DARTH MAUL (12″)
I was at Toys R Us recently and they had absolutely nothing of interest to me. They’re still stocking wave one of the Retaliation G.I.Joes which are more than a year old, they’ve got nothing but Beast Hunters Transformers, their Marvel section is clogged up with crappy Iron Man 3 toys, and even their TMNT section has nothing but turtles in coveralls. It was a sad state of affairs. But there was one aisle that was stocked with new and exciting items and it’s an aisle that I don’t usually pay much attention to…the Star Wars aisle.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love Star Wars as much as the next guy but I burnt myself out on it in the late 90s. I had myself so psyched about the prequels that when they came out and weren’t as fantastic as I hoped they were gonna be I just lost my passion for the brand. The clone wars cartoon seems cool and everything but I just can’t get into it. The new comic by Darkhorse set within the original trilogy seems promising too but I passed on that as well. Even the mounds of Star Wars toys I see on the store shelves usually fail to intrigue me. Who knows, maybe if the new movies are stellar I’ll get my Star Wars groove back, but for now the brand is pretty much off my radar.
That said, some of the Star Wars stuff I saw at Toys R us was pretty cool. I’m not sure if it’s because there was nothing else to buy but I was very close to purchasing some Star Wars stuff last night and it would have been my first SW purchases in a long time. There was a 2 foot tall Darth Vader with a cloth cape that was pretty rad looking and the small figures had some nice new packaging. The standard figures have improved a lot as far as sculpting and articulation goes since I was actively collecting Star Wars figures in the 90s and early 2000s. Picking up improved versions of some of my favorite characters was somewhat tempting. But what really caught my eye was the new line of 5 inch figures called “The Black Series” which were amazingly detailed. The Black Series Darth Maul really impressed me. I was SO close to purchasing it but then I told myself “No. You cannot start buying Star Wars stuff. You already have a ton of this stuff in a bucket back home. Go home and play with that.” And so I left him at Toys R Us but I felt inspired to review a Dart Maul figure so here we go…
Darth Maul is, in my mind, the best thing to come out of the prequel trilogy. He’s just so damn cool looking. When the Phantom Menace trailer first came out and it showed Maul firing up his double-sided lightsaber, that was probably one of the biggest geek out moments of excitement that I’ve ever had. An evil Jedi with horns and a double lightsaber that knows kung-fu? Holy crap!! Count me in! Obviously I was disappointed when (spoiler alert!) he gets cut in half and falls to his death at the end of the film. Regardless it has never taken much screen time to endear a Star Wars character to me, let me remind you that my favorite all-time character is walrus man.
I have 3 or 4 small Maul figures but my favorite Darth Maul in my collection would be the 12” doll. Or 12” action figure if you’d rather. I know some people get bent out of shape about calling any toy geared towards boys a doll but I have no issue with it. If an action figure is Barbie sized and has removable clothes well then that’s a doll in my eyes.
So let’s talk about this toy. This is the kind of 12” figure that I like. Companies like Hot Toys and Sideshow have been producing some amazing 12” figures lately but each one is like $200. Who can afford to collect those things? There are lots of 12” figures available at retail these days but they are often of the uber-cheap variety with limited articulation and no cloth clothing. When this figure was released in 1999 it was widely available at retail for around thirty bucks and it still felt like a premium format figure. I picked up a number of Star Wars dolls around that time including my beloved Walrus Man who’s even uglier at 12” tall.
Darth Maul has rubber boots and a cloth cape which is made up of multiple layers of fabric of different textures. The outer layer has a nice silky ribbed texture to it. Multiple layers could potentially stifle a figure’s articulation but this guy retains plenty of movement and posability. The cloak has a hood which can be displayed up or down. The figure looks good either way. For accessories he has his double sided red light saber which can be separated into two single sabers ( I think). I actually can’t recall if he came with anything else since it’s been so long since i purchased him but he probably didn’t.
One issue I do have with this figure is the face sculpt. It’s by no means bad, in fact it’s quite good, but Maul looks very bored here. This is the most indifferent face I’ve ever seen on so menacing a character. My brother Doug bought a different 12” version of Maul around the same time I got this one. His was all plastic and had lights and sounds and junk. I much prefer mine over his but Doug’s had a really good scowl on his face that I was always jealous of. Another small gripe I have about this figure is what he looks like under all those layers. He’s got a standard Ken body cast in black plastic. It’s not that big a deal but if I wanted to display this guy shirtless to show off all of the crazy tattoos he has on his torso (as we’ve seen in other media since the movie came out) it would be nice to have that option. Overall, pretty damn cool and for a good value.