Tag Archives: boss fight studio

Bucky O’Hare Wave 3.5 Aniverse Storm Toad Trooper

img_0978It’s been a long time between releases by Bucky O’Hare license holder Boss Fight Studio. The last figure released by the company was 2018’s Storm Toad Trooper, a figure that arrived at my doorstep on Boxing Day 2018. Since that time, Boss Fight Studio has had sculpts and specs to show off, most notablyBruiser, but no releases. Somewhat quietly though, this variant of the Storm Toad arrived at my door this week. I had not and still have not seen any mention of his release by Boss Fight’s social media accounts and he’s actually still listed as a pre-order item on their webstore. I know the company had some delays it had to deal with in 2018 relating to the offshore factory it utilizes to make the figures (which is why the previously set for release in the Fall of 2018 Bruiser is now slated for a Spring 2020 release) and I assume those delays impacted this figure as well.

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Some source material for this one.

Needless to say, it’s good to have some new Bucky product to talk about, even if it is a repaint of a previously released figure. If you’re going to re-release a figure though, it doesn’t hurt that it’s one of the best figures the company has put out. The Storm Toad Trooper is a marvel to look at. He looks like he was pulled right out of the comic from which he originated and there’s a ton of personality baked into this sculpt. Boss Fight smartly made sure he came with two heads and two pieces of headgear:  a hat and the traditional trooper helmet, which encouraged fans to buy two as it offered two distinct display pieces. And of course, there’s always the temptation to buy even more and “army build” the ranks of the Toads. At $35 a piece, slightly less if you opt for a two-pack, it’s a bit tough to justify building out a huge army of Troopers, but the temptation is certainly there.

In order to help maximize the value Boss Fight gets from each figure, the company has produced at least one variant of each sculpt it has released so far. For the Trooper, that means an Aniverse version. The Aniverse is the setting for the cartoon Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars and it simply means “Animated Universe.” Though considering all of the denizens of Bucky’s world are anthropomorphic animals from our world, it also works as an “Animal Universe” as well. The first run of all of Boss Fight’s action figures thus far have been based on the licensing art supplied by Continuity Comics. In order to make the show easier to animate, some characters were changed when moving to animation, though for the most part the changes were minimal. Boss Fight even showed off an Aniverse Bucky variant that seems to have been quietly cancelled, possibly because he underwent very minimal changes when changing mediums.

The Aniverse variant of the Storm Toad is the first such variant that has been produced. It makes sense considering the Storm Toad did change a bit. His jumpsuit was altered from black to blue, probably to help him stand out against the many black, space, backdrops in the show. All of the gold on his uniform was also changed to yellow, probably because yellow is cheaper, and in some episodes his gun switched from hot pink to light blue. The green of his helmet and trim are also darkened a touch and there’s less detail on his skin. For the figure, this means no green patches on his hands and head. Lastly, the lens covers on his helmet also went from hot pink to red.

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Two guns are better than one.

All of these little details have been captured by Boss Fight Studio with this version of the character. Beyond the change to the color scheme, the figure is essentially the same as released in 2018. For a brief rundown, this means he has a pair of trigger finger hands, two open palm hands, one pointing finger hand, a grinning head, a head with a sort-of side grin, helmet, hat, pistol, rifle, and hooked bayonet. A small piece of the rifle can be removed and swapped with the bayonet if you so desire. All of the weapons can be stored on the little peg holes on the figure’s belt or held. The figure itself is pretty loaded with articulation, though the details of the outfit hinder him a bit in ways the other characters in this series were not. It’s mainly those shoulder, elbow and knee pads which limit things a touch. He also has a very wide stance which doesn’t really lend itself well to dynamic posing, but it gets the job done.

Since this is basically a repaint, the figure has all of the pluses the previous one had. It also possesses the same negatives as well, of which there are few, but still worth a mention. His helmet is a real challenge to get onto the alternate head. You can try heating it up to make it more pliable, but that still might not get the job done. I could never get it to sit flush like it does on the stock head (which it snaps onto with satisfying ease) when it came to the original release, but this time I actually got it on! The second head doesn’t move as well though on the ball joint, but maybe I just pushed it in too far. The lens effect on the helmet is also achieved with a translucent plastic that runs throughout the entire inner part of the helmet and does leave red smudges on the head, something I never noticed with the first version. The alternate hat also doesn’t really snap in place, but it also doesn’t really need to as it looks fine even if it’s basically just floating on the head. The heads are a touch challenging to swap so be careful, but the hands are fairly simple. The included rifle looks great, but it is hard to get him into an appropriate rifle pose. If you can get him to hold it properly with his finger on the trigger you may be tempted to just leave it there as I did with the 2018 figure. I failed to do so this time around and a little stress crack was forming on the rifle handle so I backed off.

The Aniverse Storm Toad Trooper comes in Boss Fight’s collector friendly blister packaging. It’s a card-back with a plastic bubble that can be removed and reinserted with ease. Boss Fight even updated the artwork to reflect the new Toad with a some-what janky looking individual that’s reminiscent of the toon itself. It would have been neat if the little comic strip could have been updated to include scenes from the cartoon, but that probably would have meant cutting a check to Hasbro (who holds the rights to the cartoon) and I understand the decision to not do so there. Interestingly, the blister has changed slightly from past figures as the actual bubble is lower than before which necessitated moving the name plate up above the bubble and below the logo as opposed to on the bottom. If you’re curious, this figure is considered number 11 in the series. The bio card on the back is unchanged from the first release.

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It’s hardly what I would call an army, but it’s a start.

Because I’ve just always liked the look of the character, the Storm Toad Trooper is still one of my favorites from this toy-line, a line in which it’s really hard to pick a true favorite as all have been exceptional. I also really like this color scheme and I think I prefer it to the original, though I’m glad I didn’t have to choose between the two. For the first release, I did opt for the two-pack, but this time around I only pre-ordered the one. Interestingly, when I ordered it I had elected the option to pick it up at Boss Fight’s brick and mortar location in Norwood, MA, but the company shipped it to me instead, so a sincere thanks to Boss Fight for the free shipping! I don’t know if it was shipped in error or if they have stopped taking orders for pickup. A quick look at their website seems to suggest that option is still available, so maybe it was simply a “Thanks for being patient with this line,” gift of sorts.

I can safely say though that this is my favorite variant so far produced by this line. Holiday Bucky was pretty clever, but I really like the idea of doing cartoon versions of the characters. I don’t think Bucky and Dead-Eye necessarily need Aniverse versions, but it would be neat to see Jenny get one if they decide to do another variant of her. The upcoming Bruiser and Mimi LaFloo could also easily be adapted for Aniverse paint applications as well. I would also love to see this particular sculpt re-used for a Frix and Frax. My dream would have been for Boss Fight to include a Frix and or Frax head with this release, but I understand the desire to not add more cost. They probably would also prefer to do a more proper release with the characters getting their own card art and so forth.

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I hope to add several more figures to this display (pay no mind to the Christmas décor in the background, it has to go somewhere after the holidays).

Hopefully, the wait for the next figure in this line won’t be quite as long as it was for this figure. Bruiser is tentatively scheduled for the spring, and Boss Fight even sent a sample to Pixel Dan last year for him to review so he can’t be that far off. The company is also accepting pre-orders for Mimi and her approval process by Continuity went quickly so hopefully she’s on track for a 2020 release. And of course, Toy Fair is right around the corner now and we’ll have to see if Boss Fight and Bucky O’Hare will have a presence. Boss Fight showed off artwork for a line of mini figures last year and I would guess we’ll get more info about those soon. 2020 is already shaping up to be a good year for the funky fresh rabbit courtesy of Boss Fight Studio.


Dec. 4 – The Adventures of Sam & Max: Freelance Police – “Christmas Bloody Christmas”

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Original Air Date December 20, 1997

Come 1997 I was moving away from what is largely considered “kid’s stuff.” I was in my teens and gearing up for high school and the Fox Kids I had grown up with was changing. My beloved X-Men came to an end that year and with it came my disinterest in Saturday morning cartoons. I preferred to stay up late on a Friday and sleep in till near noon on Saturday, and when I did wake, I often went straight for the computer or my PlayStation. As a result, I totally missed out on The Adventures of Sam & Max:  Freelance Police. It views like the heir apparent to Fox’s previous version of The Tick. Both are rather offbeat, comedy, comics geared towards a slightly more mature audience than the conventional super hero books and both had to be toned down in order to work on network television. How they both got to where they ended up was quite different though.

Sam & Max were largely created by artist/writer Steve Purcell. They actually originated in a comic his brother Dave created as a kid. He’d leave his unfinished works around the house and Steve would playfully finish them often completely changing the tone and poking fun at what his brother started. Eventually he started coming up with his own stories for the duo and as a birthday present in the 70s his brother signed over rights to the characters for Steve so that he could explore an official way to distribute his stories.

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Sam & Max’s foray into television only lasted one season despite being well received.

Sam is an anthropomorphic dog in detective clothing. He’s sort of the straight man in the pair and takes his work seriously, but is also prone to his natural canine instincts making him excitable and, at times, a touch vicious. Max is an undefined rabbit-like creature who prefers to be called a lagomorph. Where Sam is more straight-laced and serious about their work as police officers, Max is not. He’s violent, crazy, and possesses a very short attention span. The two debuted in 1987 as a counterpart to Fish Police, but when Purcell was hired by LucasArts his characters came with him where they enjoyed their greatest success.

