Tag Archives: hasbro

Ghostbusters Plasma Series: Venkman

Bill Murray is the greatest actor of all time. If you want to disagree with me, that’s fine, just know that you’re wrong. Because of my love of toys and Mr. Murray, I’ve always wanted a Bill Murray action figure. It might sound like a weird want to most people, but to a toy enthusiast it probably isn’t. If one were to aspire to own Bill Murray in plastic though, then the easy franchise to look to is Ghostbusters.

The Real Ghostbusters is the toyline that made me an action figure fan for life. I loved that series from Kenner as I had the firehouse, the Ghostbusters, numerous vehicles, and some ghosts. That franchise is based on the cartoon though, and the actual Ghostbusters did not resemble their real-life counterparts even in the slightest. That is almost certainly due to money, as if you’re going to make a cartoon that uses the likeness of actors like Murray and Harold Ramis then it stands to reason that those individuals need to be compensated.

Nostalgia has taken over the toy collecting world though, and actual toys based on the original 1984 hit Ghostbusters have been trickling out for years. There have been some high end ones, and some more mass market friendly releases. I’ve always intended to purchase a Peter Venkman from one of those many lines to satisfy my Murray obsession, but I just never did. For one reason or another, I just either wasn’t enthused with the product or I didn’t like the price. Well, today on a trip to Target for some essentials, I made an impulse buy when I stopped by the toy section as staring at me right in the face was a Peter Venkman from Hasbro’s new Plasma Series of toys.

Hasbro is the latest license holder to acquire Ghostbusters. Previously, Mattel held the license and I believe Diamond Select also had it at one point. Hasbro is a well known toy creator as it currently holds many of pop culture’s biggest licenses such as Marvel and Star Wars. Once upon a time, I was a Marvel enthusiast and was way deep into the Marvel Legends line, but when Hasbro acquired the license from Toy Biz I wasn’t impressed. I left that line around 2006 and I haven’t purchased a Hasbro toy since. For that reason, this purchase was a bit like a homecoming for me. I have nothing against Hasbro as a company, I just don’t have much interest in the licenses they hold. This was the first release that had appealed to me in quite some time, so I was curious to see how Hasbro’s action figures stand up in 2020.

The Ghostbusters Plasma Line all come packaged in an attractive window box display. One side panel features a bit of stylized art of the four Ghostbusters and the rear dispalys the rest of the line. There’s also a brief blurb on the character. For Venkman, the box reads: “The man with the mouth: Peter can convince (almost) anybody of (almost) anything.” Short and to the point, it described the character well enough. Each figure comes with a few accessories as well as a piece of Vince Clortho in demon-dog form. For Peter, it’s the left, front, leg. The other figures in the line include the other three Ghostbusters, Dana in her Zuul attire, and Gozer. The retail at Target was $19.99 so if you want to build your own demonic canine it will cost you around $140. Hopefully you don’t want two.

Peter Venkman comes clad in his traditional Ghostbusters outfit from the first film. It’s the khaki one with the logo on the right shoulder complete with black boots and gloves. He stands right around 6″ and possesses a great deal of articulation. His head sits on a ball joint with great range of motion. The shoulders are ball-jointed and there’s a hint of a butterfly joint in there as well for turning the shoulders into the body. It doesn’t do much though. He has a biceps swivel which is a little tight out of the box and double-jointed elbows. At the wrist he has a swivel and a hinge joint to tilt the hands up and down. His torso is on a ball-joint so he has some good motion there that doesn’t detract as much from the sculpt as an ab crunch would, though he lacks traditional waist articulation. The legs are attached via ball-joints with thigh swivels and double-jointed knees. The ankles are on swivels, but with an odd pitch to them so they sort of turn out and up instead of on a straight plane. The feet also rock side to side.

