12" Buffy and Angel

Sideshow Toys snagged the Buffy license more than three years ago.  They produced one Buffy, along with a set of three Gentlemen, all in sixth scale of course.

It's been three years, but now they are back with more figures in the series.  Angel and Buffy have just been released, both based on specific episodes of the show.  Buffy is based on the Graduation Day shows, while Angel is based on the 'Becoming' episodes.  Both of these were two part season ending episodes.  Graduation Day was unique in that it involved the destruction of Sunnydale High, and due to the close proximity of its air date and the Columbine shootings, the second half was delayed until late that summer.  It's the first time I know of that a season finale (this was season three) was delayed due to current events.  

"Becoming" was the end of season two, and the second episode of the set is one of my favorites.  During season two, Angel found true happiness (wouldn't you?) and ends up turning back into the evil Angelus.  He plagues Sunnydale and Buffy through out season 2, but in these final two episodes, Willow gives him back his soul - and Buffy sends him straight to Hell.  Women.

The line will continue with Faith, Spike and Willow figures coming this year, and I suspect there's more to come on top of that.

I don't believe Sideshow did any special exclusives with either of these two, but there's a limited Spike and Faith.  These are long sold out of course, and there isn't a special version of Vampire Willow.  The regular versions of Faith and Spike are still available, as is Vampire Willow.

Packaging - ****
These boxes combine everything that makes Sideshow packaging great.  Excellent graphics, not of the toy but of the actors, right from the specific episodes, great background text on both the characters AND the actors, and completely collector friendly to boot.  It doesn't get much better than this!

Sculpting - Angel ***1/2; Buffy ***
Both of these actors are extremely hard to do well.  Sideshow and Moore have tried in the past, and the results have been mixed to say the least.

This Buffy sculpt is a slight resculpt of the original Sideshow version.  I have a comparison shot of the two heads at the bottom of the review.  Unless you compare them very carefully, you might be inclined to think they are identical (other than the hair of course).  They aren't though, and there's been changes to the nose, cheeks and even eyes.  They are very subtle, but all the changes are slight improvements, making this Buffy much closer than the original was.

The hair helps there too, and this style will remind you much more of the character than the original long haired version.  They also dropped the neck joint at the bottom of the neck, making her look more realistic.

However, there's still one major problem I have with this sculpt - the expression just so slack.  She has a wide eyed, almost zombie look, as though she's staring out the window in class, lost in thought.  She certainly doesn't look like she's ready to kick vampire booty.  It's a solid effort, and hits the look of the actress right on the, er, stake, but misses capturing the personality of the character.

Angel is certainly better in this department.  The sculpt looks exactly like Boreanaz, although he really looks more like David from a couple years later on his own show, at least in the face.  It's a little thicker and heavier around the jaw line, looking more like he did after he beefed up a bit with age.  But there's no doubt it's him, and they also managed to do a good job with the tough sculpt on the hair.

He's blessed with plenty of hair, and when he was on Buffy he had a rather funky, spiky, don't own a comb but love to use gel sort of thing going on.  That's tough to translate into solid plastic, but Sideshow did an admirable job.

The hand sculpts are the other big area for Sideshow, and here they did a good job on both.  Again, Spike is slightly better than Buffy, if for no other reason than we've seen her hands before (almost).

While they aren't exactly the same as the original - thankfully, since this time they can hold her accessories - they do have the same general sculpt, including the rings.

Angel has all his rings as well, including the "Claddagh", considered the traditional Irish ring of love and friendship.  This ring is very key to the whole story, as Angel gave it to Buffy the night they did the deed.  After sending Angel to Hell, Buffy starts off the third season by dropping the ring back at the scene of the crime.  While it's never spelled out, this appears to be the action that pulls Angel back from Hell, as he appears moments later.  The details on the rings aren't perfect, but still pretty damn good for this scale, and you'll certainly be able to tell them apart.

Paint - Angel ***1/2; Buffy ***
In general, the paint ops on both figures meet the usual high Sideshow standards.  With sixth scale figures, the majority of the paint work is on the heads, hands and accessories.

Here, the paint application on the heads and hands is excellent.  The skin tone is appropriate and consistent, at least between the hands and face, and the work on the eyes and small details is finely done.  I've heard of some stories of lazy eye and/or red eye on Buffy, but mine had no issues.

The coolest aspect of either paint job is the inclusion of Angel's tattoo on his back.  We only got to see this tattoo a few times on Buffy, and I don't ever recall seeing it once he started his own show, but Sideshow has done an amazing job both with the look of the tattoo and with the exact placement.

