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Boss Fight Studio Bruiser the Betelgeusian Berserker Baboon (Bucky O’Hare)

The baddest baboon in the Aniverse has arrived!

2019 was not a plentiful year for Bucky O’Hare product. After receiving my two-pack of Toad Storm Troopers from Boss Fight Studio on Boxing Day 2018, I had not received a new Bucky sculpt until now. Not that 2019 was necessarily light on Bucky developments, it’s just the nature of the game when a small company invests in a niche property. Any company that makes Bucky toys, and there is currently only one such company, can’t just make a bunch of product and ship it to stores expecting a gradual sell-out. Rather a more cautious approach needs to be undertaken that involves basically doing one figure at a time and then putting it out there on pre-order for a bit to gauge interest before ultimately committing to a big factory order. It also doesn’t help when the figure is based on a licensed property and needs to go through an approval process with the license owner to make sure everything is all good. And when you add a global health crisis to the mix, well then nothing goes as planned.

Such is the reason why it has taken more than a year to make this figure of Bruiser, the Betelgeusian Berserker Baboon, a reality. He is the first in what toy company Boss Fight Studio is calling the Bucky O’Hare Deluxe line of figures. He’s much larger than any of the figures that have come before him, so much so that he had to forego the usual blister packaging in favor of a window box. And since he’s a lot bigger that also means he’s a lot more expensive which makes even commissioning the big guy a bit of a gamble on the part of Boss Fight Studio. Since he did indeed end up getting made, it would seem that gamble has paid off and it’s a good sign that the fanbase of both Bucky O’Hare and Boss Fight Studio were willing to sink approximately $55 into Bruiser to get him onto collector shelves where he rightfully belongs. And I can’t stress this enough, but he was worth the wait!

Bruiser represents a first for the Bucky line in that he’s the first figure released that is based on a character who originated in the cartoon series. The cartoon is where most people familiar with the product have the greatest affinity for, so it’s not really a surprise to see Boss Fight head in this direction. Bruiser is the younger brother of Bruce, the engineer on the Righteous Indignation who sadly didn’t make it out of issue #1 or episode #1. Perhaps seeing the potential in having a baboon on the crew in a permanent role, Bruiser was added for the cartoon in episode #2 as basically some hired muscle. Toads have a natural fear of baboons so for the writing staff he represented an easy way to end a conflict as he basically just needed to show up to scare away the bad guys. He also formed a bit of an odd couple with Blinky, the diminutive android on the crew, and their relationship was quite cute. He was popular enough that he was also a part of the Hasbro series of toys and he came with a rifle, even though he basically just uses his hands in the cartoon as weapons.

That’s one happy ape!

Even though he began as a cartoon character, he’s still a Larry Hama creation. All of the characters were and they all had artwork created by Continuity Comics to accompany them which I assume went into a series bible for the show. In moving from concept art to cartoon, some changes were made to make the character either easier to animate or to make them stand out better in terms of colors. As has been the case with all of the figures from Boss Fight Studio, Bruiser is based on that concept art as opposed to having a more toon accurate color scheme. This means black armor instead of blue with a red strap instead of pink. His gloved left hand is also colored correctly as opposed to the old Hasbro toy which didn’t bother adding any paint (and annoyed me to no end as a kid). His fur is also a touch more brown which just plain looks nicer than the old bright orange. Basically all of the yellow parts on his show costume are gold here making this Bruiser seem like the luxury model compared with the toon.

You can even remove his gauntlet if you wish to have your Bruiser cosplay as Cloud City Luke Skywalker.

The sculpting on Bruiser is something to behold. He’s a big, beefy, chunky, monkey and Boss Fight Studio making this for the adult collector means those spikes on his costume are quite the little hazards. The factory head has this lovely side-smirk going on that should remind folks of the Hasbro toy. He’s dense, and quite heavy, but not so heavy that he topples over. The belt and loincloth are a separate piece of plastic and so is the gauntlet on his left arm. When you pop off that left hand, you can even slide it off exposing the sleeve underneath. I love all of the textures on this guy be it the fur on his arms, the ridged portions of the armor, or the gear-like texture on his boots. He’s just a joy to hold and experience.

Like the other figures, Bruiser has pegs on his belt that allow him to holster his weapon for when he wants to munch on a banana or get his hands dirty.

