Category Archives: Comics

Bringing Bucky Home

Bucky and the gang approach a cross roads!

The New Year holiday is a time for both reflection and looking forward. Almost every publication, network, YouTuber, blogger, etc. does some sort of “Best of the Year” segment or just a feature that recalls the events of the past 365 days (or in the case of 2020, 366) because it can be both fun and it’s easy to fill time during a period when everyone is looking to take time off. Toy producer Boss Fight Studio is no different in that regard for it did a webcast on its Facebook account recalling the events of 2020 as it pertained to its line of toys. It featured the partners and some of the designers at the company and it gave them a chance to maybe spotlight something that fell through the cracks and also draw attention to what collectors could look forward to in 2021. As a rabid collector of Boss Fight Studio’s Bucky O’Hare line, I tuned in to see if there was any news on that front. Captain Mimi LaFloo was released at the end of 2020 and it was the first figure in the line to see release without an announced figure in the pipeline. It’s a bit of a cruel reality for toy designers that once a new figure is put out fans immediately turn to ask “What’s next?!” but that’s the way it is.

Needless to say, the update on the Bucky franchise was not what I would consider promising. To paraphrase, the update (which is archived on Facebook) was that there is no update! There are plenty of figures in stock and ready to order, but the company is not ready to announce another figure to follow. It was, of course, stressed that they love Bucky and have enjoyed their relationship with the license holder, Continuity Comics, but that doesn’t change the reality that there appear to be no plans for Bucky O’Hare at this point in time. Sure, things can change and maybe something gets announced in the future, but for an industry that works on lags of more than a year from conception, to announcement, to release it can certainly be inferred that there will be no new Bucky product in 2021, and if there isn’t an announcement of some kind before the end of the year then you can probably write-off 2022 as well.

2020 was not a good year for a lot of people and things, but for Bucky O’Hare it was a significant improvement over 2019. 2019 was the first year since the line launched that there was no new Bucky product released. Anything that might have released in 2019 was pushed to 2020 due to a variety of reasons, one of which was undoubtedly COVID. It was pretty fruitful though as Boss Fight released two new characters, Bruiser and Mimi, as well as a fun variant of the Storm Toad Trooper. I, of course, got all three and even in the case of the Storm Toad I got two. I am all-in on this line and that pretty much includes new sculpts and variants at this point.

Boss Fight Studio has given us a wonderful assortment of figures, something I never thought would happen with this property.

It should be noted that Bucky O’Hare was the first license Boss Fight Studio acquired. Since then, the company has added a bunch more and has released or is preparing to release action figures based on Sam & Max, Flash Gordon, Zorro, and more. It’s a small, Massachusetts-based, company that sells a lot of its product direct to consumers with a few internet outlets and comic shops also stocking product. Space is a real constraint for a company of Boss Fight Studio’s size and I took the comment from the Facebook Live event about having plenty of stock to mean there physically is not any more room for Bucky O’Hare figures in their warehouse. At least, the company does not want to devote more space to the line. Bucky O’Hare is, and I’ve said it many times, a niche license. The fanbase is small and has been given no reason to grow over the past few decades as pretty much the only new Bucky merch have been the toys of Boss Fight Studio. And being that this is a small company, it can be assumed the figures are being sold at a price that is as low as it can be, and at $35 a figure, it’s not priced to invite a casual fan that may have a fading memory of the old Hasbro line or Konami game. And the fact that they’re not in a lot of physical stores also means the company loses out on impulse buys. That’s all to say that Bucky O’Hare is dependent on its fanbase, and it’s a small, limited, fanbase.

If that sounds negative, I don’t intend for it to be. I think of it as a realist point of view. From what I understand in speaking with people who have some inside info on the line, it’s that it’s a pretty flat line in terms of sales. In some respects, that’s good as it implies that the fans have bought basically every character Boss Fight has put out in roughly equal numbers. They know what to expect, and since they’ve released 6 sculpts in the line they must not be losing money on it or else why keep putting figures out? Boss Fight Studio isn’t Hasbro or NECA where it can take on some pet projects that maybe just break even or actually come in at a loss, so the fact that the line has gone as long as it has tells me it’s not a loser. It just doesn’t appear to possess any growth potential, and when the company is launching new licenses that maybe have more active and excited fanbases, it’s easy to push Bucky aside. And it can also say to the company that if they do indeed come back to it they know what to expect sales-wise

The villains has found it tough sledding as far as getting action figures is concerned.

All of this is to say that I’ve had this line and Bucky on my mind in general for the past few weeks. I’ve been in a reflective mood when it comes to this toy line. When Boss Fight Studio announced this toy line back in 2017, I was both surprised and psyched. Up to that point, Bucky O’Hare had come to feel like a forgotten property not even worthy of a true DVD release in the United States. It’s legacy seemed destined to be constrained to the retro gaming circle where the old Nintendo game was both praised and a bit of a hard-to-come-by item. If someone had told me I could have a modern Bucky O’Hare action figure I would have taken it and happily paid probably a dumb amount of money for it at that. A whole line though was a dream come true. I was also guarded from the moment it was announced though. The only other Bucky announcements from the 2000s had ended in cancellation before anything was officially produced. As a result, I’ve always approached this line with the thought that whatever figure I get could be the last one. An announcement or prototype unveiling didn’t necessarily mean I’d ever get my hands on the product, and that has even been true of this line. Boss Fight showed off additional variants of both Bucky and Dead-Eye that have gone unreleased, alongside a line of mini figure and vehicle combos that are apparently cancelled at this point.

Even though I’ve always had reservations about this line’s survival, it didn’t stop me from compiling a wish list for where I wanted the line to go. And even as I made that, I mostly acknowledged that the chances of seeing every character on that list get made was remote. Now that we’re at what can best be called a pause in the line, it has me wondering what it would take to end this whole thing on a happy note? To bring it all home, so to speak.

For some collectors, recreating the old toy line is all they’ve wanted out of Boss Fight Studio.

For most collectors I know who have been into this line, they’ve largely wanted to see it re-make the characters Hasbro did and if they could have got to Commander Dogstar’s crew then all the better. For me, I have a lot of nostalgic attachment to the cartoon so I’ve always wanted to see that embraced more than the classic toy line or even comic. A character like Mimi was one that excited me, but appeared to disappoint others. That said, we have presently received the following figures: Bucky, Jenny, Dead-Eye, Bruiser, Mimi, and the Storm Toad. It’s a selection heavy on good guys and naturally my greatest wants are bad guys at this point. The lowly Storm Toad Troopers have no one to lead them, and they’re hardly formidable even with leadership so without they’re just laser fodder. As much as I would love a Toadborg or Al Negator, it pains me to admit they’re now low priority, because if we want to end the line with a sense of closure, and only have room for a figure or two, I think we need to focus on Bucky’s crew.

When both the comic and animated series begins, Bucky’s crew consists of the following: Jenny, Dead-Eye, Chief Engineer Bruce, and A.F.C. Blinky. Bruce is the brother of Bruiser and he gets killed off rather quickly and is essentially replaced by Bruiser in the cartoon’s second episode. Bruiser, being a marine, is not really equipped to take over for Bruce and Bucky is forced to turn to the displaced human, Willy DuWitt, to serve as his new engineer. I am not a huge fan of the Willy character, but I can’t deny he is a member of Bucky’s crew after that first episode and is pretty essential for a toy line based on the property. Hasbro already provided the blueprint for a successful Willy figure back in ’91 and that’s to put him in his space suit (a holdover from Bruce) and equip him with his silly squirt gun. For Boss Fight, this does mean a whole new sculpt which isn’t a new thing for this line as basically every character is entirely unique. He possibly could reuse Bruiser’s feet, but that’s it. And it would mean the standard roll out of accessories: alternate hands, head (masked and unmasked), and a gun. And seeing how the glasses of the old Hasbro toy always seemed to break or fall off, it would be really cool and appreciated if he came with a spare set.

Those damn glasses…

More important than Willy though, is that other character who was there from the start. Little Blinky was always a favorite of mine. He just has a nice, clean, and even cute design being that he’s a little robot with a giant eye for a head. The old Hasbro figure was not in-scale and he was the same size as everyone else when he should be noticeably shorter than Bucky and is absolutely dwarfed by the likes of Bruiser. I’ve wondered if the fact that he’s so small has turned off Boss Fight from doing him since he’d look so tiny beside the other figures, but would probably still need to retail for the standard MSRP. As we saw with their release of Max from Sam & Max (a review from me is coming, I promise), it seems like the solution there is to pack the figure with some more accessories, but with Blinky what do you give him? In the original comics and cartoon, he really doesn’t use anything. No guns, no signature items, and being that his head is just an eye he doesn’t really demand additional faceplates or heads. Sure, you can get creative and play with the size of the his pupil to illustrate surprise or even fear, but that’s all. Hasbro gave him a jetpack with a gun and I assume Boss Fight would just do the same, but what if they didn’t have to? He’s still a figure needing a unique sculpt, tooling, and production and being that I’m not an industry insider I don’t know how much cost accessories add to the package, but what if they could do a two-pack?

A final release in the line of just Willy and Blinky together as a two-pack would be a neat way to put a bow on the whole toy line. Could they price it closer to Bruiser’s retail? That I don’t know. Is there enough fandom to consider a made-to-order release? I suspect “no,” in that if Boss Fight solicited such a thing there might not be enough orders to satisfy a factory order at a tenable cost. And as neat as a two-pack would be, I don’t know that it makes any real financial sense since anyone who spends $35 on a Willy action figure will probably spend $35 on a Blinky. And honestly, if they could do a Blinky on the cheap compared with the other figures produced thus far I’d be totally fine with the company putting him out at the usual price-point to boost the profit margin on the line in hopes that it could help finance a Willy. Simply put, a two-pack makes sense only if Blinky has little or no accessories and if Boss Fight just wants to do one, last, release that completes the team.

Blinky has become my line in the sand. I would like a Willy, Toadborg, etc., but if Blinky fails to materialize it’s going to haunt me whenever I look at my collection.

As much as it would pain me to see this line come to an end, I’d feel a lot better about it if it ended with Bucky having his whole crew together. I think Boss Fight could do an awesome Toadborg, but I understand their reluctance considering he’d have to be another deluxe figure. If Bruiser underperformed relative to the other figures, it would make sense that the company would have little interest in doing another figure with a $55 price tag. Even though I personally think the fanbase would be more excited for Toadborg than it was Bruiser. If Toadborg can happen one day then I’ll jump for joy, but my focus is on the crew and I hope it’s a goal Boss Fight and Continuity has as well. We don’t know how the license works. It could have an expiration on it, it could expire if the company doesn’t release new product within a certain window of time, or it could be totally at-will with both parties able to cancel at anytime. It’s not like Continuity is fielding offers from other toy makers looking to get in on that Bucky “action.” My guess would be the license is Boss Fight’s until they no longer want it, but sometimes company’s can be unrealistic about the value of their property so who knows? Hopefully both parties have the same goal and can work towards that. For now, at least we have a great selection of characters that, in some respects, shouldn’t even exist! I’ll continue to hold out hope for more and if there’s any Bucky O’Hare news you’ll definitely be able to read about it here.


Dec. 17 – The Mask – “Santa Mask”

Original air date November 4, 1995

In the world of film, 1994 belonged to Jim Carrey. On television, 1995 belonged to TV shows based on those 94 movies. Well, not exactly, since all of the shows based on Jim Carrey movies made little impact, but like yesterday’s show I’d hesitate to call today’s subject a failure.

