The gap between this book and most others is a chasm as wide as the Grand Canyon and that isn’t an over-exaggeration in the slightest.
There are many types of books to enjoy in the world. From the novel in paperback, hardback or nowadays, in digital form, reference books, true stories, romantic fiction, encyclopedias ETC. Some are time-wasting, some are money grabs, some are memorable, some are completely enjoyable, some which are outstanding and there are those which are one in a million. A book that is so outstanding, breathtaking, beautiful to look at, a book of such quality that even though you’re itching to read it, to turn its pages and marvel at the majesty that it holds inside, you feel almost like you would be desecrating the book by turning its pages, by opening it, the magic will escape but you are compelled to look inside, to sneak a peek at what you’re going to experience. And when you do, you are blown away by what you discover. ‘Star Wars: Collecting A Galaxy-The Art Of Sideshow‘ is just that kind of book.
Star Wars: Collecting A Galaxy – The Art Of Sideshow | By Samuel C. Spitale
Let us pause for a second. Sideshow Collectables produces some of the finest figures based on movies, games and the like for the public to marvel at and buy. Their quality is unsurpassable. Just seeing one is to a collector almost like a budding artist feels when seeing the Mona Lisa in person. It is an experience that is strangely but undeniably breathtaking. To an artist, the Mona Lisa is a masterpiece and rightfully so. To the collector, a Sideshow Collectable Star Wars figure is exactly the same. The detail, the quality and the time spent creating every model is something that needs to be applauded. Go to the Forbidden Planet store in London and look at some of them in the display cases, all clean, posed and ready to be bought. If you have the money, of course. For their splendor and sheer beauty, a Sideshow Collectable figure is like the Belgian beer, Stella Artois. Reassuringly expensive. And then some. I have seen pieces of pure beauty and quality with price tags of £500. And there’s more that are more expensive than that. What your money buys though is something of such beauty and magnitude that you can’t help but admire it from every angle.
Insight Editions have produced the book devoted to them. Let me start by saying that the book is certainly not a paperback or easy to carry volume. It’s a coffee table book, one that weighs a ton. But not one page is wasted. Nothing has been left out. The book NEEDS to be this large and heavy. The work inside deserves no less. We get a sense of what the pages will hold from the front cover alone. The image that draws our eye and used to adorn the front cover is of Luke Skywalker on a Speeder Bike flying through the forest of Endor with a Biker Scout on another Speeder Bike in hot pursuit. It looks like a still from the film ‘Return Of The Jedi‘ itself. Only it isn’t. What it is, is the Sideshow Collectables figures of them. You could be forgiven for mistaking the figures for the real actors and sets. The quality is second to none. On the back cover, we see another shot of Luke Skywalker in his Endor gear, this time standing with his green Lightsaber ignited as the Biker Scout flies towards him. It’s the same figure as we see on the front cover, only this time, he has been posed differently. The reader and the collector will marvel at such pristine quality. And we haven’t even opened the front cover yet.
As we open the book and start to scroll through the pages, we are greeted by the figures of four Astromech Droids including our beloved R2-D2. Once again, every aspect of the droids has been lovingly created by the designers and their quality shines through. We turn the page and meet with Rey and BB-8 on Jakku. Our breath is taken away by the exquisite beauty the figures show us. The attention to detail, every speck of dust clinging to Rey’s clothes, the dirt on BB-8, the battered look of the X-Wing helmet Rey owns is here, presented to us in full colour for us to see and marvel at. And again, we haven’t even entered the book properly yet.
We come to the book’s foreword. Across from it, we have a representation of the cantina scene from ‘A New Hope‘. Our eyes see a wonderful recreation of that classic Cantina Band scene but with added Sandtroopers. We come to read the foreword and are granted the honor of reading the words of the legendary Phil Tippett. The man who created a huge majority of the figures and stop-motion for the original trilogy of films is addressing us. Tippett speaks passionately about the work he put into the films, the loving care and attention he and his band of artists and model makers put into the characters and sets that we see on the screen. He speaks about the emergence of the collectibles industry, about how he saw it start to rise and build itself up to what Sideshow is now producing. He pays tribute to how they have replicated and followed his designs to the letter, producing pieces that not only match his original creations but in some respects, surpass them. He speaks about how honored he is that the makers have honored him and his team in this way. You get the feeling that Tippett is overwhelmed and extremely proud of his creations and the work he has inspired.
