Monday, 19 November 2018

Satyr Masters From Abyss Index!

This is the quickest post I'll probably ever make on this blog but it IS useful so hopefully I'll be forgiven for it when I die. I’ll try and bulk it out with bullshit?

Monday, 8 October 2018

Quick Crappy Review: Super7 Masters of the Universe Classics Collectors' Choice Wave 2 (Dylamug, Karg, Granita & Wrap Trap)

So Super7’s second wave of Collector’s Choice figures for Masters of the Universe Classics are shipping and finally arriving in the UK, so I thought I’d review ‘em, why not eh? I’m somewhat bitterly unhappy with Super7 and their handling of MOTUC (and just their handling of mail-order business in general) but we’ll try not to let that influence the review shall we?
And I’m a bit rusty, so cut me a little slack (ha! the internet cutting someone slack, as if).

So in case you missed it: Mattel stopped making Masters of the Universe Classics, an online-only collectors’ action figure line, a couple of years ago and a small firm called Super7 picked up where they left off, releasing their figures in two types: ‘Collectors Choice’ which carried over the style and broad focus of the Mattel line and ‘Club Grayskull’ which focusses on making figures accurate to the Filmation cartoons (the ones you remember from the 1980s). This is the first collectors' figure line they’ve worked and they still only have a vague idea of what the fuck to actually do.
So as this is a Collector’s Choice wave the characters have been drawn from across the various He-Man and She-Ra media of yore and you might actually recognise one or two and vaguely remember them: from the She-Ra cartoon we have Dylamug and Granita, from the MOTU movie we have Karg and then we have Wrap Trap, in fact let’s start with the mummy.

Thursday, 4 October 2018

10 (Well Technically 13) Awesome Buys From a Birmingham Toy Show!

So I went to the ToyCollectors Fair in Birmingham last weekend, it was great, it had a load of stalls, a good variety of wares and a lovely atmosphere and so I spent over £400, seemed only right to do so. So of course an Examples of Crap I Waste My Money On was coming but this one’s going to be a big different, usually I just ‘spotlight’ whatever crap I can wrestle a semi-entertaining paragraph or two out of regardless of their quality, desirably or credibility. I do this for four reasons: 1) because I enjoy it 2) because it gets the things I spotlight a bit more internet presence which might be of use to somebody 3) to brag to people who can’t just get up and walk back to the bar and 4) to help justify buying this shit. Mostly it’s number 4. But here’s the thing, this time I don’t need to justify any of this:

Well ok, I probably need to explain the blue Batman thing (I had one when I was a kid, my dog ate it) but I don’t need to justify it. Everything I bought was a winner, not just from my point from of view but from the point of view of whatever fandom or collectors community the above merch belongs to – sure He-Fans and She-Ravers might not understand why anyone would want an old Sooty toy or a Womble (if they even knew what Sooty or Wombles were) but Sooty and Wombles fans will. So instead I’m going to use this post to spotlight some incredibly cool toys (and Blast Attack) and tell you a bit about them rather than just writing allegedly funny paragraphs about other people’s old crap, you probably won’t notice the difference. Got it? Good. So are you sitting comfortably, then I’ll begin:

Shish Kebab Beetlejuice!
Beetlejuice, Kenner, £7.50 ($9.71)
Kenner dropped their first wave of Beetlejuice action figures (of which this was a part of) in 1989, pretty much kickstarting Kenner’s strange (yet incredibly successful) strategy of marking toys for kids of things kids really shouldn’t watch, which would carry on throughout the 90’s and give us baby blue Xenomorphs, ketchup flavoured Predators and glow-in-the-dark Robocops. While you could argue that Showtime Beetlejuice is the best Beetlejuice figure in the line, bedecking the Ghost with the Most in his classic black and white striped suit and directly referencing a moment from the film. the figure that had the most work put it into, that went above and beyond what one would expect from a tie-in toy is Shish Kebab Beetlejuice here. SKBJ comes with 9 um…I have no idea what they’re called…9 pokey things, each with a uniquely sculpted ‘handle’, it probably didn’t cost a penny extra in tooling but someone had to sit down and design, then sculpt each of those weird little hearts and gargoyles and shit – I think one might be a hamburger. If you want to know what people go on about how cool retail action figures used to be, SKBJ is a great example, no one would put this much effort or paint apps into, I dunno, a Hotel Transylvania figure today. Finding one of these loose with all 9 pokey things (like I did, suck it) is damned difficult, the best way to ensure you get them all is to buy a carded example, but that costs more and you get that weird tingle of guilt for depreciating the value of a collectible when you tear the blister off so you can get little rubber pokey things with hamburgers on the end so you can use ‘em to stab the cat.
(Though really the best thing about the line was how compatible it was with Kenner’s Real Ghostbusters toys  - the Neighbourhood Nasties figures are pretty much just ‘wave 2’ of RGB’s Haunted Humans)

The Other World, Arco, £12.50 ($16.17)
You know I just, as in ‘just as I was typing this’ just, realised that Froggacuda’s name is a combination of ‘frog’ and ‘barracuda’ – sometimes I’m particularly stupid.
So do any imaginary Americans in my imaginary audience remember Arco? The gas company? They got bought up by BP? Well they genuinely made toys for a while and their big line was a sword and sorcery endeavour that was nothing like what Mattel was debuting the same year (some He-Man shit), it was called The Other World and was made up of bendy toys and was fucking great, but it’s weird right? It’d be like Esso putting out a line of adolescent radioactive samurai frogs. Anyway this line had a surprisingly deep backstory but it boils down to the allies of Prince Raidy and the minions of King Zendo fighting to complete a Maguffin called the Pir’Ankus and all the accessories glowed in the dark because it was set on planet Glowgon , Froggacuda was one of Zendo’s bastard squad and was the ‘Monster of Red Lake’  which just makes him sound so damn cool. What I like about him though is how he manages to sit somewhere between cheap rubber dinosaur-monster and big-budget mainstream toy and somehow have the charm of both, he stands about a head or so taller than the regular Other World figures and is all bendy.
He’s also a bit of a bugger to get a hold of, though not as bad as the later series 2 and 3 beasts (I would sell your mum for a Sir’ Cobra and sell mine for a Yurus), I blame this one sod who was buying up every Froggacuda that came onto eBay. I think he may have stopped doing that now but the frogman’s still a bit tough to find at an affordable price, generally I see him boxed (which of course sky-rockets the amount sellers want for him).

