figure is not cheap, costing $90 from Sideshow. There's an exclusive
(reviewed here) with Balin's Journal, and is limited to just 1250. The
regular edition size has not been announced. In a rare situation, the
exclusive is currently still availabe and IN STOCK at Sideshow!
Packaging - ****
It's Sideshow, and it's one of
the two licenses where they really
put in the extra effort on packaging. While these boxes don't have the
magnetic closures of the Star Wars line, they DO have the nifty die cut
flaps. On the interior of these flaps is a TON of background text on
Everything is collector friendly
of course, and it's
quite easy to remove the figure, have your way with it, and replace it
with no damage to the packaging.
Once in awhile, something is so good it leaves you searching for the
moh juste, the right words to describe it. This is one of those cases.
(and the actor behind him, Ian McKellen) has a face filled with
personality, with features that make him easier to capture than, say,
Sarah Michelle Gellar. We've seen a number of extremely good Gandalf
sculpts over the years from different companies, including Gentle Giant and NECA, while poor Buffy
has never really been treated right.
yet this sculpt blows them all away. Everything is dead on here - the
sorrowful yet wise eyes, the slightly rounded, long nose, the shape of
the head, the flow of the hair, it's all perfect.
There is an
aesthetic angle of course, and that might be where some folks differ.
The sculptor (Tim Miller) went with an expression that implies the
wisdom and grace of the character. This works great if he's posed with
Bilbo, counceling him on the error of his choice of bling, but not so
much if he's facing off against the Balrog in a MMA death match. I like
the calmer look, because it works with more situations, but some
colletors may have prefered an angrier, fighting Gandalf.
Paint - ***1/2
The paint here is much, much better than we've seen in past years from
Sideshow, and it looks like we're getting solid proof that they are
making huge changes in this area. We've know seen excellent paint on
both Clone Obi and Gandalf, with Indiana Jones shipping any day.
Let's cross our fingers that this iimproved paint quality is
regular thing from now on.
the face is cast in a skin tone plastic, there's actually a top coat as
well. This gives it some variance in the skin tone, as well as cutting
some of the plastic glare. In fact, there's a small rubbed
on the bridge of the nose on mine, and you can clearly see the shinier
plastic under the light top coat.
The beard work is solid,
although I am a bit disappointed in the cut line between the hair and
skin. They did an amazing job with this on the recent Clone Obi-Wan, and they
have clearly spoiled me. Here, the hair line is a smooth,
even, abrupt cut, which isn't as realistic.
still hae the catchlights added to the eyes, although there is a gloss
coat on both the eyes and lips to give them that wet look. However,
these 'doll dots' are very small, and unlikely to be noticed by anyone
other than those looking for them. Sideshow could drop them entirely,
as long as they stick with the gloss coat to create them naturally, but
these smaller dots aren't a major issue for me.
The eyebrows are more grey than
the rest of the hair, but that's actually appropriate.
In fact, I think the beard could have used a bit more grey as well,
giving it some darker areas. While the work on the beard is good,
adding in that variable color (and doing it well) would have taken this
figure to the next level. It will be interesting to see if someone
tries a repaint to give the beard a bit more 'life'.
Articulation - **1/2
My biggest issue with this figure comes with the use of the older Buck
body. For a reminder of the three bodies theoretically available to
Sideshow, check this
Buck body is woefully outdated. It was woefully outdated months ago
when they announced the new Prometheus and Armorted bodies - it hasn't
aged well since.
On the plus side, I have to
admit that this Buck
gave me better poses than it has in the past. I don't know if they've
tinkered with it, but I was able to get a slightly better flow and hang
out of the body. Let's not go nuts here - it's nothing like a TrueType
or a RAH body. But it was a slightly better experience than I've had
with Buck's before.
Also going in Gandalf's favor is
that he's no
Olympic Gymnast. Sure, he's a pretty damn spry old man, but the Buck
does provide enough flexibility to get the basic poses for this
On the negative side, the neck
has far less
mobility than usual, due of course to the long hair and beard. Look up,
look down, tilt...these things aren't going to happen. He isn't even
going to turn his head. It's as locked in place by the hair sculpt as
it could be short of being glued down.
That's acceptable, since
you have to have the hair and beard. And while I've been complaining
about the Buck, the torso does turn well enough to allow you to use the
chest and waist to provide positioning of the overall upper body.
It's not perfect, but it makes up for the lack of neck
articulation a bit.
also a fair number of loose joints here, and thankfully the boots keep
the ankles from buckling. I didn't have any trouble posing him in
standard ways, and I don't see myself using the stand, but I've heard
that some folks have had more issues than I.
Outfit - ****
sculpt, my next favorite aspect of this figure is the costume. There
are multiple layers, but it doesn't look puffy or out of scale.
the base is a pair of pants and a shirt. Yep, Gandalf just wears pants
and a shirt. The pants are billowy and flowing, with some really,
really intricate printed designs along the bottom. They fit well, and
look more like an extension of the robes than pants.
The shirt is
a soft knit deal, with very long sleeves. He wears this
sweater-like shirt much like the average teenage girl, covering his
hands. They've given his thumb a cut out (that's even hemmed to avoid
unraveling at the edge) so that the sleeve can pull down on his hand
like a reverse glove. It looks good out of the box, but I have to admit
that once I started swapping hands, I just left it off.
is his long grey robes. These tie in front, up under his
The material is very thin to allow it to remain in scale, and yet it's
high quality, with very good hems and stitching all around.
the robe he wears a woven belt. While the actual fabric is bit large
when woven like this, I prefer it to a sculpted version. While the belt
is tied in the front (and I kept it that way) there is a buckle like in
the movie that it can be threaded through.
