Monday, December 31, 2012

December 2012 Recap



Below is a recap of all the post we've covered in December 2012. 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.

The Year Without A Santa Claus
Cult Classics Presents: Reservoir Dogs
Hanna-Barbera
Star Wars: Saga Legends (Shadows of the Dark Side)
Toonsylvania
Alpha Flight
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Shadows of the Dark Side)
Video Game Super Stars: Darkstalkers 3
Rocky

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Rocky (Jakks Pacific)



"Apollo Creed meets 'The Italian Stallion." - Apollo Creed (Rocky 1976)

When Sylvester Stallone first approached United Artists with the original script for Rocky, they were quick to see the potential in it, and began naming well established actors for the lead role. Stallone appealed to the producers, mainly through the means of a lower budget for the film, to hire him instead. Much like Rocky, Stallone was given his one shot at the big time, and much like the character, it paid off big time for him. Though with Stallone in place, executives grew fearful that with no big names to headline, the film would attract little attention. This lead to further casting issues as other actors were not eager to join the cast of a film being led by an unknown name. Fortunately everything came together in the end, and with the additional cast of Carl Weathers, Talia Shire, Burt Young and Burgess Meredith the main cast was all in line.

Stallone's inspiration for the film came from Rocky Marciano and the famous fight between Muhammad Ali and Chuck Wepner at Richfield Coliseum in Richfield, Ohio on March 24, 1975. Wepner had been TKO'd in the 15th round by Ali, but nobody ever expected him to last as long as he did.

Rocky became a sleeper hit in 1976 bringing in over $225 million in box office sales. Not bad for a film that was made for under $1 million. In the process, it spawned five equally suceesfull films, and as a series has grossed over $1 billion worldwide in ticket sales.

Since 1981 there have been several toy line tie-ins to the film franchise - Six to be exact. However, out of all the various companies that have tried their hand at a Rocky line, Jakks Pacific (JP) takes the prize for "Best" as far as we are concerned. Between 2006 to 2008 JP showed the world how it was done when it came to producing a thorough toy line in a limited amount of time.

Main characters, secondary characters, and even supporting characters such as the referees and announcers were produced for the line. It was an amazing series to say the least. Think about it, what other toy line can you buy that you'll get "The Meat" on card? That's right, JP even included the slab of meat that Rocky beat up on in the movie while training, and not only that, but as its own individually carded item. That's thorough!

Add on top of that unique packaging for each Rocky film, and fantastic detail in sculpting, and you've got a set destined to become a fan favorite.

While we would normally bundle our photos together based on a series by series basis, we've done something a little different with the Rocky line, and instead separated them (for the most part) by film. The reason for this is that a couple of the series featured characters from various films, and we wanted to ensure that these were all categorized together for easy reference. The exception to this is the "Best of" sub series which we compiled together by series (1 and 2), as well as the exclusives and collector sets.

We've also incorporated a small photo of the figures opened next to the mint on package ones. These figures represent those that were released in a case for a particular series.

ROCKY

The first series of Rocky figures comprised of only figures from the first film. However, Joe Frazier, who made a cameo appearance in the film, was released in the third series of figures along with the majority of the Rocky III based figures. Since he was released on the original "Rocky" card back to coincide with the film, we've incorporated him into this section of photos.

Though none of the figures have a "sub name" to the cards themselves, fans have given the various versions of a single figure nicknames that have stuck within the realm of collectors. For example one version of a Rocky Balboa figure could be called Rocky Balboa (First Fight), while another is called Rocky Balboa (Battle Damaged). You won't see the words "First Fight" or "Battle Damaged" on the card, but this is what collector's have come accustomed to calling them amongst each other.

Rocky was the ultimate underdog story. One guy out of millions finally gets his shot at proving himself - Not because he wanted to be number one, but rather because he wanted to show the world that he could go the distance.


