Yodasnews Review: Yoda on Kybuck Maquette (Clone Wars Animated)
Review and Photography by Jeffrey A. Gouse (SithLord0498)
Review Date: May 27, 2008
Since the inception of its Star Wars license in 2002, Gentle Giant has certainly dabbled in a variety of products—mini-busts, Bust-Ups, bookends, and maquettes to name a few. When the first Clone Wars cartoon aired, they capitalized on its popularity and brought the highly-stylized 2-D animation to 3-D realization as part of their ever growing maquette line. The Clone Wars Animated maquettes were a limited run of various characters from the series and averaged around $80 each with a few exceptions.
Today’s review takes an in-depth look at one of the more dynamic entries in the series—Yoda riding his trusted Kybuck into the heat of battle.
PAINT APPLICATIONS: Average (Bordering on Above Average)
This rating may come as a surprise to some considering the relatively basic nature of the applications as well as how good the piece looks at a casual glance. Certainly, exceptional work has been done on the broader areas such as the deep browns of Yoda’s robe and the Kybuck as well as the even tones of Yoda’s skin. Additionally, Gentle Giant used a color palette that is very accurate to the original animation.
However, up-close inspection reveals work that, for the price involved, is mediocre. As with the jetpack on the Jango mini-bust, Gentle Giant once again demonstrates an inability to stay within the sculpted lines, resulting in blemishes that don’t even need a camera’s macro lens to detect. Listed below are some of the more prominent flaws:
Breaking it down into such a specific list is not an attempt to ferret out the smallest flaws, mind you. It merely indicates that Gentle Giant was far from its A-game when painting this piece (based on this specific sample, of course). As stated earlier, the piece looks phenomenal at a respectable distance. However, the quality needs to hold up at any distance, and this maquette falls short in that regard.
While consistency in paint applications seems to be a weakness for Gentle Giant, their greatest strength has always been their sculpting abilities. Naturally, there have been exceptions such as the Obi-Wan Kenobi in Clone Armor statue, but overall they have produced extraordinary sculptures—Jango Fett, Grand Moff Tarkin, Count Dooku…the list is quite long. Yoda on Kybuck is no exception and is an excellent translation of 2-D animation to 3-D art.
On Yoda, the standout element of the sculpting is the portrait. Gentle Giant’s sculptors perfectly captured not only the look but the essence of Genndy Tartakovsky’s Yoda, using the sharp angular cuts and curves of the animation style to create a fierce battle-hardened expression. Key to this achievement is the incorporation of the cartoon Yoda’s eye gesture that is reminiscent of the Tall Man from Phantasm and The Rock’s (of WWE fame) iconic facial expression. Additionally, the direction and flow of Yoda’s hair and Jedi cloak beautifully simulates the look of their animated counterparts blowing in the wind.
The Kybuck has its share of top-notch elements as well. Chief among them is the overall look. Through thoughtful placement of the arms and positioning of the body, the sculptors produced a pose that exquisitely captures not only the innocence and peacefulness of the Kybuck but also the heroism within it. It is a majestic pose and complements Yoda perfectly. Another notable feature is the use of clear blue plastic pieces to replicate the eye coverings seen in the original animation. The use of mixed media (even in such small amounts) adds variety to the maquette, and the translucent property of the colored plastic ensures a faithful rendition of the source material.
All in all, the sculpting easily surpasses what is expected at a $90 MSRP.
DURABILITY: Above Average
Unlike the mini-busts, which are generally solid pieces, the Yoda on Kybuck maquette is comprised of three pieces: the main form, the non-descript base, and a removable lightsaber blade. This inherently results in a greater level of fragility for a few reasons. First, the pegs protruding from the Kybuck’s hooves do not fit tightly into the base. Yes, they fit well enough to keep the maquette secure, but do not try to lift it by the sculpture alone or else the base will slip away. Additionally, a hard enough bump will more than likely snap the peg out of the resin in which it rests—particularly with the saber blade. This warning comes from personal experience as the lightsaber peg on my Episode III Darth Vader mini-bust broke the weapon’s emitter shroud with only the slightest pressure in the wrong direction. Super glue and a Sharpie were required to make that repair.
Barring any manufacturing defects or damage already done within the packaging, the maquette is durable enough to endure a long shelf life. Collectors merely need to be conscientious of the piece’s increased fragility when handling it.
OVERALL RATING: Above Average (Bordering on Average)
Like the Jango Fett mini-bust, the Yoda on Kybuck maquette suffers from inconsistent paint applications yet benefits from excellent sculpting. Cheaper products would not be as criticized over the occasional sloppiness, but Gentle Giant pieces, by their very nature and MSRPs, are held to stricter standards. While it has its flaws, the overall dynamic look of the maquette goes a long way toward minimizing its shortcomings.
Still, at the original price of $90, this would only be a recommendation for Gentle Giant collectors and Yoda fans. However, like the Jango Fett mini-bust, this piece has been a slow seller despite the lower edition size of only 3,500, and it can be regularly found at various e-tailers for $50 or less. At this new pricing tier, the recommendation expands to include consumers who would like to add more artistic pieces to their collections.