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Muppet Action Figures Series 8

Boo, get off the stage!

Greg Whitehead (July 16, 2004) - Palisades series 8 is finally hitting shelves, and from what I hear they won't be there long. Series 8 has something for everyone. We've got two returning characters: Scooter in his usher uniform from Muppets Take Manhattan, and Sam, out of his costume and into his feathers from the Muppet Show. There are also two slightly more obscure fan favorites: the classic and flamboyant Marvin Suggs with his amazing Muppephones from the Muppet Show, and Dr. Phil Van Neuter, the mad scientist-veterinarian from Muppets Tonight (as well as an unforgettable appearance in Muppets From Space).

The figures all come sealed away in the same blue-style packaging as the last few series. Palisades has made one change to the packaging which completely shocked and amazed me. I think it is the single biggest selling point of this entire series: there is little-to-no twist tie removal required to free these figures from their plastic homes. Yes, you still need a knife or some scissors to open the clamshell, but afterwards, you are moments away from playing with the figure.

Dr. Phil Van Neuter
Accessories: Wall clock, egg nog, two Erlenmeyer flasks, two boiling flasks, and burner tripod

PROS: Obscure character gets his chance. He's huge!

CONS: Accessories are a bit underwhelming if not familiar with Muppets Tonight.

Dr. Phil is huge. Palisades had to redesign his packaging to allow his feet to dangle a little lower than the regular clamshell design. He's got long arms that are almost gorilla-like in proportion and a head that's almost as big as Rizzo. Stand him next to your other Muppet figures and they will begin to tremble at his towering presence. He's wearing an apron and rubber gloves painted with a mess that suggests you don't really want to know what he does in his lab. The sculpt on this figure captures the original Muppet very well. One could take issue with his skin's greenish hue, especially compared with what looks like yellow skin on the package photo. To me it looks fairly accurate and I discovered that his skin is liable to change from green to yellow depending on the lighting.

He is fairly well articulated, especially his arms; however mine has some loose joints which makes it difficult for him to hold his huge arms up in the air. His feet seem to have ball joints, and he can stand fine.

I'm fairly happy with the figure, but if you are not familiar with Muppets Tonight, you may be somewhat disappointed with the accessories. First, there's the egg nog carton (from the Prince episode) recreating one of the funniest Dr. Phil bits ever. Next we have the wall clock. This was meant to go on the Muppet Labs playset over the back wall as it comes with a hook. However, the hook is too shallow to actually fit on the playset. A little glue will do the trick though. Finally, there are three round flasks, two Erlenmeyer flasks and a a bunsen burner stand. I would have liked to see some evil concoctions bubbling up in the flasks. Phil's hands, though, are well-sculpted to hold the various items, so he can stand ready to work.

Marvin Suggs (and Muppephones)
Accessories: Six Muppephones, Muppephone musical wall, 2 Mallets

PROS: Another fan favorite figure. Muppephones! Music with violence!

CONS: Sticky paint that rubs off. Limited arm articulation.

Compared to Phil, Marvin is a wee little pipsqueak. However, be careful about bringing up his diminutive stature to his face. Remember, he's armed. Marvin comes with two mallets used for playing tunes on his Muppephones, furry little creatures specially trained to cry out at a specific pitch when hit with a mallet. Marvin's a fun figure and despite a few flaws in paint and joint design, he's definitely one of my favorites from this series.

Once again, Palisades have managed to capture this Muppet quite well. His outfit is impressive with puffy ruffles, bright colors, and glossy paint. His hands are sculpted to hold his mallets and he won’t drop them, that is if you can manage to get them in. While struggling to get the mallets in place I rubbed a bit of paint off his hands and onto the mallets. Palisades has ingeniously worked joints into the ruffles of his arms, allowing some arm articulation. However, the ruffles act like cogs with teeth as the folds fit into each other, which means it's very easy for paint to rub-off. Mine is already losing paint around the shoulders and elbows. Concerning articulation, the joints don't allow for much movement. If you stand Marvin behind his wall to play the Muppephones, you may find he isn't quite able to swing his arms and hit each Muppephone.