The Mask began life as a comic book by John Arcudi and was turned into a film of the same name. It then made the journey to the small screen for a cartoon also called The Mask. Like the Ace Ventura cartoon, this one was developed by Duane Capizzi and aired on the CBS network alongside Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. Unlike its network-mate, this show had a much more grounded visual style. Perhaps influenced by other superhero cartoons, most of the people in The Mask look like actual humans as opposed to oddly proportioned and exaggerated cartoon characters. Wang Film Productions Company handled the animated for this particular episode, but it looks like the show relied on multiple overseas studios for the animation.

The cartoon series of The Mask is basically an extension of the film. Stanley Ipkiss (Rob Paulsen) is a milquetoast bank teller frequently pushed around by his boss Charlie (Mark L. Taylor) and landlady Agnes (Tress MacNeille), but when he puts on the titular mask he morphs into a Tex Avery cartoon character come-to-life known as The Mask. Unlike the film, the cartoon series basically turns The Mask into a superhero who does battle with other super-powered individuals and freaks of nature. At his side is his trusty dog Milo (voiced by Frank Welker, as if there’s another choice for a cartoon canine) who also finds himself turned into The Mask on occasion, as he did in the film. All the while, The Mask is dogged by Lt. Mitch Kellaway (Neil Ross) who basically serves as the true foil for The Mask. He’s accompanied by the somewhat dimwitted Detective Doyle (Jim Cummings) who seems to have a positive impression of The Mask and does more harm than good as far as Kellaway is concerned.

The Mask aired from 1995-1997 over three seasons totaling 54 episodes, a bit more than Ace Ventura, but still short of the magic number of 65. Unlike Ace, it was a CBS show that never migrated to another network and the fact that it ended up with a few more episodes seems to jive well since I think of it as just a bit better than Ace Ventura. Even though the two shows clashed visually when compared side-by-side, it didn’t stop the two from having a crossover episode in each series. The series finale for The Mask was actually dedicated to the crossover, and oddly enough, Ace appears in this show as he does in his own, which is a truly bizarre sight to take-in. That is the third season though, and this Christmas episode actually takes us back to the first season.

Poor Stanley, out in the cold.

“Santa Mask” begins with Christmas descending upon Edge City. Stanley is being forced to dress as Santa and stand in the freezing cold outside of the bank he works at to attract customers. He badly wants to come in out of the cold, but his jerk boss, Charlie, has no time for complaints. He tries to make the best of things by calling out to a fellow Santa across the street, but unfortunately for Stanley he is no friend.

I don’t think he’s friendly.

The other Santa is actually a villain in disguise. Walter, I believe, is the strong silent type who saunters over to Stanley with an evil look on his face. He was apparently in the midst of a robbery, and likely has his eyes set on the bank now. Before he can do Stanley any harm, another pair of Santas show up. Dak (Cam Clarke) and Eddy (Jeff Bennett), also known as Putty Thing and Fish Guy, are here to rip-off the town dressed as Santa. It’s such a good idea that fellow villain Kablamus (Jim Cummings, using a slightly altered version of his Winnie the Pooh voice) is about to do the same thing! The scene keeps getting more ridiculous as more villains dressed up as Santa emerge, including a Zorro knock-off and apparently Rocky?!

This is actually a common problem around these parts.

The whole episode causes Mayor Tilton (Kevin Michael Richardson) to declare that anyone dressed as Santa be arrested and jailed. Apparently this is a regular problem for Edge City around Christmas time as we see video of many phony Santas causing mayhem over the years. This lands Stanley in jail as this new ordinance must have been retroactive. He’s stuck in a holding cell with all of the Santas from earlier, and also a new one. This guy (Cummings) looks like the real deal though, and he is not happy about being locked-up on Christmas Eve. He has some harsh criticisms of Edge City’s criminal justice system and turns to Stanley as someone he can dump on. Stanley obviously doesn’t think he’s the real Santa, but this guy has some pretty convincing credentials including pictures of his elves and a North Pole sleigh-driver’s license (we also learn that parallel parking eight reindeer is quite a bitch).

If he’s the real deal, he’s the most intimidating Santa I can recall!

Stanley is soon set free as the police were finally able to figure out he meant no harm, but this Santa guy isn’t as lucky. Before Stanley can exit the cell, Santa pulls him aside to let him know that while he may not believe in Santa, millions of kids do and they’re all about to have a pretty crummy Christmas with Santa locked-up. He tells Stanley that he needs someone to fill-in for him, and unfortunately he’s the best he can do on short notice. Stanley still isn’t sure what to believe, and as he exits the cell he begs the guard to confirm for him that there is no Santa, but the guy just shrugs his shoulders.

It wouldn’t be much of an episode if he didn’t put it on.

On his way home Stanley encounters a father and son pair (both voiced by Clarke) with the kid mistaking Stanley for Santa at first. Stanley pulls up his beard and puts on a smile, but the kid sees right through it. At his apartment, Stanley is torn on what to do as he doesn’t want to be known as “the jerk who couldn’t save Christmas.” Feeling he has no other alternative, he turns to The Mask!

Well, I certainly wasn’t expecting a traditional sleigh.

The Mask (also voiced by Paulsen) takes to the Santa thing with open arms. He puts on the suit, complete with padding so he looks like a big, red, blob, and even comes up with a sleigh. How did he produce a sleigh? I don’t know, but this is a character who can seemingly pull a mallet out of his trousers with no regard for the rules of physics so I guess maybe he just did the same for a sleigh? It’s a rather slapstick looking affair as it has a whirling propeller over the top of it and one lone reindeer. That reindeer is, of course, Milo suspended by balloons with antlers and a red light bulb placed over his nose – poor little guy.

Chimneys are for chumps.

The duo heads to the first little house on the square, home to some little girl. Rather than go down the chimney, The Mask instead jacks up the roof and hops into the girl’s bedroom. She’s surprisingly not terrified to see this loud, green-faced, man enter her room, but she is looking forward to a Christmas present. She’s a bit frustrated with Mask Claus though as he doesn’t seem to know what she wants, even though she told “him” when she sat on his lap at the store. Eventually, she reminds him that she wanted a rocking horse, so The Mask one-ups her request and removes a real, live, racing horse from his rather massive sack. She’s pretty thrilled by this development, and The Mask hands her a stack of bills to wager on an upcoming race for him before exiting.

Elsewhere, Lt. Kellaway and Detective Doyle are out patrolling the streets for more renegade Santas. Doyle, being the “dumb” one, is rightfully concerned they may lock up the real Santa and mess up Christmas for a whole bunch of kids. Kellaway thinks he’s an idiot and tells him there is no Santa. His evidence? He never got some dumb train as a kid, so you can bet he’ll get it before the episode is over.

Well, at least he noticed his face was green. That makes him smarter than Cindy Lou Who.

The two soon run across The Mask as he was attempting to scale the next house on his list and Kellaway is eager for a chase. The Mask rides along beside their car and Doyle questions why Santa’s face is green. Kellaway breaks the news to him that it’s not Santa, but The Mask, and a chase is underway! It ends on a nearby pond that’s frozen over with the two officers exiting the car only to have The Mask ice skate over to them. The Mask gifts the pair a present each; a VCR for Doyle and a flannel shirt for Kellaway. The Mask informs him it matches his flannel underwear, which is when The Mask gives him a giant wedgie. The Mask laughs and skates a circle around the pair, and their car, and since he operates under the laws of cartoons you know this means he just cut a large hole in the ice. Kellaway and Doyle seem to be well-aware that the usual laws of nature do not apply here as they run from the car as a giant hole appears in the ice to swallow the vehicle up. The Mask leaves and Kellaway makes a call to the rest of the force requesting a helicopter and a very large crane to remove his car from the pond.

It’s wedgie time!

The Mask gleefully takes to the sky, but soon finds himself targeted by a rather odd looking police helicopter. Seriously, this thing looks more like a Transformer than any real world helicopter I’ve seen. The Mask instructs Milo to provide a diversion as he bails on the sleigh in favor of running across the rooftops. Fearing his city has become hostile towards Santa, he’s elated to see a smoke stack with neon lights welcoming Santa. He turns into a whirlwind and shoots up the smoke stack, leaving behind the word “No” added in lights to indicate that there are actually no Santas present inside.

Well that’s convenient.

The Mask disappears down the smoke stack only to find out it was all a trap! It would seem the villainous Doctor Septimus Pretorious (Tim Curry) has laid a trap with the intent to capture Santa Claus! This guy is a recurring villain who is some sort of robot with outlandish eyebrows and what looks like a cat sphincter in the middle of his forehead. Anyway, he wants to uncover the secrets of Santa’s magic sack since it can seemingly carry trillions of toys inside of it while looking mostly like an old pillow case. He’s eager to take a look and is apparently oblivious to the fact that he’s actually captured The Mask, and not Santa.

They just couldn’t leave Dickens out of this one.

The Mask rather effortlessly breaks free and then takes Pretorious on a Scrooge-like journey that wraps up in roughly a minute as opposed to the usual running-time such a thing entails. He changes wardrobes rapidly with the story, and when he needs Pretorious to do the same he simply rips his head off and shoves it where he needs it to be. Pretorious seems totally flabbergasted by the whole affair and basically just lets everything happen. When The Mask is done, or maybe just bored, he leaves, but not before he gives Pretorius his present: a bomb. As he exits the smokestack he also changes the lettering on it once again this time instructing the police to check there.

Admit it, you forgot about these guys. I know I sure did.

Outside, The Mask is unable to call for Milo, so he whips out a remote to summon him instead. The poor dog arrives out of breath and the two return to the sky with The Mask a bit dismayed to realize he’s only delivered one present this evening. Elsewhere, the other incarcerated Santas have devised a way to escape. Kablamus has let the others in on the fact that he’s a living bomb and the Rocky guy is rather impressed. For those who don’t watch the show, Kablamus is a supervillain who can make himself explode without harm. You would think the cops would have taken some precautions there. They blow the wall open and all of the Santas are free, including the real one.

I would really like to know who decided fruit cake was funny.

The Mask is then preparing to enter a home, but the sound of looting disturbs him. The Mask is forced once more to abandon his Santa duties to put a stop to these miscreants and does so by taking on the role of a drill sergeant to get their attention, then a Spanish singer to whip them into a frenzy. It’s basically all a performance to distract the crooks and group them all together (there’s a method to his madness) until they figure out they’re villains and shouldn’t be singing and dancing. The Mask then switches tactics and begins a speech about turning to some aspect of Christmas that is unloved, and the second it begins I catch myself saying aloud “not fruit cake!” Yes, it all builds to a dumb fruit cake joke. Actually, a joke basically utilized by another Paulsen show, Animaniacs, as a giant fruit cake magically falls from the sky to land on the villains. The Mask them wraps them up with a bow complete with a “Do Not Open till X-Mas” card, though I have to believe we’re past midnight at this point. Kellaway and Doyle then come upon the scene, driving a tow truck, and Doyle is predictably the only one to express affection for fruit cake.

Well, would you look at that?

With that mess taken care of, The Mask is finally able to get to the next house on his list. The only problem is right after he lands the sleigh (on the lawn, for some reason) he realizes that it’s actually dawn. He pulls off his face and The Mask is once again just Stanley Ipkiss. He’s dismayed that he’s let down Santa and realized his destiny as “the jerk who couldn’t save Christmas,” but as he peers through the window of the house he was about to enter he sees the same kid he encountered on the street earlier. Only this kid is excited because Santa left him some new action figures that look a lot like G.I. Joes. Stanley is relieved to see this and at that moment realizes that Santa must have escaped with the other inmates and set everything right.

