Sideshow 12" Van Helsing


I haven't had the opportunity to see Van Helsing.  From everything I've been told, it sounds like I've been spared.

I did review several of the Jakk's figures, including the smaller scale Wolfman, and several of the 12" scale figures.  I was sorely disappointed.  BTW, if you're looking to pick these up, I noticed (and mentioned in the Peg Patrol) that Toys R Us now has them at a straight 50% off all Van Helsing merchandise.  That's a pretty good price for the cool castle.

Sideshow has just started shipping their 12" Van Helsing, both the regular and exclusive versions.  I'll be reviewing the exclusive version tonight, who has the privilege of an extra accessory - his spinning 'tojo' blades.  There's also a regular and exclusive Anna Valorious coming soon.  The bad news is that all four, both regulars and both exclusives, are sold out through the Sideshow site.  However, I have some other on-line suggestions for picking these up at the end of the review.

And for those of you into the expensive stuff, there's also the quarter scale version!  And for folks looking to talk Sideshow figures, check out the Sideshow Collector's message boards.

Packaging - ****
Sideshow leaps back up to four stars with this beautiful box.  The cover art is excellent, and the finish is now a rough matte, rather than the glossy photo style we've had in the past.  It seems to fit the film and the period better, and looks terrific.

It's all completely collector friendly too, EXCEPT they went from the normal twistie tie around the neck and through the cardboard tray, to some sort of dental floss.  I have no idea what's up with that, and while it's only knotted, you'll most likely have to cut it and sacrifice it to the packaging gods.

Sculpting - ***1/2
The sculpt on this figure is a dead on likeness to Hugh Jackman, much more so than the Jakk's version.  It looks far better out of the package than in, when you can see it from various angles.  Just compare him to the front of the box and you can see what I mean.

The rest of the sculpting is solid, including the hands.  They hold the various accessories fine, and are more multi-purpose than usual.

The only negative to the sculpt is the hair.  Since the hat has to fit properly, and is the most important look, he had to be sculpted with a serious case of hat-hair.  On top of that, the detail of the hair sculpt is less realistic, hurting the overall appearance of the head, especially when not wearing the hat.  But how often will he be doing that?

Paint - **1/2
Just as much as I like the headsculpt, I dislike the paint ops.  Let me explain.

The basic quality of the paint application is Sideshow's usual high quality.  The eyes are clean and straight, there's a reasonable amount of expression in the face, the skin tone is even, and there's good definition between the colors.  Even the beard stubble, which is always tough, comes out fairly well.

My major issue here is the Vaseline the smeared over his head.  He has a VERY glossy face and hair, and it looks terribly unrealistic.  Rather than look like the actual character, it looks like a plastic toy.  Unfortunately, that's not the look they're going for here.  While this was slightly bad with Hellboy, it's very bad here, much more obvious and much more obtrusive.  Let's hope that it's not something we'll see more of.

Articulation - ***1/2
I'm a big fan of the Sideshow body, and I had no real issues this time around.  He's got all that sixth scale articulation you expect - neck, ball jointed shoulders, cut thighs and biceps, double jointed elbows and knees, wrists, ankles, ball jointed hips, chest and waist, and I'm probably forgetting something.

My joints were tight, and they didn't cause issues with holding poses or standing.  That's pretty important, since there's no stand included this time.

Accessories - ***
There are quite a few accessories with the exclusive version, but the regular version doesn't fair as well.

This version has the cross bow (and yes, before I get 100 emails in the first five minutes, I had the cylinder in backwards when I shot the photos), two guns, and the two tojo blades.

The tojo blades are exclusive to this version, and the sculpts are very cool.  Of course, if you could squeeze the handles to make them spin...alright, I'll catch a train back to reality now.

The guns are excellent, with sculpts that match the source material extremely well, and perfect paint ops.  Check them against the photo on the cover and you'll see just how much detail they put in.  However, there's no moving parts.

The crossbow is the coolest of the accessories, with a very detailed sculpt and moving parts.  The bow folds in and out, the cylinder is removable, and the colors add a nice contrast to the overall appearance of the figures.

Outfit - ***
Similar to Hellboy, this is a very complex outfit, particularly compared to some of the other past Sideshow figures.

There's the pants, turtleneck shirt, vest, boots, scarf, jacket and hat.  Great stitching, solid tailoring, and quality materials are generally used through out.

The hat and boot sculpts are both great.  The hat fits perfectly on the head, due to the hair sculpt, and looks good from just about any angle, even though it's a hell of a big hat.  The boots look good, but do seem to cause him trouble standing up.  It's not his joints or his balance, but rather something with the way the bottoms of the boots are sculpted that seem to give him some issues.

The pants match the film pretty well, and the turtleneck material looks extremely realistic.  Unfortunately, it's also sleeveless, so posing him without the overcoat isn't a possibility.

The vest is perhaps my favorite piece of clothing, and mine was snapped perfectly.  The pleather looks great, and the watch fob hangs on the front, adding another touch from the film.

The scarf is well done, but once you take it off, you might find it tough to get it back in under the sculpted hair.  Finally, there's the overcoat.

I've read lots of different comments on the coat, both good and bad, but one thing seems to be universal - this thing really stinks!  I'm being literal here.  Sure, all toys these days stink, but this is really strong.  I have no idea if it's the material they used, or something with the brown paint that was added to look like mud, but in either case, you can expect to spend some time airing this boy out.

One of the things that seems to be missing from the costume is any holsters.  Now, I haven't seen the movie so I can't be sure, but you can put his pistols in his coat pockets.  I just watched the Hound of the Baskerville again the other day with Basil Rathbone, and was reminded that very often in the films of the thirties, our heroes carried their guns in their coat pockets, so I suppose it's possible in this case.  Still, holsters would have looked pretty damn cool.

Fun Factor - **1/2
This figure doesn't suffer from accessories that are *quite* as easy to break as most Sideshow figures, but they aren't really intended for kids.  Older kids who enjoy the film or the Universal Monster legacy in general may enjoy him, but I wouldn't expect him to hold up to any real play.

Value - **
At $45, Van Helsing is one of the more expensive recent Sideshow figures.  And even though they produced 5000 of the regular version, they still sold out.  Perhaps that means the market can handle the higher price at this point, but it still seems to be at least $5 - $10 above the average market price of quality 12" figures.

Overall - ***
This figure could have easily hit another half star, had they skipped the gloss paint job on the head.  That's easily my number one complaint, and the thing that most detracts from this figure for me.

There are a few other basic issues, like the lack of holsters and sleeveless shirt, but these are minor compared to the gloss appearance.  He's still a million miles above the Jakk's version in quality and tailoring, but at more than twice the price, that's to be expected.

Where to Buy - 
Sideshow Toys is sold out, but there are some other on-line options:

- Southern Island has him listed at $40.

- Killer Toys also has him listed at $40.

- Aisle Sniper still has the pre-order up for $45.

- Alter Ego Comics doesn't have the 12" figures listed, but does have the quarter scale version for $212.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

This page copyright 2003, Michael Crawford. All rights reserved. Hosted by 1 Hour