12" Darth Maul - Sideshow Collectibles

With the release of their Darth Maul 12" action figure, Sideshow anticipated plenty of demand.  To try to avoid some of the complaints and issues over previous exclusives, they introduced a new concept with this figure - the 'inclusive' edition.  Rather than having a set amount out of the gate, they would simply take orders for the inclusive version for a set period of time (several days) and then manufacture how ever many that were ordered.  Oh, you still have to be paying some level of basic attention, and it's not going to do the procrastinating collectors much good, but for the rest of us, it worked fantastic.

The inclusive version adds a couple more lightsabers to the mix.  There are two more - a damaged saber hilt, and a damaged hilt that is lit up on one side.

The regular version was an edition size of 9000, but I haven't heard an official number on the inclusive edition size.  You'd assume it's less, since he was only available for sale for a few days.

Since the first Sideshow 12" figure has hit, I've been waiting for one worthy of the full four stars overall.  Did Maul make it?  Let's see!

Packaging - ****
While the actual box for the Star Wars figures (and all of Sideshow's stuff) has garnered great praise, collectors have often complained that these works of packaging art never make it to them in perfect condition.  Sideshow packed these interior boxes in a mailing box that was sized just to fit.  That meant any bend, push or smoosh on the exterior box resulted in damage to the interior pack.

Not this time!  They've made the mailer boxes larger, allowing for styrofoam packing at the base and top of the interior box, adding a layer of protection between the two.  I'm betting collectors are going to be extremely pleased.

Otherwise, it's all the usual great work.  Nice graphics, great text, and a completely collector friendly set of trays.  The little plastic neck brace is even included that keeps the nose from hitting or rubbing on the top tray.  And of course those nifty magnetic closures are on the flap as well.

Sculpting - ****
Oluf Hartvigson did the honors this time around, and he did a stupendous job.  Small facial details on the bony spikes, brown wrinkles, and even the texture of the lips is excellent.  The small earring on the left ear is present, and the size and shape of the critical elements - nose, chin, ears, horns - is perfect.

Easily the single most important, critical, and outstanding feature of this head sculpt is the simple fact that IT'S IN SCALE.  He's neither a pin head nor a melon noggin'.  Maul shows how great a Sideshow head sculpt can be when the planets are all properly aligned.

The expression is one of calm determination.  I prefer something like this, since it works with so many more poses than an extreme expression does.

There are four hand sculpts to go with these, two gripping, one 'force' hand, and one open.  These all look terrific (and are again, in scale) and work properly both with the accessories and with tons of poses.

Maul is on the smaller body, and he's even a squeak smaller than Luke.  I added in a shot of the two together for scale.  I'm happy with his size, and with the improvements in this small body...but more on that later.

Paint - ***1/2
While the sculpt is dead on perfect, the paint isn't quite as good.  That's not saying it's terrible though - just not a masterpiece.

There's a lot more detailed paint work on this face than normal, since he has the funky tattoos.  The eyes are good, although one's still a tad lazy.  The horns have the look of actual bone, while the edges of the majority of the tats line up well.

There are a few blips and bumps with the tattoos though.  The lines aren't always clean, and not everything lines up perfectly.  On mine, you can see that the peak that comes down his forehead doesn't quite match up at its point with the line that runs the rest of the way down to his nose.  Some folks have had edges of the 'moustache' that don't quite touch the 'beard', and while I didn't have that problem, I did notice something similar in other areas.

I've already seen some touch ups where folks have completely blackened in the lips, making it appear less like a moustache and beard.  I think I prefer it this way, but you can always alter it with a black marker.  I wouldn't do it unless I was positive I'd be happy with the final result, however.

One other thing worth nothing in this category is that the body was cast in black plastic, which matches the black paint pretty well.

Articulation - ***1/2
If you've been reading my recent Sideshow reviews, you'll notice that I've been on their case to develop a body not with more articulation, but that poses with a more natural lean and flow.  Other companies have managed to pull it off, and now Sideshow has to make improvements to keep up.

This body appears to have some of those improvements already.  I found it to be lighter than usual, but with tighter joints all around.  The body held more natural poses for me, and was quite easy to work with.

The wrist joints work well with the swappable gloved hands too, although I thought there would be issues.  The pegs that fit into the holes inside the hands are quite small, and with the gauntlet of the glove being quite long, I expected to have a hard time getting it lined up to reattach.  But that's not an issue, and it was a snap to get the various hands back on.

I do wish they'd also further improve the neck joint, since I couldn't get the ball joint to hold any position other than straight up and down for very long.  If I tried to tilt it back or forward, it would move back to center almost immediately.  You know how much I love a ball jointed neck, but it has to work well to allow you to give a figure personality.

When this figure was announced, folks were worried that he'd end up with the same 'monkey arm' problem that plagued Luke.  While his arms may be a little long, it's really how you pose the sleeves and belt that make a huge difference in how they appear.

The sleeves are poofy at the shoulder, and tight on the forearm.  If you extend the narrow section up past the elbow, scrunching up the poofy section, he'll look like he has extremely long arms.  If you bring the poofy section down, scrunching up the tight section, it will greatly reduce the look of long forearms.

