Thursday, September 30, 2010

Canceled Action Figure Cavalcade: Yu Yu Hakusho

I just wrote about Irwin Toy's DragonBall Z figures and how Jakks Pacific took over the license from them and continued the line. Another license Jakks picked up from Irwin was fighting anime Yu Yu Hakusho. However rather than continue Irwin's seven inch YYH line, Jakks started from scratch with a five inch line. Jakks' distribution couldn't have been too great because I never saw any of their figures in person. Not a one. I recall reading that K-Mart carried the line but they were never at any store near where I live. Or if they did, they sold out faster than I could spot them. I do know they were released because I did see them for sale on a few different websites. I never saw the second wave of figures that Jakks showed off at Toy Fair 2004 listed anywhere. The circumstances are a little strange but I think it's safe to say the second wave was canceled.

Yu Yu Hakusho series 2 is based heavily on the Dark Tournament arc. There's a battered bare-chested Yusuke, Hiei in an outfit I'm having trouble remembering, Tournament participants turned allies Chu and Touya, and big bad Toguro.

And last but certainly not least is Genkai who would have come with interchangeable disguised and young Genkai heads. It would have been cool if she came with a third old Genkai head. Seeing as how the figure wasn't released anyways, I guess that's crying over spilled milk that came from a cow that was never born.

The line also had deluxe figures that came with a display base and I believe they had action features as well. The second series of deluxe Yu Yu Hakusho would have had two Kurama figures. There's one in his Dark Tournament outfit which has a neat backdrop showing the demons sitting in the stadium. The other is Yoko Kurama who's got some crazy plant stuff going there.

The other deluxe figures are Yusuke in his street clothes and Jin, who looks like he's doing a flying punch. Sorry there aren't closer pictures but here's a group shot. You can also see packaged versions of the deluxe figures that were released.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Of Samuai Rangers and Things In 3D

  • The Star Wars movies are being converted to 3D. The first to be released will be The Phantom Menace in 2012. No specific dates have been set beyond that. We've been hearing about 3D versions of Star Wars since way before people actually cared about 3D. In that time span I went from not really caring to not really caring. I'll probably go anyways. It's still Star Wars on the big screen.

  • Here's everything you wanted to know about the Nintendo 3DS. In addition to the new 3DS games it can play original DS games and downloaded games. It has WiFi functionality, three cameras, a new telescoping stylus, and a SD card port. It will launch in Japan on February 26th and in the U.S. in March. No word on North American pricing but if it's close to the Japanese price it'll be $300.

  • Here's an article on the design process for the cover art of the Criterion edition of The Night of the Hunter. I found it fascinating and would be willing to read similar articles for every Criterion release.

  • The new season of Power Rangers has an official name and it's Power Rangers Samurai. It was rumored to be called Power Rangers Samurai Strike which isn't a great title, but simply calling it Power Rangers Samurai sounds a bit off. The official site has cast photos, character bios, and a general plot description. We still don't know when it's premiering except that it's sometime in early 2011.

  • The Hub, the new cable station that's a collaboration between Hasbro and the Discovery Channel, is set to debut October 10th. New shows G.I. Joe Renegades and Transformers Prime aren't scheduled yet but the classic '80s G.I. Joe and Transformers cartoons will air on weeknights. The Hub will also be airing Batman Beyond and Men In Black: The Series for those of us nostalgic for late '90s era Kids' WB.

  • Would you like to have an innuendo filled song from a children's cartoon stuck in your head all day? No? Too Bad.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Spotlight on Irwin DragonBall Z

I came across my Irwin DragonBall Z toys in storage. I used to have them on display but I needed the shelf space for my growing DVD collection (which has since taken over much of my desk as well). I thought I’d use the opportunity to take a look back at some figures that are amongst my favorites that I own. This isn't the entirety of my DBZ collection. After Irwin went into bankruptcy the line continued under Jakks Pacific. My Jakks figures are stored off somewhere else. Theres even a few Irwin figures I have that weren’t stored with the rest of these.

When Irwin Toy acquired the license for DragonBall Z they started off with repackaged figures that were originally sold in Europe and Japan in the 90s. They were a little primitive compared to what was typical of the North American action figure market even at that time. After 13 waves of repackaged figures, Irwin began releasing higher quality figures that they developed themselves. The line started off as a continuation of the previous collection. The first few waves were filled with fan favorites who never got figures before like Nappa, Roshi, Yajirobe and Chaozu. Goku wouldn't even show up until wave four. But it was around that time that it began being treated as its own thing, separate from the toys that came before. It was also around that time that I started really getting into DBZ so it wasn't long before I started collecting the line.

