Premium Format Mummy

One of the great all time monsters is The Mummy. Why? Well, I'm not exactly sure. He's slow as molasses in January, so unless you have trouble staying on your feet when you run, or tend to crash into things because you're not looking where you're going, the odds of him getting his bandaged mitts on you seems rather slim. Still, he's undead, which is always cool, and he's got the whole Egyptian style thing going for him. Who doesn't like hieroglyphics? They even used them on Lost.

We've never gotten a really great version of the Mummy in action figure form. Oh, the Sideshow one isn't too bad, and it's certainly miles above the Hasbro version, but it's still a figure that really needs some help. My personal favorite is the 8" version from Sideshow, but even then there were some issues.

Sideshow is now releasing a Premium Format version, at the staggering price of $350. There are also only 350 of them produced, and they are a Sideshow exclusive in the U.S., meaning you can only buy them direct from the Sideshow site.

This version of the Mummy is his early appearance in the film, when they first crack up his tomb. He lays in his deluxe sarcophagus, and there's a nifty display base as well. But is it the ultimate Mummy collectible? Let's see...

Packaging - **1/2
This is some odd packaging for Sideshow. First, there's none of the usual cool external box. The Mummy box is a straight brown cardboard, with a sticker showing the figure with some details on one side. That's it for graphics.

Once you open him up, you'll find the most amazing packing job ever. Or at least since the Mummy himself was wrapped in bandages, had his organs removed, and was stuffed into the pyramid.

The sarcophagus and stand sit inside a high quality dense Styrofoam insert. The sarcophagus is tightly wrapped with that urethane packing paper, and taped as well. The Mummy himself is wrapped up, well, like a Mummy, in layers of soft foam, all taped tight to his body. He's stored inside the sarcophagus for transport.

This isn't the normal collector friendly package, where you could easily replace the statue in the box exactly as you received it. You can get him back in with a little work, but he'll never be packed quite this well or this tightly again.

Sculpting - ****
Andy Bergholtz did the work on the Mummy, and he shows again why he's been one of Sideshow's premiere sculptors. Andy recently signed an exclusive contract with DC Direct, so he will be turning his tools from monsters and Star Wars to Batman and Superman, and the fans of DC characters will be the big winners.

There are three major components to the overall piece. There's the Mummy himself of course, from his early appearance in the film, along with his huge sarcophagus, and a large sand-like base designed to hold them in a tilted upright position.

I'm not exactly sure what the sarcophagus is made from. It's not solid polystone, which is a good thing, since it would weigh far too much for a wall display if it was. They list both polyurethane and dense foam in the write up at Sideshow, and the coffin is clearly lightweight and hollow. It's also very unlikely to break, and you can rap your knuckles on it pretty hard without any fear of damage. At least to the sarcophagus.

The material also holds a detailed sculpt well, and the sarcophagus is gorgeous. Lots of detail, right down to a nifty stone like texture. One of the important features here is that the lines, grooves and V marks aren't perfect - they look hand carved. If they were done too cleanly, they'd lose the flavor of an actual Egyptian artifact. Andy gave clean solid lines where appropriate, like in the face and arms on the lid, but rougher hewn lines in the repetitive details.

The lid is held tight - very tight - to the base with magnets. These work quite well, although I think that the weight of the Mummy would toss the lid open if he fell forward onto it. I'm not testing it out though to see.

The interior of the sarcophagus is a little rougher, matching the type of surface that would have been produced by early tools. There's a series of hieroglyphics around the interior wall, which say something to the effect of "Stand still so I can kick your ass for waking me up".

The Mummy himself is solid polystone, probably with metal embedded for the magnet feature. The magnet isn't quite as strong as the one(s) holding the lid, but it does work pretty well.

I am a little disappointed that the Mummy is not wrapped in actual bandages. This is a PF after all, and I always expect some clothing with my PF's. And considering how cool the bandages could be if done right, not having them is a let down. Still, the detailed sculpt work on the bandages and mummified skin is excellent.

Andy has captured the Karloff face perfectly, and the lifelike eyes set in the stone hard visage is particularly creepy. The ring is included on the right hand of course, and it stands out nicely in both sculpt and paint from the rest of the statue.

Originally, I thought scale was an issue. The shots with Frankenstein that I saw appeared like the Mummy was much too small. But then I remembered that Frank, as one of the earliest PF's, was a tad big compared to later characters. I didn't have Frank handy, but I did pull out the Phantom of the Opera for a comparison, and as you can see he is a smidge small, coming out about the same height but a bit thinner. I think he really needs to be an inch or so taller, and next to Frank he'd certainly look off. Here's a shot of Frank with Dracula and others for comparison.

Finally, there's the sandy base. It's fairly plain, but it does do its job extremely well, holding the sarcophagus safely with or without the lid. The high back on the base is the key, along with the depth of the hole.

The base has a scarab beetle on the front, a small statue on the right, and an urn on the left. These are partially buried in the sand, and you can also see broken fragments of other artifacts peeking out from the sand here and there.