Honestly, Stanley is lucky the worst that happened to him was his faith in Christmas was crushed. You go around grabbing people like that in the city and you’re liable to get stabbed. Or worse.

Stanley returns to the city proper and is eager to share the news that Santa is real! Most people on the street regard him suspiciously, and he even runs into Kellaway outside the police station. Kellaway has no interest in entertaining Ipkiss. He’s not even content to let Stanley think what he wants and instead informs him that all of the Santas who escaped were recaptured and takes him into the precint to show him. Stanley flips through the mug shots and doesn’t see the real Santa and begins to doubt himself. He leaves and Kellaway enters his office smugly to retrieve his bowling ball as that’s how he’s spending Christmas. There he finds the dumb train he wanted as a kid sitting on his desk. With tears welling up in his eyes, he looks to the sky hopefully, and then dismisses the possibility of an actual Santa. We don’t have room for two miracles in this one.

That’s the toy that made him lose faith in Santa?! Even the weenie whistle is better than that!

A somewhat down Stanley is then shown walking home. His experience at the police station has left him thinking there really isn’t a Santa, and that’s just sad. A present then lands on the sidewalk in front of him and Stanley picks it up. We hear a Santa voice-over thanking Stanley for at least trying to help out. His true gratitude is apparently expressed on the tag as Kellaway has been crossed out and replaced with Stanley. Inside is the flannel shirt The Mask had gifted Kellaway and Stanley is happy to have it. He picks up Milo and tells him, “Yes, Milo, there is a Santa Claus!” As the camera zooms out and we see the snow falling, the little girl from earlier goes riding by on her new race horse and Stanley gives her a wave.

The part of Virginia will now be played by Milo.

For Christmas, writer Dean Stefan basically took The Santa Clause approach, or Flintstones approach if you prefer, for The Mask. It’s a solid premise as imagining The Mask in the role of St. Nick certainly seems like it has some comedic appeal. In spite of that, I really didn’t find much to laugh at. Maybe if I were 7 this would be funny, but most of the jokes were too familiar. I liked some of the inexplicable humor, like Rocky being a villain (he’s apparently named Dynamite Joe), but few actual jokes did much to move me. The fish guy seemed like he had potential, as he’s basically just a fish, and there were some jokes at his expense once the Santas were captured as he apparently does not possess a pleasant odor. The Mask as a character isn’t really that funny though. He reminds me of The Tick, only instead of aloof he’s self-aware. He’s certainly loud and the nature of the character means he can lend himself well to gags, but few were present here. The fruit cake joke was dumb and it’s a punchline relied upon way too much in cartoons. Same with The Mask calling out fake reindeer names at one point which included Nixon instead of Blitzen – I think that’s another gag we can retire.

That’s not to say I did not enjoy the performance of Rob Paulsen. He’s a voice acting legend and he’s certainly able to match the intensity of the film performance. The other performance I quite enjoyed belonged to Tim Curry, which isn’t much of a surprise since he tends to be terrific whenever he takes on a voice role. He really didn’t have many lines as Dr. Pretorius in this one, but the way he emphasized the word “sack” was one of the few moments I actually chuckled aloud. Some words are just inherently funny when spoken a certain way, and Curry certainly found that with “sack.”

Her parents must have been pissed.

Otherwise, this episode does at least make an attempt at some Christmas feels with its resolution. There’s some cynicism present though, and it’s even embodied by the show’s real Santa character. And re-inserting the horse girl into the end was a good touch. Even though I found this one a bit short on laughs, it is written competently and I liked how it kept coming back to the fact that The Mask was so awful at playing Santa he only delivered one present.

Even though I consider The Mask to be superior to Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, it’s a bit harder to come by. Only the first season was released on DVD, but at least this episode is a part of that. And because of that, it’s also available streaming. The good news is that there’s also less protection of it. If you look at the credits, there were a lot of different companies involved in this series and I’m guessing that’s why it’s not more readily available. There are just too many parties to compensate in order to make it worthwhile. Instead, no one cares about it and you can find this online streaming for free should you wish to spend Christmas with The Mask.


Boss Fight Studio Captain Mimi LaFloo

After a disappointing 2019 for Bucky O’Hare, 2020 has managed to be far more kind. No new figures were released last year, but this year has seen three new releases in the line including two new sculpts. I know 2020 has been a rather lackluster year, to say the least, so we need to take our wins where we can. Closing out the year for the Bucky O’Hare line is Captain Mimi LaFloo. She is just the second figure in the line to not be featured in the vintage Hasbro line of action figures from the early 90s. And unlike First Mate Jenny, she was never even planned for that line making her about as new a thing as any figure can get for this line.

I love the blister art on these things.

Fans of the cartoon series Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars should be familiar with Mimi. She debuted in the third episode of the series, “Home, Swampy, Home” which was my pick for best episode in the entire run. She returned in the “The Artificers of Aldebaran” as a full-fledged captain of her own ship, The Screaming Mimi, though she still had yet to hire a crew (funds are notoriously tight for the mammal frigates). Even though she originated with the cartoon, she is still depicted here in her Continuity Comics colors in her captain’s uniform. It’s not that drastic a change and really the outfit just features more color and detail when compared with her cartoon counterpart.

You may be wondering how Mimi is #12. Not pictured: Bruiser(#10), CC Dead-Eye (#6), Holiday Bucky(#8). That leaves the count one off (#9), which possibly refers to the unreleased Stealth Dead-Eye. There’s also an unreleased Aniverse Bucky.

When Mimi was announced as the next figure, a lot of chatter I saw online surrounding the announcement was surprise, with a tinge of disappointment. Sure, Mimi isn’t part of the main crew like Blinky and Willy, nor is she one of the heavy hitters on the villain’s side like Toadborg and Al Negator, but she really was one of the best characters to come out of that vintage cartoon. She’s a strong-willed fighter and takes orders from no one, and since she’s basically the only female other than Jenny to receive much air time it’s not that surprising a company like Boss Fight Studio, which strives for diversity with its toys, would be drawn to her. I actually had her fairly high on my wants list when I broached the subject a while back, so while I shared in the surprise that some of my fellow collectors exhibited, I was certainly not dismayed. Plus, I think it’s exciting to see Boss Fight step outside of the Hasbro comfort zone with this property.

Mimi arrives on the standard, resealable, blister card Boss Fight is known for with artwork provided by Continuity Comics to go along with a character bio on the reverse. She stands a tick over the 4″ mark, nearly 4 1/2″ including the ears, and comes bundled with the usual assortment of accessories. She comes out of the package sporting a smile which can be swapped out in favor of one of two extra faceplates: an open mouthed winking expression and a smile with exposed teeth. She has two trigger finger hands to go along with two pistols featuring a sculpt unique to her as well as a set of fists and a set of open hands. The pistols are the same shiny, metallic, silver we’ve seen with the other figures and fit easily in her hands. Her card art seems to depict her with a pistol and a small shotgun-like blaster that is unfortunately not a part of the figure’s loadout. She also has little nubs on her belts to holster the weapons. Lastly, she has a removable hat that’s designed to sit at an angle over one ear. There’s molded plastic inside the hat to fit over an ear as opposed to just hanging or resting on her head. You can even adjust the positioning a bit to sit higher or lower, though you can’t fit the hat in between her ears if you wish her to look a bit more regal.

I prefer her with the hat.

Where this line earns its keep is with the sculpt, and Mimi fits right in. She’s well-sculpted with lots of detail in the exposed fur on her person. Her uniform is a truly spectacular shade of blue with lots of bright yellow and red trim which is right at home in this line. The boots might be my favorite part of the sculpt as they have a really interesting look to them with straps and stars affixed over the top of the foot. Being a fox, she also sports a big, bushy, tail that not only looks great, but acts like a third leg making it relatively easy to position her on a shelf. The inclusion of the tail, and the fact that she’s a female, lends herself well to direct comparisons with Jenny. Both feature much slimmer arms than say Bucky, but they don’t feel fragile. Mimi has a bit more going on with her accents like the shoulder pads and the hem of her top, which hangs like a skirt.

“Don’t call me, Foxy.”

This line has become known for containing specific accessories like the faceplates. I do like the simple default look, but this figure might be the only one where I’m not sure which face I like best. I found the winking one a touch odd looking in promotional images with its combination of an open mouth and a wink, but in person I find it pretty eye-catching. It captures the character’s playful side well and adds a little “fun” to the display. The toothy smile is intended to be the more fierce or battle expression. It’s kind of odd because the smile on the front of her face looks like any old smile, but look closer and you’ll see gritting teeth on the character’s left side. It’s similar in approach to Dead-Eye’s teeth-gritting expressions, but it just looks odder on a fox to not see teeth the whole way down the side of her muzzle or at least a continuation of the lipstick. I would not be at all surprised though if this is a Continuity mandate and refers to how they draw her. And speaking of Continuity, I also feel I should point out that she does not have the tuft of blonde hair she featured in the cartoon. My guess is that was a show addition and not something reflected in the Continuity art, so I don’t consider it a shortcoming, but felt like I should acknowledge it.

Mimi seems to have a “thing” for Bucky. Considering she’s a fox and he a rabbit, he’s right to be wary.

When it comes to articulation, Mimi should feel rather familiar. This line has done a good job of getting as much articulation as it can into what are fairly small figures. Her head is on a ball-joint and can rotate quite freely. She has little restriction in her design and can look up and down as well as tilt her head side-to-side. The shoulders are ball-jointed with hinges that allow her arms to go out, but she does have those shoulder pads that prevent her from reaching straight up. She does not possess a bicep swivel, but does have a swivel at the elbow along with a standard hinge, and a wrist swivel. On her torso, there’s a waist swivel behind her belt and her legs are attached via ball-pegs. The skirt of her uniform does hinder her legs a bit, and Boss Fight did put slits in the side to loosen it somewhat, but functionally the range of motion is pretty good. Her legs can swivel at the top of the knee, and her knees are single-hinged. She does not have a boot cut or a toe hinge, since her feet are rather small, but there is a hinge hidden behind those boot straps. She also gets some rocker-motion at the ankle. Lastly, she has that tail which is on a ball joint and has a hinge for good measure. The only disappointment is that, like Jenny, her ankle hinge is susceptible to paint flaking. And underneath the yellow paint is blue plastic. My figure’s paint flaked off immediately out of the package exposing a blue eyesore. The boot straps can hide it a little, but not all the way. On the plus side, at least she has that tail for balance so I should be able to get her into a pose (if I wish) that does conceal the blemish. Her boot just probably won’t be flush with the shelf.

Oh captains, my captains!

All in all, Captain Mimi LaFloo is pretty great, as expected. She may not be the character a lot of fans were hoping to come next, but I can’t imagine any of them being upset once they have her in hand. Not only is her sculpt great and the paint app clean, but the engineering is probably the best yet. Her faceplates are super easy to swap as are the hands and her pistols can effortlessly be fit into her trigger hands properly. This is great as I’ve had difficulties with that aspect of pretty much every release in this line to some degree, though I’d say each subsequent figure has been an improvement. She scales well with the line and I am truly thrilled to finally have her in my collection after being introduced to the character nearly 30 years ago.

The only thing these two agree on is that we need more Bucky O’Hare figures!

