Monthly Archives: January 2012
FUNKO POP! DC
This is my second post featuring my photography and it kinda sucks. I’ve gotten kinda accustomed to borrowing high quality professional photos from the internet. I feel this site will feel more honest and genuine with photos of my actual toys instead of flashy promotional photos but it won’t look as nice. This pic was not taken with my new camera by the way, it was taken with my rinky dinky cell phone. I was bored at work today and thought I might review a couple of the figures that are sitting on my desk and I would email the reviews to myself at home. I snapped some pics but then I got busy and didn’t get around to writing anything so here I am typing away at home to entertain you when I could be lazing on the couch with Vanessa watching TMZ and eating Pringles. Because I’m craving those Pringles I’ll keep this short and sweet. I’ll save my stories about Flash the character for another time and I’ll just get to the figure at hand.
This figure is made by Funko in their line of POP! figures and bobble heads. I resisted these things at first as I already have my fair share of cutesy toys like Mighty Muggs and Blammoids. However I was eventually won over by the sheer variety of properties Funko has managed to lump together under one cohesive brand. They have Marvel and DC super heroes, Gremlins, Wizard of Oz, Rappers, Cereal Mascots, Star Wars, The Simpsons etc. My local shop Strange Adventures had a big sale on in the fall and 50% off was the final push I needed to start buying these things up. They make for good work desk companions as they’re cute conversation pieces and I don’t feel like they need to be home with the rest of my DC figures. These toys are different enough from the other previously released cutesy lines like Mighty Muggs and Blammoids to warrant a purchase. The basic body mold is posed well and holds up the giant melon without any balance issues. It should be mandatory for everyone in the office to have one of these on your desk, I think it would make for a cheerier environment. 7 out of 10.
I have 5 little nephews who I love to hang out with. They are cool little dudes with A LOT of energy that can sometimes be hard to keep up with. Usually I’m visiting them at their houses or on neutral ground like my folks place which is good because those places are filled with THEIR toys. But every now and again they venture into town to visit uncle Mike at his apartment. Now I pride myself on being “cool” uncle Mike, the uncle who will get on the floor and play dinky cars or go run around the backyard. Now it’s very hard to remain cool uncle Mike when they come to my house and see the shelves and shelves of toys that they aren’t allowed to play with. I’m not a total jerk, I always let them open up one of my various bins of toys and let them play with something of the less breakable variety. Of course they don’t want what’s in the bins, they want what’s on the shelves and in the cases. Well one day they were visiting and when they started to grab for things I reached for my Godzilla figures from the top shelf and asked if they’d ever heard of him. Of course they hadn’t so I threw in my final wars DVD and watched them marvel at the Monster Battle Royal on the screen. After that they wanted to play with Godzilla which was great because it got them interested in the Big G and also because you can’t break those Godzilla toys. They’re big hollow plastic with very few moving parts. These things could survive an afternoon in the sandbox no problem. So I very much enjoyed watching them play with Godzilla and his adversaries and it got me thinking, these kids need some rubber dinosaurs. All they have are trucks at home, when I was a kid I had a whole drawer of rubber dinosaurs which I could integrate into whatever else I was playing. Oh no! Cobra Commander has unleashed an army of dinosaurs on New York! Jeepers! The dino-bots have gone awol back to the savage land! Crikey! The ninja turtles have been sent back in time! Do you see what I’m saying? Dinosaurs are very versatile. So when Christmas rolled around I got them some cars of course but then I also gave them a bag filled with dollar store rubber dinos. Watching lil Tyler run around Allosaurus in hand saying Grrr! Grrr! was just awesome and made me nostalgic for the rubber dinosaurs I had as a kid.
Well I was at Toys R Us the other day and when I couldn’t find anything interesting (other than a few star wars figures) I ventured away from the “boys” section and into the educational toys area to see what their rubber dinosaur selection looked like. It was there that I found this guy, Spinosaurus. For those of you not be familiar with this guy, go rent or download or whatever Jurassic Park III. This guy is bad as hell and he even takes a T-Rex to school to let you know that there’s a new king of the dinosaurs in town. Apparently these guys were the largest carnivorous land dinosaurs ever though they also lived in the water like crocodiles. As for the toy itself it’s pretty sweet. he’s not hollow and rubber like the ones I had as a kid, he’s a big solid piece of plastic. The detailing is much more realistic than my old guys as well lacking the big googly red or yellow eyes. The body is textured with scales and the face while not overly aggressive looking has got a sinister kinda sneer like you’d see on a crocodile just before he eats your face off. The figure is not posable at all so it’s a good thing they placed him in a good pose for display or play. This was made by a company called Schleich and I cruised their website when I got home with this guy. I think I may pick up a few more of these. You know, for the kids to play with. 8 out of 10.