The paint application for Bruiser is pretty simple, which applies to this line as a whole. There’s a lot of colored plastic, especially the fur, which does sometimes give the figure a shiny, plastic, appearance. It is a toy, after all, so it should look plastic, but a paint wash might have toned this down a bit. The paint on the portions that aren’t colored is clean and simple. Some of the spikes have a touch of paint chip at the point which is something that’s going to happen with that type of accent. I love the tan color of his glove and boots and it just mixes so well with the brown fur. The only areas that could stand to see some improvement is the right shoulder and the big fangs on his factory head. The shoulder has some gray plastic in the middle to blend it with the steel shoulder pad that is mostly unpainted on my figure. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it an eyesore, but it is noticeable. The fangs are a bit fuzzy at the edges and the part where the left tooth overlaps the nose chain is a little messy. This is pretty minor stuff though as it’s only noticeable upon close inspection.

Ever see a baboon chokeslam a toad?

Despite Bruiser’s size, he still comes with a fair amount of articulation. His head is on a ball joint, though his hunched stature means it doesn’t have a ton of play. He’s got ball-jointed shoulders and hinges at the elbows. There’s no bicep swivel, but I honestly can’t I say I miss it. The hands are on pegs with no hinge, which is par for the course with this line. He’s got a nice ab crunch, a first for this line owing to his size, that can help pivot his upper body and it’s basically completely hidden by the sculpt, which is incredible as ab crunches are often the bane of action figures because of what they do to the sculpt. He can turn at the waist and features ball-joints at the hips. He has hinges at the knee, but because of squat appearance there’s very little functional movement here. He makes up for that though with some impressive double-jointed ankle articulation. They sit on balls and also possess a hinge so you can really rock and roll ’em to adjust Bruiser’s positioning. The articulation as a whole possesses the perfect amount of tightness as Bruiser is really easy to move right out of the box, but when leaving him on a shelf everything stays in the position you left him in.

He works hard, so it’s important to take time out for a little snack.

So just what does $55 get you besides a big old monkey? Pretty much the same amount of accessories fans are accustomed to at this point. Bruiser comes with a gun that’s very similar to the Hasbro one, referred to as a Betelgeusian Lazer Bazooka, which makes sense since both were based on the same artwork. It has a ton of nice texture work and is painted in this chrome color that really helps stand out. This is a character that typically prefers to get his hands dirty, but good luck excluding that bazooka from your display. He has two pairs of hands to mix and match: a fist, an open hand, and a gripping hand for each arm. He’s got a banana to snack on (yellow peel, not one of those purple space bananas) and a secondary head with a big open mouth for munching on the banana or for yelling at toads. The yelling head has a hint of a smile to it as this is a baboon who likes his work. The banana is pretty great looking, I can honestly say I have never seen a finer plastic banana. The yelling head is also delightfully charismatic. He looks so happy! Position with mangling some toads and you basically have yourself a Bruiser in his happy place. I suppose if you’re keeping score with the other figures, he has one less of everything. Bucky, for example, has three sets of hands and three faceplates compared with Bruiser’s two of each. Though in his defense, he has a whole second head as opposed to a second faceplate. More importantly though, I don’t feel like we’re missing anything. I don’t think we need another expression nor do we really need an open right hand or thumb’s up, for example.

The neck joint can be a bit tricky to work with, but it also allows for weird monstrosities like this.

Swapping the extra pieces with the factory pieces is pretty straight-forward. His hands are just on pegs, so you will want to apply firm pressure pulling-out and resist the urge to bend as that could snap the peg. They’re seated pretty snug out of the box, but I was able to pull them off without the aid of heat. His head is a bit trickier because it sits on what is essentially a plastic dumbbell. It’s two balls connecting by a thick cylinder of plastic. One end snaps into the head and the other into the body. When I tried to pull the factory head off the ball seated in the body was the first to give-way. I had to heat the piece in the head socket under running, hot, water to get it out. Once I did that it worked fine, but don’t panic if the same thing happens to yours as it’s meant to come apart. And you may be switching frequently because it’s hard to pick a preferred head. I initially thought I’d be going with the factory head all the way, but that big old smile is just so charming! Maybe Boss Fight should just do a variant in the cartoon color scheme so I can have both on my shelf (hint hint)!

