Mulder and Scully
Like every other geek on the planet, I enjoyed the X-Files. I was never quite the massive fan some people were, I don't own all the DVD's, and I actually preferred the one off stories to the over extended Mulder/sister plot. But the show was fun, with some solid writing and acting.
As you'd expect, there had to be toys, even though the majority of characters on the show were pretty much just guys (and girls) in suits. The first company to take a swing at figures was Mcfarlane Toys. Actually based loosely on the movie, the line included two versions of Mulder and Scully, two versions of the Alien, a Caveman, a couple 'victims' in pods, and another victim on a gurney. As seems want to happen, disagreements between Todd and the licensors flared up, and that was almost the end of the line for Mcfarlane. They did release
Flukeman, easily the best figure in the series, as a collectors club exclusive in 2000.
In 2001, the license was picked up by Moore Action Collectibles. The first series was Doggett, Skinner and Maitreya (Moore always needs a hot chick in any line up, and one in leather works even better), with a
noticeable lack of any Mulder or Scully. MAC figured that the Mcfarlane version was still out there in bargain bins in some places, so it didn't make much sense to add more of them. They had a second series of Krycek, Special Agent Monica Reyes, and the Bounty Hunter planned.
However, the show was cancelled, and MAC never released either series of figures. I wonder who has the first series painted prototypes?
At this year's Toy Fair, Sideshow announced they had picked up the license to produce a series of sixth scale figures. And they've really gone to town with the announced figures since then, with 5 figures already announced, and plenty of web exclusives.
There's Mulder and Scully of course, both a regular and exclusive version. Tonight's review covers the exclusive versions, which were limited to 750 each. The regular figures were an edition size of 5000 each, but all are now sold out through the Sideshow website. I do have some other options for you at the bottom of the review though to find them at reasonable prices on-line.
They've also announced a Cigarette Smoking Man in an exclusive and
regular version, Frank Black (who went on to star in
Millennium) in only an exclusive
version, and Special Agent Doggett in both a regular and
version. The CSM exclusive is already sold out as well, and the others are moving fast at this point. While Black is only an exclusive right now, we may see a regular version at a later date.
Packaging - ***1/2
These are some of the most attractive boxes that have been done by Sideshow since the Twilight Zone and Outer Limits series. Everything from the color choices, to the detailed text, to the graphic layout is absolutely fantastic. Sideshow was also gutsy, putting actual photos of the actors on the front, nice and big, so you can easily compare the figures inside.
So why not four stars? Because Sideshow continues to move away from providing collector friendly packaging again. I don't mind the one twisty tie around the neck all the way through the plastic and cardboard inserts, but on both these figures, every twisty tie (four or five, depending on the figure) is all the way through. While I'm sure you could fit all these twisties back into place if you worked hard enough, I just opened up figures from both Dragon and Ignite this week that were in perfectly collector friendly boxes. They might not have been nearly as attractive, but they were much more functional, and Sideshow could be the best of all worlds if they choose.
Sculpting - Mulder ***; Scully ****
Now for the raging debate - just how good (or bad) are the head sculpts? I've been very vocal and very disappointed in several of Sideshow's recent offerings, including Hellboy, Faith and Abe Sapian. But they manage to redeem themselves with this pair, producing easily the best versions of these two characters we've ever seen.
They went with sculpted hair on both, and it worked flawlessly. It actually captures both hair styles well, but in Scully's case, it's amazing. Obviously, the fact that she has short hair helps, along with the fact that she has a fairly distinct and neat style. But they captured the layers and fine detail much better than I had expected, and although I like rooted hair when done well, I'm glad they didn't go that route here.
Both sculpts look better or worse at certain angles, no different than any other photo or sculpture of someone famous. Scully is the better of the two though, and in my opinion, also the harder one to capture. Gillian Anderson has a very unique nose, tough to do just right, but they've managed to get it closer than we've seen before. The proportions and spacing of the eyes, mouth and nose are all great, as is the shape and style of head and chin.
Mulder isn't quite as perfect, but is a far cry from some of the complaints I've heard. I believe his nose is a tad too big, perhaps over
accentuated in the attempt to make it look like Duchovny, and the jaw line seems a bit fat, particularly on the sides of his face, but there's no doubt who this is. Even the most casual fan will recognize both characters immediately on first site. To improve the sculpt on Fox, you need to make the jaw line more distinct along the sides, and squint the eyes more. Every time you see a photo of Duchovny, he's always got his eyes half closed, and this wide eyed look doesn't quite fit him.
