Deluxe Destiny Spike and Angel

Angel and Spike - two vampires, two 'heroes', and yet, they couldn't be much different, even when they ended up the same. They were often reluctant partners, and rarely saw eye to eye. Both have their loyal fans, and the same can often be said of them.

Diamond is continuing their line of 'deluxe' Buffy and Angel figures with the second series. This wave is made up of eight different Spike and Angel figures, following the Diamond marketing pattern of more variants than you can count on one hand.

What makes these figures deluxe? In reality, it's the added articulation. They are taking the main fighters, and giving them the kind of articulation necessary for nifty poses.

This is one of those early reviews, and these figures should be out in July. Tonight I'll cover the main pair, Destiny Spike and Angel, but I'll have reviews up in the coming weeks of several of the others. To round out this wave, there's battle damaged variants of both Destiny figures, and I've used a packaged photo of the battle damaged Spike in this review, along with a comparison head shot of the two. These battle damaged versions are short packs, supposedly packed one per in every case.

You can find these at most online stores and comic shops, and I have several sponsor suggestions at the end of the review.

Packaging -  ***
While I prefer the colors and graphics of the Buffy inserts, the Angel work is still decent. I love clamshells of course, since they are so damn sturdy and resistent to peg wear. You'll need a deadly weapon to open them, but with a little adult supervision I'm sure you'll do fine.

The inserts picture the character front and center, which is always a gutsy move. It means the buyer can easily compare the final figure to the actual actor, and Diamond has to be pretty confident in their sculpts to pull this off.

There are also photos on the back of the insert of the rest of the series, but the text is not unique from character to character. I wish it was, since these are episode specific looks, but it's not a major issue.

Sculpting - Spike ***1/2; Angel ***
The boys are presented here as seen in the episode "Destiny". This episode was their big battle, brewing across the centuries, and they finally get to seriously smack each other around. 

The work here is done by Gentle Giant. While both head sculpts are good, it's clearly Spike who's the winner, just like in the battle for the Chalice of Mountain Dew.

Both heads are in their full on vamp mode, as they were in the fight. Spike is showing his fangs as well, and the expression works extremely well for the deluxe treatment, where the most common poses will be mid-battle.

There's excellent detail in the vamp bumps and comb back hair, and this Spike could easily become one of my favorites.

Angel is good, and there's no doubt who he is, but there's something slightly off. Perhaps it's the expression, which is rather calm and serene considering the vamp face. Or maybe it's the hair, which is in the season 5 style, but seems a tad too high. In the end, Angel is good, but not quite up to the level of the Spike sculpt.

Both bodies are done in the outfits from the show - Angel in the short jacket, Spike in the long. In the accessories section, I'll get into the other display options with the included arms, but odds are you'll go with the jacketed appearance for both, since that's how they spent the majority of the episode.

The hands are sculpted to hold the accessories, and work quite well, and both figures stand great on their own with little effort. The articulation and sculpt also work well together, which is always important when going toward a more posable style of figure.

Scale fits in with the rest of the Diamond/MAC line, and these two figures have pretty good scale within each other as well.  Spike is a slimmer body overall, and they look great together.

Paint - Spike ***; Angel **1/2
Both figures have minor paint issues, but nothing that's earth shatteringly bad.

The work is clean on both, with no signs of slop, overspray, or poor cutting between colors. The eyes on both are very well done, especially Spike, and the clothing colors match the episode. Angel's pinstripe shirt wasn't quite as obvious on screen as it is here, but it was probably washed a few times.

Spike has another paint feature that stands out as well - the muted black shirt. Using a very matte black for the shirt, they've approximated the appearance of cotton quite well, and it's a very different look from the more glossy coat and rougher jeans.

The one major negative I had with both figures - but with Angel more than Spike - is the very, very pale skin color. Spike was always the paler of the pair, and yet with these figures, there's no real difference. Angel is very pasty white, and it throws off the sculpt. I think Spike is too white here, which makes Angel much too white.

Spike also had one other issue with paint, but it's more related to the extra set of arms, so I'll hit that up in the Accessories section.

It's also worth noting that the stripes on Angel's shirt break right at the chest joint.  That means if you move him backward at all, you'll get a gap.  Another minor annoyance, but there nonetheless.

Articulation - ***1/2
The deluxe figures sport quite a bit more articulation than the regular figures, and it's advertised at 28 - 30 points.

Both have ball jointed necks, and both work great, giving them plenty of tilt action along with forward, backward and turning. The head/neck attachment below the jaw line looks a little weird from certain angles, but that's a price I'm willing to pay.

The jacketed figures have cut shoulders, double jointed knees and elbows, cut biceps and wrists, ball jointed hips, cut waist, and pin ankles and half foot (Spike only). They also both have a chest joint that can tilt backward and forward, but I found that it didn't have much of a range of movement.

Neither do the ankles, due to the flared pant cuffs, but they do have enough to take and hold most leg poses.

If you pop off the jacket arms and add in extra sleeved arms, you gain a ball jointed shoulder and lose a cut bicep. The reason the bicep joint disappears is that the shoulder is jointed on both sides of the ball, removing the need for the bicep joint.

