Jedi Luke Skywalker
Sideshow 12"

Last summer, THE big news coming out of the San Diego Comic Con was that Sideshow Collectibles, purveyors of fine sixth scale action figures (amongst other things), had acquired the license to produce 12" figures based on the Star Wars universe.

Hasbro had been doing 12" figures since they had swallowed up Kenner completely in the 90's.  And they had been doing them...well...let's say with less than the detail and quality that fans really wanted.  They were often cheap (around $20 or so), and it generally showed.  It didn't help that they usually ended up with the weakest G.I. Joe body underneath the clothes, although there were some exceptions.

Most fans were ecstatic that Sideshow had finagled the rights to do sixth scale figures.  The previous quality on the majority of their product boded well for the line, but there were still the naysayers - they'd be too expensive, too hard to get, with poor sculpts, etc. etc. etc.

The first figure up for pre-order - and of course, now in our hot little hands - is the Luke Skywalker in his Jedi outfit, from Return of the Jedi.  Sideshow went with their usual exclusive/regular edition routine, producing 1250 of the exclusive (with blaster pistol) and 6500 of the regular edition.  Priced at $50 each, they sold out quickly, and are long since gone from the Sideshow site.

However, there are still some online retailers with the regular edition available, and you can get on the Wait List for one at the Sideshow site as well.

Since this figure went up for pre-order, there has been pre-orders for Anakin Skywalker, Mace Windu, Bespin Han Solo, the young Obi-Wan Kenobi, Kit Fisto, and most recently, Qui-Gon Jinn.  Only Qui-Gon is still available direct from Sideshow, although getting on the wait list for any of these can prove fruitful.  I myself missed out on this exclusive version of Luke the first day, but managed to get him by putting my name on the wait list.

Packaging -  ****
So let's start this out with the packaging.  And let's start out by saying that while Sideshow ALWAYS produces great packaging, they really, truly outdid even themselves this time around. If the entire run follows this pattern, I'll be one very happy camper.

The package is narrower than usual, since the accessories are now stored in the front half of a double sized box.  Yep, this box is about twice the depth of a usual Sideshow package.  The front half folds neatly against the back half, with two flaps at the spine, and wrapping around the right side.  On the interior of these two flaps (which make up the left and right side of the package) is a ton of great info on the film and the character.

As an indication of the level of quality and care that went into this entire figure, check out how the box flap on the right is held closed.  A cardboard tab?  Oh, heavens no.  A velcro closure or two?  Nay, nay, my friend.  Magnets.  Yes, you heard right - there are magnets embedded in the box flap and box that snap it shut.  No torn velcro, no box damage from repeatedly opening and closing, and big points for Sideshow.

Not only that, but this package is completely and entirely collector friendly.  There are two trays, one in the back half and one in the front half.  Both halves are opened with a tap on the top of the box, and there is no tape.  The trays slide out easily, and when you lift off the plastic cover, the figure and accessories all pop out without any twisties, dental floss, or tape holding anything in.

There is a small piece of clear plastic tape at each corner of the plastic trays, holding the top to the bottom.  I tossed mine, but you can easily pull them back and replace them if you're that anal.

While folks might not always consider packaging that important, with high end collectibles like these it is.  The quality and style of the package is an indication of the good things inside, and you'll find your anticipation for the figure build just checking out this box.  That's a hallmark of excellent packaging, and Sideshow hit this homerun clear out of the park.

Sculpting - ***1/2
There has been much debate over the Luke sculpt.  Let me state for the record that I was VERY concerned about this one.  Since it's their first figure, everyone will be scrutinizing it, and using it to gauge their interest in the rest of the line.  As everyone should know by now, human likenesses are always the toughest to pull off, and to be completely honest, Sideshow has their hits...and misses.  The expression they choice, with the mouth slightly open, also caused quite a stir, and many assumed it would simply not work.  And I was worried.

I'm happy to say that the predictors of doom and sorry were way off the mark.  Mat Falls, one of Sideshows best sculptors, did the work here, and while the expression still isn't my favorite, this is clearly an excellent Luke sculpt.  I'd say it's the best we've ever gotten (and easily blows the Medicom and previous Hasbro attempts completely out of the water), but that's not good enough for some folks.  So instead let me say that this is Luke, and while I'm marking it down a half star, it's not because of the general quality of the likeness.  Sideshow has misses, but this is definitely not one of them, and the care and time they've put into this figure really makes me look forward to the rest of the line.

So why isn't it a four star sculpt?  Well, as I said, I'm still not thrilled beyond belief with the choice of expression.  The mouth is only open very slightly, and the eyes aren't nearly as walleyed appearing in person as they are in some photos, but this look doesn't really work well for as many poses as I'd like.  It works great based on the reference material, when Luke was in Jabba's Palace, wearing the robe, hood over his head.  Once he steps away from that specific moment in time though, it doesn't work quite as well.  It's not that it doesn't look exactly like Luke, but that this expression isn't as universal as I would have preferred.