The elephant in the room though, as they say, is “what’s next?” This is the first time I’ve reviewed a figure in this line and didn’t know what would be following it. On the cross-sell, there are no silhouettes to tease an upcoming figure and Boss Fight Studio has been silent on the matter. They did show unpainted prototypes of some mini figures with tiny vehicles akin to a Kid Robot blind box figure, but that was back in February. In the hobby world, no news is often bad news and I know the fear is that Mimi could be the last in the line. Since the first release, Boss Fight Studio has acquired numerous other licenses and it’s possible they’ve outperformed Bucky. There could be difficulties in renewing the license and my initial fear when I saw those mini figures was that maybe Boss Fight felt it needed a lower-priced option to make Bucky viable.

The complete line of Bucky O’Hare figures from Boss Fight Studio, for now?

There’s also the simple possibility that COVID, which has reeked havoc upon all of Boss Fight’s releases this year, has simply forced this property to the sideline for now. It took a long time for Bruiser to come out, and pre-orders for Mimi opened in August of 2019. I’d be understanding of Boss Fight if it didn’t want to unveil another figure that collectors would have to wait over a year for. Still, it’s never a good sign when a company won’t even pay lip service to something so fans are going to continue to fear the worst, but hope for the best. If this is the end, it’s a shame the line went out with a less popular character like Mimi LaFloo because there will be some fans who will blame the character for the line’s end, even though the character would probably share little or no blame. This is my favorite toy line going though, and I really hope it continues into 2021 and beyond because there are still many characters I’d love to have. If this is it though, at least I have a tremendous, modern, Bucky O’Hare display as-is which is something I didn’t think was possible just five years ago. Thank you, Boss Fight Studio!


X-Men: The Art and Making of the Animated Series

A few years ago, I talked about my love of X-Men, the animated series, via a book review of Previously…on X-Men by Eric Lewald. That book chronicled the development of the 92 animated series that helped propel the Fox Kids Network to the top of the Saturday morning leaderboards through notes from the author and extensive interviews with the folks that helped bring that series to life. Now, Lewald is back with his wife Julia with a complementary piece all about the artists and artwork that went into creating that series, X-Men: The Art and Making of the Animated Series.

There are probably a few individuals out there who first wrinkled their nose at the thought of an art book based on the animated series starring the X-Men. That’s because the show was somewhat famously underserved by Saban Entertainment who had little interest in sinking much money into the art and animation that went into the show. It’s not that the show was abysmal to look at, it’s more that it was always going to be compared with Batman: The Animated Series. Both shows launched in 92 on Fox, though X-Men only in a sneak preview with the proper launch coming in January of 1993. Batman was on weekday afternoons, while X-Men was allowed to reign over Saturday morning. The other big difference though was Batman had the might of Warner Bros behind it which produced the series and just licensed it out to Fox. X-Men had the backing of Marvel, which wasn’t what it is today. Marvel was a bit touch and go for many years even when it was starting to take over the news stand with a lot of help from the mutants who starred in this series. Rather than self-finance though, Marvel licensed it out to Saban who partnered with Graz Entertainment. The budget was never going to be the same, nor was the confidence. X-Men was unproven outside of the comic book world, and thus received just a one season order initially, followed by a second, before eventually the big order came in.

X-Men on the front, bad guys on the rear. What does it say about me that I think I prefer this to the cover?

Despite all of that, and a legend who had no idea how the property should be presented (::cough:: Stan ::cough::), the show was a smashing success. It’s interesting to look back on because I think many consider Batman to be the superior show. And yet, X-Men was the ratings champ and my favorite of the two. And when it came to my friends, most liked Batman, all loved X-Men. I don’t know why that is, though I have some theories. Batman was a known property and the show reflected the Tim Burton films. Whenever something goes from the big screen to the small one (especially in the 90s), there’s a feeling that the TV version is inferior. The X-Men may have lacked the recognition of Batman, but it also lacked any sort of baggage. Batman was also quite great at being a moody, superhero, show with a lot of style. It was also mostly rooted in that, where as X-Men was an ensemble with more characters to lean on. Batman was almost devoid of personality as a character by choice, while basically every member of the X-Men (well, maybe not Cyclops) was rather colorful able to display a wide range of emotion and even drop a one-liner or two. Or maybe it was just the prestige of being on Saturday morning? Either way, it was a good time to be alive.

It’s an art book, so expect a lot of artwork!

Both shows were part of a gradual maturation taking place in children’s cartoons. We basically had left the wacky and cheap 80s in favor of something that actually had respect for its audience. Shows like The Pirates of Dark Water and my beloved Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars were quite different in tone from the likes of Thundercats and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Most of those shows still featured a character that could be turned to for comedic relief, and even Batman has the Joker. X-Men didn’t really feature that though. Morph could have been that character, but he was killed off rather quickly. It’s a drama starring people in bright spandex that captivated me as a kid. The serialized nature and some of the nuance of the show asked something of me, and I was willing to rise to the program as a mere 7 year-old. It’s no surprise to me that when I look back on my youth, X-Men is there and always will be as it was far and away my favorite program.

Perhaps the most rewarding aspect of the book is getting to read the descriptions that go along with each storyboard panel.

And despite what you may think, a lot of really talented and devoted artists contributed to this show. Knock the animation all you want, but I’ve always been rather insistent that the show looks pretty great in stills. Sure, pick through it and you’ll find some weird stuff or miss-colored limbs and costumes, that’s true of a lot of shows from that era. Where this book is able to shine is with the stuff not broadcast. All of the developmental art that went into the show; costume ideas, height charts, storyboards, are quite rewarding to look at. When Lewald and his team were handed this property, there were decades of material to cherry-pick for the show and a lot of ideas were cast aside. There’s also plenty of production art, like cels and such, that are quite interesting to look at. Especially some of the backgrounds, like the lair of Mr. Sinister, which featured several layers of artwork to make it right.

And it’s not just art! The books is broken out into six chapters, plus an intro and an afterword, with each containing a detailed breakdown of what went into each section. Some of this stuff is lifted from the prior book, so it will be a bit familiar for those who read it, and some of the details are new. Since this book is focused on the art of the series, you’ll hear additional nuggets about what went into a character’s look or a particular background. There’s a lot of ink spent on the various cameos that occurred throughout the series and some of the other details may surprise and amaze. One such nugget came from Director and Storyboard Artist/Supervisor Larry Houston who pointed out how difficult it was to animate a character like Mr. Sinister. His irregular cape basically forced Houston to storyboard the character with as little motion as possible. Basically, the camera was either directly in front or behind him and he was basically never allowed to rotate. It’s fun to go back and watch the series with such information in hand and it gives some newfound appreciation for all of the work Larry and his team had to do before sending an episode off to Korea for animation.

When the X-Men ruled the world!

There’s a lot to unpack in this book and I don’t want to reveal too much since a lot of the enjoyment I had was uncovering things I either didn’t know or really paid little attention to. There’s also some nice additions to this one like a collection of all of the episode logs and a picture to go along with it. Some time is spent on looking back at the X-Men craze, like the Pizza Hut promotion and the action figure line from ToyBiz, which might make you wish for a third book that covers all of that tie-in merch. The book itself is also quite lovely. It’s hardbound with new cover art from Houston, I think. There’s no explicit “Cover” credit, just a case credit to Houston with ink by Rick Hoberg and colors by Laura Martin. It’s a bit confusing as the inside of the front and back cover are storyboards which were definitely done by Houston, so the credit may be referring to that. Regardless, the cover, featuring the main team including Morph and Bishop, and the rear cover featuring the villains of the series look great. Pages are nice and thick and the whole thing totals 288 pages. Since it’s mostly artwork, it’s not a tremendously long read, but it’s hardly brief. I mostly read it while sipping a morning or afternoon coffee (first starting my read, appropriately enough, on a Saturday morning) over the course of a week. It was a wonderful, leisurely, trip back to the 90s and my youth that not only left me wanting more, but also with a desire to go back and revisit the show once again.

One of my favorite inclusions in the book is the visual episode guide with accompanying logs, a tremendous resource to have on-hand.

X-Men: The Art and Making of the Animated Series is a great companion to Previously…on X-Men. It’s a book intended to satiate fans of the show, but would also probably entertain casual fans as well. I had a great time engaging with the art from the property, and while I already had a pretty terrific appreciation of the art that went into the show, I think those who might not have that same level of appreciation will likely leave with a bit more. Eric and Julia Lewald do a great job of recounting their time with the show and the various artists and executives they speak with bring a lot to the table. It’s my assumption that anyone with a love for this old show will be delighted by this book and it’s something I plan to flip through again.


Marvel Legends Deadpool 2 Two-Pack

Look through my various toy reviews and you’ll probably notice that I’m not much of a Marvel guy. That wasn’t always the case for me though as I was huge into Marvel Legends once upon a time. I basically stopped around the time Hasbro was awarded the Marvel license. I felt there was a dip in quality and also the character assortment stopped appealing to me. I knew what I wanted from the line and had wanted for years, but it seemed the line refused to give me what I wanted. I moved on, and it wasn’t long after the line was actually suspended for quite a few years before it made a comeback. I’ve never gone back though and that’s largely just due to my fading interest in the Marvel Universe.

Pardon the stock boxed photo, I was so eager to check this set out I forgot to snap a pic.

One figure I did review though was the Marvel Legends Deadpool. That figure was from the sixth series released by Toy Biz. I reviewed it simply because it’s the only Marvel Legends figure on display in my house. All of the rest are in bins crammed in an attic and most of the choicest figures have been sold. I liked that Deadpool a lot though when it came out so I did a little post on it. Well, when I was walking through an aisle at my local Target I happened upon one of the latest two-packs released by Hasbro in the Marvel Legends line. And that two-pack is the Deadpool and Negasonic Teenage Warhead set from the film Deadpool 2. It’s an eye-catching window box as it’s done up in red with Deadpool “effects” added to it like marker crossing out the figure’s real names and a faux Deadpool sticker placed over the X-Men logo. Since I still have a Deadpool on display in my house, I was really intrigued in having an updated version of the character to go with it. It turned into an impulse buy, so here we are.

She looks the part.

First off, let’s talk about the other figure in this set: Negasonic Teenage Warhead, who will now be referred to simply as NTW. I have little to no interest in this figure, but if I wanted a new Deadpool I had to get her. She is depicted in her Deadpool 2 costume complete with the mohawk hairstyle. She stands a tick under five and half inches to the top of her forehead, and is a bit taller when you factor in the hair. She looks the part and the face is a good likeness for actress Brianna Hildebrand. The sculpt features some nice texture work on the yellow portion of the chest as well as the sleeves and shoulders. Strangely, the pants feature no such touches and are basically just plain, black, plastic with some yellow painted on at the thighs. It would be okay if this were a figure based on a comic, but not a film. The only other aspect of the sculpt I’m not high on is how her head sits on her neck. The cut just looks odd from the side as there’s quite a gap between the back of her head and neck. I suppose the counter here is how many people are going to pose her on a shelf at a side angle? Probably few.

I don’t like that gap on the back of her neck.

NTW does come packed with quite a bit of functional articulation. Her head may look odd on her neck, but it can roll around effortlessly and she has a solid range of motion when looking up and down. The shoulders are ball-jointed and she has a bicep swivel and double-jointed elbows allowing her to bend about 90 degrees. It looks like the bottom joint should allow for movement past 90, but my figure doesn’t seem to want to cooperate. She has hinges and swivels at the wrist and an upper torso joint. It works more to pivot her side to side as she has little to no movement forward and back. The legs attach via ball-joints and can swivel. She also has a thigh cut and double-jointed knees. There’s a boot cut and her feet possess hinges as well as the ability to rock side to side. Being she’s not the most acrobatic of superheroes, this strikes me as a perfectly acceptable amount of articulation for this figure. It’s all integrated well into the sculpt and should you want to get creative I don’t think you’ll be limited too much.

