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Bucky O’Hare Wave 3.5 Aniverse Storm Toad Trooper

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

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Some source material for this one.

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

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

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

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Two guns are better than one.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Dec. 2 – Robot Chicken’s ATM Christmas Special

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First broadcast December 16, 2012.

This is going to be a bit of an experiment. These recaps the last few years have basically focused on cartoons or live-action shows in which a story is told over some duration. I have so far avoided sketch shows, not purposely, but it’s definitely been in the back of my mind that doing a write-up in this style is a bit more challenging with a sketch show. It’s like reviewing or recapping several micro episodes of a TV show.

And when it comes to micro-sized entertainment, Robot Chicken should be the first show that comes to mind. Each episode is about 11 minutes long and contains an irregular number of sketches within that 11 minutes, some of which are literally just a few seconds long. Most of these are animated using stop-motion techniques with action figures in place of true puppets. Often these action figures require modification to animate in a more desirable fashion and when that is needed clay appears to be the medium of choice.

img_4139Robot Chicken is the brain child of Seth Green and Matthew Senreich. Green, as the most visible star associated with the brand, often handles a lot of the voicing duties and appears to get a lot of help from his Family Guy co-stars as well. Senreich, along with writers Douglas Goldstein and Tom Root, are veterans of ToyFare magazine which would often contain a comic in its pages called Twisted ToyFare Theater that is basically Robot Chicken in print form. Those sequences were popular, so it’s not that surprising to see the concept was taken to television where Robot Chicken has had a presence on Adult Swim since 2005.

Robot Chicken has been an ally to Christmas from almost day one. There have been several holiday editions of the show and some themes have sprung up. Santa Claus is a reoccurring character in these shorts and he is, I believe, always voiced by Seth MacFarlane. The show will often poke fun at classic holiday specials or just do something nerdy and goofy like pit Goku from Dragon Ball against a Christmas villain. There’s elements of shock humor to go along with the mostly nerd humor and shorts often get pretty violent for comedic purposes. It’s not a show for everyone, but it’s certainly aided by its brief runtime so when an episode misses the mark it’s usually not around long enough to truly stink up the place.

In 2012 Robot Chicken debuted its ATM Christmas Special, which I assume stands for Ass to Mouth because that’s the sort of humor the show goes for. Even though the show is on Adult Swim, it may have been difficult to actually get that phrase into the episode title and it’s a bit cheeky to make it an acronym anyway.

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Santa is pissed he nearly slept through Christmas.

The special opens in festive fashion with a parody of the old CBS Special logo that leads into a story about Santa (MacFarlane). It seems Santa forgot to schedule a wake-up call as he wakes up late for Christmas. It’s a scramble to the work shop where a ranting Santa takes his anger out on the poor elves. Santa is done as a doll, while most of the elves look like claymation and doll parts or something. The scramble continues to the sleigh and the reindeer are all messed up prompting Santa to fire the elf attendant, who cries, as Santa leaves.

 

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Someone got fired for that one.

From the skies Santa and his assistant chuck presents rather than do the usual infiltration thing. They’re depicted more like bombs as they cause all kinds of destruction, including claiming the life of a poor homeless man. A satellite image from space shows Earth with little tiny explosions dotting the surface. Santa makes it back to the North Pole relieved he pulled it off until he finds a lone present he missed. He vows to make the delivery and races to the home where it apparently belongs. I guess because time’s a factor, he opts to use the front door rather than the chimney, but it’s locked. As Santa pulls and wrestles with the door knob, the scene changed to reveal this is all a nightmare and Santa is at home in bed choking his wife. Some elves race in and use a cattle prod on him to subdue him, causing Mrs. Claus (Elizabeth Banks) to declare she hates Christmas.

 

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And whoa this thing got dark pretty quick!

We then smash cut to the real opening credits, which largely depict the short we just watched, but everything is in red. There’s also some clips of shorts still to come as we head into our next skit.

 

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This guy is angry at Jewish people for making him work on Christmas. That’s the joke.

A Chinese man is shown on the phone at a restaurant. He’s talking to his wife, but we only hear his side of the conversation. He’s bemoaning that he can’t come home and celebrate Christmas because a Jewish family is there and is just hanging out after their meal. We can see them at a table in the background. The man then declares he hates Jews, which is apparently the punchline of the skit.

 

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Well isn’t this a nice holiday setting!

We then jump to a living room setting on Christmas. A delighted Christmas tree (Henry Winkler) is busy declaring how lucky it is to have been adopted by this family. It’s a happy, warm, Christmas setting that ends with a little girl hugging the tree. Then we cut to a woman dragging the browning tree out the front door. It is completely unaware of what is about to happen and the woman tells the tree they’re going on vacation. It’s pretty excited and remains so as she leaves it on the curb for the garbage man to collect. As the tree is tossed into the truck, it insists it’s not garbage, but then it sees the father and daughter watching from a window as they close the curtains.

 

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On Robot Chicken, there are no happy endings.

The tree is taken to a toilet paper factory, and several weeks later we see what became of it. It’s toilet paper and sitting on a shelf in a grocery store. The image of the tree on the packaging is capable of talking and narrating the thoughts of the still sentient plant as it openly hopes it mostly gets used for boogers or urine. Then it recognizes something offscreen, and it’s the mom and daughter of the family who threw it away. It’s actually happy to see them, until the mother declares they’re having Indian food for dinner.

 

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Check it out! He had a big foot! Laugh!

We then get a brief skit of some kids looking at the stockings over the fireplace. One is huge, and they declare “No fair,” as the camera pans to reveal it belongs to Big Foot Danny, a kid with a really big foot.

 

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Well, at least he’s not choking her this time.

Back to Santa, who is seated in a lounge chair with an apparent broken leg. Mrs. Claus comes in to give him his Christmas present:  a candy cane (get it?). Santa is excited and he stands up to test it out and, finding it’s an actual oversized candy cane, collapses to the ground as the cane snaps apart. He then scolds the woman for making a cane out of candy and expecting it to work. The skit ends with Santa wondering if he broke his tibia while I worry for the well-being of Mrs. Claus.

 

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I guess Justin Bieber jokes were still funny in 2012. I guess.

In a warmly lit den by the fire decorated for Christmas, Justine Bieber (Lucas Grabeel) prepares to play us a song. He’s joined by Santa on guitar and a snowman on drums. He then rips into the song, which is probably titled “Fuck Christmas” because that’s what he mostly says. It’s an aggressive, angry, tune that gets its point across. The scene ends with two executives watching this unfold. One remarks they should have just stuck with David Cassidy, while the other enthusiastically declares that Bieber is a true artist.

 

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It’s Santa vs Jason Bourne! The fight you never wanted!

We’re then taken to a more desolate location. It’s Jason Bourne, a convincing looking doll, and he turns his head dramatically to spot someone closing in from behind. It’s Santa Claus, and there are no words spoken as Santa pulls a sharpened candy cane from his coat. The two fight, and the choreography is actually pretty intense. Bourne gets the better of the Kringle though, ending the fight by stabbing Santa with his own candy cane.

 

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How did you expect it to end? The guy is beyond elderly!

Santa is then shown laying on the ground coughing up blood. He remarks that Jason is a hard man to find and pulls out a Christmas present. Okay. Bourne takes it as Santa bleeds out and dies and seems to react enthusiastically to receiving a copy of the board game Parcheesi.

 

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Hey kid, I know how you feel as I had the same reaction to this joke.

A quick skit of a Lego family at Christmas runs. The kid seems unhappy to have received another block for Christmas and reacts with mock enthusiasm. That’s it.

 

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What are you supposed to get a ninja for Christmas? Robot Chicken seeks to answer that very question.

At G.I. Joe headquarters, some of the Joes are sitting around trying to figure out what to get Snake Eyes for Christmas. These appear to be actual toys from the toy line. They don’t know what to get him because he never tells them what he wants (he’s mute, in case you were unaware) and we see a cut-away to last Christmas when they just gave him a coffee mug that says “I Heart Ninjas.”

 

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Storm Shadow has never looked better.

Scarlett (Banks) declares she knows what Snake Eyes really wants, and we cut to the Joes surrounding a building in a snowy environment. They enter and it’s revealed to be the home of Storm Shadow, Snake Eyes’ rival. He’s in his usual white ninja suit, but also is sporting a pink bath robe. The Joes attack, but they get their asses handed to them.

 

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The question remains unanswered.

On Christmas morning, Duke (Skeet Ulrich) approaches a seated Snake Eyes and tosses his present at him. It’s another mug. Meanwhile, we can see the rest of the Joes have all been beaten up pretty bad and look rather miserable. Snake Eyes, even though he’s wearing a mask, seems perplexed by the hostile treatment.

 

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Nothing says “Christmas” quite like Kano.

We’re whisked away to a store where a woman is in the embarrassing position of having her credit card declined. The clerk can’t do anything about it as she bemoans how tough life has been for her and her two boys since their father passed away. The man behind her overhears the clerk say her name, Mrs. Cage, and it causes him to remember. The man is Kano, of Mortal Kombat fame, and a thought bubble appears over his head showing him rip the heart out of Johnny Cage post match.

 

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I knew he was an asshole the moment I first laid eyes on him!

Feeling guilty, Kano helps the woman to her car and accepts an offer to join them for Christmas dinner. At the Cage residence, he uses his somersault maneuver to hang Christmas lights, and when saying “Grace,” he puts on a yamaka as a joke and everyone has a good laugh. As he helps Mrs. Cage put the kids to bed, he confesses he can’t hide from her anymore. He apologizes for what happened to Johnny and gives the widow a gift. She opens the box and is confused. Kano claims it’s Johnny’s heart, but Mrs. Cage informs him it’s not a heart. We then smash cut to Johnny Cage on a beach in a tropical environment relaying how Kano ripped out his appendix by mistake to a group of bikini-clad women. He then grabs one and the skit ends before the orgy can commence.

