Saturday, 23 January 2016

Dragon Flyz!

Now for something informative, which means it won't be very funny, but never mind eh? 

Dragon Flyz is a difficult line to understand, despite being adequately popular and now being the basis for a whole bunch of baffling Superhero toys:

If you remember them at all, you probably remember them as being action figures that shot from dragons and some hoo-hah about them being dangerous (they were, gloriously so, just ask my dad and his no-longer-perfectly-spherule-due-to-Dragon-Flyz-impact bald head). Usual sources of information like Figure Archive or Figurerealm aren’t going to be much use to you here, hell for ages Figurerealm listed the main characters under the obvious nicknames the submitted had given them – like ‘Happy’. Happily (pun?) I have spent ages piecing together information so I can, y’know, buy the toys and I thus I can share with you all I know, aren’t you lucky? So are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin:

Friday, 15 January 2016

Post Christmas Reviewapalooza: Quick Crappy Review - WWE Elite Earthquake & The British Bulldog*

A wild bulldog appeared!

It’s an all Hasbro finale to the reviewpalooza as the joys of eBay and Christmas money have bestowed upon me two recent WWE Elite figures I’ve been after since I found out they existed but have had absolutely no bloody luck finding in stores! Hasbro began producing their WWF line (officially called Official WWF Superstars apparently) in 1990 and did so up until 1994 when a bunch of very public sex and steroid scandals had the toy company pull out, that may not sound like a long time but they released 11 waves and over 90 figures. Hasbro WWF was a key toyline during my formative years, even though I didn’t follow American Professional Wrestling with the same zeal as some kids I wanted every WWF figure and enjoyed the shit out of the ones I received; which included today’s subjects Earthquake and the British Bulldog which I had from the year they were both released (1992) and still have today, so now you know why I was telling you about a toyline from 1990.

Even though Mattel’s WWF output is needlessly confusing these two figures’ releases aren’t – they’re both from WWE Elite, Earthquake is from series 35 and the British Bulldog is from series 39 and sold out everywhere in the UK. Not a surprise as the Bulldog was always insanely popular in the UK where he was undoubtedly seen as ‘our boy’, I manged to find an eBay seller who knocking out a pile of 7 for roughly retail price which was a bit of luck. 

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Post Christmas Reviewapalooza: Quick Crappy Review - Monster High Kala Mer’ri, Posea Reef and Peri & Pearl Serpentine*

Cos it’s better down where it’s wetter, take it from me.

I was sure that Great Scarier Reef wasn’t dropping until 2016 so was pleasantly surprised to see both the Down Under Ghouls and Glowsome Ghoulfish assortments on shelves, and then off shelves, very fast. These fuckers sold out, it’s the first time I’ve seen Monster High shelves with that ‘ransacked’ look since 13 Wishes, but for the few weeks they were on sale before Christmas every shop I saw them in I in fact didn’t see them in, what I saw was holes with one or two dolls laying diagonally at the back. I suppose it was just a combination of mermaids, being released right before Christmas and having three (four! – Peri) new characters that turned these things into Turboman for few a weeks but it was also a definite pleasant surprise.

The Great Scarier Reef CGI special isn’t out until later in the year so I don’t have much to go on here, Lagoona Blue has always been from ‘Down Under’ - a terrible joke about Australia - but this special is going to explore that location, or part of it, called the Great Scarier Reef – the Monster High version of the Great Barrier Reef – and Lagoona is going to face her childhood bully who is going to be Kala. Kala and Posea make up the Great Scarier Reef – Ghouls Down Under assortment and Peri & Pearl ARE the Great Scarier Reef – Hissters ‘assortment’ (doll), together they are the three (four! - Pearl) new characters released for the Great Scarier Reef sub-line/theme and all came out in December 2015 here in England.

Posea Reef was the one of the three (four! – Peri AND Pearl) I was the least interested in, in fact I was in two minds about buying her at all, and true to form I’ve ended up liking her quite a lot. She’s the daughter of Poseidon and a gardening nerd, this doesn’t seem to have any effect on her social status though, or perhaps being the daughter of a living god means you can waffle on like Charlie Dimmock and still play with the cool kids. Design wise she’s a little odd, she doesn’t so much have a tail but rather dissolves into a whirlpool of green water, sealife and seaweed while most of her dress is covered up by this ridiculous coral…fuck knows what it’s supposed to be, armour? I think it’s one of those things that looked great when drawn (and it does look totally sensible in her official artwork) but when translated into 3D it sucks and no one would say so, I’m tempted to take it off and just leave her in the nice, if not slightly 80’s, top underneath but my rigidly enforced need to have all my Monster High dolls be complete and official artwork accurate forbids it. Her strange lower half also makes her a complete short arse, which doesn’t really seem to go with her elegant face and long-flowing hair but does make her endearing, at least to me, as a short person with some very vertically challenged friends I’m easily swayed to the side of shorties.    

