Poe’s Point > Top Five Most Anticipated Movie Toy Lines of 2008

Yeah, I could write a list of my most anticipated movies this year–and there are quite a few–but to stay more on-topic, I decided to list what I think are the five most anticipated action figure lines based on movies this year among collectors. Note, these aren’t listed in the order I’m anticipating them, but on how much I think the collector community is. Continue reading “Poe’s Point > Top Five Most Anticipated Movie Toy Lines of 2008”

Mighty Marvel Merchandising! Toy Fair 2008

Hey folks, Poe here again. While I have my share of Marvel action figures, I tend to cherry-pick just a few favorites, rather than obsessively collecting them. But you deserve obsessiveness! And so, please give a warm welcome to PGPoA’s newest correspondent, Pete! A frequent commenter here on the site and owner of fanwank.net, Pete’s got the skinny on Hasbro’s Marvelicious plans for you this year.

Hasbro-Marvel

Don’t hate Hasbro, Marvel fans…Hasbro loves you! Or, rather, your pocketbook…

Because eating through your bank account with all of the new Star Wars and Transformers offerings isn’t enough, Hasbro has unveiled yet another Marvel merchandising blitz this year, just like last year. Also like last year, they’re trying new things, mixing a bit of the new in with your favorite old standbys. So let’s start with the new! Continue reading “Mighty Marvel Merchandising! Toy Fair 2008”

Toy Fair 2008 > Transformers Round-Up

Just as Paul has taken up the mantle of PGPoA’s Star Wars and G.I. Joe correspondent, PrfktTear has volunteered to pick up my slack on Hasbro’s Transformers offerings. Take it away, PT!

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Hello all! PrfktTear here. Poe has asked me to help out with Transformers news and observations. You might know me from posting over at the OAFE forum, and I also write reviews for DVD Snapshot.com. First up is a look at what’s new and exciting from Toy Fair 2008! Continue reading “Toy Fair 2008 > Transformers Round-Up”

Star Wars and G.I. Joe at Toy Fair 2008

Poe Ghostal here. Look, I’m awesome–no one’s disputing that. But the fact is, I’m just not into every single toy line out there. Therefore, to make sure I’m providing you, the discriminating action figure collector, with the comprehensive toy industry coverage you deserve, I’ve recruited a few special correspondents to give you the lowdown on these neglected toy lines. First up is my respected colleague Paul from ToyBender.

Hello all. Poe Ghostal knows a lot about toys, but since he’s a bit tied up (and safely hidden in the trunk of my car) he’s enlisted my help as a special Hasbro correspondent to update y’all on Star Wars and G.I. Joe. You might know me from my “5 Questions” interview Poe posted a few months ago, or the toy blog ToyBender that is my fiefdom. But enough about me, let’s catch up on Hasbro’s Toy Fair 2008 showing.

During the 2008 Toy Fair Hasbro announced so much product goodness that I believe they were trying to give me an aneurysm. Their tactic almost worked, but I struggled through my overwhelming excitement to provide you an up-to-date list of all the product announcements for Hasbro’s Star Wars, G.I. Joe, and Indiana Jones toy lines.

Continue reading “Star Wars and G.I. Joe at Toy Fair 2008”

Transformers (2007)

For much of my young life, I was a diehard Transformers fan. I have distinct memories of receiving my first Transformer, Jazz, as well as Soundwave, Hot Rod, and of course, Grimlock, my favorite toy of all time. Heck, one Christmas Santa brought me Fortress Maximus–probably the most enviable toy I ever owned as a kid. FM was the equivalent of the aircraft carrier for G.I. Joe fans, or the Eternia playset for Masters of the Universe.

At the age of fifteen, I wrote a fan fiction novel about Transformers. It’s now out there in the wild of the Web, and not hard to find. I lost most of my interest in Transformers in high school, when my attention turned to even geekier pursuits such as playing Magic: the Gathering and reading The Lord of the Rings.

Still, I’ve always had a lingering fondness for ol’ Optimus Prime and company. Which is why I realize it’s a bit odd it took me so long to see the recent Transformers movie. I mean, I like science fiction blockbusters, and among everyone I know, I was probably the biggest childhood TF fan–so why the apathy? A few reasons, I think. A certain dislike for the flashy but insubstantial filmmaking style of Michael Bay; the ugly robot designs; and a genuine lack of interest in Transformers these days.

Anyway, I finally watched the movie over the weekend. As I’d suspected, it was entertaining, but it didn’t make me want to go out and buy any Transformers toys; which, frankly, represents a pretty big thumbs-down from me (I’m the guy who wishes he could get a Horatio Caine action figure, after all–my standards are pretty low). Again, I thought the Transformer designs were much too complicated and cluttered, especially in the faces, which made it impossible to empathize with them as characters. To me, they were big piles of metal that looked like they’d fly apart at the slightest bump.

