Sideshow 12" Star Wars
Anakin Skywalker

Sideshow has followed up their initial 12" Star Wars offering of Jedi Luke with another Jedi - Anakin Skywalker. This is Anakin from Revenge of the Sith, theoritically before he became Sith. Of course, there wasn't too much difference visually (until the whole Vader/Frankenstien's monster bit), and Sideshow has taken advantage of that by re-releasing this Anakin as an SDCC exclusive with 'sith eyes'.

I like to announce my bias' up front, so you know where I'm coming from. I'm not a big Anakin fan. I don't despise him quite as much as some folks, but I wasn't waiting on my porch for the Fed-Ex guy to arrive, either. That's probably a good thing though, since I think that tends to creep him out.

But he is a Jedi, and Jedi are always cool, even if they can't act to save their lives. Or souls. If we're going to get an Anakin, thankfully it's this one, when he was at his peak, just about ready to fall down the other side of the mountain.

Anakin is one of those figures that I'm happy they released, and I'm glad Anakin fans will have him for the shelf, and I'm glad we're past him so we can get on to more interesting figures.

As is usually the case with Sideshow, there's a regular edition and an exclusive edition. I'm reviewing the exclusive, which included one additional accessory. These sold out long ago through Sideshow, but you can get on the wait list and cross your fingers.

Packaging -  ****
The packaging being produced for this Star Wars line is the finest I've ever seen for any sixth scale collectible. If I gave more than four stars, I'd give it here.

First, it's completely collector friendly. There are no reason to damage the package at all in removing the figure or accessories, and there are only a couple pieces of tape holding the covers on the interior plastic trays that need to be cut or removed. There's not even a single twisty tie or piece of dental floss string in sight.

But that's not enough. These packages also look terrific, with excellent photos of the figure AND the character from the film. Add in some well written text on the exterior and interior, and you have what is already fantastic packaging.

But wait - there's more! This box includes the magnet closures on the main flap, which work terrific and add quite a bit to the overall appeal. The package designer who developed this deserves an extra bonus this year. And if they come to the Sideshow SDCC party, I'll be more than happy to buy them a beer.

Sculpting - ***1/2
The sculpt on Anakin is much better than I've seen some folks give it credit. Yes, the jaw's a little heavy, but it's easily the finest Anakin sculpt we've gotten (well beyond any of the stuff we've seen from Gentle Giant, Attakus or Kotobukiya, and please, don't even mention Hasbro), and is instantly recognizable, even without the Jedi garb.

Small details, such as the scar and small nicks in his face, are included and look great, and the expression works extremely well with just about any pose.

I like this expression better than Luke's, although I think the basic Hamill sculpt was slightly closer to the actor. One of the important things that this sculpt has over Luke is that it looks much less like a mannequin - there's much more life in the sculpt and set of the eyes and eyelids. Luke had a bit of that blank stare, wide eyed, zombie thing going on, but here Anakin could almost pass for a photo of an actual human.

The hair sculpt works well too, with the right amount of detail and great style. None of the small detail was lost in the production process, and this sculpt (and pay attention that I'm saying sculpt) is extremely close to the prototype.

Internal scale is great, as is external. Unlike Luke, Anakin doesn't have monkey arm syndrome. This is due to the use of the larger torso, giving him an overall better proportion. While Luke's head was too large when you had him stripped down to the basic costume under the robes and vest, Anakin looks good even in just his brown shirt and pants.

The external scale works well because of the larger torso, making him quite a bit bigger than his son. They'll look terrific on the shelf together, and I can't wait to see how characters like Mace and Han compare size-wise.

Other sculpted areas of note are the hands and boots. The basic left hand is sculpted to hold the light saber hilt or other accessories, while the normal right hand is done up in his intricate gauntlet, hiding his robotic arm. This glove sculpt looks terrific, and will be the arm most folks probably choose for their display. It can also hold the light saber or other accessories pretty easily, but is molded from a harder plastic than the normal hands.

The boots are one of the nicest aspects of the outfit. I'm including them here because they are sculpted though, and it's a terrific sculpt at that. Lots of detail and texturing, right down to the soles. They are also very sturdy, and will help with the tougher poses by giving him a solid footing. This is another battle that Anakin wins over Luke.

Paint - ***
Unfortunately, not all is sunny in Muddville today. I have two major issues with the figure, and one of them is in the paint category.

Most of the paint ops are excellent, and some aspects, like the highlighting of the hair with lighter brown, work much better than I expected. His eyes are clean and straight, and the paint work there further accentuates the realism and lifelike nature of his gaze. The skin tone is even, if a tad tan, and the cuts between colors are dead on, with no bleed or overspray.

So what's the beef? Oh, that's easy. It's those lips. I'm not sure when Anakin started wearing lipstick, but it wasn't in ROTS. The color is way off, and noticeable even in person, where they're pretty tiny. Even against the slightly dark skin the red of the lips stands out, and unless he's getting ready for a gig as a female impersonator, that's not a good thing.

