Sideshow Premium Format Spike

I'm a big fan of both Buffy and Angel - I've pointed that out on numerous occasions here. While I have a few of the prop replicas, for me the ultimate collectibles for the show are the Premium Format figures from Sideshow.

Alas, I wasn't thrilled by their first release, Buffy. She had some lazy eye issues, and the sculpt wasn't quite all it could be, particularly for the price point, so I did something I almost never do - I sold her.

I probably wouldn't have done that though is she was the one and only chance to have a PF from the shows. Thankfully, that's not the case. Since then, Sideshow has announced a second version of our main girl (), along with the newly announced Angel ().

But I was banking that the second release would be the one to own - Spike. He hit the door in all his black leather glory this last week, and I'll cover the pros and cons tonight. He ran $250 at Sideshow (where you can still snag one! ), and the exclusive version was limited to 350. I'm reviewing the exclusive tonight, and right now he's available again at Sideshow on their second chance offer ().

There are two versions of course: the regular is a limited edition of 500, while the exclusive (which includes a second swappable vamp face head) is limited to just 350.

Packaging - ***
The package is the standard Premium Format style, with photos around the outer box and a deluxe foam tray keeping everything safe. And it does do that well, although the tray tends to smash the coat up a bit, particularly against the belt buckle, leaving an imprint. It looks like that print fades with time though, so it's only a minor annoyance.

Sculpting - ****
Sideshow did an amazing job on their standard edition 12" Spike figure, but had issues with the factory paint job. You'd expect that paying more money would result in better quality, and I'm happy to say that's definitely true.

Spike (and the actor, James Marsters) has a face that is extremely recognizable, with hard angular lines, deeply sunken cheeks (does this guy even have back teeth?), and piercing eyes. All that personality in his face means that capturing the likeness is a bit easier than when dealing with very generic pretty people.

However, that also means that the sculpt could devolve into a caricature quite easily. I just recently received the Connery Bond PF as well, and that's what happened there. I'll be reviewing him soon, but the Connery sculpt captures everything that makes him Connery, and then takes it one step too far. Oh, you still recognize it immediately as Connery, but in a slightly cartoony way.

That didn't happen here at all. This looks like a real person, from the textured skin to the detailed hair, right down to the proper shape and wrinkling around the eyes and lips. When someone says that getting a human likeness right is just not possible, show them this guy.

He has nicely sculpted hands, in a relaxed but ready to fight pose. The hands are pretty well scaled, with no alien fingers or weird proportions. There's no black gloves, but if I can only have him one way, I'd rather stick with the bare hands.

By the way, all this talk is about the regular, non-vamp head. I'll discuss the vamped out version that comes with the exclusive addition as part of the Accessories section.

Spike stands about 21 inches tall on his own.

Paint - ****
The paint supports the sculpt, adding realism without removing texture or detail. Subtle shading, small detail work, and careful precision make this a fine example of paint operations done right.

There is one slight issue. He's a smidge shiny. Don't get me wrong - this isn't Faramir's beard shiny. But the skin and hair aren't *quite* matte, and under bright lights it's more noticeable. Still, this is a very minor nit, and not one that was a problem enough for me to reduce the high score.

The eyes are well done, and the shading and pattern on the lips is amazing. The fingernails are done in black of course, and the hair has been given some white highlighting that works quite well. Again, a textbook example of quality work.

Outfit - ***1/2
Spike's outfit consists of his most traditional and well known pieces of clothing. It all starts with a dark black t-shirt and black/gray jeans. Both are tailored nicely and fit the polystone body underneath quite well. There's a belt with buckle on the pants of course, and he's wearing his trademark boots. These boots are half sculpted (the foot portion) and half material (the calf section). That could have been problematic, but they managed to match the black color and texture well enough to make them appear almost seamless.

Over the black t-shirt is his red striped dress shirt. The stripes are a little dark (yea, I know, bitch, bitch, bitch) but at least he's got the stripes, unlike the earlier 12" version. Itty bitty buttons run down the front, and again, it's well tailored. I did find that I had to play with the shirt a fair amount to get it hanging just right on the body and down the front of the chest, but with a little effort you can make it look terrific.

Finally there's his coat. It appears as leather, but they used a very thin material that flows and fits better than leather would have. It's another excellent tailoring job, and unlike the PF John Wayne, this outer coat fits his shoulders, chest and arms just about right.

There's a thin wire in the base of the coat that will allow you to pose it in a variety of ways. I tried to use photos that showed it in a number of ways, although I have my own personal favorite way that it will end up in on the shelf. Adding the wire was a great touch though, and you'll spend plenty of time futzing with it to get the look just right.

