Saturday, August 29, 2009

Cancelled Action Figure Cavalcade: Darkwing Duck

So in yesterday's post I mentioned that there aren't that many toys I had as a kid that I feel a lot of nostalgia for. Darkwing Duck is a good example why. I don't know why I was into Darkwing Duck. I guess I was just really up for anything containing any remote superhero conventions. But at the time I was a fan and even had some of the toys. Of course I didn't have any from the second series, but no one did. The second series was never produced.

I don't know where this scan came from but it's been circulating around the internet for awhile now. I don't know if that vehicle was ever on the show, but let's take a look at the figures. The Bizarro Darkwing and harlequin duck look good. The Liquidator design is awesome. (To learn how not to make a toy of a water based character, see the Toy Biz Hydroman figure.) Gizmoduck would be great but it's too bad that they had to make the "wheel leg" flat so that the figure could stand on its own. The other characters look fine as toys, they're just not that interesting. The two guys in suits were definitely destined to wind up in clearance bins. It may have been for the best that these weren't released. Granted I am in no place to judge the viability of Darkwing Duck merchandise. They were able to get my money, well my parents' money anyways.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Mark Of Jurassic Park

I'm a big Jurassic Park fan as I've mentioned before. I had a lot of Kenner's Jurassic Park action figure line as a kid. It's one of the few toylines that I had as a kid that I feel real nostalgic for. I think part of that is because there hasn't been any attempt by toy companies at new modern JP figures. However Hasbro has done a lot to keep their toys in circulation even without any outside media support. Jurassic Park toys were available at KB Toys up until they closed down. Now they're coming to Toys R Us.

This assortment consists almost entirely of repaints from the original Jurassic Park III line. I never had any of the JP III toys so these are all new to me. I've got mixed feelings about these figures. I think the Dino Battlers look far too simplistic. They have no articulation and zero sense of scale. The Dino Trackers are alright but I'd like them better if the humans didn't come packaged with a Dino Battler. I like the Battle Growlers because they're highly reminiscent of the old Kenner line, complete with "Dino Damage".

The one item that isn't originally from the JP III line is the large scale Tyrannosaurus Rex. It was first released as the "Bull" T-Rex in the toyline for the second movie. I did have a few The Lost World toys but not nearly as much as I did for the first movie. I didn't have the Bull T-Rex which had an action features that allowed it to eat humans, which is all kinds of awesome to a young dinosaur fan. There's no mention of this feature on the packaging of the new re-release. It seems likely that Hasbro dropped it, probably to save costs. That would be too bad if that's the case.

I should probably say something about the color schemes. They're petty vibrant to say the least. Nobody knows what a dinosaur really looksed like, so the idea of one look being considered less realistic than another is a bit silly. That being said the magma colored Dilophosaurus is pretty out there. I'm actually more laid back about this sort of thing than I was when I was a kid. I didn't like the Chaos Effect toyline when it came out, but now I have to say those were actually a neat idea. If there's one thing that should never be taken too seriously, it's toys.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My 10 Favorite Comic Book Movies

Welcome to ta special co-collaboration between A Fistful Of Suck & Inside the Briefcase. This was born out of a conversation between two fellow bloggers about comic book based movies. We decided to create a list of our ten personal favorites and see how our choices compare to each other. So be sure to also read Inside the Briefcase.

10. Spider-Man 2 is a showcase for the trials of Peter Parker. With some rewriting one could remove all the superhero elements and still have an effective story. Still those superhero elements are nothing to scoff at either. Spidey and Doc Ock have some fantastic looking battles against each other.

9. Spider-Man is comprised of great scenes but I think my favorites are the quieter moments like when Peter talks with Mary Jane or his Aunt. Still there are a lot of great things about this move. William Dafoe kills as Norman Osborn, even in the odd Green Goblin outfit they give him to wear. J.K. Simmons steals the show as J. Jonah Jameson.

8. I didn't really like Superman Returns all that much the first time I saw it. Superman gets reinterpreted for every generation and Superman Returns followed the original film series, instead of being based on anything from my own years of Superman fandom. However I rewatched it few times and it actually grew on me. I'd call it a case of flawed posit that ended up being very well executed.

7. Iron Man looked insanely promising from the very first teases we got of it. In fact if it has a failing it's that it held very little surprises for me the first time I saw it. That's because I went in with high expectations and Iron Man completely met them. The cast and the story were spot on. Plus the armor design based on the artwork of Adi Granov was a thing of geek beauty.

