#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.

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#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.”

#1337: Battle Acroyear

BATTLE ACROYEAR

MICRONAUTS (PALISADES)

“Described as an ‘Enemy of the Micronauts’, this stalwart warrior is surely still a hero among his people and a formidable knight to his allies. Clad in his distinctive crimson and white armor, and possessing the strength to wield his massive Power Sword against the powerful intergalactic foes of his people, what childhood imagination couldn’t give Acroyear the chance to be a ‘good guy’?”

Poor Palisades and their poor cursed Micronauts line.  Though its parent line, Microman, has been a pretty strong seller in Japan, the American-ized adaptation never quite took off the same way.  Mego saw decent success into the ‘80s, but it quickly dwindled under the juggernaut that was Star Wars.  20 years later, fan favorite company Palisades did their very best to bring new life to the line, but they ran into roadblocks at every turn.  The worst of it really hit right at the beginning. The factory producing Series 1 of the relaunched line pulled a fast one on Palisades, by sending them sub-contracted “production samples” which in no way represented the actual quality of the product being produced.  When the Series 1 figures arrived, Palisades was left with a stock that was subpar, with pretty much no funds to replace them.  Worse, stores were already getting the stock, so there was little they could do.  They quickly shifted production to another factory, and put into production a Series 1.5, which offered slightly fixed figures built on the Series 1 molds, with the hopes of tiding collectors over until proper corrected Series 1 figures could be produced later down the line (this, sadly, never happened).  Each Series 1 figure was given a new deco, with some sort of neat backstory to it.  My personal favorite was Battle Acroyear, the redressing of (you guessed it) Acroyear!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

As noted, Battle Acroyear was part of the Series 1.5 assortment of Palisades’ Micronauts line.  The Series 1 Acroyears were perhaps the most negatively effected by the poor quality; the heavy metal torsos would cause the plastic around the joints of the limbs to disintegrate into dust almost immediately after opening, leaving collectors with little more than a pile of wobbly plastic bits.  That’s hardly going to do justice to one of the greatest warriors of all time, so the replacement was necessary.  The figure stands about 4 inches tall and he has 13 points of articulation.  Unlike most of the rest of the line, which used an internal band construction similar to vintage G.I. Joes, Acroyear uses a solid construction.  Like I said above, the figure has a die-cast metal toros, with plastic limbs and head.  Fortunately, unlike his predecessors, this guy’s legs can actually hold his wait, pretty well I might add.  Really, the construction on this guy is really solid; he feels like he could survive most things (and mine’s made it through a few shelf dives, so I know from experience).  The details of the sculpt are nice and clean, and appropriately reto-sci-fi.  While all of the Palisades Micronauts had minor deviations from their Mego counterparts, Acroyear’s were even more minor than most; there’s some slight tweaking to the shape of the head, but it’s the sort of thing that you can really only tell if you’re looking right at both figures.  Paint schemes were a defining factor for the Series 1.5 figures.  While the Series 1 Acroyears had deviated pretty wildly from the classic Acroyear colors, this one brings it back a bit, albeit with a twist.  The original Acroyears were all the same basic colors, with three different accent colors: blue, green, and pink.  This figure gives us a fourth accent color: red.  This is actually a pretty cool reference, as red was the color used for the heroic Prince Acroyear, the main Acroyear from the Marvel Comics adaptation from the ‘80s.*  It’s a color scheme that really works well with the design, and he certainly stands out on the shelf.  Acroyear includes a battle sword (a much larger replacement for the original figure’s smaller dagger), a spy drone, his extra large wing pack, and clear display stand.  The sword is suitably awesome, and the wings are cool, even if they aren’t quite as nifty as Space Glider’s.  The spy drone is interesting enough, and serves a secondary function: Acroyear can be “transformed” into a tank-like thing, using the drone as a turret of sorts.  Not as advanced as later Transformers, but cool nonetheless.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I actually had one of the Series 1 Acroyears back in the day.  Fell to pieces in like a day.  One of the more depressing action figure interludes of my childhood.  This figure ended up in my collection a fair bit later, after the secondary market prices on most of the line had shot pretty far up.  Cosmic Comix bought someone’s toy collection, and there were a handful of Micronauts in it, which I ended up getting for a steal.  Battle Acroyear was among them, and he’s easily my favorite of the bunch.  In fact, I think he’s my favorite Palisades Micronaut period.  He’s just a really fun toy.

*Since the team already had plenty of blue and green, Acroyear’s third color was chosen for his primary look.  However, due to the limitations of printing in comics, pink would have been nearly impossible to render consistently, so he was shifted to a straight red.

#0729: Time Traveler

TIME TRAVELER

MICRONAUTS (PALISADES)

TimeTraveler1

Mego’s Micronauts line of the ‘70s was never a super huge hit, and it was definitely overshadowed by the many toys first toylines of the ‘80s, but it does still have something of a cult following. This cult following helped get the line a relaunch in the early 2000s, courtesy of fan-favorite toy company Palisades. Palisades put a lot of effort into bringing Micronauts back. Sadly, the line was cursed with several pretty awful factory issues, causing the final figures to suffer, hurting the sales of what was already a pretty niche line. This came back to bite Palisades pretty hard, leading to the end of their Micronauts line after just two full series, and their eventual bankruptcy. Kind of a bummer. So hey, how ‘bout those figures, though? Let’s have a look at what is perhaps the most iconic of all Micronauts figures, the Time Traveler!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

TimeTraveler2The Time Traveler was part of the first series of Palisades’ Micronauts line. The figure was available in four possible color schemes, two transparent and two opaque. This one is the clear translucent one, which is a pretty direct recreation of one of the original Time Travelers, with just a few minor differences. He’s 3 ¾ inches tall and he has 18 points of articulation, same as his 70s predecessor. Sculpturally, this figure is more or less identical to the original version, but there are a few differences to note. The real differences are on the head, which is a little thinner than the original and features a higher level of detail work. It’s certainly a higher quality sculpt than the original, though I’m not sure I prefer it to the original. It’s in that weird area of being a more modernized sculpt that still possesses many of the style tics of the vintage toy, but without the nostalgic charm. The Time Traveler possesses no actual paint, but his head and all of his chest plates are done in a nice vac-metalized gold. The golden head is actually another change from the vintage figures,
where all of the Time Travelers were silver. While the original Time Traveler figures each only included a single chest plate, chosen at random from the four possible designs, Palisades’ Time Traveler included all TimeTraveler3four of the original plates, as well as two new designs (though, I could only find four of the chest plates when I went to take the pictures!). My personal favorite is the “windows” piece, but they’re all pretty cool. The Time Traveler also included the L-port piece from the original figure, as well as a black display stand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Palisades’ Micronauts line, amongst other things, was not super easy to find, especially before the introduction of all the online toy buying options we now have. I did end up finding a Time Traveler at an out of the way toy store around the time of release, but it wasn’t this one. Unfortunately, the first series figures were incredibly fragile and he ended up breaking, which was a definite bummer. I ended up getting this guy many years later, courtesy of the Toy Robot Museum, near Allentown, PA. Even with all of the factory issues and the slight changes from the originals, this guy’s a lot of fun, and I’m definitely glad I managed to find one.

#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