Monthly Archives: November 2012
I know that most of them are horrible but I can’t help but love Godzilla movies. I’ve been fascinated by giant monsters since I was a wee lad and when it comes to monsters you simply can’t top Godzilla: The King of Monsters. Most Godzilla and other similarly themed old monster movies really only have about 10 to 20 minutes of fun monster vs monster action. The rest of the movie is padded with Asian scientists explaining how the latest monster came to be with their hooky faux-science. I threw in RODAN the other day and Vanessa was in pain having to sit through it. Admittedly it was a pretty rough go and I ended up fast forwarding though the second half of it. Sometimes I like the idea of giant monsters more than I actually like sitting through their movies. One factor that can elevate a subpar monster film into enjoyable cinema is the inclusion of a cool villain. Though it might be a stretch to call Godzilla a hero that’s basically what he is in the majority of his films. There’s usually something worse out there, wrecking even more havoc than Godzilla himself, that the humans need to vanquish so they point the big G like a weapon in the new threat’s general direction and hope for the best.
Godzilla has had some great adversaries over the years. My favorite being the classic three-headed gold dragon King Ghidorah. I’ve always like Gigan, Mecha-Godzilla, and Anguirus as well. Newer villains like Destroyah and Orga have been welcome additions to the monster pantheon. One monster that I could never get behind, no matter how bad I wanted to, was Mothra.
Mothra is one of the oldest and most recognizable TOHO Kaiju monsters. She had her own movie back in 1961 and her own trilogy in the late 1990s. She’s probably appeared in more Godzilla movies than any other monster and she’s always the good guy. It’s just too bad that she sucks so much. A giant moth, really? And that’s all she is, a giant moth. She’s not even a mutated scary version of a moth. Her evil counter-part , Battra, is much more menacing.
He’s still basically a lame giant moth but he at least he has a funky jagged design and a cool color scheme. Mothra always manages to put up a fight in the films but are we really expected to believe that Godzilla should feel threatened by this oversized bug? Mothra sometimes appears in larva mode which is just as underwhelming. She appears as a brown grub that spits silk out of her mouth like an overactive can of silly string but she looks more like a giant turd to me.
I may not care much for Mothra but I do respect her. She is a classic, iconic monster and so I’ve always wanted a Mothra figure to string from the ceiling where she could torment my Godzilla figure by dangling just out of his reach. The problem is I could never justify paying for one. Most Godzilla figure have very little articulation to speak of anyway but Mothra has even less. She’s much smaller than other monster figures and her only articulation is her two front arms which can rotate a little . So you’d think that she would sell for much less than Godzilla, a hulking T-Rex-esque monster with a swinging tail and fire breath. But she doesn’t. How could I possibly justify dropping $16.99 plus tax on this thing. Quite frankly I couldn’t and so my monster display seemed doomed to remain mothless. However on a recent Wednesday visit to Strange Adventures I saw that they had this figure marked down to a mere five bucks. I guess they weren’t exactly selling like hot cakes; surprise surprise. So I scooped her up and now finally my Godzillas have a moth to beat the hell out of.
There’s not much to say about the figure itself. She looks pretty good I suppose. The colors on the wings are nice and the sculpt is accurate. It would have been nice if they added some articulation like a turning head at least. The best thing about the figure is that the wings are molded in translucent plastic and painted over. You can’t tell just by looking at her but when you hold her up to a light source the light shines through her wings which gives them a cool luminous effect. But that’s not enough to save this figure from the fact that it’s just a plastic f**king moth. 3 out of 10.
I’m a long time comic reader; and a devoted one at that. I’m talking “hasn’t missed a single issue in 27 years” devoted. That devotion has provided me with an encyclopedic knowledge of the Marvel Universe. Which was much more impressive pre-wikipedia. That kind of knowledge doesn’t just come from not missing an issue of Amazing Spider-Man for a quarter of a century, it comes from collecting, at one point or another, nearly every series that Marvel publishes. This is something that, between us, Doug and I have done over the years. But the goal was never to collect the entire Marvel Universe. We initially just started with a book or two each. I was buying Spider-Man and Doug was buying X-Men. The floodgates opened early though as only a month or two into our new hobby was Marvel’s 75th anniversary. Marvel commemorated the event by publishing each of their comics that month with a special cover that consisted of a close-up shot of the main character surrounded by a border made up of the companies most iconic heroes. Doug and I both really liked the look of these covers and thought that we should make an effort to buy a few additional titles. In those very early days we used to lay our comic collections out on the floor to admire and we imagined these themed covers would look great all lined up together. I remember one horrific incident when my Grandmother and my little sister Angie thought our comic collection looked like a dance floor and went to town on then. I still shudder when I think about it.
