Star Wars Action Figures

  Yodanews Exclusive Review: SSC Darth Maul – Sith Lord (Regular Edition)


There was a single sore thumb in Sideshow Collectibles’ 1/6 scale Star Wars collection: an ocean of brown.  Let’s face it, folks, we were going on Jedi overload!!  Only Bespin Han disrupted that cycle of consecutive Brown Robe Gang releases.  Sith Apprentice Vader doesn’t count because he was just a pair of yellow eyes in a brown robe.  And really…what good were all of those ignited lightsabers?



But alas, the holiday season saw the first true Dark Lord appearing on doorsteps around the world.



Our army of Jedi had an enemy at last.  Darth Maul had arrived.  But was he worth the wait?






 Packaging:  5 out of 5 




The standard Sideshow Star Wars packaging makes another appearance, but its days are presumably numbered.  As many web-savvy collectors are aware, Lucasfilm, in their infinite “wisdom” (and yes, I’m using that term very loosely), has mandated a uniform design across the board for high-end licensees in honor of Episode IV’s 30th anniversary.  Recently released pictures of the upcoming 1/6 scale Jabba the Hutt offers a glimpse into how Sideshow is implementing the design, and I suspect either Boushh Leia or the Sith Droid expansion pack will give us our first look at how the standard 1/6 packaging will differ for the remainder of 2007.



But for now, we still have the typical two tray gatefold design with description text for both Darth Maul and the Lords of the Sith series.  The magnetic clasps also return.  Unfortunately, the bottom magnet in my box is backward, resulting in the top clasp connecting and the bottom repelling.  It’s an obvious fluke, and I still consider the execution of this concept to be very good.  The plastic neck brace is also included to prevent paint rubs on the nose.



One unique aspect of Maul’s packaging is the size.  While the Zabrakian Sith Lord, like Luke Skywalker, utilizes Sideshow’s short body type, his is the tallest of the Star Wars boxes.  The reason is simple: his double-blade ignited lightsaber.  Sideshow had to enlarge the box just to fit it inside!!




Sculpt:  5.5 out of 5 



No, that’s not a typo.  I never thought I would see a face sculpt done so well that I would rate it off the scale, but Darth Maul made it happen.  This is one time where I regret not having a quality digital SLR camera with macro lens.  No picture I take with my current point-and-click camera can adequately capture the nuances of sculptor Oluf Hartvigson’s masterpiece.



As with Obi-Wan, one glance at this figure tells you this is Ray Park as Darth Maul.  The fierce gaze.  The metal stud in the left ear.  The creases in his brow.  All of it is as lifelike as this scale allows.  The only way this sculpt could be better is if they gave him pores.  But I’ll bet if you stare at this face long enough, you might start believing you can see them.  It’s that realistic!



One last item of note: Sideshow has seemingly corrected the “monkey arm” issue that plagued Luke.  Here’s the problem in a nutshell: the short body had the arm length of a regular body.  This resulted in the arms being too long when at rest.  While the length discrepancy was measurable in the eighths of an inch, it was nevertheless quite noticeable to the human eye.  Sideshow, having this brought to their attention by consumers, modified the body, so Maul doesn’t suffer from this problem.



Score one for complaining collectors!!!






 Paint Application:  4.9 out of 5 



This is one of those rare occasions where the production paint application didn’t come out worse than the prototype.  In fact, it surpasses the proto because (at least in my figure) there is no lazy eye syndrome.  Both eyes are locked dead ahead.



Skin tones aren’t a factor with this character, but the tattoos can make or break the whole package.  On my figure as well as many others I’ve seen on the Internet, the only glitch (and the reason I withheld a perfect five out of five) is that the line connecting to the middle horn tattoo is slightly out of alignment.  Yes, it’s nitpicking, but then what would be the point of an in-depth review??



Everything else with regards to the paint application is spot on.  The Sith eyes have the appropriate level of menace, and the horns are shaded well.  Even the lightsabers have clean paint decos on the hilts.





Costuming:  4.9 out of 5 



Apparently, one of the perks of being a Dark Lord of the Sith means you have access to the best tailors this side of the Outer Rim.  Maul’s puffy pirate sleeves do need the mildest of manipulation to look right, but that basically involves tugging and bunching the material down closer to the gloves.  Even then, it’s really only an issue when both arms are at their sides.



Unlike the other figures I own in this line, I have not had to strip Darth Maul down and redress him from scratch.  All I needed to do was some tugging and shifting.  I’m not even quite sure what the cummerbund latch looks like because I haven’t taken it off yet.  Plus, I’m sure the costume would be a royal pain to redress because there looks to be roughly six different layers.  This results in a plethora of hanging cloth strips.  The material can also hold shapes and positions well, which means it’s relatively easy to pose the costume in motion.



