Monday, April 30, 2012

Please don't use this in your art history class.

I thought I had blogged this issue already, but I may have just been remembering that I found the trade sometime afterwards: from 2006, The Thing #7, "Dis Man, Dis Monster, Disarmed!" Story by Dan Slott, art by Kieron Dwyer.

It's Alicia Master's birthday, or least it was that the present. Ben's having a hard time with Alicia having a new boyfriend Arlo, made even harder since he isn't a super-villain, he's a good guy. Feeling jealous already, Ben is further crushed when he hears Alicia gush over her birthday present from Arlo: a handsculpted replica of the Venus de Milo, her favorite work of art. With Lockjaw in tow, Ben tries to take Alicia to the Louvre, but that doesn't seem impressive enough. Back to the Baxter Building...
Meanwhile, in ancient Greece, Alexandros of Antioch is working on a new sculpture, of none other than Hercules. Who is bored as hell of standing around, and more than a bit drunk. Herc is loudly wishing for "a woman to woo...a monster to--" presumably fight, when he hears Alicia and Ben arguing. Alicia is starting to get pissed at being dragged into the past, and that Ben keeps calling her baby, when an awkward moment is averted by Herc punching Ben in the face.

While Alicia is praised as a blind oracle for "seeing" what's going to happen, i.e. clobbering time; Ben knocks Herc into his wine, ruining it and the stupid lion-hide he was wearing. Herc then socks Ben into several statues, smashing them and knocking the arms off the 'Aphrodite of Melos,' as it was known then. Hercules apologizes, but Alexandros isn't bothered: "According to the oracle...I'm gonna be huge in France!" Alicia breaks up the fights, and Herc apologizes for the misunderstanding as well; although he enjoyed the fight.
Alicia tells Ben she doesn't think they could ever be what they were before, having "been broken so many times." Still, Ben says just because something is broken--like the Venus--doesn't mean it's not a classic. Later, back at the Baxter Building, Sue had made up a story to get Ben and Alicia to watch the kids, which seems like a crappy birthday present, Sue.
Reed does notice that Ben's altered the timeline, as New York City now has a Greco-Roman design; but shrugs and says he'll fix it in the morning.

This was a fun little series, although I'm not sure how much if any of it is remembered: I couldn't say if Arlo was brought up again after it. Anytime anybody changes the Alicia/Ben relationship, someone else rolls it right back. There's also a bit of mood whiplash, as those early panels seem to indicate a much more melancholy story than this turned out.

Also: Blogger's schedule function? Still broken...I have to look into that.

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Friday, April 27, 2012

"DUM-DA-DUM DA-DUM." And mashed potatoes. That's all I remember.

Oh, I don't have all of Walt Simonson's Alien adaptation, but I have this: Marvel Super Special #3, "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," edited and adapted by Archie Goodwin, illustrated by Walt Simonson and Klaus Janson, based on the Steven Spielberg movie.

I know damn well I've seen Close Encounters, but it's probably been twenty years. Seriously, even re-reading the comic, it seemed familiar, but like hearing a story someone told you once. Still, I'm glad to have this beat-up old copy of it, and there's a nice afterword from Goodwin on the difficulties of adapting any film to comics (particularly one so intertwined with its John Williams score) and a thank-you to everyone he worked with on it.

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

80-Page Thursdays: Dark Horse Presents #7!

80-Page Thursdays is probably going to continue for a while, since it looks like I'll be guaranteed at least one a month for the foreseeable future, with Dark Horse Presents! With the addition of Mike Mignola's Hellboy and B.P.R.D. and with Evan Dorkin and the return of Nexus coming up, I'm in.

Issue #7 features a Hellboy feature set in Mexico, 1956; when HB spent several months drunk as a lemur. And still fighting monsters. Andi Watson's Skeleton Key and Carla Speed McNeil's Finder deliver another two solid chapters, and Stan Sakai brings an good Usagi Yojimbo short.

Brandon Graham's "The Speaker" is interesting, but not the coolest thing I've seen from him. Ditto Neal Adam's "Blood" and Howard Chaykin's "Marked Man," both of which continue. I missed a couple chapters of those, but am still not sold on them. We'll see if I come around on the next issue!
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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

"Welcome home, Star Boy...if you think we're calling you Starman, think again."