The collar's on both the shirt and jacket can be turned up or turned down, depending on your mood. While turned down tends to be more show accurate, I have to admit that I really liked having the shirt collar turned down (and under the jacket) but the jacket collar turned up. It gives him sort of a Bela Lugosi look, like the cape the original Dracula wore.

If there was one thing I'd like added, it would be a wire to the collar of the coat. Getting it to lay completely flat can be a bit tricky, and a wire would have came in mighty handy.

Accessories - Exclusive ***1/2; Regular **
The regular version has one item that I'm sticking in this section - the base. I'm sticking it down here, because if I'd included it in the general Sculpting section, it could have pulled down the otherwise fantastic score in that area.

Why? Well, the detail is good. Spike is standing on the usual stone floor, with a nice texturing and realistic appearance. There's a good sized peg on his right foot that extends deep enough into the base to keep him upright in most situations. The base is also fairly tall, and has the edition number and size printed on the bottom.

So what's the problem? The GOD AWFUL insignia on the front of the base. The name "Spike" is done up is some sort of 1970's looking Hell fire, more appropriate to some badly titled B movie about Satan. It clashes with the look and design of the rest of the statue, and really, really bugs me.

The exclusive ends up saving itself in this category though, because of the second vamp head. Again, the sculpting and paint application is top notch, and the heads swap quite easily yet fit fairly tight. This is one of those rare exclusives where the double feature really is worth the price of admission.

Value - **1/2
Both the exclusive version and regular version cost the same $250. That's a hefty chunk of change by anyone's standards. However, when you add in the second head, you really are getting what you're paying for. For those of you that have read my Anatomy of a Toy Review, you know that means **1/2 stars, which is a wash, resulting in no overall effect on the final score.

As much as I love the overall figure, even with just the single head, I have to admit that he's about $50 over priced. Of course, it could be that God awful 'Spike' on the front of the base that's blinding me. Did I mention how much I hate that?

Things to Watch Out For - 
Not a thing.  I wouldn't go tossing the heads around, but basic care will keep him looking fine.

Overall - Exclusive ****; Regular ***1/2
This is a vastly better PF than the previously released Buffy, with an improved factory paint job, fantastic sculpt, and more complex and visually interesting outfit. Well, except for the whole cleavage thing.

This is one of the few times that getting the exclusive over the regular edition really does make a big difference. Adding in the extra head, and making the swap relatively easy, really adds to the value of the overall statue.

I'm extremely pleased with the final overall product this time around, and Spike will be going in my short list of best 18" and above figures for 2007. I wasn't going to pre-order the upcoming Angel, but the quality of this one has made me rethink that decision.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***
Sculpt -  ****
Paint - ****
Outfit - ***1/2
Accessories - Exclusive ***1/2; Regular **
Value -  Exclusive **1/2; Regular **
Overall - Exclusive ****; Regular ***1/2

Where to Buy -
You can still get the exclusive at Sideshow () at least for a little while. Sponsor options for the regular version:

- Fireside Collectibles has him at $212.49.

- Dark Shadow Collectibles has him at $212.50

- Alter Ego has him at $212.49.

- Amazing Toyz also has him at $212.49.

- CornerStoreComics has him at $212.50. (are you sensing a pattern here?)

- Time and Space Toys, who carry a TON of Buffy and Angel merchandise, have him at $230.

- Dark Figures has him at $240.

Related Links -
There's no shortage of other Buffy reviews:

- in the Sideshow line, I've reviewed Lorne, Cordelia, Vamp Darla, Vamp Buffy, Willow, the original Buffy and Angel, Faith, and the Gentlemen.  And if you're looking for something a little taller, there's the Premium Format Buffy.

- there's also the 6" line from DST and MAC, including the Deluxe series 3, Pylean Princess Cordy and Season 7 Xander, latest deluxe Spike and Angel, the deluxe Hawaiin Shirt Spike and Angel, the regular Buffy and Dawn figures, deluxe Buffy and Faith, Drusilla and the Gentlemen, Buffy, Giles and Oz, the recent Angel wave, more of the Angel wave, Fred and Illyria, Wesley, Willow and Tara, and the very first series of Angel figures from MAC.

- there's been plenty of busts, like the Ubervamp, the four monsters from DST, the Becoming Buffy, human Spike, and Buffy vs. Dracula.

- and then there's the Palz, like the Gentlemen, the Halloween set, and series 1.

- there's also the oddball stuff, like the Buffy and Angel Christmas ornaments, the Dark Witch Willow statue, the Welcome Faith statue, or the Johnny Lightening cars.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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