As for the boots, quite a few collectors have complained about them being too “clunky”, but I’m satisfied with their appearance.  They do tend to slip down the legs a bit, and you may have to push them back up to get stability.  But that takes all of two seconds to accomplish.  It’s a non-issue.



My only negative critique is the cloak clasp is poorly placed, and this may very well be a factory error on my particular figure.  Essentially, it seems as though one of the “loop and hook” pieces is attached backward because the hook does not want to stay latched onto the loop very well.  Plus, both pieces are so thin and fragile that forcing an adjustment may very well end in breakage.



Clasp difficulties aside, the cloak is unique when compared to the Jedi simply because of the very thin, gauze-like material that comprises the rippled layers of the Sith robe.  It is extremely accurate to the look of the actual filming costume, but I prefer to leave Maul robeless only because the rest of the costume is so fraggin’ awesome!!!





Articulation:  4.5 out of 5



Again, my comments on the articulation are comparable to the ones I’ve made in past reviews.  Sideshow’s Art S. Buck body still holds these figures back from achieving their full potential, and Darth Maul suffers a bit more than figures like Mace and Obi-Wan because of his gloves.




In order to attach Maul’s gloves properly, the arm goes down roughly half-an-inch into the hollowed-out glove, and the peg plugs into a hole.  The problem is Maul now lacks the ability to bend at the wrist.  Still, it’s better than Anakin’s gauntlet arm, which couldn’t even rotate at the wrist.  Maul’s handicap restricts the ability to create more subtle action poses.  While it’s entirely believable and understandable that this was the best way to maintain a high-quality visual aesthetic, wrist articulation is still at half-capacity.






Accessories:  3.5 out of 5 



This is the only true disappointment with Darth Maul.  Aside from interchangeable hands and three variations of his lightsaber, you get a pair of electrobinoculars.



Oh, woo-hoo



Granted, there aren’t many accessories that could have been included with this particular Sith Lord, but two things could’ve fixed this score.  Not surprisingly, both suggestions would have completely negated the expansion pack.  First, they could’ve included at least ONE stinking Sith Probe Droid!!!  Second, instead of permanently sculpting the droid controller bracelet onto Maul’s glove, make it a removable accessory.  The funny part is that the figure has a non-removable bracelet but no droid to “control”, but the expansion pack includes a removable bracelet!!  What possible good is that going to do anyone??   Wow…you can attach the bracelet to one of the other hands.  Big deal!!!



OK, my bickering about what should have been is done.  To be absolutely fair, the electrobinoculars are very detailed and authentically painted.  Like the face, this accessory looks like a genuine miniature of the real deal.  The same holds true for the lightsaber hilt.  Unfortunately, the double-bladed version suffers under its own design.  Gravity’s pull on the blades results in a bowed appearance that can’t be easily corrected…if at all.  A sturdier plastic was needed here.  Most collectors won’t be too concerned with a slight bend, but it makes Photoshopping straight blades a real challenge.  Plus, it can be a very unwieldly accessory with which to execute figure poses.



Here’s what you get with the Regular Edition of Darth Maul aside from the hooded cloak:










“Fun Factor”:  5 out of 5 



By and large, the bad guys are always much more fun.  Plus, Ray Park incorporated his skills as a martial artist into the highly physical and acrobatic Sith assassin.  Ergo, we can still keep Maul “in character” while coming up with some wild poses!!  Additionally, the neutral expression works just as well here as it did on Anakin and Obi-Wan.  While some were disappointed, I can’t imagine having yet another snarling or sneering Maul.  Lastly, as I mentioned before, the flexibility and multi-layering of the clothes makes it easier to accomplish believable “in motion” poses.



Surprisingly, I have yet to try any dueling poses with Maul, which probably has a lot to do with not wanting to disturb the poses on my other figures.  Oh well…I’m sure I’ll get around to it at some point.  Rest assured, they’ll be posted in the Photoshop section of the Yodasnews forums as soon as they’re finished, but who knows when that’ll be.













 Overall Rating:  4.76 out of 5 



Looking back at the previous four reviews I’ve written for this line, the final averages have fallen within 0.2 of each other.  Darth Maul ranks the highest yet at 4.76.  While minor in nature, the few shortcomings of this figure have prevented a perfect rating.  But to be frank, I doubt there will be a perfect score until Sideshow addresses the outdated articulation of the Art S. Buck body.  Until then, the norm is this: close but no cigar.



But that’s just being clinical and objective about the whole thing.  The fact remains that we have never seen a Darth Maul figure this good, and I doubt we’ll see a better one for at least many, many years.  There are so many pros to this figure that every serious Star Wars collector should add it to their collection.  Even if you hated Episode I and/or didn’t particularly care for Maul, you should still order one because this is a piece of art.



Seeing the near-perfection of Darth Maul has me anxious for my next pre-order: Asajj Ventress.



(yeah, it’ll be a while until the next review…consider the next picture a consolation gift…)