The Wibbly Wobbly Doctor

Doctor Who certainly has come a long way.

The scarf. Tom Baker as the 4th Doctor.

The original TV show, which aired on PBS when I was a kid, was required viewing when I was home sick from school. I had no idea what was going on in any given episode I watched, however, but it had robots and crappy sci-fi special effects, and during a time when Star Wars was the predominant influence in my life, those robots and special effects were enough to make me curious. But lordy, were those effects and robots crappy. In fact, what I remember most about the show from those days was, naturally, the scarf. Tom Baker’s scarf would go on to become the most iconic aspect of the show for a generation of American boys who had no idea what they were watching whenever they tuned in. And for years, decades even, Doctor Who was the show with “that guy with the scarf.”

 

Not much of a legacy.

The 10th Doctor emerges.

There were many cultural differences that may have contributed to this, but I think first and foremost British TV was miles behind American TV in terms of production values, so the show looked crappy in comparison to, say, Battlestar Galactica, so rather than dazzling the audience with special effects, Doctor Who relied heavily on exposition and dialog, two things sure to put the average 11-year-old to sleep when they’ve been conditioned to expect lightsabers and Stormtroopers. The pacing was slower, the sets looked cheap, and it was just really hard to get into in general for someone with little to no context.

That all changed in 2005.

David Tennant as the 10th Doctor.

When the BBC brought Doctor Who back in 2005, they did the right thing by investing a lot in the show. They got a big-name actor, relatively speaking, to play the Doctor: Christopher Eccleston. The Doctor had always been played by unknowns (in a certain context, at least), so this casting choice brought some needed attention to the show. The aliens looked like convincing aliens and the show didn’t rely so heavily on exposition. There was now lots of action, action that looked convincing and provided actual tension. The pacing was good and suddenly it didn’t matter that I hadn’t watched all 600 episodes that preceded it to understand what was happening; this Doctor was creating a whole new world for the series with his TARDIS and sonic screwdriver. And I was hooked.

And then… shit got real.

David Tennant took over as the Doctor in season 2 and he would go on to define the role for a whole new generation much the way Tom Baker defined the role in the ’70s and ’80s. But this time the Doctor was not to be defined by a rather questionable fashion accessory, but with stories and an attitude that would finally make it click with American audiences.

"Bow ties are cool."

Where this new Doctor Who series succeeds so effectively is they’ve managed to make the Doctor “cool,” a rock star, in the purest adolescent fantasy sense of the term. The Doctor has never been cool, at least not by the standards established by American culture. Sure, Tom Baker’s Doctor was interesting and iconic and even had a bit of panache to him, but he certainly wasn’t “cool.” The others who preceded Chris Eccleston’s 9th Doctor? Pure British dandies. When Americans poke fun at the Brits, it’s the stereotypes held up by those characterizations that are often the target. These new guys though? Any one of them looks as though they could go toe-to-toe with Jarvis Cocker in a battle of Brit Pop cool, even Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor with his bow tie. No, make that ESPECIALLY Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor with his bow tie. He evokes Morrissey and Bret Anderson in their prime and makes the life the Doctor lives impossible to resist.

The TARDIS

The Doctor is a unique interpretation of the traditional hero paradigm with particular emphasis on concepts that appealed to us as children. He doesn’t age, at least not like we humans do; he has fun all the time and even in the most dire situations he still looks like he’s having fun; and he has the coolest toys. In a culture that has all but turned youth into a commodity, we live vicariously through a man who is blessed with the freedom to live his life as the eternal adolescent, so to speak.

And that’s what Doctor Who does – it sells the ultimate adolescent fantasy to old farts like myself who no longer have such fantasies. It’s exciting and invigorating in a way I haven’t experienced in a long time. While the stories are good, often excellent, there’s so much more than the stories that make the show so appealing. I feel I have a renewed Peter Pan complex thanks to the Doctor. And I think I’m OK with that.

But if I can’t have my own functioning TARDIS, I’ll certainly settle for the toy!

 

Posted in Action figures, TV Shows | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rendered in Plastic

Well holy crap.

