Sometimes I wish I wasn't such a sucker for Kingdom Hearts merchandise. Square Enix really knows how to get to fans like me, what with their awesome character designs and fun games. Not to mention the dynamic poses they give their formation arts figures! Square Enix can release mediocre figures and still sell out. Amazing, isn't it?
Similar to the previous Formation Arts box sets, the Kingdom Hearts II: Formation Arts vol. 2 set comes with six figures (five different characters and designs). They're relatively heavy for small figures, but that comes with having various attachments to each figure. The lineup for this set is: Axel, Roxas (Organization XIII), Twilight Thorn, Pride Lands, and Sora (Master Form).
Once you open a box, you'll find a plastic package or two housing the pieces to your figure. One extra package is used for the base. Square Enix uses a lot of plastic wrap for some reason. I mean, look at all the space between each piece! I had plastic wrappers littered all over my bedroom floor and it felt wrong. I guess Square Enix did it to fit the pieces into each box, but it really seems like such a waste. Not to mention it's not environmentally friendly.
|So much extra plastic...
My dislike for the sculptors continues to increase. The people at Square Enix should consider themselves lucky that there are a lot of Kingdom Hearts fans out there. And they should also thank the designer for making these figures look dynamic because I really cannot express enough just how annoyed I was putting these figures together. The bases aren't even that stable. Every time I pick up a figure and place it on the table, it wobbles a little. I thought it was just one of my figures, but when it happened to two others, I couldn't help but raise an eyebrow. At least my struggles were rewarded with beautiful end results. These figures look fantastic (from a distance)!
The first box I opened housed the Pride Lands figure which, to my delight, had a really impressive design. I didn't think too much of it when I saw the stock photos, but up close, it really looks great! I think Square Enix managed to step up their game a little more with dynamic poses. There's a sense of motion with each Formation Arts figure in this set, and I must admit, I'm very impressed. Not with the sculpt though. That's one aspect about the Formation Arts figures that will never please me. To be quite honest, it took a bit of effort to put this figure together. Perhaps it's just me, but the instruction sheet is never really that helpful. It just takes a bit of time to figure it out myself.
In any case, I really love the colours used for this particular figure. It stands out from the rest of my figures because it's a mini jungle with a little river in the middle. Furthermore, three of the main characters in the Kingdom Hearts series are popping out the jungle and they're also what, 100x the size of the location they're at? All my other figures have buildings for bases and backgrounds, so this one is a nice breath of fresh air. I also love that Goofy is hiding in his shell. It makes him look quite adorable. My only qualm would be the paint job on Donald's wings. I imagine it could have been avoided since it's extremely obvious and it's just on the wing, but I don't think Square cared enough to fix that.
It didn't stop me from enjoying this figure though. It's not like Donald's wing is going to be aimed at me every time I look at this figure anyway.
Axel was probably my least favourite figure in this set, which is a shame because he is one of my favourite characters in the Kingdom Hearts franchise. He looks completely out of place on my desk because his face is practically aimed at the ground. Even if you were to look at this figure at eye level you wouldn't be able to see his entire face.
|Here's a shot from a lower angle
It looks like Axel's arms were air brushed with a slight bit of red so it seems as though he really was emerging from the flames in the background. I really like that extra feature in this figure, despite how horrible the sculpt is. In the back you also have two Dusks (minions) dancing on top of the flames. It really does add more to the figure! You can even consider it a finishing touch! Surprisingly enough, the Axel figure gave me the most trouble. I found myself struggling to put the flames onto the base for a while and I can only hope that it never comes apart again. The flame-base really seemed peculiar...all right, I should just bluntly say it looks like the sculptor didn't glue Axel's base together properly. There is this gap between the two flames for some ridiculous reason. That made it difficult to actually wedge the base into the stand. I spent quite a bit of time just putting Axel on his base. Then came the equipping part, which was horrible.
My favourite out of the set would probably be this Roxas figure here! I love his pose, I love the colours, I love the design, and I actually (for once) love his expression! I'm not saying it's anything like the 1/8 or 1/7 PV figures the big companies make, but for a Formation Arts figure, I have to say, Organization XIII Roxas looks great. This is much better than the Roxas figure from the previous Formation Arts set. At least his skin tone is consistent this time around. Also, Roxas was one of the easiest figures to put together, so he also earned more affection from me and my reddened fingers.
