Action Figures Series 5
Rollins (September 27, 2003) - For those of us who have
been collecting Palisades Toys' Muppet action figures since the beginning,
series 5 is a milestone.
making her appearance, it completes the Electric Mayhem. Series 5 gives
us a Gonzo/Camilla two-pack that we’ve been anticipating since the
line was launched. It's our first “new” character from Muppets
Tonight in Pepe, and continues Palisades inclusion of obscure characters
with the Muppet Newsman. Each figure surpasses the quality of earlier
waves, and this is my favorite series to date. This isn’t to say
series 5 is perfect. There are a few issues that take these outstanding
figures down a notch. More on that later.
a review of each figure, let's find out more about Palisades series 5
from product developer, Ken Lilly.
Tux Gonzo had a particularly unique development process. Tell us
how he went from the series 2 stunt figure with cape to the finished
series 5 figure we have today.
I was never very happy with Daredevil Gonzo. Really in
every way I disliked it. Body type, shape, and especially the head
sculpt and the paint. Basically, when we decided to move forward
on a new Gonzo, there were two major things to be fought for...color
and head sculpt.
Carroll loves Gonzo. And he is a talented PhotoShop artist. This
was the first time that he had sent me a sculpt with a lot of re-worked
stuff on it and I liked it so much that not only did we change the
head sculpt 100% but from this point on he does the same type of
thing to most of the Muppet likenesses.
it was a matter of getting the paint corrected. We are almost there,
but not quite. We were able to get the Henson Company to agree to
a new nose color rather than the traditional blue you see in merchandising,
but the factory did not interpret the paints as well as hoped. It's
My hope is that
the Black Tux Gonzo will have the color I have been hoping for.
Janice's extremely slim build did she present any unique challenges
especially considering articulation and height? Are you satisfied
with the completed Janice repaint figure?
Certainly we had to limit the articulation, because not
only does she have thin limbs but she also has EXPOSED thin limbs.
So that was a challenge. She's posable, but much more static than
some of the others. The height is still in debate. Some think she
is too tall. She may be, but I have reference that supports her
height and refutes that argument.
I'm not satisfied
with it. Why? Well, the sculpt is over a year and a half old. She
got bumped around so much that she is still in the "old school"
look that I think we started to come out of in S3 and fully made
it out of in S4. I would re-do her a lot if we did her over again.
is your most favorite from series 5? Why?
The Newsman is my favorite. I am just still so thrilled
that we even MADE a Newsman figure. I always loved the bits on the
show and never would have dreamed we would make one.
those kinds of figures, the obscure characters that I really get
is your least favorite from series 5? What would you do different
Pepe was my favorite in the prototype stage, but for some
reason the factory really did a less than expected job on the interpretation.
Vacation Pepe is a much better figure in that respect. I also do
not like the likeness as much as I hoped. It didn't capture the
essence as much as I wanted.
recently announced plans for a Mega Gonzo figure in early 2004 based
off the series 5 figure. What enhancements do you have in-store
for the Mega Gonzo?
The paint will be a big change. More room to do more subtle
things on the nose. The flower on the lapel was resculpted. At this
scale it needed to be a little more realistic. Other than that it
is virtually the same as the smaller figure. We separated the nose
and eyes in production so this guy will have ZERO white eye bleed...I
just hate that, but it is nearly impossible to avoid in spray masking.
At this size we could separate the parts and paint the whites first
and then insert them, thus avoiding any paint bleeding.
that Ken Lilly has shared his thoughts on series 5, here are some of the
highlights that you can expect from each piece in this series.
in Purple Tux and Camilla
Accessories: Bugle, Bouquet of Flowers and Box of Candy
my favorite of the series, here is Purple Tux Gonzo with Camilla.
We’ve already had one Gonzo as a part of the line of action
figures, way back in series 2.
That was Daredevil Gonzo, dressed in spandex, a cape, and accompanied
by a cannon to launch him. At the time, I really liked him. Now that
Purple Tux new-and-improved Gonzo has come home, Daredevil Gonzo looks
like a caricature. This is the Gonzo I’ve been waiting for.
This Gonzo truly is “Great.” He’s dressed in his
trademark purple tuxedo he wore so often on The Muppet Show. By dressing
him in this outfit and bulking the figure up a bit, Palisades was
able to work more articulation into him. He moves at neck, waist,
hips, knees, shoulders, biceps, elbows and wrists, meaning he can
get into just about any position his freaky little heart desires.
