Friday, June 3, 2011

It's Not Exactly Jesus In The Desert, But (Tatooine) Darth Maul Is Not Bad!

The Good: Generally decent likeness, Decent accessories
The Bad: Poseability
The Basics: Darth Maul has essentially two looks (three if you count dead...), this is his robe-clad Tatooine appearance which makes for a decent, but hardly perfect, figure.

The Bible tells of Jesus Christ going out into the desert, where he was tempted by the Devil. Star Wars Episode I illustrates Darth Maul on Tatooine where he fights Qui-Gon Jinn the first time and let's face it, if there is anyone who looks like the classic European art image of Jesus in the Star Wars films, it's Qui-Gon Jinn. Given that Star Wars happens a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, is it possible the Bible simply got the story wrong? Did Jesus go through a portal to fight Darth Maul in the desert? Or is George Lucas just having fun with obvious religious imagery? Either way, Darth Maul appeared on Tatooine in long robes and he was later immortalized by Hasbro in that outfit as part of the "Episode I" line of figures as Darth Maul (Tatooine).

Darth Maul, the apprentice of Darth Sidious in The Phantom Menace (reviewed here!), was the linchpin of "Episode I" marketing and merchandising. Sure, he looks cool, but let's face it, Maul is possibly the most overblown villain in Star Wars. He shows up, delivers perhaps eight lines, does some beautifully choreographed fights, and kills one Jedi before another slices him in half. There are Clone Troopers that have better kill records than Darth Maul and live to tell the tale! On orders from Sidious, Darth Maul took a trip to Tatooine where he attempted to kill Senator Amidala but ran afoul of Qui-Gon Jinn who held him off. Bug-eyed and creepy, this Darth Maul figure appears in his desert robes, hooded, with his lightsaber used more like a traditional single-bladed saber.

This 4" Darth Maul figure is decent, but problematically inflexible.


Darth Maul is sculpted in his black robes as he appeared during his brief appearance on Tatooine. His hands are molded to hold his lightsaber in a two-handed grip and, as a result, he can hold the lightsaber in either hand. He looks generally as he did in The Phantom Menace, his robes obscure most details and as a result, Hasbro was able to cheat most of the finer details. As well, because the robes are made of plastic, the figure is fairly inflexible. He stands flatfooted, but wobbles as he is poorly balanced. Still, he may be posed fairly well if one is willing to let him lean on his stiff robes.

The Tatooine Darth Maul figure stands a full 4" tall, to the top of his hood. Darth Maul wears black robes that are molded in a loose fitting look so his tunic beneath is competely covered. There are minimal facial details of Maul, but his red face and bugged-out eyes look out from his hood menacingly. Because his hood is raised (and molded into the figure) his horns are not visible.

The figure is mostly cast of solid plastic, but the outer robes are a softer, more rubbery plastic ostensibly intended to allow Maul to be flexible enough to move in battle poses. Unfortunately, the robes' plastic is still a bit too stiff for that and the Darth Maul figure is not easily posed.


Darth Maul, as the new Dark Apprentice Of The Sith, comes with a lightsaber and a CommTech chip. The robes are not detachable, so they are not considered an accessory.

Maul comes with a lightsaber and this is the traditional red-bladed lightsaber recognizable to those in the know as a Sith lightsaber. The handle is almost as long as the blade because this is Maul's two-sided saber. However, this sculpt of the accessory has only one of the two blades lit. As a result, the 3 3/4" accessory is not as menacing as it could appear, though it is distinctly Maul's weapon and a great choice for this figure.

As well, this figure comes with the standard CommTech chip for this series of figure. For the "Episode I" figure line, Hasbro toyed with action figures that spoke to those who took them out of the package. Thus, each figure came with a chip that featured an image of the character and a voice chip. When placed on the CommTech reader and read, the CommTech player would play dialogue from Darth Maul on it. This chip has such phrases as Maul saying "At last we will reveal ourselves to the Jedi," "At last we will have revenge," and "It's the Jedi!" From George Lucas's mind to an actor's mouth to a little chip to play with, isn't it amazing? The chip utilizes the actual dialogue from the movie, so it sounds perfectly like Darth Maul.


The four inch toy line was designed for play, but Darth Maul is unfortunately designed in that regard. The Darth Maul figure is balanced fine until one moves the legs too far out of position. Ironically, though, when one continues to move the figure's legs, Maul stands again by leaning on the inflexible outer robes! But between the stiff outer robes and the slightly flexible underskirt, Maul either stands straight, falls over, or stands in an action pose leans on his robes.

Darth Maul has only eight points of articulation - pretty much the essential ones - but some of that is pointless articulation. The lowered flexibility pretty much mandates collectors pose the figure in very set ways and Maul's legs have very limited poseability and the neck articulation is completely pointless as the stiffness of the cowl prevents the head from turning. The Tatooine Darth Maul, as an action figure, has joints at the groin socket, shoulders, elbows, neck and waist. The waist essentially turns around entirely, but the rotation is pointless. There is no articulation in the knees or ankles, which matters less considering that the thigh joint can barely be moved. As well, this Sith may rotate his arms from the shoulder, but not extend his arms, though the effect of that is granted by the rotating (not bending) elbows. The result is a figure that may hold his lightsaber two handed and defend better than be posed for positions of attack.


Darth Maul is part of the 1999 "Episode I" collection of four-inch action figures. This series of Star Wars action figures was massively overproduced, but the '99 line was somewhat less overproduced. This Darth Maul is one of the harder ones to find. As a result, this might be the best Maul investment, though it is barely above the original issue price. Still, it may be found pretty easily.


Darth Maul was not a bad idea, but this figure's execution would have worked much better if the robes had been cloth, but it is still a decent Darth Maul action figure.

For other Star Wars - Episode I: The Phantom Menace action figures reviewed by me, please check out my reviews of:
Senator Palpatine
Deluxe Darth Maul with Sith Speeder
Gasgano with Pit Droid
Destroyer Droid


For other toy reviews, please be sure to visit my index page on the subject!

© 2011, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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