Sideshow 12" Angel

Every party needs a host. Somebody to keep things lively, pump up the volume, raise the roof, everybody say "Ho-o". Now, if that host can also read your aura by watching you sing karaoke, all the better.

On the television show Angel, they had just such a host, named Lorne. He owned a bar where vampires and werewolves and demons could come to hang without fear of getting bitten or staked. A place where peace was enforced through magic, at least for awhile. Unfortunately, that Eden, like the original was eventually destroyed, and Lorne went on to become part of Angel's scooby gang.

Sideshow is following up the release of Cordelia with Lorne. He was only available in the U.S. from the Sideshow site, making him exclusive to them. They produced - and sold out of - 1500. You can get on the wait list though in case someone's pre-order falls through. Lorne cost $45, which is the average price for most of the Buffy and Angel releases.

Packaging - ***1/2
While the Angel and Buffy packaging isn't quite as spiffy as the Star Wars and LOTR stuff, it's still pretty damn nice. The box sports decent graphics, and some background text to accompany the character. Open the flap and you can see the figure and accessories easily, and you can keep him MIB if you so desire.

These aren't quite as collector friendly though as some of their other boxes. You can get Lorne's tray out easy enough, but he has lots of nylon string (instead of twisties) holding him in place, along with a interior tray cover that holds the bottles in place. This cover has tabs that go through the main tray and are taped on the underside, and are a bit of a pain in the neck to get free. And let me once again go on record as hating the string ties. While they are less visible for the MIBers, for those of us that would like to remove the figure from the package and then return it, they're annoying.

Sculpting - ***1/2
Lorne is easily my favorite sculpt in the Angel series so far. He has a couple minor issues, but in general he's a home run.

Although he's green, has horns, and red eyes, Lorne is one of the more life-like sculpts I've seen recently. In person, the detail work on the hair and horns is quite impressive. The small crack marks in the skin around the horns is particularly realistic, and the scale/proportion on the horns is just about perfect.

The expression is one of slight amusement, which is an improvement over early photos that showed him with a more serious look. The slight smile works well for a ton of poses, and the proportions internal to the face - nose, eyes, horns, hair, chin - are good. There's some issues compared to the actual Lorne though, like the ears which sit a little too low on the head, and lack some of the pointiness at the top, and the fact that the face itself seems a little fatter than the actual Lorne.

The head is a tad big, but it's just a tad. It's not a bobble head situation, and actually looks pretty accurate in size from most angles. Both hands have unique sculpts of course, with an open left hand and gripping right. The left does have enough of a grip though that he can hold glasses or bottles in it as well. The hand combination allows for tons of interesting poses, and work terrific with the accessories.

Lorne is actually a little taller than the usual standard Sideshow male, large due to the boots. These have heels, pushing him up a quarter inch or so over other characters in flat shoes.

Paint - ***1/2
As has been noted by many, Lorne doesn't have as much mottling on his face as the actual character. Or as the figure had in its prototype phase. I'm going to cut them some slack here though, and I might even go so far as to say that's not a bad thing. To get the subtle shading and light touch necessary to do something that complex, it would have required hand painting skills that the average factory worked, hopped up on five double lattes to make it through the grueling 18 hour day, just wouldn't have been able to do. Instead, they went with a more subtle shading of the green on the sides of the face that works fine for me.

They do have some wonderful detail work though around the horns, where they are breaking through the outer skin. The eyes are also very well done, with lots of detail. It's difficult to see in many cases, because the dark red of the eyes tends to hide the black pupils, but they're they and they are straight and clean. They've even added small catchlights to the eyes that are very realistic.

The hands are a little *too* mottled, further supporting my theory on the face. The mottling here, especially on the left hand, is over done and heavy, and detracts a bit from the appearance. The body is colored greenůsort of. It's greener than the usual tan human body, but in no way does it actually match the dark green of the head or hands, so when the sleeve rides up, it's still an obvious difference.

Articulation - ***
It's the Sideshow body. All the joints are here, but the body isn't the most natural in flow or pose. Yes, he has skinny legs. And yes, his hips could use a little padding. But the body works better with Lorne that it has with a number of other recent releases, and I was able to get some nice poses with very little effort.

I did find that the ankles were weaker than usual, and hand to turn them around in the boots to keep him standing for any long periods. The big plus on this figure was the ball jointed neck, which worked better for me than any other Sideshow figure to date. He can look forward and back much deeper than past figures, and he can actually HOLD the position. While past ball jointed necks could move, they generally snapped back into a pose that wasn't particularly deep when you let go of them.

Outfit - ***1/2
The outfit includes his silver boots, bright yellow suit, blue shirt, red ascot, and belt.

