Sideshow Palpatine/Sidious Two Pack

I always felt a little bad for poor old Palpatine.  I mean really, here's the guy that's responsible for the downfall of the Republic, a man who manipulates the entire Senate, a master Sith Lord, brilliant and evil enough to bring the Jedi to their knees and near extinction, a man who deftly maneuvers the political landscape to place himself in charge of a tyrannical dictatorship unlike any seen by the galaxy before...and all he hears is "Darth Vader this, Boba Fett that, Darth Maul blah blah blah...".  No wonder the guy was always so pissed off.

Sideshow does him up right though with a two pack release in his honor.  This two pack depicts him from the prequel films, first as Senator Palpatine and then as Darth Sidious.  This version of Sidious has the prequel look to him.  There's an exclusive version of course, that includes a little statue from his office.  I think the pen and pencil set off the desk would have been cooler.

This set ain't cheap, coming in at $120 for the pair.  The price is the same for the exclusive (which has an edition size of 2000) or the regular edition, so it was worth it to get the exclusive if you could.  These are all long sold out at Sideshow (although you can still get on the waitlist), but I have a couple options for you at the end of the review.


Packaging - ****
As usual, Sideshow does a fantastic job with their Star Wars packaging.  These two guys come packed together, so the box is deeper of course.  There's also a ton of background text on the interior flaps on both characters, as well as a nice listing of the included accessories.  The magnetic closures work great, and the box is even very collector friendly.  You will have a couple pieces of tape to get rid of holding the top plastic to the bottom plastic tray.  But that's a minor thing, and one I can certainly live with.  No twisties?  No dental floss? I'm happy!

Sculpting - Palpatine ****; Sidious ***1/2
You might not be a fan of the character, but that shouldn't mean you can see what a truly fantastic head sculpt Palpatine has.  This is one of the best human likenesses we've seen from Sideshow in quite some time, even rivaling Old Ben.  Yes, I know, that's practically blasphemy, but that's because everyone loves old Ben and poor Palpatine isn't particularly well liked.  But there's no doubt that this is a very realistic, very close approximation of the character.

The Sidious sculpt is great as well, although there are a few issues that make it not quite as dead on for me.  I think it's the hair, which we didn't get a terrific look at in the film, but which seems too full and thick here.  That's probably because we say his full head better in the OT, when he was much older.  He also doesn't seem quite as pruned up as he seemed in the film particularly in the face.

His hand sculpt is excellent in that regard though, especially when you compare the hands to Palpatine.  They have a nice, claw-like appearance as Sidious, and the hand sculpts on both figures are designed to a) work with the accessories and b) look great gesturing.  Of course, adding in a second set of hands to cover the widest range of posing possibilities is the best move, but the sculpted poses still had to be well done to work in as many ways as possible.

If every Sideshow Star Wars sculpt looked like these two, there would be no complaints.  Okay, sure, there'd be a few, but you can't please EVERYONE.  But if they were able to produce this good of human sculpts consistently, most of the complaints would be silenced.

Paint - ***1/2
Palpatine almost pulled a perfect score in this category as well, if not for one minor problem.

Both figures have extremely clean paint work, with great details especially around the eyes.  They used the gloss finish on the eyeballs themselves, giving them that slightly wet and very realistic look.  I'm a big fan of including that paint op, even though I'm sure it adds to the overall cost.

Palpatine has some of the cleanest paint on the face of any human likeness from any company I've seen in quite some time.  The skin tone is excellent, and this is an excellent example of fantastic paints taking a fantastic sculpt to a new level.

His one issue is around some glossy high spots.  These high spots are the tips of his ears and some of the areas of his hair, and they are much glossier than the rest of the skin and hair.  They might be rub marks, but whatever the case, it's a specific issue that I'm hoping isn't a consistent problem.

Sidious is extremely clean as well, but there's something about the skin tone that isn't quite as realistic to me. Yea, I know, nobody (or at least nobody not yet dead) has that skin tone, and that's not what I mean.  What I'm talking about is it's actually TOO consistent, too clean, too even.  Skin has variation, highlights, shadows.  They pulled that off a little better with the Palpatine than with the Sidious.

The paint work on all the hands is excellent, especially Sidious' claws.  Not only are the fingernails done with great detail, they have a gloss finish to set them apart from the fingers.

Whatever they did with this pair (and with the Ben Kenobi just recently released), they need to continue, especially with the Indiana Jones line. Please!

Articulation - ***
If you're used to Sideshow bodies, then you're used to these.

The necks are a little better here, with a better range of movement in the ball joint than we've seen with some releases.  The weird thing is that it tilts side to side and backward well, but doesn't tilt forward.  He can't even check to see if he stepped in Wookie crap.

The teeny wrist posts still bug me, but the hands swapped a little easier this time around.  Still, if you're going to be doing some redesign work, the wrist pegs might be a place to look.

The rest of the body is tight, but the joints work about as well as you've come to expect.  In other words, this is a decent sixth scale body, but not at the level of Hot Toys or Medicom when it comes to giving the figure a truly natural, flowing pose.  You won't need to put him in too many wild action poses, so (like the recent Ben) this body is probably sufficient.  I'm hoping though that the body is one area where we see continued improvement in 2008.

Accessories - ***1/2
The accessories aren't packed in a completely segregated way.  By that I mean that the stuff packed with Sidious is really just for Sidious, and the stuff for Palpatine isn't just with Palpatine.

Both figures come with an extra set of hands, designed for holding the sabers or gesturing in a slightly different way.  As I mentioned earlier, the sculpts are great as are the paints, and the hands swap a little better here then they did with Ben Kenobi.  However, the left hands I got with Palpatine are identical...I'm assuming they aren't supposed to be.

