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Captain Toy/Michael's Review of the Week

Review of Severus Snape - Harry Potter
Sixth Scale Action Figure

Star Ace
Date Published: 2016-02-19
Written By: Michael Crawford
Overall Average Rating: 3 out of 4

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Harry Potter Snape sixth scale action figure by Star Ace

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Introduction

Harry Potter fans have been spoiled this last year, finally getting high end sixth scale action figures for their favorite license.  Star Ace has proven themselves a contender in the market with their quality, all at a price point generally lower than the industry average.

The latest release in the series is one that I've been looking forward to in particular - Professor Severus Snape. Alan Rickman was a favorite actor of mine, and his death in 2015 was a shock and a loss to the acting community.

The only other company to produce high quality sixth scale figures for the license is Medicom, and they only produced a Harry and a Snape. The Harry isn't anything to write home about, but the Snape is one of their finer licensed figures. He goes for big bucks these days however - often $300+ - so the release of Star Ace's Snape at $220 may be welcome relief.

This is a bit of an early review, but not by much.  The figure is currently shipping to retailers, and should start showing up in the hands of buyers any day now.

Click on the image below for a Life Size version
Harry Potter Snape sixth scale action figure by Star Ace

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Packaging - ***1/2
A couple figures back, Star Ace shifted to this slip cover over a window box. The slip cover has a die cut edge, and the selected graphics from the film are smart choices. There's even a difference in finish between the Snape portrait (glossy) and the background of the potions class (matte).

Everything is collector friendly of course, and removing the figure and accessories is simple. Replacing them can be done with no damage to the package or trays, and everything is held safely in transport.

Harry Potter Snape sixth scale action figure by Star Ace

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Sculpting - ***
When looking at 1/6th human portraits, regular readers know I consider three aspects critical - realism, life-like, and accuracy.  This release hits on two of the three.

Exceptional realism is getting to be the industry standard.  Here, the softly textured skin, age wrinkles, and finely stranded hair give him a flesh and blood quality that only Hot Toys was once able to capture. The hair is particularly worth noting, because while some companies can pull off the skin and face, they do hair sculpts that are too clay-like, too rough in detail. Star Ace is not having that issue, and it's one of the reasons I think their choice to go with a sculpted beard on the upcoming Dumbledore was a wise idea. If anyone can mix rooted hair and sculpted beard and pull it off, it's Star Ace.

Then there's 'life-like'. This is different from realism, because you can create a very, very realistic looking mannequin, but without life in the eyes, the muscle tone, and the expression, it's still obviously a mannequin. I feel Hot Toys has been having more and more trouble with this lately, but Star Ace avoids it here by giving Snape a slightly stern, worried look. This is Snape's RBF, and while I think they could have narrowed the eyes just a bit more, overall I'm quite pleased with it.

Ah, but then there's accuracy, and that's where I'm going to start my whining. There are two major aspects of the sculpt that I believe are throwing it off, and will make it hard for most people to see how accurate the rest of the work really is.

And most of it is very accurate.  I kept switching back and forth between the figure and the photo on the box, and while the expression is slightly different, the eyes, nose, and wrinkles are spooky accurate.  Look at the depth, size and placement of the center wrinkle above the nose, or how his skin slightly pooches out over his right eye (I think of it as a reverse wrinkle). Even the aging around the eyes is dead on, and all of this is accurate to the character, rather than some form of generic aging.

But the hair is the biggest sculpt killer here.  While I appreciate the realistic qualities I discussed earlier, the fact is the style does not remind me of Snape.  It's too thick, too large, too helmet-like. It needs to be flatter and less voluminous, particularly towards the back and sides of the head. It also curls around the front of the face from top to bottom too much, adding to the impression of a helmet.

The other area isn't quite as obvious, but I think it plays a role: the shape of the chin. It's a little too jowly here, and should come to a slightly sharper point, particularly for a Half Blood Prince version.  The photo on the box actually makes it more of an issue, as there are film stills that show a chin closer to the final sculpt. The more I looked at stills and compared them to the final result, the more I realized that the underlying face sculpt is very good, and it's the hair doing the damage. This was one of those cases where they missed it by *that* much.

