Sideshow Star Wars
Asajj Ventress

Asajj Ventress, Dark Jedi.  For the old school Star Wars fans, or at least those that only follow the films, she's likely to elicit a response of "who?"  But if you've been a reader of the comics and books, played the games, or watched the Clone Wars cartoon, then you know her evil all too well.

The Clone Wars cartoon is where most folks will recognize the name.  As Anakin's nemesis during this period, she was quite the combatant.  Sideshow selected to do her as part of their 12" Star Wars line, surprising many collectors. Expanded Universe characters rarely make it into the high end collectibles market, where the price tag usually implies only the best known characters get made.


But no surprise to collectors were the two versions, exclusive and regular.  The regular edition is set at 5000 figures, while the exclusive (with an extra head) is limited to just 2000.  Both are sold out through Sideshow right now, but you can either get on the wait list, or check out one of the online stores at the end of the review.  The figure retails for around $60.

Packaging - ****
If I didn't give a Star Wars box from Sideshow four stars, you'd have to seriously wonder what had happened.  Again, the style and design are top notch, and the magnetic closures work great. Asajj is one of the figures to now be packaged in the larger shipping box with styrofoam top and bottom supports, and she arrived in pristine shape because of it.

I was a tad annoyed by the neck brace this time, since I had to cut it loose to remove the figure.  But it's a minor complaint for otherwise excellent packaging.

Sculpting - ****
It looks to me like both head sculpts are identical.  Actually, there might be minor differences, but they're so minor that I have a hard time believing they actually did any, and instead suspect it's just my perception goofing up.

But that's fine by me, since it's an excellent head sculpt.  It surprises me, but I really prefer the pupil-less, iris-less version.  They could have attempted to make that head look more cartoony, since the cartoons is where we saw that appearance.  But they wisely didn't do that, instead opting to use the realistic looking head sculpt with the different paint.  That makes both heads fit in just fine with the regular movie figures.

The size of the head is about right as well, perhaps because Asajj is a bit of a balloon head in all her appearances.  The lack of hair helps too, which can act like a helmet on some figures and make the head appear larger than it is.

The boot sculpt is outstanding as well, and the two regular hands are sculpted to hold the accessories well.

Paint - ***1/2
The paint is almost as perfect as the sculpts, with one minor issue.

The cartoon head looks great, but has less chance for error of course, since the eyes have less detail.  The realistically painted head is where the issue comes in, because mine has a bit of a wonky left eye.  The two don't quite line up properly, making the cartoon head my favorite once again.

The tattoos, eyebrows and lips are perfect though, and the other paint details on the boots or sabers look terrific.

Articulation - ***
The Sideshow female body really shines with this figure, at least when it comes to appearance.

The outfit has been tailored to fit it perfectly, and with the all over clothing, there's no unattractive joints to show.  When I first took her out of the box, I expected to be able to really get some great poses too, because there's plenty of joints AND they're nice and tight.

Unfortunately, that's not quite how it turned out.  I was still able to get plenty of good poses, but the small feet on the boots (and lack of ankle movement) made it tough to keep her standing.  I hate it when I can't get a figure to stay upright, especially a sixth scale figure with plenty of articulation.

But if you spend enough time with it, you'll get her to stay put.  The ball jointed neck works alright, although not terrific.  You can pull up on either head to get some distance from the body, and get a little tilting out of it.  The chest and waist joints work well, and the arms can hold plenty of tough poses.

Is this the regular Sideshow female body, or are they borrowing this body from someone else?  The feel of the body had me wondering.

Accessories - regular ***; exclusive ****
Both versions come with a decent if not astounding number of accessories.

There's the usual display stand, which you won't need unless you live in a regular earthquake zone, or you have cats that like to play with your toys.  Still, it's much appreciated that it's provided.

Asajj fights with two lightsabers, and her weapons come in both 'lit' and 'unlit' versions.  The handles attach to form one lightsaber if you (or Asajj) are so inclined.  The cool part here is that they attach with magnets - very strong magnets.  Had they tried other methods, it would have been easy to break them, but the magnets work great.

Most folks will be displaying her with both lit lightsabers, since she's a very dynamic fighter best recognized in a fighting pose, but the inclusion of both versions is a nice (and expected) touch.  Both the sculpts and paint details of the hilts are excellent.

Finally, there's the extra 'force pose' hand.  It's well sculpted and gives her an eerie look when it's posed outstretched.  It is sculpted in a slightly odd way, with the top back area of the wrist cut back to allow it to bend even further back.

