Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Remembering Carrie Fisher with Princess Leia (Hot Toys)



What a sad day this is for fans of Carrie Fisher. Whether it's for her work in films such as Star Wars, Blues Brothers, When Harry Met Sally, and so many more, or her famous books such as Postcards From the Edge, Wishful Drinking, and like her films, so many more, one thing is for certain - Carrie Fisher will be missed.

As many of you know, Carrie Fisher passed away at age 60 today of a heart attack. The news was shocking to fans across the globe who had just recently heard that she was in stable condition after a medical emergency just days earlier. When all seemed to be righting itself, tragedy loomed its ugly head.

Though we will miss her deeply as the Princess of a galaxy far, far away, we can take with us some solace that she will forever be immortalized on film, paper, and even plastic. Though she is gone from this Earth, we will always have a part of her with us.

We'd like to take this moment to remember Ms. Fisher with a look at one of the best renditions of her we've ever seen - Hot Toys 2016 Princess Leia. The "doll" was released in 2016, and much like the many Hot Toys products captures the look of both Carrie Fisher and Princess Leia to a "T". It'd definitely an item we recommend to any fan of Ms. Fisher or Star Wars.


No, we know that no toy will ever replace having the real Carrie Fisher in our world. Nor would we even suggest it possible. Carrie Fisher will forever be missed.

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Monday, December 26, 2016

J.J. Armes (AKA Jay J. Armes) (Ideal)



J.J. Armes (AKA Jay J Armes)
Ideal
1977

Private Investigator, black belt in karate, bionic hands, television actor and book author - Jay J. Armes! Sounds like a pretty fascinating character, huh? Well, sit down for this one - He's a real person too.

J.J. Armes from the 1976 toy line from Ideal, is a real life American born in El Paso, Texas. At the age of eleven, he and his friend Dick Caples broke into a Texas & Pacific Railroad section house where they stole railway torpedoes. This day would be life changing for Armes in many ways.

When Armes rubbed two of the railway torpedoes together, they detonated mangling both of his hands. After being transported to a hospital, both his hands were amputated. Though it is not specified when he received his prosthetic limbs, it is safe to say that they certainly don't hinder him. In fact, they may have been what pushed him to become the man he is today.

Probably most notable in his numerous career hats is his own Private Investigator firm - The Investigators, which he founded in 1978. This included his launching of The Investigators Security Course which was designed as a mobile patrol and security service. Mr. Armes also professes himself to be the greatest Private Investigator in the world.

We're not to sure how the line came about. It might have been the publishing of his book, Jay J. Armes, Investigator in 1976. It could have been that the stars just aligned that day. Whatever it was that actually turned Ideal's collective heads towards the man, the end result was the short lived J.J. Armes doll and Mobile Investigation Unit playset that same year.

While we're not sure how popular the line was back in the 70's, these days the figure is rather valuable. Prices range from $20.00 to $40.00 for loose dolls - higher end prices being for those complete with the accessories and clothing. Ones in the box can sell for around $60.00 for low end condition, with mint packaging selling for upwards of $180.00.

Though the Mobile Investigation Unit isn't all that common, it doesn't sell often either. This is most likely due to sellers asking far too much than people are willing to pay. The average asking price for a loose one is around $60.00 to $65.00.

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Monday, December 19, 2016

Left 4 Dead (NECA)



Left 4 Dead
NECA
2012

Valve is definitely a company known for producing quality titles. They don't release many, and thankfully so as this allows them to deliver what many consider to be perfect games. Left 4 Dead is no exception to the rule. It offers players 4-player co-op online, as well as versus modes while balancing all of this finely in a survival horror setting. With heavy focus on cooperative play and massive replay value, it's no wonder that the title quickly became such a critical success in the gaming world.

With such high praise for the game, it's disappointing that NECA's action figure line never really took off. Some could say that part of this blame would fall on NECA for not really trying. Unlike most action figure lines that launch with a strong lineup of characters - I.E. main characters, NECA released the Boomer and Smoker "zombies"...And then nothing else. Not even at the time of its launch was there any word that any other characters were on the horizon, so it's no surprise that overall the series was met with a whimper.

