Tag Archives: funko

Funko Pop! Halloween Huey, Dewey, and Louie

There’s a scourge taking over our local record stores, clothing outlets, and gaming boutiques. It comes in mass quantities dominating its chosen territory at the expense of other merch. It swears no allegiance to anyone and will even place mortal enemies side by side as it amasses an army of licensed property of yesterday and today. I am, of course, speaking of Funko Pop! vinyl figurines. Where I once had a local record store, I now see what is practically a dedicated Pop! outlet. Gamestop devotes considerable shelf space to them and they even show up in drug stores. It’s hard to find a licensed property that isn’t in Pop! form these days and since they keep on coming it leads me to believe they’ll be around for some time to come.

And considering the brand’s scope, it’s obvious people are into these things. Funko sells special cases to keep your Pop! mint-in-box and I do see people get legitimately excited for new releases, even though every time I’m at a store that features these things prominently I rarely see someone actually pick one up and head for the register. I don’t think they’ve reached the level of Beanie Baby popularity from the 90s, but they must be doing well for them to persist.

The source material for today’s subject.

If you’re not familiar with Pop! figurines then you’re probably not human, but I’ll indulge you anyway. They’re essentially little plastic statues that adhere to a standard form. They all feature an oversized, oval, head with a tiny body. They’re either non-articulated or just the head swivels. The eyes are always circles and one color, typically black. Most characters don’t have a mouth, but as the line has persisted I’ve noticed more unique head-sculpts that do indeed feature a mouth. It’s a simple, identifiable, style that can be applied to virtually anything depending on how much effort Funko puts into the sculpt. It seems to work well for cartoon characters, especially anthropomorphic characters, but it’s not universal. For one, I think the ones based on The Simpsons look awful, but I’ve encountered many that look fine. Live-action personalities can also be adapted and they typically turn out all right. It’s a brand, and it’s obviously successful. I would rather purchase a Kid Robot mini-figure, but at least these ones don’t come in blind boxes.

 

When it comes to my own interaction with Funko Pop! I am merely a casual participant. I wouldn’t even call myself a casual fan or collector, I’ve just somehow managed to end up with some here and there. I used to buy the Frozen ones for my wife as she expressed a fondness for them and I’ve picked up other Disney ones here and there. I currently have a Remy from Ratatouille in my kitchen because he looks cute and fits in with the setting. Mostly, they end up being the occasional thing I’ll buy for my desk at work, but I’ve mostly reached my limit there. I don’t seek out any particular license, it’s more just a case-by-case thing where if I really like how something turned out then I may buy it. That’s how I ended up with Rocko, Scrooge McDuck, and Stimpy. Rocko in particular works well in this style, and I liked the personality on display of the other two. I considered getting Ren to pair with Stimpy, but I just didn’t like how he turned out. Normally I can’t leave a character all by itself, especially from a famous duo, but with Pop! I just don’t have much of a collector’s impulse.

 

What I do have a weakness for though is Donald Duck, especially limited merchandise based on him or one of his cartoons. I am especially fond of the classic shorts, and there isn’t many better than 1952’s Trick or Treat. That’s the cartoon where Huey, Dewey, and Louie team up with a new character, Witch Hazel, to get back at Donald for refusing to treat on Halloween. In that cartoon, the nephews are depicted in Halloween costumes and they’re quite adorable. The designs are so popular and beloved that they were reprised for the 2017 Mickey Mouse special The Scariest Story Ever.

 

In celebration of that short, Funko did a special release of Huey, Dewey, and Louie in costume as Pop! figurines. This isn’t their first Pop! exposure as they were part of the DuckTales wave as well. They were sold exclusively on Funko’s website as a three pack and I just couldn’t resist.

A little defect on Dewey’s broom.

