Sovereign Studios

12" Indiana Jones

Tonight's guest review from Customikey covers a rather unusual figure.  This custom Indiana Jones is produced by Sovereign Studios - take it away!

One of the things I enjoy most about collecting toys is customizing. I love to sit with a toy that is ten feet from perfection and bring it the rest of the way home. As a customizer, Iím always looking for new ways to improve my toys. I look at other customizers work online. Thatís how I came to learn of Sovereign Studios, and itís one and only employee, Shawn. Through his site, he sells a ďkitĒ of hand-made clothing, accessories, and head for four different characters; Indiana Jones, Mola Ram, Indiana in Map Room outfit, Batman, Dark Empire Luke, and Exar Kun. For extra, heíll provide a Dragon body, and build the whole figure up for you.

First, for those who donít know, there are is no mass market 12Ē Indiana Jones line out there. Not counting the Disney World Exclusive 4Ē figure, there hasnít been an Indiana Jones toy-line of ANY sort since Temple of Doom.

Therefore, I was very excited about Sovereign Studiosí Indiana Jones. Not only did the pics on the site look promising, but the price was a lot less than the Toys McCoy Relic Hunter, the only other quality 12Ē Indiana Jones out there. A Japanese exclusive, Toys McCoyís Relic Hunter commands as much as $2000 on the secondary market. As I go through this review, I might mention the Toys McCoy version (TMC), to give you a decent comparison of the two. Now, my photography is pretty wretched, bet there are better photos at Sovereign Studios website (see Value section).

(The above photo is a prototype that will only see production if there is demand.)

(Cats. Why did it have to be giant cats?)

Packaging - *
A brown box gets zero points for presentation but I give it a star because the figure was well packed. He even had extra padding around his head to protect the paint job. Toss the box or use it to pack away your over-priced Singapore knock-off.

Sculpting - ****
This is as close as anybody has come to a good Harrison Ford. Mr. Ford is notoriously difficult to capture in plastic (just look at any Han Solo figure), but here is a striking resemblance. There is even the slightest hint of that cocky smile. The big mistakes others have made include making Fordís nose and chin scar huge. Not so here. All the features are in good proportion and the scar is there, but understated. The head is a touch smaller than your average Dragon head, but he doesnít suffer from pinhead disease, and it actually makes the whole figure look a lot better proportioned. Shawn is constantly trying to improve his work ,and his latest sculpt is even better, but will only be produced if there is demand for it. 

Paint - ***1/2
The skin tone is perfect for the Dragon body, which has a healthier hue than most other 12Ē bodies. The skin is more tanned, pinker. The eyes are very clean, with no slop. Instead of the traditional painted highlight, the eyes are given a clear glossy coat to create real highlights. The same has been done to the lips. The five oíclock shadow is well done, and doesnít have the stippled effect that others like the 12Ē Jango Fett has. There are highlights dry-brushed over the hair to bring out the detail. Like-wise the entire head has been given a dark brown wash to bring out the detail even further. This may be the one nitpick with the paint, as the wash is a little too dark and makes the face look a bit dirty. But maybe thatís appropriate for a man who goes slogging around in 3,000 year old crypts.

Articulation- ****
You choose the body. Traditionally itís a Dragon body, but Iím a Sideshow whore, so I sent Shawn a decapitated Fritz to serve as the base. I wanted Indiana to be able to take a wide stance and still have both feet flat, and I wanted as much range in the wrists as I could get for dramatic posing with the whip. The downside here is that the color of the head and body donít match up very well. Sideshowís product is generally very pale. Itís a small price to pay though, since most of the body is covered by the outfit anyway. If you go the Dragon route, bendy fingers are highly recommended for the varied accessories Indy comes with. I did a little mix-and-match with my other Sideshow figures. His right hand is the pistol hand from Wyatt Earp, and his left is Fritz. Again, the skin tones donít match up for me, but if you get a Dragon body, itís not an issue.

