Muppets Series 5

It's official - the Muppets line from Palisades is the coolest line currently on the shelves.

With every great line, it takes some time for them to hit their stride.  The Muppets line has been great from the first series, and the Kitchen play set could be the greatest play set ever produced.  Now with series 5, they've produced a almost perfect wave, and they've done it with second string (at best) characters.

This set includes Gonzo with Camilla, Janice, Pepe and the Newsman.  Okay, before all the Gonzo-heads come after me, he doesn't count as a bench warmer.  But remember - we've already gotten Gonzo once, and with a variation at that.  So while Gonzo might be the big name in this line up, it's not his first time.  A virgin muppet...there's a concept probably best left alone.

Janice rounds out the Electric Mayhem band, finishing off the set nicely.  She also has a paint variation packed in with the regular cases, similar to Zoot and Floyd.

The figures retail for around $9, and Target is putting them on the pegs right now.  Really.  There's a teenager with bad acne, day dreaming about Avril Lavigne while putting them on the peg at your local Target right this very second.  Go!  Go now!

"She loves me for my horn"

Packaging - ****
I give up.  There's never going to be bubble style single card packaging on the regular market that's collector friendly.  And if that's the case, then the next best thing is clamshells.

Yes, they can be tough to open.  Hey, it's called a knife.  Unless you're on an airplane, you should be able to come up with one.  They are very sturdy, and great for the MOCer's since they also store well.  They show off the figure nicely, and give additional surface area to the company to put in additional text and graphics on the inside of the insert.

Sculpting - ****
What a fantastic looking set of figures!  They've captured every one of these characters to the letter, even the difficult Janice.  I suspect some may have a little trouble with the whole Twiggy look, but that's the puppet's style.  Her expression is great, and with less leg and arm articulation than the others, they've still managed to pull of a great stance and pose.

Every one of the figures has a perfect expression and style.  Gonzo has that bright eyed innocence, Pepe his general bad self, and the Newsman looks like he just informed you of the latest breaking story.

The hand sculpts are all designed to work with the accessories, and the scale between these figures and the others in the line is extremely good.  The hands on Pepe have a new addition - small holes to allow the pegs on his accessories to be inserted.  That's a great solution, since his hands would have been far too small to hold properly scaled items. 

Paint - Janice, Gonzo, Pepe ***1/2, Newsman ****
I've heard some folks say that they have had bad paint applications, but my set of four have very few issues.  Considering the sheer number of colors, in combination with the extreme detail work, it's pretty amazing that these have so few problems.

There were a few stray marks on Janice's eyes, on her funky eye shadow.  But the small details on her, like the jewelry or belt, are done extremely well with no over spray, bleed or fuzzy definition.

I was particularly impressed with the work in the complex pattern of the Newsman's jacket, and the clean lines between the dark colors of Gonzo's tux and the white of his shirt and flower.  These are areas that can be hard to get just right, and they did a great job.  There may end up being quite of bit of debate over Gonzo's nose though.  There is some yellow paint ops included this time, and mine ended up with what looks like two yellow spots on his nose, with a large break between them.  That's not really the look they were going for, and hopefully by the Mega Gonzo we'll get a perfect nose.

Pepe is fairly good as well, although there's fewer colors and details on him.  I did end up with a stray white mark on the mouth, but otherwise all the colors were clean, consistent and well done.  His jacket zipper is even silver!

Whenever picking up figures like this with this much variety and detail, it's always a good idea to pay particular attention to the paint application on each one.  You should have no trouble finding ones that show off the exceptional work.

Articulation - Janice ***1/2, the rest ****
Poor Janice, slightly lower than the others again.  That's not really her fault, although it she ate a sandwich once in awhile she might not have such stick legs.  With thin legs and arms, her design reduces the number of points of articulation they could add.  She still has neck, ball jointed shoulders, wrists, waist, hips and ankles though.  Oh, and let's not forget the cut biceps!

Gonzo has neck, ball jointed shoulders, elbows, cut biceps, wrists, waist, hips, and knees. He's the leader of the pack when it comes to this category, and he's exceptional.  He can pose in tons of ways, even sitting, and this is really the current definitive Gonzo.

The Newsman is similar, but his neck is even a slight ball joint as well, giving him at least a little up and down movement.  He's missing the ankles and cut biceps though.

Pepe has similar joints, but with two extra arms those points really add up!  He has neck, four ball jointed shoulders, four elbows, four wrists, waist and hips.

The joints are well designed, and well hidden.  This entire series proves you can have plenty of articulation that actually works, and still have a great looking action figure.

Accessories - ****
Every one of these figures continues the tradition of excellent, well chosen and cool looking accessories.  Janice almost took a hit in this category, but then I opened my eyes a little wider and realized what she had going on...