Rocky Balboa (Battle Damaged)*Rocky Balboa (First Fight)*Rocky Balboa (Training Gear)*Rocky Balboa (Working Clothes)*Adrian*Mick*Paulie



Apollo Creed (Battle Damaged)*Apollo Creed (First Fight)*The Meat*Spider Rico*Joe Fraizer

The opened group of figures represent those as released in a case for series one. All carded figures shown with the exception of Joe Frazier were released in series one. Frazier was released in series three.


ROCKY II

The second series of figures from JP comprised of mostly those from the film Rocky II. One figure was produced under the banner Rocky Balboa (AKA Rocky VI) The cards were changed to black from the initial red with yellow outlining for the letters, and background photos. What is worth noting is that with each set of figures produced, the card backs were changed to depict scenes from the film the characters were representing.

Rocky II continued directly after where the first one left off. Rather than be a slugfest sequel full of nothing more than a rematch, Stallone took the opportunity to expand on the characters, making them more relatable and likeable to the audience. Of course in the end the story leads up to that rematch where Rocky finally wins the title.


Rocky Balboa (Fight Gear)*Rocky Balboa (Battle Damaged)*Rocky Balboa (Training Gear)*Mick*Duke*Apollo Creed (Fight Gear)



Brent Musberger*Tony Gazzo*Lou Fillipo*Roberto Duran

The opened group of figures represent those as released in a case for series two. The second figure from the right on the bottom row is the Rocky Balboa figure from the Rocky Balboa film (AKA Rocky VI). This figure can be found on card in that section below.


ROCKY III

Out of the nine figures produced for series three, one was based on the film Rocky (Joe Fraizer as noted above). The rest were based on the film Rocky III. The card now sported a black and blue look to it, and once again the images in the background were updated to now represent characters and scenes from the third film.

The Rocky film franchise was already a major success in Hollywood, but with the third installment came the inclusion of actor Mr. T and wrestler Hulk Hogan as characters Clubber Lang and Thunderlips. This not only enticed and introduced new (younger) fans, but sent the franchise into orbit. The story centers around Rocky's ego becoming larger than his abilities, which leads to the loss of his title. Under the guidance of Apollo, Rocky is able to get "The Eye of the Tiger" back, and win back his title in the end.


Rocky Balboa (Apollo Creed Trunks)*Rocky Balboa (Battle Damaged)*Rocky Balboa (Training Gear)*Paulie



Clubber Lang (Fight Gear)*Clubber Lang (Street Gear)*Jimmy Lennon*Thunderlips

The opened group of figures represent those as released in a case for series three. Joe Frazier was released in this particular series, but came on a series one Rocky card back and is included above in that section.


ROCKY IV

Series four was the smallest set produced for the line, and contained mostly figures from the fourth film, Rocky IV. Rather than pack the case with additional new figures, Jakks Pacific instead opted to pack in the Rocky III character Thunderlips - due to the high popularity of the figure not only among Rocky fans, but wrestling fans. The figure was packaged exactly the same as the original carded version (on a Rocky III card).

The packaging now incorporated a bright red logo, and scenes from the fourth film in the background.

It was an interesting decision on Stallone's part to incorporate a USA versus Russia theme into the film, especially considering the strained relations between the two Countries at the time. Of course the film brings a message of equality among people along with it in the end.


Rocky Balboa (Fight Gear)*Rocky Balboa (Training Gear)*Ivan Drago (Fight Gear)*Ivan Drago (Training Gear)*Ludmilla Drago

The opened group of figures represent those as released in a case for series four. Thunderlips was also re-released in this series due to the figure's popularity. The figure was packaged in the same Rocky III packaging that it was originally released in, and can be seen in that section above.


ROCKY V

The fifth series of Rocky figures actually incorporated both Rocky V and Rocky Balboa (AKA Rocky VI) figures into one set. Disappointing to most fans was how few figures based on the fifth film were released. This however would be somewhat made up for in the "Best Of" series (as seen below) when the film was revisited for a couple more new figures.

