Muppets Series 8
Sam The Eagle, Movie Usher Scooter,
Marvin Suggs, and Dr. Phil Van Neuter


When Palisades first started producing the Muppets figures, the assortments were all from the original Muppet Show.  That's where the license started, but then it was expanded to include other shows and films.

That means we get figures from a much wider range of Muppety goodness, and series 8 is the perfect example of that diversity.  There's the nutty scientist Dr. Phil Van Neuter from Muppets Tonight, the ever vigilant Sam the Eagle from The Muppet Show, the movie usher version of Scooter from Muppets Take Manhattan, and the musical Marvin Suggs and his Muppephones from The Muppet Show.

There are two variants this time which I don't have quite yet.  There's the 'shifty eyed' version of Sam, with his pupils painted off to the side, and the repainted Marvin Suggs.  Both of these ship within regular cases, but at only one each per case.

Packaging - ***1/2
They're clamshells - and you know I love dem clamshells.

Everything you expect on the insert is there:  good photos, credits, amusing text, nice graphics.  We get actual Muppet photos on the front sticker as well, so you can compare.

Sculpting - ****
The sculpting on this overall wave is truly impressive.  There's a couple standouts, but in general, the work is excellent.

The skin has the usual texture, giving it that puppet flesh appearance, and all the small detail work - buttons, wrinkles, hair, feathers, is amazing.  In particularly, the puffy shirt of Marvin shows some really great detail and style.

All four expressions are fairly appropriate, particularly Sam and Phil's.  The open mouthed, expression of innocence on Scooter is very similar to his past version, but with smaller glasses.  This minor change really does improve on what was already a great looking figure.

Sam is stern, and comes with a closed beak this time.  Phil looks puzzled or simply goofy, and that's fairly fitting.  Finally, there's Marvin, playing his Muppephones with a grin.

If there's one thing to pick at for this wave it's scale.  Not that it's necessarily wrong, just unexpected perhaps.

Usher Scooter is slightly smaller than his previous version, both in height and heft.  Sam is pretty much dead on though, and matches extremely well with his previous versions in size.

Marvin seems small, although this might be absolutely correct.  He matches up closer to Scooter than someone like Johnny Fiama for example.

And on the other end of the spectrum is Phil, who towers over even Beaker.  He seems large, almost a different scale figure, but again, that might be puppet accurate.

Paint - Sam ***; Marvin **1/2; Scooter, Phil  **
Unfortunately, the paint ops don't manage to hold up to the rest of the line.

It's not that they are sloppy.  In fact, the application on all four was extremely neat and clean on mine.  Very little slop, great definition between colors, and no bleed, even with complex operations like Marvin's shirt or Phil's messy clothes.

In fact, had the other two issues not existed, these would have been four star paint ops.  And what are those two issues?  Gloss and tackiness.

On all four figures, there are areas that use softer plastic.  Actually, the plastic seems softer all around, but certain spots - Phil's apron and lower sleeves, Marvin's shirt, Scooter's jacket, Sam's neck feathers - are made of the much softer, rubbery material.

The paint on these areas is all very tacky and sticky right out of the package.  I'm not sure if that's due to it curing incorrectly on this softer material, but it's definitely noticeable.  And sticky figures drive me nuts.

The second issue is gloss.  Sam is the only one that seems to avoid the problem of the four, and he has the normal matte finish of the other figures.

Marvin, Scooter and Phil all have very glossy finishes.  On Marvin's shirt, this wouldn't be too big of a deal, and would actually look fine.  But it's on his face, and Scooter and Phil's face, that it really is obvious, especially when standing next to previous Muppets.

Check out the comparison photos with the two Scooters, or Phil with Beaker and Bunsen.  It's not the gloss paint on the clothing (except in Phil's case), but the faces.  This isn't something we've seen on past figures.

In Phil's case, his very glossy clothes also stand out when he's with Bunsen and Beaker.

I also hit up Sam a bit for his 'frosted donut' feathers.  They went for a specific look, and *almost* made it, but didn't quite capture it.

Your figures may vary, as mine are from very early in the run.  We can hope that the shininess was corrected, as well as the sticky nature of some of the figures before the run was completed.

Articulation - Phil, Scooter ***1/2; Sam, Marvin ***
The articulation is very good in general for this style of figures, and you won't be disappointed.  Still, some have better or more useful articulation than others.

