Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Pop Culture League Challenge - Space Marines



I almost sat this week's Pop Culture League Challenge out because I wasn't able to compile my original post that I had in mind. For the record, that was Galoob's Starship Troopers line. Man that's a tough line to collect, but eventually we'll have it here. Just not today.

As I sat and pouted over the above, I decided, "I should just play a video game, and relax as opposed to stressing." That's when I thumbed through my PC drive, and settled on the original classic shooter that helped start it all...id Software's Doom.

As I fired up the game it hit me almost instantly. "Doom Guy!" The OG of space marines. Unfortunately while the idea was heading in the right direction, Doom Guy hasn't exactly had many toys produced based on him. In fact, Funko's recent Pop line may be the only ones.

That's when the second thought hit me.

Despite its lack of toys, Doom has had some incredible expansions in the franchise that go beyond the fantastic games - and no, I'm not referring to that awful film from 2005 starring The Rock. I'm talking about the anthology of books from writers Dafydd ab Hugh and Brad Linaweaver released between 1995 and 1996. I know, right...Who? They're not the most renowned writers in literature.

I remember first getting these books in the late 90's / early 2000's - Right around the time I got the Resident Evil novels by S.D. Perry (also a fantastic read). However, it wouldn't be until years later that I got around to reading them (the Doom books that is).

It was at this time that I realized what I had been missing - Even though it was sitting fifty feet away from me on my bookshelf. The stories fleshed out Doom Guy so vastly, and also introduced us to him by name for the first time - Flynn Taggart. Even the titles of the books were taken directly out of the original and sequel games.

The books read like you were literally playing the game, which to some would be considered dumbed down literature. However, for fans of the classic shooter series, this is only an added perk. You can literally visualize the corridors and doors, and this only helps to immerse you in the story all the more. I don't want to spoil the story / plot beyond that for anyone that is considering reading these.

If you've not read the series, and are a fan of the Doom games, I highly recommend that you check them out. You can still get them for cover price from most second hand sellers - Just be careful of the ones that are trying to get three to four times that price. While the books are out of print, they're far from scarce.

Other's have chimed in with their posts;

Brother Midnight talks Aliens.
Mr Smiths Plastic Bubble talks about a couple things - One of which is also a book.
Alexis provides her all star line-up team.

For the rest that come about, check out the main page.

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Monday, December 5, 2016

Disney Animated Classic Movie Posters (Disney)




Today would have been Walt Disney's 115th birthday were he to still be with us - Which he is if you believe the urban legend that he's cryogenically (apparently not a real word) frozen somewhere underneath Disneyland. In celebration of the day, we've compiled all the posters from the famous library of Disney Animated Classics.

Mind you, this list is heavily disputed among Disney fans. Go to one web site, and you'll see a list of 52 movies. Head to another, and that person will profess there are 58, and so on, and so on. We'd be lying if we said that we honestly knew which list was right. Suffice to say, ours comes from IMDB - Which like all the others is also disputed in the comments section. We're sure if someone finds this post online that it too will be disputed.

Since we're going chronologically, it's fairly safe to say that the list is accurate from Snow White, which was Disney's first animated classic film, through The Aristocats, which was the last classic to be approved by Disney prior to his death. From there, all bets are off. However, we're fairly positive that the list is accurate at least up until 1999's Fantasia 2000. It seems at this point is where most lists are disputed. Some claim Dinosaurs is a Disney Animated Classic, while others swear it isn't....We don't honestly care know. Suffice to say if you like the movie, and want to consider it one - Knock yourself out.

So, for what it's worth, here's what we have - Again, based on IMDB;

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)*Pinocchio (1940)

Fantasia (1940)*Dumbo (1941)

Bambi (1942)*Saludos Amigos (1942)

The Three Caballeros (1944)*Make Mine Music! (1946)

We, like all other Disney fans out there have our favorites, and our dislikes.The 1942 period beginning with Saludos Amigos, and leading through the 1948 released Melody Time definitely falls under the dislikes category. These films, while a fine piece of animation (and live action), simply don't hold up well for us in terms of general story telling. They rely too heavily on skits, and music to drive the films. More importantly - They're just so boring - Again, personally speaking.