Rocky V was deemed the worst Rocky film in the franchise (until the sixth installment came out several years later). It shows a now poor Rocky returning to the slums of Philadelphia due to poor financial management from his accountant of his hard earned money. Rocky now takes the role of manager/trainer as he attempts to lead his protégé, young Tommy Gunn down the path to victory he himself once travelled. Tommy is quickly filled with corruption, greed, and arrogance, by a new manager, and Rocky is forced to show the young fighter that experience in the ring is what wins fights in an incredible street fight, with no ref, and no ring.

The packaging for the fifth series toys, or rather the fifth film, are some of the most colorful and eye catching since the first. Doing away with the black background, the packaging now sports a nice shade of blue, with white lettering, and blue colored background images from the film.


Rocky Balboa*Tommy Gunn

The opened group of figures represent those as released in a case for series five. This includes the figures from the Rocky Balboa (AKA Rocky VI) film as shown below.


ROCKY BALBOA (AKA ROCKY VI)

Concluding the remaining portion of series five figures, which would also be the final line of basic figures for the series were those based on the film Rocky Balboa (AKA Rocky VI).

Sixteen years after Rocky V was released, Stallone returned to pen the sixth film, Rocky Balboa. While it was financially successful, critically it was a flop receiving mediocre (at best) reviews from professionals and fans alike. It seemed the world was done with the Rocky franchise, to and include Stallone who came off as old and tired in the film. However, when the majority of a cast won't return for a film franchise that has already run its course, this should be your first sign that the film isn't all that necessary.

The figures returned to the black background look, and incorporated a yellow logo for the top. The background was changed for a final time to depict characters and scenes from the last film.


Rocky Balboa (Series Two Version)*Rocky Balboa (Yellow Towel Variant - Series Five Version)*Mason Dixon*Michael Buffer*Mike Tyson

The opened group of figures represent those as released in a case for series five. This includes the figures from the Rocky V film as shown above. The Rocky Balboa figure without the yellow towel on the Rocky Balboa card was actually realeased in series two as noted above.


BEST OF SERIES 1

With the majority of the figures released, Jakks Pacific chose to incorporate a new sub line into the series rather than continue on with the basic line. This allowed them to stray farther from individual movies for each series (again, for the most part), and instead gave them the opportunity to incorporate several figures from the various movies into one series.

To help distinguish the figures for each film, JP continued carding the characters on the card back respective to the film they were from. They also distinguished the "Best of" line from the basic line by adding a tagline at the top left of the card which read, "Best of Series 1" (or 2 depending on the series you were looking at).

Even better was that the series while entitled "Best of" didn't incorporate repacked figures as one would be lead to believe with such a title. Instead, all the figures were new to an extent as some were obviously repaints of older figures.


Rocky Balboa (Post Apollo Creed Fight)*Rocky Balboa (After Apollo Creed Fight)*Rocky Balboa (Spider Rico Fight)*Frank Stallone



Adrian*Adrian (Chase Figure Variant)*Apollo Creed (Ivan Drago Fight)*Ivan Drago (Apollo Creed Fight)

The opened group of figures represent those as released in a case for "Best of" series one. This series includes figures from the first and fourth films.


BEST OF SERIES 2

The final official series of figures released were the "Best of" series two figures. This line spread out the most between films, giving the series one last "hoorah". Each figure was once again carded on their respective film card.


Rocky Balboa (Street Gear)*Rocky Balboa (Training Gear)*Apollo Creed (Training Gear)*Rocky Balboa (American Flag Trunks)



Tommy Gunn (Street Gear)*George Washington Duke*Larry Merchant*Jim Lampley

The opened group of figures represent those as released in a case for "Best of" series two. This series includes figures from every Rocky film except the first one.


COLLECTOR SETS

Jakks Pacific produced several "collector sets" for the line, most of which included multi packs of figures, and boxing rings. Several cosplay items were produced (such as gloves and title belts), but only the exclusive UK released title belt included figures with it.