Outfit - ****
Iíd give it more stars if I could. The outfit is the Holy Grail (teehee) of 1:6 scale costumes. The whole outfit was made from Shawnís own patterns, and tailored to fit the body. The choice of fabrics is absolutely stellar. Not one sour note. This is especially amazing when you take into account the jacket is not leather, pleather, or any other facsimile. I donít know what kind of Voodoo Shawn did on this thing, but it looks exactly like leather, with fading, spots of shininess, creases and crinkles. Itís an incredible piece of clothing which has to be seen in person to be believed. Itís well tailored, and not bulky like G.I. Joeís flight jackets or the TMC, and even has the metal rings in the back for adjustment. Thereís also no faux-zipper on there to clutter up the appearance. 

Underneath is a well-detailed full-shirt. There are no snaps or Velcro, so itís not really removable, which could cause problems if ever you need to repair or replace the body, but it looks a helluva lot better. I donít even know how he did the buttons on the front and breast pockets. Theyíre too small to have been sewn on. The sleeves are tailored enough so that they donít bunch up when you put the jacket back on.

The pants are well done too, with faux pockets on the back and belt loops. The only minus on mine is that the Sideshow figure has a longer torso than Dragon, for which the pants were initially designed, so they ride up a touch in the crotch. The pants are where we come upon the one and only snap. Itís hidden underneath the metal belt buckle and would have gone completely unnoticed if I wasnít so curious about how it was all put together.
The Gun belt and the strap of the side-pouch are both made of faux leather with metal parts. The small strap that holds the whip is held closed with a metal fastening stud about the size of the head of a pin. Iím a bit concerned that the hole in the strap might start to stretch and tear over extended usage. The gun holster is made of foam rubber. The gun fits snugly without being difficult to remove. It has the same metal fastener as the whip strap. The side pouch, or ďman-purseĒ as my wife calls it, is sewn shut to preserve the appearance. But there is something in there that gives the bag a bit of weight and keeps it from looking empty and sagging. The shoes are repainted Dragon boots. He has no socks.

Finally, the all-important fedora is made of foam rubber and dry-brushed to look well-worn. The foam rubber wonít scratch the paint on the head, and makes it very durable. Iím not sure what will happen to the hat long term, but Iíd keep it out of direct sunlight if I were you. There is a real ribbon on the hat, also aged with dry-brushing. It looks great on his head, and youíre not limited in the ways you can place it, either pulled back, or pulled forward to cover his eyes for a nap.

Accessories - ****
Indiana comes with four accessories- His bullwhip and gun, the Idol, and a sandbag. The whip is another of Shawnís little masterpieces. Itís in perfect 1:6 scale and very sturdy. Itís woven quite tightly and wonít unravel. Unlike the TMC, it is not made of leather, so itís not bulky. It winds up very nicely and looks great on Indianaís hip or in his hand, although the handle is a bit too thin for most hands, so you might have a bit of trouble getting him to hold it tightly. The gun is molded from a 21st Century Toys revolver. The idol is molded from the TMC version. The gold paint is not super-glossy but it fits the bill quite well. The sandbag is the same material as the pants, and yes it is filled with sand.

Value - ***
The price-point is quite steep at $165 for just the kit and $175 with a body added. But the quality is incomparable to whatís out there on the mass market. And with the TMC commanding more than 3X that amount, itís a pretty good deal. Youíre also paying for real customer service. Shawn is very communicative and will answer all your questions. Heís very focused on making the best figure he can for each person that orders from him. The whole thing reminds me of when toys were made just by toy makers and not be corporate factories. Even if a licensed 12Ē Jones were to come out, I doubt it would look half as nice as this. Itís a true work of art. There are only two places to get it. Shawnís site at Sovereign Studios is the first option, and eBay, where Shawn sometimes puts up reserve auctions is the second option. With the second option, youíre locked in to the body provided.

Overall - ****
The score should be no surprise. Itís pretty obvious how enamored I am of this figure. I only wish all my collection looked this good.

Customizers Corner - 
This figure is a wealth of information for any customizer. Heís also begging to be put in a giant diorama! Re-casters might want to look at the head for Han Solo or a Jack Ryan Custom, but I donít know how the paint would react. Iíve seen lots of custom pairings of Indiana with his father on a German motorcycle.

Figure from the collection of Customikey.

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