I’ve actually had this review completed for a few months now, but was reluctant to post it because it just didn’t sit right with me. I wanted to make sure that my own excitement over a non-Hasbro 12″ line of Star Wars figures wasn’t coloring my opinion. Conversely, I didn’t want to bash the figure just because it fell a little short of my expectations.
To give a little background, my expectations were built upon my experience collecting 1/6th military figures from Dragon, BBi, and DiD. Fifty bucks should get you a pretty good military figure with an excellently tailored uniform, great headsculpt, moving parts on the weapons, functional ammo pouches and equipment, and a great posable body. Some companies even have metal weapons and accessories, not to mention leather footwear. So coming from this point of view, I was expecting a lot from my fifty-dollar-Luke. However, if you’ve just collected Hasbro’s 12″ Star Wars figures, these figures will be a definite step-up.
Sideshow has some pretty good sculptors working for them and some of their headsculpts are simply stunning. Luke’s headsculpt has been the subject of much debate because of its facial expression, but no matter what, I can instantly recognize who this is–and that’s a good thing. It’s safe to say that this is one of the best, if not the best, ROTJ Luke headsculpts ever made. I think they’ve done a spectacular job on the facial features and the hair, capturing the subtle wrinkles in the skin and the way his hair covers his ears.
However, I have to admit that the expression is a tad disappointing, though it’s really not as bad as some people might think. There is a sort of pensiveness about it and I think it is a good representation of how Luke felt throughout the movie. The only downfall is that it really doesn’t work too well with action poses, which is probably how the majority of people would pose this figure. The headsculpt may seem a tad large but it’s actually pretty accurate. I think what makes it look large is the skinny bodies Sideshow uses.
The hand sculpts are equally great, with plenty of realistic detail. There are five different hands: a force wield left hand, a gloved right hand, a blaster damaged right hand, a saber grip left hand, and a saber grip right hand. They seem a bit on the large side, especially the force wield left hand. All five different hands are well posed and can be used in multiple ways. The saber grip right hand has an extended index finger for holding the trigger of a gun, perfect for the included blaster that comes with the Sideshow exclusive version.
The open hand may look large and out of scale to you, but it is the correct size–just compare it to the gripping hands and you’ll see their sizes are similar (if you think the gripping hands are out of scale, then that’s a whole ‘nother issue). Like the headsculpt, the lanky and skinny-looking arms of the body help make the hands look big. The hands attach to the body via small pegs in the wrist joints and are very easy to remove and attach. In fact, they may be too easy to remove, and it can be a bit annoying when you’re posing the figure and the hands are starting to slip off their pegs.
Luke’s black bodysuit is decent, but the transition from the body to the pants seems awkward; there is some black trimming on the sides of the pants that abruptly end at the waist. The actual costume may be like this though, so maybe it’s supposed to be like that, but I was under the impression that the outfit was made up of a separate shirt and pants. The chest flap seems slightly crooked on my figure, but I do like the use of the wires, allowing you to fold down part of the flap like how it looks at the end of ROTJ. Unfortunately, it is very easy for the wire to poke out from the fabric, so use caution
The gray tunic Luke wore at the beginning of ROTJ is not too bad either, but there are slight inaccuracies that keep it from being the best it can be. The collar of the vest is too thick, and the shoulders of the vest juts out too far. In fact, the whole thing just looks too large compared to what is seen in the movie. However, the material they’ve used for the outfit is nice and thin, which is good because you want the thickness of the fabric to be in 1/6 scale.
Luke’s hooded cloak is rather simple and unfortunately isn’t tailored as accurately as it could have been. It doesn’t fit around the shoulders the way it does in the movie simply because it isn’t tailored to fit the shoulders at all–it’s just a big half-circle of fabric. The hood of the cloak is nice though, and also utilizes a wire to help keep its shape. Unfortunately, the thinness of the cloth makes it easy for the ends of the wire to poke out of the fabric, so be careful when you “sculpt” the hood. A small hook secures the cloak around Luke’s neck.
The plastic boots are the worst sculpted items in the set in my opinion. They’re a bit too simplistic and don’t give a realistic impression that these are supposed to be leather. They are also very stiff, making the ankle articulation useless. The great thing about 12-inch figures is that you can replace the boots with real leather boots if you so desire. The leather belt is a decent item. It has some metal pieces embedded in certain places, and a plastic hook for the lightsaber to hang from. There is also a little sculpted pouch attached to the back of the belt which, like the boots, are simplistic in their sculpting detail. The belt buckle is disappointingly plain and it looks exactly like what it’s made of – a warped piece of plastic. There are three holes in the belt to adjust the tightness, allowing you to put the belt over the gray tunic if you so desire (Luke wears this belt over the gray tunic when he tells Leia that she is his sister).
