Monty Python & the Holy Grail:
Dead Collector & Black Knight
In the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the Monty Python actors each played several different roles in addition to portraying the Knights of the Round Table. John Cleese was the Black Knight, the stubborn knight who refused to let the loss of a few limbs prevent him from doing his job. Eric Idle was the Dead Collector, a man who refused to let the lack of dead bodies prevent him from doing his job.
"Bring out your dead!" - "Just a flesh wound."
These two memorable characters have now been rendered in 12-inch action figure format by Sideshow Toy, joining King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table and Patsy. The Black Knight action figure is a limited edition of 10,000 figures, and the Dead Collector figure is a limited edition of 7,500. King Arthur and his four knights were originally released in 2001, and were re-released in 2002 in a new "mud-splattered" edition. Several more action figures are planned for Sideshow's Holy Grail series, including the Knight Who Says Ni, Prince Herbert, and the King of Swamp Castle.
Both action figures featured here have the standard articulation for Sideshow's 12-inch action figures, which is:
- shoulders (ball jointed)
- bicep twists
- elbows (double-jointed)
- forearm twists
- wrists (move in two planes)
- hips (ball jointed)
- thigh twists
- knees (double-jointed)
- lower-leg twists
Each figure comes with a display stand as shown above - it has an adjustable wire section which goes around the figure's waist. (The height of the wire can be moved up or down in case you want to display the figures in a crouched or floating pose.) The base of the stand has the logo for the film, the character's name, and the actor's name.
The packaging of the first batch of Sideshow's Holy Grail action figures was a window box, although Sideshow has now returned to their "older" style of packaging, with the fifth panel flap. (Collectors prefer the flap, retailers prefer the window box. Sideshow's move to limited editions and to the specialty market allows them to cater more to collectors and to return to the sturdier boxes with flaps.) The front flap has the movie poster as the backdrop, with the character name added to the center. For the Black Knight, the box has "blood" spatters all over, and for the Dead Collector, this effect is created with tremendous globs of "mud." The blood and mud are glossy, which sets them apart from the rest of the printing on the box. Also done in gloss are small bits of "scotch tape" which appear to be attaching various notes to the boxes. The backs of the packages list design credits for the action figures. From "portraits sculpted by" all the way down to "limb gathering by," the boxes are filled with little bits of such Pythonesque humor. Even the twist tie warnings on the bottoms are written in a Python tone.
Click on a picture below to see more pictures of that action figure.
King Arthur was so impressed with the fighting ability of the Black Knight that he asked the Knight to join his court at Camelot. The Black Knight responded with silence, and then a challenge, not allowing the King and Patsy to pass. King Arthur engages the Black Knight, chopping off first his arms and then his legs. As Arthur and Patsy pass by, the Black Knight demands that they come back, so that he can bite them. This odd and bloody scene can be recreated (except for the blood) with Sideshow's action figure version of the Black Knight, because his limbs can be removed at the mid-bicep and mid-thigh twists.
By "can be removed," we mean that they are easier to remove than the limbs on other Sideshow 12-inch action figures. They still require a bit of effort to remove, as they are held in place with pegs. To take off a limb, slide the clothing back and bend either the knee (for the legs) or the elbow (for the arms) to get a bit of leverage and wiggle the limb gently. Once a limb is removed, you can see the paint detail on both sections of the limb - it is painted the reddish color of muscles. With the peg sticking out, the removed limb looks a bit like a cartoon ham.
The arms and legs of the Black Knight's outfit allow for the limb removal by being in two sections: the shirt is like a short-sleeved shirt with long gloves that reach up to the sleeves, and the pants are like shorts with long stockings that reach up to the hem of the shorts. (The word "stocking" is reinforced by the "pajama footies" on the outfit which take the place of boots or shoes for the Black Knight.) Most of the outfit is a fabric that has metallic look to it with a rough texture, giving the appearance of chain mail. The tunic is a plain black cotton fabric and the belt is black leather-like material, creating an attractive contrast to the mail. The Knight's black gloves are molded as part of his hand and cannot be removed.
The Knight's helmet also cannot be removed, as it is sculpted on, or rather, a tiny portion of his face is sculpted inside the helmet. Only his eyes and a small bit of his nose are visible. Jared Chapman did the portrait sculpture for the Black Knight. In addition to his display stand and his removable limbs, the Black Knight comes with his enormous sword.
The Dead Collector is seen quite early in the film, playing his triangle and calling for the villagers to bring out their dead. He asks a ninepence to cart off each body, and one customer (played by John Cleese) brings him a "nearly departed" rather than a "dearly departed" body. The "dead body" protests the need to carry him away, and the customer asks the Dead Collector to do him "a favor." The Dead Collector obliges by whacking the "dead body" on the head.
The Dead Collector action figure handily comes with his triangle/chime and his club so that you can recreate both key elements of the scene. Although the triangle is made of plastic and does not make a chiming noise, the club does make a rather nice thumping sound when you whack it on another action figure.
Even more satisfying than the thumping sound is the Dead Collector's outfit. Sideshow has used a variety of textures and colors in dressing this figure. The long dark brown vest is made from a thin leather-like fabric and is fully lined with a velour light brown fabric. Small metal rivets decorate the front and back of the vest, and four pairs of large buttons hold the vest closed with string loops. The long-sleeved shirt is a fuzzy medium brown material, which feels a bit like the material from which sweatpants are made. The shirt has a string closure at the neck - the string matches the string of the loops on the vest.
The Dead Collector's pants are dark brown and are made from the same fabric as t-shirts. A single snap at the waist with a faux fly hold the pants closed. The pants have several patches of a lighter brown fabric, sewn in with light brown thread. (The patches are real patches on the pants, not faux patches.) Leggings complete the lower portion of his outfit, and are made from two different shades of brown and are two different textures of fabric: dark brown cotton on the outer layer and a lighter brown fuzzy fabric on the inner layer.
Both the pants and the vest are spotted with a darker brown color, to give the effect of mud splatters. The splatters are continued on the Dead Collector's face, while his hands are splattered but dirty underneath. The Dead Collector's hat is not removable, but is part of his head, which was sculpted by Oluf V. Hartvigson.
Pictures of the Black Knight
Pictures of the Dead Collector