Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Everyday I'm Assemblin'

A new Avengers poster was revealed today. It's pretty dang cool aside from Captain America and Iron Man are missing their masks so people can recognize the actors playing them.

In the U.K. the movie has been retitled Avengers Assemble to differentiate it from the classic 60's TV show (and it's own ill fated movie, but who would do that?).

There's a rumor generated from this YouTube video of the LEGO booth at Toy Fair that suggest the alien race in the movie will be the Ord, from Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men. I've only read the first storyarc of that comic (which ends with Wolverine's fist in the Ord leader's mouth) but I think the Ord would be an interesting choice and the Whedon connection makes it sound plausible. However if they can't use the Skrulls because of the Fantastic Four connection, why would the Ord be any different? They're X-Men characters which is also a Fox franchise.

Maybe we'll learn more tomorrow, when a new trailer is set to debut. I'm expecting an expanded version of the Super Bowl spot.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Toy Fair 2012 Part Three

Here's some more Toy Fair highlights and lowlights. Check out Action Figure Insider and Cool Toy Review for images and coverage.

"Sexy Braniac" is a phrase I should never have had reason to type.

Bandai's Thundercats display didn't have anything new to see which has led some fans online to cluck like the sky is falling, but I don't see any need to panic just yet. What Bandai did have on display was stuff that began hitting shelves at the beginning of the year. Technically these are "new" products. I only saw the Armor of Omens in person for the first time this weekend. I still haven't seen the Storm Charger. Some collectors seem to have a "what have you done for me lately" outlook, but the primary purpose of Toy Fair is not in fact to show collectors things they haven't seen before. I bet in a couple of months they'll be a bunch of new toys that trickle out, without any advance warning. For comparison, none of the recent Power Rangers Samurai toys that are now out in stores were at Toy Fair 2011. That's just how Bandai works.

NECA will be putting out new items for Terminator, Aliens, Predator, Gremlins Robocop A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th and they're starting new lines for Rambo, Rocky, and E.T. (pictured above). I'm not sure any of these films really needed new toys but they're all big names that people recognize, plus they have dedicated fans who grew up with them and probably have some disposable income to toss around. NECA knows what they're doing.

And NECA is not just trying to mine the pockets of the children of the '80s. They're also trying to milk the fans of the video games of Valve. Now I haven't played much of any of these games myself, but even I'll tell you a Gordon Freeman action figure is long overdue. Some of the other stuff they have in the works are a replica of the gun from Portal, a Boomer and a Smoker from Left 4 Dead and action figures and plushes of the Team Fortress crews. Valve NECA

I'm a little concerned that NECA is acquiring licenses they don't plan do all that much with. For Resident Evil: Raccoon City Chronicles they're doing an action figure of Vector, and only Vector. For Bioshock Infinite they showed off an amazing Columbia statue and a replica of the game's skyhook. Maybe I'm looking a gift horse in the mouth but I'd hope they have more than that planned for the upcoming game.

If I have to single out one specific toy as most disappointing it would have to be the Star Wars Vintage Collection Gran Moff Tarkin. This is a figure I've been looking forward to for a long time. It just looks off, from the likeness of Peter Cushing to the shade of green used for his uniform. I'd also call the skirt piece one of the less than well executed uses of soft goods in Star Wars figures.

Also coming in the Vintage Collection are figures from Star Wars The Old Republic, based on a video game I haven't played. So while I don't have any attachment to Darth Malgus, Shae Vizla and the pictured Jace Malcolm, the designs are so cool I'm tempted to pick them up.

The Star Wars San Diego Comic-Con exclusive is a big improvement over last year's Death Star set mainly because it features seven new figures in contrast to the Revenge of the Jedi repacks. The set includes Jar-Jar Binks, a Clone Trooper Lieutenant, a Shock Trooper, a Sandtrooper, Princess Leia in Bespin gown, and Darth Vader as he's being electrocuted by the Emperor. The figures will come on a cardback design considered but unused for the original line in the '70s. Those carded figures are packaged in a box shaped like the Carbon freezing chamber. Emerging from the top of the package is a Jar Jar frozen in Carbonite which is available exclusively in this set. The other six figures will later be available at retail on standard Vintage Collection cards.

I've spotted a good deal of Hasbro's Avengers toys already for sale at Toys R Us. (The electronic Hulk is more amusing than it should be.) So far it feels too much like a retread of the previous Iron Man, Thor and Captain America toylines. It doesn't help that new characters like Hawkeye and Black Widow won't be out until a later wave. Absent from Toy Fair were the six inch Avengers shown at last year's New York Comic Con. Since Toy Fair is aimed at retailers it suggests those six inch figures aren't intended for general release. They're possibly exclusives which doesn't bode well for my chances of finding them in stores.

The first wave of Habro's relaunched Marvel Legends have been trickling into stores, with series two appearing overseas. At Toy Fair Hasbro displayed U.S. Agent and Blade, pictured above, from the third wave. Announced but not revealed was Mystique. Those are the only three figures confirmed so far for series 3. The fact that the rest of the wave is still under wraps doesn't bother me, but I am bothered by the implication that the third wave is still a long way from being released.

