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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
This is not a full-scale detailed review (I hope and expect Michael Crawford will be providing one), just some impressions and 26 photos. Hope you enjoy or find useful, and share your impressions.

Couple of disclaimers: my camera is not the best for macro photos, and in many cases the photos below do not give the product full justice; I have lighted the scenes a bit too much so that you could see more details of the product; I do not always have the right Death Star environment, and some of the supporting characters head sculpts are ad hoc approximations, so bear with me.

It is an exciting time to be a sixth scale action figure collector who likes Star Wars. Sideshow just completed their Empire Strikes Back bounty hunter team by releasing Zuckuss and Dengar (see HERE and Michael Crawford's detailed reviews), and also the Snowtrooper Commander; Hot Toys did not lag behind, releasing Hoth Leia (see HERE, with the Snowtrooper Commander) and now Tarkin (or, for those who ordered the two-pack, Tarkin and another Episode IV Vader). I say exciting, rather than great, because of the strain on our wallets. Tarkin retails in the US for around $235 (sans Vader).



Governor Tarkin (I refuse to use the designation "Grand Moff" which is found on the box, because I find it both silly and not really canonical) was arguably the main villain of the original Star Wars film, later qualified as Episode IV: A New Hope. To be sure, he was written in facile, simplistic terms, a quintessential storybook (or comic book) villain -- all that was missing was doing The Simpsons' Mr Burns' play with his fingers and maliciously mumbling "eggcelent." If I were the ruler of the Galactic Empire, I would not have allowed anyone to blow up an entire planet of taxpayers to make a point -- even if it were just for the sake of revenues. Then again, Lucas has always claimed that Star Wars is a story for kids, and those of us who expect more from what could have been a more serious adult franchise have to keep remembering that. And it is easy to forget. At any rate, Peter Cushing did the best he could with this seriously handicapped role, and delivered what is still arguably one of the most iconic subtler villains in the history of cinema.

Hot Toys has released Tarkin as a sixth scale figure. The sculpt and paint are lifelike, precise, and super-detailed. This is certainly the best likeness of Peter Cushing as Tarkin in this scale, and likely to remain so. Is it really perfect? Maybe not quite. They certainly got Peter Cushing's gaunt and slightly misshapen appearance from the film to come through. But the head does not look spot on from some angles. I suspect the problem is the hair. In the film, Cushing's hair is becoming rather sparse and in places hovering a bit above and around the skull; that is not something easily replicated in a sixth-scale head sculpt (and I suspect trying to achieve it with rooted hair would have led to similarly mixed results). Another issue with the hair is the color. In many instances it seems to me that the figure's hair is a bit too brownish. But Cushing's on-screen hair was a mixture of brown and grey and white that again would be exceedingly difficult to replicate with any painted sculpt. These minor points notwithstanding, I doubt anyone (including Hot Toys) could have done a better job here, without lapsing into some other extreme. A minor quality issue: it seems to me that the seam line between the front and back side of the head is a little too apparent on my figure.





My one big disappointment with this figure (which I would still rate at least a 3.5/4, if not better) is the neck. Peter Cushing was an aging man with a wrinkled neck, and the decision to make a head sculpt including the molded neck is not surprising or unnatural. What is surprising to me is that it has even less posability than I expected from it. And, at least in this role, Cushing is all about gestures, head tilting, and sideways glances. From that point of view, a separate head and separate neck would have been welcome and probably a better choice overall. Speaking of sideways glances, if ever a figure could have benefited from PERS, this is it. While I appreciate we did not get stuck with a single extreme or one-way look (as we have with some Hot Toys products like their General Zod, first Harley Quinn, and second Star-Lord) here, PERS or additional head sculpts with sideways glancing eyes would have been a very nice touch.







The outfit is beautifully executed, and does not restrict the articulation much. The boots are made of soft pleather material (like those that came with Hot Toys' Han Solo, but possibly working better at the ankle) and you can articulate the ankle without problems. The knee, wrist, and elbow articulation is also unimpeded, although the outfit includes not only the exterior uniform, but also Tarkin's signature white undershirt (I haven't opened up the clothing to investigate, but you can see the white cuffs and a bit of the white collar, just like in the film). Getting him to sit properly is a little bit more difficult, but not very much so. The only place where either the body or the outfit impeded the articulation too much for my taste was at the shoulders. Trying to align the figure's right hand with the face and chin for Tarkin's apparent "trademark" pose was theoretically possible but difficult to do with precision and made me wish for the smooth movement of Phicen/TBLeague stainless steel skeleton bodies. A minor problem with the outfit is that either the side pockets are just a little too shallow for the rank cylinders, or the latter are just a little too long; they ride up a bit too easily.









Hot Toys' Tarkin comes with two extra pairs of hands (making for a total of three pairs), the four rank cylinders to fit in the chest side pockets of his tunic, spare buttons, a stand, and his conference room chair. Since I do not consider spare parts (hands, buttons), things that are a permanent feature of the outfit (the cylinders), and stands proper accessories, the real accessory is just one: the chair. It is nicely done, in two pieces: you have to attach the seat to the base (carefully). The seat can rotate on the base, and so can the wheels (although they are not functional -- they do not roll). However, I noticed that the chair is not screen accurate: it is too tall, most notably the back is too elongated, and the top part clearly too long. In some of the photos above I cheated by making a makeshift booster seat out of foamies so that Tarkin's head would be at more or less the right place in relation to the back of his chair. Here is what it looks like without such devices (my hybrid Vader might be just a little too short, although when I was putting him together, I based the height on research):



One nice but non-screen-accurate chair is not exactly a mind-blowing accessory, especially considering he does not come with a table (which would not have been practicable), and other chairs and the officers to sit in them are unlikely to be made by Hot Toys (a long time ago Sideshow might have given it a try). Now we don't see Tarkin with much in the way of accessories in the film, which surely justified Hot Toys' decision here. But they could have done better: as an officer, Tarkin would have had a cap and a weapon or two, even if we do not see them onscreen. By comparison, Sideshow's Admiral Piett came with two weapons (never seen onscreen), both bare and gloved hands, and two officer's caps (one molded plastic, the other fabric); and, one might add, a bare-headed head-sculpt, although we never so him without his cap on. But let's say that since we do not see Tarkin with a cap or weapon, it is ok to skip them. We do see him with a cool black and silver metal cup on the conference table in front of his chair; maybe a cup would have been a fitting accessory?







