12" Phantom of the Opera

Since switching away from major distributors, and going to limited editions, Sideshow has managed to put out some excellent 12" figures.  The latest in the Universal Monsters series is the Phantom of the Opera.

You can no longer get these directly from Sideshow, but there are plenty of other on-line vendors.  I don't know if the Suncoast and Media Play will carry these, as they did the Young Frankenstein and Buffy stuff.  You can expect retail to be around $25-$30.

Packaging - ***1/2
The first wonderful thing about this figure - they've returned to the gatefold boxes!  The artwork is fantastic, and while there isn't a lot of text this time, the graphics on the box, and behind the figure on the insert, are stunning.

Now if they can just follow Palisades suit and give us a box we can put our figures back into later, they'll be hitting four stars every time in this category.

Sculpting - ****
Another fine sculpt by Oluf Hartvigson.  The head sculpt is dead on, and the hand sculpts are perfect to handle the violin.

Sideshow is giving McToys a run for their money on the best sculpting in toys today.

Accessories - ****
Another area that Sideshow excels in is accessories, and once again they show just how good they can be.

The Phantom comes with his alternate mask/face, hat, violin and bow.

The mask/face is appropriately blank, fits over his head tightly but not too tight, and has a cloth mouth cover.  The cloth is an excellent choice, true to the source material, and looks excellent.

The hat is designed to only fit over the mask.  It fits well and looks great perched on top of his head.  It's made from an extremely heavy plastic.

But the real shining moment here is the violin.  With real metal strings, great detail, and excellent paint ops, the violin is possibly the best accessory Sideshow has produced so far.  In combination with the great articulation and hand sculpts, you can pose him with the violin perfectly.

Oh, and who can forget the small stand, standard now with every figure.  They have switched from using the heel stand to a peg stand though, and it seems to work much better.

Paint - ****
The paint ops on the face are excellent, particularly around the eyes and mouth.  The face wash works perfectly, and once again, shows just how great paint ops work in concert with a great sculpt.

Articulation - ***
There are plenty of points of articulation in the body, but these still continue to be loose.  This seems to be very hit or miss, as some of the more recent figures I've opened have been very tight.  The only joints I'm having trouble with on the Phantom are the ankles, but they are pretty critical to keep him standing.

The big problem here is the lack of a decent neck joint.  All you have is a cut joint, and unlike the Young Frankenstein which had the great ball jointed necks.

Uniform - ***
Another area that actually disappointed me on this figure is the costume.  Actually, costumes haven't been a strong suit for Sideshow, and most have been fairly simple.

The cape/overcoat is made of a nylon type material that I don't like the feel or look of.  Something softer would have worked much better.

Most of the tuxedo is nice, as are the shoes, but the biggest flaw here is the shirt/vest combo.  Rather than having separate items, the vest is just imprinted on the shirt.  That's a shortcut that hurts the look of the figure. 

On the plus side, the buttons, watch chain, jacket and tie are all extremely well done.

Value - ***1/2
You can find these at a variety of places for around $25.  These remain an excellent value compared to the majority of other 1/6th scale product in the $20-$30 range.

Overall - ***1/2
I was a little surprised by this figure.  After hearing other folks opinion of this one, I was expecting to give it an easy four stars.  But the shirt/vest combo, along with the lack of a neck joint, was just enough to knock it down slightly.

But this figure is still truly amazing, and all monster collectors should pick one up.  Sideshow is fast becoming my favorite company, and my London After Midnight vampire should be here any day!

Where to Buy
I haven't seen these at any retailers yet, although the Sam Goody stores (Media Play, Suncoast) may carry them.  On-line you'll have lots of choices:

- The Toy Cellar has them in stock for $24.99 plus shipping.

- TNC Universe has them listed, but without a price.  You have to call - I've heard they have good pricing but haven't confirmed.

If you have a favorite place you buy your Sideshow product, I'd love to hear about it!

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford

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