I haven’t had much time to spend with the ol’ blog here because I got married recently and all the preparations leading up to the wedding seemed to occupy nearly 100% of my free time. When I say “preparations,” what I mean is my having to be fitted for my suit again and again until the tailor finally got it right. It was exhausting and frustrating, but in the end, totally worth it.

So I’m married! My lady (Canongirl) and I finally tied the knot in Boston after after a five and a half year courtship. The day was everything we both hoped it would be and we’re finally “official.” We even have rings to prove it!

All the while the plans for the wedding were underway, CG had also asked one of our fellow Fwooshers, Ibentmyman-Thing, to make a set of custom action figures based on our own likenesses and some design ideas of her own.

All I can say is the results of this little project of theirs are INCREDIBLE.

Here we are!

CG presented them to me as a wedding gift the morning of our wedding day and I was completely blown away. Benty’s sculpt work is unbelievable and the likenesses of both figures is CRAZY, almost scary, good. They both are so dead-on that it’s hard to believe. Every time I look at them I’m completely blown away.

I mean, I’ve ALWAYS admired Benty’s custom work, but this gives me a whole other appreciation for his skill. When making custom figures based on comic characters the likenesses are usually open to interpretation and any similarities are relative, but to so closely nail a sculpt of real people based on a couple photographs? Now, THAT is awesome and a demonstration of true talent, and I am absolutely humbled to be one of the subjects.

Outside of select movie and television stars, not many people get to see themselves rendered in action figure form. But thanks to CG and Benty, we’ve been able to see ourselves rendered in plastic. It’s a pretty great thing and one that I know I’ll be able to appreciate for years to come.

Now to find a special place in the display for these two!

Posted in Action figures | Tagged , | Leave a comment

To Japan, a “Blesser”

This is the kind of thing I wish we’d see more of.

Blesser

Shortly after the tsunami hit Japan, Fansproject managed to raise over $10,000 in donations to the Red Cross in the course of a single weekend. Well, to be accurate, Fansproject themselves didn’t donate, but their fans did. What Fansproject did was offer an incentive to their fans – with proof of a minimum $15.00 donation to the Red Cross, Fansproject would send that most irresistible of items to each participant – an exclusive figure. The only catch was Fansproject only produced 1,500 of this exclusive figure, so fans had to act fast in order to get in on the offer.

Sidearm and Blesser

The figure, called “Blesser,” is a repaint of 2010’s Sidearm, a Targetmaster. The colors were inverted, the face was painted blue, and his “gun” alt mode was re-purposed into a fire extinguisher-type device. In doing so, Blesser became that rarity in not only the Transformers canon, but in most realms of popular fanboy lore – an instrument of salvation and hope, as opposed to a weapon, heroic or otherwise. Given the reason and circumstances under which this figure came to exist in the first place, Blesser’s role in the Transformers universe is wholly appropriate.

Blesser's card

The figure arrived in a small gold envelope and came with a card that gives the character’s stats in traditional Transformers fashion based on skill, strength, firepower, etc. What’s cool about this card is that a “human partner” is mentioned by name. That “human partner” is the name of the individual who made the donation to the Red Cross, which is something that makes this figure even more special. It involves the fan in the figure’s narrative that transcends the role of meer collector/consumer. It’s a reminder that through the efforts of both Fansproject and the fan, a truly good deed was done, and Blesser becomes a tangible symbol of that – the willingness of people to take part in something where the only goal is to try and help and do some good.

Red Alert weilding Blesser

To unite a group as seemingly disparate as Transformers fans in response to a true tragedy is no small feat, so Fansproject deserves credit of the highest order for their efforts. Blesser will forever hold a special place on my Transformers shelves in remembrance of  the good we are all capable of.

Posted in Action figures | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Canongirl Tells it Like it Is!

In less than two months I’m getting married. My bride-to-be, Canongirl (as she is known on The Fwoosh), and I have been together for over five years and she has been a hugely important part of this little hobby of mine since our earliest days as a couple. For our first anniversary, she surprised me with a MoC Marvel Legends Colossus and she continues to not only support, but take part in this insane “lifestyle” in a way that is often the envy of other guys I interact with on the boards and elsewhere. Sometimes I don’t forget just how good I have it!