Who Framed Roger Rabbit Flexies!
LJN, £10 ($12.94) the lot
Can we all agree that Judge Doom is one of the scariest villains in movie history? He’s a fucking eye-popping, shoe-killing, helium-sucking, remorseless monster and I’d’ve paid 10 quid just for his Flexie. Actually I pretty much did: Roger’s got some wires sticking out and someone seems to have rubbed the paint off one of Jessica’s boobs, I wonder why? Anyway I don’t think enough people know about this line but they damn well should. These bendies are the equivalent to a vintage Roger Rabbit action figure line, this isn’t all of ‘em: they made a Baby Herman, Eddie Valiant and one of the Weasels plus a Bennie the Cab (he wasn’t bendy to my knowledge) and they were put out in ’88 to promote/leech off of the movie’s first release. If you like Who Framed Roger Rabbit as much as I do, and like action figures as much as I do – like everyone does (shut it) – then this line is your only option. Which is a good point; there has never been a Roger Rabbit collector’s line! Why hasn’t Neca got on this shit? The part reuse from the Weasels would offset the likes of Roger and Jessica and just think of the accessories! Doom could come with his toon head and that poor shoe (which was voiced by Nancy Cartwright btw), Eddie could come with the singing sword and the cartoon gun that shoots cowboy bullets (hell, they could make a replica of that gun and bullets – I’d pre-order that!), they could make the gorilla bouncer from the Ink & Paint Club as a deluxe boxed figure and Bennie as a boxed vehicle, they’ve done boxed vehicles before and none of them could even drive themselves!
Back on topic, there was a giant ‘Super Flexie’ of Roger (which I own) and smaller bendies called ‘Animates’ of Eddie, Roger, Doom and the Weasel, this line was gold.

Maxx Steele and Hun-Dred!
Robo Force, Ideal, £6 ($7.76) the pair
If you bothered to look at the group shot above you’ll notice that in fact bought four Robo Force toys, in fact I bought every Robo Force toy at the show but we’re just dealing with these two because they’re the He-Man and Skeletor of the line and they managed to have that ‘thing’ that makes a good design for a lead hero and lead villain, that ‘something’ that makes them stand above even amongst similarly designed characters, the ‘Optimus Prime and Megatron spark’ if you will and quite frankly no collector of 80’s toys should be without these two. Ideal debuted Robo Force at the 1984 New York Toy Show, unfortunately that was the same show that Hasbro showed off their new line of toy robots – The Transformers. Even if you don’t think that Robo Force were a knock-off (as near as I can tell they weren’t, it was a complete coincidence) suction cups and bear hugs were never going to compare to transforming into a goddamn luger and they got trampled under the huge money juggernaut that was the Robots in Disguise. Maxx was a determined (and kinda adorable) badass who’d fight any time, anywhere and Hun-Dred was a merciless conqueror and leader of his own robot cult and they duked it out in the ruins of civilisation, it was like if R2-D2 fought the Daleks on the Planet of the Apes. As someone who’s never been into cars or guns I actually like Robo Force much better than Gen 1 Transformers but I fully respect I’m in the minority here and I will concede that as badass as Hun-Dred IS he isn’t as cool as Soundwave.
One of the geezers from I-Mockery made a full-on Robo Force fanpage, check it out.

Rude Ralph!
Axlon, £20 ($26.87)
Yes! Ok, for the confused: the runaway success of AmToy’s Madballs caused balls with gross faces to flood the toy market in the latter half of the 1980s for the exact same reason that so many dodgy Asian companies pumped out He-Man knock-offs, it was a formula that was easy to copy but impossible to patent. Unleashed in 1986(ish) Axlon’s Rude Ralph was the pinnacle of this blatant act of cashing in on someone else’s idea, not quite as big as the Super Madballs but towering over the regular toys Ralph had sound (activating by pulling his eyeball out! it’s a mix of farts and screeches), real hair, paint-apps all over the shop and a face even a mother couldn’t love, he was the god of gross-out toys! He’s also really hard, if you threw this bastard at your little sister you’d’ve killed her, I assume a lot of concussions were sustained in the back gardens of nice American suburbs (rather than the usual mix of adultery and weed smoking you find in those places). This guy seems to be a must-have for Madball and 80’s Gross-Out Toy fans and if you can’t see why then you’ll never appreciate him like I do.

Masters of the Universe, Mattel, £50 ($64.66)
This was the most expensive thing I bought, I regret nothing. Mantisaur is Hordak’s Battlecat, though unlike said tiger and Skeletor’s Panthor he never really seemed to become synonymous with the character (the same thing happened to King Hiss’s steed Tyrantisaurus Rex, but at least that had the excuse of coming out right at the end of the line, Hordak was the main villain in a top rated cartoon show). For reasons that are beyond explanation I always think of Mantisaur as being made of flat pieces, like he’s built from Meccano or like the original Buckaroo – he isn’t, obviously, while he is flatter than, say, the Battle Ram he’s very 3D and easily one of the most high-end feeling of the MOTU beasts (Battlecat may be a lot of things, ‘the best’ for a start, but he’s still a cheap hollow tiger with no points of articulation reused from a toyline that came out a decade earlier).
And now a quick lament: it really is frustrating that we never got Mantisaur and Tyrantisaurus in MOTU Classics, instead we got Battle Lion and Arrow: far less essential beasts that far fewer fans wanted simply because they were cheaper to make. I’m sure there’s an argument that these cheaper beasts ‘balanced out’ the cost of their years and allowed for new tooling heavy figures like Lizard Man, Blast Attack or Multi Bot to be made but we still ended up with two faction leaders lacking their steeds and a shitload of Arrows on eBay. Oh, speaking of Blast Attack…

