#2574: Invisible Man

INVISIBLE MAN

UNIVERSAL STUDIOS MONSTERS (SIDESHOW)

Universal Studios created and truly defined the horror film genre beginning in the 1920s.  In 1933, Universal released The Invisible Man, starring Claude Rains.  It was Rains’ unique speaking voice that won him the part and which was vital to portraying a man who, in a great portion of the film, would be invisible to the audience.  The role also assured Rains a place in Universal Studios’ unique and rich history of horror films.

The Invisible Man is the story of a mysterious doctor who, through his relentless experiments, discovers a serum that renders him invisible.  Covered by bandages and dark glasses, it is only his clothing that will reveal his form and presence.

Fleeing to a remote English village, the doctor tries to hide the effects of his serum.  However, the drug that was his ultimate discovery is slowly driving him to the brink of insanity, as he begins his spree of horror.”

It’s Halloween dear readers!  I know, given the general horror abounding in our everyday lives this past year, today is, perhaps, not as hard hitting as prior Halloweens.  But let’s try to be somewhat in the spirit, you guys!  Every Halloween, I like to review something appropriately spooky for the day.  In contrast to 6 of the 7 prior Halloween reviews, I’m not reviewing a Minimates set, though I’m still sticking with the overall Universal Monsters theme I’ve grown so accustomed to.  Sideshow Collectibles was kind of synonymous with Universal Monsters for a solid chunk of the ’00s.  While their main claim to fame for years has been their impressive output of 1/6 scale figures, their initial offerings were actually a little bit on the shorter side.  I’m looking at one of their earliest figures, the Invisible Man, today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Invisible Man was released in 2000 as part of Series 3 of Sideshow’s Universal Studios Monsters line.  Packed alongside the Hunchback and the Metaluna Mutant, the Invisible Man was definitely this assortment’s heavy hitter.  The figure stands 8 inches tall and he has 10 points of articulation.  The Invisible Man has a couple of looks over the course of the film, and this figure opts for the robed appearance.  It’s probably the most distinctive of his looks, and certainly makes for the sharpest looking figure.  The sculpt on this figure was unique to him, as was the case for most of the line.  He, again like the rest of the line, was designed more or less as a plastic statue that happened to have some joints for minor tweaking to the pose, rather than being a more traditional action figure.  The best range is definitely on the neck joint, though the elbow and shoulder joints do have a little bit of flex to them as well.  The mid-leg cut joints are pretty much exclusively for tweaking the balance of the figure to keep him standing, which isn’t too dynamic, but does help keep this guy standing.  Moving past the mobility of the figure, the actual quality on the sculpt is pretty good, if perhaps a touch un-even.  The best work is definitely on the head, which has a ton of texturing and pretty much perfectly recreates the masked appearance as seen in the film.  From the neck down, there’s markedly less texturing work.  It’s still a good recreation of his garb from the film, in a sharp and clean fashion.  It’s fairly striking looking, and honestly works out pretty well, even if the texturing is absent.  Given what he’s wearing, it actually looks pretty solid.  The figure’s paint work is pretty strong work as well.  Again, the head’s the best work, with a believably weathered set of bandages.  The rest of the figure is more basic coloring, but there’s some impressive work on the patterns on the robe and the pants.  As with the rest of the line, there was a “Silver Screen” edition, which did all of the paint work in a grey scale color scheme, matching the actual film presentation.  It’s a little more limited in its application, but it’s still a cool concept.  Regardless of version, the Invisible Man was packed with an unmasked head, three books, and a display stand.  The head’s a fascinating piece, because honestly it’s something that would be far more accurately recreated with just a removable head, but they went to the trouble of sculpting a really impressive Claude Rains likeness and then totally hiding it by leaving it translucent and unpainted.  That’s commitment right there.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This line hit right in tandem with my first real stint with the Universal Monster movies, so I was very actively aware of it.  I only ever owned one figure from it, largely due to it being a pretty popular line, and me being an 8 year old without any money or transportation of his own.  I recall seeing this particular figure one time in a Toys R Us, while on a shopping trip with my Nana.  She was always pretty invested on pushing me into more conventional toys, so I ended up leaving the store with two X-Men: Movie figures instead (though, me being me, I went with Jean Grey and Professor X; yes, the girl and the guy in the wheel chair, which still raised some comment from Nana, who was really pushing for Wolverine and Magneto).  That marked the only time I saw this figure in person until earlier this month, when an entire set of this line came into All Time.  I snagged this guy for me right away, and I’m honestly really happy to finally have him.  He’s perhaps not the most action oriented piece, but he’s a really nice display piece.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this guy for review.  If you’re looking for toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#1900: Luke Skywalker: Rebel Commander – Bespin

