Friday, December 21, 2007

A Public Service Announcement

At this time of year, many people will either purchase toys or receive them as gifts. We at the Action Figure Liberation And Total Toy Involvement Realization Entity (A.F.L.A.T.T.I.R.E.) would like to remind you that these precious items are meant to be opened and enjoyed, not sealed in plastic cases and hoarded in your parents' basement.

All too often, fun, exciting toys get locked away by "collectors" in hermetically sealed plastic tombs, forever removed from their intended purpose: childish enjoyment and reckless abandon. Forever these poor plastic prisoners languish in boxes and bins, covered in dust and Dorito crumbs, longing for adventure on the living room floor or backyard sandpile.

"But it will be worth sumthin' sumday!" the collector cries! We say "So will all that carbon you're emitting, when it eventually turns to diamond through a lengthy application of heat and pressure! But right now it's as worthless as the lead in a pencil! And what are pencils for? Writing! And what is writing? A series of movements with an object in the human hand! So, take those toys out of their contemptible cardboard crypts, put them in your hand, and play! Better yet, find a kid, put the toy in their hands, and let the magic begin!

Now you know. And knowing is half the battle.

This message was brought to you by A.F.L.A.T.T.I.R.E--
Action Figure Liberation And Total Toy Involvement Realization Entity

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Action figures: The good, the bad, the ugly.

I buy a lot of action figures. If you're reading this nonsense, you probably do to. After a productive evening at the local retail establishments, I thought it pertinent to pontificate profusely about my findings. (oh yeah...alliteration in action, baby!)

The Good: G.I.Joe. The new figures rock. The articulation is amazing without sacrificing play value or durability. Unlike recent Star Wars figures, the Joes don't fall apart when you look at them. Sure there are lots of small flimsy weapons and accessories, but the basic figure is solid, unlike recent clone troopers that seem to shed hands and heads as soon as you pop open the package.

Gorilla Grodd. Finally got this in a JLU six-pack at Target. Rock solid, great likeness of our favorite primate. Too bad he's packaged with the rest of that junk...but more about that later.

The military toys at Target. I forget the manufacturer's name, but walk down the action figure aisle and you'll see what I mean. They're doing what Hasbro said couldn't be done. I saw a tank tonight that puts the legendary Mauler to shame, and at a reasonable price.

The Bad: It kills me to say this. Really, I don't want to. But the fact of the matter is that I purchased a 12" Doctor Who (the David Tennant variety) tonight and it stinks. I'm glad I used a gift certificate and not my own money. It's like a Mego on steroids, only crappier. One knee is all floppy. His posture is something along the lines of "bloated manatee." Awful. And this is from a man who really, really loves Doctor Who. (not like that!)

Target's Gorilla Grodd JLU six-pack. I love the Grodd figure. Maybe I could live with the "Red Hood" gimmick, especially on a harder-to-find figure like Joker. Maybe I could even live with a Lex Luthor repaint. Flash is pretty common, but hasn't been issued lately. The problem is Superman and Batman. Seriously Mattel: enough with the Superman and Batman figures!!!! They're everywhere. The popular colloquialism here is "you can't sling a dead cat without hittin' one of them." Pegs and pegs full of Superman and Batman at every Target. Enough already!!! I think we have six of each of them at our house.

The Ugly: Actually, I just added "Ugly" to make the movie reference. However, since I started it I might as well finish it. There are a lot of ugly action figures. That's too easy. I'm calling Hasbro themselves ugly. Here's why:

1. Star Wars figures are flimsy and expensive.

2. All their toys have HORRIBLE distribution. Buy it when you see it, 'cause you'll never see it again.

3. Their customer service is questionable. Maybe my standards are too high? I grew up in the day when every Star Wars vehicle came with an instruction sheet that said "We really do care" in big letters. If there was a missing part or sticker, you wrote them a letter and they sent it to you. No problem. I know because I took advantage of it several times. Same with G.I.Joe. Imagine Christmas day, finding out your Tomahawk helicopter is missing the working rope and winch attachment! No sweat! A quick letter to Hasbro and the parts were on their way. Now, when I've contacted them, they've offered "items of an equal value." Could be anything. Let's say you find a super HTF (silly ebay term) McQuarrie figure. You take it home and open it, only to find that the plastic is deformed and it has no left foot. What does Hasbro do? Sends you a random figure. Parts missing from a vehicle? They'll send you whatever is on the shelf.