Anyway, the attempt at collecting the line wide collection of 75th anniversary covers led to us picking up a few titles that we may have otherwise never bought. Some of them (most, if not all) we ended up liking and so added them to our monthly pull list at the comic store. New Mutants springs to mind as a book I started collecting because of that random anniversary issue. We didn’t buy the Thor issue.
I remember having absolutely no interest in reading the Silver Surfer book because I thought he seemed lame. It was only when I was “forced” to buy his book because the “Life-Form” story line that had begun in the Punisher then continued into Daredevil and Hulk concluded in the Surfer’s book. After reading that one issue I fell in love with the character and never looked back. I cringe when I see companywide crossover events now but back in the day they definitely worked on me. If Marvel forced me into reading another title to see how a storyline carried on or ended, chances are I would end up collecting that book. The X-Men event “Inferno” of all things got me hooked on Daredevil when Doug and I attempted to buy all the related tie-in books. In Inferno a demon invasion resulted in inanimate objects springing to life. The Daredevil tie-in issue had him for fighting for his life against a vacuum cleaner; we were instantly hooked.
But when it came to Thor, we somehow managed to avoid him. Thor was one of Marvel’s big, popular, flagship characters and yet Doug and I never once collected his book. A crossover never came along that “forced” him on us and none of the random issues I acquired over the years ever enticed me enough to come back for more. Thor always seemed boring and looked goofy to me. That whole “Thor-speak” thing never appealed to me and his villains never captured my imagination either. I was a super-hero kid and Thor was too much fantasy and not enough super-hero in my mind. I feel that after a while everyone was taking Thor for granted. Marvel was not putting talented guys on the book and after a while people just didn’t really care about him. And so Marvel killed him. Not exactly shocking, Marvel kills everybody and some point or another and they always come back. Thor died and I didn’t care.
Around the same time other characters had also begun to feel stale. Captain America, Iron Man and the book that featured all 3 of them, the Avengers were all battling dwindling sales. It seemed maybe Marvel was losing its mojo. But then they did what they had to, they shook things up. The Avengers team as we know it was disassembled. Characters died, their mansion blew up, all hell broke loose and so the remaining members decided to call it quits. This didn’t last long of course. A new threat arose and the Avengers had to reform, this time as The New Avengers. The idea behind The New Avengers being that all of Marvel’s most popular characters should be on the Avengers in the same way that all of DC’s best characters are on the Justice League. And so Wolverine and Spider-Man became full time Avengers for the first time alongside reinvigorated regulars like Cap and Iron Man. But still no Thor, and I still didn’t really care. At least not at first but once I was a regular Avengers reader for the first time ever I did start to feel his absence after a while. As a founding member of the team it seemed as though he should be here for this Avengers renaissance. The book became Marvel’s top selling comic and its sister titles like Captain America and Iron Man began to climb up the sales charts as well.
When they did finally decide to bring Thor back from the dead, 3 years after his demise (which is a very impressive death length for a main character in the world of comics) I actually found myself excited. And the main reason for my excitement was the art of Olivier Coipel. I was not familiar with him prior to his art appearing in promotional material for the upcoming Thor book but it seemed a perfect match. I thought Thor looked cooler than he ever had before. His helmet sat low on his brow and he had chain mail on his arms and legs; he no longer looked like a relic of the golden age. And his face was changed, he wasn’t the pretty boy that he was before. He looked like a bruiser now. I feel Coipel did for Thor what Daniel Craig did for James Bond in that he made him believable again. The new Thor book written my J. Michael Straczynski turned out to be a fun read but it was the art that kept me around. And that’s how they got me. Marvel finally convinced me to give the character a shot and now I’m hooked even though Coipel and Straczynski are both long gone. The excellent Thor movie and his part in the Avengers film have increased my fondness of the character even more.
