Premium Format Buffy

Buffy (and the spin off, Angel) was an excellent show, bringing wit and fun to a rather odd and unusual concept. Just like the current Veronica Mars, the show struggled to convince a wide market that a show with a young strong woman could actually be entertaining and enjoyable for viewers of all ages and genders It managed to hang in there for a great run of seven years though, and even managed to *almost* take away some Emmy's.

Sideshow has been doing figures in the sixth scale arena based on both Angel and Buffy for awhile now, but the new released of the quarter scale Premium Format Buffy is their first release in that scale. It won't be their last however, as Spike is coming to Premium Format in the first quarter of 2007.

They went with one of those odd looks for a character - one people recognize, but only because it was largely promotional. I don't believe she ever wore this outfit on the show, although it was used in promo shots (like this and this) for season one.

As usual, there's a regular edition of 550 (fairly low for most PF run sizes) and an exclusive version (reviewed here) of 350. Original retail is $250 on either, but you can find the regular slightly cheaper at a couple retailers (suggestions at the end of the review) right now. With such small run sizes though, and such serious fans, I don't expect Buffy will remain that price for long.

Packaging - **
She comes in a surprisingly small box, if you've gotten accostumed to the PF boxes. She's not as tiny as Leia (her base takes up more space), but she's certainly no Lurtz.

The artwork is passable, although not quite as striking as some past boxes. She's cradled nicely inside, and breakage is unlikely, although I know some folks have had issues with the hair. Check your's carefully when you receive it. Sideshow has also begun adding instructions to the outer box on what to do if you receive a damaged item, a nice customer service touch.

Perhaps most important, the figure on the box shows just what her eyes should look like - more about that later

Sculpting - ***
If I were judging this bust on the likeness to SMG's face alone - a very beautiful woman - I'd have given it at least another half star, maybe even a whole one. This is the best likeness we've gotten of the actress or the character, and the proportions of the face are perfect, including the nose, jaw line and shape. When you see this sculpt, you immediately recognize SMG.

Now, the look is a little sad. And I don't mean sad as in slang for bad, but rather that Buffy looks a bit depressed. Considering this version of the character is from the early days, when she often was very sad about the life forced upon her, that's not necessarily a bad thing, but it may not be everyone's cup of tea.

There's also a couple issues around the paint that alter the look, but they aren't the fault of the sculpt, and shouldn't be confused as such.

Like Leia, Buffy has some serious eyelashes. I'm so glad they've done this, even if they are a little thick, since at this scale painted eyelashes would look far too unrealistic. While they look large in photos, in person they fit the actual scale quite well, and add some realism to the appearance.

But it's not just the face I'm judging this figure on, it's the complete package. And there are a couple issues with the rest of the package that brings it down for me.

The biggest of these is the hair. The style is actually quite good, and matches up pretty well with the look from that season. However, this is very much statue hair, with very little definition or fine detail work in the texture. Take a look at the hair on Lurtz and then compare it to the hair on Buffy, and I think you'll see what I mean.

The did fix the 'flip' that was present at the bottom of the hair in the prototype, thankfully, and gave it a much more natural lay on her shoulders and back. Actually, in the promo shot this is based on, she actually had quite a bit of flip, thanks I'm sure to a good curling iron. While it might appear gravity defying, that doesn't mean a curling iron and hair spray can't make it so. But I think the statue looks better without it.

There's some decent texturing up on the top of the head too, but as the hair flows downward it looks more and more like a hunk of clay and less and less like actual hair.

I'm also left a tad cold by the general pose selected. It's not really battle ready, but it's not really at rest either. She appears to be moving forward with some resolute determination to do something, but I suspect a more action oriented design would have warmed my cockles a bit more.

Finally, there's the breasts, a subject of much debate ever since the prototype looked less like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and more like Busty Larue. They did tone down the cleavage a tad, and it also appears that there's more separation between the breasts. Still, there's something not quite right about them, although I haven't quite been able to put my finger on it. Insert your own joke here. In fact, when I reviewed some screen shots from season one, it actually looks to me like they are much more accurate than many are giving them credit for.

There are no nipples, for those of you who are interested in such things. I'm glad they skipped them too, since sculpted nipples in this tight of a dress would have made it appear as though she had her high beams on permanently, and that would be more than a bit distracting.

Paint - **
Some of the paint work here is outstanding, but there's enough issues to pull it down quite a bit.

While most of the paint is carefully and cleanly applied, it's one of those cases where the production work isn't doing all it can do to highlight the quality of the sculpt. The paint on the hair, while fairly accurate in color (capturing that dishwater blonde look is awfully difficult), is also fairly dull. It doesn't do much to improve on the less than exciting hair sculpt detail, and some of the highlights are actually slightly odd looking, particularly around the bottom.

The skin tone is a little more ruddy and suntanned than Buffy generally was, but it's consistent and smooth. The eyes look a little sleepy, with slightly closed lids, and they also have some of the mannequin effect, appearing less lifelike than, say, the PF Princess Leia eyes. However, the actual application is clean and neat, and the tough spots, like the makeup and lips, is quite well done.  Different finishes are used for the lips, skin and eyes, to give them all a more realistic appearance.