Championiship Belt with Clubber Lang and Rocky Balboa Figures (UK Exclusive)*Collecting 30 Years of Rocky Balboa (Six Pack Figure Set)


While there were three ring playsets released, two of them are the same with the exception of the packaging. The first was released with the first series of figures based on the first film, and the second was released with the third series of figures based (for the most part) on the third film.

The most sought after ring is the third and final ring, the Collector Ring. What makes this particular ring special is that it is built to scale for incorporating the figures with it.


The Fight Ring (Rocky)*The Fight Ring (Rocky III)*Collector Ring


EXCLUSIVE AND LIMITED EDITION FIGURES

The limited edition figures from the series are incredibly difficult to come by, and certainly won't come cheap. Each figure sells for several hundreds of dollars, and in the case of the Apollo Creed figure can sell for as much as $600.00. This is mainly due to the incredibly low number of figures produced - But, then again, they wouldn't be limited editions if there were thousands of pieces available.


Apollo Creed (Rocky) (Limited to 100)*Rocky Balboa: The Philly Legend Bronze Statue Edition (Rocky) (Limited to 1000)*Rocky Balboa as Caveman (Rocky II) (Limited to 800)*Rocky Balboa in Wheelchair (Rocky II)(Limited to 800)*Paulie as Santa Claus (Rocky V) (Limited to 500)


The Rocky III - Three Pack was available only at Rockyfigures.com. These days you won't find too many (if any at all) Rocky figures on the site as they mostly specialize in wrestling figures now, and have changed the name to Ringside Collectibles.


Rocky III - Three Pack with Paulie, Apollo Creed and Rocky Balboa


A set of two packs were also produced and released through the now defunct Rockyfigures.com. The Ivan Drago figure from the Rocky IV set is considered one of the worst figures in the line due to its clearly oversized clothing meant to fit over a poorly repacked figure.


Rocky Balboa Vs. Thunderlips*Ivan Drago Vs. Apollo Creed


As we said at the very beginning of this post, Jakks Pacific did an incredible job on this series, and deserves the respect for making one of the (if not the) most thorough Rocky toy line to date.

If you'll forgive us, we'd also like to say that cataloging this particular toy line was no easy task. We had to compile several lists, hunt down numerous figures, and cross reference between a lot of sources to compile what you see here. In all our searches, we have found no list as thorough as ours on this particular toy line, and to our knowledge, it is 100% complete.

With that, we say goodbye to the year 2012, and will see all of you again on January 3, 2013 where we'll start the year with an exciting look at another great toy line of yesterday. Happy holidays to all of you who celebrate this time of year, and to all the rest, Happy Monday!

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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Video Game Super Stars: Darkstalkers 3 (Toy Biz)



Darkstalkers, or Hepburn: Vanpaia to our Japanese friends, is a 2D fighting game that has made considerable headway with fight game fans across the United States. The series is released by Capcom, a company well known for putting out this particular genre of game, with the Street Fighter series being their most popular, and since its first incarnation in 1994 has seen numerous sequels as well as other crossover games the characters have been incorporated into - Such as the Marvel Vs. Capcom games.

The series is set in a pastiche Gothic horror universe and features a cartoonish graphic style. The characters range from various monsters to hunters of the said monsters. Each character has a unique fighting style and move list.


Though the third game was released in 1997, it was so well received that in 1999 Toy Biz produced a small series of figures based on the characters. Two figures came in each package, and were released under the banner "Video Game Super Stars" - An already established line from the company.

A total of six figures were released, which paled in comparison to the 20 characters that appear in the actual game. Be it poor sales or lack of product support from the manufacturer, the line never seemed to find a strong foothold on the market, and many retail chains were forced to move it to the clearance isles.

Unlike other figures in the Video Game Super Stars line, Darkstalkers 3 figures don't do all that well on the secondary market. One two pack can be found for as little as $10.00, with entire sets selling for as little as $25.00.