What I understand to be typical of Hasbro is fairly true here in that most of the figure is colored plastic. There’s not a ton of paint work aside from a yellow cable on his belt and the logo on his arm. The face is a solid likeness for Murray, as good as one would expect at this price point. I’ve seen more expensive Venkman figures with lesser face sculpts. He has a cocky smirk which is befitting of the character, though I wish he had a five-o-clock shadow. The uniform looks great and even features the screen accurate detail of Venkman’s pants not being tucked into his boots. He has his walkie talkie affixed to his belt, though it’s non-removable, and the belt itself is a floating piece of plastic which adds a little depth to the look of the figure. The hands are in trigger-finger positions as opposed to a more generic grip. I’m not sure this really adds anything to the figure as the proton pack doesn’t feature a trigger, but the plastic is soft enough that he can hold his accessories with only a little bit of fuss. The lack of paint means he’s fairly glossy to look at. A wash over the uniform might have done some good, and his eyes are particularly shiny, but it’s an attractive enough piece.

For accessories, Venkman comes with his proton pack and a ghost trap. The proton pack is a really nice sculpt with some paint highlights as well. It’s attached to a harness that features two shoulder straps, a belt, and a peg to fit into Peter’s back. The belt of the proton pack detaches on the left side and it was more than a little troublesome out of the box. It almost looks like it was glued in place which had me doubting myself if I was supposed to even go this route in order to get this thing onto Venkman. I did manage to unfasten it, but I was scared the whole time that the peg would come off with it. It definitely could have been done better and isn’t something that would probably hold up well to repeated removals. The actual blaster portion can be holstered on the side of the pack or held by the figure. It’s on a soft piece of plastic and seems reasonably durable. Venkman has enough articulation that he can hold the end of it in a casual manner, ready across his chest, or point it to bust some ghosts. The other accessory, the trap, looks the part, though it doesn’t do anything. Venkman can hold it, but there isn’t an easy way to clip it onto his belt or anything like that. It also doesn’t have the activation pedal. The only other accessory is the build-a-figure piece which I suppose looks fine, though I’m not about to judge that figure based on one leg.

Positioning and posing Venkman is pretty rewarding. There isn’t much he can’t do that you would want him to do based on what the character does in the film. His feet are a bit small, so he’s a little harder to stand than I expected he would be. The proton pack also adds some weight to the figure, but not enough to make standing him impossible. For the price, he’s as good as expected. The only real shortcoming with the figure is the lack of extra hands as he pretty much needs to be holding his proton blaster to not look stupid. A screaming second head would have also been cool, but not expected or really necessary. I wouldn’t be surprised if Hasbro does a slimed variant in the future.

The Plasma Series Venkman is an action figure that gets the job done. I wanted a Bill Murray toy, and was happy to take him in his Ghostbusters attire, and this fit the bill. It’s about what one would expect of a mass market action figure at the $20 price point, but it also doesn’t exactly leave me feeling like Hasbro went above and beyond like NECA often does with its products. It also didn’t leave me with a compulsion to buy the rest of the line, so Peter is going to have to get used to hanging out with the Lego versions of the other Ghostbusters. Maybe if they ever hit clearance I’d revisit it, but probably not. For Ghostbusters enthusiasts, I suspect they’re happy to have an improvement on what Mattel did in the past and at an affordable price point.


Take My Money, Hasbro, Give Me X-Men Animated Series Legends!

 

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Let’s talk some X-Men!

It’s been probably 13 or 14 years since I’ve purchased a Marvel-branded action figure. This is somewhat shocking to me because from the age of 7 to around 25 I spent who knows how much money on Marvel action figures. I was there for the inaugural Toy Biz line of Marvel Superheroes and X-Men action figures and I continued buying Toy Biz figures well past the age of when it was considered “appropriate” by my peers. And even after I stopped actually playing with my toys I still kept them on display in my room. Two pieces of old countertop on milk crates served as my makeshift shelves. Good guys on one side, bad guys on the other. As characters changed allegiance in the comics, so did their placement on my shelf. Aside from that, I didn’t like to mess with them and the dust would grow thicker and thicker and probably contributed to my constant sneezing. I didn’t care though, because I really loved my toys.