In terms of any shortcomings, there’s very few with this guy. Some might wish for more articulation, but I’m happy with where he’s at as the sculpt is fantastic. There really isn’t a pose I envisioned for him that I can’t replicate. He’s a big brawler and he looks the part. I suppose I would have liked an open right hand so he could do a big scary, monkey, pose with both open hands over his head. If anything though, I’d sacrifice both extra hands that he came with in favor of a toad head accessory of a terrified Storm Toad. It would be a lot of fun to have some screaming toads, but if he came with one such head then I’d be wishing he came with more! Maybe if he sells well enough to warrant that Aniverse variant, Boss Fight could consider such an accessory. They could even ditch the gun if it saves them money since I don’t think he ever used one in the cartoon. It’s probably more likely though that if such a head were made available it would be via an accessory pack or something.

The crew is looking a lot more formidable these days.

There may have been a pretty sizable gap in release between Bruiser and the toads, but that doesn’t appear like it’s going to repeat. Last summer, Boss Fight opened pre-orders for Mimi LaFloo, another character who first surfaced in the cartoon. Her figure was apparently the quickest to ever receive approval from Continuity and she went up pretty fast. At the time pre-orders opened, I had a brief interaction on Twitter with Boss Fight in which they left open the possibility she could see release in 2019. Obviously that didn’t happen, but I’m assuming she’s not too far off if 2019 was ever in play. Probably because of the delay in getting Bruiser out, Boss Fight has not placed a release window, let alone date, on that figure though I’m certainly hoping it makes it out before 2020 ends. Beyond that, Boss Fight did show off a new style of toys for Bucky that are basically mini figures with big heads that come packaged with small vehicles. They have at least made it to the prototype stage, but this is something that could arrive in 2020 though I haven’t seen any additional information on this series.

Just imagine his smile when his little buddy Blinky comes along!

Hopefully, Bruiser is a success for Boss Fight Studio as this would open the door for more Deluxe Bucky O’Hare figures. It’s hard to know just what characters are candidates for this style of release down the road. I think it’s safe to say Toadborg falls into this category and I have to assume he’d be the most likely figure to follow Bruiser at this size and price point. A character I am looking forward to seeing in Al Negator is a harder one to figure. He’s certainly taller than Bucky, but I don’t know that he’s necessarily that much bigger that he requires a release at this price point. He may end up somewhere in between as I suppose there’s no law requiring Boss Fight to release figures at either $35 MSRP or $55 and nothing in between. Regardless of what’s next, I just hope the line continues as my only real criticism with the line so far is that it’s heavy on good guys and very light on bad guys. My toads need someone to boss them around, be it Toadborg or the Air Marshall, especially now that Bucky has a berserker baboon on his side.


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 Menace

bucky and the toad menaceBucky O’Hare is best known for the cartoon series Bucky O’Hare and The Toad Wars. It was a short-lived series that spanned a mere 13 episodes. It’s greatest contribution to pop culture seems to be the NES game it spawned under the same name. That show appeared in 1991 and was gone within a year. A few VHS releases followed and eventually a Region 2 DVD in the new millennium, but aside from that the series is gone. Merchandise essentially vanished once the show was cancelled. The game was well received, though I have never seen numbers on how many copies were shipped. It fetches a fairly high price in this day and age on the resale market, but nowhere near the highs of some of the truly obscure NES releases.

Basically, the only official Bucky O’Hare related anything to remain in circulation this whole time has been the graphic novel Bucky O’Hare and The Toad Menace. Likely an intentional play at the name of the cartoon, Bucky O’Hare and The Toad Menace gathers the original run of six Bucky stories and pairs them with the following two from the UK only release of comics by DC Thomson.

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Bucky debuted in the pages of Echo of Futurepast

Bucky’s original debut came in 1984 in the debut issue of Echo of Futurepast, a prestige independent comic by Neal Adams’ Continuity Comics. It was an expensive book due to the use of high-quality glossy paper. It was also an independent release and part of the creator boom in the 1980s in which many artists and writers fled from the big publishers for the independents where they could retain control over their own characters and art. The original Bucky stories were written by Larry Hama and illustrated by Michael Golden. Eventually, stand-alone issues were released in 1986 as well as a trade compiling all of the stories. Likely to coincide with the television show was the next run of comics that started in 1992 in the aforementioned DC Thomson run. Those issues were created by a different team of writers and artists though they still utilized Hama’s characters that eventually debuted in the animated series like Al Negator and Bruiser.