Blast Attack!
Masters of the Universe, Mattel, £1.50 (£1.95)
Blast Attack was my best deal of the show so damn right I’m gonna brag, of course only about 100 MOTU fans will know who he is or why he was such a good deal but I never claimed to be cool. Blast Attack came out in the final full assortment of figures (1987, a year after Mantisaur) - this was the year Mattel killed the line stone dead in America by flooding stores with a load of earlier releases everyone already had -  and he is straight-up an Eternian suicide bomber. His gimmick is that he’s a robot that explodes and reforms – which I think technically makes him a Voltorb – and that’s his action feature, basically what the Incredible Crash Dummies would do but years before they did it. But would you believe this fella, who most people have never heard of, was the source of a long running debate in the fandom? See some He-Man media said Blast Attack was one of Skeletor’s lads while other media said he was a Snake Man, and thus the fans did argue about which faction he should belong to. Mattel took the third option for their Masters of the Universe Classics line by saying he was built by the Snake Men but defected to the Evil Warriors but by then fans were more interesting in arguing about the merits of Masters of the Universe Classics anyway.

Hasbro Softies, Hasbro, £15 ($19.51)
I know he looks a bit like he has something wrong with him and this picture was taken before the thorough wash he’s now gone through but trust me when I say this was the Gremlins plush that I, as a Gremlins fan, needed to own. There are dozens of Gizmo cuddly toys around yes, but all of them bar this one (and the one Applause released for Europe) were released well after the first movie came out, this is the Gizmo that kids were hugging when they went to see Gremlins for the fourth time at the theatre or sat down to watch it for the first (or five hundredth) time on video, before we’d even got the film at the cinema here in England, this was the first Gizmo plush. He was also offered as a mail-away for Ralston’s Gremlins cereal [] (they sent him in a shoe box with breathing holes cut in it! Ralston knew their audience!) but as this was one of the many amazing breakfast stuffs that never crossed the Atlantic, This is just a standard retail version (no shoe box for me).
And yes I am going to buy, import and display an empty box of Gremlins cereal one day.

Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, McFarlane Toys, £20 ($26.01)
If you’ve never seen Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit then go do it right now, it’s a wonderful send-up of Hammer Horror and their 60s and 70s peers and it features this motherfucker. I’m not going to spoil the film for you but there IS a were-rabbit and it IS adorable and intimidating in equal measures. This is from McFarlane Toys well into their ‘licensing era’ where they stopped simply being a vanity project for Todd McFarlane and his mates at Image Comics that just so happened to sell lots of toys and became focused on current licences or franchises with proven fanbases (they’d had Corpse Bride the year before and put out Lost and The Simpsons the next, for instance) just like a real toy firm. Their lines seemed to either put out way more figures than was necessary (like with this film or Little Nicky) or be disappointingly short and producing only a fraction of the characters (like with Lost or Guitar Hero).
This bunny is BIG btw, and HEAVY. Carrying him around feels less like you have a toy of a lyncanthropic lapis and more like you have a rabbit shaped rugby ball filled with sand. He doesn’t fit on the pegs on his base but then it wouldn’t be a McFarlane figure if something didn’t fit on or stay on like it should and luckily he doesn’t need a base to stand, the hoppy bugger’s so sturdy I don’t think a car would unbalance him. Oh and he has a whopping three points of articulation, which may well make him the most poseable figure McFarlane released in 2005.

King Kong!
Movie Maniacs, McFarlane Toys, £40 ($52.02)
Save the best ‘till last they say, and you really can’t top a huge, fully articulated, fully detailed King Kong complete with poor innocent victim to chomp on and stand made of little iron girders, even if he does need ANOTHER wash (he was so dusty it looked like ol’ Kong had gone grey). Buuuut I don’t have much to say about him, I mean his awesomeness is apparent, he’s a big fucking ape made with McFarlane Toys’ attention to detail and slightly exaggerated style so he’s easily one of the best Kongs out there but really all you need to hear is ‘big monkey big’ and be done with it so I’m going upstairs to watch Tom & Jerry

Thanks for reading, my imaginary chums!

Sunday, 29 July 2018

Examples of Crap I Waste My Money On: LFCC Summer 2018 Edition!

I haven’t been blogging much this year; I just haven’t had the drive
But I bought a load of cool toys at LFCC this summer and they deserve to get a spotlight on as many blogs as possible.

Oh and this allows me to ask this question: what the fuck was up with the queuing this time? Making us walk around one whole side of the venue with just some badly positioned cones to denote where to go? People were pushing in all over the place and the complete lack of fences make you look amateurish and cheap, I don’t want a con that represents my interests to seem like that but more so I don’t want confusing, badly laid-out and badly planned out things negatively affecting my experience before I’m even at the damn experience.
Anyway, it was LFCC, I went on the Saturday which was annoyingly the same day my home town’s Pride parade which meant I couldn’t go and show solidarity because I was too busy buying toys: sorry minority, I need Real Ghostbusters. Shit queue layout aside I had a great time: a huge thunderstorm the night before brought the heatwave that’s been roasting Britain for a month or so down to a bearable level of hot; there was two halls of dealers; the signing area was kept completely separate so neither could make the other extra clogged (though the signing area was much hotter than everywhere else and from what I heard, a common complaint about the show this time); I went with awesome people and bumped into other awesome people; I got to meet WWF legend Jim Ross and Sonic the Comic writer Lew Stringer (who I think I confused, I also think I may have had some BBQ sauce on me at that point from a fucking awesome but fucking messy BBQ Bacon Hotdog, a name I committed to memory because it just sounded so damn good) and I spent a LOT of money:

But hey, that’s what saving is for, so you can go and binge until the crippling guilt takes over and you pass on Marvel Legends figures you really want like Spider-Ham and Domino to make you feel better, a kind of shopping self-flagellation.  
So are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin:

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Examples of Crap I Waste My Money On: Bootsale Report 22!