LUKE SKYWALKER: REBEL COMMANDER — BESPIN

STAR WARS: HEROES OF THE REBELLION (SIDESHOW)

“The only son of Padme Amidala and Anakin Skywalker, Luke Skywalker is the Jedi Order’s last remaining hope in restoring balance to the galaxy. Unaware of his own true potential or parentage, Luke has sworn himself to the rebel cause and fights valiantly alongside his compatriots in the Battle of Hoth. It is there that Luke has a vision of his fallen friend and mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi, who instructs Luke to travel to the Dagobah system and seek the great and powerful Jedi Master Yoda.”

When Sideshow was really just starting to get their foot in the door with their Star Wars line, the initially focussed more on getting out suitable variants of the franchise’s main characters, especially Luke, Han, and Leia.  Luke was definitely a favorite of theirs at the start, with his Jedi Knight variant kicking off the line, and versions from A New Hope and Empire following in short succession.  My personal favorite Luke look has always been his rebellion-issued fatigues from Empire, and I’ll be looking at Sideshow’s take on that design today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Luke Skywalker (Rebel Commander — Bespin) was released in 2007 as part of Sideshow’s Heroes of the Rebellion line, which, of course, placed its focus on the Original Trilogy-era heroes of the Star Wars saga.  As with a lot of Sideshow offerings, there were two versions of this figure available: the regular release, and the Sideshow exclusive.  The figures proper are the same, but there were some extra accessories with the exclusive.  Luke stands just under 12 inches tall and he has 30+ points of articulation (whatever the proper count should be, he’s down two, due to this body being notorious for one half of the double jointed elbows being frozen in place).

The headsculpts for this line were, perhaps, not its strongest suit, but given what we were getting from Hasbro not long before, they were a breath of fresh air at the time.  Nevertheless, Luke was one of the slightly weaker offerings, though I think the biggest issue may have been a manufacturing issue of some sort.  For whatever reason, Luke’s head looks kind of flattened from certain angles; the left side of his face is sunken in too far compared to the right.  It strikes me as an issue with the molding process, but it afflicts the whole run of this figure.  It’s not terrible, though, and you can hide it with some careful posing.  Moving past that, it’s a fairly respectable ESB-era Hamill likeness.  The detail may not be 100% lifelike, but it’s certainly clean, and he’s recognizable.  The paintwork is a little primitive, and very thickly applied, but it looks passable.  The eyes on my figure are slightly goofy, and not quite as realistic as other figures from the line, but they’re still serviceable.

As you’d expect, Luke’s costume is a mixed media offering.  His shirt, jacket, and pants are all tailored cloth pieces, and they’re alright for the time.  The stitching is a little on the large side, and his shirt ends up having a much more involved collar than in the movie, due to needing to cover up his neck joint.  The pants suffer from being on the old Sideshow Buck, which was really starting to show its age at this point, and didn’t really look natural wearing much of anything.  The jacket is actually more accurate than it may appear in these photos, due to me being a dingus.  See, the collar is flipped down in the box, but it should be flipped up.  When it is, it looks a lot more like it should.  As seen here?  Well, it’s close, but looks slightly weird.  Luke’s belt is itself a mixed media affair, with a mostly pleather construction as the base, and plastic for the buckle and pouches.  His holster is quite impressive; the strap is magnetic, allowing for easy removal of the gun.  I always really liked that touch.  The boots are just a straight sculpted piece, but they’re still actually boots, as Sideshow hadn’t started doing molded feet at this point.