The trio are each packaged separately in a box under the Mickey Mouse and Friends banner. I wish they had come in a special box together, but that adds cost and companies are usually loathe to do that. It also would have been nice to see some artwork from the sour material, but oh well. Since their costumes are quite different, Funko wasn’t able to do the usual of creating one figure and painting them different colors. The likenesses are quite good, though obviously they’re in that Pop! style. It helps for Louie in particular that his character was pupil-less in the cartoon so the Pop! dead eyes aren’t as noticeable here. The paint applications are mostly clean and I like that they included Louie’s pumpkin on his head. Only Dewey appears to have any defects as he has some slop on his hat and feet plus an odd mark on his broom handle (pictured).

 

Even though Pop! figurines are sold at toy stores, I wouldn’t call these toys. My kids certainly like the aesthetic of the figures and were pretty excited when they came in the mail, but there isn’t anything they can really do with them. These guys are destined for a shelf, and I was even tempted to leave them in their boxes, but found they didn’t display as nice. These will be a part of my annual Halloween décor like the Grinch Pop! figures I own and display at Christmas. One thing I appreciate about these figurines is the packaging is easy to utilize for storage. There’s a plastic, molded, tray inside the box that is easy to remove and reinsert. There’s no tape on the top flap so you don’t even need to bust out a razor blade to get into these things.

I had to include a picture with their Uncle Donald.

If you’re interested in acquiring these yourself, they’re currently for sale on Funko’s website. They’re sold together for $45 plus shipping and taxes which is pretty close to the retail price most Funko figures sell for. If you don’t like Pop! figures then these aren’t going to change your mind. For Pop! figures, I think these are well done and there is enough of the classic design of these characters contained in the figures while conforming them to Funko’s brand. And they’re fun, decorative, seasonal figures that aren’t horribly priced. I do wish they were closer to the 10 dollar range as opposed to 15 as the current price point is basically the maximum Funko can charge without really turning folks off. It’s especially attractive for people who like to acquire merchandise related to the Trick or Treat short, as the Walt Disney Classic Collection of ceramics are way beyond my price range.


Batman: The Animated Series Blu-ray Collection

img_2915Batman: The Animated Series premiered back in 1992 when home media wasn’t really that big of a business for television properties. Sure, a handful of episodes would make it to VHS and some shows that had a small episode count would have a full season available (like X-Men and the first season of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), but that was basically it. It was such an after-thought that some shows have been lost since studios didn’t see a reason to even preserve them, especially some one-off broadcasts. That all changed though with DVD. The new medium could store way more information than a VHS tape could and it was even cheaper to manufacture and distribute. Suddenly, collecting movies became far more mainstream because acquiring them was so easy and watching them had become far more convenient. Naturally, this lead to television shows getting the full season treatment and Batman was no exception.

Released first in 2004, the first volume of Batman was followed in 2005 by three additional volumes to complete the show’s entire Fox run plus The New Batman Adventures. These volumes contained what fans wanted:  all of the episodes in production order at an affordable price. And for a long time, fans were happy. Then came the HD era and suddenly studios were re-releasing all of their movies and shows on high-definition Blu-ray (and for a short time, HD DVD). A lot of people were willing to re-purchase their favorite movies and TV shows if it meant having them in HD, though it definitely seemed like the appetite on the TV side was a touch weaker. Many studios did not bother re-releasing their shows, but some did. As technology has advanced, many people are now moving away from physical media. With almost every movie and show available on some streaming service, there’s less appetite for physical things that can break and take up space.

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A lot of stuff.

Because of this seismic shift in media consumption, I never expected Batman to get a Blu-ray update. Mask of the Phantasm was some-what quietly reissued on Blu-ray last year and I thought that might be it. Of course, in my mind I was hoping Warner Bros. would reconsider and during the show’s 25th anniversary panel at last year’s New York Comic Con just over a year ago it was announced that the entire series would be coming to Blu-ray in 2018. Originally, it was supposed to be here in time for the 26th anniversary, but it got pushed back until October 30th, a rather minimal inconvenience considering this has been something fans have wanted for about a decade now.

