Muppets Series 4 - Link Hogthrob, Sam Arrow, Rizzo and Dr. Strangepork

I'm not a big Muppet fan in general. I don't own Muppet pajamas, although when the current My Little Pony set wears out, you never know.  While I enjoyed the show when it was on, it's not one that I own every episode of, and I don't own every Muppet movie on DVD. When it came to licenses like Batman: The Animated Series, or The Simpsons, it was a given that I'd the figures would take a special place in my collection. But just the idea of Muppets figures being produced didn't give me that 'special' feeling.

Until I saw wave 1 in person. Actually, when I saw the first Dr. Teeth, the now very elusive and exclusive figure from the first Wizard World East show last year. The overall quality - sculpting, paint ops, accessories, articulation - put these figures in a whole new class. And now the line is my current favorite, easily tops on my anticipation meter. And so it was with great joy that I came across series 4 this week including the blue jacket and red jacket Rizzo (the blue is the one-per-case variant), Link Hogthrob, Dr. Strangepork, and Sam the Eagle (actually called Mr. Samuel Arrow, as he is from Muppets Treasure Island).

I found my at an Electronics Boutique, but they are at several on-line retailers already as well. I have some sponsors at the end of the review that have them in and ready to go. Expect to pay around eight or nine bucks each for retail.

Packaging - ***1/2
This series is the first to feature two big changes. First, the line has switched to the more generic 'Muppets' moniker, with the blue striped background scheme. It's very attractive, although the blue won't pop quite as much on the shelf as the older colors. Still, the graphics and text are good, and the layout allows for both specific character information and general line information.

The second big change is the switch to clamshells, rather than a card back and bubble. McToys has used clamshells off and on since the early days, and uses them predominately across their lines now. I like them quite a bit, because they stand up to shelf wear, and storage, much better than the traditional card back. They are a little harder to open, but that's a big plus for the retailers too, who will see less on-the-peg theft of figures and accessories by kids.

My only complaint is that there is no photo of the actual Muppet on the inserts. Instead, shots of the toys themselves are used. I heard somewhere that this was because they couldn't come up with decent quality shots of these particularly puppets, so I hope this won't be the standard from here out. I always liked seeing the actual Muppet and being able to compare him/her to the final product.

Sculpting - ****
Palisades slam dunks another set. All four sculpts appear dead on to me, with tons of detail in the texturing and appearance of the 'skin' and clothes. From the wild hair on Strangepork, to the stoic look on Sam, they've captured the correct look for every character.

The texture of these figures is something that deserves a second mention. On figures like Strangepork and Link, the texturing gives the appearance of the cloth puppet, and gives the characters a realistic appearance you wouldn't have expected. On figures like Sam, the detail work on the feathers is fantastic, and lends the figure this same realism. This is important to note because they could have skimped out on these details - they are just action figures, after all - but Palisades has stepped up and given us a series of figures that truly look like little versions of the puppets.

The only nit that some may pick is on scale, and that's a tough call to make. This series has the smallest and largest figure in the line so far, so the variation across the set is far greater than anything we've seen in a single series before. Rizzo is small, no doubt about that, but I think they found the perfect size considering he could have been much smaller if they had been required to match actual scale. And Sam is huge, standing above even the Swedish Chef. Even Link is large, and Strangepork much smaller than you might expect. However, they are giving us actual scale based on the puppets themselves, and that's where it might be tough for us to judge properly. Often we only saw part of any one Muppet, and the lower bodies were rarely visible. Since I don't know first hand if the Strangepork muppet is really that much smaller than Link, I'm willing to take Palisades word for it.

There is a big upside to these variances in the figure sizes - it makes your display a whole lot more interesting to look at. Again, it provides a level of realism to the entire set that people will respond to when they seem them on your shelf.

Personally, I would have liked it if Sam could better hold his accessories, but the other figures have their hands sculpted to use various items.

Paint - Sam ****; Rizzo, Strangepork, Link ***1/2
I was pretty disappointed with the paint application on the previous series of figures, and it was very abnormal for Palisades. This time around though, my set looks great. There are still a few minor quibbles and bits, but nothing as major as I had with series 3.