Starman, if you must call Thom that, is from the DC Direct Justice Society series. If you're a fan of him or the Legion, you may or may not want to hold out for the upcoming-at-some-point DCUC online one; since he's huge. Hell, I think he's big even with other DC Direct figures. I saw some review commenting on the likeness of Thom and Star Trek: The Next Generation's Commander Riker. Star Boy's beardy look predates that by a few years, though; but you can pretend they're both big guys.

Star Boy wasn't one of my favorite Legionnaires, since in the old 60's stories I read reprints of, the power of making stuff heavy wasn't especially dramatic. That may be because it's not an especially visual power; or it may be because if used properly, it would be a drama-killer since he could end almost any fight in three seconds by making any combatants too heavy to move. Light Lass's powers of making things not-heavy were in the same boat; although in recent years writers using Brainiac 5 have pointed out between them they control one of the fundamental forces of the universe.

This started out as a deadly serious strip with the Legion of Super-Heroes trying to piece together what happened to their friend Star Boy: James Robinson made him part of the sprawling Starman legacy--because, that's why. I'm pretty sure Evil Star, Red Star, Starro, and multiple versions of Starfire would've been included as well if the book had gone on. I think Robinson also added as much tragedy as he could cram into Thom: possibly the implication of mental problems, and probably foreshadowing an upcoming tragic end. Then, Star Boy was sent back to the past, for some reason, and ended up, as he mentions, in a mental institution and the Justice Society. Um, then Magog, Gog, something, reboot, reboot, reboot...

I posted reference for the LSH Clubhouse a year and change ago, and finally got around to it. Very artsy, yes? I wanted to do the "Super-Hero Club" sign in Interlac, and even had that reference, but my lettering skills are weak.
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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

We've checked out a couple issues of DC's Conan-style character Claw the Unconquered, but today we've got a Conan issue swiping Claw! From 1981's Conan the Barbarian #161, "House of Skulls!" Script by Michael Fleisher, art by John Buscema.

Coming back from a bar, Conan is nearly robbed and killed, except for the intervention of a large man in a cloak: his old friend Fafnir, last seen in Conan the Barbarian #20. (I wouldn't get to read that issue for another six years, until it was reprinted in Conan Saga #7.) Fafnir lost his left arm to an arrow and infection, at the siege of Makkalet; and was thrown overboard and left to die. Barely surviving, now Fafnir was on his way to get a new arm, at the House of Skulls. Fafnir's upset over losing his directions during the fight, but had them memorized, so no harm done.

Conan's been around at this point, and should probably know this is a bad, bad idea; but they get attacked by a barbarian-eating tree before he can say anything. The old witch of the House gets them down from there, scolding them for not feeding her tree a rabbit or an infant--it's poor tummy would be upset if it ate two full-grown men. The witch had been expecting Fafnir, and after discarding unsuitable options like a demon-bat wing or snow-falcon talon, hooks him up with a nice new demon arm. Twenty gold pieces, thank you, come again...except a couple thugs found the address and got to the witch first.

Coming through the marsh, Conan and Fafnir come across three slavers chasing two girls. They make short work of the slavers, but Fafnir's new arm chokes one to death without his control. Still, Conan points out the slaver had been going for a hidden dagger, so the arm did OK. They don't realize, the thugs and the witch have control over the arm; and later that night the arm attacks one of the girls, seemingly driving Fafnir insane with rage as well.

Fafnir, aghast with remorse, is about to cut the demon-arm off, but the witch turns him on Conan instead. Still, Conan is an even match, until the witch brings them to her, so she can focus her power on the arm. Now outmatched, Conan is on the verge of being crushed, but manages to destroy the witch's power-glass with a thrown rock. The witch, and the arm, collapse into ash; and the thugs try to get revenge themselves. As you'd expect, they fail miserably, but in a nice touch the surviving girl gets to avenge her friend. Fafnir sadly joins Conan and the girl, as they ride off.