A pleasant surprise was Hasbro's G.I. Joe Retaliation line. It helps that the designs for the movie sequel are a big step up from the first movie. And there's the cast. Fans are understandably excited to get action figures of Bruce Willis as Joe Colton and The Rock as Roadblock, but the one I'm most looking forward to is a figure of RZA as Blind Master.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Toy Fair 2012 Part Two

Here's some more Toy Fair thoughts. For Toy Fair coverage visit Cool Toy Review and Action Figure Insider.

You've probably heard by now that DC will be publishing a series of prequels to Watchmen. Toy Fair brought another interesting wrinkle to an already big story with the reveal of statues by DC Direct based on Before Watchmen. DC Direct tried once before to produce Watchmen figures but those were canceled to appease Alan Moore. Are the prequels seen as a backdoor method to merchandise the characters? And what's the difference really between making figures based on the original graphic novel, the new prequels or even the movie which did get action figures? I don't know but I'd still buy comic based Watchmen action figures and I don't care what DC Direct calls it if and when it happens.

I like Mezco. I like Domo. And I like that Mezco is making Domo action figures. Still there's so much Domo stuff out there already that I'm not sure how Mezco's figures will stand out. I guess lucahdor Domo is a pretty good start.

Mezco also has the Universal Monsters license which is a dream pairing for me. Unfortunately it's happened when another company is already putting out realistically styled Universal Monsters figures. I still think Mezco's stylized take on the Mummy, Frankenstein's Monster and the Creature from the Black Lagoon are pretty cool looking.

Here's an example of Mezco's skills. Check out Dracula as a Living Dead Doll. Obviously it doesn't look like Bela Lugosi nor is it supposed to. Yet they managed to perfectly nail essence of Dracula's character, in doll form no less. It's much better looking than Diamond Select's non-Lugosi-based Dracula action figure.

I don't want to rag on Diamond Select though, because I really do like their Universal Monster figures. Now that they've done the more well-known monsters, they're focusing on both the lesser known and the damn obscure. They'll be releasing the Metaluna Mutant from This Island Earth, Erik from the 1925 The Phantom of the Opera complete with an organ and violin, Quasimodo from the 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame and of the title creatures from The Mole Men.

But the show stealer was this pair of figures based on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I was stunned to see these. I don't think even Sideshow Collectibles has ever done anything based on this film. The sculpt of Boris Karloff is excellent. Diamond Select does great work when they have access to use the actor's likeness.

And speaking of Diamond Select and actor's likenesses, I see some Mark Ruffalo in their Hulk action figure for The Avengers. Notice the figure next to the Hulk in the blackened box? That's the mystery villain from The Avengers. Can you make out what it is?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Toy Fair 2012

This year's Toy Fair is drawing to a close so here's a small sample of the mountain of cool stuff that caught my eye. The pics are from Action Figure Insider and Cool Toy Review, so go check them out.

Let's get this out of the way, Finn "wearing" Jake from Adventure Time is the best thing to come from this, or any Toy Fair.

One thing I've wanted for years is Mars Attacks action figures based on the original Topps trading cards, and now they're coming from Mezco in time for the 50th anniversary. They're doing two Martians in two scales, although I'm not sure which scales those are exactly. They don't come out until November which seems so very far away from now.

Mattel's The Dark Knight Rises Movie Masters look just as good as I expected them to. It will be a six figure line with each packaged with a part to build the Bat-signal, which looks like they had to gussy up so it'd be elaborate enough to split into six pieces. Mattel revealed Batman, Bane and Catwoman and I have a good guess what at least two of the others will be.

Mattel finally announced a Young Justice six inch figure of Superboy in his usual attire. By the time it comes out there will have been eight other figures released before him, including a Superboy wearing the white jumpsuit from his first appearance. Now we only need a Miss Martian figure to complete the core members of the team, and sadly I don't think there's any guarantee Mattel will make her.

And Mattel revealed a bunch of upcoming DC Universe figure that will be available on Matty Collector as part of their new Club Infinite Earths subscription line. I didn't sign up for the subscription but I'll be picking up certain certain figures. Poison Ivy is finally coming later this year and Black Mask was a nice surprise, but neither have set dates. The line launches in April with Jay Garrick as The Flash.

Playmates is relaunching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for what the fifth, sixth time? The figures Playmates are putting out for the new Nickelodeon series look pretty good. Granted they'd be better if they matched the images first revealed by MTV Geek. Those had a paint wash that really brought out the details in the sculpts. The final versions aren't terrible but they're a let down after those first pics. There's still a lot to like about the line particularly the crazy awesome sewer lair playset.

Playmates will also release a six inch classic TMNT line based on the original animated series. The figures are super articulated and come in packaging that mimics the original Playmates toys. I really hope the line eventually sees some other characters like Shredder, April and my favorite Slash, preferably one based on the original toy or the Archie comics and not the animated series.