Friday, August 31, 2012

Draco - Buck Rogers

In the 1970's Mego, the company known for making super hero doll/figures, produced a line of action figures based on the television show Buck Rogers. I have had this action figure of the villain Draco for pretty much as long as I can remember.

A neighbor who lived up the street from me passed down old toys a couple of times as he out grew them. One particular box he gave  me contained 3 3/4 inch figures. Mostly GI Joes and a few Star Wars figures. Draco was in that box. He should have a yellow cape to be complete, but I don't think he ever had it while in my possession..

I had no idea who this guy was as a kid. He was very similar to a GI Joe figure, but was clearly not one. He is made of a cheaper feeling plastic than GI Joes and his articulation is slightly different. I didn't know about straight arm GI Joes for a while. I used this figure for various roles in different play scenarios. Sometimes he was a wizard or a ninja and other times he was just and old man. I often times pretended he was blind. He has unusual eyes. They are like blank pin holes.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Robo-Cycle - RoboCop

RoboCop and the Ultra Police was a toy line in the late 80's based on an R rated action film. The toys were pretty well done for the time. By today's standards the sculpt and articulation are weak. The vehicles to this line were pretty nice. They featured a cool blue vac-metal chrome.

The Robo-Cycle was one of two RoboCop vehicles I had as a kid. It is also one of the only 80's toys that I kept in its box for storage when I wasn't playing with it. It features nice box art of RoboCop on the motorcycle with he knees bent, something the toy could not do.

The Robo-Cycle had a cool little action feature where as the bike rolled the little orange gun on the side moved in and out to simulate firing. The vac-metal chrome unfortunately did not hold up over the year. The blue chrome crinkled and is flaking off, sort of ruing the look for the bike.

 Here are a few detail shots of the box for the Robo-Cycle. I can't find my Robo-1 police car, but I'm worried that the chrome on it has also crinkled.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Marvel Secret Wars

Several years ago my friends and I ran a website called Obscene Newg and I wrote many toy based articles for that site. Some of that content has actually been re-posted here. This article about the Secret Wars toy line was never posted to that site, although it was written for Newg. Frequently, I'd write articles more often than the other contributors, and my buddy who was the webmaster wouldn't post two of my things back to back. This resulted in several dropped or lost articles. Here's the lost Secret Wars article (it's a little dated now)

I recently purchased a trade paperback that contained all twelve the issues of the original Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars. So, between reading that and researching the DC Super Powers toy line for my Superman article I was inspired to write about the Secret Wars comics and toys.

If you have never read the series, or if like myself (until just recently), you have not read Secret Wars since you where a kid. The story is that this cosmic being called the Beyonder constructs a planet called Battleworld by taking chunks of various planets in the galaxy and smashing them together to form a new planet. Then he teleports a bunch of Earth’s mightiest heroes and villains to battle it out on the world he created. Do you see where the name of the planet came from? To make things more interesting he made sure there was plenty of crazy alien technology and fortresses set up on the planet to facilitate the battle. The Beyonder gave the heroes and villains little explanation as to why he brought them to this rocky world but he did issue this brief statement to start the fight.

“I am from beyond! Slay your enemies and all that you desire shall be your! Nothing you dream of is impossible for me to accomplish!

This was Marvel Comics gimmick to fight the Super Power franchise of merchandise put out by their competitor DC Comics. They sold comics (odiously), action figures, coloring books, stickers, and all sorts of other merchandise with the Secret Wars logo on it. The Secret Wars Puff Stickers pictured below were purchased at a store that was liquidating their inventory because they where going out of business years after Marvel stopped putting out Secret Wars Merchandise.

Marvel obviously used this marketing campaign to promote their most popular heroes. Of the characters in the Marvel Universe the following where transported to Battleworld.

Captain America, who served as team leader for the heroes. Three of the four members of the Fantastic Four: Human Torch, Mr. Fantastic, and Thing. Susan Storm was left at home because she was having a baby (Not optimal conditions for a gladiator style fight to the finish) Captain Marvel II, Hawkeye, Hulk, Iron Man II, She-Hulk, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman II, Thor, and The Wasp were all fighting for good.

Doctor Doom was in charge of the bad guys and his army was made up of Absorbing Man, Doctor Octopus, Enchantress, Kang the Conqueror, Klaw, The Lizard, Molecule Man, Titania, Ultron, Volcana, and the Wrecking Crew

Galactus was present, but he was more interested in devouring the planet for energy than fighting the Heroes or Villains.

