Van Helsing Anna Valerious

We have a new guest reviewer tonight in Ron Hatchell!  Ron stops by with some great photos and review of the Sideshow Anna Valerious figure from the Van Helsing film.  Tell us all about her, Ron!


(Sideshow Exclusive Version)

[Limited Edition of 500 / Retired Item / Sold Out]

From Sideshow website:

"This 12 inch Anna Valerious figure features the likeness of Kate Beckinsale and over 30 points of articulation. The figure will include Anna's sword, 
short sword, sword sheaths, rooted hair, corset and a 12 inch 'Van Helsing' themed display stand. As a special bonus, Sideshow was giving away Anna's 
pistol with holster." 

Packaging - ***1/2
Like the Van Helsing figure before, the cover art finish is also a rough matte. The front image is a picture of the Kate Beckingsale character with the same outfit that the figure comes in. The back of the box shows a great pose of the figure, plus four photos from the movie, and gives you some information about Kate's acting history, with a shorter paragraph about her Anna Valerious character from the Van Helsing movie. The inside cover has a couple of paragraphs that read like an ad for the movie and the director. Underneath that is "THE CAST" section, and provides names for 14 characters and the actors that portrayed them.

Now, my pre-order had been delayed for the following reasons: "In response to our collectors' feedback over the past few months, Sideshow Collectibles has increased its quality control procedures. Some important aspects our quality improvements are stringently controlled painting techniques and stronger packaging, which will provide our items ultimate safety during shipping." Now, I've lost count of how many Sideshow figures I have, but this had to have been the "most" collector-friendly packaging I have ever received from them. Hopefully, they have realized how few ties they actually 
need in order to get the figure to their destinations without moving around 
too much in the box.

First, the round tapes that holds the top and bottom flaps into place came off real easy and without tearing any of the paper off of the box. This means that there will be little to no sign that the package was even opened if you decide to place her back in the box. The one twisty tie that usually holds the neck onto the plastic mold, and then onto the cardboard behind it, now only hold the neck to the plastic mold. There is no hole in the cardboard frame.

Besides the neck, there were twisties holding her onto the plastic mold around her waist, right wrist, gun holster, left wrist/sword holder, ankles, and stand. And there are what Michael refers to as "dental floss" securing the bottom of the sword holder, the sword (two places), the short sword, and extra "exclusive" gun accessory. This is the easiest and quickest time I've had removing a figure from a Sideshow box and placing everything back in place. So, far, the best packaging I've seen. I cut the "dental floss" ties, so if I put the figure back in, I'll need to replace the ties with something 
else. If they can do something better with the "dental floss" in terms securing the items when you put them back into the plastic mold, the packaging will be perfect!

Sculpting - ***
The head sculpt was done by Oluf W. Hartvigson. I'll let you be the judge if this looks like Kate's face. Her hands are identical to that of the Buffy's "Graduation Day" Sideshow figure, including the ring on the left hand. Her right hand's fingers/thumb is are better positioned to hold the sword and knife, as they close around the handles, so they hold steady better. The left hand is better for holding her gun (exclusive accessory only).

The hair is, I believe the first time Sideshow has used "life-like" hair instead of the painted hair. Her hair is tied just behind the back shoulder blades with one of those see-thru rubber bands and reaches down to the middle of her back, unlike the prototype shown on the website, which is which is straighter and goes down to her waist. It is very thick, curly and feels soft to the touch. Once this rubber band was carefully removed, and a few moments spent carefully combing her hair with my fingers, it doesn't get much longer, but it "does" expand out and might take a few moments to get the hair positioned where you want it. The hair is not a straight as that 
shown in the prototype, and is very curly so it tends to want to expand "outwards" after the rubber band is removed. You might have to work with this some, but it will be worth it to have the life-like hair on her. After I moved the hair in the position I wanted, I held it down for a few minutes and it seems to stay in place. Looking at the scalp, there appears to be a few rows of hair and even more area of bald spots, but the hair is so thick and plentiful, it is "easy" to cover all of this up. She has lots of hair and Sideshow did a fantastic job with life-like hair, which I prefer over the painted. She looks great!

