Pink Panther

In 1964, Blake Edwards' first film starring the lovable Inspector Clouseau was released. Simply called 'The Pink Panther', it was a hilarious hit, and spawned eight sequels, including The Return of the Pink Panther, Revenge of the Pink Panther, The Pink Panther Strikes Again, Trail of the Pink Panther, Curse of the Pink Panther, and Son of the Pink Panther. There's even a tenth film in the works currently with Steve Martin as Clouseau!

Friz Freleng and David DePatie were commissioned to create the opening and closing title sequences, and they used an animated version of Clouseau chasing a panther. It's no surprise he was pink. It was so popular, they were then asked by United Artists to create a short cartoon featuring the Pink Panther to be released in front of another upcoming film. The first cartoon, Pink Phink, was so successful that it won the Oscar for Best Short Subject, and United Artist signed DePatie-Freleng up to do a new cartoon each month to be released theatrically.

In 1969, Mister Panther made the jump to Saturday morning television with the Pink Panther Show. It ran continuously til 1977, with a couple title changes along the way. There were also the occasional tv specials, and the theatrical shorts continued off and on as well. There's no doubt he was a major cartoon influence, and no surprise that someone has finally picked up the license to do action figures.

That someone would be Palisades, and the first series is now hitting stores. It includes Pink himself of course, along with Inspector Clouseau, The Man, and The Ant and the Aardvark together as one.

This was the perfect character selection - obviously, Clouseau was his first co-star in the opening credits, and The Man (who's also been called the Pale Man, The Little Man, and the Big Nose Man) was the co-star in the very first Oscar winning cartoon. The Man was supposedly based on a caricature of Friz Freleng.

In 1971, one of the name changes was to "The New Pink Panther Show". This is when the Ant and the Aardvark joined the show as well. I have to admit a certain affection for these two, and they were always a favorite of mine.

Since this is Palisades, you know there are exclusives. Shipping in the same case are three different Aardvarks - the one shown here with the paint splotches, the normal blue version, and one in a red shirt and green pants.

Also shipping in the same case are two versions of The Man. The one reviewed here is his normal white self. The second is painted with blue painted dumped over his heard. This is similar to the Wizard World LA Party exclusive, pictured down below, which had pink paint dumped over his head. Both the blue and pink paint versions are based on that very first cartoon short, in which The Man was trying to paint a house blue, but our hero managed to get it painted pink.

The panther himself has no variations in the case, but there is a Toyfare/Musicland exclusive, similar to Vacation Fozzie or Vacation Pepe. Both versions are dressed in tuxes - black for Toyfare, and white for Musicland.

And finally (at least so far), Inspector Clouseau will be coming out in an 'blown up' version, with appropriate soot, as a Palisade's Collector's Club exclusive. Whew!

Packaging - ***1/2
Palisades is using the clamshells again, and I love them just as much as always. Sure, you better have a Ginsu handy, but they look great and stand up to shelf wear like nobody's business.

The graphics here are a little more plain than some of the other packaging work, but it's not a major issue. I would have liked more info on each insert about that particular character, rather than the same show text on every one. But these are minor nits, and overall the packages are eye catching, sturdy and attractive.

Sculpting - ****
If you're a fan of most Palisades license, and more specifically, if you're a fan of Bill Mancuso's work, you'll love this set.

Of the four, I'm not too surprised that the Pink Panther is my least favorite.  It's not that the sculpt is weak - he looks dead on, and the sculpt also works extremely well with the articulation.  His tail looks a tad long to me, but that just might be tail envy at work.

No, he's my least favorite just because he was always my least favorite character on the show.  Just like Bugs was my least favorite WB character, so Pink Panther was my least favorite on his own show.  He was always a tad too smug for my tastes.

The Panther's left hand sculpt is great, and works very well with the cane.  The right hand is a nice pose, but won't work too well with the accessories.

The Man is very basic, but as we've seen in the past, it is possible to screw up even the most simple of designs.  It's often their simplicity that makes them so perfect, and that's the case here.  Crucial to this entire series is the facial expressions, and they did a fantastic job on The Man.  His left hand can hold the brush, but the right hand is a solid fist.

Speaking of expressions, the best of the set is the Ant and the Aardvark.  The "can you believe this guy" look on the Ant, and the angry look of the Aardvark, are the best possible representations of these classic characters.  It should be no surprise that they were also my favorites on the show.

Finally, there's Clouseau.  The sculpt is very well done, and even with his tiny feet, he stands great on his own. The hands are sculpted to hold the accessories, although it's a slightly tight fit with the magnifying glass.