What there was of a plot was confusing. Why, at the end of the film, are Megatron and Optimus Prime discussing the relative merits of humanity? At that point, Megatron has spent all of twenty minutes around humans, so his wanting to destroy them all–to say nothing of his understanding how important their continued existence is to Optimus Prime–sort of comes out of left field.

That’s only one minor point, really, but it’s indicative of my general feeling watching the movie. I enjoyed all the little asides to fans of the original cartoon, but most of it was just weird. Why the bizarre John Turturro character, who acts like a G-man version of Stanley Spadowski and somehow gets more lines than Megan Fox? Why the moment where Bumblebee pees on said G-man? The so-called “humor” of the film generally left me cold, especially the scene where the Autobots scurry around the house of human friend Sam (Shia LeBeouf) like Keystone Cops. Having looked up to the staid, respectful Optimus Prime of the original cartoon as one of my childhood role models, it seemed a bit undignified for Peter Cullen to have to deliver lines like “Oops, sorry, my bad” and fret about being spotted by Sam’s parents.

I want to be clear–I’m not criticizing the movie for not being a direct cartoon-to-meatspace translation of the original cartoon. I might have gone even farther from the show’s premise to up the realism of the flick, though I also would have ratcheted back the Transformer designs.

I watched the movie less as a Transformers adaptation and more as a standard science fiction movie–this year’s heir to Independence Day and Armageddon. And on that level, I still think the film fell a little short. The action sequences were confusing, the characterizations with wafer-thin, and Michael Bay’s odd and yet, somehow clich

Shortpacked! > Welcome to Fandom

This Shortpacked! strip takes a shot at the online action figure community, a topic I just wrote about. It’s targeted specifically toward Marvel Legends collectors. While I admit they’re a rambunctious bunch–particularly since the Hasbro takeover of ML–the journalist in me wonders whether Willis was feeling a little defensive about the makers of his favorite toys (Transformers).

Another thing…I’ve always assumed that the online community of action figure collectors was no different than geeks in any other geekdom–movie fans, Tolkien fans, science fiction television fans and so forth. But this strip makes me wonder if action figure collectors don’t have some unique characteristics aside from their preferred topics and vocabulary. Is there something about the character of your average adult action figure collector that is different from, say, a comic book geek? A videogame geek?

(PS. I’d intended to write a more substantive post today, but I was sidetracked by six hours of Mass Effect. I offer no excuse, just sincere apologies.)

(PPS. I’d be remiss if I didn’t post a link to my favorite Shortpacked! strip of all time.)

(PPPS. I hope Butterbur sends this promptly. A worthy man, but his memory is like a lumber-room: thing wanted always buried. If he forgets, I shall roast him. And now back to Mass Effect…)

5 Questions with: Mistah Plow

mrplow.gifCodename: Mistah Plow
Base of Operations: The Ed Zone
History: Mistah Plow was born in the early 1970s–mere moments before Pong would change the world forever. A quick pick-up-and-play session of Yars Revenge led to a lifelong obsession with video games. Plow attended the University of Massachusetts at Amherst from 1990 to 1994 and graduated with a B.A. in journalism. Realizing quickly that the road to Chris Hansen was an uphill battle the likes of which only Sisyphus had seen, Ed quickly went for the paycheck and took the offramp to Corporate America. Although he has worked in the financial industry since his graduation, he has continued to scratch that creative writing itch through an alarming number of failed screenplay attempts. Regardless, that call forever beckons–hence his personal blog, The Ed Zone, was born. Ed utilizes that site to pontificate on all manner of topics. It is a forum for relaying anecdotes, providing news of the day, dispensing his observations on all manner of pop-culture (movie, television and game reviews) and beaming like the proud family man he is with tales from clan Humphries errr…Plow.

PG: What were the major toy fads of your childhood?

I was 5 when Star Wars–Episode IV–A New Hope launched so the Kenner Star Wars figures were the go-to-guys for me. I had the Landspeeder–which boasted this mirrored adhesive along the bottom track which provided the illusion that the speeder was floating over our shag carpeting. I recall the exact moment I was gifted that piece. Asleep in my hospital bed–hours after a tonsillectomy–I had Obi-Wan’s sweet ride dropped on my noggin’ by my Dad–his little way of waking me and surprising me at the same time. Back then, when someone tossed a toy at your head, you smiled broadly and begged for more. These days, you call the Department of Social Services.

A neighbor of mine had the Death Star Play Set with that cool, “working” trash compactor (complete with sewer monster and foam rubber blocks of trash). Oh, the things we crushed in that. I think we even gave someone a vasectomy but the memory is fuzzy on that.

