Christmas Carol

In January, I'll be running the People's Choice Awards once again for the best and worst of 2003.  I have a pretty strong hunch that Palisades is going to be high on the list of best companies for many people.

The second set of Mini-Muppets - small PVC figures based on the Muppets license - is now hitting on-line and bricks and mortar stores.  The first two sets were fairly general, but these two sets are based on the movie A Muppets Christmas Carol.

There are two boxed sets of three figures each.  One box contains Bob Cratchit with Tiny Tim (Kermit), the Marley (Statler) Ghost, and the skating penguins.  The second box contains the ghost of Christmas Present, Fozziwig, and the Waldorf Marley ghost.

Retail is around $15 a set again, however I have some suggestions at the end that might save you some cash.

Packaging - ***
The packaging is the same as the first two sets, very sturdy and quite easy to store due to its regular shape.  The window shows off the figures well, and the text and graphics are good.

Sculpting - ****
The sculpts are amazing once again.  The smaller scale usually translates to less detail, but not with this series.  All the little details are still there, and each character looks just like his film counterpart.

Since these are static figures, with no articulation, the choice of poses was crucial.  All six are good, although I'm happiest with the Cratchit/Tiny Tim and Fozziwig.  They match both the film and the personality of the characters perfectly.

If you haven't checked out the first two series, be aware that these aren't as small as the average PVC.  It's a happy medium between the larger scale, where we'd never get a big figure like the Ghost of Christmas Present, and yet it's still big enough to make all the characters a reasonable size.  I have a great comparison shot in the previous review, but the largest of these figures, like our jolly friend, are as large as the average Simpsons World of Springfield character.

There is one annoying aspect of the design this time around - the bases are round.  The first six figures in the line had square bases, and I really liked the look of them.  The round bases are less visually appealing, but I'm 99% sure that this was due to a Henson decision, and not Palisades.

Paint - ***1/2
The paint ops are an improvement over the first series, or that's what it looks like from the sets I received.

I had no errant paint marks, general sloppiness or excessive bleed between colors.  There's still minor issues, especially around the eyes and the very smallest detail work, but for PVC figures, the paint application is extremely good.

There's a lot of detail here, and if you want to check the ones on the shelf quickly, just look at Fozziwigs shirt or Tiny Tim's pants.  The number of colors and level of detail is quite surprising for PVC figures.

There is one issue I have with the paint, more from a design perspective than from a quality perspective.  The two Marley ghosts are more clear than the prototypes.  I really liked the ghostly white paint we saw on the early photos, and without it, these two lack the eye catching design of the originals.  They're okay, but because we saw how good they could have been, these seem much more plain.

Articulation - Bupkis
Did you really expect any?  These are billed as PVC's, but unlike something like the Clerks or Mallrats figures, don't cost $10 each.

Accessories - Bupkis
Another big goose egg, but another non-surprise. Considering that these are PVC's, neither of these categories will hurt the overall score too much.

While there aren't any accessories, it is worth nothing that both Waldorf and Statler's chains are real metal, and look fantastic.

Value - **1/2
I actually bumped the value score this time, because I was able to pick up the two sets together for only $25.  If you can find a deal like that, then these are getting into the much more reasonable range.

Overall - ***1/2
The overall score ended up boosted by a half star over the previous releases.  That's due to two things - better paint ops this time, and my generally warm and fuzzy feelings about the film.  It's one of my favorite Muppet films, and I'll even have the original poster up in my basement next month as part of my 'Christmas set' of posters.  I freely admit that my preference for this film has had some effect on my final overall score - your mileage may vary.

However, if your a fan of the film, you won't be disappointed in these six PVC's.  Shop around for the best deal, but don't pass them up.

Where to Buy - 
I expect that Media Play and Sam Goody will have these on the shelf any day.  On-line options include:

- is where I picked mine up, and they are only $25 plus shipping if you're buying both sets.

- Beans Toys has the two sets for $30, and they are in stock currently.


Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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