6. Spider-Man 3 is easily my favorite of the Spider-Man movies. It has the best action scenes, the best villains, and to me the most interesting dynamic between Peter and Mary Jane. It also has the most apparent problems of any movie in the series, mainly that there are too many plot threads to give the right amount of attention during the movie's running time. Yet I can overlook that and enjoy it for what it is. The highest compliment I can give is that when Venom first appears, his voice sounded exactly as I always imagined it in my head.

5. X-Men kicked off the explosion of comic book adaptations at the beginning this decade. I ha no idea what to expect going into the movie but I tried to brace myself for the worst. So it was a pleasant surprise that it turned out pretty good. X-Men treated the characters with respect which was nice to see in a post Batman & Robin world. The movie was great and it gave the world Hugh Jackman in the role he was born to play, well except for the fact that he's too tall.

4. As entertaining as X-Men is, it’s outdone by its own sequel X2, which was awkwardly rechristened X2: X-Men United for the marketing campaign. X2 has so many great moments from the thrilling opening scene of Nightcrawler fighting off Secret Service agents in the White House all the way to the very last shot of the movie teasing the coming of the Phoenix.

3. I just rewatched The Dark Knight in its entirety a few days ago so unlike the rest of the films on this list it's really fresh in my mind. So much so that I was tempted to rank the movie higher on the list. It's easy to praise The Dark Knight too much. It's not perfect but when you consider everything the film has going for it including the intricate plotting and Heath Ledger's Oscar winning performance it does comes alarmingly close.

2. Before the V For Vendetta movie I knew next to nothing about the Alan Moore penned graphic novel upon which it's based. Yet I was greatly interested in the movie from the time I first saw the trailer, then I caught it in theatres and later bought the DVD. I guess I am capable of liking things that I haven't been into since I was a kid. I think V is a great character. I'd classify him as a superhero, even if he's also a terrorist.

1. Batman was the first major film I remember being really excited for. (Except maybe for the live action Masters of the Universe but I have no memories of its theatrical run.) I'm a fan of Tim Burton's output in general and I think Batman remains one of his better efforts. Yes there are a couple of awful twists in the last act of the movie but I can forgive them. Batman is my favorite comic book movie and is amongst my favorite movies of all time.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Space Marines vs. Jungle Smurfs

Mattel has revealed their upcoming toyline based on James Cameron's Avatar. (That's the one with the CGI blue aliens, not the one with the flying bald kid.) What's interesting is that they're doing so on established social websites Flickr and Twitter, instead of their own website. I suppose that says more about what's considered the best ways to disseminate information these days. I didn't think the Avatar trailer was too compelling, but the promise of some mech action is still going to be a big draw for me.

You can see the rest of the toys on Mattel's Flickr page. There's a decent mix of aliens and military types. It looks as though there will be there will be figures in two different scales. The larger more detailed figures carry the name "Movie Masters" which is what Mattel has called their collector oriented The Dark Knight and Ghostbusters lines. The smaller figures are probably 3.75 inches and will be compatible with the vehicles. If you pay close attention to the characters' names you can easily figure out what will probably be a big aspect of the plot, but I won't give it away here.

You know, the female blue alien appears to be awfully under-dressed, at least by the typical standards of a mass market toyline. I guess they can get away with it because she's not human but she does possess enough humanoid attributes. It's probably very wrong of me that I even noticed this.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

It's Prime Time

Transformers Revenge of the Fallen comes to DVD and Blu-ray Disc on October 20th. I'll be looking forward to that day. I really liked the extras on the first film's DVD and hopefully the sequel's extras will be just as good. As you can see the artwork for these releases are all quite Optimus Prime centric and deservedly so. I just hope there's an "Optimus Cuts Your Face Off" Edition.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

State Of The Action Figures has an article up about the action figure industry and fandom. It's a pretty good read. I think it sums up a lot about the hobby fairly well. It touches on aspects such as the move to 3.75" scale figure, the build-a-figure phenomenon, and what happens when the action figures themselves become marketable characters.

The article includes quotes from Micheal Crawford, a toy reviewer I've been reading for as long as I've had internet access, and it features a term he's coined "Nerd Hummel". I'm all for the popularization of "Nerd Hummel" but I wouldn't lump Urban Vinyl figures into that category. I suppose they fit but when I hear "Nerd Hummel" I think of statues and those action figures that lack any action. It is cool to see how much Urban Vinyl is catching on with even some Targets carrying them.