Bucky O’Hare and The Toad Menace arrived in 2006 via Vanguard Productions. It was around this time that Neal Adams was trying to resurrect the brand and even commissioned a CG short to try and market the property for either a movie or new show. It went no where, but the trade has remained in print and is currently being sold in various places including through Boss Fight Studio, who as you are likely aware of if you’re reading this, is creating new toys based on the property. The release is a manga styled release, meaning it’s just quite small (about 7″ tall) and in black and white. In 2007, artist Michael Golden did a special release which is just the regular Vanguard release but with a new black and white dust jacket printed by IDW. It was signed by Golden and numbered and bundled with some other stuff to be sold at conventions. It’s the version I have, but in terms of content there was no difference. It’s still the Hama/Golden issues plus two UK issues created by the team of Peter Stone, Andre Coates, and Joel Adams (Neal’s son).

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Bucky’s first cover appearance.

The comic is an interesting revisit for fans of the cartoon. It starts off essentially the same; Bucky O’Hare and his crew are being pursued by the Toads and are out-gunned. The forces trailing Bucky and the crew of the Righteous Indignation do not initially know who they’re following, but once they do realize they have a real opportunity to take out their number one enemy. The story beats progress almost the same with the toads attacking and killing the chief engineer of the Righteous Indignation, Bruce, the Berserker Baboon. In the process, they damage the ship’s warp-drive which is powered by a photon accelerator. Elsewhere, on Earth a young boy named Willy DuWitt has created his own photon accelerator. He activates it at the same time Bucky’s crew activates their compromised unit causing a disruption in the space-time continuum which transports Willy to Bucky’s ship and pulls him into the story.

From there, it becomes a rescue mission as Bucky and his gunner, Dead-Eye Duck, visit Willy’s world and while there the toads board their ship and kidnap First Mate Jenny. It’s in the rescue of Jenny that the comic takes a different turn with Bucky and Android First Class Blinky encountering a strange god-like mouse. Following the conclusion of the first six issues, the next two essentially pick-up where the animated series does following the debut introductory story and ends with the introduction of Bruiser, oddly printed on the back of the reverse cover.

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Golden’s artwork is very detailed but also very busy.

As a comic story, it’s easy to see what Hama was going for with Bucky. It’s serious in tone, but also satirical. Bucky makes numerous comments about insurance and unions and he even makes Willy sit down to fill-out some forms before they can welcome him aboard as their new engineer. There are lots of jabs at ineffective bureaucracy, most highlighted by Bucky and his crew of four being the only real Toad resistance in the galaxy. The council that controls the galactic government is shown to basically be in an endless argument about how to deal with the threat and are penny-pinchers to the extreme. They also reside on the planet Genus behind an elaborate network of defense satellites so they’re clearly withdrawn and that’s part of their inaction. The Toads, meanwhile, are shown via a story projected by Blinky to Willy that brings him up to speed on what happened. They created a sophisticated A.I. known as Komplex that was given too much power. It lobotomized its creators, and then convinced the general population to follow its orders. Then the world became industrialized so much so that the surface of the planet is no longer even visible beneath layers of factories. The Toads send their massive tankers all across the galaxy to suck up magma from other worlds leaving them desolate when done.

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The first TPB from Continuity to collect the complete Bucky O’Hare works.

The story is very similar to what would follow in the cartoon, but is deployed in a more serious manner. In the cartoon, Bruce gets sucked into the photon accelerator rather than killed by the Toads. Bucky is surprisingly diplomatic in his approach, shedding no tears for their fallen crew-mate. The Toads and Dead-Eye speak freely of their desires to kill each other, and several Storm Toad Troopers do indeed meet their maker. It’s not gratuitous, but it is fun. There are obvious Star Wars influences as well with Dead-Eye even using the term lightsabre and a model Tie Fighter being shown in Willy’s bedroom.

Michael Golden’s artwork is almost hyper-detailed with a lot to process. This trade release is in black and white, and I’m not sure if it’s more cluttered as a result or less so. There’s lots of technological bits in the backgrounds and tons of line-work. It’s sometimes overwhelming, but I still find myself drawn to the actual character designs. They’re just so fun, and there isn’t a design I really don’t like. I do wish the Toad Air Marshall received more attention or some larger panels as he’s often squished into small panels. He’s a little bigger than his cartoon counterpart and wears a large coat, but he’s still covered in various medals. The artwork by Joel Adams is far simpler and there’s a lot more white on those pages. It’s not as detailed though, but still attractive and Adams does a good job of keeping the characters largely on model with Golden’s art.