When action figures grew up with me I grew extremely excited. There were a few dedicated collector lines, most memorably one based on the Onslaught mini series, but things really changed with Marvel Legends. I was a bit tepid at first with them, mostly due to the absence of X-Men, but eventually I got into it. I started with just a figure here and there, and soon enough I found myself buying entire waves. I also added the occasional Diamond Select figure which at the time prioritized sculpt over articulation making some of the toys little more than glorified statues. I even got into Mini Mates for a period, since they initially focused on the Ultimate X-Men which was a comic I grew attached to pretty quickly.

Eventually, I stopped collecting. Part of that coincided with the dissolving of Toy Biz by Marvel which chose to instead license its properties to Hasbro. Those first few Hasbro waves weren’t very strong, and with the build-a-figure shrinking down to more normal proportions it failed to really motivate me. I think the last wave I bought to completion was whichever one featured The Blob. And even with that, I think I had to buy some figures based on X-Men: The Last Stand which did not sit well with me. That also happened to coincide with me moving out on my own trading the confines of my old bedroom for a small apartment. I didn’t want to have to lug a bunch of toys around with me every time I moved, and once I got settled into my own home that I purchased the itch had passed. I had moved onto other hobbies and comics just didn’t appeal to me like they once did. Sure, there have been a few figures over the years that tempted me, but the rising cost in standard toys makes it pretty easy to just focus on the things that really bring me joy.

That could change though, and if Hasbro wanted me back (and who wouldn’t?) there is one thing the company could do that would guarantee it many of my dollars and it has to do with my favorite show as a child:  X-Men.

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This recent action figure three-pack is what put my brain into this mode. These almost work as animated versions, but they’re different just enough to not be perfect. And I’m not just referring to Wolverine’s bone claws.

Nostalgia currently has me hooked via NECA’s line of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toys based on the old cartoon series. That show may not be particularly good, but I loved it as a kid and it’s something I can’t let go of. Similarly, I have a huge amount of affection still for X-Men. That show was my life for a few years and unlike TMNT, the show is still watchable today even if it doesn’t hold up as well as Batman or possibly even Gargoyles. And I know I am not alone. There is a lot of love out there for that show and that has been preyed upon via action figures based on the costume designs of the Jim Lee era X-Men from the comics. There was a recently announced three-pack featuring Wolverine, Jean Grey, and Cyclops which is what really got my juices flowing. Those characters bare a strong resemblance to their animated counterparts, but the figures are also clearly aiming to capture the look of the comics and not a cartoon.

What gives me hope that such a line could work is because animated versions of these characters are not far off what is already out there. Take your standard Wolverine action figure, for instance. To make him better resemble the cartoon, Hasbro basically just needs to reduce detail. No stubble on his face, not much hair on the arms, and less muscle definition. DC has done a great job bringing Batman: The Animated Series to plastic form in terms of aesthetics, so why not do the same, Hasbro?

Because I’m such a generous guy, I’m even going to provide a road map for Hasbro. I envision six figures per wave with a build-a-figure bringing the total to seven. Adhering to modern times, the extra buildable figure is not some titanic character, but something closer to a standard sized figure. It would be a good fit for those figures that would need to be 7 or 8 inches as opposed to 5-6, which is what I imagine most figures would fall into. They could be done, and really should be, in scale with Marvel Legends and I would prioritize characters from the first two seasons. If the line’s a success, then sure go for more. If the series happened and worked out as outlined below, then I would definitely buy every figure and really annoy my wife as I hunted for more space to display them.