Both figures come with two lightsabers, lit and unlit.  The sabers are also different between Palpatine in color, with the gold color for Palpatine and the blacker color for Sidious.  I don't ever recall seeing Palpatine with a lightsaber (that would have given away his hidden Sith personality), but it's nice to have them for display purposes, and I'm assuming we saw it at some point and I'm just blanking on it.  EDIT: As more than one of my intrepid readers pointed out, when Mace goes to arrest Palpatine, he pulls the gold/bronze saber.  He's still Palps then, and only turns as they battle.  In my head, I already had him marked off as Sidious at that point, but of course he's not.

Of course, both figures have their now trademark display stands.  You won't have to use these, but it's nice that they're included for those of you living on a fault line.

Also in the box is a Senate Cam Droid, with a black base and black metal rod to hold it in the air, as well as an extremely cool Sith Holocron device.  The scale on both of these is great, with lots of nice detailing in the sculpt and paint.

The exclusive version comes with aforementioned office decoration.  It's a large statue, much larger than I expected.  It's a hooded and robed figure, clearly a Jedi (or Sith!).  If the exclusive cost more, I'd say that this extra really wasn't worth it, but since the price for the exclusive is the same as the regular, why not get the extra accessory?

Outfit - ***1/2
Both figures have very nicely tailored, complex outfits.

Palpatine has pants, a tunic, a cloth belt, and his outer robe, all done in very high quality material with excellent stitching and hemming.  Even with all those layers, the clothing fits tightly to his body. The boot sculpt is almost identical between the two, but there are some very slight differences, including the height.

Once Palpatine went all dark side and became Sidious, it appears that he decided underwear was optional.  He also switched from pants to a dress, making the no underwear decision a bit more of an issue.

His black 'dress' has a flower pattern on the front...if anyone other than Sidious wore this outfit, they'd get their ass kicked.  Over this evening gown he's wearing a very cool black cloak with hood.  The hood has the usual wire to make it quite poseable, and it doesn't have the long pointed 'tail' sticking out, making it much easier to pose in attractive ways.

The cloak has a fake fur collar, made from a soft black velvet.  This collar also has a wire running all the way around the outside edge, making it easy to get the clothing just right.  It's a sturdy wire, but it sticks out of one end of the material. The fake 'fur' is also around his wrists.

The cloak uses a velcro closure rather than a snap or a hook, and I'm fine with that.  It works well, is much easier to open and close, and is thin enough to not make the cloak bulge out.

Fun Factor - ***
These aren't the most dynamic characters from the movie, but these are actually pretty good 'toys'.  They are sturdy and well made, and you won't have to worry about damaging the accessories or the figure posing him.

Value - **
Sideshow figures have managed to creep their way up to $60 a pop, but I think most of us expected to get some sort of break on the total by buying two at once.  It doesn't appear like they had any trouble selling through a fairly large number of these though, so maybe Palpatine is finally getting some love.

And while I'm hitting them up a little in this category, I will say that if every figure comes out this well, I'd be happy to pay the $60 a pop.

Things to Watch Out For - 
Not a thing.  I didn't have any worries or concerns about any aspect of the figure or accessories.

Overall - ***1/2
Palpatine is *this* close to a four star figure.  In fact, if the body was a bit more natural, he would have been an easy four star figure for me.  The sculpt is outstanding, and the paint helps support it.  The accessories and outfit are top notch, and even the higher price point didn't hurt very much.

Sidious isn't quite as perfect for me, so even the improved body wouldn't have pushed him up that extra half star.  But he's still well above average, and I'm very happy I picked these.

With Ben Kenobi and now these two, I'm really, really looking forward to the 2008 Star Wars and Indiana Jones lines.  If they can keep this quality of sculpt, paint, outfit and accessories, I'll be thrilled.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ****
Sculpt - Palpatine ****; Sidious ***1/2
Paint - ***1/2
Articulation - ***
Accessories - ***1/2
Outfit - ***1/2
Fun Factor - ***
Value -  **
Overall - ***1/2

Where to Buy -
Sideshow still has the wait list for both the regular and the exclusive.  Other sponsor options include:

- Dark Shadow Collectibles has the regular set for $108.

- CornerStoreComics has the regular set for $108 as well.

- Amazing Toyz also has the regular set at $108.

- and if you're in the UK, Forbidden Planet has the pair for 80 GBP.

- if you're looking for other Star Wars related items, check out Andrews Toyz for all kinds of goodies.

- or you can search Ebay using MyAuctionLinks.

- Related Links -
If you'd like to see some of Sideshow's offerings, check these reviews:

- the last was the exceptional ANH Obi-Wan.

- in the sixth scale line, I've also reviewed Leia and Bespin Luke, the Holo-chess set, Sideshow's Asajj, a terrific figure, Yavin Luke, the Endor Troops, Jabba the Hutt and his throne, Bib Fortuna, Jedi Luke, Darth Maul, Obi-Wan, Bespin Han Solo, regular Anakin Skywalker and Kit Fisto.

- I also have guest reviews of the SDCC Anakin Skywalker, Mace Windu, and Qui-Gon Jinn.

- in the premium format line, I've reviewed Darth Vader, Princess Leia, Boba Fett, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Han Solo.

If you'd like to check out some of the 12" Star Wars offerings from Medicom, hit these links:

- my review of the 501st Clone Trooper, Jango Fett, the Sandtrooper and  Boba Fett.

- guest reviews of the VCD Yoda and Boba Fett.

- guest reviews of the ROTS Vader, Jedi Luke, and this very Trooper.

- and my review of their first release Darth Vader, the regular Stormtrooper, and Clonetrooper and Blackhole Trooper

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Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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