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Bucky’s adventures continued in the UK in 1992 where characters like Pitstop Pete made their debut in print after first appearing in the cartoon.

The mouse character is never named with most fans just referring to him as the Omnipotent Mouse. He’s an interesting character that never made it into the show, perhaps because he was hard to relate to. He feels like a distraction, though his message is largely that of a pacifist. Perhaps that would have been an arc Hama would have pursued had the comic continued with Bucky taking on the role of a pacifist. He’s not presented as being as murderous as Dead-Eye, but he certainly doesn’t seem to have any qualms about taking the life of a toad. There’s some nice tension between Dead-Eye and the witch Jenny that’s not played up in the show, though Dead-Eye expresses some mistrust towards her in both. I also like how cozy Jenny is with Willy as she’s affectionate like a typical cat would be, but when done through a more human-like being it’s rather humorous. Willy’s parents in both media are portrayed as activist hippies more concerned with their own business than paying attention to their son. They can’t relate to his pursuit of science just as he can’t really relate with them. The first six issues end with him getting stuck in Bucky’s world, but the next issue has him back in San Francisco with the detail of how he got back left unexplained.

Since Bucky O’Hare was initially just one part of an anthology comic that contained multiple stories, this release feels a bit shorter than most 8 comic collections. It’s 193 pages, but there are some duplicate pages where a story ends and another picks up as well as character bios. There’s also one page that is just plain duplicated for no reason, a printing error that I’m curious if is still present with more recent printings. The format is not ideal, but it’s not bad either. I think I’d prefer a larger release as that might make the panels feel less busy, but I actually enjoy the black and white look. The first six issues are fairly easy to come by at an okay price-point, but the UK issues are not. Some day I would like to own the entire 20 book run, but for now I have other priorities in life.

If you have ever been curious about the origins of Bucky O’Hare, this is an easy recommend. If you purchase it from Boss Fight Studio it will only set you back 10 bucks, plus shipping. Cheaper alternatives may exist in the used market on eBay and other like websites. It’s a mostly fun, breezy, read with some satisfying parts, and some less satisfying parts. Mostly though, you’ll likely be left wanting to read the other issues that followed. It’s a shame we can’t get reprints of those, but it’s probably a licensing issue between Continuity Comics and DC Thomson. And there also isn’t a tremendous appetite for Bucky O’Hare in 2019, but maybe we can change that.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Bucky O’Hare – The Arcade Game

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Bucky O’Hare (1992)

One of the underplayed downsides to the death of the arcade in America is the amount of arcade games that remained solely in the arcade realm. Arcade technology was always ahead of what was available in-home. Arcade cabinets were also often equipped with 4 or 6 player possibilities while virtually every home console in the 80s and 90s could only natively handle 2 players. Sometimes, companies would release two distinct games for the arcade and the home console. While gamers were enjoying co-op play with X-Men at the arcade the home console gamer was forced to experience Marvel’s most famous mutant team via a hideous top-down shooter/action game with horrendous technical issues. X-Men was a popular enough arcade game that it would eventually be released digitally about 20 years after it first hit arcades. It took awhile, but it made it. Other games were not so lucky, and one of them is Bucky O’Hare.

Bucky O’Hare has been a topic more than once here as I take a small sense of pride in being one of the small areas of the internet where Bucky can still exist. Bucky originated in the comics, and when the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles exploded he was one of the main beneficiaries. Suddenly, toy companies and television studios were scooping up licenses for any kind of anthropomorphic action series that could be tossed in front of children to make piles of money. These properties were often fast-tracked to the consumer as everyone assumed the TMNT were just some fad that would die a quick death. This meant television shows, toys, and even games were all put into development at around the same time and Bucky O’Hare got the full treatment. So even though the cartoon series would only last 13 episodes and see a quiet cancellation, the aspects of the license that took the longest to develop would still see release after the fall of the show.

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Good luck finding one of these.

