For seven seasons, the big appeal of Buffy the Vampire Slayer was Joss Whedon's clever writing. How many horror properties have played up Halloween as the be-all and end-all of terrifying days? "The full moon rises on Halloween this year, and it's also Friday the 13th: now is the perfect time to open the gate of Kerash!" Yeah, yeah, blah blah blah. Buffy, however, turned that on its ear: all the beasts and baddies view Halloween as Amatuer Night, so they stay home and let the humans make fools of themselves.
That doesn't mean that things always run smoothly on Halloween, as Buffy learned during her second year in Sunnydale, when everybody's costume became real, transforming them into whatever they were wearing. So sure, the real demons were all taking the night off, sipping Starbucks or whatever soulless abominations drink, but that doesn't mean anything when a thousand 8-year-olds in monster masks start rampaging through the streets.
As part of Series 2 of the Buffy PALz, online store Action Figure Xpress offered a four-pack of figures based on the episode, featuring Willow, Xander, Buffy and Cordelia in both their street clothes and their costumes.
Casual Willow is wearing what is probably her most iconic outfit: blue jeans, an ecru blouse with a bit of a flower motif around the bottom and a beaded necklace. It's the same outfit MAC put their Willow in, though they added another pattern around the neck. Willow's hair hangs straight down past her shoulders. The look on her face is rather bland, lacking the sort of meek, uneasy personality Willow had.
At Buffy's urging, Willow dressed up all wild and sexy for Halloween. Of course, she chickened out at the last moment and threw a sheet over herself, so she turned into a ghost. Ghost Willow is wearing black boots, a leather miniskirt and a midrif-baring burgundy top. Her hair is done up in a very hot bun, and she's wearing makeup: eyeliner and lipstick. Gotta say, though, Palisades missed an opportunity for a great accessory: where's Willow's ghost-sheet? Just a big, hollow piece that would fit over the figure, with "boo" written on the front. That's all we're asking.
Xander was kicking the earthtones that day at school, so the figure is, as well. He's got brown pants, a brick red shirt and a plaid shirt. In the episode, Xander was wearing an orange shirt, but that's a flaw we can overlook. The plaid paint app is done very well, with crisp lines perfectly spaced all the way around. The paint doesn't continue on the tops of his shoulders, though, leaving a couple of really obvious bare patches staring at us. Xander's looking sly, with one massive black eyebrow raised and a slight smile on his lips.
Since Xander's family is poor, he's master of the $2 costume - a toy gun plus some hand-me-down miltary fatigues equals a swanky soldier. Military Xander has camouflage pants and a green long-sleeved shirt, but somehow has no gun - like Willow, he's missing a prime accessory. His dogtags are painted hanging arouns his neck, and he's got a stern, confident look on his face. If you want to have him strip down to his undershirt, you can always borrow Buffy's arms.
The costume department usually made Buffy look pretty good, but for this episode, they found her what must be the ugliest pair of pants ever created by man. The figure is wearing a mustard, brown and black plaid, making even Xander's thrift-store flannel look good by comparison. She's also got an entirely inappropriate-for-school black top and her tiny cross necklace. Buffy's got a new hair piece, with one side tucked behind her ear and the other hanging loose. She's got sort of a wistful look on her face - probably pining away for Angel, trying to imagine what kind of girl he liked.
Her best guess was a fancy, frilly, frivolous, high-society lady, so her costume is a big magenta ballgown with gold highlights. The bottom of the dress is a massive piece that fits between the figure's waist and torso, and she's got a black wig with tight curls spilling down the back. Since the Lady of Buffdom, Duchess of Buffonia, is no longer the Slayer, she's not prepared for the monsters roaming the streets; thus, she looks truly terrified. It's a nice face, and even works on non-transformed Buffy.
Cordelia was always sort of the outsider of the group - though she was pert and popular with the rest of the school, she always seemed out of place with the Scoobies. Maybe 'cause she was such a collossal bitch. Cordy, always the clothes-horse, is wearing a black skirt and a maroon sweater vest over a white shirt - her "schoolgirl" look, I guess. Hinting at her somehwat naughty nature, she's wearing a pair of leopard-print panties, though there is a reason for that.
On Halloween night, Cordy was a cat girl. Since she didn't actually turn into a giant cat or anything, the figure we get is her in a skin-tight spotted suit. Willow's pelvis is concealed by a skirt in her second version, but she still gets two complete sets of legs - why does Cordelia get only one? Maybe it's the cost of those complicated paint apps: the spots - a tiled, mirrored pattern - are painted sharply and cover the entire body; Xander gets cheated on his shoulders, but Cordelia even gets spots painted on the balljoints that you'll never even see. She's got the same face on both sides of her head, though one has cat whiskers painted on. Even her hair pieces are the same, with the exception of the cat ears on the costumed version.
There is one accessory in the set that doesn't belong directly to anyone: it's the bust of Janus which was used to cast the spell that brought the costumes to life. Tremendously clever little thing, this: in the show, it was a life-sized bust; in the set, it's a round block the same size as a PALz head and features the same style of removable hair.
Unlike a lot of the ancient horrors referenced on BtVS, Janus was a real god. Well, as real as any god can be. He was the Roman god of beginnings, endings, transition and change (and also more mundane things, like doors and gates), and worshipped during the harvest and planting season, at weddings and births and so on. He represented the middle ground between extremes: in a world of red states and blue states, he was purple. Janus was often depicted just as he was seen on Buffy: two faces, one bearded and one clean-shaven, staring in opposite directions.
All the Buffy PALz come with an exclusive Inkworks trading card. This set features a card depicting ghost Willow and has a quote from "Halloween" on the back. It's nice, but why only one card? There are four figures in the set, but only one gets recognition?
PALz all share the same basic blocky body, with 14 points of articulation: neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, waist, hips, knees and ankles. The joints seem fine, so far: PALz aren't as dependable as Minimates, and will sometimes fall apart at the knees and elbows. The boys and girls have different torso blocks, so Xander's a bit flatter than his friends. The figures are all about 2 1/2" tall, and the bust of Janus is just under 3/4".
This is a good set, with some interesting variations of the show's main characters. You're really getting eight figures when you buy the set, and they're all handled pretty well - AFX's Halloween exclusive is definitely a worthwhile buy.
What's your favorite Buffy episode? Would you want figures based on it? Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.