Todd McFarlane has some choice words in the article. He mentions how many of the retailers that used to carry his stuff no longer exist. He also doesn't think video game toylines are being given a fair shake. He also calls the toy companies to task for learning the wrong lessons from success. He hits the nail on the head with his example of the Hulk Hands which spawned Shrek and King Kong hands and Thing feet. The biggest thing to come out of this article though might be the covert announcement that McFarlane is producing figures based on next year's Prince of Persia movie.

Shifting gears a bit, Dread Central has an article about Mezco Toys of which I've been interested in lately. They clarified the situation with the Cinema of Fear line. Mezco has lost the licenses for Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th but they still have the license for Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Originally New Line Cinema packaged the films as a single license but apparently the rights to Chainsaw have reverted back to Tobe Hooper. (That is an intriguing development even apart from the merchandising. So no more Chainsaw movies, at least not with the Hewitt family?) Mezco still has the rest of the year to release Nightmare and Friday products. They had quite a bit in the pipeline and I hope they can get it all out there.

They also have the newly acquired Halloween II license. That awesome looking hobo Micheal Myers will come out next year along with Leatherface from the third TCM. The more traditional looking Micheal comes out later this year and will have to compete with a re-release of the NECA figure from the first movie. Will NECA and Mezco be able to both survive and thrive side by side?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Brave New PlayStation 3

Sony has announced the PS3 Slim for release in just two weeks. The new model is slimmer, lighter and uses less power than the previous PS3. The price is $299. That's not a bad deal, all things considered. The PS3 Slim's hard drive is 120 GB, which is better than most of the earlier PS3 models. Although there are already rumors that Sony is sitting on a 250 GB version for release sometime down the road. That's not surprising. They stayed quiet about the PS3 Slim's existence for a long time in spite of the numerous news leaks.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Cobra Unveils Its New Model

JoeCon 2009 was held in Kansas City, Missouri this weekend. I've been catching up on coverage of the con at The Terror Drome. Hasbro has shown off a lot of their 2010 lineup. They'll be continuing the Rise of Cobra line but with original designs "inspired by" the movie. I'm really digging a lot of this stuff. My favorite piece is this early prototype for an updated HISS Tank. Cobra engineering is beautifully insane. I want to see a more complete version now, but that probably won't happen until Toy Fair at the soonest.

The Terror Drome is a good site. I don't think I mentioned it here before, but I helped contribute to their site awhile back. My crippling Slurpee addiction ended up being surprisingly useful for at least one occasion.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Big Boxes Of Superheroes

Warner has announced two DVD complete series for release later this year; Justice League on November 10th and Superman: The Animated Series on November 24th. The Justice League boxset includes both the original series and the follow-up series Justice League Unlimited on fourteen discs. A bonus 15th disc will also be included as an exclusive to this set. Superman: The Animated Series will be on six discs (but some of those discs will be double-sided) and have a seventh disc with a look at Darkseid.

I'm surprised they announced both of these so close to each other. They should have saved one for next year. It would be easier on the fans' wallets. Plus last year's Batman: The Animated Series complete collection came in an elaborate package with a hardcover book. These two boxsets are a lot plainer by comparison. I'm not bothered myself because at least these sets will fit easily on a shelf.

One last thing to note, the first season of Justice League was released on Blu-ray Disc quite some time ago but Warner hasn't announced any further DC animated TV releases for the format since then. It's too bad these new complete collections will be available only on DVD.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Casval Deikun Unmasked

As part of the commemoration of Mobile Suit Gundam's 30th anniversary, a replica of Char Azable's mask and helmet are being made available for purchase. The replica will cost 32,550 Yen or a litte over 340 in US dollars. Char's distictive red outfit is sadly not included. It's not being sold outside of Japan, which is too bad for me and my Red Comet envy.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Turtles' Blu-Ray Bummer?

Today is the official release date for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 25th Anniversary Film Collection. Reviews have been coming in and the final products have some disappointments.

The DVD boxset is just a repackaging of the originally released DVDs. I was actually half expecting that to be the case. What's unique is the packaging itself. The four DVDs come in a typical CD wallet styled after a sewer's manhole cover. The set also comes with temporary tattoos and child-sized Turtle bandannas. (I think I recall having a Raphael bandanna that came with a plastic turtle snout as a kid.) Personally I wouldn't buy this set but mostly because the DVDs are just straight reissues of the existing discs.

