Monday, September 29, 2008

Cancelled Action Figure Cavalcade: Dragonball

Welcome to the first installment of Cancelled Action Figure Cavalcade. Check out the introduction if you haven't already. As hinted at in a previous post, we're going to start off with Dragonball.

Dragonball's short run in syndication was accentuated by an equally short lived toyline produced by Bandai. When they decided to skip ahead to the Dragonball Z episodes, Bandai followed suit. Originally Bandai planned a very extensive toyline for DBZ. The line was revealed in the catalogs packaged with other Bandai products. However very little of it would actually reach stores.

The casualties included a basic assortment of figures that were similar to other Bandai lines at the time such as Power Rangers and Beetleborgs. The figures would have featured simple action features.

Also unreleased were these eight inch figures with light-up energy balls. Years later when Irwin Toys acquired the rights to produce Dragonball toys they would release similar figures in their five inch line.

These Blasting Energy figures actually were released with two exceptions. The Gohan and Krillin figures were not included in the final assortment. Irwin eventually produced a Krillin with a Kienzan (Destructo Disc) feature but it was a new original mold.

Under Irwin Toys the Dragonball toy line flourished. One figure planned by Irwin was Super Saiyan Goku wearing a jacket and slacks as seen in the period before the Cell Games. The figure was originally delayed from its assortment and eventually replaced by Angel Goku. As you can see prototypes for this figure still exist and some pieces have fallen into the hands of collectors.

IF Labs was an offshoot of Irwin Toys in which they collaborated with Funimation. To this day I have no clue just what exactly was the nature of this collaboration. Under IF Labs a new line of figures were produced based on the original Dragonball. These figures were in a larger scale than the five inch Dragonball Z figures. The third series was to include Chi-Chi, Ninja Murasaki, Jackie Chun and the Ox King. They were never released and in fact only the Ox King was ever shown.

Instead the plan was to skip to the fourth series which included General Blue, Giant Pirate Robot, Android #8, and a powered-up Master Roshi. These figures were scaled down to five inches so to be compatible with the main DBZ line. However Irwin declared bankruptcy before this happened. Jakks Pacific obtained the Dragonball license and released these figures. However Android #8 was replaced by new figures of young Goku and Krillin. Android #8 was never released.

There were several Irwin concepts that were scuttled when the company went under. They were planning to return to the early episodes and release unproduced characters such as Tien, Zarbon, a Saibaman, Guldo, and a HFIL demon. The whole line would have adopted a "Blasted" theme and many toys were to be re-released with new battle damaged deco. I think we might of dodged a bullet on that front.

Jakks Pacific had their fair share of cancelled figures as well. In the above picture you can see a pair of figures of Oozaru, the Saiyan's ape form. Neither ever came out which is a shame. I would have also loved to have seen an adult Oozaru wearing Saiyan armor. The yellow Shenron dragon in the background was also canned. Fortunately the red Shenron and Porunga dragons did make it to stores.

As the line went on Jakks' releases became more erratic. Sometimes a figure one assumed had been long cancelled would arrive on toy shelves with little fanfare. One product shown at a toy show but not released in its completed form was Frieza form I riding in his hover chair. The Frieza figure was released but his hover chair was banished to toy limbo.

Jakks' toy line limped to an end and now Bandai has reclaimed the Dragonball license. If history has shown us anything it's that the Bandai line won't happen without a few cancellations along the way.

Cancelled Action Figure Cavalcade: An Introduction

Cancelled Action Figure Cavalcade is a new feature here on the A Fistful of Suck. CAFC is the result of my overabundant nostalgia. I was tempted to make a straightforward tribute to the action figure lines of the recent past but I thought it best to have a stronger focus. It will be a tribute to action figures that were once in some stage of planning to be released but never were. This will include individual figures, lines that ended before their time and even lines that were never released at all. It will be a feature of reminiscing and sometimes outright mourning.

