Monthly Archives: March 2012
What can I really say about this thing? It’s a rubber jellyfish. I can’t remember where I got it but it’s not even something that I’ve had all that long. I think somebody gave it to me but I’m not sure why. It is pretty cool though. I’ve always been fascinated by sea creatures, especially squids and octopi. I love seeing those old drawing or watching old stop motion movies of giant squids pulling ships into the sea. I would love to think that those things really exist (screw you sailors). As cool as squids and octopi are though, their tentacled coolness unfortunately does not carry over to the jellyfish. Jellyfish are lame. I see them floating around in the Halifax Harbor all the time amongst the condoms and tampons. No self respecting cephalopod would let himself be seen like that.
Jellyfish are not cephalopods though, they’re just douche bags. Bobbing around stinging people like a bunch of dick heads. I’m sure they’re more impressive in the deep ocean where they can get quite big and deadly but the ones I typically see are hella weak. If somebody offered me an action figure of a Halifax harbor Jelly I’d have to pass. This figure though is of one of the cooler deep ocean variety. I don’t know many kids that would enjoy playing with this toy but it’s the kind of thing I would’ve liked to own as a kid. If nothing else it makes my Joes bathtub adventures seem more authentic. A few random rubber fish and plant always help to set a scene. 3 out of 10.
Some people attempt to annoy or poke fun at me by referring to my collection as dolls. It really doesn’t bother me. The smaller hard plastic figures packaged with guns and swords I would say are clearly action figures. By referring to them as dolls just shows that you don’t know what you’re talking about. However once the figures reach 12 inches in size and they include removable cloth clothing that you can swap from one figurine to the next then I concede, those things are dolls. Unfortunately once you refer to a figure as a doll then it suddenly has an air of girlyness associated with it. Clearly that’s old fashioned thinking, it’s like when someone says nurse and you automatically assume they’re referring to a woman. People actually have to specify a male-nurse when they’re talking about a man in the profession which just seems silly in this day and age. There’s nothing girly about being a nurse. Just as I stand by the notion that there’s nothing girly about owning a doll. Sure most dolls are geared towards young girls but not all of them. More and more dolls are being geared towards collectors , specifically men. All of the dolls in my collection are manly dolls which are nothing to be ashamed of. <ahem>. The majority of my doll collection is made up of Star Wars dolls. And I’m not talking Princess Amidala and Princess Leia, I’m talking Darth f**king Vader. My doll collection is made up of monsters, aliens and intergalactic bounty hunters. I never bought as many of these 12″ Star Wars figures as I would’ve liked to simply because they take up so much more room to display and they’re about 3 times as costly. Collecting the smaller versions made much more economical sense. However there was a particular figure that I always had a hard time passing on whenever I would come across one, the Storm Trooper. I own the classic Storm Trooper, the Snow Trooper and the Clone Trooper. If I had the chance I’d scoop up the Biker Scout and At-AT Driver versions of this “elite” fighting force as well.
The reason it’s so hard to pass on a 12″ Storm Trooper is that I think the costume looks better blown up. It’s hard to pack much detail into a 3″ figure and though the Storm Trooper armor isn’t exactly super detailed it really does shine at this scale. It’s much closer to what appears on screen then it’s mini counterpart. It gives you a sense of how the armor actually fit on the “real” Storm Troopers and how they were able to move while wearing it. I can imagine this wasn’t the most comfy thing to wear to work every day. Stormy here came with a large laser rifle which is pretty boss and that’s all he really needed. The Storm Trooper armor is wicked and iconic and doesn’t need any bells and whistles beyond that. 8 out of 10.
