Sideshow 12" Abe Sapien


Have you been Hellboy'd to death yet? Between the Mezco figures, the Sideshow figures, and the two DVD releases, along with the Sideshow and Mezco con exclusive figures, it seems like Hellboy has been a major force in the action figure world for months.

Sideshow's latest 12" figure - and I'm betting last - is now hitting mailboxes. It's Abe Simpson...uh, Sapien. He's another member of the crime fighting paranormals, but since he's not the headliner, you can figure he always ends up hurt.

Sideshow has already produced the regular and site exclusive versions of Hellboy (reviewed here), and a regular , Final Battle and WWII (Nazi) version (reviewed here and here). I suspect the one version of Abe is all we'll see, although a battle damaged version at some point, perhaps as a show exclusive, isn't an completely unheard of possibility.

Packaging - ***
Sideshow takes a step backward with their collector friendly packaging. Normally there's one long twisty tie around the neck that goes through the plastic insert tray and cardboard tray. This time, every twisty tie - neck, wrists, ankles and display stand - go all the way through. You will spend hours trying to get these all lined up again.

On top of that, the soft rubber/pleather belt and pouches have a vac-sealed sort of plastic over them, similar to the seal on your French onion chip dip container. Mmmmmmm...chip dip. Once you pull this off, it's off, never to return again.

Otherwise the packaging is top notch. I love the large photo on the front, and there's enough decent text on the back and inside on the fifth panel to make me happy.

Sculpting - ***
Most Sideshow figures have only head and hand sculpts, but this character required a little extra effort.

There are actually two heads, one that I'll talk more about later in the accessory section. Both have solid sculpts, although they are a little soft in appearance. The main head has the goggles and breathing device included as part of the sculpt, while the extra head is simply that - his head, with his gills on either side.

The hand sculpts look good, and while there aren't any accessories for him to hold, the hands are designed nicely in the event that you find something you'd like him to clamp on to. The forearms are new sculpts as well, being all one piece with the hands.

The shins are also new sculpts, with fins included on the back of each leg. These are actually separate pieces, attached inside the seams, but they are done almost seamlessly, so they look like they are very much a part of the overall leg.

Paint - ***
The paint ops are solid and very clean all over the figure, although there are a couple things that seemed odd to me.

Remember how I complained about the shiny paint jobs on figures like Hellboy and Van Helsing?  Now we get a fish character, who would naturally appear slimy, and there's a much more matte finish.  The arms are a little shiny, but nothing like you might expect, and the heads are a definite matte.  Weird.

But they went out of their way on getting the skin patterns just right, and very clean.  They also get extra points for remembering to put the skin patterns on the back of the long neck, and for a very cool use of translucent plastic.

The palms/webbing on the hands, the gils on the alternate head, and the blue section of the breathing unit are all done in a translucent plastic.  It looks great, and was my single favorite feature of this figure.

Articulation - **1/2
Abe has the usual Sideshow body, with a few changes due to the uniqueness of the character. It has 90% of the normal Sideshow articulation, so I won't detail all those many and fine joints.

It does lack the wrist articulation, due to the unique forearm/hand sculpts, similar to what they did with Frankenstein. This isn't a major issue though, and makes sense given the context and style of the character.

My big complaint here is the loose hips, making it tough to keep him standing. The rubber boots seem to be slightly off (perhaps a malfunction in the manufacturing process) and are pushing back on the legs a bit too much as well, exacerbating the situation.

One of the pluses is the neck articulation, with ball joints both at the head and at the body. It's not tremendously useful with the 'normal' head, since the breathing device gets in the way, but with the alternate head it allows for much better positioning.

Accessories - **
A big surprise with this figure is the lack of any real accessories. There is the display stand, which is exactly the same display stand we get with every licensed figure, and his extra head.