There's lots of color here, and all of it is vibrant and clean. The sparkly effect on Link and Strangepork doesn't work quite as well in person as it does in photos, but it's okay. The silver paint isn't always consistent, but the extremely tough color of pink on their faces was perfect. My Rizzo had a mark on one eyeball, and I noticed that most of the pizza boxes that come with Rizzo had rub marks due to the packaging. But overall, these three figures were well above average both in the level of detail and the quality of the paint application.

Sam stood out as a work of art. Again, there's tons of detail, and some truly beautiful colors here. The red stripes on his white shirt have perfect edges, with no bleed or slop whatsoever. Every button is perfect, every small detail is clean. Sam has never been my favorite character, but his figure has leaped into my top two or three for the line.

It's important to point out that there are two versions of Rizzo, differentiated only by paint ops.  Both the figure itself and the accessories are done in different colors.

Articulation - ****
All the figures are very well articulated, with plenty of useful joints.  I even found a couple new joints on my Rizzo that I didn't notice when playing with the Philly version!

Rizzo has neck, waist, ball jointed shoulders, hips and waist.  Being the smallest, he has the fewest points, but they all work well and add to his poseability.

Sam has neck, waist, ball jointed shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips and ankles.

Accessories - ****
The Muppets series continues their tradition of exceptional and varied accessories with every figure. Everybody comes with a decent amount, and they are all well sculpted with great paint ops.

Rizzo is a small figure, so to make up for a perceived value issue at the same price point as the larger figures, Palisades loaded him down with some really nifty accessories.  He has a small table, two plates (one labeled 'poison', one labeled 'cheese'), a triangle of cheese, a drink (with little umbrella), baseball hat, a head set for working backstage, a great pizza box that opens and closes and has a messy pizza stuck to the inside of the lid, a joke boxing glove, and a slice of pizza.  The detail on these accessories is nothing short of fantastic - the pizza is made from a rubbery material so it stretches inside the box like the real thing, and the individual piece of pizza is sculpted the exact size and style, right down to the slice through the pepperoni on top, to match the missing piece inside the box.

I had a little trouble keeping the headset on Rizzo's head, but the hat snapped on fine.  All the other accessories look great and work perfectly.

Sam is also loaded up, with a collapsing telescope, hat (with magnet of course), large book that opens to reveal a folded treasure map, and gold key.  You can actually manage to get not only the map inside the book but the key AND the telescope!

Dr. Strangepork comes with just a couple accessories, but one is really a whole 'nother figure.  He has his ray gun, and his R2...uh... M.A.M.M.A. robot.  The robot is quite large, with two antennae you must attach - and yes, the fat ends should be at the top, not inserted!  The robot's head also turns like his Star Wars counterpart.  Strangepork's glasses are also removable, at least on mine.

Last but certainly not least (in his mind) is Link Hogthrob.  He also has a ray gun, a copy of Starhog magazine, and a small version of the Swine Trek ship.  All the accessories look great.

Value - ***
At around eight bucks each, these aren't a bad value, but they aren't bargain basement priced either.  It's a good deal for the money, particularly with the tremendous articulation and accessories.

Overall - ****
The Muppets line continues to amaze me.  The detail and quality are outstanding, and even if you're not a fan of the license, you have to appreciate the exceptional work.

It was recently announced that Palisades will be doing Ren and Stimpy figures based on the new cartoons coming to Spike TV.  This news was met with a tremendous amount of positive response, and I'm really looking forward to seeing them bring their quality to one of my favorite cartoons.

Where to Buy - 
I picked mine up at the local Electronics Boutique, and I'd assume Media Play and Sam Goody will have them soon. Target is a new retailer with wave 4, but they are unlikely to have them on the pegs before the end of the month. On-line:

- Beans Toys has the set of four regular figures for $33 plus shipping, or you can get the four with the repaint Rizzo instead of the standard Rizzo for $36. Check under their Muppet link, as they have a ton of the earlier stuff for great prices as well.

- Aisle Sniper has the set for $36, or individual figures for $9 each.

- Killer Toys has the set for $40, plus they have some of the older exclusives available.

- if you're looking for the shortpacks, you can pre-order them early through  It's too late for Rizzo, but the shortpacked Janice from series 5 is currently up for preorder. 


Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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