Most people into retro-gaming or who had a Nintendo Entertainment System back in the day are familiar with Konami’s Bucky O’Hare for the NES; the Mega Man clone of surprising depth and skill. It’s become a bit of a cult hit these days and copies of the NES cart fetch a pretty decent price on the after-market. Lesser known, is Konami’s Bucky O’Hare game for the arcade, also simply titled Bucky O’Hare.

Like most of Konami’s  arcade games for licensed properties, Bucky O’Hare is a 4-player beat-em-up where the player takes on wave after wave of enemies before reaching the game’s conclusion. And like most games of this style, it sometimes feels like it was designed first and foremost to eat quarters and force gamers to spend a decent chunk of change in order to see the game to its conclusion. Where Bucky O’Hare differentiates itself from Konami’s other brawlers is in that the primary attack for each character is a projectile. All four characters; Bucky, Jenny, Deadeye, and Blinky – all possess a handgun to shoot at the bad guys with. This naturally allows the player to maintain some distance between them and the enemy which actually seems to result in fewer deaths when compared with X-Men or Turtles in Time. Each character also possesses a special attack, referred to as a gimmick weapon, that can be activated at any time and surprisingly doesn’t cost any health to activate. There’s also bomb attacks available and they’re pretty abundant and clear the screen of enemies or deal a significant chunk of damage to a boss, which feels really generous for a game of this genre.

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The game is enjoyable with one of two players, but these ones are always best with four.

The game also further distinguishes itself in style. The previously mentioned gimmick weapons though are sadly the only thing that really differentiates the characters. Of the four, I found Deadeye to be the most useful (though you would think a four-armed duck would possess more than one pistol) as his weapon is basically a temporary shield that orbits around him until it hits something. Jenny’s is a homing attack that’s also useful, though her attack animation is a liability. Bucky just tosses a bomb forward, and Blinky has a flame-thrower. Most of the levels move from left to right, but there’s variety from stage to stage. Some levels have the characters moving at an angle towards the screen (think the second stage from the first TMNT arcade game) and there’s a stage where you’re falling and another where the characters are all riding Toad Croakers that can even stomp on the enemies. Brawlers can get quite stale by design, and Bucky O’Hare does as good a job as any in keeping things as fresh as possible for the game’s duration (of roughly 45 minutes).

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Minimally animated, but fully voiced, cut scenes help to move the story along.

Perhaps surprisingly, the production values on Bucky O’Hare are quite high. It’s very bright and visually appealing with all of the characters looking like the source material. Bucky is the only one that looks a bit off to me, and Blinky is definitely too tall, but for the most part the characters and animations look great. The enemies are especially striking, though the variety is not great as you’ll mostly spend the game fighting Toad Storm Troopers and these little robots. The boss characters look awesome though and they’re mostly taken straight from the cartoon series. Toadborg is appropriately menacing looking and the final battle is against a Komplex-to-Go contraption that even looks like it’s suffered some damage since its encounter against Bucky in episode 13 of the series.

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You’ll be killing lots of Toad Storm Troopers in this one.

Which brings me to the aspect some Bucky fans seem to appreciate most is that this game seems to take place after the cartoon ended and serves as a nice book-end to the series. You take the fight straight to the Toad homeworld and vanquish Komplex seemingly forever. Konami made liberal use of the voice talent from the show and only a couple of voices are off (Blinky most notably being voiced by Scott McNeil). Even characters who aren’t playable still make voiced appearances like Willy and Bruiser. And if you’re into the comic, the omniscient mouse race that never made it into the series shows up in this game and it really feels like someone at Konami really cared about the representing the license as best as possible. It’s pretty cool considering they must have known already that this was to be the last major release for the license and that no season two was coming for the animated series.

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Willy and Bruiser even get to cameo in some cut scenes.

Bucky O’Hare for the arcade is a satisfying experience, especially so for fans of the license. It possesses some of the short-comings inherent with the genre, and I do wish a character like Bruiser or Dogstar was playable as neither was in the NES game, but this is a fun title worth tracking down. Of course, being that it’s been over 25 years since the game’s release, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to find a cabinet in the wild and it’s even rare to see them come up for sale on eBay. There are other means available to you, if you want to seek them out, and I’ll let you research that on your own should you wish to play it. Sadly, licensed games like these rarely receive a digital release in this day and age, but maybe this very mild Bucky comeback in 2017 could lead to a digital release of this game and the NES game, though I certainly wouldn’t hold my breath for either.


