Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Last year I made a trip to Target to discover that Japanese TV mascot Domo had taken over the department store for Halloween. This year Target has teamed up with the Skelanimals. What are Skelanimals? They're skeleton... animals. Okay I have seen them before but otherwise I'm not too familiar with them. I do know that Target is currently selling a whole lot of Skelanimals products. It's not all about the Skelanimals however. There's also quite a bit of stuff featuring characters I think may be original to Target. I really like these designs. On the spectrum of cool looking creatures I'd put them ahead of the Skelanimals. I love the crap out of that smiling ghost plush. There's no topping Domo though. I found a small stash of Domo plushies hanging around at Target. They're the same as the ones from last year. Plus I've heard that there will be still more Domo goodness to be had this October.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Art Asylum was going to produce a line of figures based on virtual rock band the Gorillaz. As you have likely already guessed by now, the line was cancelled and never released. I think I once read online that it was due to the licensor not approving the line, but that was awhile ago and I may be wrong. Somone was able to appease the licensor however as eventually Kid Robot was able to produce their own collection of Gorillaz figures. I think the Kid Robot figures turned out nicer, but I have to hand it to Art Asylum for planning to produce a figure of a zombie gorilla.
Friday, September 25, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Warner Bros has announced an upgraded version of Watchmen, though there seems to be some confusion as to what this new edition of the film will be called. The packaging artwork is... unfortunate. Having Tales of the Black Freighter integrated into the live action movie seems to have just a wee bit too much influence on Warner's decision making. I'm holding out to see just what will be included on each specific disc. We know it will include the extended cut, a digital copy and the complete motion comics. It looks like the latter will even be in its original case and come bundled with the rest of the set.
Monday, September 21, 2009
As I've established in the past, I enjoy Halloween a great deal. Last year I was already posting about my Halloween related fines in August. This year I've managed to contain my self for a bit longer. I have spotted a few things here and there, but it wasn't until I went to a Party City a few days ago that I really started to feel the excitement again. When I'm faced with a giant container of Jack 'O Lantern buckets, how could I not? Nothing says Halloween like Terminator Salvation. I'm not going to bother to judge this puppet-ish thing for what it is. I just question the thought process behind creating a Halloween decoration themed around Terminator Salvation. As with other Terminator Salvation merchandise, the T-600 is depicted as though his likeness is based on professional wrestler turned actor in Ed Wood films, Tor Johnson. They also had Jason Voorhees puppet-ish things who I feel is a character bit better suited for use as a Halloween decoration. Interestingly this seems to be based on Jason as seen in the recent remake. I don't know why he's wearing a blue blazer instead of his leather jacket though. 2009 remake Jason is overtaking old zombie Jason. Nu-Jason gets the majority of the costume square while O.G. Jason is reduced to a tiny box in the corner. This is the new world we're living in and I'm scared. On a more serious note, that blue blazer is back. What's an easier way to get your kid beat up on Halloween than dressing them up as a Power Ranger? How about dressing them up as a outdated Power Ranger from years ago? Parents, there's a reason they've marked down the price on these. Ozzy Osbourne is infamous for biting a head off a bat (among other things). Gene Simmons is infamous for wearing makeup and being a shameless shill (among little else). Obviously whoever designed this mask needs to retake Metal 101. Has blueing yourself become too inconvenient? Why not make things simpler for yourself and buy this mask. Now you can discover the man inside you without leaving paint stains all over the model home. Wolverine gloves are nothing new. I had one as a kid. (That's right, they didn't even sell them in pairs. And we had to walk fifteen miles in the snow to buy our Wolverine glove.) However these days kids think of Wolverine as a more casual dude than we used to. They picture him wearing jeans and a wife-beater, and not in blue and yellow spandex. So out with the gloves and in with the creepy fleshtone hand attachments. Now everyone can have their very own Optimus Prime sword and stick it to some bad guys, be they Decepticons or an obnoxious sibling. No face is safe! Here's a major new step forward in Halloween technology. In the past fake chainsaws were too heavy on the fake and too lite on the chainsaw. Now they've finally put out what looks like a believable chainsaw prop. Either that or Party City is carrying power tools now.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
When you follow this stuff as geekily as I do then you start to notice some patterns. I had a feeling this poster would be used for the Terminator Salvation DVD cover. And I guessed right. Yea me. It's just too bad the artwork in question is such an unfortunate mash-up of different elements. So why are Harry, Ron, Hermoine and Gandalf hanging out together in nondescript field with a cityscape in the background? I know DVD covers don't need to feature genuine scenes from the movie, but they could have done a little better. It's really just the background throwing me off. By contrast, the artwork for the two-disc edition showcases an actual moment from the movie (well sort of). Both versions feature the new look for the Harry Potter logo; flying at you at an angle. I'm not saying that's a bad thing or a good thing. I'm just pointing out a logo. When last we looked at the Revenge of the Fallen DVDs and Blu-ray, this one managed to slip under the radar. The cover for this two movie collection uses this poster image. Surprisingly it looks more iconic than any of the stand alone releases. So that Star Trek artwork from last time ended up not being the final artwork. I guess I should start adding an "artwork subject to change" disclaimer. I really liked the new artwork at first. I have a soft spot for minimalism and non-conventional artwork in general. That was all before I found out it was (I'm assuming) a clear plastic slipcover over Kirk's giant mug. Honestly it's not much of a difference. Still though, why must sparks be flying over Kirk's body? Almost every release of Fight Club has featured some very cool packaging. The Blu-ray edition is no different. The picture above is of the actual Blu-ray case. The Digital Bits has a look at the slipcover. How often do you get packaging that tells you that you're not a beautiful snowflake?
