Sideshow Premium Format
Boba Fett

Ah, Boba Fett. The shining example that even in space, it's looks that count over substance. Sure, he only had a handful of lame lines, and he met with a pathetic death (and an even more pathetic reincarnation in the books), but he's just so damn good looking in that armor. How could you not love him?

Certain designs are simply so good that they transcend generations and appeal to not only all ages, but ages to come. In the world of film, characters like Frankenstein's Monster, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and the Alien are all so well conceived that they will live on as icons, unaffected by generational changes in fashion or style. In the world of fantasy and sci-fi, Boba Fett is this classic sort of design.

Sideshow's announcement of a Premium Format version was met with much joy. I haven't purchased every Star Wars PF they've produced, and some have left me quite cold. But I pre-ordered this guy the second he was available, and ponyed up the $325 for the exclusive version. Yep, like usual, there's a regular version (with a run of 2000), and an exclusive version (with a run of 2000 as well) that comes with an extra accessory. I'll be reviewing the exclusive, and pointing out the difference in the Accessories section.

Packaging - ***
The outside of the box is the rather boring black and gray design currently dictated to some licensors by Lucas Film. It's boring on the Gentle Giant busts, it's boring here.

Inside, you have a nice foam container, with very little wasted space. In fact, the entire box is one of the smallest they've done, which is helpful to both the environment and those who store the figures or keep the boxes.

Sculpting - ***1/2
I'm going to be covering the sculpt of the exterior of this figure and base in this section. I'll be saving all my comments on the interior body for the Value section, where it's more relevant.

Sideshow selected a pose for this figure that's good - and *almost* great. He's standing slightly relaxed, most of his weight shifted to the left leg, holding the blaster in both hands. This is very similar to the pose selected by Gentle Giant for their statue, but is still superior. This is an excellent example of how one slight change can make a huge difference. The GG statue almost has it right, but has Fett's left hand out, sort of beckoning you to fight. Unfortunately, it doesn't end up looking that way, and has been called 'proctologist Fett' by more than one observer.

But GG did get the right hand in a great pose, and had Sideshow did something that was just a little different as well, they could have gone from good to great. The GG statue has the blaster stock resting on his right hip. That's a pose that Sideshow should have used, along with a more relaxed left hand draped at his side. For an example of how this would have looked, check out the photo I've included (to the immediate left) of the custom changes made to the Premium Format figure by McHaleyArt. He was kind enough to allow me to include this photo for reference, and I for one think this is the superior stance.

Still, the Sideshow version is a nice middle of the road approach. The neck is articulated, so that you can pose it with your preferred tilt or direction, and this is a big plus to helping the overall appearance of the sculpt. When he's looking straight ahead, the pose isn't nearly as interesting as when you give the head a little personality with just the right tilt and angle.

There is no head under the helmet, but the helmet is certainly sized as though there is. Some folks will probably have an issue with the size, but it really is fairly reflective of reality, where helmeted heads tend to be a bit large, even on armored bodies. I do have more of an issue though with the sculpt itself, which is off in a number of ways. This included the depth of the indentations at the 'cheeks' of the helmet, the size of the visor, and even the amount that the silver attachments on either side of the head stick out. I'm not super picky about helmets - for example, the Vader PF helmet was fine by me - but this one is off enough that even I can tell. At $325, this is the kind of thing lots of folks will be picky about.

The rest of the proportions are decent, with some minor issues. The chest is a little narrow, so that the breast plate tends to cover more of the lighter colored shirt underneath than you'll see in movie stills. The arms are a smidge thin, but this is definitely a very small nit. The height is good at about 19 Inches (at the top of his helmet), and the legs look good in the baggy pants.

The sculpting on the gauntlets, hands, jet pack, feet and gun are all very good, with nice crisp details. There's not much in the way of texturing though (with the obvious exception of the battle damage dents), and the choice of plastic for all the sculpted pieces is an issue in some areas. I can certainly understand the choice for the jet pack, which would have been very heavy and unwieldy in polystone, and I can live with the choice for areas that would be easily damaged like the gauntlets and armor. But other areas, like the blaster, feet and hands, should have been polystone. The reasoning from Sideshow was that they all had to shrink at the same rate, and ABS and polystone don't. Unfortunately, what this amounts to is an all plastic exterior wearing clothes, and this will severely hurt the perception of value. More on that later.

The jet pack is in scale with the rest of the figure, and attaches to the back with two hooks that thread through two hangers on his back. It looks terrific in place, but take care not to damage the plastic hangers.

Finally, there's the base. It's a very basic base, with a sandy appearance. There's only the color it's cast in, plus some wash to dirty it up a bit. While I cut NECA some slack on their recent ten dollar action figures were some of the parts were cast in the color instead of being painted, I'm far less inclined to feel the same at this price point. Additionally, the majority of the base is actually cast in a rubber material. Push on it with your fingers and it's squishy, very much like those urethane floor mats that keep your tootsies comfy when you stand on them for long periods. Now I realize that Boba will be standing on this base for a long time - like forever - but I'm not sure the comfort of his feet is a concern. I suspect that this was done to make the base less susceptible to damage in terms of breakage and paint rubs. It does appear (although I haven't cut it open) that there's a hunk of polystone inside the base itself, under the rubber, to give it weight and stability.

That does bring up one other point about Boba's ability to stand - he has it. The ability to stand on his own, that is. Unlike most PF's, who require the base to stay upright, Boba can stand on any flat surface. Thankfully, they put the steel posts for his feet and legs in the base this time, and his stance is wide enough to be stable on his own.

Paint - ***1/2
Like the helmet sculpt, there are nits you can pick with the overall paint job. Rather than each area of damage matching a movie still exactly, they appear more like a general artistic interpretation of the damage. In my personal case, I have less issue with this, and I really think they did an excellent job creating realistic armor with the amazing paint application.

There is a little slop along the edges of the visor, and I've heard others complain of this same issue. I'm also not thrilled with the base being cast in the too consistent sand color, and these two issues hold him back from a perfect score. He really does have some fantastic weathering effects though, especially in the jetpack. This is a figure that needs to be displayed in front of a mirror, so that you can appreciate just how cool the pack looks while still seeing him from the front. Just to prove it, I've included a photo set up just that way.

Articulation - **1/2
Here's an odd category for a PF. Actually, I usually mention it anyway, because I want folks to know that PF's are NOT articulated, but this time it's the opposite - this guy has two joints!

Yep, I mentioned earlier that you can pose the neck in a number of ways, and it's a nice ball joint with a great range of movement. It sits up fairly high on the cloth wrapped neck, but the cloth can be pushed around a bit to get just the right appearance.

The other point of articulation is the range finder. This can lowered or raised, and I had no trouble with mine staying in any position. I've heard reports of some folks having issues getting them to either go entirely erect, or to stay that way. That's not an issue for me. And my range finder is fine as well.

That's it for articulation though, and some folks may find that a bit annoying. He does have an all plastic body under there - why not let us repose at least the arms as well? However, even though he doesn't get a high score in this category (one joint ain't going to get you four stars), ANY score in this category is actually a plus to the overall.

Outfit - ***1/2
For me, the one area that I have no real complaints about is the outfit. It's truly stellar, and shows just how good the PF style can be when done right.

Yes, there is plastic used in the armor. And yes, I'm counting the attached armor as part of the 'outfit'. But using plastic here makes perfect sense, since these are pieces that could easily be damaged. Companies have used plastic and materials like lead and pewter in statues and busts for years in areas where damage was simply too likely to occur with more brittle materials. The work they did with the armor looks terrific, from the plates to the gauntlets, and I have no issues with choice of material or paint work.

The clothing is also top notch. The cape is tightly attached at the shoulder, with a nice weathering and dirt effect. It's about the right size, and it hangs perfectly with very little futzing. The shirts and pants are tailored perfectly, with just the right fit and excellent quality stitching and material. The wookie braids are nice, although the shiny nylon is pretty obvious in this scale, and they don't really look any better than the braids we've seen with past, much less expensive but smaller versions of Fett.

There's a couple minor issues that are worth mentioning though, and they may effect you more than they did me. First, the belt (which is removable with a high quality snap in back) has a series of pouches across the front, made in softer plastic. I don't mind this, especially since the gun rubs against them and could have easily damaged them if they were resin. It is another example of why the pose with the arms at the sides would have been preferable, but it's minor enough of an issue for me that I'm not deducting for it. Your mileage may vary.

The other issue is that the various pockets and cloth bags are filled with a soft foam material. This gives them the appearance of containing 'stuff', but since the foam is cut very regular in size and shape, it looks a little unrealistic. Also, my right front pocket on his pants came open (the small thread used to tack it shut came loose), so it tends to flop about a bit. Again, for me these aren't major issues, but worth mentioning.

The small hoses that attach to his right gauntlet have a tendency to kink right at the attachment, and I found that one of the three had a small kink right out of the package. These are very tiny hoses, and kink quite easily, so you'll want to take some care. The kink isn't particularly easy to notice, but it's existence, along with a couple of the other minor nits, were enough in combination to pull this score just down far enough to miss the four stars. In fact, had the hoses not been kinked, this category would have gotten a perfect score from me.

If you do have kinks, you can probably correct them. If you try it though, and screw it up, I will deny ever saying it might be possible. The hoses can be pulled off the gauntlet with some work, or can be cut just before the attachment, and the excess removed. You can then cut off the kink, and force the tube back on the gauntlet. There's a couple inches of tub running up inside the sleeve, so there's enough to work with, but if you undertake the fix and screw it up, remember that I'm not responsible.

Accessories - **1/2
This PF is somewhat unusual in the series, since he has more 'extras' than most. 

Obviously, the exclusive version comes with the Mandalorian 'effect'. What this amounts to is a very nice coaster or wall plaque. Don't get me wrong - it's much bigger than a coaster at around 7" in diameter. But that's still what a lot of folks will be reminded of. This is made of polystone, with a terrific texture and beautiful paint job. It also has four nice rubber feet on the back, along with a metal hanger attached with screws. Hang it on the wall behind him, put it on a stand next to him - whatever might float your bought. It's nice, but it's not enough to compel anyone to buy the exclusive version, so it fails in that regard.  Oh, and the stand I'm using in the photo is NOT included. That's actually one of the Action Mount stands I reviewed awhile back.

While I counted the removable jet pack as part of the overall figure, I put the removable tools as part of his accessories. He has three, tucked into the ankle pockets on his pants. They all look good, and fit fine in their respective spots.  EDIT - there's actually a fourth, that looks sort of like a double ended nail.  Mine had fallen out, and I was lucky enough to find it in the packaging.

Value - *1/2
Ah, yes - here be the sticky wicket. Sideshow PF's generally have polystone bodies. And yes, polystone is a form of 'plastic'. Of course, so is body armor, used to stop bullets (ultra high molecular weight polyethylene), and yet I don't think anyone wearing a vest made from fibers using UHMWP would think swapping out another form of 'plastic' would be a good idea. Hey, it's all plastic, right?

Wrong. Polystone is a heavy, dense material that exhibits many of the physical characteristics of stone, hence the name. It's use in Premium Format figures has always given them the heft and feel of high quality materials. The idea that a 'premium format' figure was a statue on steroids was originally based on the concept that the sculpted areas were polystone, with other materials like cloth and metal included to give the statue an even more realistic appearance.

With this PF, Sideshow stepped away from using polystone. As I said earlier, I can understand the reasoning behind some of it, including the armor and jet pack. But other areas, especially the base and the interior body, should have remained polystone. The reasoning given by Sideshow was that the plastic used for the armor would shrink in the process of manufacture. If the body didn't shrink in a similar way, the pieces wouldn't come together correctly. I'm sure there's some truth to this, but the clothing for these figures is estimated correctly, and there was no mistake in getting the correct fit for Fett's costume, even with the shrinkage of the body and the armor. Then why would it be difficult to get an accurate enough estimate of the shrinkage of the armor and make the polystone body the correct smaller size?

Additionally, there's no 'rate of shrinkage' issue with the base, and they still went with a cheaper, lighter material there as well. Obviously, this was done to reduce breakage and wear issues. But switching materials across the board on this PF does hurt it's overall perceived value, and much greater consideration should have been given to this issue - and the PR around communicating it - to avoid some of the backlash they've since experienced.

What's important to note here is that this isn't about how good the figure looks. It looks great. Oh, it's not a four star figure for me, plastic or polystone, because there's still enough nibbling minor issues to hold it back from the top spot. But it's certainly one of the better Star Wars PF's, well ahead of others like Luke, Luke/Yoda, or Han for me. But as I've told people in several message threads in which this issue has been discussed, cubic zirconia stones are quite beautiful. In fact, they have no flaws or color imperfections, unlike diamonds. Diamonds aren't particularly 'rare', even good quality ones (although the circulation of said diamonds is tightly controlled to maintain the illusion). And yet, I'm betting that if you give your girlfriend a CZ engagement ring, and tell her "It's just as beautiful, so it's the same thing", she's going to slap you so hard your father calls you long distance to ask why his face hurts.

This is also not only about how much it costs to make, although that does factor in to some degree. If your customers think it costs you less to make product A because of a change, whether it does or not means very little to their willingness to pay as much as previously.

In this particular instance, I can easily believe that the actual cost to manufacture this figure is not all that different between the hollow plastic version and the solid polystone one. While the injection molded plastic parts could have a higher fixed cost than the polystone version (steel molds versus softer material molds), the unit costs would be much less for the plastic version. The cost of assembly is likely to be cheaper (easier to put together the costume and accessories with the detachable plastic parts), and the cost of the actual materials themselves is lower, since ABS is generally cheaper than polystone and there's a whole lot less of it here with a hollow body. And don't discount the cost of freight for Sideshow to get these guys shipped over from Asia. In the end, I have no trouble believing that it all washed out, and that there really was no true cost savings for Sideshow when you added it all up. But that's not actually relevant, and believing it is got them into trouble.

What this IS about is the perception of value. People look at what they get for their money, and compare it against what they know. What collectors know is that in the past, Premium Format figures at their base were polystone statues, not plastic statues. The concept of a statue implies certain things to most people, including the materials used. Mcfarlane makes what most folks consider 'plastic statues' because of their limited articulation, and in a 7" size they run around ten to twelve bucks. They look amazing. Kotobukiya makes 12" scale plastic statues, and they run around $80, and look amazing (sometimes). Medicom makes 12" highly articulated clothed figures, and they run around $150 (and usually look amazing). It should be no real surprise then that when many people look at this PF, they see an 18" scale plastic statue with highly detailed clothing, sort of a combination of the Medicom and Koto product, but in a bigger scale. And taken in that context, it seems that $200, or maybe $225 is a reasonable price. But Fett clocks in at $325, and is one of the most expensive PF's Sideshow has produced. And at that price, the perceived value for many folks is going to be very low.

This is a $200 - $225 figure, at least to me. I won't pre-order another quarter scale figure from Sideshow that uses the all plastic body unless they offer up something amazing in terms of an exclusive item to go with it. Any future PF's that use this format that I like the look of will be regular edition ebay buys for me.

And with that, I just wrote a record length Value section!

Things to Watch Out For - 
People are having issues with crimped hoses, and it's actually pretty easy to crimp them accidentally yourself once you have it out of the package, so take extra care when handling them. Some folks have also had issues with the range finder, but mine was fine. They've reported that it won't go all the way straight up, or once it does, tends to wilt. Hey, even Ditka had that problem, so Boba shouldn't feel too bad.

Overall - ***
I don't write rambling, unorganized reviews for a very simple reason, and this figure is a perfect example. If I were to simply ramble along, pointing out highlights and lowlights as I went without any organization or consistency, by the end of this review you would have simply gotten the idea that the figure was bad, and I didn't like it. You'd know it was because of the price perhaps, but if the price didn't matter to you, my review would be pretty useless, since pulling out the other relevant details would be tough.

That's why I break them up the way I do. My overall score was heavily influenced by the lack of value I think this figure represents. But that does not mean that the sculpt, paint and outfit all aren't exemplary. If you feel the $325 is easily justified (or you simply don't see that particular issue as being relevant), then you can ignore that section entirely, and see that the other key areas that may matter to you - Sculpt, Paint and Outfit - were all ***1/2 star scores. And yes, if this figure cost a hundred bucks less, he would have been a ***1/2 star figure overall for me as well.

In the end, this figure *almost* came in at **1/2 stars for me.  But it's important to be fair to the overall situation and not allow one glaring error to override the positive points, unless that glaring error is ultimately critical.  For me, the price on this figure is like getting to slow dance with Kristen Bell, but I've got a pebble in my shoe.  Now, I could focus on nothing but that damn annoying pebble, but I'd be missing out on all that is Ms. Bell.  Had the costume, sculpt and paint not been ***1/2 star quality, then it would have been more like having that same pebble, but now I'm dancing with Kristen Bell's stunt double, and he's not nearly as attractive as you might think.

Ignoring the Value section, Fett still isn't quite a four star home run. There's enough minor nits to keep that out of reach, and I think that the Vader, Obi-Wan and Leia are all superior in appearance (although the latter two are obviously not as complex). Still, he's an exceptional version of Fett, perhaps the best we've seen to date, although the Medicom RAH version might give him a run for his money. If you're a big fan of the character, and don't have issues with the price, then you won't want to pass him up.  If you're like me, and do have an issue with the high cost, you might want to keep an eye on the ebay trend for the regular edition.

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

Where to Buy -
You'll have to waitlist at Sideshow for the exclusive, or turn to Ebay. The regular can be had at several places: 

- Alter Ego Comics has him for $292.49. 

- CornerStoreComics still has him at the pre-order price of $276. 

- Dark Figures has him at $315. 

- and for the U.K. folks, Forbidden Planet has him listed at 195 pounds. 

Related Links -
If you like the PF style, check out:  

- in the Universal Monsters line, I've reviewed the Mummy, Phantom of the Opera, Dracula, Frankenstein and Vampyre.

- in the Star Wars line, I've done Vader, Leia, Obi-wan and Han.

- and in general, I've also covered John Wayne, Buffy, Jason, and Lurtz.

And if you're a Fett fan, check out: 

- My favorite Fett in my collection is the one from Marmit, reviewed here by DanB.

- a close second is the Kotobukiya version, that I reviewed here.

- here's a guest review of the VOTC version.

- if you're looking for something bigger but still VOTC, here's a guest review of the 12" version

- I reviewed the Karkoon version of Boba as well, and if you're looking for something silly and cute, why not pick up the Palm Talker Fett?  And of course, there's the Unleashed version.

- another one of the best Fett's produced is the 300th Edition.

- and let's not forget the Titanium edition, with the first removable mask.

- and finally, here's a guest review of the Medicom VCD Fett.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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