I’ve already told you that my favorite gal from the world of G.I. Joe is the snotty punk rocker Zarana but the Baroness isn’t far behind. Baroness is the ultimate bad girl. Skin tight leather catsuit, check. Thigh-high black leather boots, check. A sexy European accent, check. A ruthless attitude, check. Long jet black hair, check. Naughty librarian glasses, check. What’s not to love about the Baroness. Unfortunately though I think that the potential of the character has yet to be achieved in action figure form. There have been 16 figures of the Baroness released at this point, some are just repaints but there have still been 9 or 10 unique sculpts of the character. Of all of them I think the original from 1984 is still the best. It may not be “sexy” but it was by far the most feminine of the female figures released in those early years of Joe. Scarlet and Cover Girl both looked pretty manly with their short hair sculpted to their heads while Baroness’s hair was a separate rubber piece that was glued to her head allowing it to hang long and look much more natural. Also I think the glasses on the original figure look better than any that have come since, case in point…
Version 6 of Baroness was released in 2004 as part of the “new sculpt” generation of figures. The new sculpt era began in 2002 and by the time this figure came out it was already Hasbro’s 3rd attempt to update Cobra’s sultry intelligence officer. The first two were bungled so badly that I didn’t even bother to buy them, and I buy everything. This third attempt while far from perfect was for the first time what I thought to be a worthy follow up to the ’84 figure. Perhaps because this figure is made up of 90% of the parts used to construct the original. The only newly sculpted piece was the head. As far as head’s go hasbro tried something different with this version of Baroness that was a success and a failure at the same time, her glasses were removable. The Pro of this was that for the first time we had a figure of Baroness without her glasses which was kinda cool and the result was probably the prettiest (I use that term lightly) Baroness we had seen to date. The Con was that the glasses look f**king ridiculous. She came with these insanely oversized coke bottle glasses that would make Urkel proud. It’s the type of accessory I would’ve lost instantly as a kid and they just look plain retarded when you put them on the figure. Still it was a nice try and I commend Hasbro for attempting something new. This figure was released in a 3 pack with a hooded Cobra Commander and a Cobra Trooper. These figures were meant to represent their animated looks of the characters and that is why Baroness is wearing Blue as opposed to her trademark black. Some people probably hate this figure with her goofy glasses but she remains my 2nd favorite version of the character. Even the movie figures that were supposed to look like actress Siena Miller failed to top it. I’m still waiting for the “perfect” version to be released. 6 out of 10.
I’ve got this toy categorized under Nightmare Before Christmas but it really isn’t. It is a Tim burton created character though so I feel comfortable placing her in that category. Hopefully NBX goth fanboys don’t riot in the streets over it. Junk Girl appeared in Tim’s book of poems titled The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories. The first edition hardcover of the book was released in 1997, back when I was still a Burton fanboy myself. I believe this was gifted to me by then girlfriend Rhonda. It’s an awesome little book featuring 23 little poems about weird little characters that nobody but Tim Burton could’ve dreamt up. Each poem is accompanied by Burton illustrations as well. Burton has a unique and appealing art style but it’s far from complicated. It could very easily be mistaken for the doodles of a disturbed preschooler. Some of the poems are a few pages long but most of them consist of just a few lines.
There once was a girl who was made up of junk.
She looked really dirty, and she smelled like a skunk.
She was always unhappy, or in one of her slumps
perhaps ’cause she spent so much time down in the dumps.
The only bright moment was from a guy named Stan.
He was the neighborhood garbage man.
He loved her a lot and made a marriage proposal,
but she’d already thrown herself down a garbage disposal.
Yep. Talented writer that Mr. Burton. I actually quite the book, it’s dark and cute at the same time. The figure was released in a 3 pack set along with The Boy with Nails in his Eyes, and the book’s title character Oyster Boy. Four of these 3 packs were released by Dark Horse a few years back and I picked up 3 of them. I believe additional characters were released with new editions of the book. The sculptors did a great job at capturing Burton’s art style sometimes to the figures detriment. They have suck skinny little arms and legs that the figurines are very delicate making me reluctant to display them. My drunken friends have a tendency to bump my shelves and knock things over and the Burton toys would not survive the fall. Even storing them without damaging them is tough. Junk girl is probably one of my least favorite characters from the book but when Vanessa saw her lying on the floor when I was digging out old toys to review she really liked her and requested i review her next so here we are. Enjoy. 3 out of 10.