Her face sculpt is absolutely gorgeous but the real sculpting work is down at the other end, which is also where all the design effort went too I think (it didn’t go to the coral armour that’s for sure). She’s made up of an elongated hip section with three ‘tentacles’ of what I think is either swirling water or seaweed, this is all in a dark garden furniture green, each tendril has a ball join (mine are very stiff) allowing them to be spread out to act as a stand or be flattened to allow for bathtime fun. She then has an overlay of soft transparent green plastic which is carved into the shape of sea plants and water that swirls all the way up to her waist and splits off into overlays for two of her tendrils at the bottom, this hindered articulation for me a little at first but you can unhook and rehook them to the parts of the tentacles as you require and the amount of holes and the overall design of the overlay means you can get them to look right with the tendrils pretty much however you want. Then in the swirling overlay are hung/perched little critters including a seahorse, crab and cartoon fish skeleton. This girl is the fucking Tree of Life of mermaid toys. So much effort must have gone into this and even if it’s only saddos like me, whoever worked on this doll’s undercarriage needs to know that at least some people appreciate their work.  

Posea has no accessories beyond her diary, but she has long hair and looks the most like a traditional mermaid in the box so she was sold out virtually everywhere, the only reason I got her and Kala (who was sold out everywhere, no virtually about it) at all was because Toys ‘R’ Us had just put out their first post-Christmas delivery. Peri & Pearl Serpentine though seem to be the worst sellers of the whole sub-line, no matter which store I went in, the few stray Scarier Reef dolls scattered about the empty shelves were guaranteed to be the Hissters. I initially thought it was odd as the two seemed to get a near unanimously positive response online, then I remembered that these dolls are actually aimed at people who aren’t toy collectors, small female people, and it seems that with a two headed doll Monster High has finally found the limit of what little girls will tolerate when it comes to horror, oh well, back to cat girls. Anyway Peri & Pearl are the daughters of The Hydra and share a body, Peri is the one with blue hair and Pearl the one with white hair, Peri is laid back and forgiving while Pearl is hot-headed and dismissive, other than hanging out with Kala all the time and wanting to be jewellers that’s about all I know.

I am not the biggest fan of jewellery, and so girls who are dripping in it, especially gold, are a massive turn off for me, guess what Peri & Pearl’s hobby is? They seem to be based on this recent indie/hipster fashion thing of girls wearing loads of old or retro-style gold and bronze jewellery (like Clara from Doctor Who) which I think is absolutely fucking gross. Yeah that one thing has completely turned me off them. Moving on from my insanity though the two look damn good, the designer’s eschewed the typical mermaid tail for a more snake-like affair reminiscent of their daddy and is far simpler to use as a stand than Posea’s three prongs of seaweed water, though it does make it a lot easier for the two to overbalance. Inverting their hair from one another was also a nice little design choice I thought, a simple yet very effective way of giving us a visual cue that while they may be twins they’re very unique and different people (is the hair colour natural? Would that make them non-identical twins?) the same goes for giving them different shades of make-up, which manages to fool you into thinking that they don’t’ have the exact same head (they do), speaking of which – aren’t they cute? I think I find Peri the more attractive of the two just because I like darker hair but whoever did this really got the ‘cute twins’ thing down, such adorable little noses!

And that just leaves us with Kala Mer’ri, Lagoona’s old dance partner and later old nemesis. Kala was raised by an only father but exactly who she’s the daughter of has been scribbled out in her diary and is a ‘secret’ so I’m guessing it’s going to revealed in the CGI special (though I thought it had already been revealed/leaked to be the Kraken?). It seems that Kala began to bully/feud with Lagoona out of envy of Lagoona’s stable home life in contrast to her broken home, I like that they’ve made her sympathetic and given her a reason for her bullying rather than just ‘bitch’ but as someone from a broken home who’ve never bullied anyone: HEY! Kala’s a self-confessed control freak but did endear herself to me with the following joke in the ‘pet’s’ section of her bio: “Do Peri and Pearl count? Just kidding! I don't have time for pets.”

