by Reeve (photos by Reeve and Cyrus Dogstar)
This guide is meant to serve as a starting point for the novice FF7 collector, but I hope more experienced collectors might learn something as well. Everything I've written below is gathered from my own experience; if there are any significant inaccuracies or exclusions, feel free to contact me. All of the items in the photographs are from my own personal collection.
Final Fantasy VII items and collectables can be separated into seven general categories, each of which is discussed in greater detail below.
- The Game Itself
- Official Square Merchandise
- Official Liscenced Merchandise
- Fan-Made Merchandise
- Official Items Indirectly Related to FFVII
- Promotional Items and Miscellaneous
Also, in the general interest of information (and speculation?), I've compiled a list of what I believe to be the top ten rare FFVII collectables
. Finally, this piece ends with a postscript
containing links to some excellent online stores and other resources.
1. The Game Itself
This category includes the Playstation and PC versions of FF7, domestic and international editions. Most of us don't need to worry about this category since we all (hopefully) already own at least one copy of the game. However, there are small variations between each version which may be of interest to serious collectors. For instance, the US-released PC version of FF7 has a slightly cleaned up translation, and includes the FMVs as separate files which can be played in your PC's video player. Also, it seems that some collectors favor the "original" Playstation release of FF7 over the "Greatest Hits" version. If you're looking for a copy of the former on eBay (especially in brand-new condition), expect to pay a bit more.
Worth Seeking Out - The Japan-only Final Fantasy VII International contains the US version of FF7 plus a bonus disk with the game's concept art! For this reason, it is one of the most sought-after versions of Final Fantasy VII ever released. It used to be quite rare, but not too long ago it was reissued under the PSOne Books label (Japan's equivalent of Greatest Hits). Please note that if you don't own a Japanese PSX or PS2, you should be able to play it on your PC with a PSX emulator (I recommend ePSXe). Otherwise, you will need to add a mod chip or other such device to your PlayStation.
2. Official Square Merchandise
This category includes all the FF7 merchandise Square/Square-Enix has manufactured, including CDs and books (under the now-defunct DigiCube label), limited-edition pewter statues, certain resin statues, Final Fantasy Art Museum cards, and much more. Square-Enix has an online shop with all of their most recent goods; unfortunately, they do not take orders from, nor do they ship, outside of Japan.
Worth Seeking Out - There is much to recommend in this category. In my opinion, no FF7 collection is complete without the four-disk Final Fantasy VII Original Soundtrack. The recently (finally!) released Piano Collections: Final Fantasy VII is also an excellent buy. For books, the Final Fantasy VII International Memorial Album is a great addition; it contains the entire script of FF7 (in Japanese) plus hundreds of screenshots.
In the realm of figures, one of the most popular alternatives to expensive statues are gashapon, or "trading figures". Square has two lines of gashapon. The first line is Final Fantasy Creatures, which features the boss monsters and summons in the Final Fantasy series (FFVII's WEAPONs, Bahamut summons, and Reverse [Bizarro] Sephiroth among them). The second is Final Fantasy Trading Arts, which is centered around the characters; the first edition of this series, which included Cloud, Sephiroth, and secret figure Zack, quickly sold out at many online shops not long after its release.
Of special interest these days is the company's line of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children merchandise, which is sure to expand even more when the movie comes out. Included in this line are the Shinra company logo pin and card case; two high-quality items that are must-haves for Shinra fans.
3. Official Licensed Merchandise
In this category are items from both Japan and the US (but mostly Japan) which are official items not made by Square. These include resin statues by Kotobukiya, action figures by Bandai, keychains and UFO catchers (plush toys obtained from game machines) by Banpresto, and game guides by a variety of publishers.
Worth Seeking Out - Kotobukiya's resin statues get my highest recommendation. They're incredibly detailed and make really nice display items. The initial line of five statues (Cloud, Sephiroth, Aeris, Tifa, and Yuffie) were very rare, but have recently been reissued, making them much easier to find (however, keep in mind that these reissues aren't numbered like the first editions). Two newer statues (Tifa in a different pose, and Vincent) were released in 2002, but these are quickly becoming scarce. Another cool item is
the FF7 piano book, published by the Japanese company DoReMi. This book has sheet music for the entire score of FF7.
4. Fan-Made Merchandise
Fans all over the world have created their own cottage industry of FF7 merchandise. Most
prominent among these items are Japanese amateur comics fanzines known as doujinshi. Doujinshi (doujin for short) come in various sizes (the most common being B5: a standard letter size in both Europe and Japan), and cover a wide variety of genres. There are dramatic doujin, comedic (or "gag") doujin, doujin that retell the story of the game, and much more. The two most notorious categories of doujinshi are the adult-oriented hentai and yaoi genres. Hentai (which translates as "perverted") doujinshi, otherwise known as "H" or ecchi, are pornographic fanzines skewed toward a male audience. They usually feature the girls of FF7 in various states of undress, and a number of them also contain yuri (girl-on-girl) content. Yaoi (an acronym [Ya-O-I] that translates as "no climax , no punchline, no meaning") doujinshi, are generally drawn by women and feature male-on-male stories. Many yaoi doujin are gag-oriented, but there are also a number with "serious" male/male stories, and some of them are pornographic.
