Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Toy Story 3...

It's been enough time since the release of Toy Story 3 for me to assume two things. The first is that by now anyone who cares enough to see it already has; therefore it doesn't matter if I spoil the end of the film. Secondly, if you've seen it, no doubt you're in love with every Woody shaking moment. Well, I find myself only fitting into the former of the two subjects, because: I did not like Toy Story 3.

Okay, "I did not like Toy Story 3" is a little harsh. I admit that. And I guess the more I think about it, the more I like about it. Even that dick pink Bear getting his comeuppance filled me with glee. Here's where the Lea Michele (Glee... ha) dies:

At the end of the film Andy's gang of toys find themselves in an almost impossible situation to escape. They are slowing getting closer to the large incinerator of a garbage dump. While Woody is frantically looking for an escape, his brothers-in-arms are accepting their fate. The lock hands, give knowing looks and ultimately Woody concedes: they shall perish as a family. This is Disney, though, so of course they are saved in the last minute, return to Andy and find a new home with a young girl who is more than eager to give each toy a second childhood.

Wonderful, right? Wrong. Here's the first problem which can be seen from a mile away. We all remember the amazing adventures that Woody, Buzz and the gang went on 15 years ago. And I'm not just talking about the contents of the film, I'm talking the all out wars that Andy and his imagination enlisted them to take part in. The opening of TS3 has a wonderful example of what they once were. But then what happened? Andy grew up, that's what. So now he's giving these toys away to a young girl with a vivid imagination who is going to... that's right, grow up. Prolong the magic as much as you want, but at some point death catches up with you. Great lesson for the kids: everything dies.

But that's not the big kicker, because it can always be seen in the "enjoy every moment because you never know when it's your last" light. Which can be a heavy idea for the kiddies to absorb, but it's also worthwhile to be aware of, regardless of how well you adhere to it.

My main gripe comes from the first part of the ending. I sat in a theater and watched a fully 3D Disney death pact. That I'm not cool with.

One thing to know about me is that I collect action figures, and while I'm convinced that the more deadly of toys are a threat (ever spend a night with an American Girl doll nearby? Creepy.), I never paid them much mind because I've always had an army of heroes ready to fight for what's right (in this case, me). Now it might just be that usually my figures are of superheroes, so this sways my judgement in terms of the attitudes they would have, but I couldn't imagine them just giving up, no matter how desperate the situation. Yes, they were slowly moving towards a giant fire pit; but for Christ's sake man, you're Woody! You've got that string in your back, it's got a loop and you're a cowboy. Rope something, do something, never quit! It was one thing for those other pansies to give up; let's face it, Buzz spends the entire film being somebody's bitch. But Woody? Woody's in the same class as a Captain America, with 20% more "Rootin' Tootin'". The moment he laid down and died, the film was over for me.

So when you watch Toy Story 3, and your kids are excited that Woody and his pals got a new home, remind them of a few things: time is fleeting, and it's only a matter of it before Bonnie pisses them all away just like Andy. And 2, Woody deserves his fate. He's a quitter.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Peddling Smut

That's not what we're here to do, mainly because the only person who even read this blog is me... trust me, I've got enough smut. If you're looking to do that, it would be a better idea to hunt down a blog that actually has some traffic. This is like standing on a street corner in the middle the abandoned Chernobyl town shouting for someone to buy your bootleg DVDs. Nobody's around, and if they were, they'd be more interested in self preservation than they would be in Sex and the City 2. Food for thought.


The Heroic Age

It might come as a surprise (to no one) that I'm a huge self-talker. When I'm alone, I talk to myself like a crazy person.

Side note, I keep adding extra "a's" to the beginning of words whenever there's one in front of the word. For example, instead of "like a crazy person", I initially wrote "like a acrazy person". Brain tumor? Prolly.

Anyway, I'm a (did it again, grrr) self-talker, who spends his time talking out loud whenever I'm alone. I refer to myself as "Al", and I'm left to criticize every piece of myself. I think it's due to two things: 1)It allows me to take a step back from myself, therefore my short comings are not my own (even though I know they are) and 2) my mommy does it. They say your should talk to babies like they're grown ups because it helps them form their cognitive and linguistic skills. I've got bushels of both... bushels being carried by a crazy person who calls himself "Al". Anyway...

In my talking to myself, I get on to subjects and tangents which allow me to work out ideas. Everything from story ideas to my own sexual escapades make their way into the self-talk. I'll even break down what we're having for dinner if it's pertinent. Today my thoughts have been focusing on the future of Marvel Legends, and what I think should happen to the line.