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
So after a far too long break from the subject, let's pick up where we last left off, shall we? What does this mean for the theme parks? Will we have Marvel characters roaming around the Disney theme parks for photo ops with the kids? Maybe. What's going to prevent that from happening anytime soon is Marvel's existing deal with Universal Studios. Universal's Islands of Adventure has an entire section themed to the Marvel superheroes. I've never visited it myself, but based on the pictures I've seen I think Marvel Superhero Island could be altered to fit another theme without much difficulty. I don't know if that will happen though. Disney will honor Marvel's contract for as long as it will last, which happens to be for as long as Universal wants it to. I think their only real incentive to drop out of the deal would be because they wouldn't want to promote characters owned by their biggest rival. The theme park deal is apparently exclusively for the east coast however. So we might see Marvel characters at Disneyland long before we see them at Disney World. What does this mean for the merchandising? I think the only company more willing to license their properties to various manufacturers than Marvel would be Disney. Any existing contracts will be honored until they end. After that I think some of the simpler licenses will be streamlined. For example the same company that makes Hannah Montana lunchboxes will also be the one that makes Spider-Man lunchboxes, assuming they don't already. There probably won't be much change for higher-end stuff. The toys will be tricky. If I had to guess I'll say that Disney will let Marvel do what they please. If this was the '90s when Disney had a close relationship with Mattel then things might be different. These days Disney makes licensing deals with half the toy companies in the country. The only major impact a Disney owned Marvel will have on the merchandise may be exclusive items sold at Disney theme parks and retailers. What does this mean for the video games? I can't imagine there would be much difference under Disney. The video games will be treated just like any other type of licensing. As we've seen with Kingdom Hearts Disney has a lax view on how they let their characters be used for games. And what about Kingdom Hearts? Will we see Sora teaming up with the Thing and Silver Surfer? Or for that matter will we see Mr. Incredible and Uncle Scrooge in a new Ultimate Alliance game? I'm skeptical of that happening. (Especially the latter.) With the long lead times required to develop games we know it won't be in the works anytime soon. Ask me again in 2015. What does this mean for the Spider-Man musical? In case you haven't been keeping tabs on this, you should know that Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark, the big Broadway musical scheduled to open in February, has been hit with some financial woes. Disney has its own theatre division and has adapted many of their properties for the stage. Will Disney take over the funding and production of this musical? It's looking like that's a big no. So after all my rampant speculation I can finally deliver a clear answer. Sorry it's a negative one. Although in all honestly I could live without ever seeing Peter Parker belt out a tune. Even if it was penned by Bono and the Edge.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Warner Executive #1: Did you hear Disney bought Marvel? Warner Executive #2: We should buy our own comics company. Warner Executive #1: Great idea! Let's buy DC Comics. Warner Executive #2: We'll get right on it! **** Some Time Later **** Warner Executive #2: It turns out DC is already owned by someone. Warner Executive #1: What?! By who? Warner Executive #2: By us. Warner Executive #1: What?! For how long? Warner Executive #2: Since about 1972. Warner Executive #1: Dang. Well let's do something about it. And thus DC Entertainment was born. Warner Bros has restructured DC Comics. To be fair this situation was probably in the works for a long time but I don't think it's a coincidence it was announced so soon after that other recent big news. Actually this move seems like it could affect DC more than Marvel will be affected by being bought by Disney. Paul Levitz has been stepped down as president and publisher of DC but is still staying with the company a writer and consultant.. The new president is the former head of the direct to DVD Warner Premiere movies. DC Entertainment is still looking for a new publisher. I'm guessing this has everything to do with taking better advantage of their properties for movies and TV. DC has been slacking in that department compared to Marvel. In terms of movies DC doesn't have a whole lot on its immediate plate besides Green Lantern and Jonah Hex. I mean I'll go see Jonah Hex but he's not exactly the character I would have most liked to see as a movie. Comic Book Resources is saying that producer Joel Silver is off of Wonder Woman and The Flash. This is presumably so DC Entertainment can take over production of those projects. That's good news to me. It's crazy that those films have been in development for so long with nothing to show for it. Who would have thought Lobo would be greenlit before them? The potentially bad news is for the publishing department. Comic books at DC are now a little less important than they were before and they weren't very important to begin with.
