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Tour Animal

The Muppets
by yo go re

He is one wild and cuh-RAY-zee guy!

Tour Animal The Muppet series has thus far been a raging success: highly detailed sculpts that don't sacrifice anything in the way of articulation and a great selection of characters who all come with terrific accessories; most companies would kill to be this consistant. Even the playsets are astounding.

Following the Simpsons' lead, the Muppet playsets each recreate a specific location and include an exclusive figure - for instance, the Muppet Kitchen with Swedish Chef or Muppet Labs with Beaker. Not available anywhere else, the figures are half the appeal of the large sets. To give fans an opportunity to own these characters without paying $40 for a playset, Palisades will often turn these figures into Convention exclusives.

At all the summer conventions of 2003, Palisades offered a repaint of Muppet wildman Animal. Wearing a black Palisades t-shirt, "Tour Animal" has nearly the same sculpt as the regular edition - which was included with a stage and drum set for the Electric Mayhem - but is in a window box by himsef with no accessories.

Roadie Standing 5 1/4" tall, Animal is sculpted just as well as any Muppet: his "skin" has the nubbly texture of foam rubber, while his clothes all look like real cloth. He's wearing tattered jeans held up by a rope belt. While most companies might skimp on a detail like this, Palisades made sure the belt is sculpted with just as much detail as everything else, so you can even see the weave of the hemp. Nice!

His head is the real highlight of the sculpt. The real Animal was all wild fur, with very little skin showing on his face. To duplicate this, the sculpting team of Raven Hood and Johnny Apokolips designed multiple layers of hair: the actual lump of plastic that is his head has strands sculpted on its surface; above that are several separate soft rubber pieces glued in place. Together, they give Animal's fur body and fullness without looking as cheesy as rooted hair would.

Muppet President feels your pain Animal has spiked bracelets on his wrists and ankles, as well as a spiked collar around his neck with a broken length of chain dangling. The restraints are all cast in tones of gold, while the standard edition had silver. His hands are molded to hold the unincluded drumsticks, but now he just looks like he's giving you a thumbs up like Fonzie.

Animal moves at the ankles, hips, waist, shoulders, biceps, wrists, neck and jaw. Those are all very nice points (though one of his ankles snapped off in my case), but none of them really stand out. What's really impressive are his articulated eyelids.

Faces! Animal had one of the most expressive faces of all the old Muppets, simply because he often closed his eyes. To duplicate this, Palisades made his lids a separate piece that slide into his hollow head. With the lids folded back, he's the usual wild-eyed madman we know and love. Slide them forward, and he's got the drowsy, controlled look of a semi-calm Animal. Variety!

Animal is a really great figure, and if not for this convention exclusive, I never would have owned him. Here's to Palisades, not only for making such a good toy in Animal, but also for making sure that fans have a variety of ways to get him.

Who's your favorite Muppet? How about your favorite Muppet movie? Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.


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