Saturday, September 2, 2006

Figure of the Day: Day 119: Darth Sidious (Holograph)

Episode I Collection 2
Item No.:
Asst. 84095 No. 84081
Number: n/a
Includes: CommTech Chip
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $6.99
Availability: 2000
Appearances: The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith

Bio: The evil and mysterious power behind the Trade Federation's blockade of Naboo, Darth Sidious appears over vast distances as a holograph in order to communicate to his many subordinates. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' Clone Wars shelves.

Commentary: By 2000, it was obvious that corporate America's gamble on the prequels were slightly misplaced. While a massive event movie, overproduction, collector burn-out, and the film itself were responsible for figures like Darth Sidious (Holograph) seeing limited distribution because other, older items were so overproduced that there was little room for anything new. The figure itself was (and remains) one of the better holographic figures ever made, because a lot of smart decisions when adapting the regular Darth Sidious mold. For starters, the original figure's individual legs were all remolded into one central body piece. Also, the figure added paint to flesh out the hands and face, while most later figures were solid-color or had weird blobs and "shimmers" to accentuate the figure's decoration. (The lone real exception being Jedi Luke's Holograph from 2002 and the 2004 Spirit of Obi-Wan Kenobi.) So the figure is fairly solid, and it looks good. As far as articulation, each arm has three joints, and beyond that you don't need much more-- the head doesn't really move, but it is a separate piece.

This figure more or less accurately represents every portrayal of Darth Sidious as a holograph-- standing still, and being mostly clear. It isn't perfection, but it's very, very close and I personally have a hard time picturing Hasbro ever doing a better job than this, the very first attempt at a holographic hooded Palpatine. Hasbro would try again two more times. In 2004, Hasbro took the 1997 Emperor Palpatine figure and molded it in clear, unpainted purple plastic. In 2005, Hasbro took the 2005 Emperor Palpatine figure and molded it in the same unpainted purple color. To this date, the original, 2000 Darth Sidious Holograph from Episode I is easily the best. If you only get one clear Emperor, get this one.

And for the record, there are also smaller versions of this character as holographs. In 2002, Lott Dod and Count Dooku were packaged with miniature, hooded holographic figures. In 2006, all villains had the opportunity to be packaged with red or blue versions of a lightsaber-brandishing Darth Sidious bonus figure. To date, no character has had more unique holographic toys made of it.

Collector's Notes: In addition to the regular US release, a foreign release was made as well. In it, a bonus Pit Droid was packaged with this figure, and there are three variants. These cross over into the lower echelons of "Holy Grail" status as they're quite hard to get, and combine an awesome figure with an awesome overseas exclusive. Good luck finding them. But I digress.

Issued only once and in limited numbers, this figure is essentially a collector's item in a vaguely true sense of the world. It's not hype, this is actually a good item, collectors dig it, and it isn't too dirt cheap but can be had for cheaply. Under $15 shouldn't be a problem, under $10 is also doable. Were I a new collector, I'd put this high on my wish list.

Day 119: September 2, 2006

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