Fafnir would hang out with Conan--after Dr. Who, I can't really call him a companion--for another five or so issues. He would tend to be overshadowed and outshined by Conan, though; so it's not surprising he didn't stick around. Aside: I had 'outshined' the first time I wrote that last sentence, and the spell check wanted 'outshone.' Which sounds, eh, not as good there, anyway...
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Monday, April 23, 2012

Today, Iron Man riding a dragon:

I was looking for something else, but stumbled into a couple of issues I hadn't read in some time: Iron Man #275, "Dragon Doom!" Pencils by Paul Ryan, inks by Bob Wiacek, written by John Byrne. (That was the order they usually were presented in their run.)

The Mandarin has taken over a good portion of China, but he's come to realize he's only the pawn of Fin Fang Foom and his alien-dragon comrades. The dragons now want their rings back, and only Iron Man can stop them from taking them and the world. Rhodey is there, but in bad shape; and the Mandarin is a bit mopey over being played. Tony isn't doing much better: his nervous system was deteriorating, and he had to leave the battlefield a previous issue to switch from a remote piloted suit to showing up in person.
Rhodey gets knocked into another timezone, and Tony commandeers and overclocks the Mandarin's rings, causing a sixteen-hour explosion, in which the Mandarin and the dragons disappear. (And Tony comes out with a bleached-white suit of armor...)

I always liked those panels at Marvel, where some big cosmic thing would be going down and various characters like Dr. Strange and Spidey would sense it. The rest of the issue is a sad wrap-up to Tony's visit to China: his doctor, Su Yin (yet another Dr. Love-Interest...) was forced to lie to him, and his condition is hopeless. Tony tries to get Yin to run away with him; but relents after meeting her husband.

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Friday, April 20, 2012

Maybe I should schedule a rage dump every Friday...

If you're seeing this post, then Blogger's post schedule function is broken. Which is super-annoying, since I had 42 posts scheduled. And it's a little laggy, and picture uploading is really sketchy: a picture might load, but I have to get it out of the gallery to put back in. And it doesn't appear to have spellcheck anymore, and if your post is on the long side it acts weird...EDIT: And, the sidebar links to some other blogspot sites don't work: it goes there, loads the target site, then comes right back. Super-frustrating, since that's how I read most of the blogs I read. Ah, if only that was the most annoying thing this week.

Over at 4thletter and Comics Alliance, David Brothers has a great piece about Marvel and DC's "exploitative and unjust practices," against Jack Kirby, Alan Moore, and probably others. I respect his opinion and his conviction, but I don't agree. In fact, he actually reversed my opinion on Before Watchmen: I had just thought it was a stupid idea, but now...

Brothers describes Marvel Comics as not "an entity capable of holding a pen and pencil and having ideas." And he's right, it's not: it's a company. Marvel isn't your pal, it isn't someone you can reason with or shame into doing the "right thing," whatever that may be. It's a corporate entity with job one being make money. Not honor Jack Kirby's legacy, not be cool, not even make comics: make money. And Marvel is not going to do anything that is going to interfere with that. Did Kirby get a bad deal? Yes. Did Marvel take unfair advantage? Probably. But Marvel wasn't just going to sit back and lose a ream of characters.

Now here's the problem: I was fed up with Marvel during the Gary Friedrich/Ghost Rider thing. Friedrich is an older gentleman, and not in the best of health. Marvel comes off as a big mean corporation trying to crush anyone who may have a rightful share in their profits. But, Marvel does have the right to try to defend their rights, too. And, if Marvel tried to do anything "cool," like help Friedrich out, or kick something back to Kirby's estate; that could be seen as an admission of guilt or culpability. It could open the doors for anyone and everyone who did anything for the company to come back at them, knives out.

Brothers also suggest Marvel should come to terms, and mend fences, with the Kirby family. In a perfect world, that would be swell. That will never, ever, ever happen. Even if Marvel wanted to. Because, seriously, try to put a price tag on Jack Kirby's legacy. Really. If the Avengers movie was going to make a billion dollars, what percentage of that would you say is due Kirby? Or due Stan Lee, for that matter? (Lee certainly didn't get the shafting Kirby did, but...) Or Don Heck, or any other creators that have worked on the Avengers comics over the years? Never mind whatever contracts they had at the time...Then, figure out where Kirby and everyone's cut comes out of everyone else's cut; and who gets what out of the toys, DVDs, other merchandising...get a pencil, this might take a while. Then negotiate that with everyone else involved. Never. Ever.