Series 1

  • Wolverine
  • Cyclops
  • Rogue
  • Morph
  • Mystique
  • Magneto
  • Build-a-Figure:  Sabretooth

This mix would get some fan-favorite good guys out early and also a few villains to pose them against. Wolverine is an obvious must for the first series as he was the most popular character. He should come in his standard uniform and additional hands, some with claws in and some with claws out. A second, unmasked, head would complete the look. Cyclops should also just have his normal look. If a removable flight jacket could be added without harming the sculpt, then all the better, but not necessary. Similar to modern Cyclops figures, he should have a second head with a blast effect and probably an extra set of hands including one with two fingers extended on his right hand to activate his “X” communicator. Morph, on the other hand, should have his flight jacket since he was most often depicted wearing it. He should also have black hair as he did in seasons one and two and an alternate “evil” head. Mystique would need few additional accessories, making her the likely landing spot for a larger piece of the build-a-figure. Magneto would need a helmeted and un-helmeted head to properly capture his long hair. A nice, heavy, fabric cape would also look great, but soft plastic wouldn’t be bad either. Sabretooth, being featured in episode one, makes for a good choice as the first build-a-figure given his size relative to the other characters.

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

That’s how I want my Wolverine to look, bub.

Series 2

  • Gambit
  • Bishop
  • Storm
  • Cable
  • Pyro
  • Avalanche
  • BAF:  The Blob

Wave Two would be anchored by the next most popular character after Wolverine, Gambit. He’d just need various hands and his bo staff to be authentic. Storm would be the other character from the team, and in the interest of “keeping them wanting,” would be the only other from the main team. Bishop and Cable both played large roles as guest characters and lend themselves well to action figure form. Cable should probably have his season two look which featured a metallic left arm, a more common look than the season one version. Bishop should also feature a removable time bracelet to go along with his really big gun. Pyro and Avalanche would serve as the villains with the BAF being their comrade Blob. A desire to assemble Mystique’s troop would hopefully help drive sales.

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Everyone can relax, Gambit is in series two.

Series 3

  • Beast
  • Jean Grey
  • Archangel
  • Civilian Wolverine
  • Graydon Creed
  • Mr. Sinister
  • BAF:  Apocalypse

Series 3 would be the one that nearly completes the main team. Beast, unlike most figures based on the character, should have a cheerful disposition as opposed to an angry one. Jean Grey would need her cartoon-accurate costume, something Toy Biz never delivered on when the show was popular, which was blue and orange as opposed to blue and yellow. She should also probably come with a Cerebro helmet. This would also be a good time for a second Wolverine figure. Since he was so often featured in plain clothes (yellow flannel with a brown jacket), a figure based on that look makes sense. He should have two pairs of clawless hands, ones that look like normal fists and ones that have the steel ports on his hands as he was incorrectly portrayed in season one. Diehard fans of the show, such as myself, really appreciate little details like that. Creed was a big player in season two, and he warrants a figure as a result. Of course, Sinister was the main big, bad, guy of that season and series three feels like a good spot for him. Lastly, Archangel should be included (with a masked head and unmasked head) to pair with the BAF Apocalypse who would be depicted in his animated purple and blue color scheme.

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I don’t know why they made him purple, but the toy better follow in the same footsteps!

Series 4

  • Jubilee
  • Colossus
  • Omega Red
  • Forge
  • Civilian Cyclops
  • Professor X
  • BAF: Juggernaut

Series 4 would finish the main squad by including Jubilee and Professor X. Xavier would be the tough one to include as he would need his hover chair. Recently, Hasbro did a Professor X that I think retails for more than a standard Legend. The company could save money by retooling it and if it has to retail for more then so be it. Colossus guested a couple of times and is deserving of a figure himself. He should be clad in his blue pants and white tank top to match his appearance in the show. If a second, non-transformed, upper torso could be done then that would be really neat. Omega Red is a villain with a great, 90s, design, and even though he’s a bit bigger than other characters, I don’t think he’s so large that he would need to be a BAF. Cyclops had enough non-costumed appearances to be the second main cast member worthy of a civilian look. And Forge had multiple appearances as well. He should come with an alternate head so he could be depicted as main timeline Forge and future Forge. The Juggernaut is the last character that serves as an obvious choice for a BAF and would be a sought after one helping to make sure fans buy the entire wave. That only challenge with him is I think he would need two heads as well, one masked and one unmasked, because it’s hard to make a good-looking Juggernaut figure that features a removable helmet.