It was at LucasArts that Sam & Max made the leap to video games. They first appeared as comics in a newsletter and due to their success they were given a starring role in their own adventure title. Sam & Max Hit the Road was a point and click adventure for PC in 1995 and it was quite successful. Despite that success though, attempts to create a sequel fizzled and were never released. This was largely due to the genre of game they helped refine falling out of favor with gamers, or at least the publisher losing confidence in the format. When the rights expired in 2005, Purcell took his talents to Telltale Games which had resurrected the adventure game and would find great success with episodic titles for the next decade+, until it eventually closed in 2018. Sam & Max starred in several Telltale titles and pretty much all of them were well received.

In 1997, the duo made the leap to television. The Adventures of Sam & Max is a toned-down take on the pair that strives to maintain the core beats of the source material. The violence is largely absent and the profanity as well, but Sam is still a pretty straight and narrow, albeit ignorant, detective while Max still has a touch of that homicidal nature to him. Neither character was allowed to wield a gun though, but at least the show does a faithful job in adapting the look of the comic. Twenty-four episodes were produced for the first season, with only the first and final episode being a standard half-hour format. The other 22 were approximately ten minutes each and shown in pairs.

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A cozy, Christmasy, setting gets things started.

For the 10th episode, one half was devoted to Christmas. “Christmas Bloody Christmas” is written by Purcell himself and isn’t as violent as the episode title would suggest. It involves Sam reuniting with his grandmother for a trip to Blood Island Maximum Security Penitentiary to bring Christmas cheer to those needing it most:  inmates. What could possibly go wrong?

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That feeling of calm is quickly abandoned.

The episode opens with Sam and Max in a cozy, festive, setting dressed in their pajamas. Max (Rob Tinkler doing a pretty decent Roger Rabbit impression) casually smashes a little music-playing Santa and remarks how Christmas with Sam’s granny will be different from most. Or rather, how each year he wishes it would be different and better and each year he’s let down. Since Max speaks with that diabolical grin at all times it gives all of his lines a bit of dryness to them that’s part of the show’s charm. Sam (Harvey Atkin) informs Max that instead of spending Christmas in front of the TV that Grannie has something special planned for them.

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Grannie Ruth is going to take the lead in this episode.

Just then, a commotion and bright lights appear outside the cozy cabin. Max thinks it’s the mothership of his species finally returning to bring him home, while Sam thinks it’s an ambush. Grabbing Max, he flees for cover instructing the lagomorph that he’ll have to use his endearing charms to distract their attackers so that he can ensure Grannie’s safety. The door bursts open and it’s Grannie (Pam Hyatt). She curtly orders the boys to suit-up because they’re heading out which takes us into the credits.

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I love the festive attire, in particular Max’s three hats.

After the credits conclude, we see Sam, Max, and Grannie are aboard a helicopter being piloted by the old girl. Sam and Max are dressed in festive holiday attire, with Max adorably sporting a Santa hat on each ear. Sam takes the time to inform Max that Grannie was once the warden at Blood Island, and they’re going to bring some holiday cheer to the folks there. Max reacts to this news by declaring he always hoped his last Christmas would be spent as an elf-shaped holiday appetizer. Sam assures him that they’ll be fine since all of the inmates loved his grandmother referring to her as The Iron Maiden.

As the helicopter touches down in the prison yard, the inmates rush it. The guards are prepared to act, but the warden instructs them to stand down – they just love that old girl. They cheer as Grannie and her “elves” emerge from the chopper with Sam and Max tossing candy canes to the prisoners. Off to the side, some tough looking inmates remark this could screw up their plans while a blonde Russian inmate with a wild-looking neck (the thing looks like an elbow) remarks that this might actually work out for them.

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Grannie should really be dressed-up too if she’s going to play Mrs. Claus.

Inside the prison, the inmates are lined up to meet Mrs. Claus who is just Grannie in her normal attire. Sam and Max make quips at the expense of the inmates, and one rather large looking fellow informs the pair he’s in jail because he ate his parole officer with some fava beans and seltzer, an obvious reference to The Silence of the Lambs that may not have been so obvious to the show’s target audience. It’s then that Grannie takes note of the Russian fellow from earlier. She’s not happy to see him and references his 43 escape attempts. She also calls him by his name, but I have no idea how to spell it. It sounds like Hurt-Sock. We’ll just call him Russian guy.

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That is one amazing neck.

Russian guy drops to his knees and begs for forgiveness for his past deeds from Grannie. He claims to be a changed man, and in the spirit of the holidays Grannie accepts. Max then gifts him with the most obvious, and tired, of Christmas gags:  a fruit cake. It’s incredibly heavy as the inmate nearly drops it upon receiving it. The music then gets sinister, and one of the other inmates from earlier is now sporting a baseball glove and making it clear to the Russian dude that he wants the “ball.” He tosses the cake to him who then pitches it to the third inmate from earlier. This guys grabs Max and swings him like a baseball bat, bashing the cake into an electrical switch on the wall and knocking out the power causing the room to go dark. Sam states the obvious in that this can’t be good, while Max sarcastically remarks that nothing could go wrong in a dark room full of violent offenders as he lights a candle.

After a break, Grannie, Sam, and Max are shown running through a hallway. They’re in the underbelly of the prison and Grannie assures the boys she knows this place like the liver spots on the back of her hand. Max breaks the fourth wall to make a dated SNL reference as Grannie leads them to a spot in the wall. Max uses his very large ears to listen for activity, and finding it, he punches a small hole in the stone wall and yanks the inmate who swung him like a bat earlier through the impossibly small hole.

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Max, ever eager to climb insane a human body.

Once the inmate is pulled into the hallway, he claims he won’t talk. Max enthusiastically requests that Grannie let him jump down the man’s throat and prepares to climb inside him, but he’s denied. Grannie then reprimands the man, telling him that his mother would not appreciate him back-talking old Grannie. Sam is then shown calling the guy’s mother on the phone and this causes him to break. He confesses that the Russian guy is planning on taking the warden hostage. With no further use for him, Grannie pinches the fella’s neck causing him to pass out. Max remarks this is a helpful maneuver all parents should know for bedtime.

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The characters are allowed to behave like classic toons when needed.

The trio then apparently head deeper into the prison as they’re shown traveling through the darkened hall by hanging from some pipes. Grannie suspects their target will use the prison’s pipes to get to the warden which is what they’re doing as they enter the pipes. The pipes start off large enough for them to crawl through, but eventually become too small. That doesn’t stop them though, considering they’re cartoons and all, and they eventually emerge from the shower heads. The show then makes a mild prison rape joke as Sam appears to be in awe and wonders aloud what the room would tell them if these walls could talk. Max remarks it’s probably best that they didn’t with a look of disgust on his face.

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Let’s get silly.

Outside the room, the sound of talking and laughter can be heard. Grannie instructs the boys to turn on the hot water making the room steamy. The bad guys enter and are surprised to find Grannie. They’re probably more surprised when Sam and Max emerge from the steam wearing towels and snapping additional towels in a threatening manner. The henchmen inmates, including the one previously knocked out by Grannie’s neck pinch, scream like girls and run away slipping on some stray soap. They crash into a wall and are rendered unconscious. Grannie then beckons the Russian guy to come at her, but he opts to flee by flushing himself down a toilet. Max requests he not be asked to chase after him, while Grannie becomes worried as she concedes he now knows this place better than her. As Sam reassures her, Max’s feet stick out from the toilet.

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No one told Max he had to do that, but he did it anyway.

The trio return to the pipes and are shown above a whirling fan in the ventilation system. They jump in, and the air causes them to hover as if they’re in a wind tunnel. Sam seems to enjoy the blast of cold air on his genitals, though he states it in a PG manner. Grannie instructs them to hang on as she throws a switch on the wall which causes them to get sucked out of the tunnel and into the night air.

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They make this stuff look easy. No wonder why Fox felt like they didn’t need guns.

In the warden’s office, the warden is unable to reach anyone by phone. The three inmates emerge and they have a hostage too. Before they can issue their threats, the Russian guy says he hears something. Just then, Max and Sam burst out of a vent and collide with the two underlings knocking them out, hopefully once and for all. As the Russian guy turns his gun on the pair, Grannie pops up and disarms him. Seeing no alternative, he takes a swing at Grannie, but she produces another fruit cake and his hand smashes into it. While he’s reeling from the blow, Grannie drops the cake on his foot and apparently the pain causes him to pass out.

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You’ve probably heard about your brain on drugs, well this is your fist on fruit cake.

As the gang soak up their victory, some big, red, butt cheeks pop out of a fireplace. They could only belong to Santa, and he surveys the room and confirms who’s been naughty and who’s been nice. He makes Sam sign-off on his naughty and nice list before departing. While they’re distracted by Santa, the Russian prisoner taunts them from a window. He’s got an inflatable kiddie float and laughs as he flees. The warden remarks there’s nothing but open water out there and that he’s most likely shark bait at this point. The others seem unconcerned, and Sam reminds everyone there’s a big spread down in the mess hall.

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I suppose it’s better than solitary.