You may be looking at the time-stamp on this post and wondering why I’m getting to it now and not during the release week. Well, for one I’m not a professional reviewer so I have to pay for my media and I don’t get advanced copies for review. You probably could have guessed that, though. Really though, I would have had a review up earlier if it weren’t for Amazon. Amazon was the lone place to pre-order this Blu-ray set and the online retailer had 69,048 to distribute. A regular retail version is coming, but this version had some special packaging including individually numbering each set, additional artwork, and three mini Funko Pop figures of Batman, Harley Quinn, and The Joker. It retailed for $110 to start, but gradually dropped down to about $87. It also sold-out, and Amazon upped the order to accommodate more purchases.

Now, if you’re Amazon and you secure the right to sell a so-called Deluxe Limited Edition of something and market it as a collectible, don’t you think you would take care to protect that investment? My package arrived on Tuesday the 30th, street date, in a simple padded envelope. It was beat to Hell with every corner dented and the top flap crushed to form a point in the middle of it. I’m not a stickler for packaging, but if I’m paying for a special edition of something that cost close to 100 bucks I want that thing to look nice. Why wouldn’t Amazon package this in a box with some protection? I went online and found out I wasn’t alone as many people complained of the same. I immediately requested an exchange that night, and the next morning I spoke with a rep via their live chat about my concerns with the packaging and was told my feedback was valued and passed onto the department handling my exchange, and so on.

That replacement arrived on Thursday packaged exactly the same way. This time the envelope was even partially opened, and while the contents were less damaged than before, every corner was still badly dented. The outside box is rather thin cardstock, like a DVD/Blu-ray slip cast, so it really doesn’t take much to damage or crease it. Rather than request the exchange through conventional means, I decided to speak with someone so that they could input the exchange and hopefully do something about the packaging. Again, in checking fan communities I was not alone as others received replacements that day in the same fashion. I first spoke to someone via the live chat again, and they actually referred me this time to the US phone number so I called that and spoke with another rep. She requested the exchange with a note about the packaging while also starting the return process for the second unit (I actually still have to send them back, at a cost to Amazon, though I did need to provide my own box for each one as it was recommended trying to send both in one would cause Amazon to lose track and thus bill me for an unreturned item) with the item set to arrive on Saturday. And it came, this time in a box, but with no additional packaging to protect it. One corner still got crunched pretty well, but Amazon successfully exhausted me into submission, so version 3 didn’t go back, but it’s hardly pristine.

img_2909The whole fiasco with Amazon has really been unfortunate because it’s marred what is otherwise a pretty nice release. The discs are housed in a nice book and the notes and artwork all look great. I don’t much care about the mini figures, but I suppose they’re nice. There’s a new featurette, though most of the bonus content is carried over from the DVD releases. There are a total of 12 commentaries which are also from the DVD releases so it’s disappointing new ones weren’t done. As a bonus though, both films from the original series are included: Mask of the Phantasm and Batman & Mr. Freeze – SubZero. For the sake of completion, I wish they had included Mystery of The Batwoman, but it’s not a great loss.

Bells and whistles are great and really help to make a release feel special and important, but ultimately this set is to be judged on its transfer. I was a bit let-down with the transfer on Mask of the Phantasm last year, so I was a bit guarded as the release of this approached. I have spent, as you probably have noticed, a lot of time with this show over the past year so I perhaps more than most was ready for a new transfer. Those DVDs are fine, but there is a grainy texture to a lot of the episodes. Some may find that charming, and a little grain does help to enhance that noir feel the show is going for, but a lot of it also just looks like something broadcast in standard definition being marred when converted to digital. It’s less a grain, and more a fog that’s present. I’m happy to say though that these new transfers really impress. They’re rich in color and it looks like the finished animation cel is being place right on the screen. The impact is the most dramatic with the first two seasons of the show, the Fox Kids run, as that image was more complex. There was more texture to the backgrounds and stronger lighting effects that makes this set feel like a whole new show.