 

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Possibly Robot Chicken’s most popular character is The Nerd.

In our next sketch it’s Christmas morning at The Nerd’s (Green) home. He awakens excitedly in a festive red onesie and races downstairs only to find that Christmas has been stolen. His parents give him the bad news, but he takes it fairly well. That is until his mom reveals during “Pretend Christmas” what the thief made off with:  a 1985 AFA Graded Snake Eyes action figure.

 

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I like where this is going…

Despondent, The Nerd takes to the streets to find the whole neighborhood has been victimized. He finds a group of people forming a circle and one man explains it’s a vengeance circle as they’re asking The Spirit of Vengeance to violently punish the asshole who stole their stuff. He’s then told by another that he’s mistaken and this is the wrong circle, the vengeance one is nearby. This forces things to click inside The Nerd’s brain. What Christmas story involves a burglary followed by the victims holding hands and singing? He then turns around to gaze at a nearby mountain where the thief is still in the process of getting away!

 

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When you’re down and out and in need of encouragement, look to Larry Hama.

The Nerd heads off after him, and as he climbs the mountain he bemoans his choice in clothing. As he ponders giving up, he looks to Snake Eyes for help. Since Snake Eyes is mute, he doesn’t offer anything encouraging when he appears in a cloud above The Nerd’s head. Larry Hama appears though in a similar vision to encourage him to continue. The line he feeds The Nerd is corny and unoriginal and The Nerd calls him out on it. In a bit of self-deprecation, Hama remarks how he spent his career writing comics that were essentially toy commercials and is able to spur The Nerd along by threatening to read him an excerpt from his unfinished novel.

 

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He really is a stupid looking Grinch.

The Nerd makes it to the summit where he confronts the thief – The Grinch! He moans when he sees it’s not even the good Grinch from the cartoon, but the Jim Carrey Grinch. Grinch (Green) tells him it doesn’t matter, but then The Nerd uses his anger over the film ruining the “greatest cartoon ever” to motivate him to kill this Grinch. Declaring he doesn’t care about his presents, he simply kicks the sleigh (with Grinch in it) off the mountain. He then turns around to see Max whom he refers to him as the little Stockholm Syndrome dog. Max has something for The Nerd, his precious Snake Eyes toy! Only now it has teeth marks which are sure to affect the grading.

 

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And now he’s dead and likely about to get raped.

Back at street level, one of the neighborhood men drags the Grinch’s corpse over and happily displays it. The same man from earlier rejoices that The Spirit of Vengeance answered their prayers. Another man then questions if The Spirit of Vengeance would like them to rape the corpse. The first man declares why not? – it’s Christmas! And that’s how our special ends; with a rape joke.

 

Robot Chicken’s ATM Christmas Special is certainly a sight to behold. The animation is pretty great, even when the source “puppets” are old G.I. Joe toys. I like the little through-lines with reappearing Santa throughout and the G.I. Joe sketch being sort of referenced further in the finale. The big Grinch parody was saved for last and it feels like the right spot for it. I like the self-realization of The Nerd becoming aware that he’s in a Christmas special, and even though internet nerd anger is pretty stupid, I did take some joy in this character hating on the Jim Carrey/Ron Howard Grinch while praising the superior Chuck Jones cartoon.

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There’s a tendency of the show to rely on shock humor, like a homeless guy getting decapitated by a Christmas present, but when that’s your thing it’s hard to remain shocking.

Some of the other stuff hasn’t aged super well. The “I Hate Jews” sketch, in particular, doesn’t play so well. It’s brushed off because a lot of the folks involved with this show are Jewish, and I suppose someone in a similar situation could empathize to a point, but it still felt like poor taste and just shock humor. And rape jokes are just kind of “meh” at this point. It’s another line that’s supposed to create a laugh out of shock, but the show is often so crass that it loses the ability to be shocking. I expected those people to want to desecrate the corpse of The Grinch thus negating the punch of the remark.

 

This special is loaded with guest stars who all do a pretty nice job. MacFarlane is involved with the show so often that it hardly feels right to even consider him a guest star at this point. Elizabeth Banks plays a few characters, and I was surprised to hear the voice of Henry Winkler. Larry Hama’s part isn’t acted all that well, and it was clearly shot on the cheap (maybe even wth a cell phone or something), but his willingness to basically poke fun at his own career helped to sell the moment.

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Henry Winkler’s Christmas tree is the type of character the show’s dark blend of humor works best with. Although the sketch still ended with a poop joke.

The stuff with Santa was mostly enjoyable, though the Bourne sketch wasn’t particularly funny (even though it looked great). I’m not much of a fan of G.I. Joe so that sketch fell a little flat for me. I did find the Mortal Kombat one pretty amusing, if a tad predictable, and the Christmas Tree was tragically funny as well. Overall, there were some laughs found in this tidy little Christmas special and they mostly outweigh the duds. It doesn’t stick around long enough to suck, and by positioning the best short at the end it actually does leave you wanting more. Had it ended on G.I. Joe or the stupid Bieber song I probably would feel different.

If you want to catch this special this year just keep an eye out on Adult Swim. They’re practically guaranteed to air this and the many other Robot Chicken Christmas episodes at some point this month, often even reserving some for Christmas Eve.

 


Final Thoughts on Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The villains are predictable, but also often amusing.

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

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

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

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

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

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This episode is just awful to look at.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars – “The Taking of Pilot Jenny”

img_3765Episode Number:  13

Original Air Date:  December 1, 1991

Directed by:  Karen Peterson

Written by:  Neal Adams, Peter Stone

First Appearance:  Komplex-2-Go, Cousin Jeffrey

After three months of blogging, we have arrived at the final episode of Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars. The show began aggressively, with a three-part story that also bled into several other episodes to follow before transitioning to a format of stand-alone episodes. Those episodes were utilized to flesh out the world and characters in the show, while this finale will largely return to plots from the earlier part of the season. While not every one of those stand-alone episodes felt entirely relevant, it was a solid approach to story-telling for a relatively short season of television. It might seem like nothing, but for children’s programming it’s fairly ambitious. Networks aren’t too fond of such methods. They think it’s easier to just present simple, concise stories. Missing an episode can be a burden on viewers, or so some would think. And if there are production delays on a particular episode that can pose a problem when something has to air out of order. X-Men encountered these problems just a year later allowing the network to mandate future seasons of that show abandon the serialized format of its first season. And while some still hold onto the belief that serialized story-telling does more harm than good, the incredible success of that show makes a case that it’s also what children want.

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Hopefully you remember what this thing is because it’s important to today’s episode.

Unfortunately for Bucky O’Hare, it did few favors here. Whether it hurt or helped is unknown, but what is known is that the show did not continue past this episode. This episode not only serves as a season finale, but also as a series finale. It’s unknown if the writers expected that outcome, but there is at least some finality here. To further add to the episode’s importance, the producers brought out the big guns. Comic artist Neal Adams co-wrote this one with Peter Stone. It’s the only writing credit for Adams on the show, though he probably has had input on it throughout the development process.

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The episode opens with Jenny and Blinky immediately running into trouble. Why isn’t it called “The Taking of Pilot Jenny and AFC Blinky”? Poor Blinky.

The finale begins with Jenny and Blinky piloting the Toad Croaker through an asteroid field. Jenny is making some daring maneuvers that appear to have the android unnerved. She assures him everything is fine, but they’re behind schedule and need to make up for lost time. Blinky isn’t the only nervous one as Bucky O’Hare radios for an update. She advises him to stop worrying as well but they soon run into trouble. Toads up ahead force Jenny to take evasive action. When she wonders why they don’t pursue Blinky points out the reason why. Up ahead are dozens of Double Bubbles waiting for them.

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Willy is met with bad news when he enters the Aniverse.

Willy DuWitt is at home looking rather bored. He says aloud to himself that he hasn’t seen Bucky and the others in days and tries contacting Jenny through the memory stone she gave him. When she doesn’t respond he gets worried and activates his photon accelerator. He enters through his door to find the Righteous Indignation rather quiet. He calls out to the others and eventually runs into Dead-Eye as he climbs down from the cockpit area. When Willy asks what’s going on he tells him “They got Jenny,” but he does it in such a manner that it sounds like he means she’s dead. Willy appears to get the meaning and he heads up to tell Bucky they have to get her back. Bucky agrees and he’s traced the Toads to a specific location:  Warren.

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The captured pilot. Blinky is allowed to just hang around.

The Righteous Indignation approaches the Toad Mothership which is surrounded by the entire Toad fleet. Toadborg speaks on behalf of the Toads to tell them they have their pilot (no one seems to care about Blinky) and he shows the confined Jenny on the video monitor. He threatens to “cybertize” her, or something, and I guess that means they intend to make her a cyborg. Bucky demands her release, but Toadborg wants to make a deal. One pilot for one climate converter. It would seem the Toads have wanted to reclaim the converter they lost to the mammals on Kinnear back in episode 4, but the hares hope to use that to restore the climate on their home planet of Warren which is still under Toad occupation. Willy insists Bucky would never make that trade and the writers use his explanation as a way to remind viewers of what Toadborg is talking about. To Willy’s surprise, Bucky agrees and he orders the ship to head for Kinnear. Willy tries to protest, but Bucky orders him to engineering. Willy tries reasoning with Dead-Eye once the two leave the cockpit area and Dead-Eye has a rather logical explanation for why Bucky is willing to deal:  there are multiple climate converters out there, but only one Jenny.

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Dead-Eye seems rather on edge for being on a friendly planet.