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Colossus proved you didn’t need a real costume to be a hero.

Series 5 and 6

  • Phoenix
  • Gladiator
  • Nightcrawler
  • Dazzler
  • White Queen
  • Sebastian Shaw
  • Henry Gyrich
  • Bolivar Trask
  • Dark Phoenix
  • Banshee
  • Fabian Cortez
  • Empress Lilandra
  • BAF:  Sentinel

I’m grouping these two together because I have a radical idea for the BAF. It would be a sentinel and the pieces spread between both waves. The piece loadout would be like Giant Man from the Toy Biz days which did an oversized wave of Marvel Legends as a Wal-Mart exclusive. This would allow Hasbro to do a bigger figure to do the sentinel justice, because we need a sentinel for such a series since they were so important in that first season. The desire to have a cartoon sentinel would help move some of the less exciting, but still essential, characters contained in this wave. Trask and Gyrich, specifically, would be unsexy figures, but they had such a large presence over the first season that it feels wrong to exclude them. Much of these waves would also be devoted to the Phoenix and Dark Phoenix Sagas. Doing both regular Phoenix and Dark Phoenix would also save Hasbro money since they’d basically be the same figure, different head. For Lilandra, I’d also go with the Empress version of the character as that would just make for a more striking visual. Cortez is the only character from a later season, but I see more opportunity for villains and I just happen to like him more than someone like Erik the Red or D’Ken.

sentinel 92

I don’t see how you could have a toy-line dedicated to the X-Men cartoon and not feature a sentinel somehow.

If the line was a success, it wouldn’t have to end there. I completely ignored Sinister’s Nasty Boys and all of the mutates from the Savage Land. They would really help to bolster the ranks of the villains, but it might be hard to convince people they’re more deserving of plastic than some of the others. An entire Savage Land wave could even be done, though I don’t know if that would be a big seller. Another big bad guy I left out is Mojo who would probably work best as a BAF. If he was done, then he would need to be paired with a Longshot.

As for heroes, there are alternate versions of other characters that could pad things out. Civilian versions of Storm, Rogue, Jean and Jubilee (or her in a flight suit) could be added. Beast and Gambit had other looks as well, but nothing really drastic (though Beast with his Howard the Duck shirt is pretty tempting). Archangel also briefly appeared as Angel in season one and returned in season four sporting his white and blue Angel costume. Wolverine had other looks as well, though my personal favorite would probably be the alternate timeline Wolverine from “One Man’s Worth” which also featured a mohawked Storm. Other guest heroes included Iceman, Psylocke, Alpha Flight and X-Factor so there are certainly more characters to mine from, I’m just not sure any really need a dedicated figure based on their look in the cartoon.

Hasbro missed its chance to honor the cartoon with a line of figures to celebrate the show’s 25th anniversary. There’s still time though to recognize the 30th in 2022 and a toy-line near then would be an appropriate way to do so. If 2022 seems too far away right now it could be timed to end that year. The show is also about to gain new exposure via Disney+ where it and other X-Men cartoons will be available day one. And with Disney acquiring 20th Century Fox it stands to reason that the X-Men will soon join Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe bringing even more of a spotlight to the brand. The time is right, Hasbro, make it happen!

 

 


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 – 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.

easter buck

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.