Fun and Fancy Free (1947)*Melody Time (1948)

Though it's true that The Adventures of Ichabod and Mister Toad continues the tradition of building a film around skits, we actually really enjoy this one. Both main features of the film are strongly written, and are simply fun to watch. Fortunately Disney opted to return to fairy tales, and full length stories with its following entry, 1950's Cinderella.

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mister Toad (1949)*Cinderella (1950)

Alice in Wonderland (1951)*Peter Pan (1953)

Here's a fun bit of history for you. Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland is actually in public domain. Yep, if you want to create your own Wonderland story, and ship it off to the local printing press, or big screen, you're in your legal rights to do so. Neat!

Lady and the Tramp (1955)*Sleeping Beauty (1959)

One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961)*The Sword and the Stone (1963)

The Jungle Book and The Aristocats would be the last two films personally approved by Walt Disney. Walt passed away of lung cancer in 1966 at the age of 65 - A result of smoking pipes and unfiltered cigarettes for decades. Though it's true that Walt wouldn't be with us today as he would have been well over a hundred years old, it would have been amazing to see the direction he took the company had he stuck around for a few more decades - Not that we didn't get great films in his absence (Our personal favorite came out in 1977 starring a now famous yellow bear).

The Jungle Book (1967)*The Aristocats (1970)

Robin Hood (1973)*The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

The Rescuers (1977)*The Fox and the Hound (1981)

The 1980's brought with it a new style of Disney film - The beginning of the computer age. The Black Cauldron is noted for being not only the first Disney Animated Classic to incorporate computer graphics, but also the first to be rated PG, and have no songs sung by anyone. It's a classic unto itself, but definitely threw parents for a loop when it debuted in 1985. Let's just say it wasn't the Disney film many people were expecting.

The Black Cauldron (1985)*The Great Mouse Detective (1986)

Oliver and Company (1988)*The Little Mermaid (1989)

The Rescuers Down Under (1990)*Beauty and the Beast (1991)

The Rescuers Down Under is the first and only sequel to be allowed into the Disney Animated Classic lineup. All others to date have either been direct to video or made for TV under the Disney Movie Toons emblem.

Aladdin (1992)*The Lion King (1994)

Pocahontas (1995)*The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)

Hercules (1997)*Mulan (1998)

Tarzan (1999)*Fantasia 2000 (1999)

Not actually released in 2000, but rather December of 1999, Fantasia 2000 was a boast from Disney to remaster the original while adding in sequences that were intended for the original 1940's released film. It included new segues featuring the likes of Steve Martin, Angela Lansbury, Penn & Teller, James Earl Jones and more. Its biggest feature was that it was being presented in IMAX theaters. To many Disney purists, Fantasia 2000 ended up being what the Special Editions of Star Wars are to many - A horrible nightmare.

Now we come to that highly controversial Dinosaur from 2000. Mind you, it's not controversial for the film itself, but rather the point in Disney Animated Classic film history where the arguments of whether or not the various films belong in the lineup or not. We don't honestly know, so let the arguments begin in the comment section.

Dinosaur (2000)*The Emperor's New Groove (2000)

Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)*Lilo & Stitch (2002)

Treasure Planet (2002)*Brother Bear (2003)

Home on the Range (2004)*Chicken Little (2005)

Meet the Robinson (2007)*Bolt (2008)

With three films in a row strictly focusing on computer animation, the world of traditional animation seemed bleak to return. That was until Disney announced The Princess and the Frog. Not only did this continue the popular hand animated style, but also introduced fans to its first non-white princess.

The Princess and the Frog (2009)*Tangled (2010)

Winne the Pooh (2013)*Wreck It Ralph (2012)

Sadly it was a short live victory as Disney would later gut its hand animation department in 2013, ceasing any plans to continue in the "outdated" style. Computers are simply faster, easier, and cost less.

