Premium Format Princess Leia

Princess Leia. One of the most common cos-play female characters out there, and certainly one of the biggest geek fanboy fantasies to ever come along. But it's usually sweet Leia in her Slave outfit that gets all the attention, and this year at Comic Con I only saw one person dressed up in her more traditional white outfit.

Sideshow decided to go with the young, sweet, yet ass kicking original version for their Premium Format release. As usual, they did a regular version with a run size of 1250, and an exclusive version (including an additional 'accessory') with a run size of 1000. Tonight's review will cover the exclusive version.

Leia was sold out at the Sideshow site long ago, but the wait list () is always a good idea. She isn't cheap there though, with the regular running $250 and the exclusive $275.

Packaging - ***1/2
Remember my review for the Hungarian Horntail from Gentle Giant? How I mentioned that the box was HUGE, far bigger than you'd ever expect, and to be in for a surprise when it hit the door? You're going to get one hell of a surprise when this box hits too, but for the exact opposite reason.

I have a fair number of Premium Format figures, and had a certain expectation of what to expect when I heard she'd hit the porch at home. However, when I got there, all I saw was this one small where was Leia?

Uh, she was in that box! Her package is about half the size of most other PF's, and it's going to be quite the shock when you first see it. Never fear, it's not because she isn't quarter scale, but rather that a) Carrie Fisher is petite and b) they've gotten better at conserving space in designing the interior.

The exterior of the box has one of those nifty sleeves again, with shots of the figure on all four sides. The exterior of the box is numbered, as is the base, and it does an excellent job keeping the lovely Leia and her goodies safe and sound.

Sculpting - ****
Andy Bergholtz did the work on this sculpture, and I have to admit that I'm extremely impressed. I feel this is THE best Leia head sculpt we've ever gotten, and while the Gentle Giant Slave Leia we saw at SDCC could certainly give it a run for the money, we haven't actually seen that get produced yet.

The overall design of the figure is great, capturing the sweet perky nature of the character in the body pose, but the serious attitude of the situation in her face. This is a woman that's great to look at, but she'll fry you with that blaster if you make a move.

The sculpted body underneath is well proportioned, with no cartoony dimensions or over amplified assets. The internal proportions - head, arms, legs, height - match nicely, lending an air of realism to the statue. She also fits in well with the other PF figures, standing about 15 1/2 " tall (which would be about 5' 2", about right for Ms. Fisher in boots).

But it's that head sculpt that keeps drawing you back in. The detail in the hair, the smooth skin, the perfect nose, the gorgeous eyes...she even has eyelashes, very fine and long, attached separately to the sculpted head. It's that type of exceptional detail that makes the Premium Format figures stand out from the usual sculpture.

The PF figures have generally gone with sculpted hair (though not always), and I think it's been a wise decision. They could have gone with rooted hair here, and in this scale it would have worked, but I think the best bet for long term beauty and maintenance is the sculpted hair. With this much detail and style, it looks almost as realistic as rooted hair, and won't fray and get dirty over time.

The boots are also sculpted, so I'll mention those here rather than in the Outfit section. The sculpt is good, and fairly realistic, but still aren't as good as if they'd been actually produced in some other material. I suspect that became either cost prohibitive or difficult to execute in reality.

Paint - ***1/2
The paint is ALMOST perfect...almost. The work on the hair, eyes, lips, fingernails - all truly amazing. The red lips might be a little too red for some folks, but I think it fits the character (and the source material) quite well. The eyes are amazing, with that slightly shiny finish that implies liquid, and just the right off white color to give them life and depth. There's even the white 'highlight' to the pupil in just the right spot to add more life and realism.

My only issues come with the cut between colors in a couple places. First, there's the hair line. There is some face paint higher on the hair line that is appropriate, and it is noticeable if you pay the kind of attention I do. This is the same issue down around the tops of the boots, but instead of the skin tone coming up on the edge of the boot, the white of the boot is running up onto the leg.

Neither of these are major problems though, and most folks will be more than happy.

Articulation - Bupkis
While you'd assume there would be no articulation, and this score obviously won't effect the overall, I wanted to include it just to reassure folks that there is no movement. Early PF figures did have some articulation, particularly in the arms, but that's no longer there. Even the shoulder where the right arm swaps out has no articulation or ability to rotate.