I’m not much of a video game guy. I think I’ve told you that before. In fact I am so much not a video game guy that I have never in my life played a Tomb Raider game. For a guy my age that is quite a feat. She may not be so cool anymore with games like Uncharted stealing all of her thunder but a couple of years back, these were some of the biggest games on the market and everyone was playing them. I like the idea behind Lara Croft, after all she’s basically just a sexy chick version of Indiana Jones, one of the coolest guys ever. I can’t really say one way or another if the games were any good or not but I assume there must have been more to them just a hot 32-bit booty. Besides hotness does not equal good. A perfect example of that would be the Tomb Raider movies. I wanted to like them, I adored Angelina back in the day (Hackers Angelina, yum) and the concept was perfect for an action adventure movie and yet I find those films utterly unwatchable. I actually think I blocked the second one from my mind completely as I couldn’t tell you a thing about it. Despite hating the movies and never playing the game I still feel justified in calling myself a Tomb Raider fan because I was a loyal reader of the comic book for several years. Publisher Top Cow put out a great Tomb Raider series for a while that was everything the movie should of been. Oh well.
Now lets travel back in time for a moment all the way back to 1998 to a world where people were not connected to the internet 24-7. Back in those days people still got their breaking news from print publications. My favorite source for news (toy news anyway) was ToyFare magazine. This is what you had to buy each month to know what cool toys were going to be released in the coming months. I remember when issue 7 came out and how much buzz there was surrounding the first ever Tomb Raider figure to be released. She was placed on the cover and inside writers marveled at her greatness. This was a toy that drooling fanboys had been waiting for. I remember seeing pictures of the toy for the first time and thinking, meh. Not so great, but good enough, I’ll buy it.
Oh how times have changed. Would anybody get excited about this toy in this day and age? No way. Tomb Raider fans want sexy and this thing is a looooong ways away from being Angelina Jolie. However you must remember that Angelina Jolie was still years away from donning the little shorts and braiding her hair. This figure was solely based on the 32-bit Lara Croft of the original game on the playstation one system. And let’s face it 32-bit Lara was not as sexy as you like to remember she was. This figure actually isn’t a bad representation of that version of the character. Her lips looks like they’ve been been jacked full of collagen, and her breasts full of silicon but again that’s what the source material looked like. I think the toy would’ve benefited from a less extreme red lipstick as it tends to accentuate the “Real Housewives” pucker a little too much. This toy has no joints at her knees and elbows but the ball jointed shoulders give her a decent amount of arm movement. The “real” leather shorts is a nice touch but the gun holsters are ridiculously out of proportion. I actually thought I was gonna be way harsher on this figure but as I look at it for the first time in a few years I think that it’s not too bad for it’s time. 4 out of 10.
I had a fair amount of TMNT toys back in the day but I got rid of most of them. I wish I hadn’t but I did hold onto a couple of cool ones. I kept Leo and Donnie, Usagi Yojimbo the samurai rabbit and Mondo Gecko the skateboarding lizard. I suppose I held onto Gecko because he was a skater as I was back in the day and I just liked having a figure with a skateboard. Gecko was never one of my favorite characters or even toys but that accessory alone saved him from being sold for a quarter at some yard sale. I actually couldn’t find the skateboard when I pulled him out to take these pictures but I’m sure it’s around somewhere. The skateboard itself was actually kind of an asshole skateboard with a motor and big exhaust pipes on it that no true self respecting skater would ride. In a way the ridiculously oversized board reminded me of my first skateboard. You see when I was in grade nine and started hanging out with skater guys and decided it was something I wanted to get into I told my parents that I wanted a skateboard for Christmas. A complete board was expensive, nearly $200 and I was on a paperboy’s salary. My folks voiced their safety concerns and agreed to get me one so long as I promised to wear protective gear. Surprisingly they didn’t get me a helmet but they did buy me knee and elbow pads that Christmas. They weren’t bad looking (black and purple) and they might’ve looked alright had I been on a ramp or something but wearing them while just rolling back and forth on the driveway did not look very cool. The pads weren’t really the problem though, you should have seen the skateboard they bought me. I understand their reasoning for not wanting to go to the local skate shop (Proskates) and shell out $200 on a board until they were sure it was something I was gonna stick with, but I do wish they had maybe checked with me first before making their purchase. I ended up with a board from Canadian Tire which was so out of date and extremely uncool. In the early 90s skateboards looked like they do today: narrow, full grip tape, lips at both ends, cool. My board was super thick and wide, weighed a ton, had a back lip only and just two patches of grip tape: totally 80s. Plus it had bad graphics and a silly name written on it which escapes me now. I remember my best buddy Greg had a similar board that said Lizard King and mine was just as cheesy. However, what made my board so much worse than Greg’s and something I would never dare take with me to the schoolyard was the fact that it made noises. Yes, noises. There were two green plastic feet on the top of the board near the front grip tape that when pressed made different laser sounds from a big clunky box on the bottom. Said box also prevented me from attempting to do any sort of curb slides. This thing was an absolute nightmare for a young guy who was just months away from high school. Sorry mom, I know you meant well and I love you but that thing was brutal. Even Mondo Gecko wouldn’t be caught dead on that thing.