Actually she has some seriously good accessories.  She has her guitar, with a very detailed sculpt and excellent paint ops.  There's also a large amp, bigger than Floyd's.  I suspect he's going to have some issues with that.  The guitar fits nicely in her hands, and she holds it up fine, but a guitar strap would have been nice.  Then there's her tambourine, and this was the accessory that pulled her score back up to four stars.  It actually works!  The little clappers around the outside are actually made of metal, and jingle together when you shake it.  Wow.  

There isn't any sort of 'but' with the other three figures.  The Newsman comes with his desk and back drop, and the wood grain sculpt on these has to be seen to be believed.  There are eight stickers that can be used on the back drop, although once you put them on they aren't going anywhere.  Swappable backgrounds would have been nice, but it's unreasonable to expect at this price point.

He also has his red, 'hot line' phone, and his dorky glasses.  Each of these has their own surprise!  The phone has a twisty cord, exactly like the real thing, but hopefully it won't end up all twisted up like mine always does.  And are you ready for this?  The glasses...get this...have lens!  Yep, rather than simply being empty, there are two thin lenses in there.  That's a level of detail that is simply astounding.  Double Wow.

Gonzo has only three accessories, but one is practically another figure.  That would be the love of his life, Camilla, who is sculpted to scale and looks great.  She also has two points of articulation at her ankles, which makes keeping her standing a breeze.  UPDATE - Camilla also has a neck joint!

Gonzo also has a box of chocolates for her, which opens, and his bright, shiny horn.  My horn has a small defect where it was removed from the tree, but overall his accessories looked great. 

That leaves Pepe.  Pepe is a small figure, as you might imagine a prawn would be.  He's taller than Rizzo, but a little less bulky.  And he comes loaded with extras.

There's his Muppets Tonight case - it could be a suitcase for him, although it's more a big lunch box to someone like Fozzy - and his hair dryer, with peg to fit into his hand.  His binoculars with strap also have a similar peg, and his articulation is such that he can hold the binocs up to his eyes.

To complete his lounging appearance, he has a pair of rubber slippers, a beach chair, and beach umbrella that a) attaches to the chair and can be moved forward and back and b) opens up and folds down.  Triple Wow.

Every figure also comes with a very basic stand, although you really don't need it for any of them.  I did end up using the one for Janice, just to be sure that she'd stay standing over the long haul on my shelf with her guitar in her hands, but it's more insurance than necessity.

Value - ***1/2
It's a little disappointing to see the price of the Muppets rise a buck over the last year, but considering the huge increases in other lines, I have to admit that it's not bad.  There aren't any other figures under $10 - $12 on the market today that give you this level of articulation, sculpting, paint ops and accessories.  To get four stars here, they'd still have to be eight bucks, but I'm more than happy to cough up $9 for a figure of this quality.

Overall - ****
Of the set, clearly I had some minor issues with  Janice.  She was the only of the four to have any paint application issues, I would have liked a guitar strap in there with her accessories, and she has the least articulation.  There's also something about her that just doesn't sit right - she seems like the odd muppet out.  Her design, especially around the face and head, doesn't seem to fit in particularly well with the rest of the line.  It's not really Palisade's fault, and it's probably more of a personal thing, so I'm not hitting her up on the overall score for it.  Besides, she's heads above most other lines, and as an overall wave this was the best we've seen in the Muppets series

Pepe, the Newsman, and Gonzo are all exceptional, with great sculpts, excellent accessories, and a ton of well done articulation.  Back when series 1 came out, I warned folks that this was a line they'd wish they had started early, and now I get regular emails looking for help finding series 2 and especially series 3 figures.  Folks are catching on to this line, and with the support of Target I'm hoping we see Palisades continue to make these figures a success for as many years as possible.

Where to Buy - 
Target is already getting them, and the Sam Goody family of stores (including Media Play) should have them soon.  If you're up in Canada, the Toys R Us stores there should stock them as well.  On-line:

- If you're looking just for the Janice repaint, that's a tough one, but even though TRU isn't carrying series 5 in stores, they are carrying them on-line.  And better yet, you can order the Janice repaint by herself!

- I received my set from Adam at Beans Toys.  The service and speed they provide is excellent, and I always know that if I order my Muppets through them, I'll have them right out of the gate.  The whole set cost $36, or you can buy the set of four with the Janice repaint instead of the regular Janice for $38.  They also have the pre-orders up for series 6 and the Pigs In Space playset.

- Aisle Sniper also has them in right now, also at $36 a set.  They have an additional option - you can buy a full case of twelve (with both the the regular and repaint Janice included) for $90.  If you have someone to share with, this is a great option. They also have pre-orders up for series 6 and 7.

- If you had been paying attention during my last Muppet review, I mentioned that the Janice repaint was up for pre-order at EBGames.  She's history now (although you can get the set of 4 for $35), but they have available the Clifford repaint for series six available for pre-order now.  Don't regret not ordering it again!



Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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