This 6” figure by Marvel Select is modelled after Coipel’s redesign of the character. It’s all there, the low helmet, the chainmail sleeves, the bruiser nose…I love it. I love when sculptors are able to truly capture an artist’s distinct style and translate it into 3 dimensions. This figure looks like a Coipel drawing that has jumped right off the page. The sculpt is amazing, the paint apps are stellar, the inclusion of his hammer and a display base is fantastic, I love this figure. If I had to whittle my Marvel collection down to one figure to display this guy would be a top contender. My only gripe, and it’s specific to my figure, is one of his god damn helmet feathers is backwards! I didn’t notice it when I initially bought him but once I opened it up and noticed the flaw it’s practically all I can see when I look at it. I wish it were a simple matter of taking it off and flipping it but it’s not. My Marvel Select Thor is cursed to walk around with a backwards feather on his head until the end of time. I guess I can chalk it up to a prank pulled by his brother Loki, the god of mischief. 10 out of 10. (when I overlook the production error)
I told you yesterday that I had 2 new packages arrive in the mail, 1 containing Masters of the Universe figures and 1 containing Beast Saga figures. I reviewed the Masters of the Universe Rattlor figure almost immediately upon opening the package and I planned on reviewing one of the Beast Saga figures today. When taking pictures of my new BS Rhinoceros figure I took a few comparison shots of him displayed next to the old Battle Beast Rhinoceros and that’s when I realized something. I’ve been so excited about these Beast Saga figures that I’ve basically been ignoring the line that inspired them, Battle Beasts. So I took a couple solo shots of my old Rhino figure while I had him out anyway and have opted to review him instead. I’ll get to the Saga version soon enough.
So this Battle Beast figure is called Sailon. Why is he called Sailon you ask? What does that even mean you wonder? Well I have no idea. I didn’t know what his name was when I was a kid. As I’ve told you many times, Battle Beast figures never came with names on the packages so I had to make up the names myself and I always took the easy way out by naming them all “Battle Whatever”. That usually worked out fine except for in a case like this where this was the second Battle Beast Rhinoceros figure. One of my very first BB figures was a rhinoceros whom I dubbed Battle Rhino but who I found out later was actually named Rocky Rhino. I assigned Rocky the leadership role of my “good guy” Battle Beasts. During the first three waves of Battle Beast figures there was very little in the way of animal repetition. The only example that I can think of is that there were 2 dogs but they were clearly different species. I named one Battle Dog and the other Battle Bulldog; a quick fix to be sure. But by the time the forth wave of BB figures hit the shelves we started seeing more repeats. I find it hard to believe that the sculptors at Takara would have run out of animal ideas after only 3 waves but that seems to be the case because in wave 4 they revisited bats, iguanas, moles, lions and more and even included a dragon. Now it could be argued that these weren’t repeat animals necessarily but variant species as was the case with the dogs. Rocky Rhino after all is clearly one of the more familiar 2 horned African Rhinoceros while Sailon here only has one horn which makes him an Indian Rhino. I avoided bringing race into the equation by simply calling him Battle Rhinoceros and I made him the brother of Battle Rhino.
Even though Battle/Rocky Rhino was one of my favorite figures I never felt as attached to Sailon. He always just seemed like the lesser Rhino to me and could never live up to his older brother. There’s nothing wrong with the figure per say it just lacks the wow factor that the original had. The head sculpt is actually quite similar other than the missing horn but the armor is rather bland and he lacks the wicked cool spiked ball fist that Rocky had. This guy does win out in the weapon category though, at least as far as sculpting goes. I actually prefer the beasts to have bladed weapons but when the forth wave came out their swords had been replaced with guns and each gun was molded to look like its carrier. It made it much easier to remember which weapon belonged to which beast. The rhino-gun is indisputably cool. The figure itself is a middle-of-the-pack Battle Beast for me.
I wasn’t sure which toy to review today but then I came home from work and found 5 brand new action figures had arrived in the mail; so today’s review will be hot off the presses. I had one package from BigBadToyStore that contained my wave 3 Beast Saga figures and another from Matty Collector containing my October He-Man purchases. Since I just reviewed a Beast Saga figure in my last post I figured I’d go the He-Man route today. New figures are available on the 15th of every month at mattycollector.com and October’s figure was the snake-man Rattlor. I also ordered an older figure that was being made available again for a limited time, King Grayskull. The Grayskull figure is pretty cool but he’s technically 4 years old and I figured you guys would rather hear about the brand new figure so here he is: Rattlor.