4. The packaging of their mail-away promotions is a sick joke. Last year I collected all the stupid stickers and sent away for the coveted "George Lucas Stormtrooper" action figure. When it arrived in its thin poster-board box, it was completely crushed. So much for collector's item.

Well, this post has gone on too long. Hasta la vista, baby!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Circle of The Silent Iron Flute...or something.

So here I go, posting twice in one night. That first one was kind of lame...just me rambling about what I like...wait a minute, that's all this is going to be....

Anyway, I saw an excellent (maybe that's not the right word) movie this weekend. The DVD was titled "Circle of Iron" but the movie credits called it "The Silent Flute." Apparently, it's history is something like this:

(at least this is what I got from the DVD special features)

Bruce Lee and James Coburn wanted to make a movie. Bruce wrote a script. The movie would be an epic story in a fantasy land that demonstrated Zen teachings. Movie never happened. Bruce died. David Carradine took over. Movie got made with some changes.

Results: mind-blowing kung-fu mayhem...sort of.

So basically, there's an out-of-place blondish guy on a quest to meet Zetan (could it be...Satan?) and read from his secret book. The guy (named Cord) meets up with a blind Kung Fu guy with a bamboo flute (Carradine) who explains to him that he must pass some trials. Along the way he encounters:

Strange monkey-men (what are they?)

A guy trying to dissolve the lower half of himself in a tub of oil (Eli Wallach, in a bizarre role that I won't discuss further here.)

A desert sheik-type character with a harem of temptation

Death, portrayed as a vaguely defined Puma-man in a leotard (no wonder he doesn't fear death)

Zetan, a kind of pathetic character portrayed by the amazingly awesome Christopher Lee.

Oh, and Roddy McDowell is in the beginning in a small but important role.

Check it out at IMDB.

Is it a timeless classic or complete rubbish? It's recently been released on DVD, so you make the call.

And so it begins...

Here I go. I've been considering starting a blog like this ever since I started reading the serious intellectual discussions at (hope you don't mind the name-drop.) Maybe I'm ripping him off. Oh well, isn't that what the internet's all about?

Speaking of which, what is this all about? Well, it's pretty selfish, really. I like to talk about things that I think are important: comics, cartoons, movies, television, toys, music...those are the big ones. I'll probably shy away from personal life.

So here's a selfish and self-indulgent list of favorites:

Comics: JLA, JSA, Walking Dead, Godland, Green Lantern, Batman, Spider-Man, Madman, Booster Gold, Black Adam, vintage EC horror and Sci-Fi, many others.

Cartoons: the 80's rule!--G.I.Joe, Transformers, He-Man, Thundercats, Blackstar, Wheeled Warriors, Voltron, Superfriends/SuperPowers, Inhumanoids, etc.

Movies: Star Wars (I prefer the OT, but I enjoy the PT), Star Trek, anything by Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci, Umberto Lenzi, Mario Bava, cheap horror/sci-fi flicks from any time, Hammer horror, Marx Bros.

TV: Doctor Who, Red Dwarf, Star Trek (most of it, never got into Voyager), Buck Rogers, Torchwood, Heroes, anything with Gordon Ramsay, cooking shows, 80's sitcoms, Family Guy, The Office, The Big Bang Theory.

Toys: Anything 80's--see the "cartoon" list above. Also Star Wars, Doctor Who, Justice League Unlimited, and DC Direct. New G.I. Joes rock!

Okay, this is already too long. Discussing music would take all night. I can pretty much listen to anything if I'm in the mood for it. I collect records of all types. Pretty much anything other than post-Garth Brooks country.

Live Long and Prosper