Sideshow Exclusive Connor MacLeod

I wonder if Christopher Lambert realized, back in 1986, that the film Highlander would be the pinnacle of his career. I doubt it, but there's no arguing that this cult favorite is what he's best known for.

The film wasn't a huge hit at first, but over time became one of those cult phenomena’s that just keeps getting better with every viewing. It was followed up with two movie sequels, and a successful television show that ran for six years.

Oddly though, even with lines like Movie Maniacs, Now Playing and Cult Classics, this license had been completely overlooked by toy companies - until now. Sideshow is producing a series of sixth scale figures, including modern versions of Connor Macleod and Duncan Macleod, along with origin versions of both. As usual, they are also doing Sideshow website exclusive versions of each, including an additional accessory.

Today's review covers the exclusive version of the modern Connor, which includes the head of his final opponent, Kurgan. You gotta love those severed heads.

Packaging -  ***1/2
How much you like this package is going to be partly dependent on your feelings on the dental floss versus twistie ties. Rather than use the usual half dozen twisties, Sideshow has gone with a bunch of the thin string ties, affectionately referred to as dental floss, at least by me. That has its pros and cons of course, and depending on your personal taste, this will be a good or bad thing.

The floss doesn't wrinkle or mark the figure or clothes as often, and is much more hidden in the package. That's particularly good for the MIBBers, who want the figure to remain in their plastic confines but look as good as possible doing it.

The floss also tends to be easier to remove, but once it is removed, it is highly unlikely you'll put it back. That makes the package slightly less collector friendly for the openers who still might like to return the figure to the packaging at a later date.

I like the floss personally. Although I may return the figure to the package, I don't worry about not reusing the floss. The figure and accessories will still remain in place short of an earthquake, and you don't have to actually damage any part of the package to remove the figure, so it's still sufficiently collector friendly for this collector.

The exterior of the box has a photo of Lambert as Macleod, which is always a big risk for a company. It allows you to actually compare the product in the box with the original source material, and not have to depend on memory. Very few companies do this, and it is an example of Sideshow's confidence in their sculpt work and paint application.

This is the first figure to sport the new "Sideshow Exclusive" sticker on the front of the box as well. In the past, the exclusives generally came in a box identical to the regular release, and this new sticker is a nice touch. However, there's still no sign of the edition size or any numbering of the figures - a good thing, in my opinion. This particular exclusive was limited to 750.

Sculpting - ***1/2
While this sculpt isn't perfect, photos don't really do him justice. Mat Falls has done an exceptional job capturing the myopic stare of Lambert, but resisted the urge - wisely - to have him looking through his eyelids. If you're not sure what I mean, see the cover photo on the box.

One thing that is missing on the face is the stubble, something he had through the entire film. It's six to one, half dozen to the other whether this is the best choice or not. On one hand, stubble would have looked more film correct. On the other, sculpting stubble (or using paint to simulate) never comes off particularly well in this scale. I think it was probably smart to stick with the great sculpt, and not go that extra mile and try to make the stubble work. The final look would have most likely suffered.

Connor always had mussed hair as well, and the sculpt does a reasonable job with the look. It's tough to do with solid plastic, but there's at least the general feeling that Connor doesn't know what a comb is. 

The hand sculpts work well with the sword and the cognac, but an extra set of hands in a fighting position would have been a great extra. Still, these work the best for the largest number of poses.

Paint -***1/2
The paint ops on Connor are centered on the face, hands and accessories. The skin tone is even and consistent, they did not use the glossy finish that has hurt some past figures, and the eyes are fairly straight and clean. The left eye is a little off center, but not enough to hurt the overall appearance. The hair line doesn't sport the cross hatching that is used occasionally, but the style of his hair doesn't require it. There aren't a lot of paint details here to expound upon, but the overall work is extremely clean, with no obvious errors or nits for me to pick.

Articulation - ****
I'm a big fan of the Sideshow body, particularly the ankle and wrist joints which allow additional movement over many other sixth scale bodies on the market. The joints here are also nice and tight, and I had absolutely no trouble getting to take and hold a ton of poses.

Along with all the expected joints - ball jointed shoulders and hips, cut biceps and thighs, double jointed elbows and knees, wrists, ankles, chest, waist, and some I'm probably forgetting - Connor also has the ball jointed neck. Not all Sideshow product does, and it's an excellent addition to an otherwise already well articulated body.

Accessories - ***1/2
Sideshow has geared up Connor appropriately in the accessories department, with some creative ideas right out of the film.