The boots are perhaps the highlight and the low point for me. They are a very cool bright silver, with heels and all, and have an excellent sculpt. The silver paint is a little inconsistent in coverage, as silver often is, but it's not too bad. My issues revolve around what appears to be two right boots. The one on the left foot does not fit well at all, with the toes pushing out on one side. It looks quite awkward on close inspection, and I'm not sure if they're all like this or I just got stiffed.

The rest of the outfit looks amazing with minor nits. The blue shirt is a full length job, but lacks some of the detail the actual shirt had, like stripes. The ascot looks great underneath and fits nicely, even in this scale, but as I recall also had some sort of pattern to it on the show. The yellow suit is somewhat plain (in design, not in color), but fits extremely well. The pants are tailored to be larger than the legs, and this avoids some of the 'skinny leg' syndrome that other Sideshow figures have shown. The jacket also hangs on his body extremely well, but it doesn't have any sort of closure in front.

The belt is made from a very thin pleather with a buckle, but it's quite tight. There aren't any belt loops on the pants, so the belt tends to ride off the pants and onto the shirt. Be careful adjusting it, since you can easily break it.

Something that's missing is his scarf. He generally had one with the yellow or green suit, and would have been another nice touch to the overall outfit.

Accessories - ***1/2
There are five additional accessories, and the usual display stand. Of course, the base of the stand has the Angel symbol, and it works exactly like all the previous Sideshow stands. I don't like using them myself, but if you're in the habit, this one will work fine.

The other five accessories include a champagne bottle (minus any label), a martini glass (reused I believe from a Bond figure), microphone, a fruity drink glass with umbrella, and a magic bottle from the episode "Spin the Bottle", a Lorne-centric episode. I love the inclusion of very episode and character-centric accessories like this, so it's always a big plus to me. The sculpt and paints on all four are excellent, and scale is quite good as well. The hands are designed to work with the accessories, and all you need is a bar for him to tend to be right at home.

Fun Factor - ***
Okay, he's not really intended for kids. But there's nothing here that couldn't be played with, and perhaps little Sally needs someone a bit more hip than Ken around the old doll house. Boys will assume he's evil - he does have pointy horns sticking out of his forehead aftera ll - and would be able to incorporate him easily into the battle rotation.

But let's face it, this is a figure intended for adult fans of the show, and they're idea of fun is more in line with posing him on the shelf in compromising positions. And I'm happy to report that he can do that quite well.

Value - ***
At the usual price of $45, I would normally give a Sideshow figure **1/2 stars in this category. But with the variety of accessories (and only one reuse), and the exceptionally well down outfit, I feel this figure is the best of the Angel figures so far and deserves a little better Value ranking.

Things to Watch Out For - 
The belt is pretty thin, and might break under pressure. If it's not quite where you want it on the body, take your time adjusting it to avoid problems.

Overall - ***1/2
Lorne was one of my favorite characters on Angel, and was a perfect example of what made the show so unique and interesting. I'm definitely glad that we got the figure, and of the set so far, he's my easy favorite. Obviously, we need Wes, Gunn and Fred to round things out, but Lorne is more visually interesting than any of the other Angel team.

Toy Fair starts in less than 3 days, and I've got my fingers crossed that Sideshow will be announcing some more additions to the Angel line, particularly since Lorne sold out.

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

Where to Buy -
This figure was a Sideshow exclusive, but they sold out awhile back. Although it's supposed to be a Sideshow site exclusive, some retailers do have them available:

- Dark Figures has him in stock at $40.

- CornerStoreComics still has him listed as a pre-order, at $38.

- Entertainment Earth has him in stock at $54.

Related Links - 
I've reviewed an awful lot of Buffy merchandise over the years, but here's some of it:

- in the Sideshow line, I've reviewed Cordelia, Vamp Darla, Vamp Buffy, Willow, the original Buffy and Angel, Faith, and the Gentlemen.  And if you're looking for something a little taller, there's the Premium Format Buffy.

- there's also the 6" line from DST and MAC, including the Pylean Princess Cordy and Season 7 Xander, latest deluxe Spike and Angel, the deluxe Hawaiin Shirt Spike and Angel, the regular Buffy and Dawn figures, deluxe Buffy and Faith, Drusilla and the Gentlemen, Buffy, Giles and Oz, the recent Angel wave, more of the Angel wave, Fred and Illyria, Wesley, Willow and Tara, and the very first series of Angel figures from MAC.

- there's been plenty of busts, like the Ubervamp, the four monsters from DST, the Becoming Buffy, human Spike, and Buffy vs. Dracula.

- and then there's the Palz, like the Gentlemen, the Halloween set, and series 1.

- there's also the oddball stuff, like the Buffy and Angel Christmas ornaments, the Dark Witch Willow statue, the Welcome Faith statue, or the Johnny Lightening cars.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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