Charmed Series 1: Phoebe by SOTA

Toy Show Excursion Week continues and today it takes a weird left turn with a couple of the odder purchases I made. Yeah, two of the in-package figures I got were from SOTA’s Charmed series. I had no idea what they were at first, having never seen the show, but when I saw the SOTA Toys logo, I went crazy looking through this dealer’s stuff, hoping to find some SOTA Street Fighter in there. Everything on this guy’s table was marked at $5 or less. But, alas, no. The bulk of his wares were an odd mixture of some more McFarlane figures, a bunch of Power Rangers, and lots and lots of carded Phantom Menace figures. Nothing else held any interest for me, but I did wind up buying the Charmed figures. I’m not gonna lie, I was going to flog them on Ebay, because they aren’t terribly common and they usually go for about twenty bucks each.

Unfortunately, when I got them home I saw that they each come with parts for a playset/diorama and I got to thinking how cool it would be to have those for my Doctor Who figures, especially the Attic one, which when complete looks like it would be just big enough to put the TARDIS in, and maybe if it seemed cool enough I could find the other figures to finish it up. So, unfortunately, the figures each come from two different series, which build two different displays, which means that to complete them both, I’d be looking at getting six more figures. Sigh.

We’re going to start with the Series 1 figure, Phoebe. So, I gather this show is about three hot chicks who happen to be witches and fight evil? I probably should have done this yesterday on Halloween. Anyway, I’ve seen adverts for the show and it always struck me as being very Buffy-ish. I dig Buffy a lot, but I never tried watching this one, so I’m going to have to skip any commentary on the source material and get right to the figure.

The packaging isn’t bad, although it’s mostly functional and lets the product speak for itself. You get a massive bubble on a cardback. The bubble has to be huge to hold the base and accessories, which honestly uses a lot more plastic than the actual figure does. The back of the card shows the four figures in this series and the completed display. The figures shown on the back are earlier prototypes, missing most of the articulation in the final products, but they give you a good idea of what else was available in the series.

According to IMDB, Phoebe was played by Alyssa Milano. As a child of the 80’s I certainly know who she is, but is the likeness here a hit? Hmmm. Not really. The head sculpt is a bit too angular. If you showed me all three figures, I could probably have picked this one out as Milano, but I wouldn’t have bet on it. That having been said, it’s still a fairly attractive head sculpt with good paintwork. The hair seems like it might have been sculpted in a separate piece, but either way it works.

The figure’s body is a pretty solid effort. She’s wearing a denim half-jacket, a white boob tube, sandals, and what look to be leather pants. The jacket is sculpted as a separate piece, although it seems to be permanently attached to the figure. The little details here are good. She has some subtle muscles sculpted into her midriff, and you can see some stitching on her jacket and pants. Phoebe hands are sculpted so she could hold something, but she also comes with a second pair of swappable hands that are more open. I kind of prefer the second set. I don’t have many complaints, but in the end, Phoebe is just a figure of a girl in regular clothes. Not that exciting for someone who hasn’t seen the show.

The paintwork on my figure was tacky out of the package. Actually, to be more specific, the brown paint on her belt and on her sandals was tacky and even came off a bit on my hands. Apart from that, the paint on the figure is quite good. Painted flesh tones can often come away smudged and dirty, but hers is pretty clean. The only problem is that it does flake off a bit near her joints when you pose her. There’s a gloss black used for her pants, and even her individual fingernails and toenails are painted. All in all, this is a good looking figure.

All of Phoebe’s articulation is from the waist up. The neck is ball jointed, the arms have ball joints in the shoulders, swivels in the biceps and wrists, and hinged elbows. The figure can also swivel at the waist. From the waist down, she’s totally static, and since the bottoms of her feet aren’t even and there are no joints to tweak, it’s hard to get her to stand. It’s kind of a shame that SOTA went through all the trouble of crafting such a great looking figure, giving her solid articulation for her upper half and then skimping out on the legs. A couple of simple cuts in the hips and knee hinges would have gone a long way.

Phoebe includes one of four pieces needed to complete the Attic display base, although it’s designed so that it could be used to display the figure by itself. I’ve got to hand it to SOTA, this is one impressive extra. It comes in two pieces, so you just have to secure the wall to the floor. There are screws included, but they really aren’t necessary. The wall includes a stained glass window in semi-translucent plastic and a chest of drawers with a box on top of it. The floor has a partial rug painted onto it. Both the floor and the furniture are wonderfully sculpted with wood grain patterns. You can actually see all the floorboards. It’s really nice work! You also get a book stand and a spell book.

In the end, this figure is pretty good, but the extras are fantastic. It seems crazy to me that SOTA put so much work into this line. I know the show ran for a while, but to go all out like this for what they had to know would be niche collectibles even by action figure standards. I’d kill to get a piece-together display like this in one of the figure lines I collect. Hell, look at what I went through to finish the Hall of Justice! Unfortunately, I’m now faced with the decision on whether or not to hunt down the other three figures in this series. I can take or leave the figures, but for some reason, I really want to build this fricken Attic. In the end, though, I think the high prices of the figures will keep me in check.

Tomorrow, we’ll check out the Series 2 figure, Piper.

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