In the West, fan-made FF7 items include t-shirts, the infamous "Materia" line that's sold on eBay, and even an unofficial Buster Sword replica. Non-Japanese FF7 fanzines are incredibly rare, and usually come from the few "Western" doujinshi circles that exist.
Worth Seeking Out - Most of my doujinshi are either gag and/or light yaoi; my favorite doujinshi artists and circles in these genres include Hettapies (elegantly drawn gag doujin, mostly centered around the Shinra characters) and K. Haruka (famous for her humorous Cid x Vincent books). There are literally hundreds of FF7 doujinshi titles out there, drawn by a whole variety of artists, so feel free to vary your collection.
These are the items you absolutely want to avoid whenever possible. The only reasons to buy bootlegs are because 1) you're on a budget, 2) it's impossible to find the official versions, or 3) there were never any official versions to begin with. If you wish to avoid bootlegs, either online or off, make sure that the manufacturer of the item is either Square/DigiCube or one of Square's licensees (Kotobukiya/Koto, Inc., Banpresto, Bandai, DoReMi, BradyGames, etc.). There are various resources online that go into greater depth about bootlegged anime and game merchandise, the best of which is The Pirate Anime FAQ. Bootlegged FF7 items include the Original Soundtrack and Reunion Tracks CDs (usually made by Hong Kong companies SM Records or Ever Anime), pewter statues, playing cards, stickers, and keychains.
Worth Seeking Out - The only item I can recommend here are a set of FF7 playing cards (manufacturer unknown). To the best of my knowledge, no such set is available in official form, and they tend to be a lot easier to find than their nearest official equivalent, the Final Fantasy Art Museum Series One cards.
6. Official Items Indirectly Related to FF7
This category includes merchandise from various other Square-Enix games, namely those where FF7 characters or elements make an appearance (Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy Tactics, Ehrgeiz, Final Fantasy X and X-2, etc.). Also included in this category are items that cover more than one Final Fantasy game, such as music compilations and certain books.
Worth Seeking Out - One of my favorite items for this category is the Kingdom Hearts Visual Art Collection. There's a whole section of this book devoted to full-color concept art for the Final Fantasy characters in this game, including Cloud, Sephiroth, Aeris, Yuffie, and Cid. Some other items I absolutely love are the double-CD live concert album 20020220: Music From Final Fantasy (which features live orchestral versions of "Aerith's Theme"; and "One Winged Angel"), the single for FFX's "Suteki Da Ne" (which features the first ever vocal version of "Aerith's Theme"), and Amano: The Complete Prints (now available in the US, this book contains almost all of Yoshitaka Amano's FF7 artwork, as well as over 900 other pieces).
7. Promotional Materials and Miscellaneous
These are some of the rarest items of all. Promotional items include store displays, trade show giveaways and exclusives, game magazines, and even 35mm film trailers (!!!). "Miscellaneous" includes any item which doesn't fit into the above categories, such as unofficial game guides.
Worth Seeking Out - Anything and everything that fits in this category should be of interest to hardcore collectors.
Top Ten Rare FFVII Collectables:
- Highwind non-scale statue (Kotobukiya)
- Final Fantasy VII Original Soundtrack Limited Edition (DigiCube)
- "Aerith's Theme" wooden music box (Square)
- Cloud and Sephiroth battle statue (Square)
- Any original FFVII promotional materials
- FFVII pewter statues (Square)
- The Completely Unauthorized Final Fantasy VII Ultimate Guide (Versus Books)
- Final Fantasy Trading Arts cards, Series One (Square)
- FFVII UFO Catchers (not including Chocobos) (Banpresto)
- FFVII statue of Aeris' funeral scene (Square)
Postscript - Some Places to Find FFVII Merchandise
For official books, AnimeBooks.com has a good selection, and for official soundtracks, GameMusic.com is the way to go. HobbyLink Japan is an excellent source if you're interested in non-DigiCube Square-Enix merch, as well as goodies from the likes of Bandai and Kotobukiya. eBay is filled to the brim with Final Fantasy VII merchandise, but bootlegs abound, and bidding can be fierce to the point of ridiculous... especially when it comes to certain doujinshi. If you do go looking for doujinshi on eBay, two excellent sellers are www.magicalgirl.com (New York/Tokyo) and edwingoh (Singapore). Finally, Japanese bookseller Kinokuniya, which has eight stores in the United States (listed here), carries a good selection of DigiCube books and CDs (including some limited editions).
And finally, if you'd like to know more about FF7 collectables, I highly recommend Tuulisti's Website, which contains detailed information about dozens of items, including fan-made merchandise and bootlegs.
Written November 2003 | Last Updated December 2004 | Copyright 2003-04, Reeve.