Thursday, 17 August 2017

Quick Crappy Review: Max Factory Figma Action Figure Series 314: Leafa (Sword Art Online II)

It’s time for boobs and incest! The twin hearts of anime!

In these photos that Leafa's left hand is always the same despite swapping hands being a major part of the toy, this is because the peg broke off while i was swapping hands (y'know, what the toy's supposed to do) to take these photos and I had to superglue on the hand I intended to use for display. It's also why the pictures are a bit boring, so if you'd always wanted to see Leafa lined up with the Planeteers using an amulet and the cry 'incest' to help call Captain Planet, I'm sorry - blame Max Factory. Figmra really are a quality control quagmire. 

Well this turned up quicker than I expected. Sword Art Online seems to have settled into being the Nickleback of anime, it’s very popular but no one ever seems to admit to liking it, well fuck that I like Silver Side Up and Sword Art Online is one of my favourite anime. Being a contrary fucker like I am it wasn’t the opening Aincrad arc (where the characters are stuck in a virtual reality MMORPG where death in the game equals death in real life) that won me over (it has pacing issues) but later, less popular story-arcs – especially Phantom Bullet and Mother’s Rosario - and to be a really contrary fucker I loved the Fairy Dance arc. The common complaint I’ve read is that without the threat of dying the arc loses a lot of its weight and stakes, and the incest thing, I thought the incest thing was adorable and I’d argue that the arc simply has different stakes, Aincrad was about survival while Fairy Dance is a race against time, the longer Kirito leaves it the closer Asuna gets to becoming a sex toy and if he takes too long that slimy fucker Sugou will consummate the marriage of Oberon and Titania regardless of Titania’s feelings on the matter – I’d argue that racing to stop your wife being raped repeatedly is a good enough replacement for making sure you don’t die.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Quick Crappy Review: Hasbro Marvel Legends Marvel’s Sandman Series Ms. Marvel

Hey it’s the first Marvel Legends figure to get a Quick Crappy Review! That’s because I hold the uncommon and unpopular opinion that Marvel Legends are often a bit shit, which should do wonders for my already terrible view count.  In truth some of it’s me, I have a lot of emotional baggage and some of it is connected to superhero collector’s figures (because of course) but some of it is the same issues Marvel figures have had since Toy Biz: unappealing art style (sculpt style?), horribly obviously joints, ridiculous muscle definition, terrible faces and ugly paint washes, troubles that Hasbro has only been overcoming once or twice a wave in the last two years or so. Please don’t hate me.

Anyway Ms. Marvel is from the Marvel’s Sandman wave of Marvel Legends because Hasbro decided the best thing for their Legends series was to forgo silly shit like numbers and name ‘em after the build-a-figure. Sometimes a wave also uses a character name or film title (e.g. Captain America: The Winter Soldier) but this series doesn’t, it’s themed around Spider-Man and considered a Spider-Man wave but the web-swinger’s name or logo doesn’t’ appear anywhere on the packaging bar the names of the figures (cos there’s a figure called ‘Spider-Man’ in this wave). Ms. Marvel is this wave’s ‘guest star’, Hasbro have settled on a nice habit of throwing in a roughly thematic but mostly unrelated character or two per wave as a way of getting those characters out i.e. Death’s Head II in the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 wave or Sister Grimm in the Doctor Strange wave. Funnily enough, those ‘guest stars’ are usually the ones I buy.

Friday, 11 August 2017

A Look At... Ex-Mutants: The Saga Begins

It’s been over a year since I had A Look At anything without a Sonic character in the book, that’s quite unacceptable.

So the story behind Ex-Mutants then:
The concept came from a conversation between Eternity editor William Davidson and Eternity publisher Kevin Myers with the basic setup coming from the latter. Created as a jab at the black and white independent books that had sprung up in the wake of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle’s success (as a comic book) the gag was going to be that the whole set-up was a complete inversion of TMNT and its pretenders, the characters would be the only humans in a world filled with mutants and the title would be Young Ex-Mutant Samurai Humans. Ugh, thank god they got David Lawrence on board to write it, well actually ‘they’ didn’t, Eternity went to Campiti & Associates, a provider of comic book ‘packages’ – this used to be a big thing in the 1940s, basically a company that hires comic book artists and writers and produces comics that are then sold on to publishers, Will Eisner used to have one and Jack Kirby used to work for one, just as examples. Anyway Campiti & Associates bright in Lawrence (and Campiti is credited as co-creator of the characters in issue 1) and also Ron Lim, yes THAT Ron Lim, the bloke who drew Silver Surfer and Iron Man and all that, this was back when he had a style.

Top to Bottom: Angela, Erin, Lorelei, Vikki, Belushi
Then it gets complicated, Ex-Mutants was given a shorter, better title to match the more serious book that Lawrence & Lim had turned the concept into and released, it was a big hit and sold over 75,000 copies for Eternity Comics. However at roughly the same time it was being a hit there was problems behind-the-scenes between Eternity bigwig Brian Marshall, David Campiti (of Campiti & Associates), some creators and a bloke named Scott Mitchell Rosenberg who also owned Malibu Comics, a distribution company and was financing Eternity. To settle the row Rosenberg came up with the novel idea of just giving each of the rowing parties their own comic companies, Campiti was put in charge of Amazing Comics and Wonder Color Comics so Ex-Mutants moved over. Amazing Comics printed Ex-Mutants 2-5 and was supposed to print the Ex-Mutants spin-off The New Humans; they also reprinted a revamped and expanded version of Ex-Mutants #1 as Ex-Mutants: The Special Edition. Then people stopped getting paid, then office equipment stopped getting paid for, then The Comics Journal revealed Rosenberg’s involvement with Eternity, Amazing and Wonder Color, then rumours began to circulate that Rosenberg was going to dump everything but Malibu, then Rosenberg dumped everything but Malibu (Eternity was kept as an imprint). The Campini people jumped ship before the dumping, taking Ex-Mutants with them and self-publishing through Pied Piper Comics, they published Ex-Mutants issues 6-8, The New Humans and the first issue of the Ex-Mutants Micro Series (Ex-Mutants Micro Series: Erin #1), plus some issues of Wild Knights (another spin-off, they appear in this story we’re Looking At). However there was a legal battle over ownership of Ex-Mutants, in the end Lawrence and Lim couldn’t afford to keep fighting so threw in the towel and the rights to everything reverted to Eternity. Eternity reprinted issues 6 & 7 as special 40 page editions (but not issue 8) and Ex-Mutants Micro-Series: Erin #1 and the unpublished Ex-Mutants Micro Series: Vikki #1 as the first two issues of Solo Ex-Mutants. Ex-Mutants would then be relaunched under Malibu with a different set of characters – that’s what the Mega Drive game is based off by the way.

