STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES ARCHIVE (HASBRO)
“The evil Sith apprentice Darth Maul engages in a fierce lightsaber duel with Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi.”
Star Wars: The Black Series‘ debut line-up was an interesting assortment. Though everything included was instantly recognizable and a distinctive Star Wars element, everything was sort of adjacent to top tier. The Luke included wasn’t his main look from any of the movies, the trooper included wasn’t a standard Stormtrooper, and the Sith lord included wasn’t Darth Vader. It was Hasbro’s bid at trying out the line without potentially sacrificing any truly pivotal figures to possible early-line production issues. Given the slightly more middling line-up, the first series was a much smaller run compared to later in the line, and some of its figures became quite tricky to track down as the line progressed. In order to give new fans a chance to catch up, Hasbro instituted a new sub-line, dubbed “Archive” as an easy way to re-pop in-demand figures from older assortments. While the first series was completely focussed on the Original Trilogy, the second line-up adds in some of the Prequel characters, including by far the most marketable character to come out of the Prequels, Darth Maul!
THE FIGURE ITSELF
Darth Maul is one of the four figures in the second Archive line-up, and the second of the original Black Series figures to be featured (the third to get a re-release, counting the 35th R2; only the Sandtrooper remains without a reissue). Rather fittingly, this assortment arrived at roughly the same time as the latest series of the main line, so Maul and Obi-Wan hit shelves together. Maul stands just under 6 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation. Compared to more recent releases, Maul’s articulation is slightly more rudimentary, and a little less fluid; essentially it’s just the Legends articulation of 2013 applied to another line. It’s most noticeable on the neck joint, as that’s an area where the two lines have most clearly diverged. At the very least he has the ball-jointed torso to mix things up, which ends up being a pretty major saving grace of the figure’s articulation. That said, it’s entirely workable even in its current state, and honestly a little better than some of the mid-line figures that would follow it. Maul’s sculpt was always really the star offering of the initial line-up, being a solid recreation of his on-screen appearance with well-integrated articulation, and a decent level of detailing. While it’s not all quite as sharp, it’s still a solid selection of work. Maul’s paintwork isn’t too involved for the most part, with the body just being variants of matte and shiny black. The real star work is on the face, and it’s also the only place where there’s a change from the original release, since he uses the new face printing for his eyes. It’s not a super noticeable difference, but it helps him fit in better with the more recent figures. The original pitch for the line was as close to one-and-done as possible, and Maul’s accessories were designed with that in mind. He’s got an extra head with robes attached, his binoculars, and his double-bladed lightsaber, which has removable blades and can be split in the movie.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
Like a fool, I passed on the original release of Maul when the first assortment was out, because I was trying to stick to the “no prequels” rule, which I hadn’t yet abandoned. By the time I’d rethought it, he had jumped considerably in price, and so I had to play the waiting game. While the Archive line-ups so far haven’t been for me, Maul was on my list as soon as his name was floated for the line. He’s definitely a strong figure, and probably one of the best from early in the line. He also pairs really nicely with Obi-Wan, which is a huge plus.