Tuesday, 28 February 2017

6 Things I Like About Friday the 13th Part II*

You could argue that posting anything pop culture related on the internet is the equivalent of pissing into the ocean but the reason I post so little about film on here is because to me that’s taking a very small wee into the biggest ocean, like Waterworld big, but fuck it I just watched Friday the 13th Parts 2 through 5 (in the wrong order of course) and I want to talk about my second favourite Slasher franchise. Having seen all of the films multiple times I’m quite happy to admit that Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (that’s Part 4, the one with George McFly in it) is unbiased the best film in the series but it’s Part II I watch the most, this post includes six of the many reasons why that is. If you can’t remember which one Part II is – it’s the one where Jason has the bag on his head – if you haven’t seen Part II (or have but won’t remember until I describe it) its set five years after the original movie at the soon-to-open Camp Packanak which is on the same lake as the infamous Camp Crystal Lake (and within walking distance) and follows a bunch of camp councillors who are there training and the two camp councillors training them – Ginny and Paul. It was the first film to feature Jason Vorhees as the main antagonist. Also as a shameful attempt to rip off I-Mockery I’m including little gifs in this article, I’m sure it’ll go well, now are you sitting comfortably? Then the body count continues…

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Chocolate Biscuits*

My mum actually bought me these for Christmas as a bit of a jokey present but I was genuinely delighted – I’m always pleased to find and receive new Ninja Turtles themed snack foods and I know I can get a blog post about them – I’ve been meaning to write this since Boxing Day but I got ill and then suffered from a heavy bout of depression that has taken ages to lift to a level that, if not comfortable is at least a level high of not shittiness high enough so as I can get excited about chocolate covered in pictures of mutant reptiles. Anyway, behold:

A pack of eight, perfect size for lunch boxes and trips to the National History Museum, chocolate biscuits branded for the current Nicktoon incarnation of the TMNT. I probably could have used a shorter sentence there. They’re developed by a Glaswegian firm called Lightbody Ventures who I’d never heard of so I checked out their website, it uses a great deal of bullshit but what I came to understand is that they make spin-off snacks, you know all those biscuits and tarts with the Thortons name on ‘em you see in Sainsbury’s and Tesco, the very things that helped make Thortons feel less elite and has led to a significant drop off in their popularity and the closure of many of their stores? Lightbody Ventures made those, they also work with Hershey, Reece’s, Universal, Nickelodeon and eOne, gawd knows what they’re putting on eOne snacks but whatever.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Nine Examples of Crap I Waste My Money On - Roton Edition!*

Just a quick stop off at one of my most over-used post types, I sold the Masters of the Universe Classics Roton because it was just too big for the pathetic size of my living quarters and thus I had an eBay spend-up, no doubt buying enough stuff to equal if not overtake the mass of the thing I sold – I’ve never claimed to be sensible. This also coincided with some fruitful Charity Shop and Cheap Shop trips so are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin:

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Quick Crappy Review: Mattel Masters of the Universe Classics Roton with Skelcon*

Our 7-11 has closed, they’re closing our post office, it looks like Archie’s Sonic the Hedgehog comics might be cancelled and now the Mattycollector era of Masters of the Universe Classics is officially over with his release. All things must end, but that doesn’t mean I have to fucking like it. Now Masters of the Universe Classics isn’t ending overall, it’s gone over to Super 7, but the Mattel era, MOTUC as we know it, is over. Mattycollector’s final release was this, a Roton with a pack-in-figure of a Skelcon. As far as I know it went on sale December 2016 simply under the Masters of the Universe Classics name and is the fifth vehicle in the line, the fourth to come with a figure.

The Roton is a small flying vehicle used by the Evil Warriors (Skeletor’s mob), according to the bio that came on the box they were built by the pirate Ditztroyer who double crossed the Evil Horde and gave the Evil Warriors the design, which makes no sense as the vehicles were in use before the Horde came back to Eternia and thawed out Ditztroyer - if I’m getting my MOTUC timeline correct anyway (the Filmation stories should be before the She-Ra FIlmation stories which should be before the Horde returned to Eternia right?). Out-of-cannon the toy debuted in the third wave of Masters of the Universe toys in 1984 and was the first vehicle for the Evil Warriors. The fist mention of it comes from the He-man story bible (’82) where it was a heroic vehicle and the earliest design we have for it is by Ed Watts, who also designed the Dragon Walker and Battle Bones (and some of the best unproduced items – including the Torton and Turbosaurus). The Roton is my favourite vehicle in the Masters of the Universe or Princess of Power lines, something about its 1980s VHS colour scheme and angry cat face have always spoke to me in ways the Attack Trak of Battle Ram never did, the Land Shark and Bashasaurus are close runners up by the way.         