I’m a little conflicted about thinking that Kala is easily the best doll in this wave because I was VERY badly bullied at school and don’t want to have so many good things to say about a bully, especially someone who bullied the always lovely Lagoona Blue. But she is the best doll in this wave and I should think one of the best designed and constructed dolls in the line thus far. I suppose it makes sense that they would put the most effort into designing and realising her because she’s going to the next major antagonist in the series (though I don’t doubt she’ll reform by the end of the special) but all the same she’s great, so let’s just get to the heaps of praise: Her entire colours scheme is lovely, purple, blue and bright yellow go great together (yeah who’d’ve thought?); the complex design on her tail is very well painted on mine, I have no idea how they did that, it must have used a stencil somehow but how? Did a machine do it? how do you make a stencil with perfect unbroken rings in them?; I think she may be a 100% new tool, I don’t think she re-uses Wydowna or Luna’s segmented parts, she seems to have brand new ones; she is articulated to fuck – ball joints on her head, each shoulder, each elbow, each wrist and at the top of each tentacle plus that huge hinge at her…knees? Vag? Whatever that’s 19 points of articulation with only one not being a ball joint, that’s better than most collectors’ figures. And her head sculpt is gorgeous, is it still acceptable to use the term ‘ethnic features’? I hope so because Kala is definitely rocking some ethnic features, I initially thought she might be based on an Indian woman’s face which just shows that no matter how un-racist you think you are you can still be easily swayed by stereotypes born form pop culture, and by pop culture mean Ray Harryhausen films – her name sounds like Kali, she has four arms and she looks a bit foreign, must be Indian – I despair at myself sometimes. Having her in hand and having her diary and information online I think it’s safe to say if she’s based on any race it’s Aboriginal Australians, her face structure and hair match up nicely and she’s very Australian so I think that’s a good fit, regardless she is VERY facially attractive, her light pink markings can give her a kind of ‘resting ice queen’ face but it’s an optical allusion, her features put her somewhere between sexy and cute, is sexy-cute a thing? If it isn’t it is now.

Again Kala has zero accessories outside of her diary, but all of these have so much new tooling and so many new accessories on their body (with only four Kala is the least accessorized of the group, which is a point, what the fuck is up with her belt? I’m going got assume it’s a well-researched and actually existing piece of fashion possibly tied to Australia and I’m ignorant but it looks like a Stickle Brick) so I don’t feel short changed really (though a brush each would have ben nice, especially with Posea’s sheer volume of barnet) and I feel pretty good about wrapping things up here. Conclusions then? These are some of, if not THE, most ambitious Monster High dolls so far and the dirty bastards have pretty much pulled it off, Posea’s coral whatever and the lack of glow-in-the-dark pieces per doll being the only two failures. Oh, Yeah, right - the dolls have glow-in-the-dark elements on them but they’re so miniscule (Kala has the most with her two tiny pink tentacles) I couldn’t be arsed to bring it up in each doll’s section.

Yes that is a pirate-themed Two-Face and an aqua-themed Batman figure, and of course these things exist and I own them, in fact that Batman was my main Batman for years as a kid and I feel quite thrilled to be able to put a picture of him online – sad innit?     

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Post Christmas Reviewapalooza: Quick Crappy Review - World of Nintendo Princess Peach & Fox McCloud*

Having received Tanooki Mario and a Shy Guy for Christmas I decided that I should like at least a Princess Peach and Bowser to go with them and if I saw one I’d pick up a Donkey Kong and Fox McCloud too. This is my way of thinking to mask the truth when the truth is ‘I’m now buying into this line’ but don’t want to admit I’m weak. The novelty of having these characters in shops has also really set in, you must remember that when these characters were making their names in games like Super Mario Bros, A Legend of Zelda, Metroid and Starwing there was no toylines for them, for years the best Super Mario figures in the west were the set that came from McDonalds. I personally think this is a mix of toy companies’ general dislike of the Nintendo (and later Sega) for taking part of their market away and thus lack of desire to pay for their licenses and the lack of interest in action figures and thereabouts in Japan where the few companies that did have Nintendo and Sega licences (like Tomy) were from, but in depth and baseless theories aside being able to see a Starfox or Zelda figure hanging in a toy shop is rather thrilling. 

Anyway I manged to fill half of my ‘top four wants’ within a week of Christmas on a morning out in Exeter the day after the day after Boxing Day during my trip to Devon (Which I make every year because half my family pissed off down there, no I’m not over it). Exeter still has a Toymaster, do you remember them? With the dog in the pyjamas? These two figures were the only things I bought in there (their Monster High second was rubbish) but I loved the experience of being in one all the same, they even have carpet down, what shops still have carpet? Brilliant.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Post-Christmas Reviewapalooza: A Look At Jem & The Holograms: Showtime Part 2*