The one major paint issue that both figures have (although it's much more noticeable on Buffy) is in an inconsistency between the skin tone of the face and hands, and that of the molded body.  The body is much lighter, although it's a little tough to show in the photos.  This is a bigger problem for Buffy - and hence, the lower score - because you can see her wrists and neck quite easily under normal circumstances.  Angel's jacket covers his arms much better, and his neck is part of his head mold.

Articulation - Angel ****; Buffy ***1/2
Both figures sport the terrific Sideshow bodies, but Buffy's is a new female version.  This is not the same body that we saw with the previous version, but has a similar level of articulation.

There's cut joints and double joints all over the place, and even a couple nipples I hadn't expected.  I have a feeling that I'm going to get a call from Miss Gellar's representation this week asking me to pull the photo on the left.

Buffy scores slightly lower than Angel again because she has a few loose joints, and he had none.  Her ankles were a bit weak, and although you can correct for this by turning the joint to the inside, that means you can't pose the feet the way you'd like.  To do much of any action pose, she really required the display stand.

Angel didn't, and stands just great on his own.  Of course, part of that is due to his huge boots, but it's also due to his tighter joints.

Accessories - Buffy ***1/2; Angel ***
Sometimes Sideshow skimps a bit on this department, although the quality of what's included is always top notch.

Fortunately, they gave Buffy a nice number of weapons.  Unlike the toothpicks that the original version had, these two stakes are well scaled and fit in her hands perfectly.  There's also a great battle axe, and the 'Hunga Munga', which we saw in the episode 'Anne'.

Angel comes with the sword from the 'Becoming' episodes which Buffy used to send him to Hell.  The hilt isn't as intricate or detailed as the actual sword (and just check out the picture on the back of the box to confirm that), but it's still a fairly decent sculpt.  He also comes with three bottles of Holy Water, a tad odd, but not unheard of.  That means though that there's an awful lot of reuse here, and something else additional would have been nice.

If Sideshow really wants to take these to the next level, they'll consider providing second heads with each of the vampire characters.  A vamped Spike or normal Willow head with those figures would be an excellent additional accessory, and an Vamp Angelus head here would have put this figure over the top.

Outfit - ***1/2
Buffy's outfit consists of three pieces - her red pleather jacket, black sleeveless shirt, and black pleather pants.  The tailoring on her clothes is excellent, although I don't think you'll be posing her without the jacket very often.  The arms might be highly articulated, but they ain't pretty.  Everything fits great, especially the pants, and she'll look good in just about any pose - as long as you keep her clothes on.  Ironic, isn't it?

Be careful if you remove her shirt, as the black dye from it will rub off on her face and hair.  The dye is also prevalent on her torso, although you probably won't worry too much about that.

Angel, on the other hand, needs himself a new tailor.  He has his heavy wool coat, black silk shirt, and pleather pants.  He also has boots in his wardrobe (Buffy's shoes are actually her feet), and a nifty pair of socks to keep his tootsies warm.

I'm probably making the fit sound worse than it is however.  The heavy coat fits and looks great, and the silk shirt isn't bad either.  His pants ride awfully high on him though, and that belt is a tough one to put back on once you've removed it.  I had to take it off due to a funky hip problem - his right leg was twisted around the same way as his left, making him look like he'd broke his hip and it never healed right.  The only way to get it turned around correctly was to strip him down, but it took me quite awhile to get that belt just right again.

Value - **1/2
I'm grading these at Sideshow's suggested retail of $40 each, and at that price they are a little steep.  The head sculpts are great, but overall they still feel more like a $30 - $35 figure.  Most of the on-line retailers are carrying these in that range though, so you can bump this slightly if you buy from them.

Overall - ***
I'm a huge Buffy and Angel fan, and have loved the shows since the first season.  Angel is still one of only two shows that I watch religiously - the other being 24 - and its cancellation was disappointing.  I'm hoping we see a great run of figures from Sideshow before the line runs dry.

This Buffy is definitely an improvement over the original, although her overall score is the same.  See, the problem is that it's been three years, and when that much time passes, you have to improve just to keep up.

Where to Buy - 
I bought mine through Sideshow. There are lots of on-line choices:

- Sideshow Toys has them of course, along with pre-orders for Faith, Spike and Willow.

- Alter Ego Comics has them for $32 each, along with pre-orders for the others at $32 each.

- Aisle Sniper has them as a pair for $75, plus preorders for the rest at $35 each.

- Southern Island has them available at $35 each, with pre-orders up for the other three.

- Killer Toys also has them at $35 each, with pre-orders available for the others.

- and last but not least, Time and Space Toys has them available as a pair for $76.


Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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