Frozen (2013)*Big Hero 6 (2014)

Zootopia (2016)*Moana (2016)

Disney has announced two projects in the works which are speculated to be a part of the Disney Animated Classic cannon - Moana (2016) and Gigantic (2018). These films keep in time with the computer animated features we have been receiving over the past few years, and it's most likely safe to say that this is the way it will be until the next best thing in animation is developed.

Gigantic (2018)

As so many Disney films have said in the past, this is "The End". We hope that you enjoyed this look at all these classic posters. Whether or not they truly do fall into the Disney Animated Classic lineup is another question - One we're sure will be debated for years to come.

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Monday, November 28, 2016

Pop Culture League Challenge - There's A Sale At Penneys!





This week's Pop Culture League Challenge is an odd one. There's a sale at Penneys. What was one of your greatest deals? Penneys? As in JC Penny? Do people even shop there anymore? I mean, I'm looking at my calendar, and it definitely doesn't say 1982 on it.

So for this challenge I'm going to need to get a little creative. Let's assume that Penny is a person, and not a place. Let's also assume that Penny was the name of the guy I bought something from way back in the day at a local comic book show.

If we're going with that hypothetical route, then the best deal I got from Penny was his entire run of Topps Star Wars trading cards for $60.00 with the binder and sleeves. Mind you, when I say entire run, I mean all five series of Star Wars, all three of The Empire Strikes Back, and both of the Return of the Jedi ones. Additionally, each set contained all of their stickers.

This was right around 1992. Star Wars was relatively dead to the general population, and dealers were  lucky if they weren't giving away Star Wars related merchandise just to offload it. Coincidentally, I turned down a fantastic deal for the time from a local comic shop. I was offered every carded Star Wars figure for just $1,200.00, and passed because I would have had to spend every dime in my savings account to get them. Oops. Live and learn I suppose.

While the Topps cards I picked up certainly wouldn't have offered the early retirement that the figures would have, I still got a fantastic deal considering you'll spend three to four times that price to get the full run these days. Added bonus - I still have them to this day, so it wasn't just an impulse buy of something I didn't want.

Let's be honest too. If I had bought the carded Star Wars figures, they would have been long gone by now, and so would I - To some cheap Island in the middle of nowhere to live out the rest of my days as a king.

So that's my story of the great deal I got from "Penny".

As of this posting nobody had chimed in with their responses, so sadly I have no links to share at this time. However, this could be because Brian's site is telling everyone that their links are spam. You can check out the main page for any updates that come in.


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Super Queens (Ideal)



Super Queens
Ideal
1967 - 1968

During the 1960's and 70's, Ideal was one of the largest doll-makers in the United States. With familiar characters such as Evil Knievel, Captain Action and Dorothy Hamil (to name just a few), the company was well poised to sell dolls to children of all ages, boy or girl.

In 1967 Ideal produced an all new line - Super Queens. This four doll set featured some of the most popular female heroine's of DC Comics, and even Krypto the Superdog in the case of Supergirl. The overall design of the dolls were in the style of another Ideal line, Posin' Misty. Much like the Misty doll, each Super Queen stood 11.5 inches, and featured rooted hair. Of course, it wouldn't be complete without the signature side-glancing eyes.

What makes these dolls extra special to collectors is that they were the first examples of dolls for these particular characters. It wouldn't be until the 70's that Mego introduced its line of eight inch dolls / action figures based on some of these DC characters.

 Supergirl

 Batgirl

 Wonder Woman

Mera

In general these dolls are not common, nor easy to find. One pops up here and there, but typically it is Batgirl or Supergirl. Wonder Woman and Mera remain far more scarce.

Due to the fragile nature of the packaging these are prone to crushing / bowing on the sides. Because of this, there are very few dolls known to exist in the box in true mint condition. With that said, even the worst of condition one will set you back considerably.

Loose dolls sell at a starting price of $500.00, and mint in the box ones can sell for several thousands. This is certainly no line for the faint of heart, or frugal budgeted collector.