img_2914There are at least two drawbacks I’ve noticed when watching this set. I obviously haven’t had time to watch the whole thing, though I do intend to, but I picked out select episodes from each season to get a feel for the set. The first episode I watched was “Beware the Gray Ghost.” It felt rather appropriate given the episode’s subject matter in relation to myself. That episode looks really awesome in HD given all of the explosions and dynamic actions of the characters and vehicles. The one thing that did standout as a negative though is the mouth flaps. The animation for them was never a strong suit for the show, with less attention paid to actually making it look like the characters were mouthing the words they were supposed to be speaking. It’s really apparent with The Joker, who almost always has those yellow teeth exposed smashing together with every sentence. This shortcoming is just more noticeable in HD, and in this episode in particular it was really distracting with the video store clerk who has a straw in his mouth for much of his scenes. There’s also the more vibrant coloring of the blue accents on Batman’s costume. They’re quite bright now, similar to how Batman looks in promo materials for this show, and it might be a touch too much, but it’s not killer or anything.

img_2912Aside from that though, I have little to complain about regarding the look of the series. The episodes are presented as seasons of the show, with the The New Batman Adventures now just referred to as season 3 of the show. For those episodes the intro has been removed and replaced with the season one intro. I never cared for the intro for that show so it doesn’t bother me they swapped it out, but that might irritate some out there. That third season also looks good in HD, it’s just not as dramatic an improvement compared with the first two seasons. The character designs were simpler and the lighting effects toned down. It’s mostly a series of flat colors so everything just looks richer and smoother. I have not watched it, but I assume the disc for Mask of the Phantasm is identical to the stand-alone release. The SubZero disc is new, and it includes all three episodes featuring Mr. Freeze as a bonus feature, plus the episode from Batman Beyond featuring the character, so you’re getting an extra episode. I did watch SubZero and can say the transfer looks better than the Mask of the Phantasm one, though the included episodes are presented in standard definition, so no preview of what Batman Beyond would look like in HD. The new feature on the series is on its own disc and it’s a solid retrospective on the series. It didn’t need its own disc, but it was probably easier to do than tacking it onto the end of another disc. There’s also a little feature on the creation of Harley Quinn included, which is too brief to merit even a single watch.

img_2913I do have one other nit to pick and it’s in regards to the packaging. The book that houses all of the discs looks great. It has artwork featuring the main villains and Batman throughout it, though one page has what looks like Joker from The New Adventures but colored to resemble the season one and two Joker, which is kind of ugly. Not a big deal though. What is more concerning is the stubborn nature of the sleeves that house the discs. Getting them out is nearly impossible without forcibly gripping the disc between a thumb and forefinger to yank it out. Some are more stubborn than others. I fear this is a set that if watched frequently would gradually damage the discs, so while the packing looks pretty great, it’s not quite so functional. There is a digital copy of the entire set included, so I suppose those concerned about damaging the discs could opt to watch it digitally instead, preserving the hard copies as a backup. I have not downloaded the files though so I don’t know how they work precisely. If they can be integrated with something like Amazon Prime that would make them available on multiple devices that would obviously be a plus.

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The first page.

Frustrations aside with acquiring a decent version of the item, I would say this is a pretty worthwhile set to own for fans of the series. If you already own the DVDs, as I do, it’s still worth the investment since the transfer is handled so well. In a world where physical media is dying, it’s also a plus that it looks nice on a shelf so if you have to have it at least it looks good. Naturally, if you’re a fan of the show, but never owned it before, then this makes it an even easier decision. If you’re opposed to physical media then you can hold out for a streaming option, but in the interim you’d be missing out. The inclusion of the two movies helps to push this one over the top for me, and I’m glad it’s a near complete release of every animation project associated with the franchise. I suppose those who were really invested in the Kids WB era will wish it included the cross-over episodes with Superman and Mystery of The Batwoman, but I didn’t need those. I do wonder what this means for the Superman cartoon as well as Batman Beyond. I never got into Superman, but I own all of Batman Beyond on DVD. Given how well The New Batman Adventures held up on transfer to DVD, I probably won’t be that interested in a Batman Beyond Blu-ray, but I reserve the right to change my mind down the road. For now, this is pretty much exactly what I wanted and I’m happy to have what is probably the greatest action cartoon ever created in high-definition.