In the mess hall, we see a gigantic Christmas tree. The two prisoners who were working with the Russian are tied up and hung like ornaments from the tree while Sam and Max reflect on the Christmas they just experienced. Sam is thankful for being able to bond with his dear old grandma for the holidays. Meanwhile, with a tear in his eye, the warden thanks Grannie for bringing some holiday cheer to this old prison. She accepts his thanks, but is disappointed she couldn’t hang that old “Hurt Sock” from the tree too. On cue, Max finds a present under the tree addressed to Grannie. Sam opens it for her and out comes the Russian guy all tied up and bound with wrapping paper. As they all gasp and wonder how this happened, Max gives a “You don’t suppose,” as the camera cuts to a silhouette of Santa flying by the moon with a “Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas!” Max then finishes his line with another fourth-wall breaking joke, “we’d even think of employing such a sugary ending!” Sam and Max then do the customary wishing the audience a merry Christmas as well. The camera pans out to end as it started, with a Christmas card and some festive music to take us out.

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Grannie gets her Christmas wish.

“Christmas Bloody Christmas” isn’t as crazy as the title seems to suggest it will be. I knew going in this was a Saturday morning affair, but I did have some expectations of at least mild, cartoon, violence and the episode is actually fairly light on that. Despite that though, I found it rather entertaining. Sam’s matter-of-fact delivery of often bad news is endearing, and Max’s sarcasm was also amusing. Nothing made me laugh out loud, but I did find the whole thing pretty charming. Jokes about fruit cake and prison rape are certainly dated and overdone, but at least they didn’t make me cringe. And the fruit cake bit at least paid off in the end with a pretty comical shot of the inmate’s hand breaking as he struck it.

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Obligatory holiday message.

Visually the episode does a great job with its characters. In particular, Sam and Max. They look just as they should and I’m quite happy the artists opted to put them in festive attire for the episode. Max’s manic grin really helps sell his lines, and the few times his mouth changes stands out to help accentuate those scenes as well. The secondary characters are a bit cheaper looking, though I liked the main villain’s elbow neck which remained consistent throughout the episode. It was a nice, personal, touch for the character. The backgrounds look pretty good as well, though are a bit lifeless at times as well. When the characters first burst into the catacombs of the prison it looks like they forgot to animate a door too. I enjoy the cartoon aesthetic and properties of the show, such as the exaggerated actions of the characters or the very cartoony way they emerged from the shower heads.

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The show’s take on Santa is fine. He’s plump, but not ugly, and gets right down to business.

As a Christmas special, this one is predictably light on holiday sentiment. Sam does remark that he was happy to get a little closer to his grandmother, which is about as far as the episode goes. The warden’s tears of happiness are not at all heartwarming and I think it’s supposed to be played for laughs. And obviously, Santa’s gift for Grannie is intended to be humorous as well and a play on how many a sincere holiday special end. Bringing Christmas to inmates is actually surprisingly noble, but it’s not intended to be here at all. It’s a joke to the writers, and I suppose it’s fine. Some who have more experience with the real thing might view it as being distasteful, but the show does make sure to portray all of these particular inmates as exceptionally violent offenders that are probably hopeless to begin with.

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Santa is, however, missing some reindeer and that is something I cannot forgive.

I’d say overall I enjoyed this one. It’s lack of earnestness and the fact that it isn’t truly hilarious make it an unlikely annual viewing, but a once in a while viewing is certainly acceptable. If you want to view this one yourself this year, the complete series is still available on DVD brand new for about 20 bucks. If you’re willing to settle for a used copy then you can find it for considerably less. It’s a Shout Factory release which tend to be of acceptable quality but light on special features. You can also easily find this one via the usual means online and stream it for free. If you want to indulge in other Sam & Max media, there’s always graphic novels and such. A favorite toy maker of mine, Boss Fight Studio, is set to release action figures of the titular characters. I’m not a big enough fan of the property to indulge in such, but they’re certainly tempting given how well they turned out.


Sunshine Blogger Post

 

sunshineYou may have heard of or seen this Sunshine Blogger thing going around. It’s essentially a chain post, not unlike a chain letter or those chain posts that used to (still do?) circulate through social media. I was tagged by Jay Friz over at RJ Writing Ink for such a post in which most of the participants appear to be anime-centered blogs. While The Nostalgia Spot is not an anime blog, it has certainly touched upon the subject from time to time mostly via several posts on the Dragon Ball franchise. I am a lover of animation though, so naturally I do enjoy anime and this presents an opportunity to touch upon it, so thank you for such, Jay.

All chains have rules, and these are the rules for this particular chain:

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you in your post and link it back to them.

2. Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.

3. Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write 11 new questions for them.

4. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your first post.

Once again, thanks go out to Jay for the acknowledgement. If you have not visited his blog, he does a lot of animation-related posts of old and new properties and is currently doing a daily Halloween post (and if you read this regularly you know about my affinity for that format) and it is certainly worth checking out.

What got you into blogging?

My journey into blogging began nearly 9 years ago. I had always wanted to write and pursued a writing degree while in college. It eventually struck me as something impractical, and rather than reach for a dream I went with a different major. It has financially worked out, but I missed writing. After being out of school for many years and finding myself with a lot of spare time, I decided to start a blog for my own benefit. The theme of nostalgia came naturally, and it’s something I’ve had fun writing about. I do it for the enjoyment of writing, not for publicity. If people read and enjoy it then that’s great, but if no one read it I’d still consider it a worthwhile endeavor.

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I love me some Christmas, and here’s a little teaser for a future Christmas Spot post. Recognize it?

What’s been your favorite thing to blog about?

Nostalgia seems like too broad a topic for the purpose of answering this question. I have greatly enjoyed revisiting Batman: The Animated Series. Not only does it provide me with something to write about, but I also re-watched every episode along the way. It spanned more than two years of my blogging life, and I’m actually a little sad it’s over (final post scheduled for the end of November). I have also enjoyed doing the same for the much smaller Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars. Bucky O’Hare being a smaller, often forgotten, subject makes it rewarding for different reasons, even though the quality of that series is not on par with the likes of Batman. Without question though, my favorite posts are the Christmas ones. After dabbling with Christmas for years, I finaly went all-in on doing an advent calendar of posts a few years ago. When you blog for sheer enjoyment it can be hard to find time to make posts. Plus my own tend to total 3000 words no matter what I do, so doing 25 days of posts is hard. That’s why I spread them out and make use of the scheduler function to make sure they post when I need them to. It gives me a reason to stay tapped into Christmas all year round.

If you could date one fictional character, who’d it be?

Let’s go with Sara Valestein from the Trails of Cold Steel video games. She can kick ass and loves a good brew – what’s not to like?

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Sara (left) was likely created with the whole “Hot for Teacher” vibe in mind.

What’s your all time favorite show? Or video game?

My favorite show is probably either Futurama or The Venture Bros. Those are the two I’ve revisited the most. From a more nostalgic perspective, my favorite as a kid was X-Men. As for video game, it’s a lot harder since I play a lot of RPGs, but rarely revisit them. I’ll just stick with the same answer I usually give and go with Xenogears. It has its problems, but I love the aesthetic of it and the battle system is unique enough to separate it form other JRPGs.

What’s your favorite show from the 2010s?

It’s hardly much fun to say this is my favorite show from the past decade, but it’s Game of Thrones. The showrunners may not have stuck the landing, but it was a fun ride while it lasted.

What are you looking forward to the most in 2020?

Whatever NECA releases in its line of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures, and the same for Boss Fight Studio and its Bucky O’Hare line. Looking forward to new toys is supremely exciting for me, likely because it allows me to feel like a kid again. That and I rarely have time for video games so looking forward to them feels like a waste of energy.

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Bruiser will hopefully arrive in 2019, but could slip to 2020. Either way, I look forward to whatever is next in this toyline.

If you could have any fictional power, what would you want?

Let’s keep it simple and just go with flight. I live in Boston and traffic is brutal, flying would solve so many problems.

What’s been your favorite anime recently? For non-anime fans, you can say cartoon

Recently it’s been Dragon Ball Super, which just wrapped up a week ago for the English dub. I never really wanted a proper sequel to Dragon Ball Z, so I’ve been surprised at how much I enjoyed the new series. I’ve also really enjoyed My Hero Academia and Devil Man Crybaby, as the Devil Man OVA was one of the first DVDs I ever purchased.

If you could travel to a fictional universe, which one would you want to go to?

Duckberg. I’d stand out, but it would be fun trying to break into Scrooge’s Money Bin.

What was your favorite cartoon/anime growing up?

My favorite cartoon was X-Men, my favorite anime was Dragon Ball Z.

X-Men (FOX) [1992-1997]Shown from left: Wolverine, Morph, Beast

I lived for Saturday morning as a kid.

Beef or chicken?

Chicken, always chicken.

 

Thanks again to Jay for the chance to do something different. He made his questions fairly broad and not applicable to anime, which probably worked better for me since most of my anime related responses would just refer to Dragon Ball or Cowboy Bebop, fine shows certainly, but also shows that have been talked about a lot. My insulated nature means I have no blogs to tag for future responses as the few I follow have already done this post. I don’t normally spread chains too, but I wanted to play along with this one especially since I’ve been buried in Batman and Christmas-related writings lately. If this is something you want to do, feel free to consider yourself “tagged” and answer the same set of questions I already have, and as always, thanks for reading.


