Yodasnews Review: Gentle Giant TIE Fighter Pilot (“Classics” Micro-Bust)
Review and Photography by Jeffrey A. Gouse (SithLord0498)
Review Date: August 5, 2008
According the Merriam-Webster, the definition of “bust” is: a sculptured representation of the upper part of the human figure including the head and neck and usually part of the shoulders and breast. When Gentle Giant rolled out the first of their resin Star Wars mini-busts, they adhered to this traditional definition and released limbless representations of our favorite characters. By the second wave, however, Gentle Giant began to stray from this format by including a single visible arm on their first Darth Vader bust. Steadily, the armless look fell away, and the mini-busts became six inch tall sculptures of characters from the waist up.
Four years later and with their mini-bust line running as strong as ever, Gentle Giant returned to its roots with the release of the “Classics” line. Many elements separate these newer designs from the traditional mini-busts. First, the “Classics” busts do not have concrete edition sizes. Instead, the bases sport alphanumeric serial numbers. Second, the size is significantly smaller than the mini-busts. Third, the armless concept has been re-instated, making them fit the textbook definition of “busts.” Lastly, the MSRP is a fraction of that found in the mini-bust line.
But is this a line worth investing your money in? Today, we will examine the TIE Fighter Pilot from the first wave of “Classics” micro-busts.
SCULPTING: Above Average
Considering over 90% of the design is either matte or glossy black, discerning the details can be difficult for both the consumer and the artists commissioned with the micro-bust’s creation. The most accurate area is the chest-mounted life support pack. Compared against a reference image of the filming costume, each switch and button on the bust is faithful in both shape and placement. Moving outward, the front shape of the torso (minus the arms of course) matches the reference image as well—most notably by replicating the steep sloping of the pilot’s shoulders.
The helmet is where the sculpting on this piece loses points. When compared against the screen costume, it is grossly disproportionate. On the bust, it is in very close proportion to the body just like the Episode III Clonetrooper helmets. However, TIE Fighter pilot helmets are NOT in perfect proportion. Their helmets are extremely large on their heads. In fact, the pilots look like human bobble-heads. But while it loses points for inaccurate proportions, it really does look better this way.
As for the details on the helmet, they appear very accurate. Again, the glossy black material of both the actual costume and the micro-bust makes it hard to discern minute details, so this is based on my best analysis of a two-dimensional (albeit horizontally flipped) picture in Star Wars: The Complete Visual Dictionary. The core appearance is based on the standard Stormtrooper helmet, and that comes through beautifully in the micro-bust—particularly in the shapes of both the polarized lenses and mouth grille. The oxygen hoses also have a ridged texture that feels very much like real-world hoses.
PAINT APPLICATION: Below Average
The sculptors did a great job on this piece. The painters, however, seriously botched things, making this look very crude and cheap when examined from anything less than medium distance. The only excellent paint application here is found on the helmet with crisp, clear, and accurately placed Imperial insignias. But the rest…the rest is pure sloppiness. The pictures below illustrate this better than words can describe.
APPEARANCE AND SIZE COMPARISON: Not Applicable for This Item
While not a scoreable category, this is an element that merits discussion—at least in this introductory review for the “Classics” line. As the picture below illustrates, this micro-bust is a full head shorter and less massive than the typical $50 mini-bust, and it is only an inch or so taller than the typical Hasbro action figure. The extreme sloping of the torso’s tapering also plays a large role in reducing mass and depth. Between that and the design of the base, this micro-bust resembles a super-sized chess piece.
OVERALL RATING: Slightly Average (at original $30 MSRP); Above Average (at price less than or equal to $20)
Just because this is meant to be a more financially friendly version of the Gentle Giant mini-bust line does not mean any less care should be taken in its execution. The sculpting is terrific, but the painting shows a lack of care and Quality Control (QC) on the company’s behalf. Ultimately, this looks too cheap to warrant the original MSRP of $30 (per Gentle Giant’s online store). At $15-20, this becomes a very justifiable purchase.
The funny thing is that the official product image on the site shows impeccable paint applications on the life support pack. Unfortunately, that QC didn’t filter down to this sample.