Yeah, I wish Marvel had cut a more equitable deal with Kirby all those years ago. At the time, did Marvel's corporate handlers know there would be capital-B billions involved later? Doubtful. I'd love it if Kirby's estate got a piece of the toy sales to, but somehow, I have to think Kirby would be a little ok with the idea of kids with Hulk Hands and Thor hammers and Cap shields wailing on each other. I have to say, I think that's a pretty sweet legacy...

Of course, I say all this, because I plan on seeing the Avengers with my boys; but good lord Marvel pisses me off sometimes. I haven't read Avengers the comic regularly for over five years. Disney XD is apparently going to cancel Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, which I love; possibly to replace it with something more like...Ultimate Spider-Man which, to be kind, isn't to my taste. (I don't expect to love unconditionally everything Marvel does, and it is in their interest to make shows to appeal to different audiences. I still don't think it's very good.) I can't bring myself to care at all about Avengers vs. X-Men. Every time Marvel does something I like, they immediately follow it up with something I hate. Then cancel the thing I liked. And I just wrote a ton of words defending them (or rather, "it") for pushing Jack Kirby down and taking his stuff. Awesome.

And then there's DC, and the company's ongoing tormenting of Alan Moore. Before Watchmen really does seem like a prank that has somehow taken a life of its own; like they told Moore they were going to do it just to see if they could get him to rupture a blood vessel. And trying to build a franchise on something as self-contained as the original Watchmen sounds like trying to build a Lego skyscraper with a bowling ball as your base: there's not much to anchor to and build from. It's a stupid, stupid idea. It's probably not right, either, but it is DC's right to do it. And I reserve the right to pull issues out of the dollar bins in a couple months to make fun of 'em.

But I have to admit, there is a chance--a microscopic, long-shot, hail-mary, don't bet the rent chance--that the various creators on Before Watchmen might somehow succeed and make a franchise of it. It's a boldfaced, shameless cash-grab; but if it entertains readers (or, against all odds, brings in new ones) and sells, isn't that what matters? Well, no, but to the stockholders, I guess.

Ugh, this post is long enough for Blogger to hate it now, so enough. Buy stuff you like. Don't buy stuff you don't. And the Hellboy/B.P.R.D. books are great; they would be an excellent alternative to buying Marvel, DC, or any other books. I think sometimes, if you were to say you aren't buying or reading Marvel or DC books, it's looked at like you were voting Green Party: a waste of a vote...
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Thursday, April 19, 2012

80-Page Thursdays: Superman 80-Page Giant #1!

I kind of hope DC continues doing 80-pagers in the new, post-52 continuity. They're a useful way to give tryouts to new artists and writers, or to let a bigger name do a story without facing a monthly deadline. ("We need your eight-page Superman story in...2013.") And they give an opportunity to touch in with supporting cast members or odd bits of continuity that might not have the room to breathe in a regular title. Today's book seems like it exemplifies those ideas, although that may well be do more to happenstance than anything: Superman 80-Page Giant #1, featuring stories from Mike W. Barr, Dan Jurgens, John Rozum, Garth Ennis and more; with art by Norm Breyfogle, Bob McLeod, John McCrea, and more.

Barr has two stories this issue, but the first with Norm Breyfogle is the best. (Brett Breeding inks this one, and two others here.) In "Big Name," a Russian immigrant working for the mob becomes a laughingstock after an encounter with Superman, and swears to kill him. His first attempt, with a cement mixer, makes him more of a mockery; so he goes with evil Russian nesting dolls. Seems reasonable...
Stay in school, kids! And monsters.
Next, Clark Kent is concerned when a new newspaper strip, "Captain Tomorrow," seems to read a little too closely to his and Lois's own life. Then, there's a short Scorn tale. Scorn was an alien monster from the then-current version of Kandor; a big, blue bruiser; living in Metropolis with a blind girl. I can't remember the nature of their relationship, if it was platonic or they were a couple, but Scorn was a decent guy mostly due to her. Still, I may have gotten the wrong message from his stories: that Metropolis is chock-full of jerks. It's a fish out of water story where the fish is a shark that somehow refrains from just eating everyone, and the other fish push him on it.

