For toys based on the Muppets, the Palisades line casts an extremely long shadow. Having been on a toy forum for over ten years, I’ve frequently seen it come up in “favorite toy line” threads. The figures themselves are highly sought after even after so many years, with many of the harder-to-get pieces fetching big, big numbers on eBay.
For me, the Palisades line is one of those “known unknown” things. I know about it, I’ve seen pictures of the toys, and I’m well aware of the awe in which it’s held by those who were collecting it. Unfortunately, I can’t count myself among their number. The line came out at a time where I was very tunnel vision in my toy collecting. The Palisades line was all but over before I knew about it, and like many other lines that I would have probably thrown money at, the time to jump aboard had passed me by.
So I was very happy to hear that Diamond Select was going to be tackling a brand new Muppet line. I’d have a chance to get in on the ground floor this time, and I wasn’t going to let the opportunity slip by. So while I know for many it’s impossible to look at these figures without measuring them against Palisades, for me I can’t make those comparisons because I’ve never even held a Palisades Muppet in my hands.
That frees me up a little to take these for what they are, instead of for what they may or may not be. I’m not sure if that’s better or worse, but it is what it is.
The initial wave of Muppets is technically three figures, but essentially you get seven figures in three packages, depending on how you view things. For me, I look at it as seven figures just to justify the price per unit. Basically, you’re getting a lot of empty space in the large Diamond Select packaging because these are fairly tiny figures. Diamond has said that they scaled them to their other figures, meaning they are in scale to the rest of the Diamond Select line. I believe this makes them smaller than the Palisades, but, again, I don’t have one to set beside another, so they are what they are to me.
The main character of package number one is Kermit the Frog, who also comes with Bean Bunny and Robin the Frog. Kermit’s thin limbs were initially terrifying to me, as I was almost positive the things would snap like matchsticks when I tried to move them. Luckily I only had a single stuck shoulder on mine that freed up just by pushing it in a little bit, resulting in a satisfying crack that signaled he was free to move.
For being such a scrawny guy, Kermit has a ton of useful articulation, most of which will still make you feel a bit paranoid while moving his limbs even after you’ve done so several times. He’s got hinges everywhere: neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, and ankles. Most of them are the swivel-hinge type that serve double duty, which means he can cross his arms and legs and the joints themselves don’t take up much real estate, leaving him with fairly minimal “damage” to his sculpt, if that’s a thing. Where the slight paranoia that something will break is definitely there, it’s balanced by the fact that he looks great in a ton of poses. You can almost see the hand up his butt and the rods moving his arms.
The sculpt is very minimal. He’s got a slight texture to his torso and head, and his arms and legs are smooth. This seems appropriate for Kermit and the end result is that he’s well-articulated, looks good, and feels like Kermit.
Robin and Bean are less articulated, but they still squeeze in a decent amount since they’re basically pack-ins. Bean has a cut joint in his head, shoulders and wrists, and a V-cut crotch. Robin has cuts at his neck, shoulders and hips, meaning he’s the least articulated of the two. The articulation in his legs doesn’t end up amounting to much, but you can get a decent amount of expressiveness out of his head and shoulders so he’s not totally static.
For accessories, Kermit comes with a guitar, banjo, stool, log and director’s chair. It takes a bit of fiddling, but he can hold what he needs to hold and sit on what he needs to sit on and look good doing it. Overall very well worth it.
Next up is a little lighter in the character department. Not that Gonzo is short of character, but where the Kermit set netted you three unique characters, you’re only going to get two in Gonzo’s package, and that’s stretching the definition of a lot of things. Fortunately, what he lacks in characters he makes up for in accessories.
First let’s start with Gonzo. The weirdest-looking Muppet of all gets a nice amount of articulation that, while not as impressive as Kermit’s, still allows him to get into a very wide range of poses. He has a ball-jointed neck, hinged shoulders, swivel-hinge elbows, pegged wrists, hinged hips, swivel-hinge knees, and what is basically double-swivel-hinge ankles . . . or something. Frankly, the various names for joints nowadays can get confusing, but it’s an upward peg going into the pant cuff, with the lower joint going into the shoe — the type of joint most Marvel Legends figures have now. So yeah . . . that kind. What all this means is that Gonzo is satisfying. His purple tuxedo looks great and has a decent amount of flexibility at the bottom so he’s not locked in place. And underneath the tux, he has a waist swivel for even more motion in his ocean.
Camilla, on the other, hand is a big chunk of plastic. All she’s going to do is stand there and look pretty, but I guess that’s all she ever did so there’s probably no surprise there.
The accessories have to make up for it, so Gonzo does come with a lot. He comes with a stage light, a cup of coffee, a bag of popcorn (non-edible), an easel with sign (don’t toss the sign like I almost did; it’s in the bag taped to the inside of the package), and a horn. Don’t make me make a “Gonzo’s horny” joke here. You might feel like you’re not quite getting your money’s worth with this set due to Gonzo being the only real “action” figure, but the accessories make up for it if you’re into that kind of thing, and I guess you can count Camilla as an accessory, although I wouldn’t do it to her face.
The Fozzie/Scooter package is by far the most fulfilling of the three, mainly because you get two full, complete and fully articulated figures in this package. Also, Fozzie being possibly my favorite Muppet doesn’t hurt.
Of the two, Scooter probably has the better articulation. Not that Fozzie is really hurting, but there are a few points that could be better on him, so for this one Scooter definitely wins. He has a hinged neck and shoulders, swivel-hinge elbows and wrists, torso swivel, DCUC-style hips, swivel-hinge knees, and the same type of double-swivel joint that Gonzo had. This is a very decently articulated figure for his size, and allows you to do a lot with him.
Fozzie has a hinged neck and shoulders, swivel-hinge elbows and wrist, hips, and ankles. He has no knee articulation, which is understandable due to the length of his legs. However, the bend on his wrists is severely bad. He gets maybe a few degrees of upward motion in them due to the nature of the sculpt. The right arm is almost below-ok, but the left arm is even worse, to the point where it barely qualifies as articulation. A bit more contouring could have alleviated a lot of this issue. It’s not a deal-breaker — especially since the total package features two decent figures — but it does subtract some points.
But they do both look great. Fozzie has a subtle fur sculpt that gives him just enough texture without overdoing it, and Scooter looks like he stepped off the screen. This is definitely my favorite package of the three. For accessories, they come with a rubber chicken, a clapper, false nose/glasses, and a bullhorn. The false nose and glasses slide right on Fozzie’s face and stays there fine. His hat will give you constant issues unless you find something sticky to keep it on as I did, because as-is it just sits on top of his head and will drop off if a gnat farts in his vicinity.
Wave 1 of the Diamond Select Muppets has started off on a pretty strong note with a few minor glitches that could be improved. While they may not match up to the Palisade’s figures in many minds, if you’re not going in with a bias, you can’t really go wrong starting this brand new line.