ADVANCE BOOK REVIEW: Capturing Archetypes: Twenty Years of Sideshow Collectibles Art
Insight Editions Celebrates A Milestone In Toy History...
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This year marks the 20th anniversary of Sideshow Collectibles, the renowned manufacturer of collectible figures and statues. Has it already been twenty years? I still recall when Sideshow's Universal Monsters Little Big Heads were all the rage. Of course the company has grown by leaps and bounds since those early days, rapidly adding to their résumé new product in all possible shapes and sizes. Those 3" figures soon made way for 8" articulated action figures (their Universal Monsters are still some of the nicest figs out there). 12" figures soon followed (remember Bayonets & Barbed Wire?) along with Sideshow's claim to fame: high-end busts and statues.
Publisher Insight Editions (Read my review of their most excellent book Pacific Rim: Man, Machines, and Monsters HERE) is set to celebrate this milestone in toy history with their latest book Capturing Archetypes: Twenty Years of Sideshow Collectibles Art. Scheduled for release next month priced at $50, the large 9.2" x 12.8" hardcover features over 200 pages of Sideshow’s best work.
As a huge fan of Alien, I was immediately impressed with the subject picked out for the book's cover. Released in 2010, Sideshow's Alien "Big Chap" Maquette greets readers with a toothy sneer, the debossed image and clear partial slipcover (a removable acetate bellyband) showing off a high level of sophistication. This is a classy volume worthy of your coffee table or home library.
Capturing Archetypes is light reading, the only text coming in the form of two fascinating introductions. The foreward is by Guillermo del Toro, famed director of such pop culture favorites as Hellboy and Pacific Rim. If there's one person I'd love to meet in person, it's del Toro. After reading his thoughts on the hobby, rather passion for collecting, I came to realize just how much he gets it. "Relics are crafted by believers." This book's worth owning for his intro alone, such powerful words on an art form often misconstrued as childish. Sideshow's Creative Director, Tom Gilliland has a tough act to follow, but his introduction sheds some fascinating light on why Sideshow does what it does. "Our true objective is to connect a pop culture enthusiast with that perfect figural representation that embodies his or her favorite story or character". It's a recipe Sideshow Collectibles has been following for twenty years, and getting better at it with each new release.
The rest of Capturing Archetypes consists of gorgeous photography of Sideshow's many masterpieces. Each collectible is given a two-page spread for full impact, many featuring a powerful character quote. Represented are a wide variety of Sideshow licenses, from their success with Marvel, DC, Star Wars, G.I. Joe and Lord of the Rings, to wonderfully gruesome in-house properties like The Dead. Fine polystone busts and statues make up the bulk of the collectibles highlighted, although several one sixth scale action figures also join in the fun. Some of my favorite photos are those that set the character collectible in an environment, such as Jack the Ripper emerging from a shroud of sinister swirling smoke or Vader's choking interrogation onboard the Rebel blockade runner. I also appreciate how many of the photographs opt for a close up as opposed to revealing the entire character. Take the Punisher, for example, the tight shot of the vigilante's skull logo more than enough to hammer home the message.
My biggest critique on this otherwise stunning volume is the small scope of Sideshow's work shown. Twenty years is a long time, yet the earliest piece represented is Sideshow's debut of The Dead: the 1:6 scale Patient Zero action figure released in 2005. There's a smattering of collectibles from 2006 - 2007 (Bride of Frankenstein, KISS and Doctor Doom PFFs), but the majority of Sideshow's work featured comes from 2010 to 2013. One could argue that Sideshows best work is indeed their most current batch of offerings, however for a book representing "Twenty Years of Sideshow Collectibles Art" I expected more. Those Universal Monsters Little Big Heads or action figures, for example. It's pretty much what put them on the collectibles map.
While far from a complete collection of Sideshow's body of work, Capturing Archetypes: Twenty Years of Sideshow Collectibles Art is a remarkable book. Extremely polished and professionally photographed, Capturing Archetypes is an elegant look at Sideshow's fine craftsmanship. Those unfamiliar with our great pastime will marvel at what Sideshow has achieved. The rest of us will gawk over something we already know is awesome. Pop culture newbie or dedicated collector, Capturing Archetypes: Twenty Years of Sideshow Collectibles Art is an art book worth owning. Grab your copy in April wherever fine books are sold.
Review and Photos by Jeff Saylor
Review Sample Courtesy of Insight Editions
Last edited by JeffSaylor; 03-25-2014 at 09:55 PM.