Tuesday, November 30, 2010

November 2010 Recap



Below is a recap of all the post we've covered in November 2010. If you missed any, or simply want to see them again, click on each "title" to be taken directly to that post. As always, thanks for reading.

Bucky O'Hare

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Monday, November 8, 2010

Bucky O'Hare (Hasbro)



"Did you say, Bucky?"

"I said, Bucky"

"BUCKY O'HARE!"

How many similarities can you find between G.I. Joe and Bucky O'Hare? Think hard, there are a lot.

Yes, they were both comic books. Yes, they were both cartoon shows of the eighties. Yes, they both had their own video games. Now for one you probably didn't know. They were both the brain children of Larry Hama.


Hama created Bucky O'Hare initially to be a star in his own comic book series. While the series was mildly successful, it did't survive the dramatic changes that took place within the comic book industry in the early 80's.

It wouldn't be until 1991 until the cartoon series was brought to life by Sunset Animation Studios, bringing the series to both the U.S. and U.K. in the form of Saturday morning cartoons that the series would catch a break. Like all Saturday morning toons, you can't have a cartoon without a toy line. After all, one could easily argue that the shows were nothing more than half hour long commercials for the toys.

Most of the major characters represented in the show were produced and released by Hasbro that same year along with two vehicles (one for each side - bad/good guys). While the toys sold fairly well, it is rumored that Hasbro themselves were the cause of the eventual tanking of the line.

"Toad Air Marshall" action figure not only sold poorly, but was shipped in higher quantities than other figures, like Bucky. Stores would order a case of toys and the more popular (less in quantity) figures would sell first, leaving the shelves filled with Toad Air Marshall, and no room/desire for stores to order more Bucky figures. This translated to poor action figure sales, and no second wave of figures.

Perhaps the most memorable "item" to spawn from the Bucky O'Hare series was the Konami arcade machine which allowed players to control Bucky, Jenny, Deadeye or Blinky in a format similar to the arcade games based on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or The Simpsons. Perhaps to satisfy fans, and bring closure to the series, the plot of the arcade game allowed players to achieve final victory over the toads by releasing an energy called the Interplanetary Life Force contained within KOMPLEX. This last hurrah to the series also featured the original voice cast.

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Sunday, October 31, 2010

October 2010 Recap



Below is a recap of all the post we've covered in October 2010. If you missed any, or simply want to see them again, click on each "title" to be taken directly to that post. As always, thanks for reading.

Batman the Animated Series

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Batman the Animated Series (Kenner)



The bat insignia is one of the most recognizable symbols on the face of the Earth. No mater what country you're from, show a poster with only the Batman insignia, and right away people know what they're looking at.

Since 1939, Batman has been protecting Gotham city from the crime and scum that look to destroy it. From comic books, to movies and television, there's a format for every fan to enjoy.

It seemed like a perfect fit when Batman the Animated Series aired on Fox Television in 1992. The series was an instant smash, so much so that it was eventually put into syndication on prime time television, airing right before The Simpsons. Though by the time this happened, the show was dubbed The Adventures of Batman and Robin.

With the overwhelming popularity and draw to the young and old, it was only natural that a toy line would spawn. For this, the well known Kenner toys were brought in to begin production on what would be a very short lived series.

Ask any collector of Batman toys and they will all have the same major gripe. Too many repaints. Sure the series started out strong, and for the first two series managed to stay relatively far away from repackaged, repainted figures. But, by the third series, the staple of rehashed figures hit, and only managed to hit harder with each sequential series. This would lead to collectors shying away from the series big time.

Back in the day, the villains were the most popular items to come out of the series. Collectors were buying and selling like mad on the secondary market causing some figure to fetch as much as $150.00 a piece. Though, these days those prices have dropped considerably to a more reasonable $10 - $20 per specific figure.

The Deluxe figures were all repainted, re-accessorized Batman figures. This in turn led to more gripe about the series.

A two pack of repainted/reaccessorized Batman and Robin figures were also released.

The one and only mail-away offer was for (yet again) another Batman repaint with different accessories.

Several vehicles were produced for the series, some of which were seen in the show, but the majority of which were not.

