Review by Tobias H:
Series: Star Wars Crossover Snarling, scornful and powerful, Darth Maul is trained to locate and eliminate the Jedi one by one. Using the powers of the dark side of the Force, Maul morphs into Sith Infiltrator mode and flies to Tatooine. There he will track down and attempt to destroy the two Jedi who have played their part in keeping the Sith a memory of past generations. The re-emergence of the Sith is soon to come!
Allegiance: Other Villain
For Star Wars fans, who spent years enjoying the futuristic yet fairy-tale-like universe of Episodes IV through VI, Episode I offered a lot of new stuff. So it didn't come as a surprise that the movie split the fandom almost right down the middle. One half loved the movie as part of the story, the other hated it for breaking with the style of the original trilogy. However you look at it, though, it turned out to be another epic fairy tale. And every fairy tale needs a villain.
For Star Wars Episode I this part is filled by the young Sith Lord Darth Maul. During the movie it became quickly apparent that Maul wasn't a man of many words. In fact he has little more than two or three rather generic lines, but he does deliver one of the most spectacular light saber duels in the entire six-part saga. Maul faces not one but two Jedi Knights and even manages to beat one of them, fatally so, before suffering a spectacular defeat of his own. Given that, it doesn't come as a big surprise that this young Sith managed to make the jump into the Star Wars Transformers line-up.
The most remarkable thing about Darth Maul in the movie was his black-and-red face, which, together with a row of small horns on his head, gave him a devil-like appearance. And one has to say, the Transformers incarnation of Maul pulls that look off very well. Both his head and the overall colour-scheme of the figure are a pretty good match to the movie version. Even the small horns on his head are there, something that could easily have been left out for the Transformers-version of the young Sith Lord. The body of the figure is mostly grey and black, which fits with Maul's clothes in the movie. Appearance-wise there is no room for complaint here.
Let's look at posability. During the final battle in Episode I Maul showed off his acrobatic skills, as well as his rather extraordinary weapon, a two-bladed lightsaber. He is very posable an all his moves are powerful, perfectly timed and thought out. The Transformers version of the red-faced villain doesn't have to take a back seat to that. Not many Transformers in this size class offer this kind of posability, paired with the ability to remain in balance. Darth Maul can accomplish many different poses and looks pretty impressive in most of them. His head and hip are posable, as well as his arms and legs.
Topping it off his is "tunic" or however that part is called. Below his belt line you have three separate parts of the tunic, each of them posable, leaving full freedom of movement for his legs. In the more dynamic poses it actually looks like as if his "shirt" is moving along with him. A very good detail, which I haven't seen in any other Transformer so far, at least not on this level. Very nice.
Let's talk weapons. Just like in the movie Maul has his strange double light saber here. It's actually two separate sabers, which he can combine in his right hand. Though it sounds rather unstable, it does work just fine. Besides, this allows Maul to wield a single saber as well, like he did during the short fight on Tatooine. Of course the weapon has the red blade that is customary for the Sith.
Which leaves me with one last thing so say. Darth Maul has a very extraordinary, almost aesthetic transformation. His vehicle mode displays extraordinary elegance. It's interesting to see that this aspect is held on to during his entire transformation, which isn't very complicated, all the way through to the robot mode. That's not something you see every day. And seeing as I've been praising Darth Maul like this, I felt I should not leave that unsaid. So to put it short and sweet (well, maybe not short, but sweet), an absolutely perfect robot mode.
Darth Maul transformers - surprise, surprise - into his own space ship, a model known as "Sith Infiltrator". This is also the name printed on Maul's package. The actual name of this rather strangely shaped ship is "Modified SDS (Sienar Design Systems) Armed Star Courier Prototype", a kind of fast space yacht for ambassadors and the like. The ship even has a name, even though it has never been uttered in the movie. It is called "Scimitar", which is kinda fitting for Darth Maul. Another interesting fact is that this ship, with a length of 26.5 meters, is only half a meter shorther than Han Solo's "Millennium Falcon". All these facts are from the book "Star Wars – The New Essential Guide To Vehicles And Vessels", just so you know who to complain to.
Now to the actual vehicle mode. The Scimitar is a very sleek, sword-shaped ship. The most remarkable feature is a long, blade-like bow-section, which connects to a globe-shaped command module with two wings. All in all a very good likeness to the ship we saw on the silver screen.
The detailing goes the extra lengths of painting the exhaust openings in flaming blue, not something to be taken for granted. The hull of the ship is held in various shades of grey. The command module offers some red highlights, as well as a small window through which you can see - with some effort - the "Mini-Maul" figure, seated snugly inside the cockpit.
There are nearly no signs of Maul's robot mode and what little you do see can easily be passed off as technical parts of the ship. The unsuspecting will not see a robot hidden inside this ship. Another nice detail is that you can fold in the S-foils for landing, so the ship rests on the command module and a permanently extended landing gear.
Which leads us right to the only possible downside of this figure: The landing gear. Whatever you may think of an extended landing gear, I usually don't like them, but in this special case it's attached in such a way that it doesn't bother me. If you want to get technical about it, you never see this particular spot in the movie, so it can't be said that the original didn't have it as well. The Scimitar does not suffer from this piece of engineering.
A few words regarding the weapons. Two nice little missile launchers are built into the wings, which - surprise, surprise - use the two halves of Maul's light sabre as missiles. This is something we've seen in pretty much every light saber wielding Star Wars Transformer so far.
So all in all one can't really say anything bad about Darth Maul's vehicle mode, either. I liked the ship in the movie, it came across just as dark and elegant as its owner. A graceful space craft for a graceful villain, which has been turned into a very good Transformer figure.
As you may have noticed reading my reviews, I'm not the type of guy who likes to write short, simple sentences. In this case, though, it is rather easy to sum up my view on this figure. So here goes:
"Darth Maul is in my mind the best Star Wars Transformer so far."
The Sith looks spectacular in both modes and offers a maximum in regards to posability and play value. I had lots of fun shooting the pictures of Darth Maul fighting against Obi-Wan Kenobi (a SW-Transformer I don't like so much). So if you like the SW-Transformers and you get the opportunity to buy Darth Maul, you should take it. I have not regreted buying and importing it from Canada (thanks to behemothcomics) yet.
I award (once again) an A.