Monday, 25 July 2011

Filmation Finally Goes Plastic

The San Diego Comic-Con was held this past weekend and while nerd news across all platforms was dropped left, right, and centre, I was really keen to see the Masters of the Universe Classics panel Mattel was hosting to showcase their new toys over the next few months.

With 2012 marking the 30th anniversary of Masters of the Universe (horrifying, isn't it?), they promised big news and boy howdy, did they deliver!

As I mentioned in a previous article, Mattel has never had the rights to produce toys that were created specifically for the old Filmation cartoons. Although this didn't affect He-Man as much, half of She-Ra's cast was left out of toy aisles.

Even more interesting was that several characters released to date in the current Masters of the Universe Classics toyline were obviously modelled after their animated likeness, such as Orko, Queen Marlena, the Shadow Beast, She-Ra, and all of her cohorts.

That changed on Friday night, however, when Mattel announced that they finally acquired the rights to produce Filmation characters and promised to churn out three to four each year. The first one is easily the most fan-requested character, Shadow Weaver, Hordak's creepy witch.

This got me thinking of all the other wealth of characters that can now be immortalized in plastic and while there are tons of throwaways I have no interest in, I'm ridiculously (and embarrassingly) excited for more... MORE!

If Shadow Weaver is the one villain that fans have been clamoring for all these years, Madame Razz and Broom are the heroes we've all wanted.

Although largely a comedic character, she was also one of the few in She-Ra's inner cadre who knew her secret identity, making her an integral part of the Princess of Power lore.

Alongside Shadow Weaver, Scorpia was another member of the Horde Empire that would make one hot action figure.

Despite her super sexed-up design, poor Scorpia sounded like a trucker with the intelligence of a tree stump. As such, she was often portrayed as the dumb brute who wore too much eye makeup.

Lizard Man was a recurring character in He-Man & the Masters of the Universe who never received a corresponding toy.

While he never really seem to fit with the rest of the line, countless fan poles counted him high on the most-wanted of the Filmation library of characters they wanted to see. And no doubt he'll be showing up somewhere down the line.

The He-Man and She-Ra cartoons were known for characters of small stature who were annoying as fuck and Imp was easily the worst offender.

Hordak's favorite shapeshifting spy might be a royal pain but he was featured prominently in the show and is finally due for an action figure to call his own.

In the Princess of Power toyline, the lone male, Bow, was meant to be She-Ra's love interest. The animated series, however, made him come across as a conceited douchebag.

Filmation remedied this by introducing the roguishly rugged bad boy, Captain Sea Hawk. Hawk might have been a little salty but he was gaga over Princess Adora and the star-crossed lovers can now finally reunite in toy form.

Also, I'll probably make them 69 each other since their hardcore sex scenes never made it to the final cut of the cartoon. Go figure.

Although only in one episode, Huntara is another fan fave.

A purple amazon bounty hunter, Huntara was She-Ra's match in battle and was hired by the Horde to take her out.

In the end, they became gal pals and we all learned a valuable lesson about friendship or vague lesbian love or something. It was all terribly confusing. But at least bad ass.

Last up is the wise dragon, Granamyr. Featured in both the cartoon and mini-comics that came packaged with the original toys, Mattel let the attendees of Comic-Con decide on the color of Granamyr. High on the Filmation news, fans decided to go with the cartoon red and we'll most likely see a working prototype in next year's Comic-Con or New York Toy Fair.

I'm missing a ton more characters but these are easily the ones I'm most excited about. Finally, the mission statement of Masters of the Universe Classics to fill out and tie together all the different medias that He-Man and his pals have been featured in has another notch on its belt. The Filmation cast is another step to make this the definitive lore of a franchise I've loved since I was a kid.

Friday, 15 July 2011

CrossBOW You Didn't!

It's been my general opinion that crossbows can quickly fix any of life's foibles. From shooting those pesky empties off your fence to calming domestic disputes to do-it-yourself abortions.

But where does this love of crossbows stem from? Naturally I took a good hard look inward and, with the help of quiet meditation (and Jesus), I decided it wasn't a love of medieval violence but rather what I learned on television as a youth.