The primary resource for this project will be the remnants of toy show archives with the gaps filled in with my own fractured memories. The internet has changed a lot in a relatively short amount of time and a lot of once useful resources for action figure information are no longer around. I've scavenged the depths of the web to find evidence of action figures that were denied their chance to exist. Here on Cancelled Action Figure Cavalcade we will honor these "never-weres" and give them at least one chance in the spotlight.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Blu Knight

Man my timing has been off lately. If I had waited a day to post yesterday's JADBIC then I could've included these Dark Knight pics. So far only the packaging for the Blu-Ray discs have been revealed so far.

The Blu-Ray features the Bat-Pod on the slipcover with the Joker on the keepcase insert.

And it seems that the back of one (I'm not sure if this is the slipcover or the actual case) will be "tagged by the Joker" while presumably the other will be clean.

There will also be a limited edition with a Bat-Pod sculpture. The discs themselves come in an odd case that seems to connect to the Bat-Pod's base.

The Digital Bits has several pics of the Region 2 editions of the movie coming to the United Kingdom. We've seen before that the U.K. version doesn't always match up with we get in the States. So I'd take these pics with a grain of salt. Case in point the Blu-Ray version is cleary different than the one for Region 1 posted above. They do have the same Joker image on the case but with a different slipcover.

I have to say I think I prefer the U.K. cover with Batman standing in front of the "bat-shaped explosion" over the Bat-Pod. I had figured that those two images would be the ones used for the DVD packaging but I wrongly guessed the Bat-Pod would be on the single disc DVD and the "explosion" would be used on the two-disc DVD and the Blu-Ray. It's an "action" image versus an "epic" one and I'm a bigger fan of "epic".

BTW the T.W.E.C. (fye, Suncoast) exclusive steelbook will feature the same artwork as the R1 Blu-Ray except without the slipcover. It'll have the Bat-Pod on the front and the Joker on the back. I prefer when exclusives use unique artwork. This image is screaming for a three-way lenticular slipcover.

The United Kngdom is also getting an Amazon exclusive Bat-mask packaging, pictured above. There's a possibility a U.S. retailer will carry it over here. It would make a great companion piece to Target's exclusive Iron Man helmet case being released next Tuesday.

Updated 9/27: Two-disc special edition DVD

Updated 9/29: Single disc edition DVD

Updated 10/1: Exclusive steelbook DVD (Sorry for the glare)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Judging A DVD By Its Cover 6

The single disc edition uses the same artwork as the theatrical poster. I was a never big fan of that poster artwork. There's nothing wrong with it, I just don't feel strongly about it.

I much prefer the two-disc DVD and Blu-Ray disc artwork. It's very similar to the single disc version but with the group replaced by Anakin Skywalker by himself and the starships removed completely. It's less cluttered and Anakin is cool enough without the others.

Best Buy will have an exclusive steelbook featuring Captain Rex. This is my most anticipated steelbook of the year now, more so than Iron Man and The Dark Knight. (Yes a Dark Knight steelbook is coming.) Fingers crossed this isn't the last Star Wars steelbook we see.

Target will have exclusive cover art featuring Commander Fox of the Corscuant Guard. Target has been using Fox and his Legion on in-store decorations and for exclusive merchandise including action figures, costumes, and helmets. Why? Branding synergy. Target is a retailer that uses a lot of red so they give prominent exposure to the red clone troopers. It may sound odd but that's the reasoning behind it.

The exclusive artwork is the same as the single disc artwork but with the main group pushed into the background to make room for Commander Fox. It would've been nice if they had been a little more creative, like the Best Buy exclusive with Captain Rex.

This was going to be an all Clone Wars edition of JADBIC but I decided to throw in these other two DVDs. This is Kevin Smith's third live Q&A performance DVD and of the three this one has the best artwork yet. I like the self-deprecating nod of subtitling this one Sold Out. Still it's not as clever as the second DVD's subtitle Evening Harder.

I've been wanting an opportunity to decry the marketing of the Get Smart movie. The gimmick of obstructing the actors' faces is not funny. Plus what is up with the "62% more laughs" blurb. How did they come to that number? Do they have a mathematician on the payroll to figure this out? They even seem to openly admit that it's a crock by putting "laughs" in quotations.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Anime Fansubs: They Suck

I find modern anime fansubs to be ludicrously awful. The first time I watched this documentary on YouTube it felt like a cathartic release to observe someone detail the many ways fansubs are terrible. I'd feel remiss if I didn't try to share it with others. It's in five parts but it's a good watch that goes by fast. I'd skip the hypothetical ├╝ber fansub of Speed Grapher at the end though. It's truly awful but sadly it really isn't that far from reality.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Successful Experiment

It's like losing a dear friend. Relive the glory at Toonami Digital Arsenal and make sure to watch the final send off. See if you can catch an all too fitting reference to an anime classic.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Dragonball's Retail Resurrection

My interest in Dragonball is inherently tied to my action figure collecting. While I believe I had heard of the show before, the first time the series really showed up on my radar was when I saw the original Bandai Dragonball toys in a store one day. By this point I was already developing an attraction to the Japanese aesthetic so, with my interest piqued, I ended up waking up at 5AM one fine Saturday morning to watch the show. I never did get those original Bandai figures though. Indeed I didn't buy any Dragonball figures until years later when Irwin Toy had begun producing their own original line for Dragonball Z. Since then the license to produce Dragonball toys has bounced to Jakks Pacific and now it's returned to Bandai.

At the tail end of Jakks' tenure with Dragonball, their toys were mostly repaints and alterations cobbled together from past releases. Plus their availability was quite limited by that point. With Bandai producing the toys now, they seem to be out in full force at Toys R Us and Wal-Mart. These newest figures don't really hold my interest. Some of them look to be unarticulated Japanese figurines repackaged for the North American market. Others toys, like the Goku and Piccolo with the control stick things, are too gimmicky. I think I'll be continuing to take a break from Dragonball figures for the time being, though I might make an exception for a Piccolo figure that has a regenerating arm action feature.

Still they have gotten me thinking about the Dragonball toys of yesteryear. This in turn got me to thinking about other toys and what might have been. As a result of all this I'm planning a new reoccurring feature here on AFOS. It's taken me a little longer than I thought it would but hopefully I'll get to introduce it soon.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Judging a DVD By Its Cover 5

The single disc edition of Hellboy 2: The Golden Army uses a zoomed-in version of the theatrical poster art. That bugged me at first but now I think I prefer it with Hellboy filling the entire image. I'm also glad the "Believe it or or not, he's the good guy" tagline is nowhere to be found on the DVD. I never cared for that.

There will also be a three-disc set that's sure to be filled with Del Toro-y goodness. It uses the character shot of Hellboy himself tightly framed in a black border. It's pretty plain looking for such a visually impressive film.

The X-Files: I Want To Believe is coming to DVD and Bu-Ray in a three-disc Ultimate X-Phile Edition (groan). Both formats use the theatrical poster art which depicts Mulder and Scully casting some long shadows. It plays into the themes of The X-Files well, but it's too obvious that they just pasted the actors' faces on a CG rendering. Still it's not bad.

Although there is something to be said for artwork that incorporates actual elements from the film. I think I like this artwork even better, although I admit Mulder and Scully's faces still don't look quite right.

The first X-Files movie is coming to Blu-Ray with redesigned artwork that matches the new film. It's not as good as the "I Want To Believe" art or even the original "Fight the Future" art. It makes Mulder and Scully look like shadowy giants that roam the cornfields. This Blu-Ray disc will feature several new extras but as of this writing there is no news of the movie being re-released on DVD.

The single disc theatrical edition Hancock uses the theatrical poster art. It's simple and effective. That's unquestionably Will Smith there underneath the beanie, sunglasses, and stubble.

The cover art for the two-disc Unrated edition, however, is absolutely awful. Simply judging it on its own merits, it's passable even with a bit too much photoshop effects. The real problem with this artwork is that it's a huge spoiler. Seriously why the heck would they approve this?

This is a bundle containing the first two volumes of Gurren Laggan. Based on past Bandai sets of this sort, I'm guessing it's an oversized slipcover wrapped around the two individual DVD cases. I really dig it, probably more than I should. I like the minimalism of the artwork and that it looks like worn metal. Again it's likely just a throw-away piece of cardboard but it's cheaper and more efficient than buying the volumes separately and I think it's neat.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Back To The Haul

Today's haul covers the entire time period that's passed since whenever the last time it was that I shared some haulage. So much for regular updates. There's some good stuff here including what's been a Holy Grail of mine for much of this year.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Hello Nurse

The release of the newest sequel in the Silent Hill series is almost upon us. The game is Silent Hill: Homecoming and it'll feature the return of a number of fan favorite creatures like Pyramid Head and the less than modest Nurses. Hey when your face looks like that you've got to work with what you have.

Once again someone, this time a war veteran, is out looking for missing loved ones, this time a father and brother, and their search leads them to the eerie abandoned town of Silent Hill. Yeah they don't take a lot of liberties with the formula. Silent Hill 4: The Room was a departure for the series and it was met with mixed results. I guess if it's not broke then don't fix it.

Team Silent, the development team that's worked on every entry in the series except for the recent Silent Hill: Origins for the PSP isn't working on Silent Hill: Homecoming either. This newest game is being produced by U.S. based The Collective. This changeover has caused concerns from fans on the internet and while they might have a point I don't think outsourcing a Japanese created series to a Western development team necessarily means a death knell for the series. Metroid Prime is proof of that. Silent Hill: Homecoming will be released on September 30th for the PS3 and X-Box 360.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Target Loves Halloween

A few days ago I was away from my usual stomping grounds and stopped by a Target that blew away any of my local ones in both size and in the variety of items it carried. Plus this Target was fully stocked for Halloween. Clearly Target loves Halloween. And they love Domo-kun. (Apologies in advance for the fluorescent store lighting.)

That's a giant plush of an eyepatch wearing Domo hanging from the ceiling.

Granted not everthing at Target was all about the Domo.

I like Jones Cola fine but the one Halloween flavor I've tried, candy corn, tasted like the worst kind of cough syrup with none of the medicinal benefits.

Jones Cola may have the funky flavors but they can't beat these beverages in the bottle department.

Seeing DVDs in the seasonal department is like seeing your parents in your classroom when you were a kid. It's very disconcerting to your world. Because I'm easily impressed by such things I really like the lenticular covers on some of these.

They make girl specific editions for everything now.

The Transformers Animated Optimus Prime has a mighty impressive chin.

Here's an innovative idea, instead of those restrictive buckets how about some nylon bags for those very determined Trick Or Treaters. They certainly look better than a pillow case or a garbage bag...

and some feature your favorite licensed characters...

at least one of which is pretty dang creative. Watch out or Zapito will take your candy.

Behold the love child of Darth Maul and the Grim Reaper.

One of the things that made the Joker's appearance in The Dark Knight stand out was that his hair wasn't thoroughly green, but the hair on this mask is clearly brown. Oh sure he has some feint green highlights if you look hard enough but this mask is not representative of how he look onscreen.

Doesn't parading around as their company mascot create free advertising for Burger King? Or do you have to actually break into someone's house and serve them something from the Burger King menu before they send you a paycheck?

These were in on an endcap with a bunch of other Halloween toys. They're rubber slingshot things parading as monster plush.

The toys hey have include Halloween versions of Play-Doh, Hot Wheels, My Little Pony and whatever Barbie's little sister is called. Most interesting to me is Mr. Potato Head. I'd say his Halloween costume lacks focus.

This shirt is woven from one hundred percent genuine awesomeness.