The PoP!-Stars give their take on the latest in Action Figures and Toy-lines in eight (succinct) parts.
Today, the adult toy collector has some options beyond the “all ages” fare like Transformers and G.I. Joe. McFarlane Toys has been around for a long time now and they’re still going strong in the licensing department. In fact, they’ve made something of a comeback recently with their Halo and Guitar Hero figures. You can get McFarlane toys at your local Wal-Mart. It wasn’t too long ago that you would never say that. Neca has also been around the block a few times and are now producing some of the best high-end figures on the market now. And then of course there’s Mezco. In the modern landscape of toy collecting, there is a name sadly missing here and that name is Palisades. Let’s take a trip down memory lane to gaze upon their awesomeness and lament their downfall.
1. Value – First and foremost, Palisades cared about their customers. Their entire business model revolved around the collector. They would let fans decide future figures in online polls and were always very active in their discussions with the folks paying the bills, namely us. One of the big selling points was the value of their products. For the price, you just couldn’t compare anything else to what you’d get from Palisades, which leads us to the next several points here.
2. Sculpt – These were figures that looked every bit as impressive as a less-articulated, more expensive McFarlane Toy. Some of their human likenesses weren’t the best (Army of Darkness comes to mind), but that’s it. Other than that, these guys ran with the big boys and some of the more high-end items like the Alien Queen were simply stellar in the presentation. A lot of their properties were from cartoons and it was always amazing to see how they were going to pull off bringing these VERY 2-D animated designs into the 3-D realm. The Fairly Oddparents figures were especially impressive for this very reason.
3. Accessories – You know how most figures come with a sword or a gun and that’s it? Not from Palisades, dammit. Their toys were LOADED with accessories. The Muppet figures had tons of character-specific doodads. One of the most impressive examples of this like-EVER– is the Swedish Chef’s kitchen. This thing was a playset obviously (featured in our 8 Bad-Ass Playsets Volume 1) but it came with over 30 individual accessories all with their own place in the various working kitchen cabinets or drawers and such. The Invader Zim figures were no slouch either, with every character coming with an impressive selection of character and episode-specific items. Series 2 had a unique “Build-a-Playset” thing going on where getting three of the figures in the line would land you Zim’s house and front yard, which stood well over a foot tall. The individual figures with all their extras usually ran you no more than fifteen bucks, the Muppets even less. The Ren & Stimpy figures each came with their own unique Log figure (GENIUS!).
Can you BELIEVE this stuff??
4. The Muppets – They get their own entry just because of how damn awesome these things were. TONS of characters were made, some specific to certain movies or sketches and of course there were plenty of versions of the mainstays like Kermit Fozzie and Gonzo. As if the figures themselves weren’t impressive enough, there was an entire line of playsets as well, not JUST the aforementioned kitchen. There was backstage at the Muppet Show, the Pigs in Space command bridge, Animal’s drum set with a stage for Electric Mayhem and Bunson’s lab along with plenty more. In short, these toys rocked hard and each and every one of them was gorgeous. There’s a reason they served as the flagship line for Palisades.
5. The High-End – I mentioned the Alien Queen earlier, but she wasn’t the only entry in the super-expensive department from Palisades. In the Alien family, there were several mini-busts and statues. The competing Predator series got their equal share as well. They also had a line of Transformers mini-statues and busts that quite simply rocked shiny metal ass. Invader Zim got a statue as well featuring the Voot Cruiser from the show. They were running with the likes of Sideshow in the heavy price tag department, but it was never a huge part of their overall agenda. By and large, they were more interested in producing quality affordable chunks of greatness for collectors.
6. Licenses – Palisades made a TON of great toys from all over the geek spectrum. They didn’t do original franchises, but they had plenty to work with. I’ve hit some of the full-on action figure lines and statues and such, but there was plenty more. The Palz were very mini-mateish figures from Buffy and X-Files and even Die Hard. They made some kick-ass 12-inch Reservoir Dogs figures with real clothes and such (including a removable ear). Other license included Pink Panther, Resident Evil, [Adult Swim], Micronauts and veritable boatload more. They handled a lot of niche properties, something that would ultimately help lead to their demise.
7. Variants and Exclusives – Since all the cool kids were doing it, Palisades had plenty of store and convention exclusives, but rarely were they simply repaints. Ren & Stimpy got a Wizard World exclusive in their Fire Dogs attire and Zim got a figure in his Old Man disguise (which looks really nice on the Saucer Morons pig, might I add). Target and EB both got exclusive Muppets and Hot Topic got an exclusive set of variants for both Invader Zim series that all featured new heads and accessories, all at unbeatable prices.
8. The End – So what went wrong? How did these purveyors of badassery go bankrupt in 2006? The short story is too much (and too little) of a good thing. Palisades was SO committed to the collector market that they never reached out properly to the masses. To start with, only specialty stores like Tower Records, Media Play and Suncoast carried their toys for the most part. Occasionally you’d find something at a Toys R Us, but by and large, these were mall buys. Eventually, the demand from the retailers just dried up. They were producing tons of these niche market toys that retailers just weren’t interested in selling. They were losing TONS of money in production costs they just weren’t making back in sales. Pricing was a big issue, too. At their most expensive, their figures were hitting fifteen bucks when anyone else would be selling them for twenty-five at least. So eventually Palisades declared bankruptcy and sold to Factory X meaning their much heralded Sesame Street figures never saw the light of day.
Thus ends the sad, sad tale of Palisades. You can still find some of this stuff online and while the prices have gone up, it’s all still worth it.