The Return of Bucky O’Hare?

boss-fight-buxky-o-hare-anouncement-928x483Just announced today, toy company Boss Fight Studios is bringing Bucky O’Hare back to the world of action figures in a four inch scale assortment. Bucky O’Hare fans will likely refrain from getting too excited, as it was about ten years ago the company Shocker Toys promised to do the same and never delivered. Bucky O’Hare has largely been a dormant franchise since the early 90’s when his television show and toy line were cancelled after one season and series, respectively. Efforts to bring the characters back have been fruitless, so it will be interesting to see how this turns out. Likely this will be a one and done affair as I don’t see a new toy line resurrecting the brand from obscurity, but it’s certainly better than nothing. Should these things make it to retail, you can bet that yours truly will be doing a write-up of them on this very website.

 

Update April 2017 – Boss Fight has unveiled the first images of completed Bucky and Jenny prototypes for release this fall! Check out the coverage FWoosh.com has for images.


Bucky O’Hare – The Video Game

Bucky O'Hare - Nintendo Entertainment System (1992)

Bucky O’Hare – Nintendo Entertainment System (1992)

I’ve been away for awhile, a combination of life events and vacation, but I’m back and ready to talk about some old things.  Here is one such old thing and a topic I’ve discussed before:  Bucky O’Hare.  Bucky O’Hare was a part of that glut from the late 1980s into the 1990s of anthropomorphic cartoon characters riding on the coat tails of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Very few of these properties (Street Sharks, Biker Mice From Mars, Battle Toads) had any staying power and Bucky proved to be no exception.  His show lasted one season, and it was a half season at that, before getting cancelled.  There are a number of theories why from poor marketing decisions, bad distribution of the toys, too serious, though I personally think a lot of boys just didn’t buy into the idea of a green space bunny saving the galaxy.  Despite Bucky’s outward appearance, I liked him and the show quite a bit as did a number of my friends.  Bucky probably dominated a good six months of my young life and during that time period he was even able to overtake the TMNT for a brief spell.

Even though Bucky didn’t last long as a cartoon hero (he didn’t last long as a comic book hero either), he was still around long enough to have his likeness inserted onto just about every product imaginable.  From the obvious items like toys and clothing to the less obvious such as dishes and light-switch covers.  Not surprisingly, another item that took advantage of the Bucky O’Hare license was a video game, simply titled Bucky O’Hare.   The game was developed by Konami and released in 1992 a short while after the cartoon had finished its run.  Right away, it should be noted that Bucky dodged a major bullet in that his game was developed by Konami, and not LJN, whom Konami had a tendency to hand all of its licensed products to.  LJN is known as one of the worst game developers from that era; it possessed the opposite of the Midas Touch when it came to game development.  The fact that Bucky managed to avoid such a fate is really quite surprising, in hindsight.  Even more popular properties like the X-Men were unable to avoid LJN but somehow Bucky snuck through.

DownloadedFile-33Bucky O’Hare on the NES is an action platformer starring Bucky O’Hare himself.  Players control the funky fresh rabbit and navigate him through various levels, mostly going left to right but not always, as they run, jump, and gun down the evil toads to save Bucky’s crew.  The game starts off giving the player a choice of 4 different stages, represented by different planets, that Bucky can choose from.  On each planet, one of Bucky’s crew-mates is being held captive:  Blinky is on the green planet, Jenny is on the blue planet, Dead Eye the red, and Willy DuWitt is on the yellow planet.  Bucky can choose to rescue his mates in any order, though at least one planet requires the aid of one of Bucky’s comrades, for when Bucky rescues a character that character becomes playable.  The player can switch on the fly with a press of the select button.  All characters share the same health bar but have their own power bar.

The power bar is where the characters distinguish themselves.  Each character had a unique attack and unique ability.  Attacks are simply done by pressing the B button.  Bucky can shoot horizontally and vertically and his special ability is a super jump.  By pressing and holding the B button, Bucky crouches down and charges up a jump.  The power meter determines how high he can go and it can be increased in size by collecting certain power-ups.  Blinky has a jetpack that allows him to fly for a short duration.  His attack is a canon-ball like  weapon that fires in an arc.  It can also break certain blocks found in the environment.  It’s more powerful than Bucky’s attack, but has limited range.  Jenny fires a laser that may or may not inflict more damage than Bucky’s gun, though it’s rate of fire doesn’t seem to be as good.  Her special ability is some kind of telekinetic ball that the player can control with the d-pad once it’s been fired.  It’s useful in certain spots where the player can sit out of danger and attack from cover.  Dead Eye has a scatter-shot for his main weapon.  Think the spread gun from Konami’s much more popular Contra series. His special ability lets him crawl on walls for a short duration.  Not particularly useful.  Willy has a fairly normal attack with his special being a charged shot.  Unlike, say Mega Man, Willy is stationary when charging making his special ability the least useful.