Hands open.
Hands closed.

When it comes to accessories, NTW is a bit lacking, but also there’s not a ton of room to really add much. She comes with two sets of hands: fists and open style pose hands. They pop off and on easily enough and both are suitable for posing with this figure. She also has a pair of energy effects that wrap around her forearms. They’re okay, a little too flimsy for my liking, but the translucent yellow-orange plastic is a good look. That’s it though, but like I said, I’m not really sure what else would make sense for her to have.

Oh you are one sexy superhero.
And the view from behind, because the audience demands it.

The real draw of this set, for me and probably most who pick it up, is Deadpool. And to Hasbro’s credit, the company seems to be well aware of that. He comes with a lot more stuff than his boxmate and a lot more care went into his sculpt as well. First of all, this is a Deadpool 2 version of the character’s costume, though he does come with two sets of all black gloves, reflecting his appearance from the first film. I think Hasbro intends for this to be a catch-all version of the character, though the shoulder strap is clearly based on the sequel. Regardless, it’s not that important since his costume was pretty similar from one film to the next and he very much looks like Deadpool.

Home Alone face!
Sometimes a hero just needs to chill.

Deadpool stands at around six and a quarter inches and scales well with NTW. I assume he scales well with the other figures in this wave, but I also don’t have them to confirm. The sculpt is pretty involved with this guy as he has lots of seams, straps, and buckles, all over the place. The entire costume is well textured and looks like it was pulled from the film and there’s some minor battle damage on his chest as well. The belt Hasbro put on him is floating, so it doesn’t hinder his articulation to the degree one would expect. It’s also painted and sculpted quite well, at least on the front. Hasbro went cheap on the rear of the figure as the pouches are not painted to the degree the ones on the front of the belt are. Like the head on NTW, it’s something that won’t really show on a shelf, but come on, Hasbro! That’s pretty cheap. There’s also some errors here and there when comparing this costume with the film. The sculpt seems to be all there, it’s just some parts (in particular, the boot area and the collar) are either unpainted or painted black when they should be red, or vice versa. My figure also has one paint chip on the black portion of his abdomen and I’m frustrated at myself for not noticing that in the package since I had my pick from around half a dozen sets at the store.

Let’s pose!
Gun fight? Knife fight? Deadpool is always prepared.

Deadpool, essentially being a superhero ninja, is pretty well stacked when it comes to articulation. His head appears to be on a dumbbell joint giving him movement at the head and base of the neck. The collar Hasbro has on him limits the movement a bit, but it’s fine. The shoulders are on butterfly joints that give him some inward motion without marring the chest portion of the sculpt. They’re also ball-jointed and his elbows double-jointed and he can bend well past 90 degrees as he can basically do a full curl. The hands are hinged and also able to rotate, as expected. He does have an ab crunch and the way his costume is designed makes it work well with the sculpt. The waist can swivel and you can slide his belt up a bit to make it work. He’s ball-jointed at the legs with rotation there to go along with a thigh cut below it. The knees are double-jointed and his feet are hinged with rocking action. I’m a little surprised at the lack of a boot-cut or swivel down there, but it’s fine.

Let’s get messy!

The articulation Hasbro packed into this figure is plenty enough to get him into various poses, which comes in handy since he has a lot of stuff to pose with. In terms of hands, Deadpool has two all black fists and a pair of all black open, style pose, hands. His gripping hands have the back of each painted silver and his set of trigger hands are the same reflecting his appearance in Deadpool 2. I’m still not sure if this was intentional, or if the all black hands just weren’t painted by mistake. He also has an assortment of weapons including two katanas which fit neatly into the scabbards affixed to his back and a pair of handguns he can wield. They look like action guns in that the bolt appears to be set back like it’s being fired, either that or they’re some weird, made-up, pistol. He also has a pair of holstered handguns that Hasbro, for some reason, glued in place. I’ve seen some people get these out and they’re completely separate pieces, but mine are well stuck. He also has a knife which can slot into the little holster on his left ankle. You’re unlikely to pose him with the knife in hand, but I like that it’s included. Lastly, he has his stuffed unicorn and it’s pretty adorable. I actually might have to pose him with that for the sake of comedy.

Deadpool really is just a fantastic figure. I have some nitpicks with the paint, but I think the sculpt is great and I love all of the articulation Hasbro was able to work into this figure. My biggest complaint with my old Deadpool figure was with how that sculpt prioritized articulation ahead of aesthetics and some of the joints, in particular the shoulders, are kind of ugly. I have no such complaints here and really my only other complaint is with those guns Hasbro glued in. I love that Deadpool comes with lots of stuff, so it drives me a little crazy that he can’t holster the guns he’s intended to grip because his holsters are occupied by more guns!

I’d say things have improved over the last 15 or so years.

NTW is a fine figure as well. I’m disappointed that Hasbro seemed to phone it in on her lower half sculpt, but she looks the part and has all of the articulation she needs. Let’s be realistic though, if I could have bought Deadpool solo I would have. I’m not collecting Marvel Legends and I don’t plan on adding to this Deadpool collection either. Maybe Hasbro will get me to grab Cable if I run into him since I already have these two, but probably not. It’s great to see the Deadpool franchise getting some love from Hasbro though since it’s presently in limbo as far as films go. It was very successful for 20th Century Fox, but in the hands of Disney it feels like it doesn’t have a home. We know the company likely has plans for the whole X-Men Universe. I hope Deadpool is a part of those plans, but who can say? This figure sure kicks ass though!

I found this set at Target, but it’s being sold elsewhere as well. You can even pre-order it at Best Buy right now, or find it at other various online retailers. The MSRP is $49.99 so happy hunting!


Boss Fight Studio Astral Projection Jenny

Back off, Psylocke!

Sometimes it can be easy to lose sight of how good an action figure in a particular line is when it’s one of the first released. I’ve been really impressed with all of the figures in Boss Fight Studio’s Bucky O’Hare line, but recency bias certainly plays in a role in my favorites. And the most recent have been (in order of most recent) Bruiser, the Storm Toad Trooper, and the four-armed Dead-Eye Duck. It’s hard to top the sheer spectacle and massiveness of Bruiser, and any toy with extra arms is inherently fun, especially when it’s a pirate duck. Back in November 2017 though, I was pretty floored by First Mate Jenny and this variant I just purchased from Boss Fight Studio has quickly reminded me of that.

Just like with Stealth Mission Bucky, we get updated card art and a character bio from Neal Adams and Larry Hama, respectively.

Jenny had a long wait to reach the vast majority of Bucky O’Hare collectors. She was famously, or infamously, dropped from the vintage Hasbro line of figures back in 1991 because the company didn’t think boys wanted a girl, cat, action figure. This despite the fact that her toy was already complete and in production and despite the fact that she’s Bucky’s freakin’ first mate! She was going to see release in wave 2, but the line was cancelled and who knows how many fully-carded Jenny action figures were destroyed. Some were saved and have made it into the hands of collectors over the years, but the vast majority had to wait until Boss Fight came along and rectified the whole situation.

Astral Projection Jenny comes with the same stuff you remember from wave one, only now it’s clear and purple!

And that first figure is wonderful. I was really looking forward to both Bucky and Jenny when Boss Fight announced them, but I was more so looking forward to Bucky because he’s the star, after all. It was Jenny that basically stole the spotlight though with her clever engineering, terrific sculpt, and fun accessories. Like Stealth Mission Bucky though, I initially passed on the variant Boss Fight put out. And that variant is Astral Projection Jenny. Jenny, being part of a secret society of psychic cats, has the ability to astral project her consciousness leaving her physical body behind. She’s basically depicted as a ghost-like being when doing this who can’t be seen, nor can she interact with the physical world. It’s an interesting choice for a variant for obvious reasons, which we’ll get into. I was somewhat surprised that Boss Fight went in this direction instead of doing an “Aniverse” Jenny that matched the figure’s colors to the cartoon which is mostly a matte gray armor finish and pink hair as opposed to silver and white. I don’t know if I would have been more likely to pick that one up sooner, but it was something that surprised me.

Jenny is an 80s girl at heart so the hair has got to be big!

Astral Projection Jenny is essentially the wave one version of the character cast in translucent plastic with some mild paint variations. Her body is painted, clear, plastic which gives her an ethereal quality. The white of her fur is done with a pearl coat, while the black is largely the same as before. Actually, it appears the black portions may be mixed into the plastic to give it a smoky quality, and probably because black over clear plastic wouldn’t achieve the desired effect. The silver of her armor also has a pearl quality to it as opposed to the chrome of the original and the hot pink gems are now purple. The hair has been given a light brush of teal to impart that ghost-like quality of this form. The only other change is with the effects pieces which have had the pink swapped out in favor of purple.

Jenny has likely awakened a few furries in her time.

Aside from the change in color and choice of plastic, this version of Jenny is essentially the same figure as before. She has a lot of articulation for such a small, somewhat dainty, figure. Her massive poof of hair helps to make her the tallest, non Bruiser, figure in the line at right around 5″. She’s articulated at the neck, though her hair can limit her movement there. She has ball-joints at the shoulders with hinges and swivels at the elbow. Her hands are on pegs so there’s only swivel articulation there. She has a mid-torso swivel in place of a waist one with ball-joints at the thigh. The knee is on a single hinge with swivel articulation and she has a hinge and swivel combo at the ankle. Her tail is on a ball-joint and serves the added function of adding stability to the figure. Jenny’s frame is quite slim and her feet are tiny, so having that tail is most helpful for posing. I find she’s the most fun of all of the figures in this line to pose as a result, though that does come at a cost. At least with my original figure, I have a lot of paint-flake at the those ankle hinges where the chrome rubs off of the joint leaving behind black plastic. Boss Fight probably should have cast her feet in gray plastic to minimize this, but unfortunately didn’t have that foresight. I don’t think it will be as big of an issue with this version though since the plastic is transparent, but it’s something to look out for.

Jenny is also fun to pose because Boss Fight came up with some really fun effects pieces. For starters, her default hands are gripping hands which is odd since she doesn’t come with a gun. She also has fists and two styled hands, one that’s more open and one that looks like a heavy metal hand gesture or an “I love you” gesture. Two other hands are totally flat and surrounded with “psychic energy.” If you’re familiar with the Marvel Comics character Psylocke, these are essentially her psychic knives. They’re rather cool, though I actually prefer the other effects pieces which are these circular, star-burst, pieces that can be affixed to Jenny’s wrists before inserting one of the hands. They’re really fun and work exceptionally well with those styled hands, though fists work well too. It’s nice having two Jenny figures as now I can display one with the knives and one with the bursts.

With Wave 1 Jenny, and yo can see where the paint has flaked off on my Jenny’s ankle. It’s a minor tragedy.
Me trying to figure out an action shot of Jenny astral projecting.
Fun tip: a winking face from one side functions like an eyes-closed face!

In addition to all of that, Jenny also comes with four different faceplates, an improvement over Bucky’s three. Like with Bucky though, the range of expressions isn’t particularly diverse. Her default look is a smile and she also has an open-mouth version, a winking face, and another where the eyes are a bit narrowed with more of a wry smile. It’s a subtle difference from the default look. For most, the winking face is the clear winner since it’s very different from what the rest of the line features and certainly possesses a playful quality. I do like the more focused expression too, though I wish for this version that Boss Fight had re-painted the eyes to match the look of the card art, or just blank them out. I also wish we had a closed eyes face for the Wave 1 Jenny to make her appear to be astral projecting to work with this figure. Even making one of the face-plates that came with this figure the eyes closed one would have sufficed. That’s wishful thinking though. The important thing is I like these expressions and that it’s easy to swap from one to the other, unlike Bucky who is a bit of a pain.

