Buffy Deluxe Series 3
Chosen Willow, White Witch Willow, Kennedy and Kendra

I've been a bit behind in my Buffy figures lately. In fact, I didn't pick up a single one of the Giles/Faith wave, and now I have to go back and grab a couple, particularly the demon Giles.

But the next wave of deluxe figures is hitting, and I've been pleased with most of these so far. Remember, 'deluxe' really means 'articulated', with these figures having more of a Marvel Legends style design.

This wave includes four figures, two of Willow (Chosen Willow and White Witch Willow), along with Chosen Kennedy and Becoming Kendra. Yes, the episode "Chosen" is quite popular right now, but since it was the series finale, that's not a real surprise. 

These should be hitting stores within the next 2 - 3 weeks (this is an early review, as Roeper says). Retail should be around $12 - $13 each, but the White Witch Willow is actually the short packed 'chase' figure this time around, so you might end up paying more for her.

Packaging - ***
If you've been picking these up all along, then the packaging won't bring any surprises. The clamshells are reasonably compact and show off the figures well. The insert has the cool old world style that the Buffy line has had for some time now, and there's some nice personalization on the front with the photo of the character. On the back is the rest of the line up, with more info on the interior on other figures. Some episode background would have made for a nice addition, but the packaging isn't bad as it stands.

Sculpting - Kendra ***1/2; Willows ***; Kennedy **1/2
Kendra is the easy winner here - it looks like Kennedy is the big loser, but much of this may be due to the paint application.

The packages have photos of the characters right up front, making it quite easy for you to compare. I have to admit that I'm always impressed by the guts of the company to do that, since it makes it extremely easy for people to note any flaws right on the peg.

Kendra looks quite good though. There's a couple minor issues, like a slightly too wide forehead, and slightly too full lips, but in this scale it's actually quite impressive. They got the quirky smile, the eye shape and size, and even the difficult hair style pretty much down.

The Willow head sculpt is identical on both the Chosen version and the White Witch version, and both are adequate if not amazing. It's that damn paint again that I think is screwing up the work around the eyes, making them too large, because from the nose down, she looks terrific. The shape of the head, nose and chin is excellent, but the oversized eyes give her a weird anime look that isn't particularly flattering.

Her other problem is the body, which I'll get to more in a minute. Suffice to say that for her, with the slightly large head and then hair on top, she has a bit of a bobble thing going on.

Kennedy ends up getting the short end of the stick here. It's hard to tell if the sculpt is off as badly as the paint makes it appear, but it does look like the eyes truly are that oversized. The hair sculpt isn't bad, but I can't get over the feeling that she's patterned on a character out of Team America.

All three figures use the exact same body. And hands. And feet. Pretty much everything other than the head. And while this body isn't bad when it's outfitted in the black jackets that Kennedy and Kendra have, it's a bit too thin and small without the jacket for the size of Willow's noggin'.

The hands are sculpted in a weird way as well. The left hand on all the figures is a closed fist - closed tight, no holding accessories here. The right hand is sculpted in a gesturing/grasping pose that's open much too wide for almost all the accessories. You'll need to resort to using the clear rubber bands for most items, with the exception of Willow's 'candles' (yea, you keep telling yourself that's what they are).

These are in the 6" scale of the rest of the line, coming in at 6 inches each. Some folks are not going to like the appearance of the joints, but I'm not downgrading the scores here because of it. If you don't like the articulation, you should stick with the regular 6" line and avoid the deluxe.

Paint - Kendra ***; Willows **1/2; Kennedy *1/2
Once again, Kendra came out on top. She has fairly clean cuts and particularly well done lips, eyes and eyebrows. Her tricky hair line looks great, and the skin tone is just about right. Unfortunately, the body work has several issues. There's some missing paint on the jacket, and stray marks on the shirt and pants. The bare arms have a clumpy paint job, and I had the most trouble with her joints being painted tight. And I'm talking tight, so tight that several of them needed the freezer trick to avoid breaking. There's far too much paint slopped into the deepest areas of the joints, especially the knees and elbows, and once you DO get them free, you'll have rub marks and bare spots.

Both Willows have the same issues as Kendra when it comes to the heavy coating in the joints causing them to stick, and they also have their fair share of stray marks and uneven coverage. It's not a terrible paint job by any stretch of the imagination, but it misses the mark in several small ways. The large, oversized eyes also appear to be largely an issue with the paint, not the sculpt, and it hurts what could otherwise be an amazing looking Willow.

Kennedy takes all the abuse again, but for her it's not so much an issue of quality as aesthetics. There's not any more slop or poor quality here than on Kendra or Willow, but those eyes...they're just freaking me out. Seriously, she looks just like one of the puppets from Team America.

Articulation - **1/2
I wish I could give these figures a higher score in this category, since much of the realism of the sculpt is sacrificed for better articulation. Alas, this time it didn't quite work out.

First, we have that issue of the stuck joints. Normally I wouldn't let it bother me this much, but man, we're talking some seriously stuck joints here. If you luck out and get a good batch, you'll be much happier than I was.

