1999's Finest Figure, 14 Years Late
The Black Series 6-Inch Assortment
Item No.: Asst. A4301 No. A4303
Points of articulation: 18
Includes: Head attached to cloak, horned head, two-piece lightsaber hilt, two red lightsaber blades, binoculars
Action Feature: n/a
Availability: July 2013
Appearances: The Phantom Menace
Verdict: Unless you have a severe prequel allergy, this is a really good figure and probably one of the best we're going to see by virtue of how well the outfit works with this kind of a format. You get all of the articulation you need and almost all of the accessories you could hope for.
Where to buy: This review is sponsored by Entertainment Earth! Please click here to order yours now. Also available at Amazon.com.
Bio: The evil Sith apprentice Darth Maul engages in a fierce lightsaber duel with Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)
Since photos of black robes are hard to really pick out in terms of detail, I'm going to assume it's perfect. I have no reason not to - the various layers of plastic and fabric combine to create a look that's similar to the action figures over the years, about which I've been privy to minimal complaints. Even if the robes are incorrect, I'm not noticing this as a problem - what I see here is fun and generally looks like I (think I) remember seeing on the big screen. Of course, this also means there's little room for surprise - it's a bad guy in a black robe, with glossy gloves and boots. As such, there's no real chance for the toymakers to surprise us here.
Articulation is strong, with roughly 18 points. Due to the dynamic nature of the character, I tried posing him doing various kicks on one leg - gravity will not allow this, as his joints aren't quite that stiff. The figure has similar holes to a Marvel Legends figure, so I tried balancing him on those display stands. It didn't quite work.
An optional rubbery outer cloak is included with an alternate head, which is a heck of a great idea. For years Hasbro has struggled with getting a hood to sit on a head just right, and this completely solves the problem! Everything just works - it's a bit of a challenge to get the arms through the sleeves, but it's doable. I don't know how the rubbery garment will hold up over time, and the sculpt - while good - doesn't look as dynamic as some of the 3 3/4-inch figures from over the years. A cloth robe would have advantages, such as sleeves that hang down more naturally. As it is, he looks good - but somehow both too dynamic and too much like a statue while wearing his robes.
One nice perk that kind of works is a hole on his belt to carry his massive lightsaber. It's a great idea, but the size of the weapon combined with the rubbery material just sort of looks funny. It's like it doesn't quite belong on his belt, so he's better off carrying the weapon. When combined with his outer robes, the feature is effectively neurtered. The lightsaber hole on the belt can be accessed through the robes, but good luck getting it all together.
It is almost impossible to screw up Darth Maul. The only area where you can make a mistake is the head, and Hasbro makes no major blunders here. The red rings around the base of each horn seems a tad exaggerated, but Hasbro and most licensors have always done this. The face tattoos are probably the best I've ever seen at this price point - nothing below $50 usually looks great, and this looks great. The character looks determined, with evenly-applied colors, no mismatched bits, and angry yellow Sith eyes. For a toy mass-produced in China, this is definitely as good as we've got it so far.
His outfit is black. It's all matte black, so there's nothing here other than shiny black gloves, belt, and boots. Some earlier figures had grey elements to the robes, but the deco here looks just as good if not better. There's really not much room for improvement.