#1844: Buffy Summers

BUFFY SUMMERS

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER PALZ (PALISADES)

It’s always somewhat fascinating to peer back at the failed toylines of yesteryear.  Perhaps none are more fascinating than those produced by fan-favorite Palisades, a company that made a huge smash in the toy collecting world before succumbing to financial troubles, and a few questionable business strategies.  At the height of the block figure craze, they introduced their own line, PALZ.  Perhaps the most expansive line of PALZ produced were the Buffy The Vampire Slayer PALZ.  I’ll be looking at one of the variants of the main character today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Buffy was released in Series 2 of the Buffy PALZ line.  Each series of the line was based on a season of the show, so this is a Season 2 Buffy.  She’s specifically based on the episodes “Surprise” and “Innocence,” two rather pivotal episodes that deal with the fallout of Angel’s loss of soul.  The figure stands 3 inches tall and she has 14 points of articulation.  As with the three prior PALZ figures I’ve looked at, this Buffy is built on the basic female body (Four figures in and I still haven’t actually reviewed the male body; that’s kind of amusing), or should I say “bodies,” since Buffy’s got two them.  The one she comes wearing is based on her “Innocence” appearance, and it’s pretty straight forward as far as Buffy looks go.  She’s got an extra light jacket piece, which I don’t recall getting any other use, as well as a hair piece with her hair more pulled back, which I believe was another unique piece.  Both pieces replicate Buffy’s look from he episode pretty well.  PALZ were known for their plethora of swappable pieces, but Buffy doesn’t so much swap pieces as she does come with a second figure.  Her second look is based on “Surprise” and requires only the swapping over of her head, hands, and feet to complete it.  She gets another hair piece as well as a slightly heavier jacket piece, both re-used from the previously reviewed Vampire Buffy.  Again, they match the show appearance pretty closely, though this look’s a bit less distinctively Buffy than the other one.  The paintwork on both bodies is pretty solid, though not terribly involved.  The “Innocence” look ends up with the most interesting work, with the pattern of her shirt and her necklace being handled nicely.  There are two different faces to choose from on the head.  They aren’t as divergent as some of the faces were, but offer up a happier/angrier selection, which complements the chosen attire well.  In addition to the whole extra body, Buffy is also packed with the rocket launcher she uses to dispatch the Judge, as well as the torso of his aforementioned Judge-iness, which is perhaps one of the most clever Build-A-Figure ideas ever.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Buffy, along with Drusilla from the same assortment, is my first introduction to PALZ.  I came across the two of them at Baltimore Comic-Con and they were fairly cheap, so I figured I’d give them a shot.  I was fortunate in getting what I feel is the best version of Buffy right off the bat, and it was because of how cool this figure was that I ended up tracking down an almost complete set of the line.

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#1572: Kendra

KENDRA

BUFFY: THE VAMPIRE SLAYER PALZ (PALISADES)