Luke was build on a modified version of the Sideshow Buck body, which had shortened arms and legs to reflect Hamill’s smaller stature.  The arms were a big deal for this release, as the Jedi Luke figure’s arms were standard length, making him look like a bit of a monkey.  The Buck body is the aspect of these figures that has aged by far the worst, and it was almost a decade old by the time it was used here.  Another decade hasn’t helped things.  It’s stiff and awkward, and just doesn’t look great with the clothes on it.  Or off it, I suppose.  It just doesn’t look great.

Luke was pretty well accessorized, with his lightsaber in two configurations (ignited and not), his blaster pistol, two pairs of hands (gripping R and L, trigger finger R, and open palm L), a stump for recreating the film’s most famous scene, and a display stand.  That was a solid offering for the main figure, but the exclusive upped the anti, adding in the auto-tourniquet he uses for his hand after the battle.  Sadly, mine’s just the basic release.  Guess my Luke’s stump won’t be getting proper treatment.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Luke is one of the figures that actually got me into the Sideshow Star Wars line.  I had attempted to jump on the Hot Toys bandwagon by asking for a Hot Toys Dark Knight Joker for Christmas in 2008.  However, delay after delay after delay meant that wasn’t to be that year (it’s okay, things worked out better the following year), so my parents let me trade in the value of that figure for something else.  It ended up being enough for three of these guys, so I got a Luke, Han, and Leia right out of the gate.  In addition to being my favorite Luke design, this figure was also the cheapest version of the character on the market at the time, so he was an easy choice for me.  Ultimately, he’s far from a perfect figure, but he’s looked pretty nifty on my shelf for the decade I’ve had him, so I really can’t complain.

#1760: Endor Rebel Commando Infantryman

ENDOR REBEL COMMANDO INFANTRYMAN

MILITARIES OF STAR WARS (SIDESHOW)

“The men and women of the Rebel Alliance were fiercely dedicated to the principle of freedom, and would lay down their lives to win their objectives. Some were Imperials disillusioned with their government’s tyranny. Some were from worlds subjugated by the Empire. In stark contrast to the faceless anonymity of the stormtrooper ranks or the precision drilling of Imperial Academy training, Alliance troops were aggressively individualistic and much more rag-tag.”

Back in the day, Sideshow Toys was a much smaller company, whose primary focus was largely horror.  Their first big break came along in the form of Star Wars, a property that had previously been confined pretty much exclusively to mass retail.  They were granted a special license (no small feat when you take all of Hasbro’s exclusivity deals), and got right to work producing characters from all throughout the saga.  The line’s still running (though they’ve started partnering with Hot Toys for a lot of releases), but today I’ll be jumping back to the line’s earliest days, and having a look at one of my favorite “characters” from Star Wars, the Endor Rebel Commando!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Endor Rebel Commando was released by Sideshow in 2007, as the debut offering in their Militaries of Star Wars line.  The Rebel was no doubt chosen for the relative ease of creation, especially when compared to the likes of the Stormtroopers.  There were three versions of the Commando available: the Infantryman, the Pathfinder, and the Sergeant.  The figure seen here is the Infantryman, the most widely available of the three, and the one meant to represent the most basic “army builder.”  It’s the same basic design as the Endor Rebel Soldier I looked at from the PotF2 line, though he’s obviously aiming for a more screen accurate appearance.  The figure stands 12 inches tall and has over 30 points of articulation.

The headsculpt was a slight change of pace for Sideshow’s Star Wars stuff, since he’s not meant to be based on one particular actor or character.  However, he’d look kind of odd if he were too generic. So, what Sideshow did was create a sculpt that was realistic, and clearly one individual, but still generic enough that if you have a few of them standing around, it’s not going to look too odd.  While I don’t know that the sculpt they gave us is my ideal head for a Rebel Soldier, there’s no denying it’s a very well crafted sculpt, which looks quite lifelike given the period of time in which it was released.  He’s perhaps a little cartoonish by modern 1/6 standards, but he’s right on par with the rest of Sideshow’s stuff at the time, and a marked improvement over the types of sculpts we were getting from Hasbro just a few years prior.  The paint work is somewhat thickly applied and a little basic by modern sculpts, but once again was very good for the time, and, admittedly, not bad even by modern standards.   The eyes in particular showcase some incredibly lifelike work.

