Any diehard fan of Harry Potter series would be familiar with the fact that the wizard world is no stranger to the game of chess. If anything, what with the enchanted pieces and all, the wizard’s chess is much more lively…and fatal! However, with a Harry Potter-themed chess set at hand, it need not be so dangerous at all! You can play a perfectly regular, aka muggle, chess game while still experiencing a little bit of the thrill of the wizard’s chess.
That the popularity of the franchise is still at a high can be glimpsed from the fact that many Harry Potter-themed chess sets, both new and old, continue to enjoy high demand among the franchise fans, so much so that many are even willing to pay lofty prices for used sets that are no longer in production. While most of them contain pieces as shown in the Wizard’s chess games in the movies (and especially those in the first installment of the series, Harry Potter And the Sorcerer’s Stone), some other sets will include different characters from the series itself. Those who really want to go overboard with their Harry Potter chess sets may prefer the latter. However, with the former variant, these chess sets can be enjoyed both by Harry Potter fans but just as much as by common chess players (especially those who nurture a fondness for decorative chess sets).
Below is a list of three most popular products when it comes to Harry Potter themed chess sets. All three come from the Noble Collection, the company that holds the Warner Brothers authorization for creating exact replicas of wizard chess pieces as well as for using different symbols and themes that are found in the films.
We know the black got the better of the white in the ‘Sorcerer’s Stone’ courtesy Harry and Hermione, albeit at the expense of Ron. However, with this hugely popular wizard chess set from The Noble Collection, you can change things around! And fear not, there won’t be no explosions! On the flip side, you WOULD have to move the pieces by hand, though.
Anyway, to come to the set itself, this is a nice piece of Harry Potter themed set for casual play and is especially suitable for little Harry Potter fans who know their game of chess, too (normally, you won’t risk a collector’s item with the kids). The set includes a playing board, the 32 black and white pieces, and two separate drawstring mess pouches for the different colored pieces.
The set is a tabletop variety with a somewhat larger (18.5″ x 18.5″) board and 2-4″ long pieces, therefore nice and comfortable for playing at home. The pieces are beautifully crafted miniatures of the life sized armored wizard pieces as you see them in Sorcerer’s Stone film. There are those crouched down pawns, bishops with their staffs, rooks stationed on top of turrets, knights on horseback (remember Ron?) and last but not the least, kings and queens with their deadly swords!
Now, although the set enjoys an overall favorable rating at Amazon, you may notice some mixed reviews. This is partially due to the fact that some buyers seem to be a little disappointed by the fact that the pieces are plastic ones and are not made of marble. However, given the set’s price of $45, we don’t feel it’s reasonable to expect marble pieces and even less so for a themed chess set. The chess pieces are hollow but made of heavier PVC material. The foldable board, likewise, is made of a sturdy, heavy duty cardboard. But more than anything, what buyers would appreciate most is the manufacture’s attention to details. The wizard pieces are exquisitely crafted and are exact replicas of the wizard pieces from the film. Overall, a worthy purchase and highly recommended from our side.
Now, if you’re interested in a collector’s item with which you can also play your chess, this beautiful set is definitely worth your money. The design of this Final Challenge set is roughly similar to the previous one with the wizard pieces made to exact detail as seen in the set of ‘final challenge’ sequence of the movie (again, to recuperate, this has been made possible only since these sets carry authorization from Warner Brothers). At 20X20 inches, the board is somewhat larger compared to that of the first item listed here. However, the $400 price tag of this set is entirely due to its superior build quality and material.
The decorative plexiglass board in the pedestal style makes for an impressive sight by itself. And add to it the detailed die-cast from zinc chess pieces that are exact miniatures from the ‘final challenge’ set and you’ve got a chess set on your hand that you will cherish for long. The pieces are 2.5-5.5 inches tall and are weighted naturally for the purpose of good balance. They are a bit on the heavier side, so you’ll have a pleasant feel when holding them in your hand or when moving the pieces. And the good thing is, unlike a heftily priced set with stone or marble pieces/board that can receive scratches or may even break if you’re not cautious enough during play, you can actually play chess games with this set as often as you like.
This set will act as a source of great delight for all fervent Harry Potter enthusiasts. The decorative brilliance of the set is a thing to cherish for its own right. However, when it comes to gameplay, the encouraging news for all the Potter franchise fans is that this little beauty of a set actually allows you to play as your preferred Hogwarts house.
