After many months of waiting, the second and third sets of Hetalia rubber straps finally arrived in my hands in early August. These are my first purchases through AmiAmi and I’m happy to say that they most certainly won’t be the last. I ordered a couple of boxes with the intention to keep some of the characters for myself while the rest were distributed between friends and members of a LiveJournal community as part of a group order. Since I rarely indulge in merchandises, I thought I would take the opportunity to do a mini review of these rubber strap collection sets. Prepare to be awed by my senseless commentary and fail photography, made possible with my 2 MP digital camera! It’s clear that I’ve immersed myself in too much Tenipuri (Prince of Tennis) lately.
I spotted the announcement for the release of these little darlings at the start of the year when I was browsing through some Winter Wonfes snapshots. The promotional image showed the inclusion of the Asian trio and the Nordics in the second volume of rubber strap collection. At that point, I knew I had to have the set because I liked all the characters. Prussia was also announced to be part of a third set but I never expected the two volumes to be released so closely to each other.
The packaging boxes are simply adorable and there are distinct differences between the two sets. The pop-up display for the second set utilises bright, cheerful colours and is decorated appropriately with falling snowflakes. On the other hand, the colours for the third set suit the European countries well because they are reminiscent of antique wood. The floral ornaments must have gained the approval of our silly aristocrat Austria because they are elegant and classy. What amused me the most is the fact that Prussia is in the center of attention, being surrounded by everyone else. I wonder what he had to do to have the other countries revolve around him.
The rubber strap collections are ready to give as presents without the need for further gift wrapping. In addition to the cute patterns printed to imitate wrapping paper, there is also a card design on the bottom of each box where messages can be written. These designs feature China’s panda and Austria’s violin for the second and third set, respectively. However, I don’t think anyone would cut out the cards as suggested. Hehe, I most certainly didn’t.
The little boxes housing each individual rubber strap can be seen after opening the larger packaging box. I was happy to see China in the spotlight as the main character for set 2, albeit his frown. And surprise surprise, Prussia invaded the boxes for his respective set. I’m also glad that improvement was made on the box design so they can be opened without ripping apart the glued cardboard, unlike the set 1 straps I bought last year.
Naturally, the rubber straps themselves are really cute since they are based off Himaruya’s original chibi illustrations. The flag charms that accompany each character are a nice addition since people can associate themselves with the country without having to recognise the personified characters.
The rest of the Asians (minus South Korea, sadly) has joined Japan in my strap collection. There is a minor difference between China’s facial expression on the actual strap compared to the box art. It’s rare for Hong Kong and Taiwan to be made into any kind of merchandise so I’m pretty ecstatic. However, I’m not pleased with the eye colours of these three characters, which were adjusted to be the same as their clothing or hair.
Having the five Nordics in my hands made me want to attach them onto my phone at the same time. However, I didn’t achieve this mini world conference because it was too bulky for my convenience. The first thing I noticed about the Nordics was that Finland’s head seems significantly bigger than Sweden’s, which is probably due to the volume of Finland’s hair and his hat. It would have been nice for the proportions to be adjusted during production since these two characters are supposed to be the shortest and tallest amongst the Nordics. Nevertheless, they are still cute to the point that you’d pinch their cheeks if it was possible.
Obtaining Prussia and Spain has prompted me to purchase a France strap from LiveJournal so I can complete the Bad Friends Trio. Can someone pleased remind me why I’m buying all these rubber straps? Spain is probably my favourite strap because of his sweet, smiling expression and colourful appearance. Prussia, on the other hand, is calling for a smack by a particular fry pan when he wears that cheeky smile on his face.
Hungary’s military uniform is unexpectedly vibrant. The colours are especially noticeable when she is placed beside the stern Austria who looks rather gloomy. Austria’s clothing could have been brightened up since the neck of his violin and his gloves blended in with his jacket.
I’m slightly disappointed with the Poland strap because the colours are rather dull. Thankfully, his dopey expression managed to win me over. What happened to your flamboyancy, Poland?! Other the other hand, Lithuania is more brightly coloured and looked adorably cheerful.
Lastly, the adoptive siblings: Switzerland and Liechtenstein! They look exactly as I thought they’d look. However, it’s strange that Liechty is the only character that has sparkles in her eyes. They probably appeared like that in the original illustration but the difference still feels out of place. I’m glad that she was made slightly smaller than Switzerland since she’s supposed to be the little sister after all.
Now I shall patiently wait to see if New Zealand will be made into a rubber strap. It probably won’t ever happen but at least I can dream about it. In the mean time, I’ll try and figure out where I can display these precious cuties.