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Conquest of the Planet of the Apes
Caesar

 

Ron Hatchell loves his monkeys and apes, particularly if they starred in a half dozen movies.  He's back tonight with a review of Caesar - take it away, Ron!

Caesar, who lead his fellow apes out of slavery and onto the top of the power chain, is one of the most important ape characters in the entire Planet of the Apes history. Sideshow has made us at least 400 of him to add to our 12-inch "action figure" collections. Hopefully they will make us Armando, Lisa (all great leaders need a woman to tell them what to do, or what "not to do" in this case, as she said, "No." to him), and MacDonald from the same movie. In the meantime, they have ended this very large run of apes (2 orangutans, 3 gorillas, and 3 chimpanzees) with Caesar. I received the exclusive edition around mid-August and I hope I've provided enough information and pictures to help you decide and to know what to expect when you receive him. 







Packaging - ***1/2
A new overall scheme is used for the box of the first (and only?) of their "Conquest" line, reflective of the mood and tone of the film. Displayed over the left half of the front of the box is what looks to be a painted image of Caesarís face/shoulders (but looking more like Cornelius, as the packaging could have been made before they changed the prototype). An image of the city on fire is the backdrop, and a silhouette of Caesar holding up a machine gun is on the lower right side. You can even make out letters over the image of the burning city that, I think, state, "HUMAN NOT APE" a few times (this statement was on a sign being held during a scene in the movie). The top, side, back, and inside flap show more images of this version of Caesar, along with scenes from the film. The inside flap tells the story of the film, and the backside of the box tells the story of Caesar. The inside image behind the plastic mold shows an image of a building on fire. Excellent work overall was done on the look and layout of this box. Sideshow spends more time and energy working on their Planet of the Apes boxes than some of their other lines, and it shows. And I thank them for it. 

The figure is held in place in the plastic mold with two thick, half-inch wide, plastic bands around the waist and knees (taped in the back) and four see-through plastic strips (similar to the "dental floss ties", but thicker) around the neck and lower arms, and ankles. The "dental floss" ties support the sub-machine gun and both meat cleavers (one each). The only standard thick twisty tie present holds the "Conquest of the Planet of the Apes" stand in place (instead of the normal two) and this worked very well. I didnít have to pull one through the little slot in the bottom of the stand. The "exclusive" accessory is inside of a small plastic bag that is taped to the upper left corner of the inside of the box that contains the plastic mold, so they didnít have to alter the design of the mold for this. Overall, this is the least amount of standard twisty ties Iíve seen. This method is not as easy to put everything back if you choose to do that, as untying these little flosses and such are much harder than untwisting the larger twisty ties. But, it is quicker to get your figures and accessories out of the mold by just cutting through everything possible and this works better if you have no desire to place everything back in and looking like the same way it came. 

Sculpting - ****
The artist for this Roddy McDowall / Caesar sculpt is Mat Falls, who is the principle sculptor and a co-founder of Sideshow Collectibles. His Sideshow portfolio includes 250 Sideshow items, and has had the honor of doing most of the Planet/Beneath line (except for General Ursus and one Brent). 

The original prototype shown on Sideshow's website was the face of Cornelius, in Caesar's outfit, but Sideshow later choose to give us a new sculpt, looking more like Caesar than Cornelius. This is the most detailed ape face yet, with plenty of lines. He has an expression of intelligence and seriousness (but that's my interpretation, isn't it?). 

He also has plenty of lines on his hands, with a healthy amount of hair on the top of them and some more hair on the fingers. The hands are sculpted well enough to hold both meat cleavers okay and he can also grip the trigger with his left hand/fingers if you separate his trigger finger from the other three (they are somewhat loosely attached together). I used a box knife blade for this, but there may be other safer methods for this. If you choose to cut, please be VERY careful with this, cut slow and cut AWAY from you, with Caesarís hand on a surface that is made to take a cutting in case your blade slips. I know even us adults can be careless when dealing with cutting utensils. 