You know, it’s actually a little bit surprising that Buffy: The Vampire Slayer was quite the merchandising juggernaut it was, given that the vast majority of the characters are just normal looking people.  But, its toys were a success nonetheless.  For example, when Palisades was attempting to compete in the block figure game, Buffy proved to be their most lucrative property, with two series of figures and a whole slew of exclusives.  Had Palisades not run into financial woes so early, it’s very possible Palz might have been a serious competitor for Minimates.  Isn’t that a strange alternate universe?  As it stands, the structure of the Buffy Palz line was such that only the show’s first two seasons are actually covered, which can place more of a focus on some slightly more minor characters.  For instance, while Faith is the replacement slayer that took off, it was first replacement slayer Kendra who actually got made into a Palz.  I’ll be looking at that figure today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Kendra was released as a Palisades Direct exclusive timed to coincide with the Season 2-themed second series of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer Palz.  Though initially only available to members of Palisades’ online club, the relatively quickly demise of Palisades after her release resulted in her being rather readily available on the aftermarket.  While most Palz were based on one specific appearance, Kendra is really a catch-all for all of her appearances.  Given it was three episodes, and she only had two distinct looks, it’s not like it was a real stretch.  Kendra stands 3 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  Like both Vampire Buffy and Willow before her, she’s built on the standard Palz female body.  You can choose from one of two hair pieces for her, one being based on her freer hair from “What’s My Line?” and the other being based on her more tightly braided hair from “Becoming.”  She comes wearing the first but I personally prefer the second.  Nevertheless, both pieces are very well crafted, exhibiting an awesome amount of texturing, which was a notable change for most of the Series 2 figures.  Kendra’s paint is some pretty solid work all around.  While the body pieces are largely done with big areas of flat colors, it’s all pretty clean.  Her two faces are really exceptional work, with both exhibiting a solid likeness of Bianca Lawson.  I personally like the aside glance face the most, but both are definitely decent representations of the character.  As with the two different hair pieces, there are two differently deco-ed torso pieces, one representing her shirt (which is her favorite and her only one) from “What’s My Line?” and the other being the replacement shirt Buffy gives her at the end of that episode (which is seen again in “Becoming.”)  In addition to the two torsos and the two hair pieces, Kendra is also packed with three stakes, her named stake Mr. Pointy, an axe, the Slayer Handbook, a crossbow, and a tombstone. 

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After coming across a few errant Buffy Palz at Baltimore Comic Con in 2009, I decided to track down a few other figures.  Kendra came from my third round of purchases, when I discovered a pretty decent selection of them on Amazon.  I always liked Kendra more than Faith, so I didn’t mind so much that she was the one to get the figure.  Despite her slightly minor status on the show, she’s genuinely one of my favorite figures from this line.

#1338: Vampire Buffy

VAMPIRE BUFFY

BUFFY: THE VAMPIRE SLAYER PALZ (PALISADES)

Wow, two Palisades reviews in a row.  Isn’t that upbeat?  Wanna hear about another failed line?  It’s okay, this one was marginally less of a failure.  Back when they were in the swing of things, Palisades was grabbing the license to all the cool cult-followed properties that they could.  While the master license for Buffy action figures was elsewhere, they managed to snag the rights to produce a line of block figures.  Initially, they had attempted to strike up a deal with Diamond Select in order to produce some Buffy Minimates.  For whatever reason, the plans fell through, so Palisades decided to tweak the design sheets ever so slightly and create their own line of block figures, dubbed “Palz.”  They were actually pretty darn awesome, and ended up introducing some nice ideas that would later be adopted by Minimates proper.  Today, I’ll be looking at one of the variants of the line’s title character, Buffy Summers.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Vampire Buffy was released as an exclusive through ToyFare magazine, and she hit around the same time as Series 1 of the main line.  She’s based on Buffy’s appearance during the first season episode “Nightmares.”  It was actually pretty nice, because Willow’s alt look was from that episode, and there was even a club-exclusive Xander, so the main trio were all represented.  The figure stands about 3 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  Like the previously reviewed Willow, she’s built on the female body (because Palz actually had gender specific bodies), with an add-on for her hair.  The hair is somewhat reflective of her look from the show, though it’s not quite spot on for Season 1.  It’s still a nice piece, though.  The paintwork on her is decent enough; it’s certainly vibrant, and I always appreciated how Palisades added depth to the faces, with shading and the like.  It works particularly well for the vampire design.  As was common with these figures, she’s got a second face on the back of the head; this one gives us a standard Buffy face, for those that just wanted a basic Buffy out of this figure.  Buffy is lighter than a lot of Palz when it comes to accessories, but she still has her fair share.  There’s a tombstone (the same as the standard Series 1 Buffy, but this time with writing on it), two books, a purse, and a jacket with a pair of sleeved arms.  The jacket’s cool in theory, but due to the fragile nature of the plastic used for the figure, I wasn’t willing to risk putting it on her, lest I break one of the shoulder joints (this was actually my second of this figure; the first broke in several places).

