Sesame Street
Super Grover

When Palisades announced last fall that their amazing line The Muppets was coming to a slow end in 2005, there were a lot of collectors - myself included - who were truly bummed.

So how can you cheer up a disheartened Muppet fan?  Tell them you're doing Sesame Street figures!  Palisades picked up the license for the beloved characters of kids and adults alike, and the very first figure to be released in the line is their 'tour exclusive' Super Grover.

A tour exclusive is one that Palisades takes to every show they do this year, so many collectors will get a chance to pick him up in person.  The Collectors Club will also have him though, so that no one need miss out.

Who is Super Grover?  Oh c'mon, you remember!  By day, he was mild mannered Grover Kent, reporter.  But when trouble called, he jumped into a phone booth and became - Super Grover!

Series 1 will hit by summer, and includes Ernie, the Two Headed Monster, Oscar the Grouch, and Guy Smiley.  They are planning two versions of the figures - one will be mass market, one will be specialty market.

I haven't heard if the mass market figures are a done deal yet, but they would be the same figure but with simpler, basic accessories.  This will be at a lower cost than the specialty market versions.

The specialty market version may cost more, but it will also include a chunk of the street, facade style.  For example, if you buy the specialty market versions of series 1, you will be able to build the area of Sesame Street located near Oscar's can, which has the doors and is essentially the front area of Big Bird's nest. Cool, huh?

Packaging - ****
I have given this box a perfect score, although it's not quite perfect.  First, it's huge.  This isn't a bad thing though, since it has to contain the large phone booth.  It is huge though, much larger than you'll expect.

The back is rather plain, at least in comparison to the front.  However, the graphics of the figure are good, and there's some nice text explaining SG.  But it's really the front of the box that blew me away.

Check out that artwork!  Yes, it does look like a familiar style - Alex Ross did the cover art for Palisades.  How cool is that?  I suspect I'll use the word 'cool' a lot in the coming months with this line.

For the uber-completists, it's worth noting that Grover actually comes packed in the box in two different ways.  He is either dressed as Super Grover or as Grover Kent, and there are even numbers of each.  However, you won't know what you're getting before you get it, since they are packed inside a white mailer box with no markings either way, so getting one of each might be tough.  Thankfully, I only needed one packaged.  Hey, that's sick enough.

Sculpting - ***1/2
I was really torn on this score - I SOOOO wanted to give him four stars, long before I ever had him in my hands.

The fur is excellent, with a nice depth and sharpness to the texture.  The hand sculpts match up with the character well, and both head sculpts look perfect.  The proportions are great, and Bill Mancuso (the sculptor) did a terrific job transferring a plush character into a solid version.  It's a little weird seeing him standing, but I got used to it very quickly.

I have two complaints that kept him from a perfect score.  The first revolves around the soft plastic of his arms.  When I had the coat on, I almost thought that there were cut joints at the upper arms, they were that soft.  They turned too easily, and I think that the shoulder joints will tear or break if you're not very careful.  When your moving the shoulders, especially when you have the coat on and can't see the joints, but careful!

My second problem is with the eyes.  I had a Grover puppet in the 70's, and he had convex eyes.  Not extremely rounded, but rounded a little bit.  Even the photo of the Grover on the back of the box appears to have slightly rounded eyes.  But the final version has flat eyes that almost look like stickers, with no depth at all.  

Paint - ****
When it comes to the paint, I have no nits to pick.  The blue is just as I imagined, very bright and very blue.  They've used a lighter color to reverse highlight the fur, and it works great.

All the lines are very clean, and the colors are consistent and bright.  The eyes are perfectly matched, and the lines around the Super Grover emblem show no bleed or slop.

Articulation - ***
Grover isn't quite as articulated as many of the Muppets figures, but he's still decent.

He has ball jointed shoulders, and I already mentioned that you need to be careful with those.  He also has a neck joint, but it's just cut, not a ball.  It works well though with swapping the two heads.

He also has cut hips that allow you to find the sweet spot to keep him standing, but that's about it.  There aren't a ton of posing possibilities, but there's a few good options.

The arms are bendy, although you have to be very careful with the weak shoulders.  You can get the arms to take some pretty interesting positions, and it makes him perfect for Robot Chicken.

Accessories - ****
Grover comes with everything you need to make the transformation from Grover Kent to Super Grover.

There is two heads, one with a closed mouth and wearing the hat and glasses that every alter ego requires, along with a terrific trench coat.  The coat includes the shirt and tie at the top, all done as one piece.  These are sewn together perfectly, so that you won't have to monkey with them to get the look just right.

The coat has a velcro back, which is a little too big and bulky, but is only visible from behind.  The coat comes off fairly easily, and the stitching and materials are top quality.

The Super Grover head includes his helmet sculpted on, and pops on the neck post easily enough.  He also has his cape, which can be tied at the neck with a VERY long pair of strings, and has two loops for his wrists.  This is another area for care - when stretching the loops over the hands, be sure you aren't pulling them at the cape where they could tear free.

Finally, there's the telephone booth.  It includes a telephone of course, and the door to the booth opens and closes. It's not perfectly smooth, but I managed to open and close it plenty of times without any major issues.

There is a sticker for the numbers on the phone, and you'll want to check to make sure it's applied well.  One of mine was just about ready to fall off.

Fun Factor - ****
If you know some older kids that still love Sesame Street, this figure would be a ton of fun.  The booth probably won't hold up to much extreme play, so 3 and 4 year olds would destroy it pretty quick.  But the figure himself can hold up to rough play, and the swapping heads and costumes will be fun for kids of all ages, including mom and dad.

Value - ***
Keep in mind that Grover is a show exclusive, and not a figure that you'll pick up off the local pegs, and you can see that his price matches up pretty well with the usual show exclusive at $20.  Considering the quality of the accessories, something that's pretty rare with show exclusives, and the fact that this is the only version of Grover currently planned, and the value score goes up above average.

Overall - ***1/2
When I saw photos of Grover, I really expected him to be a four star figure.  He's awfully close, but I still had a handful of minor issues that held him back from the holy grail.  Still, he's an excellent figure, looks great with the other Muppets on my shelf, and will do a terrific job of getting people juiced for the release of the first series.  

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

Where to Buy - 
You can pick this up at any show that Palisades attends this year, including this weekend's Wizard World in L.A.  You will also be able to buy it through the Collector's Club sometime within the next week or so.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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