Author: Poe Page 372 of 373

Poe’s Point > Twisted Xmas 2: An Xmas Carol

I suggested yesterday that McFarlane Toys create a second series of Twisted Xmas toys, this time based on Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. Given that it’s a ghost story featuring supernatural creatures, graveyards, corpses, and Victorian-era values ripe for the perverting, I think this is a no-brainer for McToys–and a sure-seller.

Here’s how I envision the line:

Ebeneezer Scrooge — a grotesque, hunchbacked miser, carrying a sack of filthy lucre and leaning on a cane with a death’s head knob.

The Ghost of Jacob Marley — a horrific, zombie-like corpse, completely buried in huge chains, padlocks, safes, shackles and other heavy iron objects. His jaw-wrappings would be in shreds, and his rotten jaw would be dangling by a thread of cartilage over his chest.

The Ghost of Christmas Past — the obligatory hot chick of the line. In the novel this ghost is actually a kind of young/old male spirit, but enough movie versions have made it a woman to make it work in the public imagination. This figure would just be a scantily-clad fairy, probably carrying a big candle extinguisher.

The Ghost of Christmas Present — described as a “giant” in the book, I envision McFarlane’s version as a huge, gluttonous ogre. His base would be covered with half-eaten food and his magic torch would be more like a monstrous flaming club.

The Ghost of Christmas Yet-to-Come — C’mon, this one’s easy. Personally I’d love something that looked like the thing from Scrooged, but I have faith that McFarlane would come up with something suitably monstrous.

Tiny Tim — This one would probably be the most tasteless (and there’s always one in these Monsters lines). In the novel he wears those Forrest Gump-style leg braces and carries a crutch. I envision McFarlane’s Tiny Tim as a hulking, deformed teenager with giant robotic braces on his legs–and a crutch like a claymore.

Holiday action figures

Christmas Toys

My fiancee (a.k.a. Mrs. Ghostal-To-Be–MG2B for now) got me an early Christmas present this week. It was early by request; I find that Christmas-themed gifts are best enjoyed during the actual Christmas season. Nothing’s more anticlimactic than, say, receiving the most awesome Christmas ornament ever on the very day you don’t really need it anymore. But we’ll get to that in a moment…

While I’ve collected action figures me entire life, it was only when I became too old enough to do so without having to call myself a “collector” that the industry started making the action figures I wanted as a kid. True, I did get the Kenner Robocop and the Mattel Simpsons lines in 1988 and 1990, respectively, but it wasn’t until 1992 that the first mainstream Alien and Predator figures hit stores. Later years would bring Freddy, Jason, Ash from Army of Darkness, Cthulhu, the Lord of the Rings and even the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles into figure form. I could fill up several entries with my comments on this phenomenon, whereby any and all things I loved as a child have been turned into toys. But nowhere have I been more surprised than by the wealth of Christmas-themed action figures we have been blessed with.

I grew up on all those Rankin-Bass Christmas specials. About ten years ago, a company called Memory Lane put out action figures based on the best of them all, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The figures were quite good, and have since become perennial sellers thanks to the special’s long-lived popularity. That Rudolph could get toys wasn’t in and of itself so surprising; kids of every generation since the 1960s have loved it.

But action figures of the Snow Miser and the Heat Miser from The Year Without a Santa Claus? Action figures from Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, including my all-time favorite Rankin-Bass character, the Winter Warlock? Figures of the main cast from A Christmas Story, including a 5″ Ralphie with his Daisy Rider rifle?

Most of the Rankin-Bass figures have been produced as part of a line called Memory Lane, which has passed through several companies’ hands at this point and now seems to be under the control of Round 2, who don’t seem to have a website as far as I can google. However, the Year Without a Santa Claus and Christmas Story figures were released by NECA (though I think the YWSC figures were created by some other company the first time around and then re-released by NECA last year…can’t remember for sure).