Paint - ***1/2
Comparing the paint ops of his face to the pictures on Sideshow's website, the flesh on his face is darker, as are the lines. There is a brownish shiny color that covers the flesh on his ears. The black on the hair that begins around his face has a tight, jagged, pattern, more so than Ziraís, and it seems to start a small fraction of an inch too soon, just barely before his actual hair sculpt. His eyes are very well done, have a bit of a shine to them, and look very realistic. The flesh color on his hands seems to have two or more shades, and the black hair is darker than the hair on his head. The tops of his shoes are painted green and match his outfit. The brown at the bottom of his shoes is somewhat thin, giving it an inconsistent appearance (but who looks at the bottom of an apes shoes besides me?), and there is some slight bleeding of the brown over the green. His body is sculpted in a dark brown. 

The brown paint on the handles of the two meat cleavers is very good, with just enough black to give them the look of wood. There are some copper colored circles on both sides of the handles to represent the rivets. There is some very slight bleeding of the silver from the tang onto the wood handles and vise-versa. 

Articulation - ***1/2
Caesar has over 30 points of articulation. His head can turn completely around and move up and down some, depending upon how far up you pull the head from the neck. Like the other apes' neck/head designs, we are able to raise his head from his shoulder some, exposing the underside of his head so we can see where the two parts connect. I am not sure for the reason for this design, but I am taking a guess that because of all of the hard, sculpted hair that hangs down past the shoulders, by raising the head up and away from his shoulders, you can tilt his head more. There is a full, realistic range of motion on the shoulders, waist, upper arms, elbows, forearms, hips, top of his thighs, knees, lower legs, and ankles. All the joints were very tight, except the ankles. 

Outfit - ***
Caesar's "slave" outfit that comes with the figure is the one he wore during most of the movie after being separated from Armando. This one-piece jumpsuit has four sections sewn to look like pockets (two upper and two lower) and a Velcro fastener that runs from his collar to his crotch. The color matches that of the film very well, but the stitching seems somewhat below Sideshow's normal standards. The double-stitched section in front of the Velcro does not line up well with the edge next to it, one of the sleeve collars on mine was stitched in such a way that part of the collar is pulled up toward the sleeve, and some of the stitches can be clearly seen throughout the outfit. Otherwise, I was very happy with the work performed on this. 

Accessories - ***1/2
There are five accessories (four regular and one "exclusive") than come with this figure, including the "Conquest of the Planet of the Apes" stand. Sideshow's website states "small sized Meat Cleavers" (plural), but there was only one small sized meat cleaver, which is still great. But just in case you read the list on their website, you should know we get two "meat cleavers" total. Sideshow's arsenal of knives, machetes, axes, and many other sharp "instruments of destruction" that they have given us are top of the line, and these two cleavers are no exception. Both cleavers have holes near the handle heads and blade tips for hanging on hooks and the tangs extend slightly beyond the handles for realism. 

While Caesar was leading the other apes around the city and attacking/defeating armed humans, he got hold of an M-16 rifle, and used it while heading toward Gov. Breck. This "M-16" rifle also joins a long line of outstanding Sideshow weapons in detail and color (3 colors). The stock, pistol grip, and handguard are black, the magazine is a light gray, and the rest is somewhat of a metallic medium gray (I really only know my primary colors and have to look for color charts on the internet to do this!). The handguard is two parts combined together, and on mine the third part nearest the barrel is somewhat "not attached very well", as it pulls apart slightly from the other half when attempting to get a grip with Caesar's hand, so be careful with this. I'm not sure if it will separate completely, but why chance it? It also has a sling that runs from the front end of the handguard to the rear of the stock. The sling is made of a leather-type material that goes through both the "upper sling swivel" and the "rear sling swivel", folding back over on and attached to itself to secure it. I wasn't very careful with mine while doing some poses, and the sling came unattached from itself and came loose of the rear sling swivel. So, be careful of this, also. This has happened to me on more than a couple of Sideshow guns. 