The real highlight of Gonzo isn’t his tux
or how he moves, but the likeness of the figure. Most Gonzo merchandise
just paints his nose and face sky blue, even though the puppet has
a gradation of colors from pink to purple and yellow and blue…sort
of a nicely bruised color. Considering all he goes through, this
color is fitting for Gonzo. Palisades recruited some help on this
figure to get his likeness just right—and everything from
the coloring to the angles of the nose to the eyes and his little
sprig of hair is just perfect. It’s as if Palisades threw
a full-sized Gonzo into the dryer and shrunk him down to a four-inch
figure, and now that figure is on my shelf. This Gonzo is perfect…
with one caveat. Evidently there were some paint “issues”
at the factory in China, and while most of the Gonzos out there
are outstanding, there are some out there that have splotches on
the face, eyes, or jacket...so when you’re picking him up,
take an extra minute to make sure you’ve got a good one.
Palisades has also finally given us something that
Muppet fans have been clamoring for since the line was announced:
a Muppet chicken! And not just any chicken, but Gonzo’s sweetheart
Camilla. She’s a full-on action figure in her own right, with
moveable head and feet. She looks great, and I was impressed by
the details of the individual feathers and the softer plastic used
on her wattle. Some people have reported problems with Camilla’s
feet, and even though the feet on my Camilla figures are a bit askew,
if you’re not trying to have her feet facing straight ahead,
it’s not an issue. She looks more natural than many action
figures. Gonzo also comes with the horn he blew at the beginning
of every Muppet Show, a heart-shaped box of chocolates, and an action
If there’s an example of Palisades’
dedication to their Muppets line, this is it. Most companies would
have been fine with the first version of Gonzo and re-used that
head sculpt for other Gonzo figures. Palisades really went to bat
for the fans and the character to make sure he got done right. It
Guitar, Hat, Tambourine and Amplifier
||Janice is a figure
that I feared wouldn’t be made—back when the line launched,
and Dr. Teeth was part of the first assortment, my first thought was
“he’s too obscure, this is terrible—we’ll
never get all five members of the Electric Mayhem!” Over a year
later, I have all five band members jamming on the toy shelf, and
Janice looks great with her friends.
Janice is MUCH
taller than I expected her to be. Janice has always been very lanky
of course, but the way the Muppet sizes are “cheated”
by the performers, Janice has been around the same height as the
other Muppets. She towers over Kermit and Gonzo, and with her platform
shoes on is even a little taller than her boyfriend Floyd. He doesn’t
Janice is a
great figure. She’s wearing her “classic” Muppet
Show outfit, which means a pink tanktop, denim miniskirt, platform
shoes, bracelets, and her blonde “spaghetti” hair parted
down the center. NO SIDE PONYTAIL! She’s got a removable hat
molded of soft plastic that completes her look, but she looks great
with or without it. I’ve heard complaints about Janice’s
likeness, but I think she’s dead-on. The eyelids, the lips,
teeth, chin—they even sculpted a tiny little uvula in the
back of her mouth; a minor detail, but one that’s essential
for the character.
She comes with
a white left-handed guitar, an amp (bigger than Floyd’s),
and a working tambourine. Working? Yes. The little metal discs inside
the tambourine are free and jingle when you shake it. It’s
a wonderful unexpected detail that adds to the realism of the accessories.
Her guitar is missing the stiff wire that connected Floyd’s
bass guitar to his amp, which is fine with me since I busted Floyd’s
a long time ago to give him more freedom of movement. Her guitar
is also missing the shoulder strap, which is more problematic from
a musician’s standpoint, but she holds the guitar so well
that it doesn’t bother me any.
also a Janice
repaint figure, wearing a silver tanktop and with different-colored
accessories, completing the Electric Mayhem Repaint Band. Hopefully
someday we’ll see additional Janice figures like a Nurse Janice
to hang out with Dr. Bob at Veterinarian’s Hospital.
Accessories: Deck Chair, Umbrella, Flip-flops, Hairdryer and
action figure is small—aside from Rizzo and Camilla, he’s
the smallest figure in the line. But he’s not quite small
enough—the top of his head is about to Kermit’s collar,
making him a “cheated” scale. I don’t have a problem
with this, since making him larger means more articulation. Compared
with other figures of similar size, it’s a great achievement
that Palisades was able to work jointed shoulders, elbows, and wrists
into all four of Pepe’s arms. His neck and waist swivel, and
his hips move so he can sit quite easily.
