One of my favorite games for the PS2 has to be Kingdom Hearts. I just loved the concept of Disney working together with Square and luckily, they did a pretty good job. The game was, even though with it serious flaws here and there, great and I really enjoyed playing it. Then, one day, I came across this ‘little’ gashapon like series; the Kingdom Hearts – Formation Arts. Needless to say now that I bought it right?

Let me first say I was quite lucky since I stumbled across this volume when they were out of stock like everywhere. Especially this volume is very hard to come by since it has been released quite a while ago (2005) and they never did a rerun on it.
But let me start by explaining why this is one of my favorite sets.

There are two (three actually) different versions; in blind packages (boxes) and blisters. The blind package is also divided into 2 different versions; the ‘regular’ color edition and the special and extremely rare ‘black and white’ edition. Never seen the last in real life though.
Besides the package, there are also several differences between the two versions. Perhaps the biggest difference is that you have to put the figures together yourself if you buy the boxed version, while the blister ones are already assembled. The next big difference is the fact that the blister volume holds only 3 figures (the good guys) while the box volume holds 6 (3 good guys and 3 bad).
A smaller, but also noticeable, difference is that the box version is far better painted than the ones in blister. All the more reasons for me to discuss the boxed version. Not to mention that I only have these…

The package is just a carton box that hold one figure, its parts separately wrapped in plastic. I can tell you, that was a bunch of plastic we needed to throw away. So, since you have to put the figures together yourself, lets take a look at the ‘manual’… and look again… and again… Oh, the manuals are included but they’re entirely in Japanese/Chinese something but luckily, the manufacturers had the bright idea to include a picture with arrows to point out which piece goes where. Lucky us. I would show you a picture of the boxes and manuals, but I don’t have them anymore.
And a while later you sit there, staring at a piece. And staring at the hole it has to go to. And you notice that something isn’t right there.
Some pieces just really don’t fit. Some could never fit. So what does every sensible person do then? Yes, they take out a knife and carefully begin to cut away plastic so that it will fit eventually.
But all frustrations aside, the look when the entire volume is put together, it’s well worth it. The paint job is sublime and the details are superb! Considering that they are trading arts of course. The quality is nothing compared to PFs for instance. The figures height range from 12 to 20cm and thus quite large for trading arts.

Next to just displaying them the manufacturers had the bright idea to give us another option. You can play chess with the figures! Isn’t that neat? Well, not really actually…
First you have to have one big ass board to even think about using the figures since they’re quite big.
Secondly, some figures are quite fragile so you would really use super glue or something to insure that your king doesn’t lose it’s head. Literally.
Thirdly, some characters are strangely chosen… You would have to list all the characters to remember which character is what piece.
And lastly, you’d need to buy extra pieces because you won’t get there with these alone. Which brings me to a side note. This is the main reason they released the special edition (the black and white). If you buy the other volumes you get another problem. At this time I have two white kings (yes, they included Sora also in volume 3)… where’s Mickey?), two white queens (Kairi – volume 2 and Minnie – volume 3) and two different Black Pawns (Heartless and Pete – volume 3)…

Playing chess with these figures? I really don’t thinks so. The idea was good though but they obviously didn’t think this through.

Now, lets discuss each figure.

Sora
– White King
– Sora’s standing on a piece inspired by Traverse Town. That’s about the only positive I can tell you. I just don’t really like this figure… The crown doesn’t look good on him and his face is just plain ugly. But he’s part of the series and luckily easily put together. Just saying, if I didn’t collect whole sets, I’d never bought him… Lucky for sellers that the figures came in blind packaging…

Donald Duck
– White Bishop
– This one I love! And he also wasn’t that hard to put together. Just like Sora, his background is Traverse Town. I just love his facial expression. It looks like he’s looking at the nest with eggs behind him like he’s saying I’ll protect you or Don’t you dare hatch or something like that ^^

Jack Skellington
– White Knight
– Truly a pain in the ass to put together but it really radiants the feeling from The Nightmare Before Christmas. Less fragile than he looks. Also one of my favorite figures. Who doesn’t love Zero with his little pumpkin nose?

Maleficent
– Black Queen
– Another piece without a lot of pieces. What I really like is that she isn’t only displayed as her normal self but also as her dragon form, very beautiful, only minus is that it doesn’t look that dynamic.

Hades
– Black Knight
– Strange choice to make a Knight. I would have made him a Rook. Anyho, another static piece and consisting of few, quite large, pieces. I love his facial expression though.

Heartless
– Black Pawn
– I love this piece! The heartless look so cute… I want to bring them home with me! Oh wait, they’re already home with me… This piece is meant to be a pawn but it’s clearly too big. Oh, and the antennas are less fragile than they look which is a very good thing.

This concludes this review. Be sure to check out the review for the second volume. I’ll include my conclusion in the final (read: third) volume review.

Stay tuned for tomorrow! (always wanted to say that)

Pros:
– Very nice figures, hardly any paint misses
– There are a lot of them
– Kingdom Hearts !!
– Less fragile than they look
Cons:
– Very expensive
– Very hard to find these days
– Play chess? With these big things?
– Some strange choices

Pictures:

Item reviewed: Kingdom Hearts Formation Arts Volume 1
Type: trading arts, figures
Brand: Square-Enix Products
Variations:
you have the box volume (the one reviewed here), the black and white version (even rarer than this one) and there’s the blister package (which only has Sora, Donald and Jack). Also bootlegs have been reported so watch out what you buy
Rarity: Rare, this first volume is quite hard to find