Cheers!

Astral Projection Jenny is a fun spin on what was already a fantastic figure. My only gripe about the original release is the paint flaking issue, and I don’t see that being as big of an issue with this version due to the choice of plastic. Otherwise, she’s damn near perfect and getting this version was a great reminder that Jenny has a claim to the crown of best in the line. This is a hard line to pick a favorite though which is a great problem to have. If this is a figure that interests you, head on over to www.bossfightshop.com and grab one of your own. And if you want more Bucky reviews, check back soon for a review of the newest figure in the line, Bucky’s admirer and Jenny’s rival: Captain Mimi LaFloo.


Boss Fight Studio Stealth Mission Bucky O’Hare

He (quietly) goes where no ordinary rabbit would dare!

It’s been almost three years since toy maker Boss Fight Studio started shipping out it’s first figures in its Bucky O’Hare line of products. Ten figures have followed with an eleventh soon to be released and I’ve been an enthusiastic supporter of the line since day one. When the product first launched, my family had recently welcomed a new addition. We were in a new house and getting acclimated to our new life. At the time, I was pretty cautious with money and I set some limits on myself, especially when it came to a hobby like toy collecting. And when it came to Bucky specifically, I told myself I’d stay away from variants. Well, my restrictions have loosened over the years and a recent sale at Boss Fight Studio has allowed me to go back and grab some of those variants I had passed on initially, variants like the third release in the Bucky O’Hare line: Stealth Mission Bucky O’Hare.

It may be “just a repaint,” but Continuity Comics contributed new card art from Neal Adams plus a new bio on the rear from Larry Hama.

This variant is basically a straight re-paint or recasting of the inaugural Bucky O’Hare figure. It’s actually the second Bucky variant I’ve purchased as I couldn’t resist the Holiday Bucky that Boss Fight Studio released alongside Dead-Eye Duck. As you could probably guess from the naming convention of the figure, this is Bucky in a stealth suit, which is the same as his standard suit only it’s black and blue with a camo deco. This isn’t a look that appeared in the animated series nor did it appear in the comics. It’s a look dreamed up by the designers at Boss Fight Studio and approved by Continuity Comics. They even supplied some new Bucky artwork for the card back which features the new look.

Gettin’ sneaky.

Bucky O’Hare stands at about 3.75″ which stretches to about 4.5″ if you include highest point of the ears. Since this a repaint it includes all of the same accessories and articulation as before. What you’re paying for is the new aesthetic, and I must say I do enjoy this black and blue look. The blue is more like a deep turquoise while the black is almost a graphite color in places. Bright green are the lenses of Bucky’s goggles which contrasts well with the deeper colors of the costume. His fur is still that light green we’re used to, only now it has streaks of black across it to break-up his image. Even his guns are black though there’s a slight blue hue to the metallic coating on them. It’s a sharp look, and even though it’s one I initially passed on that was entirely due to cost, not look.

Bucky auditioning for the role of Fall-Out Boy.

For a small figure, Bucky’s articulation is rather robust. His head sits on a ball joint that mostly rotates as opposed to being able to look up and down. The ears swivel, as does his little tail and his cape fits into a peg hole on his back with a satisfying “pop” and stays in place. The shoulder tassels and belt are separate pieces of plastic and can be moved and repositioned as desired. Which is necessary at times to free up the articulation at the shoulders, which are ball-jointed. He has single-hinged elbows with a swivel there and at the wrist where the glove meets the arm. There’s a waist swivel and ball-joints at the legs with single-hinged knees and a swivel there as well in place of a true boot-cut. The ankles are on hinges and they can rock side-to-side. There’s a toe hinge as well to top it all off.

Not much differentiates the two extra faces.
Face #1
Face #2
Face #3

Bucky’s big feet make him easy to pose and stand. To add some variety to those poses he has some swappable parts. First off, he does have two pistols which are his primary weapon and accessory. He comes packaged with trigger-finger hands on both arms so he can dual wield, if you so desire. The pegs on his belt are to store the pistols when not in use and they clip on rather easily. You can put them on the front, back, or side, though doing so adds some bulk. If you want to change-up his hands he has two additional sets. One set are fists and the other contains an open palm and a pointing hand. To swap them, just give a firm tug on the figure and off it comes. It’s a little tricky because there isn’t much to grab onto between the wrist and elbow of the figure, but I’ve never feared breakage there. Bucky also has swap-able faceplates, and unfortunately they’re the weakest aspect of the figure. The default face is a frown with a closed mouth. The other faces both feature an open mouth and one has what I would call a relaxed frown and the other a deep frown. It’s the type of thing where the difference between the two isn’t obvious right away. I’ve also always had a hard time getting the optional faces to sit flush on the figure. It can be done, it just requires more effort than it’s worth, in my opinion.

The comparison shot you’ve been waiting for!

There’s not much more to say than that. This is a re-paint of what I already considered a great figure to begin with. I love Bucky O’Hare and I love the design of the character and Boss Fight Studio really nailed the likeness. I wish the optional faces worked better than they do, but I also like the default face that’s there and so it doesn’t bother me that I can’t go with something else, especially since there’s not much difference between the three. Even though I had passed on this figure for more than two years at this point, I still always wanted it and figured I would get it at some point. My plan was to actually buy it in-person with my Aniverse Storm Toad Trooper earlier this year at Boss Fight’s retail location, but COVID messed that up and since they have no plans to reopen I just figured I’d go the online route. He’s a fun figure and I hope there’s more to come. If you would like to secure one of your own, head on over to www.bossfightshop.com to find it and other figures in the series.


Spider-Man (Arcade)

Forgive me if I’ve said something similar before; but younger people are shocked by the norms of the past! Yeah, it’s a very “old man” thing to say, but it’s also an easy way to impress someone younger. And in this case, the shocking thing to say is that Marvel Comics often found itself in a great deal of financial turmoil in decades past. The company that now is owned by Disney and is able to churn out hit film after hit film about even its most obscure characters once had to file for bankruptcy protection. Go through the history of the company and you’ll find other moments in time where things weren’t so rosy, though Marvel often can be credited with being forward-thinking in looking for other ways to make money.

That’s how Marvel ended up in the TV business in the 1980s. Unable to find the same level of success on both the small and big screen as rival Detective Comics, Marvel started self-producing television programs which included the company’s popular stars as well as properties unrelated to the comic business. The most successful Marvel TV program is probably Muppet Babies, as the company seemed to struggle to really break-through with one of its superheroes even famously failing to find a broadcast partner for its mega-hot X-Men franchise as the pilot for a cartoon series failed to be picked up. This ended up being a good thing since not too long after Fox would start airing a different X-Men series in 92 which ended up being far better than anything Marvel would have done on its own.

Sega landing the Spider-Man license seems like a pretty big deal.

When video games started to take off once again in the 80s, it’s possible some in the industry would have expected Marvel to self-publish. It was already doing so with TV, so why not games? It’s possible Marvel just didn’t trust the industry which had only recently emerged from a crash itself. And whenever Marvel wanted to make money easily, it would turn to licensing deals. With comics rapidly gaining steam in the 80s and building towards what would be a massive boom into the 90s, Marvel probably saw no real benefit in exploring the world of games and was more than willing to see what other companies would do with its characters.

Enter Sega. Sega was fighting an uphill battle to dethrone Nintendo as the kind of the living room. Sega’s strategy was to go after the kids who may have first experienced games via Super Mario Bros. and were looking for something a bit more their speed as they grew older. This made a character like Spider-Man appealing to Sega, and in a world where exclusive licensing agreements were still far off, Sega was able to convince Marvel to let it develop its own games featuring Spider-Man. Details of the agreement are scarce these days, so it’s unknown just what kind of restrictions Sega was under. The deal was apparently tenuous, but success of the Genesis/Mega Drive game Spider-Man vs The Kingpin apparently settled things down as the title once had an attach rate of over 60% with Genesis owners.

One of the first games I’d go looking for as a kid in an arcade.

Back in the 1980s, Sega was as much known for its home console business as it was for the arcade. The arcade boom was coming down, but Sega had success with a variety of genres and many of its games were ported to the Genesis. With the Spider-Man license in-hand, Sega sought to craft an arcade beat-em-up experience with the character that would differentiate itself from similar titles. It would be a game developed for Sega’s System 32 board which was the company’s first attempt at 32-bit development. This also meant hopes for a home port would essentially be dead-on-arrival, but that’s why Sega had the separate Spider-Man vs The Kingpin slated to arrive the same year, 1991.

The normally solo Spider-Man would need some help to take down Kingpin, and entertain more than one player.

When crafting a brawler for the arcade, one of the main issues to solve initially is just what characters to make playable? The brawler had started as a one or two-player affair, but by the 90s arcade-goers expected four-player co-op play. The challenge with Spider-Man is he’s mostly a solo act, so Sega likely had to work with Marvel on finding three allies to join him. They ended up settling on the sometimes ally sometimes foe Black Cat, Sub-Mariner, and the Avenger Hawkeye. The selection of Hawkeye was somewhat interesting as he was a playable character in the Captain America brawler also released in ’91. This naturally lent to comparisons between the two titles with at least my group of friends viewing the Spider-Man Hawkeye as the far superior affair since the graphics were far more attractive.

Not much to see here, just four heroes kicking some butt.

Sega’s approach to the tried and true beat-em-up genre is both conventional and unconventional. Sega often found gimmicks to keep things fresh, such as the transformations of Altered Beast or the mounts in Golden Axe. For Spider-Man, the game begins like any other. You select one of four characters and begin the game with a wave of enemies crashing down upon you. Players have to contend with enemies coming in from both sides of the screen and as they’re dispatched a “Go!” prompt will display imploring the player to continue right. Each character has just two action buttons: jump and attack. Pressing the two simultaneously provides for a ranged super attack unique to each character. Utilizing this move also sacrifices some health. Players can attack while in the air and also use a super move from that position as well which basically results in a diving attack. Interestingly, the amount of credits deposited into the machine increases the amount of health the character possesses as opposed to the amount of lives. As long as you keep pumping in quarters, you’ll never die!

Okay, now this is different.

Where things get interesting in Spider-Man is after the first boss encounter: Venom. The storyline for the game is the Kingpin as acquired some magical artifact and Spider-Man needs to get it back. When Venom gets exposed to that artifact, he grows to a tremendous size. In order to convey that to the player, the player characters and the environment around them shrinks via a zoom-out effect. This also alters the gameplay from a brawler to a basic platformer. Characters now have a ranged attack and all can cling to surfaces in order to scale buildings. Other elements often featured in that style of game show up as well such as falling surfaces, obstacles that need to be dodged, and so on.

Electro is one of the bosses who only appears during a zoomed-out sequence.

Every act in the game features a zoom-out sequence, even though only the initial one features a giant enemy. If the entire game were crafted around this style, it would be okay, but when the two are mixed it works quite well as a change of pace. Some boss fights are exclusive to the zoomed out mode too, which is actually kind of a shame since we’re denied seeing a proper, large, model of certain villains. Nevertheless, it’s Spider-Man’s defining characteristic and it works really well. It’s a real surprise this tactic wasn’t utilized more, but then again, fighting games mostly took over the arcade space shortly there-after and the arcade brawler largely faded away.

Battling a foe like the Green Goblin is a lot different from taking on someone like Venom.