There's a trippy John Rozum/John McCrea story with "the Utopian," a nutter who expanded his mind and wants to do the same for everyone else. McCrea goes crazier on the art than Graham Higgins on the following Mxyzptk one. Then, we get to visit Noonan's Bar, as Garth Ennis and Nelson show us "How to be a Superhero!" Featuring Sixpack from Hitman! Ennis only wrote Superman a couple of times, but man, he does it well.
Superman doesn't just do good, he wants to give everyone else the chance to do good as well. Ennis gets it, and his story alone might be worth this one for some readers.
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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

They've been rebooted twice since you started reading this.

Unbelievable. I can't believe I didn't notice before, but the DC Direct Legionnaires I have, don't have flight rings! Cosmic Boy has the old flight belt, but the figure even came with a flight ring. The Mattel Legion set of figures all have a hand with a flight ring, with a new one sculpted for Saturn Girl, the lone female. I don't know if the guys' hand is a reuse of Booster Gold's or not, though.

I did this strip a couple of weeks back, but it got pushed back more than once. Then, in the meantime, I got another Legionnaire for my makeshift, hodgepodge Legion of Super-Heroes. We'll see him next week, along with our most ambitious set design in a while!
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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The original title, "The Man Cockblocked by History!" was rejected...

There are any number of Superman villains, but I seem to come across a lot of issues where a gloryhound scientist goes off the rails. Like today's issue! From Action Comics #433, "The Man Who Was Buried on Page 64!" Written by Cary Bates, pencils by Curt Swan, inks by Murphy Anderson.

Superman saves the President from drowning, but that's just the straw that breaks the camel's back for Norm Sythe. Years ago at Clark Kent's graduation, the inventor was the commencement speaker; but was really there to use his "mento-extractor" to harvest unused brain-power from three grads...and Clark. Now with his equipment super-charged with Superman's unused brain-power (and if you've read 50's Superman stories, that has to be a helluva lot) Sythe is able to control the three grads, use them as invisible flying phantoms to kidnap Superman, and "brainwash" him into thinking he's in a Kryptonite cage. All to get his revenge on history.

All his life, Sythe had actually accomplished some impressive feats--like discovering the earliest human skull to date, a Dead Sea scroll, a "multi-tailed comet"--but never received the acclaim he felt he deserved, because some major historical event always pushed him off the front page!
Geez, how old is Sythe? Pity he lived before the twenty-four hour news cycle...

Sythe plans on using the mento-extractor to terraform the moon, giving it an atmosphere and plant and animal life out of nothingness. This would be an unbeatable historical event: nothing, but nothing would push that off the front page! Except maybe the moon overloading with energy and exploding, as Superman warns Sythe. Sythe just thinks Supes is a jealous bastard, but Superman blasts through the imaginary Kryptonite cage--which faded away, for some reason--and tears out the extractor. As Supes is about to take it into space, Sythe tries to use it again, causing it to explode. The moon reverts to normal, and the grads don't remember a thing, including Clark's secret identity.

The next day's headlines read "Superman Saves Moon from Doom," while Norm Sythe is "buried" on page 64...the obituaries. What's the lesson of this one? Um...gimme a second...accomplishments should be their own reward, not accolades or glory. No? Maybe, sometimes being overshadowed isn't the worst thing in the world? Don't steal mental energy? Listen to Superman? Ah, I don't know.

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Monday, April 16, 2012

I'm posting this now, so dealers can jack up the price set them aside for me.

The Spokane Comic-Con is coming up May 19th; so I'm trying to sort out what I'm looking for this year...even though there's little telling what will be there. I always get a pretty good pile of books, although I didn't get as many last year as I was hoping for. That said, I did get a new copy of Thor #300 (a book I love, but will never ever blog about since it's insanely complicated...) and those WildC.A.T.s figures and Man-Thing.

So, here's the stuff I'll be looking for, at least what I can think of so far. Most of these books aren't especially valuable, but might be slightly scarce since some weren't particularly popular.

Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #209, 210, 211. (Oddly, I actually found #211 over the weekend. I probably shouldn't have read the last part before the third and fourth, but that probably shouldn't have been a five parter, either.)
The Heckler #2-6
America vs. the Justice Society #1
Marvel Super-Heroes #2, 4-8, 13-15.
2000 AD Presents #15.
Countdown Special: OMAC.
Superman Family issues--cheap ones!
Green Lantern 80-Page Giant #3.
Worlds Unknown #8
Marvel Age #31 (Still!)
X-51 #1-12 (Minus #8, which I know I have. That series wasn't great, and the later issues are probably scarce since they weren't selling...)
What The--?! #25, 26.
Trinity Angels #12.
Suicide Squad (2002) #12.
The Question Returns #1.
Batman: Doom that came to Gotham #2, 3.
Twilight Zone #70
Green Lantern Annual #7, Aquaman Annual #4: I have the rest of the Ghosts crossover.
EDIT: Incredible Hulk #350, Fantastic Four #320 (Grey Hulk vs. spiky-Thing!)
MORE EDIT: Savage Tales 1985 series, especially #2. Herb Trimpe rocks in that issue.
JLA #97, 99. (Claremont/Byrne/Ordway, but not great. I'd go cheap on them, though.)

There's probably more I'll think of between now and then, but we'll see.
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Friday, April 13, 2012

Retro Toy Week: Toy Biz's Captain America!

Like I've said before, sometimes for Retro Toy Week we check out figures that have aged well and still hold up today. And other times, well, we don't. Like today's figure! From 1996, Toy Biz's Captain America!
I swear, this was a high-end figure back in the day, a real step up in sculpt and scale. It probably wasn't a patch on McFarlane's sculptors of the same time, and I think Cap is actually a bit bigger than originally intended because of a panograph error. (I want to say that's via ToyFare, or perhaps Wizard.) Which probably explains why his shield is too small, even with the spark-action feature. (I think that whole wave of Spider-Man figures had such.)

Mine is a bit dusty, and the right elbow is a bit too loose to support that shield. (Nine points of articulation: neck, shoulders, elbows, hips, knees.) The paint isn't that bad, although the boot-tops are a little off.
I do still kinda like Cap's facial expression: he just seems pissed, and ToyFare had a couple of shorts with him yelling, usually at Thor. He also came with a jetpack/skycycle thing, which we saw four years ago in the strip "America in Flight." And after the break: the Third Annual Retro Toy Week 20 Seconds of YouTube! Check out Cap's shield-spark!

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Retro Toy Week: Legacy of Kain Soul Reaver Raziel!

What do I know about the Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver Playstation 1 game? Just about nothing. Never played it, sorry.

What do I know about the Raziel figure from Blue Box? Slightly more. Maybe.

For a figure from 2000, Raziel has a fair amount of useful articulation, even if a lot of it is done with simple cut joints: 2 mid-bicep points, 2 elbows, 2 wrists, the right thumb, 2 hips and 2 mid-thigh. Then, the neck, shoulders and ankles are balls, and the knees straight-hinges. Some of the cuts are a little stiff, but would probably loosen up with a bit of work. Raziel's neck articulation doesn't come into play until you remove the shawl/face covering he wears; and he also has two non-removable soft rubber, membraneous wings. The latter are holding up pretty well for a figure over a decade old.

I didn't have them handy, but I'm pretty sure I still have his accessories, a torch and a spear weapon. The left hand has a hole to peg the spear into, while the cut right thumb joint helps him hold the torch.

If I haven't played the game, why did I buy this figure? Well, I was working at a store where I got a discount; and if my admittedly spotty memory serves, I'm pretty sure I got Raziel for under five bucks. That, and he looks like Nightcrawler's undead corpse:

Still a pretty solid figure, wheather you know him or not; but NECA put out their own version pretty recently, so you could probably find a Raziel on the pegs with a little searching. Is the NECA one better than Blue Box's, is the question...

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Retro Toy Week: Toy Biz Resident Evil Zombies!

We're more than doubling up on this one, but this is a batch of toys I especially wanted to look at this week. Not just because it's still more videogame characters from a game I haven't played: the Resident Evil Zombie with Forest Speyer and Resident Evil 2 Zombie Cop with exploding action!