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I mentioned in my review of Willow, a sizable chunk of my Palz collection was courtesy of a very, very nice member of the Minimate Multiverse forum.  Both Vampire Buffys I own are from that chunk.  I wasn’t really dying to track her down on her own, since there are plenty of other Buffy Palz to be had, but it’s nice to have her to round out the set.  She’s okay, but does suffer from being one of the more lackluster entries in the line.  She’s decent enough, but the other Buffys all had a little extra to offer, which makes this one a little more “meh.”

#1013: Angel

ANGEL

BUFFY: THE VAMPIRE SLAYER (MAC)

AngelMAC1

While I like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I can’t say it’s my favorite Joss Whedon show (actually, it’s probably nearer to the bottom of the list).  It’s spin-off series, Angel, however , is one of my favorites.  Angel himself started on Buffy of course.  Early on, he’s not much more than a generic love interest, but when it’s revealed later in the first season that he’s a vampire with a soul, he starts to get a bit more interesting, prompting him to become one of the show’s breakaway characters come the second season (something that turn to villain towards that season’s end all the more shocking).  Angel was popular enough to be amongst the first characters to get an action figure, and I’ll be looking at that figure today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

AngelMAC2Angel was released in the very first series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer figures from Moore Action Collectibles.  He’s based on his look from most of the second season, which is pretty timeless as far as Angel is concerned (the hair is really the only giveaway that he’s from earlier on).  The figure’s a little over 6 inches tall and he has a resounding 6 points of articulation.  Yes, he’s from before MAC started adding articulation.  His articulation is there, but it’s really only good for slight tweaks to keep him balanced (and oh boy is that a chore).  There’s really only the one pose for this figure.  On the plus side, it’s a decent enough pose.  It’s not too specific, nor is it too rigid.  He looks fairly natural, and that’s what really matters.  The sculpt on Angel is quite nice.  The head features a good David Boreanaz likeness, and the body has some great detail work.  He feels a little on the skinny side, but it is supposed to be a younger Boreanaz, so it’s not far off.  The paint work on Angel is pretty decent overall.  Everything’s cleanly applied, and there’s no real slop to speak of.  However, for some reason, his skin tone is very orange, which isn’t at all appropriate for a character like Angel.  Dude literally gets no sun.  Ever.  He should be pretty pale.  Angel was packed with a sword, a stand, and a life-sized version of his ring.  Not quite as impressive a selection as later figures would get, but it’s not bad.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Angel was the first BVS figure I got, but it was a little bit after they were first released.  At the time, the whole first series was on clearance at Toys R Us, so I got Angel, in part because Angel is pretty awesome, and in part because he’s the best figure in the first series.  He’s not the greatest figure ever, but he’s decent enough.

 

#1012: Buffy Summers

BUFFY SUMMERS – GRADUATION DAY

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER (DST)

BuffyGD1

Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a fairly popular show in the ‘90s. Though it hasn’t aged super well, it’s still the show that got Joss Whedon recognized, and it did a lot to shake up how TV shows were handled. It also moved a fair bit of merchandise, which included action figures. The earliest figures were by sculptor Claybourne Moore’s company, Moore Action Collectibles. MAC’s earliest figures were little more than glorified statues, and even when they started adding more articulation, the actual usefulness of said articulation wasn’t superb. When MAC went under, Diamond Select Toys took over the license. Their initial figures were somewhat similar to MAC’s in movement, but they eventually expanded their line to include a few better articulated figures, in order to compete with Toy Biz’s Marvel Legends. They kicked the line off with a few versions of the title character, Buffy Summers.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