The crew arrive on Kinnear and Bucky heads inside to meet with the hares still there while the others wait on a bridge. While waiting, Bruiser enjoys a large bundle of purple bananas so apparently they grow in other places besides the planet his brother presently calls home. Willy thinks the hares will never agree to give up their lone climate converter, but Bucky emerges from the meeting with them and they’re all in agreement:  Bucky gets the converter. Willy is astounded as everyone heads back to the ship.

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Frix and Frax get a little taste of what Jenny is capable of.

On the Toad Mothership, Frix and Frax are enjoying taunting Jenny. They question if she actually believes that Toadborg will set her free once they make the trade and laugh at her when she indicates that she does. While the two howl with laughter, Jenny uses her psychic powers to control them. She has one slap the other and then return the gesture until Toadborg enters to break things up.

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Willy with the save!

The Righteous Indignation, along with the climate converter, enters the area and Willy asks Bruiser if he’s concerned about Bucky. It seems the captain hasn’t said a word since they left Kinnear and Willy is worried about him, but Bruiser just encourages him to have faith in their captain. Willy enters the cockpit area and speaks to Toadborg on behalf of the crew demanding the release of Jenny in exchange for the converter. In response, the Mothership fires on the Righteous Indignation striking Dead-Eye’s M.A.S.E.R. canons and knocking the duck from his seat. Willy is there to catch him and Dead-Eye compliments him on his reflexes, and justifiably since he went from the cockpit to the gunner position in seconds. A tractor beem then engulfs the Righteous Indignation and it’s pulled into the Toad Mothership.

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Captured again.

Aboard the Mothership, Bucky and the crew are lead into the same room as Jenny. Bruiser has his hands bound and a sack over his head, though they forgot to illustrate the sack in the establishing shot. Apparently that’s all that needs to happen to calm the other toads in his presence. How they actually got the restraints on him is not explained. As Toadborg celebrates his victory, he’s alerted that another mammal frigate has entered the picture. It’s the Indefatigable, and it has a message for Toadborg and that message comes from Captain Bucky O’Hare! It would seem he switched places with his cousin Jeffrey on Kinnear, which is why Bucky has been mute ever since and he also acquired a snazzy new space suit. They’re taking the fight to Warren, and it’s up to Toadborg to stop them. Toadborg is forced to summon a trio of spider-like androids (Tri-Bots) to serve as guards to watch the prisoners while he confers with Komplex. Before he leaves, Dead-Eye happily taunts Toadborg by relaying their plan to switch the climate converters and restore Warren’s natural climate. He then just runs from Toadborg and the whole sequence is rather amusing.

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Digger McSquint getting in on the action.

Aboard the Indefatigable, Rumble Bee and Digger McSquint get to have some dialogue of their own as they take up arms against the many Double Bubbles surrounding the Mothership. Rumble Bee fires from the customary gunner position while Digger has ports he can apparently shoot a rifle through. Dogstar pilots them to Warren and things get a bit confusing. They land on a climate converter and Bucky takes Dogstar’s crew with him leaving Dogstar aboard his ship. The climate converter appears to be in space, though establishing shots will make it look like it’s still on Warren, and Bucky and them emerge as if they’re floating in space.

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More Toad robots, nothing Jenny can’t handle.

Aboard the Toad Mothership, Bruiser has apparently grown sick of waiting around. He breaks his restraints and removes the bag on his head. He wants to squash toads, but the robots Toadborg left behind aren’t scared of him. They combine into a tower and blast Bruiser knocking him down taking out Dead-Eye and Jeffrey in the process. With those guys distracted, Jenny busts out her powers to destroy the Tri-Bots. She then urges everyone to follow her as they need to get back to the Righteous Indignation and retake the climate converter they launched from Kinnear, but before they can do that they need to sabotage this fleet.

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Even Blinky gets a moment to shine in this one.

They head for the command room and once there Bruiser peels back a piece of paneling and instructs Blinky to do his thing. There’s nothing behind the panel, leaving me to believe there should be circuitry of some kind. Blinky is able to seize control of the Toad Mothership’s many turrets and fires them at the surrounding Double Bubbles. The Toad pilots are shown to be both confused and reluctant to fire on their own Mothership. For some reaosn, the “K” emblem on their helmets has been replaced with a solid black oval. I’m guessing AKOM just got sick of drawing them.

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Komplex has a new trick to show off.

Toadborg is shown conferencing with Komplex. He’s forced to admit to mighty Komplex that he has been tricked by the mammals. He relays the mammal plan of switching the climate converter thus restoring Warren to its natural climate. Perhaps sick of Toad incompetence, Komplex tells Toadborg that it has a special surprise waiting for Bucky O’Hare and not to worry about the rabbit. We’re then shown a monitor aboard the climate converter with the Komplex visage upon it. The monitor removes itself from its housing and gathers up a bunch of stray parts to construct a body:  The Komplex-2-Go.

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Not wanting to be out done, Toadborg has a new trick as well.

Jenny leads the crew to the Righteous Indignation, Toadborg sees them and pursues. Jenny fires up the controls and the ship takes off, and so does Toadborg. Apparently he’s got some rockets of his own that we haven’t seen before and he blasts off after them. Frix and Frax see the mammal frigate heading for the exit and, fearing what Toadborg will do to them should they escape, they begin the door close sequence. Jenny calls down to Willy that she needs more power and he does as commanded. The ship barely squeaks by, but Toadborg gets caught in the closing doors. Frix and Frax are left to ponder if Toadborg knows it was them that closed the doors as he shouts to be set free. They decide to chance it that he did not, and leave him there. Jenny pilots the ship to the other climate converter and informs the others they need to get to Warren on the double – Bucky’s waiting for them!

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Time for Komplex to introduce itself to Bucky and…Dead-Eye?…Dogstar? Come on, AKOM…

Bucky leads Rumble Bee, Digger, and Wolf to the main hub of the climate converter. They intend to steal it, but will have an adversary they did not anticipate. As they get to work launching the converter from Warren, a gurney lifts up with Komplex-2-Go aboard it. It must have been waiting awhile for Bucky and decided to take a nap or something. The heroes are surprised to see this creation and are quick to take up arms against it. Komplex fires some missiles at Digger which destroy his gun and leave him looking comically charred. Komplex then targets Rumble Bee apparently damaging the android in the process. Wolf, climbing a tower-like structure, decides he’ll need to “take a hand.” He grabs some hanging wire and swings like a pirate calling out to Komplex a command to “Catch!” He tosses a spherical grenade which Komplex does indeed catch, only to have its arm blown off. Komplex then gives us the line of the season, “The filthy mammals blew off my arm!” The line reminds me of the famous Jack Nicholson line from Batman, “He took my balloons!” which amuses me since that film just turned 30.

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Wolf swinging into action!

It’s going to take more than that to take down Komplex. Bucky regroups with Digger and Rumble Bee and tells them they need more fire power. Rumble Bee agrees and changes modes in which he basically transforms into a turret. One blast from Rumble Bee like this is enough to knock Komplex down. Bucky then heads for the climate converter controls, which can be piloted like a ship. Bucky regains control of the converter, which has been flying around aimlessly since they launched it. He orders the other three to return to the Indefatigable. They try to talk him out of it but he says he needs to take this thing and destroy it. They then head out leaving Bucky to pilot the converter alone.

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And Komplex missing its arm.

The Indefatigable returns to the other climate converter where Jenny and the others await their arrival. Jenny has taken the pilot’s chair and orders Willy to join Dead-Eye below to learn how the thing functions. Bucky then appears in the stolen climate converter from Warren. As the two approach each other, Komplex begins to stir behind Bucky. Apparently it can self-repair, and as Bucky pilots the converter Komplex simply walks up behind him and blasts him. Unconscious, Komplex flings Bucky aside where he collapses in a heap.

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Dogstar and company have arrived. Nice to see Digger recovered.

Komplex uses the climate converter to shoot lightning bolts at the one piloted by the mammals. Under fire, Rumble Bee figures that Komplex must have taken out Bucky and retaken the converter in order for it to fire upon them. Jenny calls down to Willy that they need to return fire, but Willy claims he still needs a few minutes to figure things out. This is basically the first time Willy hasn’t been an instant genius with something. Since they don’t have two minutes, Jenny decides to take matters into her own hands. Commanding Dogstar to take over, she demonstrates another one of her special powers.

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It seems everyone has some new ability they want to show off today.

Jenny astral projects herself to the other converter. There she finds an unconscious Bucky. Initially, she tries to nudge him awake then admonishes herself for being a silly cat, she can’t touch anything in this ghost-like form. She then flits her fingers about and little colored lights flicker around them. I don’t know what they do, but it works and Bucky regains consciousness.

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Whatever Jenny did apparently worked.

Komplex turns around to regard the meddlesome mammal and fires away. Bucky admonishes Komplex for being too slow and bounds over it. From behind, Bucky can see a giant power supply feeding into Komplex via a simple wire. It didn’t appear to be in the machine prior to this moment, so this is quite convenient. Bucky simply rips the plug out and Komplex collapses.

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“I wonder what this will do?”

With Komplex dealt with, all that’s left is for Bucky to destroy the converter still laden with Toad programming. Willy helped get a start on that by getting the other converter to fire upon it and also create some sort of solar wind storm while Komplex still had control of it. Bucky places a detonator on the main console, then fastening on his space helmet, he takes off. As the device explodes, Bucky out runs the flames to safely arrive in space where the others can pick him up.

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Time for the heroic run away from disaster shot.

The new climate converter is then placed on Warren. As it’s being activated, there’s still the matter of the Toads on Warren to deal with. Harking back to “On the Blink,” the crew uses Bruiser once again to broadcast a message of violence towards the Toads. It gets picked up by the various monitors likely constantly tuned to Toad TV and has the desired effect. The Storm Toads flee the planet in terror leaving it once again toad free.