The figure’s outfit showcases another area where the industry really changed following this figure’s release.  It’s a mixed media affair, as you’d expect.  He’s got a vest, jacket, undershirt, and pants that are all tailored pieces.  Though by today’s standards, they may be somewhat bulky, loose-fitting, and sport some rather sizable seems, they were decent work for the time, and again an improvement over similar figures from other companies.  With a little bit of careful posing, you can get them to look pretty great.  He also gets a belt with number of sculpted pouches (and one cloth one) and a bandolier, which both match the other offerings in style, and replicate the gear the Rebels were carrying in the movie.  His boots and gloves are sculpted.  The gloves are actually just hands, and they’re very nicely detailed, and quite well scaled to the body.  Sideshow at this time was always very good with the gloves.  The boots are, unlike with later figures, actually boots that slip over the figure’s feet.  Due to being made from a softer material, their detailing isn’t quite as sharp, but they’re still very good.  Lastly, and most importantly, the Infantryman has his helmet.  The Endor helmets are my favorite aspect of this design, and while this one isn’t a 100% match for the ones from the movie (it’s a little flat at the top, and sits a little high on his head), it’s still a very nice piece, and really pulls the whole figure together.

The primary failing of this, and really all of the early Sideshow Star Wars offerings, is the base body he’s built on.  He uses Sideshow’s Buck body, which was decent when they first started using it, but was almost a decade old by the time of this figure’s release.  It’s a rather stiff body, and clothes have trouble hanging the right way on it.  It’s also very skinny and suffers from some very odd internal proportions.  It’s this body that makes the uniform look a bit more off than it should, despite how it looks when not on this body.

The Infantryman’s uniform was more involved than some of the line’s other figures, so by comparison, he’s a little lighter on accessories.  He includes a Blastech A-295 blaster rifle, his hard-pack survival pack, and a display stand with the Star Wars logo on it.  He doesn’t get some of the more interesting smaller extras, but what he gets all of the basics.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

It took me quite a while to actually break into the Sideshow Star Wars line, and it was a ways after this figure’s release.  I remember being very interested in possibly getting this figure, but I just never did.  He’s not a bad figure at all, especially when you look at when he was released.  What’s more, this is still the only time that the Endor Rebels have been released in this scale.

The item reviewed here is not from my personal collection, but was instead loaned to me for review by my friends over at All Time Toys.  If you are interested in owning the figure from this review, he’s available through All Time’s eBay page.  And, if you’re looking for other toys, both old and new, please also check out All Time’s full eBay store front, and take a look at their webstore at alltimetoys.com.

#0400: Waxer, Boil, & Numa

WAXER, BOIL & NUMA

STAR WARS (SIDESHOW)

When it comes to Star Wars, it’s no secret that I’m not much of a fan of the prequel trilogy. The reasons are many, far too many to list here. However, I don’t hate everything about the prequels. In particular, the two spin-off cartoons (The Clone Wars and Clone Wars) were actually not terrible. The latter series kind of meandered and wasn’t always the greatest, but it had its shining moments, and there are a few episodes in particular that I really enjoyed. When Sideshow was looking for interesting ways to expand their 12 inch Star Wars line, they turned to the cartoon for some ideas. Today, I’ll be looking at two of the line’s clone troopers, Waxer and Boil, as well as their small compatriot Numa.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

This set was released by Sideshow in the summer of 2011 as part of their Star Wars line. The set is based on the episode “Innocents of Ryloth” which happens to be one of my favorite episodes of the show (it probably helps that the episode is essentially a 30 minute love letter to Aliens). This is the regular release of the set, but there was also a Sideshow exclusive version which had an extra piece for Numa.

