Sunday, January 31, 2010

January 2010 Recap



Below is a recap of all the post we've covered in January 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.

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century
The Simpsons

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Monday, January 18, 2010

The Simpsons (AKA World of Springfield) (Playmates Toys)



The Simpsons (AKA World of Springfield)
Playmates Toys
2000 - 2004

The Simpsons toys themselves have spawned several series - Almost as many as the TV show itself. However, unlike the TV show, it appears (at least for now) that the series has stopped at number 16. There of course have been a couple subsets as well as mail away and exclusives.

THE REGULAR FIGURES

There are several things about The Simpson toy line from Playmates that intrigue me about it. The first would have to be that the sculpt jobs are almost identical to the characters themselves (if not dead on). The second is that unlike a lot of toy lines out there, you won't find any figures that have not appeared in the show. Even when it comes to the variations of the same figures, they're all in a likeness as seen in an episode. Last, but certainly not least, the little accessories that the figures come with are simple comical. From cans of Duff Beer to Radioactiveman Comics, all your favorite props from the show have made the transition over to the toys.

There are a few characters who I noticed didn't make it to figures, but for the most part, they're all available and were as follows;

SERIES 1: Homer, Bart, Lisa, Grampa, Krusty, and Mr. Burns

SERIES 2: Pin Pal Homer, Barney, Ned Flanders, Smithers, Chief Wiggum, and Sunday Best Bart

SERIES 3: Sunday Homer, Nelson, Moe, Kamp Krusty Bart, Milhouse, and Otto

SERIES 4: Lenny, Ralph, Patty, Willie, Casual Homer, and Itchy & Scratchy Two-Pack

SERIES 5: Kent Brockman, Sea Captain, Bartman, Martin, Sideshow Mel, and Bumble Bee Man

SERIES 6: Dr. Hibbert, Snake, Bleeding Gums Murphy, Carl, Mascott Homer, and Professor Frink

SERIES 7: Dolph, Cletus, Mrs. Krabappel, Lou, Hans Moleman, and Officer Marge

SERIES 8: Kearney, Sherri & Terri Two-Pack, Ripped Willie, Uter, Superintnedant Chalmers, and Daredevil Bart

SERIES 9: Sunday Grampa, Rod & Todd Two-Pack, Busted Krusty, Prison Bob, Disco Stu, and Sunday Lisa

SERIES 10: Stonecutter Homer, Wendell, Sunday Marge, S. Leader Flanders, Dr. Marvin Monroe, and Resort Smithers

SERIES 11: Blue Haired Lawyer, Kirk Van Houten, Rainer Wolfcastle, Gil, Plow King Barney, and Larry Burns

SERIES 12: Mr. Plow Homer, Don Vittorio, Mr. Largo, Luanne Van Houten, Database, and Number One

SERIES 13: Helen Lovejoy, Freddy Quimby, Tuxedo Krusty, Legs, Princess Kashmir, and Stephen Hawking

SERIES 14: Luigi, Louie, Sarcastic Man, Kilted Willie, Miss Hoover, and Mrs. Botz

SERIES 15: Manjula, The Octuplets, Handsome Moe, Deep Space Homer, Brandine, and Comic Book Guy

SERIES 16: Squishee Bart, Agnes Skinner, Devil Homer, Artie Ziff, Doug, and Benjamin & Gary Two-Pack


CELEBRITY SERIES

During the never ending run of The Simpsons, I think it would be safe to say that there have been a ton of guest stars. From singers to actors, even characters from other animated show like The Critic have been “Simpsonized.”

While it didn't last long, and probably could have been included in the regular figures series, Playmates instead chose to make three individual series entitled "The Simpsons Celebrity Series". The three series saw a total of only eight new figures, though there clearly could have been hundreds more. But, then you would have to take into consideration all the royalties to the actual people as well as contract negotiations. In short, it would have been a huge mess simply to release an action figure. Probably for this reason (as well as others), Playmates stuck to doing original figures from the series voiced by famous guest appearing actors.