So yes, back to Mondo Gecko. He is a very 80s style skater himself. With the bright colors, the goofy hair, the stupid board and the horrible wardrobe you can tell that whoever designed him wasn’t well informed on contemporary skateboard culture. Based on 80s stereotypes Gecko was a cheesy throw back. The figure was decent though, at least as far as TMNT figures go. They all suffered from bad proportions and exaggerated expressions but they were fun to play with. 6 out of 10.
I’ve been collecting comic books since 1986. I was introduced to them by my cousin Greg who took Doug and I down to Green Gables to purchase our first comics. I have not missed an issue of Amazing Spider-Man since. I had read random comics before that and I knew of all the super heroes from their cartoons but Greg is the first one to really show us how the Marvel “Universe” worked. It was a world shared by all of the different Marvel characters and what happened in one book had ramifications in the others. Characters had long histories and though each issue may have had a new villain for the hero to fight there were all kinds of continuing story lines happening in the background. Those background stories and side characters got you invested in that world and had you coming back for more month after month. The problem with basing these characters in a “real” world was that it was very hard to change things without making other things seem off. Like when characters had a kid and within a couple of years the kid was like 12 years old and yet the main characters hadn’t aged a day. Many characters have been tied to real world events like the Vietnam war which may have been okay in the 80s but trying to say that the Punisher served in Vietnam just doesn’t make sense anymore, dude would have to be like 60. Writer’s are constantly trying to keep the books fresh while respecting the characters past. Some times changing things to keep things contemporary comes off really cheap like having Punisher say something like ” Oh, did I say I was in Nam? I meant Desert Storm.” or they do things like clone Spider-Man in an attempt to make him cool and single again. These reboots and retcons(retroactive continuity) usually just muddle things up and piss fans off.
In 2000 Marvel launched their Ultimate line of books in another attempt to make their characters feel more contemporary to the younger audiences that were discovering these characters through the movies. The Ultimate books took place in an alternate shared universe, similar to the main Marvel Universe but not bogged down by 40+ years of storytelling. Creators had free rein to do what they wanted with new versions of popular characters. Spidey was a teenager again and the Fantastic Four didn’t have a bunch of kids running around either. I was skeptical at first but was won over by the great storytelling and fresh persepective of these new writers. It later went all to shit but I’ll save that for another time.
In the Ultimate Universe Iron Man wasn’t drastically different from his Marvel Universe counterpart. Still a brilliant playboy and a founding member of the Ultimates (this universe’s version of the Avengers). His suit or armor was the biggest change. It had a very futuristic look and I found it to look almost alien or bug like. It still had red and yellow as highlight colors but was primarily gray in color. I thought it was super cool and probably the best character redesign in the Ultimate Universe. I scooped up this figure immediately when Marvel Select released it. It looks great and has all the fine details I had come to expect from the 7″ Marvel Select line. It came with a gigantic metal thing-a-ma-jig with a bunch of wires poking out of it that was supposed to represent the hydraulic closet thing Tony Stark steps into so that a computerized system can suit him up or remove his armor. It was actually a cool accessory and he looked cool posed standing next to it but it was to big and took up so much prime shelf space that it ended up in a box in the closet somewhere. I didn’t really need it anyway, this figure is badass all on it’s own, f**k accessories. 9 out of 10.