In the photos below I have messed with the height of figures (by using various lifts and bases) to achieve something like the right perspective, but overall Tarkin is well-scaled vis-a-vis the other Hot Toys sixth-scale action figures (here, Leia).













Here's Tarkin with my hybrid Hot Toys/Sideshow Vader (who might be, again, a little on the short side):





And building up to his last moments...







But in the spirit of Pulp Fiction, we'll do a flashback to a leisurely moment in the life of a cool bad guy...



Hope you enjoyed it.
 

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Nice one!

Looks like that Cushing sculpt will suit my needs way better than I thought it would. I need to take him back about 10 years to get the right look for a Van Helsing and it looks like I just need to fill in the cheeks and eye wrinkles a bit and the neck may need no work at all. Yay!

I do like the forced perspective in some of those shots, very ingenious!

CHEERS!
 

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Another great little review mate. I am really quite jealous of this one. The sculpt does look good, and the uniform looks spot on except for those rank cylinders which do look like they are too long for the pockets. The chair is a nice touch, but why oh why did they not get it nearer to the one we see in the film. I guess the chair is a big extra part, but I still think at this price point they need to put more goodies in the box. Over all though I think he looks great and the photography works very well indeed with the forced perspectives. I really am tempted by this one. Nice one:wink
 

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Mine came last night, and aside from HTs usual giant hand syndrome, this is an awesome piece. A great tribute to the late Peter Cushing. Like Roger, however, I almost wish this was Van Helsing or Dr. Frankenstein rather than Tarkin, but it’s cool just the same.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Nice one! Looks like that Cushing sculpt will suit my needs way better than I thought it would. I need to take him back about 10 years to get the right look for a Van Helsing and it looks like I just need to fill in the cheeks and eye wrinkles a bit and the neck may need no work at all. Yay! I do like the forced perspective in some of those shots, very ingenious! CHEERS!
Thanks! I knew my 3.75"-figure dioramas will come in useful one day...

Another great little review mate. I am really quite jealous of this one. The sculpt does look good, and the uniform looks spot on except for those rank cylinders which do look like they are too long for the pockets. The chair is a nice touch, but why oh why did they not get it nearer to the one we see in the film. I guess the chair is a big extra part, but I still think at this price point they need to put more goodies in the box. Over all though I think he looks great and the photography works very well indeed with the forced perspectives. I really am tempted by this one. Nice one:wink
I was surprised, too, that they were off about the chair (though it does convey the general impression). By the way, it is super light weight. The good thing about these bigger rank cylinders, is that they are not as easy to accidentally dislodge and loose as the Sideshow ones that came with Piett and Praji.

Mine came last night, and aside from HTs usual giant hand syndrome, this is an awesome piece. A great tribute to the late Peter Cushing. Like Roger, however, I almost wish this was Van Helsing or Dr. Frankenstein rather than Tarkin, but it's cool just the same.
Glad you like it too. I always thought Peter Cushing's head looked big in the film itself; it may be partly the narrow shoulders in the uniform and also the somewhat loosely orbiting sparse hair. Anyway, the heads are designed to look ok when you have the layers of clothing on the body.
 

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Awesome. It's a great looking figure, and would look fantastic next to all my other Imperial officers and troopers.

I got a look at it in hand at a local shop. Then put it back because of the price tag. Otherwise It would have followed me home today. If I had been in another shop, I might have got it. But that shop I was in jacks the prices on all their stock, so it was an easy decision to walk away.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Awesome. It's a great looking figure, and would look fantastic next to all my other Imperial officers and troopers.
I got a look at it in hand at a local shop. Then put it back because of the price tag. Otherwise It would have followed me home today. If I had been in another shop, I might have got it. But that shop I was in jacks the prices on all their stock, so it was an easy decision to walk away.
Thanks! I thought so too. Well, if you like it, I hope you find it at a more reasonable price. And that you show us your "other Imperial officers and troopers" with (or without) it. :)
 

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Nice write-up and pics, particularly your 3.75" forced perspective background figures!

I get what you mean about Tarkin's title; even though Peter Cushing was credited as Grand Moff Tarkin, he was only addressed on-screen as Governor, and as a result I remember being confused once when I saw a Kenner figure of him that named him Grand Moff Tarkin.

The lack of accessories corresponding to a lack of props Cushing interacted with on-screen is a fair point, but it would have been nice if Hot Toys at least gave Tarkin a pistol-grip hand, so if someone wanted to give him a blaster from another figure, they could.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thank you Vanquisher1000!, glad you liked it. And agree. By the way, if Tarkin is in fact credited as Grand Moff in the credits to A New Hope, I wonder whether that is the original credits, or something added on later (like Episode IV: A New Hope itself). Similarly (although by that time the title moff might have been included in a novelization), the officer in charge of the second Death Star was addressed simply as "commander" by Vader.
 
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