Gentle Giant Harry Potter mini-busts
Professor Snape and Dumbledore

Gentle Giant has produced a lot of products, from the itty bitty bust ups to the 12" Willy Wonka. But their bread and butter has been mini-busts, especially the Star Wars mini-busts, and so it's not surprising to see them move into another huge property, Harry Potter, with mini-busts first.

Last summer saw the release of the SDCC exclusive Sirius Black. Sirius was in a slightly different color scheme than his regular release, which came out a few months earlier along with the required Harry Potter himself.

The next two have just started shipping - Professor Snape and Dumbledore. Both retail for around $40 - $45, and both are limited to a run of 1500. Next up in the series is Dobby the house elf and a Dementor, limited to 2000 each.

And while they started with mini-busts, they are moving pretty quickly into statues as well.  They've already announced the Horntailed Dragon statue, and you can bet more are on the horizon.

Packaging -  ***
Gentle Giant mini-bust packaging has some excellent features. First, it's extremely sturdy, so there's little chance of damage. Second, it's very easy to remove the busts and put them back, for later storage or transport. And third, they include a decent size window so that you can see the actual bust you're buying before you buy it.

The only real downside is that they are usually pretty plain. The HP boxes have been no different. They do include a very attractive, if somewhat small, Certificate of Authenticity.

Sculpting - ****
Gentle Giant has done a fantastic job on these two busts.  There are some things in their favor of course, not the least of which is that the scanning process works best with characters that are currently on screen.  For example, it's easier to do this Snape accurately starting with a scanned image than someone like a Harrison Ford from 25 years ago.

And these are the newest versions, make no mistake.  That will be most apparent with Dumbledore, since this sculpture is clearly Michael Gambon.  This is the outfit and appearance for Dumbledore right out of Goblet of Fire, and that may disappoint some.  There are many - myself included - who prefer the work of Richard Harris as Dumbledore.  I certainly hope we get a version based on him as well at some point, since he did play the part for two films, but I can also understand why they went with Gambon.  It's a relatively safe assumption that he'll be Dumbledore for 5 movies, making him the obvious first choice.

The sculpting on both figures is not just extremely detailed, but extremely accurate.  Doing real people, or portraitures, is tremendously difficult.  Capturing a person's exact likeness from all angles is nearly impossible, due to how much of our appearance comes from our expressions, and 'life'.  Capturing the nuances in a stationary 3 dimensional form is one hell of a challenge.

Of course, GG's scanning process makes some of this easier.  But it's not the end.  You can't simply scan a person and slap the head on a figure.  Oh, you can, but just look at the Willy Wonka figure to see why it doesn't turn out.  Without a sculptor stepping in to give it life, it ends up looking like a zombie.

No worries here.  Both of these statues look like the characters AND have the life and personality they should.  The clothing lays and flows realistically, and small detail is included every where to provide an additional level of realism.

Paint - Dumbledore ****; Snape ***1/2
And just as good as the sculpt is, the paint is almost as nice.  It's extremely well done on Dumbledore, and that's critical with the level of intricate operations and variety of colors.

Dumbledore's rings, jewelry, stitching, etc. are all done in extreme detail with gorgeous soft colors.  He matches the film well, and you can't complain too much about accuracy.

I did ding Snape slightly, because there was something slightly off with the eyes.  It doesn't appear to be a sculpt issue, but a slightly dull, lifeless look.  The eyes have a flatter finish, and ended up lacking some of the realism of the rest of the bust.  There's also some work around the hair line that isn't quite as good as other detail work, with some of the skin tone riding up onto the hair.

Design - Snape ****; Dumbledore ***1/2
Interesting - the design scores and sculpt scores swap!  When I'm talking about design, I'm talking about style and pose.  For example, part of design is the selection of the base, which in this case makes perfect sense.  The base appears like the walls of Hogwart's, make of large dark gray stones.

The pose and 'feel' of the Snape bust is perfect.  People have their own unique body language, and here we see Snape's come through clearly.  I love the position of the hand, and the crossed arms, along with the slightly down turned gaze.

Dumbledore's general 'feel' doesn't do quite as much for me.  While the pose of the right hand over the beard works, I'm not sure how the pose of the two hands go together.  The pose of the right hand is pensive, and thoughtful, while the pose of the left hand is active.  I can't quite figure out what he's doing or saying in this exact pose.

I'm also not a big fan of the facial pony tail.  I know it's accurate, with the ring around his beard, but I thought it was a fairly dopey look in the film, and it looks pretty dopey here.  I'm not taking a lot off for it, but it does have some effect on my overall enjoyment of the bust.

Value - ***
Suggested retail on these is $50, but you should be able to find them much closer to $40.  I have several suggestions below at around that price.  Busts have been in this price range for some time now, and some are slowly rising into the $50 - $60 range.  With the low run on these, and the excellent quality, they are well worth four ten spots.

Things to watch out for - 
Not a thing. Try not to drop them on a concrete floor. Or any floor for that matter. Otherwise, you should be okay!

Overall -  Dumbledore ****; Snape ***1/2 
This is one of those rare reviews (for me) with more photos than discussion.  Usually, I have no trouble coming up with a couple thousand words to discuss the average figure, but with busts there's always inherently less to discuss.  That's usually not a problem, since there's less reason to shot a ton of photos with a bust - they're only going to be in one pose on your shelf - but that's where this pair is different.  They're so damn good they deserve plenty of angles to impress upon you the quality.

Harry Potter has had TONS of merchandise.  Most of it however, has been less than high quality.  While other licenses have had tremendously well done high end collectibles, it seems that poor Harry has been relegated to mostly 'kid' stuff.  That's now changing, and with a run of just 1500 each, these are going to be something that will be mighty tough to find once the world catches on.  Right now, there hasn't been much press or excitement on this line, but that's going to change.

Packaging - ***
Sculpt - Dombledore ****; Snape ***1/2
Paint - Dumbledore ****; Snape ***1/2
Design - ****
Value - ***
Overall -  Dumbledore ****; Snape ***1/2

Where to Buy -
With the Musicland family of stores now filing bankuptcy, your best bet for any of this stuff is online:

- Dark Shadow has these two for $42 each, and preorders up for Dobby and the Dementor for $42 each as well.

- Fireside Collectibles has thes for $42.25, and preorders for the next two at $40.25.

- Alter Ego has both busts for $42.50 each.

Related Links:
I have a handful of reviews related to Gentle Giant:

- there's the recent release of the Biker and Speederbike.

- and of course, they recently released the first series of Simpsons Bustups.

Oddly enough, although I own an almost complete collection, I don't believe I've ever reviewed a GG Star Wars mini-bust!

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

This page copyright 2003, Michael Crawford. All rights reserved. Hosted by 1 Hour