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The Sith Legacy

SW: Evolution
by yo go re

I know the Sith operate in secret, but this is ridiculous!

The menacing Sith emerge again and again through the centuries, teaching each generation their dark secrets. A thousand years before the Battle of Yavin, Darth Bane brings the Sith Order back from near extinction in his quest to reclaim their glory. His legacy is carried on by Darth Nihilus, who blights whole worlds in his desire to destroy the Jedi. Darth Maul serves a power-hungry Sith Lord who plots the elimination of the Jedi.

Either there's a substantial error in that bio text, or Darth Nihilus is even more powerful than anyone realized. Kind of hard for him to carry on Darth Bane's legacy when he lived 3,000 years before Bane, you know? He did follow in the wake of Darth Revan, though, so really it's just the name that's wrong.

One of the rulers of the Sith Triumvirate, along with Darth Traya and Darth Sion, Nihilus was the Lord of Hunger, and name he gained due to his instinctual ability to feed upon the Force: he slowly drained life from those around him, gaining strength from their energy; if he ever stopped, however, the ability would consume Nihilus himself, and the more he "fed," the more hunger he felt. Eventually his body died, and he was forced to transfer his consciousness into the armor he wears, using the Force to keep him alive and mobile.

Darth Nihilus was the main villain of KOTOR 2, and he has a wonderfully creepy look. He's clad in all-black robes, and wears a tattered cape. The sole spot of color is on his face, where a bone-white mask covers the upper part of his face. In fact, in the original script for the game, the mask was actually made from Revan's skull. Nihilus really is the gothiest of all the Dark Lords of the Sith, isn't he?

Nihilly's hood takes the figure right up to the 4" mark, and he's articulated like most SW toys these days: balljointed head, shoulders, elbows, knees and ankles, and swivel loves, waist and hips. His hood can be removed, to reveal the black dreadlocks pulled back off his shoulders. Or are those cornrows? Is Nihilus black? "Lando" black, not "Vader's clothes" black. In any case, he's armed with the typical red lightsaber, and nothing else.

Darth Bane was created by George Lucas as part of the backstory for The Phantom Menace, even though he wasn't mentioned in the film at all. He was, however, referred to in Terry Brooks' novelization of the film, where it was revealed that he was the one who established the Sith's "Rule of Two" - one master, one apprentice, no more. For a time it was also assumed that he was the first to use the "Darth" title, but it's since been revealed that the name is much older, and Bane merely revived the practice.

As a bald man with grayish skin and dark clothes, Bane definitely has a resemblence to Emperor Palpatine. And the unmasked Darth Vader, for that matter. He has dark black paint around his eyes, but there's more color in his robes than there was in Darth Nilihus' - yes, his boots, gloves, pants, skirt and shirt are all black, but his sash and high-collared cape are both purple, with golden clasps, and honestly, his shirt is light enough to be called gun metal grey.

Unlike most Sith, Darth Bane uses a lavender lightsaber. According to every written description of the character, the hilt should be hooked, but every picture of him shows it straight, and that's what the toy shows, as well. What's really neat, however, is the removable orbalisk armor. Cast in translucent yellow plasic with just a hint of green paint, the "armor" is actually an entire colony of parasitic insects that latched onto Bane when he visited Freedon Nadd's tomb. Yay. On the plus side, their carapaces are durable enough to resist lightsaber attacks, meaning Bane's got himself some nearly impenetrable armor. It just wants to eat his body. Fair trade, I suppose. The toy has a removable chestplate, helmet and wristbands, making him look even more fearsome than he already did.

Our last figure is the only one we've had figures of before: Darth Maul. Like the Sith Attack Droid version, he's shirtless, but don't make the mistake of thinking that this is a repack - far from it! Every bit of his body is new, redone to match modern standards.

At an even 3¾", Darth Maul is the shortest figure in this set, but then, he wasn't the hugest guy in the movie, either. His articulation will allow him plenty of acrobatics when he fights, with all the same points as Darth Nihilus, above, but also the addition of a balljointed torso, so he can spin and twist away from his enemies. And rather than being molded plastic, his skirts are real cloth.

Maul's paint is better than the last verison, both in color and in application. The lines are all crisp, and the red is darker, making him more sinister. It does seem as though some black apps on his arms have been skipped, judging by the large red patches on his forearms and right bicep. Looking at the previous version (and the art that inspired it), you can see what's missing. The horns are still a bit sloppy, but not terribly so, and his teeth look appropriately rotten.

There is one disappointment with this figure, and that's his lightsaber. It's the proper double-bladed model, but it's the same mold Hasbro's been using since the earliest Mauls. For one thing, the blades are too short: they're no longer than the hilt, when in reality they should each be about ½" longer than they currently are; when the Episode I toys came out, the blade had to be kept short so it would fit in the blister card, but there's no such limitation here. Additionally, the blades are the flat, straight style used before Hasbro started giving us the sculpted flare at the base, which means that overall, this really looks like a toy, rather than an in-scale lightsaber.

The Evolutions: Sith Legacy set offers three great figures, including two who have never been seen in plastic before. Yes, Darth Maul's lightsaber is outdated and he's missing some paint apps, but honestly, the only downside to this set is how very difficult it's been to find. It was originally released in early 2008 as part of the 30th Anniverasry Collection, and was easily the fastest seller in the bunch. Hasbro released it again in white "Legacy Collection" packaging, and again it outsold most of its companions. This is a very nice set, but only if you can find it.

-- 12/06/08

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