Reactor Station Alpha
Sideshow Collectibles sixth scale display environment

Reactor Station Alpha sixth scale diorama by Sideshow Collecctibles

For those of us with the art skills of blind gorilla with Parkinsons, building our own sixth scale dioramas can be a bit of a daunting task. Even when you can do the work and do it well, it's still a matter of finding the time in the average hectic life.

There's no doubt that they add a tremendous appeal to any display though. You can really display figures right when you add in a the perfect environment pieces, and there's a large custom market out there for just such items.

Sideshow has dabbled in this area over the years. With their military line, they produced cannons, rock walls, and other items that could be used with the sixth scale figures. In their horror lines, there's been some basic bases, as well as the very cool furnace environment for Freddy Kruger.

So there's no big surprise that they've made a bigger push lately into this arena. For both the Star Wars line and the Indiana Jones line, they've included large diorama pieces as exclusive extras with some figures, or in some cases (like Han Solo in carbonite), made them their own stand alone product. We've seen them add to this in the G.I. Joe line with the Recon at Waypoint set and the Cobra throne as well.

Now they are taking the next step, producing more generic environment pieces that can be used with multiple themes. The first release is the Reactor Station Alpha, clearly designed for sci-fi type lines, and especially Star Wars. However, you could use it with G.I. Joe, or even Terminator in the right situation.
Reactor Station Alpha sixth scale diorama by Sideshow Collecctibles
Reactor Station Alpha sixth scale diorama by Sideshow Collecctibles
Reactor Station Alpha sixth scale diorama by Sideshow Collecctibles
Reactor Station Alpha sixth scale diorama by Sideshow Collecctibles
Reactor Station Alpha sixth scale diorama by Sideshow Collecctibles
Reactor Station Alpha sixth scale diorama by Sideshow Collecctibles

They have two more already in production - the Shrine of Dagon and the Temple of Anubis. Both of these have lots of potential for Indiana Jones, but they also work well with various horror lines.

Each of these runs $90 through Sideshow, but various retailers will have them a bit cheaper. None of them are being produced in a very large quantity, and are actually limited in a true sense, not just in a marketing sense. Only 500 of the Reactor Station Alpha are being produced and the numbers for the other two are even lower - 450 for the Temple and 350 for the Shrine.

Packaging - ***
The diorama comes in a brown box with some sticker labels showing the environment and adding some text. It's fairly basic for a Sideshow item, but it does the job of keeping things safe.

The box is much smaller than you might be expecting though, closer in size to a Stormtrooper box. Since the environment is really just four pieces - the flat base, the two small handrails, and the fairly small reactor top - it all fits pretty easily in a confined space.

Sculpting - ***1/2
Let's get the whole size issue right out of the way up front. Yes, this is a small diorama. But I'm not going to use this category to harsh their buzz on that particular topic. I'll wait til we get to the Design category.

The base is about ??? inches wide by ??? inches deep, and the reactor section (which is a completely separate unconnected piece) stands ??? inches tall.

As I said, the reactor is separate from the walkway base. It has a soft velvet pad on the bottom to avoid scratching whatever it is you sit it upon (as does the walkway), and can be placed any where you'd like. Where it is in the photos works the best for me, but your mileage may vary.

Both the walkway and machinery are made from a very solid, heavy resin material. The small hand rails are actually plastic, and you should take extra care with them to avoid breaking the small pegs that attach to the base.

The detailing here is quite nice, and while I think they should have gone with something more in the poly-urethane foam family to keep the costs down, I have to admit that the sharpness of the details would not have been as easy (or perhaps even possible) to achieve.

Paint - ***
There's a gun metal appearance to the reactor section, largely mirrored on the walkway. The paint is fairly clean, although there's a few fuzzy cut lines, particularly on the base, that should be sharper than they are.

The wear on the faux metal pieces looks great though, adding quite a bit of reality to the diorama, and while there aren't a ton of different colors, that's fairly appropriate considering the context.