Monday, September 7, 2009
Still no word on when the 25th Anniversary Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles special will be airing. It might be more accurate to start calling it a 26th Anniversary special. But in the meantime enjoy this faux move poster. It gives us a look at Tokka, Rhazar, the Technodrome and the classic Turtles swinging down from the Turtle Blimp! While we're on the subject of the Turtles' choices of transportation, the original Party Van is available for sale again. Playmates reissued several of the classic figures this year. While that's a neat idea it's not nearly as cool as re-releasing the classic vehicles. I miss the days when vehicles were an important part of action figure lines. For a more intricate look at the Party Van watch this video review. I love the crap out of the artwork on the box. I forgot how cool the packaging of TMNT toys used to be.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
I'm a huge fan of Eureka Seven and now I'm happy to say I own the entire series on DVD. I picked up the second collection recently. The first collection I got a little while back but didn't think to post it until I got the second one. That's the dark secret of AFOS; on occasion a haul slips through the cracks. I found a Marvel Legends Spiral figure. She was the character I wanted the most from her particular wave, but I wish I had the rest just so I can put together the Red Hulk figure.
Friday, September 4, 2009
So Disney is buying Marvel. One thing that needs to remain clear and that some people just aren't getting is that Marvel is being bought by The Walt Disney Company, not Walt Disney Studios. The Walt Disney Company is a giant entity that owns multiple movie studios including Miramax, Dimension Films, Pixar, Touchstone, Hollywood Pictures and the aforementioned Walt Disney Studios. They also own several theme parks, cruise lines, retail locations, a radio station, ABC, ESPN, and the Muppets just to name a few. They're a huge conglomerate, not just the company that puts out straight to DVD Lion King sequels. Marvel being bought out by a large corporation has been rumored for very long time now. Likely since as long as DC was bought by a large corporation. This was especially true back when Marvel came very close to bankruptcy in the 90s. It's actually pretty amazing they lasted as an independent company as long as they did. Things could have gone a lot differently. Disney has been trying harder to target boys and young adult males. They've experienced some success in this field with the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy. Then they converted Toon Disney to Disney XD. Next year they'll be releasing Prince of Persia and Tron Legacy movies. So Disney made the bold move of buying the largest stable of characters that target this demographic. That's good for both companies involved, although four billion dollars seems awfully steep, but what does it mean for the future? What does this mean for the comics? Probably nothing. The publishing division of Marvel wasn't all that important to begin with. Comics sales haven't been what they used to be for years now. For the most part Marvel Comics cater to the same loyal fanbase without doing a great deal to draw in new younger readers. Disney isn't going to do anything to interfere with them so long as comic books have such a low profile. The comics real power is to develop new characters and stories that can be adapted and marketed into more high profile venues. I'd say the comics are safe long as the comics they make money, but it seems almost inevitable that some day the comics will no longer be profitable. Still that was an issue long before Disney came into the picture. I'm more concerned about Boom! Studios. They're the comics company with the rights to produce Disney based comics. Now that Disney owns the biggest comic book company in terms of market share, the deal with Boom! Studios may not last too long. What does this mean for the movies? The thing about Marvel is that they shopped their properties around everywhere. Sony has Spider-Man and Ghost Rider. Fox has X-Men, Fantastic Four, Daredevil and Elektra. Universal has Hulk. New Line has Blade. Lionsgate has Punisher. Paramount has Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and Avengers. Disney is about the only major movie studio who hasn't already made a Marvel film (and Warner Bros but that's because they own DC Comics). So Marvel is going to be navigating a real minefield. This is where we get into the real meat of why Disney plans to plunk down four billion dollars for a comic book company. They're thinking entirely long term. They have to because there isn't all that much they can do with Marvel right now. What's going to happen is that Marvel will honor their many contracts and when they eventually expire Disney will assume those rights. The problem arises when it's written into the contracts that the studio will retain indefinite rights so long as they continue to produce new movies. Hence Fox has announced they're going to reboot the Fantastic Four franchise. Fox can produce endless movies of Fantastic Four, X-Men and Daredevil into the ground just to keep them away from Disney. This is all stuff Disney-Marvel is going to have to deal with down the road. That doesn't mean Again this is very much a long term plan. I'll probably be in my 40s before I see the full impact of Disney owned Marvel. In the meantime Disney can exploit some of Marvel's lesser known properties. How about a live action Power Pack sitcom on the Disney Channel? If they're taking requests