This is new for them, and in the future I would like to see some instructions on the best way to handle the hair, as I want to get it where I want it without damaging it or pulling any hair out. I even spent some time gently tugging at the hair to pull some of the curl out and get it straighter and longer, and the hair seems rooted very tight. No hairs came out, which sometimes happens even with Cy Girls. But please be careful, as this was "my" experience, and may not be yours, depending upon how you go about trying to straighten the hair out.

The eyes lost a point for me, but the hair more than made up for it. The hair was a big issue for many, and I am glad to see Sideshow working on this now.

Paint -***1/2
There isn't much to paint here, as everything is covered up with clothes or hair except for her face and hands. I'm not much of a judge of the paint. The skin tone is a little bit lighter than that of the hands and consistent throughout, with no blush or other color, and a "non-glossy" look. She has dark red lipstick almost matching that of her red shirt top, and the standard paint around the eyes for the eyeliner, eyelashes, and eye itself. 
I bought two of these (one to keep in the box) and on both of them the right eye appeared to be looking down slightly more than the left eye.

Articulation - ***1/2
The head (completely turns around) and can look up and down. Full, realistic range of motion on the shoulders, elbows, forearms/wrists, waist, hips, top of her legs, knees, and ankles. The left "gun hand" wrist moves side to side, and the right "sword" wrist moves up-and-down. Although she comes with a "Van Helsing" stand, I was able to pose her in a variety of positions "without" the stand, and all joints were tight enough to handle whatever poses I had for her.

Outfit - ***1/2
Her clothes fit tight and do not hinder movement. The leather-looking material is flexible and an excellent job was done with the designing and stitching. The corset is plastic and looks almost identical to the movie version. The back is stitched through rings in the corset and has an authentic look. The belt even has holes and a metal-looking buckle to adjust the fit. The sword and gun holsters are made of plastic. Her pants and boots are one piece, stitched to look like two pieces. Her red top has a soft feel and great quality stitching.

Accessories - ***1/2
A Van Helsing stand is included, which wasn't really needed for most poses. Also included is a regular sword, and "short" sword, and for the "Sideshow Exclusive" version, the gun, which looks very much like the one used in the movie. The swords hold very well into her right hand, once you position it a certain way, and the gun fits great in her left hand. The finger does not go around the trigger, as the fingers, like the Buffy Graduation Day hands, are molded together.

Fun Factor - ***1/2
After spending some time to get the hair right, we now have a Sideshow female movie character (and a very strong one, at that), with life-like hair, great appearance, and it really stands out amongst my other Sideshow and assorted 12" figures. This figure will work great for these reasons alone, even if the buyer hasn't seen the movie or know anything about the character. I wish I had had this one as a child. She ain't no Barbie!

Value - ****
Both figures (The regular version with 3500 made, and the exclusive with 500 made) are "RETIRED" and "SOLD OUT" at Sideshow. Both prices were originally $40.00. I thought it was very well worth it, and is now one of my favorite Sideshow figures. Not as "cool" looking as many of the horror figures, but much better looking, ready for fighting, and built with tight joints, excellent looking costume and great articulation. It seems to be built for both posing "and" playing.

Overall - ***1/2 
Outstanding in almost all aspects. The eyes don't focus in the same direction and the hair will take some work (unless you leave the rubber band on, like I did for over a month), but the addition of the like-like hair gives it that extra push to make the overall figure more life-like. I look forward to seeing what Sideshow does with the life-like hair of the upcoming Buffy and Nova (Planet of the Apes) figures.

Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpt - ***
Paint - ***1/2
Articulation - ***1/2
Outfit - ***1/2
Accessories - ***
Fun Factor - ***1/2
Value - ****
Overall - ***1/2

Where to Buy: 
I ordered mine through Sideshow, but they are "sold out" and "retired". I am not familiar with many other websites to order these from, so I usually get my "retired/sold-out" Sideshow figures from reliable eBay sellers, and you can still get Anna for about the same amount that Sideshow was selling her for. Other on-line options include:

- Alter Ego Comics has the regular Anna (non-exclusive) for just $30, an excellent price!

- Fireside Collectibles has the non exclusive version for just $33.

- Southern Island has her (non exclusive) for $35.

- Killer Toys has her (non exclusive) for $35. 

Figure from the collection of Ron Hatchell.

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