A high-ranking intelligence officer, lover to Duke, Snake-Eyes, and Ripcord (depending on the media), and all around kick-ass chick, Scarlett was truly the first lady of G.I. Joe.

She was also known for two things: her namesake red hair and her trusty crossbow. Every version of the character, from cartoon spinoffs to comic books to movies to action figures, she was always sporting the ginger 'do and a bitchin' crossbow.

Oftentimes she also wore unconventional spandex while fighting for American freedom but I've covered that to death already...

The epic battles of He-Man and Skeletor's forces raged in backyards across the world until 1985 when a third faction called the Evil Horde entered the Masters of the Universe toyline.

It was the first time we as children realized that war could not only be sexy, but also spin out of control and turn into threeway campaigns, a notion we'd remember when the Cold War ended things got even muddier.

Shitty attempts at history lessons aside, the Horde had pre-programmed roots with the Masters of the Universe. Their leader, Hordak, was the one who had schooled Skeletor but was betrayed by his student and banished to another dimension. But Hordak didn't leave empty handed as he stole away Princess Adora, better known as She-Ra.

The characters were total awesomesauce but Mattel kinda cheaped out in the weapons department. All but one of the original five Hordesmen came with the same damn crossbow, only in different colors. They had gargoyle-like faces that, when you pushed a button, would SPRING forward... all of half an inch. Not terribly threatening but at least they looked badass enough on their own merit without the need for non-lethal weaponry.

In 1991, some genius at FOX decided that making a cartoon about Swamp Thing, one of DC Comics' most adult-oriented titles was a brilliant career move. He was wrong.

Swamp Thing only lasted five episodes but, like most '90s shows, it tried ridiculously hard, launching Swampy's only real mass marketing initiative.

The designs of the characters were clearly modeled for (or from) the action figure line, none more obvious than Swamp Thing's Native American ally, Tomahawk. Not to be confused with the comic book character Thomas Hawk, Tomahawk carried around the lamest looking crossbow ever. It looked like a toy and was just as intimidating. Good riddance to this whole mess.

My love of Poison Ivy knows no bounds. My first real introduction to her character, however, was in Batman: The Animated Series. Much like in the comic books, Ivy was a lover not a fighter so she left the messy business of dealing with her foes to her mutated plants. Or vagina when the need arose.

But, when gurl was backed in a corner, she sported a spiffy little crossbow armband whose arrows were (naturally) as poisonous as her toxic touch.

Spinning out of Batman: The Animated Series came Justice League: Unlimited. One character to play out prominently was the Helena Bertinelli version of Huntress. When her parents were slain by a rival mob family, Helena grew up to become the vengeful and crossbow-toting Huntress. She would later be invited to join the League by Batman. However, just like in the comics, she was the wildcard amongst Batman's allies and when the ultimate control freak couldn't keep her in line, he booted her out.

Oh, and if you're wondering why she looks like a hoochie, she had a crazy fetish for vigilantes. If you wore a mask and wore spandex, she was on you like Oprah on a baked ham.

This list would not be complete without Star Wars' Chewbacca. Although not in the cartoony category, he's the man (er, Wookie) who launched my love of crossbows.
Chewie's crossbow was his signature weapon in all four movies he appeared in but it was more about the look of a crossbow than actually functioning as one. Basically it was a blaster rifle with two nubs sticking out the side.

Still cool all the same. Because anything Chewie touches is cool.

So go out and legally purchase this historic weapon with lots of cartoon street cred. Clearly, all the cool kids are doing it.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Gro$$ Toys

Although I've got mad love for Masters of the Universe's Slime Pit, there are plenty of other fine offerings of disgusting in the toy aisles of yore.

Some of my favorites were the Madballs. The concept was easy enough: give ordinary foam balls a nauseating makeover. There was Screamin' Meemie the baseball, eyeball-hanging Slobulus, Hornhead the cyclops, Skull Face (a skull, duh), and my favorite Oculos Orbus, a giant bloodshot eyeball.

They were insanely popular in the mid-1980s and spawned a second assortment, cartoon, comic books, as well as really weird action figures whose bodies would lauch their head...balls. Or something.