Irwin expanded with lots of different sub-lines. There were Striking Z Fighters, Energy Glow, Secret Saiyan Warriors and Blasting Energy figures. I pretty much stuck with only the basic line, with the exception of a Blasting Energy Gohan because there wasn't another regular kid Gohan. (And there wouldn't be until Jakks released figures of young Gohan in his first outfit, purple gi, and orange gi packaged with Raditz, Goku and Shenron respectively.) The basic line lasted for eleven waves before Jakks Pacific took over the license. Jakks acquired the molds for Irwin’s figures including the molds for new figures they were working on before they closed down.

Irwin kept tinkering with the look of the line as the line went on. The first four waves of figures had a glossy finish. The fifth wave dropped the gloss and went with a matte finish. Then the sixth wave added a heavy paint wash. White surfaces like Android #19’s skin look gray. The Perfect Cell in this wave has blue skin and lacks the purple stripes he’s supposed to have on his face. (Jakks would re-release the figure with a more screen accurate deco.) With wave seven and beyond the paint washes were more restrained and they did bring out the detail of the sculpts. Nearly a decade later and I still haven’t decided if this was a good call. I’m not terribly bothered by the varying paint jobs. The paint washes are nice but are they appropriate for the colorful animated characters? Jakks’ figures would drop the washes.

You can't really call Irwin's figures super-articulated but they blew the previous DBZ toys, which typically only had cut joints at the shoulders, out of the water. I do think the articulation these figures had work well with the designs. The ball jointed shoulders are really great. Some of the figures have hidden cut joints at the wrists. While taking the photos I only now discovered Videl’s arms are articulated at her sleeve cuffs. It is weird that they started off with hinged knees but not elbows. Elbows were eventually added and the articulation continued to improve with Jakks’ line. This is another example of the line being tweaked for the better, albeit at the sacrifice of consistency.

Here are some figure specific details: The normal Goku released in wave four is based on his appearance in the Namek saga. A repaint was releases in wave eight without the kanji on his chest and back.

Piccolo has a removable turban. His cape isn’t meant to be removable but you could probably get it off if you detach his head first.

You can’t even tell in these pictures but Android #18’s sleeves are ribbed. It’d be nice if it had black stripes painted on to bring out that detail.

Majin Vegeta was originally released with black hair, even though he was a Super Saiyan the entire time he was under Babidi's power. Irwin did a running change with his hair painted yellow and that's the version I own.

The Great Saiyaman has interchangeable heads so you could display him with his helmet or his headwrap and sunglasses.

I was always disappointed that kid Trunks and Goten never got normal non-Super Saiyan figures. I wonder if Irwin would have gotten around to them had they not gone under. Jakks certainly never did.

So that was my look back at Irwin’s DBZ figures. Combined with Jakks' better efforts I think they're the best Dragonball toys ever made. They have the prefect balance of quality sculpting, articulation, and character selection which puts them on the top of the list for me. I can’t believe it's been about a decade since they were first released. I feel old.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Great Scott

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World comes to DVD and Blu-ray November 9th. It's my favorite movie of the year so far and it's now my most anticipated Blu-ray disc. There's enough material on the set to spend hours going through.

The DVD features extras such as commentary with director Edgar Wright and Scott Pilgrim creator Bryan Lee O'Malley, two cast commentaries, deleted scenes, a trivia track, and photo galleries. The Blu-ray will have all of those and a ton of exclusive extras including documentaries, alternate edits, music videos, trailers, the [adult swim] animated short Scott Pilgrim vs. The Animation, and a "TV safe" version called Scott Pilgrim vs. The Censors.

I like the cover artwork. It's an altered version of the theatrical poster with the overly airbrushed Scott being replaced with a Scott wielding a burning katanna. I do wish they had ignored the "Blu-ray = blue" motif. I love the vibrancy of the DVD's red cover.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Boundless Hauls

There's lot of different stuff this time around. I had some difficulty trying to get everything in one shot, but it still takes less time than taking multiple pictures like I used to.

I finally broke down and picked up some Transformers Animated figures. With the line dwindling down I didn't really choose the best time to do so.

I also picked up my first 3.75 inch scale Marvel figures. The movie Spider-Man was a Comic-Con exclusive and comes in an outer slipcase. Marvel Legends Kitty Pryde is something of a holy grail for me, so it's fitting she's my first Marvel Universe figure.

So yeah, I just keep collecting from even more lines.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Clones, Pokemon & the Goosebumps Movie

  • Tonight was the season premiere of Star Wars: The Clone Wars on Cartoon Network. There were two new episodes. "Clone Cadets" was the first and is a prequel to the fan favorite episode "Rookies". The second, "ARC Troopers" is a follow-up. The Clone Wars is continuing the grand Star Wars tradition of telling stories out of order. The ARC Troopers we see in these new episodes have the Episode III style armor. I can understand that for "ARC Troopers" but that means "Clone Cadets" takes place before "The Zilo Beast Strikes Back". Is there a guide to the continuity of the series' episodes? I'm sure there's some fan who's already done the legwork.