There are a
few issues with Pepe that make him look not as puppet-accurate as
some of the other figures in the same line. The Pepe puppet has
fine ostrich plume hair and two very fine, long antennae. Palisades
has been able to approximate that look with soft PVC plastic, but
the effect isn’t quite as realistic as what they’ve
achieved for other figures. Not the fault of the company, certainly,
but the reality of mass-producing a four-inch plastic toy. The other
issue is one that the company has more control over, and that’s
the painting of Pepe’s eyes. The pupils on some of the Pepe
figures out there are way too small—it looks like Pepe just
saw a camera flash go off. It’s not something that keeps me
up at night, but when our expectations have been raised so high
by the great Palisades standards, we find things to nitpick.
Like the Rizzo
figure from the previous series, Pepe makes up for his small stature
by bringing along a lot of accessories: he’s got a folding
beach chair and attachable umbrella—both include fabric and
actually fold up when not in use. He’s also got a pair of
binoculars, a Pepe “Muppets Tonight” lunchbox that opens
(no thermos, sorry) and a hair dryer. Instead of his hands closing
on the accessories, he’s got holes in his two upper hands
so he can hold the hair dryer and binoculars by inserting their
pegs into his hands. These accessories put this already great figure
over the top, and fit the character of the little guy. I wasn’t
that excited for the Pepe figure, but after seeing him in person,
I can’t wait to get my mitts on Vacation Pepe, an exclusive
coming soon from ToyFare and Sam Goody. And if we get a Tutu Pepe
and Tuxedo Pepe, I’ll get those too. Can’t get enough
of that seafood.
Desk, Backdrop, Phone and Glasses
The fourth figure
in series 5 is the Muppet Newsman. Continuing in that grandly obscure
tradition that brought us Crazy Harry and Lew Zealand, I’m
finding that even though these characters aren’t headliners,
they’re quickly becoming my favorites in the line. I never
thought there would be any Muppet Newsman merchandise, and now here
he is, just waiting for a bomb to drop. Crazy Harry will take care
The first thing
you notice about the Muppet Newsman is the legs. He’s got
two of them. Like many Muppets and many news anchors, I never really
thought about the Muppet Newsman having legs. They are disproportionately
small, ensuring he’ll be at his desk job forever, and never
get that Hawaiian Tropic contract he’s been dreaming about
all these years. After you get over his legs, you’ll notice
how amazing his likeness is. He’s packaged with his glasses
off, even though I think he wore his glasses in every appearance
after the first season of The Muppet Show. I remember him with his
glasses, so I keep them on, but it’s nice that they’re
removable. His face is a perfect likeness to the puppet, with his
bags under his eyes, his newscaster hair, and his triangular patrician
His brown plaid
suit coat is unapologetically 70’s, with his broad tie completing
the look; the body of the suit is a softer plastic than the rest
of the figure, much like the softer plastic of Pepe’s hoodie,
Janice’s skirt, and Gonzo’s jacket. His accessories
are massive, just short of a playset themselves. The wood grain
desk has many layers of texturing and paint applications to look
like real wood; more minor details, but so much better than what
other action figure lines produce. Along with the desk are a red
telephone (for those incoming bulletins) with removable receiver
and a soft coiled cord, and a backdrop to complement the desk. The
backdrop has four “monitor” spots, to be filled by your
choice of eight stickers. The stickers include photos of the Muppet
action figures, and fans have complained about this and the quality
of the printing on the stickers. I agree that they’re a bit
cheesy, but I like Beaker’s weather report. I haven’t
applied any of the stickers at all yet—I don’t know
if I will. The stickers are the only weak part of the figure and
Note: Muppet Central's Graphic Designer James Carroll has
put together an alternate set of Newsman screens to use with your
here to download these hi-res screens that you can print on
Series 5 is a culmination
of many things in my eyes—it completes the Electric Mayhem, it gives
us the iconic version of Gonzo and Camilla, and breathes new life into
the line by including both new and obscure characters. It’s my favorite
of the first five series, and will undoubtedly be seen as a high point
for this line of figures.