Sideshow 12" Faith

Buffy is The One. There can only be one. I mean, really, what kind of chaos would you have if a bunch of slayers were running around? Why, you'd have the series finale of BTVS!

Not wanting to wait seven years to have more than one slayer, the Buffy scribe's came up with another option. In fact, they exercised that option at the end of the first season, having Buffy 'die' in one of those near death experience kind of ways. Those CPR classes at the Y paid off for Xander, and Buffy was back - but not without giving the writers their chance.

Her death allowed them to bring in a second slayer, midway through season 2. Kendra was her name, slaying was her game, but she wasn't particularly good at it. Drusilla kills her off in short order, and that's it...

Until season three of course, where we FINALLY get to the other slayer, Faith. Faith was the bad girl, the slayer unwilling to follow the rules, petulant yet perky. She became a hugely popular character, eclipsing Buffy for many fans. The role brought Eliza Dushku fame, at least in the geek world, and her current starring role on TRU Calling has firmly cemented her a spot in geek history. If she ever falls on hard times, she can always do the comic book convention autograph circuit for life.

Sideshow has resurrected their Buffy line as well, giving us a new Buffy, Angel, and Spike figure already this year. They also have the Master (the one that killed Buffy in the first place and started this whole mess), a regular Willow and a Vampire Willow scheduled for release later this year. And then there's the Vampire Angel, available only at the San Diego Comic-Con. Faith is shipping now, and you can find her for $35 - $40. She's long sold out at the Sideshow site, but I have some other retailer suggestions at the end of the review.

Like many of the recent Sideshow releases, she also comes in a limited exclusive version, which I'm reviewing here, and the regular version. The limited version was only 500 figures, while the regular edition size was 5000. The exclusive version comes with the scythe accessory.

Packaging - ***1/2
Another great box from Sideshow. The front graphic of Ms. Dushku looks great, and the text and additional photos work well. They did make a couple changes here to the general packaging though that make it less collector friendly. Seems like every time that take a step forward (not bubble sealing the stands to the cardboard tray) they take a couple back.

One change involves said display stand. It's in the plastic tray, just like we like, but then it's twisty tied all the way back through the cardboard tray, similar to the way the bodies have always been at the neck. This isn't a major problem, but still a minor inconvenience if you plan on returning her to her plastic prison.

The other change is a major pain in the butt. Rather than use a twisty tie around her neck and back through the cardboard tray, they've gone with a soft plastic band. This is similar to what they did with Van Helsing and his dental floss, and is probably due to her long hair. Still, there's almost no way you're going to manage to get this tied back through without some seriously major effort.

Sculpting - **
Sorry to say it, but this isn't Eliza. I suppose if you hold her just right, with the perfect phase of the moon shining on her face at a 17.5 degree angle, and you're stoned out of your mind, you can find Eliza in this head sculpt. But otherwise, you're just fooling yourself.

Having said that, I'll admit it doesn't look quite as bad as I had expected. Place her with your other Buffy figures, and through process of elimination if nothing else, you'll figure out who she is. But considering the work we know Sideshow is capable of, this is a big disappointment.

Now, there's been a lot of discussion that it's all about the paint, and to an extent, that's true. I've preached the same thing for years now - a great sculpt can be ruined by bad paint ops, and an awful sculpt can be vastly improved by good ones. And I'll pick on the problems with the paint in the next section, but they aren't the only cause.

The sculpted hair is tough, and doesn't work particularly well in this case. Or at least not in this straight pose. Faith's hair always had more life, more energy, and this rather limp appearance doesn't fit her personality well at all. The hair is a lot longer in back though than I had expected, but it doesn't restrict the neck movement as much as you'd think.

The head is also large, and part of that is due to the thin, small frame of the body. The forehead is very broad, with a fairly flat face. Add these things in with eyes that are too far apart (the poor girl almost looks like a fish), and you have the biggest issue with the appearance. That's not all though - the nose is too broad (although not as bad as it appears in some photos), and the upper lip has more of a 'v' than Eliza actually has.

There's also an age issue that's tough to place, but is clearly there. This version looks like she might appear 10 or 15 years from now. Softer in some places, more weary perhaps. It's tough to place, but definitely part of the look.

I've already mentioned that the eyes are certainly too far apart, and they also lack the slightly lidded look that gives Ms. Dushku her sleepy yet seductive appearance. They tried to capture it, but missed almost completely.

After saying all that, I do want to say this - it's not as bad as it could be. This isn't an atrocity of the level of the gumball head Poison Ivy we got a few years back from Hasbro, or the monkey faced Leia's they are so famous for. Still, considering this is Sideshow and they tend to do the best licensed likenesses in a sixth scale format today, it's a big disappointment.  There's that word again.

It's also worth noting the scale of her body to the other figures. She uses the same body as Buffy, but without the heels, so she actually appears slightly shorter. Obviously, that's not correct, but not surprising that they didn't go to the expense of creating a slightly taller body just for this character.

The right hand is also formed completely closed, at least on mine. The finger and thumb are actually attached, and it required cutting to open it up. It doesn't look like it was actually sculpted that way, but because the finger and thumb were sculpted so close together, they were connected as part of the manufacturing or painting process. It's not a major deal, but you'll need to break it free to hold the accessories.

One positive on the sculpting - she has her ring included on her left hand, and all three hands (she has an extra as an accessory) work well with the included weapons.