Final Thoughts on Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars

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Bucky O’Hare raced onto television screens in September of 1991.

Another series is in the bag as the past 13 weeks have covered 90s relic Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars. As evidenced by my posting on the toy line by Boss Fight Studio as well as other pieces of Bucky media, this show has a special place in my heart. It was something I loved intensely as only a child can for a short duration that then broke my heart, but I got over it because for kids most things are short term. I found something else to obsess over and didn’t think about Bucky O’Hare much until I reached adulthood when suddenly looking back on childhood things held new meaning.

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The animation is sloppy and careless, such as with this scene in which Dogstar is mistakenly included as part of Bucky’s infiltration team when he’s actually piloting the ship.

I won’t lie to you all and say that Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars is a great television series. I’m not even sure I can say it’s a great children’s show. It does have things going for it, and then it doesn’t. It certainly suffered from a small budget, which isn’t a surprise as the property wasn’t exactly tried and true nor was it backed by a major studio. Those putting up the dollars to make the show likely viewed it as a toy commercial primarily with the hope it would find a footing so more money could be made off of it via other merchandise. Had the show arrived in the 80s it would have largely fit in with other shows on television, but for a 1991 show it was rather shoddy looking. The animation is choppy, there’s numerous visual errors, and few sequences that seemed to attempt anything truly artistic. The classic cartoon where a lavish intro serves as a red herring for what’s to follow.

In addition to the rather poor visual fidelity, the budget is further constrained in the sound department. A small cast of voice actors was forced to shoulder the load. When a new character shows up there wasn’t a thought to getting a guest voice actor (or if there was at the time of recording it was abandoned before release) so get used to a lot of characters sounding the same. This isn’t a knock on the cast, all of which I thought did a good job with the scripts provided, but a short-coming nonetheless. The music also suffers in the same manner. Doug Katsaros handled the music, including the memorable opening and closing number, and was apparently only hired to write and arrange about five tracks which are recycled through every episode. I like the music in the show and consider it perhaps the show’s greatest attribute, but it certainly was becoming repetitive by season’s end.

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Willy’s interactions with bullies in the early episodes are among the lowest points for the show.

Those are the show’s most obvious flaws production-wise. Serving as both a strength and weakness is the show’s writing. There are some early sequences, namely anything involving Willy DuWitt’s time on Earth, that are dreadful. Just pandering, talking down to the audience kind of stuff. The show also had pacing problems, particularly early on, where the episodes tried to cover too many things and never had a chance to breathe. The end of the first episode is supposed to be stressful so I don’t fault the writing there, but there were other episodes where plot points were basically glossed-over or the end felt rushed. The show is happy to use Willy’s genius as a deus ex machina to get the gang out of trouble on many occasions which probably won’t entertain an adult, but kids may have been more forgiving. I know for me personally as a kid characters like Willy and Donatello from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles annoyed me a bit with how they could seemingly invent their way out of any problem, but I don’t know if I was the exception or the norm.

Another aspect of the show that works, but also doesn’t, is the nature in which Willy was approached. He’s clearly meant to be the audience stand-in. As more of this universe is unveiled, we experience it alongside Willy. Whenever the show takes us to another world, we experience that world via Willy who has to learn about the cat people on Jenny’s world and learn how to deal with pirates in the Dead-Eye episode. It’s the type of approach that probably sounds good on paper, but in practice it’s not as successful. Willy just isn’t interesting, and having almost every episode center around him in some way harms the show. The only episode I actually felt this approach worked was the finale, and that’s because the crew was hiding something from Willy and thereby hiding it from the viewer as well.

Otherwise, the writing for Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars could be really ambitious and even better than the average slop thrown at children in 1991. The first three episodes are serialized and even the fourth fits into that as well. For the rest of the season, the show often reflects back on past events and there’s a feeling of continuity throughout, for the most part. Networks were loathe to attempt this sort of thing with kids as many just don’t respect the intelligence of the audience. Serialized story-telling isn’t necessary for every show, but it is rewarding for viewers in the right setting and that’s true of adults and kids. It’s why I found the show riveting as a child, and I believed there were more stakes here than was the case with the other shows I watched.

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Mimi LaFloo was an excellent addition to the show, I just wish we saw more of her.

This show was also really good to its female characters. Females were often an afterthought for shows aimed at boys. At most, they were often someone who needed to be rescued. April O’Neil was the gold standard at this point, a character who was confident and fearless, but ultimately always ended up captured by Shredder. In this show, we have Jenny who is the second in command and a powerful telepath. When she gets captured in episode three, it’s in addition to Bucky and Dead-Eye. It’s she who takes charge in her own episode to save her people, and in the final episode she gets captured on purpose as part of a master plan. The other female is Mimi LaFloo, a character determined to save herself and the other slaves who isn’t going to wait around for a hero. She becomes a captain herself, though we only get to see her in this role in one episode. The only negative is that these two characters are quite “catty” towards each other which feels too stereotypical. The most frequently used writer on the show is a female, Christy Marx, who wrote or co-wrote both episodes featuring Mimi so this may have been a contribution on her part or she was instructed to put these two at odds with each other. That aside, it’s cool to see the females in a heroic role and equally cool that a woman got to write them and I think it’s something that should be talked about as part of the show’s legacy.

The show also can be funny, and it’s not the sort of stupid humor I was accustomed to seeing in action shows. The show did tone down on the political humor with the obtuse and budget conscious S.P.A.C.E. bureaucrats. Some of it was retained, but I’m not surprised that Willy wasn’t made to sign-up for company healthcare before going on his first mission. Even the incompetent villains manage to remain funny throughout the season. Perhaps some of that is due to it only lasting 13 episodes, but at least the bumbling Air Marshall had yet to ware out his welcome.

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The villains are predictable, but also often amusing.

I largely view Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars as a flawed series, but still worth watching. It’s definitely worth watching for kids of 1991 as there wasn’t much better on TV as far as action cartoons were concerned. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was pretty dumb and The Real Ghostbusters was well past its prime. The Pirates of Dark Water might have been the best contemporary for the show, but I find Bucky O’Hare to be more interesting. Come 1992 the television landscape for this genre would be forever changed with Batman and X-Men, but for a brief period of time, Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars was at least in the conversation for best children’s action adventure program. It’s a shame the show isn’t readily available on DVD or at least streaming somewhere. I suppose it’s never too late, but it definitely doesn’t feel like that is something that is going to change anytime soon.

With my final thoughts out-of-the-way, I felt it would make sense to close the book on this series with a ranking of the 13 episodes. Let’s start with the worst:

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The only thing “On the Blink” has going for it are the scenes shared by Al Negator and the Air Marshall.

13. On the Blink – the Blinky episode on the koala planet is my least favorite. It feels inconsequential, and is, and has a lame resolution. It also was the first episode to really look poor. It does score points for showing Al Negator and the Air Marshall in golf attire.

12. The Warriors – Kamikaze Kamo would have made for a good action figure, but as a character he’s pretty annoying. I like that the episode gave us a new villain in Sly Leezard, and seeing the Air Marshall fired was amusing, but it’s a pretty ugly episode that didn’t do much to further the overall narrative of season one.

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This episode is just awful to look at.

11. Corsair Canards – This episode is all right, and the overall plot is solid, though some of the execution is a bit off. Mostly, it’s ranked this low because it is absolutely the low point in terms of animation. So many errors and just plain ugly sequences. With some polish, this could have been one of the better episodes.

10. Bye Bye Berserker Baboon – Bruiser’s homeworld is surprisingly low key, but at least there’s some Toad ingenuity on display here. Plus, the Terror Toad looks pretty cool. The baboons just get pretty annoying though and Bucky’s Bugs Bunny impression felt really off for this show.

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Al Negator, perhaps second only to Toadborg in the villain rankings, debuts in “A Fistful of Simoleans”

9. A Fistful of Simoleans – Now the list gets a bit tricky. I’ll put episode 2 here as it’s a bit slow and yet also over-stuffed. Al Negator is introduced and Bucky’s naivety is on display, though the message of the episode is kind of that racism can be okay? Basically, Bucky should have known not to trust Al because of his species, which is pretty shitty, but he’s also part of a fictional race of crocodiles so I guess it’s possible that they are all greedy, shifty, pieces of crap. I don’t think it was malicious on the part of the writers, but it comes off weird.

8. The Kreation Konspiracy – The plot for this episode is pretty cool, and I like the added Toad lore. Really, what knocks this one down a few pegs is the resolution with Willy converting a planet into a giant ape. And yet, the actual ending is possibly the best ending of any episode of the show as it’s genuinely funny, if rushed. At least Blinky got to do something to make up for the lackluster “On the Blink” episode.

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It was Toadborg’s time to shine in this one.

7. The Artificers of Aldebaran – This episode helped clarify how Jenny and her kind get their powers, even if it was pretty crazy given it involved a moon-sized demon in outer space. Mostly though, I rank this one here because I love how ruthless Toadborg is when negotiating with Jenny. He’s such a good villain and I feel like similar villains are rarely allowed to be this nasty in children’s shows.