We can't help but feel like this was a majorly missed opportunity. Had NECA released two of the main characters alongside the Boomer and Smoker it not only would have give fans incentive to buy, but also two remaining main characters to push a second wave alongside other antagonists such as the Witch and Hunter, and even a deluxe Tank. The marketing potential seemed so obvious that we can't fathom how NECA missed this one.

This seems to be a general flaw of the company. They often times give the impression that they're so eager to launch a line that nobody at their headquarters takes the time to ask, "How can we do this right?" The company is notorious for launching lines that feel abandoned before they even start.

We won't deny that the two characters produced aren't spectacular in terms of sculpt, paint and overall design. In those departments, quite frankly, they're fantastic. Which only makes it more of a shame that this is all we got. There was so much appeal and draw for this series based on how popular the game franchise is that it's really disappointing to see how this line fizzled so fast.

Though we're sure the license has long since expired, if NECA would open their eyes they would see that there is still a lot of potential for Left 4 Dead figures. This is obvious by how the Boomer and Smoker sell for upwards of $35.00 to $40.00 a piece. We often wonder why toy manufacturers in general don't have a focus group that analyzes secondary markets for pricing to see which lines they should resurrect. We suppose if they haven't gotten it by now, they're probably not going to.

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Monday, December 12, 2016

V For Vendetta (Quality Comics / DC Comics / NECA)



V For Vendetta
Quality Comics / DC Comics / NECA
1982 - 1985, 1988 - 1989 and 2007

Remember, remember!
The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!

Now the rest that nobody seems to know....

Guy Fawkes and his companions
Did the scheme contrive,
To blow the King and Parliament
All up alive.
Threescore barrels, laid below,
To prove old England's overthrow.
But, by God's providence, him they catch,
With a dark lantern, lighting a match!
A stick and a stake
For King James's sake!
If you won't give me one,
I'll take two,
The better for me,
And the worse for you.
A rope, a rope, to hang the Pope,
A penn'orth of cheese to choke him.
A pint of beer to wash it down,
And a jolly good fire to burn him.
Holloa, boys! Holloa, boys! Make the bells ring!
Holloa, boys! Holloa, boys! God save the King!
Hip, hip, hooor-r-ray!

It's an old English folk verse which was written in 1870, and mind you the above is one of many translations that exist.

The first portion of the poem is of course widely known for its use in V for Vendetta. While we didn't personally care for the film, there are many out there that appreciate its strong political story, and themes of anarchy. The film retains a 73% on Rotten Tomatoes, which leaves it at about average.

What many people seem to not know about the movie is that it was actually a comic book series first. It was written by renowned comic author Alan Moore, and first published in the black and white pages of Warrior - A British anthology comic published by Quality Communications which ran from 1982 to 1985. Unfortunately V was one of the least popular stories in the strip based books, and when Warrior was cancelled, so to was the remainder of Moore's story.

Though many publishers tried to convince Moore to let them publish his whole story, it wouldn't be until DC Comics made an offer that this would actually happen. DC produced ten issues of the series between September 1988 and May of 1989 which also included the republishing (now in color) of the original Warrior stories. Actual new material wasn't printed until issue number 7, which is where the story would have picked up in Warrior number 27 and 28 had that series continued.




Since then, the mini series has been printed numerous times in trade paperback fashion, only boosting its popularity more. This of course led to the film in 2006, which in turn lead to the NECA toys / products in 2007.

NECA produced four items to coincide with the film's release; a seven inch figure, a twelve inch talking figure, a reproduction of V's dagger, and a 12 inch resin statue. As per NECA's typical ventures, all the items are of great quality, and each is unique in its own way. Admittedly, the talking V is fairly annoying because he doesn't so much say various phrases as he just prattles on for about a minute. Thank goodness there's an on / off button.

 7 Inch Figure 

 12 Inch Talking Figure

 Dagger Prop Replica

Resin Statue

Prices are kind of all over the map for these items. For example, the seven inch figure can sell for $40.00 one day mint in the package, and then $60.00 a few days later. The resin statue has been known to sell for as much as $150.00, and then not sell at all when listed for half that, yet in the same condition. These fluctuations of prices continue on for the rest of the items as well. There really is no rhyme or reason to it. Suffice to say that patience could garner you them all at a fairly cheap price, or really high if you're not.

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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

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

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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