There were also several mutants present, and they formed a 3rd front in the battle which sided with Captain America. Colossus, Cyclops, Magneto (usually a Villain), Nightcrawler, Professor X, Rouge, Storms, and Wolverine represented the popular X-Men comic series. The Beyonder did several things to help heroes be in prime fighting condition including providing Cyclops with his uniform which he was not wearing when he left Earth, and he restored Professor X’s ability to walk. This gave the X-Men a bit of a dysfunctional nature. Storm the current leader of the X-Men and Cyclops the previous leader where now being bossed around by Professor X whom usually stayed out of battle.

Of the Secret Wars merchandise the Action Figures are probably the most well know. These action figures where the first toy representations of many of the Marvel characters. There were two waves of action figures released in America and then a smaller 3rd wave that was released only to foreign markets.

Series One was made up of all characters that appeared in the comics. Many of the figures used the same bodies molds and where made to look like different by have individual head sculpts and unique but minimalistic paint applications. The heroes came with red shields and the villains silver ones. These secret shields had little cards that could be placed inside them to create an image morphing effect.
Captain America
Doctor Doom
Doctor Octopus
Iron Man
Kang the Conqueror
Even though Magneto helped the heroes in the comic his toy was packaged as a villain with the silver shield. This also helped to give the first series of figures an even numbers of good guys and bad guys.

Series Two got off the beaten path a bit with the figures they included. Of the five figures released only one actually appeared in the comics.
Spider-Man (Black Costume)
Baron Zemo

Spider-Man’s black costume was probably Secret Wars biggest affect on the mainstream Marvel comic books. Not only was it a striking costume, but it also evolved into one of Spidey’s most popular villains. The Daredevil figure is also interesting because he may be the character that was most overlooked for inclusion in the Secret Wars Mini-Series. I have always thought of him as one of Marvel’s hard hitters yet he was left out. The people in charge of the toy line should have made the Lizard over Hobgoblin if they wanted to make another Spider-Man villain, to keep it more comic book accurate. Like with the male characters, if they had created on female body sculpt they probably could have made most of the female characters with just individual heads. Although the girls were probably left out because most toy companies claim their research says boys don’t want to play with toys of girls.

The Third Series that was only released overseas. It contained only three figures and none of them appeared in the comics.
Iceman Electro

Once again they produced a toy of a Spider-Man villain and it wasn’t the one from the comic book. They also produced an X-Men character while passing up several members of the team which did appear in the comic. I’m kind of glad they did make Iceman, even though he wasn’t in the comic. He’s my favorite X-Men.

I think that Series One figures are probably the most common, but I am making this assumption on the fact that I have all but one of those figures, without even trying to collect the Secret Wars toys. I really should look into getting that Iceman figure.

As mentioned before perhaps the biggest affect the Secret Wars Mini-Series had on the Marvel Universe was the creation of Spider-Man’s Black Costume. After a number of issues and several battles Spiderman’s uniform was looking kind of ratty. Even though it was far from being completely destroyed, showing off his private bits, or revealing his secret identity he decided to mess around with an alien device that produced his new costume.

To his surprise the suit produced its own web, giving him an additional super power of sorts. He no longer has to make web cartridges in his spare time and load them into his web shooters during battle. Spider-Man also points out in the Secret Wars comic that he can control the suit with is mind and demonstrates by having it turn into a short sleeve version. It seems out of place and pointless in the Mini-Series because he never uses this for anything useful during the Secret Wars, but it does play a bigger role in later Spider-Man comics.

As a kid I was so impressed. I loved that costume. It always looked so great in the comics. I remember drooling over the Black Spider-Man figure at a toy collector’s shop as a kid wishing it was in my price range. I don’t think I ever saw Series Two in regular toy stores or I probably would have bough the figure. I am looking forward to seeing the Black Costumes appearance in the upcoming Spider-Man 3. Although I don’t think it is nearly as cool without the large white spider logo on the chest.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Show Time Beetlejuice

Show Time Beetlejuice is a figure I picked up at a yard sale a few years ago, but always wanted as a kid. I loved the movie and the cartoon and had a couple of the toys. I remember passing on this Beetlejuice at first because he didn't have a "normal" head. His standard head is his carousel form and his mini-head his his snake form.  The line didn't last real long and they were out of stores before I could get him. The desirable thing about Show Time Beetlejuice is that it features him in his classic striped suit. The figure also originally came with a little black and white Beetlejuice snake mini-figure/accessory.  I don't have that piece.