6. Komplex Caper – This is just a fun action-heavy episode. The plot is a tongue-in-cheek commentary on television and works well in this show which is full of that stuff via Toad TV gags. We get to see Bucky take the fight to Komplex and also Dogstar’s crew gets a moment to shine. The only real negative for me watching as an adult is how the Toad fleet is weakened. In the first few episodes, Bucky and his crew couldn’t possibly hope to go toe to toe with so many enemies, but Dogstar’s crew seems unphased. Bonus points go to the humorous confrontation between Dead-Eye and the Toad Master Spy.

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“War of the Warts” introduced us to Bucky O’Hare and his crew.

5. War of the Warts – The debut episode is very lore heavy, but it’s necessary to establish the world. Really, the only parts I don’t like are Willy’s experiences on Earth dealing with bullies who will thankfully not make it out of Episode 3. This is also the episode that “killed” Bruce forever creating stakes kid-me never knew existed in cartoons.

4. The Search for Bruce – The episode that brought Bruce back, albeit as a ghost of some sort. It does a good job of showing a character, in this case Bruiser, actually experience grief which is something “War of the Warts” didn’t have time to explore. It’s a bit sad, but there’s also some fun stuff in the middle as well as the show’s most violent sequence. The only real drag is the constant references to bananas by the two baboons. I get it, they love bananas, I don’t need the constant reminder.

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The finale even finds time for the unheralded to get a moment, though maybe not a “shining” moment as it were for Digger.

3. The Taking of Pilot Jenny – The series finale does its job. While it has a few warts, namely with how Komplex is finally defeated, it’s largely a satisfying conclusion to the first season. Bucky gets to play hero and the mammals pull off an inventive scheme. Past plot points are revisited and the whole thing is just very satisfying. That last scene is still able to hit me in the feels, cheesy as it may be.

2. The Good, the Bad and the Warty – The conclusion to the first arch brings about the show’s first action-heavy episode. We get to see Bucky and his crew captured by the Toads and forced to escape. During which we see Willy’s ingenuity and Jenny’s impressive powers. It’s also our first real look at Toadborg and what he’s capable of and makes for an entertaining episode. There’s some more junk with Willy on Earth, but at least it also marks the end of his conflict with the bullies, something that felt really tacked on to make the show more “relatable” to its audience. The show in general features too much Willy, but at least he ditched the Earth problems for the most part.

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A debut for Mimi plus a dramatic and heroic moment from Bucky contribute to make “Home, Swampy Home” my favorite of the bunch.

1. Home, Swampy Home –  I had a feeling this one would be my favorite and it remained so after all was said and done. It does have the one real strange sequence of Bucky meeting his off-camera mentor who had some really on-the-nose advice for the captain, but aside from that it’s pretty cool and a lot of fun. It showcases how the other hares idolize Bucky and view him as their Superman, in a way. He will save them, no questions asked. It also gives us Mimi LaFloo, who is a really interesting character for a 1991 cartoon aimed at boys. She’s an anti-princess, a female who isn’t going to wait around for someone to save her. She looks down on her fellow captives, the hares, because they’re just waiting for Bucky to save them while she intends to save herself. And while Bucky’s help is needed in the end, she’s rewarded for her efforts by being named captain of her own frigate. This was an era where pretty much every female cartoon character was just a damsel in distress, so seeing an empowered female character was pretty cool. Bucky’s dramatic reveal to Mimi and the hares is also my favorite moment from the show.

 


Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars – “The Komplex Caper”

img_3558Episode Number:  7

Original Air Date:  October 20, 1991

Directed by:  Karen Peterson

Written by:  Doug Moench

First Appearance:  Rumble Bee, Digger McSquint, Pitstop Pete

For the second consecutive week, Komplex gets top-billing by being included in the episode title. Surprisingly, they didn’t stick with the “K” theme and call it The Komplex Kaper, but I guess once was enough. This is an episode I had almost no memory of going into it. Once I started watching it things started to come back, but for one reason or another it was not a memorable episode for me. That had me a bit a worried, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that this episode isn’t bad. It’s not threatening “Home, Swampy, Home” as my favorite thus far, but it’s nowhere near as bad as “On the Blink,” which itself wasn’t without its charms.

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If Boss Fight Studio is looking for a variant of its Storm Trooper figure, here’s a goofy one.

This episode opens with Dead-Eye out scouting in the Toad Croaker. He happens upon a Toad Cruiser which has just launched a satellite of some kind. The hatch of the Cruiser conveniently opens and Dead-Eye sneaks aboard. There he finds a lone Toad pilot referred to as the Toad Master Spy. He mostly resembles a Storm Trooper, but his suit is less detailed and he has these weird little antennae on his helmet, plus what appears to be a nose. He sees the abandoned Croaker just floating around his ship which he regards as curious, until Dead-Eye blasts a hole through his door. Dead-Eye radios to Bucky and informs him of what he found and asks what to do. Bucky, in an irritated voice, tells him to tie him up and bring him aboard. When Dead-Eye asks “With what?” Bucky instructs him to improvise.

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I bet no one is surprised they made a tongue-tied joke here.

Aboard the Righteous Indignation, Bucky heads down below to interrogate Dead-Eye’s prisoner. He finds one toad with his tongue wrapped around his entire body and a proud duck. Bucky commends Dead-Eye for his resourcefulness, but seeing as how the toad needs his tongue to speak, he instructs the excitable gunner to untie him. The toad then struggles to get his tongue back into his mouth and complains it’s too limp to utilize. Bucky bangs it around some to wake it up (why do I suddenly hear the sound of Beavis and Butt-Head’s laughter in my head right now?), and AKOM apparently got sick of animating the thing because it just magically returns to the toad’s mouth. Bucky then tries to interrogate him, but he’s not talking. Enter Bruiser, which gets the toad’s tongue working just fine. He says Komplex sent him to position and shield a satellite, but he doesn’t know anything else. Bucky then instructs Bruiser to toss the prisoner in the brig while he ponders what this could mean.

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Air Marshall is receiving a temporary promotion which will all but surely remain temporary.

Komplex is then briefly shown discussing this new scheme with the Air Marshall. Air Marshall is being charged with defending Komplex, a task usually reserved for Toadborg but he’s busy with something else. On Earth, Willy is messing around with his computer and the photon accelerator. It’s causing interference on his computer, and eventually it picks up Komplex’s signal. Willy overhears a plan to utilize a satellite to broadcast Toad TV to the rest of the Aniverse which will drain the brain waves of the mammals watching and render them obedient to Komplex. Toadborg is also shown on a sound stage dressing toad actors as mammals in preparation for the first broadcast.

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Toadborg has a future in directing.

Willy, realizing he stumbled onto something important, activates his photon accelerator to return to the Aniverse. He starts informing Bucky and the others about what he learned, but he doesn’t get very far before the Toad satellite starts broadcasting its first transmission. The various monitors on the ship display some monster movie, the effects of which seem to hypnotize the members of the crew. All except Willy (and possibly Blinky, who doesn’t say anything but also doesn’t appear to be affected) are essentially paralyzed and we see shots of other random mammal households under the same spell. A green energy is being sucked out of the viewers and floating to the television suggesting this is some kind of brain drain. Willy deactivates the monitors on the ship breaking the spell. Jenny thanks him for saving their lives and Bucky starts formulating a plan.

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The brain suck in action. Throughout, AKOM is inconsistent where Blinky is concerned. In some shots he’s being affected, in some he’s not. As an android, I’d assume he has no brain waves.

The Indefatigable is summoned and Dogstar soon shows up with his new crew. Their names won’t be given, but in addition to Dogstar and Wolf we have Rumble Bee, Pitstop Pete, and Digger McSquint. Dogstar is displayed as being especially bumbling so he hasn’t gotten any smarter since we last saw him. He goes along with Bucky’s advice to shut down their ship’s video monitors so at least he’s smart enough to take orders when necessary. Bucky has a pretty radical idea to infiltrate Komplex and take this thing down at the source, and the only way to do that is to attack the Toad home world.

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Some new faces aboard the Indefatigable. Pitstop Pete and Rumble Bee presently enduring a rather boring heroic tale from their commander.

Bucky has Dead-Eye take him there via the Toad Croaker which is disguised as a meteor. It will fall to Dogstar to keep the Toads occupied outside the planet while the Righteous Indignation returns to deal with that stray satellite. Wolf launches in their own version of a Toad Croaker while Bucky makes his way to the surface armed with his trusty sidearm and some special crystal Jenny gave him in case he gets in trouble. He also has a handy jetpack on his space suit that helps him get around. A Toad gunner is shown at a console and he regards the Croaker disguised as a meteor as unimportant. The Air Marshall shows up and almost succeeds in fouling Bucky’s plan by ordering the gunner to blast the meteor in order to remain sharp. Before he can do so, the Indefatigable appears drawing their attention away from Bucky, as planned.

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Air Marshall doing his best to remain vigilante.

Seeing the Indefatigable in its orbit, Komplex orders the Toad fleet to attack. What appear to be hundreds of Double Bubbles come streaming out of the Toad planet. In the first few episodes, such odds were made to seem insurmountable for one frigate, but apparently Dogstar’s crew will do just fine. We get to see his guys get in position and Rumble Bee, being an android, basically extends his “stinger” and plugs into their ship’s M.A.S.E.R. canon while Pete mans what looks like a missile launcher.

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Rumble Bee plugs himself into the Indefatigable’s canon.