Accessories - *** (for the exclusive version)
The non-exclusive version comes with a small (very small, compared to other PF's) display stand, that looks like a piece of a ship's floor. One nice feature with this base is the soft, material bottom, that will keep it from scratching your furniture, or (more importantly) getting scratched itself. Leia has two steel pegs embedded in her right foot that hold her firmly to the base.

The exclusive version gets extra points of course, for including a second right arm. The standard version comes with her small blaster, but the exclusive includes this second arm holding a Stormtrooper blaster, 'requisitioned' later in the film. She looks great with either, but I prefer the larger weapon. I suspect she did as well.

The arms have a square peg that attaches into a hole in the shoulder. To assure that the arm won't fall out, there is a pretty large magnet inset into this peg, with a corresponding magnet in the shoulder. I had no issues with either arm, and both held tight. I have heard that some folks have received arms with the magnets in backwards though, which means they push the arm out, rather than hold it in. I'm sure Sideshow will correct this for you, but better to find out early. It's certainly worth opening her up and checking it out right away, to ensure yours is correct.

Outfit - ****
The outfit is extremely basic this time, with a simple white robe and white pleather belt. The boots are sculpted, and the leotard underneath is painted on. And yes, she's wearing something under that dress, you perv. And no, I'm not a perv because I was forced to look for the purposes of this review. So there.

The white dress is perfect, with an excellent fit, and a simple style that's timeless. The large hood in back can be worn over the hair, which is screen accurate if only for a brief moment, or draped down the back. The swappable arms can easily be inserted and removed from the large sleeves, and the gown hangs almost perfectly off her shoulders and hips.

I did have some wrinkling issues right out of the box, which is pretty common for PF's. The final photo in the review, the big one at the end, still had the wrinkles in it, particularly below the waist in front. I used some steam and an iron on low to remove the wrinkles, or you could use the 'soak' method, wetting down the material and letting the wrinkles fall out as it dries. Either way, be absolutely sure to use clean water - certainly distilled or RO water - because white material can stain quite easily. The last thing you want is a big water stain on her dress.

The final piece of the outfit is her cool belt. It's a white pleather, with real metal accoutrements attached as decoration. It looks great, and fits perfectly on her hips.

I did notice one thing - the slit on her dress isn't as high as I remember in early prototype photos.  Or that just might be my mind filling in images that weren't there.

Fun Factor - *1/2
These PF's aren't intended as toys, for either kids or adults. They are display pieces, fine enough in some cases (and this is one) to be in a museum. I won't be counting this score against her, since it wasn't their intention for her to be 'fun', but I still like to include the category for completeness.

Value - **
At $250 - $275, she's definitely not cheap. In fact, I'd say in terms of the bang for the buck (ignoring the obvious joke), she's the poorest value of the Star Wars PF's released to date.

But in terms of appearance on the shelf, she ranks up there with Obi-Wan and Vader, well above Solo and Luke. With a total run size (regular edition PLUS exclusive) that's smaller than just the regular edition size of any other Star Wars PF, I also suspect that over time she'll be one of the more difficult to obtain.

Things to Watch Out For - 
Check those magnets asap on the exclusive version, and always take extra care when inserting the metal rods on the bottom of the foot into the base. Other than that, you should be good to go!

Overall - ****
I waffled around a bit on giving Leia four stars. Obi-Wan, who also sported an amazing likeness, came in at ***1/2 because of several issues around his saber. Leia doesn't have any such issues, and the only problems I encountered were very minor ones with the paint in a couple spots.

She's definitely a four star likeness, and the costume is excellent as well. Her big draw back, that I can understand holding her back from four stars for some folks, is the price tag. She's certainly a good value at $200, but at $250? That's a tough call, and you can make an argument that at with that price tag, she only rates ***1/2.

Still, I'm so impressed by her likeness that I ended up buckling and going that extra half star. Maybe it's just the allure of a beautiful woman working on my brain.

Where to Buy - 
Sideshow's waiting list () is one option - the other is da 'bay. You might be able to search around at various online dealers and find her, but none of my sponsors have her currently listed. Alter Ego Comics did say in their last update they'd be getting her in this week, but I can't find her at the site - you might want to give them a call.

EDIT - CornerStoreComics now has her in stock for $212 as well.

Related Links - 
Since I have a ton of Star Wars links, let's stick with the combination of Star Wars and Sideshow:

- I've reviewed the earlier PF Vader, Han Solo, and Obi-Wan Kenobi.

- in the 12" Star Wars line, Sideshow has released Jedi Luke, Kit Fisto and Anakin Skywalker.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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