Friday, October 21, 2011

Oh Anya, Why Are There So Many Of You Left Upon The Shelves?

The Good: Interesting sculpt, Generally good poseability, Decent base
The Bad: Light on articulation (terrible head articulation), mediocre accessories, Coloring/likeness issues
The Basics: An overproduced and poor likeness of Anya undermines one of the essential characters in the Buffy The Vampire Slayer toy line.

The problem with some toy lines is that when they start, sometimes the makers do not truly consider where they will be going. As a result, some companies either recycle the same primary characters over ad nauseam or they are left with attempting to recreate all of the principle characters, a task which is sometimes harder than others. With the Buffy The Vampire Slayer line of action figures from Diamond Select Toys, it did not take long before the company was forced to choose between following the former option or going for the latter one. By the time the company got to the Anya and Tara wave of figures, collectors had to be feeling both like it was overdue that Anya be represented (she was in four and a half seasons of the popular television series) and like the toys were somehow scraping the bottom of the barrel; Tara, for all her popularity, was only a credited cast member for a single episode and there seem to be a pretty limited selection of ideas for what figures either character could be represented as.

Enter Season Five Anya, a figure that attempts to capture who Anya was in the fifth season, after she got a haircut and joined Giles at working at the Magic Box. The problem is, for all of Emma Caulfield's photogenic qualities, she appears to be very much a challenge for Diamond Select Toys to cast and color as Anya, at least for the Season Five Anya.


Season Five is one of the general release action figures from the Buffy The Vampire Slayer figure line from Diamond Select toys. She is a 5 3/4 inch tall action figure featuring a sculpt of Anya the ex-vengeance demon as she appeared in the fifth season of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, though the figure does not reference a specific episode that she is intended to embody. I'll be watching extra close for the outfit when I rewatch the series the next time, though!

The sculpt is a tough one to evaluate, though. First, the figure does not scream "Anya," save the packaging. If the figure were standing by itself in the blue jeans and ruffled tube top somewhere, I would be at a loss to place it. The face is very angular and it does not honestly look like Anya. This might be because the sculpt of the hair is flattened on the sides and it frames the face in a very awkward way. It almost looks like Anya's hair was wet and flattened out instead of having the bounce and buoyancy the actual hair did on the show.

Also, the figure is disturbingly thin and this gives Anya more of a scarecrow/stickfigure feel to her than she had in reality on the show.

Outside that, the detailing looks good. Diamond Select Toys has a way of capturing details with a realism that is wonderful and the Season Five Anya is no exception: The fingernails are carefully sculpted, the feet are visible in the sandals with matching toenail polish and the detailing on the jeans is great. One might be disturbed by the detailing on the bust of the Season Five Anya, though; the stick-figure Anya is well endowed and the detailing on the plastic clothing holding back her bosom looks like it is stretched to the breaking point and it lacks - for want of a better term - realistic lines of force.

The other problem with it, though, is the coloring. Anya's hair is presented as a flat brown that it never was in reality and the skin tones make Anya seem much more tanned than she appeared on the show. So, basically, the fundamental problem is that Anya does not look like a recognizable incarnation of the character in any real way.


Anya comes with four basic accessories: the base, the counter from the Magic Box, the cash register and a clipboard. Also, around the figure's neck is the necklace bearing the amulet used to endow Anya with her wish-granting powers. The necklace does not come off her and this seems odd as she did not have the amulet any longer in the fifth season. The other four items fit the figure well in that they are emblematic of items from the episodes that Anya appeared in. They are not exciting accessories, though.

The base is a decent plastic base that is 4 1/2" inches in diameter and represents the floor of the Magic Box. The cashier's counter sets nicely atop it. The base has a foot peg and the peg fits easily into Anya's right foot, providing ample support for the figure.

The cash register is an admittedly weak accessory as it cannot be held by Anya, though it is very emblematic of a key character trait of Anya; she loves money. This makes Anya into more of an inaction figure or a cerebral figure where the purpose is for the fan to contemplate character as opposed to genuinely play with her in the same context as the other figures in the line.

The clipboard rounds out the accessories with a "meh" feeling. What is impressive is that Season Five Anya was made without a strong ability to hold the clipboard! The left hand of the figure is molded closed, the right hand has all the fingers extended, making it basically a balancing chore to keep the clipboard in her hand.!


Season Five Anya is generally well balanced, though the toy does not allow for much of a range of motion to stay balanced. Fortunately, with the foot peg in the base, the figure can be easily attached to allow for poses using the left foot in something other than a flatfooted position.

Anya is also strengthened in poseability by her limited articulation. Anya is articulated at only ten points: knees, groin joint, shoulders, elbows, waist and head. The head is kept on via a ball joint, so the figure's head can move with incredible articulation and range of motion. Or, at least, that's the theory. I've gone through one Season Five Anya and one "Fear Itself" Anya which share the same basic figure because the head has not been articulated. Turning the head tears it right off (this is also the only way to get the amulet from around Anya's neck, it appears!

It is, however, difficult to see how this Anya would be fun for play. Truth be told the Buffy The Vampire Slayer audience that is likely to purchase Season Five Anya is much more likely to leave the figure in the package or set in on a shelf in a pose as a display piece than actually sit and try to play with it. The economically motivated Anya acts more as a support piece than a battle action figure.


Season Five Anya would be a pegwarmer if only stores had bothered carrying the figure on the shelves! Consumer interest in this figure has been low, due in part to the obscurity and esoteric nature of the character, part because of the bland and poor sculpt. Collectors can generally find this Anya cheap as she was the most-produced Anya figure made. Of course collector/investors will have to seriously ask themselves if they honestly believe the figure will appreciate in value over the years, but the current guess is "no." It likely will not.


Fans of Anya and Emma Caulfield will likely be disappointed by this sculpt who could just as easily appear to be a background extra from Veronica Mars. The limited articulation and lame accessories further diminish the figure and make it one that is easy to pass on.

This figure represents Anya as she appeared at in Buffy The Vampire Slayer - The Fifth Season, reviewed here!

For other media-related action figures, please be sure to check out my reviews of:
Power Of The Foce Zuckuss
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Hunter Of The Tosk
Watchmen Exclusive Walter Kovacs variant figure


For other action figure and toy reviews, be sure to visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2008 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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