Deluxe Buffy and Faith

Diamond Select has been giving Buffy fans what they want. Now they are looking to increase their scope to give articulation fans what they want as well. If you're a Buffy fan, and an articulation fan, the new Deluxe Buffy figures are a dream come true.

These deluxe figures are 'super articulated' - think Marvel Legends. They are also in a 6" scale, to fit in with the rest of the regular, less articulated Buffy and Angel offerings. To make these lines viable for Diamond Select, they've gone the billion variant route, and they continue that into the deluxe line.

There are two figures initially, Buffy and Faith. There are three versions of each of these - Graduation Day Buffy, Graduation Day Faith, End of Days Buffy (Tower Records exclusive), End of Days Faith (Previews exclusive), Bad Girls Faith (an Action Figure Express exclusive) and Once More With Feeling Buffy (Previews exclusive).

These are running around $14 - $15 each - just about the same price as the regular release versions with far less articulation. I'm reviewing all six tonight, so to keep them straight I've labeled the initial photo underneath each one. I'm going to use the abbreviations GD (Graduation Day), OMWF (Once More With Feeling), BG (Bad Girls), and EOD (End of Days) from here out to save my fingers the pain and suffering of repetitive stress syndrome.

Graduation Day Buffy

End of Days Buffy

Once More With Feeling Buffy

Graduation Day Faith

End of Days Faith

Bad Girls Faith

Let's talk about the episodes these are based on for just a minute. I have not gone back and re-watched these episodes recently, so I'm not going to vouch for how close to each show the actual outfits are. I'm betting colors of tops and pants are right, although whether each one is perfect in terms of style is unlikely since the body sculpts are identical with only one exception.

Graduation Day was the two part season finale to season three. It's the finale that got everyone all in a tizzy due to the blowing up of Sunnydale High, and the unfortunate timing with Columbine.

End of Days was the second to final episode, both to season seven and to the series. Faith returned just a few episodes prior after a long hiatus, so if you're looking for an episode with both characters, you can't do much better than this.

Once More With Feeling was the Emmy nomimated musical episode, which still stands out as a highlight of the show. Who would have thought that possible?

Bad Girls was another season three episode, and a turning point for Faith's character. She kills a human in this episode, and her recklessness takes her to the dark side. Faith, Darth Vader. Darth Vader, Faith. I'm sure you two have a lot to talk about.

Enough about the show - I'm sure you already know it inside and out. On to the important stuff - the figures!

Packaging - ***1/2
I'm a big fan of clamshells, so you know they'll do better than average right off the start. I also like the earth tones of the current packaging, used here on the inserts. By my favorite aspect of these is the excellent photo of the character on the front. This is printed on the inside of the clamshell, against the plastic. It looks great, and is a very nice touch.

The insert could use a little more specific info about each character, rather than the general bio on back. But overall, they're smarter than your average bear, and I prefer them to the cardback/bubble packaging of the regular figures.

Sculpting - EOD Buffy ***1/2; OMWF Buffy, GD Buffy ***; GD Faith, EOD Faith, BG Faith **1/2
Gentle Giant did the work this time around. While you might assume that the head sculpts are identical for all three Buffy's and all three Faiths, that's not the case. The head sculpt is probably identical for all three Faiths, but the paint ops make them look slightly different, and one of the Buffy figures has a fairly unique head. And while the bodies might all appear identical at first, there is actually one that has a slight modification.

Let's start with the Buffys. EOD Buffy comes in her denim jacket and short hair. She has the standard jeans/shirt body, with the soft rubber jacket over her upper body. Than hands are sculpted to hold the accessories and both work well, although the tiny fingers are fairly soft.

The short haired sculpt is extremely good, and although it's the exact same facial sculpt on all three versions, the short haired version looks the closest to SMG. The hair on this version is part of the sculpt, rather than a separate piece (except for the pony tail in back of course), and that helps make this version the most realistic in appearance.

