The Invisible Man 

Sideshow Collectibles and the Universal Monsters are forever tied at the hip. While Sideshow doesn't do a lot of new product for the classics monsters, without them they might never have become the successful organization they are today.

The 8" series of Universal Monsters first put the company on the map, and when they started their foray into the sixth scale market, it was no surprise that characters like Frankenstein were among the first. But there are only so many of the classic monsters, and only so many variations on a theme, and so in recent years the number of 12" Universal monster releases has slowed considerably.

The film was released in 1933, and starred Claude Rains as the scientist who discovers an invisibility potion. This is considered his film debut (although he was in a silent film many years earlier), and it launched him on a distinguished film career. The film was based on the story by H.G. Wells, and is truly a classic, remade many times. Sideshow has already given us several variations on the 8" version and the Little Big Head version, but they've finally came through with the one fans have been clamoring for - the sixth scale version.

They have just released the 12" figure, in both a regular and exclusive version. The exclusive version includes a roll of gauze, designed to appear as though he's just wrapping, or unwrapping, his head. The exclusive is limited to 750, and sold out at this point, but the regular edition is still available for $45.

Packaging - ****
Sideshow's packaging is always someplace between excellent and outright artwork. As with many of the previous old monster characters, they've gone with poster artwork for the cover, with actual shots from the film for much of the rest of the box. While the text isn't outstanding in its depth, the box looks terrific. Of course, that's in no small part due to the especially cool poster art from the original film, but you still have to give them credit for using it, and some excellent stills.

Also on the big plus side - only three twisties this time! There's one around the neck (and not around the shoulders inside, thank God), and one for each arm. The legs have the usual clear plastic holder, but there are no other twistie ties or even any of the dental floss ties that they've been using recently. He's a breeze to take out, and you can pop him back in to the collector friendly packaging with little trouble.

Sculpting - ***1/2
This work was done by Brian Dooley, who does most of the vintage and modern horror characters now. Most of his work has been hits (Thomas Hewitt Leatherface, various Jason and Freddies, the Master from Buffy) but he's had a few misses as well (Pamela Voorhees, and his hair cut, for example). The Invisible Man falls into the 'hit' category, in a big way.

The majority of the sculpting, as with most sixth scale, is in the head and hands. There is no actual 'head', as you normally expect. The neck is sculpted to hold the hollow top half, which includes little tufts of hair. The bandages look extremely realistic, and match the source material well. The holes for the eyes and nose are rough looking, just like you'd expect, and are covered perfectly by the included goggles and nose.

The tufts of hair look far better than I expected, but you should be careful as not to damage them. Mine will be displayed sans fedora most of the time, but not just to avoid damaging the hair - the hair looks just too cool to cover up!

My only complaint is that the upper half of the head doesn't stay attached to the lower half nearly as well as you'd expect. The small lip that is there to hold it in place doesn't provide a tight enough fit, and any time you pick him up his head will go flying. Since one end of the exclusive bandage roll is glued to the inside of the neck, you'll be storing the roll in the hollow head. That means when the head flies off, the bandage roll goes flying too, and after you've rolled this thing up three or four or twelve times, it stops being fun.

The hands are sculpted gloved, which fits with the cold weather costume from the film. By the way, since he had to be nekkid to be invisible, and it was clearly winter, and he spent most of the film running around invisible, how is it he didn't freeze to death, or at least get frost bite in places one should never get frost bite? The hands work well with the accessories, especially the leather case, and look great.

Paint - ****
Like the sculpting, the majority of the paint ops are on the head and hands. This is a figure with very little paint application, in comparison with other sixth scale figures, but they've made the most of what's here.

The bandages on the face look terrific, with the paint ops furthering the realistic appearance. Compare these with the Now Playing Darkman I reviewed a couple weeks ago, and you'll see what I meant then about the difficulty in making the sculpted plastic appear like cloth bandages. Sideshow has done such an excellent job that the actual bandage glued into the head on the exclusive flows perfectly with the sculpted version.

The gloves are painted a soft brown to approximate leather. The color is slightly worn as well in all the right spots, adding a little more realism.

I don't know where to actually mention this next feature, but this category seems as good as any other. While the body itself is completely covered in clothing and will most likely never be seen, Sideshow still went the extra mile and cast him in clear plastic. That's a very welcome surprise, and ranks extremely high on the geek-meter of cool.

