Mini-Muppets series 3
Bunsen, Beaker, Kermit, Scooter, Doglion, and Chef

We live in a wonderful time - a time of muppety goodness - all thanks to a company called Palisades. Sure, if it wasn't for Henson, we wouldn't have Muppets at all, but if it wasn't for Palisades, we wouldn't have the marvelous line that has set the standard for furry puppet action figures.

We didn't get just one line and a few play sets either. For those that like their toys big, we've been treated to the Mega Muppets, and for those who feel that size isn't everything, we've been treated to the mini-muppets.

It won't always be this way. One day, much sooner than any of us would like, someone else will make Muppet toys, someone with the heavy handed skill of a Hasbro perhaps. And the Muppet fans will weep for this fabled time, when there were more great toys than they could afford.

What's the point? The point is that the mini-muppets are something you should not be passing up. They might not be articulated, but they are some of the nicest PVC's I've ever seen. Palisades has been releasing series 3 through the Collector's Club and through their Palisades Direct store in sets of two. First there was Kermit and Doglion, then Bunsen and Beaker, and now finally Chef and Scooter. They sell for $8 each, and if you're a collector's club member, make sure you order there to get free shipping.

Packaging - ***
It's blue! It's also small and compact, just like the figures. It sports the usual nifty graphics, intelligent text, and fun design. Now they just need to make the decision to go with resealable packaging - similar to what the used for the logs - for the stuff they will be selling on their website. Hey, why not - no worries of theft!

Sculpting - Kermit, Chef, Bunsen ****; Scooter, Beaker ***1/2; Doglion ***
All six of these minis look great, but Kermit, Chef and Bunsen really stick out for me as exceptional work.

This Kermit could very well be the nicest Kermit I have in my entire collection. He's in a defining moment of his history, playing the banjo out in the swamp, sitting on a log. The proportions between his head, body and limbs seem right on, and the log/water base look absolutely terrific. There's a little wonkiness going on with his right foot sculpt and how it rests on the log, but considering the scale and the overall quality, I was able to overlook that minor flaw.

Bunsen Honeydew is another excellent sculpt. He's in another classic pose, and I don't even want to hazard a guess as to where he thinks he's attaching that jumper cable. Whenever Honeydew gave Beaker this look, you knew he should be running.

Chef is posed ready to cook something, preferably the chicken. He's holding a large pot under one arm, with his right hand sculpted to hold his spoon accessory in the air. They puppet skin texture, and detail work in his eyebrows and moustache are particularly impressive, especially in this scale.

The other three aren't quite as perfect, but still damn fine. Scooter has a great action pose, but his legs seem a little too long and childlike for my tastes. It doesn't help that I'm not a big Scooter fan to begin with. Beaker looks good, although the lack of a sculpted mouth this time - there's just an indent of the mouth line, painted red - hurts him on close inspection. However, he has two big pluses going for him. One, his head retracts into his body, just like it did whenever he was terrified, and two, the "don't come near me with that thing" pose works great with the Bunsen pose.

Doglion isn't bad, but does come out on the bottom of this pile. His sculpt is softer and less defined than the others, particularly with regard to his fur. Still, his pose is solid, and he's a hefty chunk of plastic. I also like his scale, and scale in general is good across the entire mini line up.

Paint - ****
This is some of the nicest paint work I've seen in this scale. There's a few spots here and there where there is some bleed, and a few lines that should be straight are actually squiggly, but that's only noticeable on close inspection. Just look at the photos and you'll see what I'm talking about, since these are all close ups. Even tough colors like white and black or white and green show very little bleed, and nice, clear definition. Colors are consistent and bright, and there's no sign of sticky paint anywhere. Honestly, I kept looking for issues, and couldn't find much of anything to even nit pick.

That's pretty critical here, since you have to buy these on-line, sight unseen. If the paint quality isn't top notch across the board, you might end up disappointed. From what I've seen so far - and I've seen at least a couple of every one of these - it looks like the quality is consistent.

Articulation - Bupkis
These are PVC's, and that means they ain't got joints. I won't hold that against them in the overall, since that's what I'm assumed they were, but felt it was important to mention it, in case any readers were unclear.

You could call Beaker's neck retracting feature a joint, but I already bragged about it in the sculpting section. His head does not turn however, only going up and down.

Accessories - Chef ***1/2; Scooter ***; Kermit, Bunsen and Beaker **1/2; Doglion Bupkis
Being PVC's usually means no accessories either, but here Palisades proves tradition wrong.

That is with the exception of Doglion, who does not have any accessories. Of course, Doglion is also huge, and heavy enough to kill a small mammal if aimed properly, so the fact that there are no accessories is not a huge surprise.

No, the big surprise is with figures like Chef, who comes with several accessories! First, there's his small stand, done like a tiled kitchen floor, which will help him stand. It's not necessary, but looks good due to the design. Then there's his spoon, which he can hold easily in his right hand. And finally, there's a chicken, which can fit in the pot, or you can give to the Mini-Muppet Gonzo to make him truly happy.

While the others don't fair quite as well as Chef, they do come with a few things. Scooter has his stand as well, along with his skateboard. The stand, board and figure snap together to create a great looking action pose, although I never remember Scooter being that coordinated.

Both Kermit and Beaker come with small stands, and both look great. Kermit's is actually part of his overall diorama, while Beaker's is merely intended to make standing easier.

Fun Factor - ***1/2
When I was a kid, I loved PVC's.  Figures don't have to have articulation to be fun, if they are sculpted in reasonable ways, and stand up well on their own.  This is particularly true of small figures, and any kid who loves the Muppets will love these.

Value - **
Eight bucks ain't cheap by any stretch of the imagination, especially for PVC's. But these have great detail and quality than others that sell for as much as ten bucks each, plus the run size is pretty limited right now. Unfortunately, demand just hasn't been high enough for them to produce tons, which would have driven the cost down to a more reasonable six bucks or so.

Overall - Kermit, Chef, Bunsen ***1/2; Beaker, Doglion, Scooter ***
These are some damn fine PVC's. At eight bucks each, they are definitely more expensive than anyone would prefer, especially considering that the early waves of full size Muppet figures were eight bucks. But prices are on the rise, and with series 9 retailing for $10 - $12, it's not surprising that these are more expensive than I'd like. Add to that the fact that you can't get them at any bricks and mortar retailers, and you have the perfect recipe for high prices.

It will be disappointing if this turns out to be the last wave of these minis, since the next wave of Electric Mayhem characters look so good. One can only hope that the demand for this set is high enough to warrant producing the next wave. 

Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpt - Kermit, Chef, Bunsen ****; Scooter, Beaker ***1/2; Doglion ***
Paint - ****
Articulation - Bupkis
Accessories - Chef ***1/2; Scooter ***; Kermit, Bunsen and Beaker **1/2; Doglion Bupkis
Fun Factor - ***1/2
Value - **
Overall - Kermit, Chef, Bunsen ***1/2; Beaker, Doglion, Scooter ***

Where to Buy - 
Head on over to either the Palisades Direct Store, or if you're a member, go to the Collector's Club, and pick up yours today. Or maybe sometime this week - I had it on good info that this set would be available in the store by today, but it hasn't gone up quite yet.  If this set sells well, we'll see series 4, which includes members of the Electric Mayhem!

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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