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Monday, November 21, 2016

Pop Culture Leage Challenge - Gee, Thanks!



This week's Pop Culture Challenge is a good one. Gee, Thanks! It's the season to be thankful. That it is.

So, here goes.

I'm thankful for the many good pop culture and toy blogger sites out there such as Green Plastic Squirt Gun, 20 Years Before 2000, Mr. Smith's Plastic Bubble, Action Figure Barbecue, Cool and Collected, Alexis' Universe, The Sewer Den, AFB, 2 Minute Toy Break, The Harvey Mercheum, Cassie's Library, D.I. Treasures, and the many, many others of you I may have missed.

Though we don't all know each other in person, we have forged a bond across the internet through our love of toys, comic books, and many other infinite collectibles. May all of you have a happy holiday season!

Here's to the tail end of wrapping up another successful year of blogging for all of us, and a hope that we'll all be around for many more to come!

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Hasbro)



Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Hasbro
2015 - 2016

Ah, Star Wars. How you rose to the top, only to fall into a deep slumber, then be awoken...Ha...Puns. Technically though, to be as accurate as possible it would either be the Power of the Force II Awakens or the Thrawn Trilogy Awakens. Those were the start of new life being breathed into the lungs of Star Wars.

We have a love / hate relationship with Star Wars toys. By that we mean that we love there are still Star Wars toys being produced today, but we hate the majority of them. We'll go into details during our whining session below.

With Rogue One right around the corner, we thought we'd take a look at last year's hype machine, The Force Awakens. Though the movie was well received by the general population, there were of course many people who scorned the film for being nothing short of a retelling of A New Hope. Admittedly there is some merit to that argument.

After the reception that was the George Lucas Prequel Trilogy, Disney definitely played it safe with the first entry in their Sequel Trilogy. By that we mean they seemed to fear stepping anywhere outside the box of the Original Trilogy so much to the point that they did indeed mirror A New Hope almost to a "T".




We're sure this topic could be debated ad nauseam by Star Wars fans on both sides of the fence. So, we're going to go ahead and shift the attention now to the toys themselves in attempts to sidestep that argument.

Hasbro has produced hundreds, if not thousands of Star Wars figures since acquiring Tonka / Kenner in mid 1991. Though it was public knowledge, the Hasbro brand didn't appear on the front of Star Wars figure packages until the Flashback Series of the Power of the Force II line which was released in 1998. Many figure collectors of course remember the entire PotFII line as both a joy and nightmare at the same time for its ever leaching effects on wallets as well as a breath of life in Star Wars returning to toy isles back in 1995.




Since then, Hasbro has launched and ended numerous Star Wars related lines coinciding with the 3 3/4 inch scale figures. They not only covered all three of the Prequels; The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones (known in the toy isle as Star Wars Saga) and Revenge of the Sith, but also the various television series; Clone Wars, The Clone Wars and the recent Rebels iteration. They even produced a throwback to the vintage line with their highly popular Vintage Collection series. These of course are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of lines as there were many others.

It was inevitable that 2015 to 2016 would be The Force Awakens' turn. Though there were many figures released, the series as a whole seems incomplete. Where is Leia, Luke, Lor San Tekka and the various creatures seen in Maz's "palace"? Heck, you can't even get Maz Kanata if you don't buy a multipack. Meanwhile, characters that weren't even part of the film got thrown into the mix to "flesh out" the line. Overall, it just seems like a missed opportunity on Hasbro's part, but then again, they've been missing the mark on Star Wars lines for quite some time now (more on that below).




With that said, we get it. Hasbro has shifted their production to gear it more towards children as opposed to collectors. They created the six inch Black Series for the collectors, and essentially said, "This will suffice you because that's all you're getting." Since then they have cut back on articulation and in general the quality of their 3 3/4 inch line. Oddly enough, the prices still remain the same in toy isles, if not a little higher at this point.