Articulation - ***1/2
The body is the standard Sideshow body, with all the expected articulation - neck, ball jointed shoulders and hips, cut biceps and thighs, double jointed elbows and knees, the patented Sideshow wrists and ankles, chest, waist, and more I'm probably forgetting. The neck is ball jointed, and with the carefully placed scarf, you aren't likely to use the neck articulation very much anyway.  Still, you can get him to look just about perfect in quite a few poses.

All the joints on mine were extremely tight, and I had no trouble getting him to hold normal poses for a guy in a suit.

Accessories - ***1/2
There are times where Sideshow figures feel a tad light in this department, but that's not the case here, even for the non-exclusive version.

Of course, the exclusive version adds in the roll of bandages, with one end glued into the interior of the lower half of the head. It's cute, and it can make for some interesting poses, but I suspect mine will end up stored inside the hollow head. And yes, it really is a cloth bandage, and not some sort of plastic contraption.

He also comes with the usual Sideshow stand, emblazoned with the Invisible Man logo. Fortunately, you'll find little or no reason to use it, since he stands up great on his own, and he's not one to be doing a lot of jump flying kicks or weird poses.

He has a leather bag that opens, and the handles fit nicely in his hand. I'd leave it closed though, since getting the 'arrow' strap back through its loop is fairly tough.

You can put his flask of invisibility potion in there though, and there is also a test tube rack with a gaggle of test tubes. The scale on these is very good, and he can actually hold them.

Outfit - ****
In the world of sixth scale figures, there have been lots of guys in suits. Sometimes it turns out well, like with the Cigarette Smoking Man, and other times...well, let's just say they don't turn out as well.

But I have to say that the outfit that comes with the Invisible Man is the best I've ever seen in the usual suit/overcoat combo. Sideshow didn't skimp on a single detail, right down to the pocket square in his suit coat.

There are several layers to his outfit, including a white shirt (with full length sleeves), dark blue suit coat and pants, tie, shoes, socks, trench coat and scarf. The tailoring on the overall outfit is amazing, and fits him so well that I'm actually surprised. We've seen some improvements in the tailoring and fit of the Sideshow clothes recently, but this is really amazing work.

The scarf comes tightly wrapped around his lower face and neck, like in the film, and tucked inside the overcoat. The overcoat is made from a very soft and realistic material that is commonly used for actual men's suits. The small details, like buttons and buckles, are done perfectly, and everything fits tightly all around.

In fact, I was going to start pulling off clothes to show off the underlying layers, but simple didn't want to do it. He looked so damn perfect right out of the box - something of a rarity with sixth scale clothing - that I didn't want to mess up a thing.

I did do my own peeking around though, and noticed that the suit is a double breasted variety. That's very appropriate for the period, and I'm pretty sure that makes him the only guy in my collection wearing that style.

I'm going to include the goggles/nose piece as part of his outfit, rather than an accessory. This fits tightly around his head with a sturdy elastic band, and fits snugly over the eye and nose holes in the bandaged head. Mine does sit a little crooked, but it's not too noticeable, and the paint and sculpt match the film extremely well.

Finally, there's his fedora, that fits easily on top of his head. The sculpt matches the period, and adds the appropriate amount of film noir feel.

Fun Factor - **
With the head falling off, and the exclusive bandages unraveling all over the place, this is not a figure you want to give to a kid. It's not designed for play, but for the adult collector looking for a shelf star.

Value - ***
At $45, he ain't cheap, but he does sport one of the coolest suit/overcoat outfits I've ever seen, plus he has an exceptional sculpt and paint ops. Throw in a nice assortment of well done accessories, and he gets a slightly better value score than the usual Sideshow product.

Things to watch out for - 
Nothing seemed particularly fragile, although I'd leave the bag closed. Getting that 'arrow' clasp back together is a tad painful, and unless you plan on putting something in the bag, I'd leave well enough alone. Trust me, it does open up, but it's not that exciting to prove it.

Overall - ****
This is one of my favorite sixth scale figures I've picked up in awhile, offering an excellent sculpt that matches the film extremely well, a decent assortment of appropriate accessories, and an amazing outfit, and you have a winner all around. This figure could become my favorite of the Universal Monsters that Sideshow has released, even though the film was never one of my tops. That's a real testament to the amount of work and attention to detail that was put into the overall design of this figure.

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

Where to Buy - 
Online is the way to go with Sideshow products:

- there are still some of the regular release available at Sideshow for $45.

- Alter Ego Comics has the regular version for $36.

Related Links:
I've reviewed just about every Universal Monster Sideshow has produced, so if you're looking for them, search through the Sixth Scale or Horror reviews.

And don't forget to hit Sideshow's site, where you can find info on this and other figures as well.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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