Accessories - ***
As you might expect from a series where 8 or more figures are created out of two characters, there's a fair share of accessory reuse. However, these two have accessories that are clearly dictated by the episode, and jump right off the screen.

Angel comes with a chunk of rebar to beat on Spike, the chalice that they both fought for, and the pedestal on which it rested. I went back and checked out some screen caps from the episode, and both the chalice and stand are extremely well done, matching up with their screen counterparts in sculpt and paint almost perfectly.

Angel also comes with a second set of arms, done in shirt sleeves. Pop off the jacket arms (they come off easily enough, yet stay on through even rough play), remove the soft rubber jacket, and pop these on - viola! A whole new figure.

Now, I don't recall either one of them not wearing the jacket in this episode, but it's still a nice touch by Diamond to include the additional arms. Unfortunately, both pairs have problems.

Both pairs have rather short pegs on the ball joints, and don't fit into the body as tightly or snugly as the jacketed arms. In fact, if you try to bring the arms against the chest too tightly, it will force the peg out and knock the arm off.

Spike's arms also have a paint issue. The sleeves are done in a gloss finish, matching the jacket and not the shirt. It's extremely obvious in person, and something I hope they corrected for the majority of the production run.

Angel's arms have some wonky scale problems. The forearms are quite long, at least visually. This is partially due to the cuff, which is long enough to cover part of the hand, and makes the forearm appear even longer than it already is. This ends up giving him a serious case of monkey arm.

Spike also has the chunk of rebar, and while it's reuse, it is the most forgivable kind. They both used separate pieces in the film to battle, so it's very appropriate that they each get their own in toy form.

He also has the large cross from the room, and can hold it in his hands. It seems a bit bigger to me, scale-wise, than what was in the show, but that's a very minor quibble.

Finally, Spike also has a hunk of wood planking to smack Angel around. Both have a decent assortment of goodies, and they are straight out of the episode. If the issues with the extra arms weren't there, these would get another half star in this category easily.

Fun Factor - ***1/2
There's no doubt these are tons of fun, much more so than the regular release figures. Those can hold the one, static, pole-up-the-ass pose. Here, you (or any kids that love the show) can pose them and play with them to your heart's content. They joints are sturdy, with solid pins and tight connections, so they can withstand even real, honest to God play, and not just fanboy posing.

Value - ***
You'll probably pay around $12 a pop for these, which is solid value on the current market. I know some collectors hate the billion variants and exclusives in every wave, but it's really the only way Diamond can stay away from a higher price point, especially considering how tight the retailer market is right now.

Things to watch out for - 
Be careful with the hands and tiny fingers when working with the accessories. It's quite easy to bend or damage the softer plastic, especially the thumbs.

Overall -  Spike ***1/2; Angel ***
One of the advantages that Spike and Angel have over the deluxe versions of Faith and Buffy are the coats. If you go with the jacketed look for Spike and Angel, you'll hide the ball jointed hips without interfering with their usefulness, and avoid the ball jointed shoulders. This is a nice compromise between sculpt and articulation, and should make people happy that don't like seeing the less attractive ball joints but still want posing possibilities.

In this pair, Spike is the clear winner. I prefer the head sculpt and the paint work (especially the t-shirt). Angel is solid, and will make a great addition to the display, but the sculpt and paint aren't quite good enough to bump him into the top ranks.

Packaging - ***
Sculpt - Spike ***1/2; Angel ***
Paint - Spike ***; Angel **1/2
Articulation - ***1/2
Accessories - ***
Fun Factor - ***1/2
Value - ***
Overall -  Spike ***1/2; Angel ***

Where to Buy -
This pair is available through plenty of online stores:

- when it comes to Buffy and Angel merchandise, I always hit Time and Space Toys first. They have an amazing selection of product, and have this pair for $28, along with the rest of the wave including exclusives.

- CornerStoreComics has the singles for $12 each, or the pair for $23. Better yet, if you want a full set with BOTH battle damaged short packs, you can preorder all four for $55.

- Amazing Toyz matches the CSC price, with the singles at $12 each, the pair for $23, and the set of four for $55.

- Alter Ego Comics has the pair at $25.48.

- Circle Red doesn't have this pair listed, but if you're still looking for some of the previous deluxe Buffy and Faith figures, they have them on sale!

Related Links:
I've reviewed an awful lot of Buffy merchandise over the years, but here's some of it:

- in the Sideshow line, I've reviewed Vamp Darla, Vamp Buffy, Willow, the original Buffy and Angel, Faith, and the Gentlemen.

- there's also plenty of this 6" line from DST and MAC, including the latest regular Buffy and Dawn figures, deluxe Buffy and Faith, Drusilla and the Gentlemen, Buffy, Giles and Oz, the recent Angel wave, more of the Angel wave, Fred and Illyria, Wesley, Willow and Tara, and the very first series of Angel figures from MAC.

- there's been plenty of busts, like the Ubervamp, the four monsters from DST, the Becoming Buffy, human Spike, and Buffy vs. Dracula.

- and then there's the Palz, like the Gentlemen, the Halloween set, and series 1.

- there's also the oddball stuff, like the Buffy and Angel Christmas ornaments, the Dark Witch Willow statue, the Welcome Faith statue, or the Johnny Lightening cars.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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