The body is a big letdown to me. My biggest gripe is the fact that the forearms are just way too long. The hands practically reach the knees, making Luke look a bit ape-like. Not cool. Luke has the 14 major points of articulation you’d expect from a 12″ figure: ball-jointed head, ball-jointed shoulders, double-jointed elbows, hinged and swiveling wrists, ball-jointed mid-section, waist, ball-jointed hips, double-jointed knees, and hinged and swiveling ankles. Unfortunately, some of these points are below average in their posability.
The arms are the biggest let down, as they can’t bend nearly as far as they should. You’d think that a double jointed elbow would allow the forearm to bend all the way to the shoulder. Not so with this figure. You can bend the arm a little past ninety degrees and then it stops. The elbows are simply poorly engineered, and Sideshow apparently missed the point of having double-jointed elbows on their figures. The ankles are another sore spot, but that’s mostly due to the stiff boots mentioned earlier. Get some softer boots to alleviate the problem. I recommend getting real leather boots from Newline Miniatures, or WWII German officer’s boots made by Dragon. Links to buy these items at the end of the review.
The hips also seem to be a point of frustration for many people, not in terms of their articulation, but in terms of the way they look. Much of the hip section is “hollowed out” so the legs have more room for motion. This is fine and dandy, but Luke’s outfit has a tendency to go inward where the hollowed out portion of the hips are, making Luke’s hip articulation much too obvious. Putting on Luke’s vest hides the hips, but if you want to display Luke in just his black outfit then this might be a nagging detail. Some customizers have already begun experimenting with using foam padding to fill in the empty space, and the results are good so it might be something you may want to try yourself.
Perhaps the most innovative feature of this body is the shoulder area. You can slide the arms at the shoulder area forward and back; this allows the arms to come together in front of the chest without having to bend the arms. This is very effective for lightsaber poses where Luke holds the lightsaber straight out in front of him with both hands. However, this isn’t quite enough to make this a stellar 1/6th scale body.
Luke comes with the femur bone from the Rancor battle, an unlit lightsaber hilt, a lit lightsaber hilt, and a display stand. The Sideshow exclusive version comes with the blaster pistol Luke uses to try and kill Jabba the Hutt with. This blaster pistol looks excellent, with good detail and fits in Luke’s ungloved saber-grip right hand very nicely. The lightsabers are practically perfect! The sculptwork is mucho excellent with impressive detail in the activation pad and the little buttons on the side. The only thing one might complain about is the metal D-ring; the hole that it’s placed in isn’t very big and it may fall out easily, though it hasn’t happened to me. The femur bone is also a well-done piece and looks very close to the one in the movie. The display stand is nicely done with a big round base that has the Star Wars logo printed on it and a metal arm that goes around the waist of the action figure. It’s great for displaying the figure on shelves (especially high ones!) and can be an aid for difficult poses.
So what would have made this category perfect? Including Luke’s Endor gear! This would have been the ultimate ROTJ Luke figure if it had that! I can see how the Endor helmet would have been expensive to make…maybe that should have the exclusive item instead of the blaster. For now, you can use the helmet and poncho from Hasbro’s Luke or Leia figures that came with the speeder bike (if you have them of course).
This is actually my first Sideshow figure I’ve ever bought. I’ve bought some loose Sideshow accessories, but that’s it. Thus, I didn’t know what to expect with their painting ability. Well, I was pleasantly surprised that the figure looks pretty much exactly like how the prototype photos look, and that’s definitely a good thing. Whenever a company can mass-produce something and have it turn out looking pretty much just like the prototype, then they get a star in my book. Good detail in the eyes, a nice subtle lip color, subtle shading on the skin, and well painted hair and eyebrows. They’ve also added a gloss coat to the eyes to give them that wet look.
The hands also have a nice paint wash applied to them, bringing out the detail in the skin and fingernail areas. The lightsabers are also done well, though my ignited lightsaber hilt has some silver areas that could have been painted better. The only major sloppiness is on the headsculpt of my figure which has a drop of the gloss coat on the side of Luke’s nose! This is most likely an isolated incident though, and I’m giving Sideshow the benefit of the doubt. All in all, this is a well-painted figure.