Next, there's the issue with the hips. These ball joints don't work nearly as well as they should. Getting them to turn inside the pelvis can be very difficult, and without that ability, they can't really take advantage of all this joint has to offer.

Then there's the neck joint. These are also similar to ML's, with a peg/plate joint at the neck that allows the head to turn and tilt forward and back, but nothing side to side. In something this articulated, a full ball jointed neck (even with characters with long hair) is really necessary.

Finally, there's the shoulders. Popping out the cut joint jacket arms allows you to insert the ball jointed bare arms on Kennedy and Kendra. Unfortunately, the posts for the jacketed arms are much thicker - and longer - than the ones on the bare arms. That means keeping the bare arms in place at all, let alone in any real pose, can be quite the effort. I found that the arms wanted to fall out far too easily on both Kendra and Kennedy, making them pretty much worthless.

If you're looking for a generic joint count, here it is: peg/plate neck, cut shoulders (jacket arms) on Kennedy and Kendra, ball jointed shoulders on both Willows, double jointed knees and elbows across the board, ball jointed chest, pin and cut wrists (all arms), swivel ankle, and half foot pin.

Accessories - ***
There's also a ton of re-use when it comes to the accessories, but at least they make up for it in quantity.

Both Willows have the exact same set of accessories. There's the Slayer's Scythe, which is damn cool even if this isn't the first time we've gotten it; a laptop computer, browsing a page called "the history of the axe"; and a set of five different candles.

The sculpt and paint on the specialized axe are excellent, making it one of the better accessories in the entire series. But you shouldn't overlook some of the better features of the opening laptop, including the fact that the keyboard is all sculpted, rather than just being a simple sticker. The candles can be held by Willow, and are screen accurate for the most part.

Kennedy also comes with the scythe, so you'll have plenty to outfit all your slayers and slayers to be. She has the usual set of bare arms, a machete, a wooden stake, and a crossbow. The crossbow is pretty useless, since there's really no good way to get her to hold it in both hands, but the wooden stake can be rubber banded into her right hand. I did manage to get her to hold her machete, my favorite of her accessories, if she had it at just the right angle.

Kendra also has the bare arms, and she also has the goofy crossbow. You can toss the bows into your accessory box and forget them. Kendra rounds things out with the sword (another excellent looking accessory) and the rather cheesy Slayer's Handbook. Kendra can manage to hold the sword pretty well by sticking her finger and thumb into the various openings on the hilt.

Value - **1/2
At around $13 each, these are going for about the average specialty market price right now. There's an awful lot of re-use here though, but considering that many other figures are starting to bump into the $15 - $16 range, I've got to admit I'm happy that these are staying a few bucks cheaper. For now.

Fun Factor - ***
While these might not be the most realistic in appearance, they are actually pretty fun toys. You'll have to free up the joints before you give them to a kid, and some of the accessories might be a bit too pointy for those in the younger set, but if you know someone that really loves the show and loves toys - not statues - than these are a good choice.

Things to Watch Out For - 
Those stuck joints can snap or tear. Use the freezer trick before trying to loosen up any that seem really stuck.

Overall - Kendra ***; Willows **1/2; Kennedy **
Kendra is a great pick up for the collector looking to round out their super articulated slayer display. Stick her with the first series Faith and Buffy, and you'll have a great team up. Kennedy can get tossed in there too, but don't be surprised if people get weirded out by her puppet like hypno-gaze.

You really only need to pick up one of the Willows unless you're a completist, and I think the regular version is actually the better looking. The White Witch is going to cost you more in time and money, so I'd recommend sticking with the regular unless you're a completist.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***
Sculpt -  Kendra ***1/2; Willows ***; Kennedy **1/2
Paint - Kendra ***; Willows **1/2; Kennedy *1/2
Articulation - **1/2
Accessories - ***
Fun Factor - ***
Value -  **1/2
Overall - Kendra ***; Willows **1/2; Kennedy **

Where to Buy -
FYE and Suncoast might be the only brick and mortar stores (other than your LCS) that might get these in. Online options include the following sponsors:

- CornerStoreComics has the regular figures at $13 each, and the chase at $23.

- Amazing Toyz also has the regulars at $13 each and the chase at $23. They also have a variety of package deals, depending on what you're looking for.

- Alter Ego has the pair of Chosen Willow and Kennedy for $26, and the chase White Witch Willow for $20.

- Time and Space Toys carries a TON of Buffy and Angel merchandise. They have the Kendra and Willow for $14 each, or the pair of Willow/Kennedy or Willow/Kendra for $28.

- And if you're still looking for the series 1 deluxe Buffy and Faith, check out Circle Red.

Related Links -
There's no shortage of other Buffy reviews:

- in the Sideshow line, I've reviewed Lorne, Cordelia, Vamp Darla, Vamp Buffy, Willow, the original Buffy and Angel, Faith, and the Gentlemen.  And if you're looking for something a little taller, there's the Premium Format Buffy.

- there's also the 6" line from DST and MAC, including the Pylean Princess Cordy and Season 7 Xander, latest deluxe Spike and Angel, the deluxe Hawaiin Shirt Spike and Angel, the 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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