#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.”

#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