Paint - Clouseau, Aardvark ***1/2; Pink Panther, The Man ****
Palisades occasionally has paint ops issues, but those have gotten fewer and far between.  Here, the perfect paint ops they have gotten known for are in complete evidence.

While these aren't quite as complicated as the Muppets in terms of paint detail, there's still plenty to be impressed with.  The colors that cover large areas, like white, pink or green, are all consistent and even.  The definition between colors is clean, with little or no bleed or slop.  Most of the eyes are straight, very white, and very neat, but there's a little bit of an issue with the Aardvark in this department.

There was one paint choice that bugged me quite a bit, and that was on Clouseau.  Inside the coat, around the neck area, the torso is painted flesh color.  This looks particularly weird on the shoulders inside the collar.  You'll see what I mean when you see him in person - it's not super noticeable, but bugged me nonetheless.

Articulation - Aardvark ***; Pink Panther, Clouseau **1/2; The Man **
The articulation varies across the series, since certain character designs lend them selves better to joints than others.

The Man comes up short in this department.  He has ball jointed shoulders, wrists, and legs at the body.  Cut elbows would have been nice as well.

Clouseau does a little better, with neck (that's sort of a ball joint, so he can tilt his head slightly, but is fairly limited), ball jointed shoulders, cut elbows, wrists, and waist.  The size and style of the character really doesn't allow for much else.

The Pink Panther has a cool ball jointed neck with a greater range of motion than Clouseau, ball jointed shoulders, wrists, hips and his bendy tail.  Like the others, he stands great on his own.

Aardvark has neck, ball jointed shoulders, wrists, elbows at the sleeves, legs at the shorts, and waist.  The articulation works well with the sculpt, and he's my overall favorite figure.

One minus with all the ball jointed shoulders - they tend to cause the paint to rub off the arms.  It seemed to be a problem with all four figures.

Accessories - Clouseau, The Man, Pink Panther ***1/2; Aardvark ***
The number and quality of the accessories varies slightly across the series.

The Aardvark has the fewest - the Ant is technically his one and only accessory (outside of the display stand included with all of them).  He's articulated at the neck, and his sculpt is as spot on.  The only real issue is one of scale.  While he was always a pretty big ant on the show, I don't recall him being THIS big.  Still, I'd prefer too big to too small, and I'm sure they upped the size to give us a better impression of value.

The Man comes with a construction hard hat, painter's hat, paint bucket, and paint brush (with red paint).  The brush fits in his left hand, but there's no hole in his right hand to hold any accessories.  The hat fits on his head fairly well, but not quite as good as the Muppets line with their spiffy magnets.  One nice touch is the use of a metal handle on the bucket.  Had it been plastic, they couldn't have made it this thin and still keep you from breaking it.

The Pink Panther has accessories to two looks.  First, there's a pith helmet and camera, for the jungle look.  The helmet snaps on to his ears and stays on very well.

Then there's his evening wear - bow tie, top hat and cane.  All three look great, although I suspect we'll see reuse with the Toyfare/Musicland exclusives in the tuxes.

Last but not least, there's Clouseau. This is clearly a category he wins, hands down.  His hat doesn't come off, so don't go trying, but he does come with his trademark magnifying glass, attache case, top secret file (that fits inside the case), newspaper with Pink Panther headline, and bomb, with real rope wick.

Every one of the figures also comes with a small display stand, similar to the early Muppets.  That doesn't do much for me, and I'd rather it was skipped and we got something else in it's place.

Fun Factor - **1/2
These are actually pretty fun toys - great sculpts, good accessories, decent articulation for the most part.  The big problem here is the license.  Do you know a lot of kids that would be interested in the Pink Panther?  Do they even know who the Pink Panther is?

Value - **1/2
At ten bucks, these aren't a great value, but aren't a burn either.  They're right in the neither land, somewhere between cheapskate heaven and hell.  Up this price to $12, and drop another half star.

Overall - Aardvark ***1/2; The Rest ***
The Aardvark steals the show for me, and I freely admit that it's because he and the Ant were my favorites from the old show.

These aren't as nice as the Muppets figures in general, although part of that is due to the nature of the license.  But there is a similarity between the two lines - if you're a fan of the Pink Panther cartoon, these are likely to be the definitive action figures.  While the average collector might not get too excited about these, I'm betting the fans of the cartoon are going to be in heaven.

Where to Buy - 
I got my set through Aisle Sniper, where they are in stock and selling as a set of four for just $40. Other options include:

- Killer Toys has them available individually for ten bucks each.

- Southern Island has a terrific price at just $35 for the set of four!


Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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