SERIES 1: Phil Hartman as Troy McClure, Danny DeVito as Herb Powell, and Joe Montegna as Fat Tony

SERIES 2: Phil Hartman as Lionel Hutz, and Al Brooks as Brad Goodman

Series three of the celebrity line was actually cancelled prior to release. As a result, Al Brooks as Hank Scorpio was released with the regular line of series 10 figures, while the Jon Lovitz as Llewyn Sinclaire and Jim Varney as Cooder were released as a two pack mail away.

SERIES 3: Al Brooks as Hank Scorpio, Jon Lovitz as Llewyn Sinclaire, and Jim Varney as Cooder.


MAIL-AWAYS

Like most good toy lines, The Simpsons offered mail away figures via sending in a set amount of proof of purchases from various figures as well as a receipt. Over the years, toy manufacturers had "wised up" with regards to people buying toys and saving proof of purchases for potential mail-away and began implementing stricter policies which required the figures to be purchased around a set time frame - Thus the requirement of a receipt. This in turn meant that dedicated fans to a series would most likely end up purchasing multiple duplicates as they would purchase the figures prior to the mail-away offers.

The six mail-away figures available over the entire 16 series line were; Be Sharp Homer, Be Sharp Apu, Be Sharp Skinner, Be Sharp Barney, Stonecutter Moe, and Stonecutter Lenny.



EXCLUSIVES

If you were to ask me what kills my desire to collect anything, right away I would say, "Exclusives." To me, nothing ruins the fun of collecting something like the ability to not be able to complete my set. I don't know about the rest of you, but I personally can't fly from State to State for convention after convention just to get an exclusive item being sold there. I certainly have no desire to go onto EBay and pay someone an outrageous amount for it either.

I don't understand the logic behind manufacturers creating exclusives. Why would you want to piss off your consumers by not allowing them the opportunity to buy what you're selling? It makes no sense at all.

Whatever the reason is, (and there must be one because toy line after toy line continues to do this) it must be a good one.

Over the years there were several exclusives offer via different stores and websites. Production numbers were generally low, and getting your hands on them was relatively difficult to do. The exclusives were as follows;

TOYFARE: Glow Radioactive Homer, Pin Pal Mr. Burns, Boxing Homer, Convention Comic Book Guy, and Pin Pal Moe

KB TOYS: The Ingestible Homer, Vampiredna Krabapple, Captain Kwik Apu Three-Pack

EB GAMES: Radioactive Man & Milhouse as Fallout Boy Two-Pack, High School Homer & High School Marge Two-Pack, Bill & Marty with KBBL Radio Station Two-Pack, Moe's Tavern, and Future Burns & Future Smithers Two-Pack


TOYS R' US: Treehouse of Horror 1, Treehouse of Horror 2, Family Christmas Set, Colonel Homer & Lurleen Two-Pack, Bowling Marge & Jacques Two-Pack, Interactive Main Street, Treehouse of Horror 3, New Year's Playset, Be Sharps Playset, Treehouse of Horror 4, and Tracey Ullman Set




PLAYSETS

With each line of action figures that made their way to the shelves, there were additional playsets released. They included a figure and a small scene from the show. The attention to detail was outstanding, and like the figures was meticulous to a "T". Some would argue that the playsets are actually a lot more accurate than the actual figures.

From the Simpson's home to Noise Land Arcade, almost all your favorite scenes from the show were available and ready to be displayed. Each one included various sound effects from the show to make interaction with the toys even more enjoyable. But, what really made the playsets such a treat was that most of the figures available in them were never available separately, so one was generally never stuck with duplicates.