Because she is such a big part of what I do, I thought it would be cool to include her and to add her voice to my dumb little blog here. See, I have sorta have a big mouth when it comes to this hobby, and it’s often difficult for her to get a word in. Thus, the general impression is that all this is about me, that it’s what I do and she just puts up with it or takes a predominately passive role and that isn’t necessarily the case.

With this is mind, I prepared a few questions for her regarding collecting, reading comics, etc. to get her distinct point of view. So without further adieu, Canongirl!

1.   When we met, you already had a small toy shelf you referred to your “fun stuff” shelf. That shelf was a key factor in my deciding I wanted to hang out with you then. How did that shelf evolve at the time? I remember it being very eclectic.

I don’t know if I would call it a “toy” shelf because, as you said, I had a lot of things on it. Basically it was just the things that made me happy: Spongebob, vintage metal  robots, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, postcards of Chagall paintings… plus you know I have this knack for finding abandoned toys while out and about. I just wanted to keep those things out so I could always look at them and enjoy them. I never even thought about action figures at the time, well action figures in the vein of ML, because I didn’t know such a thing existed. I think if I did I would have had a head start on collecting way before I met you.

2.   What were your favorite toys/cartoons/comics/etc. growing up?

Oi vey, well, when I was younger and it came to cartoons I was all over the place, much like I am now. I distinctly remember loving Inspector Gadget, but basically if it was animated I watched it. Much like now, except most of the new stuff that’s out now is crap, or on cable. Oh how I long for the day of Saturday morning cartoons! Believe it or not, I wasn’t big into toys growing up. I had my Teddy Ruxpin and my rainbow bright, but that was pretty much it. I wasn’t really into girlie toys (seriously, fuck My Little Pony and Strawberry Shortcake) and any of the boys toys that I did like and want to play with I didn’t because I was too self-conscious. And the only comic for me was x-men, though I didn’t get into x-men till the cartoon.

3.   What are your favorites now?

Well I’m loving Beast Wars (after Megatron stopped saying yes or no after every sentence that is) and Beast Machines which I’m counting as favorites now because we haven’t seen them until now. I don’t know how far back I can go though to answer this questions because I love Spongebob and Avatar but those go pretty far back so they may not count. Otherwise I would just say Family Guy and that new one on Fox, Bob’s something-or-rather (Bob’s Burgers – CB). Cartoons these days just aren’t what they used to be, which is really a shame. For comics it’s Chew and Un-Men; I’m going through some serious withdrawal waiting for the next TPB of those to come out. As for toys, Pop! Heroes make me happy, and I don’t know if these would count as a favorite since they’re not out yet, but I can’t wait for the new ML to hit. I really can’t cross enough fingers and toes in hopes that they don’t suck.

4.   How do you feel about the stereotypes surrounding this sort of hobby/lifestyle? In general, and specifically concerning females.

I don’t really pay attention to them. I mean, you know me, I tell everyone about our collection, I really don’t care what people think. Collecting makes me happy, us happy, if someone has a problem with that then the heck with them. I do find the general stereotype (fat guy, still lives with his mother, poor hygiene, parked in front of a computer all day) pretty funny though, and only because, well lets face it, it’s really true sometimes! But really if you think about it, all hobbies have stereotypes, ours just sucks. And I have no idea what the stereotype is for female collectors, there’s so few of us it seems I’m surprised we have one.

5.   What is the best part about being a fangirl/collector? What’s the worst part? Is there anything you wish was different?

Um, well, to be honest, I don’t think anyone actually thinks I collect. The way you talk on Fwoosh and in your blog you make it sound like it’s something I tolerate or that I’m just being dutiful and following you to Walmart after Target after Walmart. That would be the part that sucks about being a fangirl/collector, that we do this because of or just for a boy/the boys. Ooooh, is that the stereotype you are talking about in question 4? Good grief, I’m a sharp one. Well, that would be what I wish would change, that and we seem to have more to prove which is total bull. Like the Transformers people who have never seen the cartoons or read any of the comics but still collect the figures (I can’t believe those people exist), that type of thing would never fly if you happen to be female. And I haven’t the foggiest what would be the best thing.