I’d say the other big lines I got into were G.I. Joe and Transformers. Both became popular right around the time I was cresting the top of junior high (eighth grade) when it was no longer cool to play with toys. But those toys looked so cool. It wasn’t my fault the world hadn’t realized how to properly mold plastic before that time. Why should I suffer? Plus, I had my first job (a paper route which saw my first day begin in September 1985–the same day Hurricane Gloria hit southeastern Massachusetts) which provided me with the necessary funds to feed the hobby.

I remember one pay day–just a few days shy of Christmas–where after collecting my customer’s weekly debt and paying the Patriot Ledger its share–I took my cut and proceeded to the local K-Mart to complete some Christmas shopping for my family. I waltzed in with fifty bucks in my pocket and laundry list of assorted baubles that would make them beam bright the next morning. I walked out with Destro, Cobra Commander, Snake-Eyes and the entire line of Dreadnaughts (including their vehicles.) Oh, and a few of those 99-cent Three Flavors-in-One Popcorn Tubs for the fam. Two days later I unwrapped Destro, Cobra Commander and Snake Eyes…all three, gifts from my parents. With each guy now sporting a doppelganger, there was only one thing left to do. Execute Order 66 and initiate my own personal Clone War. Out came the Death Star playset. In went Destro’s junk.

PG: What was your favorite action figure?

The Shogun Warriors Godzilla figure. This mammoth thunder lizard stood about a foot tall and boasted a launching fist and a fire tongue to make Gene Simmons jealous. Imagine what some fetish websites could do with this bad boy. I was a HUGE Godzilla fan (I cried when the Smog Monster almost snuffed him for good) and this replica allowed me to get my Man-in-the-Suit action on. I probably received Godzilla sometime in the late 1970s/early ’80s, meaning he got to mix it up with all of my other figures. In my playtime, Godzilla was always one mean mutha, so he’d show Duke who was boss, wallop a Wookie and put flames on Optimus Prime all before breakfast. The greatest thing was lining up my guys and then playing a little fist bowling with Godzilla’s rocket hand (look, I understand why Gaiking had working missiles, but why the hell did Godzilla’s fist fly and how did he get it reattached? You stomp on my city–I’m not covering you under my medical plan).

What is great about Godzilla is how much he has endured. When I had my Toy Story 2 moment and eventually grew older, leaving the big guy behind, I gifted him to my cousin, Poe. It must have hit at just that sweet spot where childhood dreams merge with life long obsessions as Godzilla instantly fused himself to Poe’s DNA (you should see this guy breathe radioactive fire and fly backwards–it’s really impressive at Thanksgiving).

Then at my son’s baby shower–just a few weeks before his arrival–I unwrapped a special gift from my cousin. Godzilla had returned to the nest. And there he stands sentinel in four-year-old Colin’s room awaiting the impending arrival of my boy’s own toy obsession.

PG: If you were made into an action figure, what would you look like, what would your features be, and what accessories would you come with?

As I now have a completely shaved cabeza (that’s Spanish for head), I’d have a bar code on the back which would ring up $531,8008. The mirror accessory in my back pocket could then be used to decipher that code. Yup, my figure would promote BOOBIES and send Huckabee into a tizzy. I would have 156 points of articulation and would cause the deaths of at least thirty-six sweatshop workers toiling on such a complicated toy. I’d be recalled for the massive amounts of lead paint on my body and then I, personally, would die a horrible death after I ignored the warnings on the box and tried to eat myself.

PG: Does your own son like action figures, or is going right to the videogames?

My son is four, so he is just on the precipice of joining the fray. He does like pulling Godzilla down to stomp on Lego Town but right now trucks and trains rule the day. Oh…and the Backyardigans. I think the sweet spot for action figure play comes in around five or six, so we’re almost there. As his old man is a veritable video game junkie (we’re currently a Wii60 household) and I have owned most everything from the Atari 2600 on up, I have already taken him under my wing and have begun to teach my young Padawan my trade. At the tender age of four, he can successfully make it to World 1-2 all on his own in Super Mario Brothers (bless you Virtual Console!) But I have no doubt that we’ll have a healthy mix of action figures, video gaming and good old fashioned outdoor activities.

PG: What’s your fondest toy-related Christmas memory?

The Christmas I opened Optimus Prime. Growing up, my family didn’t have a lot of cash to go around, meaning I was often gifted the Go-Bots in place of the more expensive Transformers. The one gift I wanted over all–call it my own personal Red Ryder BB Gun–was Optimus Prime. At the time, he was one of the largest Transformers and arguably the coolest. I remember hinting around for it constantly and feeling that nagging notion in the back of my head that try as hard as I might, Optimus would remain in dreams. So imagine my ‘surprise’ when I awoke Christmas morning, rushed to my pile of presents, and unwrapped our great leader in all his Prime and glory.

I say imagine my surprise because that’s exactly what I had to do. Imagine it. Fake it. As the surprise had been spoiled a week earlier by this site’s founder, and my little cousin, Poe himself.