The hands are sculpted to hold the accessories, and do so fairly well. This set is easily some of the best sixth scale licensed sculpting we've seen from Sideshow this year, and Scully will be high on my list of best female figures for 2004.
Paint - ***
Unfortunately, the great work with the sculpt doesn't translate over to the paint ops. It isn't a matter of slop or quality - at least not in my case - but of application. I have heard stories though of some Mulders with a brown wash on the eye lids and ears, similar to what I saw with my Spike.
On my figures, the actual quality of the application is fine, with clean lines, especially around the hair line, and no bleed or slop. Both figures also take a big step forward again over the Van Helsing and Hellboy figures, and have no gloss paint on the faces. They did go with a gloss on the hair, contrasting the matte finish on the faces nicely.
Nope, the old problems weren't the issue this time. This time it's all a matter of suntan. Or perhaps poorly applied fake suntan. Both figures appear to be wearing too much rouge, or perhaps sunless tanning lotion, on their
foreheads and cheeks. This weird inconsistency in the face tone hurts the otherwise exceptional sculpts.
There is one other problem that is a Mulder (and generally male) issue - weird lip color. The lips are way too dark for him, looking much more like painted lips than real lips. Dana's look great, but she's clearly wearing a bright red
lipstick. What's Fox's excuse?
There have been comments on the eye color being closer to blue than green or hazel. Yes, they are a tad too blue, at least from most of the photos of Duchovny I checked out, but it's not as major of an issue as the lips or skin tone.
Sideshow's head sculpts and paint jobs are still worlds above other sixth scale makers. As I said, I just opened generic figures from Dragon and Ignite this week as well, and the sculpts are lifeless, with fairly plan paint work. Sideshow is the only sixth scale company out there right now even taking on these tough licensed figures, but they have to get the sculpts AND the paint ops to work together if they want to hit the perfect 12" nirvana.
Articulation - ***
Both figures sport all the amazing joints we've come to know and love in the Sideshow body. The scale is also good here, with Scully using the new,
shorter female body. This body is shorter than Buffy and Faith, and
Mulder has the taller male body. I like the proportions on this body better, as
the height seems to have been removed from the legs. It makes the
leg/torso proportion look much more realistic.
Unfortunately, I had floppy joint issues with both figures, especially the hips and ankles on Dana, and the hips and knees on Fox. You'll be glad they included the standard Sideshow display stand this time around.
I'd like to note how much I like the new female neck joint. The joint is ball jointed, and rests at the top of the neck, rather than at the body. It makes for a much smoother neckline, and still plenty of posing possibilities.
One other QA thing that Sideshow could mention to the plant - get the legs and arms all lined up properly before putting the clothes on. It's always been an issue, but I've been getting more annoyed lately about having to
adjust the shoulders or hips to line up properly on a fully clothed figure. If you don't, you have a weird looking hip or shoulder sticking out. But to manage to do it you usually have to undress the figure, which can be pretty difficult in its own right.
Accessories - ***1/2
Sideshow has been getting better about including an appropriate number of accessories with their figures, and I'm happy to say that these two continue that trend. There were plenty of items here, and a couple of them took me by surprise.
Scully comes with her gun, flashlight, FBI ID badge, and X file folder. Inside the folder is a series of photos from different cases (which the die hard fans will all recognize from the show), along with a cover page. All the photos and the folder itself are printed on heavy stock, but fit together nicely in Scully's left hand. This was a really nice touch that I hadn't expected.
Another nice touch comes with her gun. The slide mechanism on top moves forward and backward, giving you a couple options. Forward, it looks like the gun does normally. Slide it back, and you expose the barrel, giving the impression the gun is empty. A very nifty idea!
The guns also have removable clips, a step forward for Sideshow.
The gun, flashlight and ID badge are repeated with Mulder. Obviously, his ID badge has his info on it, and both badges sport some pretty small, detailed print. The badges are inside plastic holders, just like the one you have at work, and are on a clip. This clip is the only negative to all the accessories, looking like something Hasbro might have done 10 years ago. It's very oversized, and looks extremely out of place. I suspect they had to go that big with plastic to try to get it to work - and it does work, allowing you to clip the badge just about anywhere - but it certainly looks out of scale with the rest of the figure.
