Thursday, November 14, 2013

....Party On Darth

I think it’s safe to say that of all the Star Wars movies, Episode 1, the Phantom Menace is the one most people would say is the weakest. Thanks to this movie we were introduced to Jar Jar Binks and midichlorians. And with one joyful “yipee” our image of the fearsome Sith Lord Darth Vader was forever tarnished. It’s not all bad though, in fact, one of the best things about The Phantom Menace was almost enough for me (at least) to look past all its flaws….almost.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw the trailer for the Phantom Menace in the movie theatre. It was pure geek overload, with all this NEW Star Wars imagery coming in non-stop it was almost impossible to latch on to just one thing….that is until Yoda started his iconic “Fear is the path to the darkside…” speech. As he spoke those words, we were introduced to a solitary dark hooded figure. Cut to 2 jedi activating their blue lightsabers…and finally we get the a full glimpse of the figure in black with a devilish fully tattooed head activating a DOUBLE bladed lightsaber! Now THAT was something we’d never seen before!

A few months later the movie finally opened….and went, and despite all its short comings, the Sith we came to know as Darth Maul, thankfully did not disappoint. He didn’t say much, and he let his actions speak for him. And thanks to martial artist Ray Park who played Darth Maul, gave us probably the BEST lightsaber battle ever portrayed on screen. Unfortunately however, as everyone knows, he didn’t end up winning this epic duel (he came pretty close though) and instead ended up falling down the abyss in two pieces.

one day...this will be worth
Although his time in the Star Wars movie-verse was short, it was sweet and made a lasting impression on many Star Wars fans. So when the inevitable and highly anticipated new toyline was launched, it wasn’t a surprise that his action figure turned into the most highly sought after one. When this toyline came out, I was not yet a toy collector but even I couldn’t resist getting myself a Darth Maul figure when luckily I saw one in a store. I really had no intention of opening it up or anything. I figured it would be cool to just keep it mint on card and let its value go up and maybe hand it over to my future son one day. So I bought it, and stuffed it in a closet and that was that.

Flash forward to 2013. Although I have become a full-fledged toy collector, one toyline I managed to generally stay away from was ironically, Star Wars (a massive ewok village diorama, bounty hunters and a few jedi don’t count). I had many reasons for not going all in on a Star Wars collection, one main reason of course was money. And the other was that there are SO MANY damned Star Wars figures and sub-lines out there I just wouldn’t know where to start.

my 'modest' Star Wars display....

And then those bastards at Hasbro decided to launch a new highly detailed and articulated 6” line called the Black series. Now since the dawn of time, Star Wars figures were always small…3.75-4” small. And as far as articulation goes, although they have gotten significantly better over the years…let’s just say they’re no G.I.Joes. So this whole new 6” scale was new ground for Star Wars action figures. And when their first figure, that of X-Wing pilot Luke Skywalker with its fairly realistic Mark Hamill likeness was revealed, they made it known that they weren’t cutting any corners with this line meant specifically for the adult collector.

Pretty soon after, they revealed 3 more figures that would make up the initial wave of the toyline; R2-D2, a Sand Trooper…..and Darth Maul. Now even though Hasbro said that this line would only concentrate on A-list characters (sorry, no Star Wars black Snaggletooth here…), I still made the decision that I would not bite and collect this line. But when they revealed Darth Maul, with his exceptional sculpt….my resolve caved in and I knew I HAD to get him.

Unfortunately, when the Black series was released here in Manila, they were sold at insane prices and surprise surprise…Darth Maul turned out to be the hardest to find. Fortunately, and as if was fated, I was able to find one off Amazon and thanks to the perfect timing of my sister from the US coming home for a visit, I got myself a brand new spanking Darth Maul at practically less than half the retail price it was going for here! And unlike that first Darth Maul figure I bought…this one did NOT stay in the box.

With his realistic sculpt, detailed and NEAT paint job (especially on the face) excellent articulation and just the right amount of accessories, including an additional hooded head, Darth Maul is an almost perfect figure. And I do expect him to place high up in my best of 2013 list. If I had to make one gripe it would be that he would have benefitted greatly had they included an action figure stand so he can be placed in more dynamic poses. But other than that…as I said, he’s damn near perfect.

So what does the future hold for me and the Star Wars Black series? Well…as of now I have just stuck to Darth Maul…mainly because Boba Fett has been sold out everywhere and I don’t want him that bad enough to pay eBay prices for now. I have no intention of collecting YET another toyline…in fact I’ve decided to cut down (bye bye Marvel Universe)…but I’m pretty sure I will end up getting a few more down the road….just to keep Darth Maul company…