Despite its failure in the toy isle, Darkstalkers is still a solid franchise for Capcom, with games still in production. The series has even spawned an animated series, an anime miniseries, and Manga comic books. While it may not be the toy of choice, it's clearly a fan favorite in other genres.

Join us next time when we take a look at Rocky!

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Monday, December 24, 2012

Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Shadows of the Dark Side) (Hasbro)



One of the most difficult things to get acquainted with in the world of Star Wars collecting is what is considered to be Hasbro's poor distribution. While some areas of the country have new product on a monthly basis, other areas never seem to see anything new. We're not sure who exactly this issue falls on (the retail stores selling the product, or Hasbro) suffice to say that it's incredibly frustrating for a lot of collectors, and in some cases has caused many folks to throw the towel in on all things Star Wars figure related. Sadly with each new line, it seems to only get worse and worse.

We're also not personally fans of The Clone Wars series. While some episodes are mildly entertaining, we can't get past the rehashed lines from the various films that the characters keep spewing. For as much as we love Star Wars Saga, the animated Clone Wars series just rubs us all sorts of wrong ways.

As we said in our prior post of Star Wars toys, at this point there is little we can say about each Star Wars line with the exception of, "Hey, here's the next line." That's the unfortunate side affect of covering as many toy lines as we do. Eventually, we'll run out of things to say for certain lines which only leaves the photos. Not that we think this is a bad thing. Sometimes all you need (or want) are the photos.

With that said, and if we may borrow a line from C-3PO in Return of the Jedi, "Here we go again."

BASIC FIGURES

There were eleven waves of basic figures, making this 2011/2012 series one of the larger ones we've seen come from Hasbro in a while. Wave one alone comprised of nineteen figures.



Captain Rex*Obi-Wan Kenobi*Clone Commander Cody*Destroyer Droid*Yoda*Count Dooku




Anakin Skywalker (Space Suit)*Pre Vizsla*Mandalorian Police Officer*General Grievous (Battle Damaged)*Aurra Sing*Captain Rex (Cold Weather Gear)




Cad Bane*Clone Pilot Odd Ball*Asajj Ventress*Super Battle Droid*Ahsoka Tano*ARF Trooper*Battle Droid




Mace Windu*Commander Gree*Battle Droid Commander*Kit Fisto*Jungle Camo ARF Trooper




Ki-Adi Mundi*Flamethrower Clone Trooper*R2-D2*Clone Pilot Goji




Mandalorian Warrior*R4-P17*Shaak Ti*Boba Fett*Embo




Undead Geonosian*Clone Trooper Draa*Quinlan Vos*Cato Parasitti




Obi-Wan Kenobi*Clone Trooper Hevy In Training Gear*Cad Bane With Todo 360*R7-A7




Ahsoka*Anakin Skywalker*Aqua Droid*El-Les*Clone Commander Wolffe




Riot Contol Clone Trooper*Barriss Offee*Eeth Koth*Clone Commander Colt




Clone Commander Jet*Hondo Ohnaka*Plo Koon*Savage Opress (Shirtless)*ARF Trooper (Kamino)




Saesee Tiin*Stealth Operations Clone Trooper*Kit Fisto (Cold Weather Gear)*Seripas*Captain Rex With Jetpack




Even Piell*Savage Opress (Armored)*Chewbacca*R7-D4*Jar Jar Binks


EXCLUSIVE FIGURES

Kul Teska was an interesting figure. He is almost one and a half times the size of the basic figures, and comes in a very different package than the average Star Wars figure.



Kul Teska (Toys R Us)*Nikto Guard (Toys R Us)*Stealth Operations Clone Trooper (Toys R Us)*Clone Captain Lock (Kmart)


MAIL AWAY FIGURES

The Hasbro mail away redemption figure, Sergeant Bric and Galactic Battle Mat was interesting for the mat itself. The mat was designed to be a play area for all the cards and dice which were now being incorporated with each toy as a full blown customizable card game.