The game is divided into four acts, but each one is quite long and will have the players going back and forth between the two gameplay styles. And even though there are only four acts, there are still numerous boss encounters with Spider-Man’s most popular foes. Expect to face-off against the likes of Venom, Green Goblin, Scorpion, Electro, Hobgoblin, and more. Many will have to be fought more than once, with Venom being the most frequent (this was probably when the character was at the height of its popularity). Some of the fights aren’t much to speak of as the enemy functions like a regular enemy, just with a unique sprite and health bar, but others are multi-stage battles and can get pretty challenging. Kingpin himself is also a bit of a red-herring as the real villain of the game is revealed after the third act, which keeps gamers on their toes, I suppose.

Character sprites are big and detailed when not zoomed out.

The presentation is where things are at though. The characters look great on the System 32 board, especially in the non-zoomed out portions. The models are big and detailed making Spider-Man one of the best looking beat-em-ups produced. The villains are tremendous as well, and in between acts there’s some story-line material with some limited voice over. About the only thing I dislike about the visuals rests with Spider-Man himself, as he has this odd, slightly stooped, posture. The music is also catchy, and some was even recycled from older Sega games. Most of the boss characters also get a line or two of spoken dialogue which helps add a little pizzazz to those encounters.

The charging attack, demonstrated here by Kingpin, gets a bit annoying.

Like any brawler, the gameplay does get repetitive eventually. Spider-Man is able to help itself not just with the gameplay switches during acts, but also with the boss variety. A character like Green Goblin attacks in a manner far different from the Kingpin, for example, though by the end of the game there is definitely some boss fatigue. The hardest foes all seem to attack in a similar pattern in that they get knocked down and then pop back up into a charging attack. The penultimate fight of the game can get a bit annoying as the boss has a very small window of time in which he can be harmed before going into a charging animation that renders him invincible, or a blasting position that grants the same. Even so, Spider-Man is a surprisingly fair game. Most arcade brawlers exist just to extract quarters, but it’s possible to gang up on a boss and practically neuter them. Especially with two players, as most boss characters will pop-up after being knocked down to immediately vault across the screen, rather than be momentarily invincible when first getting up. This means two well-positioned characters can effectively “ping pong” a boss until it’s been defeated. Preventing this from becoming a true exploit though is the fact that most bosses are accompanied by standard grunt enemies. I never counted, but Spider-Man can handle a lot of enemies on screen all at once so things can get a bit hectic. It makes those crowd-clearing special maneuvers more and more useful as the game progresses. The trade-off though is that enemy sprites are recycled throughout as you will largely battle the same three enemies all game long, just with different weapon and color variations.

The game keeps track of how many enemies each player defeated and which took down a boss adding a competitive element to the experience.

A play-through of Spider-Man will last about 45 minutes, maybe a bit more. The one trick the game does pull that I’m not a fan of is that the player’s health is always gradually depleting as a means of forcing the players to move quicker. This seems to mostly be in effect during the platforming sections which is a bit annoying as the game does encourage some mild exploration. The “Go!” arrow might be telling you to go one way, but there’s an obvious area in a different direction with health power-ups. Even with that health-drain in place, a pair of reasonably skilled gamers should be able to get through this one on about 20 credits, or 5 bucks back in ’91. After each act, scores are tabulated and health bonuses distributed in kind as well which helps prolong the adventure and adds a little competition as well. The game awards a boss “kill” to whoever scores the last hit and boss defeats are weighted far more heavily than basic enemies so competitive players will do whatever they can to make sure they land that final blow.

The game is quite unique when compared with its peers, at least as unique as a brawler can be.

Since Spider-Man was an arcade-only release, it has become a bit of an obscure title. For whatever reason, other arcade-only brawlers like X-Men and The Simpsons seem to be remembered more fondly even though I find Spider-Man to be the superior experience. It’s a wonderful looking game, even by today’s standards, and the gameplay quirks help set it apart as well. As much as I enjoy X-Men, that game is a pretty basic brawler that’s over quickly, but also brutal when it comes to quarters. It’s possible Spider-Man has been victimized by the success of the Genesis game since so many people had it that it’s likely the first game they think of when people mention the character and Sega in the same sentence. It certainly wasn’t an issue of distribution as I routinely encountered this game in the wild, and it was often the game I went to first.

If this game were re-released in 2020 the legal info would be a lot more complicated than what is seen here.

Spider-Man is one of the best arcade brawlers ever released, and it’s also one of the few to remain exclusive to that format. When Sega brought 32-bit gaming to the living room with the 32X, it chose to craft a new Spider-Man game for that system rather than port this one, which ended up being the final Spider-Man game developed by Sega. Eventually games like X-Men received a release just a via X-Box Live, but Sega’s Spider-Man has remained in cabinets alone. The game was fairly popular so it’s not hard to track down a cabinet today, but buying one is quite costly since the character is so beloved. I suspect we’ve never seen the game made available due to the complicated licensing agreements surrounding both the game and Spider-Man himself. Sony holds the license for basically all Spider-Man media, while the presence of Hawkeye might give Disney a substantial voice in the room should there ever be talk of re-releasing the game. And then there’s Sega, who no longer has a home console of its own to bill this as an exclusive for. The game is likely viewed as too niche to warrant trying to figure out how to spread the money among all interested parties. Ideally it would be offered as a downloadable title like the Konami brawlers were, but that window has apparently been shut, and Sony striking a deal with Sega to include the game as a bonus feature on a modern Spider-Man title seems unlikely. As a result, if you want to experience what Spider-Man has to offer in 2020 you’ll need to track down a cabinet, or resort to other, less legal, means. Should you find yourself playing it, expect to have a pretty good time. Just make sure to bring a friend, or two, or three!


TMNT Loot Crate – First Appearance Shredder

It was back during the winter that Loot Crate announced a series of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle crates for 2020. At the time, Loot Crate had done one previous crate that was apparently intended to test the waters to see what the appetite was for this sort of thing among the TMNT fanbase. It didn’t hurt that NECA was a part of the crate as it contributed a limited edition action figure of Splinter from the 1990 film Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The figure was the same as the retail version except he was now colored blue to mimic the color of the character during the “spirit scene” in the woods where Splinter appears as a ghost and encourages his pupils.

Because that crate was well received, it wasn’t a surprise to see Loot Crate come back to the property for another round. This time, however, Loot Crate had three distinct crates to sell. Each would be themed after a different aspect of the brand and each would include a NECA action figure. Fans who bought all three in advance would also get a bonus fourth figure presumably shipping with the final crate. At the time, Loot Crate was aiming for a June, September, November release for the three crates respectively. As spring turned to summer though, it started to become apparent that something had gone wrong.

Say it with me now, “What’s in the box?!”

Be it COVID, supply, or something else entirely, the first crate was delayed from June to July, and then ultimately started shipping in August. I received mine this past weekend after it was delayed further during the shipping process. I came home on a Sunday to find the crate sitting on my stoop in the rain getting nice and soggy. Loot Crate evidently literally just sends the crate and doesn’t put it in another box. Thankfully, there are apparently no porch thieves after TMNT products in my neighborhood.

We got “stuff” here!

This is my first experience with Loot Crate. The subscription box of what largely looks like junk has never really appealed to me. I just have a lot of “geek” stuff in my house as it is, so a box of “stuff” isn’t something I really want to find room for. Plus, I always roll my eyes at services like this that advertise something along the lines of “you pay $50 for a box of mystery products guaranteed to be worth twice that!” If businesses were in the business of underselling its wares it wouldn’t remain in business very long. Then again, Loot Crate did file for bankruptcy almost a year to the day so maybe it wasn’t boasting a falsehood. The buyer ended up being NECA, which is how the action figure side of the business was worked into the Loot Crate model. The two operate as separate entities, which is why when fans were asking Randy Falk of NECA what was up with the first crate he referred fans directly to Loot Crate as NECA had delivered its product presumably on-time.

The inclusion of the NECA action figure is the only reason why I decided to give Loot Crate a chance. I still largely don’t care about the stuff in the box, but I do like getting new TMNT figures! Since this is a subscription box, NECA isn’t aiming to include essential figures for the TMNT collector in these things. Instead, they’re variants or repaints intended to be a bit off-beat so fans who passed on them don’t feel entirely left out. When the service was announced, only the identity of the first figure was revealed – First Appearance Shredder. Since then, it’s been revealed that the next figure is an electrified turtle from the arcade game and Rocksteady in an Easter Bunny costume for the third crate. The bonus figure is Bebop in the same costume. It’s the pair of bunny guys that really got me excited, so it will be awhile before I know if I made the right move or not by signing up. For now, we’ve got a Shredder to talk about.

First of all, the Mirage Studios Loot Crate does indeed come packed with a bunch of stuff. The crate itself is black with the Mirage TMNT logo on the front along with the required Nickelodeon and Loot Crate logos. My box did sit in a gentle rain on Sunday and was a little beat up, but the interior seemed dry so no harm no foul, I guess.

Inside the crate is the stuff you would probably expect to find in such a product. There’s a keychain with Michelangelo and Kunk on one side and “Chet’s Toys” on the reverse. I assume that’s the toy store from the Michelangelo one-shot, but I didn’t confirm that. There’s also a weird looking credit card with a rubber TCRI slipcase to fit into. This is apparently supposed to be an Utrom TCRI ID card and possibly the one belonging to Baxter Stockman. The reverse of the slipcase is adhesive if you want to stick it to something, maybe for cos-play? There’s an enamel pin featuring Fugitoid which looks similar to a Figpin brand pin, but not quite as impressive looking. There’s a black TCRI tote bag and under the logo it says “Company Picnic North Hampton ’84.” There’s also a white t-shirt with the same logo. Lastly, there’s a white travel mug that too shares the same TCRI Company Picnic logo. It’s rather official looking which makes it a shame that it says right below the logo copy-write 2020 Viacom.

Most of that stuff is just “stuff” to me. I might use the keychain, but I don’t know how well it will hold up on an actual keyring. It doesn’t look very durable, so I may just leave it as-is. I have a million tote bags at this point as it’s been the go-to free gift of many retailers for close to ten years now. Interesting, it kind of replaced the free travel mugs I used to see getting passed out often as part of promotions in the city. I’ve purged a lot of them, so I actually do intend to use this TCRI one. It looks sharp, and the quality seems decent. I’ll wear the shirt, though I honestly have no need for more t-shirts and the ID card is just junk. The pin is fine though, if you like pins.

Obviously, what’s going to make this crate is the included action figure. The First Appearance Shredder is based on his appearance in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 from Mirage Studios. It’s a repaint of the previously released Mirage Shredder which was part of a San Diego Comic Con exclusive set a few years ago alongside three Foot Clan members. Those figures, along with the Mirage turtles released over ten years ago, are great figures sorely in need of a re-release. Because of that, any of them make for suitable exclusives in a Loot Crate such as this since the secondary market demands a premium for them. Conceivably, 50 bucks for a Mirage Shredder alone is almost worth it for anyone looking to add him to their collection since that would be a good price on eBay.

Shredder was originally sculpted by The Four Horsemen and is a well-constructed action figure. Because this is a repaint, it shares all of the same points of articulation as the previous figure. He’s got a ball-joint at the head which allows for all of the usual range of motion. There’s ball-joints at the shoulders, bicep swivels, double-jointed elbows, wrist swivels, and a wrist hinge. He can rotate at the waist and his legs are connected via ball-joints. The legs rotate at the upper thigh and feature double-jointed knees, calf swivels, ankle rotation, ankle rockers, and a toe hinge. About the only thing really missing is an ab crunch or some kind of articulation in the torso, but this is par for the course with NECA as they don’t like to break-up the torso of their figures.

