Parting Gifts and Rain of Fire Wesley

If you're a fan of Buffy and Angel, and were concerned that there just wouldn't be enough variations on each individual figure, Diamond Select has pretty much made that a non-issue.  They continue the line by creating figures folks want - in about a billion different ways.

Take Wesley for example.  He's clearly a core character, especially to the show Angel.  He was always a putz on Buffy, but on Angel he came into his own, and turned into one hell of a vampire hunter.

There's at least 5 different versions of Wesley, including "Season 4" (the regular release), "Waiting in the Wings" (tuxedo - Tower Records exclusive), "Bad Girls" (Previews exclusive), "Parting Gifts" (leather jacket - Toyfare exclusive), and "Rain of Fire" (Time and Space Toys exclusive).  Most of these are exclusives, although with this line very little is truly exclusive since you can get them through outlets like the Buffy Collector's Club no matter what store has the exclusive.

I'm reviewing two of the exclusives tonight - Parting Gifts and Rain of Fire.  The episode Parting Gifts is from the second season of Angel, and is our first appearance of the 'new' Wesley, Rogue Demon Hunter.  He went on to become a critical member of the show.

Rain of Fire is from the fourth season of Angel, in an episode titled "Apocalypse: Nowish", also known as Rain of Fire.  Both of these figures sell for about $12.

Packaging - ***
The Angel packaging is going with a dark red, and it fits with the show fairly well in terms of feel and design.  There's not much variety between different cardbacks for the same character - for example, the only thing different between two versions of Wes are the stickers on the bubble - but each cardback is unique for each truly unique character.

There are also some boxes involved, particularly with the Toyfare exclusives.  I much prefer the boxes, since they take up less space, are easier to store, and are more collector friendly.

Sculpting - **1/2
This was a really tough call for me.  If I were simply going off the head sculpt, it would have been three stars, but the body pulls things down a bit for me.

The head sculpt is a relatively accurate Wes, with some minor issues.  The hair was tough to capture, but they gave it the old college try, and the face still seems a tad pudgy below the nose line.

I do like the sculpted stubble though, and think it works well in this scale.  Certainly better than I expected it would!

The body sculpt proportions are off, and make the whole figure less realistic.  The head is a tad too small, nothing major but certainly enough to notice.  The chest and waist are the same size, and the way the plastic coats hang makes his torso appear blocky and oddly proportioned.  It seems that in their attempt to be too realistic, they ended up with one foot in caricature land.

Still, the scale is great with other Buffy figures (which I would have shown, but all mine are now packed up until some distant time in the future when I finally move), and the head sculpt isn't bad.

Paint - ***
I had very few issues with the paint ops on either of these figures, although I do like the Parting Gifts version slightly better.

Both have clean ops, although there was the occasional stray mark here and there.  The color choices match up with the episodes pretty well, but I like the glossy finish on the black leather jacket a little better than the duller brown jacket from Rain of Fire.

The paint work on the beard stubble turned out good, although it's almost...almost...too perfect.  But then Wes always was a rather neat guy.

There's not a lot of detail work though, and the clothing is done in basic, broad colors.  At least these colors are consistent across their coverage, but some smaller details on the shirt, jacket and pants would have been nice.

Articulation - ***
Wes has a ball jointed neck with slightly limited range of movement, cut shoulders, cut biceps, cut wrists, pin elbows, pin knees, V hips, waist and ankles (cut up on the pant leg).  While there's quite a few points some of it is pretty limited in its usefulness.  Still, you'll be able to keep him standing fine on his own, and the arm articulation can work well with the various accessories.  And let's not forget that the ball jointed necks always get extra kudos from me!

Accessories - ***
Both figures come with a good quantity of accessories, but several lack in the quality department.

Rain of Fire Wes has the large weapons cabinet, a shotgun (with pistol grip), a crossbow, two hand guns, and Rhinehardt’s Compendium" reference book.

There is a lot of reuse across the Buffy and Angel lines, especially within a particular series.  The crossbow, shotgun, book and cabinet all show up more than once, but at least they all make complete sense.

Wes can hold the weapons fairly well, but the damn cabinet can't.  Now maybe it's just me, but I couldn't figure out a reasonable way to get the items that came with either figure to work in the two cabinets.  Perhaps you'll have better luck with older Buffy/Angel accessories (mine are all boxed up - damn move) but I'm not sure the hooks, loops and other doo-hickey's were actually designed and placed with anything in particular in mind.

The cabinet looks great otherwise.  It also has a slot in the bottom filled with sculpted in place stakes, and what looks like a hole for perhaps spears.  The doors shut tight but open smoothly, and the scale is decent with the figures.

Parting Gifts Wes comes with two motorcycle helmets (pink and black, a nice touch if you've seen the episode), the crossbow, the same cabinet, and a nifty huge battle axe.  The axe fits in his hands as well, and really looks great.  The helmets are a little to big on the figures, and tend to fall off or wobble around too much, but I suspect they went that route rather than risk damaging the paint jobs when you take them off or put them on.

Ah, but that's not actually all he comes with. There's his glasses as well.  Most of the Wes figures do not include glasses, probably because much of the time on Angel he didn't wear them.  This version does include a pair though, but they are simply awful.  Oversized and a terrible fit on his head, you'll never display him wearing them, and if you're very lucky, you'll lose them within the first five minutes anyway.

Fun Factor - ***1/2
My four year old son has had some great fun with these two over the last few days.  He's a decent generic good guy/bad guy, with decent articulation and fun accessories.

This just goes to prove that yes, you can make action figures that look good and are fun too!

Value - **1/2
The current market has most specialty market stuff going in the $12 - $13 range, which these fall within.  The exclusivity might make you think they should cost more, but the heavy reuse of the various parts and accessories allows DST to keep them reasonable.

Things to Watch Out for - 
If you're wrist joints are painted tight, be careful breaking them free.  It is possible to twist the peg right off if you get a little too wild.

Overall -  ***
I for one am mighty glad that Diamond Select stepped in and took this over from Moore Action Collectibles.  Are we getting a butt load of variants on every character?  Yes, yes we are.  But at least most of these variants make sense, and are handled reasonably well.  I'll take that as a trade off to not getting any more figures.

Wes isn't the best work DST is done, but he's decent and will fit in well with the rest of the figures on the shelf.  Lorne - who is also out as part of this release - is a better figure in general, but you can't have an Angel display without Wes.  Thank goodness DST understands that.

The next wave to hit will include Angel - based on his show, not Buffy's - and Illyria/Fred. These should start popping up by October.

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

Where to Buy -
There's various online options:

- you can pick up the whole set of four different exclusives at the Buffy Collector's Club.

- the Rain of Fire Wes is a Time and Space Toys exclusive, and you can pick it up there or through the club.

- and most of the Wesley figures - along with others - are available at Amazing Toyz for around $12 each.

BTW, if you join the club right now, you get the Battle Scarred Angel puppet!

Related Links -
I've done a ton of Buffy and Angel reviews, especially if you consider the sixth scale stuff, but here's some particularly relevant reviews:

- DST is doing a separate series of 6" figures in a 'deluxe' (i.e. highly articulated) format as well.  The first two releases were Buffy and Faith, with more to come.

- another recent wave included a whole oodle of Tara and Willow figures.

- 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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