Monty Python
King Arthur, Sir Bedevere, Sir Robin

I am a huge fan of the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  While some of the later Python films were fun, particularly The Meaning of Life, none were ever the pure comic genius that Holy Grail turned out to be.

The film has a huge cult following, but then, so do many films.  That doesn't mean they'll have a successful action figure line - look at Rocky Horror, Dark Crystal, or Animal House for proof of that.  But Sideshow Toys managed to produce a very successful sixth scale line of action figures, totaling 19 figures!

Success always gets people's attention, and Diamond Select noticed.  They decided to produce a set of figures as well, in a smaller scale for those folks not into the 12" scale action figure.  And just for good measure, they threw in voice chips!

The first series includes King Arthur, Sir Bedevere, and Sir Robin.  Time will only tell if we get the other two knights, and what other figure they might have in mind, but perhaps we'll get more info at Toy Fair next month.

Retail on these is around $12 - $13, depending on the store.

Packaging - **1/2
The card art is attractive and captures the basic feel of the film, but lacks a lot of the great humor.  There's a little here, but Sideshow has everyone beat when it comes to great packaging, so it's tough to compete.

Sculpting - Robin ***1/2; Bedevere ***; Arthur **1/2
If I were only judging these on the sculpting of the armor, clothes and body, they'd all get ***1/2 or better.  The work on the costume design and appearance is excellent, with good detail and lots of care and attention.  The soft rubber clothing over the sculpted chain mail works perfectly, especially on Bedevere where they used the sculpted soft rubber to give him his slightly greater girth.

But the head sculpts are crucial on a licensed product, and we all know how hard it is to capture the likeness of real people.  Here it's hit and miss.

I think Robin is a hit.  They've done a nice job of getting Eric Idle's likeness, and getting a perfectly appropriate expression of terrified surprise on his face.  It's all in the eyes, and the slack face.

Bedevere is a close one.  It's tougher to tell with the helmet on of course, and they did do a wonderful job with the helmet and moving face guard.  But the Terry Jones likeness doesn't seem quite there - he's not quite pudgy enough, and there seems to be something slightly off in the eyes.  Still, it's close, and in this scale not bad.

The King Arthur/Graham Chapman was the only one I was disappointed with.  Here he looks at least 10 years older than he did in 1975, and the eyes are completely off.  The expression and tilt of the head doesn't work for me either, and it's too bad since he's such a crucial character.

Paint - ***1/2
The paint ops are very well done, again more on the body, clothes and armor than on the heads.

The patterns on the clothes and shields are very clean and neat, and contrast nicely against the dirtier, darker appearance of the chain mail.  The paint work on the chain mail gives it an added realism, and they matched up with the source material on colors and styles of the various pieces nicely.

The head and face work isn't quite as nice, but it's not terrible by any definition.  The flesh paint is a little think looking, and the line between the facial hair and face a little sloppy in a few places.  But overall the paint work is well above average.

Articulation - **1/2
The figures have a fair amount of articulation, but are missing a couple crucial points.

They have neck, ball jointed shoulders, hips, thigh cuts and knees.  You'll notice that both elbows and wrists are missing, and that's a big problem for posing with either the swords or the shields.  They have to hold them out in front of their bodies straight, or at least Arthur does.

The rest of the joints work fine, and you'll have no trouble getting these figures to stand on their own.  There's plenty of leg articulation, which seems a bit at odds with the lack of arm articulation.

Accessories - ***1/2
Each figure comes with a sword and scabbard, shield, and talking base.

I'll talk a little more about the talking base in the next section, but I'm very happy with the look and feel.  It's nice and heavy, and using the grail as the button, rather than adding a separate one, is a great idea.

The swords and scabbards are fairly basic, but match up to the source material fairly well.  The swords may stick inside the scabbard at first, but move them around a bit and be careful and you should be able to remove them without too much trouble.  The fit in their hands, although some of them are tougher than others.  The handles do come off on mine to make it easier (or even possible) for them to fit in the tight hands.

One of the things I really like about the scabbards is that they have a peg which pops into the rubber clothing where the belt is sculpted.  This makes them look just like they are on the belt, and it fits easily and snuggly on the body.  This is a very smart idea, and others should keep it in mind when designing smaller scale figures.

Each of the shields is painted with that Knights emblem, and look great.  They also fit in the hands nicely, although here's where elbow articulation would have been nice.  I don't remember Robin's shield being this much bigger than everyone else's, but it makes sense considering the character's personality.

Talking Feature - ***
Each figure comes with a base.  The base is styled after the picture of the Holy Grail (or maybe just a grail shaped beacon), and has foot pegs for them to stand on.  The Grail itself is a huge button, and pressing it produces one of several lines from the film.

Sir Bedevere - "What do you do with witches?", "If we built this large, wooden badger...", "How do you know so much about swallows?"

Sir Robin - "Run away! Run Away!", "Well I...I am a Knight of the Round Table", "Sir Robin of Camelot!"

King Arthur - "It is Arthur, King of the Britons!", "Look you stupid bastard, you've got no arms left!", "The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch"

The lines are taken directly from the film of course, a low budget film from almost thirty years ago, so the quality isn't always perfect.  Some are harder to understand than others, but in general the quality is about the best you can expect considering.

They are nice and loud, and there's a switch on the bottom to go from off to 'Try Me' mode (which is how it is set on the peg, and is why you only hear one line at the store), and on.

Value - **1/2
At $13 a pop, you're paying just a tad too much.  I'm sure the licensing for the sound chips drove the cost up a bit, and the talking bases are extremely high quality. At $10 these would have been perfect.

Overall - ***
There's good and bad with this series.  I like the scale, and the sculpting and paint ops on the bodies and accessories is excellent.  The talking feature works pretty well, and the only things holding these back from another half star overall is the less than perfect head sculpts and the lack of a couple articulation points.

If you're a big fan of the movie though, and don't like 12" clothed action figures, these are a great alternative to the Sideshow product.

Where to Buy - 
I've seen these at the local Media Play and Sam Goody stores.  Online options include:

- Aisle Sniper doesn't have these, but they have a great clearance price on the 12" Tim the Enchanter from Sideshow - just $22!

- Entertainment Earth has the set of three figures for $35.  Just search for 'holy grail'.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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