So where's the big problem?  It's that left eye.  Notice on the box how the eyes are nice and straight, both looking at the same object?  Not so in the production version, where the left eye is drifting off center. On top of that, between the paint and the application of the eyelash, the left eye seems a little more closed than the right, giving it both a sleepy and lazy look.  This one screw up really hurts an otherwise excellent Buffy head sculpt, and it's very disappointing considering the price point.  This could have easily been the defining Buffy figure, but the eyes are such a critical factor (they are always the very first thing you see), that this paint score is going to really hurt the overall.

The undies are painted on as well, not quite as neatly as the rest of the work but they probably assumed most people wouldn't see them. Right. And while I'm sure we're all adults here, I'm betting some other slightly less mature individuals may produce repainted versions that are going commando.

Outfit - ***
The outfit is pretty basic - tight knit polyester dress, high top black boots. Oh, and that G-string underneath. That's predominately paint though, with only the smallest sculpted edge line.

The boots are sculpted, with no mixed media parts. They're also sculpted as part of the leg, not as a separate piece attached to the leg. I would have preferred material boots, especially at this price point, but these do look mighty fine as is.

The dress is basic but fits perfectly. Nice and tight fitting, yet it doesn't ride up on it's own. I suspect you might actually be able to get the dress off completely if you tried hard enough, not the norm for a PF, but you'd have to stretch it out an awful lot, so I'd avoid it.

The low score here isn't because the outfit is awful, but rather that it's so basic. This is as close as you can get to a polystone statue and still call it a Premium Format figure as you can possibly get, and something extra would have been nice. The necklace perhaps, which I'm almost positive she wore during season 1.

And yes, as I mentioned earlier, I checked and she's wearing a G-string pair of panties, black. I only checked because I knew you perver...uh, readers, would want to know. I checked a second time just to be sure. I have no excuse for the third time.

Accessories -  Exclusive ***; Regular **
The exclusive wins out of course, since it has an additional accessory.

The regular version comes with a stake, Buffy's usual weapon of choice. It appears to have some soft metal properties to it, since I dropped it and bent the tip slightly, and was able to carefully bend it back Often, small thin details on polystone or resin statues and busts are done in pewter, to allow them some bend before breaking. I suspect that might be the case here. Either way, don't go using the stake to actually kill any vampires, even quarter scale versions.

The exclusive includes the Vampyre book, which is a bit played. We got this book in sixth scale with the very first release of Buffy figures from Sideshow years ago. It looks nice, but it's solid polystone. Give me a leather bound quarter scale book at this price, and I'd be ecstatic. Give me a resin version, and I'm just mildly pleased. I really would have rather seen an additional weapon here, even if they went with something that wasn't from the first season.

Value - **
The best you'll find the regular version is around $225, and the exclusive was only available through Sideshow at $250. That's steep, comparing with other PF's in the same price range. The costuming isn't as elaborate, and the accessories (even the book) are very basic. This is a PF that will only maintain it's value - and possibly rise - because of the low production run and the rabidity of the the normal Buffy fan. Had they produced this PF in higher quantities, I can guarantee that the price point on ebay would drop to a more reasonable $175.

Things to Watch Out For - 
Those heels! I had to spread her legs ever so slightly (I feel dirty just talking about it) to get the heels lined up, and sliding them down on the metal posts has to be a very carefully executed move, much like a double gainer off the high board. One slip, and you can break a heel.

Other than that, and paying attention to the obvious notion that you shouldn't drop polystone on concrete or tile or pretty much anything, and you should be good.

Overall - **1/2
This PF was going to get *** stars, even with the left eye issues and the price. It's a lot of money for what you're getting, considering the choice of costume and accessories. But then I checked out the Attackus statue.

Damn. That thing is smaller, has a poor likeness of Gellar, and costs over 300 clams. Ouch! The Sideshow version is a far better deal, although I think even it is overpriced. Still, even with it being a better, larger version than the overpriced Attakus statue, I bumped it down another half star.  I'm so disappointed with that left eye, that I just can't give her *** in good conscience.

I think the better overall deal is the Spike PF, even if he wasn't the main character of either Buffy or Angel. The character has a tremendous fan following, and the PF is much more complex in costume. The exclusive () also includes two heads, and of course, two heads are better than one. And unlike most Sideshow releases, there is ONLY the exclusive version, no regular release. And the best news? He's still not sold out, so you can snag one now.

Oh, and speaking of the Attakus version, that two is based right off a promo shot for season 1 - check it out!

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***
Sculpt - ***
Paint - **
Outfit - ***
Accessories - Exclusive ***; Regular **
Value -  **
Overall - **1/2

Where to Buy - 
If you're looking for the exclusive version, you'll have to get on the waitlist at Sideshow (). For the regular version, you have some online options:

- normally, I'd direct you to Time and Space Toys for your Buffy merchandise, as they carry just about everything. But the PF's are already sold out through them - they're also sold out through Dark Shadow, a sign that the limited number will make them tough to get long term.

- Amazing Toyz still has their pre-orders up at $225.

- CornerStoreComics still has pre-orders open at $225.

Related Links:
I've reviewed an awful lot of Buffy merchandise over the years, but here's some of it:

- in the Sideshow line, I've reviewed Vamp Darla, Vamp Buffy, Willow, the original Buffy and Angel, Faith, and the Gentlemen.

- there's also plenty of this 6" line from DST and MAC, including the Chose Xander/Wish Cordelia, 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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