Ulysses S. Grant

In war, unlikely men rise up who become heroes, and often, Presidents. General Ulysses S. Grant was definitely one of those men. He was certainly cut from different cloth than his opponent, General Lee, but that wasn't a good or bad thing, just different. He was certainly an effective military strategist, and while he wasn't the most effective President, he still managed to get elected twice, and become the centerpiece of that timeless joke, who's buried in Grant's Tomb.

Sideshow has been doing an excellent series of Civil War figures under the banner Brotherhood in Arms. Not only have they produced some marvelous generic figures of the various regiments of the North and South, but they have also produced some well know individuals, including Jeb Stuart, Bedford Forrest, Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee, Joshua Chamberlain, and now General Grant.

Grant was produced in a run of 4000, which might seem like a lot, but the Brotherhood figures sell very well. General Lee, who was a 5000 piece run, sold out fairly quickly. Grant runs $40, and there is no exclusive version.

Packaging - ****
Another stellar package from Sideshow! A lot of the folks at Sideshow are very heavy into the Civil War, including being involved in re-enactments. It's no surprise then that some of the nicest packaging, with tons of text and history, is part of this series.

There's a great actual photo of the man on the front - always a sign of a confident company, when you can directly compare their sculpt to a photo - and lots of background text on the fifth panel. The text is well written and very informative, and does a nice balanced job of portraying the man.

Sculpting - ***1/2
As I said, there's a big old photo of Ulysses (who the hell names their kid that, even in the 19th century? I'm betting when Homer picked it for his hero's name, all the other Greeks said "Who?") right on the front of the box. He's there for easy comparison, and the comparison is extremely favorable.

Of course, one of the wonderful things about sculpting people who were dead long before that advent of motion pictures is that you only have stills to recognize them by. There's none of their personality, or their quirks of movement or speech in a tin type. There's just that stony appearance, requested by the photographer back then. Smiling wasn't cool.

That might make the sculpts slightly easier to make appear accurate, at least to us. Perhaps if Lincoln was resurrected and saw this figure, he'd say it looks more like Hugh Grant than U.S. Grant. And that he's still pissed about those theater tickets Grant gave him.  But for those of us with only still photos to go by, this is a mighty accurate representation.

The detail in the hair, especially the beard, is very realistic and looks great. The face is a little pudgier than the photo reflects, and looks a tad too smooth (I'd expect him to be a bit more 'weathered') but the size of the nose, symmetry of the face, and scale of various parts to other parts is very good. He even has his mole on the right cheek, not overly obvious but just about right in size and shape.

Paint - ***1/2
Sideshow figures never have a ton of paint apps, since 90% of the body is clothed. But the areas that are painted - heads and hands - are certainly critical. Grant has all the right quality in all the right places - the hair line is extremely realistic, and they used the trick of adding slight paint strokes to the edge to make it appear as though the edge is rough; the eyes are clean and straight, and a lot less bloodshot than I suspect they were in real life; and the skin tone, while a little dark, is consistent and even.

If there were changes I'd make, they'd be to add a little more gray to the beard and hair, and lighten up the skin tone just a smickle. Overall though, only us serious nit pickers will have any nits to pick.

Articulation - ***1/2
Grant comes with the usual super articulated Sideshow body, including the patented highly articulated Sideshow wrists and ankles. They make one of my favorite bodies due to these small extras that add a lot to the posing possibilities.  However, this one is missing the ball jointed neck, and after seeing the cool new version on the Agent 006 figure (review coming soon!), I was a bit disappointed not to have it here.

Occasionally I get bodies though that are loose, particularly in the hips. That's not the case this time around though, and I had no trouble getting him to stand or pose in a variety of ways.

Accessories - ***
If you wonder why I can be so tough on companies (especially sixth scale companies) when it comes to accessories, you have to understand what I grew up playing with. Of all my action figures as a kid, my favorites were the Best of the West series from Marx. This was a line that had 20 or even 30 accessories included with every figure. So when I buy one now for $40, and I get two or three, you might see where it seems a tad light.

That's the case here, where there are more accessories than we often get with Sideshow figures (especially licensed figures), but not nearly as many as I'd like. Grant comes with two accessories that he probably carried with him religiously - his cigar, and a whiskey flask. The cigar will fit nicely between his fingers, but the head is not sculpted to place it in his mouth. That's not a bad thing though, as I'd prefer not to have a big gap between his lips.

The flask is nicely in scale, and can fit in one of the pockets of his overcoat perfectly. He can also hold it nicely, so there's never any reason for it to leave his side.

He also comes with a nice binocular case and pair of binoculars. Yes, they actually fit inside the case, something that shouldn't be surprising but often is. There is also a well done map case, and two included maps which can be rolled up and kept inside.

And finally, he comes with his extra pair of shoes. While you could count them as part of his outfit, I'm sticking them in here with the accessories since he's already got a pair of boots as part of his normal outfit. The shoes are well sculpted, and go on and off easily enough, but I doubt many people will be displaying him in his casual wear.

What he desperately needs is a U.S. Calvary sword (and a sidearm wouldn't have hurt). I don't think he wore a sidearm a lot - Generals tend to not get into many short distance battles - but the sword is very important to the overall dress appearance. And besides, they're just cool.

Outfit - ***1/2
The overall outfit consists of a shirt, pants, belt, vest, overcoat, hat and boots (with stirrups).

All of the clothing exhibits the usual great quality material and stitching that we're used to from Sideshow. There's no cheaping out this time around, as the sleeves of the shirt are long, and there are snaps at all the right spots.

The tailoring is also excellent, especially on the fit of the vest and jacket. It's not baggy in any way, and even with a thicker material, still looks in scale.

The boots deserve a special mention, because their sculpt is so outstanding. The paint ops only add to the realism, and even the stirrups are removable, yet fit so tightly you might think they are all one piece at first.

The hat sculpt is solid, but the hat does fit a little too loosely on the head. That means you won't have to worry about paint rubs, but you will be picking the hat up off the floor a lot, and he can't wear it well at any kind of tilted angle.

He also has a belt, with the attachments to hold a scabbard.  Further proof that one should have been included as an accessory.

Fun Factor - ***
This is a fairly sturdy figure, although the belt might be a tad easy for a smaller child to break.  If you have a kid interested in the Civil war, in the 8 and up range, he or she might really enjoy this figure.  Then again, you'd probably be better off picking up the more generic fighters with more gear and weapons.

Value - **1/2
At $40, Grant falls into the normal range for detailed military sixth scale figures these days. He doesn't have the number of accessories you'd expect from Dragon or bbi at this price point, but the overall quality - especially the head sculpt - makes up for some of this. Still, $40 isn't peanuts, and while you won't feel you've been ripped off, you won't walk away feeling like Scrooge McDuck either.

Overall - ***1/2
This is a great figure - it's just not quite perfect.  There's no one major issue, just a variety of minor ones that keep it from the ultimate score.  I'm extremely happy with it though, and it makes a great companion to Sideshow's Lee and Lincoln.

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

Where to Buy - 
I picked mine up directly from Sideshow. Not only is there the Grant, but Lincoln is still available, as are two Sideshow exclusives (with runs of only 500!) of the 6th Michigan Calvary and the 1st Virginia Calvary. Other on-line options include:

- Alter Ego Comics has Grant for $32, along with several of the other Civil War figures.

- Killer Toys has him listed at $35.

- Fireside Collectibles don't have Grant listed, but they do carry a very wide array of Sideshow products, including 12" and 18" figures, and lots of busts and statues.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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