The latest addition my Rankin-Bass action figure collection is Frosty, who arrives courtesy of the aforementioned Round 2. I’ll be reviewing Frosty for OAFE soon, so I’ll skip a lengthy discussion of him and move on to the other Snowman action figure I got this year–the Snowman from McFarlane Toys’ Twisted Xmas line.

While my interest in most of McFarlane Toys’ product waned in the early 2000s when they stopped making action figures with any real articulation (thus making them just “figures” really), occasionally they still manage to grab my attention with something. I was pretty excited when I first heard about the Twisted Xmas concept–monstrous versions of classic Christmas characters sounded like a great contrast to all the cute Rankin-Bass Christmas toys that had flooded the market.

Unfortunately, I think the final results are a bit lacking in imagination. The squat, masked Santa looks an awful lot like Todd McFarlane’s own “Clown” character from the Spawn comic, and he’s also similar to the Wizard from the earlier Twisted Land of Oz series. The bipedal Rudolph monster is very odd-looking, the Elves are uncomfortably grotesque, and Jack Frost is annoyingly out-of-scale (he’s the same size as the rest of the figures, but the little houses on the display base suggest he’s supposed to be Godzilla-sized).

The Mrs. Claus figure, while being yet another example of the sexism rampant in the comic book and action figure industry, looks quite good and will probably be the most popular figure in the line, since it will probably get picked up by many people who don’t usually buy action figures (I can see it in a lot of Yankee swaps).

Snowman

But the only figure that really interested me was the Snowman. Now this is the kind of figure I’d envisioned for this line: a hideous perversion of a Christmas staple that sticks to the traditional elements of said character, but exaggerates them into the grotesque. For example, the Snowman has the familiar top-hat, carrot-nose, and two eyes made out of coal; but the hat is ragged and twisted (no doubt a product of the Buddy Ebsen Hat Distressing Corporation), the carrot is bent and the coal eyes are glaring with hate and rage. Then there are the arms–six wretched branches ending in clawed fingers.

When it comes to sculpting and paint applications, few companies can beat McFarlane, and the Snowman is yet another example of McToys’s fine work. The arms have a sculpt, texture and paint that makes them look and feel like real branches; the hat is filthy, and the carrot has just the right touch of orange. Unlike the Rudolph figure, the gigantic mouth makes sense here–he’s made from snow, after all, and so one can expect a certain degree of viscous mutability. The rows upon rows of icicle-teeth are a nice touch, too.

This is one of Calvin’s snow goons come to horrific life.

But my favorite part has to be the fact that the Snowman appears to have been made entirely from snow that’s been piled up in one corner of a mall parking lot for weeks, turning black as it’s covered with layer after layer of soot, exhaust, and grime.

The one major misstep with the figure is that it’s molded from a kind of translucent white plastic, making it seem a little too much like a toy. I think it would have been wiser to go with a dirty white color and then shade from there, but the translucence does lend a sense ofSnowman “iciness” to the sculpt.

While the Rankin-Bass action figures are great, it’s refreshing to get such a creepy take on an old Christmas standby. McFarlane Toys has set up an entire Web site devoted to the line, featuring wallpapers, paper ornament templates, e-cards and even stories about the characters. I like the way the Web site (and the packaging) contrasts the traditional cutesy view of these characters to their McFarlanized counterparts.

The best thing about the Snowman is that unlike most of the figures in the line, he’s not necessarily Christmas-specific–meaning he can sit out on my shelves throughout the winter without seeming out-of-place.

You can read reviews of the other Twisted Xmas figures over at OAFE or Michael Crawford’s site.

Now, what I’d love to see next from McFarlane is a Monsters line based around A Christmas Carol. In a later post, I’ll describe what I think such a line might look like.

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.

NECA releases official TMNT pic

NECA has updated their website with the first official pic of Leonardo with the updated paint application.