Just a note, Since I started this blog a little more than month ago I always intended to take my own pictures rather than snag them from the internet. Well Vanessa got me a camera for my birthday so this post features my first attempt at photography. I’ll keep working on it.
When it comes to the Transformers I’ve always had a soft spot for the little guys. Maybe it’s because their figures were the cheapest so I had most of them as opposed to only having a few of the bigger more expensive figures. Or maybe it’s because some of them just had so much personality when they showed up in the cartoons like Bumblebee, Warpath and Seaspray. Or maybe it was because their transformations were so simple to do that they could alternate between robot and vehicle mode in just a few quick moves. As I mentioned in a previous post 2 out of the 3 Transformers that I kept from my childhood were of the little “penny-racer” variety instead of the larger more impressive bots. Cliffjumper was one of the first Transformers toys I had and I wish I had held onto him. It was a little weird but my Cliffjumper toy was a yellow porsche while my brother Doug’s Bumblebee toy was red Volkswagen Beetle. In the cartoons and comics the colors were reversed-everyone knows Bumblebee is yellow- but when the Japanese toys first came over to America there was a mix-up and the toys got released in reverse colors. That error resulted in the only Cliffjumper figure to date not released in bright sports-car red. They did release a color corrected version soon afterwards but Cliffjumper has gotten the shaft in the toy world ever since. Bumblebee has gone on to become the second most recognizable Transformer there is behind Optimus Prime starring in the live-action movies and being made into Halloween costumes. Bumblebee has had a slew of figures made of him since that first mis-colored one back in the early 80s. Cliffjumper on the other hand who is practically identical to Bumblebee never shows up in any promotional and peripheral merchandise and the only toys of him made since his yellow 80s original have all been red re-paints of Bumblebee toys. Cliffjumper has always lived in Bumblebee’s shadow and has never had a distinct toy of his own, until now.
After the release of the second Transformers live action movie a new computer animated series was spun out of it called Transformers Prime. This featured some sleek and stylized new character designs for some well known characters. This show combined the classic boxy designs with the busy movie designs and found a happy medium. The character that benefitted the most from this re-branding was Cliffjumper. He and Bumblebee can stand side by side now and for the first time ever not look like identical twin brothers. Cliffjumper has been repurposed as a Dodge challenger with a distinct set of bull horns on the front. When he transforms into his robot mode the horns are on his head. While I usually don’t like character make-overs this extreme as it tends to no longer feel like “my” version of the character, I actually like it in Cliffjumper’s case. This new look gives what has always been a unique and well developed character in the comic books a chance to shine in other forms of media. I hope more of the redesigns from the Prime series result in toys this cool. 8 out of 10.
