Fool for Love Spike, Beneath You Spike, Grave Spike

Buffy fans can't complain - Diamond Select is shooting out the action figures based on Buffy (and Angel) at an incredible rate.  It helps of course that they do billions and billions of variations on each new character.

They've just hit us up with a TON of Spikes, some good, some not quite as good.  I can never hope to do them all, but I pulled three together for tonight's review.

The 'regular' Spike in this bunch is called the Season 5 Spike, and you can find him at lots of retailers and specialty stores, like Media Play.  He's actually a Diamond exclusive, but they sell through many specialty stores and comic shops.

These three are all exclusives to somebody, and all involve new head sculpts at least.  There's the Toyfare exclusive Fool for Love Spike (photo on the right), based on the episode from Buffy in which we got a little more backstory on Spike, including his killing of the slayer Nikki.  Then there's Beneath You Spike (blue shirt), which is exclusive to Time and Space Toys, based on the episode of the same name.  Finally, we have Grave Spike, based on the season finale of season 6, when Spike got more than he asked for.  That one is exclusive to

Packaging - Fool for Love ***1/2; the rest ***
My preference in packaging is boxes first, clamshells second, and card/bubbles last.  Since the Fool for Love figure actually comes two different ways, boxed and carded, I'm rating it higher than the other two.  Don't ask me why it comes two ways.

The cardback and bubble combos aren't bad though, with some very attractive graphics.  I also really like the earth tone colors they've been using for some of the figures.

Sculpting - Fool for Love, Grave  ***1/2; Beneath You ***
All three of these figures are based on very episode specific appearances of Spike, and all three capture those looks extremely well.  Rather than not liking one of these due to technical quality, you'll find your preferences more in terms of which episode you prefer, or perhaps which unique look for Spike.  

My favorite of the bunch is easily FFL.  This is the flashback version of Spike, in his punk look from 1977 when he killed the slayer Nikki.  He's wearing his punk outfit, has the punk hair, has his brow piercing, and the face sculpt has an perfect, animated expression.

The Grave Spike is also very episode specific, and really is specific to an exact moment, when Spike received his soul.  He has the wounds on his body from his battle, and the shocked expression on his face.  Again, the detailed sculpting is excellent, but because this facial expression is so specific to that moment, it may not be your favorite of the bunch.  Then again, it sets itself out from the pack.

The final sculpt is BY Spike, from the first episode where Spike actually lets someone know he now has a soul.  It takes him a little while to come out of his dementia, but once he does, he's out to help the Buffster.  While this sculpt is also very accurate to Marsters, it's my least favorite of the three because it has the least amount of 'life'.  It's a very static expression, with a very static pose.

While there's a ton of variants in this set, it's important to note that there's also very little re-use.  It's very surprising how much new sculpt work was done on these three exclusives.

I believe Gentle Giant is working with Diamond on these, and they are doing a very nice job.  Scale is good as well, fitting in perfectly with the previoius MAC figures and any other 6" scaled line.

Paint - ***1/2
In general, the paint ops are extremely clean and consistent.  The hair lines are neat, the wounds look ragged and bloody, and solid colors are consistent and even.

The small detail work on the faces and some fingernails looks great, and in general, I couldn't be much happier with the paint work.  Of the three, I'm least impressed with BY in this category, simply because the paint adds to the vacuous nature of the facial expression, but the quality is solid all around.

Articulation - ***1/2
All the figures have decent articulation, and really were going for three stars.  But the extra joint that pushed them up another half star was the ball jointed neck of course - it's the Maserati of articulation.

All three have ball jointed necks, cut shoulders and biceps, pin elbows and knees, cut wrists, cut waist, cut hips and cut ankles.

The articulation below the waist is really there to get them in the sweet spot for standing indefinitely.  The arm articulation will allow for a little posing, but the wide armed 'gunslinger' stance that they've used restricts your options somewhat.

The most useful joint is the ball jointed neck, but I think I've already made it clear just how important that joint is.  While these are useful, they aren't as good as what we've seen on recent SOTA and NECA figures.

Accessories - ***1/2; 
Every figure comes with a handful of accessories, and one is always the large cross and alter, complete with candles but no kneeler.

The alters and crosses are distinctly different, although there are some minor differences in the paint of the base on mine.  It's a nice accessory, but you really don't need three of them.

Two of the figures - BY and FFL - come with an itsy bitsy lighter, which is a perfectly appropriate accessory.  FFL can even hold it if you work at it a bit!

FFL also has two bottles, and a pipe weapon.  Again, these can be held in his hands.

BY comes with a nifty little rat (although I could swear I've seen the sculpt somewhere else), and a stake.  This same stake comes with Grave Spike as well.

Along with the cross/alter and stake, Grave Spike comes with the book and a blanket to wrap up in.  Although the blanket is nothing more than a piece of felt cloth, it works better than I expected.  Not great, but better than I expected.

Fun Factor - **
How many kids enjoy Buffy and Angel?  Contrary to misinformed adults, neither show was geared toward kids or teenagers, but were written in a way that could be enjoyed by just about anyone.  But many of the themes were more adult than not, and smaller children could have found it either a) scary or b) boring.

Value - **
You can pick these up for around $16 - $18, which is really about $3- $5 more than they should be.  However, their exclusivity drives up the price a tad.

Overall - Fool for Love ***1/2; Beneath You, Grave ***
This set of Spike figures, along with the regular Season 5 Spike that's out, are a nice edition to the Buffy/Angel collection.  They highlight one of the most popular characters from the show, the sculpting and paint are great, and they all have a fair amount of unique sculpting.

Also, these are three very distinct Spikes in terms of his history, and it's really nice to see Diamond getting more episode specific.  Collectors will complain far less about a million versions of every character if they can continue to give us unique sculpts and accurate reproductions of fan favorite episodes.

However, if you can only pick up one, I think FFL is the way to go.  This is such a cool version of Spike, that it really should be on your shelf.

Things to watch out for - 
I didn't have any real issues with any of the figures, although losing the lighters is pretty likely.

Packaging - Fool for Love ***1/2; Beneath You, Grave ***
Sculpt - Fool for Love ***1/2; Beneath You, Grave ***
Paint - ***1/2
Articulation - ***1/2
Accessories - ***1/2
Fun Factor - **
Value - **
Overall - Fool for Love ***1/2; Beneath You, Grave ***

Where to Buy - 
Since these are exclusives, you won't see them in regular stores.  You have multiple on-line options though:

- you can find the Time and Space Toys exclusive at their site of course, and they also have some of the other two available as well.  Also, they've started the Buffy Collector's Club, and if you join up, you can get figures, busts and other Buffy/Angel stuff at a discounted price.

You can pick up FFL from TST for $16, their BY exclusive is $16, and Grave Spike is $17.

- FFL Spike is currently available through the Wizard World/Toyfare site for $18.00.

- and the Grave Spike is $16 directly from them.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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