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Toybox Review: Black Series Darth Maul (Sith Apprentice) - Mexinter.net

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Title : Toybox Review: Black Series Darth Maul (Sith Apprentice) - Mexinter.net
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Toybox Review: Black Series Darth Maul (Sith Apprentice) - Mexinter.net

Star Wars Black Series Darth Maul (Sith Apprentice) 01

Release Date: April 2021
RRP: $24.99/£24.99

2021 marks the 50th anniversary of Lucasfilm, and to celebrate Hasbro are dedicating a new range in the Black Series to all the parts of the Star Wars universe Disney would probably rather you forget about. This four figure (with potentially more to come) selection looks at all things Legends - the novels, comics,  video games and other bits of expanded media which were deemed non-canon when the House of Mouse took over control of the franchise. Among these releases is the Black Series Darth Maul (Sith Apprentice) figure - a variant of the ever-popular Sith Lord based on his appearance in Dark Horse Comics' Star Wars: Darth Maul four-part comic series from 2000.

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The Black Series made some serious strides in packaging design with its last relaunch, but even those boxes pale in comparison to what Hasbro have wheeled out for the Lucasfilm 50th anniversary figures. Darth Maul (Sith Apprentice) comes in a gorgeous book-style box, the front of which features the cover from the fourth issue in the Star Wars: Darth Maul series. The spine of the packaging features a greyscale image of Maul from that comic alongside the figure name and Black Series logo, whilst the "pages" side of the box sports a number of other images from the comic. The back of the box is more generic and simply celebrates the Lucasfilm anniversary, featuring the anniversary logo as well as a neat little timeline of the (canon) Star Wars franchise entries. It also however clearly denotes the figure as coming from the "Star Wars Legends" range. Open the front of the box up though and you get the usual transparent window showing off the figure itself, whilst the inside cover features another image of Maul from the comic alongside a short character bio. For once the bio directly refers to the source material the figure is inspired by as well, briefly explaining how the story features Maul taking down the powerful Black Sun criminal organisation at Palpatine's command. The packaging presentation is one of the best things about these releases, and when it's executed this well it certainly makes the idea of a sealed packaging display more appealing.

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Though they may be released in lavish packaging these Lucasfilm 50th anniversary figures are all retools of previously existing figures, although in Darth Maul's case some might also want to consider it a pre-tool as well. While the lower half of the body is carried over from the original 2021 release of Maul, the upper half is an entirely new sculpt shared with the forthcoming Jedi: Fallen Order Gaming Greats Nightbrother Warrior figure. The head sculpt is also brand new, swapping out the previous stoic expression for a menacing grin. Hasbro have been on a roll with the head sculpts lately and this is another winner, not only bearing a fantastic likeness to Maul as he appeared in The Phantom Menace but also perfectly conveying those demonic teeth. This Sith Apprentice figure is a shirtless version of Darth Maul based on his appearance in the Star Wars: Darth Maul comic, showing off the red and black tattoos that run down his torso and arms as well as his face. The torso has a nice matte finish that gives it a good-looking skin tone, with the sculpt featuring plenty of moulded muscle detailing as well as superbly applied markings. One point of contention is that said markings unfortunately do not extend all the way down to the hands, which are just the unpainted red plastic. While it does give the figure a bit of an unfinished look when compared with the rest of the arms, depending on what panels of the comic were looked at as reference material it's not entirely inaccurate. The big difference is that the comic art had the advantage of shading and shadows, whereinas the toy just has a solid block of red. Overall it's a really good looking figure that's far more impressive and imposing that the standard movie depiction of Maul, and given just how many variations the character has had through expanded media in the last decade or so a variation in the Black Series was long overdue.

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Since this is a mix of both a brand new figure and one that's over a decade old, the articulation has come out a pretty mixed bag. Altogether the figure sports;
- Ball jointed head, neck, torso and hips
- Swivel hinge shoulders, elbows, wrists and ankles
- Butterfly joint shoulders/pecs
- Double hinged knees
- Thigh swivels
The top half of this figure is absolutely sublime, that new era of Black Series articulation giving the torso some incredible movement. With ball joints at both ends of the neck you can get some amazing head movement, making Maul look even more maniacal than he does from the sculpt alone. Combine that with the torso and shoulder articulation and you can get some great poses out of the figure. It's just unfortunate that the lower half isn't quite as spectacular. It's not awful by any stretch, but as you'd expect legs from 2021 are really beginning to show their age. But to start with I don't know what the hell is going on with the waist - while there must be either a ball or swivel joint there connecting the two halves, that thing does not want to move at all. It's almost as though it's been glued into place. Moving down you've got some fairly decent ball jointed hips, but all those soft plastic pieces surrounding it really limit just how much you can do with them. On top of that you've got some extremely chunky knee joints, which while definitely solid in build aren't quite as fun to move about as the rest of the body. Thankfully the ankle joints are still pretty good though, so thankfully balancing isn't all that much of an issue. 

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Darth Maul comes packaged with his iconic double-bladed lightsaber, which features removable red blades and can split into two single sabers for dual wielding. There is actually a port on the right hip of the figure to peg the hilt onto for storage, however the sheer size of the hilts (especially when connected together) makes it look comically oversized to the point wherein it's really not worth doing. Even one half is a bit much. While Maul's lightsaber is admittedly bigger than most others it definitely feels a tad oversized here, even if it looks great in the figure's hands. The big sculpt allows for plenty of moulded detail too, and the silver paint gives it a far more premium looking finish than the dull unpainted grey ones most figures tend to be lumped with. Whether you opt for the classic double-bladed look or dabble in a bit of dual-wielding, that added articulation to the upper body really allows for some excellent poses.

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Black Series Darth Maul (Sith Apprentice) probably isn't the Darth Maul variant most Star Wars fans were hoping for, but considering how lazy a release this could have been Hasbro have done a pretty marvellous job with it. The new head sculpt looks absolutely fantastic, and that new style upper body really highlights all the advancements Hasbro have made on the line's articulation in the last year or so. The unpainted hands are unfortunate, but certainly not the deal-breaker some other Reviews make out. If Hasbro had only given the same love to the lower half, which after so many years is REALLY beginning to show its age, this could have been a pretty incredible release. With the amount of Clone Wars figures hitting the line we can't be too far off the robot legs/darksaber wielding Maul we're all hoping for, but in the meantime it's nice to see more of the now-forgotten (at least by Disney anyway) corners of the Star Wars universe getting hit to celebrate the Lucasfilm 50th anniversary.



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