Believe it or not, the long-gestating Kingdom Hearts III will see the light of day in the near future — and an onslaught of related merchandise is ramping up. As a part of this, Diamond Select Toys has released a set of 7” action figures. Shall we take a look?
Those who collect Diamond Select Toys’ other lines of detailed action figures will see a familiar sight. The traditional DST packaging is used again here, featuring a large blister pack with a cardboard backing and side panel. While some collectors have complained of the sheer size of this packaging in the past, it makes total sense here.
Series 1 of the Kingdom Hearts action figures consists of two packs containing three characters each — not counting several store exclusives — resulting in minimal wasted space inside the blisters. What’s more, each figure is nicely displayed and clearly visible within — an important note for those who prefer to keep their collectibles sealed.
If I have one complaint about this packaging, it would be with the side panel. Past DST releases have seen some incredible artwork printed on the panel, but here we only get a rather bland image of the Kingdom Hearts logo.
The first pack consists of Sora, Dusk, and a Heartless Soldier. Sora is clearly the standout here, being the primary protagonist of the video game series and the character most fans will gravitate toward.
His head sculpt is decent, featuring his trademark wild hair and a goofy smile. His eyebrows, lips, and eyes are all well sculpted and clearly defined, but his hair suffers from rather soft, bland detailing. You can kind of see a few thin lines molded into his hair if you look closely enough, but for the most part it appears as though Sora is wearing a spiky brown helmet.
All of the detail work on the body is a much better representation of Tetsuya Nomura’s brand of character design, bearing all of the zippers, belts, and buckles you would expect. Thankfully, none of those small touches get lost anywhere in the sculpt, with my personal favorite aspect being the crown necklace positioned on the chest.
The Dusk has proven to me more captivating in person than I originally expected. It stands taller than Sora — albeit with help from a transparent display base, due to the design of its feet. It features a lithe body with elongated limbs and a vaguely shark-like head, just as the in-game model did. The detail work is minimal but accurate, with raised black stripes and silver studs accenting the primarily white body. Its head is the standout here, from the perfectly recreated crest on the upper flat surface, to the eerie mouth within a mouth. Unfortunately, a visible seam where the lower jaw attaches to the rest of the head marrs an otherwise great looking figure.
Lastly, we have the lowly Heartless Soldier. This enemy design has always been a favorite of mine from the games, and it has been perfectly recreated in three dimensions here. The grinning face and cartoonish helmet look fantastic, as do his impish boots, pointed fingers, and a perfect Heartless crest on its torso. No complaints.
The second set contains Axel, King Mickey, and a Shadow. I suspect Axel will be the headliner for most people, having been embraced by fans due to his backstory and overall role in the stories. Here, this plastic rendition is instantly recognizable even from a distance, but closer inspection may raise a few eyebrows.
The face looks a bit more realistic than fans may be used to, making Axel look a bit off. The signature details are all there — such as the facial tattoos and spiky red hair — but this can’t be considered a 1:1 rendition of the character by any means. Personally I like this iteration, but can also understand why someone wouldn’t.
Axel’s clothing is more representative of the in-game model. The sleek, almost form-fitting black coat is elegantly recreated and bears the appropriate accents, such as the silver zipper and drawstrings. The coat itself is made from the same hard plastic as the rest of the figure, which restricts articulation, but I’ll go into more detail later.
His weapons — referred to as chakrams, apparently — are damn-near identical to their digital counterparts. All the circles and points you would expect are present, molded in a silver plastic with red accents and black handles. One notable gripe I have with Axel is that these chakrams are rubbery and, while that may prevent them from breaking, they were incredibly warped straight out of the packaging. A heatgun and some cold water could straighten them out, but that’s a pain in the neck as well as something most customers will not be willing to do.
King Mickey features a ton of detail work for such a small character, due in no small part to the costume designed by Square Enix’s Tetsuya Nomura. His clothing is littered with zippers, straps, buckles, pouches, and belts — right down to the shoes! This could have led to a cluttered mess in the hands of a less talented sculptor, but Diamond Select nailed it. I particularly love the cheerful expression on Mickey’s face, perfectly suiting the character. His Star Seeker keyblade also looks fabulous, in addition to being a more rigid type of plastic like Sora’s Kingdom Key.
The Shadow is… well, a Shadow. It’s a very simple, vaguely ant-like design molded in solid black plastic with eyes painted yellow. That’s it and that’s all, as it should be.
This line of collectibles has no standard for articulation, and so it varies wildly from character to character.
The Shadow has none, so we’ll get that out of the way first. The Soldier fares mildly better, as his arms can move up and down.
King Mickey has a decent assemblage of moving parts. His head and shoulders are all ball joints with decent range of motion, though his head pops off if you try to make him look straight up. Don’t worry! It goes back on! His arms have a swivel and the biceps and wrists, while both feet swivel at the ankle. The hips are connected via a smaller pair of ball joints with an impressive amount of poseability. Mickey can very nearly do the splits, and can even balance on one foot while the other is raised straight up toward the sky.
Axel’s head is on a ball post, but his long hair prevents him from looking up. His shoulders consist of a hinged swivel joint, allowing full motion, with a swivel at the biceps. His wrists appear to be ball joints, though the cuffs of the jacket sleeves seem to impair much of their movement. While his ankles have rocker joints which allow for any amount of rotation you would hope for, his legs, hips, and waist feature no articulation at all. That is the major downside to Axel, but such limited articulation does allow for a great looking sculpt.
Like Axel, Sora’s head is on a ball post with limited vertical movement. Also like Axel, Sora’s arms have a hinged swivel joint with a swivel at the biceps. Unfortunately, the design of his gloves leave him only with a swivel at the wrists as well. His hips have a sort of v-cut hinged swivel joint, similar to Mattel’s old DC Universe toyline, with swivel hinges at the knees and ankles. It’s remarkably easy to get Sora into a balanced standing pose, but don’t expect too many dynamic battle stances to be possible.
The Dusk is a very wild, flexible enemy from the games — and the action figure lives up to that quite nicely. It has swivels at the neck, biceps, hips, and thighs. Hinged elbows and knees bear a nice range of back-and-forth movement, along with rocker ankles and a ball-hinged abdomen. When attached to its transparent display stand via a hole in its back, the Dusk can be placed into plenty of incredible (and almost painful-looking) poses.
Every action figure in this series is similar to one another in this category. That is a bit unfortunate, as — while they look great from a distance — the finer details are quite sloppy. Nearly every sculpted strap has misaligned paint, while smaller details like buckles and shoe tongues seem haphazardly flung into place. Axel fairs the best with his relatively simplistic design and scant silver accents, as does the Dusk with its two-tone design — but no figure is perfect by a longshot.
Each set costs about $24.99, and that’s with three characters included in both. For action figures in the 7” scale that is incredible, and many competitors would charge that much for one character alone. There isn’t much else to say here.
THE VERDICT: 7 out of 10
These are very middle-of-the-road in terms of overall quality, but you almost can’t beat the bang for your buck. Fans of Kingdom Hearts — whether casual or hardcore — will surely enjoy these on some level, but the biggest boon here is the variety of characters. Series one already introduced six characters and that will double with Series two, making this the fastest growing KH collectible line thus far.
**These items were provided free of charge for review purposes.