  • The series premiere of Sym-Bionic Titan was also tonight on Cartoon Network. I've been looking forward to this series to debut since I've learned of its existence, but I had no idea it was airing tonight until six minutes after it started. I still watched it and the re-broadcast on the west coast feed. Sym-Bionic Titan is the newest cartoon by Genndy Tartakovsky, creator of Dexter's Laboratory and Samurai Jack. It's his interesting take on the giant mecha genre. I'm already waiting for some company to make toys.

  • Manga Entertainment has solicited Blu-ray releases of the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex movies. The Laughing Man and The Individual Eleven are compilation films of the first and second TV seasons respectively. Solid State Society is an original tale that continues the story. All three Blu-rays will be released on December 7th.

  • A McDonalds in Odaiba, Japan has been redecorated to celebrate the release of the latest generation of Pokemon video games, Black and White. You can see pictures here. When the games get released in the U.S. I doubt the level of promotion will be that extensive.

  • The Goosebumps movie has found a screenwriter. I didn't even know a Goosebumps movie was in development. I hope it's an anthology film à la The Twilight Zone Movie. And I hope one of the segments is based on "Monster Blood II". Cinema deserves a giant rampaging hamster.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

And More Halloween Stuff

The other day I went to a different Target that had their Halloween display completely up and running. It was a pretty neat sight, but I also think it's not as cool as in recent years. It's sad but little things like plush mummies keep me happy.

Combining Hello Kitty, mini-playsets, and Halloween is something I fully endorse.

Scoff if you must but is this any more out there than the odd variety of burgers Carls' Jr. sells? (And that I sheepishly eat.)

Eyeballs are more than just a condiment. You can get them by the jar full.

The original concept of Mr. Potato Head only included the facial features. You had to attach them to a real potato, not provided. Eventually people decided they didn't want their kids playing with a vegetable. But playing with vegetables is a Halloween tradition so they brought back the original concept and applied it to pumpkins. We're setting the bar for making Jack O'Lanterns lower and lower. Granted this still takes more effort than buying a plastic Jack O'Lanterns. I'm not complaining, just making an observation. I admit carving a real pumpkins is pretty gross.

There were other types of "pumpkin adornments" based on licensed characters. There was Elmo, Cookie Monster and naturally I gravitated more toward Spider-Man.

There are two different types of "limited edition" Pop Tarts out right now. I guess Choc-O-Lantern is relying on the Halloween season to sell, because it doesn't seem all that original. Frosted Pumpkin Pie could be good too but I'm not willing to find out first hand how pumpkin pie translates to Pop Tart form.

I have no idea if the paper towels themselves have any Halloween inspired patterns but the shrinkwrap has some nice designs. That has to count for something.

I also stopped by a Barnes and Noble the same day. They had a pretty cool table of horror themed books. True ghost stories, vampires, zombies, what have you.

The Barnes and Noble also had an impressive collection of Goosebumps. I was a huge Goosebumps fan back when everyone was a Goosebumps fan. I prefer the artwork of the original covers but I like that they dropped the borders. It puts more focus on the art. I also can't blame them for dropping the numbering system. I don't think there's enough kids these days who care about Goosebumps to try to collect them all.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Grilled Cheese Bacon Burger

Back in May I reviewed the Whiplash Whopper. Yet I wasn't sure if reviewing food was a good fit for the blog. At least that burger was a tie-in to a superhero movie. I wrote this second review a few weeks after that one but I kept from posting it until now, when I'm short on ideas to write about. Unfortunately I screwed up the timing. Carl's Jr. seems to have stopped spotlighting the Grilled Cheese Bacon Burger. I popped into a Carl's and I was able to confirm that they are still serving it.

The Grilled Cheese Bacon Burger at Carl's Jr. consists of beef patties (either single, double or Six Dollar Burger size), two strips of bacon and melted Swiss and American cheese between two pieces of grilled toast. The description of the sandwich is probably enough for most people to decide if they want to try one. You're either left excited or disgusted. I've always liked grilled cheese sandwiches so I fell into the former group.

I ordered a single patty burger but they accidentally gave me a double instead. I saw this as a sign of good fortune rather than balking at a sandwich even more excessive than the one I had planned to eat. Before reviewing the burger I already tried the single patty Grilled Cheese Bacon Burger and while I liked it, I didn't love it. The Grilled Cheese Bacon Burger is very cheesy. The cheese overwhelmed the meat to the point where I wondered why Carl's Jr. didn't just drop the meat and sell traditional grilled cheese sandwiches instead.

The double patty Grilled Cheese Bacon Burger fares much better. It's a very filling burger and you get a good balance of beef and cheese. I'm not sure if the bacon really adds anything, because like all fast food bacon it's very thin and light. I also really liked the bread. It's just a nice change up from the usual bun.