Despite not being in the show, the vehicles were some pretty impressive scuplts, and had a lot of interactivity with the figures.



The only playset for the series was the Batcave Command Center. At a $100.00 price tag, they didn't necessarily fly off the shelves when first released.

Today, on the secondary market, the playset doesn't go for much more than the original retail price. While the occasional can sell for close to or slightly over $200.00, the majority sell for around $125.00.

Before switching from The Animated Series to The Adventures of Batman and Robin, a sub-series of toys, Crime Squad, was produced. It was nothing more than repainted and re-accessorized Batman figures.

Even one of the two vehicles produced for the series was a repaint. The Triple Attack Jet was the only unique item to come from the sub-series.

In its prime (before all the repaints), the series was considered to be a major hit. However, these days, with all the various Batman toy lines overflowing in the toy isle, not to mention the vast amount of repaints, it appears that most collectors have forgotten this series completely. It's sad in a way considering how popular the TV show was. So much so that it even spawned a couple full length feature films, one of which was released in theaters on Christmas day.

But, such is the life of those little plastic joys known as toys. Hot today, on the curb in the trash can tomorrow.

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Thursday, September 30, 2010

September 2010 Recap



Below is a recap of all the post we've covered in September 2010. If you missed any, or simply want to see them again, click on each "title" to be taken directly to that post. As always, thanks for reading.

Star Wars: Power of the Force
Transformers 1985

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Transformers 1985 (Hasbro)



By 1985, Transformers was a household name. Kids were watching the cartoons, collecting the toys, reading comic books, and more. The second series of toys was much larger than the prior series, and though the majority of primary characters were already released, Hasbro had several secondary ones in the wake which were produced for the series.

Once again there were three sizes of characters; large, medium and small. The large and medium were packed in boxes with Styrofoam/cardboard form fit padding, while the small were released on bubble cards.


Omega Supreme


Jetfire


The 1985 series included the highly popular Dinobots.


Whirl, Roadbuster
Sludge, Swoop


Grimlock, Slag
Snarl


Hoist, Inferno
Tracks, Skids


Smokescreen, Grapple
Red Alert, Blaster


Topspin, Twin Twist
Perceptor


Warpath, Beachcomer, Seaspray
Powerglide, Cosmos


There were two seperate mail away promotions. The first was the three pack Omnibots which were packaged in a medium size box.


Mail Away Omnibots
Overdrive, Camshaft, Downshift


The second series of mail away figures was the Powerdashers. The way it worked was that by ordering one, you essentially joined a mail away club. Over the next few months, the next two figures were sent (individually) to members. Each Powerdasher was sent in a clear plastic bag inside of a brown box.

The characters had no names, and were known simply by there vehicle forms.


Mail Away Powerdashers
Car, Drill, Jet


Shockwave


Barrage, Chop Shop
Ransack, Venom


Series two was the first to see the release of Triple Changers. These were Transformers that had two vehicle forms, and one robot form. A perfect example of this is Astrotrain who can transsform from a robot to a train to a space shuttle.


Astrotrain, Blitzwing
Dirge, Ramjet


Thrust, Kickback
Bombshell, Shrapnel


The Constructacons could be combined together to form Devestator.


Bonecrusher, Scavanger, Scrapper
Hook, Ong Haul, Mixmaster


For those who wanted to get all the Constructacons in one fell swoop, Hasbro released the Devestator set as one piece.


Devestator


Transformers continues today, but the first generation of toys officially ended in 1990. Today the classic Gen1 figures are highy sought after by collectors, and incredibly difficult to come by mint in the packages, or on cards.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Star Wars: Power Of The Force (Kenner)



1985 was a sad, sad year for Star Wars fans. It would be the last year for over a decade that Star Wars merchandise would be released in abundance. To true fans of the Saga, Star Wars never died. However, for the majority of consumers, no new movies meant no interest.

Despite its very limited run, without a doubt the Power of the Force line of figures to date are some of the very best. Kenner reached deep into the Star Wars films and pulled out numerous unique and wonderful characters to sculpt.

Granted there was a fair share of figures from the prior lines, but at this point it is conceivable that this was Kenner’s last attempt at getting rid of overstock - Mainly because the supply was very limited, and the figures themselves seemed rather random.




