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Ultimate Quarter Scale
Darth Maul

Darth Maul Ultimate Quarter Scale action figure from Diamond Select Toys
Darth Maul Ultimate Quarter Scale action figure from Diamond Select Toys

Right now I'm in the process of compiling the Poppies nominations.  For those unaware, that's where I review all the nominations for the Best of the Year in about a dozen categories, put in by about 150 industry judges.

One of the categories is Best Figure over 18". This isn't intended for Premium Formats or Statues, but rather 'figures'. This year there's actually been a fair number in this category, but I had quite a surprise as I was going through the nominations.

A whole lot of judges nominated the UQS Darth Maul. This was a surprise for a couple reasons.  First, while I've tried to tell folks that the Indy isn't as bad as they want to believe, it's been an uphill battle. It's not a battle that's been helped by the pretty ridiculous looking Terminator that they recently released photos of. People are inclined to hate these, and some of the press photos of various figures (including Indy) haven't really helped the cause.

But quite a number of Poppies Judges were nominating the Darth Maul, although I hadn't seen it out yet.  I was beginning to think I'd have to make it ineligible (since the figure has to be released in 2008 to be eligible for that year's awards), but I came across it this week at the local Toys R Us.

I hadn't realized this would be a mass market release, but it makes complete sense. The figure runs $80 at TRU, but you can find him closer to $65 at online retailers.

Darth Maul Ultimate Quarter Scale action figure from Diamond Select Toys

Darth Maul Ultimate Quarter Scale action figure from Diamond Select Toys
Darth Maul Ultimate Quarter Scale action figure from Diamond Select Toys
Darth Maul Ultimate Quarter Scale action figure from Diamond Select Toys
Darth Maul Ultimate Quarter Scale action figure from Diamond Select Toys
Darth Maul Ultimate Quarter Scale action figure from Diamond Select Toys
Darth Maul Ultimate Quarter Scale action figure from Diamond Select Toys
Darth Maul Ultimate Quarter Scale action figure from Diamond Select Toys
Darth Maul Ultimate Quarter Scale action figure from Diamond Select Toys

Packaging - **1/2
The boxes follow the usual current Star Wars package design. It's not collector friendly - you'll have to destroy it to remove all the parts. It also has a TON of difficult twisties to untie, so I suggest getting out the wire cutters.

It does allow you to reach the button to activate the voice, although it's on the Try Me mode, which does only one line. There's also some decent text on the character on the back of the box.

Sculpting - ***1/2
We've gotten a number of 12" versions of this character, but they tend to have blank, dull stares. This expression works alright for certain poses, but the only really good "I'm going to eat your heart" expression we've gotten was with the very expensive Sideshow Premium Format figure. Now, DST has gone that same route with their large scale version.

His expression just isn't mean - it's feral. The teeth are exposed, the nose is wrinkled, the lips are drawn back, the eyes are squinting - he looks like a cornered animal ready to attack.

Also like the Sideshow PF, the tattoos are actually sculpted on his face, rather than just painted. Purists might not appreciate this, since they were not like that in the film, but it adds sharpness and clarity to the markings, and even more danger to the expression.

The bones look good, but aren't quite as realistic as we've seen in some other Maul's. The head size is excellent though, and is very appropriate to the tall body.

The hands and boots are a bit oversized though, giving him a bit too much of the 'hasbro' look. Large hands also tends to translate into large accessories, or that's what the ladies tell me. That means his saber hilts and binoculars are a big bigger than is correct for this scale.

Maul's height is 19 inches tall at the tips of his horns, making him about the same as the other figures in the series...and of course, too tall if you're looking for movie accuracy. Maul was much shorter than characters like Qui-Gon, and even Obi-Wan, but since the UQS line only has the one body size, they'll all and up being equal.

Paint - ***
The paint work here is better than the usual mass market figure, but not quite up to specialty market quality.  The black tattoos are fairly well cut, but the sculpted edges help make them look a bit cleaner than they are. The eyes are fairly straight, but the white is a bit sloppy in a couple spots. The best of the paint work is on the teeth and gums, which rival some much more expensive figures in their realism.