Today I polished Goldust’s head.

I am desperate for something to occupy my mind, let’s talk about bootsale shit.
It was a cloudless, hot  morning with a cool breeze - which meant it was dusty as fuck but otherwise a pleasant environment to walk around in looking at other people’s old junk in – and the perfect environment to feel completely hopeless, worthless and suicidal in. Really: fuck nice weather when you’re miserable, it’s like nature is being a contrary cunt. Still if it wasn’t nice out I couldn’t have bought knock-off Ninja Turtles and polar bears1 so it was a necessary evil.
So anyway, are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

Monday, 25 June 2018

Examples of Crap I Waste My Money On: Bootsale Report 21!

Would you like some advice, my non-existent readers? If you go out - let’s just say you went to a Foo Fighters gig at London Stadium - on a Saturday night you cannot, no matter how hard you think you are, no matter how good you still feel when you get in, go bootsailing (or yardsailing or whatever) at half six on the Sunday morning. And if you do ignore this and decide you can do it – don’t get in until gone 1am because it took over an hour to get out of West Ham football ground and decide ‘fuck it, I’ll just stay up’. Not that I’d ever do something as stupid as this, this is a purely hypothetical argument (oh and they covered Under My Wheels AND Under Pressure. performed ‘Jump’ by Van Halen to the tune of Imagine then went straight into Monkey Wrench - it was epic).

So now I’m going to try and talk about something when I have almost no memory of that thing, some of the things I say may – MAY – have been made up. Background is being provided by a neat hardback book celebrating 200 years of Frankenstein, it cost me a pound.
So are you sitting comfortably? Because I’ve had 20 hours sleep…

Thursday, 14 June 2018

World of Dinosaurs at Paradise Wildlife Park: A Speedy Review

So here’s a thing
I love dinosaur parks.
Bear with me. Once upon a time there was Broxbourne Zoo, and Broxbourne Zoo was shit, in fact it was at one time voted the worst zoo in Britain. It was a small, dirty, disorganised place with animals stuffed into tiny cages and a bunch of pathetic amenities, but that time was a long time ago: today Broxbourne Zoo is Paradise Wildlife Park and while it’s still on the small side it’s the exact opposite of what it once was, without losing that cheap and cheerful charm, it also features a network of connected, raised wooden walkways allowing you to look down into the big cats and penguin enclosures which is both unusual and bloody good.
It also has a dinosaur park!

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Examples of Crap I Waste My Money On: MCM & Heroes & Villains Edition!

Ok, so: this IS (technically) an Examples of Crap I Waste My Money on post (because I’m too mentally lazy to write anything else at the moment) but be warned from the start that I am just using it as a vehicle for me to complain about a convention. You have been warned.

At one point, while waiting for the Docklands Light Railway to appear through the heat haze, I was so hot I thought I was going to suffocate, I can’t remember the last time England had heat that felt oppressive, it was thick heat, like Florida or, I dunno, the inside of my oven when I’m doing a roast.
Anyway this weekend was the first two conventions of the season for us Londoners, yes, two: Heroes & Villains Fan Fest in Olympia in Kensington and MCM Comic Con London at the ExCel Centre. The latter is a long-running convention held roughly twice a year and they’re the biggest cons of the calendar, the former is…not. I ended up spending a day in each.
Fuck doing that again.
Not because its knackering – though it is, MCM is exhausting by itself without tacking on another convention in front of it – but because Heroes and Villains is…pathetic, but we’ll get to that. Sticking to format, here’s my haul photo:

It may seem like I didn’t have a lot to show for 2 days of convention but that’s because my family had me do that thing they do where they give me money, tell me buy presents for my birthday, then take them and wrap them to give to me on my birthday.  So all the nice, shiny new carded toys and posh DC and Marvel trades aren’t technically ‘mine’ yet to photograph and talk about online. Plus I’d decided to make myself spend a little more per item and get some things I really wanted – of course the only thing in that photo that cost over a score was the Sentinel and he’s three X-Men figures high - Even when I splash out I’m a tight bastard, ok?

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Examples of Crap I Waste My Money on: Bootsale Report 20!

Play was stopped due to injury today. I squatted down to look at some old rubber monsters (and bought some, the three between the zebra and the witch below were from this stall, I like them so much I’m almost ok with them crippling me) and then couldn’t get up.  I don’t mean it hurt to get up, I mean I physically couldn’t get up, the bloke on the stall had to come and help me get upright (shush). After that my back has been in constant pain, from squatting, an action that uses the legs, only I could hurt my back with my knees (I actually think I hurt it yesterday carrying some fertilizer). I’ve been laying in bed for most of the day watching the WWE Network but I grew tired of sweaty men grabbing each other and once again realised that no matter how hard I wish it, Becky Lynch will not show up and offer to be my girlfriend so I got up and cleaned my ‘haul’ (I really need a less pathetic name), this was somewhat foolish as y’know, constant pain an’ all that.