The extra head has a decent sculpt, with solid if not exceptional paint ops. The heads pop on and off fairly easily, although you still want to take care that you don't damage the neck joint at the body. This regular head comes without the goggles and terra-gil (sort of the reverse of an aqua-lung).

And that's where the biggest issue for this head comes from - the lack of this lower piece means that the very long, giraffe like neck is so very, very obvious. However, as I mentioned in the articulation, the neck is jointed at both the head AND the body, and thank God (or Sideshow) for that. Because the neck is jointed at both spots, you can lean the neck forward at the body, then tilt the head back at the top joint, hiding much of the Geoffrey neck. If you don't do this, you can expect him to look like an even bigger freak than he is with this alternate head floating a couple inches above his shoulders.

The big reason for the low score in this category is the overall lack of accessories. There were some items he used in the film, and barring that, we could have gotten some more general items (like the Sammael fetus) with him. I suspect the extra cost of sculpting new forearms and new calves cut into the accessory budget, but we can discuss that further in the value section.

Outfit - ***
One of the high points of the Hellboy, Kroenen and Nazi Kroenen figures is the exceptional outfits. Let's face it, for most licensed figures the Sideshow outfits are fairly straight forward. Shirt, coat, pants, shoes sort of thing. Now I know that's not always true, but lines like Platoon are the exception rather than the norm.

But so far with the Hellboy line, the outfits have had lots of complexity. Abe doesn't really lend himself to that very well though, as his outfit was a tad simpler. That's reflected in the Sideshow interpretation.

He has his wet suit, with shirt and pants, stitched in a very particular way (especially the arms) to match the film. It also includes the emblem on the shoulder, and while it isn't actually spandex, the material choice mimics it pretty well. Rubber might have been even cooler to see, but tougher to pull off well.

He also has short boots, which fit nicely over his feet, but which I already mentioned have a tendency to push back on his ankles. The sculpt is good though, and while bear webbed feet might have been nifty, these are acceptable.

Finally, he has the belt and pouches. The pouches are pretty big, but there's a nice number of them around the belt. The belt is a soft pleather again, very similar to Hellboy's, with the same complicated buckle. However, unlike Hellboy's, this one fits extremely well, with little or no sag.

Fun Factor - **
I believe I've mentioned this before, but Sideshow doesn't make kid friendly toys. The belt would last about 30 seconds with the average 8 year old, although if you removed it this figure could make a terrific bad guy or sidekick. My 3 year old daughter told me he was a bad guy when I first opened the package. I explained to her no, he's actually a good guy. She went on to correct me and explain her reasoning "No daddy, he's a bad guy - he's got bad guy arms!".

Value - **
The usual forty bucks for Sideshow figures is always a tough pill to swallow, but with figures like Hellboy it's at least an average value. But here, with no real accessories, and a fairly basic outfit, the value score takes a real hit. I understand that the sculpting of the forearms/hands combo, along with the new calves, cut into the money available for other stuff, but the perceived value from the average buyer is going to be much lower.

Overall - **1/2
Unfortunately, Abe falls into the same category as Hellboy for me in this overall series. While both the Kroenen and WWII Kroenen were excellent figures, both Abe and Hellboy fall short of the mark. Of course, it might sound odd, but I'm also glad I picked him up, because he does round out the display of the other figures nicely. 

But the value just isn't here this time around, and with some of Sideshow's other quality work, the expectations are always high. Abe's not a terrible figure, but compared to other things Sideshow (and other companies producing sixth scale figures in the $40 range) have done, he falls short.

BTW, I ended up displaying him with the original head, rather than the extra one.  While I was able to get the photos to look a little better by adjusting the neck, it just wasn't as good as the goggled version.

Where to Buy - 
Online retailers are your best bet. Options include:

- Sideshow has him in stock for $40.

- Southern Island has him in stock for $35.

- Killer Toys has him for $35 as well.

- Time and Space Toys doesn't have Abe, but they do have the Hellboy on sale for $30.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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