GD Buffy has the longer hair, which is a separate piece from the head. The hair is sculpted to be flowing, which works alright but not perfectly. She has a little more forehead with this type hair than I like, but it's not as big of an issue as it is with Faith - more on that in a minute. GD Buffy also has a jacket, black leather this time, and it's the same soft rubber material.

Finally, there's OMWF Buffy. She sports the same head as GD Buffy, but because of the paint work, I prefer this version. She is also the only one of the six figures that I can find any difference in the body sculpt. She has a slightly altered collar, designed to match up with the show appearance a little better. There's no jacket this time, just the red shirt and black pants.

The sculpting isn't quite as good with Faith, unfortunately. While this Buffy head sculpt is the best we've seen in the six inch line, the previous Faith sculpt from Diamond is superior to this work. That is due in part to the separate hair - that never works quite right - but is also due to the elongated horsey face.

They captured her almost perfectly in that previous version (I've included a photo comparing these three with that Faith further down the review), but here we get back into some of the old troubles with Faith. This Faith actually resembles the 12" version from Sideshow quite a bit, and you know how I felt about that one.

The head sculpt gives her a large, wide forehead, with a long face and wide set eyes. While Faith has a large head, it's certainly not this large compared to her body.  The hair sculpt is good, except for the high hairline, and they didn't give her any of that silly 'action' hair. The head sculpt is more attractive depending on the paint job, but in general is not as good as past work.

The GD Faith and EOD Faith both come with the soft rubber jackets, while the BG Faith opts for just the vest part of the jacket. Her regular arms are sculpted as part of the white shirt, rather than as part of the black jacket, hence the vest appearance. You have to give Diamond Select a lot of credit for creatively using a small number of parts interchangeably and yet in sensible ways.

In general, the scale on these figures works great with the previous lines from MAC and Diamond Select, and also fit in quite nicely with the Marvel Legends and other 6" Toybiz lines. You can't expect perfect body sculpts, because these aren't statues - they're toys. The articulation will always interfere with the appearance of the body at this level, and that's a conscious decision. If you're not a fan of articulation, then whether the sculpting is good or not is a fairly moot point for you.

Paint - OMWF Buffy, BG Faith ***1/2; EOD Buffy, GD Buffy, EOD Faith, GD Faith ***
Since these head sculpts are all very close to identical, at least in terms of the faces, it is a very interesting opportunity to see how the difference in paint can make a huge difference in overall appearance.

Let's start with the Faith figures this time. There are big differences between the Faith figures based on the colors selected, and the application of the paint.

Faith has three different colors of lipstick and make up. Hopefully, these are specific to the episodes, but even if they aren't it's nice to see some variety. The paint ops are very clean on all three, both on the face and on the body. The hair color varies slightly as well, giving each figure a little more individual personality.

There's some interesting small detail work here that isn't on Buffy. The nekkid right arms have the tattoo, done quite well for the scale, and the GD Faith includes the cool shirt print, done in painstaking detail. Of the three, my preference is the BG version, with the dark lipstick and darker hair. Of the three, this paint combination also hides the sculpt issues the best. I could also swear that her nose is narrower on this version, but I'm positive that's just due to the paint ops, and not the sculpt.

Now let's talk Buffy. The ops are extremely clean on all three versions of Buffy, with very little slop or error. On extreme closeup, like in my photos, you can make out some issues in the makeup around the eyes or lips, but these can't be easily picked up by the human eye in person. The hair color varies slightly across the three figures, and I like the darker blonde on OMWF the best. The darker lips and clothing color on this version also make it my favorite in this category.

The skin tone on the face is good on all three, but the skin color on the bare arms of EOD and GD Buffy seems a tad goopy and thick. That's actually true with the bare Faith arms as well. I haven't had any trouble with it wearing off at the joints though, and it seems to be holding up pretty well to basic use. Interestingly, the 'regular' arms that are clothed have the fingernails painted in various colors, but the nekkid arms do not. Again, this is also true with Faith, who tends to stick with dark nail polish.

The eyes on Buffy are interesting as well - they are painted with the upper lids slightly closed. That gives her a look that works really well, rather than the wide eyed look we see too often.