There was a modern "revival" in 2006 that I coveted but not enough to actually scour Toys'R'Us for. Instead, they'll live forever, seeping ooze and grey matter, in my memories.

Not so much toys as much as a pre-Pokemon trading card phenomenon.

Grab a pack of Garbage Pail Kids and groan in delight as you'd find yourself reading about Cabbage Patch Kid-looking brats getting maimed or shooting shit out of their mouths. For real, it was crazy graphic in retrospect.

They proved so popular that they received the feature film treatment that I haven't seen in twenty years or so... buuut I do remember one chick trailing her runny snot from her nose to the back of a television and getting electrocuted from it.

Comic genius! I really gotta track that down. It must be on Blu-Ray by now, no?

I wanted a Boglin. Bad. Like stupid bad. But Ma wasn't biting.

Boglins were just puppets. Or were they? Featuring realistic, almost slimy skin, they also had lifelike eyes that you could move around with your fingers.

They were pure awesomesauce. But Ma was a smart cookie. Once I got it out of its cool cage crate and flopped it around, terrorizing my Ewok Village playset, I'd grow bored with it and chuck it in the pile of other flash-in-the-pan toys.

Still, not having it stings to this day. Lil' bit.

This isn't so much gross as it is topical. As in topical cream. Bed Bugs was a game where four different-colored bugs would be dumped on the plastic "bed." The bed would violently vibrate, bouncing the bugs everywhere.

With same-colored tweezers, you'd have to collect all your matching bugs before your friends for ultimate Bed Bugs bragging rights. You could also cheat by jamming your thumb on the bed, slowing the vibrations and tweezing up them bugs lickedy split!

At the time, it was innocent enough. As an adult, however, picking out bugs with tweezers takes on all kinds of STD connotations that I'd rather not think about, much less write about it in graphic detail.

The Queasy Bake Oven was more than just a play on words from the girly and domestic Easy Bake Oven. You'd take your dough to make dog bones that would be cooked in the "cookerator" with the mad heat from an ordinary lightbulb.

The cookies looked pretty lame and tasted awful but the toy itself looked like Satan's toaster oven. Plus, you could dip the dog bones in snot and blood and puss and all that.

For parents who were also deeply concerned their son would turn out gay when he asked for an Easy Bake Oven, this was a godsend in gruesome disguise.

In the same vein as the Queasy Bake Oven, the Creepy Crawlers Bug Maker worked pretty much the same, only this time you made plastic spiders, bugs, and salamanders to scare your sister with.

Like most artsy kids toys, however, the pictures on the box were incredible but when you had to dump different colors of plastic into the mold tray, it would all just mix up and look like shit.

That said, neon rainbow bugs or shit bugs, an army of unholy crawler creatures is still nothing to balk at. Well, it is but that's beside the point.

Kids these days, I tellz ya, don't appreciate the dirty, nasty, stuck-under-your-nails fun that their germaphobe moms refuse to allow. Put down the antiseptic, mush slime in the dog's fur, throw fake bugs in your friends' eyes, and have fun, dammit!

Monday, 11 July 2011

Gheeey.

On my quest to prove that G.I. Joe is rrrrr'l gay, I present this lil' gem.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

The Many Bitchin' Rides of Skeletor

Men throughout history have overcompensated their failings and shortcomings with their sweet rides. Although you and I have come to know these short and small-penis'ed boys doing so with Hummers and tricked-out trucks, supervillains go for what they know best: the ridiculously dramatic.

Few supervillains showcase this like Skeletor from Masters of the Universe. Hey, maybe Skeletor did have a huge blue wang under that loin cloth... but he had no face. That can't make it easier to score chicks. Below is his evolution from practical to just desperate modes of transportation.

Panthor, Savage Cat of Skeletor!
If the original Masters of the Universe toyline had any running theme, it was of balance between good and evil. For every He-Man toy, there was a corresponding Skeletor. For every She-Ra, there was a Hordak and Catra to match. So when He-Man decided to cruise around Eternia on a smack-talkin' green tiger, Skeletor followed suit with his own pimped-out purple pussy, Panthor!