Eternity also re-printed the first three issues of Ex-Mutants as a small graphic novel called Ex-Mutants Volume 1: The Saga Begins which I found at an indoor market while on holiday in Devon (that market was immense, a mix of flea market, bootsale and farmer’s market but held in giant old metal cattle barns). I was very new to American comics at the time and just assumed it was an X-Men book from the 1980s I didn’t know about. I was wrong obviously (although I’m sure others made the same mistake, at least they better’ve had or I’ll feel REALLY stupid and I don’t want that) but I remained fascinated, it was filled with mutants and tits and I was about 12 so it’s not too surprising I got into it and you know they’re still two of the things I like about the book today *sigh* I’m pathetic. Anyway I’ve been meaning to do something on the Ex-Mutants since I started blogging, this is what you’re getting so are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin:

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Examples of Crap I Waste My Money On: Bootsale Report 15

I really like bootsales, I know I grouse about them on here sometimes and they are filled with inconveniences (or ‘other buyer’s as that’s also known as) and the occasional utter wanker selling: today while enquiring about the price of a large bendy Ned the Noodle (an old Pot Noodle mascot) a woman asked me to give her a price, knowing nothing about Ned the Noodle other than he worked for Pot Noodle I offered her £2 (I dunno) – she scoffed and told me she wanted  £13 because he’s £20 on eBay – if you know how much you want, why fucking ask me to name a price? To get the chance to feel superior? You’re that desperate for that feeling that you need to use Ned the fucking Noodle dolls to achieve it? I didn’t buy Ned.
But I do love bootsales, they’re car-crash fascinating, they’re usually relevant to my interests and they’re always unpredictable. I haven’t ‘done a bootsale’ (that is, sell at one) since I was about 15 but my grandad died last winter and we were left with a shed (and half a loft) full of his old fishing gear so we finally got around to setting up a stall at my local bootsale haunt, Dunton Bootsale, and outing all this dark green stuff that he’d accumulated over decades of having only one hobby. We did really well if you’re interested, Dunton has a bunch of really good fishing good stalls that turn up every well so a lot of fishermen get down there and the dealers who run those stalls are always happy to buy new stock of clueless civilians like us. My morning was a stream of quirky 50-somethings, boxes of old toys and a disturbingly large amount of taxidermy (what was up with that Dunton Bootsale bods? Stuffed dead things were bleedin’ everywhere) and that is not a bad way to spend the day of rest. I also did exceedingly well as a buyer, hauling a sack of goodies home with me, and I do mean a sack of goodies, here is my literal sack of goodies:

And here is that sack of goodies, all cleaned up and in a lovely group shot:

Considering that’s all toys the variety is noteworthy and delightful: stuff ranging from the early 1980s to things still on store shelves now (hopefully you can make out the Indominus Rex behind the Halloween Bears, if you can’t that’s ok, IT CAN CAMOUFLARRRGE after all); from the collectible to things that aren’t worth shit (I paid 25p for that Bayformer and I still feel I overpaid – but Slag’s my favourite Dinobot and I couldn’t help it); from playsets to cereal prizes. Now I’m gonna talk about some for a paragraph apiece! You’re so lucky! And as always I’m not saying these are the best buys, the best bargains or objectively or subjectively the best things in that photo they’re just the ones I can get a paragraph of babble out of (and it’s a good shopping trip when you don’t need to highlight such great scores as a Rogun or a still-carded Babylon 5 figure) so are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll being: 

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Cool Spot and Candyman present: 3 1990s Memories!

So I was reading a post on site Dinosaur Dracula about old comic book ads, I couldn’t sleep and I kill time like this. The first two ads were for Soda-Licious sweets starring 7-UP’s Cool Spot and the film Candyman and I realised that these two completely unrelated things are coincidentally responsible for two of my most vivid memories from the same period of my childhood (roughly late 1993, I would have been 7). I also realised that I hadn’t told anyone either of these stories, not family, not friends, there is nobody in my life or who has been in my life in the last 10 years who knows these two things, if I die tomorrow no one will ever know these things about me. I wasn’t happy with that. I was suffering from heavy bout of depression and with it long, extreme panic attacks so I wasn’t exactly emotionally stable and the thought that no one would ever know the story about me and Candyman upset me, so I wrote both stories out on Word, along the way I added a third story that was in the same boat because the Cool Spot story reminded me of it. Now I’m going to share them with the internet so that at least one person knows them and sleep a little easier. So are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll being:     

Me and Cool Spot
For a while I completely worshipped Cool Spot, I should have just built an alter made out of 7-UP bottles and those horrible cheap sunglasses they sold by the counter and honestly I did so much weird shit by myself when I was under 10 that I can’t say for certain I didn’t. Spot or Cool Spot was a mascot for 7-UP, he was introduced in 1987 and was an anthropomorphic version of the big red circle in the 7-UP logo, he also wore sunglasses and trainers because that’s what cool people do. The Spot was never used to promote 7-UP here in the UK (Fido Dido was, more on that in a minute) but the video game Cool Spot was released. It makes more sense than you think, Cool Spot looked and played like any other me-too mascot platformer that came out in the wake of Sonic the Hedgehog’s success and it was developed by Virgin Games – who were a British firm. I latched the fuck onto this game and if you’d’ve asked me at the time I’d’ve said it was my second favourite, behind only Sonic the Hedgehog 2, I rated this thing that much – I still think it’s a decent (if a little unforgiving) 2D platformer but then I wouldn’t expect anything else from a game programmed by David ‘The Earthworm Jim Bloke’ Perry. To me Cool Spot was as big as any video game star, if I drew a picture of video game stars (a fairly common occurrence) he’d be on there alongside Sonic, Mario, Link and Pac-Man, when my grandad gave me a fancy wooden wine bottle box to store my Mega Drive cartridges in I drew Cool Spot on it – again putting him in the same league as Sonic, Knuckles, Ecco, the Ferrari Testarossa and Alex Kidd. But the memory that I stumbled across, the point of this segment is this:
One day while wandering around in my garden I decided to create my own garden, the best of gardens, and sat down to drawn it. I drew everything the same way at this point, in biro on Computer Paper – that’s what we all called it, my mum used to ‘get’ it from work and it was neither A4 nor A3 – I insisted this was the way to get the best results, I eventually learned what a pencil was. I thought I still had this drawing and had it scanned but I don’t, I’m sorry, but I can remember it shocking vividly, I also remember that I didn’t finish it. It was a big garden, there was a few things I’d still put a my dram garden today (fibre-glass dinosaurs and a swimming pool) and some stuff that society and advertising had taught me was cool in late ’93 early ’94 , it included a skate park for instance even though I could not and still cannot skateboard in any way that doesn’t involve me sitting on the board and drinking juice cartons but it wasn’t for me anyway it was for all the cool friends having this awesome garden would absolutely guarantee me, I used to imagine being 13 and being part of a gang fairly often then, everyone had bomber jackets, Converse All-Stars and sunglasses and I was thin. Getting back to the point though is that below the skate park was my fountain, because all big gardens need one and it was a Cool Spot themed fountain where in the centre water would squirt and raise Spot into the air (this is genuinely a thing that water features can do, I don’t know if they can lift a large statue of a fizzy drink mascot but it’s legit thing). I was so into this food mascot who I didn’t even know was a food mascot that immortalizing him in thousands of pounds worth of marble fountain wasn’t even a maybe but just something that obviously had to be. It was one of the first things I thought of if I remember correctly ‘in my dream garden I must have…a swimming pool, a Cool Spot fountain, dinosaurs…”.