PhatMojo DuckTales – Scrooge McDuck and Donald Duck

IMG_2498It’s been nearly a year since DuckTales returned to television airwaves. Scrooge McDuck, along with his nephews and surrogate niece Webby are back to solve mysteries and rewrite history. It’s a fun show that adheres more to the work of Carl Barks than to the series that ran in the 1980s while also doing its own thing. For the first time really ever, the nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie are distinguishable by more than just the color of their clothes and the cast is large enough that the writers don’t seem to feel pressured into fitting everyone into every episode. Sometimes Scrooge will be missing, other times Donald will be. It seems to be a show more about the kids and how they view the almost mythological Scrooge. And it also has other mysteries to uncover and it’s mostly good fun.

Back when the original series ran it surprisingly did not coincide with a ton of merchandise. Maybe this was a deliberate attempt by Disney to distinguish its cartoons from the competition which were often toys first, shows second. The only DuckTales toy I can remember owning was a Gizmoduck that came in a box of cereal. It seemed like this new incarnation was going to befall the same fate, but along came PhatMojo to rectify that. Now, I know nothing of this company and this is my first introduction to them, but I’ll say it’s mostly a positive one. Alongside some figurines and plush dolls, PhatMojo has put out its first line of DuckTales actions figures. Apparently exclusive to Target, the inaugural line contains single-carded figures of Scrooge, Donald, Launchpad, and Flintheart Glomgold. In addition to those figures are a pair of two-packs of Huey and Dewey and one of Webby and Louie. Also available is Launchpad’s airplane which also comes with his figure and Scrooge’s Money Bin playset, which seems more like a storage device for your toys than a full-fledged play set.

I have a weakness for toys, that is obvious to anyone who reads this blog, and perhaps a greater weakness for Donald Duck merchandise. Despite that, I’ve actually never owned a proper Donald Duck figure until now. I have statues and Lego mini-figures, but no action figures. Most of the is due to scarcity. There is a phenomenal Donald Duck figure available by a company called Herocross, but to import him is over $100. Yikes! There have been some Kingdom Hearts Donald Duck figures, but those have never spoke to me for one reason or another. Years ago there was a line of figures based on Mickey’s Christmas Carol and I do kind of kick myself for not collecting it. I was in high school when those came out and just didn’t have much money for action figures. I’m guessing if I looked them up on eBay right now I would not like what I see in terms of price too. As for Scrooge, he received a pretty darn good figure just last year from Funko, purveyors of those Pop! figures you’ve probably seen everywhere. That Scrooge was part of a line based on the old Disney Afternoon so it’s Scrooge with his blue coat. Herocross also released a version of Scrooge from that series and it’s both awesome and terribly expensive.

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“Hello?”

Not wanting to get too far into another line of toys, I forced myself to just stick with Donald and Scrooge when I encountered them over the weekend at my local Target. Might as well start with an overview of the line as a whole. These are mass-market retail figures, and even though I’m a man in his mid-30s, I can admit these are aimed at children. As such, it stands to reason you shouldn’t expect collector grade quality with these figures, and the price of 8.99 a piece captures that. The figures have unique sculpts with simple paint apps and even simpler articulation. The heads sit on a ball-joint that offers solid range of motion, but that’s it for fancy joints. The shoulders are on simple pegs and there’s no elbow or wrist articulation. The legs are also on simple peg joints at the hip with no knee articulation. As a result, these figures are very limited in what they can do as far as posing goes, but what’s there has a solid build and isn’t flimsy or anything.

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That’s the best he can do as far as taking a picture goes.

Let’s talk Donald Duck first. In case you are unfamiliar with the show or the work of Carl Barks, this Donald is in his comic accurate attire, which is how he’s presented in the show (his more popular light blue shirt gets set on fire in the first episode). His shirt is black with gold buttons and he wears a white hat instead of a blue one. The character is brought to life once again by Tony Anselmo and it’s really fun to see this Donald on television for the first time. He’s not as quick to anger as his personality in the cartoon shorts dictates and he’s very much a doting uncle most interested in the well-being of his nephews. Donald stands just under 4″ and comes with two accessories:  a camera and a smart phone.