Articulation - **
Here's where I had all my issues, and this category is going to hold back my Overall score. If you don't have the issues I did, you'll be much more happy in general.

I had to actually get THREE of these figures, because the first two broke right out of the package. The first one broke at the left wrist when I tried to swap the hand. So I drive my butt back up to Toys R Us to grab another.

I didn't have that particular problem with the second one, as the hands swapped easily. But this one snapped at the hip as I was posing him. Now, you'll remember I snapped my Sideshow Indy Prometheus body at the hip too, but that was largely my fault.  Not so this time, as I was simply moving the leg into position when the post in the hip snapped like a brittle twig. *sigh* Back to Toys R Us.

The third time was either going to be the charm, or the end of my relationship with this particular figure. Since you can see there are a variety of photos (all taken of the third figure with the exception of the packaged shot) in a variety of poses, nothing broke (yet) on this third figure.

However, it seems to me that breakage is likely to be an issue across the line if I had this much trouble. To top if off, the third figure had a floppy chest joint, something that I hadn't experienced with the first two (or with the earlier Indy).

The joints that are here do work well. The ball jointed neck gave me a decent potential for posing, and the ball jointed shoulders and hips have a decent range of movement. The wrists are peg and post too, so they can bend forward and back, which is very useful for posing the force push left hand.

I was able to get this third figure to stand well in a variety of poses, but I did find that the loose chest caused some trouble. I think a little paper stuffed up in the front will go a long way to helping correct the problem.

The body is certainly lanky and long, and they have to ensure that breakage isn't an ongoing problem. But I have to admit that when the joints that are here hold up, the underlying body is very poseable.

Accessories - ***
The figure comes with several accessories, all decent enough. I would have liked one or two more, but considering the price point, I'm pleased with what we got.

There's his double bladed saber of course. It comes with two caps on the ends of the split sabers, but you can pop these off and use the included connector to attach the two halves. Of the three figures I had, two fit nice and tightly together, while the third was a bit too loose. Unfortunately, the loose one was the third and final one I bought. However, I bet a little plumbers tape would go a long way to fixing the connection.

The two halves of the saber are lit, and I would have liked a full sized unlit hilt as well, for those 'at rest' poses. That's a minor complaint, but it would have gone a long way to upping this score.

NOTE: A reader writes in to tell me that, yes Virginia, the saber blades do come out! So you can remove them and have an unlit saber. You might imagine my reticence at pulling to hard on these, considering my past experiences. Now if he just had some place to hang said unlit saber.

He also comes with his special binoculars, which are scaled well, and a second left hand.  The packaged left hand is in a force push pose, but the extra hand is designed to hold the binoculars.  It works well, although it suffers from the slight oversized look that all the hands in this series have had so far.

His final accessory is a black display stand, scaled up for this large of a figure. It works fine, although even with the slightly loose body, I didn't really need it.

Outfit - ***
Maul's outfit consists of the layered under suit, with scarves and pleather/vinyl belt, and his outer robes.

All the clothing looks quite good, and is tailored nicely. Although he has this gangly UQS body, it wasn't a visual issue because of the type of clothing.

The inner, wide belt is more of a vinyl material, while the small straps across it are a pleather. The belt closes in back with two small metal snaps. This belt is much better than some we've seen, like Medicom's 12" version, but it lacks a key feature - the saber slot on the right side. Then again, since there is no unlit saber hilt included with the figure, you wouldn't have anything to hang there anyway.

The outer robe looks good, complete with many pleats and long sleeves. It has a metal hook clasp in front, and they've take a page from Sideshow's book by including a wire in the edge of the hood. While you can pose the hood up, the expression on the face doesn't fit that look quite as well. The wire also makes it possible to pose the hood on his back very flat and well hidden.

His boots, like Indy's, are his sculpted feet. I'm assuming they can be removed, just like Indy's, but after my breakage issues, I wasn't going to try. The rubber and lower sections of the boot join smoothly, but there is that ankle joint that allows the foot to move forward and back. The boot sculpts are decent, but a bit large, much like the hands. I'm sure Ray Park was more than happy to approve a figure with large hands and feet...