Obviously, the main difference here is the paint application. This Shredder is intended to simulate his shadowy first appearance so he’s colored almost entirely in black and dark blue. The helmet and various armor pieces are all painted a steel gray with some generous black shading applied. He’s a pretty striking looking figure and I prefer this look to a straight black and white variant, though collectors that have a black and white set of turtles might disagree. The only other difference is this is a figure from 2020 so it feels different from the old one. My older Mirage Shredder is a bit heavier and the plastic doesn’t feel quite so pliable. The new Shredder isn’t rubbery feeling like some of the newer figures this summer (i.e. – Casey Jones and Turtles in Time Shredder), but there is a noticeable difference. I prefer the weightier feel of the older version, but this one feels fine too. The joints mostly moved well right out of the package (which is a nice window box with a black and silver design) with only a few feeling a bit stubborn. None required heat though and I soon had him moving around all right.

Shredder comes with some accessories as well and they’re new for this release. He does come with fist hands and has the same optional gripping hands as well. I’m happy to report that the blades on each hand did not warp in the packaging this time, as they had with my SDCC set. Shredder doesn’t wield any weapons in that first issue, so my guess is the weapons included here are meant to liven up the Foot from the prior release. There’s a new sickle on a chain weapon that looks pretty rad. It’s similar to the chained weapon from the Mirage set and I do like those chains. The other weapon is a bow and arrow that does indeed function. The arrow can be knocked like an arrow would on a regular bow and there’s enough tension on the string to shoot it roughly 8 to 10 feet.

The weapons looks pretty cool, but they do have one drawback. And that is Shredder can barely hold them. His gripping hands are just too loose so he can’t get a good hold on any of them. Placing the sickle in his hand means it’s going to slide all the way down the blade. The bow is even trickier and I never really got him to hold it. I did bust out the older set, but the problem there is they are all basically the same figure with different embellishments, so their grip wasn’t really any better. I did get one of the Foot Clan members to hold the bow by basically getting him to pinch it. I even managed to do the same with the arrow and got him back onto my shelf in this position. I’m just waiting for it to eventually pop out. Hopefully that arrow doesn’t sail too far when that day comes. The thing is pretty hard and pointy so it’s also not something you want to get hit with.

Overall, I do like this depiction of Shredder. I’ve always liked the color combo of black and blue and basically every comic has used that as a cheat for when a character is shadowed. The steel color of the helmet mixes really well with it and I’m torn on which version of Shredder I actually prefer. When side by side, the prior model almost looks boring with it’s mostly flat, gray, helmet. It’s disappointing the weapons didn’t work out better, but I did get that bow to work with one figure so that’s cool. The real question is would I have spent 50 bucks on this figure if it was just available to buy? Probably not, but that’s only because I have the existing one. If I had missed out then it would be a different story, as I definitely wanted a Shredder to pair with my set of turtles. I don’t feel like I was taken advantage of or anything like that as if I didn’t want this figure I probably could flip it for 50 bucks. Basically, what I’m saying is this version of Shredder is nice, but he’s just the appetizer.

Yeah, my Mirage display has two Shredders now. I’m cool with it.

The next Loot Crate in this series is still scheduled for a September release, though I’m skeptical considering this one was two months late. Whenever it does show up though, I’ll be here with a look at the next figure so long as it doesn’t interrupt my Christmas posts. Yeah, it could take that long.


Batman Beyond – The Complete Series (Blu Ray)

Last year, when Warner Home Media announced a new Blu Ray set for the series Batman Beyond, I decided to wait. I had been an early consumer for the similar Batman: The Animated Series set the prior year and had some misgivings. The price on that set fell and a slimmed down version was even introduced at retail that really only omitted the outer box and Funko items. Plus, I had ordered that set from Amazon and had to go through multiples because the company packaged it so poorly. I also wasn’t in any hurry to order Batman Beyond since I had the DVD sets and had never really found them lacking in a visual sense.

My patience was rewarded as a recent Amazon Lightning Deal came up for the complete Batman Beyond Blu Ray package. Like Batman, Batman Beyond received both a deluxe release and a retail release, only this deal on Amazon ended up being the deluxe version marked down even lower than the retail version. I decided to pounce since it’s been awhile since I engaged with the property, and if I was going to do a re-watch, might as well make it a high-definition one.

Batman Beyond tells the story of Bruce (reluctantly) passing the mantle of Batman to Terry

If you’re unfamiliar with the series, Batman Beyond was the sequel series to Batman: The Animated Series. In actuality, it was the replacement. Series creators Bruce Timm and Paul Dini had operated under the assumption that The New Batman Adventures would continue beyond the one season order the WB network had given it. Instead, the network decided that Batman needed a refresh. Were they right? Probably not, as Batman has proven to be a timeless character. The New Batman Adventures wasn’t quite on par with the Fox seasons, but it was still pretty good and had legs. It would have been nice if the network had given it one more season, or even a half season, while also informing the crew that would be it. Then we could have received a proper finale, but instead we got Batman Beyond and a series of Justice League shows followed.

Given that, it would be easy to approach Batman Beyond with significant baggage. After all, the premise is essentially “Let’s make Batman younger by essentially making him Spider-Man.” If you told that to me before ever letting me watch the show I would instantly have a bad impression. It sounds like the foolish decision of a network executive and not a creative decision by an actual story-teller. Against all odds though, the show somehow worked. It made people care about a new, teen-aged, Batman and it also managed to serve as a bookend to the animated series by largely continuing that show’s continuity. Sure, there was a pretty big gap in time between the two properties and a great many loose strings are never addressed, but just by having Bruce Wayne (still voiced by the incomparable Kevin Conroy) onboard added an instant credibility to the program.

Batman Beyond is set in the year 2039. Gotham has apparently run out of room for expansion and has grown up instead of out. Colossal skyscrapers cover the landscape with roads upon roads on top of one another. The main character is Terry McGinnis (Will Friedle), a teenager who loses his father to a murder making him the ideal candidate to replace Bruce Wayne as Batman. As Batman, Terry is empowered with a futuristic suit that allows him to fly, turn invisible, fire a seemingly endless amount of batarangs, and even stick to surfaces like a certain wall-crawler I already referenced. He’s a bit more jokey than his predecessor, and several episodes act as a teaching moment for him as well. This is a Batman in training, though by the end of the show he is pretty much the real deal. It’s a bit amusing to see how future Gotham looks considering modern Gotham looked like it was frozen in the 1940s. It’s about what you would expect, though most automobiles appear to still possess wheels.

The setting is not really what’s important here. What is most interesting about Batman Beyond is watching an elderly Bruce Wayne manage a kid who has taken up his mantle. It arises in an unnatural way with McGinnis initially stealing the suit to investigate his father’s murder. Wayne is shown giving up his alter-ego in the first five minutes of the show, but also given a motivation to want to see Batman return to Gotham. And that’s Derek Powers (Sherman Howard), who has basically taken Wayne’s company from him turning Wayne Enterprises into Wayne-Powers. He’s setup early on to be the primary foil to Batman and Wayne, though the rogue’s gallery will be filled out quite a bit over the ensuing 52 episodes. It’s a lot of fun though to watch Terry and Bruce bust heads with each other as they seldom agree. They find a working relationship though, and it helps that we have the relationships between Bruce and his prior wards to fall back-on. It’s easy to see that this Bruce is trying his hardest not to repeat the same mistakes as he did once before, and the fact that he’s physically compromised in his old age actually helps him to be more patient with Terry than he was with both Dick and Tim.

To sum it up, Batman Beyond is indeed worth your time as a series, even if you have reservations about the whole thing. It does the impossible in being a worthy follow-up to Batman: The Animated Series. Chances are, if you’re reading this you already know that. What’s more pressing is did Warner do right by the series with this set? Considering it is now being sold for almost half of what it was initially, I would say yes.

Being a late 90s/early 2000s show means this one really isn’t all that old, relatively speaking. The masters were all preserved and when the show received a transfer to DVD it came out great. In high-definition, it looks every bit as a good and obviously a little better. Blacks are deep and the brighter colors pop as expected. There’s no grain to speak of with this series, and everything has a very clean presentation. This was one of the last shows to be animated largely in a traditional manner for DC as they still used ink and paint on celluloid for the main animation. And unlike say Spider-Man 94, there’s no glaringly awful CG effects in use. Nothing is really working against the show in its transfer to HD, and that’s a good thing. Warner Home Video also wisely resisted any temptation to crop the image which seems like a given, but you never know when such will pop up.

The new extra features are all relegated to a bonus disc. There’s a round-table retrospective with the creators and actors of the series, though notably absent is Paul Dini. It’s mostly just 45 minutes or so of the people involved congratulating themselves for making a good show. There’s some interesting moments, like Bruce Timm acknowledging some of the controversial moves for the series following its completion that the others at the table get to weigh in on, but it’s not as juicy as it could have been. If you’re at all versed on this show, you probably won’t learn much from this discussion. There’s also a retrospect on Batman called Knight Immortal which consists of still images and some clips and surprisingly no talking heads. A lot of the main players involved with the character are heard from and it’s a decent look at Batman. Lastly, there’s a history of Detective Comics present. It’s a bit dry, but if you love DC then you’ll probably enjoy sitting through it. All of the DVD special features are also present.

The reverse side of the lenticulars.

Like the set for BTAS, this one doesn’t have any commentaries or anything like that added, just what was already available on DVD. Also like that set, it includes the feature associated with the series, in this case the excellent Return of the Joker. If it weren’t for Mask of the Phantasm, Return of the Joker would be my favorite Batman animated film and it’s still one of my favorite Batman films in general, possibly in my top 5. It’s the uncut version too, as expected. There’s also an optional digital version of the collection that can be downloaded. I haven’t redeemed my code though so I can’t speak to the quality (the BTAS set came with a standard definition digital copy) and I’m also note sure if it includes Return of the Joker.

This little booklet is just a glorified table of contents. No creator notes or anything.

Where this set differs from the BTAS one is in the presentation. It comes in a cardboard box with a window display for a chrome Batman Beyond Funko Pop! rather than mini ones. It’s a normal-sized Pop! so you probably know if you like it or not. Inside the box is a pretty standard Blu Ray set. It’s a hard cardboard slip case with folding digi-book styled case that houses the discs. It’s nothing extravagant, but it’s at least functional. While I loved the presentation of the leather-bound book for the BTAS set, getting the discs in and out was painful. There’s also some lenticular images and a little booklet that serves as a table of contents. It’s fine, just not particularly flashy. I imagine the standard retail release just omits the outer box and Funko figure.

If you want this show on physical media and in HD, then this is something you should seek out.

Batman Beyond – The Complete Series is essentially as advertised. If you had been waiting for a complete collection on Blu Ray, then you should be satisfied with this. Especially if you were able to get it on sale. If you like the show, and you’re still into physical media like I am, then you should probably grab it. Is it essential if you already have the DVDs? Probably not. The bonus features are something you’re likely to watch once and then never again. It would have been great if Warner had made an attempt to make this the full Batman Beyond experience by including the character’s appearances from other shows on here. That would have been especially useful for someone like me who has no interest in buying any of those other shows. And if this is something you want, I’d suggest grabbing whatever version is cheaper unless you really want that exclusive Pop! figure. Lastly, if you like Batman: The Animated Series but never gave Batman Beyond a chance, it’s worth the price of admission. You’ll probably be pleasantly surprised.


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