Bucky makes his way through the Toad planet undetected. He even remarks it’s rather boring, which is the cue for many laser turrets to activate and train their sights on Bucky. He dodges and shoots a few before reaching a deep chasm. At the bottom is something that resembles the Void Droid from episode 3. Bucky also encounters several more robots designed to destroy sentient beings, and Bucky being a sentient being, is soon targeted. These things look like smaller versions of that same Void Droid and also remind me of the mousers from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Lucky for Bucky, they aren’t as indestructible as the Void Droid and he’s able to blast them

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A close call for Captain O’Hare.

It’s at this point that Komplex becomes aware of Bucky’s presence and we see the program is capable of panic. Komplex recalls all of the troops and orders them to defend Komplex at all costs. This even causes the many Double Bubbles fighting with Dogstar and his crew to turn around. Wolf requests updated instructions from Dogstar and he’s obviously irritated with his slow-thinking commander. Dogstar then instructs him to use their tails as fuses and light ’em up! Very poetic.

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Willy’s stupid gun

Meanwhile, the Righteous Indignation has found the shield around that satellite to be impregnable. To no one’s surprise, Willy is able to come up with a solution because his brain essentially possesses magic powers, it would seem. The writers usually come up with some jargon to explain Willy’s plan, but this time they don’t bother. He whips up a little gun that somewhat resembles a video camera. Dead-Eye pilots the Croaker and Willy out to take a shot at the satellite, and what do you know, Willy’s weapon works. With the shield down they now just need confirmation from Bucky that they’re okay to blow it up.

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This is apparently worse than the robots.

And as for Bucky, well he’s run into some trouble. He ended up in a hallway composed of giant video monitors and Komplex has switched them all on. They’re apparently not broadcasting the mammal-centric programming affecting the rest of the Aniverse though and it just looks like Toad TV. Apparently, regular old Toad TV has a paralyzing effect on mammals. We’ve seen Bucky and the others recoil with disgust when presented with Toad TV, but nothing like this. Bucky falls to his knees clutching his head apparently incapable of doing much else. He then pulls out that crystal Jenny gave him, which floats into the air and sends out a laser blast in all directions destroying all of the monitors and freeing Bucky from their paralyzing effects.

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What better way to house a bunch of brain waves than a big old brain itself?

In the inner sanctum of Komplex, Toadborg activates the final component of this brain drain device. A literal brain rises from a center console. It’s in a glass bubble and is very reminiscent of Mother Brain from the Metroid series (though not the version of the character from Captain N, thankfully) of video games. All of the brain waves being collected by the satellite are being consolidated here. Once that task is completed they’ll be scrambled and transmitted back to the source which will render the viewer obedient to Komplex, but it’s still roughly 5 minutes away from completion. Bucky then bursts in, and Komplex orders Toadborg to destroy him before he stops the brain drain. Toadborg has a rifle this time, but hitting Bucky proves challenging. Similar to episode 3, Bucky is able to insult Toadborg which appears to enrage him and makes him sloppy. He vaults over the cybernetic toad to rest atop the giant brain and Toadborg cooperates by continuously firing at Bucky. His sloppy shooting causes him to strike the brain and explosions happen.

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Komplex is in quite a panic during the final act.

We then cut to the satellite, which has now reversed its brain suck maneuver and is sending the waves back to their source. A montage of mammals around the Aniverse is shown as they all come to their senses. The writers even slip in a political joke when one mole remarks he feels like he was just subjected to 9 months of Quail speeches, which I can only assume was a jab at the current sitting Vice President of the United States, at the time. Bucky then contacts the Righteous Indignation and orders the destruction of that satellite, and Dead-Eye is happy to oblige. A series of explosions at the Toad planet thrust Bucky back into space where Wolf is ready to scoop him up. He radios back to the Indefatigable to report that Bucky has been secured and their mission a success.

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Wolf with the save!

Back aboard the Righteous Indignation the crew is shown celebrating. Bruiser seems particularly excited while Bucky is a bit sullen that he couldn’t take down Komplex once and for all. He’s reminded they’ll have other chances, while Bruiser is just happy to have television back. When he goes to flip on the tube, Bucky whips out his pistol and blasts it. It would seem he’s not quite ready for TV yet. A simple order would have probably been more economical though. Back at the inner sanctum of Komplex, Toadborg is shown angrily barking orders at other toads. They need to make emergency repairs to get Komplex back on-line and he suggests they’re at least a week away from achieving their goal. The camera then pans to Frix and Frax who realize they’ll be without Toad TV for at least a week and they begin to weep like children.

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The reaction of Frix and Frax when faced with the prospect of no Toad TV for a week.

“The Komplex Caper” isn’t what I expected given the title, but I suppose it’s still a caper since the Toads were stealing something after all. It just wasn’t something tangible as they were stealing the brain waves of the mammal population. It’s a bit “out there” as a plot device, but it wasn’t a surprise to see Toad TV integrated into a plot in a major way. I still don’t really get how Toad TV works – is it paralyzing to mammals? It seems kind of stupid, but I guess with a kid’s show you’re always looking for non-violent ways for the villains to inflict harm and distress on the protagonists. It was fun to see the fight be taken to the Toad home world for the first time, though it was improbably easy for Bucky to infiltrate it. We also saw Toadborg fail once again. I can’t say I’m happy to see his apparent weakness is a short temper, because it is rather lame, but when you create a villain that’s indestructible you have to find a weakness some where.

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I very much enjoyed watching Wolf get annoyed with Dogstar.

They may not have played a huge role in the episode, but it was nice to see Dogstar given a proper crew. Up until now he’s only had Wolf at his side and he briefly had some generic looking dog character when they arrested Tinker back in episode 2. The newcomers all have interesting designs. Their designs were so interesting that Pitstop Pete and Rumble Bee were both supposed to be in Hasbro’s series 2 of action figures, but that wasn’t to be. I’d still like to see a Rumble Bee at some point as he’s just unique looking so hopefully Boss Fight Studio’s current line of figures lasts long enough for that to happen. Considering they have yet to unveil a Blinky or Willy (and maybe they’d want to do a Dogstar first as well) I’d guess he’s still pretty far away.

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This episode is at least unique for giving us a look inside Komplex.

This episode is pretty entertaining. Even though it requires a real suspension of disbelief, watching Bucky infiltrate the Toad home world is pretty cool and it’s something I wouldn’t have expected to happen yet in the series. We are at the midpoint though, so maybe this was as good a time as any to go ahead and take the fight to the Toads head-on. There’s some solid humor here too. The sequence at the episode’s start with Dead-Eye and the Toad pilot is perhaps the best piece of humor the show has provided us so far while it was also funny to see Wolf’s interactions with Dogstar. Dogstar annoys me and it’s nice to see he apparently annoys Wolf as well. This episode also makes it seem like Komplex will be out of commission for at least a little while. That’s not the case though as we’ll be hearing from Komplex again quite soon. Komplex isn’t featured in every episode, so I don’t know why they didn’t position one of those episodes to follow this one, but oh well. Opportunity wasted. Toadborg did say Komplex would only be down for a week which is convenient for a weekly TV show. After three episodes though that are very stand-alone in nature, next week’s will bring us a direct call-back to the very first episode of the series with “The Search for Bruce.” See you in a week!


Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars – Introduction

bucky introThis may often look like a Batman blog, but if I could make it look more like a Bucky O’Hare blog then I totally would. The problem is, there just isn’t enough quantity to talk about when it comes to Bucky O’Hare. While Batman:  The Animated Series produced 85 episodes in its original run, Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars produced a mere 13. Batman was broadcast on Fox Kids, then Kids WB (with a new season too), with reruns airing for years when it was all said and done. The show had a comic tie-in, toys, three films, and then it went on to basically spawn Batman Beyond, not to mention all of the Justice League themed shows. As for Bucky, he got the toy treatment and a Nintendo game, but his 13 episode total meant there was really no home for him in syndication. After the episodes were broadcast a few times, they all but disappeared. A comic line was launched in the UK, but it never left that territory so if you wanted to continue enjoying the show in the US you had to seek out the VHS tapes.

And that is largely where things remain even today in 2019. Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars has been practically forgotten, and if not for the contribution of toy maker Boss Fight Studio the property would be dormant. On this blog I’ve drawn attention to the various Bucky releases over the years and to the new toy line from BFS. In my last post, a wish list for the line, I theorized that in order for my new favorite toy line to continue as long as I want it to there would likely need to be more Bucky promotion. Well, I’m hardly a major vehicle for said promotion, but I am going to do my part by not only continuing to post about that very line, but starting tomorrow we’re going into a Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars deep dive. All 13 episodes over 13 weeks.

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The one true Easter Bunny.

Today seemed like a good day to start this as it’s the day many people invite a large bunny into their homes to hide eggs and candy all over the place. Bucky isn’t as famous as the Easter Bunny, but he should be! Bucky O’Hare is the creation of Larry Hama with an assist given to artist Michael Golden. He was allegedly created sometime around 1977 or 78, probably after Hama saw Star Wars, and made his comic debut in Echo of Futurepast #1 in May of 1984. Likely due to the popularity of a certain group of ninja turtles, Bucky would get his shot at TV stardom not too long after despite only having a total of six comic book stories.

Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars was conceived during the time when it had already been established that in order to launch a cartoon aimed at boys you needed to attack the market from multiple angles. It wasn’t enough to just create a successful show, it needed to be very merchandiser friendly. Hama had already anticipated this when creating the characters and included pegs on their various outfits that a weapon could be affixed to should they become action figures. Due to the success of other toy line/cartoon properties, there was a strong appetite for anything that looked marketable and a lot of people wanted in on it.

bucky meets bruiser

The show’s first few episodes largely mirrored the comics while adding in new characters like Bruiser.

The show ended up being a combination of several companies. First was Sunbow Entertainment and its new Sunbow Productions arm. Sunbow had made a name for itself primarily animating commercials for toys. Eventually, the company moved towards creating shows of its own and by 1990 it had several under its belt. It would initially partner with Toei Animation, the company responsible for Dragon Ball, and by the time Bucky arrived the company was partnered with South Korean animation studio AKOM (The Simpsons, X-Men). Abrams/Gentile Entertainment was involved as a producer and Continuity Comics obviously had a stake in the show as well as French company IDDH. Marvel Productions co-produced the show and Hasbro distributed it via Claster Television and it’s Hasbro Studios that holds the distribution rights today. That’s a lot of cooks in the kitchen and a lot of arms with a share in the profits. It’s no wonder the show failed to satisfy and also less surprising to see it has struggled to get a Region 1 DVD release as there are a lot of people that would be owed money.

The show premiered on September 8, 1991 and would conclude its first run on December 1 of the same year. It aired on Saturday mornings in most markets on various local television affiliates. It didn’t air on any of the major networks in my market and I don’t know if it did in others. The show was quite similar to the comics, but since it had more stories to tell it expanded the roster of characters. The only character left out of the show was the Omnipotent Mouse. The first few episodes of the show are presented in a serialized nature and there is a running story through-out the first season concerning Bucky’s home planet of Warren. It’s a sophisticated form of story-telling for children, and it would be popularized by X-Men the following year, and it’s possible that this played a role in making it hard for new viewers to just jump in. I think such arguments are overblown, but it’s worth mentioning.

air marshall fig

The Air Marshall may have actually ended Bucky’s existence after all.

To coincide with the launch of the series, Hasbro released the first wave of action figures. Hasbro had ridden to prominence on the back of the Transformers line and had expanded to become the largest toy seller in the world. 1991 was an especially big year for the company because it purchased Tonka, Parker Brothers, and Kenner giving the company huge reach into almost every facet of the toy market. Still, Hasbro (and other toy makers) had passed on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles a few years earlier after making the same mistake back in the 70s with Star Wars. Maybe that was part of the drive to go after Bucky O’Hare in hopes it would become a major action figure property for the company.

The initial wave of Bucky O’Hare figures based on the show included six heroes:  Bucky, Dead-Eye Duck, Willy DuWitt, Commander Dogstar, A.F.C. Blinky, and Bruiser. Four villains joined them:  Toad Air Marshall, Toadborg, Toad Storm Trooper, and Al Negator. The company also released a vehicle play set for the good guys and one for the bad guys, the Toad Croaker (which featured a whoopee cushion like device in it to squish the bad guys) and the Toad Double Bubble, essentially the toad version of a Tie Fighter. The toys were prominently placed in my local Toys R Us and Christmas of 91 was the year I got a lot of Bucky stuff. It ended up being the only Christmas for me and Bucky as the line was discontinued. Series 2 was famously shown in a Hasbro catalog, and a figure of Jenny was completed for the first series but held back. Carded figures of Jenny have become the most sought-after piece of Bucky merch there is even after she finally received an official figure release from Boss Fight Studio.

Blame for the demise of Bucky is largely placed on the toys and Hasbro for its case ratios. When a store would order more, Hasbro would send out a standard case which included two of each figure. Gradually, less popular figures like the Toad Air Marshall would start to take over the pegs while figures of Bucky and Dead-Eye would disappear quickly. Hasbro allegedly never adjusted the case ratios and stores stopped ordering when they had pegs full of Air Marshalls and Storm Troopers. It’s hard to say if that played the largest role, but I can personally recall going to the store and indeed seeing an entire section of Toad Air Marshall figures.

bucky tv spot

Bucky was apparently picked up by at least one Fox affiliate.

With Hasbro bowing out of the property because of the profitability of the toy line everyone else bailed as well. Obviously, since only 13 episodes were ordered initially there was some skepticism from the beginning for Bucky O’Hare. We don’t know how the show fared ratings-wise or how successful sales of other merchandise was. Like most cartoons, Bucky was on everything:  party supplies, puzzles, costumes, lunch boxes, shoes, coloring books, etc. Family Home Entertainment had the distribution rights for the show on home video and released 3 VHS tapes of the show which totaled 7 episodes. The Konami video game for the Nintendo Entertainment System would be a late arrival in January of 1992, but likely still in before the consumer had a notion the show wouldn’t continue. A separate arcade game arrived in the fall of 1992 when it was likely obvious the property was dead. Not surprisingly, I don’t think many units were produced and I’ve actually never come across one in the wild. I mentioned the Hasbro Jenny as the most sought after of Bucky collectibles, but I bet if one of these arcade cabinets were to go up for sale it would fetch a pretty high price.

bucky menace

In Canada, the show was titled Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Menace, like the TPB release.

Whatever the reason, Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars failed to catch on. Blame it on the toys if you wish, or maybe it just wasn’t promoted enough on television. I think a large part of the issue is simply that selling boys on a green space bunny was a bit of a hard sell. I think most who gave the show a chance probably liked it, but they might have needed convincing. Had Bucky been a weekday afternoon show, he might have stood a better shot as that’s easier for kids to get into. A week is a long time between episodes for a six-year-old.

Where I grew up in New Hampshire, Bucky O’Hare was pretty popular. My friends were all into the show and the toy line and eventually the NES game. It seemed popular to me, which is partly why I was so confused as a kid when Bucky simply went away. Now, I’m ready to engage this property once again as an adult. Like Batman, I’ve seen the episodes multiple times as both a kid and an adult, though overall I’ve seen these episodes less simply because the re-runs weren’t on TV for years. As I work my way through the series here, I’ll be re-watching the episodes again and approaching it from a critical standpoint as I walk the reader through the episode. My opinion going into it is that this show is not high art, but it has more depth than many of its peers. Bucky O’Hare aired in a more cynical time pre-Batman and pre-X-Men, and I’ll keep that in mind. This show was supposed to be a 23 minute commercial for toys and games, but it seemed to aim higher.

bucky r2 dvd

The now out of print R2 release is the only official way to enjoy Bucky on DVD.

If you want to follow along with me it’s going to be a bit more difficult than it is with Batman. Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars received an incomplete VHS release, but that’s likely not that important to readers in 2019 who likely don’t even own a VCR any longer. The show was released on Region 2 DVD in 2004 by Metrodome Distribution. It was a bare-bones release that contained just the episodes in a quality pretty typical of the era. The DVD is out of print. No official Region 1 DVD was ever released, though there was a popular bootleg put out by Exposure Entertainment in 2010. It just contained the episodes and was probably a rip of the Region 2 release as the quality is pretty much the same. The packaging though was pretty ugly. I covered both in the early days of this blog, though both are a lot harder to come by now than they were back then.

It is highly unlikely at this stage that Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars will get an official Region 1 release and that’s further heightened by its presence on the internet. The entire series can be streamed on YouTube and probably on other platforms as well for free. No one is protective of the property in 2019 and it’s hard to imagine that changing at this point. No matter, this should be a fun exploration of the old show and hopefully you enjoy going on this trip with me. We start tomorrow with the very first episode “War of the Warts.”


Boss Fight Studio’s Bucky O’Hare – A Wishlist for What’s Next

blinky bucky deadeyeIt’s been over two years since toy maker Boss Fight Studio announced it had acquired the Bucky O’Hare license from Continuity Comics and intended to do a new line of action figures based on the dormant property. It was about a year later that the first two figures arrived:  Bucky O’Hare and First Mate Jenny. Since then they’ve been joined by Dead-Eye Duck and the Storm Toad Trooper as well as variants of the heroes. Recently, the next figure in the line went up for pre-order in the form of Bruiser, the Beetlegeusian Berserker Baboon. He’s a big one, and as such he’s going to retail for more than the $35 that fans have grown accustomed to checking in at $55. Is he worth it? Impossible to say at this time since he’s not available, but Boss Fight’s Andrew Franks took to Twitter to rally Bucky fans to pre-order this sucker. This is a small property from a small company and it’s likely pre-orders are utilized to determine how viable a figure actually is. If they come in below a certain threshold then it’s possible the figure never goes into production. And if that were to happen with Bruiser what would that mean for the line as a whole? Does it end here with four figures? Does the company instead shift focus to smaller scale figures and continue the line ignoring all of the big guys?

img_3294

What are you waiting for?!

All good questions and questions I obviously cannot answer. Next month, Boss Fight Studio will be appearing at New York’s Toy Faire event for the first time. This feels like a big deal for the company and it’s assumed that Bruiser will be on display for public viewing for the first time beyond the pictures the company has shared online (and for the record, he looks pretty damn great). We’ll also likely find out the status of previously unveiled variants such as Stealth Dead-Eye and Aniverse Bucky. Boss Fight also hinted at more reveals which could be as exciting as a new character in the line, or perhaps new repaints (it feels like a given that the Storm Toad Trooper will receive at least one re-paint).

