#1902: Sohei Darth Maul



Post-Christmas reviews, begin!

Yes, it’s that time of year when I’ve gotten so many new toys from all the people that love me so much, and I always feel the best way of handling a large influx of new toys is to just jump headlong into the reviews.  No turning back!  Today, I kick things off with a theme that I assure you will be sticking with us for a good portion of the reviews to come: Star Wars.  That said, today’s focus item is a slight variation on the theme.  He may be from Star Wars, but it’s definitely a more conceptual version of the story.  I’m taking my second look at Bandai’s reimagining of the Star Wars movies as Samurai films, Sohei Darth Maul!


Sohei Darth Maul is one of the 2018 releases from the Meaisho Movie Realization line, which re-envisions Sith Lord Darth Maul as Sohei, or a warrior monk.  Admittedly, “warrior monk” isn’t much of a stretch from the basic Jedi thing.  It’s *almost* as if the Star Wars characters naturally lend themselves to this sort of thing!  The figure stands 7 inches tall and he has 43 points of articulation.  As with the Royal Guard, there’s something of a learning curve on posing these guys, though I had a much easier time with Maul, largely do to already having experience with the line.  Maul’s sculpt appears to be totally unique to him, which is sensible, given that as a prequel character, he would be of a slightly vintage than the Vader and troopers we’ve gotten so far.  It’s certainly a very nice sculpt, with lots of detail work worked throughout all of its various pieces.  The texturing on his tunic is very realistic, and keeps it from being too bland, and the armored pieces are all quite intricately designed.  The head is rather demonic, even for Maul, indicating that he’s actually some form of spirit or demon in this reimagined version of the tale, which is certainly a cool concept.  It gives Bandai free reign to have a bit of fun with it, and the end result is a very expressive piece.  The paint work on Maul is quite impressive, especially given the fact that the character is typically quite monochromatic.  While his basic clothing is still straight black, the overlying armor has all sorts of subtle color work going on.  It makes for a very interesting looking figure, and he’s got plenty of elements to help him pop off of the shelf.  Darth Maul is packed with a pair of swords, which can be attached at the hilt to simulate his signature double-bladed saber from the movie.  The actual blades can also be removed simulation them being turned off.  Also included are a face mask  (furthering the demonic experience), and beads, which can be removed to mix up the appearance.  Finally, he includes three sets of hands in fists, gripping, and open gesture poses.


Like the Royal Guard before him, Sohei Darth Maul was a Christmas gift from my boy Tim.  I had actually just been looking at this figure about a week prior to receiving it from him, so it was a rather well-timed gift.  Again, like the Royal Guard, there’s just a lot to like about this figure.  He’s got a cool look, has a great selection of alternate appearances, and is just generally a lot of fun.  I really look forward to seeing what else this line tackles (I’d kill for a scout trooper, let me tell you).


#1169: Akazonae Royal Guard




Alright, we got the Aliens, we got the Super Heroes, so for Day 3 of the post-Christmas reviews, why not look at another cornerstone of my collecting habits: Star Wars!  In fact, this one is a double whammy, being both Star Wars *and* a high-end Bandia figure.  Huzzah!  The main Star Wars toy license for North America is held by Hasbro, who are pretty big into exclusivity and no-competition deals.  Because of this, no other toy company can release Star Wars figures under a certain price in the US, which is why the Star Wars Pop!s are bobble heads, and the Star Wars Sideshow figures carry a hefty price tag.  There are a few workarounds, however.  Bandai’s recently been putting out a line of concept figures, envisioning certain Star Wars characters as they might appear were they in a Samurai film, rather than a Sci-Fi one.  They’ve done a handful of the various Imperial Troopers and today I’ll be looking at my personal favorite, the Akazanae Royal Guard.


royalguardmr2The Akazonae Royal Guard was released as the sixth figure in Bandai’s Star Wars: Meisho Movie Realization line.  He was originally slated as the fourth release, but was pushed back to follow variants of the Trooper and Darth Vader, and he ultimately hit just this past summer.  The figure stands about 7 inches tall (which was actually a bit larger than I was expecting, but I’m certainly not complaining) and he has 43 points of articulation.  The articulation has a bit of a learning curve to it.  It seems rather stiff at first, but once you get the hang of it, he’s actually a lot of fun to mess around with.  His sculpt is mostly unique to him, but it does appear that he shares at least some parts of the legs with the Storm and Sandtroopers, which is certainly reasonable from a consistency standpoint.  As far as the sculpt goes, he’s a bit tricky to review, what with not actually being based on any specific design.  With that being said, the sculpt is definitely a top-notch piece of work, and it does a good job of combining the Royal Guard’s film design with actual, functioning Samurai armor.  He’s a touch more ornate than previous figures (barring maybe Darth Vader), as he well should be, being an elite royal guard and all.  There’s lots of fun, little details sprinkled throughout the figure, and he incorporates some really nice layer work.  Also, I appreciate that, when configured certain ways, this figure can almost pass for just a slightly more armored version of the standard Royal Guard.  Were he not just a bit larger-royalguardmr3scaled, I’d probably just throw this guy in with my Black Series figures.  You might think that the paint work on this guy might be lax, being pretty much entirely red and all, but he’s actually got some pretty incredible work.  The actual hard armored parts have a nice, semi-gloss sheen, which contrasts nicely with the duller finish of the rest of the figure.  He’s also got a few different shades of red, which keep the whole look interesting.  He’s also got some really great accent work; there’s a black wash on a lot of the armored pieces, giving it a nice worn-in sort of feel.  There’s also some blue/indigo piping on a few sections, which adds a nice bit of flair, and really helps to break up all the red.  All around, this is just a very vibrant, very bold figure, especially when compared to the other figures in the line.  The Royal Guard includes a Katana, a scabbard, a large staff, three pairs of hands (in fists, loose, and tight grip), and a tabard that can be swapped out with the insignia on the front of his armor, thus creating a more classic Royal Guard look.  It’s a fun assortment of pieces, and provides a number of cool different looks.


The Royal Guard was a Christmas present from my boy Tim.  I’d actually checked the figure out a few times, and it was the first of the Movie Realization figures to really speak to me.  Tim and I had a few conversations about the figure back when it was solicited, and it seems he took note of that.  I really like this figure, a whole lot.  There’s just so much about the design that really works, and I definitely feel he’s the strongest of the Movie Realization line, despite being one of the more minor designs presented therein.  There’s just so many fun ways to pose him and have him interact with others, and now I’m seriously considering picking up one or two of the others in the line at some point (a very dangerous venture indeed).  Thanks, Tim…