Panthor was a young dylinx cub who was rescued by a man named Keldor who would someday become the ruthless Skeletor. Panthor remained with his master throughout his campaigns to conquer Eternia and could be found carrying the Overlord of Evil into battle or cuddling up at his throne.

The Panthor toy was essentially just the same mold as Battle Cat. They even shared the same saddle, only in different colors. What made the toy truly bad ass, however, was that he's coated in a purple fur that felt like velvet. Not only could he eat his enemies, he was fuzzy too! Awesome.

Night Stalker, Evil Armored War Horse!
Keeping with the trend of reusing molds, when He-Man started riding around on a robotic horse named Stridor, Skeletor played copycat and got his own robo-steed named Night Stalker.

Like Panthor, Night Stalker was just a repaint of Stridor (or was it the other way around?). Both horses were identical otherwise, with metal armor and (best of all) shoulder laser cannons. I wish I had shoulder lasers...

In any case, it was a little vague whether there was actually a horse under all that junk or it was a completely mechanical beast. Either way, he was rad. And if he was injured in battle, no need to turn him into glue. Just replace his parts! It's win-win!

Land Shark, Evil Monster Vehicle!
Nooo, no... not the SNL Land Shark, this was entirely Skeletor's take on a small tank. A small tank that could also rip your arm off.

I loved the Land Shark. Loved! There was no rhyme or reason to my love either. It could be the giant rail guns, it could be that it would hungrily chomp at the air when you moved it back and forth.

Or it could be that it was a tank with a giant fucking purple shark for a face!

That's all the reason I needed. The Land Shark and I had many adventures where he ate the Sorceress and then parked on Man-at-Arms' head. In my world, Skeletor was just a passenger and Land Shark was the true hero of the living room floor.

Roton, Evil Assault Vehicle!
See a trend here? These vehicles always have "Evil" in their description, as if it were made from parts of Hitler's Mercedes or Mussolini's Alfa Romero.

Roton was actually the only toy on this list I didn't have. It's not that it wasn't kinda cool, it's just that there were so many other wicked machines for He-Man and pals to ride on. Plus my parents weren't made of money, come on now.

Roton worked similarly to my beloved Land Shark. When you pushed it forward or backward, the blades around it would spin like a buzzsaw, mowing down your foes in a veritable bloodbath of vengeance!

Y'know, in retrospect, I wish I did have this... I'm going to call my parents later and yell at them for this miscalculation on their part.

Spydor, Evil Stalker!
My folks made a good call when it came to this bad boy at least.

Spydor was a giant mechanical spider (clever name, huh?) who also had creepy transparent red eyes and mandibles that could grab onto your heroic enemies and, I dunno, squish their innards? Eat them whole? Dude didn't really have a mouth so that was lost on me as a violence-loving eight-year-old.

The real kicker was that he could also walk. He was the Masters of the Universe's equivalent of an AT-AT which is always a bonus. Oh yeah, and like everyone on this list, he also had two laser cannons on top of his head. As every giant spider should.

The downside? This bitch took, like, half a dozen C batteries just to make his legs work. He could power your television but could barely walk five feet without tapping the juice. Ah well, he was evil enough just looking like an asshole without needing to walk over there and prove it.

Fright Fighter, Evil Dragonfly Attack Vehicle!
This is where Skeletor was really grasping at straws in the scare tactics department.

He had monopolized the market on giant jungle cats, sharks, spiders, and buzzsaws and when he just couldn't think of anything better, he settled on a dragonfly.

Ooooh, scaaa-ry!

I scorn but in reality, it was pretty fun. By pressing a trigger on the handle, the Fright Fighter's four wings would flap and since that was largely useless, it also had jet engines for feet. Oh, and mouth pinchers to grab at its enemies. And yet more laser cannons.

Despite being kinda goofy, this was one tough bug and a welcome addition late in the toyline.

So what have we learned here today? Seriously, y'all come here to learn a lesson?!

Fine, the moral of the story is whether you're a fan of Ed Hardy or the despot of a far away planet, the easiest way to prove your wiener isn't tiny is to accessorize the hell out of your ride!

Ideally with laser cannons.