LeonardoIn 2008, NECA presents collectibles from one of the most popular comic book properties of all time: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. This spring, Series 1 of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Action Figures hits stores. Based on the original Mirage Studios comic created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, NECA’s new action figures maintain the gritty look comic book fans fell in love with over twenty years ago. Today, NECAonline presents the first figure in this highly anticipated new license: Leonardo! The leader of the Turtles, Leonardo has two deadly katana, multiple points of articulation, and his original red facemask. In the coming weeks, NECA will be releasing details, photos, and more of the entire Series 1 line-up. For now, check out our first official image of Leonardo and keep checking back at NECAonline for the latest updates on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles collectibles and more!

My opinion? Looks awesome.

5 Questions with: Paul of Toy Bender

Codename: Paul
Base of Operations: www.toybender.com
History: Paul is a responsible corporate drone by day and a toy collecting writer at night.

I’ve only recently started reading Paul’s blog, Toy Bender, but it’s quickly become one of my must-reads. With a candid style and thoughtful insight on many toy-related topics, Paul was one of my inspirations in creating this site. One of the site’s most fun regular features are the Toy Ads that Time Forgot.

PG: How long have you been collecting toys?

Paul: I’ve been officially collecting toys since the Star Wars Bend-ems in the early 90s when I was in my early teens. I had a few toys I kept in packages before that (therefore separating them from toys I played with), but the Bend-ems crossed the line over into the world of collecting as I had stopped playing with toys by then. By the way, you might be wondering why in the hell I was buying Bend-ems in the first place. I was so desperate for new Star Wars figures and it was all that was being made at the time that was even close. I personally owe the ghost of Kenner my first born child.

PG: What made you decide to create a blog about toys?

Paul: Technically, I did not create a blog about toys. A while back I thought that I wanted to expand my writing and spread my thoughts across the world like that virus that makes you poop blood. I saw on a writers’ forum a post about the launch of the blogging network 451 Press. I checked out the categories they had at the time and out of all the things that I could write ten posts a week about (the old minimum back then), toy collecting was it. I sent in my application and I took the helm of Toy Bender and the Internet has never been the same…or something.

PG: How would you describe Toy Bender?

Paul: Toy Bender is my thoughts on the newest toys that I think are great. The beauty of the site is that I feel as if I’m a bit outside of the normal toy collecting world, so I don’t offer a standard point of view, which I feel makes Toy Bender more accessible then an obsessive fan site. It’s also a fun interactive place for collectors who want a different perspective than a straight toy news site will offer.

PG: What’s the best toy you ever received as a holiday gift?

Paul: Now that’s a tough question, since my parents were pretty damn good at getting me a lot of great stuff for both birthdays and Christmas. I think it would a be a dead even tie. Power Master Optimus Prime because he was a super sweet gift I got one year and I didn’t even know he existed before I got him. The Ewok Village playset was also equally awesome because I received it from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer who obviously brings the best gifts for those who give him some recognition. Suck it, Santa!

PG: What’s the worst toy commercial you’ve ever seen?

Paul: By far it would have to be the ad for the Swing Wing. You can’t get any worse than the Swing Wing mainly because it’s a vomit inducingly bad idea that was sold like it was the most fun thing of all time. If you want overall bad production values though, there’s this local ad featuring a little girl who raps about this toy store that makes you want to tear your ears out and jam sharp objects in your ears. Hell, I’d even go so far to say that any commercial that uses rap is the worst toy commercial ever.

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.

The Six-Inch-Scale Scarabus Squad

The Six-Inch-Scale Scarabus Squad

I’d planned to hold off on this for another day (since I have to write thirty-one of these things this month), but since this is technically a time-sensitive issue, I wanted to put it out there as soon as possible.You may or may not have heard of the FANtastic Exclusive. This is a project designed by the Four Horsemen. The idea is this: the Horsemen draw up dozens of designs for several different toy lines, each with a number of different characters. Through the website, collectors and fans then vote on the line, the specific character, the height (scale) of the character, how articulated it will be and what accessories it comes with. They even get to vote on the type of packaging.