David Bowie’s dead, the fuck is going on? I mean it was bad when Lemmy went, yes, but Lemmy’d been living on Jack Daniels and unfiltered since at least the mid-70s, if not always, in fact many of us Motorhead fans had come to believe that Lemmy was already dead and just nobody had had the balls to tell him. It wasn’t a shock is what I’m saying, but David Bowie’s like Superman or Charlie Brown or someone he can’t die (and yes please be a dick and tell me that Superman did in fact die, he got better though didn’t he? And I have the entire story-arc in first print so shut it). That, I suppose, is our problem of our making though, we build people up and forget that they are in fact people called ‘Dave’ and ‘John’ and ‘Jeff’ and make them ‘David Bowie’ ‘John Lennon’ and ‘Joey Ramone’ and only remember they’re actual human beings when they die on us. But we can get as philosophical (or the nearest I get to it anyway) as we all like the fact remains that no one woke up this morning and thought ‘I bet ol’ Bowie’s pegged it’ (except David Bowie it seems, he’d been ill for a while and keeping it quiet) and now even people who wouldn’t dream of owning Scary Monsters are wandering around Tescos in shock.
And people can dream up as creative or clichéd an eulogy as they like – and they will, every Tom, Dick and Wiz Khalifa will be sending out messages of utter tripe as today wears on – but the main point is that a very talented bloke has died and the world and a music scene dominated by the creatively bankrupt and talent show winners (and losers) is worse off for it and he has friends and family and batty ex-wives in the Big Brother House and their grief is frankly far more important than the fandom’s and far more important than making yourself look compassionate and hip (Piers Morgan) by spilling out a bunch of cliché – you know, like what I’m doing right now, of course I’m listening to Boys Keep Swinging while I do it, own Ziggy Stardust on vinyl and have been subjecting car journeys to everything from Life on Mars to The Laughing Gnome since I was about 10 so it’s OK (no I’m not being serious, though all those facts are true).
David Bowie’s dead, fuck sake!
I imagine it went like this:
St. Peter “we need to bump of another rock star, God”
God: “why? We just did in Lemmy”
St. Peter: “quota reasons, how about Sting?”
God: “No! he’ll be in my earhole all day about rainforests and tantric sex, do you really think I want to listen to the sexual techniques of the bass player from The Police? Anyway I always get him confused with Malcolm McDowell”
St. Peter: “Paul McCartney then?”
God: “Didn’t the fact that I took Lennon and Harrison first give you a big enough a hint? Don’t you have anyone who isn’t obnoxious?”
St. Peter: “well…um…Bono?”
God: “GAH!”
St. Peter: “um, well, David Bowie’s been ill”
God: “Done!”
St. Peter: “The flock won’t like it sir”
God: “I don’t care, if it keeps Bono away for another quarter, take the Thin White Duke”
FUCK YOU BONO! I knew it’d be your fault somehow.
Ah, we laugh so we don’t cry (though when Paul Weller goes I will sob like a girl with a skinned knee an’ shit)
David Bowie’s dead…fucking madness
Anyway I have to post the rest of my Look at Jem & the Hologram’s first story-arc, which is fitting if not somewhat unimportant feeling in light of today’s events, so are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin (again):

Continuing our Look At the first arc from IDW’s Jem & the Holograms series, I have nothing clever to say and my mum always said “if you don’t have anything clever to say, skip the intro paragraph” so let’s just get ‘em on stage.

< Part 1

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Post-Christmas Reviewapalooza: A Look At Jem & The Holograms: Showtime Part 1*

Despite being one of the 1980s signature toy properties (and perhaps the most tied to the decade thanks to its lovely choices in fashion) Jem & The Holograms never had any kind of comic book presence until March last year, this is almost
certainly because the conventional wisdom of the time was that girls didn’t read comics (American girls anyway, Britain has a long history of girls comics, hell we even had one called simply ‘Girl’, we don’t fuck about with titles). Times have changed since then, well, sort of, enough for Jem & The Holograms to get a comic anyway, it’s from IDW but you probably already knew that because it’s a licensed comic and all licensed comics come from IDW don’t they? Dynamite what? Anyway the property was redeveloped for the modern age by virtual unknown Kelly Thompson (she also wrote the Captain Marvel & the Carol Corps) and indie darling Sophie Campbell who is one of my favourite comic book artists and produces one of my favourite comic books, Wet Moon. She also drew some Turtles stuff and a great little graphic novel called Water Baby so she’s totally cool in my book*.
As I came too late for the toy line my only real exposure to the franchise then was re-runs and VHS releases of the cartoon show but I’ve had this thing for Jem & The Holograms since I was small, though it was never as strong a thing as my thing for the Care Bears it was one of the various girls toys/shows that I was interested in that infuriated my maternal grandfather but it did mean that my mother didn’t even think about batting an eyelid when I wanted her to buy me the first Jem trade paperback (or whatever pretentious name we’re expected to use for them now – graphic picto-fic compilations or some shit) during our previously mentioned bonding/shopping Christmas trip. I think I’ve read the series about 10 times through now so obviously I like it, I’m sure I’m going to moan about things because I always do and I think we’ll look at the actual books so are you sitting comfortably? then I’ll begin: 

Showtime Part 1 (Jem & The Holograms issue 1)
Quick Summary: while at a professional video shoot they’ve cancelled on two times already Jerrica Benton literally chokes from stage fright and runs out the studio where they’re trying to record their entry for the Misfits Vs competition – which closes tomorrow. Kimber exposits to her and tells her that if they fail to make the competition she’s had enough and leaving, this leaves to an argument with the other two holograms – Shana and Aja – that Jerrica overhears, pushing her to run home. While playing and singing the storm knocks the powers out and um… Synergy appears, a hologram and ultimate audio-visual synthesiser, the storm having booted her up. She allows Jerrica access to her late father’s safe and she finds earrings that can project holograms and only Aja has anything resembling a normal reaction to their life becoming a sci-fi/superhero origin story as the find their father’s secret lair. Jerrica knows exactly what to do with the technology – make the world a better place? Fight crime? Fuck that, make herself look like a pink haired amazon to negate her stage fright and enter the competition.