That's not the only lip problem though. On mine (and I took a photo to make it more clear of the side of his face), the entire lip/mouth line is not painted. Instead, a 'pucker area' section of the lips is painted red, while the back edges are left skin tone. This exacerbates the problem, making him look even more like he's getting ready to lay a wet sloppy one on you.

Take away the lip problem, and the paint would have been at least another half star higher, and might...might have even been four stars. But with this issue it can't reach that level, and will end up hurting what could have been an overall four star figure as well.

Articulation - **
Which brings us to the next category with a big issue, the articulation. Now, this is not because I have anything against the Sideshow body. In fact, I'm a supporter of the body, at least in terms of the level of articulation. No, here's it's a completely new issue.

Now remember, this was also a category where Luke took some hits, mostly for the monkey arms and hands that fell off too easily. Neither of these appear to be a big issue with Anakin.

He has all the joints you expect from a Sideshow figure, including the ball jointed neck at the torso. This works pretty well too, as do all the regular joints. You can pose him in plenty of ways, and the joints were stiff and tight enough to hold plenty of arm and leg poses for extended periods.

He does lack the usual Sideshow wrist joint on the right, gloved hand, but I'm not upset about that at all. It has a simple cut joint, which allows for some posing and doesn't hurt the terrific sculpt or appearance of the glove.

My basic problem that pulled so much off this score is the damn swappable right arms. These arms pop on and off at the cut bicep joint. This joint is just slightly above the double jointed elbow, at a spot where any movement of the arm or elbow will put stress on the connection. Unfortunately, the peg that fits into the upper bicep does not do so tightly enough, and the arms come off way, way too easy.

I did have a little better luck with the robotic version of the arm than the standard, but it still wasn't terrific. Now, if the arm was easy to reattach, then at least it would have been a tad less frustrating. But because it has to fit through two sleeves, and connect well up on the bicep, it took a lot of effort (including removing the costume again at one point) to get it reattached.

It is fixable. You can use a little nail polish to build up the peg a bit, or even some super glue as long as you let it completely dry before trying to re-insert it. But when you drop sixty bucks on a figure, there shouldn't be any need for repairs or fixes, and the figure shouldn't drive you to drink. Although, if it could actually drive you to and from the bar, that would be worth a whole lot more than sixty bucks.

Outfit - ***1/2
The outfit looks terrific, but does have a couple very minor issues.

Underneath it all, Anakin is wearing his brown tunic and pants. These are well tailored, although the location of the snap on the tunic means it doesn't quite fit the chest as tightly as I'd like. The pants are tucked neatly into the boots, and the tunic has full length sleeves. I mention this because, unlike most of the time, it's actually an issue, at least for the problematic right arm.

The sleeve runs all the way to the wrist, although you're going to want to show off that cool glove. However, the sleeve is tight enough that you can position it above the glove and it stays there pretty well. You can also bunch it up at the bicep and use a small rubber band to keep it in place, you you can just cut the damn thing off, since it's hidden under the second shirt. The full length sleeve is also part of the reason why reattaching the arm is so tricky, since this sleeve is generally hidden underneath the outer black tunic, making it tough to line up the peg and keep the material out of the way. The rubber band trick is a good way to keep it up closer to the shoulder and out of the way.

The black tunic also looks good, but has the same issue with the snap. The tunic is large, and the snap is very close to the front of the body, so that it isn't as tight across the chest as I expected. That's a minor issue though, and once you have it all buckled up and put together it looks terrific.

This black tunic has a full length right sleeve too, which also gets in the way of the gloved hand. This is also fixable though, and Rebel Scum has an excellent photo tutorial up of how to do it. I did that same thing for my photos, and I'll do it again once he's out on display.

However, this fix does NOT fix the problem of the arm dropping off like a dead fly. If you do get the length of the sleeve *just* right, it can help a little, but it won't completely correct it.

Over this black tunic goes the funky shoulder/belt gear. The shoulder straps are pleather, with black cloth on the interior and as a sash type belt around the waist. This is all one piece, with the two shoulder sections sewn to the sash. This has it's pluses and minuses. On the plus side, it makes for a tight fit. On the minus, it's difficult to position the sash and straps just right, since they must move together at all times.

The sash buckles in back, as does the outer leather belt. This belt has two small holes in one half that attach to two small pegs on the other half. While it makes for a tight fit, it did seem prone to damage and could easily break. With the arm falling off every 5 seconds, the belt had to come off more times than I liked, and my fear of damaging it got worse every time.

The belt has plenty of nifty containers for the various accessories, and all three of the larger pouches open and close neatly. There's also a clip doohickey for the saber and several of the little food vials around the belt. It is a very intricate set up, but looks amazing when everything is in place.

Finally, there's the outer brown Jedi robe. This one is very similar to Luke's, including the wire running round the edge of the hood, but had a couple issues that made it far less appealing to me. First, it seems too small, almost like it's sized for Luke and not Anakin. The fit across the shoulders was very tight, and I could never get the hood and robe to look quite right on the bulkier body. He also lacks the clasp at the neck of the robe, making it even more difficult to get the hood to look right up, even with the wire running through the fabric. If you do end up using the robe, it will most likely be hood down.