I used to tell people without hesitation that my favourite director was Tim Burton. It seemed like for a few years there he could do no wrong. I was a fan of Tim Burton before I even realized it. As a kid I loved Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, BeetleJuice and Batman but I didn’t put any thought into who was making those films at the time. It was probably Edward Scissorhands that really made me take notice. That surreal pastel neighbourhood with the crazy trimmed hedges contrasted by the creepy old gothic house at the top of the hill was one of the first visuals that made me say, whoever filmed this has a very distinctive vision. Once I became aware of Tim Burton’s style I could spot it a mile away. This movie also made me appreciate the brilliance of Johnny Depp. Before Scissorhands he was just that guy from the stupid movie Crybaby that my little sister watched over and over again. (I later came to appreciate Depp’s performance in that film, as well as the trashy charm of the director of that film, John waters) Depp pulled off Edward Scissorhands so well that he officially became my new favourite actor. Sorry Christian Slater. I followed both Burton’s and Depp’s careers from there on out never missing a project. Each time they teamed up together was an absolute delight. Reunited first in the underappreciated film Ed Wood and then again in Sleepy Hollow.
This is where I would normally start talking about the Sleepy Hollow figure but I’m going to stay on (off?) topic for a second though. After what seemed to the perfect symbiotic Hollywood relationship producing great films together year after year in the 90s and into the 2000s what the hell happened to these two? Their latest offerings have been getting worse and worse that I actually think they should be banned from working together again. Corpse Bride? Weak: like Nightmare before Christmas’s red-headed step child. Sweeny Todd: Looked great, I’ll give them that, but the music…ugh. Charlie and the Chocolate factory: Gene Wilder any day please and thank you. Alice In Wonderland: Sucked. And now Dark Shadows is set for release soon and looks to be another train-wreck. Johnny still manages to sneak out decent movies here and there, Public Enemies and Rum Diaries but Burton seems to have run out of gas completely. I hope he proves me wrong someday, the sooner the better.
Anyway, this figure is from the last good pairing of the two: Sleepy Hollow. Depp was his usual quirky charming self and made for an excellent Ichabod Crane. The creepy gothic style of the town buried in perpetual fog was classic Burton. The Headless Horseman who is the ghoul at the heart of this tale was full on awesome. In the scenes where he had a head he was played by the ever-creepy Christopher Walken who’s even creepier with a mouth full of shark teeth. In the scenes where he was sans head he was played by the amazing Ray Park (Darth Maul/Snake-Eyes) which made for some sweet sword play. This figure by McFarlane toys is a great representation of the character. There was another version available, mounted on his demonic steed which was pretty cool but as is the problem with many McFarlane toys it was built almost more as a model than a toy. The horse riding version couldn’t be removed from his horse without having super weird looking horse riding leg syndrome. He would forever be cursed to ride that horse and isn’t this dude cursed enough already? I opted to go with this standing version. This figure really shows off the detail of the costume with its chainmail and leather. The Horseman came with everything you would want him to, a couple of heads to lug around, an axe, and optional heads to place on his shoulders, either that of Mr. Walken or a skull which represents the character mid-transformation. I wish he was more posable but at least his pose is nice and neutral and good for display. 6 out of 10
I’m pretty sure I mentioned before that I wasn’t a zombie guy, it must have been on the Zombie-Viper post. The truth is I just didn’t realize I was a Zombie guy because in the past few years I’ve accumulated a decent collection of Zombie movies, comics and now toys. I used to see zombies as just those lame corpses shuffling along looking for brains to eat or backing up MJ for a killer dance number. I just didn’t find the concept interesting. Movies like 28 days later and the new Dawn of the Dead had begun to change my mind but not enough for me to care when I heard about this new zombie comic coming out from Image comics. I glanced at it and dismissed it, a black and white indie book-this won’t last long. But it did, it lasted for quite a while and I kept hearing good things. One day Strange Adventures had the first 4 trades (collections of 6 single issues) in a discount box for $10 a piece. I figured I would finally see what the hype was all about so I picked up the first one. I read it in one sitting and went back the next day to buy the other 3. In less than 24 hours I absorbed the first 24 issues of the series and I was hooked. I’ve been on board ever since and now have 15 of those collections. Whenever a new one is released it’s the first thing I read out of my stack and I power through it cover to cover which I rarely do with collected editions. The premise of the series is basically-what happens in those zombie movies after the credits roll. The heroes survived the initial outbreak but there’s still a world of zombies out there and life has to go on. The series focuses on the people but the zombies remain an ever looming background threat and you just never know when the shit is gonna hit the fan.