Mega Man fans, does this look familiar?

Mega Man fans, does this look familiar?

Willy’s special ability isn’t the only comparison to Mega Man one will find when playing Bucky O’Hare.  In many ways, the game is like a Mega Man clone.  The non-linear setup at the start is certainly reminiscient of the blue bomber’s games and the general run, jump, shoot mechanics seem to be clearly inspired by Mega Man as well.  There’s also some levels, or parts of levels, that are inspired by some of Mega Man’s more famous levels such as the red planet’s nod to Quick Man and the vanishing blocks from the Toad Mother Ship.  A quick google search will reveal that, in some circles, this game is known as the Konami Mega Man.  I’ve never heard anyone actually refer to the game as such, but the internet never lies.  Bucky owes a lot to Mega Man, but it’s different enough to maintain integrity and similar enough that it’s safe to say most fans of the blue bomber will enjoy the green rabbit.

Bucky O’Hare may not be among the most popular NES games, but most people who are into NES games seem to know about it and associate it with one word:  hard.  Many games from this era are hard, but Bucky O’Hare is often placed in that upper tier of really difficult games.  I’ve never heard anyone outright call it the hardest NES game ever made, but I’ve seen it included in several lists or youtube videos amongst the elite.  This is mostly a good thing, as Bucky O’Hare is able to achieve it’s difficulty without being too cheap.  There are some areas, when playing for the first time, that will piss a gamer off.  The most obvious to me occurs on the yellow planet where the player has to hop on these futuristic mine carts that zip along a track.  Jumping from one to another is not difficult, as they slow down long enough to make the timing easy, but before long a wall of spikes will pop up that result in a one-hit death if the player doesn’t react fast enough.  These one-hit deaths comprise the majority of player fatalities in Bucky O’Hare.  Very rarely can I recall actually having my life depleted slowly during a non-boss encounter.  And even the boss fights, as one might imagine, include a number of instant death attacks that can put an end to the fight rather quickly.  What keeps Bucky O’Hare from being among the hardest of the hard is its generous continue system.  Each level is broken up into several acts which, by themselves, are pretty short.  If a player loses all of his or her lives the continue screen is displayed and electing to go on will bring the player to the start of the most recently completed act with a new set of lives.  Continues are unlimited, and completing a full level gives the player a password which isn’t overly complex or long.  This means anyone of moderate skill can probably complete Bucky O’Hare so long as they’re persistent.  And given that much of the game’s difficulty comes from being surprised, practice does indeed make perfect.

Right around the time it seems like the game has thrown everything it can at you, it introduces the flying stages.  Prepare to die.

Right around the time it seems like the game has thrown everything it can at you, it introduces the flying stages. Prepare to die.

Bucky O’Hare is deceptively long and offers a good amount of gameplay.  After completing the first four stages the player is abducted by the toads and (annoyingly) must also re-rescue the trio of Jenny, Dead Eye, and Willy.  The setup, beyond the run and gun nature of the game, is pretty straight-forward but there are areas later in the game that are non-linear as Bucky explores the Toad Mother Ship.  After the conclusion of each level, a boss encounter occurs.  They’re usually fairly challenging, but there are some easy ones, and part of the challenge is knowing which character works best.  For the most part, Bucky on his own is enough to take down a boss but I did find some uses for Jenny’s special attack (namely the yellow planet boss) and Blinky has his moments too.  Only Willy comes across as feeling useless as I was able to make regular use of the other four characters.  Bucky never had another console video game release, but he did have an arcade game released after this one though it wasn’t very popular.  This game, along with the cartoon’s catchy theme song, is probably the way most remember Bucky O’Hare.  Considering most of those other shows, TMNT included, received mediocre to terrible games, I’d say Bucky came out ahead in one respect.  If you like NES games and have never played this one, I whole-heartedly recommend it.


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