Rather than focus on solid figures and vehicles that carried the various Star Wars lines through success for years, Hasbro has resorted to gimmicks - Such as this line's "Armor Up" collection - AKA big bulky accessories that are irrelevant to the character, but add eye candy to the package for children, and additional dollars to the parent's buying price. Even some of the basic figures seem encumbered with large accessories that serve no purpose - Why does Captain Phasma come with a large green bladed unicycle?




In all seriousness, we do know why. See, that's Hasbro's other gimmick. Each basic figure comes packed with an accessory to create an even larger irrelevant accessory when combined. Man do we miss the days of "Build A Droid" - You know, when each figure came packed with a piece of a droid that when combined at least made for an awesome figure to add to your collection.

With all this "hate" for the line, it makes you wonder if there was anything good that came out of it. Short answer - Yes.

As someone once said, "Hate leads to suffering." Which oddly enough is what many fans of Star Wars who hate what has become of the toys, but still buy them, are doing.




The line isn't terrible. It's just disappointing in terms of what characters got left out. Still, if you're looking for the main cast of new faces, you will find that here. Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron and Kylo Ren are all here - The majority in multiple iterations. Furthermore, you can find them all in the basic packs, so you're not having to buy the bulky deluxe editions if you don't want to.

Even then, it's not like you have to utilize the packed in accessories from either the basic or deluxe versions. Heck, if it bothers you that much, you can just throw them away - Though we don't know why you would buy them if you were just going to throw pieces out.




Hasbro released three waves of basic figures, each comprising of twelve figures. A unique twist they came up with was to split each wave in half, designating one half to the Desert / Snow theme, and the other half to the Forest / Space theme. This theme carried over to the deluxe, or "Armor Up" series, which includes a figure from each theme in each of its two waves. Well, to correct that statement, it would have, but it appears that the Forest Gear figure from wave 2 was cancelled.

Toys R' Us released two "Armor Up" exclusive packs. The first pack contained a Desert and Space themed set of figures, and the second pack covered the Snow and Forest themed ones.



Speaking of store exclusives - Though there weren't many multipacks produces for The Force Awakens line, two of the three were exclusive to specific retailers. Amazon got the First Order Legion - A pack that contains pretty much every form of First Order Stormtrooper you can think of (seven figures in total). Kohls on the other hand received a pack refereed to simply as Kohl's Exclusive Set. It contained four figures in a Forest theme.

The series was rounded off with numerous vehicles. Much as the standard of any Star Wars line these days, the vehicles are separated into one of three classes; I, II and III.




There were eleven vehicles in total produced - five from Class I, Three from Class II and three from Class III. The Class I vehicles contained an exclusive walker which could only be purchased from Entertainment Earth.

The most expensive vehicle to come from the series was the Battle Action Millennium Falcon - AKA a Transformer. Really the only "neat" thing to come from this toy (for us) was the new radar dish. With that said, we can definitely see why kids would get excited about it. Sure, it's not screen accurate, but look at that massive cannon that pops out! Fun times indeed! It's always great when toys incorporate projectiles or sound effects, or (mind blown) both!


For us, and yes, this is totally a personal opinion - Hasbro has been missing the mark on their Star Wars toys for quite some time now. In general there doesn't seem like too much care goes into a Star Wars line these days. It's as if they don't listen to the fans anymore. Remember when there used to be a yearly poll for a "Fan's Choice" figure? Where is that these days?

Hasbro wants so desperately to cater their toys to kids, and has for many years now. It seems so obvious with all the silly gimmicks and pack-ins they're focusing on. The problem with this is that they seem to have forgotten that it was collectors that took them from 1995 to present. Grown up fans of the Original Trilogy were the ones clambering over each other in the 90's to get to the newest figures, not children. We're not saying that kids didn't want these figures, but let's be real about it. The majority of Star Wars toy buyers back then were in the age range of 20 - 40.

Don't get us wrong. We don't hate the idea that a toy line is being geared towards children. We suppose that this is how it should be. However, in the past Hasbro seemed to have been on a path where there was still somewhat of a balance. Main characters were the focal point for those young and old, but then Hasbro would throw in a gem here and there strictly for collectors. Those days seem gone.

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