The Sandman: Death Statue by Mattel

Today we’re going to take a break from all the MOTUC stuff and check out one of the non-He-Man related things I picked up at Matty’s Sale: The sassy Death statue from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series. I was first exposed to The Sandman comics back when I owned a used & out of print bookstore. I never knew what was going to come through the front door and one day it happened to be a guy with a panel van filled with 4,500 comics to unload. They were all bagged and boarded and ran the gamut from the 70’s to current stuff. I didn’t sell comics, but I couldn’t resist and we came to an arrangement. Eventually, I culled through the collection, keeping what I wanted and setting up the rest in the back corner of the store on card tables. Some of the ones I pulled were Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman.

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I make no bones about being a Neil Gaiman fan. Besides really enjoying his original comic work, many of his efforts have spilled over into so many other mediums and franchises that I hold dear. When Mattel revealed their Death statue for the 2012 San Diego Comic Con, I was certainly interested, but with so many other things vying for my collecting dollars, I ultimately had to pass. Most of the time, when you pass on SDCC exclusives, the ship sails and second chances are expensive (Screw you, Sky Striker Starscream!!!). But every once and a while, the items are readily available afterwards at the same price. In this case, I was able to do even better, as Matty Collector had a ton of these still available for their Cyber Monday Sale.

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While nowhere on the box does this statue claim to be an SDCC Exclusive, the gorgeous and elaborate packaging certainly betrays it as being some kind of special item. As with most Matty Collector items, Death comes in a mailer box, but rather than being a boring white carton, this one is all black with Death’s ankh printed on one side and a really nice minimalist portrait of her on the other.

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Inside the tasteful mailer box, things only get better. The statue comes in a three-quarter window box with an elaborately illustrated frame and insert, placing Death in an animated graveyard environment. The back of the box has a portrait and a little blurb about the character.  She’s secured on a transparent tray and hovering slightly above her skull base, and the various windows let you enjoy the statue from every angle except the back. If ever there was an argument against opening a collectible, this presentation would be a pretty convincing one. I mean, I open everything, and even I was really tempted to leave Death mint in sealed box. However, after some really careful clipping, I was able to get Death out of her box without destroying the packaging.

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So, the first thing to realize about this statue is that it’s molded out of regular old plastic. If you’re a collector of statues, you’re probably used to PVC, polystone, cold-cast porcelain, or pretty much anything other than this mass market grade plastic. Besides making the statue remarkably light (seriously, there’s no heft to this thing at all!), this kind of plastic shows seam lines and just can’t hold a sculpt as well as the more premium grade materials. Now, all that having been said, the sculpt is a solid enough effort, and this is by no means a bad looking piece.

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Death is posed standing, with her right hand bent at the elbow and resting on her hip, and her other hand resting suspiciously close to her “hoo-hoo.” Actually, I think the designers were going for having her left thumb hooked into her belt and you can kind of see that. There are swivel cuts in her shoulders and torso, but Death is obviously sculpted to be in a very specific pose and I haven’t had any luck using the articulation to her benefit. Otherwise, there’s some good detail work in the sculpt. The laces on her boots and the buckles on her belt are all pronounced, and you get the little wrinkles on her tank top. She also has her ankh pendant hanging around from her neck on a string… OMG, that’s mixed media folks!!! Still, there’s nothing here you wouldn’t see done in a similar fashion on a well executed 6-inch action figure.

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Death’s head is looking slightly downward and this is really the only thing that irks me about the pose because it kind of hides her face. The neck is ball jointed, but there’s no room for her to look up, only side to side. The ability to swivel the head is certainly more useful than the rest of the articulation, but I really would have preferred an option to have her looking forward and not perpetually downward. My guess is the designers wanted to make her look coy, and if you turn her head all the way to one side, it kind of works ok. The sculpting on the head is easily the best part of the statue, as it captures the character quite well and I particularly like that the hair is sculpted as a separate piece.

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The paintwork has its ups and downs. The paint on the face is excellent. Her eyes and lips are perfect, and the grey wash on her hair is used sparingly and to good effect. The quality of the paint breaks down a bit between her tank top and her armpits. There’s definitely some slop going on there. There are also a few stray marks along the back of her pants. The lace holes on her boots are all painted silver, as are the studs and buckles on her belts.

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Death comes separate from her base, with peg holes in her feet to secure her to it. Her feet aren’t sculpted to make her boots flush with the base, so I don’t really get the feeling that she’s naturally standing on it. Nevertheless, the skull base is a really great looking piece. There’s not a lot of paintwork, but the sculpt speaks for itself, and it does have a cool aged patina. Unfortunately, it’s hollow, so it adds to the lightweight feel of the statue.

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If you collect statues, I’d caution you that Death probably isn’t going to meet your expectations. The lack of heft alone is likely to disappoint. On the other hand, if you just happen to be a Sandman fan and you’re looking for a good representation of Death to display on your shelf, this statue certainly gets the job done. It’s a competent piece, although it still feels like it started life as an action figure. As far as value goes, this statue originally retailed for $30 (closer to $40 if you ordered it off Matty and had it shipped). Now, normally that’s pretty cheap for a collectible statue, but for a plastic statue made by a mass market retailer like Mattel?  Eh, maybe not so much. In hand, however, the elaborate presentation of the packaging helps bolster the value quite a bit, and I can honestly tell you that I’ve seen far more expensive statues turn out a lot worse than this one. Ultimately, I’m glad I picked her up. She’ll look nice on my Bishoujo shelf, although more than likely she’ll wind up going back in her box for now, as I definitely want to keep the whole presentation intact.

Tomorrow I’ll turn my gaze back to the last MOTUC figure that I picked up from Matty’s sale… It’s Vikor!

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