We now come to the introduction. Across the page, we see a younger version of Obi-Wan Kenobi, older than the last time we see him at the end of ‘Revenge Of The Sith‘ but younger than how we encounter him again during ‘A New Hope‘. In the introduction, Sideshow CEO Greg Anzalone speaks of the pop culture element that the figures they produce represent. And of how proud of his crew for their tireless and rewarding work on each piece they create. As we move forward, we have to hold our breath as the majesty of the figures makes themselves known. We meet an AT-AT driver, in full detail. The craftsmanship is there for all to see. We come across a representation of the interrogation scene aboard the Tantive IV. Darth Vader and his Stormtroopers stand menacingly, a Rebel commander in front of them with a Rebel Trooper standing behind, his hands on his head in surrender. We see the Deluxe Luke Skywalker from ‘Jedi‘, the laser damaged hand clutching his newly constructed lightsaber. We discover the extras that come with the figure, from the different hands and clothing through to his laser pistols and his lightsaber. We see various poses that the figure can be displayed in. Accompanying these are black and white photographs of the figure being posed ready for the photography to take place.
As we turn the pages, we are amazed at the selection of figures we are shown. Anakin Skywalker is here, clad in his Jedi robes, his lightsaber ignited. Kit Fisto stands ready with his lightsaber in a battle stance. Even Jabba The Hutt awaits us on the page, his court creatures featured alongside him. The Rebel commandos are here, clad in their green camouflage uniforms with their laser rifles held ready. Han Solo hangs from the wall, still encased in Carbonite. We get an in-depth look at Jabba and Salacious Crumb with an explanation of how the figures came to be and everything right down to the paint scheme used to bring him to life. Grand Admiral Thrawn makes himself known. We see Yoda and are taken through his incarnation, once again leaving no detail out and including behind the scenes photos on how he was posed for our attention on the printed page.
Now we come to MY section! The Clone Troopers are here. Everyone who knows me can attest to my love of Clone Troopers and all forms of Stormtrooper. Don’t ask why just accept it for what it is. I adore the Clone Troopers and Stormtroopers and as you will understand, my breath caught in my throat as I came upon this part of the book. They are all here, everyone screaming for my attention. Boil and Waxer are here along with Numa. Commander Gree stands ready for battle. Commander Cody stands tall, speaking with a holographic Emperor. And the fabulous and much loved Captain Rex (My Personal Favourite of all the Clones) stands ready with his blaster pistols clutched in both hands. Even Commander Bacara is present and correct. But as we turn the page, it gets even better. It is here where we get an in-depth look at Captain Rex, up close and personal. Just look at the sculpting on the figure, the attention to detail right down to the hair on his head. And the face of Temuera Morrison stares at us. It is a perfect likeness of the New Zealand actor and brings the figure that much more lifelike to us. Even Echo and Fives are here. It is the perfect section for a fan like myself to enjoy. The photography and accompanying text is sheer bliss and is so welcome.
General Grievous decides he wants in on the fun too. His figure is sublime and alongside the behind the scenes text and photographs would be the jewel in any collectors crown. Han Solo puts his face into the mix as he appears in his Hoth gear alongside Chewbacca and the Imperial Probe Droid. Luke decides he won’t be left out as he returns in his Hoth gear complete with Lightsaber and Tauntaun. But then we come across a page that brings chills to the spine and leaves the reader and collector in complete awe. If my brother, Phil saw this, he would be down the store instantly, cash in hand and purchasing the figures for himself. The photograph is of Darth Vader and Boba Fett, posed in a representation of the infamous Carbon Freezing Scene along with Han Solo encased in Carbonite. My brother is possibly the world’s biggest Boba Fett fan and he will be amazed at the sheer beauty and brilliance of the figure. I can honestly say that when they release the Sideshow version of The Mandalorian, he will grab it alongside Boba and Jango Fett. The quality is completely and uniquely breathtaking. With the exception of perhaps the actual suit itself, you will possibly never get a better representation of the character than this. Any collector worth their salt will be overwhelmed by what they will see on the pages.
