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Muppet Action Figures Series 6

Boo, get off the stage!

Annika Abel (December 8, 2003) - Ho hum (or is that hi ho?), another Palisades Muppet review. When Phillip asked me to write this review my initial thought was: “What’s left to say?”

At this point I think we are all accustomed to the overall quality, attention to detail, and accuracy of the Palisades Muppet line. Does anyone need a review to know the likenesses are the best we’ve seen? Does anyone not know the figures are highly articulated? Or that the accessories are character-appropriate and more intricate than you’d find with other action figure lines? Unless you’ve been living under Fraggle Rock for the past year and a half I’m pretty certain the answer is no. But then I took the Pigs in Space playset out of the box...

Pigs in Space Playset with First Mate Piggy
Accessories: Removeable consoles and six interchangeable view-screens

I am amazed that Palisades manages to impress me all over again with each new release. Pigs in Space is the second most anticipated playset (after the Muppet Show Backstage due out next year) and it does not disappoint. From the patterned floor to the swivel monitors this toy has the look and feel of the Swine Trek set we all know and love and is the star of series 6.

Palisades resisted the urge to update the Swine Trek with more realistic consoles and equipment. The computers have that 70s pseudo futuristic look that dates the skit and is remembered fondly by Muppet fans—the purists among us will be more than satisfied with this toy. The pocket doors open and close, the levers move, the chairs swivel and slide forward and back, there are even creases in the chair padding. The six viewscreen images are leaps and bounds ahead of what we got with the Newsman’s backdrop in series 5. The playset comes with extra, free-standing consoles with interchangeable parts so one can design equipment to fit their play needs.

We’re Muppet fans and that means we’re pretty much never satisfied with a toy. I’d love to see a pocket on the back of the playset where the viewscreens could be stored. Likewise, I’d like an easy storage option for some of the small parts that come with the additional consoles. But that is really pretty nit-picky.

My three year old was riveted the moment she saw the playset. She spent an hour of uninterrupted playtime—even refusing an afternoon snack she was so enthralled. Her favorite features are the swivel chairs, working doors, and the tilting monitors. First Mate Piggy is, in her words, fabulous.

It is fabulous to have Muppet texture on this Piggy figure. The look is more realistic and allows First Mate Piggy to blend with the other figures in the line. Her hair is a more realistic color than the bright yellow of the Piggy figures in series 1, however, First Mate Piggy leans a bit too much towards brunette. Beyond that, the figure is spot on.

Clifford
Accessories: Director's Chair, Sunglasses, Cell Phone, Clapboard, and Old Style Microphone

Oddly, three figures come with chairs in this series; Statler, Waldorf, and Clifford. At first glance Clifford was my least favorite in 6. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something seemed just a tad off. Somehow this figure lacked some of the flare and sense of cool that are so essential to Clifford. Once I got Clifford free from all those twist ties I discovered he looks much better out of the package.

Clifford’s microphone is my favorite of his accessories. It is styled after a microphone from the 30s or 40s, as opposed to the more modern version that came with Fozzie in series 2. The colors on the repaint Clifford (tan vest, green shirt, light gray pants) are brighter than regular Clifford and the lighter color combination makes the figure pop. In this case I prefer the repaint to the regular version, though I like the traditional silver mic with regular Clifford more than the gold mic that comes with the repaint.

Statler
Accessories: Victorian Gentleman's Chair, Muppet Vegetables-2 tomatoes and Avocado, and a Playbill

Waldorf
Accessories: Victorian Gentleman's Chair, Muppet Vegetables-2 Tomatoes and a carrot, Scorecards, and a Cane

The two old guys from the balcony are sold individually, but you can’t very well have one without the other. The figures have a lot of similarities, as is appropriate, thus I’m going to talk about them as a pair. As with Piggy, the addition of the Muppet texture lacking on Vaudeville Statler and Waldorf greatly enhances the likenesses. The detail on the Victorian chairs is great. The chairs are the perfect accessories for these two curmudgeons. It is almost as hard to imagine Statler and Waldorf without their chairs in the balcony as it is to imagine one without the other. It is these sorts of seemingly small touches that set the Palisades figures apart from other toys.

The Muppet vegetable accessories are a definite highlight with Statler and Waldorf. Originally Henson said no to Muppet veggies but, luckily for Muppet fans, Palisades persisted. The critics can hurl the tomatoes, carrot, and avocado at the stage or the veggies can be paired with other figures to re-enact a favorite skit. Perhaps a small vegetable chorus will join the forth-coming Muppaphones….

The print on Statler and Waldorfs’ Muppet Show Playbills is difficult to read, not surprising given the scale. It would, perhaps, have been better to list fewer acts and use a slightly larger font. Regardless, this is a cool accessory and the authenticity in the act titles is yet another example of the Palisades attention to detail.