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It should be noted that Bucky never apologizes for keeping Willy in the dark.

Once reunited, it’s revealed to Willy that the whole thing was a setup. Jenny wanted to get captured so that they could switch out the climate converter on Kinnear with the one on Warren and restore the planet’s natural climate. They basically explained they knew they could outsmart the Toads. When Willy asks why they didn’t let him in on it, Bucky explains because the plan was already well underway when he arrived. They felt his sincerity would be an asset in getting the Toads to go along with the scheme so they ran with it. Willy is apparently fine with this, though I wouldn’t have blamed him for getting mad.

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Check out the happy rabbit family.

On Warren, the climate is restored thanks to the climate converter reprogrammed by the hares on Kinnear. The hare population is shown returning and a small family emerges from their spaceship for a look around. A little kid asks his dad if they can finally return home and his dad says they sure can, thanks to the members of S.P.A.C.E. and Captain Bucky O’Hare! We then get our requisite shot of the Righteous Indignation making a dramatic fly over and cut to the entire crew onboard with Bucky giving a wave to close out the series.

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And there goes the Righteous Indignation speeding out of my childhood.

And that’s how Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars ends. It’s a fitting and satisfying way to close out the season as it harkens back to the start. Bucky’s homeworld, Warren, is taken over and converted into a swamp by the Toads. The hares are then enslaved and put to work making another climate converter which Bucky is able to liberate. The hare scientists then convert the converter to their specifications, get rid of any pesky Komplex presence on it, and are able to use that to restore their planet by season’s end. It’s a nice through-line and makes me wonder if another one would have been established for a season two, but that was not to be.

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There’s some pretty odd visual blunders in this one. Someone obviously thought Digger was supposed to be Dead-Eye, even though a couple of arms are missing.

That may be a satisfying way for the season to be approached, though the episode itself is not without its problems. Willy is a bit annoying as he constantly questions Bucky throughout the episode. I think the audience is supposed to agree with his line of questioning, but I didn’t feel it. There’s some animation blunders as well, which we’ve come to expect from this show. In one shot aboard the climate converter, Digger McSquint is colored like Dead-Eye and then in another he is Dead-Eye. Dogstar also appears alongside that crew more than once further muddying things. It’s mostly par for the course, but I was hopeful the finale would be a little more polished.

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This ended up being the last shot of Toadborg in the series. How fitting.

A lot of the plot points in this episode are also quite convenient. Jenny has a power she’s never used which can awaken Bucky, and Komplex was felled by a simple power cord. Wouldn’t they have noticed that during the initial confrontation? Maybe they would have had it actually been drawn into any of those frames as opposed to just magically appearing when Bucky needed it to. Toadborg was also ultimately felled by a door, but also by Toad incompetence on the part of Frix and Frax. Though after the events of episode 3, you would think the Toads would know to keep their doors closed or maybe just empty the captured Righteous Indignation of fuel or whatever powers it. Toad Air Marshall is also no where to be found which is rather curious. I don’t know that I missed him, more just that I was surprised by his absence. Also absent is Pit Stop Pete who isn’t shown aboard the Indefatigable at all. And it would have been nice if the plan included the Screaming Mimi as well, just to get all three ships together for the first time.

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There’s still a lot to like about this one as a season finale. It brought together most of the show’s characters and even brought back Warren and the climate converter.

All in all though, this is a suitable way for the season to end. Had it been written as a series finale there may have been more finality to it. I don’t think we’re supposed to think Komplex has finally been defeated or anything, and obviously Toadborg will be just fine. Instead it was just an important, major, victory for the mammals and Bucky can rest easy knowing his home is back the way it used to be. It has imperfections as an episode (or should I say warts?), but they all do. I wanted this to be the best episode of the series, and it’s not, but it’s one of the better ones. I’ll reserve my final thoughts on the series for a follow-up post next week, but right now I mostly feel content with how the series ended.


Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars – “Bye Bye Berserker Baboon”

img_3742Episode Number:  12

Original Air Date:  November 24, 1991

Directed by:  Karen Peterson

Written by:  Roger Slifer

First Appearance:  Total Terror Toad, TJ, Mrs. B

If you were going to predict where episode 12 was going to take place, chances are you’d probably guess right. After all, we’ve been to Warren, home planet of Bucky O’Hare, Jenny’s home of Aldebaran, and we just saw Dead-Eye’s home planet of Canopis III and even saw the pirate ship he called home before joining up with Bucky back in “Corsair Canards.” That just leaves Blinky, who probably came from a factory, and Bruiser as the two characters who have yet to go home for an episode which is why this week’s episode, and penultimate one for the series, takes place on Beetlegeusia, home of the Beetlgeusian Berserker Baboons.

The baboons are actually tricky for the writers of the show. They seem to exist as a way for the heroes to escape the Toads quickly and easily and with minimal violence. The Toads are paralyzed with fear when they see a baboon and can only run. Only Toadborg can fight off that fear. As a result, the baboons get to live without fear of a Toad attack on their homeworld, but it’s also a wonder why there aren’t more fighting in The Toad Wars.

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The bad guys watching some of Bruiser’s greatest hits.

The episode opens on a Toad Mothership with Toadborg, Komplex, and the Air Marshall confronting that which plagues them:  baboons. They’re watching video from past episodes of Bruiser’s exploits, including a clip when he decapitated a Storm Toad in “The Search for Bruce.” Toadborg says he has developed a way for them to combat the baboons and turns his attention to a screening room. There a bunch of Storm Toads, as well as Frix who enjoys making faces at the one-way mirror, are expecting to see a movie, but instead are shown video of Bruiser. They panic and start piling up against the back wall. The Air Marshall is confused why Toadborg would bother with this demonstration, but he directs him to a second screening room. In this one, Storm Toads and Frax are all wearing goggles. When a video of Bruiser is shown they all start to laugh.

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Check out the fashionable new goggles.

The goggles Toadborg developed (or likely had a Toad scientist develop and he’s taking credit for it) make all baboons look like scrawny chimps. This should allow the Storm Toads to stand-up to the baboons, and since Bruiser seems to rarely carry a weapon, that might be all they need. Toadborg also informs Komplex that he’s developed some weapons that will aid their forces and allow them to invade Beetlegeusia. Komplex is pleased with this development. Toadborg then turns to the Air Marshall and gives him an assignment as well:  he’s to journey to the White Cliffs of Cahill to acquire a secret weapon. Air Marshall apparently knows what Toadborg is after and is terrified. He doesn’t want to go, but Komplex orders him to do as Toadborg commands.

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The goggles in action.

It’s been awhile since we’ve had a scene on Earth, and here we are at Willy’s school. Susie is with him as he’s putting some books in his locker when another girl shows up. Her name is TJ, and she asks Willy if she can borrow his notes from class. Willy, clearly charmed by this girl, hands them over. Susie then scolds him telling him she’s just using his notes to cheat on the test. Willy doesn’t want to believe her, but sure enough during the test he sees TJ looking at his notes. After class, Susie confronts Willy and asks him if he saw and he plays dumb which only irritates Susie more. He returns home to his bedroom, and there he receives a “call” from Jenny. Normally this means bad news, but this time Jenny is contacting him to tell him they’re heading to Bruiser’s home where he’s to receive an award. She thought he might like to come along.

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It would appear Willy isn’t just into cats after all.

Willy enters the Righteous Indignation and heads right for the cockpit. There he spots a weird looking planet and Bruiser tells him it’s called Bog and is swarming with flies. He assumes the Toad’s would love to get their hands on it, but since it’s so close to Beetlegeusia they probably stay away. The ships head down to ground-level and Willy remarks how Bruiser’s world looks like a giant treehouse.

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This might be the Air Marshall’s least favorite task thus far.

On a snowy mountainside, the Air Marshall along with Frix and Frax are trying to find their way in a blizzard. They’re shaking with cold, but also probably fear, as they are looking for a “him” and not a “what,” indicating this Toad secret weapon is a living being. They stumble down a bluff and out of frame. The camera holds on this shot as we hear the trio encounter their target and it sounds like things aren’t going well. Air Marshall can be heard shouting to throw the meat as cartoonish beat-up sounds continue to play.

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Bruiser’s mom is so proud of him. Meanwhile, the marine on the left seems to be enjoying the view.

We’re taken to the ceremony in which Bruiser receives his medal. It’s banana-shaped. Bucky and the others then get to meet Bruiser’s mom, who is simply referred to as Mrs. B, who is overcome with emotion over her son’s award. Bruiser is then asked by the general if he wouldn’t mind serving as an instructor while he’s there and Bruiser is happy to help. Willy asks if he can come too and Bruiser says sure, suggesting Willy can handle the training he’s about to put these other baboons through. He asks Bucky if he wouldn’t mind escorting his mother home and Bucky obliges.

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Willy’s baboon yell.

Bruiser heads to a hut full of cadets. He starts into a typical drill sergeant routine which ends with him demonstrating the baboon yell, that “AYE-YOO-GAH” thing he’s so fond of. Bruiser demands the cadets return his yell and they give it a shot. It sounds awful prompting Bruiser to declare that even Willy could do better than that. Seeking to prove his point, he turns to Willy and commands him to give it a shot. Willy belts out a perfect yell (Bruiser’s voice actor Dale Wilson’s yell was dubbed in) to upstage the actual baboons.

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Willy’s attempt at fisticuffs starts promising, but doesn’t end well.