The Horsemen made their names sculpting Mattel’s revamped Masters of the Universe (MOTU) line a few years back, so it’s fair to say that, until recently, a majority of their fans came from that particular fandom. As a result, the first and second Fantastic Exclusive winners were from the “Seventh Kingdom” concept line, which was the most like MOTU–a kind of high fantasy realm. The first figure, Xetheus, was a minotaur. The second, Ramathorr, was a giant elephant warrior. Each of these figures was available only at conventions and through the Horsemen’s online store. And each came in multiple varieties of repaints and retools; Ramathorr, in particular, could be purchased with a number of variant animal heads, from rhinos to hippos to bizarre alien mutant-things.

While I’m certainly a fan of MOTU and the Seventh Kingdom, in each FE I have voted for Gothitropolis (a kind of horror-sf line) first. In particular, I’m hoping to get this blue gargoyle immortalized in plastic. What can I say? I find demons and monsters awesome.

The biggest vote-getter this year was indeed a Gothitropolis character, but not the one I was hoping for. It was a dark sorcerer-like fellow named Scarabus, who apparently won by more than twice the next vote-getter’s count.

Now, I have to admit: I don’t get why Scarabus is so popular. He looks like any number of MOTU or Spawn figures (particularly a cross between the Darkness and Mandarin Spawn).

ScarabusI don’t mean this as a knock on the Horsemen’s design skills; Scarabus fits in just fine with the rest of the Gothitropolis line. But he’s certainly not going to be a challenge for them. He has hooved feet not unlike Xetheus; the same goes for his armor. The only real question is how much his robes will limit his articulation. Furthermore, other than some really creative repaints, I don’t see how Scarabus offers many opportunities for interesting variants.

The blue gargoyle, on the other hand, not only represents a more interesting design (the shape of the limbs, the large wings), but offers countless variant possibilities. Red-skinned repaints with more demonic wings, a straightforward “giant bat” version, even a bird-like or angelic version with feathered wings.

But I digress–Scarabus has already won, and while he wasn’t my favorite, I’ll definitely be buying him and supporting the FE.

So now we move on to the next vote, and my real motive for writing this. The current option is for what scale Scarabus will be in. The previous two figures were both in the 6″ scale (which matches up well with three other big action figure lines of the day: Hasbro’s Marvel Legends, Marvel Toys’ Legendary Comic Book Heroes and Mattel’s DC Universe Classics). In the 6″ scale, 1 inch=1 foot, so a six-foot-tall character would stand six inches tall. That doesn’t mean Scarabus would be six inches tall; in the 6″ scale, Ramathorr stood a whopping 9″ tall. Scarabus, according to the Horsemen’s graphic above, would be about 7″ tall.

Judging from the discussions on the FE forums, there seems to be a big movement for an 8″ scale Scarabus, which would make him almost the same height as Ramathorr. I’m against this for a number of reasons.

Nowadays, many people look at their action figures differently. Many see them as collector’s items, and it’s those people who often prefer to see larger scales with greater detail and fewer accessories, vehicles, or playsets. They don’t care if two different lines aren’t in scale with one another.

Personally, I’ve always looked at toys more from a “plaything” perspective. I love it when different lines are in scale with one another, simply for the creativity factor. I can place make a diorama with Superman fighting the Abomination, or Spider-Man and Batman teaming up against Venom. I can have Xetheus dueling it out with LCBH’s Conan in a gladiatorial scene.

If Scarabus ends up in an 8″ scale, he’s going to be enormous next to any 6″ figure. Ultimately, in my opinion, this will make him less of a toy and more of a collectible.

At the 8″ scale, Scarabus is also going to be quite expensive–at least as expensive as Ramathorr ($25), perhaps more so. This will continue to limit how far the Horsemen can go with the concept.

