Toy reviews roundup (via Fanmode), 2/14/09

fanmode-copy Sanjeev reviews the Kridana Epic Ramayana Series Hanuman figure. Excerpt: “This particular toy holds a lot of meaning for me.” (See also.)

Michael Crawford reviews the Hasbro Marvel Universe Iron Man, Punisher, Black Panther and Wolverine figures. Excerpt: “Iron Man is the outstanding figure …”

Michael Crawford reviews the Hasbro Marvel Universe Silver Surfer, Human Torch, Spider-man and Daredevil figures. Excerpt: “The figures themselves, even with the leg articulation limitation, are really fun little toys.” Continue reading “Toy reviews roundup (via Fanmode), 2/14/09”

Imperial Universal Monsters

If you were a young boy in the late 1970s and early 1980s, chances are you were quite familiar with the crown logo of Imperial Toys.

From the admittedly limited perspective as a six-year-old boy, Imperial was known for one thing: rubber dinosaurs.

Imperial specialized in those solid rubber dinosaurs you’d find in convenience stores, pharmacies, and the metal floor bins of toy stores like Child World. They usually sold for about a buck. Those dinosaurs were tough bastards; you could throw them against the wall all day long and they wouldn’t get a scratch.

The sculpts and paint applications were crude even by contemporary standards and there was nary a point of articulation to be found on them, but when I was a kid that hardly mattered. The rubbery feel of the dinosaurs skin, coupled with their Godzilla-like indestructibility, made them the preeminent dinosaur toys of my youth.

A lot of the Imperial dinosaurs were of questionable paleontological validity. Tyrannosaurs with stegosaur-like plates and apatosaurs (which we called brontosaurs in my day) with pointy teeth were common. My particular favorites were a small yellow tyrannosaur (now residing in my Toy Shrine), a duck-billed dinosaur thing, and a black creature that was sort of a cross between a frog and an allosaur that I called “Bumpy.”

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Things I Want Toys of > The Monster Squad

I can’t recall whether I saw The Monster Squad (1987) in the theater, but something makes me think I did. Even as a kid I thought of it then as a sort of store-brand Goonies, albeit a very fun, entertaining, and surprisingly violent one. Except for the infamous “Wolf Man’s got nards” line, I more or less forgot about the film until I saw it in 2004 while visiting a friend (thanks, Rustin—always the classy host!).

The Monster Squad is a kids’ horror film featuring what are traditionally thought of as the Universal Monsters: Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, the Wolfman, the Mummy, and the Gillman (a.k.a. the Creature from the Black Lagoon). However, unlike other monster mashes like the recent Van Helsing, The Monster Squad wasn’t a Universal film; Universal only owns the trademarks to the character names (meaning you can’t call your movie just “Dracula”). In the case of Dracula and the Monster, the novels are long out of copyright; while the Mummy, the Wolfman and the Gillman are just generic monsters (though I do think they’re on shaky ground with the Gillman, given how much he resembles the Black Lagoon creature).
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Attack of the Living Dead

Note: A slightly different version of this article was originally published on Biggerboat in October 2006.

A couple years ago, during the huge zombie fad of the mid-’00s, Mezco Toyz produced a short-lived figure line called Attack of the Living Dead. The figures are a combination of today’s advanced action figure design and those old gross-out toys of the 1980s (times ten).

Attack of the Living Dead isn’t based on any particular film, despite the “Living Dead” moniker (a quick check at the U.S. trademark office shows that Mezco was able to trademark the title, so it looks like George Romero and John Russo lose yet again, courtesy of the Walter Reade Organization). The line was originally going to be titled “After Life” (and Mezco had trademarked that as well), but at some point they must have figured out that the “Living Dead” phrase wasn’t trademarked and changed to the new title to capitalize on the name recognition.

That said, these zombies look more Return of the Living Dead than Dawn of the Dead. Romero’s zombies tended to look like pale-skinned humans (though they got a bit gorier in the last two films), whereas the Return of the Living Dead series offered a variety of zombie shapes and sizes.

While the days of long action figure biography text and power ratings seem sadly long gone, Mezco makes a passing effort at providing some context for the line. Continue reading “Attack of the Living Dead”

Gentle Giant debuts horror-themed website

LilithGentle Giant has created a horror sub-site at www.gentlegiantltd.com/horror. The site features their newest license, 30 Days of Night.

The site says simply, “Based on the graphic novel by Steven Niles and Ben Templesmith.” Not having read the GN or seen the movie adaptation, I’m not clear whether that’s referring to the film or the action figures. Anyone?