The regular version includes the Masamune sword that Connor 'inherited' from Ramirez. The sculpting on the hilt is excellent, capturing the detail even in sixth scale. It's not a dead on reproduction, but it is easily recognizable as this particular sword by any fan of the movies. The silver paint on the blade itself is a little inconsistent, but the paint ops on the hilt give it the impression of ivory, and look great. The sword also fits nicely in his hands, and is well scaled.

He also has the book "A Metallurgical History of Ancient Sword Making", written by his love interest in the film, Brenda Wyatt. That's a nice touch, since their relationship - and the tragic nature of being immortal - was so important to the film.

There's also the bottle of cognac, with a very well done, detailed label, and a small knife from his weapons collection. The knife is a tad under-scaled though, and won't be easy for Connor to hold. He can hold the bottle just fine though, and knock back a couple in memory of Ramirez.

The exclusive version includes one more critical accessory - the severed head of Kurgan. Kurgan was the big bad from the first film, played by the wonderful Clancy Brown. People currently know him best for his role on Carnivale as the minister, or as the voice of Mr. Krabs on Spongebob. But Kurgan was one of his best roles, and he was perfect casting.

Unfortunately, while the head has some excellent detail work and looks very realistic, it looks nothing like Kurgan. It does have the trademark tattoo, with the hair designed to appear as part of it (now that's some cool ink), along with some excellent scarring and bloody flesh, but the likeness is definitely weaker than the Connor work.

And let's not forget the display stand, emblazoned with the Sideshow logo. You won't need it to keep him standing, unless you live in San Francisco or Los Angeles.

Outfit - ***
The outfit consists of his athletic shoes, jeans, shirt, leather jacket and overcoat. Everything is easy to take on and put back, so he can sport a variety of looks.

The shoes fit well and are weathered, giving them a little more realistic appearance. The jeans are well tailored, but do have one issue - the horse may escape from the barn. There is no zipper on the pants of course, but it tends to bulge open with only the single snap at the top. Without the overcoat on it appears a bit silly, and if I've learned one thing in writing toy reviews for the last decade, it's that everyone always notices the crotch.

The shirt is blue, which is a bit confusing. His trademark look is really a white shirt, but I do think there may have been a couple scenes in the film where it at least appeared blue. The photo on the box cover clearly shows it as blue, but that's not really the shirt color most people remember. The shirt looks good though, and fits well.

The leather jacket also fits great, and he looks good in it or with it covered by the overcoat. The overcoat is tailored so well that it still looks good even with the bulky leather jacket on underneath, no small feat. I did notice that the coat belt is starting to fray at the end, and that's only going to get worse with time. Also, there aren't any working pockets on the jacket or coat, and it would have been nice to have one in which to put the knife or bottle.

Fun Factor - ***1/2
While there probably aren't many 8 year old kids who are big fans of the film, any that are would have a great time with this figure. It's extremely sturdy, and capable of play, although you might want to be careful with the sword and knife. Either of these could break pretty easily, or take an eye out if you try really hard.

Value - **1/2
At $45, you're getting a fairly average value in the current sixth scale market. The outfit and number of accessories is about right, but the obvious choice is to pick up the exclusive version right now. It's the same price as the regular version, and includes the Kurgan head. How could you go wrong?

However, if you are interested in just the regular version, search the web and you can find retailers selling them as cheap as $33 (I have some links at the end of the review). That adds another half star to this value rating.

Things to watch out for - 
I didn't have any issues right out of the box. If you know someone that can sew, you might want to help poor Connor with his zipper issue by adding another snap, but that's beyond my meager abilities.

Overall -  ***1/2
Highlander has been ignored by the makers of collectible action figures far too long, and it's great to see a company like Sideshow step in to fill the void. Connor has turned out great, with only a few minor nits. I suspect the two most common complaints will be around the lack of the stubble and the color of the shirt, but neither of these was a major issue for me. The head sculpt turned out well above average, the outfit works well, there are an above average number of film specific accessories even for the non-exclusive version, and the body is tight and well articulated.

I haven't watched the original film in years, but getting Connor in the mail peaked my interest again so much that I went out and grabbed a copy. Let's hope we see further additions to the line after the Origins Duncan and Connor - who wouldn't love a Ramirez?

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

Where to Buy -
This is a Sideshow exclusive, so the obvious place to pick it up is the Sideshow website. They have him available for $45, along with the exclusive modern Duncan, exclusive origin Connor, and exclusive origin Duncan.

- Fireside Collectibles has the regular versions of modern Connor and Duncan for just $33 each.

- All Move Replicas has the regular version of modern Connor for $45. For the serious Highlander fan, they have the full sized reproductions of the Masamune sword available.

- Killer Toys has both modern versions for $45.

- Alter Ego doesn't have the modern versions listed, but they do have the origins version for $38 each.


Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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