There's plenty of detail here as well, with nicely cut in hair, the appropriate moles, scars and wrinkles, and enough facial texture to add to the realism.  However, this is definitely a sculpt that looks best shot with some natural shadow.  Put that flash up in his face and let it pop, and he's going to look pretty damn surprised.  I've seen photos of him that makes it look like someone just told him Leia was his sister, but in hand he doesn't appear quite as shocked.

He hands he comes wearing are the gloved right hand, and open left.  The open left works great for the Jedi mind trick poses, while the black glove is his trademark look for this particular film.  There are additional hands included, which I'll discuss in the accessories sections.  All the hands are made from a softer plastic, not too soft to hold the accessories well, but soft enough to place them within his grasp without damaging them.

One of the things that tends to set Sideshow apart from many of the other sixth scale makers is the use of these type of sculpted, specific hands, rather than generic versions.  All of them here look great, but I must admit that the open left hand is slightly large in scale to the rest of the body, and to the other hands.

Some feel the head is too big.  If he's nekkid, I'd agree.  In just the jumpsuit, it is a little.  But once the vest is on, and certainly with the robe, it looks perfect.  A mistake to make when translating sizes to sixth scale is to assume everything should scale down equally, and because some things simply can't - like the thickness of most materials - then some physical proportions can't either.  Women for years have complained about the weird proportions of the nekkid Barbie, but the only reason for this is to get the clothes to hang on her realistically when dressed.  If the head was small enough here to look right on the nude body, it would be too small when dressed - catch 22.

Paint - ****
I've said this a million times, but it's always worth repeating - a great sculpt can be ruined by poor paint, and a mediocre sculpt can be made great with excellent paint.

The paint ops here are excellent, with no slop, no heavy coats, no shiny finishes, and great definition and cut between various colors.

Of course, there's not a ton of paint ops like there is on a 7" fully plastic action figure.  Here, the work is all in the head and hands.  But what is here is critical to the quality of the figure.

Some folks were worried that we'd get a glossy finish ala Pammy Voorhees.  Nope, no problem there.  The skin tone and finish is very realistic and even.  The eyes are slightly glossy, giving them a wet appearance in the right light, and they are straight and clear.  The lips are the right tone, and do not appear like he's wearing lipstick, but are very natural in color.

Another great bit of work is the paint around the charred back of the right hand.  The color gradually lightens in an uneven pattern as it moves out from the damage, and looks very realistic.

Mine does have one weird, stray, small black spot on his cheek.  I'm not sure where it came from, but fortunately it's tiny enough that in normal viewing (i.e. not the lens of a camera) it's not noticeable.

Articulation - **1/2
Just when you thought everything was going to be sunshine and puppy dogs, along comes the articulation category.  And if this figure has one area of issue, it's here.

However, it's not about scale.  Luke is actually shorter than the average Sideshow figure (check the photo with Connor), and should fit in quite well with the rest of the line as they are released.

The average Sideshow figure (like Connor) is around 12.5" tall, or just a smidge under that.  Luke is just a smidge under 12", so there's about a half inch difference.  The big boy body from Sideshow will actually be even bigger, which means that unlike Medicom, where your Vader, Stormtrooper and Luke are all about the same height, you'll actually get figures in this series that match up scale-wise.

The biggest issue with the Sideshow body here is the length of the forearms.  Because of the tight fitting clothing, they are simply too long, and in some poses can look gangly and odd.  This is my biggest complaint, and hurts this score the most.

Another issue for me is the hands, or how they attach and detach from the body.  The pegs for the hands are very short, which means they pop off extremely easily, even when just posing him.  That's pretty annoying, and needs to be corrected if possible.  I do love the wrist joints though, because of the greater range of movement than just a standard ball joint.

He also has a ball jointed neck, along with every other point of articulation you expect in the usual sixth scale body today.  The wonky ball jointed hips cause some issues with the tight fitting jumpsuit, but I'll discuss that more in the outfit section.

Accessories - ***1/2
There's no shortage of accessories, even if you don't pick up the exclusive version.

Luke has a display stand of course, just like all Sideshow figures, with the traditional Star Wars logo emblazoned on it. The stand works fine, although there's no need for it unless Luke will be doing some pretty fancy moves.

He comes with three additional hands.  There are two more right hands, one burned on the back, showing the mechanical innards, and one normal but designed to hold the blaster or other any other gun.  While the site said this would be a 'lightsaber grip' right hand, it's clearly designed for the blaster.  I haven't seen a regular edition version yet to see if the extra undamaged, ungloved right hand is the same as this one or not, or if it is simply a tight grip. There is one additional left hand, in a fist to hold a saber or other accessory like the bone.

There are two lightsabers - one ignited, and one not.  The one that is not ignited can fit on a hook on the left side of Luke's belt.  Some folks may have preferred a removable blade, but by having the blade permanently attached, they were able to make the scale of the hilt (and the thin sections near the end) much more accurate.

The regular edition also comes with the bone that helped Luke take out the Rancor.  The paint and sculpt are very realistic, and the scale here is pretty good as well.

