Captain Toy/Michael's Review of the Week

Captain Toy Picks...
The Top Ten Premium Format Statues

Sideshow Collectibles
Date Published: 2016-11-16
Written By: Michael Crawford

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Mola Ram Premium Forrmat statue

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I've been buying Sideshow's Premium Format statues since their inception, and there have been lots of good...and a few bad.  If you're unfamiliar with the concept, these are statues that are mixed media - polystone of course, but also cloth, metal, plastic, leather, and other materials are used where appropriate. The idea is to get a much higher level of realism in statue form. They are also quarter scale, which is just the right size to impress.

I've reviewed over three dozen of them, and currently have close to three dozen on display in my home.  They aren't the same three dozen, although there's quite a bit of overlap.  I've also owned at least twice that many over time.  With that many choices, and such an enduring line, I thought picking my favorites made sense.

It's worth noting however that I haven't been buying as many in the last few years. Those that I have aren't going to show up on this list.  I've been disappointed by the contraction of licensing in this format, with it focusing largely on Marvel, DC, and Star Wars. Hey, I have enough of those, and one of the reasons I liked the format so much is I could put together a variety of characters, and the format gave them consistency. Since the ones I like the best are from earlier years, it's likely that many of the favorites of current collectors won't be here. My list will also heavily favor movie and tv versions, not the comic book style. I'm betting I get the most debate over this list, although from a much smaller, more hard core group of fans. But hey, variation is what makes these lists fun, no?

Here we go!

10 - London After Midnight, 1998
When Sideshow first started their Premium Format series, they did not have a solid, immovable polystone body. Instead, they tried to include a level of 'articulation' by using cloth arms with a wire inside. Even the bodies had some use of cloth padding and construction. It didn't last long, but it was present in their London After Midnight PF.

They also started with Universal Monsters, a big seller for them in every format in those early days. They did several figures based on the 1927 silent film London After Midnight, starring Lon Chaney.  That's senior, not junior. The film was written and directed by Tod Browning, perhaps best known as the man behind Freaks and Dracula. The movie has moved into cult status because it's 'lost' - the last known copy was destroyed in the 60's. The design of this character, often referred to as "the man in the beaver hat", has gone on to inspire everything from one of the ghosts at the Haunted Mansion to the evil presence in Babadook.

So yea, it's a cool character. Sideshow used 'real' hair instead of sculpting it, a huge departure from the norm back then, and they did it well. Of course the fuzzy hat helped. The overall outfit, combined with the terrific portrait and nifty lantern, make it one people always ask me about when they see the collection.

And no, I never reviewed this one, so I stole the photo from somewhere online.

London After Midnight Premium Format statue

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9 - Darth Talon, 2010
I don't have a lot of female PF's in my collection, and even fewer on display.  Sadly, they've always suffered from the same fate most smaller female figures do - they miss the mark on likeness.  They've done much better with comic book characters, but let's be honest, it's easier when you don't have an actual human to compare.

Such is the case with Darth Talon, a beautiful sculpt and nifty pose. I prefer the exclusive with the cape, because it gives you some additional display options, but both look great. She also incorporates a light up feature that works extremely well.  As a plus, she's been a feature of Wolowitz's bedroom for years.

Darth Talon premium format statue

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8 - Doc Holliday, 2010
The late aughts were the golden age for PF's, with a ton being released for all sorts of different licenses and characters. Sideshow had success with historical figures in their sixth scale lines, and they ventured into the real life realm with their Premium Format statues as well.  These were largely well done, including the terrific Blackbeard. But as a huge western fan, it was their Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday that really spoke to me. Of the two, it's Holliday that stands out.  They even provided an option for the hidden hand behind his back - knife or gun! This is a PF at it's best, with lots of different materials coming together with a great pose and sculpt to create the perfect overall effect.

Doc Holliday Premium Format statue

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7 - Creature from the Black Lagoon, 2008
One of my personal favorite monsters got this excellent rendition, and it remains my favorite Creature collectible in any scale or any style in my collection.

I will admit that the statue is pressing the 'mixed media' theme a bit. This one is 90% polystone statue, but that's a limitation of the character design. They made up for it with a really dynamic pose, and while I wasn't thrilled with it at the time, it has grown on me over the years. It's also been sitting on a shelf for 8 years now, with no trouble tilting or leaning.