The art in this issue is gorgeous, Sophie Campbell isn’t quite as details as usual but her style is still one of the most visually pleasing things in comics, the colours (by an M Victoria Robado) compliment them perfectly – somehow looking both flat and giving depth, it’s weird but it’s exactly the sort of colouring the book and Campbell’s art should have. The writing’s…not so great, the dialogue’s mostly ok, Kimber’s massive exposition dump early on doesn’t feel too forced at all, in fact it feels pretty much exactly like someone reminding someone else of everything that’s happened as a way to explaining why they’ve had enough, only jaded old bastards like me see through it for what it is – an exposition dump. The following fight is a little stilted, I get what Kelly Thompson is going for, that one problem causes an argument about something unrelated but it still really about (I think Thompson may have sisters, or multiple daughters/nieces) but I just felt it didn’t’ flow that great until Shana got involved, I know that’s vague, but then so’s the problem. The main writing issue though is how rushed the everything feels, I feel a bit dirty saying this when I so often complain about decompression in modern comics but this is a pretty far out premise here both for readers and more so for the four people who so far have lived in a world completely devoid of sci-fi tech and I think everyone could do with a little time to let it sink in and get used to it but no, Thompson (and Campbell) speed through the whole set up, feeling very much like they’re just getting all this shit out of the way so they can go back to writing about what the stuff they want and having read the whole series so far, that ain’t the more fantastical element of the Jem concept, in fact I think they’d be happy just writing about a bunch of bands in a real-life setting. This means that from now on the character-based stuff will be excellent but it does feel like they’re doing the concept a disservice by not using the sci-fi elements to their fullest. Mind you we’re only one and a bit stories into things so there’s still time, but an issue showing Jerrica getting used to her Jem abilities sure would be have been nice. This is just ‘bam, powers, set up done, on with the show’, I will admit that the original ‘toon was like that too, but surely something like a new comic book allows us to do what the show couldn’t?

I’ll move on, because the book certainly does, and moan about redesigns; actually I won’t because most of the redesigns shown off in this issue are great – Shana, Jem and Jerrica are just straight modern updates and look damn spiffy, Jerrica has been made littler and cuter to accentuate the differences between she and Jem a little more which I’m fine with it, the new Jem look is pretty fucking awesome, with all this huge hair and very stylised costumes rather than sparky 80’s stage gear. Aja, Synergy and Kimber have had far more of a radical redesigns and, meh, I suppose two out of three ain’t bad; Aja has put on a few pounds because Campbell has a fetish for BBWs but it really suits her and she looks utterly adorable and still looks like Aja (rather than just chubby Asian woman), they’ve retained her angular hair and I dunno, she just still feels like the same character; Kimber’s redesign into a wafer-thing, pale as a sheet lesbian took me a minute to get used to, probably because Kimber was always my preferred Hologram if you get my drift but after the initial shock and knee-jerk turning up of nose to something so different it’s grown on me, she still looks really hot and still looks like Kimber and her ‘standard outfit’ with the frills adapts very well to skinny lesbian, as for her switch in sexuality…well I’ve seen that episode with her and Stormer so I totally get where they’re coming from, I might have left her bi to fit in with the original cartoon a little better but, yeah I see where they’re coming form. Synergy I just flat out hate, I mean it’s not too much of an issue as she won’t be appearing much in this arc (I know I said I’d move on, but I was lying), I agree she needed one – her old look would never fit with today’s fashion or counter-cultures – but I just don’t like the final outcome, I think it might just be too different, or maybe too muscly and androgynous or maybe I just don’t like it as a design period, whatever it is it ain’t for me.

Showtime Part 2 (Jem & The Holograms issue 2)
Quick Summary: after a performance and interview with Lin-Z the Misfits (Pizzazz, Stormer, Jetta and, shit, the one with white hair… Roxy!) discover one entry in their Misfits Vs competition is actually good (though Pizzazz won’t admit it) and getting a lot of votes – Jem & The Holograms. Rio, the reporter covering their competition gets thrown out for telling Pizzazz they’re screwed and finds out about the band on his phone while listening to clunky dialogue. At Holograms HQ, the band are also finding out how popular they are online, well except Aja because she won’t wake up and keeps throwing shoes at Kimber. The Holograms go and volunteer at the Starlight Community Centre, teaching kids how to play instruments, and get asked to play a fund-raiser then Rio turns up, initially thinks it’s Jem working with orphan Ashley, then asks Jerrica out on a date, after assurances that he’s not doing it just go get a story (he can’t even if he wanted to, because he’s covering the Misfits). Meanwhile Kimber skips out to go to a Misfits in-store singing where only Stormer hasn’t bailed, pulls her and the two go for coffee, as they get on famously the other Misfits – who were shopping – see them and Pizzazz is furious, to be continued.