When I heard there was going to be a tv series based on it I had mixed feelings. Could they pull it off? Would it be riddled with cheesy effects? Would it last long enough to explore this world to the extent the comic has? Well the first season debuted and I thought it was pretty good. It was well casted and the zombies looked good though the digital blood effects left something to be desired. The problem with adaptations like this is since I’ve read the books I already know what’s gonna happen. And yet when the series strayed from the book I didn’t like it. “This isn’t supposed to happen! grrr.” The season finale didn’t impress me so I wasn’t sure I was gonna bother with season 2. Well season 2 started up again this past fall and just wrapped up last Sunday. And I gotta tell you the tv series has it’s hooks in me now just like the comic book. I love that I don’t know what’s going to happen. I have a general idea which is fun but then they throw you these curveballs like, “he’s not supposed to die! WTF!”
McFarlane toys released two series of Walking Dead figures a few months ago. Like the comic and the show I resisted at first. They looked cool and all but I just didn’t need to start buying something else. Well after the wicked season finale last week I suddenly felt compelled to go buy some. <little spoiler> Michonne is one of the main characters in the comic series and she shows up looking totally bad ass in the final scene of season 2 and that’s what made me say “I need that Michonne figure”. So that’s what I did, I went and bought Michonne. But then I started thinking well if I’m gonna buy Michonne then I gotta buy Rick Grimes, the star of the series. I had a few Rick’s to choose from: There’s a version based on his comic book appearance and then there’s also a tv series accurate version which looks like actor Andrew Lincoln.
I went with the tv version. But then I had to decide if I wanted the standard full color version or the black and white variant. After much back and fourth I opted for the black and white version. The stark paint scheme is accented by some red blood spatter on the figure’s shirt and face like he just blew the head off of a walker at close range. The actor likeness is great which isn’t unusual for a McFarlane product but these figures are smaller at 4″ than their usual 6″+ offerings. He comes with a bunch of accessories, guns, grenade, phone and baseball bat. I can’t comment too much on the articulation as I haven’t opened mine yet and I’m not sure I will. Since he’s kind of an oddity in my collection I may just tack him to the wall in package. McFarlane isn’t known for having the best articulation though as their figures are more like models than toys. This guy does appear to have more joints than most other McFarlane toys though. 7 out of 10.
I picked Tweak today because I don’t have much to say about him and I’m feeling lazy. I just got home from seeing the new 21 Jump Street movie which was actually pretty funny. I went out for dinner and then the movie almost directly from work and now that I’m finally home I just want to kick back and veg in front of the tv. Maybe I’ll read some comics, I have a decent sized stack that I’m trying to get through and I’ll be adding to it tomorrow. And yet I feel compelled to post something so that my devoted fans will have something new to read tomorrow morning. So this is why I picked Tweak. Tweak is mostly a background character. He had his time in the spotlight in some earlier seasons but the show has moved on and Tweak has been left behind. His tweakyness was kind of a one-note joke. Timmy suffered a similar fate but at least I enjoyed Timmy, Tweak never did much for me really.
The figure is excellent though as all the figures in this series were. It takes the simple 2D design of the South Park characters and flawlessly brings them into the 3rd dimension. They got the crazy hair right, the mis-buttoned shirt is there…what more do you need in a Tweak figure. It is a shame though that so few figures were produced in this line and Tweak had to take up one of the spots, I’d rather of had a Craig. Oh well. 5 out of 10.