While the show has lived on in
popularity for decades, it wasn't a huge
ratings getter during it's original run, and was even cancelled twice.
I supposed you can't blame Serling then for selling off all his rights
to the show to CBS when it was cancelled for the third and final time -
he had no real reason to believe that it would end up being such a
enduring hit over the coming decades.
As you can tell, I've always been a huge fan of both Serling and the
show. As an avid action figure collector, I picked up all the sixth
scale figures produced for the show by Sideshow Collectibles, but the
one figure missing was Mr. Serling himself.
So I set out to put together a
custom figure of the man. Now, back in the day, I did a little
customizing myself. Using a base body, my handy Dremel, a
little sculpey, and lots of paint, I created my share of figures that I
otherwise wouldn't get from the toy makers. But it's been at least a
decade since I did that kind of real customizing, and I quite largely
for two reasons: a) I simply don't have the time these days and b) I
pretty much sucked at it.
But I can still manage a kitbash
with the best of them, if I set my mind to it. And so I
picked up a sculpted Serling head, had it painted by a pro, and popped
it on a body with some clothes. This review is a bit
different than the usual, since what I'm looking at here is the head
and paint, since both of these are available to you if you'd like to do
the same custom. I'll explain what I used for the rest of the
figure as I go along, but everything from the neck down isn't really
part of the 'review'.
Sculpting - ***1/2
For those who collect Sideshow figures, sculptor Andy Bergholtz is well
known. he did some fantastic work while collaborating with
them, and now he's working under contract with DC Direct on many of
their finest collectibles.
Andy did this head sculpt for
Justin at JMLZone Studios, who in turn cast 50 heads. Mine is one of
those 50, which quickly sold out. However, Justin is doing a second run
of 50, and you can pick one up from him. Look in the Where To Buy
section for details.
Andy did a beautiful job with
Mr. Serling. I pilfered a number of reference photos from around the
web which I included above, so you can see his appearance across a bit
of an age range.
Serling didn't have extremely
recognizable features, making it even tougher for Andy to get it just
right. He managed to capture the key elements, like the bushy
eyebrows, long and slightly hooked nose, sharp chin, and dimples in his
He went with a slightly
inquisitive, slightly wry look, a look you might get when he paused in
his weekly introduction to the show. He's looking straight ahead, but
his eyes tilted up slightly, looking at you as though his head is tiled
downward a bit. That was very common for him, particularly during the
show intros, and was a wise choice.
Even the wrinkles match his
appearance quite well. His forehead was forever wrinkled, as
though he was permanently raising his eyebrows slightly.
The scale is very good, which
goes to show that many of Sideshow's bobble head issues are not the
result of the original sculpt, but the result of overestimating the
amount of shrinkage in the manufacturing process.
The head is cast in a very hard
plastic, very resin-like, and is drilled out to fit a Buck or TT neck
post. The neck is long enough to put the head well above a
shirt, tie and jacket combo, so that he doesn't look too stubby.
because the head is scaled to a Buck size body, you can't really mount
it on a body that's the proper scale for Serling. He was a
man, so you'll have to live with the fact that he's going to be more
like 6 foot tall in relation to your other Sideshow TZ figures.
Paint - ***1/2
No matter how good Andy's sculpt is, it's nothing without an excellent
paint job. You might be one of those customizers who can do your own
amazing paint work, but me...I'm not. So I contacted Les Walker to help
And Les did a wonderful job,
which he is well known for. One of the reasons prototype figures look
so much better than production figures is the hand painted nature of
the work. When you're doing it by hand, and you're only doing one, it's
amazing how much better the job turns out.
There's almost no slop here, and
skin tone is even and consistent. There's a couple spots (one
under the left eye and an area along the hatch cut hair line) where
there's some minor issues, but the work is well above the average
production paint job. Cut lines are nice and
clean, and he did an excellent job with the fine hair of the eye brows.
He did a little crosshatching at the hair line to avoid making the
break too clean and unrealistic looking, and this works well in person.
The eyes are painted in that
same slightly upward gaze, and the pupils are evenly sized and properly
placed. The eyes also have a slightly gloss to them, allowing them to
catch and reflect the light in a very realistic way.
had mine done in color, since the rest of the figures in the Sideshow
line are as well, but if you wanted to do him up in black and white,
I'm sure it would look great. And you could use that suit
the new Amok Time zombie!
Other Info -
So let's say you're looking to pick this head sculpt up and get it
painted - how do you finish your custom Serling?
Well, as I mentioned, the head
is designed to work best on either a Buck or TrueType body (or one with
a similar neck post). I went with a Buck, since I didn't need to go
nuts with the poses, the sculpted hands work extremely well for holding
a cigarette, and there are plenty of suits available that fit them.
In fact, I just picked up an
extra Cigarette Smoking Man, which took care of the need for a body,
suit AND cigarette all at once. Even better, you should still be able
to find the Sideshow X-Files regular release CSM for as little as $20
if you hunt around.
to Watch Out For -
While the CSM was the perfect solution, it can be tricky getting the
heads on and off the Sideshow Buck without damaging the neck joint down
inside the torso. Be absolutely sure that you heat up both
the head to be removed and the new one to go on (I just used very hot
tap water) to make the swap.
Overall - ***1/2
I'm very happy with this addition to my collection, particularly since
I was able to put the whole thing together for a reasonable price AND
it's pretty much a certainty that I'll never get one produced by a
company like Sideshow or Hot Toys.
Sculpting - ***1/2
Paint - ***1/2
Overall - ***1/2
Where to Buy -
So where do you pick this guy up? As I said, you can get the
unpainted sculpted head from JMLZone Studios by emailing them at TZSerling1959@aol.com.
He only ran 50 heads originally, one of which is this one, and is doing
a second and final run of 50. Yep, there will only be 100 of these out
there. The unpainted head will cost $55 for one, or two for $100.
I had this head painted by Les
Walker, well known for his exceptional customs. You can see his work at
where you can also contact him.
There are a number of other
great customizers and painters out there that can finalize the head for
you if you, like me, don't have the skills to paint it yourself.
Of course, if you do have said skills, you'll be all set with
just the blank head.
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