This was much better than the first issue, probably because it’s nearly all what the two want to write, but the dialogue was a lot stronger too (and it was already pretty strong), other than that one page where Rio is using his phone outside the Misfits dressing room, that was a little painful, lots of slang, sayings and ‘musicy’ terms being dropped unnaturally by a writer I’m going to assume doesn’t use them herself – you can always tell when someone doesn’t use a term and then does and there seemed to be a lot of it on this page. Other than that it was a breeze to read, Jerrica even spends a page talking about how strange the Jem powers are (well, it gets brought up a couple of times) but I’d rather see it, still it’s not fair to criticize something for not being something else you personally thought it should have been. It also has the first scene to make me genuinel laugh out loud and that is the two scens with Aja throwing shoes at Kimber, I think Aja may have graduated to ‘favourite Hologram’ for this incarnation (“you will run out of shoes Aja!” – great). Oh yeah and the Misfits debuted, given how they’re not in the film I was relieved to see them debut so early, as they should, they’re in just about as many episodes of the TV series as the Holograms and had just as many dolls. They make as good an impression as their page time allows – Pizzaz is unpleasant, bratty but cool, Stormer is the nice one but now turned up to 11, Roxy and Jetta don’t do much but they will get more panel time later in the story, so they made an ok first impression but , well, it’s a ‘problem’ that the Misfits have always had and that’s that they really are quite likeable, they’re far more flawed than the Holograms but they’re not evil, I don’t want to see them fail, the comic seems to be casting them more a rivals than enemies and I’m ok with that and Campbell’s redesigns of the Holograms have gone a little way to balancing out another issue the Misfits always had – they’re the cool kids, they’re the Alternatives, Jem & The holograms are bubblegum pop, in the real world they’d be the enemy (see also: Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers) but the Misfits are still too likeable. 

Redesigns! Lin-Z is pretty much the same as she was so nothing to talk about there and anything that makes Rio look less like an 80’s douchebag is fine by me, and he still retains that ‘annoyingly attractive and stylish’ look, just updated (and this time doesn’t look like a compete douchebag, I’m jealous of him here, I flat out didn’t like him in the original incarnation of the franchise). The Misfits…well they’re all too cute, that’s just Campbell’s art style but it doesn’t help with the whole ‘likeable’ issue, I want to cuddle Pizzazz (not sure she’d like that though) other than that…well Roxy’s just a straight update, she looks good, Jetta meanwhile continues to the be sexiest thing in the franchise though she’s switched instrument and, um, race – well she’s still common English trying to be upper class British but now she’s black BUUUUT she was originally supposed to be black and her designer was asked to change her to British (I forget why) so this is fine by me and dark skin works really well with a black and white outfit and hair so she actually looks better this way I find. Pizzazz looks fucking awesome with her Goth Punk makeover and I’m not just saying that because it agrees with my own counter-culture leanings, I’m saying that because that is totally what Pizzazz would look like today (and she has an awesome green Mohawk), it feels like a natural choice when updating her look to today’s (anti)fashions is what I mean in sensible words. Stormer’s new look sucks though, I just utterly hate it, I’ve thought about why for a while and decided this: unlike say Aja she no longer feels like Stormer, the changes to her face and hair and increase in her ‘the good one’ role are so severe that combined with her new body type I can no longer see the previous character, just a girl using the same name. Her outfit was brilliantly updated but the rest of her, not at all.

Showtime Part 3 (Jem & The Holograms issue 3)
Quick Summary: The Misfits storm in (ha) and having a row with Stormer in the coffee shop and it makes the evening news, Pizzazz is pissed at Stormer even though they only ended up on the news because of the scene she caused, also Clash is there them now. Jerrica meets Rio for their date and he takes her to a local broadwalk while Kimber mopes about Stormer and forces Aja to advise her. Pizzazz takes out her frustration on everyone at a recording and only becomes even more annoyed when she finds Clash reading about Jem & The Holograms playing the Starlight benefit gig, a guitar is broken, forcefully. In order to please her favourite band Clash calls her old friend Blaze, who is going to be working at the charity do, to make sure that Jem & the Hologram’s first gig will be their last.

And the book just keeps getting better, even as Stormer feels less and less like Stormer and more like Campbell’s dream girl. The odd dialogue issue that plagued the previous two issues is seemingly completely gone, Thompson seemingly having now perfected the art of a group of annoyed girls arguing over trivial bullshit that is none-the-less very important to them and to the story. The book has also morphed into one about bands in a real world setting, no mention is made of the, y’know, living hologram or the sci-fi tech or the hi-tech secret basement and these more fantastical elements will now take a back seat for the rest of the arc. The upside of this is that we get to spend all our time with a bunch of really likeable characters; the downside is, well, we’re missing out on about half of the concept.