WAXER

What’s interesting about Waxer is that he actually wasn’t created for the show. He actually first appeared in a comicbook story. When they got around to adapting that particular story, he had to be replaced by Boil due to having the misfortune of dying one episode previous. Bummer. Waxer is essentially based on his appearance in the episode, but he’s been given a more real world style. The figure is about 12 inches tall, and he’s got a bunch of articulation, which I don’t have an exact count on, as I don’t make a habit of undressing my action figures. Aside from the black jumpsuit, which is very well tailored, Waxer is pretty much all sculpted pieces. They’re all from previous clone troopers, but that doesn’t make them any less impressive. They are sharp and symmetrical, and they really look like the armor from the movies. The paintwork is exceptional, with plenty of weathering and texture to really make the armor look appropriately broken in. The orange accents, denoting him as being a clone under Commander Cody, are vibrant and clean, and really add to the figure’s look. He also has a few spots of graffiti on his helmet, which are true to the episode, and really contribute to the uniqueness of the figure. Waxer includes an extra un-helmeted head, a Phase II helmet, an extra set of fisted hands, extra running feet, blasters in three sizes, binoculars, and a display stand with the basic Star Wars logo. The head, while not Hot Toys quality, is pretty impressive. It’s an alright likeness of Temuera Morrison, though with the baldness and the smirk, it bears an uncanny resemblance to Billy Zane. The extra helmet is fine, though it lacks the personalization of the regular helmet. The hands offer a few options, and are all very nicely sculpted. The running feet are a neat concept, but finding a use for them can be difficult. The binoculars and blasters are pretty standard fare, but impressive nonetheless, and the stand is the new Hot Toys-style stand that allows the figure to be picked up and replaced with ease.

BOIL

Boil was created for the show as a partner in crime for Waxer, which is a role he filled quite well. Like Waxer, he’s based on his appearance in “Innocents of Ryloth” with a slightly more realistic approach taken. He’s about 12 inches tall, and he has the same points of articulation that Waxer has, however many that may be. He uses the basic Sideshow armored buck as a starting point, with the same black jumpsuit as Waxer. The armor is all the same, and it’s still really well executed, so that’s a definite plus. From the neck down, Boil’s paint is identical to that of Waxer. It’s fitting, since that’s true to the design, and it’s still an impressive set of work. Boil’s helmet is slightly different. He doesn’t have the vertical line of orange going down the center, and he has some slightly more elaborate graffiti on his helmet. It looks really good, and it’s minor, but different enough to set him apart nicely from Waxer. Boil pretty much comes with all the same stuff as Waxer: an un-helmeted head, a Phase II helmet, the extra hands and feet, the assortment of blasters, and the display stand. Most of it’s the same, but the helmet is done to match the pattern on his regular helmet, and obviously the un-helmeted head is different to convey Boil’s different look. He’s got a full head of hair, so the Morrison likeness is a bit more immediately apparent. The mustache looks a bit silly, but that’s true of the show’s design. He also has a few extra hands in a variety of gestures, which make for some entertaining poses.

NUMA

Numa is one of the titular innocents from the episode this set is based on. She’s essentially just Newt from Aliens. Her presence is what really makes this an episode-specific set, rather than just a pair of clone troopers. The figure is just shy of 6 inches tall and she features 5 points of articulation, which essentially means she’s only good for slight variations on the basic standing look. Numa’s smaller stature means she gets an all-new sculpt. It’s fairly well done. It seems to be the proper proportions and such. Numa’s head is probably the sculpt most negatively affected by the more realistic style. It’s not bad, but she seems somewhat expressionless. Also, the head seems a bit too small for the figure, which kind of makes her seem out of scale with Waxer and Boil. Numa has a cloth dress with a pleather belt. It’s pretty well tailored to the figure, and it seems to be an accurate depiction of what she wore in the episode. Numa’s paint work is pretty decent. It’s not super high quality, but it’s clean and even, and it does a good job with the colors and such. Numa’s only accessory is a display stand which can plug into the bottom of her left foot. The exclusive set added an extra arm holding the toy that she carries for most of the episode. The lack of accessories is forgivable, since Numa’s practically an accessory herself.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Like I said above, “Innocents of Ryloth” is one of my favorite episodes of the series, so I knew pretty much as soon as this was announced that I wanted it. I remember I actually only saw a headshot of the two clones and I thought to myself, “well if they included Numa, I’d have to get it.” No sooner had I thought that, I scrolled down and saw the full picture and there she was. My super awesome, super supportive parents were kind enough to buy this for my birthday in 2011, which was very nice of them. I really like this set. Sure, Numa’s not perfect, but the clones just about are, and Numa is decent enough that she makes a great complement to them.