Yes, this Quidditch chess set contains four different sets of chess pieces overall. So, you can go any way you like—play Ravenclaw vs. Slytherin, or Gryffindor vs. Hufflepuff, and so on—just about any combination you like. And the compact tiny-sized board comes with adequate storage too, which means you can stow away all your 4 sets of pieces inside the separate compartments provided within the board itself.
And as to the pieces and the chessboard, the latter, on its own right, can be regarded as an exquisite piece of creation. With measurements of 12X12X3inches, this rather small board comes in solid, superior quality hardwood and is generously decorated with tasteful ornamentation all around. For instance, all four sides of the board are embellished with Hogwarts crest as well as the crests of each house and they bear 24K gold pated ornaments in addition to their original colors. In short, the board itself will come off as a dazzling piece of handiwork to you.
Then there are the die cast pieces that come enameled in the signature color of each house. The pawns are designed as bearing the respective sigil of each house whereas different Quidditch symbols such as the golden snitch, the trophy, a beater’s club or a broom supply the models for back row pieces. In all, a definite collector’s item fit both as a functional chess set and as a rare display item.
Harry Potter Set Brands
By far, The Noble Collection is the most famous and popular brand when it comes to Harry Potter themed chess sets. As mentioned, their sets are authorized by Warner Brothers which is one reason why they can make exact replicas of the life size wizard chess pieces as we see in the film. For any other farms to do so would be regarded as a breach of copyright. However, apart from Noble, the American toy manufacturer farm Mattel had released two different Harry Potter chess sets at the time when the film franchise was at the height of its popularity. The pieces on both the boards are modeled after the wizard pieces from the final challenge scene. Both sets (none of which is in production anymore), however, are primarily meant as Potter memorabilia and lack the high degree of craftsmanship on display on the Noble collectible sets.
Since there are not too many products available in this category, it is somewhat difficult to mention an average price for the sets. Also, since some of these are not in production anymore, it is common to find a good deal of disparity in prices for the same set at different stores. For example, a box of the Mattel 2002 Harry Potter Chess Set (new and unopened) is at sale currently at eBay for $65 whereas one seller at Amazon has listed a $100 price for the same set. Still, expect to pay anything in the range of $45-$70 for a chess set that is meant for casual play and is not a collector’s item per se. For the latter variety, the prices go up considerably, depending primarily upon the materials used and the degree of craftsmanship that go into fashioning the set. Beside the products mentioned in our list, one quality set (The Harry Potter Chess Men Set) that includes different Harry Potter characters from the books and the films as the chess pieces (made of Hydrostone material with Rosewood and Ivory finish) but no chessboard is currently available at eBay at the price of $135.
Amazon and eBay are two online stores where you can find a good number of Harry Potter and other themed chess sets. eBay, especially, is a good option if you are looking for a particular set but cannot find it in brand new condition. However, you can find good prices for used sets from different Amazon sellers as well. You can also buy all of the products we’ve mentioned in our list as well as a whole host of other Harry Potter memorabilia at the Harry Potter Shop, the official licensed store for all Potter themed products. Apart from the chess sets, there is also a great-looking Gringotts Checkers Set (also by Noble) that you may consider. We’ll also recommend the WBShop.com for purchase of Harry potter collectibles.
If you are buying a set that is not too pricey, we guess your primary concern would be how faithful and detailed the chess piece reproductions are. To get an idea of this, we recommend that you research as many photos of the products as possible. This will also give you a good idea of the build quality of the products. Also, don’t forget to browse through the existing user reviews. Pretty much the same applies for more expensive sets. However, since you are investing a good deal of money on the collector’s item sets, it’d be wise to check out, if possible, the actual products at a toy shop or chess store near you (regardless of whether you buy it there or from an online store).
Finally, if you want a chess set that has Harry Potter characters as chess pieces, we would recommend the Harry Potter Chess Men Sets, a product made by the Canadian company AncientChess. The set doesn’t include a board, but the 32 chess pieces are beautifully hand crafted with ivory and rosewood finish. In this set, you have Dumbledore and Minerva Mc Gonagall for King and Queen respectively. Professor Snape takes up the part of the bishops whereas the rooks and the knights are represented by Hermione and Ron, respectively. Where is Harry, are you wandering? Well, all the pawn pieces are Harry himself!