As I mentioned in the previous sections, the exclusive version comes with a whole extra head, or portrait as Sideshow likes to call them.  The regular version has the blank eyes, devoid of pupils or iris', as seen in the cartoon show.  The exclusive includes a second head with normal eyes and marks on her cheeks, based on her look in print and in the games.  The head sculpt appears to be the same, but the paint change makes a world of difference.  The inclusion of the extra head was a terrific idea, and makes the exclusive more desirable than the regular, especially if you're a fan of the game version.

The heads swap quite easily, but stay tightly in place.  I had a little trouble getting the hands to swap, as the forearm wants to pop out before the hand pops off.  But even if it does, you can swap the hands and then pop the forearm back in.

Outfit - ****
As much as I love the sculpting, it's really the outfit that makes this figure as good as it is.  The tailoring is fantastic, as is the quality of the materials.

The neck and wrist pieces are removable, and not attached to the tunic.  They fit tightly and look great.  The boot sculpts are excellent, and the 'skirt' even has wires in the edge for posing!  The belt is a bit stiff, but you can get it to look good in just about any pose.  There's spots on either side to attach the saber hilts, and several real metal loops around the back.

She also comes with a Jedi robe, cut slightly different than the ones we've gotten before.  The sleeves are shorter, designed for her arms, and the hood has much less of a peak in back.  The robe was another surprise for me, because I had expected to just toss it aside, but I really like the way she looks in it, perhaps more than any of the previous Jedi.  While there is no neck closure, there is the usual wire in the hood to aid in posing.

Fun Factor - **1/2
Okay, so these aren't intended as toys - but they remember that being toys is their heritage.  The materials used are surprisingly sturdy, and the lightsabers aren't any more likely to break than what we used to get on the old Hasbro toys.  I broke plenty of those trying to get them just right!  The one piece of clothing that is easy to break is the belt, and you'll want to take care there.

I wouldn't recommend giving these to 6 year olds to play with, but tweeners with a thing for Star Wars would find plenty of ways to have fun with them.

Value - **1/2
Asajj is part of the new wave of slightly more expensive Sideshow figures.  With the very first releases, the figures were $50.  Then the exclusive versions started costing $55, while the regulars were $50.  Pretty soon, both versions were $55.  Not surprisingly, the exclusives started costing $60 in some cases, and now we're seeing figures like Plo-koon and Asajj, where both versions cost $60.  At the same time, we're seeing Hot Toys bring their prices down in many cases, getting under a hundred bucks whenever the license and style allows it.  It will be interesting to see what happens when these two start directly competing at price and quality.  When two companies work together in a friendly way like this, the thoughts of a merger or acquisition can't be too far back in anyone's mind.

Things to Watch Out For - 
The belt is a easy to pop open, since there was only a small dab of glue holding it together.  I popped mine loose, and had to re-glue it.

Overall - ***1/2
This is an extremely nice figure, and one of the best produced so far in the line.  There were a couple minor issues that held me back from the very top score overall, but I'm betting most folks will be able to overlook them.

It's usually tough to think of any great 12" female figures when it comes time to do my Best Of's, but Asajj is going to make my choice much easier this year.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***
Sculpt -  ****
Paint - ****
Articulation - ***
Outfit - ****
Fun Factor - **1/2
Value -  **1/2
Overall - ***1/2

Where to Buy -
Online options include:

- you can get on the waitlist at Sideshow for either the regular () or the exclusive ().

- Dark Shadow Collectibles has the regular listed at $51.

- Fireside Collectibles has it at $51 too.

- CornerStoreComics has it listed at $51.

- Alter Ego Comics has the regular edition for $51.

- Amazing Toyz also has the regular edition, and it's also listed at $51.

- and if you're looking for a more all Star Wars merchandise site, I'd check out Andrew's Toyz!

Related Links -
For more Sideshow Star Wars product, check out these reviews:

- in the premium format line, I've reviewed Darth Vader, Princess Leia, Boba Fett, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Han Solo.

- in the sixth scale line, I've reviewed Yavin Luke, the Endor Troops, Jabba the Hutt and his throne, Bib Fortuna, Jedi Luke, Darth Maul, Obi-Wan, Bespin Han Solo, regular Anakin Skywalker and Kit Fisto

- I also have guest reviews of the SDCC Anakin Skywalker, Mace Windu, and Qui-Gon Jinn.

And if you'd like to check out some of the 12" Star Wars offerings from Medicom, hit these links:

- my review of the Sandtrooper.

- guest reviews of the VCD Yoda and Boba Fett.

- guest reviews of the ROTS Vader, Jedi Luke, and this very Trooper.

- and my review of their first release Darth Vader, the regular Stormtrooper, and Clonetrooper and Blackhole Trooper

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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