6.   What has been the high point for you during the past five years concerning the hobby?

Not to sound schmaltzy, but the fact that I got to do it with you honestly. Being able to get into a hobby and do said hobby with someone you love just makes it that much better. That and getting my picture taken with Leonard Nimoy.

7.   What’s your opinion of cons?

Short answer: Good idea, horrible in practice. The reason I say this is because it can be planned down to a fault but there is something that will always get mucked up somehow making the experience miserable or ruining a day that was going perfectly. That said though, I never want to stop going to them.

8.   How do you feel about the portrayal of female characters in comics, specifically mainstream superhero comics (Marvel, DC, etc)?

Could be better but we’ve certainly come a long way. If anything it seems a little to me like we’re devolving. Women in comics basically started out as the damsel in distress but over time women became stronger, more powerful, and powerful not just by superpower standards but their character as well. From the comics I/we’ve read now (The Un-Men, Chew, Sweet Tooth) it seems more and more that the females are going back to being just the damsel in distress again. Granted it’s been a long while since I’ve picked up a mainstream comic so maybe it’s not as bad there but I somehow doubt that.

9. Of everything that makes up “the collection,” what is your #1 favorite piece?

I really don’t know why you would ask me this question; you know how indecisive I am. So surprise (!) I really can’t pick just one. I love my Speed Racer and Mach 5 (cartoon/comic accurate, not movie) and the Lockjaw Minimate and our Blackbolt ML I would grab if the apartment was on fire. Oh, and my Star Trek TNG figures.

10. You enjoy watching the old He-Man cartoon on a fairly regular basis, but you have a hard time sitting through an episode of She-Ra. Why is that?

We’ve talked about this, I hate that cartoon, there is no point to it. The whole reason it was even made is because some dip-wad thought it would be a good idea to make a spin-off “for girls” of He-Man but dumb it down and make the main character a female in a short skirt or a glorified bathing suit. If they wanted to do a spin-off that wasn’t so pandering they could have done a spin-off of Teela or the Sorceress, that actually would have been great.

And there’s a lot more, but this should create a sufficient impression. We don’t do much toy hunting these days since the shelves have dried up and I’ve taken to ordering everything from Big Bad Toy Store, but when we do, she always spots things on the shelves before I do, and the *gasp* she makes when she sees something is just the best.

We’re currently brainstorming ideas for a column or something of the like of her own for The Fwoosh, so keep your eyes peeled for more from Canongirl!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reveal the Shield Windcharger

My guest review of The Transformers Reveal the Shield Windcharger is up on Actionfigurepics.com! Check it out!

Posted in Action figures | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Beast Wars – A Reckoning!

I will humbly admit I was wrong.

Thoughtful monkey

For years I had dismissed “Beast Wars” as the province of fans too young or too misguided to know what the Transformers franchise was really all about. I had never seen a single episode of the cartoon, mind you, and was basing my opinion on nothing more than the designs of some of the characters which I always thought looked so cheesy and forced. I mean, come on – Megatron turns into a t-rex, which I’m willing to buy, but the t-rex head becomes his HAND? That’s it? It seemed like such a lazy design choice to me. I couldn’t get over it and that served as a huge barrier to me ever giving the series a chance. And I have to admit, names like “Optimus Primal” weren’t helping either. It was too cutesy, too contrived. Not to mention “Dinobot.” We already had a whole TEAM of Dinobots in the G1 series and now there’s a single character just named “Dinobot”? Not only was it too contrived, but to me it lacked imagination and as a result, there was nothing about the series that made me want to invest a single moment of time.

Dinobot and Ethan, courtesy of David Willis.

Fans on various message boards had been proclaiming the series’ merits for years, including “Shortpacked!’s” David Willis who, when Hasbro had a vote going to see what character would be added to the Transformer Hall of Fame, was championing Dinobot when the whole world knew that Soundwave was the sure thing. To my astonishment, Dinobot won, and all I could do was shake my head in disbelief. Who gives a crap about Dinobot? It was a fluke, not just an upset. It had to be (I can’t remember another time in my life when I had been THIS wrong about anything).

A short time after, I began watching the “Beast Wars” series via Netflix, and with a mix of great pain and great joy, I have to take back everything I ever said about Beast Wars because it has completely won me over.