Tonight I had planned on just relaxing at home reading comic books and watching a movie. I had been out running around the last couple of nights and was ready for a night in. However Vanessa had access to her dad’s car tonight and a burning desire to go spend money. She asked me if I would accompany her on a trip to the mall. Now I don’t mind going to the mall but I simply cannot go to the mall without spending money. I either buy an action figure, a shirt , a bluray, something, anything really. It’s a compulsion. I agreed to tag along as I needed some new jeans and I actually believed that I might manage to get home without buying any new toys as I was quite certain there would be no Joes, Transformers or Super Heroes on the shelves that I needed right now. Toy stores are in their post holiday lull. I should know myself better by now. I wandered into Toys R Us and as expected I found nothing of the various toy lines that I collect. So did I leave empty handed? No. I just started collecting something new. Not that Star Wars is new mind you, I already have a ton of Star Wars figures but I had stopped buying them back in 2001. Before Phantom Menace had come out I was caught up in the hype and anticipation of it all and was buying up Star Wars figures like mad. I had all the of characters in all of their various outfits, Droids with different battle damage, I was even buying action figures of old men in robes. If it said Star Wars on the package I bought it. Then the movie came out and I snapped back to reality. The movie was enjoyable but it was hardly the “second coming” like I had built it up to be in my mind. I had so many stupid variations of battle droids at this point that I decided to just pack it in. By the time episode II came out I had pretty much totally lost interest in Star Wars toys. I bought a handful of toys from the second movie but none at all from the third. Even cool looking new characters like General Grievous didn’t lure me back. I was over it. Star Wars has never gone away since then and has maintained a solid presence in the toy stores for the past 10 years but I just walk past them, occasionally admiring a nicely sculpted new Han Solo or something. Now it goes without saying that one of the coolest looking Star Wars characters ever created was Darth Maul from episode I so it’s not surprising that the first new character that made me take notice of Star Wars in nearly 10 years was Darth Talon. Darth Talon is a cross between Oola the dancing girl with the weird head in Jabba’s palace and Darth Maul. She was introduced in the Star Wars comic books and soon had an action figure. I didn’t buy it at the time but it did make me stop and think “Wow. Maybe Star Wars is still cool.” She almost lured me in but I resisted. But then a year or two later I hear about this new character that was introduced in the Clone Wars cartoon, Savage Opress. Opress is Darth Maul’s brother except even bigger and meaner looking. This I could not ignore. The name was simply to bad ass and the character simply looked way to cool. I knew when I saw this guy in action figure form I would buy him. That day was today.
Just look at this guy, he looks like he would steal Boba Fett’s lunch money and kick sand in the face of Darth Maul. He is bad Mutha F***a. This guy is shirtless and ripped and mean. I’m actually not sure if those black designs are tattoos (I believe they are) or just weird natural birth marks but either way they just add to Opress’s bad-assyness. The head sculpt is amazing with his lip curled in a snarl and the crown of horns. This figure does a great job of retaining the stylized look of the Clone Wars cartoon but still looking “real” enough to blend in with the movie figures. The paint apps on this dude are great as well as the tattoos are detailed, symmetrical and believable. He comes with a few various weapons, all of them mean looking. At first I was walking around with just this guy in my hands tonight but the more I looked at him the more my love of Star Wars crept out of hiding. I left the store with 4 figures and I just hope I haven’t opened a gigantic can of worms. May the force be with me. 9 out of 10.
Like many of you probably did the first time you saw the trailer for Real Steel, I groaned and rolled my eyes. A boxing robot movie with Hugh Jackman? Give me a break. But then I thought about it a little and realized, This is a boxing Robot movie starring Hugh Jackman! I decided I was gonna see it. I didn’t expect much from the story line but I figured the effects would make it worth a watch. Not too many people I knew wanted to see it, most people were still groaning and rolling their eyes but my buddy Miguel took the chance with me and you know what, I really liked it. It had bits of Rocky and Over the Top and even a little bit of E.T. The effects were top notch, in fact it was nominated for the visual effects Oscar just the other day. However the story line was what really drew me in. There’s nothing revolutionary about it, it’s actually pretty simple and familiar but most importantly it was good. I left the theatre thinking why don’t they have toys of this movie? If I was a kid I’d want them all. Well I was at Walmart the next day and I happened upon a whole endcap packed with Real Steel toys. Normally I would’ve known about these months in advance but since my favorite action figure news magazine TOYFARE got cancelled last year sometimes I find myself out of the loop. Needless to say it was a pleasant surprise and I ended up buying a two pack featuring the robot star of the movie Atom and his two-headed opponent Twin Cities.
I really like this Atom figure. He and Twin Cities are chilling out on my work desk with a slew of other toys and I like when people come up and ask what they are as it gives me a chance to recommend the underrated movie. The sculpting on Atom is well done and the paint really helps it to shine. The artificial wear and tear on the figure really give the impression that this bot has been through some scraps. The figure could’ve benefited from some more articulation as he is a bit static and his legs seem a kind of bowlegged . He has some cool features such as a light up chest and removable limbs that you can swap with other figures in the line. The chest lights up when you hit the back of the head which seems kinda weird as when you play with them I feel a frontal head shot would be a better method to set off the light but that’s a minor quibble. I plan on getting more of these things. 6 out of 10.
Naming your favorite anything can be tough. Tastes change over the years so it can be hard to draw that line in the sand and definitively say “this is my favorite movie/band/food of all time.” I’m a sucker for ranking and listing things though so if pressed I could probably rhyme off my top 5 favorite anything. The Crow, Smashing Pumpkins and Pizza by the way. When it comes to Marvel villains it’s a very tough choice. I could make a top 20 list of Spider-Man villains alone. But if you’re gonna force me I’m gonna say that my favorite villain of all time is Thanos, followed closely by the Green Goblin. Unless you’re a hardcore comic fan you’ve probably never heard of Thanos as he’s not the type of character who often pops up in movies and cartoons and such. Thanos was created in 1973 by writer and artist Jim Starlin. He first showed up in Iron Man and followed that up with appearances in Daredevil and the Avengers before finding his home in the 90s as a villain to the cosmic superhero the Silver Surfer. This is when I discovered the character. I had only discovered Silver Surfer a few months earlier but he had quickly become one of my favorite characters. The introduction of Thanos to that title upped the stakes as Thanos was an intelligent, well-spoken and utterly mad villain determined to wipe out half of all living things in the universe. His reason for this is that he wanted to please the woman he loved, the cosmic embodiment of Death itself. Thanos was given his own spin off entitled the Thanos Quest as he hunted out the tools he needed to complete his task, the 6 soul gems which were spread throughout galaxy and protected by the elders of the universe. He acquired them and this spun off into another mini series entitled the Infinity Gauntlet. In this series, Thanos took the 6 gems and built them into a glove that gave him the power over all of existence. The whole Marvel Universe was put at risk and it took the combined might of all of Marvel’s heroes to try to stop him. In the end it was Thanos himself that brought about his own defeat. It was an epic story line that skyrocketed this character whom I hadn’t even heard of a year earlier right up to the top of my villain list. I strongly recommend you track this series down and give it a read. Read Silver Surfer: Rebirth of Thanos followed by The Infinity Gauntlet to get the whole story. Best of all the whole thing is written by Jim Starlin who created the character 20 years earlier.
I was very happy when I got my first Thanos figure in the 90s when Toy Biz created figures based on the short lived Silver Surfer cartoon series. It had a bright animated look and a good face sculpt but it was severely lacking in stature. Diamond Select took care of that problem when they released this beastly figure a couple of years ago. This figure from their Marvel Select line stands about 8″ tall and is a big, thick, heavy hunk of plastic. The sculpting is just great especially on the face, each tooth in his scowl is sculpted individually. The colors are perfect and there’s some really nice shading done on the blue base of the costume to give definition to his hulking muscle mass. He comes with two excellent accessories: The infinity gauntlet which can be put on in place of one of his regular gloved hands, and an unarticulated figure of his creepy girlfriend, Death. Marvel Select has produced a bunch of great figures including the Black Cat I reviewed earlier and I’d be hard pressed to pick a favorite. If you’re gonna make me do it though, I’d go with Thanos. 10 out of 10.
One of the great things about G.I. Joes that really made them stand out from the pack of other toys back in the 80s was the inclusion of a file card on the back of every package. These file cards were nearly all written by the same guy, Larry Hama who also happened to write nearly every issue of the G.I. Joe comic book. Larry infused each character with a unique personality in just a few quick paragraphs. The file cards included the character’s real name, their primary and secondary military specialty, their birthplace, a blurb about what lead them to the G.I. Joe team and finally a quote from a ranking officer. Frostbite here for example’s real name is Farley S. Seward and he hails from Galena, Alaska. The reason I bring up the file cards on Frostbite’s review is that I think they should make a change to his military specialties. His primary is listed as Motor Vehicle Driver and his secondary as Armor when I would say that master of disguise is clearly his calling. This is the 12th and most recent version of Frostbite and he has gone through more changes over the course of those 12 figures than other Joes who have had 40 versions released. The first version of Frostbite that I got in 1985 featured a thick black beard and a friendly smile. He reminded me of a guy my Dad worked with who used to come by the house now and then named Bob Bilodeau who also sported a thick black beard. My brother Doug had a G.I. Joe named Breaker that had a brown beard like my Dad so we used to imagine sometimes that we had unofficial action figures of my Dad and Bob. I’m not sure what became of Mr. Bilodeau as we moved from Ontario to Nova Scotia and I never saw him again. Nor should he ever have crossed my mind ever again as I was a little kid and he was basically a stranger but because of this figure I will always remember his name. Anyway, the second time Frostbite was released in 1988 as a member of the Joe sub-team Tiger Force he was a ginger all of the sudden with a thick orange beard. By the third release he had a brown beard and then for 4, 5 and 6 he lost the beard completely and just changed up the color of his uniform. For version 7 he got a complete facelift as for some reason Hasbro slapped the name Frostbite on a figure that is clearly Snow Job, another one of Joe’s arctic troopers. The beard comes and goes again a few more times and then we end up with this fully masked bad ass looking dude who other than the fact that he’s dressed warmly looks nothing like the Frostbite of old.
