Saturday, May 29, 2010

Cancelled Action Figure Cavalcade: Lost

McFarlane Toys produced a line of Lost action figures from 2006 to 2007. The figures represented McFarlane Toys at their most "McFarlaney". They were highly detailed fixed posed figures with minimal articulation. McFarlane even went the extra mile by including voice chips and prop replicas. They was clearly trying to appeal to the broader "pop culture fan" market. I could appreciate the effort but as a traditional action figure collector, McFarlane's Lost line left me cold. I probably wasn't the only one as the line ended after two waves.

McFarlane did announce a third wave on their website. The third wave was never released and AFAIK no pictures were ever shown. It was to include Desmond, Sayid, Caire, and Henry Gale, the persona Ben is using when we first meet him.

That wasn't the end of Lost as action figures however. Last year Bif Bang Pow! picked up the license and showed off some prototypes at Comic-Con. They were figures of Jack and Sawyer with soft goods Dharma Initiative jumpsuits. They may not have surpassed McFarlane in terms of sculpting but I actually liked Bif Bang Pow!'s stuff better. It helps that as Lost progressed it became a more interesting basis for action figures. McFarlane had made action figures of normal people standing around an island. Bif Bang Pow! was making action figures of time travelers infiltrating a scientific research facility.

And yet these figure would be canceled too, or at least that's what appears to have happened. Earlier this year Bif Bang Pow! announced that their figures will now be eight inch costumed figures inspired by the MEGO toys of the 1970s. So far they've shown several of their upcoming figures including a figure McFarlane was working on, Ben Linus as Henry Gale. I've got nothing against MEGO style figures, but I would have preferred those other figures they were considering.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

New Doctor Who Figures

The first wave of action figures based on the new series of Doctor Who was revealed today. The assortment includes the Eleventh Doctor of course and his companion Amy Pond. Both are awesome. Had this wave featured nothing but Daleks besides those two I probably would have liked it even more. I understand that they wouldn't want to release all of the new Daleks at once. We'll have to settle for the red one for now, and at least the cool looking Ironside Dalek is included. The cronies from The Beast Below are a little dull, crazy clown faces or no. The regenerating Weeping Angel is an obvious choice that I somehow didn't see coming. Click here to see the entire wave.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lost No More

The Lost series finale aired three days ago and its still very much on my mind. I guess that's a good sign of how effective it was. I thought I'd share some of my thoughts. Don't mistake this for a review. I've never been good at being objective about Lost. My usual reactions to the show can be summed up as "I wonder where this is going" and "I like where this is going". I'll be talking about important details so expect some massive spoilers, although I won't go into too much detail as I'm assuming the reader has watched the show.

The finale emphasized the characters' journeys and gave wrapped up their story in a way no one quite expected. Soon after the series' debut the most common theory is that none of the characters survived the plane crash and the Island was actually purgatory or hell. The creators eventually debunked this and even lampshaded it a couple of times within the show.

Everyone had theories about the alternate universe. I had my own. So what did the sideways universe end up being? Purgatory. They never stated it out right but that's essentially what it was. Specifically it was a realm in the afterlife created so the characters could meet again and attain the closure they otherwise wouldn't get. It was never an alternate timeline. The sideways universe is what happened after they had died. Personally I think that was pretty epic. The writers took a long refuted theory and incorporated it in a way that still held true what they previously said on the topic. Sneaky bastards.

Early on Lost established itself as a show that tries to shatter peoples expectations. The revelation that Locke was in a wheel chair is an early example. Flashbacks that were actually flash forwards were one of the most memorable examples. Viewers had to distrust what they thought they were seeing. It's nice that the show had one last curveball to throw. Despite what I wrote last time, I still held on to hope that the writers were misdirecting us and were always planning to return to that scene. It's interesting how I began to expect twists where there were none but didn't predict twists that did happen. I was wise to Lost’s tricks but I could never beat them at their own game.

