Diamond Select Buffy mini-busts
The Judge, D'Hoffryn, Giles as Fyarl Demon,
The Gentleman and Kulak


I've been a huge fan of Buffy and Angel since the beginning. Okay, even I'll admit that the first season of Buffy was a tad shaky, but by the second season they were cooking with gas. And Angel was a true rarity - a spinoff that was always as good or better than the show that spawned it.

Moore Action Collectibles did a series of mini-busts based on the Angel license, including Angel, Spike, Cordelia, Faith and Lorne. There was also a Victorian Angelus, and several color variations with Lorne and Spike.

Other than Lorne, all these characters were ALSO on Buffy, so they fit in nicely with the new series of Buffy mini-busts from Diamond Select Toys.

Diamond Select has just release five, count them FIVE, new busts to go with your old ones. There's The Judge, Kulak, D'Hoffryn, The Gentleman, and Giles as the Fyarl Demon. Each retails for around $40, and are available at many comic shops and on-line stores. I have a couple suggestions for you at the end of the review.

If your memory is fuzzy on who these guys are...

D'Hoffryn - he's the mentor to Anya, who gave her the power as a vengeance demon. While he appears pretty cruel, he was actually a pretty hilarious character.

The Gentleman - one of the finest episodes of the entire series was "Hush", in which the evil Gentleman cast a spell across Sunnydale to silence everyone, to make it easier to carve the hearts out of their living victims. This is one of two of the busts that were done as a collaborative effort between MAC and DST.

The Judge - the second bust done as a collaboration. The Judge is a guy in pieces - literally. Put back together by Drusilla, he's a demon designed to destroy humanity by incineration. He couldn't be killed by any weapon forged by man, so Buffy blew him to bits with a rocket launcher in the middle of the mall. Hey, whatever works.

Kulak - an assassin of the Miquot Clan, he was a partipant in Slayerfest. Mr. Trick, ad to the Mayor, puts together a fun filled day of slayer hunting, and Kulak was one of the more notable demons who tried his best.

Giles as the Fyarl Demon - Giles is transformed by his past friend/enemy Ethan Rayne into this rather ugly demon.  Hilarity ensued, although we learned that Giles is not all he seems to be.

Now, on to the important stuff!

Packaging - **1/2
The boxes look good, although I think windows would have been a smart way to go. If buyers saw the actual bust, there's no way they'd pass it up - they look that good.

And no, I didn't shoot the box this time.  Actually, I could have swore I shot it at least once, but can't seem to find it.  Trust me, it's just what you'd expect.

Sculpting - The Judge, D'Hoffryn ***1/2; Giles, Kulak, Gentleman ****
I'm tremendously impressed with the work on this entire series, particularly since it's several sculptors and some are collaborative efforts.  Even in those conditions, they managed to do consistently great work, that is nicely in scale (for the most part), and looks great together or individually.

My comment on scale is the only reason the Judge dropped slightly in the overall score.  He seems small to me, compared with the other figures, and something closer to Giles would have seemed appropriate.

But you can't fault a single one of these busts for lack of detail or issues with proportion.  The sculptors have done a marvelous job capturing the source characters in a realistic and visually impressive manner, yet keeping it all consistent.

Of course it helps that all five of these are very different looking demons.  That was smart planning on the part of Diamond, although I'm not sure if releasing all five at once was such a good idea.  They may have trouble convincing folks to pony up $200 or more at once.  

My particular favorite here is Giles as the Fyarl Demon, because of the excellent sculpt.  You can actually recognize Giles under all the makeup, and the match between the style of the base and the look of the character is perfect.

It's tough for me to judge the level of quality on the D'Hoffryn sculpt.  The sculpt seems a little softer than the others, a little less detailed, but much of that may be due to the paint work, which is a little too paint-by-numbers, and not as clean as the others.  As I've said many times before, a mediocre sculpt can be made amazing with great paint work, and an amazing sculpt can be rendered mediocre with poor paint work.

Paint - Giles, Kulak, Judge ****; The Gentleman ***1/2; D'Hoffryn ***
The paint ops are great on all the figures, but a couple are better than the rest.

The quality is top notch all around. There's clean lines, consistent colors, and excellent shading where appropriate.  Again, although Giles probably has the least color, I think they did an amazing job with the browns and grays.

Most of the demons are quite colorful, with nice contrast between the various colors.  There's no slop, and the small details like the eyes, spots and horns look great across the board.

The Gentleman takes a slight hit, because there was some weak definition between the whites and blacks of his suit.  The shirt and pocket square have a tendency to slip onto the black, and these two colors are always tough to do right next to each other.

The only one that I was a bit disappointed in was D'Hoffryn.  The mottled skin with the blue highlights just didn't work as well as the other paint ops, and ended up looking more like it was done by your average modeler.  I'm sure it was a tough look to pull off, as the character has a pretty intricate appearance, but of the set he was the only one that fell short of my expectations in this category. 

Design/Style - Giles, Kulak, Gentleman ****; The Judge ***1/2; D'Hoffryn ***
Overall, the designs and style of this entire set is terrific.  They do some things here that other bust manufacturers skip, like unique poses that fit the characters, and unique bases that do likewise.

Of the five, three have a twist or turn to the head that works great, fitting the attitude and personality of the on screen counterpart perfectly.  Of the two that don't - D'Hoffryn and The Judge - the straight forward pose is still right on for The Judge.  That was his personality, and his appearance on the show.  He's a straight forward, no nonsense kind of apocalyptic demon.

The straight ahead pose doesn't work quite as well for me with D'Hoffryn, but it's not like we got to see a lot of him on the show.  I'm not sure what would have worked better...he always struck me as more cerebral than the usual demon, so perhaps something a little more pensive...but I'm certainly not a sculptor.  But I know what I like, and while the overall look of D'Hoffryn is good, it's not as eye poppingly amazing as some of the others.

The bases are also all unique, and when possible - like on The Gentlman and Kulak - they are extremely specific to the character or episode.  They are great choices, with lots of sculpting detail and great paint application.

Value - **1/2
Around $40 each is the likely average price for this, very similar to other busts on the current market.  If you can manage to find them closer to $30, you can add another half star here.  They aren't a bad value, but pretty average considering other busts in their range.

Overall - Giles, Kulak ****;  The Gentleman, The Judge ***1/2; D'Hoffryn ***
This is a terrific looking set of busts, and compliment the earlier MAC series perfectly in scale and style.  That's particularly important, since most Buffy fans will want to display them all together.  This set is also a nice transition from MAC to Diamond Select, doing some of the figures on their own, while others were a collaboration.  With this kind of overall quality and excellent character choices, I'm looking forward to what Diamond has to offer in future releases.

I do think that releasing all five at the same time was probably not the best choice.  Collectors generally only have so much in the budget for items like this, and had they been spaced out, they would have been much more likely to pick them all up.  With them all coming out together, I suspect you'll see a lot more picking and choosing going on.

Where to Buy - 
Your local comic shop may get these in, but I think your best bets are on-line shops:

- Alter Ego Comics has them available at $38.25 each.

- Killer Toys has them as pre-orders for $35 each.

- Time and Space Toys has them for $45 each. They also have a ton of the Buffy and Angel action figures, even some from the very early waves. They also have an offer right now where if you buy $100 worth of merchandise, you can get the exclusive Tara figure for free!



Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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