Fuck me this Roton is huge, it didn’t look this big at the convention, in fact it’s too big, at least when compared to the original toy.  The original Roton is a small one seater craft – little more than an armchair surrounded by a ring with red bits on it – this beast is a lounge chair set inside a mini-roundabout, it looks incredibly comfy and I can imagine that if it was attached to a deluxe version of After Burner II it would be a delight. It has been shown to be this big in say the Filmation Cartoon or the odd Earl Norem painting and I’m guessing that the Four Horsemen just chose the bigger size of aesthetic reasons. Personally I’d’ve preferred they went with the smaller size and the Roton retained the ‘sporty little number’ feel the original toy had, that felt manoeuvrable and nippy, a step up from the Sky Sled but not quite a Wind Raider, this feels like it could ram the Wind Raider and write it off – in fact I think it’s nearly as big as the vintage Wind Raider. That bitching aside the thing is a bloody amazing piece of sculpting and painting, if you’ve bought any of the other vehicles everything that was good about them returns and in many respects has been ramped up – the detailing, fusion of animal elements and little ‘paint’ details for instance. The main body of the vehicle is cast in mat black plastic and then selected areas are painted in shiny black plastic achieving this thing where you don’t even notice half of the paint apps but know that if they weren’t there, you would totally notice they weren’t there. Likewise the rotating blade has been given little metallic accents in two different shades of red, oh and each of the spikes turn – why do they did they feel the need to do this? Fuck knows but it’s quite fun to twiddle them. By the looks of it the green panels, main control panel and those two silver air vent like things either side of the seat are separate pieces, cast in their respective colours and then glued in which just makes things look that much more crisp (and probably saved a lot of money on paint), apparently the fine detailing on places like the control panel is achieved by decal1 rather than paint apps, at least this was true for the Wind Raider and this looks the same to me. As such the whole thing ends up being very subtlety detailed and I like that, I’m incredibly impressed with the clean, hard edges everywhere, how do they do this? Do they like us metalwork or bits of wood? They surely can’t make it all out of clay and shit right? Oh and it only bloody retains its action feature, dunnit? Push it along and the red ‘blade’ will rotate with that nice smooth but chunky feel the original had, it even makes the same noise. Criticisms other than size? Well I don’t know why it has ports for four guns but only comes with two (and the Roton has only ever had two guns), they don’t seem to be on the prototype (which I still say looks smaller) and I can’t imagine what purpose they serve other than shifting the guns slightly back for…I dunno, personal taste, if you manage to cram two figures in? I dunno. Also the nostrils are separate pieces glued into the front – why?   

The vehicle has accessories – I imagine Stratos is fuming - it’s stand and it’s canopy. The stand is reused from the Wind Raider and if you can’t tell from my photos, really shows your fingerprints, mind you I am a greasy unwashed bastard. It has a big stiff joint that looks like a ball joint but HA! fooled you it’s actually just a hinge, it allows you tilt the vehicle forward which I appreciate but doesn’t really allow you get many poses, a ball or simply a swivel to allow for side-to-side movement would have been preferable. The canopy then: as far as I was concerned if they were gonna make a Classics Roton they had to include the canopy, no ifs, not buts, they had to do this. The backstory of this part is that after Masters of the Universe came out and made it big, Monogram licenced three of the vehicles and made model kits of them2 – they made the Attack Trak, Talon Fighter and Roton but worked from prototype designs so their eventual models were a little different, the most readily apparent difference being the Roton had a canopy. The Classics version of the canopy is very nice, it’s a shame it’s not hinged but it slots in nicely via four small and very discreet plugs and looks snazzy, I realise that I took far more words to explain the history of the thing than I did to review it, welcome to nerdom.

The Roton’s my favourite vehicle yes, but I don’t think it would have been the ‘instant buy’ it was if it didn’t come with a Skelcon. I would have WANTED the Roton and umm’d and ahh’d and probably given in and bought one in the end but by including a Skelcon Mattycollector got me to ‘pull the trigger’ (another term I hate, I hate so much) straight away. So who or what is a Skelcon? According to the bio included on the package, they’re a race of death obsessed savages from the dimension of Infinita3 who were mind-controlled into serving Skeletor before Hordak sent them back. They appeared in the Masters of the Universe books produced by Ladybird where they were just Skeletor’s forces and were just there, but the look so cool and fans jumped on the ‘Skelcon 4 Classics’ wagon based almost entirely on that alone, that and Skeletor had no standard army builder like the Snake Men or the Horde Troopers, he had his Robot Knights in some episodes of the cartoon, or the Skelcons in some of the Ladybird books.