As such, I am officially forming the Six-Inch-Scale Scarabus Squad. As its president and currently only member, I urge you to go here and vote for the 6″ scale Scarabus. Even if you don’t care about the Fantastic Exclusive or toys at all, please take the three minutes to do it for me and my fellow six-inch-scale collectors. Viva la revoluci

Rama vs. He-Man?

RamaI haven’t really been on board with the various religious action figure lines, though that may be because there really aren’t any interesting-looking or badass Bible characters. (Though I’d definitely be interested in a Bible Fight line.) Most of them are just guys in robes, except maybe for Goliath or the Leviathan.

HanumanHowever, there are some religions whose holy texts have some pretty awesome characters, and one of those is the Hindu Ramayan. How can you go wrong with a blue-skinned warrior god and the monkey king himself?

A company called Kridana apparently thought the same thing, and so you can now order action figures of Rama and Hanuman. I don’t own either of them (yet), but I have to say, they look pretty neat. The site says they stand seven inches tall, which means you can have Rama mix it up with Kratos. And there’s always room for another monkey action figure.

TMNT by NECA & the 4H

LeonardoThe Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were the last great toy fad of my childhood. By the time the Power Rangers rolled around, I was busy dating girls and playing Magic: The Gathering (which, contrary to popular belief, were not always mutually exclusive).

I loved the Playmates figures, and quite a few of them have a special place in the Shrine. But even as a kid, I understood that the cartoon Turtles weren’t anywhere near as badass as they could be–and indeed were, in the original black-and-white comics. Leonardo (my personal favorite) carried a pair of fricken’ ninja swords and he never used them to cut anyone on the show. In the original comics, however, he was only to happy to slice-and-dice his foes.

So even as a kid, I understood that the Mirage comic versions of the characters were arguably much cooler than the cartoon’s. And so I always wanted action figures of the Leonardo from TMNT 1original TMNT. But it was pretty clear that Playmates was targeting children and thus, even in their revamped 2003 line, we got the cartoon Turtles.

Somehow, through some legal machinations I may never understand, NECA has scored the rights to create a line of TMNT action figures based on the original comics. The line is sculpted by the Four Horsemen and will feature some great articulation, accessories, and display bases. NECA has been getting much better in the articulation department (due to the influential success of collector-oriented lines such as Marvel Legends and Legendary Heroes?), and the Turtles not only look great, but they should be able to move around a bit as well.

The general fan consensus seems to be one of approval, though from the discussions I’ve seen online there are a decent number of people who want repaints with the Turtles’ familiar bandanna colors (in the original comic, they all wore red–hence Leonardo’s lack of blue here). Paul of ToyBender is a bit disappointed by the decision to use the design from the first few comics as well as the paint application on the above proto. For what it’s worth, Cornboy of the Four Horsemen stated on Toymania’s ToyBuzz that the “paint scheme shown on that blog was one that was originally submitted for approval. I’m not yet at liberty to say how the paints were changed, but they were.” And here’s Randy Falk of NECA, as quoted on ninjaturtles.com:

This is the final sculpt but not the final deco. The paint applications have been revised to better re-create the 3-D translation of the original 2-D artwork. I think when you see the final images and get to see all 4 turtles complete with their unique head sculpts, accessories, and bases you will be very very happy.

I’ll be getting every single figure NECA puts out in this line. As awesome as the Playmates lines were, these are the Ninja Turtles toys I’ve been waiting twenty years for.

Batman wallpaper

I think Piletina original cheap mlb jerseys Bob Kane to Batman is pretty cool, so I whipped up this wallpaper a few months back. Sorry, only have Design it in wholesale jerseys size 1024×768…at least until Snowman I get a bigger monitor and have to cheap nfl jerseys make With: it cheap jerseys again.

Batman wallpaper

The lavender background is единоборств in honor wholesale jerseys of Batman’s original gloves.

Page 372 of 373

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén