Packaging - **1/2
I like Sideshow’s packaging very much. For openers like me, they make great backdrops. But the mist and fog effect on the Bridge Keeper’s box mutes the usually colorful Holy Grail packaging. It makes a dull backdrop compared to the rest of the line. Displaying him MIB isn’t much better. Sideshow’s product has always looked better opened and posed with all of its accessories, than lying statically in its box. In the box, The Bridge Keeper stands uncharacteristically straight, his hands completely covered by the costume.
Sculpting - ****
The success of this figure rests entirely on the head sculpt. The Bridge Keeper is very faithful to the source material, right down to the cruel little smile and squint lines. Closer inspection reveals subtle wrinkling all over the face. You can almost see Terry Gilliam under the make-up. The sculpted hair looks much better than I thought it would. It’s just wild enough to look right. The hand sculpts are the same as Patsy, sans cocoanuts. They work very well for The Bridge Keeper. Interesting that the two Terry Gilliam characters we’ve gotten so far have the same hands. The boots like-wise are borrowed from Patsy.
Paint - ****
There are several skin tones in his face and hands, with brown wash throughout. The paint on his eyes and mouth are very clean. That one white pupil is extraordinarily creepy! There is no bleeding from face to hair and beard, which are also well painted, using gray and brown washes to bring out the detail.
Articulation - ****
Sideshow made an excellent decision in giving The Bridge Keeper ball joints at the neck AND the head. The added joints allow him to stoop over like he’s supposed to, while still looking forward, and not gazing at his feet. Below the neck, the usual excellent Sideshow body is in place, tight double joints, ultra-poseable wrists and ankles, et al.
Outfit - ***
I can’t imagine what it was like to design the costume for a character that basically wears rags. His costume breaks down to: gray tunic and pants, ragged apron, and a ragged coat. All of the costume pieces have been dipped and washed in various shades of gray and brown, making the ragged costume look very dirty and well-worn. The only concern here is that the costume is invariably going to fray over time, but the costume is supposed to look shredded anyway, so I suppose fraying can only improve the appearance. He also has gray ribbon wrapped around his hands and wrists and a necklace of bones. The string used for the necklace looks pretty weak, so it might have to eventually be replaced. I think there is also some padding on his back to add to the hunch.
Accessories - *
Here is the one category where The Bridge Keeper really suffers. He has a personalized base, which is very nice and fits him very well, without hurting the look of the figure, but the problem comes from his two other accessories- a pair of Swallows.
While I think it’s cute that we now have a couple of Swallows (one African, one European), what am I supposed to do with them? I suppose The Bridge Keeper could toss them at Sir Robin! I would have much rather gotten a portion of the Bridge of Death, or a little camp-fire for recreating Scene 24.
Value - ***
I got mine at Forbidden Planet in NYC for $26, which is really ideal for this figure. But retail is more like $40, which may be a bit much if you’re not a huge fan of Monty Python. There’s no question that this is one of the lines best looking figures, though, and if you were willing to pay over $30 for Terry Gilliam’s other character, Patsy, the price point on The Bridge Keeper shouldn’t be too painful for you.
Overall - ***1/2
I’m ashamed to say The Bridge Keeper terrified me when I was little. I learned to laugh at him as I grew, and as an adult, I’m really enjoying having him on my shelf, goading the other figures to shelf dive into the Gorge of Eternal Peril. As with all toys, shop around and find him as cheap as you can. He looks fantastic along side the other Grail characters, and the excellent sculpt actually puts a lot of Sideshow’s previous offerings to shame.
The Bridge Keeper commands a comparatively steep price beside other toys, which may discourage most customizers from using him for parts. There isn’t much that needs to be improved upon. All I did was use a very small paint brush to dab some Liquitex Gloss Medium Varnish on his open eye and mouth to make them look more “wet” and alive.