I did pretty damn good, especially as I only got ‘round just over half the bootsale before ending up having to be helped back to the car. I mean that picture includes a monster who is clearly raising the roof, what’s to complain about? Actually what pleases me is that after a few weeks of moaning about not finding a lot of vintage or at least interesting action figures and toys I found almost entirely those – of course this means that this bootsale haul won’t be too full of variety, but on the other hand I’m not subjecting you to a fifteen paragraph sermon on why Strangers in Paradise is one of the greatest comic books ever, believe me when I say I could.  So with that in mind, are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll being:

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

A Look At: IDW's Sonic the Hedgehog Volume 3 Issues 1-4

Ok, since 1992 Archie Comics held the licence to produce comic books based on Sonic the Hedgehog in the US (Fleetway had it over here), until they lost it last year in a confusing mess that we still don’t know all about but know that a lawsuit from Scott Fulop (aka Kent Taylor)1 - a former Archie editor and Sonic the Hedgehog writer - filed in the wake of Archie’s old settlement with Ken Penders3 seems to have been a contributing factor. The licence was picked up by IDW because of course it was because IDW are on a quest to have all the licences ever. They did a good thing though by keeping writer Ian Flynn on the book. Flynn has been writing Sonic for years now and is a fan favourite, critical success (though I still slightly prefer Nigel Kitching3) and is seen as the man who turned the old Archie comics around.   
As a special event/promotion the first four issues of Sonic the Hedgehog Volume 3, IDW’s first Sonic Book, shipped weekly. All four issues are now out, this is a big thing for the Sonic franchise – the first American Sonic comics not produced by Archie, and I’m a Sonic the Hedgehog obsessive so I’m having a Look At them.  So are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin:

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Examples of Crap I Waste My Money On: Bootsale Report 19!

A bit late due to life but…

It’s bloody hot, I can barely keep my eyes open I’m so tired, I’m listening to a playlist that jumps between Slayer’s ‘Raining Blood’ to Junior Brown’s ‘And My Wife Thinks Your Dead’ via ‘My Boy Lollipop’: what better time could there be to talk about other people’s old crap?
Just getting to the botosale this week was a pain, there’d been an accident on the roundabout the bootsale lies off of and this combined with perfect weather and a bank holiday the next day meant we queued for nearly half an hour just to get near enough to the field for me to get out and walk across to the bootsale itself. The end result was me being later than usual to start looking and being beaten to the punch by at least four bastard dealers who were hoovering up anything remotely collectable and action figure-y and had a serious effect on my self-worth, when you always feel third place you don’t need something as insignificant as bootsales confirming things for you. Here’s their leavings, delightfully posed on my worktop by the Coke bottles and my medication:

Now I know what you’re thinking (if you were real anyway) so you might as well say it: “dwitefry, you have two of the same dinosaur monster” – YOU THINK I DON’T KNOW?? YOU THINK I’M STUPID ENOUGH TO BUY THE SAME THING TWICE AT THE SAME PLACE WITHIN HALF AN HOUR OF EACH OTHER? If you answered 'yes' to that then you’re correct. No joke, I seriously bought the same dinothing twice by complete accident, I was very tired. They are actually different versions in different rubber from what seems like different time periods but yeah, I still bought the same thing twice.
Anyway are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin:

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Examples of Crap I Waste My Money On: Bootsale Report 18!

I haven’t been blogging a lot lately, why? I just didn’t think I had anything interesting to say. I still don’t but now I’m not depressed enough for it to bother me.
But Bootsale season has begun and I need to justify me spending over £20 a weekend on other people’s old crap and blog posts are a great way to do that, and it of course pushes me back into posting, so it’s win-win. A culmination of various factors – including weather, lack of other options and a need to avoid the London Marathon on TV – turned today’s bootsale into one long, slow, hot scrum. Traffic was already backed up when we got there at around ten to 7 (am) and by the time I’d woken up enough to chat with other bootsailors™ (say, 9ish) there was traffic jams at on both routes to the field, by the time we left (10-ish) it was backed-up a LONG way. The bootsale itself was pleasing big, having been forced to go ‘on the other side’ with the amount of sellers necessitating a line of stalls on what should be car parking space but even at that size it was still jam packed and there was still little cover from the sun (no clouds today, clouds can go fuck themselves) and whoever was directing the stall holders needed as isles varied from so wide you had to walk down one side then the other to see the stuff to so thin they were one long bottleneck, one long, sweaty, smelly, sun-baked, swearing in various languages bootlneck. I came home feeling like I’d been beaten up by a sunbed in the middle of a dust storm, this is probably why my haul photo kind of sucks today:

I obscured two heads and a giant gorilla, I should go work for National Geographic or some shit.
So was it worth it? From the point of view of someone who collects action figures? No, not really – though I did manage to find an X-Men Evolution Nightcrawler after binge watching X-Men Evolution all week which was a nice coincidence. From the point of view of someone who has a blog post to write about the shit he found at a bootsale? Hell yeah.
So are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin:

Saturday, 31 March 2018

The Long and Winding Five Nights At Freddy's 3.0

Welp, this was unavoidable. After Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria Simulator, the finale of the core Five Nights At Freddy’s franchise, came out a third and (probably) final version of the Long and Winding Five Nights at Freddy’s needed to happen. I’d like to personally thank Scott Cawthon, Freddy’s creator, for clearing up so much and then cure Scott Cawthon, for leaving so much unresolved. Anyway unmarked spoilers ahead, you have been warned.