Sound Feature - ***
All of the UQS figures are supposed to include various sounds, and Maul is no different.

As I mentioned with Indy, the Try Me switch is on the left side of his torso, in the area where you'd find your obliques. You can easily reach it without undressing him, once you know where it is.

Switch it into normal mode, and you'll get 4 sounds:

- a light saber igniting sound

- "Yes, my master."

- "Tatooine is sparsely populated. If the trace was correct, I will find them quickly, master."

- "At last we will reveal ourselves to the Jedi. At last, we will have revenge."

These are all very clear and loud, and the placement of the speaker at his waist makes it easy to hear from any angle.

Fun Factor - ***1/2
These UQS figures are shaping up to be great toys, something a young fan of the movies can really enjoy playing with.  Of course, they have to get out a couple Star Wars good guys for Maul to battle before he can be a whole lot of fun, but pair this guy up in the hands of an eight year old with a UQS Qui-Gon Jinn, and you'll have one Hell of a good time.

Value - ***
Of course, this score depends on how much you paid for it. If you bought it at Toys R Us for $80, you can take another half star off of this score. On the other hand, if you picked it up for less than $60 (one of my sponsors has it for just $57!), you can add another half star. But I'm assuming you paid between $65 and $70, which is a very good value for a solid, true action figure that is a whopping 19" tall AND has a well done sound feature.

Things to Watch Out For - 
If my experiences are indicative, then you'll want to take some serious care with the body.  After breaking TWO in a row, you can imagine that I handled the third like it was made of glass. In all fairness, the third figure took a header off the table onto a concrete floor twice while I was shooting (and I held my breath each time) without any problems.

Overall - ***
I might have been originally surprised to see this figure so heavily nominated by the Poppies Judges for Best 18" Figure, but now that I have one in hand, I'm not surprised at all. The head sculpt is quite good, and if you get one without joint issues, you'll be very happy with him. I'd have added another half star to my Overall had the body not caused me so much trouble.

The underlying body is going to be a big issue for DST with certain characters. Let's face it, the photos we've seen of the Terminator do nothing to sell me on him, and the Trek Kirk and Spock look pretty bad too. But characters like Maul, with enough clothing to hide the long, skinny torso, will do much better in this format.

These figures won't replace Premium Formats or other high end statues.  They aren't supposed to - they are toys. But Maul is an excellent toy, and for collectors that can't afford or simply can't justify spending several hundred dollars on the high end collectibles, these make an excellent alternative. Well, at least Maul and Indy do - the jury is still out on the other figures to be released. This figure isn't as movie accurate as some of the high end collectibles either, but there's no doubt who it's supposed to be.  Assuming that breakage doesn't become a widespread problem, I suspect this figure will be in my top three 18" figures for 2008.

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

Where to Buy -
I picked him up (three times!) at Toys R Us for $80. Online options include:

- Urban Collector has him for just $57!

- Things From Another World has him at $64.

- Andrew's Toyz has him at $65.

- Showpiece Collectibles also has him at $65.

- CornerStoreComics has him at $65.

- Entertainment Earth has him at $68.

- Alter Ego Comics has him for $72.

- for the UK collectors, Forbidden Planet has them for 45 pounds each.

- You can also search ebay using the sponsor MyAuctionLinks.

Related Links -
So far, there's only been the Indiana Jones in the series, but there's a bunch already announced as future releases.

Discussion:
Want to chat about this review?  Try out one of these terrific forums where I'll be discussing it.

Reader Ratings!
Here's your chance to weigh in!  Select your rating for this figure(s) to the right.  Yea, it's a five star system and not a four star system like mine, but it's the best I've been able to come up with so far.  You can only rate once from any particular IP.  My score, averaged over the two figures and converted to a five star system for comparison: 3.75

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Darth Maul Ultimate Quarter Scale action figure from Diamond Select Toys



Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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