Despite all of the sloppy naming and lack of consistency by Hasbro that preceded it we actually ended up with a pretty cool figure here. It’s true that he doesn’t harken back memories of Bob Bilodeau in the slightest but he is wearing a full mask so we could imagine that there’s a thick black beard under there I suppose. This figure is comprised of the body of Arctic Snake-Eyes with the head of Beachhead. Both of those were cool figures to begin with so mashing them together works. I like the fact that he has green pants as there have been many Arctic Joe troopers over the years and most of them get stuck in head to toe white. The green gives him some much needed color but avoids being garish and retains some realism. This version of Frostbite came packed with the Ice Dagger which is a pretty cool vehicle but I wish he came with at least a pistol of some sort. Frostbite had zero accessories, the gun in the pic was added by the photographer. One pro of these fully masked Joes is that you could use them as standard troops and army build them instead of using him as Frostbite at all. I’m still hoping for a modern version of Frostbite with his classic 1985 look. 6 out of 10.
Most of the toy lines I collect originated in the 80s where they were made for the children of that generation. Today toy companies know that those kids they hooked in the 80s are now in their 30s with disposable income and a head full of nostalgia so they cater to us making toys the way we want them, geared towards the collector. Usually somewhere in between the golden age of the 80s and the grown-up modern age of toy collecting something went awry for many of our favorite toy lines. Clueless toy executives always seem to think they need to re-invent the entire brand to get people interested again and that usually never works out. Transformers had the computer animated Beast Wars (which has a large fan base but it wasn’t for me) G.I. Joe had G.I. Joe: Extreme and Masters of the Universe had The New Adventures of He-Man. This new cartoon series featured He-Man and Skeletor on a new futuristic planet called Primus. The old supporting cast was replaced by a bunch of douche bags and the series had more of a science fiction theme as opposed to the swords and sorcery of the original. I can’t speak much about it honestly as I paid no attention to it. The figures were scrawny and the character designs were just plain boring when compared to the colorful cast of the original series. This series came out in 1990 and lasted one season and the accompanying action figure line produced about 30 figures and a handfull of vehicles. Nothing from this series appealed to me except for one character who I remember seeing on the pegs back in the day who looked like he might’ve fit right in with the original 80s toys. The original line was filled a wide array of characters consisting of people, robots and beasts so why not a giant eyeball walking around in a suit of armor. Optikk had just the right kind of nonsensical design that appealed to me. I never did buy that figure but always thought he was the one good thing to come out of that era of MOTU.
I guess I wasn’t the only one who thought there was some design potential in Optikk. When Mattel started producing their MOTU classics line a couple of years ago, creating definitive figures of the classics He-Man characters they snuck pretty close to the original 80s cartoon. However when they decided to dip into the world of the “New Adventures…” the first figure they released was Optikk. This modern version of the character is actually pretty close to original and the only major change made in his design was fixing his proportions so that he fits in with the other figures in the line. The character already had a pretty solid look with a cool golden space suit complete with wires and gears and a laser gun. The heavy armor around his “neck” makes me wonder what this guy would look like were he to step out of his armor. Does he have a full body under there or is he just a living eyeball with some dangling veins tied into a robotic body? Besides his gun and shield Optikk also comes with an alternate eyeball head so you can change up the color in case you’ve got something against green eyes. Doug gave me this guy last night at my birthday party along with a Catra which was a nice surprise. Thanks Doug. 9 out of 10.