On other topics, Jetta and Roxy get more panel time this issue and get to make a good impression, they’re becoming ‘those two guys’ and I couldn’t be happier, there’s two panels at the end as Jerrica and Rio kiss goodnight, one with big tough Roxy painting her nails and the other with Jetta stuffing a bacon & egg sandwich down her throat and these somehow convinced me that this incarnation of both characters is thoroughly acceptable, I’m yet to figure out why. Roxy also provides us with this issue’s funniest moment (isn’t I great when you have to narrow down the funny moments to funniest?) as she mourns some bagels. Jerrica comes in second during her date, which is actually a major focus of the issue but didn’t need a whole lot of recapping, noting that her huge stuffed animal needs hadn’t been met; that date is delightful, Rio and Jerrica have good chemistry, they’re very cute and both actually seem to make the good impression that the story is telling us they’re making on each other.

Clash is the only redesign introduced in this issue (Blaze is new), though if you didn’t know who she was you may still be wondering who the hell she is, she’s now very thin (and has an odd shaped nose) but still very attractive, she’s lost that brat feel and style and like all the Misfits has become more adorable and likeable, I’m in two minds about her really, I get the redesign but would have liked it to be a bit more faithful to the original look. Blaze is all new, and apparently Trans though this isn’t mentioned in the comic itself I don’t think, anyway it’s irrelevant as far as I’m concerned, whether she started out a boy or girl doesn’t really matter, all I care about is that she feels like a natural addition to the cast, looks like a natural addition to the cast (looking like an updated version of a character, even though she isn’t) and she’s totally hot.

That Look At Star Wars: Heir to the Empire fully put me off doing six full-size American comics in one go ever again so I’m going to end things here so...  
Next time: food fights and big performances
* Yes, Wet Moon was credited to a Ross Campbell, in case you missed it Ross Campbell is now Sophie Campbell. 

Friday, 8 January 2016

Post Christmas Reviewapalooza: Quick Crappy Review - Godzilla 1985 and Classic Video Game Series Mohawk*

Oooh, this is my first NECA thing on the blog.

I only dabble in NECA products, I like pretty much everything they put out but very few licences they have are ones that I’m super passionate about, or I guess passionate enough about to use my limited money and space on them – they do have Gremlins, which is one of my favourite things ever, but some of the early (and essential) figures like Mogwai Mohawk and Gremlin Stripe are now very expensive and that’s kind of put me off buying into the line completely (I do have three or so), so I just pick up the odd figure here and there and have since the company, National Entertainment Collectibles Association (which is far too stuffy a name for a company so badass), started making Head Knockers. I think the last one I bought was the Gorilla Soldier from their Planet of the Apes line. 

This Christmas though I ended up getting two for Christmas - actually for Christmas not two weeks later from Forbidden Planet with money I got for Christmas like how I get most of my collector’s figures, I got to unwrap a Godzilla and Gremlin on Christmas Morning and MY NAN BOUGHT ME THE GREMLIN (Mum (while trying to figure out a mystery unmarked present): did I wrap the gremlin? Nan: No! I wrapped my own gremlin!).

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Post Christmas Reviewapalooza: Quick Crappy Review TMNT Monkey Brains and Attila the Frog*

Yay I get to talk about the Turtles again! Oh, it’s these two…cancel that yay

Next up on the Reviewapalooza are two cheap plastic pieces of shit. 
Ok that’s a bit harsh, it’s true but it is harsh, I think to be fair to the toys  I need to separate the expectations of a professional ‘adult toy collector’ (hate that terrrrm), an amateur toy reviewer, a two and a half decade old TMNT fan and the target audience for these toys.
The ‘adult toy collector’ in me thinks things like ‘they couldn’t be bothered to cut the holes out in Monkey Brain’s belt?” “Really, there’s no accessories?” and “These are the only two figural representations of these characters ever and they both look like bootlegs?” probably while stroking a beard and wearing an ironic t-shirt. 
The amateur toy collector says things like “Attila doesn’t have any leg articulation at all? Not even swivel joints? For shame” “Monkey Brains’ paint apps are cack” and “the sculptor who worked on Monkey Brains clearly thinks fur and bark are interchangeable” probably while drinking Code Red Mountain Dew (which I don’t like, actually)
The two and a half decade old TMNT fan thinks “these aren’t as good as the original line, hell these aren’t as good as the 4Kids line” and “Monkey Brains looks a lot like some of those old vintage-era bootlegs like Heroes of the World Fighter – I like that” while wearing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Volume 1 issue 1 t-shirt I do in fact own (I only wear ‘nerd shirts’ if they have Turtles of Sonic on them).
And the target audience says “Wow! Monkey Brains and one of the frogs!” “Attila’s tongue shoots out! Monkey Brains clings to anything! These are pretty fun” and “they’re not quite as good as last year’s figures though” while not quite understanding while April makes them feel funny.
As these aren’t collector’s figures I’m trying to ignore all but the last voice in my head, these aren’t for adults, these aren’t for us, now that doesn’t excuse them looking cheap (and they do) even compared to the previous waves or having weaker sculpts compared to the previous waves but I feel it’s only right to judge them in the right mindset when reviewing them.