You may recall that my September mattycollector purchase was a snake-men 2 pack. That set consisted of 2 nameless snake soldiers that were created so collectors could pad the ranks of their Snake Army. King Hiss is said to lead a massive snake army after all and it can be hard to imagine that when you only have a handful of snake men figures. The 2 pack was great but I was surprised that we received such a pack when there were still so many “name” snake characters that had yet to receive a figure in the Classics line. Up to that point all we had was the aforementioned King Hiss and Kobra Kahn. We were still waiting on Snake-Face, Squeeze, Tongue-Lasher and most importantly Rattlor. Well luckily the lack of Rattlor was rectified a mere month later. Mattel has also announced that Snake-Face is planned for an April 2013 release but there’s still no sign of the others.
The Snake Men concept was added to the MOTU mythos a couple of years into the line. Kobra Kahn the mist spitting snake man was already a member of Skeletor’s evil warriors but he was originally just a random one off animal themed character like Mer-Man or Beast-Man. It was only after Mattel introduced King Hiss into the line that a back story was created and the snake men were retconned into the MOTU story. It was said that Hiss and his Snake Men ruled Eternia many years ago and created Snake Mountain to serve as their base of operations. However all but Kobra Kahn were banished into the void after a long battle with the elders of Eternia. Most of this was explained in the mini comics that came packaged with the figures as the Snake Men were released too late into the toy line to appear on the cartoon show. Rattlor and Tongue Lasher actually ended up on He-Man’s sister’s show, She-Ra: The Princess of Power. There they served as member’s of Hordak’s evil Horde and both were bumbling idiots as that was pretty much how all henchmen were portrayed in the cartoons.
The Snake-men finally got their chance to shine in the 2002 relaunch of He-Man and the Master’s Of The Universe. The Snake Men theme was trickled in during season 2 and by season 3 the Snake Men had completely taken over the role of arch nemesis to the masters. Skeletor and his evil warriors only appeared in a few episodes that year. The 2002 Snake Men were ruthless and were shown eating people on multiple occasions. Rattlor was bulked up substantially and he was made the general of King Hiss’s army. I loved how rattlor was portrayed in this series, far from a bumbling clown; perhaps one of the most competent villains on the show.
The 2002 figure that was released to coincide with the new show was also a vast improvement over the original. I loved the muscular, angular design. Though I will admit he looked much more lizardy than snakey with the added bulk. Unfortunately I never acquired the 2002 era figure myself. I never owned the original either for that matter. So when he became available in October as part of the Classics line I jumped at the chance to own my very first Rattlor figure. This figure reuses a lot of the parts used to create the orange Snake Man from the 2 pack which makes sense. How many body types can an army of Snake Men really have after all? And yet you would barely be able to tell that these figures share the same arms, legs and lower torso because the changes made to the other parts are so drastic. Rattlor features a brand new upper torso. This was done so that he could have his trademark rattle tail. Though unfortunately it doesn’t actually rattle like the tails of past releases. The head is also brand new and it is awesome. The open mouth and fangs look great and the scales flow very naturally into the neck and body. The extending neck (along with the rattling tail) was the signature move of past Rattlor figures. A twist of the waist would extend the neck that was hidden in the torso. This resulted in a stiff unnatural neck, especially on the vintage figure. This version has a snap on extending neck piece that you can choose to add or not. It’s not as graceful as past versions but it looks better and allows for better movement.
The paint job on this guy is absolutely killer. the yellow and blue stripes against the dark red give him a very unique look and he immediately catches your eye on a crowded toy shelf. The paint job on the eyes, yellow with a red slit of a pupil, makes Rattlor look full on crazy. He seems to be looking everywhere and nowhere at the same time. For accessories he includes the obligatory spiraling snake staff and an arm band that features the Horde logo in case you choose to display him with that group instead of with his fellow Snake Men. Another fantastic addition to the Classics line. Great job Mattel. 8 out of 10.
A couple of weeks ago the second wave of Beast Saga figures arrived in the mail. It was was a much smaller haul than the 14 figures I got in my wave 1 shipment. The second wave consisted of only 2 single carded figures ( a crocodile and a gorilla) and one 3 pack. As I’ve explained before the Beasts are divided into 3 distinct groups: land, sea and air. Up to this point each faction is made up of a 3-pack of figures that contains the faction’s leader plus two other beasts and then additional beasts can then be bought in single packs to pad the ranks. For some reason only the land and sea factions received a 3 pack in wave 1 and the air team was left leaderless. So for the past month and a half my air team as been significantly outnumbered by the other two teams. Well with the arrival of wave 2 the tide has turned in the air factions favor. Finally the air beasts have their leader, a noble eagle. At least I think it’s an eagle, could be a hawk. I don’t really know. Damn these figures and their illegible Japanese packaging. The other figures included in the 3 pack with the eagle were a pigeon (that one I’m sure on) and this guy, Saga Falcon. At least I’ve opted to call him a falcon, I’m not entirely sure about him either.