Me and Fido Dido
While we’re on the very specific subject of 7-UP mascots: The Fido Dido Jacket. Fido Dido was the mascot for 7-UP in the UK for a long time, a lot longer than in the states because we never had Spot, and I still consider him to be THE mascot for the brand, it’s Tony the Tiger or Ronald McDonald or whathaveya. Turns out he’s not owned by PepsiCo but was licenced, he was created by two women from New York (Joanna Ferrone and Sue Rose, who is the horrible human being responsible for inflicting Angela Anaconda on the world) and dates back to 1985, who knew. Anyway I grew up in (and currently live in) a town called Collier Row which is in Romford (it’s next door to Romford itself), it’s built around a roundabout (Americans: those are circular things you drive cars around) with four streets coming off it in a rough X shape, this is ‘up the top’ where our shops all are. For a while my mum and nan worked in a ‘cheap shop’ called Saint’s – I miss it so –which was on the same side as the Library (it was about two shops up from it actually) where there was also for a while this clothing shop that sold, amongst other things, bomber jackets. It was run by a short Indian gentleman who had a really full head of hair and shouted a lot, that’s all I remember about it other than the Fido Dido Jackets.
He used to hang them from his shop’s canopy; they were that shiny material and used to shimmer in the sun like Aztek treasure. I lusted after them so badly, I used to stand and stare at them to the sounds of the owner shouting at someone (I presume it was at someone, he could have just been insane). I’m pretty sure they each had Fido Dido wearing a Fido Dido bomber jacket (meta?) with his back turned, but turning around to look at ‘the camera’, I wanted to be as cool as Fido Dido. I was weirdly obsessed with the concept of cool as a kid, I blame Sonic the Hedgehog, my weird preconceived notions about coolness and what it meant meant I never told anyone about my wanting for these jackets except maybe a passing mention to my mum in the most fake-casual way a child can mention something. They weren’t particularly expensive and I’m sure my mum or nan would have got me one as my winter coat that year had I asked but I assumed the following: because they were so cool (and shiny) they were really expensive, further I didn’t understand the concept of ‘unofficial’ (read: bootleg) back then and would never have thought that something was anything more than 100% official if it featured a ‘proper’ person or character and not a knock-off and 100% official meant it was expensive (I’d learnt this via knock-off action figures, seriously); that I simply wasn’t allowed to own such a jacket because I was too young and too uncool to do so, so I shouldn’t ask for one because it wasn’t appropriate. Instead I just stopped and stared at the shiny jackets with the 7-UP mascot who looked a bit too much like Gary Rhodes and imagined being roughly 13 and owning one (because they would never go out of style and never not be available in my hometown) walking down the street with a posse of similarly attired youths.
Also it always struck me as really wrong that Fido Dido jackets came in anything other than green, I think it still would today.    

Me and Candyman
Fuck Candyman, oh don’t get me wrong Candyman is a superb horror film and easily one of the finest of its decade but fuck Candyman because Candyman manged to traumatise me for around a month as a child and I hadn’t even seen the bloody thing (also because it’s all one word and that upsets Microsoft World, this paragraph is filled with angry jaggedy red lines, cross at me for ignoring them when I clearly have a word spelt wrong and need to change it). Candyman came out in 1992 when I was 6 so no one at school had seen it, a couple of kids claimed they had but I knew their parents for fuck’s sake and they would never let them watch shit like Candyman but the kids with older siblings or bastard parents had been told about the film’s plot or overheard about the film’s plot and the legend of Candyman. For those who haven’t seen it Candyman is just Bloody Mary but a big black bloke with only one hand and an awesome dress sense, you say ‘Candyman’ three times in front of a mirror and he turns up and kills your ass dead. While writing this I remembered the name of the little bastards who told me about this legend, it was fucking Sammi-Jo and Jason and Sammi-Jo still lives ‘round here so I think I may have to extract twisted revenge. Anyway these two giggling little turds told me about it and my six year old mind took it completely at face value, I wasn’t so much scared of the Candyman coming out the mirror but that I wouldn’t be able to stop myself from doing it when in front of a mirror and thus dooming myself. We had a lot of mirrors in my house, there was a big one in the hall, one in the bog obviously and my mum’s bedroom was and is still boarded with wardrobes with mirrored doors. So I couldn’t piss, leave the house or get a clean t-shirt (my room was so tiny I stored my clothes in my mum’s room) without the temptation to call upon the Candyman. 
Then I had to spend the night sleeping in my mum’s room, I  can only assume I was ill because that was usually the only time I slept in there (it was cooler, closer to the loo and the bed was closer to the ground) and I woke up in the middle of the night and laying all rolled up like a terrified little hotdog I gave in and whispered Candyman three times out loud and then shat myself and waited for death. Which didn’t come – no surprise there, I hate to ruin it for everyone but even if you want to believe Bloody Mary might work Candyman never does because Candyman is not based on a real-world legend it’s based on a short story by Clive Barker. But because I didn’t know that at the time I was instead convinced that Candyman was just waiting for the right moment and for a good four weeks afterwards I was as uptight as a priest on trial because I knew that any moment Candyman was going to lean out any reflective surface at any moment and slash me open. Oh yeah, because no one had seen the film the rough image I’d been given of Candyman was that he was a tall bald Black man (mostly true, he had hair) in a huge fur coat with a huge collar (sort of true, I was told more along the lines of John Ruth that Isaac Hayes) with an all metal version of Freddy Krueger’s glove (not true at all). I do mean any reflective surface btw, I remember walking through a small shopping centre in Romford called The Liberty and shitting myself past shops like WH Smiths because I thought Candyman might lunge out from between signs advertising Ruth Rendell and GamesMaster Magazine and collect the debt owed him. Eventually I just got more and more confident that he wasn’t coming and the worry subsided, notice that I didn’t say that I realised Candyman didn’t exist, that never occurred to me and I had no idea until I went to senior school that Candyman was a film, I just assumed he hadn’t heard me or because I wasn’t standing facing the mirror it didn’t count or something like that.
What’s saddest about this is that sometimes I still have nightmares where I’m lying in my mum’s bed, all rolled up like a hotdog and can’t stop myself from whispering Candyman three times. Tony Todd never turns up in it and guts me though; the fear just comes from being unable to stop myself. So if you live in the UK, when you see a news report that someone has smeared a 12 foot high ‘I never forgot’ in cowshit on the house of one Sammi-Jo of Romford, Essex you know where to send the police.

I feel better. I think I should probably feel embarrassed about revealing these to the world but I was 7! Everyone does stupid shit when they’re under 10, it’s not like it reflects badly on them as adults, well unless they killed someone I guess - but I didn’t kill anyone, at least not that I or you can prove. Ta for reading me go on about food mascots and slasher villains, you’re all wonderful. 

Monday, 31 July 2017

Examples of Crap I Waste My Money On: LFCC Summer 2017 Edition!

