As a general rule, the closer to their in-game render a statue looks, the more enthusiastically I’ll throw my money at it. With 3D printing becoming increasingly refined, the prospect of pixel-prefect models being pulled from game data and replicated in real life is fast becoming a reality, and one I can’t wait to see develop.

As it stands, I’m still out of room for more statues, but I’m certainly not going to stop buying them. Juri’s adorning my desk at work and raising a few eyebrows (thanks to her somewhat exaggerated proportions), but that’s where she’s going to stay. At least until The Level-Clear Gallery opens up, and the obsession comes full circle.

John Hatfield
There are two things in life John enjoys more than anything else: gaming and writing. In 2014 he decided to combine the two, and Level-Clear was born!

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