I have been having more and more quality issues with Sideshow latley. When Luke Skywalker came out...I had to return the first one I got because of issues with the accessories. And I had problem with the upper elbow joints on the mannequin of the replacement figure.
Then Came Anakin. And there was evidence that Sideshow was serious about getting a handle on quality solely based on not having any more mannequin joint issues. Anakin was not perfect with the arm-falling-off issue, but other than that...he was sweet, dreamy near-perfection.
Kit Fisto was next in line with articulation so loose on the mannequin that the mannequin will not support the weight of Kit's head. This placed thumbtacks on my chair of comfort about Sideshow's taking quality seriously.
After Kit came AniVader (Comic-Con Darth Vader: Sith Apprentice). He was fine other than the loose arm syndrome which was a by-product of Sideshow using the same mannequin as the first Anakin figure.
Bespin Han Solo took the next turn with a blaster that was missing half of it's pistol-grip. Han was also packaged poorly having two of his regular edition figures thrown into a box with two Qui-Gon regular editions and the packaging material was shoved in so tight that it damaged the boxes. And there were none of the outer mailer boxes that the first few figures came with (my two regular Kit fistos came to me in the product boxes inside the mailer boxes inside the case box causing the product boxes to be in unscathed condition).
Qui-Gon continued the accessory problems with bent lightsaber hilts and a crooked blade. And of course the box issue mentioned with Bespin Han Solo.
Mace Windu was a devastating punch in the gut to me because his EIII lightsaber hilts are both bent quite a bit and the blade on the ignited one is even more crooked than Qui-Gon's (weapons are my own favorite accessories, I want the weapons to look great in the hands of the figure). It is so bad that Mace does not look good being posed with it. Even his EII lightsaber hilts are a little bent, but it can be hidden in his hand as he grips that one.
Now add these problems to the fact that I buy 3 of each figure...and I have only opened one of each. And it equals a serious doubt about Sideshows quality program. I am planning to open the others to check them out as I have to have confidence that they are good. Maybe they should strive for an ISO certification. But even that only helps in a company that works to the certification. At this point I am using the benefit-of-the-doubt rationalization to say that I still believe Sideshow WANTS to have better quality, they just need the kind of guidance that the ISO 9000 series can give them (I am not sure which specific ISO would apply to their company, but I believe it would be ISO 9002).
I have been too busy to sit down and compose a good review of a lot of the figures that have been released, but I intend to do a very thorough job and both post it in the reviews area AND send it to Sideshow.
As a quality inspector (albiet in a completely different field) I know what a good quality program CAN do. And my experience tells me that the problem is Sideshow having to coordinate a quality program from across the oceans.
The problems I have posted here are not ALL of the issues I had. Just an example from each of the figure as indicators of a general trend in the quality of the figures.
I also have a serious issue with the costomer service at Sideshow. I understand the reason behind a 30 day return policy. But common sense should dictate a little lenience on that deadline if a serious enough problem is identified prior to that deadline such as the articulation on my Jedi Luke. But there is no give there. And when you hold the line that hard on a known issue...you have changed from good customer service to hiding behind a guideline in order to keep from having to correct a problem that has been identified.
Another problem I have is the "30" day return policy. It is not actually 30 days from the point-of-view of the customer. It is 30 days according to the point-of-view of Sideshow as, according to a phone conversation that I had with Erin yesterday, they will not accept a return unless it is recieved by them within the 30 days. And with the U.S. Post Office the way it is, you could need as much as 10 days lead time to send it in (if you send it the cheapest way). You can't count on the USPS' overnight service to get there overnight.
I am still excited about new figures being done by Sideshow, but I am starting to move into an evaluating mode for the time being to assess whether I even want to continue to pay $67.63 for a figure I will not want to display out of the box because there are parts that will detract from the look of the figure.