#0339: Frankenstein’s Monster

FRANKENSTIEN’S MONSTER

UNIVERSAL MONSTERS (SIDESHOW)

Frankenstein1

Frankenstein is an important story. The original book is generally considered to be the very first Science Fiction story, and the 1931 film adaptation of the book helped kick off the Universal Monsters series, and made a star out of Boris Karloff. The first film is great, but it is surpassed by its sequel, Bride of Frankenstein, in the eyes of many. Bride featured better writing, better character work, better special effects, and a killer soundtrack to boot!

In the early 2000s, Sideshow Toys was just getting into the 12 inch scene. One of their earliest licenses they launched in that scale was Universal monsters, with Frankenstein among them. They did pretty much every version of the monster from the movies. Today, I’ll be looking at their version of the Monster as he’s seen in Bride of Frankenstein.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

FrankensteinWilsonThe Monster was released in 2002 as a part of the Universal Monsters line by Sideshow Toys. He was the second version of the Karloff Monster, but he was actually the fifth version of the Monster in the line, after the versions from the original film, Ghost of Frankenstein, Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman, and House of Frankenstein. The figure stands about 12 ½ inches tall and features 29 points of articulation. As noted in the intro, this figure is meant to represent the Monster from The Bride of Frankenstein. In Bride, the Monster has been left a little worse for wear by the events at the end of the first film, so the figure reflects that. Like most Sideshow figures of the time, the Monster is built on the Sideshow Buck, which was their original 12 inch body. It’s slightly dated and stiff now, but it was the standard in the day, and what’s more, the stiffness is actually perfect for a character like the Monster. In addition to the Buck, the Monster features unique pieces for his head, hands/forearms, and his feet. The hands and feet replace the usual Buck pieces, and elongate the figure’s body a bit to give him his more gargantuan size. The head represents the Monster’s more scarred look from the movie, and it does it very well. The likeness to Boris Karloff is astounding, which is really great. The rest of the figure’s appearance is handled via cloth pieces. They aren’t as impressively tailored as something like Hot Toys, but they aren’t bad. The green of the jacket seems a touch too bright, but otherwise the coloring seems pretty good. The clothes also feature some padding built in to help aid the figure in looking a bit larger. It works pretty well, so that’s good. The paint on the Monster is very well done. While it lacks some of the more lifelike touches that future Sideshow figures have, it’s very clean and features some really great detail work. The monster includes a cobblestone textured display stand, a skull, and a stack of bones. All of these are pretty great, especially the skull!

Frankenstein2Frankenstein5

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When I was growing up, the Frankenstein movies were some of my favorite horror movies. I had a small selection of Sideshow figures, and among them was Fritz, the Doctor’s ill-fated assistant from the first movie. I always wanted a Monster to go along with him, but I never got one. A few weeks ago, my parents and my brother took a trip to visit a friend, and on the way back they visited a comicbook store with a decent selection of Sideshow’s Universal Monsters. My family, being the horrible, supportive influences they are, called me to ask if there were any I was looking for. I inquired about the Monster and was told I could choose between the one from Son of and Bride of. I went for the more conventional Bride design. I’ve actually always preferred the look from Bride, so I’m really happy with this figure. All in all, he’s a great version of Karloff’s interpretation of the character, and I’m really glad to finally have Frankenstein’s Monster to go with Fritz.

Frankenstein4