I guess there wasn't anything particularly special about Jack's son David. I suppose he existed because Jack was fulfilling his desire to be a part of a better father son relationship. David's mother turned out to be Juliet who was the obvious suspect all along. I'm just glad Juliet even made an appearance. Interestingly the moment she shared with Sawyer at the vending machine seemed to allude to what was happening to the Island. Just like the vending machine, you can simply reset the Island when you need to.

Besides Juliet pretty much every main character returned for the last episode. Exceptions include Michael, Walt, and Eko. This is where I make a joke about the writers being racist. I could have gone without seeing Shannon again. Although what made it worse was that they emphasized her relationship with Sayid. I never bought into that pairing.

I was wrong in thinking Jin was still alive. Lost had trained me to not accept things at face value especially when what's depicted comes off vague but this was an instance where what is implied to occur is in fact the reality. On the other hand Frank Lapidus did escape from the sub. I did suspect that happened but was never sure of it. Frank was never a very important character so his death seemed plausible but I underestimated his importance as a plot device.

Part of me wishes Ben had been on the plane. He became my favorite character and I wanted to see him redeem himself. By having him stay on the Island he got an ongoing opportunity for redemption. Plus paring him with Hurley is ingenious. I was worried about him though. When the tree fell on him I thought "No, not like this". I mean he would have died saving Hurley, but it still felt anticlimactic for him. Thankfully (or disappointingly depending on how you view it) that scene ended up serving no purpose other than to mess with the viewer's heads.

We never did learn the Man in Black's name. Again I didn't really care I just thought it was weird that it was kept a secret for no reason other than to screw with viewers' heads. He was evil but he ended up being fairly sympathetic. Part of the writers' attempts at messing with the audience's expectations was to build up someone or something mysterious only for to reveal them as being far less grand than they appeared.

Did the finale work? It wasn't perfect but it definitely did. Does the series work as a whole? Yes it does, better than anyone could have expected in fact. There are just a few unfortunate loose ends like the storylines with Walt, Widmore, Libby in the asylum and of course that outrigger chase. Maybe we could get a Lost Kai down the road that trim things and focuses on the important plot points. And maybe they could lose the “Jack's tattoos” episode and most of Kate's episodes. We only learned so much about the Island itself. What makes it okay for me is that we know as much as any of the characters in the show know. I like it that way. No one person has all the answers.

Even though Lost is an ensemble, it's Jack's story that stands out to me. All the characters grew and changed. Jack does a 180 in terms of outlook but stays true to himself in his desire to help others. Many of the finale's emotional high points revolved around him, like the reunion with his father in the afterlife. The writers say they always had an ending in mind. I believe what they meant was they knew the final moments would have Jack dying as the other survivors leave on the plane. One of the series' themes was Jack's mantra "Live together or die alone". Jack had lived with them. It had changed him. He found his purpose. He had saved them. He saved the Island. Now he was dying alone. Then Vincent came to be with him. That nearly killed me. I'm honestly surprised I wasn't bawling. I said in my last post that Vincent better sweep in and save the day and he totally did.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Feeling Lost

Lost is coming to an end on Sunday. I've been watching the show since it premiered and it goes without saying I'm looking forward to the finale.

There are a lot of questions that will have to be answered. What's special about Desmond? How is he a "failsafe"? What's the meaning of the alternate timeline? How did it come to exist and what purpose will it ultimately serve? Is Jack's alterna-verse son special? As a person who only exists in one timeline, I expect there's something more to him. Who's his mother? I think we'll get an answer to that one.

Are all the characters who have appeared to be recently killed off truly dead? I'm betting Jin is alive. Richard has to be alive. I can't believe his recent run-in with the Smoke Monster killed him. Is Ben plotting something awesome? I imagine he is or else he just took a bunch of stupid pills to ally himself with the Man In Black. What's the Man In Black's name? I don't particularly care about the answer, I just want to know if the writers had a good reason for keeping it from us. And I think the big question is what exactly is the nature of the Island's power? We may not get a more explicit answer beyond what we already know.