Five Nights At Freddy’s is a franchise based around a chain of family restaurants – Pizzerias to be precise – that use animatronic anthropomorphic animals heavily reminiscent of Nolan Bushnell’s Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza Time Theatre and it’s old rival (and current owner) ShowBiz Pizza Place. The first, second and sixth games take place at three separate Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza locations, the third a theme park attraction based on those restaurants, the fifth the storage and showrooms for Circus Baby’s Entertainment and Rental and the fourth in a seemingly ordinary house. Each game is a point-and-click indie survival horror game and although the exact methods differ between the four games they all share the same simple gameplay and goal – use what you have to keep yourself from being killed by the animatronics, though from Five Nights at Freddy’s 2 (FNAF2) small bonus mini-games in the style of the Atari 2600 home video game console were added to give more of the backstory of the franchise (and further scare players). All six games (and its spin-off Five Nihgts at Freddy’s World) were created and developed by Scott Cawthon and are available for PC (via things like Steam) and iOS.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

AFB's Top 12 Favourite McFarlane Movie Maniacs Figures

We’ve had a lot of toy content on this blog since last Christmas and I apologise for that, this blog was never meant to focus on one particular thing – I promise I have some non-toy posts brewing. However I just finished my index for Movie Maniacs and it made me want to do a countdown so more toys today I’m afraid.

 An index? Yeah, I make visual ‘indexes’ for personal reference, they have pictures and names for everything released in that line (they’re usually for toys or video games) and despite requiring a fair amount of work I generally don’t post them anywhere because they use images stolen from all around the internet, I have posted the odd small index on here before though and because the index is important to the backstory of why this post exists, here is my newly finished Movie Maniacs Index:
click to enlarge
Movie Maniacs, first unleashed in 1998 by McFarlane Toys and running for 7 waves over 7 years, ended up being somewhat revolutionary (in the field of action figures) – it produced highly detailed (and poorly articulated) action figures of various horror and movie icons made for and sold to adults. That doesn’t sound to amazing today  when there are dozens of companies doing such things and one or two who’s whole business is built around this but what Neca do today, what Diamond do today, what Mezco do today, what Hot Toys do today – the bloke from Spawn was doing last millennium and doing it well, McFarlane Toys had got their shit down by the time the line debuted and the results were a shocking consistent line in terms of quality and sheer awesomeity so this was a surprisingly hard countdown list to narrow down.

12. John Shaft
Movie Maniacs 3, 2000
Who? Titular character of the 2000 film Shaft, a remake of the 1970s television show – played by Samuel L. Jackson
Why? There’s a weirdness to Movie Maniacs (one that isn’t related to it being made up of figures of human fly hybrids and murderous hillbillies) caused by McFarlane choosing to use the line to produce figures of then-current licenses1 he’d got as well as by-then firmly established movie icons, leaving almost every wave2 with at least one choice that seems completely baffling today and none of them stand out more than the random inclusion of a modern-day urban detective. The John Shaft figure sticks out like inflamed testicles on a small Chihuahua in a line filled with monsters, madmen and the people who fought them but he’s a simply a fantastic figure of Samuel L Jackson. His likeness is perfect, and the posing of his limbs has managed to catch every ounce of the pure coolness that makes up Sam Jackson, the reason he’s so low is simply because he’s a little boring compared to all the others on this list, he is – after all – just a bloke in a roll neck sweater, though it’s also a testament to how good this likeness is that a bloke in a roll-neck sweater ended up getting voted above King Kong and Jaws3.

11. Blair Witch
Movie Maniacs 4, 2001
Who? Unseen antagonist of the 1999 smash hit horror film and exemplar of clever marketing that was The Blair Witch Project. How can you make a figure of a character you never see though? Such questions do not stop eccentric millionaires like Todd McFarlane! He was basically given carte blanche to design whatever he liked for the monster.
Why? This is so ridiculous that I can’t help but love it; they made a figure of a character you never see! It’s bonkers! The fact that it turned out to be a really wonderful and really quite original witch design was just the icing on the mental cake. It IS a very McFarlane toys design but in 1999 McFarlane Toys’ design aesthetic was shared by the film industry anyway so no harm there. What McFarlane and his boys produced was an emaciated thing that had a distinctly tree-like feel to it (one of the two versions had a full-on tree like head, that’s my favourite of the two) that’s a perfect for something so closely associated with forests from a film entirely set in one. If you were a Blair Witch fan (and I was and still am) this was our only way to see the witch and that was damn special – and frankly the small glimpses we’ve had haven’t matched up to this figure.

10. Norris Creature and Spider
Movie Maniacs 3, 2000
What? ‘The Thing’ in a form it took after it’s impersonation of the character Norris was exposed (via defibrillator), from the 1982 marvel that was John Carpenter’s The Thing, the remake of The Thing From Another World.
Why? While not 100% accurate (something that would have been bloody difficult in 1998 and still would be pretty hard to do today) the Movie Maniacs Thing figures completely captured the design and feel of The Thing’s signature (and fucking stunning) physical effects – and by that I mean they were exceptionally grotesque – lovely. There were two in the line, both in the same wave, Blair Monster (the big one at the end) and Norris Creature (the spider one) and the reason Norris on here and Blair isn’t? For me the Norris-Thing is what I think of when I think of ‘The Thing’ both as a film and a ‘character’ and this is my list so I can be as biased as I want, plus he came with the spider-head and that thing is just magnificently unsettling in-film and magnificent unsettling as a small accessory, so it had value for money as well as everything else. The reason it’s so low though is that I’ve never been happy with the paint jobs on the Movie Maniacs Thing figures, they’re just simply way more colourful than the film’s props and use a few too many washes for me liking.

9. Chucky
Movie Maniacs 2, 1999
Who? A My Buddy Good Guy doll possessed by the murderous spirit of Billy Bibbs from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and the main antagonist of the Child’s Play franchise, this is his look from Chid’s Play 2.
Why? Because his size, look, articulation and rooted hair this figure looks and feel slike the Good Guy poseable figure that undoubtedly would have been released alongside the full size Good Guy dolls during their (fictional) day in the sun as a toy fad but one that’s also possessed by a murder! To further explain, in the 1980s toy companies developed this habit of making small action figures of toys that were primarily based around soft toys or dolls – Care Bears, Wuzzles, Rainbow Brite, Gummi Bears, Teddy Ruxpin, they all had ‘em – but because these were marketed towards girls or a unisex audience they were called ‘poseable figures’ or ‘poseables’ for short and as Chucky is a possessed toy from a big 80’s toy fad (in-universe) based around a doll it makes sense that there’d have been a poseable figure for him and McFarlane accidentally made it a reality. What’s important is that I HORDE these, I have a complete set of Care Bears bar one (Champ Bear! I can’t find that mustard coloured prick anywhere) and a complete set of Wuzzles for instance, you can get a life-size Good Guy (Chucky) replica doll from multiple manufactures but Movie Maniacs made the replica of the Poseable Figure (which doesn’t exist remember) that I’d’ve wanted more than that doll had it been 1988.