So about twice a year Showmasters hold the London Film and Comic Con and I’m of the opinion that ‘LFCC’ has become the best of the three big nerdcons held in London throughout the year (LFCC, MCM and Hyper Japan): it has the biggest amount of dealers with the best variety of wares and the biggest names for autograph hunters, MCM is a bigger event but LFCC is the better event. I don’t usually have much nice to say about Showmasters, they developed a reputation with me for being unable to organize a piss-up in a brewery let alone a comic, film and general all-purpose geekery convention but I’ve been bloody impressed with their last two efforts (this and the last MCM), however I didn’t do any autographs and I went on Sunday both times so so long as you don’t want to do one of the cornerstones of a convention or go on the main day of said convention, my opinion is good.  I had a marvellous time; it wasn’t too busy (except for the odd bottleneck but whatchagonnado these things happen, if Disney still hasn’t eliminated ‘em completely we shouldn’t expect Showmasters to be able to do it) with a nice relaxed atmosphere in the dealer area with some very amiable new sellers; I know the wait times for some of the signing times were pretty extreme (Kevin Smith for instance, I dunno about Alyson Hannigan, I’m not allowed within 50ft of her anymore) but I didn’t see anyone getting irate over there either; loads of superb cosplayers; a new pop-up maid café (didn’t get time to eat there but we did chat to a maid, Nikki I think); nice easy to access panels and generally an effortless experience all ‘round. But who cares, let’s talk about stuff:

LFCC is my ‘shopping convention’, I put money away especially for it because, again, it always has the best dealers in the biggest quantities and it does not disappoint. I waver, sometimes I’m all about quantity, sometimes I’m all about quality (this con was a quality day) but usually I pick up a variety of things – some toys, some trading cards, a book or two, the odd inexplicable thing – but this con it was all toys and nearly all figural. I honestly feel a bit annoyed at myself (I worry about becoming obsessive) but the reason for this is simple: competition, or the lack thereof: there was so much good stuff on the toy stalls that the others couldn’t compete. So this isn’t going to be a very varied Examples of Crap I Waste My Money On but it is going to feature aliens, aliens, more aliens and alien robots so are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Spawn Spree IV

Meh, given that this has taken six months, it’s less a spree and more a marathon in multiple parts.

Anyway, welcome to the fourth instalment of Spawn Spree, where I type some meaningless bullshit about six old McFarlane Toys action figures because it seems like the whole world turned against them roughly six months after Neca released their first toys and I often feel totally alone in being a fan of them. Today’s Sensational Seven include Mecha Spawn, Possibly Culturally Insensitive Spawn, Lady Spawn, Spawn’s Boss, a bison and me moaning about how I’m stupid and can’t pronounce a word from one day to the next – tantalizing!
So are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin:

Manga Spawn
Spawn Series 9 (1997)
The Spawn figure that you can own without someone knowing you own a Spawn figure! Manga Spawn’s one of the few Spawn figures that retains a high resale value and could conceivably be called ‘sought after’ and I want to think it’s because it’s the coolest Spawn figure made – Spawn reimagined as a mecha samurai with insect wings – but I’m sure it has as much to do with the continued popularity of anime and the fact that this could slot into anyone’s collection of mech figures, model kits and kinkeshi without anyone batting an eyelid. This is really the best use of McFarlane Toys’ love affair with detail, applying it to mech takes the figure from looking busy to just looking like the inspiration and things like giant blades, spikes and big white Ms on chests work perfectly within the genre, so by doing nothing different they ended up making a Spawn figure that looks nothing like a Spawn figure? Dumb luck? Probably but I like to think someone put some thought into things and was vindicated. I got to use vindicated, correctly, in a Spawn-based post and it wasn’t a pun, I feel proud of myself – very proud. What was I doing? Oh yeah writing a pretty sensible review of this figure, why was I doing that? I bought this with some money I was gifted for Christmas, I bring this up because if Christmas was a Gundam, it would look like Manga Spawn

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

A Tribute To... Beetlejuice's Rock 'n' Roll Graveyard Revue 2.0

So while fixing the pictures issue with a lot of old posts I decided to revamp a couple of old posts in the same vein as my updated Five Nights At Freddy's chronology, first up:

So a bout of depression created an unusual side effect that was a huge wave of nostalgia for Universal Studios and also the realisation “of course it’s all on YouTube”. The internet has given us many bounties – most of them involving naked people, yes - but being able to experience old theme park attractions you thought you’d never experience again, exactly how you remember (or close enough) is one of it’s tastiest. I've returning to Florida and to Harry Potterland featuring The Simpsons Universal Studios, and I damn well enjoyed it, but the Universal Studios on my childhood is no more, Kong, Jaws, Mr Stay Puft, Doc & Marty and now Beetlejuice and the Universal Monsters have been shuffled off for undeniable cash cows like The Simpsons, Harry Potter and Minions and things that can never hope to have the longevity of these or the things they’ve replaced like Shrek, The Mummy remake and the Bayformers, and I say that as a confirmed fan of the Mummy remake and someone you better believe went on all of those properties’ rides. But thanks to YouTube and a site for downloading videos from it that I do not know exists, at all, I am now totally ok with this; because I can experience the Kong ride any time I want - without the taste of American Tourist Sweat™.

Today’s post is about the best thing I found on my Universal Studios YouTube binge: you see things I like include: rock music, Tim Burton, theme parks and the Universal Monsters, so if only there was an attraction at a theme park that mixed Universal Monsters and rock music that was compared by Tim Burton character…oh wait there is, was, sort of still is. What I am being facetious about is of course (of course, duuuh) Beetlejuice’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Graveyard Review, a former live stage show at Universal Studios parks around that big place near Mexico. I went to Florida with my dad’s side of the family around 1995 (we still argue about when it exactly was, don’t ask) and as that side of the family includes, me, my dad, my uncle and my grandad, a collective of three generations of somewhat sizeable Universal Monster fans we WERE going to see this and dragged the rest of our family – all mildly disinterested female types – in and I was enraptured. And when one considers that I’d already been through Konfrontation, Ghost Busters Spooktacular and Jaws and I was about 9 it’s amazing I had any attention span left and could sit still due the pure adrenaline from real life appearances by King Kong, Jaws and Mr Stay Puft in short succession but I’ve always had extra patience for the classic monsters and I sat enthralled, my strongest memories from childhood are of The Phantom of the Opera playing ‘Great Balls of Fire’ and the awesomeness that is inherent in such a concept and The Bride of Frankenstein’s outfit and the pre-pubescence urges it may or may not have stirred. Now YouTube means I can tell you all about it in detail, and more importantly tell you about the songs in it, you’re so lucky.

So come back with me to 1992, the comic book boom is in full swing, Barney & Friends is obnoxiously huge and the Mega Drive is the best system on the market, important stuff is also probably happening but who gives a shit when there’s Spawn and Sonic 2, and you are at Universal Studios Florida, you were a little disappointed at first because you could be at The Magic Kingdom but live-action Ghostbusters soon puts paid to that feeling. You wander over from Kongfrontation, or ‘The King Kong Ride’, annoyed that someone has spoilt the magic by announcing ‘there’s two models’ and wanting somewhere to sit down, you decide to check out this new Beetlejuice thing. Inside you find a seat, it’s hot and the seats are lukewarm and you know full well someone has farted on them within the last 20 minutes there is a faint taste of American Tourist Sweat™ but thankfully it’s a lot less pronounced than it was in that boat on the Jaws ride and it’s somewhere to rest without feeling pressured to buy overpriced fizzy pop.

As the last few stragglers – all wearing vest tops and grey t-shirts with off-model Simpsons and Mickey & Friends characters on them – take their seats to the sound sounds of Danny Elfman’s theme from Beetlejuice you take in the ornate stage; a Disneyland version of German Expressionism it looks like Castle Grayskull by way of the Cabinet of Dr Caligari. Wonderfully coloured to be almost black and white, two coffins are propped against the castle ruins and it couldn’t be more obvious they’re going to open – it’s like in old cartoons where you can tell what’s going to move because it’s a different contrast – a spiral walkway (danceway) climbs up seemingly exported straight from James Whale’s Frankenstein and a painted backdrop borrowed from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. It is a cool stage.