Darth Talon, Asajj Ventress and others are not to be denied as they appear in their premium editions. Each is lovingly created and detailed and will blow the reader’s mind. Darth Vader too is one figure that I’d love to get my hands on as he is breathtakingly superb. C-3PO and R2-D2 make sure they are not ignored as they appear together. But we are in for an even bigger surprise over the page. There are figures you can admire, there are sets that you can really love but over the page, we have the Yoda and Clone Trooper set from ‘Revenge Of The Sith‘. My god, my breathing almost stopped. It is, quite possibly, one of the finest figure representations ever created. We have the Clone Trooper with his legs bent as he begins his fall to the floor with Yoda straddling his chest with his green lightsaber impaling the hapless Clone. To make matters that much better, the lightsaber is electronic and lights up, bringing this set to life in an incredible way.
Savage Opress refuses to be ignored as he makes his presence known, ready and willing to stand by his brother Darth Maul‘s side. Maul himself gets in on the act as he is here in different incarnations, from his Tatooine version with his probe droids right up to the version of him with robotic legs seen in ‘The Clone Wars‘, ‘Rebels‘ TV shows and the ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story‘ film. Boba and Jango Fett reappear, both clad in their Mandalorian armor, blaster rifle and pistols ready for a fight. Kylo Ren and Captain Phasma decide to crash the party alongside Jyn Erso, the Death Trooper, and Rey. K-2SO is told he has to appear on the printed page and he looks wonderful.
We come to the section regarding the Legendary scale busts and figures. It is here where the reader and/or collector must take in a rather large breath as what they will encounter on the pages will astonish even the most seasoned amongst us all. We start, once more with Boba Fett and he looks out of this world. The differences are slight but will be noticeable to a fan or collector. The busts we encounter are of such a quality that we can feel our purses and wallets tremble in fear at the prospect of one day finding one of these extraordinary pieces and bringing it home, severely depleting our funds. The attention to detail is almost uncommon in figure collecting, it truly is amazing how much work and attention has been put into these pieces. Take Darth Sidious for example. Here we have a bust that is beyond reproach. Every line and scar that the character has is brilliantly recreated and the facial features are incredibly detailed. Darth Maul too is one of the most incredibly detailed and breathtaking pieces created. My nephew is a massive Maul fan and I shudder to think what he would make of the exceptional bust Sideshow have created and are showcasing here in the book. The Darth Maul Legendary Scale figure is again one of the best quality pieces there is.
But we now come onto the stuff that collectors dreams are made of. The Life-size busts section. This is where your bank manager will be smiling in anticipation of the amount of commission he and the bank will make out of you if the urge becomes too much for you to take and take out a loan to acquire one of these pieces. Some of these will set you back a fair chunk of change. But and I do say but, if you’re fortunate enough to have the capital to buy one, then you’ve got yourself something that will become an amazing addition to your home. Just take a look at the visual representations the pages hold. Imagine one or in a few cases, a few of these pieces gracing your fireplace, your window ledge or in a display case. The thought is wonderful. My tastes are for the Stormtrooper (naturally), Boba and Jango Fett, Darth Vader and Kylo Ren but there are so many to choose from. Imagine coming home and having a full-sized Darth Vader or Boba Fett standing in your living room just waiting for you to return.
I have to say that the writer of the book, Samuel C. Spitale has done the unthinkable. Alongside the many photographers that have contributed to the book with their incredible pictures, set-ups of the pieces and their incredible layouts, Spitale has created a masterpiece. A coffee table book that is completely astonishing. The research, the attention to detail and the sheer love, passion, and commitment that has been put in is astonishing. To say there isn’t a book like it out on the market would be doing this volume a massive injustice. The gap between this book and most others is a chasm that is about as wide as the Grand Canyon and that isn’t an over-exaggeration in the slightest. Yes, the book is weighty. Yes, the book will take a lot of looking, reading and digesting. But at the end of the day, it is a volume of such magnitude that no serious collector can pass it up. It may be the closest some of us will ever get to owning a Sideshow piece for ourselves. In that respect, the book will fulfill the needs of many of us who can only dream. And that makes this book so much more than just a coffee-table volume.
Star Wars: Collecting A Galaxy – The Art Of Sideshow by Samuel C. Spitale is published by Insight Editions and is available to buy NOW!
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Carl Roberts is a Senior Staff Writer and Books and Literature Correspondent for Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter @CarlRoberts2 where he uses the force frequently!
Editors Note: A big thank you to our friends at Insight Editions for sending over our advance review copy.