As I grow older, my tastes in Star Wars characters seem to gradually change. It's an odd thing to say, but I find myself more drawn to characters for who they are rather than what they look like. Whereas I used to be nuts about kooky aliens and wacky bounty hunters (and still am, and always will be), I now also have more of a respect for the simpler-looking characters who offer more to the story...characters like the Jedi Knights in their humble robes and tunics. Their actions mean more to me than they used to, whereas a funky background alien costume that serves no real purpose to the story has less appeal.
Thankfully, around the same time as my realization, Sideshow Collectibles announced that it had acquired the license to produce 12" figures from the Star Wars universe. Until recently, SW figures in this scale had been produced in-house by Hasbro. Probably realizing they were outclassed in the increasingly up-market and competitive world of 12" figures, Hasbro coughed out its last half-assed 1/6 scale efforts before passing the torch to Sideshow.
With everything about 12" figures these days seeming to focus on how extravagant they can be, from exorbitant prices to real metal weapons, it's sometimes hard to remember that Sideshow was really at the forefront of quality sixth-scale merchandise. They began as one of the higher-priced offerings on the market, and now have been left behind (in the realm of price, not quality) by decadently detailed imports from companies like Hot Toys, Takara, and Medicom (who hold the SW license in Japan). While these figures might arguably offer more than a typical Sideshow figure, you'd be hard pressed to find one at under twice the cost of any Sideshow sixth-scale offering.
Not to say Sideshow is low-end, by any means. Their figures always have great attention to detail and accuracy, inventive accessories and a price tag that, while not as wallet-crunching as the aforementioned imports, is still enough to cringe at. They're also quite limited, with most figures numbering in the few thousands, at most. In addition, most Sideshow figures typically feature an exclusive version available only through the website, which usually contains an additional accessory not available with the "regular" version.
The first Sideshow line of SW collectibles
to debut was called the Order of the Jedi, and although the first offering was a Return of the Jedi styled Luke Skywalker, every Order figure since has come from the prequels. The second offering was Anakin Skywalker from Revenge of the Sith, then Jedi Master Kit Fisto, and finally Mace Windu. On the horizon in the near future are Qui Gon Jinn and an RotS style Obi-Wan Kenobi. With all the Jedi featured in the prequels, this is a line that has lots of legs.
And so we come to Mace Windu. Earlier in his career, Samuel L. Jackson was a fairly versatile actor. However, that all changed after he starred as Jules in Pulp Fiction, and since his solidification as a "bad mother f***er", it's rare to see Sam Jackson these days in a role that isn't basically along the lines of "hey wouldn't it be cool to see Sam Jackson freaking out in this type of movie." For his role as Mace Windu, we had Sam Jackson as a bad mother-f***ing Jedi Master.
Sideshow's figure joins a long list of Mace Windu figures, mostly made by Hasbro and mostly all horrible. Whether it's the "looks like a baby fetus that hasn't yet opened its eyes" Mace or the "action feature that leaves a giant hole in the figure's chest" Mace, the man has not had good luck in the toy world. Hasbro even made a 12" version, but it ended up looking like Mace Windu's cousin with Downs Syndrome. Thankfully, Sideshow's figure bucks the trend.
The head sculpt didn't resonate with me at first,
but the more I look at it the more I can see Jackson's likeness. It seems like the eyes are a bit off, but I can't put my finger on it. They look a bit vacant, and perhaps that's the issue. However, the overall job done is very good, particularly from the bridge of the nose down. Sideshow sculpts can be very hit or miss, and this one, while not their best, is definitely among the hits. The paint is done well, too, and features a glossier paint on the eyes and lips, although it's not overdone the way I've heard it was on the Sideshow Anakin.
The rest of the figure, aside from the hands, uses a generic body, but it's covered with a custom tailored outfit including a Jedi tunic, Jedi under-tunic, and Jedi robe. Though most Jedi wear roughly the same style of tunic and robe, its worth noting that Mace's outfit differs from Kit Fisto's (the only other figure I have for comparison), not just in color but in the way it is tailored and fit to the figure. Mace's robes, for example, have a much wider opening at the end of the sleeves. It's nice to see that there's not a lot of re-use going on here, at least with the outfits.