On Beetlegeusia, Storm Toads gather for their invasion. They can hear the yelling exercise and one toad seems nervous, but he’s told they can handle it. They apparently have no idea what planet they’re on or what they’re up against. With their goggles on, they storm into the training hut where Bruiser, Willy, and the cadets are and fire a series of gas canisters into it. Bruiser, thinking he can just scare them, does his usual routine, but it’s not working. The gas doesn’t seem to knock out the baboons, but it does appear to slow them down. The Storm Toads then fire nets at the stunned baboons and start dragging them out, remarking to each other they’re pretty heavy for a bunch of scrawny-looking wimps. Willy, unaffected by the gas, gets a bit violent and punches a Storm Toad right in the face. He tackles him, but the other Storm Toads then pile on him ultimately capturing him.

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Mrs. B is informed of what happened to her son. Considering she’s already lost one, this is probably pretty stressful for her.

Over at Mrs. B’s home, Bucky and the others are helping Bruiser’s mother gather bananas when they receive word of Bruiser’s capture. Bucky can hardly believe that the Toads would dare attack Beetlegeusia. More Storm Toads then enter the picture as they attack the various villages of Beetlegeusia. The inhabitants are shocked to see Toads attacking them, and they’re apparently not at all prepared. Most are farmers and counter with pitchforks and hoes and the Storm Toads have little issue with them.

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Well doesn’t this guy look fancy.

Bruiser and the others are taken to a Toad outpost where they’re all tossed in a cage. A slightly new character model is shown that’s basically a Storm Toad in something akin to an officer’s uniform. He enjoys talking down to his captors as he preens outside the cell. On the Toad Mothership, the Air Marshall has returned with his subordinates and a rather large cage. They look like they’ve been through hell, but he informs Toadborg that their mission was a success. A large, pink, arm is shown stretching out of from the colossal cage forcing nearby toads to take cover. Toadborg then breaks the Air Marshall’s heart by telling him the invasion is going so well they won’t need their secret weapon causing the Air Marshall to nearly faint.

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Even Blinky wants in on this.

On Beetlegeusia, Bucky O’Hare and his crew finally see the Storm Toads approaching the trees and they get involved. Utilizing their weaponry, they drive back the Storm Toads which are mostly armed with gas-canister guns and nets. Even Blinky is shown firing a pistol. This gets Toadborg’s attention and he’s irritated to see Bucky O’Hare and decides he will deploy the secret weapon after all:  the Total Terror Toad.

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The Terror Toad begins its rampage and for some reason Bruiser is there as well.

The giant cage is dropped onto Beetlegeusia right in front of Bucky and the gang. It immediately opens up and a giant, pink, toad emerges wielding a pair of over-sized hatchets. It’s a mindless, horrible, beast that even towers over a baboon and displays no fear of them as well. It rampages through the villages hacking down the trees that hold the homes of baboons causing total destruction. Bucky and the others try shooting at it and even kicking it, but nothing seems to phase the creature. Bucky them demonstrates that he shares a talent with Bugs Bunny by jumping into the ground and tunneling away, even going through the Terror Toad’s legs. Bucky then returns in the Righteous Indignation, but he flies away. The other baboons are shocked to see the once courageous Bucky O’Hare flee in fear.

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The tough guys have done their job, now Willy gets to science it up again.

At the holding cell, a Storm Toad gets too close to bruiser and he grabs him through the cage. His goggles pop off and he panics at the sight of a baboon, which just confuses his comrades. He opens fire on the cage, inadvertently freeing the captive baboons and Willy, who has now figured out what’s going on. He tells Bruiser and the others to go for the goggles, and as they start breaking them or yanking them off the Storm Toads continue to flip out and run away. Willy then inspects them and tells Bruiser he can create a device to reverse the polarity of the goggles (basically the same thing he did to take down the forcefield on the satellite in “The Komplex Caper”) and Bruiser is excited to get back to his mother.

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Well that isn’t where Jenny would like to be.

As the other baboons struggle with the Toads and the Terror Toad, Bruiser and Willy return armed with Willy’s new weapon. This boxy-looking gun may be ugly, but it’s effective, and soon the Storm Toads start fleeing in terror back to the Mothership via a classic tractor beem. That’s all fine and good, but the others still have the Terror Toad to contend with. It’s knocked out Dead-Eye, and now has Jenny in its clutches. Bucky then returns, this time on the Toad Croaker, and he’s got his own secret weapon. He begins pelting the Terror Toad with jars of flies (no, not Alice in Chains EPs) which shatter on impact. The Terror Toad reacts by dropping Jenny and trying to consume all of the flies that break out as Bucky keeps hitting him with more leading him towards the Toad Mothership’s tractor beem. He then tosses a knapsack apparently full of flies into the beem, and the Terror Toad goes after it. Aboard the ship, a Storm Toad sees the approaching Terror Toad and calls out to shut the bay door, but it’s too late. The Terror Toad rampages through the ship, and Toadborg demands that the Air Marshall deal with it as the Mothership flees Beetlegeusia.

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Bucky gets to be the hero this time, something he really hasn’t done in awhile.

On Beetlegeusia, the baboons apologize to Bucky for thinking he was a coward. Bucky explains he just needed to make a quick trip to Bog to gather some flies, thinking it was the only chance they had to lure the Terror Toad away. Willy is congratulated for his contribution by Bruiser, who seems to think the Toads are now more scared of them than ever. Bucky then makes a comment about the Toads having to face reality, which just so happens to line up with the earlier plot from Earth. Willy is once again at school and at his locker. TJ tries to get his notes once again, but this time Willy declines. TJ even offers to go to some dance with him, but Willy holds firm and TJ leaves. Susie then approaches and congratulates Willy for finally seeing reality for what it is. She then asks Willy if he’d like to go to the dance with her, and Willy is surprised as he thought she didn’t even like him. She corrects him, though while still remarking that he can “be a brain” sometimes, and the two walk off apparently with a date for the weekend.

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And the Toads now have a new problem.

“Bye Bye Berserker Baboon” is another late season episode of little consequence, a far cry from the earlier episodes which mostly related to each other in some fashion. It’s a clever plot, though it also points out how without fear the Toads would have little issue conquering their ultimate foe. The Berserker Baboons don’t seem to possess much technology, their primary weapons being their brawn and their bark, so if the Toads were to overcome their fear it would serve them well. It’s apparently a visual fear, not auditory or anything fancy, which is probably the easiest fear to overcome. It’s just a cartoon, but it sure seems like a minor obstacle. Maybe this episode would have served as a start for the Toads overcoming that fear had a season two happened.

As for the world itself, it’s not terribly interesting. A lot of farmland and tree houses. It basically looks like the world Bruce is trapped on. All of the baboons basically speak with the same voice, which gets a little annoying. There’s basically a male voice and a female voice. The credits being what they are, I don’t know if Dale Wilson voiced all of the males or not. He definitely didn’t voice the general who is clearly Garry Chalk. The female voice sounds different enough that it might be Margot Pinvidic imitating Wilson’s baboon dialect, or it could be Wilson using a higher voice.

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This maneuver by Bucky caught me by surprise, and it’s pretty lame.

The Total Terror Toad is a rather interesting creature. Is there a race of gigantic, berserker, toads out there or is he one of a kind? He is the most formidable physical adversary thus far, and if not for his limited brains, he might have taken out all of the heroes. I kept waiting for the planet Bog to enter the plot in some fashion, since it was pointed out early in the episode, and I suppose that was a suitable way for that to happen. The best way to deal with a beast is to go for its stomach. Maybe the Toads should try hurling bananas at Bruiser? It would have been interesting to see if the Terror Toad was utilized in future episodes. So often it seems when a powerful foe is introduced in a cartoon it’s only powerful for that debut episode, then the heroes dispatch of it rather easily. This show hasn’t really done that with Toadborg, though Toadborg also rarely places himself on the front lines, so maybe he would have remained a force to be reckoned with.

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This kid, man, always getting the ladies.

The Terror Toad is well-animated, and it could be his presence that helped make this episode look a little better than the average one. There’s still some awkward animation, as this show is terrible with running, and one obvious gaffe with Bruiser and the Terror Toad I pointed out. The animation of Bucky tunneling looks pretty bad as he just kind of disappears into the ground without it really looking disturbed. That sequence in general was rather dumb, and I wonder if the TV people came up with that on their own or if that’s something Larry Hama intended for Bucky to be able to do. It’s quite possibly the most cartoonish thing we’ve seen in this show. The episode also reuses the same baboon over and over, a stereotypical farmer in a straw hat. I wouldn’t have expected dozens of unique designs foe one episode, but there is one sequence that looks rather bad when the same guy keeps emerging from every home.

“Bye Bye Berserker Baboon” may seem small in the grand scheme, but largely I found the episode fine. I have no strong feelings for it one way or another. Even the scenes on Earth, something I hated about the earlier episodes, I felt indifferent towards. I suppose some episodes need to impart a clear message to the younger viewers and this was just one of those episodes. It at least looks good, relatively speaking, and at no point was I really bored or anything. I suppose Willy saving the day with some invention has definitely gotten old at this point, but in this case it didn’t bother me much because the obstacle to overcome was fairly simple. They could have just gone after the glasses, but Willy’s gun was just a quicker way to achieve the same goal. For a show that struggled with pacing early, that’s probably the right call. This is the penultimate episode though, which is somewhat sad. Next week we look at the series finale, “The Taking of Pilot Jenny” so hopefully it’s a good one.


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

img_3714Episode Number:  11

Original Air Date:  November 17, 1991

Directed by:  Karen Peterson

Written by:  George Arthur Bloom

First Appearance:  Kamikaze Kamo, Sly Leezard

Reminding us that this show was created in the 90s, episode 11 brings us the requisite ninja episode. Likely owing to the success of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was the rise in popularity of ninja characters in general. It wasn’t all TMNT, but ninjas felt like they were everywhere. And since young boys especially seemed to dig them (and what’s not to like – cool clothes, big swords, throwing stars, etc) they were often good guys rather than bad guys, which isn’t where you would typically expect a character that is essentially an assassin to reside.