The playsets available were; Radioactive Homer with Power Plant, Marge with Living Room, Principal Skinner with Elementary, Apu with Kwik-E-Mart, Sideshow Bob with Krustylu Studios, Mayor Quimby with Town Hall, Comic Book Guy with Comic Shop, Pin Pal Apu with Bowl-A-Rama, Reverend Lovejoy with Church, Jimbo Jones with Noiseland Arcade, Muumuu Homer with Family Kitchen, Pimply Face Teen with Krusty Burger, Selma with DMV, Lunchlady Doris with Cafeteria, Eddie with Police Station, Jasper with Retirement Castle, Pajama Burns with Burn's Manor, Dr. Nick with Hospital, Judge Snyder with Courtroom, Military Bart with Treehouse, Herman with Military Antique Store, McBain with Aztec Theater, Frank Grimes with Power Plant, and Jebediah Springfield with Town Square.






VEHICLES

Unlike most toy lines, The Simpsons weren't riddled down with various vehicles. In fact, there were only two available in the entire line - The Simpson's Family Car and Otto's School Bus. Each vehicle included interactive sounds as well as moving parts such as doors and wheels.

RE-RELEASES

As the line was coming to a close, Playmates collected a handful of the various figures and re-packaged them with a Springfield background. While not as popular (due to already being released), it was a good opportunity for late comers to the series to pick up some of the older figures without having to pay an arm and a leg for them.

The figures included; Homer, Marge and Maggie Three-Pack, Grandpa and Apu Two-Pack and Krusty and Milhouse Two-Pack.


Though for now it appears that the toy line has ended, there are certainly several more figures that could be included should Playmates and Fox desire to do so. The series was awesome, no question about that, and the secondary market still remains a-buzz with collector's trying to track down and complete their sets, some at very high prices to boot.

The Simpsons have become a staple in American culture. I think it can be expected that they will be around for a lot longer, and even after they're official gone, will still remain a large part of American Pop Culture.

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Monday, January 4, 2010

Buck Rogers In The 25th Century (Mego)



Buck Rogers in the 25th Century
Mego
1979

I vividly remember that we were in Bangladesh at the time. We three siblings would crowd around the small black and white TV in my sisters room and watch whatever shows her antenna could pick up. Buck Rogers, The Incredible Hulk, Knight Rider, The A-Team and all those other long forgotten shows of the very early 80's.

Despite being very, very young when these figures came out, I still somehow remember it all. It was Christmas. Granted I can't tell you which Christmas. But, it was Christmas. My brother, my sister and I were ripping packages open left and right as kids often do around this time of year. When all the paper had been gathered up by our mother, and all the pine needles from the tree had settled from being rustled back and forth by three kids underneath, we each found ourselves with a complete set of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century toys.

Though more popularly known for their 12" line of "dolls", Mego wanted to make the leap into 3 3/4" figures. Small action figures were the Hallmark of any toy line, and Mego not only met the challenge, they outdid themselves. The detail on the outfits is superb, and the design of Twiki all the way down to the tiny chest plate of Doctor Theopolis is incredibly accurate to the show. The packages themselves were quiet a bit of eye candy themselves.

One of the interesting things about the Buck Rogers line is that Mego was always strict about their anit-weapons policy in toys. Even though the figures had gun holsters, the guns were permanently molded to the figures legs rendering them simply part of the design.

There were only nine figures released in the series before the show went off the air and the line was cancelled. They included; Ardella, Buck Rogers, Draco, Draconian Guard, Dr. Huer, Killer Kane, Tiger Man, Twiki, and Wilma Deering.

A small selection of vehicles, as well as one playset, was made available. The molding and sculpting was not as precise in detail to the show as the figures, and for the most part, the ships were "blocky" feeling and left little to desire. It was abundantly clear that the figures themselves got all the attention from Mego, while the vehicles were more of an afterthought.

The large Star Fighter Command Center wasn't any better. Essentially molded to look like a flight deck, the toy was by far "interactive".

Despite the many flaws with the actual vehicles, the Buck Rogers toy line remains a strong collectible item on the secondary market. Fans of the series search high and low to complete a fully carded set of figures as well as a fully boxed set of vehicles. The show may be long gone, but the toys live on.

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