8. Candyman
Movie Maniacs 4, 2001
Who? Say his name three times and he’ll come and cut your nuts off, titular bogeyman of the 1992 film Candyman, was played very effectively by Tony Todd
Why? As far as I know this is the only figure of Candyman, which seems like something of an oversight on the part of the whole toy industry if you ask me but if this is destined to be the only plastic Candyman then ol’ Tony Todd could do a lot worse, the likeness is damn good (from most angles), the coat looks comfy and the torso came out nice and grizzly. It’s not perfect, the torso is stuck in a twisted position that can look very odd in some poses and the likeness isn’t spot-on, which might beg the question of “why’s it’s higher than Shaft?” because of two reasons a) Candyman is far less boring a design (and far better suited to the line) b) I like Candyman better than Shaft.

7. The Tooth Fairy
Movie Maniacs V, 2002
Who? The villain from the (then-upcoming) 2003 movie Darkness Falls, which I guess was tipped to be a big thing in horror when McFarlane got the licence – that didn’t happen.
Why? Darkness Falls is a shit film (I think it’s Rotten Tomatoes score is something like 7%?), I can get through it ok because I like the whole ‘coming back to a town with dark memories’ thing and because I think the Tooth Fairy is a sweet-ass villain but I think most people would need at least a Mystery Science Theatre 3000 (or RiffTrax) commentary to make it half way. However just because the film she comes from is crap that doesn’t mean that the Tooth Fairy’s figure is equally shite, in fact it’s the complete opposite which shouldn’t be too surprising as she’s number 8 and thus above stars of not-crap horror film like Psycho and Halloween.  Her figure is just an amazing work of detailing, texturing and colour and with her wings open becomes a bloody impressive presence on your shelf – she’s effectively the toy collector’s version of the stone angel gardeners get and just as impressive.

6. RoboCop
Movie Maniacs 7, 2004
Who? The murdered cop Alex Murphy is reborn as a cyborg lawbringer in the future, titular star of RoboCop from 1987 and its subsequent sequels and television series.
Why? I have a theory that Movie Maniacs RoboCop is slightly overvalued by ‘at-the-time’ buyers and fans of the series because it took all 7 series to get a figure of him, that was certainly true for me and it seems to be true for a few others from the blogs I’ve read so I’m saying it’s a fact, live with it.  However the figure that we waited for turned out be quite frankly beautiful, he may lack the articulation of the newer Neca figures (and McFarlane never made a glow-in-the-dark repaint of him, a wasted opportunity if ever there was one) but the colour and sculpt of this one is just so visually appealing, you could use him as a Christmas ornament. Personally he reminds me slightly more of the Kenner action figures than the film version but I have NO problem with that at all, he was the sole highlight in Series 7 – which was otherwise dominated by Texas Chainsaw Massacre characters and a poor likeness of Michael Biehn but Murph’ would have stood out in any wave. So why is he only number 7 then? Well because his positives boil down to ‘he looks pretty’ and because a RoboCop figure is hardly a unique thing and this isn’t the best RoboCop out there - which is a bit unfair but I have to find some way of ordering these.

5. Sarah Connor
Movie Maniacs V, 2002
Who? Destined to give birth to the saviour of the future, this is the character as played by Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2 – Judgement Day when she’d become a confirmed badass and an escapee from a lunatic asylum.
Why? Unlike RoboCop this is my favourite figure of Sarah Connor and unlike RoboCop I REALLY like Sarah Connor and I’m particularly fond of (read: sexually obsessed with) the T2 version of the character and that’s totally playing a part in this figure’s ranking as well, pathetic yes but still a reason. McFarlane released three versions, each with a different head (hair down, hair up, wearing a cap), all of which were included in Neca’s recent Ultimate Sarah Connor which of course was better articulated but I wasn’t quite as happy with the sculpt, I didn’t like the face as much (I’d say the likeness was no better or worse, I just didn’t personally prefer it) and that just continued all down the figure, I can’t really elaborate on why this is I just simply prefer the McFarlane sculptors’ Linda Hamilton efforts.

4. Pumpkinhead
Movie Maniacs 2, 1999
Who? Titular demon from the 1988 horror film Pumpkinhead (yeah, not much to say here really)
Why? Simply put: Pumpkinhead is a cool toy (you read that in Tom Hanks’ voice and you know it) – taken completely separately from his liscence, just as a monster toy, Pumpkinhead works – he’s a tall, twisted, detailed monster with a bendable tail that looks familiar enough to fit in with other monsters but still original in his own way (he kind of looks like a Xenomorph that’s been peeled). Now combine that fact with the fact that he’s actually a very good Pumpkinhead figure – he’s accurate, he’s surprisingly well articulated for a McFarlane release and he’s in-scale (roughly) – and bam, number 4 slot filled.