Patrol Bear Fozzie
Accessories: Handcuffs, Handcuff Pouch, Nightstick, Walkie Talkie, Walkie Talkie Pouch, 2 Gear Pouches, Flashlight and Hat

Patrol Bear was never one of my favorites so I was least excited about this figure. Still, Palisades came up with a figure well worth my $9. Patrol Bear was completed a while ago and got bumped to series 6. Because the sculpt is old one might expect a slip in quality from the more recent Palisades releases, after all, this is an evolving line and we’ve seen plenty of improvements as Palisades has come to know the license better. The perfectionist in Ken Lilly might disagree, but I see no such slip with Patrol Bear. The details are here—even his tiny badge clearly reads: 10532 Police. Patrol Bear is a large figure but plenty of accessories are still included, most snap into peg holes on his belt. A nice touch are the handcuffs that open and close and, true to form, Patrol Bear seems to have lost the key.

Let's find out more about Palisades series 6 from the man who oversaw development of the line, Palisades' Ken Lilly.

The "Pigs In Space" playset has been a long time coming. Originally
planned for this summer, it was pushed back to December. Now that's it's
here are you satisfied with the final product? What unique challenges did
this set and the First Mate Piggy figure present?

LILLY: I am never satisfied with the final product. The day that a mass produced product hits shelf that I am totally happy with is the day that I will retire. The challenges of the set were many...how do you make it show accurate and still add features and coolness that don't take away from that? Stuff like that. We felt it was important to be show accurate with this set as much as possible, but there were certain areas we had to cheat, as with all these products.

Overall, the most difficult part of the playset was of course the Piggy figure. She is still many leagues away from being the Piggy I have always wanted, but she is certainly closer than the series 1 Piggy, so that's a good thing.

Who is your favorite figure from series 6? Why?

LILLY: Hands down it is Clifford. In fact, he is my favorite from the entire year of 2003. Not that I have some great love for the character, because I don't. I mean I dig him well enough, but he would not make my top ten. He is my favorite FIGURE though, because as an action figure he really fires on all cylinders with great articulation and playability, really good paints and great accessories.

Who is your least favorite from series 6? What would you do different if the figure is made again?

LILLY: I still am not entirely happy with Statler’s likeness. And some people have from time to time blamed Henson for this in posts. This is NOT the case of them approving this likeness and us trying to do something else. They were also not happy with the likeness as much as they wanted to be. But retail timing is everything so we took it as far as we could and then had to proceed. When we do a new Statler that is one likeness that we will update so that we all can be happier with it. I am not talking Gonzo series 2 kind of tweaking, because the sculpt is not bad at all...it just needs that LITTLE push into the next level.

In one of your summer conventions, Palisades previewed a now, unreleased Clifford repaint. He was much wilder and funkier than the eventual repaint that was produced. Tell us about the original Clifford repaint and what led to him not being released.

LILLY: That was such a SNAFU. We sent over the photos of the wilder repaint, which was our interpretation of one of Clifford's press photos where he was doing a Lenny Kravitz thing. Previously we had sent in photos of the standard Clifford, but for some reason they had not been processed through the Henson design team. This was right in the middle of a personnel change, so they probably just slipped through the cracks. So the design team had NEVER seen any Clifford in paint yet.

So they get this thing in and understandably say "Well, um...you can't do this. Clifford really has a different signature look." I of course, believing they have seen and accepted the regular version and that they are commenting on this as the repaint accepted it as just one of those things and re-made the wilder version into the one you see on shelf.

During this process after we sent in BOTH versions of Clifford as pre-production samples, we (Henson and I) realized that we were all talking about a different thing. But by that time it was too late. The wild version prototype had been painted over and there was no time to re-do it. Sadly, there is NOT proto of this in existence, only photos.

Palisades Muppet Christmas Carol PVC's are now available. Of particular
note to fans are the first recreations of The Ghost of Christmas Present in set 4 and the arrival of Muppet penguins in set 3. What challenges did these PVCs present?

LILLY: Believe it or not the greatest challenge of the PVC's are sales. They just aren't getting the responses we hoped for. This doesn't bode well for future releases, but I am hopeful. One of the other challenges is the painting. There have been some real problems getting the paint on these at this scale as good as the larger figures, but we seem to be getting closer to a level I can be basically satisfied with.

My favorite PVC in the set is Kermit. I seem to gravitate towards the icons a lot, and this image to me just sums up the flavor and appeal of the MCC experience. Having seen this image done before in PVC, I think our version really holds up well and turned out very nice. Cynthia, the sculptor who is now exclusively handling the PVC line, really outdid herself on this one. She has a feel for Kermit that I really respect.

Series 6 is solid. There are a couple weak points, a few things that could enhance the playset and figures, but overall Muppet fans should be quite pleased. The Pigs in Space playset is not to be missed and no Muppet figure collection would be complete without Statler and Waldorf. Patrol Bear is a fan favorite and Clifford is one of the more significant newer Muppets. Now, bring on series 7….

 
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