REVIEW: "Collecting a Galaxy: The Art of Sideshow" celebrates fans, legacy, and power of imagination
Updated: Apr 28
"This book and the figures captured on these pages are each a love letter to fan's intimate devotion to the Star Wars saga."
If there is anything as synonymous with Star Wars as lightsabers, a Death Star, the Force, or Baby Yoda - it's collectibles. Fans have been intrigued with holding a part of the Star Wars journey since the original Kenner action-figures finally released in the late 1970s. In this current era of Star Wars figures, Sideshow Collectibles are second-to-none and viewed by many fans as the ultimate pieces in their collection.
Action-figures remain at the focus of collecting for many fans as the decades pass and new generations find Star Wars. It's the detail of the action figures that has changed the most thanks to Sideshow Collectibles. Imagination, artistic craftsmanship, and a love for Star Wars allow Sideshow designers to create the most life-like statues for fans to marvel at and reflect on fond memories of a galaxy far far away. This book, written by Samuel C. Spitale, offers readers more than 300 pages of images showcasing some of the greatest detailed "toys" to date.
Sideshow Collectibles has been imagining and creating museum-quality collectible products since 1994. The company got its start creating Maquette-conceptual models that special effects houses use to determine the on-screen look of a character or creature.
This book is for all Star Wars lovers, from the lay fans wanting to explore the spectrum of Sideshow masterpieces, to veteran collectors sifting for figures still needing to be added to the collection. Spitale takes hundreds of figures and places them all into seven categories:
Sixth Scale Figures
Premium Format Figures
Legendary Scale Busts and Figures
Life-Size Busts and Figures
Artist Series Statues
I found this really simplified my reading experience. The book itself is super durable. Honestly, it's heavy. That's a great attribute to have for a book like this. The cover and spine are sturdy and the pages are thick and textured. This book clearly shares the same standards as the figures revealed inside.
Two of the early pages that stopped me in my tracks was this of the Yoda figure on Dagobah. The spread really demonstrates just one example of the meticulous detail invested in each figure. At first glance you might notice the figure, but then your eyes look at the photographers manipulating the Jedi Master to strike the perfect pose for the figure. Then your eyes continue to slide to the left as if you're reading a manga and you get to examine the renderings and measurements that brought the figure to life.
Take a look at this Obi-Wan Kenobi Sixth Scale figure. It captures Kenobi following his failure in Revenge of the Sith as, "He features a detailed likeness as imagined by Sideshow artists to represent an aged Ben Kenobi who has witnessed the destruction of the Jedi Order at the hands of the Empire." You can see Kenobi has his modified Tusken rifle, two gaffi sticks, and multiple lightsabers. I'm a big fan of the clone armor part of his packed belongings. A nice added touch is the complete accessories list on the second page.
At the end of the book is a series of Star Wars Mythos figures, and it's that 2012 version of Kenobi in the desert that I hope to once have on my mantle. It's that statue that defines the ultimate craftsmanship and clear labor of love that Sideshow invests into all of its pieces.
If you feel like it's a long shot to get your hands on a real life-sized bust, then take a look at this two page spread of Darth Vader. In order to bring the iconic Sith Lord to life, Sideshow partnered with special effects house Spectral Motion, known for its work on popular movies like the Oscar-winning "Birdman."
As you can see, the sculptor's design of this bust began with the face of Anakin Skywalker fans first see in The Return of the Jedi. Then you see how the mask pieces fall into place. That is if you can take your eyes off the distraught face on the left page that strikes you with powerful eyes, the pressed forehead, and mood-lighting.
I honestly didn't know Sideshow had bronze sculptures. I can't say they would be the first type of figure I would go to collect but there is no denying these figures look cool. I snapped a shot of this iconic scene from A New Hope where Leia puts her faith in a farm boy from Tatooine in hopes of escaping several stormtroopers with horrendous aim.
Lastly, I want to give you a glance at my favorite section of this book. Yes, I have figures that I'm rather fond of that I mentioned above but the Artists' Series Statues are true gems. Here is a glance at Ralph McQuarrie's Stormtrooper, Darth Vader, and Boba Fett.
These three figures were released in 2016. I will forever love the exaggerated arches of Vader's eyes. Plus, Vader wielding a blue blade is pretty cool. Can you imagine if stormtroopers had walked around with lightsabers? WE might make less "Bad aim" jokes. The Boba Fett we get in the films is an improvement but there are subtitles you may notice adapted for the snow troopers on Hoth.
These are the images that inspired this galaxy far far away that we celebrate with friends and loved ones that bridge generations. And there may not be a better way to celebrate that galaxy than securing your own copy of Star Wars Collecting a Galaxy: The Art of Sideshow.
As you can see, you don't have to start at Page 1 to experience the magic and fun of this book. You can begin at any point and be thrust into galactic conflict, the Shadows of the Sith, or maybe find Yoda dressed as Santa.
BTBD Rating: 9.5/10
You can buy your copy at local retailers and online. You can order your own copy of Star Wars Collecting a Galaxy: The Art of Sideshow right now on Amazon!
Beyond The Blast Doors want to thank Insight Editions for our copy of this book used to write this review.
David is the creator of Beyond The Blast Doors. David has worked to develop “a Star Wars conversation" where fans lead the discussion.
"My Dad showed me Star Wars when I was three and has regretted that decision ever sense."
You can catch David on "BTBD LIVE!" every Sunday morning 11 a.m., CENTRAL / Noon (EST) on the Beyond The Blast Doors YouTube Channel. You can also listen to the BTBD Crew on the BTBD Podcast stream available on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, and Soundcloud.
David is also the Co-Host of Streaming Star Wars with Ammo and Fletzer Friday nights at 10 p.m., EST/9 p.m., CENTRAL on the Beyond The Blast Doors YouTube Channel.