There's a lot of details that are more likely to remain a mystery. Whatever became of Rose and Bernard? I'd be okay if we've seen the last of them but Vincent better sweep in and save the day. What exactly did Widmore want with the Island and how did he return there? Was he telling the truth about Jacob appearing to him? I think the writers just sort of shut the door on his story when they suddenly bumped him off. Why does Miles talk to dead people? Why does Hurley see dead people? How did Cindy and the kids become members of the Others? Why was Claire told she couldn't raise Aaron? Was it just because the psychic foresaw what would happen to Claire's mental stability?

What's with the statue? Okay so we pretty much know it was a statue of Taweret, an ancient Egyptian goddess. But who built it and why? And why does it have four toes? I hope if there is an answer for that it's like Jacob's recent explanation for the list of names. By that I mean I hope it's less significant than it appears to be, like they were just too lazy to sculpt the fifth toe. I assume a Taweret statue was built on the Island because of its connection with fertility. Why does the Island have the effect it does on fertility? What is it about the Island's glowy magic that makes it difficult for women to conceive and give birth there?

Will we get any further explanation on Walt? At one point he was being built up as an important character. Malcolm David Kelley, the actor who plays him, was growing too fast so he was shunted off the island and his storyline was left unresolved. Will Walt appear in the series finale? Malcolm is too old to convincingly play Walt in the alternate timeline. They could have him show up on the Island, albeit mystically. That did happen once before though we still don't know how or why. If he does appear I wonder if they would address his powers that were alluded to? They already tried to brush it under the rug in earlier episodes.

I also just want to see the return of more ex-cast members in general. I hope they were able to pull Elizabeth Mitchell away from V long enough for Juliet to show up. In the penultimate episode Desmond says Anna-Lucia and some of the others "aren't ready yet" which is the writers warning us not to expect everyone to come back for the finale. So who is ready? Charlie? Boone? Shannon? Charlotte? Micheal? After Walt and Juliet the character I'd most like to see again is Mr. Eko, although I'm doubtful it'll happen. I think Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is the only major cast memeber not to re-appear on the show after leaving it.

Who were the people chasing the time travelers on the outriggers? In season five when the survivors left on the island are flashing through time they are find themselves being chased and shot at while sailing on the outriggers. Juliet fires back and hits someone. Who were those people? Unfortunately it's already been stated that there won't be a clear answer for this. I hope after the series finale airs the writers explain what they were originally planning.

That's the problem trying to tell a story as complex as Lost, especially on television. There are too many factors that have to line up for things to go exactly as planned. The show won't be wrapped up in a neat little package. It doesn't really matter because the show was always more of a character study than a mystery. Lost is about how a group of different people survive in increasingly perplexing situations. It's just that the perplexity of those situations started to overshadow everything else.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Arkham Asylum Action Figures

DC Direct is releasing a line of figures based on the Batman: Arkham Asylum video game. Lately I've been impressed with DC Direct's forward thinking when it comes to what to base figures off of, such as Blackest Night but I think DC Direct was late to the party with these. They should have been out around the same time as the game which wouldn't have been too hard considering the delays the game had. I guess they waited until after the game was a success and now the figures won't be out until January of next year. I hope DC Direct is working on the figures for the sequel now so they can be released in tandem with the game.

The figures themselves are nice. I think Joker and Scarface are the stand outs of the group. This version of the Scarecrow isn't terribly exciting but I guess it was more cost effective than making a Killer Croc or Bane figure. Harley looks good but to me purple feels "wrong" for her. I'd love to see this outfit in her traditional red and black color scheme. Lastly there's Batman, who is blue. There's nothing wrong with a blue Batman. Batman is often blue. But in Arkham Asylum Batman wears black. At least DC Direct has plenty of time to fix it.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Power Rangers' New Era

The Power Rangers have more lives than a cat. The series' creator Haim Saban has re-acquired the series from Disney for the new entertainment company Saban Brands. A new twenty episode season of Power Rangers will premiere on Nicktoons in 2011. The 700 existing episodes will start airing on the cable channel before then.