Design - **
As I mentioned in the sculpt section, the basic diorama is fairly small. I didn't beat it up too much in that category for it though, reserving the abuse for the Design discussion.

I get that this is supposed to be above a section of the reactor, and only the tip of this chunk is showing above the walkway. But the height component doesn't translate well, and I'm going to try to find some way, perhaps by suspending the whole thing slightly above the shelf with clear feet, to get that across.

As it stands, the reactor section just looks puny next to a sixth scale figure, and you really don't want to explain to every visitor why that is. It's too small, no two ways about it.

Of course, the size is directly related to the price, and in keeping the size down they kept the cost down. However, they decided to go with a more expensive material in polyresin, and I think that was the mistake. When they did Freddy's furnace, they went with mostly a urethane type foam, with only a small section done in resin. This kept the cost way down (it was only $40 back in the day, not a price they could hit now no matter what but still an indication of the difference), and by doing so they could have gone with a much larger chunk of reactor for the same price. Give me a reactor piece twice as tall and twice as wide, and I'd be happy to give you $90 for it.

To add a little more to the design whine, the small posts that fit into the base and hold the hand rails in place are very loose, too small for the holes. Or the holes are too big - your choice.

Value - **
The $90 price tag is going to be a sore spot for many. Oddly, I see people pay ridiculous sums of money for acrylic and glass cases, which (in my opinion) do nothing to improve a display and are merely a necessary evil, something used to keep dust and dirt off your collectibles if you can't control it any other way. Environment pieces, when done well, can add a tremendous amount of cool to any display.

That being said, this environment is fairly small. The low production run adds a lot to the cost of course, and I'm not sure if that's part of the plan - perhaps they want these to be particularly special to those that have them. At $90, they are well below the cost of other licensed Sideshow environments like Jabba's Throne ($200) or Han in Carbonite ($180). But if they'd gone with foam and a bigger production run, as I mentioned above, I bet they could have gotten the cost down in the $60 range and fans would have been much happier.

Things to Watch Out For -
The handrails are plastic and will snap off if you put any real side to side pressure on them. I have a fear that one of my figures might take a dive and break one of the hand rails in the process, so it might be worth considering when you set up the display.

Overall - **1/2
This is a very nice looking piece, albeit a bit on the tiny side. It's the cost that will put most folks off, and is probably going to be more of an issue with this than the Shrine or Temple. Because in both those instances, the platform itself is larger and more substantial. Here, the platform is fairly basic, and most of the cost is in the small reactor chunk.

I've got all three on order, and I'll continue to pick up pretty much any they do, because I think they add tremendous value to the display. While I can make some pretty decent diorama items myself, I really don't have the time to spend on it. I may not be thrilled with the cost, but it's still acceptable for me considering what it can add to my shelves.

If you like doing your own custom environments, something like this will have far less appeal. If you have the time and the talent, there's nothing like having a custom set up you created yourself.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***
Sculpting - ***1/2
Paint - ***1/2
Design - **
Value - **
Overall - **1/2

Where to Buy -
Online options include these site sponsors:

- Sideshow sold out awhile ago, but you can still get on the wait list.

- Alter Ego Comics has it for $81.

- Big Bad Toy Store has it for $88.

- In the UK, Forbidden Planet has it for 75 GBP.

Related Links -
Other diorama's include:

- Sideshow's most recent was Recon at Waypoint.

- other recent ones include Hot Toys T-700, the Ark that came with Sideshow's Toht, and the Fertility Idol environment that came with Belloq. 

- With Star Wars, we've seen the Jabba Throne, as well as the Han Solo in Carbonite.

- and if you want to get a bit more old school, don't forget the Freddy Kruger furnace Sideshow did years ago.

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Reactor Station Alpha sixth scale diorama by Sideshow Collecctibles

This product was purchased for the review by the reviewer. Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

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