The Washington Times - August 31, 2007, 05:24PM
Sideshow Collectibles’ Holographic Darth Sidious is surrounded by Wiz Kids’ Marvel Heroclix: Avengers. [Photo by Jacquie Kubin/Special to The Washington Times]

Zad’s Toy Vault — Strange but cool

A short look at bizarre products with a pop-culture twist.

Holographic Darth Sidious (Sideshow Collectibles, $44.99)

The designers at Sideshow have created the perfect piece to complement their 12-inch line of Star Wars figures ($49.99 and up).

Paying homage to Neimoidian technology and long-distance meetings between a Sith lord and his accomplices in “Star Wars: Episode 1, The Phantom Menace,” this in-scale, 6-inch-tall, bluish translucent resin statue is perfectly manicured to resemble the insidious Darth Sidious and sits atop a spidery robotic structure called a mechno-chair.

Thanks to the electronics wizardry of a tiny light positioned in the chair, a turn of a switch gives the Dark Lord a ghostly glow as he might communicate commands to his minions via the chair’s holoprojector.

My only gripe with the beautifully sculpted and authentically detailed limited-edition piece is trying to keep the chair’s legs perfectly positioned to hold the weight of the future emperor. It may cause owners to tap into the powers of the Dark Side (or epoxy) to accomplish this mission.

Marvel Heroclix: Avengers (Wiz Kids, $9.99)

The premiere collectible miniatures game for superhero fans continues to chronicle battles in the Marvel Comics universe with an expansion pack celebrating the publisher’s legendary superhero team.

Heroclix combines dice rolls, tokens, trading cards and figures anchored to a combat dial that is twisted to reflect a character’s current status and powers. It’s a complex role-playing challenge but fun to learn.

This 60-figure set offers a wide range of Avengers members from the past 47 years for gamers to put into their team and includes finely sculpted and painted miniatures, roughly 2 inches tall, of legends such as Luke Cage, Bucky Barnes, Moon Knight, Captain America and the original Giant-Man (towering at 3 inches tall).

For $10, purchasers get five figures with character cards and either a bystander token, feat or battle condition card (no dice or rule book included).

Because I have yet to decipher all the nuances of the game, my favorite additions to the set are the character cards that each present a comic-book cover of the hero or villain’s first appearance and a short biography. It makes the Avengers expansion set an educational opportunity for the sequential-art fan.
— Joseph Szadkowski