Mulder also has two additional specific accessories - his office poster, pronouncing I WANT TO BELIEVE, and his alien probe device doohickey. I'm sure it had a name, but I don't remember what it was. Anyone?
Both figures also come with the now standard display stand, emblazoned with the X-Files logo. Good thing too, since I had trouble keeping them standing long term without them.
The sculpts and paint ops on all the accessories are solid, although the gun and flashlight aren't quite up to bbi or Dragon standards yet. While there was some reuse possible between these two figures, it's nice to see a larger number of accessories being included.
Outfit - ****
The area I'm most impressed with on this set (and that's saying a lot, considering how much better than expected the sculpts and accessories were) is the outfits. The tailoring and quality really are top notch this time around.
Mulder has his suit, shirt, belt, tie, holster, socks and shoes. He also has the additional FBI windbreaker, which was only with the exclusive. The quality of the material is well above average, and I'm really impressed with how well the items fit. There are very few cut corners as well, with things like full sleeves on the shirt, and belt loops for the belt.
There aren't any snaps on the inside of Mulder's suit coat - same thing for Dana's overcoat - and that's one corner cut, probably to shave a little cost. It's also not a major deal, since Scully's top coat stays closed fairly well on it's own, and you probably won't have Mulder's closed very often, as that wasn't the way he wore it.
Mulder's tie also has a neat feature - the thinner back piece is longer than the wider front piece, a sure sign of a guy not worried about how he looks. I never paid that much attention to Mulder's ties, so I'm not sure if that's really the way he tended to look, but it fits with his character's personality nicely, and I consider it a good call.
I was also quite surprised when I found the holster for his gun inside on his belt. I had expected that we wouldn't get holsters, another cost cut, but there they were, and mighty nice holsters they are, too! The guns fit nicely, and are fairly well hidden under the jackets.
Scully has her overcoat, shirt with wide collar, pants, belt and extra FBI windbreaker as well. Her feet are boots, similar to the early Buffy figure, so they don't really count in my mind as part of the 'outfit'.
Scully's overcoat is another extremely well tailored piece, fitting her body much better than the usual sixth scale jacket. The shirt itself is a little short, and doesn't really tuck into the pants, but still looks quite good. The belt loops on both figures are a tad out of scale, being fairly large, but that's not surprising. She also has a holster, identical to the one that comes with Mulder.
I don't want to make folks feel bad who didn't buy the exclusive, but you missed out on the very best part of the outfits. The FBI windbreakers are amazing, and look perfect on both figures. As a matter of fact, I removed the regular coats and went with the windbreakers as their regular display outfits. These rank up there with the Slayer scythe in terms of exceptional exclusive extras.
Fun Factor - **
Okay, no kid is going to have any interest in playing with a dork and a chick in suits. Still, if they DID have an interest, these would be good toys. They're really for the adult fan though, and work best just standing on the shelf looking like they should.
Value - ***
Both regular figures are at the $40 price point. With the additional accessories, and the exceptionally well down outfits, all on top of the licensing costs, this is a much more appropriate value. It's not stupendous, but you're getting your money's worth, especially since you should be able to pick up the regular versions at less than the suggested retail.
Overall - ***1/2
Mulder almost ended up with three stars, and Scully with four, but I
split the difference on both. Mulder has paint issues predominately, with
some minor sculpt problems. Scully has some minor paint issues, with
some floppy legs. Neither one of them is perfect, but as a pair they
look terrific together. And while I really like the windbreakers, I
think the jackets are nice enough to rate as good of scores.
The work on Doggett, CSM and Black looks to be quite good as well, and
X-Files fans should be happy with the entire line.
Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpt - Mulder ***; Scully ****
Paint - ***
Articulation - ***
Accessories - ***1/2
Outfit - ****
Fun Factor - **
Value - ***
Overall - ***1/2
Where to Buy -
I got mine directly through Sideshow, but they are long sold out. However, they do still have preorders available for Frank Black, the regular CSM, and both the exclusive and regular versions of Doggett. On-line options for Mulder and Scully include:
- Southern Island has a great price
of $35 each.
- Killer Toys has them listed at $35
each as well.
- Alter Ego Comics has the next
three available for $32 - $36, but are already sold out of these two.
Figure from the collection of