If there’s one thing I have absolutely no complaints with, it’s the packaging. This packaging feels and looks super deluxe, with it’s glossy look and well-thought-out design. At first glance, the box looks like an ordinary action figure box, but it unfolds into four panels unlike most boxes which tend to be two panels. The advantages of having it unfold into four panels is that there is more room for informational text, and Sideshow has made good use of all the extra space. Upon opening the box (which in itself is unique), the left-most panel is all about Sideshow’s Order of the Jedi line of 12″ action figures. It has a nice history explaining the Jedi Order and should fill anyone in that doesn’t know what the Jedi are all about. The second panel is a shallow box which has inside a plastic tray which holds the accessories. By the way, everything is pretty collector friendly here, though there is tape securing the plastic trays and their covers; once you’ve cut through the tape, you can take everything out of the package and put it back in just as easily.
The third panel is a profile on Luke Skywalker’s story, or more specifically, the events that occur in Return of the Jedi. This is another excellent bit of information that should be helpful for those not familiar with Luke or for those who need a refresher on what happened in ROTJ. The last panel is the main box which houses Luke, his cloak, and the included stand. Despite there being no twisty-ties, nothing will slide around and everything feels very sturdy. One last thing about the design that I have to mention is the use of magnets to keep the box closed. Most companies use velcro to keep their box panels closed which had some drawbacks. Sometimes the velcro stickers would come off, or sometimes the velcro would be so strong that you’d end up damaging the box just trying to open one of the panels. The magnets work great here and keep the box closed nicely. I guess the only drawback with magnets is that it can slide around a bit, but it’s not that bad and I think the end result works really well.
Now let’s talk about the graphic design on the packaging. Again, Sideshow has done a great job here and has included everything I want to see on a package. There’s great photos of the figure all around the box (none on the top or bottom), and each photo is different which gives you a good idea of the different looks and poses this figure is capable of. There’s still shots from Return of the Jedi on the back of the box, which gives you a way to compare the figure to the movie and also gives you posing ideas. Cross-selling is also a good tactic and Sideshow shows three other 12-inch figures in the line: Kit Fisto, Anakin Skywalker, and Obi-Wan Kenobi. All of this comes together with a simple and elegant graphic design that makes good use of the Star Wars logo, the Order of the Jedi logo, and the name of the figure. Excellent stuff!
I’m not gonna lie, this was a tough figure to score. If I were going off of my own biases and excitement for an improved 12-inch Star Wars line, I’d probably give this figure a 5 out of 5. BUT, I have to look at this figure as objectively as possible, and there are a lot of areas that are lacking with this figure while other areas are superb. The headsculpt is great, though it doesn’t have the most versatile expression. The outfit is decent, and while it’s loads better than anything that Hasbro has given us, I feel it could have been better. The boots for instance, are horrible. The forearms are way too long. Elbow articulation is poor. The weapons are excellent. The box is perfect. I’m so conflicted
So I started to look past the figure. Given the advancements in 1/6th scale action figures with companies like Dragon and DiD, how does this figure hold up? Honestly, not too well. Granted, they make primarily World War II figures and don’t have to worry about licensing fees, but they still have the same set of problems: how do you make a costume in 1/6th scale look like the 1/1 scale costume, with as much functionality and detail as possible. Let me tell you, they’re doing an incredible job. For example, they are starting to incorporate leather and metal as much as possible. Imagine having a Luke figure with leather boots, a metal belt buckle, a metal blaster, and a metal lightsaber hilt! Dragon and DiD are doing these things right now (though with WWII figures) and at a similar or cheaper price point to Sideshow’s figures. I guess my point is that the bar has been raised for 1/6th detail, and Sideshow is below it.
Don’t get me wrong, Sideshow has raised the bar for 1/6th scaled Star Wars figures, but then again, that’s not too hard when all you have to do is make a better figure than Hasbro. What about the Medicom Real Action Hero Luke, you ask? Well, I don’t actually own that figure, so I can’t make a totally accurate opinion, but if you had to choose between Sideshow and Medicom, I’d say that the Sideshow figure gives you more bang for the buck. But if price were not a concern, then I’d say that they both have their good and bad points and it’s a toss-up. If I could, I’d meld the two together to create the ultimate Jedi Luke figure, but that’s not possible.
Wow, that was quite a tangent, but my point is this: Sideshow can do better. I want them to do better. I want to give their figures great scores because I love a good 1/6 scaled figure and I love Star Wars and I want this line to be the best it can be. I simply feel that a year from now, the people who are proclaiming this to be the “best Star Wars action figure” will look back and realize how much better this figure could have been. As a Star Wars fan, I like this figure a lot, but looking at this as just another action figure, it could have been much better. I still recommend getting this figure though, despite its shortcomings, I guarantee you won’t regret it.