Dino-hand! Rawr!

It didn’t hook me from the start, however. The first dozen episodes of the first season really weren’t all that great. You see, the series’ writers dove into the project without knowing a single thing about the original G1 series or comic. They were completely making it up as they went along and everything was arbitrarily named and the stories lacked urgency, but as the season progresses, it’s possible to almost pinpoint the exact moment when they did go back and learn about what had come before and then made the decision to tie the two series together in a meaningful way. Once this happens, the show finally finds its feet and has some direction. Not that it’s relying on G1 for credibility or anything, it’s just that it further expounds upon the Transformers canon by making itself an integral part of the story, as opposed to just being a piece of fiction that only exists within its own world with no consequence or impact on the overall story, as was my impression.

Such the charmer.

Once the series gets going, though, it’s awesome. And I even warmed up to Megatron’s t-rex fist-hand-thing. In fact, as season 1 winds down, there are moments that I actually prefer the Beast Wars Megatron to the original G1 Megatron. And that’s another thing – these two Megatrons? They’re not the same guy! I always thought they were, but they’re two completely different characters, but both are named “Megatron.” How they reconcile this is like this: Apparently the name “Megatron” comes from ancient Cybertronian scripture and refers to one of the original 13 – Megatronus Prime – who later becomes The Fallen. Both characters are said to have adopted the name so as to instill fear in their adversaries. Kinda cool. Again, kinda contrived, but kinda cool, too. And I have to come clean and admit that by the end of the series, Beast Wars Megatron easily bests G1 Megatron in my book insofar as compelling characters go, which is largely attributable to the fact that the creators were able to infuse the series with real character development, something we didn’t get with the G1 series. Beast Megatron is a much more fleshed-out and well-rounded character, and one that is impossible to resist, so long as you can get over his incessant use of the word “Yes…” He’s devious, intelligent, ambitious, self-serving, and charming as all get-out – the perfect villain.

Hall of Famer.

Back to Dinobot for a moment – as it turns out, he deserves that spot in the Hall of Fame for many reasons, but chief among them is the episode in season 2 titled “Code of Hero,” where he single-handedly defends a small group of humans from an attempted genocidal attack from the Predacons. Dinobot is victorious, but does not survive the confrontation (spoiler alert!). Dinobot’s dialog throughout the series was continually peppered with elements of Shakespeare, but it’s on his deathbed that the effectiveness of this is really driven home. It adds such weight and beauty to the scene that I found it hard to believe I was watching a kids’ cartoon, or that a kids’ cartoon would take such risks. With that moment and that episode, Beast Wars became so much more and truly transcended the confines of genre and media to become the strongest and most fully-realized piece of Transformers fiction. And Dinobot’s death affected me every bit as much as Optimus Prime’s death in the ’86 movie. Had I seen this episode as a kid, I probably would have been reduced to a puddle, but even with viewing it for the first time as an adult, it still had me all choked up.  It’s just so exceptionally well done. “Tell my tale to those who ask. Tell it truly, the ill deeds along with the good, and let me be judged accordingly. The rest… is silence.”

It's a start!

Now, because I am so enamored of the Beast Wars series, I naturally have to have the toys. Unfortunately, Beast Wars has been woefully under-represented in the modern Classics, Henkei, etc. lines, so I have to rely on what I can get in terms of the original figures. Cheetor and Dinobot are the only characters to have updates so far, but I’m finding that many of the later-period figures are not too shabby in terms of sculpt and articulation. And some, like Transmetal Rattrap and Blackarachnia, are downright wonderful.

I’ve dropped just about every other line I collect in order to give Beast Wars my full attention, and thanks to a few fellow board members, a local toy shop, BBTS, and ebay, I’ve managed to amass a decent collection in a short matter of time, and I’ve been having a ball in the process.

Coming soon!

It was recently announced that Shout! Factory is re-releasing the complete Beast Wars series on DVD starting with season 1 on June 7th. I can’t wait to own it and watch the whole thing again from start to finish.

“Beast Machines” season 1 disc 1 arrived in the mail today. I hope it’s a worthy successor to this awesome series.

