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Toy Story Sora and Toy Trooper

Kingdom Hearts III
by yo go re

This is a toy, based on a videogame, based on a movie, based on a toy, based on a videogame.

Let's go through it in order. "This is a toy." Cool, simple enough; it's an action figure from Diamond Select, so that's pretty straightforward. "Based on a videogame." It's part of DST's Kingdom Hearts III line, which also explains how it can be "based on a movie": all the Kingdom Hearts worlds are inspired by Disney films - in this case, Toy Story. The figure's name is literally "Toy Story Sora," so you may have already figured that out.

When Sora and his pals go to these new worlds, they often change appearance to fit in; in the case of the Toy Box world, they all become toys. As you'd expect - after all, if they go to Atlantica and become mer-people, then anything less than becoming a toy would be a disappointment here. But here's the thing: when Toy Sora meets Toy Story's Rex and Hamm, they recognize him... or at least, they think they do. They insist he's an action figure of the character Yozora, protagonist of an in-universe Final Fantasy-style game called Verum Rex. Thus, "based on a toy based on a videogame." Though I suppose that would actually make him a toy, based on a videogame, based on a movie based on toys, based on a toy based on a videogame based on a videogame.

When a movie or TV show needs to depict a movie or TV show, it will often be of lower quality than the things around it - because otherwise you run the risk that your "joke" program will come off as better than your real one. The same obviously holds true here, because while we've been getting amazing, lifelike sculpts on toys for decades now, KH3's version of "a toy" is to make Sora look like a blocky marionette. His limbs are square! His torso has right angles! I mean, we have years of evidence of what a toy Sora would look like, but this doesn't need to look like a toy, it needs to look like a toy: that is, it needs to visually "read" as something other than normal as soon as you see it.

Toy Sory Stora was sculpted by Oluf W. Hartvigsen, no stranger to working for Diamond Select. He did a lovely job turning Sora into a Minecraft character. The face is mostly the same as seen on the normal figure - it's not a cube or anything - but even the hair is less detailed and chunkier, keeping with the theme. It almost looks low res! Our favorite little detail? The sculpted screw on his lower back, like the kind that held old toys together. That's great!

Despite being as curvaceous as a Rubik's cube, Sora is still wearing his usual costume: big boots, baggy shorts, and a short-sleeved jacket. In Toy Box world, the jacket is grey instead of black, but it still has red trim. There's a checkerboard pattern on his pockets and shirt, and his silver necklace is sculpted against his chest. There's a kind of "shading" on his knees that is really just colored pixels, like one of NECA's 8-bit figures.

There's no skimping on the articulation, either. Plastic Fantastic Sora has a balljointed head, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, hinged elbows, swivel wrists, a balljointed waist, swivel/hinge hips, swivel thighs, hinged knees, and swivel/hinge rocker ankles. It's easy to throw in all the joints when you're dealing with a character who doesn't need to hide them - a character who, in fact, looks better the more joints you can see. His hands are sculpted with his fingers paired into bunches with a narrow gap between them - in other words, the way they'd look if they were articulated to grip accessories. But that's just the sculpt, there are no real hinges there; you'll have to pry the hands open slightly to get him to hold the Keyblade.

The trademark weapon of the Kingdom Hearts series, the Keyblade is exactly what it sounds like: a sword that's shaped like a giant key. Okay, that may not sound as impressive as a chainsaw bayonet, a gravity gun, flaming blades, but it's memorable, effective, and upgradable - attach a new keychain, and it unlocks (no pun intended) new abilities and new appearances. This, though, is the basic, classic version. Known in English as the Kingdom Key and in Japanese as キングダムチェーン (Kingudamu Chēn - "Kingdom Chain"), this Keyblade is silver with a golden hand guard and a "Classic Mickey" charm dangling off the end of its chain. The notches in the teeth of the key match the necklace Sora wears.

Just like the ancient Mirage Toys line, DST's KH figures are sold in multipacks (partly because a single figure in that big Select packaging would look silly). The packaging says Sora comes with a Flying Heartless, which, okay, is true in that this is a Heartless that can fly, but it's no more of a "Flying Heartless" than the Air Soldier is. The official name in the game is "Toy Trooper," and its bio info is as follows:

Those jet packs and ray guns may be toys, but these "masked intruders" are anything but fun and games when they come barreling your way. They'll sometimes chuck grenades your way, but that's not necessarily bad news. After letting it fly, they'll hit the deck. Kick 'em while they're down! Or, if you're feeling fancy, a well-timed Keyblade swing will return those grenades to sender.

The トイトルーパー (Toi Torūpā) is not as blocky as Sora, so there really isn't anything that ties it specifically to Toy Story. Maybe he's supposed to be Buzz Lightyear-adjacent? That would explain why he's dressed as a little spaceman, with his purple suit ad his orange accents and the goggles on his helmet. The Heartless symbol on his chest isn't the right shape, however: it's missing the extra flairs on the bottom of the heart.

The Toy Trooper Heartless has a swivel neck and waist, and swivel/hinge shoulders. His white jetpack isn't removable, but the crossbow gun is a separate accessory that can fit in either hand.

The problem with Kingdom Hearts figures is that we tend to only get part of the team. Yes, we've got a Toy Story Sora (who, thanks to Pixar insisting on a different kind of oversight than Disney-proper does, has a story that is fully in canon with the movies), but what are the odds we'll ever get Toy Story Donald or Goofy? Being able to repaint Sora a rainbow of different colors will help cover the cost of his molds, but he'll never get any teammates because they don't have that same option.

-- 05/17/20

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