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Are you ready for Kamikaze Kamo and Sly Leezard?

The cast of Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars may have contained some bad ass characters, but it lacked ninjas. No longer! Enter Kamikaze Kamo (Garry Chalk), an old friend of Dead-Eye’s and fellow member of the four-armed duck race (which is referred to simply as the four-armed ducks, so apparently that’s their official name). Kamo dresses in an all black standard ninja costume that only reveals his eyes. Surprisingly, AKOM went through the trouble of animating his mouth movements beneath his mask so he actually looks relatively good. He’s got a neon green belt, which probably isn’t very stealthy, and his two lower arms are actually cybernetic so he’s a ninja-cyborg which just maximizes his coolness factor. And to top it off, he not only has a big katana on his back but a pair of white nunchaku as well. Now they’ve just gone too far.

Every ninja needs a mortal enemy, and for Kamikaze Kamo that enemy is Sly Leezard (Scott McNeil). Sly is a samurai and a member of a reptilian race from the planet Saurion. He dresses all in red and appears to lead a band of fellow samurai that all basically look exactly like him. Even though he’s a samurai, he’s a true bad guy out to take over the homeworld of Kamikaze Kamo and the four-armed ducks:  Canopis III. His race sounds like brutal conquerors as he explains he won’t be recognized as a true samurai until he conquers another world. He is a bit more developed than other one-shot characters we’ve seen on this show which helps to make him stand out.

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This can’t be Toadborg’s favorite assignment.

The episode opens on the planet Crystal where the Toads are forcing a race of beaver-people to mine (what else?) crystals. Toadborg is overseeing the mining at ground level while the Air Marshall is providing air support from a new fully functional Toad Mothership. We haven’t seen but a few shots of a Mothership since the original one was destroyed a while back so apparently the Toads are fully recovered from the events of the first three episodes. The Righteous Indignation bursts onto the scene and they’re here to free the beavers from Toad enslavement. An eager Dead-Eye is advised to flex his phalanges by Bucky who is always looking to expand the vocabulary of the viewing audience.

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It’s been awhile since we’ve seen one of these.

The Air Marshall is excited to see his old nemesis make an appearance. He commands the Toad fleet to perform the double-helix maneuver. Frix and Frax caution him because the maneuver is difficult to pull off, but the Air Marshall doesn’t care. He’s not just looking to take out Bucky, he wants to earn some style points while doing it. The Double Bubbles take off towards the Righteous Indignation and the ship loses its engines once again (it’s a piece of junk). They’re helpless as the Toads go into their maneuver which involves them elaborately circling the ship. Of course, the Toad ships collide and the whole thing is ruined. The ship is back up and running and Dead-Eye blasts Toadborg with the ship’s M.A.S.E.R. canons. Even that isn’t enough to stop him, but the distraction created by the Righteous Indignation allows the beavers to revolt and steel the Toad tanker they were loading the crystals on. They flee with a wave of thanks towards the Righteous Indignation which too flees the scene.

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The Air Marshall weeps over the loss of his medals.

Following his latest blunder, the Air Marshall is dressed-down by Komplex. A series of insults beginning with the prefix “in” are directed at the Air Marshall (inept, incompetent, etc.) by Komplex before the A.I. commands Toadborg to strip him of his beloved medals, all except one that is. That one lone remaining medal is intended to remind the Air Marshall of what he once had. Komplex banishes the Air Marshall from the premises and demotes him to a rank not specified. When Toadborg questions who will succeed him, Komplex suggests anyone and follows through on that proclamation by apparently promoting Frix and Frax to assume the position of Air Marshall. Air Marshall sadly exits the room, but since we have no idea what his actual name is, I’m going to just refer to him as Air Marshall despite the demotion.

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Where do you go when you get fired? The bar.

The Air Marshall winds up at some dive where he’s drinking some green water and bemoaning his fate. A sympathetic ear in the form of Sly Leezard indulges him. It would seem Sly has a problem too. If he wants to earn the respect of his peers and be considered a true samurai he needs to conquer a planet. He had set his sights on Canopis III, home of the four-armed ducks, and even devised a plan to use a series of satellites to evaporate the water on the planet’s surface which would render the ducks helpless, apparently. Sly even had a scientist lined-up to help him, but something happened and he basically suggests that he murdered the scientist instead. The Air Marshall is intrigued by this story though. Reasoning he could get back into Komplex’s good graces by conquering Canopis III himself, he mentions he knows of a scientist that may be able to help them:  Willy DuWitt.

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Sly knows how to travel in style.

Dead-Eye Duck and Willy are shown making repairs to the Righteous Indignation. They’re in some kind of external hangar on a space station and are just out in space. This seems dangerous, but it also is convenient for Sly and the Air Marshall who show up unannounced in Sly’s spaceship which looks like a lizard (lizards and toads apparently share similar philosophies on spaceship aesthetics). They’re able to effortlessly abduct Willy, and despite them being in space, Dead-Eye’s jump after him is limited by gravity. Dead-Eye heads inside to inform Bucky about Willy’s kidnapping, and that he has a lead. He was able to see Sly Leezard in the spaceship as well as the Air Marshall. He knows Sly and he also knows of someone who could help them. With the Righteous Indignation out of commission, Dead-Eye takes a spare spaceship just hanging around that only fits one person to seek out the aid of Kamikaze Kamo.

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It’s the latest craze:  Pirates vs Ninjas!

Dead-Eye arrives at a forest presumably on Canopis III. A legion of crimson-clad ducks drop in on him and he quickly puts his hands up to indicate he’s just here to see Kamikaze Kamo. Kamo approaches and recognizes him immediately. Before they can get to reminiscing, Dead-Eye informs Kamo he needs his help in tracking Sly Leezard down so save his buddy Willy. Kamo agrees to help and the two hop into Kamo’s goofy-looking duck spaceship and head for Saurion.

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Willy does not wish to help, but you know he’s going to.

At the base of Sly Leezard, Willy is being bullied into helping Sly complete his water-desolving satellites. Willy is unwilling to help him, but Sly tells him if he doesn’t then he’ll detonate a bomb he planted on the Righteous Indignation killing all aboard. He promises to release Willy when the job is done, and gives him his word as a samurai. Willy reluctantly agrees and gets to work.

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These are odds Kamikaze Kamo apparently enjoys.

Kamo and Dead-Eye arrive at Sly’s planet and disembark from Kamo’s spaceship. They continue on via hangglider which unnerves Dead-Eye somewhat. Apparently this race of duck does not fly. They land and are almost immediately set upon by Sly Leezard’s men. When Dead-Eye questions where’s the honor in ganging up on the two of them, Kamo reminds him that the odds are in their favor. He’s apparently a bad ass and whips out his nunchaku and starts taking out the enemies. Dead-Eye is impressed and whips out his pistols to help, but really it’s not needed as Kamo seems to have things under control. As the lizards flee, Kamo throws a ninja star at one and actually hits him in the tail with it which becomes lodged in his flesh (there’s no blood or anything, but still surprising). They interrogate this lone samurai to find out where Sly’s base is. Unfortunately, getting there will require scaling a mountain.

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Willy is some kind of genius, and yet he fell for the old candy-as-a-bomb-detonator trick.

Willy finishes the work on the satellites, and to no one’s surprise, is not set free. Willy gets a lesson on trusting others as he’s hauled off to a dungeon. Air Marshall is impressed with Sly’s ruthlessness and inquires about the detonator for the bomb on the Righteous Indignation. Sly pulls it out and tells him it’s just candy before tossing it to him. Sly apparently deals in lies. Air Marshall is even more delighted with Sly once he tastes the candy – cherry.

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Kamikaze Kamo is very image-conscious.

Dead-Eye and Kamikaze reach the mountain’s summit and find it’s open at the top. There they can look down into Sly’s lab before getting the drop on him. Sly Leezard is surprised, but angry, to see his mortal enemy Kamikaze Kamo and the two square-off. Dead-Eye is forced to deal with the stragglers. Kamo does some fancy moves with his nunchaku before finally removing the sword from his back to have a proper ninja fight. As the two battle, there’s some countdown going on in the background that will apparently ready the satellites. Air Marshall decides this is no place for him and takes off in one of Sly’s spaceships which the satellites have been loaded onto. He heads for Canopis III to oversee the deployment of the satellites.

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Sly threw his only weapon at Kamikaze, what a dope.

Kamo eventually gets the better of Sly disarming him in the process. With him at his mercy, Sly once again turns to his samurai code of honor to get Kamo to back off. Claiming he’s going to shut down the satellites, he instead activates them then laughs as Kamo futily tries to undo what’s been done. It apparently can’t be, and Sly flees. Seeing no sign of Willy, Dead-Eye contacts Bucky. The ship has been repaired and Bucky is just awaiting word from Dead-Eye on what’s going on. He instructs Bucky to head for Canopis III and fast.

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Everything is actually going according to plan for a change.

From space, the Air Marshall watches the satellites switch on. He laughs gleefully as they go to work sucking up the water from Canopis III. The plan has worked, and he openly wonders what rank Komplex will bestow upon him for helping to conquer the duck homeworld.

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Frix and Frax have done some stupid things, but nothing quite this stupid.

As the Righteous Indignation emerges from hyperspace, Frix and Frax are there in a Toad tanker hauling crystals. They were assigned to oversee the mining on Crystal and apparently they’ve gathered enough to fill a tanker. Frix sees the appearance of the mammal frigate as an opportunity to achieve something even the Air Marshall failed to do, while Frax reminds him they’re in a tanker which isn’t even armed. Frix doesn’t see the problem since their ship is ten times the size of the Righteous Indignation. Frax cautions him by reminding him of Air Marshall’s failed double-helix, but Frix orders the pilots to ram the ship. The Toad Tanker is detected by the Righteous Indignation’s sensors, and they easily avoid the attack. The tanker misses, smashing into a nearby asteroid or moon or something. Frix and Frax are immediately shown in an escape vessel openly hoping Komplex won’t ask about the cargo they just lost.