Sam has neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, ankles, and legs.  The articulation has a pretty limited range of movement though, especially the elbows and wrists, although you'll be able to get him into some good 'podium' poses.

Marvin has more than Sam, including neck, shoulders, elbows, waist, wrists, hips, knees and even ankles. The ankles and elbows are very restricted though, and I had a tougher time keeping him standing than I do with most Muppet figures.  He has a ball jointed neck, but it doesn't work quite as well as Scooter or Phil's.

Speaking of which, Scooter has a very cool ball jointed neck that works terrific.  You can pose his head at all kinds of angles, with a great range of motion.  He also has ball jointed shoulders, cut biceps, elbows, wrists, and waist.  He's articulated just as you'd expect the usual Muppet figure to be.

Same thing for Dr. Phil.  He has another great ball jointed neck, along with ball jointed shoulders, cut biceps, elbows, wrists, waist, hips, knees and ankles.  Again, some of the joints are very restricted, like the knees and ankles, but overall he's got some great posing possibilities.

Be very careful with all the joints at first though, especially the wrists.  On characters like Phil or Marvin, it's very easily to accidentally break the pins when they are painted tight. 

Accessories - ****
Every one of these figures has a tremendous set of accessories.

Scooter only has one, but it's huge and very accurate.  It's a movie popcorn popper and cart.  I need one just like it in my basement for watching movies!

Marvin comes with his set of Muppaphones and stand, and a pair of mallets to hit them with.  They have to be willing to feel pain for their music!

Sam has a copy of the Declaration of Independence, a great book on Standards and Practices with a speech on nudity written inside, a properly scaled podium, and four different stickers than can be applied to the front.  They are stuck to a round, separate piece of the podium, held on with a magnet.  Having trouble picking which sticker to use?  Then keep the piece of plastic packaging that holds them in place in the bubble, and use it to hold the stickers on the front!  I'm not sure if that was the plan or not, but even if it wasn't it turned out to be a pretty nifty touch.

Finally, there's Dr. Phil.  He comes with two Erlenmeyer flasks, three round flasks of differing sizes and styles, a stand to hold the flask over a bunsen burner, a clock with movable hands and a clip to hold it on a wall, and a container of milk from Camilla Farms.  These accessories will go great with the Muppets Lab playset, and all look amazingly accurate.

Fun Factor - ****
These continue to be some of the most fun figures on the market today.  Great sculpting and design, solid articulation, and some of the coolest accessories around make them fun for kids of any age.

Value - ***
If you can find these for $8-$9 or less, then you're doing well.  That's the level I'm scoring these at, and while not an amazing value, it's still fairly good considering how quickly figures of less quality are hitting the $13 - $15 range.

Overall - Phil ***1/2; the rest ***
This series scores lower in general for me than past series, and it's all because of the paint.  I hate sticky figures, and the glossy appearance of several of the faces bugs me as well.

Perhaps you'll have different results, as it's possible these things were corrected as the run continued.  Still, I can only judge based on what I've seen at this point.

With both Toys R Us and Target out of the picture now, I suspect that this run will be fairly small.  In other words, don't wait around for these to end up on clearance, but pick them up right out of the gate.

With fewer retailers, it's also important to show those remaining that the demand is there for Series 9.  If you're a big fan of this line, do it a favor and pre-order these now.

Where to Buy - 
This wave is not one you're likely to see in many stores.  The wave also sold out to retailers from Palisades very early on, so what's shipped is shipped, and that's it.  That means if you are picking these up, do it sooner rather than later.  On-line options include:

- Clark Toys has them listed at $10 each, or $40 for the set, and they are having a 5% off all Muppet stuff sale right now.  Just use coupon JULY0405 when checking out!

- Killer Toys has the set of FIVE (including the repaint Marvin) for $45!  They also have them available individually for $10, or the set of just four for $37.  And you can preorder the whole set of series 9 including both shortpacks for just $60!

- EB Games has them for $9 each, or $32 for the set of four, OR $40 if you include the variant Marvin.

- Aisle Sniper has the set of wave 8 available for $40, and pre-orders available for Series 9.

- Southern Island has the set of four for $50.  They also have pre-orders available for series 9.


Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

This page copyright 2003, Michael Crawford. All rights reserved. Hosted by 1 Hour