He's just shy of 12" tall, and I included photos with the older Tri-Wizard Harry and the much shorter young Harry for comparison.

Harry Potter Snape sixth scale action figure by Star Ace

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Paint - ***1/2
While the sculpt has some issues, the paint is rocking.  Again, the slightly translucent skin tone is spooky real, and there's some minor aging and freckling that's just barely perceptible in hand.  The eyebrows and lips are very clean, and there is even the slightly whiter line below his lower lip that you can also see in the photo on the front of the box.

My only real nit is that the eyes are a little flat, not in finish but in appearance of depth. The work around the eyes in darkening the skin looks fantastic however, capturing a realistic skin color and avoiding the dreaded 'eye shadow' look.

Harry Potter Snape sixth scale action figure by Star Ace

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Articulation - ***1/2
The underlying male body works well, although it's not quite as fluid as some of the best on the market.

A big improvement here is the ball jointed neck. With most of the earlier males, like Voldemort or their Great Escape Steve McQueen, the neck was a single ball and restricted quite a bit by the design of the body. I did not have that issue here, and he is able to tilt and lean his head a reasonable amount. This is critical to creating life-like, natural poses.

The rest of the joints have a decent range of movement with little restriction imposed by the costume. The shoes, while short, still effect the ankles somewhat, but it's not as bad as any sort of boot would be. The joints are all tight, and he can maintain any pose you can come up with for an indefinite period.

Harry Potter Snape sixth scale action figure by Star Ace

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Accessories - ***1/2
Star Ace provides some very cool extras to help you build a nifty Potions diorama.

Of course, there's a second set of hands, but only one, and only rights. He comes wearing a relaxed pose set, and there are two extra rights: one to grip the wand (and thinner accessories), and one to grip the larger bottle or burner handle. The hands swap easily, and I had no fear of breakage or damage.

As I mentioned, there's a square bottle, as well as three small test tubes. These are painted to appear as though they have various colored liquids inside. There is a test tube rack as well, and the three tubes can hang in the rack neatly.

To mix up his potions, Snape has a pot with a clear plastic stirring rod.  Remember those glass rods in chemistry class that were always getting broken and you ended up with the short, stubby one? Yep, that's what this is supposed to be. There's also a stand for the pot, as well as a burner to place beneath. This burner has a sculpted translucent flame that looks terrific, and adds a little more realism to the set up.

Snape must have his wand of course, and he does. It fits neatly in the tighter gripping hand as well. To finish things up, he has a potions book which he can also hold quite easily.

He does come with a stand, but here Star Ace has made a shift. Instead of the clear plastic adjustable 'flying' stand we've seen with pretty much every previous release, they've gone with a more standard black stand and support with the Harry Potter logo. While I don't mind the shift for characters that don't really require all that adjustability, I do think they should provide these logo stands for sale separately on their web site. That way collectors looking for consistency in their display can pick them up for previous releases as well.

Harry Potter Snape sixth scale action figure by Star Ace

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Harry Potter Snape sixth scale action figure by Star Ace

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Outfit - ***1/2
The outfit isn't particularly complicated, but it is very well done.

It consists of the shirt, tie, jacket, outer robes, pants and shoes. The quality of the materials and construction is excellent, and small details like the buttons and pockets are in scale and nicely done. I'm particularly happy to see a very thin Velcro used for the jacket closure - I hate those tiny plastic snaps that have become so common. The Velcro only becomes a problem if it is too thick, messing up the clean appearance, but that's not an issue here. It also runs very far up the front, allowing you to adjust the opening of the neck line to the pose or your mood.

The tie is a pretty basic strip of black cloth, but I assume that this is accurate to the costume. The pants are well tailored, and the shoe sculpt is basic but realistic. That brings us to the jacket and the outer robes...and the color.

Before we get to the color controversy, let's discuss the quality. And yes, it's excellent on both. The tailoring of the jacket is particularly nice, with clean lines and a smooth fit. The outer robes also include thin wires at the bottom train edge and sleeve edges, allowing some basic posing of the cloth.