Which brings us to his accessories: the Muppephones and the musical wall. Marvin by himself is an okay figure. Couple him with the Muppephones, though, and he can hold his own. We've got six Muppephones, and as far as I can tell they are all scuplted with slightly different expressions. Three are painted pink and three are orange. Looking into their faces you can tell they lead a pretty miserable existence. The wall stands nice and steady, and has six pegs for your Muppephones to fit into.

Marvin also comes in a black and gray repaint variation. He'll fit in nicely with other "Steppin' Out" tux-themed Muppet figures.

Movie Usher Scooter
Accessories: Authentically detailed movie popcorn cart

PROS: Authentically detailed movie popcorn cart. Revised head sculpt.

CONS: Just one accessory. Revised head sculpt.

In the Muppets Take Manhattan, Scooter works as a movie theater usher. The figure is not entirely movie accurate: the back of his jacket is imprinted with "Muppet Theatre" and he's not handing out any 3D glasses like he was in the movie.

This is the second time Scooter has made an appearance as a regular series figure. The first was "classic" Scooter from series 3. This new Scooter has been updated a bit. He comes with a few more bits of articulation, as well as a revised head sculpt. Palisades wasn’t satisfied with the first head sculpt and this one is an attempt to more accurately represent the Muppet. However, they haven't quite nailed it and I prefer the original sculpt. Opinions seems to be split over which head is better. That said, any critiques on the sculpt are nitpicky, and overall he's a decent representation of Scooter.

Accessory-wise, Scooter comes with only one piece. But what a piece it is. He comes with an "authentically detailed movie popcorn cart." This is one of the largest accessories in the Muppet line. It's larger than Scooter and most other Muppet figures. It's really cool to look in through the glass and see the pile of popcorn inside.

It's an impressive piece of work, and I'm sure miniature collectors with no interest in Muppets will be picking this up. Yet as impressive as the cart is, I still feel a little slighted that this is the only accessory. It would have been nice to at least have a concessions box for Scooter to wear around his neck with a couple of 3D glasses for him to pass out. It would have better completed the character.

Sam the Eagle
Accessories: Lectern, magnetic seal of Sam the Eagle, Standards and Pratices book, U.S. Constitution

PROS: It's classic Sam!

CONS: He's a bit stiff.

This is the Sam we all remember from the Muppet Show, lecturing us on morals and decency, proud to be an American. Besides taking him out of his series 4 Muppet Treasure Island uniform and giving us an all new body, Palisades has also modified the head sculpt, making this Sam one of the very few Muppet figures to actually have a closed mouth. The new body looks good; far and away better than the "golf ball" look of the PVC mini-Muppet version released last year. He has a nice frosted look over the feathers on his arms, neck and tail. It seems, however, that with all the nooks and crannies the feathers make, there are a few places on my figure where the paint didn't quite reach.

As for articulation, "naked" figures usually make it difficult to disguise joints while maintaining sculpt integrity. Palisades managed to hide a few extra joints in Sam's arm feathers making his arms more flexible than I expected. Still, feathers also limit his joint movement, making him a little stiff. But stiff suits Sam.

Sam’s accessories round out the character well. First there is Sam's lectern, or podium, from which he delivers his lectures on indecency. To help him, Sam comes with a book in which his classic speech on nudity has been reprinted. For the front of the lectern, there are a choice of three stickers that can be placed on a circular magnet to act as Sam's seal. The magnet and stickers are packed with a plastic cap, so if you don't want to apply the stickers, you can keep them under the cap and still place it on the lectern. There is also a miniature copy of the U.S. Constitution as a welcome extra.

Those of you who collect variants should also be on the lookout for a one-per-case Sam variant dubbed "Shifty-Eyed Sam." He's the same figure, with his eyes repainted looking to Sam's left. He also comes with repainted accessories and a different book and stickers. Here's a little trivia for you: Palisades had originally planned to make a "Shifty-Eyed" variant of the MTI Sam and not announce it until the figures were released. That plan was scrapped and Shifty-Eyed Sam waited for this release, making this the first series to feature two paint variants in the same case.

This is definitely a great figure, and probably my favorite of the series. It's the classic Sam we’ve been waiting for, and it doesn’t disappoint.

Series 8 had one of the smallest distributions yet since they are not being carried by either Toys 'R' Us or Target. As a result, you may have to do some looking to find these guys. I suggest getting them quickly. Palisades has already sold all of the figures to retailers. You can find them on-line from EB Games while supplies last.

 
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