A year ago the series faced cancellation after years of getting the short shrift from the higher-ups at Disney, but I guess you can't keep those teenagers with attitude down.

Obviously this announcement will make a lot of fans happy but I find it a little bittersweet. A couple of days ago I was in a Disney Store and I thought it was neat to see the section of Power Rangers toys next to merchandise for Iron Man 2, Toy Story, the Muppets and a myriad of other popular characters. Now I see that Disney owning Iron Man and the other Marvel characters made the Power Rangers less important at the company. They could give up the Power Rangers since they could still get into the boys' market with the Marvel heroes.

A lot of fans were disappointed that we didn't get a new season this year and dislike Disney's goofy remastering of the early Mighty Morphin episodes. I, on the other hand, hadn't watched the series in a decade and wouldn't have become a fan again without the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers revival. I don't know if I'll be sticking around for the next season on Nictktoons.

So what's the story on this new season? Twenty episodes is even shorter than Disney's 32 episode seasons that fans complained were too short. Maybe the twenty episodes are only he first "part" of the season? And what will this new season consist of? An adaptation of Shinkenger? These question still need answering.

I want to point out that some time next year Power Rangers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Dragonball Z will all be back on the air and on the same station. It's like something out of my most insane fever dreams.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Images of Iron Man 2

The movie opens in theaters today. Go see it!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Whiplash Whopper

Burger King is another place with an Iron Man 2 tie-in going on. They're offering the requisite kid's meal toys, but they also have a new food product called the Whiplash Whopper. I'm not sure if hitching your wagon to Mickey Rourke is the best way to sell food items. I shouldn't be too quick to judge though as they got me to try one. You can buy it as a double or triple Whopper but I went with the single. Here's my review.

There's nothing fancy about the packaging. It's just a regular Whopper wrapper. I'm assuming the "W" written on it is to denote it as a Whiplash Whopper.

Once you open it up, you'll see the burger doesn't look that much different from a standard Whopper with the same familiar sesame seed bun, lettuce, tomato, and what Burger King refers to as a flame-broiled beef patty. It doesn't look quite as nice as it does in the poster but no fast food item ever does.

So what makes the Whiplash Whopper unique? The cheese used is Pepper Jack and the mayo is supposedly spicy. What stands out the most is the inclusion of crispy red peppers. I tried to take a picture of the ingredients but obviously I didn't do too good of a job. Sorry, I'm still new to this.

So how is it? I liked it quite a bit. It's essentially your typical Whopper, only spicier. However the crispy red peppers is what puts it over the top, giving it an crunchy texture unusual for a burger. I only wish the red peppers had been distributed evenly on my Whopper. The peppers were mostly located towards the center which led to one particularly zesty bite. So if the idea of a spicy, crunchy Whopper sounds at all appealing to you, than I think you'd probably like the Whiplash Whopper.

I do have to fault them on the name though. I may have liked the burger but eating one didn't give me any urge to break out of prison and attack Tony Stark. That's some false advertising.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Iron Man 2 at 7-Eleven

7-Eleven is currently selling a range of Iron Man 2 collectibles. While they haven't gone so far as to convert any of their stores to Stark-E-Marts, I am still impressed by the amount of exclusive stuff they have available. It's more than what is typical of 7-Eleven promotions. You can choose from four collectible Super Big Gulp cups, four lenticular Slurpee cups, three Slurpee figure straws, and large beverage containers molded in the shape of Iron Man and War Machine.

I've picked up a Big Gulp cup and a Slurpee cup myself.

Sunday, May 2, 2010