This "exclusive accessory" poster is a copy that Milo (his original name before choosing his own name later while "working" for Gov. Breck) handed out to humans while following Armando around the city he soon took over. The "circus poster" is almost 1.5 x 2 inches and is made of the same material as the box the figure comes in, and is the same thickness. It is white on both sides, and the poster side is a shiny white with black print. It portrays a drawn image of a horse running with Milo standing on top of it in his circus outfit, provides some "SHOWTIMES" and shows the title, "ARMANDO'S OLD-TIME CIRCUS". The thickness of it helps prevent it from bending easily, and the cuts on the four sides are not exactly straight. This poster came inside a small plastic bag that was taped to the top left corner of the inside box that contains the plastic mold. I was able to slowly remove the tape covering the bag from the box without any of the image on the box tearing off, so that was a big plus (I'm not sure what kind of tape they used, but it did the job perfectly).

So we got some great accessories from a film where the character didn't use that many accessories. Caesar used the posters for a few minutes near the beginning of the film, and the rifle toward the end, but Sideshow gave us these and some meat cleavers, so I'm very happy that they went the extra mile with the cleavers and did an excellent job with them. 

Fun Factor - ***1/2
Excellent work by Sideshow, and I thank them for helping make "action figure" collecting more fun. Heck, all of these apes are fun to me! Caesar has no one else from the film to pose with, but I hope that changes later if Sideshow picks up where they left off (and/or backtracks through the "Escape" film). There were not many major characters in this film, but they were very strong characters whose actions affected each other and lead to the conquest of the entire planet. I haven't really figured out what I plan to do with him besides stand him by himself. 

I might put him in an extra Cornelius outfit and make him Julius from the first film, or even Cornelius from the second film, as he was played by a different actor (David Watson). Whatever I do with him, I'm glad to have another ape for their "shrewdness" (the name for a group of apes), and he looks excellent for any use (even for just standing by himself looking cool with his M-16) and I'll have fun him one way or another. 

Value - ****
Sideshow is selling this "limited edition" of 400 for $45.00 each, and $5.00 above the normal price seems fair. The overall sculpt, uniform, accessories, and limited run helps make this an excellent value for the price. I was content paying this price, and if this is the last ape in the ape line for Sideshow, it makes sense they ended with Caesar, as he was the most significant ape not yet released up to this point. 

Things to Watch Out For - 
The sling on the M-16 is not attached to itself very well after going through the swivels and should be handled with as little tugging as possible. This has happened to other rifles and I haven't learned my lesson very well. I'm hoping Sideshow puts even more effort into securing these in the future. Also, while attempting to place Caesar's hand around the handguard, be careful not to break it, as it is a very tight grip (both halves began separating from each other under the pressure). And while the poster is thick, it can still bend easily, so "handle with care". 

Overall - ***1/2
Caesar is another outstanding ape in the Planet of the Apes line. He is a serious, intelligent looking chimpanzee, comes dressed in his "slave" outfit jumpsuit, has some kick-a weapons, and looks ready to lead his fellow apes in the conquest for the planet of the apes. Great work was performed in every category, and then some (all points taken against it in this review were minor). This chimpanzee is a great-looking addition to my "action figure" (people are STILL calling these "dolls"!) collection. 

According to the imdb.com, Roddy McDowall passed away in October of 1998 from lung cancer. He made over 100 T.V. appearances from 1951 to 1998, directed a film called "Tam Lin" (1970), and acted in more than 150 films from 1938 to 1998 (the voice of Mr. Soil in "Bug's Life"). 

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

The Future of the Planet of the Apes line - 
It is my understanding that if we want the Planet of the Apes line to continue, we need to e-mail Sideshow and let know. Sideshow has acquired licenses for all of the "Planet of the Apes" films and the TV series, but will be deciding which characters to make based upon what they feel is enough demand from the buyers. Sideshow handles requests for future wants through their regular customer service forum, so please, let them know which characters you want by visiting their website and selecting the CONTACT US link on the lower left side of the page. Then select the [Customer Service Form] link, which is also used for "General inquiries". And then select the "Other" option. They regularly tally results for these requests and pass them on to the correct department. 

Where to Buy - 
I bought this "Sideshow Exclusive" from their website for $45.00 and as of the time of this writing, the website shows this as available for the US and estimated to ship 4th quarter for EU countries. The first 400 to order from the site receives the "exclusive accessory" circus poster. A few are selling on eBay (of course), and Michael always has a number of great sponsors who offer many Sideshow figures for sale.


Figure from the collection of Ron Hatchell.

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