As the music finishes up, someone doing a passable impression of Michael Keaton’s Beetlejuice voice comes in over the tannoy to comment on his own theme tune and a surely enough the golder coffin opens to reveal the ghost with the most in the form of The Mummy so he can make a pun about being wrapped up. This is the only appearance of The Mummy in the original version, I have no idea why Imhotep go the shaft, especially as Skate, Haddock & Sole Shake, Rattle & Roll was perfect for him, there’s no way it could have been questions over ownership as ‘a mummy’ cannot be copyrighted so I’m guessing it was either a (un)creative decision or due to run time. 

BJ has fans chant his name three times, one twat is always way behind everyone else ruining the effect, and in an explosion of pyro out comes the titular star of the show in his classic black and white pinstripe for some audience participation and dated references that actually aren’t that dated thanks to the continuing high profile of Tim Burton and Madonna, in fact Madonna’s even more monstrous these days. I’d like to take a minute to say that I’m not that big a fan of Beetlejuice the character, he’s obnoxious, sleazy and thinks he’s funnier than he is – in short he’s the exact sort of person I spend my days avoiding – I’m well aware that this is the point but it’s so on point that he grates on my nerves, I watch the film fairly regularly but that’s more for Lydia Deez being awesome and Geena Davies being one of the most gorgeous women of the 80’s (I watch Mars Needs Women way more than such a shit film deserves because of that latter fact).

You just about get time to be tired of ‘juice’s shtick before it’s time to bring on his elders, his betters, the Universal Monsters (minus the Mummy)! But before this, BJ warns the audience that it’s going to take a lot of power to turn them into Rock ‘n’ Roll stars and when he gives the signal you’re to chant his name three times. Anyway, Part of the castle rotates to reveal… The Phantom of the Opera! Even though his outfit is taken from the Claude Rains version of the character he removes his mask to reveal make-up inspired by Lon Chaney’s version, a perfect compromise between the easily recognisable and the fan preferred. 

In a puff of smoke, from somewhere backstage… the Wolf Man! And he looks nothing like the Jack Pierce make-up! This confused me at the time and I still don’t quite get the decision now as the make-up, which is really more bear man than Wolf Man, is what makes the Universal Studios version of a werewolf the Universal Studios version and is what allows them to trademark it, and y’know they’re selling figurines and plushies of that version in the gift shop nearby. There are shades of Henry Hull’s Werewolf of London look (also a Jack Pierce production) but really he looks more an Ape Soldier. I have two theories – the Pierce design was somehow a problem when performing, or the changes were made so the Wolf Man looked good, and recognisable, from the back of auditorium.  

But ladies, hold onto your necks as the prince of darkness himself glides from the so-far unopened second coffin…Dracula! And this time there is a good reason why he doesn’t look quite like Bela Lugosi, it’s due to likeness rights and Bela Lugosi Jr’s intensity in protecting his father’s image, which I’ve always found a little odd as of all the Universal Monsters stars Lugosi has the worst reputation, still if he ums and ahs about lovingly sculpted merchandise I very much doubt junior would be OK with his dad’s image singing and dancing to karaoke favourites. 

Then in centre stage – where he belongs – wheeled out on the laboratory table… Frankenstein’s Monster! He looks perfect, though thanks to the size required to play him always looks slightly more like Glen Strange’s Franky. Finally running down from the top of the tower…The Bride of Frankenstein! And she is terrified, in fact all the monsters seem to utterly hate each other, theme park setting or no they’re still monsters and still delightfully in character.   

The monsters then turn on the ghoul with the cool and you’re a little bit frightened, suspension of disbelief has kicked in despite ‘juice’s bad puns and you realise that the monsters that could never get you because they were only images left over from 70 years past, burned onto that most harmless of thing – a VHS (The Ring isn't out yet), are real and only a few feet in front of you, even if the Wolf Man does look like one of the Groovy Ghoulies. You try as hard as you can to cover this up but secretly you’re happy you couldn’t get a front row seat. 

But it’s ok, just as he’s about to be overpowered Beetlejuice gives the command for the audience to scream his name thrice, and with each shout the monsters are driven back to a pre-designated area on the steps of the castle where a whoosh of smoke lasts just long enough for a costume change and when it clears, the Monsters no longer want to rip and tear, instead they want to sign and dance, they’ve been turned into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Graveyard Reviews! The Phantom has become Chuck Berry! The Monster has become Bruce Springsteen! The Wolf Man has become Kurt Cobain! Dracula has become the lead singer of every Goth Rock band since the mid-80’s! and the Bride, well, you always knew that the Bride was secretly hot because she was played by cutie Elsa Lanchester and you could see very well when she was Mary Shelly how pretty she was but she was still covered up by a bedsheet and bandages as the Bride, now she is wearing a sparkly blue ragged dress with a low neckline and high skirt line with tights and boots – welcome to the start of a sexual obsession that will last the rest of your life. In years to come they give the Bride a corset and net mini skirt, effectively turning her into the lead singer of a Symphonic Metal band, which undoubtedly raises the sexy factor but in the process takes her completely away from the look of the Bride of Frankenstein, eventually going to sacrilegious levels and cutting her iconic fingers-in-a-plug-socket hairdo, for my money the original blue outfit was the perfect mix of stage show and the film’s costume. Anyway I love it when the classic monsters are reinvented to fit a theme, be it a counter-culture, a time frame, a genre, Ninja Turtles, whatever, it somehow appeals to my type of fandom for the properties and it dates back to before I first saw the ‘Revue so this turn of events makes me very happy, but more importantly for you, they’re no longer scary at all – the Monster cannot be frightening when sporting a headband and mullet.

To celebrate their new outlook and wardrobe, the group perform and exposition song based around Wild Thing by the Troggs and the show momentarily takes on the feel of a high school production as the Wild Thing chorus feels really forced next to the stadium rock verses with lyrics seemingly written by someone who writes the theme tunes for cartoons, actually as this is Universal Studios, that might actually have been their day job. Oh well at least you can stare are the Bride until it’s over. Wild Thing, the song they’re butchering while you perv, was a song originally performed by The Wild Ones and was written by Chip Taylor, a prolific songwriter who also came up 'Angel of the Morning' and 'Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)', and was first released in 1965 before becoming a hit the following year for The Troggs, going to number 1 in the Billboard Top 100 in America, the song was also famously performed by Jimi Hendrix when he set his guitar on fire at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, it’s also been covered by acts as diverse as The Creatures and The Meteors (good), the Dinvinyls and the Goodies (um…interesting) and Westlife and Bruce Springsteen (dire). In none of these versions do monsters refer to having a brand new style and a brand new attitude, nor does Frankenstein’s Monster play a bitchin’ solo:

First up to strut his funky stuff for you is the Wolf Man with The Wolf Man Rap which is as fantastic as it sounds and completely restores your faith in the producers of this show after Wild Things because it’s a werewolf rapping about how he’s now comfortable with his self, if Tumblr was around it would adopt this as a coming out anthem. The rap then fades into a modified version of Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin), also known as ‘the single before Family Affair’, which was a Billboard Number 1 hit for Sly and the Family Stone in December 1969, a standalone single and double A-side with Everybody Is a Star, intended for an album that was never completed and one of the many reasons Sly & The Family Stone are awesome. As its 1992 you’ve never heard of this song but it’s a funky tune about being yourself and how awesome Beetlejuice is so you are completely into it.

