Yodasnews Review: Princess Leia Organa (Mini-Bust)
Review and Photography by Jeffrey A. Gouse (SithLord0498)
Review Date: August 4, 2008
“We put the picture’s name on everything! Merchandising, merchandising!! Where the real money from the movie is made…”
That line from Spaceballs is probably the most dead-on accurate observation of the Star Wars marketing phenomenon. Action figures, PEZ dispensers, erasers, and even Under-Roos have been emblazoned with the rich tapestry of George Lucas’ interstellar playground. Very few people have the financial means to keep up with it all, and even fewer can do so and keep up with everything at the same time. And in today’s tight economy, collectors are typically forced to find their niche and stay within that narrow stream because trying to buy it all is impossible. So naturally, there are many items that just don’t sell very well.
But every once in a while, a product comes along that makes you scratch your head and wonder “Why the heck isn’t anyone buying this? How did this ever end up being on clearance?!”
Today’s review deals with one such item. Recent years have seen a few higher-end licensees take their best shots at the original appearance of Princess Leia Organa, but none have been quite as successful as Gentle Giant’s mini bust. Read on as we examine all the areas in which Gentle Giant excelled and the few minor areas where they just did really, really good.
PORTRAIT (Sculpting): Above Average (Bordering on Excellent)
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty right now. In short, the portrait does not perfectly capture Carrie Fisher in the same way that Gentle Giant captured Temuera Morrison on their Jango Fett V2 mini-bust. First, the proportions of the hair buns are out of whack and are not as large and full as Carrie’s hair was in the film. Second, the face lacks any real character and looks more like a porcelain doll.
OK, so it’s not a perfect Carrie Fisher. But it is a dang good interpretation of “Princess Leia” as a character. The shape of the lips and the careful sculpting of her cherub-like face greatly aid in nailing the likeness of the character. While smaller than it should be, the sculpting work on the hair is top notch with intricately carved grooves and lines successfully replicating the natural flow of her hair in a resin medium. The way in which the buns are sculpted are so lifelike that one can almost feel how much that hairdo probably pulled on Carrie’s scalp.
All in all, this is a fantastic Leia portrait that outshines both the 1:4 and 1:6 scale attempts by Sideshow Collectibles, and from certain angles it does capture an excellent likeness of Carrie (just not in a direct forward viewing).
PORTRAIT (Paint Application): Excellent
Gentle Giant’s painters, on the other hand, hit an absolute grand slam with the portrait. The skin tones are exceptionally natural (albeit a tad on the glossy side in certain lighting conditions). The eyes are set dead center with no trace of laziness to them, and the glossy paint used reflects light so effectively that the eyes appear moist and lifelike. The lips are a rich reddish-pink hue that does not stray from the sculpted boundaries. The eyebrows and eyelashes are composed from dozens of delicately and precisely placed brush strokes. Even in extremely close macro pictures, these hand-painted strokes hold up to scrutiny. As for the hair, a variety of brown shades have been expertly blended to create a very lifelike emulation of hair in this medium.
OUTFIT AND BLASTER RIFLE (Sculpting): Excellent
The only negative aspects here are the way Leia’s fingers have been sculpted. They are too thin for the given length, resulting in a bony and unnatural look. This is most noticeable in the extended finger resting near the rifle’s trigger. The extended fingers resting on her hip are not as distracting because 1) they are a tad bit more proportional and 2) the folds of the gown make it harder for one’s eyes to focus solely on the fingers.
The rest of Leia’s body has been rendered extremely well. The natural hang and directional flow of the gown are very realistic as is her feminine shape. Gentle Giant did not try to create a sexed-up voluptuous version of Episode IV Leia (that’s what their Slave Leia statue is for). Instead, they remained faithful to Carrie Fisher’s actual body shape in the film, and the result is stellar to say the least. Plus, the casual, almost swagger-like pose superbly captures the haughty arrogance of Alderaan’s favored princess.
Gentle Giant did an outstanding job rendering the Stormtrooper E-11 BlasTech blaster rifle as well. While the barrel is a tad elongated, all of the major and most of the minor details have been nailed. Even those areas which aren’t exactly authentic appear to have been altered specifically because of the fragility of the medium. These areas include a scope that is more attached the body of the rifle than it should be and a thicker guard around the trigger. While Gentle Giant could have made both areas thinner, it would have been daring Fate to break them. This is an excellent example of when authenticity should give way to functionality, and kudos to Gentle Giant for increasing the bust’s durability.
OUTFIT AND BLASTER RIFLE (Paint Application): Excellent
With this outfit, there’s really not much involved in terms of painting. Paint it all white and let dry. But even then, a sloppy paint job is possible. That is not the case here. Every inch of the gown is evenly painted with no missed spots or clumpy patches where the paint was laid on too thick. The silver areas on Leia’s royal belt are nearly as impressive, but a very close examination will reveal a few small flaws. However, they are inconsequential in the overall aesthetic quality of the piece. As for the blaster rifle, it has just enough silvery brush strokes to reproduce real world weathering and “wear and tear”, resulting in an excellent emulation of the screen prop.
OVERALL RATING: Excellent
Released one year ago this month and with a slightly liberal edition size of 6,000 pieces, the Episode IV Leia mini-bust isn’t exactly a piece that would result in record sell-outs, but it seems to have suffered the dismal fate of going unnoticed by and/or passed over by the masses. Many e-tailers have resorted to marking down the bust to the $25-35 range (original MSRP was $50). Even at this steep discounted price, it’s a relatively easy piece to find in stock.
It may not be the most visually dynamic piece in the Gentle Giant collection, but it’s a woefully overlooked gem. I’ll admit that I had no interest in buying it either because I find this version boring. I came by this sample by winning it in a trivia contest. But now that I’ve been able to closely examine it, I can’t imagine why anyone who appreciates fine sculpting and craftsmanship would want to pass on it.
At $50, I’d recommend it to serious collectors of fine craftsmanship and Leia fans. At $35-45, it’s even more highly recommended. At $25, it’s a blatant no-brainer. You buy it as soon as the order page loads.
Thankfully, One of our sponsors, Razor’s Edge Collectibles currently has this bust on special for the unbelievable low price of $24.99
Don’t even debate whether or not you like the character and/or outfit enough to buy. Just order it. You will not regret it.