Sideshow Hellboy

I've reviewed far more Hellboy merchandise this year than I had ever expected, from 8" action figures, to 12" action figures, to 18" roto-cast, to Mez-itz...there's been a plethora of cool stuff.

Tonight I'm reviewing the regular Hellboy 12" figure from Sideshow. They produced the regular version, an exclusive cigar-chomping version, and two versions of Kroenen so far, with (reviewed here) and without the final battle damage. Their Abe is still to come, and unless you've been living under a rock, you know they are releasing a Nazi Kroenen as one their San Diego Comic Convention exclusives.

Speaking of which, Sideshow is handling their SDCC exclusives in a rather unique way. You can pre-order any of the four - the Nazi Kroenen, 1/4 scale Samaritan, Vamp Angel or Smeagol mini-bust - and then pick them up in person at the show. No waiting in line, no worrying about getting them! Check out their site for all the details.

BTW, if you're looking for a place to hang and discuss Sideshow products, check out the Sideshow Collector's message boards.  They have a lot of excellent conversation, and several of the Sideshow folks read and post as well!

Packaging - ***1/2
While the work is still close to stunning, it's not quite as impressive as the Kroenen box. Perhaps it's because the cover image is so familiar, while the shot of Kroenen was less widely seen. Whatever the case, it's still a great looking box. There's some basic text on the fifth panel on the film, and the box is sturdy and completely collector friendly - you can always put him back later if you'd like.

Sculpting - **1/2
This is a rather low score for a Sideshow sculpt, and at first glance may seem harsh. But Sideshow's product isn't judged solely against other sixth scale product, but against there own, and they've set a tremendously high standard for themselves.  And it doesn't help that Mezco has released the 18" version, which is currently still in the top running for best male action figure of the year.

The head sculpt on Hellboy isn't terrible, and I honestly like it better than the exclusive version with the cigar. It looks quite a bit like the Ron Perlman version, rather than the comic book version, and the expression is very appropriate, if a bit forced. I have two real complaints with the head itself - one is the location of the ponytail, which is set awfully high on the back of the head, and two is the horns, which don't have enough difference in texture or style to set them apart from the rest of the head.  They also don't look like they're growing out of the head, but rather are stuck on, pushing the skin inward instead of pushing it outward.

My biggest issue here comes with the right hand sculpt - the Right Hand of Doom. The hand is sculpted closer in scale with the film than the Mezco or comic versions, so it's a tad smaller than some might like, but since that matches up with the source material, it's not a big negative. No, the problem here is in the appearance. The hand is supposed to be rock or stone, but here the sculpt is way too soft. The lines, crevasses and edges are rounded and blunt, making the hand look less like rock and more like clay. Don't believe me?  Just compare this to the 1:1 prop hand from Sideshow and tell me you can't see a major difference.

Considering how crucial the hand is to his overall appearance, this lack of realism in it's sculpt really hurts the score. The other big factor here is the scale of the Sideshow body for this character.

His height isn't bad, added by Herman Munster boots, but even then he's only slightly taller than Kroenen. His lack of bulk is very obvious though, especially in his legs and arms. Sideshow's body just can't impart the kind of muscle mass necessary, especially in the neck and back - Hellboy has some serious traps! He ends up looking thin, with a large head, rather than the bulky super hero he is. Of course, Sideshow was also caught between a rock and a hard place, since padding the upper body wouldn't have provided muscle definition, just bulk, and still not looked quite right.

I'm also going to throw the tail in here, because I'm not sure where else it should go. The tail comes packaged separately, and you have to pop it into his butt yourself. Insert your favorite ass joke here. The two 'pegs' that are used to attach are made of the same rubber as the tail, making them rather soft and bendy. That means getting them to fit, and getting them to stay, can be quite the trick. You'll need to unbuckle the pants in back, and even then, the wonky belt will still be in the way. The tail is bendy, but I suggest getting in the position you want before you attach it, since you'll be terrified of knocking it loose once it's in place.

Paint - **1/2
The paint application itself is very clean and neat across the figure. As usual, the major paint ops are on the hands and head. There's not a ton of small detail, but items like the eyes, teeth and hairline are all very clean and neat. The red skin tone is also very consistent, with no sign of thin, thick or off color areas.

However, it's that skin tone - another crucial aspect of this character - that throws him off for me. Sideshow has gone with a very dark red, much darker than I recall seeing in the film. I'll add my standard caveat here, and say that I'm as color blind as you get, but to me he was slightly lighter in the film.  The Mezco versions are also slightly lighter, and that seems to ring true for me.

Finally, there's a semi-gloss appearance to both the hands and the head. It's most noticeable on the right hand, again where it's supposed to be stone. The slightly glossy appearance cuts further into the realism, making the hand look even less natural.  It's not quite as bad on the head, but check out the Mezco 18" rotocast head for a comparison.