Boss Fight Studio’s Bucky O’Hare and First Mate Jenny Action Figures

IMG_1874For the better part of three decades, Bucky O’Hare has been largely absent from the public conscious. His television show lasted a mere 13 episodes, likely green-lit thanks to the popularity of other obscure comic turned television sensation the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. His toy line consisted of one wave of 10 figures and two vehicles and no more. Why did Bucky fail? There are a few theories, but the most prevailing is that Hasbro mishandled the toy line packing too many unpopular figures into a case (specifically Toad Air Marshall) at the expense of the most popular characters like Bucky, Dead Eye, and Bruiser. And I can certainly vouch for that to a point, as I only bought a Toad Air Marshall as a kid when he was literally the only character on the pegs. And it wasn’t that the section had been picked over leaving a handful of figures, no it was dozens of Toad Air Marshall action figures. When I got my first Bucky I had to sift through a bunch of them to find him and was elated. I eventually had the whole set, plus the vehicles, though sadly they would be either sold in a yard sale or discarded entirely. I would replace my Bucky many years later as an adult collector, but never the rest of the set.

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91 Bucky with his 2017 counterpart. Finally, we’re rid of that molded oxygen mask from the original toy.

Enter Boss Fight Studio, an upstart toy developer out of Massachusetts that has mostly dabbled in mythological beings for its action figures. Bucky O’Hare is the company’s first go with a license and they’ve already done better than the last company to try. Over a decade ago, Shocker Toys acquired the Bucky O’Hare license for a line of Bucky Shockini toys, which were basically a variation of the Mini Mates line that was really popular at the time. They showed off completed prototypes for four figures:  Bucky, Jenny, Dead Eye, and a Toad Storm Trooper. They were never released and the company is gone. I don’t know why they weren’t released as I remember posting about it on their message board back then and the post was ignored, then deleted. It could have been they had a bad reception and the company backed out. Maybe they only had the license for a year and weren’t able to get the product to retail before it expired? Maybe they just plain ran out of money?  Whatever the reason, it was another obstacle for Bucky O’Hare, who had recently failed to land a new tv deal after Neal Adams attempted to sell a brief CG pilot, and it was possible the franchise would never be heard from again.

Truth be told, not much has changed since then for Bucky O’Hare. This license acquisition by Boss Fight Studio came out of no where. I’ve done my best with this little blog to keep Bucky some-what relevant. I’ve talked about his NES game, the arcade game, and the show itself before while also hyping these figures. 90’s nostalgia is pretty hot right now and lots of properties are being revived so maybe Boss Fight Studio was just looking to score a piece of that and one that probably wouldn’t cost a ton. And someone at the company must obviously remember the property and enjoy it because an obscure property like Bucky O’Hare isn’t getting a toy line without someone who loved it driving that. And I’m happy to report that these two inaugural figures have turned out about as well as they could.

IMG_1864For the debut of the line, Boss Fight Studio settled on Captain Bucky O’Hare himself and First Mate Jenny. The selections may seem obvious, after all, who is going to launch a Bucky O’Hare toy line with out Bucky O’Hare, but Boss Fight Studio deserves some recognition for pairing him with Jenny. Jenny was infamously dropped from the Hasbro line because of the concern of marketing a girl toy to boys. She was supposed to be included in the planned second series, and since she was basically prepared for the first set, completed figures made it through production and into packaging. Some of these would find their way into the hands of collectors, most did not, and Jenny remains the biggest omission from that lone set of figures. Finally, Bucky O’Hare fans have the Jenny figure they were denied back in 1991.

The figures in this line appear to be in a standard 6″ scale similar to the Marvel Legends line by Hasbro. This means Bucky is around 4″ tall, not including his ears, and Jenny about 4.5″. They’re very similar to the scale from the original toy line, though with better and more accurate proportions. Those old toys tended to have over-sized heads and squished bodies. They were fine for their era, but obviously not adequate for an adult toy line. The packaging for both is almost identical to the old Hasbro packaging, only BFS utilizes a re-sealable blister. Character bios and images of upcoming figures are on the back and really do a great job of taking advantage of the nostalgia fans likely have for the old figures.