How cool was the Sin City movie in 2005? The answer of course is hella cool. I love comic books and I love when those comic books get adapted into movies. Some of these adaptations are great, some totally suck and others are a combination of both. Sin City is one of the great ones. Even though I’ve ranted before about how I hate when things get changed or lost in the translation from one medium to another ( like the loss of Bow’s mustache in my last post ) some changes I can forgive because I understand the reasoning. Like Wolverine wearing black leather instead of yellow spandex was probably a good call. Sandman killing Uncle Ben, not so much. Comics don’t need to be exact adaptations to please me, they just need to be good and respectful of the source material. Sin City was a very faithful translation from the comics to the film and it came together fantastically. The structure of the thing, the way a variety of short stories were weaved together to create a large scale story of a city plagued with corruption was brilliant. A lesser director might’ve tried to change it up and make it his own where as Robert Rodriguez respected the source material enough to let it speak for itself. He kept the color palette to an almost black and white and borrowed the sparse backgrounds and use of silhouettes directly from Frank Miller’s artwork. The unnatural clunky noir dialogue is retained to great effect. It’s been a while since I watched it but just reminiscing about it like this I’m tempted to throw it in the DVD player this afternoon. If you haven’t seen it you absolutely must. Somehow every single character is a scene stealer that just begs for more screen time, Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, Josh Harnett, Carla Gugino, Elijah Wood, Nick Stahl, Clive Owen and more all give amazing performances. However if none of these reasons have yet enticed you let me drop one more on you: Rosario Dawson as Gail, an Uzi wielding dominatrix prostitute. I had every intention of seeing this movie anyway but when I saw the posters of Rosario in her fishnets and leather well Good Golly Miss Molly, I knew I’d end up watching this one a few times.
Neca produced action figures based on the movie and they were all pretty great looking with very good likeness’s of the actors in most cases. The only one I bothered to pick up though was Gail. She’s posed in the stance taken directly from those promotional shots that caught my attention. It’s a good thing that this pose suits her as there are very few other options. Her articulation is very limited with her legs being completely stationary. The attention to detail is pretty great with each little rivet on her bondage gear sculpted and painted individually. Her faux-hawk style hairdo is sculpted from a softer plastic and looks quite nice the way it hangs out over her brow. Gail comes with an Uzi and a pair of handcuffs which is all anyone needs really. All the Sin City figures were available in color and black and white versions and I opted for the full color Gail because I couldn’t resist that sweet mocha….I better stop there, my girlfriend is gonna accuse me of having jungle fever again. 7 out of 10.
If ever there was a gay icon in 80s cartoons, it was Bow. I mean just look at this dude. He is absolutely fierce. I don’t want to make any assumptions here but I think that ol Bow here has taken a ride or two on the Battle Bone if you know what I’m say’n. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
It’s isn’t so much the shirtless-ness that gives him away as that’s pretty standard attire on the worlds of Eternia and Etheria. Nor is it the fabulous flowing red cape, Superman has one of those. Neither the fact that he went with a heart as his emblem nor that he plays the harp in his spare time are tell tale signs; Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins has made similar choices. It’s that mustache. That wonderful classic Hollywood style mustache which nowadays is only sported by club-faring leather-boys. It also didn’t help that Bow was the token male running around with a rebel force of females led by She-Ra. In the old 80s cartoon Bow rocked his stache proudly while shooting arrows at Hordak and the rest of the evil Horde. Oddly enough though the 80s action figure did not have his signature facial hair. Man-at-Arms suffered a similar oversight over in the He-Man line with his epic flavor saver being omitted. This kind of stuff drove me nuts. If he had a mustache in the cartoon he should have a god damn mustache on his action figure.
Well it only took about 25 years but finally Bow has received the action figure treatment he deserves with that sweet fanny duster above his upper lip. What’s truly great is that Bow actually comes with two heads so in case you’re one of those weirdos that prefers him clean shaven you still have that option. You also has the option to swap out the heart emblem with a regular circle in case you’re really insecure about displaying him on your shelf. Bow also comes with his bow and arrows, his cape and his harp. What more could you ask for? This figure is actually pretty great and a huge improvement over the original. Bow looks like a He-Man action figure now and not a She-Ra doll. The only complaint I might make is that his cape and attached chest plate ride up rather high on his shoulders making it appear that he has no neck. Mattel knocks another one out of the park with their MOTU Classics line. 8 out of 10.