The robe is black, clearly. The jacket...is purple. Or at least that's what the description of it from Star Ace themselves says. I quote from their site "One dark purple Victoria style coat". Then again, they also say he comes with socks, and he doesn't...

But that leaves two questions: Is it purple? And is it supposed to be purple?  The answer to the first is 'yes'. Even my color blind eyes can tell it's purple, although to be fair that's because it's right next to the black robe. If you removed the robe and handed me the figure, I'd say the coat was black. But with the two fabrics next to each other, the slightly purple tint is pretty clear.

The good news here is that it is *slight*. Some early prototype photos showed a distinct difference that was distracting and inaccurate. But was the jacket really purple in the movie?  Some people have seen screen worn outfits and said no, it's not.  Others have pointed out those outfits may not have been used in Half Blood Prince, which this outfit should mirror. And others have pointed out that the color on film is what matters, because directors and costume designers pick certain fabrics and colors not for what they look like in person, but for what they look like on film.

You can interpret it all however you'd like.  The jacket is clearly a very dark purple here, and I like it. Your mileage may vary. Let's get back to arguing over Han's jacket instead.

Harry Potter Snape sixth scale action figure by Star Ace

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Fun Factor - ***1/2
Posing and re-posing will be possible thanks not only to the articulation, but to the variety of accessories.  While battle scenes are always fun, having the potions extras will allow you to put Snape in a more common environment for the character, particularly with the kids.

Harry Potter Snape sixth scale action figure by Star Ace

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Value - **
The one other area where I have some concern is the price point.  Hermione and Tri-Wizard Harry were running around $10 - $20 cheaper than Snape, and at $220 retail, he's pushing the bottom boundary on the Hot Toys universe. Had they nailed the sculpt dead on, I would have gone that extra half star here to an average value, but without the perfect hair style, I have to ding them.

That's not to say you can't get this score up by doing a little shopping around - I have several sponsors selling this for under retail, and one just under $200! At that price he's definitely worthy of another half star for this category.

Harry Potter Snape sixth scale action figure by Star Ace

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Things to Watch Out For -
Not a thing.

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Overall - ***
I'm going to say something here that I never thought I'd say - I like the Medicom Snape sculpt better than the Star Ace. I never thought I'd say that because I'm generally not a fan of the Medicom sculpting, as it is usually too soft and overly stylized for my tastes. But I have to give them credit - they nailed the Snape.

That being said, this sculpt is going to get more crap than it deserves. I went through a couple dozen stills, comparing them to various aspects of the portrait, and the more I compared the happier I was with the face itself. With a better hair style, this would have been as good or better than the Medicom release, but that one major flaw hurts the overall look. While I'm very happy with every other aspect of this figure (particularly if you snag it for around $200), the sculpt is so crucial that it tends to overshadow all the rest of the positives.

Perhaps we'll get a second Snape at some point (although I can't really think of a way to present him differently) which would give Star Ace a chance to revisit the hair. While that's unlikely, I bet we see some pretty amazing customs using this figure.

Score Recap (out of ****):
Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpting - ***
Paint - ***1/2
Articulation - ***1/2
Accessories - ***1/2
Outfit - ***1/2
Fun Factor - ***1/2
Value - **
Overall - ***

Harry Potter Snape sixth scale action figure by Star Ace

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Where to Buy 
Online options include these site sponsors:

- is just $198.

- comes in at $210.

- is at $220 for the pre-order.

- Entertainment Earth is also at $220.

- Sideshow is at $220 as well.

- or you can search ebay for a deal.

Related Links -
Other Star Ace Harry Potter figures include Tri-Wizard Harry, the young Hermione, young Harry and Ron, Voldemort, Sirius Black, Mad Eye Moody, Sirius in his Prison Garb, and Ron and Harry in their 'casual' clothes.

You should also hit the Search Reviews page, in case any other applicable reviews were done after this one was published.

Discussion:
Want to chat about this review?  Try out one of these terrific forums where I'll be discussing it!

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This product was provided for the review by the manufacturer. Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

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