Accessories - ***1/2
There's plenty of goodies here, although not quite as many as we got with Luke. Actually, there might be as many, but they seem fewer because of the relative usefulness.

He comes with the standard two light sabers of course, one lit and one not. This is his Jedi version remember, so his lit blade is blue. It's a very light blue though, almost white, which looks a little off. The light saber hilts are nice and large, and can easily be used in any two handed pose.

There's also an extra left hand, posed in the usual Jedi mind control style, which looks good and fits tighter than the hands that came with Luke. As I mentioned earlier, there's the alternate robotic right arm, which is easily his coolest accessory. It's a fantastic sculpt, with some excellent small detail paint ops. The construction on this thing is really impressive, and my single favorite aspect of the figure overall. Sadly, I don't expect that's the one I'll display him with, since it isn't as iconic as the gloved hand, but once I pick up the SDCC Sith version, I can have both arms in use.

There are several tiny accessories, all of which can be placed in the belt pouches. There's a small rebreather (and no, it does not fit on his face well), a holo-disk, and a communicator. Although these accessories are all quite small, they are all well sculpted and painted, and the scale is fairly accurate.

The holo disk has some tacky material on the back which helps to hold it place in the tray. You can rub it off if you wish, but I'd recommend leaving it on. It will help keep it in his palm as well, and lessen your chances of losing it.

The exclusive edition has one additional accessory - the Sidious holographic image. It's much larger than I had anticipated, standing just over 2 inches tall. It's nice, and well sculpted and painted, but probably not something you need to chase down.

Oops - I almost forgot the included display stand.  It's the standard Sideshow issue, with the Star Wars logo emblazoned on the base.  They're always good to have, but Anakin will stand fine without it in plenty of poses.

Fun Factor - **1/2
This could be a pretty fun figure, just like Luke, if not for the damn arm falling off. Any kid is going to put up with that for about 30 seconds before he requests you glue it. And God knows, no one would want to defile their Anakin with superglue.

Value - ***
At $55, he's not cheap by any means. But considering that he has a tremendous amount of detail in his accessories and outfit, he's easily worth the price and then some. The execution on some of the figure failed, but the general value was still solid.

Things to watch out for - 
I suggest going for some sort of fix for the arm peg, probably light super glue to increase the size. I know that's what I'll be doing once he's freed from his plastic prison again in his new display home. I also recommend going with the rubber band/black sleeve fix to give the gloved right arm a more tucked appearance.

You'll want to take some care with the belt, and the smaller accessories. Things like the rebreather are easy to break, and the holo disk is damn easy to lose.

Overall -  ***
I'm going to be on the slightly lower side than most folks with my grade of this figure. I'm placing a fair amount of weight on the Paint and Articulation scores, and these issues brought him down a half star from where most folks will have him.

The lips are annoying, but not a deal breaker. For me, the frustrating arm was the single biggest issue, and is going to be something I have to fix once I get the figure out for final display. Almost every time I moved the arm it fell off, and added time to getting the figure set in a new pose. I'm not a patient man by any means, and combining my lack of patience with Anakin's stump made for a bad situation.

I'm happy to admit however that if you a) get a figure with a tighter fitting arm peg, which from some accounts appears to be a possibility and b) don't mind the puckered lipstick look too much, that you're personal score will be closer to ***1/2 stars. The outfit, accessories, packaging and sculpt are all excellent, and bode well for the rest of the line.

If I had to chose a favorite between Anakin and Luke, I'd pick Luke overall, but Anakin has several areas - expression, boots, belt, internal scale - that are certainly superior. I can say without a doubt that had the arm peg worked well, this would have been a ***1/2 star figure for me, and correcting the lips would have made it a four star winner, and placed it well in front of his son on my list.

Sideshow has admitted the lips are an issue, and promised to have them corrected with the SDCC Sith Eyes version. Perhaps that figure will also have the arm problem corrected, and will turn out to be the perfect Anakin.

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

Where to Buy -
Your options are a little limited at this point. The exclusive through Sideshow sold out long ago, but you can get on their wait list, and if an order falls through with someone else, you might get lucky.

- CornerStoreComics has Anakin sold out right now, but say they are getting more stock in - they did get in more Jedi Lukes (and he's currently available) so it's quite possible!

- Dark Shadow Collectibles no longer has Anakin up for pre-order, but they do have some of the other upcoming figures, including Han and Mace, still at a $42.50 pre-order price.

- Fireside Collectibles has a few of the up coming figures for pre-order at $45.

- Amazing Toyz has preorders up for up coming figures at around $50 each.

Related Links:
Other links of interest include:

- I reviewed the Jedi Luke of course, and he's well worth checking out. 

- Medicom produces expensive 12" Star Wars figures, although calling them sixth scale is incorrect.  I have my review of their Darth Vader, and a guest review of their Jedi Luke.

- Sideshow has been producing some Star Wars product already, in their Premium Format (1/4 scale) line.  Here's my review of the Darth Vader and Han Solo.

- and for an example of what Hasbro gave us, here's a guest review of the Luke with Yoda

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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