I swapped out the color version I had originally, which is what you see in the photo below, almost immediately. I think I sold it (it would be great if I still had it around considering the current prices), and the one I now have on display is the black and white edition. Both are equally cool.

Creature from the Black Lagoon Premium Format statue

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6 - Jack Sparrow, 2010
When I reviewed Jack, he didn't fair as well as most of the picks on this list. Once he was on the shelf, he grew to be a favorite.  My complaint has always been around the portrait - it's not the best Depp we've gotten. But the costuming, base, accessories, swap out hands, and light feature make him a visual treat. I also love the pose and how well it's incorporated into the base, and how well it fits his personality. Check out the review to get the full scoop, or at least this full body shot to see what I mean.

Jack Sparrow premium format statue

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5 - John Wayne/Rooster Cogburn, 2007
When Sideshow did this Premium Format, they referred to it as "John Wayne - Western Hero". But it's Rooster Cogburn, quite obviously. So while it's named after a real person, it's technically a specific movie character.

This is another favorite character done perfectly in this format. Sculpted clothing would never give you this sort of realism, and the pose was just about perfect. I wish we'd get a Blondie Clint Eastwood too, but at least we got one icon of old westerns.

John Wayn Premium Format statue

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4 - Hellboy, 2009
While several of the favorites on this list are in what some people refer to as 'museum' poses, pretty much straight up stances like the Wayne pose previous, I find that I usually gravitate to the more dynamic in this format. You already saw what a great job they did with the Creature, and my next three are all much more dynamic designs.

Their Hellboy, based on the second movie, is a great example. Crouched on a pillar, ready to spring instantly into battle, the pose really impresses.  It also helps that the costuming was fantastic on this guy, with tons of small detail work.

Hellboy II Premium Format statue

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3 - Yoda vs the Clone Trooper, 2010
I have a TON of Star Wars related PF's.  One of these days, I'm going to sell off 80% of them.  There's only a few that really remain tops for me, and easily the best of the bunch is the Yoda and Clone Trooper combo.

The scene from the prequels was one of the few a great moments, and they've captured the dynamic feel of the battle perfectly here.  The light up feature works fantastic, and the look of grim determination in Yoda's eyes, as he stares into the face of the man he is killing, is the perfect expression.

Yoda vs Clone Trooper Premium Format statue

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2 - Uruk-Hai, 2010 
After Star Wars, my next largest collection of PF's is around Lord of the Rings, and like Star Wars, one of these days I'll be selling off a big chunk. But there are two of the orcs that are so good, they will always hold a place of honor in the collection. Lurtz is one of course, and was my favorite LOTR PF release for four years...until the Uruk-Hai Berserker hit the doorstep.

All the bloody, gory detail is here, with a swappable left hand to give extra display options. I've always gone with the severed head, however, since you can never have too many severed heads in your display. The dynamic battle pose looks fantastic, and his triumphant attitude is evident, even with several arrows piercing his body. He's one of the heaviest PF's in the collection, but all that weight is put to good use in the overall design.

Mars Attacks sixth scale action figure

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1 - Indiana Jones, 2008
I bet I get some arguments on this one, based on the reception back in the day. "He's too tan". "The coat is too short". "The mouth is off". But I have to say that it remains my favorite PF in my collection, even with a few minor issues.  It's also the only one where I still have two, both regular and exclusive. I've heard that some people have a flaking coat problem, but I'm happy to report that I've never seen the problem, and the guy has been on the shelf all this time without incident or issue. I think it remains the best Indy portrait we've ever gotten, and the use of various materials works extremely well.

Indiana Jones premium format statue

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In Closing...
The Premium Format line has been around a long time, and that means there's lots and lots of choices. Mola Ram up there in the very first photo was on my short list, as was Buffy's Spike, both Freddy and Jason, the cartoon Captain Hook, and the reality based Blackbeard. While I'm not into the comic based statues, I have to admit that they've done a great job with quite a few, including the Hulk. But these ten are my favorites currently - ask me tomorrow, and you might get a different answer.

I will say that the reduction in the variety of characters in this format is a bummer.  I like this line specifically for it's diversity, but there's not much of it these days. Of the 60 PF's up for order right now at Sideshow, 48 are either DC, Marvel, or Star Wars. I do have to admit though - that Leatherface is looking pretty good...

So what's your list look like?

If you're enjoying this concept of Captain Toy Picks, drop me a line and let me know!

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Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

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