The twister under his feet works really well with his pose. I can't help but wonder how they thought of it since I've never actually seen something like that used in the games. Props to the creator! The electric wave surrounding him is a nice touch as well. He has the same feature as the Twilight Thorn figure, except his is purple to match the twister below. It's sad to say that the Oathkeeper Keyblade still looks like it was coloured in with a green Sharpie but it still looks good from afar.
My only real complaint is the scuff in his knee. I'm not sure if the painters did this on purpose, but Roxas' knee has less colour than the rest of his body.
|So obvious it hurts
I love the lunging motion Sora has. If only there was a built in light at the base of his figure... It would make his attack appear so much more epic! Also, it wouldn't hurt to have some stars flying out from the crystal base, only because it would just add more to the Kingdom Hearts theme.
Out of all the Sora Formation Arts figures I have, this one is my favourite, which is funny because this is my least favourite form in terms of design. I like how he's bursting out from light, preparing to strike any foe standing before him. Sora looks much more dynamic here than he does in the Kingdom Hearts: Formation Arts vol. 3 and Kingdom Hearts II formation arts set vol. I.
This Sora also gets a fancy little ring around his figure, which is coloured with a purplish-orange gradient. It's made from a different type of plastic, but the semi-transparency makes the feature look great. In addition to that, there are a few stars on top. They're nice finishing touches.
It's sad to say that Sora's Oathkeeper Keyblade (the white one) is painted poorly around the edges. Once again, it appears as though the sculptors at Square Enix used a green Sharpie to draw in the green lines on the Keyblade. I made note of the exact same thing in the previous Formation Arts Set review. So I think it's quite obvious Square Enix didn't really try to step up their game in this area.
The overall paint job is mediocre. We all know these Kingdom Hearts figures are nothing compared to the 1/7 and 1/8 PVC figures, but that doesn't mean Square Enix needs to be sloppy all the time. Compared to the semi-transparent attachments on this figure, Sora looks rather crummy. I'm sure at some point in the future, Sora's pants and shoes will erode. Aside from the poor paint job, I really do like how this figure looks. I just had to point out the good and the bad because that's just how the reviews here have to go.
Last but not least, we have our chaotic giant, Twilight Thorn! I was surprised Square Enix included an enemy in this set, but at the same time, I had to applaud them for their choice. Twilight Thorn might have been a mighty jerk in the game, but at least it makes an interesting Formation Arts figure!
Twilight Thorn has a very unique design even though it looks quite chaotic on some angles. I had quite a bit of trouble putting this evil creature together. The pieces just didn't want to stick together, and they still don't! For example the giant blue shoulder piece will fall off if I touch it ever so slightly. Additionally, Twilight Thorn's left arm seems to want to pop out, but the wisp is conveniently keeping it in place. I doubt even superglue could help me in this situation... However, aside from the extremely poor structure, and the slight dirt patch on the base, I like this figure. It sounds absurd, I know, but I just like the dynamic pose, really.
I like that Square Enix included some semi-transparent wisps because those were in the actual battle from the Kingdom Hearts II game. I wish the base wasn't so dirty though. It doesn't appear to be part of the paint job, but it really bothered me when I noticed it. Thankfully I can't see it when I place my figure on the table and look at it straight on. That, and the cool headpiece covers it up a little.
But it's really not that big a deal...
All in all, I'm happy I purchased the Kingdom Hearts II Formation Arts figures. If you're a fan of the Kingdom Hearts series, and if you're willing to struggle for an hour to put a few figures together, I recommend picking these up before they're completely sold out in all the import shops. Their poses and colour pallets are definitely worth the amount you spend on them (assuming you buy them from Amiami, which gives you a nice discount). Just cross your fingers and hope nothing breaks as you're building them!
Pose: 10/10 (They're dynamic and fabulous!)
Sculpt: 4/10 (I shouldn't have to struggle so much to put my figures together...)
Paint: 7/10 (As usual with SE, you can find some poorly painted areas, but the colours used sort of makes up for it)
Manufacturer: Square Enix
Price: 4580 yen for a box of 6 (original price: 6000 yen)
Purchase from: Amiami
Over and out!