Paint - **1/2
In general, the quality of the paint ops are average, but they do slip in terms of their ability to improve on or enhance the sculpt.

The face is slightly glossy, but not the Vaseline look that Van Helsing had. Still, even slight gloss like this tends to make the face look plasticy, and kill some of the resemblance to reality. Tone this down, and it would have gone a long way to improving her basic appearance.

The paint on the eyes is also off, and could have been used to improve the sculpt. Had they altered it even slightly, they would have been able to better capture that sultry look.

But the overall question of quality - did they manage to color within the lines, with consistent reasonable shades and tones - is fairly good. The hairline along the sides of the face tends to have too much skin tone riding up in the hair, but other than that the overall paint application is clean and neat.

One of the big positives to her paint application is the tattoo on her right bicep. They managed to get Angel's right, and it's nice to see they included Faith's as well. You'll have to roll up the sleeve to see it, but it's nice to see them go the extra mile.

Articulation - ***1/2
Faith has the now standard Sideshow female body that I showed in all it's glory back in the Buffy review.

She has the clean neckline, with the ball joint up at the jaw line, a big improvement for a female figure. The hair restricts the neck a little, but not nearly as much as I had expected. She also has all the other myriad of articulation points you'd expect - ball jointed shoulders and hips, double jointed elbows and knees, cut joints at the biceps, thighs, and forearms, ankles and wrists, chest and waist, etc. etc. etc. With the enhancements Sideshow has made, this is a solid overall female base. 

Accessories - ****
I'm very happy with the selection of accessories here, but that's because of the extra included scythe with the exclusive version.

She also has a wooden stake, crossbow, extra hand, and dagger. All look great, are nicely scaled, and fit in her hands for plenty of posing possibilities.

Sideshow could have cheaped out on the crossbow, and gone with the same one they gave the original Buffy. They didn't though, and instead gave us a much improved version. Excellent!

The stake is also an improvement over past attempts, being much larger and much more in scale. The extra hand is designed to hold the crossbow grip and works well, but it's tough to pop on and off. While the hands are soft rubber and the posts hard PVC, it's still possible to bend or break the post if you're not careful.

The dagger is second only to the scythe on the cool meter. Taken directly from Graduation Day, in which Buffy stabs Faith with this very blade, it's the perfect specific accessory to include. The sculpt looks dead on, although it's been some time since I saw the episode.

Then there's the scythe. This accessory might be the coolest exclusive accessory they've done so far. This scythe comes from the very end of the show, the last couple episodes, in which Faith returns to fight with Buffy against The First and Caleb. It looks excellent, and I'm betting it's an exact duplicate to the one on the show. Obviously, without the damn DVD's for that season yet, I can't really double check, but I have faith (get it?) in Sideshow. I did check it against some photos of a full size replica of the prop, and it looked mighty accurate.

Outfit - ***
The outfit is somewhat basic, certainly more so than something like Hellboy or Van Helsing, but is show accurate. I believe this is the outfit out of 'Consequences', when Faith stakes the Mayors lackey, Mr. Trick.

There are the boots, a nice sculpt that work fairly well. The buckles are painted silver, and actually look so good you'd swear they were separate. Then there's the pants, leather of course, or in the case of all 12" figures, pleather. They fit fairly well, although they are a little more baggy than the real thing, and tend to ride a little high on her body. Then there's the tight white shirt, and black vest. Overall, the outfit looks good, is tailored fairly well, and matches the show extremely well. This wasn't the most common outfit she wore (did she actually wear it more than once?) but she did wear it in a fairly pivotal show.

The tailoring on the shirt and vest is very good, and the pants are at least acceptable. The boots work well to keep her standing, and overall I'm pretty happy with the outfit.

Fun Factor - **
Any kids into Buffy? Nah, didn't think so. I suppose she can make a generic tough girl figure though, if you are looking for alternatives to Barbie for your daughter. However, the Cy-Girls are cheaper and might be a better choice.

Value - **
I'm scoring this at $40. Had the likeness been better, she would have gotten at least another half star here, because the accessories, outfit and articulation are on par with other figures in this price range.

However, if you can pick her up for $30 or less, you can add a bit to the value score.

Overall - **1/2
This figure was *almost* a two star overall rating. When I looked at photos of the head sculpt, I was sure she couldn't do better than that. While some people would cut her a lot of slack for the outfit and accessories, I look at it this way - I'm paying a premium because I'm buying Faith, not some generic female figure that has cool accessories. If I wanted to do that, I'd spend $15 less and get a Cy-Girl.

However, once I had her in my hands, I could see that the head sculpt wasn't *quite* as bad as it had looked in photos. Oh sure, it's not any where near the quality of Spike, but it's not the God awful lump of plastic I was expecting.

Still, this is the second figure out of the last three I've received from Sideshow that have scored **1/2 stars overall. I'm fairly surprised by that, but I have high hopes for some of the stuff I should get soon, including the Nazi Kroenen we'll see next week at SDCC.

Where to Buy - 
You won't see these in any regular stores, but your local comic shop may have them in. On-line options include:

- Sideshow is long sold out, but the Master, Willow, and Vamp Willow are all available for pre-order, and if you plan on attending SDCC, you should take advantage of the ability to pre-order Vamp Angel in advance for pickup at the show.

- Alter Ego Comics has her listed at $32.

- Aisle Sniper has her listed as a pre-order for $35.

- Time and Space Toys has her in stock for $40.

- Killer Toys has her listed as a pre-order for $40.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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