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Kamo can’t stop the satellites by simply pulling the lever again.

Bucky and the Righteous Indignation arrive at Canopis III and find that the satellites have been deployed and activated. With Bruiser behind the guns this time, they soon discover the satellites have a forcefield on them and can’t be destroyed. On Saurion, Dead-Eye and Kamo find Willy in a stalagmite prison and Dead-Eye blasts them out. He tells Willy what happened and Willy advises him not to worry because he built a fail-safe into the satellites. Then head back for Sly’s lab where Willy pulls out a remote he had stashed which, when activated, will cause the satellites to self-destruct. He activates it and Dead-Eye reaches out to Bucky for confirmation. The Air Marshall watches the satellites explode from the ship he commandeered and bemoans another failure. A Storm Toad is on the ship with him for some reason, which must be an animation mistake.

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Sly Leezard ready for his crowning achievement.

Dead-Eye, Willy, and Kamikaze Kamo head for the mountain top. Below them, Sly Leezard emerges with his men ready to lead the attack on Canopis III that will end with him crowned emperor. The good guys drop a net on him and haul him up to their level. They let him know his plan has failed and they vow to take him to Canopis III as a prisoner. Suddenly, a legion of other samurai lizards show up. They look more like Roman gladiators complete with gold underwear. The leader, dubbed Supreme Commander, demands to know what is going on, and the heroes explain that Sly broke his word as a samurai. This displeases the Commander, who demands that Sly be handed over to them. Sly cries out that he’d rather be a duck prisoner as they turn him over. The Supreme Commander then tells them to leave, and if they ever return to Saurion they can expect to be attacked. No one doubts this samurai’s word.

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Check out these dudes.

Having no where else to turn to, Air Marshall requests an audience with Komplex. He intends to grovel and beg for forgiveness in hopes of being reassigned. He says to himself he’d accept any demotion except to that of Storm Toad, but then backtracks and decides he’d even take that. As he enters a room for his conference, Komplex comes onto the various monitors and has surprising news:  the Air Marshall is having his rank restored and his first assignment is to return to Crystal. When Air Marshall asks what has become of Frix and Frax, Komplex lets him know that the two are waiting for him. We then cut to the two who are all alone mining for crystals unhappily. Frax pauses for an “I told you so” directed at Frix while Frix just tells him to shut up and get back to digging.

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You were so close Sly, so close.

“The Warriors” feels like a very unnecessary episode. It doesn’t provide additional backstory for any of the usual characters and is just a stand-alone story. It does somewhat address the ineffectiveness of Toad Air Marshall, but it also just returns everything to the status quo when all is said and done.

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I suppose it’s no big surprise to learn that the Air Marshall had his rank restored in the end.

The introduction of Kamikaze Kamo and Sly Leezard is welcomed since the roster of characters on this show is a bit thin. They fail to be more than just action figure ideas brought to life though. Well, I will say Sly is somewhat interesting even if he is just another version of Al Negator. Kamo though is downright annoying with his constant “Quack-quack-quack,” battle cry. Both guys also speak with bad, fake, Japanese accents. I’m not surprised Sunbow didn’t hire actual Japanese voice actors for the role, but they could have toned it down or something or just not done it. They don’t say anything offensive at least, though Sly does go with the cliché “Sayonara suckers” line.

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Likely the only hard labor these two have experienced.

With so few episodes remaining, it’s disappointing to get one so inconsequential as this. It’s not terrible, but it does feel like it’s not aiming particularly high. I probably liked this episode as a kid since it involved Dead-Eye teaming up with a ninja, but as an adult it feels like a toy commercial. New, neat looking characters and vehicles with no real stakes. I guess I should care about the planet of the ducks, but there’s no built-in attachment there to make me care. It’s also not a great-looking episode as the animation is quite choppy in the fight scenes. The showdown between Sly and Kamikaze is especially underwhelming, not that I expected greatness. No aspect of this episode marks a low point for the series, but it’s definitely not a highlight. Next week’s episode takes us to the home of the berserker baboons so hopefully that’s a bit more exciting than seeing Dead-Eye’s planet.


Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars – “The Artificers of Aldebaran”

img_3687Episode Number:  10

Original Air Date:  November 10, 1991

Directed by:  Karen Peterson

Written by:  Christy Marx, Bridget McKenna

First Appearance:  Princess Felicia, High Artificer

Last week on Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars, we met the Corsair Canards and by doing so gained a little insight into Dead-Eye Duck’s past. This week, it’s all about Jenny and her home world of Aldebaran. We know it’s a world with a secret as Jenny has been forced to hide the extent of her powers from her comrades. Back in the episode “The Good, the Bad, and the Warty” we saw her telepathically confer with a character she referred to as Mother Aldebaran as she sought permission to use her powers in front of her friends to get them out of a potentially fatal situation. And even though not using her powers meant death, this superior did not really give her permission to go all out, but did suggest a maneuver she thought would go undetected that ended up working.

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This episode introduces Jenny’s apprentice, Princess Felicia.

In the comics, Dead-Eye refers to Jenny as a witch, though I don’t recall such terminology being utilized in this series. As far as we know, the Sisters of Aldebaran are a bunch of psychics – essentially a planet of Jean Greys. We’ll get more of an understanding in this episode on what goes on there, but there are still a lot of questions left unanswered. Interestingly, we don’t see a single male amongst their people so how they reproduce is a mystery (there is a shot of a female rocking a cradle so they do indeed reproduce somehow). It’s also a big planet, so maybe we just saw a tiny piece in which only females reside. I think it’s definitely safe to assume that only females possess these wondrous powers.

The episode begins with Jenny combating a droid of some kind. She’s jumping and flipping and doing all kinds of impressive things before destroying it with her powers. Nearby, Princess Felicia (presumably Margot Pinvidic. Cast info on this show isn’t great, but no women other than her appear in the credits so I’m left to assume she handles all of the female voices in this episode) is watching and is impressed with the abilities of Master Jenny. It seems Felicia is Jenny’s apprentice and Jenny has returned to give her some training as she nears an important milestone in her young life. It’s then we see the two turn to a training device that is apparently the source of their powers. It’s a little, greenish, ball of light that the two refer to as a Quark demon. Jenny releases it into the air and Felicia is supposed to try and corral it.

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It’s tea time with the High Artificer of Aldebaran.

Nearby, Bucky O’Hare and the others are enjoying tea with the High Artificer. She’s an older cat who is also the grandmother of Princess Felicia. She does not resemble the individual Jenny referred to as Mother Aldebaran back in episode 3, so either that’s a different character or they just decided to change the appearance of that character and give her a new name. As far as we’re lead to believe, the High Artificer is the one who runs the show.

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Willy encountering what powers Aldebaran sensors:  a Quark demon

The High Artificer thanks Bucky for bringing Jenny back to their world to train Felicia. Some interest in what they’re doing is expressed, but the High Artificer informs them she can’t reveal the nature of the training to outsiders. Willy is seated by what looks like a koi pond when the Quark demon comes over the wall and buzzes by his head. He’s startled, but the scientist within him is also really intrigued. It flies back over the wall to where Felicia’s training is taking place and Willy decides to investigate by scaling a nearby tree. When he reaches the apex he’s able to see Felicia using her powers to try and catch the little ball of light. It returns to Willy, causing him to fall from the tree over the wall.

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Felicia does not appear to be too impressed with Willy DuWitt.

Felicia is then able to snatch the Quark with her powers and return it to the containment vessel it came from while Jenny checks on Willy. He’s extremely apologetic, while Felicia seems accusatory towards him. Jenny vouches for Willy and thinks he meant no harm. Willy, perhaps not thinking things through, demonstrates he understands what he saw and realizes the little Quark is the source of their power and their Aldebaran sensors. Jenny tells Felicia she trusts him and that he won’t reveal their secrets. Felicia then receives some bad news from her master that she is not deemed ready to undertake her Soul Quest. With more practice though, Jenny is confident she’ll get there. Felicia is dismissive of her master’s concerns, and like most teenagers, is resistant to hearing any criticism.

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Electric Space Yam

Possibly nearby in space, a Toad ship has made an interesting discovery. A nearby nebula, that kind of looks like a giant space yam, contains an extraordinary amount of energy within it. Toadborg is in charge of this vessel, and he seems quite intrigued by this so-called Dark Heart Nebula. Whatever is in there is too much for their sensors to handle, but this just causes Toadborg to remember that Bucky O’Hare has an Aldebaran as part of his crew. Apparently, Aldebarans have a reputation for having incredibly powerful sensors, but due to their secrecy, this is obviously technology not available to the rest of the galaxy. Toadborg heads to his private chambers to search his memory banks for more info since he’s had a previous encounter with Jenny. Recalling his fights with her, he concludes he’ll need the aid of an Aldebaran to navigate this nebula.

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Teenagers…

With Felicia’s session complete, the High Artificer thanks Jenny for her help. She also thanks Bucky and the crew for taking the time to come out. As they leave, we pivot to Felicia. Dressed in a flight suit, she’s determined to undertake her quest whether or not Jenny thinks she’s ready. She hops into a sleek-looking spaceship and takes off, apparently unnoticed. This puts her in direct conflict with Toadborg’s ship. They’re in the area in search of an Aldebaran and it looks like they found one. They ensnare Felicia’s ship in a tractor beam and she immediately reaches out to her grandmother to inform her what happened. Her grandmother quickly reminds her of her obligation to protect their secrets by destroying all of the sensors in her ship. She does as she’s told as her ship is boarded by Storm Troopers.