This is the only Beetlejuice figure I display at my house. He's in the hutch in my dinning room with figures from various toy lines. I display him with the head from Spin-Head Beetlejuice, which makes him look more movie accurate.

I think I'm going to go watch the movie now... writing this has put me in the mood.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Marvel Comics & The Elks team up to fight drugs

The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (BPOE) run a Drug Awareness program with schools near their lodges. For the 2008-2009 school year the Elks teamed up with Marvel Comics for this program. One of the Physical Education teachers at my school found a box of left over materials while cleaning out the back room of the gym. He gave them to me because I am a member of the local Elks, and a total comic book nerd.

This is a bookmark and pamphlet. The book mark is clearly for kids and the Elks National Drug Awareness Program brochure is for the adults. It talks about the program and the goals of the Elks for this project. The cover shows off the winner of the previous years poster contest winner.

 The final item in the package is a fold out poster for the kids. The front looks like a comic book cover featuring Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, and a couple of kids.  Once it is part way unfolded the poster is "Calling All Super Heroes" to participate in the poster contest. The prize is a subscription to a Marvel Comic for both the winner and their school.

Once completely unfolded you can see a poster of the heroes. In each of the corners they show the heroes, kids, and the Elks mascot helping make people aware of the problems of drugs and alcohol.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Nickelodeon

Last weekend I had a lot going on so I didn't get an animated review put together. These guys have also been pushed back from being reviewed by the last MOTUC figure that came in the mail. The new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles based on the cartoon to be released by Nickelodeon. The turtles are awesome figures with nice articulation and good accessories. Check out the animated review below the pictures of the four turtles.

Leonardo leads....
Donatello does machines...
Raphael is cool, but rude...
Michelangelo is a party dude!


 When the evil Shredder attacks, these turtle boy won't cut him no slack
 Master Splinter taught them to be ninja teens
 So, are the Foot Soldiers robots or humans this time around?
 April O'Neil is she a reporter for her middle school's news paper?
 Krangg is one of the craziest designs for a villain ever. I love this little brain.

The Shellraiser helps the Turtles get around and stomp the Foot

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Beast Boy - Teen Titans

I picked up this Beast Boy figure at a yardsale several years ago. The Teen Titan's cartoon this figure is based on was pretty fun. It ran while I was in college, so I didn't watch it regularly but I did enjoy it. The figure has the standard 5 points of articulation like vintage Star Wars toys, plus elbows and knees. His hands face backwards almost like he is posed to ride a motorcycle. I don't really know a whole lot about the line he is from.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Voltron - Blue Lion & Allura

This months Club Lion Force subscription figures have arrived! The Blue Lion and Princess Allura are another excellent addition to the new Voltron line. The Blue Lion is nicely detailed and like the other lions features an opening cockpit that can hold the pilot figure.

Once again the Lion features a spring-loaded auto-transformation feature that helps turn the Blue Lion back into lion mode from leg mode. I'm still not a huge fan of the feature, but am waiting to see if it interferes with the playability of the full Voltron figure once all the lions arrive. There is a tiny bit of paint wear on my Blue Lion. I actually thought about sending it back. The paint wear seems to have been caused by the plastic straps that hold the lion in his package.

Allura is a nice figure. Like all the other pilots, she comes with both a helmeted and unhelmeted head. she features decent articulation, but the range of motion on the elbows and knees could be better. Like the other figures she also features and non-removable holstered blaster on her hip.

Mattel has done a really nice job of giving the pilots each a unique physique. Hunk being the largest, Pidge being the smallest, and Allura being more petite than Lance. The factory used plenty of glue on Allura's helmet. It didn't break off any of the times I switched her head. So far they have been 2 for 2 with my pilot figures.

Princess Allura and the Blue Lion also come with a Blue Lion key, mouth blade, and a stand to help display Voltron's sword. Allura included the section of the blazing sword between the hilt and the main part of the blade. Once all the lions are released people will have both a normal sword and a blazing sword and this is the reason for the clear display stand for the sword.