Posted in Toy collecting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Iron Man Legends Titanium Man

My review of the Iron Man Legends Titanium Man can be found over on ActionFigurePics.com!

Posted in Action figures | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Emerald City Comicon

My write-up of Seattle’s Emerald City Comicon can be seen over at theshortbox.com!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

It’s Been 25 Years Since Orson Welles Tried to Eat Cyberton.

Transformers - The Movie!

This summer marks the 25th anniversary of the original “Transformers” movie, which is so hard for me to believe because I still vividly remember my dad taking Mauricio and I to see it at a Sunday matinee in my old hometown. This movie was something of an event for me because it was released near the height of my “Transformers-mania” and years later would still be regarded as one of the more traumatic movie-going experiences of my young life. Seriously! Anyone who had any kind of emotional investment in this franchise or these characters going in to this movie left feeling slightly jarred, at the very least. These were characters we spent our afternoons with, as well as many birthdays and Christmases. Every day after school Optimus Prime, Ironhide, Bumblebee, Prowl, etc. kept us company and kept us entertained while teaching us the ins and outs of nobility and integrity. When the cartoon wasn’t airing, I was able to pick up the Marvel comic and feed my Autobot fixation any time and any place. Because I was so absolutely immersed in the Transformers universe, the paradigm shift that this movie wrought really knocked me on my ass in a way no movie ever has.

The role of a lifetime, you say?

On it’s surface, there really wasn’t much to this movie. It was an animated movie based on a popular after school cartoon, comic, and toy line. It had a better-than-average cast for an animated movie with the likes of Orson Welles, Leonard Nimoy, Judd Nelson (he was a big deal in ’86!), and Eric Idle all voicing characters, but aside from whatever draw those names carried with them, there wasn’t much there for anyone who wasn’t already intimately familiar with the property. Which explains why my dad was dead asleep 15 minutes into it. No matter. What did he know? We, the fans, knew this was going to be epic. And it was.

Ironhide and Ratchet on screen for the last time.

The thing that really set the movie apart from the daily cartoon was, well… death. In the TV show, characters didn’t die (there were toys to sell, dammit!). Sure, they were hurt now and then, but they always bounced right back and lived to fight another day, and sell another toy, as it were. In the movie, however, there was an elevated level of violence that led right into key characters dying left and right within the first half hour of the movie. Ironhide, Ratchet, Brawn… major characters were being slaughtered right up there on the big screen and all I could do was take it all in in a state of almost total disbelief. I thought it was awesome. It made the movie feel so much more significant than just a longer, louder episode of the TV show that my sleeping dad had to pay for. Naturally, with this kind of property, I assumed these characters would be back before the movie was over, but I was shocked to learn I was wrong. This movie was effectively tearing down what had come before in order to make room for the new. It was a gutsy move.

Now picture me a blubbering mess.

Optimus Prime’s death was the one that really got me. Two decades before the sobbing mess “Toy Story 3” would reduce me to, I was sitting in the dark of a theater with my best friend and my unconscious father trying like hell to not sob like a baby while I watched Optimus Prime die on screen. For years and years I would refer to that moment as the most emotionally charged piece of cinema I had witnessed. And I’m serious! It absolutely destroyed me. Even now, after having seen the movie countless times, I still get choked up every single time I watch Optimus turn gray and lose consciousness. It was like watching a member of the family pass. It was brutal. And it still is, to a degree.

What makes Optimus Prime’s death even more interesting was that Hasbro was effectively killing off the figurehead of one of their major cash cows. That just doesn’t happen, and I’m pretty sure it hasn’t happened since. In the void left by Optimus Prime and his core group of Autobots, a new crew would emerge to attempt to do the impossible and take the place of a group of characters kids like myself had come to cherish and, to an extent, rely on.

Optimus is gone. You must love US now!

It was a recipe for failure, but I’m not so sure I would call it a “failure.” The new group did catch on, and several would go on to be included among my favorites, but they would never reach the heights the original cast did when they first entered the hearts and imaginations of kids all over the world. For many fans, the movie felt more like the closing of a book, rather than just the end of one chapter. With so many key characters now dead, what was the point?