Sergeant Bric and Galactic Battle Mat


DELUXE FIGURES



Armored Scout Tank with Tactical Droid*AT-RT with ARF Trooper Boil*Attack Cycle with General Grievous*BARC Speeder with Clone Trooper Jesse




BARC Speeder with Obi-Wan Kenobi*Freeco Speeder with Clone Trooper*Mandalorian Speeder with Mandalorian Warrior*Naboo Star Skiff with Anakin Skywalker




Naboo Star Skiff with Anakin Skywalker*Pirate Speeder Bike with Cad Bane*Pirate Speeder Bike with Cad Bane*Republic Scout Speeder with ARF Trooper




Separatist Droid Speeder with Battle Droid*Speeder Bike with Castas*Speeder Bike with Plo Koon*Y-wing Scout Bomber with Clone Trooper Pilot


EXCLUSIVE DELUXE FIGURES



AT-RT Walker with ARF Trooper (Walmart)*BARC Speeder with Clone Trooper Buzz (Walmart)*Separatist Speeder with Geonosian Warrior (Toys R Us


BATLLE PACKS



ARC Troopers*Anti-Hailfire Droid Squad*Army of the Republic*Assault on Geonosis




Battle of Orto Plutonia*Cad Bane's Escape*Capture of the Droids*Clone Troopers and Droids




Defend Kamino*The Hunt for Grievous*Mandalorian Warriors*Stop the Zillo Beast




Holocron Heist*Jedi Showdown*Rishi Outpost Attack


ULTIMATE BATLLE PACKS

The Ultimate Battle Pack which included Slave I was a nice touch to the standard production line of Battle Packs which had usually just contained a set of figures.



The Rise of Boba Fett (Toys R Us)


EXCLUSIVE DVD TWO PACKS

Walmart released two sets of DVD two packs exclusively at their stores. Each set had its own unique packaging, and included a DVD which contained an episode from the animated Clone Wars series. The name of the figure pack was based off of the name of the actual episode included on the DVD.



Rising Malevolence*Shadow of Malevolence*Destroy Malevolence




Landing at Point Rain*Weapons Factory*Legacy of Terror*Brain Invaders


EXCLUSIVE DVD SETS

Target also had their own exclusive DVD sets however these were much larger than the two pack Walmart variations.



Hostage Crisis*The Hidden Enemy


EXCLUSIVE MULTIPACKS



Commando Squad (K Mart)*Droid Attack on the Coronet (Toys R Us)*Ultimate Gift Set (Walmart)


EXCLUSIVE TWO PACK FIGURES

Target also released a set of two pack figures which were exclusive to their stores.



Cad Bane and IG-86*Senate Commando Captain and Senate Commando*ARF Trooper Waxer and Battle Droid*Special Ops Clone Trooper and Geonosian Drone


VEHICLES

Twenty vehicles were produced to support the line with only two being repacked older releases.



AT-AP*Cad Bane's Xanadu Blood*Heyena Bomber*Jedi Turbo Speeder




Kit Fisto's Jedi Starfighter*Plo Koon's Jedi Starfighter*Radio Control Hailfire Droid*Remote Control Republic Fighter Tank




Republic Attack Shuttle*Republic AV-7 Mobile Cannon*Republic Fighter Tank*Reoublic Swamp Speeder




Separatist Droid Gunship*Separatist Droid Tri-Fighter*Trade Federation AAT




Mandalorian Assault Transport*Vulture Droid*V-19 Torrent Starfighter




Anakin's Jedi Starfighter*Obi-Wan Kenobi's Jedi Starfighter


Star Wars is a freight train that doesn't look to be stopping anytime soon. If there's one thing Lucas gets credit for, its for finding a way to suck in a whole new generation of fans to keep his franchise running stronger than ever. Fans young and old can't seem to get enough.

Join us next time when we take a look at Video Game Super Stars: Darkstalkers 3!

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