Friday, June 15, 2012

Some days, I'd trade it all for a 1/1200 scale airship

Few things in life have eluded me like the Miniature Airship has. Introduced in Final Fantasy VI as a joke item in Jidoor's auction house, a player could never actually win the ship at auction regardless of how much gil they had in their inventory. After placing a high bid (usually 800,000 gil), a moment of suspense would pass before a brat of a child convinced his father to buy it for him.

Many nights of my teenage years were spent obsessing over ways to win the fabled prize from the spoiled son and his capitulating father NPC tag team who were seemingly programmed to draw happiness from my disappointment. After wasting more time than I'd care to admit at the auction house, I eventually gave up on the prospect.

I can't explain why this Miniature Airship captivated me the way it did (after all, it wasn't half as cool as the Imp Robot or Talking Chocobo...) but the completionist in me couldn't let it go. It was my white whale, my fortune and glory, my post-apocalyptic pack of Twinkies... it was the promise of a fulfilled desire that would never come to be.

Except that it would, eventually. The cruel overlords at Squaresoft Square Enix remembered the Miniature Airship 10 years (and five Final Fantasies) later when it appeared in my former and beloved MMORPG of choice, Final Fantasy XI:

This time, the Miniature Airship was obtainable as a furnishing; an in-game item that did very little except look pretty in your Mog House. As a furnishing-obsessed adventurer with a completely decked out Mog House, the introduction of this item was the chance to realize a decade-old dream and finally wipe that smug look off that kid in Jidoor's face.

No, he wasn't a kid any more. By this point, the entitled brat was probably in some prestigious private college in the Final Fantasy universe, most likely on the Lacrosse team and majoring in Business or Communications, but that's neither here nor there... I finally had a chance to own the miniature airship, and it would be wonderful.

Unfortunately, Square Enix would not make the miniature airship an easy prize to claim. In order to receive one, a player had to recruit a friend to play (and pay for) Final Fantasy XI for an entire year. Exactly 365 days after the player's friend entered the game world, the pair could talk to a specific NPC and claim a miniature airship of their very own.

I never managed to talk a friend into joining me in FFXI, and while the prospect of paying $143.50 for a year-long alternate account (on top of my own yearly subscription fees) was feasible - it seemed somehow cheap to realize my decade-long dream through lies and deception.

The quest for the miniature airship doesn't end there, however, and it has a happy ending... or at least the prospect of one.

Assuming that I am willing to devote myself to the arcane and eldritch art of papercraft, that is. Kaizo, the retired papercrafting master, left detailed instructions on how to create this beauty using naught but paper, glue, and a king's ransom worth of toner cartridges and it looks rather impressive.

Maybe one day I'll actually get around to building it myself, but then what would I have left to aspire to?