That little bastard. He ruined the best Christmas ever!!

Silver Surfer

So, after being so disappointed by the Hydra Soldier, it was a bit of a surprise to be so…surprised by the Silver Surfer, part of Hasbro’s “Marvel Legends: Fantastic Four” wave, which features comic-inspired versions of the recent movie stars.

To help limit my spending, I’ve tried to buy only Marvel Legends versions of figures I owned as a kid. I owned Toy Biz’s first Silver Surfer (whom I later painted into a custom Constrictor), as well as the original Marvel Legends version from a few years ago. I was Silver Surferdisappointed by that figure–it had a strange, too-alien facial sculpt, massive shoulders, gawky articulation, and was nearly impossible to pose on his board.

While Hasbro hasn’t pleased too many collectors with their Marvel Legends offerings, this is one case where they’ve improved on Toy Biz’s work. Unlike the Hydra Soldier, Norin Radd features the full range of articulation that ML fans are used to, including a bicep swivels and double-pin joints at the elbows and knees.

What’s more, I like the sculpt. It’s much more sleek and streamlined than Toy Biz’s previous offering, and actually resembles Jack Kirby’s art. The facial sculpt actually looks like a face, though there is one problem: he has a wee noggin! It definitely seems to be a bit too small for his body. I can’t help wondering if perhaps it’s the head of the 5″ Surfer from the movie line stuck on a 6″ body.

The paint is also good, though it’s hard to screw up a simple silver finish. Still, I like the choice of silver paint more than the less reflective silver used on the earlier ML version.

Of course, that first Legends Surfer had a few touches this one doesn’t. Rather thanSurfin' Milky Way pegholes in the feet, it had magnets, allowing the figure to stand on his surfboard (which had a metal plate inside) in any conceivable position. It also came with a clear stand and a base, so you could actually put the Surfer in the air. And finally, it came with one of the greatest accessories of all: Howard the Duck.

Hasbro’s Surfer only comes with his surfboard, and it has a big ugly peg on it for his foot. However, I like the surfboard itself better than the Toy Biz one. It’s very long and narrow, and looks like it might actually be a cosmic form of transportation rather than a shined-up boogie board. The board is done in chrome to mirror-reflectiveness, which looks really cool (although it’s prone to fingerprints).

While the Hydra Soldier could have been a lot better, I’m satisfied with the Surfer. He looks great with my BAF Galactus.

On the Menu > Weed Killer

Note: This article was originally published on an old website of mine on October 24, 1999. It has been edited and updated for this post. Update: I have retroactively tagged this as the first “On the Menu” entry, in which I discuss the various toys represented in Red Kryptonite’s art on this site.

Hunchback freakSo orange
Green skin yellow eyes
Hunchback freak.

–Poe Ghostal, “A Haiku for Weed Killer”

Just who – or what – is this thing called Weed Killer? You may notice him over there in the menu to the left. This is his story.

Weed Killer is an action figure from the 1991 Kenner Swamp Thing line, based on a short-lived cartoon show. He was one of the evil henchmen of Dr. Anton Arcane, a mad scientist who was out to kill Swamp Thing. I got the Swamp Thing and Weed Killer figures for Easter. Why my parents chose Weed Killer over the other bad guys, I don’t know. Maybe it was the bright orange jumpsuit; maybe he was the only other figure there; maybe it was just fate. Whatever the cause, I received Weed Killer, and thus action figure history was made. Sort of.

I played with both Weed and Swamp Thing for a little while. I distinctly recall playing with them in the back of my grandfather’s car as we drove around with my dad to visit family graves, as we used to do every Easter. After a few weeks, though, I lost interest in Swamp Thing. But I kept Weed Killer around.

Why, you ask? For a few reasons. First, there’s that bright orange uniform. Very eye-catching. Then there’s the whole mutated-janitor thing he’s got going on. The hunched back, the mottled green skin, the gas mask, the glow-in-the-dark eyes – he was just weird, and I loved him for it. He was also particularly well-sculpted for an action figure of that time.

Weed Killer 2Best of all, he had no real background – he was just a random bad-guy henchman created for the cartoon. That allowed him to participate in all sorts of different adventures with different action figure lines. He fought the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Cable, Robocop, Batman, Spiderman, the X-Men, and so forth. He helped out Shredder, Magneto, Stryfe, the Joker – he was basically a temp henchman for all my bad guys. I can just see him getting up in the morning, wondering what his name would be and what mega-maniacal super-villain he would be working for that day.

Weed Killer eventually retired from henchman duty and discovered to his surprise that he had received the ultimate honor that could be bestowed upon one of my action figures – he was given a spot in the glass-encased Shrine, right next to the other two hench-temps, Soaron Sky Sentry and Warduke. Welcome to immortality, Weed Killer.