After some attempts at stage stealing from Dracula (and some more horrible Beetlejuice puns that you begrudgingly admit are pretty funny) it’s the Phantom of the Opera’s turn to rock the audiences socks, but for a ‘gag’ he plays some of his standard gothic organ which upsets the Bride so much she falls to her knees in pain, you can think of ways to comfort her.
It’s only a joke though (that’s not funny) and bam! Erik’s off into Great Balls of Fire, accompanied by obligatory pyro. Of course the words have been altered to effectively be about how sexy the Phantom is now, ably proved by a swooning Bride turning an admission of how shockingly attractive someone is into Sharp Dressed Man and achieving the impressive feat of making Great Balls of Fire even shallower. But no one listens to Jerry Lee Lewis for depth, the manic piano of the song is a perfect fit for the Phantom and the song is one of the most exciting pieces of rock ‘n’ roll committed to vinyl and it’s accompanied by explosions, climaxing with each pipe of the phantom’s organ spurting fire something that is both necessary and yet over-the-top that it’s awesome and you dig it, but you do make a mental note to kill someone for changing one of the most recognisable opening verses in music history. Great Balls of Fire was written by Otis Blackwell and Jack Hammer, Blackwell wrote the likes of All Shook Up, Return to Sender and Fever, Hammer…um…was in the Platters for a while but really about half the musically talented African-American population of the 1950s was in the Platters at one point. The song was a MASSIVE hit for cousin-pumping Jerry Lee Lewis (the first artist to record it) on the back of its appearance in the film Jamboree, selling over five million copies and thus becoming one of the best-selling singles of all time. It’s been covered by everybody and, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the Misfits version is really one to avoid, in fact just listen to Lewis’ version, no one’s done it better not even the Phantom.  

Now The Phantom’s finished wanking Franky goes off on one, only to be calmed by the Bride, seems she’s into him now, bastard, she’s also developed into a strong female character, easily resisting Dracula’s hypnotising come on with a cringe-worthy Wayne’s World reference. To celebrate she sings easily the best choice of song in the whole revue:  (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman; sadly this dovetails into a fight over the Bride and a medley (I hate medleys) with Hot Blooded by The Monster and In the Midnight Hour by Dracula, which is the second best choice of song in the revue. Medleys suck for the simple reason that they don’t allow you to hear the whole song, in the case of Foreigner this is a blessing but cutting of Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett should be made illegal, it also means this paragraph is going to be pretty big. 

Written by Carole King and former husband Gerry Goffin, (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman was a hit for Aretha Franklin in 1967 and performed expertly by its co-writer on her debut album Tapestry before being utterly destroyed by Canadian sonic assault weapon Celine Dion (YouTube Linda Carter’s version, yes that Linda Carter, it’s not good but seeing Wonder Woman sing Aretha Franklin is just something you should experience). Hot Blooded was a single by Foreigner, it’s the most recent song to be adjusted for the revue having been put out in 1978 but sadly it’s not the worst selling, charting five positions higher than Natural Woman at #3 on the Billboard, Foreigner suck, I’m not typing any more about them.  In the Midnight Hour blew into the charts in 1965 and elbowed its way to number 1 in the US, co-written by its performer Wilson Pickett at the same place Martin Luther King would be shot at, it’s been covered by far too many people to list but you should give The Jam’s version a go. 

This thing’s turning out ok, the song choices are good, the Bride is sexy and Dracula is a douche, you couldn’t really hope for more frankly, then they let Frankenstein’s Monster serenade his significant other with… When A Man Loves a Woman which is both hilarious and slightly touching, as I think was the intention. You get to see Dracula, The Phantom and the Wolf-Man do backing harmonies as the Bride melts to the sounds of Percy Sledge and are vaguely aware of what a fucking weird experience that is. The Bride returns Franky’s affection with…Higher and Higher, you are slightly disappointed that The Statue of Liberty does not appear walking around  controlled by one on of the Blues Brothers with a Nintendo Entertainment System peripheral but are distracted by the Bride desperately trying to get sweaty footsore tourists to join in a group performance of said Jackie Wilson song because apparently Wilson didn’t say “I’m in heaven when you smile” he said “clap your hands and stamp your feet – come on!”, you feel a little bad for your new object of lust affection. 

Written by the team of Calvin Lewis and Andrew Wright, When a Man Loves A Woman was a number one hit in 1966 for Percy Sledge, who had a voice that could ring out laundry, a position also achieved by a version by Michael Bolton, who has a voice that makes me want to punch Michael Bolton, Bette Middler also had a hit with it in the 70s and it sounds exactly like you’d expect. (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher was also a number 1 billboard smash, this time for Jackie Wilson, a man so good even notorious miserable bastard Kevin Rowland liked him, it was actually written by Chess Records’ in-house team of  Carl Smith & Raynard Miner for the Dells but their version wasn’t released and instead Wilson got the hit. Rita Coolidge ruined it one time but who cares because the Wilson version was used in Ghostbusters 2 as the song they use to please the mood slime and make a toaster dance and then make the Statue of Liberty bust into a New York Museum. Also, little titbit, I listened to it in a toilet a little while ago.     

What could possibly the finale you wonder? You don’t have to wait too long for the answer as the Bride is suddenly possessed by Harry Belafonte; yep they’re remaking the ‘Dayo’ scene from Beetlejuice with the Universal Monsters and Beetlejuice wearing one of these:

I have no idea what these are called. ‘Juice takes his puppets back to the bowls of hell as the monsters finish the references to the film by shaking to Jump in the Line, neither of these songs have amended lyrics. Day-O (The Banana Boat Song) is a traditional Jamaican work song while Jump in the Line (Shake, Senora) was a song written by calypso legend Lord Kitchener but both are far better known for their Harry Belafonte versions (and advertising Trios), Jump in the Line wasn’t a single to my knowledge and was included on the 1961 album Jump Up Calypso but Banana Boat (Day-O) (as the song was titled on Belafonte’s version) was and reached number 5 in the US and number 2 in the UK. Of course both songs are included here because of their use in the Tim Burton film Beetlejuice, one during a dinner party and the other at the film’s end and end credits and even at this early date the Day-O dinner party possession scene had entered pop culture and become the film’s signature scene. 

The monsters take a bow and you clap enthusiastically, after posing for a picture they disappear backstage and people begin to leave immediately because tourists have no fucking patience and can’t even wait until the performers are off-screen. Your feet rested and your loins confused by undead stage performers you shuffle off out into the Floridian humidity and to the Back the Future ride. Making sure to thank the blog author who has wasted your time with nearly 4,000 words about something you could watch on YouTube for yourself, but at least you learnt who originally sung Hot Blooded and the Wolf Man’s song, it takes a good few steps before you stop and realise “hold on, the Creature From the Black Lagoon wasn’t in that!”