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What you see is what you get, but what you see also is pretty good.

First of all, this figure is a dead-ringer for the show. He has that rounded look in the head with harder lines on the beak. The paint app is simple because it doesn’t call for much, and my figure looks pretty good in that area (some on the pegs were less impressive). Because of the limited articulation, he can’t really do much with his accessories, but he can kind of hold the phone like he’s talking into it. My only criticism of the sculpt is in how the legs meet the body which looks odd, but it was obviously done this way to keep it simple. The little tassel on his hat is also molded to his head and I wish it was jutting out on its own to impart a touch more personality, but again, this is the simple approach. Donald has a sunny disposition to him which may have felt out of place for his toon counterpart, but for DuckTales this feels appropriate. Overall, this is a very solid figure that, while not much fun to pose, definitely nails the likeness.

For Scrooge, we have a slightly more ambitious design. His tophat, glasses, and overcoat make him slightly harder to sculpt, but once again PhatMojo pretty much nails it. His hat pushes him close to 4 1/2″ and he has his little tuffs of hair pushing out from underneath it. Some may be disappointed that the hat is non-removable, but I think it looks better this way. Like Donald, this Scrooge is more in-line with the design of Barks and features a red coat instead of the blue one from the 1980s. Voicing him in the show is David Tennant, and man did he have some pretty big shoes to fill, but so far he’s pretty much nailed it. He comes with two accessories of his own, his trusty cane and a little gold colored idol that just sort of sits there. His articulation is the same as his nephew, only his overcoat really limits what can be done with his legs. In fact, I can’t even tell if his legs are articulated or not since they basically can’t move.

Paint-wise, he’s a bit more of a mixed bag. I had a hard time finding a good one at the store and had to settle for what I have. He has a little red dot on the brim of his hat and in a few places on his coat is a dab of white or black that shouldn’t be there. It’s not killer, but I notice these things. His eyeglasses are also kind of funky. Rather than use a piece of transparent plastic like Funko did with their Scrooge, PhatMojo just made a block of plastic to place on his beak and painted on glasses. This means the open area where there are no glasses is just painted yellow. It looks okay from a head-on perspective, as his nose should probably be there anyway, but from an angle of any kind it’s a bit clumsy. Again, this feels like a cost-cutting move as cutting out the dead-space would mean a more fragile piece in the end, but I wish they did a little better here. All of the figures I saw also had a weird little gap underneath Scrooge’s belt buckle. Not really noticeable when the figure is just displayed, but pick it up and you’ll see it. It’s probably the result of how the bottom part of his overcoat was connected to his torso.

Even with the problems I highlighted with Scrooge, I still think he’s a sound figure and he looks great on my desk alongside Donald and Funko’s Scrooge. Both Donald and Scrooge look like they’re supposed to given the source material. And considering the price, it’s hard to quibble with them too much. When I was a kid, I paid upwards of 7.99 for ToyBiz figures and that was in the early and mid 90s. To only pay 8.99 for these in 2018 is a pretty tremendous value. I don’t know how fun they are for kids given how limited they are in what they can do, but I played with similar as a kid and had no shortage of good times. If you like the look of the new DuckTales and want some figures from it, give these a look. You may want to catch them in person rather than through the web given the paint issues I saw. And if you’re a stickler for scale you may be a little disappointed with the others as Launchpad is definitely on the small side and the kids a little too big relative to Scrooge and Donald. The two-packs also run a tad more expensive at 12.99 each, but given you’re getting two 3″ figures instead of one 4″ the value seems about equal. For me, I’m probably content to just stick with these two. If a Darkwing Duck or Gizmoduck shows up I may give them a look. I’ll also probably try and push my kid towards these things as I’m always looking to foster more duck-enthusiasm in him. Got to start them young!


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