For me the Skelcon represents everything that Masters of the Universe Classics under Mattycollector was and thus he’s a fitting end to their time with the line – drawn from the entire brevity of the franchise, heavily reliant on part reuse, well sculpted, slightly overpriced and with one little flaw to grab ahold of. Parts wise he’s the standard He-man buck with his extremities taken from elsewhere – his forearsm are from Oo-La, his hands from Skeletor and his shins and feet from Demo-Man, this means he lacks the ‘boot swivel’ artic point, his ab crunch is also severely limited by his ‘armour’ piece. Yeah, his clothes, and that ‘one little thing’ – you can see his belly button, and you can usually see part of his neck; what he’s wearing is supposed to be a one-piece hooded tunic, you shouldn’t be able to see these things. Now these buggers are so weird I can buy it them dressing with their mid-drift on show so it’s not as galling as it was with, say, Intergalactic Skeletor but it’s there and it could have easily been avoided by making the body part of the tunic all one piece (so giving him a ‘dress’) and painting the neck purple – the ab crunch is so blocked it wouldn’t have any effect there, in fact it might have given it more range. With that out the way, Skelcon is one scary creepy motherfucker, this sort of shit is the Four Horseman’s forte and they turn in a wonderfully creepy head (that’s cream bone rather than white because MOTUC hates white), it looks like the jaw should be articulated but ha! surprise! It isn’t but ha! surprise! The horns are, they’re on swivels and that’s just fantastic. You can get extra expressions with it, you can personalise your Skelcon a little, and really there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be, they have to attach somehow, it’s not like this sort of joint costs more.  

Skelcon comes armed with a spear and dagger made from the bones of his dead ancestors (really). The dagger is straight from the books and I THOUGHT the spear was too but I can’t seem to find any proof of that, so for now I’m going to say it’s just a nice thing the Four Horseman whipped up, the Skelcons do look like they should have spears don’t they? Both accessories have issues fitting on the figure though: the spear is too wide for one hand and too thin for the other, at least with my figure while the dagger can be stored on the figure in a scabbard (a nice thought) it’s a VERY tight fit, there is a horrible phrase involving the reproductive organs of nuns that applies to it nicely, and once in it’ll get in the way if you try to move him at the waist, bit of a failure but both to look very nice and both have a very generous amount of paint apps, I imagine Blade is fuming.  

Conclusions: this was a $125 set meaning that, effectively, that Roton was $100 which is about £80, maybe a little bit overpriced but not by too much, especially as it’s a small run, online only item, it’s big, it’s insanely well sculpted and painted, it has its old action feature and even though it’s a bit too large for me it’s fucking awesome. The Skelcon is wearing a slightly more revealing version of his outfit than usual but is otherwise fine, now I’ve jammed his spear in (sexual innuendo?). I don’t regret buying this set and that’s the main thing really, now where the hell am I going to put the bloody thing?   

1 Think of it as an up-market rub-on transfer, I do.
2 This is also where the Classics figures called the Fighting Foe Men come from, they appeared on the boxes and were usually called the ‘Monogram drivers’ or ‘Monogram Riders’ before Scott ‘Toyguru’ Neitlich (I think) gave them a name from very early in He-Man’s development (around the time of the Vikor drawings).
3 Skeletor was originally supposed to come from Infinita, and then I think it was that he went to Infinita as Keldor and came back Skeletor (or something like that?) so it makes sense that a race of blue skinned skull faced men would come from there, in fact for the ‘standard’ race of Infinita they’re a perfect fit. 

Monday, 13 February 2017

Surprise SegaWorld!*

I’ve been very depressed for over 40 days now, so it’s probably not the best time to write a small piece about how much fun I had when I was 10 but y’know, I have to write something or else I’ll think about what a pile of shit my life is and then I’ll eat a small mountain of chocolate (again) and then I’ll be even fatter and then I’ll be depressed and extra fat and feel so much worse so this’ll have to do because holyshitIfoundthebestphotosyouguys.