I’m also not entirely sure about this guy’s intended gender. The little She-Ra crown he’s wearing could be construed as rather girlie. The fact that his entire outfit is pink with teal highlights also calls his gender into question. Perhaps he’s intended to be a girl but the art on the playing card included with him does not depict him in a very feminine light. He looks tough to me. Maybe the fact that he’s wearing pink armor means that he’s extra tough. Only a real bad ass would wear pink on the battle field. I think I will designate Saga Falcon as the eagle’s second-in-command, a ruthless lieutenant. As a twist though Falcon will be on the down low. If you’re unsure what I mean by that let’s just say that when not on duty he spends a lot of time at the Bird Bath-House. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
The Beast Saga figures continue to impress me. This figure has loads of detail in his feathered wings and in his textured head and body. I’m not crazy about the armor on this figure and not because it’s pink but that doesn’t help. It just comes across as bland to me. The only thing that saves it is the inclusion of the spiky crown. I think the jagged edges of the crown, shin guards and cuffs are supposed to appear feathery but they come across as more crystal-like to me. I think a few more teal highlights would’ve helped to break up the dullness of the armor as well. The paint apps on the face are great though with the three-toned eyes and black tipped beak. This is my least favorite figure out of the 3 pack but it is by no means a bad figure. A welcome addition to my growing Beast Saga collection. 6 out of 10.
This here is Firestar. A C-list character if there ever was one. Unless you’re a big Marvel nerd like I am you probably have no idea who this is. Oddly enough Firestar is one of the earliest Marvel characters that I was exposed to and so I will always have a soft spot for her. Most of you are probably familiar with the Spider-Man cartoon from the 70s. Love it or hate it (I love it) it was a very good representation of the Spider-Man comic. A kid who discovered the character through the show could go pick up a comic book and understand what was going on pretty quickly with no confusion. Unfortunately that cartoon was a little before my time and the excellent 90s cartoon was a little after my time; I’m a child of the 80s. The 90s Spider-Man series was similar to the 70s version in that it was a very well-done adaptation of what was going on in the Spider-Man comic books at that time. A kid watching the 90s cartoon could pick up a Spidey comic book from the spinner rack at the grocery store and get right into the story with no confusion.
That is not the case with the past few modern animated takes on Spider-Man. Whether you’re watching Spider-Man Unlimited or Spectacular Spider-Man you’ll find that they’re rather far removed from the comics. The characters costumes are different, their ages are different, sometimes their race is different. Kids who enjoy the Spectacular Spider-Man show might be shocked to know that in the comics Peter Parker is not a teenager and that Gwen Stacy has been dead for years. I don’t know why they keep attempting to fix what isn’t broken but I suppose they have to re-invent the brand every few years to keep it feeling fresh. Now I could sit here like an old man bitching about how great Spider-Man cartoons were back in the good ol’ days and how crappy they’ve become to accommodate kids today but that wouldn’t be a fair assessment. The Spider-Man cartoon that I grew up with was actually one of the weirder ones. It didn’t take place on another world like Unlimited or cater to fans of the movies like Spectacular, it was just weird. The 1981 series was called Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends and starred Peter Parker as Spider-Man along with Bobby Drake as Iceman and Angelica Jones as Firestar. The three of them were college aged roommates who shared an apartment in Aunt May’s house . When there was trouble they would transform their apartment into a headquarters/secret base/batcave type of deal full of computer consoles and other silly stuff with the push of a button.