than I want to see a Pixar produced Devil Dinosaur movie. What does this mean for the TV shows? As with movies, Marvel has no loyalties when it came to TV networks. They have multiple shows on Nicktoons Network and Superhero Squad is coming to Cartoon Network. Prior to the buy out the only connection between Disney and Marvel is that Disney has the rights to nearly all of Marvel's classic animated series. For years those shows have been regularly airing on Toon Disney and now on Disney XD. The one current Marvel show airing on Disney XD is The Spectacular Spider-Man. In fact what is possibly the first big post-Disney news concerns The Spectacular Spider-Man. ICV2 reports that Sony has relinquished their righs to produce TV shows based on Spider-Man. Sony did this "in exchange for a concession on the Spider-Man live action features". What that means exactly I don't know. I am glad that Marvel has control of Spider-Man for TV again. This means he can finally guest star on the shows of other Marvel characters and vice-versa. Plus as good as The Spectacular Spider-Man is, it doesn't make up for the mess that was Sony's CGI Spider-Man toon that aired on MTV. So now the fate of Spectacular Spider-Man is in Marvel's hands. The fact that it airs on a network controlled by their parent network gives it a much better chance at being renewed. Still it's probably more likely it will be canceled in favor of a new Spidey series. I suspect the same will be true for Wolverine and the X-Men and the other current Marvel cartoons. They won't be canceled right away but they won't produce any more episodes than have already been ordered. Just as with the movies, they'll honor their contracts then choose not to renew them and let Disney take over. The difference is it's going to happen with the TV shows a lot sooner and with less hassle than it will with the movies. There's still a lot more that will be affected by this deal but I think I've covered enough territory for now.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
It's been a crazy couple of days. A lot of stuff has gone down. I've been particularly busy so I haven't been able to address any of it until now.
- So in case you've been living under a rock at the bottom of an ocean of an as yet undiscovered far off planet, then you should know Disney bought Marvel. I've got a more thorough post about this major news in the works, but for now please refrain from drawing any more Disney & Marvel mash-up cartoons. Seriously that dead horse has been beaten so much there's nothing left of the body to sell to a glue factory.
- Guy Ritchie will be directing a Lobo movie. Comic Book Resources has details and a plot description. I'll let you check it out for yourself but be warned, it sounds awful.
- Texas based anime distributor ADV has gone through a restructuring. The ADV website is completely gone, save for the press release. All of ADV's assets have been split across a number of different companies. AEsirHoldings retains their film library and their debts. Seraphim Studios will handle production and Section23 will distribute with Valkyrie Media Partners controlling The Anime Network. It's all an elaborate strategy to alleviate some of their financial issues and the fallout after their partnership with Sojitz collapsed. So the ADV label is gone but it may end up being not much more than a name change as far as the fans are concerned. Now perhaps the former ADV will be able to continue as usual, just under a few new names. They've already announced a number of new series as Section 23. Anime News Network has a breakdown of what this all means. Mania.com has a recap of the events that brought ADV to this point.
- Japanese publisher Kodansha has pulled all of their licenses from manga publisher Tokyopop. Deb Aoki has a complete list of now out-of-print titles. Even series that were still on-going are now considered discontinued. Rave Master for example, is 35 volumes long and only three away from being complete but now that might not happen. Now it's worth noting that several of these titles were out-of-print for some time now and Tokyopop had already scaled back their licensing from Kodansha. Several of their Kodansha licenses have since been picked up by Del Ray and Dark Horse. Kodansha had already pulled their licenses from Tokyopop Germany.
- So why would Kodansha do this? Could it have something to do with them starting the own North American branch? ICV2 has news of their distribution deal with major book publisher Random House. Random House also owns Del Ray so in a way they'll have competing manga labels. Kodansha's first North American releases are new editions of Akira and Ghost in the Shell and are already up on Amazon for release next month. Both were titles previously released by Dark Horse but only in a flopped left to right format.
- It's funny but Tokyopop's situation is much like ADV's has been. Originally juggernauts in their respective fields, they licensed much more than their competitors did and they tried to expand themselves into new territories. Then the bubble burst and the market became saturated. They both went through some hard times but things had been looking better for them. Tokyopop suffered a blow but probably not a fatal one. Kodansha's move was somewhat anticipated. As for ADV, honestly I'm still pretty nervous for them. I don't think they're out of the woods yet. The fact that they announced multiple new series so quickly is great news. Yet their new stuff seem to me like the same type of low appeal titles that they had too much of already. I hope it works out for them.