Gentle Giant
Emperor Palpatine mini-bust

When it comes to Gentle Giant, most of the focus from collectors has been on the Star Wars statues and Harry Potter busts. But one of the lines that pushed them to the top is the Star Wars mini-bust series, and they're still cranking along.

However, fans have been sort of lulled by many of the more recent offerings. Many of these have been character variants like Leia or Lando in disguise, or just outright repaints of characters that have already been pretty much beaten to death, like Troopers or C-3PO.

But the latest release is Emperor Palpatine, as seen in ROTS. This is young, lively Shar-Pei Palpatine, just after he got the bad case of the uglies. I'm sure we'll get the old, wiser, and more arthritic version eventually, but I'm happy with this earlier look as a first version.

He just started shipping a few weeks ago, but he's drying up fast, so if you're looking to buy, I'd do it soon.

Packaging -  ***1/2
He gets extra points because of the nifty window of course. The foam insert is still going to keep him safe and sound, and yet you can get a reasonable idea of what you're buying while he's still in the package.

As always, the box is number (this is a run of 2500), and there's a numbered COA included. It's still the itty bitty trading card size though, and I really wish they hadn't gone away from the larger, flashier COA's.

Sculpting - ****;
Folks who have just found Gentle Giant through their Harry Potter series have been oooing and ahhing over the amazing quality of their sculpts. But those of us that have been buying the Star Wars busts for years now now that when GG wants to do it well, they really do it well.

Unfortunately, most of the recent Star Wars busts haven't been at the same level as some past work. They aren't awful, but they just seem...uninspired. Palpatine shows once again what GG can really do in this line when they put their mind to it.

The sculpt is simply amazing. The face is the most critical of course, and this is easily the best Palpatine (ROTS) we've been treated to. Unlike some past attempts by other companies, there's no stupid grin, no ridiculous clown expression. His madness and danger is evident in the look on his face, as he battles with whatever unlucky Jedi faces him.

While he's simply clothed in robes, those robes flow and lay extremely well. There's plenty of small details like stitching, and the engraved clasp in front, to give it some dimension and realism.

Finally, we top it off with a wonderful hand sculpt for both hands. The right hand permanently holds the saber, and you slip it into the wrist of the arm with a metal peg, similar to other releases. It fits tightly, although you'll want to be careful moving him on the off chance that you knock it loose.

Paint - ***
I don't actually recall being able to tell in the film that he had such distinctly different colored layers on in the film, but on the bust it's quite apparent. There's the lighter brown hood and main cloak, with a jet black 'wrap' around his shoulders. The colors are extremely clean and neat, and very, very consistent. You couldn't ask for a nicer job there.

The face looks great as well, with the skin tone matching on the hands and face. While he looks a little dark in the photos, that's just because I didn't want to blast him in the face with direct light. That would have just washed out his appearance, but in person it looks amazing. The teeth and tongue are particularly good, although he could stand with a light gloss finish on the tongue. Without it, he looks to be a tad dry mouthed. It's that humid air.

My only real complaint, and the thing that pulls this down a star for me, is his crossed eyes. He's looking at his nose, and it's pretty apparent up close. It kills a bit of his malevolent appearance. I'm hopeful that I just got a bad one, and that the majority are fine, but I have to grade based on what I got and not what I assume.

Design - ***1/2
Old wrinkly is in mid battle, reaching out with his left hand to spark you up while holding his saber in his right.  The combination of expression and pose work extremely well together, and is another reason this is going to be a popular bust.

Value - ***
Interestingly enough, I'm only giving him a slightly above average score here. He gets this because he's one of the best done GG SW busts in awhile, and is a new character to the series, rather than a rehash.

It's interesting because finding him at retail is already becoming an issue. He's popular for the exact same reasons, and sold through much quicker than other recent GG SW releases.

Things to watch out for - 
Always be careful when inserting the detachable hand, to avoid damaging the polystone. Also, look for the best eyes you can find if you get lucky enough to see these in a store.

Overall -  ***1/2
This is one of the best Star Wars busts GG has released in some time. I'm a little disappointed in the crossed eyes, but that's the only flaw in an otherwise exceptional job. He's going to look great on the shelf with the rest of the series, and it's also great to get a new character for a change. Some folks may wish for the OT version, but I think this was a fine first release.

Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpt - ****
Paint - ***
Design - ***1/2
Value - * **
Overall -  * **1/2

Where to Buy -
These are disappearing quick. This is because this is his first version in the line, and he was extremely well done. Prices on ebay are already around $60 and are likely to rise, so if you can find one at $50 or cheaper right now, jump on it. All of my sponsors are already sold out!

Related Links:
I've reviewed a couple of the recent GG Star Wars releases:

- like Lando in his skiff disguise, and there was a recent guest review of the Darth Vader statue.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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