Bucky and Jenny are both loaded with articulation. Bucky uses a lot of colored plastic which works to make his red spacesuit pop but not overwhelm. The minimal amounts of paint utilized are all nice and clean. There’s no weird fraying plastic or evidence of the molds, even on the small switchable hands. He has a rubbery cape that is removable via a peg, and the shoulder pads are a separate piece as opposed to being molded to his arms, same for his belt. Bucky has two additional face plates, one with a smiling open mouth and the other a more relaxed open mouth. He has twin pistols and the pegs on his belt still function as holsters, a call-back to the original design for Bucky (they always envisioned toys) and the Hasbro Bucky. The pistols are more in scale this time around too and look great. The negative with Bucky, and even BFS noted it on via their Facebook page, is that his removable pieces are all really tough to manipulate. I can’t get the additional face plates to seat properly on his head, and the hands won’t come off. When I try to pull them off his arm ends up popping off at the elbow. His cape also doesn’t fit all the way into the peg hole on his back so it’s prone to falling off. The cape is not that big of an issue, since he’ll be hanging on a shelf eventually, but it’s discouraging. BFS recommends using a hair dryer or hot water to warm the pieces in order to separate them, but I have yet to try because I’m a little skittish of such tactics.

IMG_1871Jenny is in some ways the more anticipated of the two because of her history. She does not disappoint. She’s nice and shiny and packed with articulation like Bucky. She’s got a huge mount of hair on her head, as she did in both comics and TV, and an abundance of curves. If this property had been more popular we’d probably be partly blaming Jenny for the rise of furries. Her arms and lower legs are really thin, but she doesn’t seem particularly fragile or anything. Her hands are easily swapped out with the extras provided by BFS, and she also has two additional face plates, one of which being a cheeky winking face. She doesn’t have a gun, despite carrying one in the animated series, but has two hands with “psychic energy” resembling Marvel’s Psylocke and two circular energy blasts she can hold. She has four sets of hands as a result, compared with Bucky’s three, and four face plates. Her default features an open mouth, but she also has a smiling one and a toothy smile in addition to the winking face mentioned before. Her hair is obviously quite heavy, but her tail makes posing her rather easy. She’s a bit limited in what she can do as a result, but still looks great. There are some slight paint imperfections on a few of her face plates as she requires finer details, but nothing major.

Overall, these figures are great and any Bucky O’Hare fan will likely be very happy with them. There is an elephant in the room though that does dampen some enthusiasm I have for the line and that’s the price. Bucky and Jenny both retail for $35 a piece. Add in tax and shipping and you’re looking at roughly $80 for a pair of 4.5″ action figures. Bucky O’Hare fans starved for merchandise will likely suck it up and buy a set, but the price point makes it very hard for Boss Fight Studio to attract casual collectors. Some-what troublesome is the amount of variants announced already. There’s a stealth Bucky and astral projection Jenny on the way which are just repaints of these two figures. Dead Eye has been announced as well along with a variant for him too. There’s even a second Bucky variant that’s all brown to resemble a chocolate bunny, he’s an Easter release. Boss Fight Studio has also shown off a Toad Storm Trooper. Coincidentally, they’re following the planned Shocker release with their first four figures. If the line is going to need to sell variants in order to survive then that’s probably not a good sign. I know I’m personally not in the market for repaints at this price point. I want to support the line because I really want to see it continue, but I can’t justify buying an Easter Bucky for $35. I will definitely be placing an order for Dead Eye and the Storm Trooper when they become available because both look amazing.

Because of the pricing structure and the fact that Bucky O’Hare has been such an unsuccessful and niche franchise, it’s hard to be optimistic for this line. I don’t want to end this on a down-note though. I think these two figures are great and they’re already among my most favorite of any line I’ve ever collected and I am totally onboard with more characters, be they taken from the comics or cartoon. Boss Fight Studio has already mentioned they’re eager to do an Al Negator, which is important to know because was a cartoon-only character so that probably opens the door for other toon-only characters like Bruiser and Mimi. If you’re a fan of Bucky, or just remember the cartoon and want to reminisce, these are great action figures to add to your collection. They’re really fun character designs with a lot of personality and Boss Fight Studio did an impeccable job in bringing them to life. Hopefully, we can keep Bucky from disappearing again.


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