12" Ardeth Bey

So I'm watching Monsters HD awhile back...that's the all high definition monster movie channel.  It's part of the Voom satellite service, who have around 44 HD channels now.  This particular channel is actually my favorite, over Cinemax, and HBO, and Bravo and Starz, because it shows all kinds of horror flicks in high def.  Everything from Nightmare On Elm Street to Scream And Scream Again.

So anyway, I'm watching the end of one flick, waiting for the start of the next, and they always show these short pieces on various aspects of horror films and fans.  For example, a recent one covered the history of the film host with the original Vampira through the modern age.  Since they had no mention of either the Ghoul or Sir Graves Ghastly, it was woefully inadequate, but you get the general idea.

So on this particular occasion, they begin to discuss Sideshow Toys!  It's very cool to see people you know get showcased like this, and they had some stunning photography of the past and future lines.  Some very nice PR for the organization!

And what got them that spot?  Why their flagship line of Universal Monsters of course!  They've just released the latest in the series, Ardeth Bey.  This was THE Mummy my friend, played by Boris Karloff.

While we haven't gotten as many releases in this series as we once did, it's not all over either.  Still to be released this year are the Invisible Man and the Hunchback of Notre Dame, and don't forget the exceptional quarter scale Phantom of the Opera announced at SDCC!

Packaging - ***1/2
Unlike the recent X-Files packaging, which deviated from the collector friendly concept, Mr. Bey goes right back to the standard style.  With only one twisty all the way through the cardboard insert, he would be very easy to pop back in the box later if you so desired.

He's too cool to end up with that fate though.  I'll be honest - some of my Sideshow stuff does end up back in the box.  And I first thought that would be poor Ardeth's fate as well.  But once I had him out, I just couldn't do it.

The packaging has solid graphics, but lacks any real text about the movie or the character.  Too bad, considering that one extra detail would have made this very attractive box perfect.

Sculpting - ***1/2
The sculpt is beautiful work for the most part, although I have a couple minor quibbles.

It certainly looks just like Karloff, and even more importantly, just like Ardeth Bey.  Again, Sideshow was gutsy enough to use actual photos and posters from the film on the box so you can easily compare.

The head, hands and feet are all new sculpts, done with that craggy, heavily wrinkled appearance of the Mummy.  Packing a bottle of Jergens in the sarcophagus would have gone a long way.

While I really like the look of the face and feet, the hands seem a tad fake.  Maybe it's more a fault of the paint ops, with the nails, fingers and palms all exactly the same color, but the aging on the hands simply doesn't work as well as it does on the head and feet.

I also love the foot sculpt, although I wish we'd actually gotten sandals, rather than having them sculpted on.  The detail is great though, and the wide sandal bottoms allow for him to stand easily.

The fez is part of his overall head sculpt, and it was a smart decision.  It fits nice and tightly, and he simply wouldn't look right without it.  However, I wish they had used a real tassel rather than sculpting it, and the sculpt itself is rather weak.  It falls along one side of the head, into the hair, and gets lost in the hair sculpt.

All these complaints are fairly minor though, and he looks exceptional on the shelf.

Paint - ***
The paint is pretty much reserved for the sculpted head, hands and feet.  The paint ops are fairly good, and have decent quality and application.

A wash was used to extenuate the wrinkles and age, and while it works in some areas, in others it's over done.  The ears end up with excess wash again, and we've seen this on other Sideshow figures.

Also over done is the bags under Bey's eyes, which end up making him look more like a raccoon, or maybe Lurch, than I remember him from the film.

Articulation - ***1/2
This is the same Sideshow body we've seen many times, and in terms of points of articulation, can't get any better.

They have all the expected joints, including ball jointed hips and shoulders, cut joints on the biceps, thighs, ankles and wrists, and double jointed knees and elbows.  They also have the special ankle and wrists that allow for movement in just about any direction.

My figure was also nice and tight, unlike some of the other  recent Sideshow figures I've picked up.

Accessories - **1/2
Ardeth Bey is a tad light on the accessories, but what he has is very well done, and makes good sense.

There's a large scroll, which has all those nifty hieroglyphics that looked so cool when I was a kid.  It rolls up easily, and there is a black ribbon that can be used to tie it closed.  I also seem to remember him putting the black ribbon around his neck in the film, but don't hold me to that.  This scroll is identical to the one we had gotten earlier with the Mummy figure from Sideshow, making it a re-use.

There's also the ceremonial stone knife,  brought from the grave.  It fits fairly well in his right hand, and the sculpt looks terrific.

Outfit - ***1/2
This outfit only has three pieces, but looks absolutely perfect.

There's his turtle neck, made from a very bright white material.  There's no cheaping out this time either, with full length sleeves under the robe.

The robe fits perfectly, and the tailoring overall is very impressive.  The final piece is his belt, with gold cat on the front.  There's snaps used all around for easy removal, and for better appearance.

There's lots of detailed stitching, especially on the belt, and there are no edges or seams that will fray or come apart.  I'm not sure if the burlap type cloth was the best choice - it seems like the robe was a softer, silkier material - but that may just be my memory faulting me again.  I'll have to crack this film out soon and rewatch it!

Fun Factor - **1/2
If kids like the old horror movies, they'll have fun with Bey.  There's nothing small for them to break, and the outfit is much sturdier than others.  Then again, I can't imagine any kids actually playing with a figure based on a movie over 70 years old.

Value - **1/2
Mr. B runs $40 on the Sideshow site, but they were sold out long before the figure started shipping.  Considering the nits I had with the outfit (a real tassel, or real sandals would have really added to the figure), and the light number of accessories, $40 is a tad high.  I have some other options for you though at the end of the review which can improve the value.

Overall - ***1/2
I've picked up all the Sideshow Universal Monsters, both 8" and 12".  This is one of the nicest looking they've produced, even if he is slightly less complex.  The accessories are light, and I wish the couple nits I had weren't there, but in general, you'll be extremely happy to add this one to your collection.

And he's a billion times better than the Mummy himself that Sideshow gave us awhile back.  Thank goodness that we got this version to right the earlier wrong.

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

Where to Buy - 
I picked him up by pre-ordering months ago through Sideshow.  When I first started writing this review, I figured picking one up at a retailer wouldn't be that tough, but none of the usual suspects had them available.  Ardeth may turn out to be a tough one to fine! There are some on-line options:

- of course, Sideshow is one way to go, but Bey is long gone.  You could get on the waiting list though, or you could wisely pre-order one of the other future releases.  I suspect Invisible Man is going to be gone very soon!

- Time and Space Toys has him available for $40.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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