NIGHTSISTER Darth Maul Returns
Clone Wars Target Exclusive Battle Pack
Item No.: No. A0730
Includes: Lightsaber, display stand, card, plus Darth Maul and Savage Opress figures
Action Feature: n/a
Availability: September 2012
Appearances: The Clone Wars
Bio: Darth Maul returns from the dead and is ready for battle on new cybernetic legs. With the help of his brother Savage Opress and a powerful Nightsister, Maul prepares to avenge himself against the Jedi who almost killed him. (Taken from the figure's packaging. You'll note, it doesn't quite match the story... or maybe it does, from a certain point of view.)
Image: Adam's photo hole.
Commentary: So! This one's interesting. I'll be complaining a lot here. The Nightsister is clearly in this set as a substitute for the oft-requested (and frankly, I think essential) Mother Talzin. The packaging merely designates her a "powerful Nightsister" while assigning her no specific identity. Long-time fans will recognize Ian McCaig's pre-Darth Maul "Sith Witch" concept art (see: The Art of Star Wars Episode I The Phantom Menace by Jonathan Bresman, page 196), which had previously been adapted to a Wizards of the Coast Miniatures figure. When you get a close look at this figure, it's unquestionably not an animated action figure. This one has to be a rejected comic pack, concept art, or other "realistic" line release.
The articulation, style, and level of detail betray this figure's origin as a non-animated figure. Hasbro pretty much phased out ankle joints by the end of 2010 when it comes to The Clone Wars, and if you get really close to this one, the texture and details are far too complex for the animated line. Her largely unlined, non-furrowed-brow face could be arguably in this line, but the eyes and face in general match Hasbro's realistic style, as does the pose, the way the dress is draped, the texture of the feathers, and, frankly, the lightsaber matches the aforementioned art book too dang closely. This is a stealth concept figure which, I gotta say, is arguably not a bad thing. I'd rather have a proper Mother Talzin, but I'll take a concept Sith Witch too. (I know which shelf she belongs on, and now so do you.) So let's talk about the figure!
She's good! If this were a $10 Vintage figure I'd encourage you to go buy her. Heck, I think you should consider her as one, with Maul and Savage as excellent bonuses. Her gold-and-silver lightsaber closely follows the uncolored McCaig concept, with a nice red blade that isn't too clear or too pale. The Nightsister is covered in feathers, some of which stick up slightly more than the concept art, but the overall look and feel of the dress, and her hair, look a lot like that original piece of art. Her plastic dress was designed admirably, it's soft and has enough give (and a sizable opening) so she can be moved into various action or combat poses, ready to fight with a lightsaber were you so inclined. The Nightsister has 14 points of articulation, and her legs are surprisingly free of obstruction with articulated knees and ankles to boot. I never would have assumed, I'm surprised. Her hands swivel, and have no problems holding her lightsaber. The figure is largely red and free of extraneous deco, but she's more colorful than the original artwork.
All I can say is that it's a fantastic figure with a misleading name. Prequel concept fans, or generally cool figure fans, this is worth tracking down. Despite the ridiculous nature of the "we cut off Darth Maul's excretory abilities so of course he's still alive" angle, these are three top-notch figures which you have no reason to skip. At all. I don't care what your collecting proclivities are, this is a good set for the money and you should get it.
Collector's Notes: Yakface cites Hasbro as saying: "Hasbro explained this as not having enough lead time to develop a proper figure given the fluidity of the design changes for the show." Which, all due respect, would be a load of crap on Hasbro's part. Mother Talzin's first appearance in the cartoon was January 2011 and the character design was probably finalized at least two years (or very close to two years) ago. Hasbro has said that it takes 12-18 months to design a figure, and unless my math or sense of time is wonky, and I fully admit it may be, this doesn't add up - after all, Mother Talzin and Savage Opress were introduced in the same story arc, and we got Savage's first figure in late 2010. Anyway. The set is exclusive to Target, and its street date coincided with a "Darth Maul Returns" DVD with the final episodes of season 4 of The Clone Wars. As of right now, it should be in a store near-ish you. For $20, for what it is, it's still a good deal.
It also makes me want to see if Hasbro can ever do more animated-style Nightsisters, a new Asajj Ventress, and Mother Talzin. I don't know if you've been watching the show at all, but Asajj Ventress' story arc gives her the most growth and the most to do as of late, rivaling or arguably besting Ahsoka in terms of development. These evil witches steal the show, and are woefully underrepresented in a line as the claim goes around that female characters and female fans of the show are the new "let's engage this demo!" group.