12" Darth Sidious

I'm not sure if you know this, but there's a new Star Wars film coming out.  Yes, it's true!  This stuff can just sneak up on you, can't it?

Okay, so every card carrying member of the Geek Brigade is clearly aware of the upcoming film.  They also all have already formed their opinions on whether this film will be the greatest achievement in the history of cinema, or whether it will be the ultimate in terrible.  I suspect that something in between is most likely, but I'm a gambler.

The evil Darth Sidious will play a critical part, so it's no wonder that we're getting a bevy of figures for him.  To be honest, I haven't bought ANY of the regular release 3 3/4" figures.  Not one.  But I have been buying the sixth scale product again, although it's not quite the same as something from Sideshow or bbi.

You can find Sidious in his 12" of badness at most major retailers for around twenty bucks.

Packaging - **
Along with new graphics and colors, we got new box styles with the new film. Actually, there's very little 'box', at least in the traditional sense, as most of this new package is clear plastic window. It's also not square, but have a curved front.

While the colors and graphics are good, I really don't like the general shape and layout. The containers are bulky, difficult to store, and easy to crush. I suppose we should give Hasbro points for trying something new, but it didn't work out well for me this time.

Sculpting - **1/2
This is such a confounding figure. Why? Because the sculpt is so good - and yet so bad.

The detail work on the head sculpt is great. The hair, the Shar-Pei skin, the scale of the head, all great. There's no softness to the sculpt either, with deep, sharply cut detail work. So how come it's so bad?

Good God, just look at that expression! I'm assuming this was supposed to mimic the picture on the box, with the evil grin of Sidious peering out from under the cloak. Ignoring that the photo makes him look a tad too much like the Grinch, the actual expression on the figure looks nothing like this.

What it does remind me of is my old Uncle Wilbur when he found out it was Jell-O night at the rest home. Oh, he's happy all right, but not in a "I'm an evil master of the universe!" sort of way. No, it's more of a "Hmmm, I wonder if I can get some marshmallows in my hot chocolate...you know, I really love marshmallows in my hot chocolate." sort of expression.

Often I mention situations where a concept is great, but the execution ends up flawed. Here is the more rare reverse case - the execution of the sculpt is great, with artistic talent and detail, but the concept of this goofy expression is completely flawed.

Paint - ***
The paint ops, what few are here, are all well done if not outstanding. There's a little slop in the face work, but the style allows for it. It's an improvement over the previous version though, and the paint ops won't be a major gripe.

Articulation - ***
Ah, here's a category where they stepped it up by going with the more articulated Hasbro body. Sid has far more articulation than most of the 12" Star Wars figures, with a ball jointed neck, ball jointed shoulders and hips, cut biceps and thighs, pin elbows and knees, pin wrists and ankles, and a cut waist.  Okay, it's not up to the standard of Sideshow, Dragon or bbi, but it's certainly better than the God awful body they have been known to use.

He also has a unique joint, mid-hand on the right side.  This helps him grip his weapon.  And his light saber.

The joints are all nice and tight as well, so you'll be able to pose him in a number of fighting stances, and he stays up just fine on his own. I'm happy to report he's been on my shelf for a couple weeks now, without a single dive. 

Outfit - ***
This was another of those close misses, but it's still a major improvement over the older version. Sidious comes with his huge, flowing cloak, a pair of pants, funky Jedi boots, and a bib. Or dickie. You could call it either, depending on your fashion sense.

The pants are adequate if unexciting. They fit well though, and don't fall down or ride too high. The boots are a reuse, and the style just doesn't seem to fit with Sid's personality.

The bib covers his pecs, so that he doesn't show off too much chest in his cloak. It does the job fine, but seems a tad cheesy, since you know he'd be wearing some sort of shirt. It's clearly another cost cutting move, and one I'm less fond of.

The cloak is the real winner in this category, and what keeps the score from dipping lower. It is made from a quality cloth, and flows extremely well. While the hood is huge - really - it does look good covering his wrinkly head. It actually has two different materials, a soft Velour decorative material across the shoulders, and a lighter weight material for the majority of the cloak. 

The velcro clasp in front works well without being obtrusive (which Velcro so often is), and you'll have no reason to take the cloak off. You can very easily though if you feel the need, but I wouldn't spend too much time looking at Sidious without it. You may burn your retinas.

Accessories - **
Sidious comes with his light saber (correct color as well), which has his unique hilt, but is otherwise the same as every other light saber. Yes, the blade is removable, but he really has no place on his body to store the hilt. It's nice to have, but he could use a couple more items as well, and I'm sure that there is something else from the film that could have been added. Still, if it means keeping the price point south of twenty, I'm not too worried about the lack of accessories.

Fun Factor - **1/2
Once the film debuts, I'm hoping this score will actually rise. You see, right now, Sidious is pretty much a crotchety old man in need of a good slap. He got it of course in Episode 6, but at this point we really don't have any feel for his power or his danger.

I'm hopeful though that with Episode 3, we'll get an idea of just what the Jedi were dealing with, and just how powerful he is. Once that happens, kids will stop seeing a feeble old fart in a robe, and see a hidden evil so powerful, even Anakin was unable to resist. Sure, Sidious is still just a pair of sunglasses away from joining the dancing California raisins, but he'd be the biggest bad ass of the bunch.

Value - **1/2
Sid is almost a three star value, if he didn't have his minor issues. As it is, at twenty bucks, he's certainly a decent buy, and if Hasbro can make just a few more improvements in the overall quality of the line, they'll have an excellent value.

BTW, I've seen some stores selling these as cheap as $16 - $17, and at that price you can kick him up to the three star level.

Things to watch out for - 
No issues for me, and nothing you really need to watch for in terms of breakage, paint jobs or possible issues.

Overall - **1/2
This figure epitomizes what drives me nuts about Hasbro and their sixth scale Star Wars line. They come so close...and then fall down right before the finish line. Here's a figure with improved sculpting, but a terrible choice of expression. He has an excellent outer robe, and a goofy bib and reused Jedi boots.

His one saving grace, outside of the cool robe, is the use of the more articulated 12" Hasbro body. Now if we can get a bulkier version of this body so they can use it a little more universally, they'll have gone at least one step towards seriously improving this line.

I haven't yet opened up Shaak Ti, but I have to admit that in the package she appears to be pretty nice. The 12" line has improved over the last couple years, and with just a few more tweaks they could really be producing a great product at an excellent price. Let's hope they raise the bar for themselves just a little more.

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

Where to Buy - 
Wander on down to your local Target, Toys R Us, Wal-mart, Media Play, Sam Goody, or Meijers (along with just about any other retailer that carries toys) and you should be able to find him, along with the 12" Clonetrooper, Anakin, Grevious, and Shaak Ti.

Related Links:
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Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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