Articulation - ****
If you're an articulation junkie, you're going to be a pretty happy camper. All the figures have identical articulation - a funky pin joint on the neck, ball jointed shoulders and hips, cut joints at the biceps, double jointed elbows and knees, pin joints and cut joints at the wrists, ball jointed chest, and pin joints on the ankles and half foot. The only obvious missing joints are the cut thigh and waist. DST labels these as having 29 points of articulation.

There are two joints worth talking about in a little more depth. First, I mentioned that every figure has ball jointed shoulders. That's true, but in only one set of arms. If the character is wearing a jacket, like EOD Buffy, EOD Faith, GD Buffy or GD Faith, then the jacketed arms do NOT have ball jointed shoulders, but make up for it with a cut bicep. That was a smart move, as that would have really broken up the look of the jacket. However, the replacement bare arms do have ball joints (but no cut biceps) on all these figures. For the two that do not wear jackets - BG Faith and OMWF Buffy - the regular figure has ball joints as part of their shirted outfit, again sans cut biceps.

The second joint is the wonky neck. If you've picked up the Toybiz Invisible Woman, then you've seen this joint recently. Her head has a disk at the base which fits down inside the neck in the torso, and a pin connects them. This allows a greater range of movement forward and backward, especially on EOD Buffy who doesn't have the longer hair getting in the way. But it also looks really obvious, and provides zero side to side movement. I really dislike this joint, and it drops a four star articulation score down a half star all on its own.

The joints are all fairly tight, although I had a little trouble with the feet in some poses. The ankles allow for both forward and backward and side to side movement, so you can get them to stand in quite a wide variety of leg poses. If you're looking for some Buffy figures to joint the ranks of your Marvel Legends, then you're all set.

Accessories - EOD Buffy, EOD Faith ***1/2; GD Buffy, OMWF Buffy, GD Faith, BG Faith ***
The number of accessories varies quite a bit by figure, and there is a lot of reuse going on. However, the accessories all make good sense, and many are episode specific.

Let's start with Buffy again. EOD Buffy comes with an extra set of those nifty nekkid arms, which pop on and off easily. She also has Mr. Pointy (her stake) and the Slayer's Scythe, a weapon that was specific to this episode, and is extremely cool.

GD Buffy also has the extra nekkid arms, along with handcuffs, a diploma and a Sunnydale yearbook. The diploma can't be opened, since it's not paper but a sculpted, rolled version. It fits well in her hand though. The handcuffs are a bit of a disappointment, with no metal chain and no working cuffs. Be particularly careful with these, as they seem pretty easy to break. The Class of 99 yearbook is her best accessory, with some excellent pitting ans scarring on the front and back covers, no doubt due to the explosion and complete destruction of the school in the finale.

It does seem a tad odd though that this version of Buffy comes with zero weapons. Of course, if you buy some of the others, there will be more than enough to go around, but I still find it a little odd.

OMWF Buffy has only two accessories, the shortest number of the entire wave. She comes with the stake again, but she also has the pool cue. As the only figure with this accessory, she gets extra points for originality.

Now on to Faith. The GD Faith comes with the nekkid arms (with tattoo this time), the compound bow and arrow, a steel pipe, and her special duty knife. The knife is covered in blood, which it seemed to be most of the time. It was actually Faith's blood in this episode though, so swapping this weapon over to GD Buffy in your display makes the most sense. The sculpting is excellent on all these accessories, although the arrow seems almost out of place due to its massive size (much larger than scale) and slightly less detail.

EOD Faith comes with the nekkid arms as well, the Slayer's Scythe again (since both slayers used this scythe during the episode, it makes sense even though it's a reuse), the stake, and her knife. This time the knife and stake are clean though, no blood. The sculpt and paint ops on the scythe are top notch, both here and with EOD Buffy. EOD Faith has the most accessories of the set.

BG Faith has the stake again, but this time it's bloody. She also has the compound bow - all black this time - and the arrow. There's that creative re-use again!