The Power of the Force line brought the total figures produced to 92. This in turn saw the production of one final card backer. On the back of the card was an advertisement for what would become the most collectible item in the vintage Star Wars line...The collectible coin.

Worth noting is that the Yakface figure was never released in the United States, but yet many fans and collectors in the U.S. don't consider a collection complete until it is obtained.

Kenner produced a very limited amount of vehicles to accompany the Power of the Force line. A total of five to be exact, and only one were actually seen on screen. The other four seemed a rather cheap attempt from Kenner to soak out the last bit of change from consumers on a line that would soon be cancelled.

On the bright side, these vehicles were only released in the United States. Other countries received repacked vehicles that had been released in prior series, such as the X-Wing and TIE Fighter.

As stated above, the coins would become the most collectible items in this line. So much so that loose figures without the coin are worth considerably less than they would be with it.

What makes these coins so rare is that the bulk of them were only available via a mail in offer that was made available towards the tail end of the line. Because of this, very few complete sets are known to be in existence.

A total of sixty-three silver coins were produced (though only 62 were made available to the public) with a few also being minted in gold, and one being minted in bronze. Worth noting is that all the carded figures came with their respective coin with the exception of the AT-AT Driver and Nikto who were packaged with a Romba (the Ewok) coin. Despite the many coins that were produced (between the carded figures and mail away coins), these two never got their own coin.

Depending on the production run, there were also variations to the backs of the coins, three of which are known to exist.

For those lucky few collectors in 1985 who sent in enough proof of purchases in one lump sum, and a written request letter, Kenner actually did send full sets that were hand picked from the warehouse. The coins were then mailed in plastic protective sleeves - an act which was much appreciated by collectors looking to keep their coins for a lifetime, and possibly even pass on to their families.

It really was a sad time for Star Wars fans. As merchandise slowed down, and eventually stopped coming at all, it was clear that we'd have to find our Star Wars fix elsewhere. It didn't help matters much that Kenner had produced several prototypes and even began advertising for figures that never made it to store shelves.

Fortunately Star Wars received a huge revitalization in the public's eye in 1997, and the toys haven't stopped coming since. But, that's a post for another time...

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

August 2010 Recap



Below is a recap of all the post we've covered in August 2010. If you missed any, or simply want to see them again, click on each "title" to be taken directly to that post. As always, thanks for reading.

G.I. Joe Package Inserts
G.I. Joe 1987
G.I. Joe Comics

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Monday, August 30, 2010

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (Marvel Comics)



G.I. Joe has been the title of comic strips and comic books in every decade since 1942. As a licensed property by Hasbro, comics were released from 1967 up to this day, with only two interruptions longer than a year (1977-1981, 1997-2000). As a team fighting Cobra since 1982, the comic book history of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero has seen three separate publishers and four main-title series, all of which have been based on the Hasbro toy line of the same name. The first series was produced by Marvel Comics between 1982 and 1994, running for 155 issues and spawning several spin-off titles throughout the course of its run; the second and third series, published by Devil's Due Productions from 2001 to 2008, totaled 80 issues and included several spin-off titles as well. The fourth series is being published by IDW Publishing since October 2008, and various spin-off titles were launched as well. Another series, based on the G.I. Joe Extreme line of toys, was a short-lived run published by Dark Horse Comics in 1995-1996.

Today, we're going to take a look at the Marvel Comics run.

 A Real American Hero (Main series)

Hasbro re-launched their G.I. Joe franchise with G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. It was supported by a Marvel Comics series. It was unique at the time in that it was a comic book series that was promoted on television commercials which also supported the toy line. This 155-issue series is considered to be one of the longest-running comic book tie-ins to a toy line. Much of its success is to be credited to Larry Hama, who wrote the entire series save for a few issues with guest writers. Rather than treating the stories as a mere promotion for the toys, Hama wrote the series with seriousness and infused it with doses of realism, humor, and drama. Other than Transformers, no other series was able to duplicate its success. Notable artists include Herb Trimpe, Ron Wagner, Rod Whigham, and Marshall Rogers.

Issue #21 became a fan-favorite, not only because the Cobra ninja Storm Shadow was introduced, but that issue also became a prime example of comics' visual storytelling power, having no dialogue, only pictures.

A number of differences existed between the comic book and the animated TV series. Certain characters who were very prominent in the comic book, such as Stalker, were featured very little in the cartoon, while characters who were less prominent in the comic book, such as Shipwreck, were very prominent in the cartoon series. Another difference was that in the comic book featured a romance between Scarlett and Snake-Eyes, whereas in the cartoon, a romance between Scarlett and Duke was hinted at instead (most likely due to the differences between writing for a comic book audience and writing for an animated series). The most notable difference between the comic and the cartoon, however, is in its handling of combat. While the cartoon showed that nearly every soldier in every battle survived (for example, many shots of different aircraft being shot down were shown to have its pilot escape in a parachute), the comic did not shy away from mass character deaths; for example, issue #109 included the deaths of a large number of Joes, including fan-favorites like Doc, Breaker, and Quick-Kick.










In 2001, with the success of Devil's Due Comics run of G.I. Joe, Marvel Comics collected the first 50 issues in five trade paperbacks, with ten issues in each book. All covers for the trade paperbacks were drawn by J. Scott Campbell. Marvel will not publish the rest of the series, because Hasbro has purchased the rights to the comics. Hasbro has since released reprints of some issues with some of their action figures.

G.I. Joe Yearbooks

The four Yearbooks (1985-1988) collected some previous stories, summarized events, etc. and, aside from the first Yearbook (which re-printed the seminal first issue), published new stories that tied into current events in the main title.


G.I. Joe: Special Missions

The success of the main title led Marvel Comics to produce a secondary title, G.I. Joe: Special Missions which lasted 28 issues, with Herb Trimpe as the artist for nearly the entire run, with Dave Cockrum providing pencils on several issues. Spinning out of issue #50 of a story in the main title, the series featured more intense violence and a more ambiguous morality than the main title, while the enemies were conventional terrorists as well as Cobra itself. The first four issues, as well as the backup story from issue #50 of the main title, were later republished as a trade paperback.



G.I. Joe: Order of Battle

Order of Battle was a four-issue comic series that reprinted the data found on the action figures' file cards with some edits and all-new artwork of G.I. Joe characters by Herb Trimpe. Published in 1987, the first two issues featured G.I. Joe members while the third issue focused on the Cobra Organization, and the fourth featured various vehicles and equipment used by both organizations. The second issue caused some controversy when it erroneously listed Sylvester Stallone's Rocky Balboa character as a member of G.I. Joe. While negotiations had taken place, concerning the character's membership on the team, the deal had fallen through. The third and fourth issues contained a retraction stating that Rocky Balboa was not and had never been a member of G.I. Joe. The trade paperback edition of the series removed mention of the Rocky character entirely.

G.I. Joe Special

Shortly after the final issue (which was released in December 1994), a G.I. Joe Special #1 was released, with alternate art for issue #61 by Todd McFarlane.


G.I. Joe Comic Magazine

The first 37 issues of the main series were republished in the thirteen digests known as G.I. Joe Comic Magazine.



Tales of G.I. Joe

Tales of G.I. Joe reprinted the first fifteen issues of G.I. Joe on a higher quality paper stock than that used for the main comic.


G.I. Joe and the Transformers

A four issue limited series that teamed-up the Joes with the other popular property of the 1980s, Transformers. The Joes and the Autobots must join forces to stop the Decepticons and Cobra from destroying the world. The story suffered from the need to have the events of the limited series reflect the events of the main G.I. Joe and Transformers titles published by Marvel Comics at the time. However, while there were references in the Transformers ongoing series to the events of the limited series, the G.I. Joe ignored it completely, as writer Larry Hama didn't consider it to be canon, though towards the end of the ongoing G.I. Joe series several Transformers characters appeared in the G.I. Joe title as a prequel for the upcoming Transformers: Generation Two comic. The issues made reference to the limited series. A trade paperback later collected all four issues.

That’s a whole lot o' Joes

And there you have it - The Marvel run of G.I. Joe.

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