When the TV show picked up again after the movie, it wasn’t the same. The core movie cast were great in their own right, but they weren’t Ironhide and Optimus Prime. The franchise was asking us to make another emotional investment with another group, to feel the same way about these characters as we did about the originals. Some had a hard time swallowing that. Sure, there were some characters who carried over to make the transition easier, like Grimlock and Soundwave, but for the most part it became a totally different show.

... sigh.

Regardless, the movie stands as a watermark in the Transformers canon. It introduced us to Unicron, Ultra Magnus, Galvatron, Kup, etc. It turned an incredibly popular property on its ear and it didn’t look back. I love it just as much now as I did back then, and I think it’s a safe bet that in another 25 years it will still be viewed as a more significant movie than the live-action Transformers movies of recent years.

Posted in Movies | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Retro Star Wars > Prequel Damage

I’m just a man. My resolve is only so strong.

Darth Vader looking awesome.

I swore off Star Wars a couple years ago. The toys, that is, but I haven’t seen any of the movies in years either, but that’s just a coincidence. Or is it? Like most people I know, I loved the original trilogy. But, then, we all know what happened. The prequels happened. And they were so fundamentally lousy that the disdain and, let’s be honest here, downright animosity I felt for them spilled over to the original trilogy. In effect, those damn prequels accomplished what was seemingly impossible – they turned me off to Star Wars, almost completely. They made me forget what I loved about the original movies.

Growing up, I was not a casual Star Wars fan – I was almost totally immersed in Star Wars

I didn't know his helmet came off until I opened the package and thought I broke it.

every day of my life from the ages of 4 to about 11. I had the toys, I had the pajamas, I had the t-shirts, I had the curtains, I had the Halloween costumes, I had the themed birthday parties, I had the talking alarm clock, I had the models, I had the coloring books, stamps, glasses, plates, shoelaces… you name it! Whatever product the brand was licensed to, chances are I had it. I was a Star Wars freak. Nothing came close to it. Not Marvel, not GI Joe, not even Transformers.

When Marvel Legends pulled me back into toy collecting when I was much older, I was momentarily tempted by Star Wars as well, but the prequels had done their damage and I would only occasionally spare them a quick glance in the toy aisles. That is, until the vintage packaging hit in 2010.

It's a trap!

This fake vintage line really is marketing genius because it does a whopper on someone like me – someone who hasn’t given a thought to Star Wars in years, but has very fond memories of getting new Star Wars toys at Sears 30 years ago and holding and admiring the boxes before shredding them in the backseat of the car on the way home. The vintage packaging elicits so many memories from my youth that are so intrinsically tied to Star Wars that the pull of these new “vintage” toys is almost impossible to deny; it’s like a damn tractor beam. The AT-AT, the Snow Speeder, the individual figures…  everything old is new again, I swear, and I hate to admit what a sucker I am for it.

During one of Fred Meyer’s many toy sales around Christmas, I found myself buying Star

I don't care what anyone says about the Ewoks.

Wars figures again. I couldn’t help it. They looked so cool on the pegs and they were so cheap. I picked up Darth Vader, Wicket the Ewok, Admiral Ackbar, and a Gamorrean Guard and I’ve done a good job of drawing the line at just those four so far. I still have no intention of becoming a full-on Star Wars collector again because, frankly, I can’t imagine a bigger black hole to step into given the sheer amount of product available. There’d be way too much catch-up to worry about and the thought of starting is not an enticing one at all, believe it or not But picking up the odd, random figure here and there is something I can handle. Like I did with these four.

Gamorrean Guard has one of the best sculpts ever.

I will say that, so far, it’s really cool to have some Star Wars figures again. Almost all the stuff I had as a kid ended up in a landfill somewhere once I hit my teen years, but I do still have a few small mementos from that time. Nothing major – just a couple plastic cups that were somehow spared. I wish I had more of it, but I’m happy to have what I do. But seeing these figures on my shelves bring back a lot of warm memories of friends, my family, and all the places we all went together during my Star Wars years. Once quick glance at the shelf is an instant trip down memory lane, and I’m actually thankful for the opportunity to reminisce.

It’s pretty great.

Posted in Toy collecting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment