In the early 2000s, the block figure was in a real upswing. Kubrick had been on the market for a while, and it seemed everyone wanted to get in on the action. Minimates just did okay with their original, larger scale figures, but found a real hit when they launched Marvel Minimates at a smaller size. Up and coming (and , sadly, now-defunct) toy company Palisades launched their own line of block figures, known as PALZ. They managed to get the block figure license for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and they used it to launch the new format. Amongst the earliest releases was Buffy’s best friend Willow Rosenberg, who I’ll be taking a look at today.
THE FIGURE ITSELF
Willow was part of the first series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer PALZ. Each series of PALZ were based around a particular season of the show, and each figure was based on a specific episode of that season. Willow is based on her appearance in the episode “Nightmares,” a first season episode where the nightmares of all the students at Sunnydale High come to life. Willow is built on the female PALZ body, which means she stands about 3 inches tall and features 14 points of articulation. Since this is my first review of PALZ, I’ll review the PALZ body here. It’s not unlike the Minimate body, though it is taller than the basic one and the arms, hands, and feet are noticeably squared off compared to the smoother edges of a Minimate. PALZ are generally made of a more brittle plastic, as well, making them much more likely to break. Not a bad base body, but not without issue. Willow features additional pieces for her hair, skirt and jacket. Everything fits together quite nicely, though her jacket is difficult to get on and off without risk of breakage. The paint work on Willow is pretty good. In particular, I’m impressed by the fact that the polka-dot pattern of her dress goes all the way around. That’s some serious attention to detail! The laces on the shoes are also a nice touch, and the faces on both sides of the head bear a decent resemblance to Allyson Hannigan. What’s that? Why are there two faces? To allow you to give Willow her alternate look of course! Willow includes a spare torso, arms, skirt and hair piece to allow you to depict her in her kimono look from “Nightmares.” In addition, Willow includes a back pack, a computer monitor and keyboard, and a tombstone (just like the rest of Series One).
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
Willow was part of a large set of Buffy PALZ I got not too long after getting into the line. The story behind how I got them is rather neat. I’ve mentioned my membership at the Minimate Multiverse on this site before. Overall, that site is devoted to Minimates, but there is a decent discussion of other toylines, block figures in particular getting a lot of the focus. The other really cool thing that the Multiverse has is a pretty amazing trade forum. So, when I got into Buffy PALZ, I went there to see if I’d have any luck finding any. I came across a really great guy who goes by the handle Buttheadsmate, who had listed that he had duplicates af just about every PALZ ever made, so I got in touch with him to ask about possibly getting a few of the Buffy PALZ I was most interested in. He responded that he’d need a little time to have a look around to see what he could find, but that he’d get back to me. Not too long after that, he got back to me, offering me an almost complete set of Buffy PALZ for an incredibly good price. I was a poor high school student at the time, so I told him I’d need to double check on money. To that he responded that he knew I was good to repay him, and he really just wanted to send them to me. So, with nothing given on my part, he sent me a huge collection of PALZ, pretty much completing my collection in one fell swoop. All he asked in return was that I help in procuring the occasional TRU exclusive Minimate set, as he couldn’t get them in England. I was so very impressed by his generosity, and I went on to find out that I was far from the first member he had done such a thing for.