These are of SegaWorld London from, I believe, summer 1997, a place that’s very poorly documented with very few pictures of its interior to be found around the web but was one of the best places ever.  The short story behind finding these little gems is that my mum has boxes on top of her wardrobes that she have cleverly masked with wallpaper, they’re like the secret passsageways of bedroom storage, and she decided to sort them out because she had no earthly idea what she’d hidden in there. I was roped in to help with this task, as about half the shit in these boxes is mine it was fair. In it a found a Ninja Turtles photo album and within that album I found these pictures of SegaWorld and made noises that were sort of a mix of a successful Miss World contestant, a dying pig and an exploding septic tank, I immediately rushed down to scan them lest they somehow disappear from existence when I put them back in the box.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Top 25 Masters of the Universe Classics Figures from the Mattel Era - Part 2*

< Part 1

I can't think of a pithy intro so let's just get on with things, AFB's Top 12 Masters of the Universe Classics figures form the 'Mattel Era' (2008-2016) as that era is now done with - Go!:

12. Lord Dactys
Masters of the Universe Classics, October 2013, Club Eternia
Who? Leader of the Spaleens, a race bat people from underground Subternia and good friend of King Randor, from the Mike Young Productions early 2000s cartoon series He-Man & The Masters of the Universe (‘200X’).
Why? I banged on a little bit about how clever Lord Dactys’ construction in my very first QuickCrappy Review, ah days gone by, and I’m still impressed by this now. This could be a sure sign I need to get laid more but I don’t think there’s anything too wrong in being impressed by a job well done and Dactys is the pinnacle of the line’s smart part reuse, using minimal extra pieces to produce a towering monster with a completely different lower body shape to what those pieces should naturally provide, they made a huge bat-man out of He-Man and bee man parts and the odd dragon man bits, it’s impressive. Plus Dactys just looks so fucking cool – that head and chest armour mate - he stands out on the shelf like few other regular price figures and I’m just impressed all ‘round with him, I like his sword too.      

Top 25 Masters of the Universe Classics Figures from the Mattel Era - Part 1*

It's been a very toy-y month on AFB hasn't it? 

Mattycollector is done, the Mattel era of Masters of the Universe Classics is over, approximately 2901 figures, vehicles, beasts and playsets plus four weapons paks and a bunch of stands. So naturally a countdown is needed. Actually what got me going was this thread over at heman.org and more so how different everyone’s answers were, I suppose that’s quite fitting for a such a supposedly unpleasable fanbase as Masters of the Universe is thought to have (and kinda does have) but I get bored with countdowns on subjects where everyone seems to pick the same bloody things, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is not a surprise anymore. I started to do my top 10 for the thread but soon realised that a) a top 10 didn’t do the line or my thoughts on the line justice and b) this was going to be way too long for a forum post, if only I had a blog to post crap like this on…oh wait, I do.

Quick primer then: Masters of the Universe Classics was an online-only collectors’ action figure line published by Mattel from 2008 to 2016, the figures were released monthly through Mattycollector.com and from 2010 onwards buyers could subscribe, ensuring them the 12 regular figures, a figure only available if you subscribed and a number of extra items, usually around four to six. Items were also released ‘exclusively’ for San Diego Comic Con International (though nearly all of them were sold online afterwards) and from 2013 an all-purpose ‘travelling con’ item (sold at various conventions and then online) and a ‘chase figure’ (sold at random, unadvertised times throughout the year). In 2012 a second monthly figure was added for half the year and sold as part of a ‘mini-sub’. In 2016 the line was split into two bi-monthly lines Masters of the Universe Classics: Collector’s Choice and He-Man & The Masters of the Universe, the latter providing screen-accurate versions of characters as they appeared in FILMation’s cartoon from the 1980s, though a few items did slip out that year using the basic MOTUC name. Super7 now have the licence and are going to continue putting out product under Masters of the Universe Classics, as they’ve adjusted their international postage and are putting out Fang-Or, Quakke and Lodar I’m not as angry with them as I was (though I did still miss out on Ultimate Teela and Ultimate Faker, bollocks). So are you sitting comfortably? Then by the Power of Grayskull, I have the power:

25 Optikk
Masters of the Universe Classics, May 2010, Club Eternia
Who? Pilot for the Space Mutants, from the New Adventures of He-Man Cartoon and its corresponding toyline He-Man.
Why? Well mostly because he’s a big bronze robot looking motherfucker with a huge eyeball for a head, it’s really hard to dislike that. But also because he’s just executed so well, a phrase I’ll be overusing for this list I think, he is literally just Roboto wearing a different top but those pieces work so well for Optikk’s original design and the proportions of his new top, weapons and eyeball are just right. Optikk was the first New Adventures (‘NA’) figure in the line and the figure that convinced a lot of people that the line and its sculptors the Four Horsemen could make the least liked part of the He-Man franchise awesome and I can see why; he’s just so damn pleasing to the eye (pun!).