The boots are sculpted of
course, and it's
another tremendous sculpt. There's lots of detail in the lacing and
weathering, giving them a very realistic leather look.
head, he wears his wizard hat. They went the sculpted route here, and
thank God they did. There's no way I can imagine them getting
look right with a floppy cloth hat. It fits him properly, and looks
good in most poses. I personally prefer him without it, since
allows you to appreciate the head sculpt a bit more, but for those
looking for the fully dressed look, the hat finishes it off.
comes with not one but two outer cloaks. The one most folks
use is his standard grey. This cloak has a hood in back, as well as a
fine wire around the edge of the hood. The wire makes it much easier to
pose the cloak on his shoulders in a realistic way. In fact,
rarely used the supplied tie on the front of the cloak to keep it in
place, since the tie is very hard to work with, and too easy to end up
knotting. The wires in the hood can be used to keep the cloak in place
The other cloak is not hooded,
and is more of a
pancho. I'm not sure when he wore this (when he returned from his
imprisonment at Isengard perhaps?) and I couldn't find any way for him
to wear it that I liked. If you do, send along a photo!
- Exclusive ****; Regular ***1/2
Although the price tag for this figure is steep, Sideshow helps make up
for it a bit with a nice selection of extras.
I already discussed his hat as
part of his outfit, as well as the extra cloak, so those won't be part
of this section.
comes with not one but two of his walking sticks. The one staff, done
in a darker color, has the crystal placed in the top. When I was
putting the photos together later, I realized I'd shot most of them
with this staff, rather than the lighter brown version. It
intentional, so it must have been my subconcious prefering this darker,
more powerful looking staff.
The other staff, made to appear
if it is lighter wood, has the tobacco pouch attached, and the pipe
fits inside the gnarled top. The pipe is easy enough to remove and
replace, and there's even an extra hand to hold it.Both staff's look
terrific, with a detailed wood-like sculpt and paint.
of the hands, there is one set of extra digits. The hands he comes
wearing in the box are gripping hands, designed for the sword or
staff's. The hands are a bit too open for the sword though, so it flops
around quite a bit. The extra hands include one right hand posed to
hold the pipe or other small objects, and one left hand in an open
pose. The hands swap easily, and don't fall off with normal
Gandalf also has a haversack, or
man purse, which looks
good and can be used to hold small items. It's not one of those key
accessories, but since he was always wearing it, I'm glad they included
And where would he be without
his scabbard and Glamdring? The
sword is a decent sculpt, although the paint work is a bit toyish.
There were also a few rub marks on the silver, and they
intentional wear. The sword fits in the scabbard nicely, which is part
of a more complext two belt system. The belt(s) have nicely sculpted
buckles, and are fairly easy to put on and take off.
regular figure, the final accessory is the display stand. You won't
have to use it if you don't feel the need, but I'm glad they always
If you picked up the exclusive
version, you get one
more accessory. That's the norm with Sideshow, but often the
extra exclusive accessory is rather lame. This time, we got
something that actually works pretty well.
The extra is Balin's
Journal, read from by Gandalf when the Fellowship was deep in Moria.
It was a great scene in the film, as the attack by the Cave
was immenint, and the Journal has been reproduced fairly well. No, the
pages don't turn, and the book doesn't open and close. The
sculpted pose is what you get, but it works for me.
And yes, I
know that the book is upside down in the photos. I could tell you that
I did that because Gandalf can't look down, so he can't be posed
reading it, and therefore I chose to have him looking up and pointing
out something in the book for you to read. And that makes complete
sense. But the truth is that if I posed the heavier side of
book on the left, it kept falling off his lap, so I just flipped it
Fun Factor - **1/2
The Buck body makes this guy a bit more frustrating for kids and adults
alike. And while he hasn't forgotten his toy roots, Gandalf will be
more at home on the shelf than in the sandbox.
Value - **
This figure was one of the higher priced sixth scale collectibles
released from Sideshow this year. Along with Indiana Jones
Clone Armor Obi-Wan, his priced jumped up to $90. The difference here
is that the other two are on the newly designed bodies - Gandalf is
not. I was disappointed that this was the case.
Things To Watch Out For
I didn't have any issues. You might want to pay attention to how the
pipe fits in the staff, so that when you replace it you don't have any
trouble, but otherwise everything is sturdy and easy to work with.
Overall - ***1/2
I've graded one of the Sideshow LOTR figures higher than this (Sam),
that was largely driven by the exceptional outfit and accessories,
along with the brand new body. All of that was had for a much
lower price than dear Gandalf.
if you merely look at the entire series so far next to each other on
the shelf, my personal favorite is easily Gandalf. They've done a
marvelous job with him, and the only thing that would have pushed him
that extra half star would have been if they'd given us the Prometheus
body at this $90 price tag.
It breaks my heart to think that
after getting 6 of the Fellowship, with only two Hobbits and Gimli to
go, that the line is likely done. I'd gladly trade my Faramir for a
Gimli in a heartbeat.
C'mon Sideshow - make it a
2009 to find SOME way to get at least Gimli into our hands.
You're sitting on that new smaller body that cost you bucks
design, so let's find a way to put it to use with everyone's favorite
Packaging - ****
Sculpting - ****
Paint - ***1/2
Articulation - **1/2
- Exclusive ****; Regular ***1/2
Outfit - ****
Fun Factor - **
Value - **
Overall - ***1/2
Where to Buy -
There are several options with my sponsors:
- Sideshow HAS THE EXCLUSIVE!
currently in stock for $90. The fact that this guy hasn't
sold out yet is amazing, but now that he's shipping I don't expect it
to last long. Act quick if you want that Journal accessory!
- Dark Shadow
Collectibles has the regular at $81.
- Alter Ego Comics
has the regular at $81.
- you can search ebay using the