3. Special Edition Eric Draven
Special Edition, 2000
Who? The main character of the 1994 film The Crow (based on a comic book created by James O’Barr) who was played by Brandon Lee, son of Bruce and who famously died while filming the movie, strangely fitting as Draven is a murdered musician brought back to avenge his and his fiancĂ©’s murders.
Why? I have only kept 2 Movie Maniacs, this is one, number 2 is the other. Now I am more than willing to admit that Neca’s Draven figures are actually far better likenesses while this one is a little more cartoony but I rather like that about it, perhaps I’m more accepting of it on The Crow because it started out as a comic book? I’m not saying it’s better than Neca’s offerings, just that I like it as well – probably because the whole figure captures the essence of Eric Draven perfectly; god that sounds really pretentious doesn’t it? But it does, or at least to me – the pose, the…swagger of it, it’s just so CROW. The reason I’m putting the special edition the ‘fish tank’ re-release from 2000, on here is because it came with a crappy stand,  - really, the stand is really pathetic, it’s a plastic stand with a cardboard backdrop but that backdrop is of the circular window that Draven was thrown from in the movie, it’s an exceptionally iconic thing if you’re a fan of the film (and I REALLY am)  being able to pose this figure - who’s walking at you like the undead thing he is and loving every scare – in front of that, that iconic thing where this character died, is just so fitting and so pleasing to me as a fan.

2. Edward Scissorhands
Movie Maniacs 3, 2000
Who? Johnny Depp was built by Vincent Price and fell in love with Winona Ryder so Tim Burton and Caroline Thompson could make a comment about American suburbia, titular character of Edward Scissorhands from 1990 and technically the figure should just be called ‘Edward’.
Why? The sheer detailing in this sculpt alone should get it into a top 10, every stitch, every zipper, every scissor has been put onto this and they’ve all had their detailing painted, something that most companies would consider the exact same thing and burning $100 dollar bills in piles but hey, detailing and paint apps aren’t uncommon for McFarlane toys of this era so why so high? 1) the sculpting has a delicateness that’s not only rare for McFarlane and it’s macho heavy metal output but also perfect for the character 2) the likeness is excellent 3) they managed to get that hair looking that good on a 6” piece of plastic – which may well be magic and 4) like with The Crow this somehow catches the pretentious sounding essence of the character, only with a much better likeness, I really wish they’d made Kim4 to hug him, he needs a hug.

Runners-up are pretty much the whole line but if I must: variant Leatherface (Movie Maniacs), Norman Bates, Michael Myers, Ghostface (Movie Maniacs 2), Ash, Blair Monster, Bundle Fly, King Kong (Movie Maniacs 3), T-1000, Jaws5 (Movie Maniacs 4), T-800 Endoskeleton (Movie Maniacs V), Alien Queen (Movie Maniacs VI), the Dracula two-pack (2003) and Stealth Predator6 (a 2003 McFarlane Collector’s Club Exclusive).  

1. Lord of Darkness

Movie Maniacs 6, 2003
Who? Basically it’s Satan as played by Tim Curry (who apparently isn’t a demon in real life - pfft like I believe that), the Lord of Darkness was the main antagonist of the 1985 fantasy film Legend.  
Why? There was never any debate here; the Movie Maniac’s Lord of Darkness is fucking magnificent in every way a figure can be which is perfectly fitting because the character himself is magnificent, a magnificent bastard sure but still magnificent, everything about the pose they gave him screams ‘I am fucking awesome’. See how much I’m swearing? That should tell you my level of enthusiasm for this piece of plastic, I so wish I’d kept him and have no idea why I didn’t7. This exuding magnificence the combines with a spot on headsculpt with a spot-on expression (‘pissed off and evil’ about sums it up) and McFarlane’s usual level of detail and painting so it just stands head and horns about the rest of the line – he’s a huge devil, he’s Tim Curry, he’s wonderfully made and so he’s number 1. As for why I’ve put the regular release and not the deluxe edition like with The Crow, once again the main addition was a base and while it’s a million times nicer than The Crow’s I honestly don’t care about it in the slightest, that window is feels important to me while Darkness’ treasure just doesn’t feel important enough to pay out the extra cash - but then I like The Crow a LOT more than I like Legend.

And there you have it, Movie Maniacs was a schizophrenic but superb line that fulfilled a lot of toy fantasies for nerds in the late nineties and early noughties, Neca may have outclassed it with several franchises (most notably Nightmare on Elm Street, Terminator, Alien and Predator) but a lot of the figures still stand up well, either as good representations of their characters, as the only representations of their characters or just by looking bloody cool and I’ve love to see a new line like this (or Neca’s Cult Classics or SOTA Toys’ Now Playing), one that could allow for one or two figures from smaller cult films or films without the depth of character roster or profile to support a whole line of its own – wave one needs to include the Killbots.   

1 Which I suppose is great news if you’re a fan of Species II or Darkness Falls and especially if you’re a big fan of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake.
2 Wave 2 doesn’t have this problem, its entire line-up had become iconic or cult classics by 1999, the most recent movie represented was Scream, by then three years old and already a modern classic and today considered on-par with the other great horror franchises.
3 I have my individual issues with all three of the big sets released in the line – the Jaws set is basically just a plastic diorama, out of scale with the rest of the line and doesn’t include a whole shark, King Kong has likeness issues (and most King Kongs do, people seem to just sculpt ‘big monkey’ rather than O’bie’s big monkey) and is again wildly out of scale (they were making 18inch versions of figures, there was no excuse) and I’ve never been fond of the ‘art style’ used on the Movie Maniacs Xenomorphs, including the Alien Queen.
4 Winona Rider’s character
5 I may have issues with them that kept them out of the top 12 but Jaws, King Kong and Alien Queen are still impressive
6 like their eternal cross-over partners I was never that impressed with Movie Maniacs Predators either, I didn’t like the bodies mostly, but I’m always willing to make an exception for c-thru Predators.
7 from this list I owned all but Chucky and Sarah Connor as a teenager, now I own Sarah Connor and was able to find a Ghostface at a bootsale but that still means I only have four figures left – sadnesss. Movie Maniacs average around twice their original retail price these days on the second hand market too – the Thing and Jaws stuff are especially expensive.