The Muppets (Wave 1) by Diamond Select, Part I: Grover and Camilla

“It’s The Muppet Show, with our very special guest…” Growing up hearing those words meant about 25 minutes of sheer bliss was about to be unleashed on our household. I was about seven years old when The Muppet Show was in full stride, right around 1979 and let me tell you, it was event programming in my house. It truly was great family television, because there was something for everyone. My brother and I watched it for the Muppets craziness and my parents watched it for the guest stars and musical numbers. My father would even pop popcorn. It was a magic time and produced many wonderful family memories. And while I would have killed for some actual Muppet puppets as a kid, the only Muppet toys I ever had were those little figures from Fischer-Price with the big white sticks coming out of their backs. As if to pour salt into the wound, Palisades introduced their epic line just a year or two before I got back into toy collecting and I missed out on that. When Diamond Select announced their new line, I was pretty excited and instantly sold. I’m going to be looking at all of Wave 1 over the next three days and just to warn you, today will get a little long-winded. Let’s start with Gonzo and Camilla…

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Diamond Select has been doing figures for a long time, but apart from one of their Classic Star Trek sets with Kirk and Khan, I’ve never actually bought any. Yeah, that even surprised me. I’ve come close to picking up some of their Marvel Select figures and some Universal Monsters, but never got around to pulling the trigger. As such, this packaging is a new experience to me. It certainly is impressively HUGE for what are in this case some pretty small figures. The figures and accessories come spread out in a tray under a giant bubble, allowing you to see everything you’re getting. Also… Disney? I honestly had no idea that Disney owned The Muppets now, but I guess I should have because they own everything. A folded illustrated cardboard spine offers some great pictures of Gonzo and Camilla, so you could line these up on a shelf and know exactly who is in which package. Of course, none of this amazing presentation makes much sense when you have to destroy it to get to the figures. Nothing here is collector friendly, and all of the packages seemed to be pretty rough just from being on the shelf at the store. All this plastic and cardboard seems rather wasteful for something that I’m betting most people are just going to throw out. And considering all the accessories, keeping these mint-in-package makes even less sense to me than doing it with their Marvel figures. But hey, to each their own.

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As I already mentioned, these are pretty small figures, with Gonzo measuring about 3 1/2-inches tall. If I were buying these without any foreknowledge, I probably would have been surprised when I got them. Diamond Select’s figures are usually sizable and the $21 price tag can cause sticker shock if not for all the extras in the package. Yes, I consider Camilla more of an extra than an actual figure, but more on her in a bit. Now, with all that having been said, I think the scale works for a couple of reasons. One, it does allow for more accessories, especially some of the big stuff coming in the second assortment, like Animal’s drums and Statler and Waldorf’s balcony. And who knows? Is a playset or two too much to hope for? Secondly, it will allow for bigger characters, like Sweetums, without having to break the bank. Finally, and this applies more to DST than us the consumer, it would make no sense for DST to adhere to the Palisades scale because then collectors would just be cherry-picking what Palisades didn’t get around to doing, instead of starting over. With all that out of the way, let’s turn our attention to little Gonzo.

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The sculpt here is pretty spot on, with Gonzo sporting his trademark tuxedo, complete with bow tie and flower on the lapel. Gonzo adopts many different outfits, but this is the one I would call his standard look. I couldn’t have asked for more out of the portrait, at least not in this scale. His mouth is partially open. which I suspect will be the consistent look for all the Muppets throughout this line. The eyes are on point and while the wispy hairs that protrude from the real Muppet’s head are a lot heavier handed here in plastic, they still convey the look just fine for my tastes. What’s also cool is that Gonzo’s tiny body manages to employ a good deal of articulation. Rotating hinges are the running theme here, as they appear in his shoulders, elbows, knees, and ankles. The hips are ball jointed, the wrists swivel, and there’s even a waist swivel buried under that tuxedo jacket. The neck is ball jointed, but really only allows for rotation, which is easily the most disappointing thing about the figure’s articulation. Yup, as far as the sculpt goes, I’m pretty happy with what we got.

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The paint on my figure is pretty solid, at least to the naked eye. Keep in mind, Gonzo is shorter than your standard Star Wars figure and closeup shots of figures this small don’t usually do the paint any favors. That having been said, my figure only has a couple of nagging issues, like a weird yellow smudge on the back of his head and the fact that the purple along his mouth could be sharper where it meets the blue fur. Yeah, I’m nitpicking, especially when I’ve heard horror stories from some other collectors about horrible paint on some of these figures. Maybe I got lucky. Bottom line: The sculpt is great, the paint is solid. I like this figure a lot and he’s pretty fun to play with.

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Camilla, as I already mentioned feels more like an accessory than a figure.  I was hoping for a little articulation here, like swivels in the feet and a rotating head, but she’s a totally static piece. The sculpt is good, and again the paint looks fine with the figure in hand. Except the eyebrows. I don’t know where they were going with that blue paint. There’s nothing really wrong with her as far as non-poseable plastic chickens go, but despite her name being on the package, she feels more like a piece of window dressing. And that brings us to… accessories!

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Gonzo comes with a rather odd mix of accessories, and by that I mean that only a few feel like they really belong to him. Now, I get the feeling this line is going to treat accessories (as much as the characters) as universe building blocks. You only need look at the packages to realize that. And as such, there’s stuff in this packet that becomes a lot more fun when you heap it all together with the others. For example, you get a coffee mug and a box of popcorn. I don’t remember Gonzo being a coffee afficiando, but that mug will look nice on Kermit’s desk while he’s working out the scheduling for the acts. And the popcorn? Well, it is a theater, so it makes sense, just not so much with Gonzo.

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Well, now we’re talking… It’s Gonzo’s horn! At the end of the opening song and dance before every episode Gonzo would pop out of the sign, blow his horn and some different unexpected hilarity would ensue. To me, no other accessory better characterizes Gonzo, so this one was a great choice. Can he hold it? Mmmm, sort of, but it’s not like it feels the figure was meant to.

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The final mixed pair of accessories are the easel and studio light. The easel comes complete with a cardboard poster showing Gonzo’s Daredevil Stunt Spectacular. This is a cool little display piece and I could see future figures coming with different posters to display with it. And then you have the studio light. A great accessory for that universe building I was talking about earlier, just not something specific to Gonzo. I could easily see DST repacking a couple more of these in with other figures and I don’t know that I would mind it that much. It’s an extremely well done piece and they will look great scattered about a shelf that is gradually being converted into The Muppet’s Theater.

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I have a confession to make… I went with Gonzo first because this pack was the least impressive one to me, so it’s going to be all up hill from here. Not to say that I don’t like this set, I do! Gonzo is the man!!! But of the three releases, it feels like this one has the least amount of value on its own. It feels like you’re really only getting one figure and some of the accessories are a little random. However, taken as a group with the entire wave and the value here goes way up and offers a hint of all the fun stuff that I’ll be amassing for my Muppets, assuming that this line does well. And that’s why I remain a little apprehensive here. On the one hand I’m crazy excited about putting together a huge collection of characters. Hell, just the idea of completing Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem is making me giddy. But for that the line has to succeed and so I’m going to be 100% all in. Which is exactly how pissed I’ll be if this line fizzles after just a few waves.

Come on back tomorrow, and we’ll check out Kermit & Co.!

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