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Mimi is back and as flirtatious as ever.

At a cafeteria (possibly on Genus, or just a random space station), the crew of the Righteous Indignation is getting some lunch. Bruiser wants banana everything and the writers apparently are still entertained by this bit. Jenny is back aboard the ship recalibrating the Aldebaran sensors on it and Bucky tells Willy no one is allowed onboard until she’s finished. Mimi LaFloo then pops in. She’s quite happy to see Bucky again and tells him she’s got something on her ship to show him as she pulls him away. Oh boy!

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Willy just can’t be defeated in a deabte, it would seem.

Willy and Blinky are outside the doors of the Righteous Indignation when Jenny is just about finishing up. Jenny receives word from the High Artificer about Felicia, and it falls on Jenny to attempt a rescue. Jenny makes the call to go alone, the problem is she’ll need to take Bucky’s ship. She orders Willy and Blinky off the ship, but Willy protests. While the two argue, Blinky appears to plant a device on the ship, likely some way to track it and Willy is able to convince Jenny to take him along since his door is on the ship.

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I’m tough on the show’s visuals at times, but this is a nice-looking still.

Aboard Toadborg’s ship, we get our required dose of Toad TV. It’s both a Charles Atlas parody and an Arnold Schwarzenegger one (Arnold Wartnegger). You know the one; a bully picks on a skinny kid at the beach. The twist with this one is that Wartnegger isn’t looking to pump you up, but just supply giant, bully-swatting, mallets. Surprisingly, we’re not experiencing Toad TV via Frix and Frax but actually via Felicia who is being tortured with it. She yawns indicating its effectiveness when an angry Toadborg barges in. He dismisses the tech administering the torture and then grabs Felicia and demands she take him into the Dark Heart Nebula.

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“Help me Obi…I mean Bucky…I mean just forget it. I’ll be back. Dinner’s in the fridge.”

At the space station, Bucky and Mimi are apparently done with their tryst and Blinky informs him what happened. Before she left, Jenny had Blinky record a message which he plays for Bucky. Mimi turns her nose up at “the cat” so apparently this rivalry is going to go both ways. Blinky tells Bucky about the tracking device, and he commends his android and declares they’re going after Jenny. As they all run down a corridor, Bucky stops in his tracks when he and the others realize they don’t have a ship. Mimi then strolls by and, somewhat reluctantly, tells them to come join her on her frigate.

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Toadborg is rather viscious in this episode and shrewd negotiator. He’s blossomed into a pretty fantastic villain.

Jenny and Willy then head out towards Felicia’s last known location and find Toadborg’s ship. Jenny, with Willy at Dead-Eye’s gunner position, demands the release of Felicia. Since the princess is onboard the ship, Toadborg knows she won’t actually fire upon him. They’re on video conference, and he demands she back off as he intends to have Felicia take him into the Dark Heart Nebula. When Felicia refers to Jenny as “Master,” Toadborg decides he’d rather have Jenny take him instead. For a brief moment, Toadborg gains eyeballs so we can see him “thinking” things through. Jenny agrees to take him as long as Felicia is unharmed. Toadborg tosses Felicia around, which really causes Jenny to get mad. He reminds her that he’s in control and dismisses her threats before terminating the transmission. That was actually a well-done and rather intense exchange.

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Toadborg needs Jenny to lead him through the nebula, or else he’d get lost forever. Felicia is his insurance that Jenny won’t betray him.

Jenny and Willy pilot the Toad Croaker into the nebula with Toadborg and Felicia following. Jenny tries to tell Toadborg this is a bad idea but he won’t hear it. As they enter the nebula they reach its center, a large grayish sphere. Toadborg can sense incredible power and is eager to taste it. Jenny tries to discourage him once more, but he tosses Felicia to shut her up. As Willy and Jenny fly off after Felicia, Toadborg shoots out this two-pronged device (insert robot penis joke here) that jabs into the gray sphere. As electricity courses through him, the sphere begins to move. It actually opens revealing that the outer layer we were looking at were actually giant bat-like wings. The sphere is a towering, naked, demon and it apparently does not like what Toadborg is doing to it. It swats the cyborg away, but it’s awake and angry and apparently not willing to go quietly.

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Now this is unexpected.

After securing Felicia, Jenny has Willy pilot the Croaker back towards this demonic being. She bombards it with her powers, but she’s going to need some help. She mentally reaches out to her Aldebaran sisters requesting they lend her their power. We get cuts of various cat-people in their day-to-day lives pausing to lend their aid to their sister. It’s very “Spirit Bomb” like. It’s not enough though, and Jenny continues to ask for more. Part of the problem seems to be one holdout:  Felicia.

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The ancient father of all demons does not go down without a fight.

Felicia gets knocked from the croaker as the ancient Quark tries to grab it. Jenny has to use her powers to keep it from crushing them while calling out to Felicia for help. When Jenny convinces the young princess to lend them her powers it’s suddenly enough and the demon goes to back to sleep. Felicia is astounded, yet confused, at what happened (aren’t we all?). Jenny tells her this is the lesson she must learn, that it’s the sum of the whole that can make a difference and sometimes it comes down to just one person making a choice. Felicia takes this in, then is instructed by Jenny to do what she came here for. Thousands of little Quark demons are flitting about and Felicia basically sucks some into the crystal on her tiara. This apparently ends her quest.

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And he’s back to sleep. No harm no foul, I guess.

The Screaming Mimi, with a new orange paint-job to make it resemble the other frigates in the United Animal Fleet, shows up and drives Toadborg’s ship away. Dead-Eye is shown behind the canon, only it looks like they forgot to actually illustrate canon controls. It would also seem Mimi doesn’t have a crew of her own if Bucky’s gunner is taking the lead. The Toad ship, under heavy fire, has a reading on Toadborg’s location and retreats to rescue its captain. Aboard the Toad ship, Toadborg has been collected. He awakens with no memory of what happened. When the navigator inquires about the nebula, Toadborg snaps and says his instruments must have been wrong about it. He orders him to fix them as he stumbles off to his private quarters, presumably. Jenny then returns to the Righteous Indignation as Bucky’s voice comes over her radio. He’s curt, and orders her to pilot the ship to Aldebaran while Willy assures Jenny it’s all right and that Bucky will understand why she took the ship.

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And it’s ceremony time, which means more Star Wars reminders.

On Aldebaran, a ceremony officially welcoming Princess Felicia into the sisterhood is underway. She’s awarded this title by her grandmother, while Jenny, Willy, and Bucky look on. Felicia turns to Willy to thank him and even gives him a little peck on the cheek. What’s with this kid and cats? With that concluded, Jenny then turns to Bucky to apologize for making off with his ship. He says nothing, causing her to ramble on and on. Eventually she implores him to say something and he responds with a simple “How about ‘Welcome back?'” Jenny happily embraces him and a wink from Bucky ushers us out of the episode.

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Cats really seem to love this kid.

Well, that was certainly a trip. I did not expect the source of Jenny’s powers to essentially be demonic in nature. It’s certainly imaginative, and I can see why they would want to keep that a secret. Jenny and Felicia have a solid dynamic and it’s hard not to get a Star Wars vibe from their training. The return of Toadborg is welcomed as well as he is probably my favorite antagonist at this point. This is the first episode to not feature the Air Marshall and just the second to not feature Komplex. Komplex was also missing from last week’s episode making me wish the order of episodes had been mixed up a bit. Komplex was partially taken down in “The Komplex Caper” but appeared to be back up and running in the following episode “The Search for Bruce.” Had that episode followed this one instead it would have been a nice piece of continuity to have Komplex out of action for two weeks. It’s not important in the grand scheme, but little touches like that are some of the things I appreciate most.

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Really the only blatant visual gaffe, though it’s a pretty big one with Dead-Eye firing invisible canons.

Thankfully, this episode is much improved in the animation department over last week’s episode. I was fearful the shoddy work found in “Corsair Canards” was a harbinger of things to come, but this is a nice rebound. There’s still some errors and ugly shots, but nothing on the level of the previous episode. Toadborg looks plenty menacing when he’s on-screen, so  perhaps it’s partly due to his presence that more resources were devoted to this one. He’s the most complex character model in the show, so it would make sense if more time was allocated to episodes he’s featured in, which is something I hadn’t considered previously. If that’s true well then that’s good news for us as the final three episodes all feature Toadborg in some capacity.

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This is the last appearance of Mimi in this show.

Since there are only three episodes left, it probably is not surprising then to hear that the Aldebaran characters won’t be seen again. This is also the final appearance of Mimi LaFloo, so whatever conflict she and Jenny seem to have with each other will remain unresolved. Jenny seemed to just not like how forward Mimi is with Bucky, possibly feeling she’s slept her way to the top. Mimi, for her part, seems to simply view Jenny as a threat. It’s rather sad that the two most prominent females on the show are played that way. I’m also still unclear if Jenny harbors feelings for Bucky or something. The two keep things professional, giving that embrace a little extra meaning at the end of the episode.

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Bucky getting cheeky with the camera.

Even with the weird demon thing, “The Artificers of Aldebaran” is a good episode of the show. I like seeing where Jenny came from, though their world could have been more interesting to look at. Felicia could have been a really annoying character, but instead she comes across as naive more than anything and perhaps a bit too confident in herself. And if my guess is correct and voice actress Margot Pinvidic did indeed perform all of the female voices in this episode, then major props go to her. She manages to come up with four mostly distinct voices for Jenny, Mimi, Felicia, and High Artificer so I wanted to give her a special acknowledgement. Hopefully the remaining three episodes are similar to this in quality. Next week’s episode, “The Warriors,” is one I have little recollection of outside of the debut of more new characters so I’m eager to check it out. See you then.


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