Monday, 24 July 2017

AFB Best in Show: San Diego Comic Con 2017 (SDCC 2017)

Did I do a SDCC Best in Show last year?
I don’t think I did
Ok well welcome to AFB’s Best in Show for San Diego Comic Con 2017 where I basically become a child excitedly pointing and shouting “I want that, I want that, I want that” in Toys ‘R’ Us.  The highest profile comic convention of the year, SDCC is used by all sorts of companies as a play to revel upcoming wares (fyi looking forward to The Thinker turning up in the Flash TV show); this post is focussing on merchandise though. The items highlighted have been picked because I there is no question of me buying me them, I will then include a paragraph in italics about related reveals to make this a little more useful to anyone who stumbles on it. For full coverage of the reveals your best bet is to check Toyark, The Fwoosh, ToyNewsi and Pixel Dan’s YouTube channel. Anyway are you sitting comfortably? Then I want that, I want that, I want that

Ghostbusters Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!
Playmates, Release TBD
Aaah! Aaaaah! Aaaaaaah! AAAHHH!!!
Ok I’m done, no, one more – AHHHHHH!!!
Ok so last year Playmates made a set of four figures that were mash-ups of the TMNT and WWE wrestlers, they were 6” scale and clearly aimed more at adults than children, we already know they’re doing a second wave of these and I’m still sore they mashed my favourite turtle (that’s Raphael) with perhaps my least favourite wrestler (that’s The Rock). This is the exact same thing but instead Playmates are mashing the Turtles with the film versions of the Ghostbusters – as far as I’m concerned this is two of the best things in the world being fused into one cavalcade of awesome but it actually makes a lot of sense. Both were obviously big 1980s properties with a lot of cross-over appeal thanks to 1980s kids and 80’s nostalgia (which is still a very milkable market) but the two were straight up contemporizes thanks to Ghostbusters 2 and the long-running Real Ghostbusters animated series. In fact TMNT were pretty much the next big thing that took Real Ghostbusters out1, Real Ghostbusters even made an episode spoofing the Turtles because they’re sore losers, of course the Turtles then put out an issue spoofing the Power Rangers because they’re sore losers too2. For me Ghostbusters and TMNT have always been closely connected because I played with the toys at the same time and often with each other, in fact Screaming Heroes Janine was my stand in for Irma for my whole childhood and of course I voted their comic book crossover from IDW into my top 30 TMNT stories because it’s that satisfying a crossover. I am of course going to be a massive nerdy prick and nitpick their choices – I would have thought a Raphael/Venkman would have been as obvious as the Egon/Donatello match up but for reasons that escape me they’d mashed Venkman with Mikey (because they’re both funny? It’s completely different humour form two completely different types of characters), I would have switched it up so you had Mike/Stantz, Raph/Venkman and Leo/Winston but fuck that negativity they’re coming with small transparent pack-in ghosts, just like the old Real Ghostbusters figures!  The nostalgia centre of my brain has exploded, brb.

image from ToyArk
The Dimension X Collection!
NECA, 2018
I didn’t bother with NECA’s original Video Game accurate TMNT sets because a) it was expensive and b) it didn’t really offer much, I did and still do want Shredder and Foot Soldier figures in 6” scale but I couldn’t justify spending the money on those characters at the time. This is different – this is Granitor’s first action figure, the first time we’ve had a close-to-cartoon accurate General Tragg and it includes Slash but more so our first collector’s figure of Slash. So this isn’t a case of ‘if’ but merely ‘when’, if this is going to be an con exclusive like last time I won’t be close to delighted but so be it, that said pleeeease don’t do it to me again NECA, please allow me to buy these normally for a lesser price, I’m a poor limey, please don’t make me pay that much for Granitor.  Incidentally I’m pleased to see the TMNT video game line continuing, I’m hoping for a new set of Turtles painted to replicate the original NES game, Bebop and Rocksteady and some of the exclusive characters like Aska, the Turtle Robot/False Brother and the two bosses they added for the NES version of TMNT: The Arcade Game but I don’t know if they’re owned by Konami or Viacom. Ooh tell ya what Neca, the Killer Pizzas were in one of the arcade games, that’d be nice, for Halloween maybe? Oh yeah a fourth figure will be part of this wave, it’ll probably be Krang won’t it? Fine by me.

Elsewhere NECA will be releasing a wave of Predators and Aliens based on the 1993 Aliens vs Predator arcade game and Robocop vs Terminator figures based on the comic book (the Frank Miller/Walt Simonson one) and they have a Guillermo del Toro Collection coming which’ll be six inch scale, Pan’s Labyrinth and The Devil’s Backbone are being represented at least (Pale Man, The Faun and Santi were shown) I’m pretty keen on these but I’ll leave it up to my wallet at the time of their release for if I buy more than the Devil’s Backbone figure, they’re set for early 2018, Santi for January. A Movie Shredder and Foot Soldier was confirmed for their big-ass TMNT movie line but weren’t shown (they were teased) and a Raphael in his trench coat, which pleases me because due to a massive comedy for errors my pre-order for the original Raphael got cancelled, now I can pre-order a better version! On that TMNT front they’re also producing replicas of Casey Jones’ hockey mask and the TGRI canister (that lights up) I want these but they’re potentially pricey, I’m sure the canister will end up mine at some point though, I am so about those canisters.   

Image from The Fwoosh
A Whole Bunch of Marvel Legends!
Hasbro, various
What the hell? Who gave Hasbro the right to do this? Some of the reveals still have the standard superhero issues: too much muscle definition, horrible faces, ugly obvious joints, but there’s a lot of good shit and by ‘good shit’ I mean ‘things that appeal to me personally and are executed in a way I find acceptable’. Hasbro are a bit shit at clearly marking what figure is going to come where and in what wave and so some of this is just tantalizing glimpses into an undetermined future and they really need to knock that shit off. We have quite possibly the best Cable figure ever made, this is fom roughly around the time of X-Cutioner’s Song and I can’t find a single flaw with it, even the gun is disproportionately huge and look at that flaring eye, delightful; we also have Domino in my favourite look for the character, the hip-joints and belt are a little bit shitty but I’m going to overlook that to own a figure of my favourite version of one of my favourite X-Characters, especially with such a pretty headsculpt (something that Hasbro regularly flubs, see their current Jim Lee Rogue and the newly revealed Black Widow for examples). The Lady Loki from the upcoming A-Force wave is perfect (well the display figure has derpy eyes I think but that won’t be a common problem, right Hasbro?); The retro packaging, based on the early days of Toy Biz’s Marvel Superheroes figures is a delight for someone my age, it can’t make that awful Captain America toaster head any nicer but it has convinced me to finally buy that Spider-Man and more importantly this wave (?) is going to include a nice early 1990s Punisher, no trench-coat, just a nice smooth black and white outfit with a nice head sculpt. Finally Songbird and Gwenpool - I’m pretty excited for both, Songbird’s long been my favourite Thunderbolts character (I have favourites for every team OK?) and this figure is really doing her justice, the face isn’t perfect but it’s better than Black Widow’s. Gwenpool however is spot-on and even though I’m a casual fan it’s such a good figure I might not be able to resist it if I come across one but given how impossible it’s been to get Spider-Gwen and Kamala Khan I’m not holding out hope of ever actually seeing the figure in-stores to temp me. 