Fun Factor - ****
If you're looking for Buffy figures for playin' rather than just displayin', I'd say you've found what you're looking for. Most of the joints are fairly sturdy, although some of the pins could have issues, especially the neck and wrists. But I think these will hold up to the average kid as well as most other articulated figures on the market, including the stuff from Toybiz.

Value - ***1/2
While $12 - $15 isn't cheap, it's no more expensive than the regular release figures, and no more expensive than most other specialty market stuff out there. That makes these a pretty impressive value, considering the amount of articulation, the quality of the sculpt and paint, and the number of accessories.

Things to watch out for - 
You'll want to pick the best paint jobs of course, and be careful with the tiny fingers. There may also be some joints on the arms, particularly the wrists, which require breaking free, but don't go crazy.

Overall -  OMWF Buffy, EOD Buffy ***1/2; GD Buffy, EOD Faith, BG Faith, GD Faith ***
I waffled around for quite awhile on my overalls. I'm very positive on the Buffy figures, but the Faith were a bit trickier.

She's clearly not a superior head sculpt. The hounds of ugly are nipping at her heels, but they didn't actually run her to ground. She also has some great accessories, she's an excellent value, and I love the articulation. If you can live with the slightly less than perfect head sculpt, I think you'll be happy. The BG Faith will end up being my favorite of the three, simply because of the color choices.

Buffy is a different story. There's no doubt she's a good head sculpt, perhaps the best we've seen, and certainly the best we've seen in the six inch scale. I'm sure Diamond will use this head sculpt eventually on a more static, regular release version of Buffy, but until then even the articulation haters will want to pick up at least one of these. My preference is the OMWF version because of the outfit, but EOD offers cooler accessories and the great pony tail head sculpt.

People who do not like highly articulated figures are not going to like these. If you don't like dark chocolate, it's very unlikely that I'll be able to convince you that dark chocolate M&M's rock. Which they do, by the way. But for collectors - and kids - who are looking for more action in their action figures and less staute, these are excellent figures. I do wish they had skipped the freaky neck and stuck with a basic ball joint, but that's my only quibble with the articulation.

Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpt - EOD Buffy ***1/2; OMWF Buffy, GD Buffy ***; GD Faith, EOD Faith, BG Faith **1/2
Paint - OMWF Buffy, BG Faith ***1/2; EOD Buffy, GD Buffy, EOD Faith, GD Faith ***
Articulation - ***1/2
Accessories - EOD Buffy, EOD Faith ***1/2; GD Buffy, OMWF Buffy, GD Faith, BG Faith ***
Fun Factor - ****
Value - ***1/2
Overall - OMWF Buffy, EOD Buffy ***1/2; GD Buffy, EOD Faith, BG Faith, GD Faith ***

Where to Buy - 
There's different places to buy different figures - it all gets so confusing:

- the Graduation Day Buffy and Faith are regular releases, so you can find them at various specialty stores and online at Circle Red ($24 for the pair), Alter Ego Comics ($25 for the pair), CornerStoreComics ($13-$14 each or $26 for the pair), Time and Space Toys ($28 for the pair), and Krypton Collectibles for $14 each.

- the End of Days Faith and Once More With Feeling Buffy are both Previews exclusives, so most comic shops and specialty stores should also have these. Circle Red has them for $12.50 each, Alter Ego has them for $13 each, Time and Space for $15 each, CornerStoreComics for $13-$14 each, and Krypton Collectibles for $14 each.

- Bad Girls Faith is an Action Figure Express exclusive, but like other Buffy exclusives, you can get it through Time and Space Toys as well.

- and EOD Buffy is a Tower Records exclusive, but the same applies with Time and Space, as they have it listed as well.

Related Links:
I've reviewed a ton of Buffy stuff, so I'm not even going to try. However, here's a couple other useful links:

- BTVSfigs is a great place to chat and discuss all things Buffy and Angel, but in particular the action figures and other merchandise.

- Diamond Select has their own website as well, of course, with a nice listing of the current products. 

- and Time and Space Toys has the Buffy Collector's Club, which has all kinds of discounts and special offers on Buffy figures and other merchandise.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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