Sideshow Custer

This weeks guest review is presented by Andy Garringer, a long time Civil War reenactor (He portrayed Custer in the TV mini-series North and South Book II) and collector of a variety of action figures.

The mere mention of the name George Armstrong Custer strikes up controversy and mystery and this review involves a little controversy and mystery of it’s own. First I had to beg Tom Gilliland from Sideshow Toys to mail me the pre-production figure so I could have this review ready before the figures were released and he was gracious enough to trust me and send it to me.  Custer would have arrived on June 25 (the anniversary of his defeat and death) but UPS could not find my house. I think the driver was related to Reno or worse, Benteen! When he received his delivery orders of “Big city, be quick, bring package. PS: Bring Package!” he did the same as his ancestor did. Oh well, enough with the  controversy and mystery and on with the review.

Well, we all remember the Best of the West Custer by Marx that was manufactured in the sixties right? Being a Custer fan that was THE figure to have. He had the golden curls, that Hollywood "Flynn" look and accessories that were far from historically correct. Well, now that Sideshow has released their Brevet Major General George Armstrong Custer figure you can put that Ol’ Marx one on ebay!

My review of Sideshow Toys Brevet Major General George Armstrong Custer 12” Action Figure

Packaging - ****
As a graphic artist I feel these boxes ooze the old west.  Terrific graphics, with excellent historical text on Custer, and very little twist tie confusion. After removing the figure you'll still have a box in one piece to store him in if so desired. If you have always tossed the boxes in the past you'll be giving these a second look and wondering, do these actually belong on a toy shelf or in an antique store? Very professionally done.

Sculpting - ***1/2
This figure was sculpted by Matt Falls who took a character that was known for his long curly locks and sculpted him in a style than many are not even aware Custer ever had, short hair. In fact probably the shortest Custer ever had it cut. The seam line across the top of the head was a little too noticeable for me but Matt captured the Custer nose and other facial features.
If you put this figure on a nice diorama base he has the look of despair in his eyes. The moustache looks a little well trimmed for Custer as most pictures I have seen of him show a monstrous growth of bushy hair on his upper lip which often hid the fact that he had an opening under his nose. But even with those minor complaints, it is still Custer!

Paint - ***1/2

The paint job on the face is nicely done but it does look a tad pale. I like the fact that they painted freckles on Autie (Custer's nickname) and a slight pinkish hue to his cheeks as Custer was known to sunburn easily. My only complaints are that there was a little annoying light flesh line left under his moustache that just seemed to pop out. Nothing a little light wash of acrylic paint can't handle though. The hands are a tad on the pale side also and could have used a little "sunburn" look to them. But the eyes speak!  I would have liked to seen a little five o'clock shadow as Custer was probably starting a little bit of growth by the time of the Battle but that is just my opinion. If the figure is just of his western campaign look Custer normally was clean shaven except for his moustache and spike goatee.
Above: Comparison photo of Custer as he appeared in April of 1876 and Sideshow’s sculpt of how he might have looked June 25, 1876.  Right: Close-up of Custer Sculpt with hat on.

Articulation - ****
I believe the body is the same rest of the Sideshow line.  I have no complaints as I posed George in various poses and he held them all very well. No real need for any sort of stand or assistance.

Uniform - ***1/2
The uniform consists of  "fireman's shirt", buckskin pants and trousers, red cravat, hat and M1872 boots. The material chosen to simulate the buckskin for the jacket and trousers looks really good. I know we all think if the real piece was leather then so should the miniature. For fringe to look correct in 1:6 scale it would have to be cut so thin to lay right that I believe you would have fringe shedding everywhere and it would simply be a production nightmare. I believe this material will satisfy you.

The firemans shirt is nicely done with a left chest pocket that is useable. In my opinion the buttons should be flat, white "mother of pearl" buttons instead of the metal but since know one knows for sure what shirt Custer had on at the battle it's hard to dispute. Same goes for the imprinted white "7" and crossed sabers in the collar corners. I think they are a nice touch and there are many documented articles indicating that a lot of the 7th Officers had this embroidery done.

The hat is of a soft vinyl and fits the head very well. It has the familiar Custer brim style and simple raised hat cord sculpted on.

The M1872 boots are an incredibly sculpted, cast and painted piece miniature set. The pull straps are there as is the raised welt on the side plus the aged weather wrinkles. You would swear these were leather!

Accessories - ***1/2
George's comes with spurs and straps, modified officers saber belt with cartridge loops, 2 Ivory handled Irish Constabulary Revolvers and real leather holsters, private purchase Plains Indian knife and scabbard, cap pouch, gauntlet hands, Remington No. 1 rolling block rifle and pistol-firing and rifle-firing alternate right hands.

The only disappointment I have in the accessories that were supplied is that the revolvers, knife and rifle are cast of a semi-soft material instead of a rigid material. This material tends to bend and not hold a straight line but in the rifle and knife that came with this review piece all was well. The bulldog barrels were a little bent. The belt buckle could have been a tad more detailed.

All the accessories are extremely well made, with excellent details and styling.

Now to be really, really nitpicky - I would have loved to see a set of binoculars and case plus Custer's personal guidon as an accessory. But considering the gauntleted hands and the pistol-firing and rifle-firing alternate right hands I think it balances out about right.
Right: Close-up of Custer’s coat.
Above: Close-up of Custer Sculpt without hat.
Above: Hand versions that come with the Custer figure allowing a variety of changes..
Right: Custers Bulldog Revolvers, waistbelt, holsters, knife sheath
(I forgot to put in the knife when I photgraphed it) and rifle.

Value - ***1/2
If you can pick him up for under $25, you're getting a fantastic value.  At $25-$30 it's still a great deal as this is the best figure of Custer by far.

Overall - ***1/2
There wasn't a doubt in my mind that this figure would be added to my collection. There is always some skepticism when I hear or see a Custer figure being produced. I can tell Sideshow spent many, many hours researching this figure and it shows once you have him in your hands.

Where to buy -
I don't know what retail stores may carry these, but on-line you have lots of choices:

- Aisle Sniper has the best price I could find, but it's still a pre-order on the page.  They are $25, plus shipping. 

- Sideshow has them of course, as a set of two with Custer and Crazy Horse for $80, or just Custer for $40. (MROTW Affiliate)

- Entertainment Earth has the set of two for $70, or a case of 6 for $190.  Since the case is even packed, if you know two other folks to go in with you on it, it's clearly the better deal. (MROTW Affiliate)












Figure from the collection of Andy Garringer.

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