Iceman was a well-established Marvel character who was a founding member of the X-Men. He was about Spidey’s age in the comics and I guess it would make sense that they could be friends. Still, they never really had a relationship in the comic books other than a few random meetings so it seemed an odd pairing to base a tv show on. Firestar was a new character actually created for the show. She was not an established Marvel character and had never appeared in a comic book. Apparently the creators originally wanted to use the Human Torch as the fire powered third roommate to serve as a counter-point to Iceman’s ice powers but they weren’t able to for legal reasons. Johnny Storm, the Torch, was also a teen in the comic books and he and Spider-Man had an established relationship. All comic readers knew that Peter and Johnny had a rivalry/friendship that began way back in Amazing Spider-Man issue one when Spidey tried to join the Fantastic Four. I think the cockiness of Johnny Storm would’ve added a lot to the show and made for a better group dynamic. However, I’m glad they couldn’t go that route otherwise we probably never would’ve gotten Firestar.
Similar to how Harley Quinn became part of Batman’s comic book world, Firestar proved popular with fans of the show and so Marvel decided to integrate her into the official Marvel Universe. She was established as a mutant with microwave based powers in an issue of X-Men before spinning off into her own 4 issue limited series in 1984. From there she just kinda kicked around the Marvel Universe aimlessly for a good decade or so. She finally got her chance in the spotlight again when Marvel started a new series called The New Warriors about a bunch of teen super heroes looking for purpose. A new character, Night Thrasher, recruited Firestar along with other has-beens Nova, Marvel Boy, Namorita and Speedball to join his new team. The book became a fast favorite of mine and Dougs. I never would’ve believed that a writer could make a lame character like Speedball cool but Fabian Nicieza did it. The book was a joy to read for the first several years before it eventually faltered and got cancelled. In the years since, Firestar has reverted back to being a background character in the Marvel U. She had a short stint as an Avenger but now she mostly just pops up during big events like Civil War and Secret Invasion. But I’m not worried about her, I’m sure she’ll be back in the spotlight again one day. Who knows, maybe a new Amazing Friends cartoon is on the horizon. The old series is on Netflix now and I got to enjoy an episode the other day for the first time in over 20 years.
The figure was released in a Toys R Us Marvel Universe exclusive 3 pack; an homage to the Amazing Friends cartoon. I actually couldn’t believe Hasbro did it when I first saw it on the shelf. I thought the show was long forgotten by everyone, even my memories of it were hazy at best. The Spidey in the pack was the same one we had seen before and was nothing special but the set also contained the first Marvel Universe versions of Iceman and Firestar. Considering all of the mainstream characters who have yet to receive an MU figure I would’ve thought a Firestar would be years down the road if ever. It was a nice surprise to get her so early in the line. I just hope we get the rest of the New Warriors before too long, what a great boxed set that would make. The figure is rather scrawny but well-constructed. I’m glad that she isn’t overly articulated as her solid yellow tights would not hide joints very well. She’s got the standard MU articulation which is fine and allows for a fair degree of posability. The head sculpt is quite nice with the separately sculpted hair and mask. The hair does tend to push her head forward more than I would like but it’s a small gripe. The pack is worth buying for Firestar alone. 7 out of 10.
Today I have yet another Snake-Eyes figure to review. It seems there is no end to these things. There are over 60 versions of Snake-Eyes available and that’s only counting the 3 3/4 “ scale figures. The crazy thing is probably about 80% of them are relatively the same; solid black from head to toe. Every time I get a new Snake-Eyes action figure I think, “this is it, my last Snake-Eyes figure”. I already own more versions of Snake-Eyes than any other character and with so many great versions why on earth would I feel inclined to buy anymore. Well the problem is Snake-Eyes is often forced on me. Hasbro tends to include him in multi-packs and boxed sets and packaged with vehicles so I end up with a whole bunch of extra Snake-Eyes’ peripherally. Such is the case with this figure, the forty-seventh version of the character.
As big a G.I. Joe fanboy as I am you might be surprised to know that just a few short years ago my interest was wavering. 2009 was a strange time, that was the year that “Rise of Cobra” was released. When the news of a live action G.I. Joe movie first broke I was bursting with excitement. I began trolling around movie sites regularly to gobble up every leaked bit of information that I could find. My friends can attest to my enthusiasm as I posted each new bit of casting and production news on facebook followed by multiple exclamation points. The Joe comic was going well and the 25th anniversary toys were being released on a regular basis and improving in quality all the time. The property was in a good place and seemed poised to reclaim its throne as the best toy line ever. A lot hinged on the upcoming movie.
Well once production started and images began to hit the net my enthusiasm stalled. What the f#@k is Cobra Commander wearing? Marlon Wayans as Ripcord? Bland grey camo uniforms? A cameo by Brendan Fraser? I was worried. The brand had been building itself up for years and this turd of a movie had the potential to bring it all crashing down.
The movie managed to succeed and fail at the same time. It sucked, I know that, but I still think it was fun. It made good money, but not as much as the studios had hoped; they had been banking on Transformers level success. It increased awareness of the brand amongst adults and children but it also tarnished the brand. I’ve seen it many times and can enjoy it for what it is but I really really really hope they get it right the second time around. Again, a lot hinges on G.I. Joe : Retaliation.
The lackluster 2009 movie brought with it a solid year of lackluster toys. And not only were the toys based on the movie boring themselves but Hasbro cancelled the 25th anniversary line which I loved because they didn’t want to confuse consumers by having multiple Joe brands on shelves at the same time. The Rise of Cobra series gave us really plain figures, missile firing weapons (groan), so-so actor likenesses, and lots of character repetition. The Rise of Cobra was almost completely devoid of figures that interested me. I bought one Channing Tatum as Duke, one Marlon Wayans as Ripcord in his god-awful accelerator suit, along with a Breaker, Heavy Duty, Scarlett and a few Cobras. I passed on the Dennis Quaid as Hawk, the Brendan Fraser as Sgt. Stone and the Joseph Gordon Levitt as The Doctor. I skipped on a lot of those figures. If this was to be the direction of the Joe toy line for the foreseeable future then I wasn’t gonna stick around much longer. Luckily the Rise of Cobra line morphed into the superior Pursuit of Cobra line which was kind of a hybrid of the movie universe and the Real American Hero universe. This was followed by the 30th anniversary line and by then we were back on track getting some of the best Joe figures ever.
Knowing that the toy line survived beyond that stinker of a movie and its related toys made me resent those figures much less. I actually find myself wanting to go back and collect some of those figures I initially passed on. That’s where this Snake-Eyes comes from. For the past 3 years, every time I go into Zellers I see literally dozens of the “G.I. Joe Rescue Mission” set clogging the shelves. This set contains a Channing Tatum Duke in his training outfit, this Snake-Eyes and 2 metallic blue Neo-Vipers. Even though I initially hated the Neo-Vipers they have grown on me over time and I’m a sucker for collecting at least one of each trooper variation. I’ve considered buying this set many times just to get a blue Neo-Viper but he’s not worth the $35 Zellers was asking for the set. I’ve been waiting for them to reduce the price but, even though the movie is almost 4 years old and they have hoards of this set, the stubborn bastards have not budged on the price.
Well finally Zellers is marking things down as they’re being bought out by Target. Andrew called me the other day to say he was at Zellers and they had marked the set down to $18 so I finally pulled the trigger and asked him to pick it up for me. Now that I actually have this set in hand, with the bad taste left in my mouth from the film completely rinsed away, I find myself really liking it. The Neo-Vipers look great in blue, I actually like the Duke and to my surprise I find myself loving the Snake-Eyes. How, after 46 previous releases, Hasbro still manages to thrill me with another Snake-Eyes is beyond me. However I will do my best to explain it. The head is awesome. It’s sleek and smooth and lacks any wrinkles, seems and (thank god) facial features.
One of my biggest gripes about the movie was the fact that Snake-Eyes had sculpted lips on his mask. Why would he have those? It was a costuming debacle on par with the bat nipples if you ask me. This figure lacks said lips and it is much better than other movie based Snake-Eyes figures as a result. The body is brand new and like the head it’s sleek and cool. It’s got enough going on to keep it from being boring but it isn’t overwhelmed with detail. This body was quickly re-used for City-Strike Snake-Eyes, a fan favorite who perhaps overshadowed this one to some degree. I love the glossy black finish used on the visor and on various parts of his costume. He’s got some cool but simple weapons packed with him including a sword with sheath that attaches to the back of his belt and multiple guns. I’m honestly not sure why I like him so much but I do. If you’ve got a Zellers nearby go out and grab this set for yourself. 8 out of 10.
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Or this, the marauders boxed set marked down to $35.00:
Here’s another awesome Gundam figure which I know nothing about. I was buying a lot of Gundam figures back in the late 90s and early 2000s. The properties of my childhood like G.I. Joe and He-Man hadn’t yet made their comebacks and I was looking for some cool toys to collect. YTV had just began importing Gundam cartoons at this time and Bandai released these corresponding figures. It was the first time that Gundams had been mass marketed to North Americans even though the property had been big in Japan for decades. I immediately fell in love with the look of them. They reminded me of Robotech, the only Japanese cartoon to which I have any real attachment because it aired after school when I was a kid. Other than Robotech I was never able to get into anime. And Gundam was no different. I tried to watch the show on YTV and I even bought an animated movie on DVD but I found it all pretty unbearable. So I kept on buying the toys but had no idea what the background of the characters were. The figures got repetitive pretty quickly with Bandai releasing the same mechs (or mobile suits) over and over again with only slight modifications so I stopped buying them after about 2 years.
I did notice however that as soon as I decided to quit buying them, the figures I started seeing at stores were much more interesting looking. These new figures were based a the “Mobile Fighter G Gundam” cartoon as opposed to the “Mobile Suit Gundam” cartoon which the figures I had previously been collecting were based on. I was tempted to get back into collecting them but resisted; by this time G.I. Joe and He-Man and returned to store shelves and thats where my money was going.
Every now and again though I get nostalgic for Gundams and I’ll order a couple on ebay. Almost every Gundam that I’ve bought in recent years have been from the Mobile Fighter G Gundam series. The reason those mobile suits are so fun to collect is because the figures are intended to represent different countries and some of them are full on racist. Actually racist may be too strong a word but they’re definitely based on some stereotypes that boarder on the offensive. I’ve previously reviewed the English, French and Canadian Gundams from the series. None of those ones are offensive necessarily but you can see the cliched stereotypes integrated into their designs. I love it.
I’m not actually sure what this guy’s name is. I’ve seen him called both Pharaoh Gundam and Mummy Gundam. Either way, he’s obviously the Mobile Suit that represents Egypt. His headdress is clearly inspired by the those worn by pharaohs of ancient Egypt and it looks great. The rest of his body is completely covered in bandages. I’m not sure why anyone would mummify a robot but what do I know. Gundam figures are usually loaded with articulation but this figure has almost none. He only has joints at the neck and shoulders and they provide only the most basic of movements. The stiffness adds to his mummified authenticity I suppose. When I googled this guy to try and find out some information on him I couldn’t find a single mention of or a single picture of him all bandaged up. I’m not sure if he ever actually appeared this way on the animated series but I don’t care. I think he’s super cool and he definitely stands out from the pack. I did find a picture of this figure carded which I had never seen before. I bought mine as is , loose on ebay. Apparently he was included with another figure, a fully articulated battle damaged bandage-free version of the character. So it would appear as though this Mummy version was included almost as an accessory to the articulated figure. Regardless, I like this one better. 6 out of 10.
In one of my very early reviews on this site I covered the lead singer of the California Raisins whom I discovered was named Tiny Goodbite. When I sat down to write that review I actually had no idea that any of the raisins actually had names. There was a Raisins cartoon that aired for a short while in the 80s and I knew those characters had names but the cartoon didn’t feature any of the characters established in the figure line. The figures were released through a fast food chain and didn’t come in fancy packaging that provided names for the characters. So growing up I simply referred to them as lead singer, dancer with blue sneakers, dancer with orange sneakers, and saxophone player. But using the modern marvel that is the internet I now know that these character actually had extremely clever names. The singer was Tiny Goodbite, the blue dancer was Justin X Grape (get it?), the orange dancer was Ben Indasun (get it?) and the saxophone player was… saxophone player. Apparently 3 clever raisin puns was all they could muster. So I had this guy’s name right all along.
I don’t really have much to say about this wrinkled hunk of plastic. With no name and no background story to tell you about I’m left with nothing but my own thoughts to offer you. I covered all of my generic California Raisin memories in the last review. I like this figure quite a bit. Considering they were basically just happy meal toys the amount of detail in these raisin figures is amazing. The figures don’t have any moving parts; they’re just solid plastic figurines kind of like Smurfs or Snorks. Their thin plastic limbs are quite malleable though which allows for some slight movement. Unlike Tiny, Justin and Ben though, Sax’s hands are stuck to his horn and his horn is stuck in his mouth so there’s basically no movement at all. He just stands in the back of the group looking good. The emotion and intensity sculpted into each raisins face is insane. This guy looks like he’s about to burst a blood vessel because he’s giving it his all on that sax. His eyes are squeezed shut and his cheeks are puffed out, its really quite impressive.
But yeah, that’s all I’ve got. 6 out of 10.