And I am reviewing them so… both Atilla the Frog and Monkey Brains are new for 2015 for Playmates current Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line, their third (as Ninja Turtles: Next Mutation and TMNT were released under those names), beginning in 2012 and tying into the currently airing CGI cartoon on Nickelodeons (which is an official ‘Nicktoon’). Monkey Brains started turning up late autumn and Attila about November/December around here but Playmates have apparently decided that waves and series are for losers and the best way to release a line is to poop them out in dribs and drabs to keep kids on their toes, maybe it works but it makes the compartmentalizing part of my personality irritated, which amounts to they came out ‘recently’ and are still in stores at full price as I write this. 

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Post Christmas Reviewapalooza: Quick Crappy Review - Monster High Marisol Coxi & River Styxx*

I wanna be haunted by the ghost, I wanna be haunted by the ghost, I wanna be haunted by the ghost…of your… precious luuuu-uuv

Post-Christmas sales rock, I ended up buying a literal sack full of goodies from Lakeside’s Smyths and Toys R Us and all of it came to less than £110, a £110 of money that wasn’t even mine because it was money gifted to me at Christmas. The two Monster High dolls shown here came to £22 for the pair, which is less than one of them costs usually.

Both of these are from lines that came out in the last 12 months, which just about allows them to qualify for Quick Crappy Reviews, Marisol Coxi was part of the Monster Exchange sub-line, which was all geared to look like a big new theme for the line but ended up being just the one wave of four dolls with the characters being planned for the second wave being released as a self-standing Signature doll* and in the replacement sub-line Brand Boo Students. I think this happened because Monster Exchange was a bit shit but more on that to come. River Styxx meanwhile was one of four new characters introduced for the Haunted – Student Spirits assortment which was part of Haunted sub-line that was supported by a TV/DVD special.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Post Christmas Reviewapalooza: Quick Crappy Review - World of Nintendo Tanooki Mario & Shy Guy*

No I will not make any jokes about fur suiters! Fur suiters are alright with me!

My lack of JAKKS Pacific’s World of Nintendo action figures has been less to do with any personal dislike of the line (there isn’t any) and more to do with how little of them I’ve encountered – I still haven’t seen a life-size Metroid, nor a deluxe Donkey Kong or the 8-bit figures and most toy-stores seem to stock only Mario and forty-million Toads in this scale, oh and Yoshi, lots of bloody Yoshi. I’ve been guessing I’m just being beaten to the punch by the more hardcore Nintendo and toy collectors and they’re gobbling up all the Zelda and Pikmin releases but it seems that distribution is not this line’s strong suit. Then mum bought me Tanooki Mario and Shy Guy for Christmas. She loves Mario, I love Mario, and we both like it when Mario gets one of his little outfits so there’s a great bit of theming going there, I didn’t know she even knew what a Shy Guy was so presume she just bought it because it was next to the Mario figure.

Monday, 4 January 2016

Post Christmas Reviewapalooza: Quick Crappy Review - WWE Elite Doink & WWE Battle Pack Scott Hall & Kevin Nash*

What better way to start anything than with a psychotic clown in a skintight leotard?
Every year my mum takes me out, usually to Colchester, to let me make her life easier and my Christmas Morning better and let me choose some presents (she does this for my birthday too); we’re actually pretty good at shopping when working together and it’s a nice way for an adult man and his mum to bond without either of us looking weird or sad, plus I get cool shit. One of the fruits of this year was WWE Battle Pack of Scott Hall and Kevin Nash in their nWo gear, Doink I bought in the Post-Christmas sales on clearance.

Pointless information (and introductory paragraph) out of the way, we’re back in the world of Mattel’s quagmire of WWE retail lines, Doink the Clown was released as part of Series 34 of WWE Elite (formally the top-end line for the franchise but now the mid-price line thanks to the uber-deluxe Defining Moments series, I think) and Hall and Nash are from their 36th wave of WWE Battle Packs, which are just two-packs of their most basic figures (the ones released under simply ‘WWE’), it really is the most unnecessarily confusing web of sub-lines.   

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Post-Christmas Reviewapalooza: Ten Examples of Crap I Waste Other People’s Money On!*

It’s odd, when people ask me ‘what did you get for Christmas?’ I always feel really self-conscious and give a standardized vague answer ‘oh, the same stuff, books, DVDs, some toys’ and then maybe mention one or two specific items the person I’m talking to might find agreeable, I just feel very guilty about having things and the more things I receive the more guilty I feel and as I have a big family plus over 10 good friends whom all buy gifts for me (and I, them) and a mother who always goes overboard with gifts at Christmas and Birthdays I get enough at Christmas to make me feel REALLY guilty. In person. Writing this on the other hand is easy, I think it’s those ‘show us your new purchases’ threads on forums that did it, they made showing off your new shit on the internet seem required, that and Dinosaur Dracula always does his Christmas Fallout posts, I didn’t’ realise I was ripping him off until I started writing but, yeah, I am, I can’t help it, Dino Drac is just the blueprint for good blogs.