Finally, the exclusive edition comes with the Skiff Guard Blaster, from the big battle with Jabba.  The sculpt and paint detail on this accessory are excellent, and while it wasn't something I was too concerned about, I'm glad I did manage to pick it up.

Outfit - ****
This is where this figure really shines over some of the more expensive figures like Medicom.

The outfit starts with his black jumpsuit, with Calvary style flap on the chest.  There are snaps where appropriate, but the flap folds over, just like in the film, and has the correct gray material on the underside.  But unlike the Medicom version, you can actually get it to stay in position.  How?  Sideshow added a thin wire around the edge, that you can bend into the exact place you want the flap to remain!  Excellent idea, and really helps the pose.

The jumpsuit tends to bunch up around the ball jointed hips, but there is a fix for this.  Remove the clothing, and wrap some toilet paper tightly around the legs and joints.  This will fill him out a bit, and you can mush it around a bit to get just the right look when the clothes are back on.

Over the jumpsuit is his boots and belt.  The belt if pleather, with a hook for this saber, along with another loop and one small sculpted pack in back.  The belt fits tightly, but buckles well.

The boots are a nice sculpt, if a little plain.  The jumpsuit fits inside well though, and they form fit the legs nicely.

He has two additional items he can wear as well - his cloak and his vest.  The vest is not exactly like the screen version, at least not as I remember it, but I actually prefer this look.  In the movie, it seems to me that the vest was much narrower, allowing more of the black shirt to show through the center.  Here, it wraps together tightly almost all the way to the neck.  You could actually fold over the lapels I suppose if you wanted to make it look more like that, but I prefer this look.  The belt around the middle is a separate piece, and snaps together tightly in back.

Finally, there's his cloak.  It has a single hook at the neck, and flows over his shoulders to just above the floor.  The hood is quite large and could have been difficult to pose and work with, except Sideshow came through again.  They put another wire all the way around the opening, allowing you to position it in ways that look natural, but would be impossible to obtain due to the thickness of the material.  It also means that the hood can remain pushed down tight against his shoulders, since the wire is tough enough to hold it in place.

The tailoring on all the clothing is excellent, and the addition of the wires was a very smart and useful idea.  My only issue with the entire costume was that there is no hem on the bottom of the robe, and it may begin to fray. Other than that, everything is of the highest quality.

Value - ***
This is one of the nicest sixth scale figures in terms of quality and value I've picked up in a long time.  At $50, he's a great deal, considering the number of accessories, the quality of the outfit, the innovative details, and the terrific packaging.  All of the figures so far have remained $50 - $55 each, and that's an extremely good price considering the current sixth scale market.  Are these worth twice the cost of the average Hasbro 12" figure?  Do you even have to ask?

Fun Factor - ***1/2
While this figure is intended as a collectible, it's also a damn good toy.  Oh, perhaps the belt or the lightsaber blade might not stand up to the attention of a six year old, but older kids who are a little more careful could have a ton of fun with this figure.  Generally though, I wouldn't recommend spending $50 on a toy that your kids will use in the sandbox - stick with the Hasbro stuff for that.

Things to watch out for - 
There's not much.  You should be a little careful with the wires in the outfit, so that you don't break them or poke them through the material.  Also, the very end of the lightsaber hilt - not the blade, but the hilt - where it is the thinnest can break pretty easily of you don't take some care.

Overall -  ***1/2
This figure isn't perfect.  It isn't the second coming of Jesus Christ, or even a better mouse trap.  It is a damn fine sixth scale figure though, and while I have a handful of issues - choice of expression, hands falling off, long forearms - it bodes extremely well for the upcoming line.

The outfit is excellent, and the head sculpt is much better than I had anticipated.  I'd been quiet on the subject from the prototype figures because I had a bad feeling, but it was unwarranted.  I would have preferred a slightly less specific expression, but there's no doubt this is an excellent Hamill/Skywalker sculpt.

The nice bundle of accessories, excellent packaging, and terrific overall quality make me very glad that I've been putting in my pre-orders on the rest of the series.  Some may still end up less than stellar, but I also have no doubt that some will turn out even better than Luke.

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

Where to Buy -
For this first figure, Ebay might be your only choice at this point.  Unless:

- you get yourself on the Waiting List at Sideshow and get lucky.

- Dark Shadow Collectibles doesn't have any of Luke left, but they do still have several of the others that are now sold out at Sideshow still available for pre-order.  They have some on pre-order as low as $42!

- The same is true for Fireside Collectibles, where you can find some of the other sold out figures still up for pre-order.  Their pricing is a little less than Sideshow's too, and getting one of the figures from this line for as little as $45 is a steal.

Related Links:
Obviously, there are no other 12" Sideshow Star Wars figure reviews yet, but there's some others you may find interesting:

- Medicom produces expensive 12" Star Wars figures, although calling them sixth scale is incorrect.  I have my review of their Darth Vader, and a guest review of their Jedi Luke.

- Sideshow has been producing some Star Wars product already, in their Premium Format (1/4 scale) line.  Here's my review of the Darth Vader and Han Solo.

- and for an example of what Hasbro gave us, here's a guest review of the Luke with Yoda

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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