If you're looking to hang this on the wall, there's two holes provided on the back. The back is also covered with felt, and small rubber feet are placed strategically around the edge, so there's little chance of damaging the paint on your wall or the back of the sarcophagus.

Paint - Sarcophagus ****; Mummy and stand **1/2
Here lies the issues with this set. I'm not the only one to have them either, as reported on several message boards.

The issue appears to be paint rubs, and in my case, it's his poor nose. The nose is actually designed to appear like exposed bone, but it's always been painted a similar color to the rest of the face. Unfortunately, mine looks like it got packed before it was completely dry, with a big rub right on the tip of the nose, making it much lighter than the rest of the face and body.

I've seen photos of rubs on the various base artifacts as well, including the urn and the small statue. You can see from the photos the issues I have, including a second rub mark on the top of the head of the statue, and some sloppy paint work around the scarab beetle.

All that being said, the sarcophagus is a thing of beauty. The gold looks excellent, and the other subdued colors in the hieroglyphics and designs complement the predominant color perfectly. All the paint work is clean and sharp, following the lines and edges perfectly. The paint application here is one of the most impressive I've seen from Sideshow in some time.

The Mummy himself is a fairly consistent dusty tan, slightly different in shade than the more gray prototype photos. There's a nice use of darker colors for highlighting and shadowing, and the two places where other distinct colors are used - the eyes and the ring - are done extremely well. In fact the eyes are quite startling on close inspection, with a lifelike appearance offset by the clearly dead appearance of the face.

Design - ***1/2
Sideshow certainly went with a larger, more complex design than their usual PF's. There's a lot of polystone here between the Mummy and the solid base, and the wall hanging feature is certainly unique. I have to admit though, as cool as the sarcophagus is, I would have preferred a shambling version of the Mummy, arms outstretched, slightly taller and bulkier, and if he had actual bandages, I would have wet my pants.

Value - **
Three hundred and fifty dollars. Wow. That's a lot of money. But in an age where folks spent more than that last year on an Xbox 360, only to buy the PSP3 for $600 this year, it should be no surprise that major fans of the old Universal Monsters are more than willing to pay this kind of green for exceptional statues.

Still, three hundred and fifty dollars. You do get a lot in this package, and I'm sure the manufacturing process was more expensive than usual. The recent PF Lurtz managed another half star in this category, although he was the same price. And with a run size of only 350 statues, it's not like these will ever be readily available. But in the end, he still feels a tad high, but just a tad.

Things to Watch Out For - 
Paint rubs are going to be your biggest issue, even after you've received your Mummy. The hard polystone body will be rubbing up against the slightly softer (but still mighty hard) sarcophagus, and damaging the paint on both is easy. Then there's the rubbing of the sarcophagus against the sand base when you're inserting and removing it. If you plan on hanging it on the wall at some point, I wouldn't over do the inserting and removing from the base now, to avoid damaging the bottom of the sarcophagus that would show once hung on the wall.

The magnets that hold the lid on are quite strong, and the magnets holding the Mummy against the back are decent, if not quite as strong. The Mummy is very heavy though, and if he falls forward against the lid, it's going to come open, dropping him onto whatever hard surface there is below. If you plan on putting this guy on the wall, I'd work with the three pieces separately. Take the Mummy out, hang just the back on the wall, place the Mummy inside, then put the lid on. Once he's on the wall, remove the lid very carefully, since bouncing him around in side could easily dislodge him. The Sideshow site says he's safe for wall mounting, but I'd be cautious.

Overall - ***
Had my paint job been perfect, he would have received another half star overall at least. This really is a terrific looking set up, one that will go great with the rest of the PF's, and look amazing hanging on the wall. I'll be sending my Mummy back to Sideshow for a replacement, and perhaps once that one comes in I'll update the review. Either way, I don't think the serious Univeral Monster fan will be disappointed in this PF.

Of course, anyone other than the diehard fan will think they've lost their mind spending this kind of money on a big hunk of Mummy. And they'll turn around and spend that same kind of money on something the Univeral Monster fan will think is stupid. To each his own, your mileage may vary, for everything there is a season, and all that other crap.

Score Recap:
Packaging - **1/2
Sculpt - ****
Paint - Sarcophagus ****; Mummy and stand **1/2
Design - ***1/2
Value -  **
Overall - ***

Where to Buy - 
Sideshow is the only place () to get it in the U.S. It's on the old wait list now, but jump on there and you just might get one, since they've just started shipping. And don't forget that the next Premium Format Universal Monster goes up for pre-order this friday - the Bride of Frankenstein! ()

Related Links:
I've done my fair share of Mummy reviews:

- NECA included the Mummy Kid in their last series of NMBC figures.

- There was also the terrific Mummy from the more recent films included in the Now Playing line up, and Jakks did a less than thrilling series for those same new films.

- Sideshow did a 12" version of the Mummy and Ardeth Bey in their Universal Monsters line, and they did several Little Big Head versions including a wrestler and Ardeth Bey.

- Hasbro re-released the old Secret's of the Mummy's Tomb set a few years back, one of my favorites as a kid.

- and if you like the Premium Format scale and style, check out the Phantom of the Opera, Frankenstein, Dracula and Vampyre.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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