Even though I enjoyed the first couple Resident Evil movies, I've never played any of the games. It's not that I've been avoiding them, but they haven't fallen into my lap, either. I have only a nodding acquaintance with the mythology of either version; the T-virus, the Umbrella Corporation, lickers, and whatnot. Ditto the characters--I know a couple of the zombies came with Claire or Hunk or whoever, but they're in a different bin. (No, they weren't; I just wasn't interested in them.)

The bald zombie that came with Hunk reminds me of the cover of the original Dawn of the Dead, and since he came with a crow, I do believe that's an intentional homage. He may be a tough one to dig up now. The link is to eBay since I didn't find one of him on Amazon, and even with Hunk (the gasmasked fellow) and accessories he's a bit spendy. In that vein, if you look for the cop zombie, be sure he has the little top-of-his-head, cap/brain piece: press his guts, and he explodes into three parts!

But for figures from 1998-99, the Resident Evil zombies hold up great on the sculpt and paint fronts. There's a lot of exposed bone, tendons, and blood; as well as nice detail work on the lab zombies' little ID badges or the bald zombie's plaid shirt. However, they haven't aged as well in scale or articulation: they're too big to go with 3 3/4 inch figures like Star Wars or G.I. Joe, and too small for the six-inch(ish) scale of Marvel Legends or DCUC...

The zombies did turn up a couple times here, even though yeah, they're woefully out of scale. NECA has had the Resident Evil license in recent years, and I don't think they're the only one, either. So, there are more options out there for your videogame zombie needs, but I think a lot of them will be slightly bigger than six-inch scale!

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Retro Toy Week: Nightcrawler!

You know I wouldn't let a Retro Toy Week go by without a Nightcrawler figure: this time, we're going about as far back as we can...sort of.

This 1990 PVC isn't the oldest in my collection of Nightcrawler items: the lead figure from TSR predates it by six years. But it may have taken me the longest to get: I was a senior in high school in '90, and the nearest comic shop was about 80 miles away. 'Course, in Montana, that's usually 'bout an hour's drive. These PVC's had shown up in ads in comics of the time: I believe this was the second series of them.
So, one relatively fine day, my friends and I made the drive to get McDonald's and comic books...and Nightcrawler was already sold out by the time I got there. Apparently there was two per case or box or whatever, and they went immediately. Although I'm pretty sure my friends were less than sympathetic, I was crushed. I bought an Iron Man PVC, a feeble second-best. And I went back to that comic store many times, and others; and other PVC's were produced in staggering numbers, but I never saw a Nightcrawler one. Not once.

Years later...and I have to admit, I am completely unsure how long. I think eight years, but for some reason thought fifteen, and I know that's wrong. Anyway, that missing PVC was one of, if not the first thing I ever bought on eBay. He's not articulated. The balance on his three-point stance is a little iffy. The paint is slightly better than you could do yourself; ditto the sculpt.
I love it so much I have two.

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Retro Toy Week: Star Wars Cloud Car!

Here's a retro toy that's not a proper action figure, but is definitely retro: it may be older than some of you reading this! From Kenner and 1980, Star Wars: the Empire Strikes Back Diecast Twin-Pod Cloud Car!

I had a ton of Star Wars figures and vehicles through Empire, being "too old" to keep getting them when Return came out. I know I had a Cloud Car and pilot, but while I still have my figures, I don't know where my ships or Death Star went. (It's not a huge hole in my soul--just a dent.) But I still have this one, although I have no recollection when or how I got it--it must have been a gift, but I wish I remembered from who.

It might not top a lot of wish lists, but I appreciated the Cloud Car: in my imagination, it reminds me of WWI observation planes, not an air-superiority fighter. Against TIE Fighters, a Cloud Car Pilot would have to be his best, and damn lucky...Plus, for my little kid hands, this was about the perfect size to mimic one of those double-blasters from the Black Hole.

The Cloud Car is almost entirely orange--it's the hunters' safety vest of Star Wars ships. There is a little paint on the pilots, and I want to say their helmets are a different shade of redder-orange. The canopies do not open, but the landing gear does extend.

A quick search found a little history: the Cloud Car was Series 3, with the admittedly cooler Snowspeeder and Slave I. And the Cloud Car isn't displayed as prominently in my collection as the Series 2 Diecast Millennium Falcon, which is face-rockingly super-cool and I'm seriously considering being buried with it. The Cloud Car, is merely neat.

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