With the Blu-ray Disc boxset Warner Bros. didn't bother to add any new bonus material to the three live action movies, or even port over the meager extras from the DVDs. Still the films are in high-definition, and that should be enough of a draw for some people. The fourth film TMNT is a straight repackage of the existing Blu-ray, which is acceptable. Despite not being a new disc it will have more extras and better picture quality than the live action movies.

The Blu-ray boxset also comes with pack-in items; a beanie, trading cards, a full graphic novel adaptation of the first film and a sketch by Turtle co-creator Peter Laird.

An odd aspect about this set is the packaging. It's literally modeled after a pizza box. It's just a cardboard box with two discs on a plastic tray on either side of the interior. It's a neat idea but seems kind of cheap in execution. I would've preferred packaging that just resembled a pizza box and had standard Blu-ray Disc cases inside. While it doesn't hold up to expectations I think I would still give the Blu-Ray collection a shot though, if I ever get a Blu-ray player.

And on a related note: new bobble heads.

Monday, August 10, 2009

My Kingdom For A Sackboy

Impact International has acquired the license to produce toys for Little Big Planet to sell throughout several countries in Europe and the Middle East. That's great and all but I don't live in Europe or the Middle East. Mezco had the license for Little Big Planet in North America. They even announced a San Diego Comic-Con exclusive but they canceled the entire line before the convention even happened. I don't know what happened there or if even Mezco has even said anything more about the situation. Regardless I am denied a Sackboy.

I'm a little worried about Mezco right now. They lost the Little Big Planet license. More recently they've lost the licenses to Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th to NECA. What do they have left? Halloween 2? They've got Hellboy but I don't know how much of an audience there is for Hellboy over a year after the last movie with no sequel on the immediate horizon. Can they sustain themselves on Living Dead Dolls? (Incidentally I've always liked Living Dead Dolls but I've never bought any. The image of masculinity I project is questionable enough as it is.) Here's hoping they have some interesting new acquisitions at next year's Toy Fair.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

I Have No Idea What This Is

but I highly recommend watching it.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Judging A DVD By Its Cover 11

The cover art for the single disc edition DVD of X-Men Origins: Wolverine is what it is. It's a general group shot of the cast. You've got Wolverine in the center with Gambit, Deadpool, Sabertooth and Silver Fox on his sides. There's an explosion in the background. It's what you'd expect from this type of film but it isn't terrible.

The two-disc DVD edition isn't bad either. You get the cool solo close-up shot of Wolverine. Again, it's not earth-shattering but it works. None of the X-Men films have had especially great DVD artwork. In fact I'd go so far to say that X-Men Origins: Wolverine seems to have the best cover art of the series so far.

The cover art for Star Trek is somewhat controversial. I don't think it's too bad. I prefer simple iconic images over the collage of head shots we usually get for cover art on major movie releases. I think it's the "swoosh" effect that really turns people off. Again I have to say I kind of like it because it is unconventional.

And hey it could be a tiny bit worse. Check out the U.K. artwork. It's almost the same but with Kirk, Spock, and Uhura's faces photoshopped right into that swoosh effect. Plus it has an ultra-simplistic looking logo.

Some of the original Trek films are being re-released including Star Trek: First Contact. The cover art is nothing special. I wouldn't have gone with the blue tint myself, because you lose the impact of seeing Data with human skin grafted onto his face. Also I know Jonathan Frakes directed the film, but why put Will Riker on the cover? The Borg Queen or Zephram what's-his-name would've been far better choices. There's also a pretty blatant error on this cover. This is the eighth Star Trek film, not the seventh. Someone didn't study their Roman numerals. Hopefully they fix this before it's released.

Okay this one is really silly. This DVD is a double feature that includes The Batman Vs Dracula, a movie based off of The Batman animated TV series. The second feature is The Batman Superman Movie, based off of The New Batman Superman Adventures. So what image did they go with to market these two unrelated movies? One of Batman based on his appearance from Batman: The Animated Series! What's worse is that it's a particularly ugly illustration of Batman.

Stargate is being re-released on home video for the 158th time, this time as a 15th anniversary Blu-Ray edition. The cover art is new and looks pretty sharp. Okay the ships blasting the pyramid is a little goofy, but otherwise I like it. What's more notable is the fact that they're calling this Stargate "The Movie" and it has the tagline "The film that unlocked a universe". It just goes to show that these days the movie really lives in the shadow of the TV series that have spun off of it.