I have been tremendously pleased with this line, and while Bruiser isn’t the character I would have selected as the next in line, I’m excited for him as well. He won’t be arriving until the end of the year though, which means it’s quite likely he’ll be the only new figure added to this line in 2019. For my part, I’ve continued to support this line via the pre-order method even if it’s not the best decision for my wallet. Boss Fight charges up-front for pre-orders (you can also order from Big Bad Toy Store which does not) and doesn’t offer any kind of discount for doing so meaning savvy consumers benefit from waiting for an eventual sale or promotion of some kind. Since this property has such a small following, Boss Fight is in a position where it probably has to get as much as it can from the few hardcore fans out there that will buy almost anything Bucky related, since they’ve gone without for nearly 30 years.

bfs bruiser and bucky

He sure looks nice next to Bucky.

Naturally, as a huge fan of this property and this line, I want it to continue well past Bruiser. What Hasbro released alongside the animated series in the early 90s is a pretty solid approximation of the core characters and I’d like to see BFS get to all of them. There are also characters that Hasbro never got to that I would also love to see. I’m not sure what a realistic lifespan for this license truly is, and I’m almost certain I won’t get all that I want, but here’s hoping the best of the best get converted into plastic. Including Bruiser, the line currently contains 4 heroes and one villain with that one villain being generic army fodder. Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars is rather light on stand-out villains, but there are still more to be had. And given that current ratio, it’s no surprise that my next most-wanted figure comes from the ranks of the rogues:

al negator

That bright purple and neon gun is delightfully garish.

Al Negator

Al Negator is mostly a villain, though really he’s just a mercenary for hire. He loves money, a trait all sleazasaurs apparently possess (or maybe Dead-Eye is just racist) and he often finds himself in the employ of the Toads. He possesses a very 90’s look with neon green accents enhancing a very bright violet skin tone. The gold armor puts him over the top in the looks department as well. He’s also quite noticeably larger than most of the mammals, though hopefully not so much that he would necessitate the higher price point of Bruiser which is why I rank him ahead of someone like Toadborg. It’s my assumption that Boss Fight Studio would prefer its next figure in the line to fall into the $35 range so as not to give off the impression that $55 is the rate going forward.

blinky is small

If released, Blinky would easily be the smallest figure in the line.

A.F.C. Blinky

The resident android on board Bucky’s Righteous Indignation is A.F.C. Blinky, which stands for Android First Class. He’s an adorable looking little robot with a head that is basically just one giant eye. When he was released in Hasbro’s line, his coiled limbs had a bendy quality and I’m curious if BFS would attempt the same. Despite the lack of a face, he’s fairly expressive in the cartoon and comic and BFS would likely include different eyeplates to demonstrate that. He’d definitely be a small figure and actually the smallest in the line so there would be no need to worry about a higher price point. He’d also likely come with the same rocket pack the Hasbro toy featured, since that was also his mode of transportation in the video game. He’s just always been among my favorites from the show/comic, so naturally I want a new figure to add to what I have.

toad air marshall

The Toad Air Marshall was among the many cartoon villains totally incapable of performing his job properly.

Toad Air Marshall

He’s the signature bad guy and also one who gets a bad reputation since his peg-warmer status with the old Hasbro line is what is often cited as killing the line. It’s not his fault Hasbro didn’t know what it was doing in regards to case ratios back then, and for what it’s worth I think his old figure holds up quite well. It captured the look and personality of the character, even if the articulation was pretty dreadful. A newer version would likely reposition his head so it’s not on his chest. He’s very hunched over in Larry Hama’s artwork, but not to that drastic a level. He would also be a fun one for different faceplates as he often is sent into a rage. He would likely also be taller than only Blinky and would sit comfortably in the traditional price range.

img_3300

The Hasbro toy was based on the artwork on the left, while the artwork on the right appears to be Hama’s artwork updated to be more in-line with the look of the animated series.

Toadborg

Yes, I want Boss Fight to hit us with back to back villains. Following smaller scale figures in Blinky and Air Marshall with a Deluxe one in Toadborg feels like solid placement. And I suspect that the fan base would have more enthusiasm for Toadborg than it does Bruiser. No disrespect to Bruiser, but he’s no one’s favorite character and is often excluded from a lot of the supplemental media (he wasn’t even in the original comics, but then again, neither was Toadborg). Toadborg, on the other hand, is basically the Toad version of Darth Vader:  part toad, mostly machine. His old figure was pretty underwhelming, and I’m curious what a figure from BFS would look like. The original Hama artwork seemed to exclude the rather large, yellow, hunk of metal on his back the cartoon featured, but later versions of the art would see it included. I tend to prefer the Hama version of the characters to what ended up being adapted for television, but in the case of Toadborg I’d actually want BFS to lean more into the cartoon. And if his chest could open to reveal the remnants of the toad he once was inside, all the better!

mimi flight suit

Mimi feels like a fan-favorite deserving of her first ever action figure.

Mimi LaFloo

Yes, it’s at this point that I’d like to see Boss Fight stray from the Hasbro formula and give us someone all new. Now, most probably would expect Willy DuWitt here, and while I won’t argue against him being essential, he’s also not one of my favorites. Fans expect Willy, and they’ll want to complete Bucky’s team, so maybe preempting him with a new character is an easy way to create sales in a previously unreleased one in Mimi LaFloo. Mimi is the captain of The Screaming Mimi and she debuted in the animated series in the episode “Home, Swampy, Home” as a Bucky denier of sorts. He won her over when he helped free her and several other mammals from Toad captivity and she went on to pilot her own frigate. She feels like a bit of a fan-favorite to me, though that’s impossible to say, and this line could use another female character. Plus she’s way more interesting than Dogstar.

willy in trouble

Oh Willy, always needing rescue.

Willy DuWitt

Okay, now we can do Willy. I see no reason to stray from the Hasbro mold with him and he should come in his Bruce costume with a removable helmet. If it’s easier, his helmeted visage could just be another head. And hopefully BFS could do better than Hasbro where his glasses are concerned. He’d probably have to come with his squirt gun, but maybe BFS could also include his non-canon rifle that he assembled in the NES game.

rumblebee

The coolest member of Dogstar’s crew.

A.S.C. Rumblebee

One of the great teases to arise from the internet are the promotional images of Hasbro’s Wave 2 that never saw release. Rumblebee was to be a part of that wave, and he was my favorite design onboard the Indefatigable, the frigate captained by Commander Dogstar. Rumblebee would be a tricky design, as his bulbous rear could swing in-between his legs to create a canon. He’d be a fun one to design with some challenge, but I think BFS is up to task.

 

img_3303

Komplex is another design that varies greatly between mediums.

Komplex

Really the only major villain not released, Komplex would likely be another Deluxe figure in the $55 range or more. Since Komplex is largely relegated to television monitors, a figure would naturally include that as part of the Komplex-To-Go. He’s also another character that differed quite a bit from Hama’s initial designs. I’d largely want BFS to reference Hama’s art for the body, while including swappable “screens” that contain a Hama accurate depiction of Komplex’s “face” and an animated series version, assuming their license allows for that.

kamikaze kamo

What other toyline boasts ninja space ducks?

Kamikaze Kamo

Another figure slated for Hasbro’s second wave of action figures, Kamikaze Kamo is basically too fun to ignore. A four-armed, ninja, space, duck – who doesn’t want a figure like that?! Two of his arms are mechanical too, so you can tack on cyborg to that list of adjectives as well. He’d potentially be a cheaper figure to produce as some of Dead-Eye’s parts could be re-used. And maybe that’s a road BFS will need to travel down if it wants to produce more than one new character per year. And having a Kamikaze Kamo would lend itself well to another figure…

sly leezard

Apparently, he was to be called Iguana Don at one point.

Sly Leezard

Kamikaze Kamo’s nemesis is the evil Sly Leezard. A sorely needed additional bad guy who wold immediately pair well on a shelf with the ninja. He’s basically a samurai, except he has no code of honor, so he would be another sword-wielding character with a bright color-pallete like fellow reptile Al Negator.

 

If all of those figures were produced, that would put the line at 14 total figures, which feels like a reach at this point given the new output of one figure per year. Bruiser being the lone figure for 2019 doesn’t mean that’s how it’s always going to be, but do I really see this line lasting 10 or 12 years? Honestly no, but it would be pretty cool if it could. And of course I’d want it to continue beyond this group. There’s still the rest of the Indefatigable to consider like Dogstar and Pitstop Pete. There are also characters that never made it to the cartoon like the Omniscient Mouse and Rocket Rodent, who actually never appeared anywhere except in concept art. Would fans want characters that never appeared in the cartoon or even the comic in plastic form? Hard to say, but if the line actually got to the point where BFS was considering such characters then that means it was pretty successful.

Ultimately, I think in order for this line to really take off it’s going to need a boost from other media. Be it a new cartoon or revived comic, Bucky O’Hare could really use more exposure. I’ve been encouraged by the coverage I’ve seen for this line of toys on the web as it’s always positive. That likely helps lure in toy collectors not familiar with the property who just see some fun, well-designed, figures. It’s those casual collectors that may be less enthusiastic for $55 figures, but hopefully Bruiser does what Boss Fight Studio needs him to do and this line carries well beyond him.


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