From what I can gleam from Hasbro’s drip-feeding: Marvel Vintage will be the ones with the Toy Biz style packaging: it’s going to including Punisher, Captain America, Iron Man, Wolverine (brown costume), Black Widow and Spider-Man, it’s going to be a new line rather than a wave of Marvel Legends but I dunno if all of those characters are going to be in the same wave.  The Daedpool assortment is going to include Cable, Deadpool, Domino, Deathlock (looks pretty sweet) and X-23 (X-Force outfit). The Spider-Man assortment is going to include Spider-Punk, Gwenpool, Mysterio, The Lizard and oh my god aer you kidding me? Lasher, one of Venom’s ‘children’ from Venom: Lethal Protector, I couldn’t really give a shit about him but this means that Scream (the yellow girl one) is a possibility, please be so. Finally a new Black Panther wave will include Namor, Black Bolt and given her positioning in the display Songbird too. Apocalypse, Medusa, Mr Fantastic and Hydra grunts were also revealed but with no details, Mr Fantastic might be a store exclusive like his wife was. Being released a little sooner is the Thor movie assortment that and the A-Force assortment but we’ve seen those before I think. Mattel’s big WWE reveal (other than Kurt) was a fashion doll line called WWE Superstars [] that are in the same style DC Super Hero Girls including the small action figures to complement the full size fashion dolls – the likenesses are between so-so and terrible, I’m buying Bayley in both scales though.

Picture from Ringside Collectibles []
Image from Ringside Collectibles
Mattel Hasbro-Style WWE Figures Wave 2!
Mattel, Release TBD
These are flat out dream figures for me, Hasbro chucked the WWF licence in Vinnie Mac’s face in the aftermath of the mid-1990s steroids and sex scandals so one of the defining toys of my childhood was done before the Attitude Era was even a twinkle in Brian PIllman’s gun. That means that big stars from that era – for the sake of argument let’s say Mankind, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Kane and Triple H never got a figure despite the fact that Mankind and Kane were perfect for the Hasbro style figures. Up until this weekend it was an impossible dream, or at least the act of paying for average custom jobs, now it is a reality and my Hasbro WWF collection (which is huge) is going to feel that much more complete and I am genuinely delighted, especially because I wasn’t sure the first wave would have sold enough to continue. That wave’s line-up (Kevin Owens, Brock Lesnar, John Cena, Roman Reigns, Undertaker and Ultimate Warrior) was exceptionally ill-suited to the Smarky target audience, especially as it included Smark hate figures Cena and Reigns3 and two characters who’d had official Hasbro WWF figures that are very easy to find for a lot less than the $10 retail price of the new figures.
My prediction was that the poor choice of figures (which was loudly complained about) would scuttle things before it got to do the what I felt they should be doing with the line: producing wrestlers who came just too early, just too late or were only at WCW or ECW at the time the line was out: the likes of Steve Austin, Mankind, Kane, Triple H, Sting, The Rock, Diesel, The New Age Outlaws, Goldberg, Diamond Dallas Page, Iron Sheik, Junkyard Dog or Rob Van Dam. Also adding women, they need to make a Miss Elizabeth for my three Macho Men from Hasbro. Also Rikishi because he’s actually Hasbro WWF figure shaped in real life. But my prediction was thankfully wrong and this is what they’re doing and starting with my three biggest Attitude Era wants to boot, you’ve made 40 quid Hasbro, look pleased.

KURT ANGLE! The first Mattel Kurt Angel! Otherwise on the six inch front we’re only getting a few characters I’m that bothered about, Alexa Bliss’ new figure is perfect, Becky Lynch finally has a nice headsculpt (instant buy) and were getting Mickie James and an awesome Mean Gene HOWEVER M.U.S.C.L.E. WWE Legends are allegedly coming winter 2017 (but Super7 are involved so don’t hold your breath). Super7 are making it all but Mattel are going to release it, the line-up is Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Million Dollar Man, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Macho Man Randy Savage, Iron Sheik, Junkyward Dog, Andre the Giant, Sgt. Slaughter, Jake the Snake, Rick Flair, Mean Gene Oakerland and The Ultimate Warrior – pretty much all Superstars who were big around the same time M.U.S.C.L.E. was - I want these.

Image from ToyArk
Super 7 Masters of the Universe Classics Wave 2!
Super7, fuck knows
So there won’t be pre-orders for these any time soon because that’s how Super7 rolls (*sigh*) but the next waves of Masters of the Universe Classics and He-Man & The Masters of the Universe figures were shown in very early prototype form and they’re some sweet choices, I’ll try to be buying the H&MOTU line but this is mostly about the Classics wave. Stop it Super7, stop coming up with line-ups that mean I have to buy every one of your waves. Wave 2 is Wrap Trap, Karg, Dylamug and Granita (not shown) – shut up, and take my money. Karg, the last of three new villains to be added for the Masters of the Universe movie (yes, the one with Dolph and Courtney Cox) was thought to be an impossible dream by some fans because Mattel didn’t and almost certainly wouldn’t get the film rights (the owners of the film hate Mattel apparently) but judging by the colours scheme on the prototype it seems that the loop-hole some fans latched onto – that Karg had appeared in some comics – was real and now my Movie trio (with Blade and Saurod) will be complete – I’d say I can’t wait but I’ll have to it’s Super7 who move at the rough speed of very lethargic molasses (I’m kidding lads, you’re doing a great job so far – JUST GO FASTER!). Granita will also round off a trio – this time the core Comet Warriors (with Rokkon and Stonedar), shit I’ll have to get them out the boxes and back on the shelves, they take up so much space though the dicks. Finally I’ve wanted the Horde Mummy since I first found out about him, a mummy archetype for The Horde (who are already horror archetypes)? Yes please! And Dylamug’s ANOTHER Horde member, bulking out my favourite faction? Yes please! 

He-Man & The Mastres of the Unvierse Wave 2 will be Sorceress, Tung Lasher, Merman and Man-E-Faces (not shown), the Sorceress looks gorgeous. Iron Maiden, Robotech, Planet of the Apes and Alfred Hitchcock are coming to the ReAction line (Super7 took that over too after Funko dumped it), I will have to have Hitch’, the others I’ll wait and see how much money I have when they eventually go up for order/pre-order (I could be dead). Super7’s next MOTU vintage style wave is all Filmation versions – Hordak, He-Man, Skeletor and She-Ra, they had a falling out with the bloke who had the real Eldor prototype they were going to mould from so He-Ro and Eldor have been put back while they sculpt them from scratch.

And I’m done, I’m off to book myself in for open wallet surgery.

1 I say ‘pretty much’ because Christmas 1989 the big thing was in fact the Batman movie and it’s merchandise but that was very much a flash in the pan affair for that one holiday season while TMNT was the next big franchise and the one that took over from Real Ghostbusters as THE franchise for boys.
2 it was the Real Ghostbusters episode ‘Mean Green Teen Machine’ and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures: The Year of the Turtle issue 1 fyi.

3 I liked that Roman Reigns figure even though I couldn’t give a fuck about Reigns and as the Hasbro line included any big star at the time as well as such luminaries as Skinner, Virgil, Repo Man and The Mountie I personally think that anyone is applicable for the Mattel line as well and in fact think they should be including the odd utter nobody to make it feel like the Hasbro line – Shockmaster for wave 3?