Monty Python Muddy Knights

Sideshow Toy has done an amazing thing - they've made a large line of 12" action figures, with detailed sculpts, outfits and accessories, all based on a 25 year old comedy by a bunch of British goofballs.

If you had told me a few years ago that anyone would make Monty Python and the Holy Grail figures, I'd have laughed.  To think they have not only made them, but have been successful with them...that should make anyone take pause next time someone comes up with an idea that seems impossible.

This set of the knights is the second full set.  The original set was completely clean, while this second series is 'muddied up', to more accurately reflect how they looked through most of the film.

Other than the original five knights, Sideshow has also produced the Dead Collector, Tim the Enchanter (both reviewed here), the Black Knight (reviewed here), and Patsy (reviewed here).  That's 14 figures so far!  Coming up is the Knight of Ni (a web exclusive of only 1000), the Bridgekeeper, the King of Swamp Castle, Prince Herbert, and the French Taunter.

If you're thinking about picking up the Knight of Ni, I'd do it quick - they are down to less than 100 of the figures left, and you can only buy it through the Sideshow site.

Packaging - ***1/2
The Monty Python boxes are simply hilarious.  With lots of text written in the style of the movie, right down to the warning labels, it shows the level of thought and ingenuity that Sideshow puts into the packaging. Unlike the first series which came in the flimsier window boxes, these are the newer fifth panel boxes.  They are much nicer, and it's a shame to toss them out.

Unfortunately, they loose a half star since they aren't completely collector friendly.  They've bubbled the shields to the insert, and you'll have to damage the beautiful work to get everything out.

Sculpting - ***1/2
The sculpting actually varies fairly widely on these, and the score is an average.  Some like Lancelot and Robin are dead on, while others like Galahad are off a bit.  I'd say that the Arthur and Bedevre are in the middle.

Since people tend to focus more on the negative than the postive, I'll try to explain my reluctance with Galahad.  The face appears to chubby, and it may be that the weak paint ops (I'll get to that a little later) are actually hurting the sculpt.

But that's the only negative, and Robin and Lancelot are excellent work.  Lancelot is actually bald under the hood, so if you have a need for a cueball Cleese for some sort of custom...

While the likeness on Arthur is fairly good, I suspect some folks will have a problem with the crown being a permanent attachment.  It doesn't bother me, and I understand the need to keep the 'chain mail' on his head.  But it's certainly worth mentioning for those that will find an issue with it.

Likewise, Bedevre's helmet is actually part of the sculpt.  I think more people will understand the need, since getting this style of helmet on or off would have been pretty tricky, and end up being oversized.

Paint - ***1/2
The paint ops on this set would be a four star rating if not for one thing - poor Galahad's need for a little time in a tanning booth.

All four characters have extremely clean work on the faces, with no bleed or slop.  The eyes are done well, and there's no brown from the facial hair wandering on to the face.  And all the skin tones look good except...

Poor Galahad.  Couldn't have Zoot, and needs a little pigment as well.  He looks washed out and far too white, even for a British guy.  It makes his smile a bit ghastly looking, with the lips standing out far too much on the pale skin.

Outfit - ****
If there's one category that stands out on this set, it's the outfits.  The stitching and quality of the material is excellent, and the choice of material for the 'chain mail' is perfect.  The tailoring is great, and all three layers of the uniform fit perfectly.

There are also a number of sculpted pieces - gauntlets, elbow and shoulder armor.  How much and what it's like varies by character, and there is some re-use.  But overall the sculpting on these pieces, along with the paint ops, are excellent.  The outfits match up to the source material extremely well, and they show great attention to detail.

Each figure also has two belts, a small, multicolored cloth one, and the larger pleather one holding the sword scabbard.  The pleather used here is a tad thin, and you want to be careful not to tear it.

This isn't a costume designed to be removed though, and if you're looking to switch the bodies or heads, you're in for some effort.

The big difference between this release and the original is the mud splattering.  Rather than just throw mud in their general direction, they muddied the lower half, getting less muddy as they moved upward.  That makes sense, and looks far better than just letting the mud fly.  If there's one negative to the mud, it's that the feet are all clean, which clashes a bit with the rest of the look.

Quality - **1/2
I normally don't put this category up for Sideshow - I've never had a quality issue.  But either I got a bad batch this time, or something slipped a bit, because I ended up pulling out the super glue not once, but three times.  I had the handle on one shield pop off, the strap on another shield come loose, and the strap on one of Bedevere's elbow pads pop loose.  I'm also counting the thinner pleather for the belt as a negative here.

Parts breaking or coming apart is pretty unusual for Sideshow, and it was quite surprising to me.  Hopefully it's simply an aberration.

Articulation - ***1/2
The Sideshow body is one of the three best - bbi and Dragon are the other two.  There's plenty of articulation, with neck, ball jointed shoulders and hips, double jointed elbows and knees, wrists, cut biceps and thighs, ankles, chest and waist.

I had no trouble getting these to stand or hold a variety of poses, and the joints were nice and tight.  The only reason for losing a half star is the lack of the ball joint they sometimes have at the neck, and the loss of the cool special wrist joint they normally use.  Both of these are gone because of some of the restrictions of the helmets or gauntlets.  While it's not a huge deal for this line, it's still worth mentioning.

Accessories - ***1/2
There are four accessories with each figure, and all are really re-uses with some slight variations.

The most obvious is the shield, well sculpted and nicely painted.  These have the muddy effect as well, rising from the bottom toward the middle.  Each is adorned with the same crest as their uniform, done with great care.

Each also comes with a scabbard and sword, all identical except for the slightly more intricate 'Excalibur' version of Arthur's.  The big plus here is the stiff plastic - I wish Toybiz was making swords like these for the LOTR 12" line.

The final accessory is a book for each, turned to an appropriate page for that character.  The page that they are turned to is actually a sticker, and not actually painted or printed right on the book itself.

Value - ***
Sideshow normally sells their figures for $40 on their site, but you can pick up this entire set for $150, which is $30 each.  That's far more in line with other retailers, and with that kind of price at the on-line store there's a good chance you might find them even cheaper.

By the way, these are a run of 5000 this time around, whereas the first run of non-dirty knights was 10,000.

Overall - ***
While many folks picked up the first set and therefore are unlikely to need this set, it's a good way for Sideshow to get new collectors into the series.  Keeping the run size low was smart, and if I hadn't had the quality issues with my set they would have ended up with another half star. 

Where to Buy - 
Some specialty shops, and stores like Spencer's or Media Play, have carried the previous figures, usually for around $30 each. On-line:

- Sideshow Toy has this set of five for $150 plus shipping. (MROTW Affliate)

- Entertainment Earth has a great price with all five at $120 plus shipping, or a case to share with another person at $225 (only $22.50 each) but it looks like they are already out of stock.  You might want to call them though.  (MROTW Affiliate)

- Aisle Sniper has them listed at $125 for the set, but it still says preorder.  I'm betting they just haven't updated the page yet though, so give them a call first.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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