Articulation - ***
Sideshow's body is one of my favorites, with plenty of joints for the articulation junkie. Here however, we've lost a few joints, and got a couple floppy ones to boot.

Sideshow needs to use their ball jointed neck more often. Hellboy doesn't have it, and that would have added quite a bit to the figure. He also doesn't have the nifty Sideshow wrists joints, understandable on his right hand, but his left is completely encumbered by the glove sculpt.

I was really happy with how tight the joints were on Kroenen, allowing him to hold all kinds of fighting stances. Unfortunately, Hellboy has floppy hips, and while it is possible to keep him standing in a straight up, attention pose, I couldn't keep him upright in much else. You'll have to resort to using the enclosed stand for other action poses.

I'll mention the bendy tail here again, and it works fine if you get it in a position you like initially. I wouldn't try bending it too much once it's attached though, or at least be careful doing it - you don't want to go through the hassle of reattaching it if you don't have to.

Accessories - ***
Hellboy comes with three accessories - his display stand, his gun (Samaritan), and his horseshoe. The display stand is the standard Sideshow stand, imprinted with the Hellboy logo. It works fine, although it's always better when you don't have to actually use it.

The horseshoe looks good, although it seems a tad large considering how big Hellboy is supposed to be. You can pop it in his belt, where he already has his rosary.

The real key here is the uber-cool Samaritan. The gun sculpt is excellent, and the chamber opens to reveal removable shells. There's even the leather strap hanging off the butt of the gun, twisted and tied. The gun fits perfectly in it's holster, and the holster snaps open and shut easily. More about those various accoutrements when we hit the outfit.

Outfit - ***
Hellboy's outfit is fairly complicated, even by Sideshow standards. There's a lot here to discuss, and many of the nits are pretty small.

His outfit starts with his overcoat. It's made of a very thin material, which is a good thing. Getting clothes to look accurate in sixth scale requires going thin, to get it to lay and hang properly. This jacket does that quite well. Unfortunately, the very light, yellowish tan color puts me off, and I would have much preferred a darker dirtier brown.

He has a tight fitting black shirt, and black pleather pants. Both look good, and fit well, but that skinniness shows because of it. The boot sculpt is solid, and adds a little height to the figure.

The final aspect of his outfit is his belt, which bugged me the most. It hangs very loosely on his hips, and it's not helped by the weight of all his goodies. He has three small, sculpted bags on his belt, his holster, and his rosary, plus you'll probably hang his horseshoe from there. All that weight tends to drag the soft, thin pleather belt down.

There are holes to allow you to move the buckle up, but because of the long design of the buckle itself, if you do so, it sticks out at an odd angle. The belt isn't actually removable either, since there appears to be no way to undo the holster's tie down on the leg. In the end, every time I played around with the belt to try to make it look better - or get the tail to fit in back - I felt like I was about to rip it. Something sturdier than the pleather, with a slightly different design to the buckle, was really needed.

Fun Factor - **
Sideshow doesn't make toys for kids, although some kids might find them pretty fascinating. The problem here is one of breakage, and the thin belt would last about 3 minutes with the average 10 year old. These are for adults, and as such, don't lose anything in their overall score (at least from me) because of it.

Value - ***
Sideshow sells them for $40 each, which is slightly high considering the market. This is actually a slightly better value score than most Sideshow sixth scale figures get. That's because of the large number of accessories, the complexity of the outfit, and the expense of the license.

Overall - **1/2
I suspect lots of folks will feel I'm being too harsh on this figure. At first glance, I thought he was much better as well, but after spending some time with him, and reviewing the flaws more than once, I decided that overall he doesn't rank anywhere near the level of quality of the Kroenen or other recent Sideshow figures.  The problem is simple - I had issues with the sculpt of the hand, issues with the paint, issues with some of the outfit, issues with the floppy hips...if he'd had any one of these problems, no biggie, but wrap all the problems up in a single figure, and I have to reflect it in my overall score.

If you're a huge fan of the movie, you might want to check him out, and if you picked up the Kroenen, he is a nice companion piece. I'd hate to have Kroenen, Nazi Kroenen, and Abe Sapian on my shelf without him, but if you're not really interested in the entire series, than this one by himself is probably one you can skip.

If you're looking for a more definitive Hellboy from Sideshow, check out the quarter scale version.  It looks amazing, but you can expect to pay an amazing price as well.

Where to Buy - 
Sideshow deals predominately through on-line stores, although your local comic or pop culture store might get these in. On-line options include:

- Sideshow themselves of course. The exclusive version is no longer available, but they still have the regular Hellboy. With just a run of 4000 though, it's not likely they'll last long.

- Time and Space Toys has him for $40.

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

- Aisle Sniper has him up for $32 if you're willing to take a non-mint box.

- Southern Island has the regular version in stock for $40.

- Killer Toys has the pre-order up for the regular version at $40.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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