It's somewhat embarrassing to admit I ate this and enjoyed it. More than once even. Maybe that's why I kept from posting this for so long. It's decadent to be sure, and if you can learn to live with the shame of eating one I recommend it. If you can still find it, that is. So should I continue reviewing food? Should I change the name of the blog to A Mouthful of Foodstuffs? AMOF?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Halloween Stuff

I wrote previously about beginning to see Halloween goods at various stores. Most of the time I just see bags of candy, which isn't exciting unless I'm eating them. But I am seeing more decorations, costumes and accessories now.

Target was still in the middle of shifting their seasonal display from back-to-school to Halloween. So there was a lot of Jack-O-Lanterns sitting next to backpacks, but most of the shelves were just plain empty. The stuff they did have wasn't much to write up about.

Based on the signage they had up, it seems Target isn't going to have any sort of character tie-ins like in recent years. I hope that doesn't stop them from carrying more Halloween Domo plushies. I do like some of the characters Target does have even if they lack recognizability.

I've seen these Trick or Treat drawstring bags before. They lack the magic of McBoo pails but for a candy carrying conveyance they seem pretty useful. They're obviously meant as a classier alternative to walking around with a garbage bag or a pillow case. This one at Target is actually labeled as a pillowcase. Does that mean I can put it on a pillow and sleep on it? I'm a toss and turner so I imagine I'd end up with drawstrings whipping in my face.

Oh and there's a Star Wars licensed version. Of course there is.

The "Halloween editions" of snacks and cereals are showing up in stores as well. I have no idea what the orange bits in these Chips Ahoy are. Probably M&M-type hard candies. Or maybe just colored chocolate chips. Either way their presence make these Chip Ahoy a little more magical than your average Chips Ahoy.

The only flavor of Cap'n Crunch I'm a fan of is Peanut Butter Crunch but I was tempted give Halloween Crunch shot. It has shapes covered in sprinkles, which isn't all that impressive or Halloween specific. It does however turn milk green and that's unquestionably great.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The September Slow Down

  • So here we are in September. The year goes by way too quickly. On the plus side I'm slowly seeing Halloween stuff trickle out to stores. Ever since I graduated elementary school September has become not a whole lot more than something I have to endure to get to my favorite holiday.

  • Here's something cool, an art print of business cards for fictional companies. I recognize all but two. Well technically three, but it doesn't take a starfighter engineer to figure out where Seinar Fleet Systems is from.

  • One of the greatest video games of all time is being re-released. Well technically it's a collection of four games, most of them great. Super Mario Bros All Stars is coming to the Nintendo Wii, but only in Japan. It contains the first three Super Mario Bros. games originally released on the NES. It also includes Japan's version of the second game, The Lost Levels which is an exercise in masochism. The re-release is in celebration of the Super Mario Bros. 25th anniversary and comes with a book and CD that spans the entire series. I had the original for the Super Nintendo and I hope this Wii version gets a U.S. release.

  • There's still no word of a North American release of Inception on DVD and Blu-ray but it's already being solicited internationally. The Digital Bits has news of a limited edition briefcase set which includes cards, a booklet, and a spinning top. I think it's a pretty cool set and I liked it see it get released over here, maybe as a store exclusive.

  • [adult swim] is airing new episodes of Bleach. Having avoided any spoilers I was a little disappointed to see the new episodes start with a filler arc. I was okay with seeing a side story dealing with the Soul Reapers, but in last Saturday's episode with Ichigo dealing with his wacky new neighbors it dawned on me that this storyarc is a complete break from the ongoing Arrancar arc. I've watched a lot of anime with a lot of filler in my time, but I've never seen one that stopped in the middle of a story to tell a completely different story. Where does this new arc take place then? Immediately before the Arranacar arc? Does it even fit into continuity at all? I'll keep watching but this is pretty weird.

  • SyFy began airing the final episodes of Naoki Urusawa's Monster. That wouldn't be news except that SyFy stopped airing the series with only a handful of episodes left to go. The last two episodes air on their Ani-Monday block September 13th. I'm looking forward to the finale. I hope it wraps everything up in a satisfying way. The show has really kicked into high gear as it's gotten closer to the end.

  • Pictures of a stunt double filming in costume for the Captain America movie have appeared online. The costume does seem to be based on the design revealed earlier. It's not looking too hot as a physical outfit but what we're looking at is likely a specialized stunt outfit for motorcycling. The Nazi bikers are looking cool though.

  • I've never written anything on the blog about X-Men: First Class (somewhat intentionally) but check out this pic of January Jones as Emma Frost. The costume looks awesome and I'm all for retconning the version of Emma seen in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. January Jones is most famous for playing the world's worst mother on Mad Men.