Also, keep the belt riding lower on his hips, and the overall length of the arms will look much better.  If you push up his belt too far on his chest, of course the arms will look longer.  And he'll look like a little old retired guy in Boca Raton.

Outfit - ****
This outfit is my favorite of the Star Wars line to date.  Everything is perfectly tailored, hangs naturally, and looks terrific.

The pants are baggy, but fit nicely into the boot tops and stay there.  The various layers of the tunic are all made of high quality material, and fit extremely well.  Unlike some of the past figures, the 'straps' of material that run over his shoulders are not sewn to the outer belt, so that you can simply pull them down to keep them tight against his shoulders.

The belt is actually a wide chunk of leather, with smaller straps of leather running across the face.  It can ride nice and low on his hips, and looks terrific.

The boot sculpt is very accurate to the film, but they are a bit big, and made from somewhat cheap feeling plastic.  I'm betting that of the few complaints there are from buyers, most will revolve around the boots.  Still, the sculpt is top notch, and they help him stay standing in a ton of poses.

He also comes with the funky cloak, once again with a wire running through the hood to improve posing.  The cloak is made from a very thin, gauzy material, which is high quality and in scale. There's also a clasp at the chest to hold it closed, but I think I would have preferred a snap.  This clasp tended to fall open on its own.

I've not been a huge fan of the cloaks in general in this series, but this is one of the nicest ones.

Accessories - ****
Maul is loaded to bear, especially if you snagged the inclusive edition.

There's three regular double ended lightsabers with either edition - an unlit full saber, a full saber with one side lit, and a full saber with BOTH ends ignited.  These all look terrific, and you can use them in any number of ways.

The inclusive edition included two 'damaged' versions, after the full size double saber had been cut apart.  One is unlit, and the other is ignited on one side.

The two damaged versions aren't as damaged as you might expect, but that's actually a plus as far as I'm concerned.  The one shorter damaged version works well on his belt (the double ended full hilt is too long to look right), and having a second half lit saber to use with the other half lit saber adds even more display possibilities.

He also has his cool binoculars, and these can easily be held in one or both hands, as though he's checking out the good guys from across the desert.

As I mentioned several times already, he has two sets of hands.  The set he comes wearing in the box is the gripping right and open left.  As accessories, he has a gripping left and 'force' hand left.  These are all very handy sculpts to use with the large number of sabers, giving him the most versatility of any of the releases so far.

Maul comes with the usual display stand of course, but as usual, it's not particularly necessary unless you're doing a wild pose.

Fun Factor - ***1/2
The lightsabers aren't particularly designed for serious play, but the figure and outfit could actually stand up to normal abuse.  And for a slightly older kid who's a big fan - say 10 - this guy would be a ton of fun.  Unfortunately, at this price point most kids aren't going to get that chance.

Value - ***
While he's not cheap (at $55 from Sideshow), he's actually easily worth that.  The inclusive edition has a ton of goodies, and the outfit, sculpt and paint all rate the price point. I'm still hoping for better articulation over time, but this has even improved.

And don't forget that the regular version, sans the two damaged sabers, can be found closer to $45 at some retailers!

Things to Watch Out For - 
I'd take care with the softer thumbs on the gripping hands when popping the saber hilts in and out, since they could easily tear over time.  Otherwise, this guy is quality stuff!

Overall - ****
Yep, Maul did it.  He pulled the elusive four stars, and is the first of the Sideshow Star Wars figures to manage it.  A great head sculpt with solid paint work, and excellent outfit and accessories, all helped push him there.  But you can't ignore the basic cool factor of the character either, and his visually interesting design.

If you have the chance to hold this guy in your hands next to the Hasbro version, you'll truly see just how amazing he is.  Is he a Medicom?  No.  While I think the sculpt, paint, accessories are certainly on par with anything Medicom has done for Star Wars, I have to admit that the articulation and outfit still have a little ways to go.  But is he $150?  That would be a 'no' too, and at this price point, SIdeshow is giving us some amazing quality.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ****
Sculpt - ****
Paint - ***1/2
Articulation - ***1/2
Outfit - ****
Accessories - ****
Fun Factor ***1/2
Value -  ***
Overall - ****

Where to Buy -
He's a Sideshow 'inclusive' and has long since sold out there, but the regular can still be had:

- Alter Ego Comics is carrying the regular version for $46.75.

- Dark Shadow Collectibles has him at $46.75 as well.

- Fireside Collectibles also has him at $46.75.  Are you sensing a pattern here?

- Amazing Toyz has him at $50.

- CornerStoreComics also has him at $50.

- And if you're in the U.K., Forbidden Planet has him on sale for 30 pounds!

Related Links:
Lots of Sideshow 12" Star Wars so far: 

- there's my reviews of Obi-wan, Bespin Han, regular Anakin, Kit Fisto, and Jedi Luke

- and there's a guest review of Qui-Gon, and the SDCC exclusive Anakin.


Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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