Like all of Sideshow's Jedi robes thus far, Mace's features a thin wire threaded through the hem of the hood, so that it can be shaped to lay more realistically over his head, which is a really cool idea since hoods in almost any scale other than "life size" almost never lay like they should. While the fit of the clothing is mostly good, the under-tunic didn't quite look the way it should, and it puffed out a bit around the collar.
However, the tunic unbuttons fairly simply, and can be adjusted to your liking. In addition to the cloth bits, Mace has some plastic boots and a pleather belt (again, both of these items seem to be unique to each character's figure). On the belt you'll find some "Jedi food capsules", a lightsaber belt hook, and two opening plastic pouches that can store some of Mace's smaller accessories.
And speaking of accessories, Mace has quite a few. Some of his gear is re-used from previous prequel Jedi releases, such as his communicator, holoprojector, and aqua breather (which was only excluded in the case of Kit Fisto, due to his amphibious nature). All of these fit, as I said before,
in his belt pouches, and that's a good thing because they're all quite tiny and easy to lose. The holoprojector, in particular, is smaller than most watch batteries, and there's a sticky substance on the bottom of it to help it stay in the figure's hand without falling and getting lost in the oblivion of the carpet. His aqua breather is fairly useless, as his mouth is completely closed, which leaves nowhere to fit the mouthpiece of the breather. Still, it looks pretty cool, I guess.
But of course, there's more. Between The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, Mace built himself a new, shiny lighstaber. The figure comes with two versions of each saber:
one with an ignited blade, and one bladeless hilt to fit on Mace's belt. For you bean counters, that's a total of four sabers. They're done pretty well, although the gold plating on Mace's second saber is reproduced here as fairly flat looking gold paint. It's not a huge drawback though, when you consider that most processes for making plastic shiny (such as vac-metallizing) leave the item very vulnerable to scratching and chipping. None of the sabers have "B.M.F." stamped on the bottom, as Jackson's movie prop reportedly did, but that's forgivable.
Finally, Mace comes with two alternate hands...well, two and a half. His standard hands both work for gripping sabers,
and the two alternates are a force-gesturing left and a blaster-holding right with an extended trigger finger. The half I mentioned comes in the form of a ragged stump that pops onto his right wrist in order to represent the moment just after (spoiler!!!!) Anakin slices off Mace's saber hand and just before Palpatine sends Mace out the window. It's probably the most disturbing accessory I've seen included with a non-horror figure, and honestly for a while I had no idea what it even was. I could have just read the packaging, but that's for jerks. There's also a Star Wars logo base that features one of those funky metal clasper things to fit around Mace's waist to keep him standing, though he won't really need it.
If you managed to grab the even-more limited Sideshow Exclusive Edition of Mace, you get one extra accessory: Jango Fett's battered helmet.
Since I already have a Jango helmet that came with my Hasbro Ultimate Villains 12" Jango, I'm not missing the exclusive. Occasionally, the exclusive accessory will be something that seems more essential to the figure, like the blaster Luke Skywalker stole from a guard just before being sent to the Rancor pit, or the blaster Obi-Wan Kenobi used against General Grievous, but thankfully in Mace's case it's something that's a neat little extra, though you won't feel cheated if you missed out on it.
The Sideshow body used for Mace is full of articulation, but to actually count the points I'd have to remove his outfit, and I ain't doin' that. Not without at least getting dinner out of the deal. He's got pretty much everything you want, including double-hinged kness and elbows, balljoints and the hips, shoulders and neck, and much much more. I believe Sideshow's press materials boast over 30 points, and I believe them. All the joints are nice and tight, and as I said before, he stands just fine in most positions even without the included base.
If you've got the space and the money (the current price for a Sideshow figure is just over half a c-note), Sideshow's Star Wars figures are what every fan of 12" figures wished Hasbro would have given us. While these guys cost about twice as much, the difference is easy to see. One warning, though: if you buy one, it's hard to stop, and your wallet will be feeling it for years to come.
Have you broken down and bought any Sideshow stuff? Tell us on our message board, The Loafing Lounge.