BuffyGD2Buffy was released in the first series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Deluxe Figures, which first hit in 2005. There were three Buffys offered in the series, based on her looks from various points in the show. This figure is based on her appearance in the first half of the Season 3 finale “Graduation Day.” It’s probably the most basic look we got for Buffy. The figure is just shy of 6 inches tall and has 31 points of articulation. With the exception of the shoulders, which were just cut joints (due to the design of the jacket), she was comparable with any Marvel Legends figure of the time, which wasn’t bad for a company that had, at that point, not attempted such an articulated figure. The sculpts of these figures were done by Gentle Giant Studios, who currently handle Star Wars: The Black Series and Funko’s Legacy Collection, so it’s no real shock that Buffy resembles the figures from those lines in terms of quality. The overall sculpt is actually quite good. While the head isn’t a perfect Sarah Michelle Gellar (nor is it the best likeness of her that DST would produce), it’s still got more than a passing resemblance. Perhaps my only real complaint would be the somewhat bland expression, which was a common problem with GG’s earlier figures. The body is a bit on the skinny side, but not horribly proportioned. The clothing all has nice detail work, and she certainly fits in with the rest of DST’s Buffy figures. Buffy’s paintwork is fairly basic, but it’s clean, and all of the colors match up pretty well with what’s seen on screen. Buffy included a spare set of bare arms, which allowed for the jacket to be removed, and even afforded the figure a bit of extra posability. She also had a pair of handcuffs, her diploma, and a Sunnydale High yearbook. Curiously absent is any sort of slaying equipment. They couldn’t even give her a stake?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Buffy ended up being one of the last BVS figures I got, despite being the only version of the main character I’ve ever owned. I ended up getting her on clearance from a KB Toys. She’s actually a pretty fun figure, even for just a basic person in basic clothes. It’s a shame that DST didn’t do more figures in this style from some of their other lines.

#0366: Willow

WILLOW

BUFFY PALZ

WillowPALZ2

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

WillowPALZ1Willow 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.

WillowPALZ3

#0113: Spike

SPIKE

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER (MAC)

Today, I venture into an area I haven’t really looked at before:  Buffy the Vampire Slayer!  Back in the 90s and early 2000s, Buffy was pretty much THE show to be watching in the fan community, so I was definitely watching it.  While I don’t think it holds up to most of Whedon’s other works, it definitely helped to put him on the map, and get us all those other great shows we all love.  And for that, I can certainly appreciate it.

One of the breakaway characters from the show was the evil-vampire-turned-unwilling-ally-turned-legitimate-hero, Spike!  So, of course, there were quite a few figures of him over the years.  Today, I’ll be looking at the very first.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Spike was released as part of Moore Action Collectables’ Buffy the Vampire Slayer line.  The figure is based on Spike’s red shirt/black leather jacket combo, which works well, seeing as it was his most prominent look on the show.  He stands a little over 6 inches tall and features 15 points of articulation.  The sculpt is pretty decent, I suppose.  The head definitely looks like James Marsters, who played Spike on the show.  The rest of the body is a bit of a mixed bag. As a whole, it looks the part, but it’s a bit odd in a few places, and despite his 15 points of articulation, he really only looks right in a single pose.  Unlike on most modern figures, the jacket is big, solid piece of plastic, which makes the figure pretty heavy, and pretty much negates all of the leg articulation.  The paint on the figure is pretty decent overall, though the skin has a particularly shiny sheen to it, which makes him look a bit off.  The denim texturing on the paints is actually really nice, and they even went the extra mile and painted his shoe-laces, so they definitely put in some effort.  Spike continued the line’s tradition of packing all of the figures in the line with display stands that depicted a section of cemetery.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked up this figure at a convention while he was still fairly new.  I paid a rather large amount of money for the time, given the character’s popularity, but I don’t feel like I was ripped off.  He was a good offering for the time, and he’s an okay figure over all.  He looks really nice when placed on the shelf in his one intimidating pose, and he encapsulates the character pretty well, so he serves his purpose, I suppose.  When Diamond Select Toys took over the line, they had a few superior offerings, although they never directly rereleased this particular version of the character. So, if you want this specific look, this is about your only option.  I am desperately attempting to bring a little levity to this review so it’s not the most boring thing I’ve ever written.  But, I feel I may have failed.  I used to be really into these figures, but now I find them slightly on the boring side.  However, the randomized list of figures from which I work told me to review Spike, and I don’t dare argue!