S-Mart Ash

While no one can argue that the Blair Witch Project was a tremendously successful independent film, but it certainly wasn't the first. There have been several independent horror films produced over the last several decades that catapulted their creators to stardom. The first was really Halloween, and no one can ignore Evil Dead.

For some, Evil Dead was more than just a horror movie - it was a homecoming. Having attended Michigan State University myself, it was great to see a film with our sweat shirt in it. Raimi attended school there, and had his early production company in Ferndale, Michigan, where I grew up. No, I never met the guy, but it was still very cool to see a film come out of my hometown and alma mater.

Sam Raimi is now a huge deal in Hollywood, with plenty of successful films behind him including the blockbuster, Spider-Man. The Evil Dead film spawned two sequels, and a large cult following. There have been several action figures based on the films, and today's review covers the 'S-Mart Ash', the third sixth scale figure of Ash from Sideshow Toys.

Sideshow has produced two 12" figures of Ash already, both based on the character in the third film of the series, the Army of Darkness. The third figure is also based on this film, showing our boy Ash in his S-Mart uniform ("Name's Ash. Housewares."). Sideshow also did a website only special version of this figure, and included a pricing gun accessory for the first 250 people to buy it on-line at their site.

I reviewed the regular Ash, as well as the evil version when they were released last summer. You may still be able to find those two are your local Sam Goody or Media Play store.

Packaging - ***
Sideshow cheaped out a bit on this version, going with a far more basic box than you might be
accustomed to.

There's no fifth panel, so the graphics are much more limited. It is pretty much collector friendly though, with only the display stand attached to the insert. Still, it's a little disappointing for the MIBer, since this box won't match up well with the other two.

Sculpting -***1/2
While I thought the Evil Ash head sculpt was quite good, I was less thrilled with the regular Ash. It didn't  look like Bruce Campbell, but they've gone a long way to improving that with this version.

The face is thinner, the hair neater, with a lone loose strand hanging down in front. That strand is a separate piece by the way, glued into his forehead. Pay too much attention to it, and it may start looking a bit odd, but it's about the best they could have done. Of all the Bruce Campbell figures done so far, including those by McFarlane, I think this one captures his look the best. It's not perfect, and he still has a bit of an oversized head for his body, but it's damn good, and certainly recognizable. I wouldn't be too surprised if this head didn't get swapped around with the outfit from the previous figure.

The right hand is sculpted with the metal gloved appendage, having lost his actual hand in Evil Dead 2. He can hold the rifle and price gun (if you got your order in early) just fine.

Paint - ****
Sideshow always does great paint ops. Ash is another example of their paint quality, with perfect skin tone, excellent work on the eyes, and no bleed between the hair line and the face. The details on the small areas, like the pocket protector and the S-mart name badge are also well done and very clean.

Articulation - ***1/2
This is the standard Sideshow body, which is one of my top three or four in the sixth scale market. There's all the articulation you'd expect - neck, ball jointed shoulders and hips, cut biceps and thighs, double jointed elbows and knees, ankles, waist, chest, and their own unique, highly poseable wrists. The extra bonus here is that I had no trouble with any loose joints, which can be a problem on occasion with this

Accessories - ***
There are two accessories in the regular release, three if you got lucky and got one of the early ones. That's a tad light for a figure in this price range, but what's here is well done.

The regular figure includes a lever action rifle, and the lever actually moves. Be extremely careful with it though, as it is very fragile and easy to break. He also comes with a pocket protector that slips neatly into the breast pocket of his S-mart smock.

The figure also includes the standard Sideshow stand, with special S-Mart description on the base for this figure.  I didn't need the stand, but it's a worthwhile extra if you live someplace prone to earthquakes, or have a cat around the house.

The extra accessory included in the early figures is an S-mart pricing gun. It's nothing too exciting,
with a fairly basic appearance, but considering the low quantity on this exclusive I suspect plenty of folks will be paying top dollar on ebay just to get that little bugger.

Outfit - ***
The outfit consists of his shirt - same as the original, I believe - dress pants, dress shoes, smock and fancy belt/holster combo.

The shirt, smock, pants and shoes are all excellent quality, with excellent tailoring. Everything fits well, and the stitching and seams are all well done and likely to hold up fine over time. The details on the smock are especially nice, like the name badge and ID.

The belt/holster contraption isn't quite as nice, made of some very basic pleather material that is likely to rip fairly easily. Be careful, particularly with the straps, which are very thin. There are several buckles holding it all together, but I wouldn't remove it unless I absolutely had to. I suspect getting it back on would be far more trouble that it could possibly be worth.

Value - **1/2
One area that always hurts Sideshow is price. I'm ranking this at the suggested retail of $40, although I have some suggestions below where you can find it for $30 or so, which adds another half star to the value.

Overall - ***
I find it a bit ironic...okay, maybe not ironic, since it really isn't and that damn song by Alanis Morissette always annoys the hell out of me since there isn't a single ironic example actually in it...but that might be the irony...anyway, it is odd at least that this quirky variation could easily be the best Ash action figure produced so far in any scale. While he doesn't have the accessories to really deserve the hefty price tag (a run of only 3000 will make him slightly tougher to get than the first two versions though), he does have the sculpting, great paint ops and excellent outfit. While the McToys versions aren't bad, this one
will make the sixth scale collectors very happy.

Where to Buy - 
I haven't seen this version at any bricks and mortar stores, and I'm not surprised considering the lower run. You can find it at plenty of places on-line though:

- Sideshow themselves sell them through their store, at $40 plus shipping.

- Aisle Sniper has a better deal at $35. They also have some of the Evil Ash's still available at the excellent price of $20, or a two pack deal of the Evil Ash and Regular Ash for $45. That's an excellent price!

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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