Review : Darth Maul (The Phantom Menace)
Star Wars 6-Inch Hero Series
Wave/Series : Aldi Exclusive (UK)
Released : December 2016
Price : £6.99
*At time of review our own Black Series Maul was in storage. We will retrieve him for side by side images and update the review in due course
Hasbro's 6 inch hero series is a scaled down version of their larger 12" figures. The aim of the figures appears to be to get a Star Wars presence into the discount stores of the US, UK and beyond. In 2015 the first 5 figures were sold in the UK exclusive to Aldi, you can read our overview HERE.
In 2016, Aldi have repeated the offer - bringing in stocks of the first five releases, and then five new releases we have not seen before in the UK.
Each figure is packed in an economically sized box. This follows the design of the standard Star Wars line from Hasbro. Maul (and Rey) vary from all the other releases to date on the box art as they are now packed in Rogue One themed packaging, a black background with blue flashes fading in at either side. The front is dominated by the window, through which the figure is visible on a Black Series style red insert card. A white Star Wars logo is planted underneath the window, while the character name sits very bottom left along with the recommended 4+ age. The Disney and Hasbro logo's sit side by side bottom right.
While the right hand spine of the box carries the logo and then a bunch of legal small print, the left is a glorious artwork of the figure - reminiscent of how Diamond present their Select figures, albeit on a smaller scale. Anyone wanting to keep these in the box will be torn between displaying the front and the figure, or these wonderful art panels.
Round the back is another Star Wars logo, and under this sits the name of the film from which the figure is based. There is then a brief couple of lines of red text about the character, this is repeated in several other languages. The rest of the rear is taken up with safety notifications in various languages.
Once opened, via either the top or bottom flap, an inner tray slides out into which the figure is tied. This inner tray is three sided, not fully enclosed like the Black Series. It also carries some background detail rather than being a solid red, although it isn't clear what this is intended to be. Being a Rogue One product, the figure includes an extra blue leaflet that carries detail of the current Hasbro video app. There is also a QR code which I assume will add in extra content.
Darth Maul arrives packed separately from his two light-saber hilts and their blades. He stands 5 3/4" tall, identical in height to the Black Series counterpart.
The sculpt is awesome, and if you are still missing that elusive Black Series Wave 1 version - then this could well be the stand in you have been looking for, at a fraction of the price. The head-sculpt captures Ray Park under the prosthetics really well, further enhanced by a paint job that marks out all the facial tattoo's neatly AND captures the orange eyes starting out at you. The horns are maybe not as pointed as they should be, most likely a safety element, and if I am being overly critical they are a tad too bright in colour.
The outfit is brilliant, there is not a lot of difference between this and the Black Series, with this budget figure capturing all the folds and creases of the Sith robes. The skirt area actually hangs a little better on this one being fixed and not being a mixture of soft goods and rubber. The finish is of course black across the figure, but there are at least two distinct tones with a higher gloss used on boots, belt and gloves. Again, this is how the Black Series version was finished.
Articulation was never going to stack up. So if you do use this Maul in your collection you are just going to get a neutral stance. The head moves on a ball joint and has a wider range than a lot of the Hero 6" figures to date. For example, you can cock Maul's head to the side, as well as rotating it and looking up and down by a small amount.
The arm articulation is a single rotating joint so the arms simply raise and rotate round the body. There is a 4th joint then in the waist that allows the figure to turn it's torso independently to its legs (ironic for Maul).
Earlier Hero 6" figures had their light-sabers sculpted into the hand. Like Rey, Maul doesn't have that issue either. He comes with both halves of his saber which fit firmly into either hand. The blades are translucent red, and these slot into the saber hilts with a satisfying pop. The saber hilts are cast in a plain grey plastic with no paint apps at all, but the sculpt is certainly there with the rings around the emitters and the various controls down the side. The crowning glory is that the sabers actually connect to make the double bladed saber. This is really well engineered with the joint easily hidden by the hand.
All in all, Maul is the pinnacle of this 6" Hero range to date. Side by side, the sculpt is as good as the original black series. And there is very little in the paint job either. Only the articulation is lacking, but for £6.99 what more can you ask. I score Darth Maul a 5 out of 5.