Marvel Legends, for those who don't know, were a toy line produced by Toybiz and then Hasbro with the original intent to be the best figures on the market. Revolving around the mythos and character catalog of the Marvel Universe, ML's were the perfect 6 inch combination of sculpt and articulation. In my humble opinion, they created a barometer by which all other toys should be measured. It's rare that I buy outside of super hero figures (soup figs, as my mother in law calls them), but when I do, the first question I ask is "how will it look next to a Marvel Legend".

When Toybiz owned the license, the toy buying world was in a golden age. You could purchase huge (depending on the character) figures with more articulation and detail then I certainly had ever seen. Why, the series 3 Thor was a marvel in itself, not to mention the series 6 Juggernaut that to this day dominates one of my shelves. To top it all off, they were only 7 or 8 bucks. Half of what they would cost you today. I have just about all of them, and had no problem risking my life to open up a package with my keys as I cruised down the highway fresh off of a toy hunt. Almost died? Yup. Worth it? Totally. That was the day I got Blade, mother fucker!

The Marvel License made its way to Hasbro, and while they did a fine job with SOME figures, eventually they decided to put their focus into Marvel Universe, a 3.45 (?) inch scale line which were like tiny versions of the Legends I love. Suddenly ML lovers were left with two choices, buy MU or give it all up. They tried to tease and entice us by providing characters or versions of characters that we collectors had been BEGGING for in the MU style. It was the only way to get a mass market version of Bucky Barnes as Captain America, Reborn style Thor, modern Luke Cage or the entire Wrecking Crew. Trust me, if you're a nerd, this is a big effing deal. I refused to play their game, only caving once... I'm a Deadpool man, so when they released a MU Deadpool sculpted to Cable & Deadpool (my favorite comic... I have all the issues) perfection, I had to pick it up. Since then, I've yet to buy any figures from this line, and, unless it's a modern Cable, Cyclops or Beast, probably won't. I've moved on to DC Universe Classics, which are kind of a cop-out on my part for two reasons. I'm not really a DC guy, so I can't get too excited for a Starman figure. Secondly, DCUC are far more streamlined, so they use a lot of the same parts/sculpts; therefore, I have a shelf of DC superheroes that look shockingly similar.

So what does a boy do when his favorite toy line bites the dust? Here's the deal. Last year at NY Toyfair, Hasbro had a contest where they made a bunch of ML prototypes and had us sweaty fan boys vote on which characters we wanted to buy. I would have bought ALL OF THEM. At the end of the day, my prayers were answered when the vote revealed that I'll be getting my 6" Deadpool after all! They should be out in the fall. Since then, there's been talk that Hasbro is trying to "figure out a way to reintroduce their product to the 6' collecting world". This is where my self-talking ties in. Stick with me kid, it'll all work out.

I've been kicking around what I would do if I were in their position, and here's what I've come up with:

Kill the Marvel Legends brand. Throw it under the bus and laugh as it twists, contorts and dies in the street. Why? Because sweaty collectors are sitting on forums right now bitching that they don't have a comic accurate Moondragon figure. If you don't know who that is, you're right. Fanboys need to understand that this is about bucks first, pleasing collectors second. What's great about MU is that it gave them an excuse to start making another 15 million Wolverines and Iron Men. From a collector standpoint, it sucks. From a "hey, here's me buying an action figure for my bratty kid, who should I get?" standpoint, it's great. No kid anywhere, at any time, ever wants a Moondragon figure. Any who does should be violated with a wine bottle.

Start a new line and tie it in with current comics by using the "Heroic Age" brand. Focus on contemporary versions of classics characters (which is what Marvel is doing through their comic brand) and base character selection/waves on specific teams. Drop Build-A-Figures all together and use the extra plastic on character specific accessories; weapons, heads, hands, small vehicles (we'll touch on this one in a second). Finally, use the Internet to your advantage by providing a digital comic with purchase. One of the greatest things about ML back in the day is that you received a character specific comic with each figure. Cost going up dropped that from the equation, so why not use technology to your advantage and provide a code or something that allows the buyer to check out a web comic surrounding your character? Take it a step further by hooking up a "then and now" option; classic book paired with a modern. Marvel already provides web comics. Finally, only 4 figures per wave, 5 tops. KISS: keep it simple, stupid.

Again, break waves down by groups, meaning we'd see an Avengers Wave, an X-Men Wave, an X-Force wave, Secret Avengers, New Avengers, Avengers Academy, Marvel Knights and so on. Concentrate on building teams, and put the focus on people buying the whole wave to "keep the team together", which could be manipulated through the copy on the back of the box. Use that to let the buyer know how they all fit together.

Sample Waves:

The Avengers (Series 1):

Captain America: Bucky Barnes modern Cap sculpted with fists and a working holster. Accessories: Unmasked head, Shield, pistol, hand sculpted to hold pistol.
Hawkeye: Modern sleeveless Clint Barton, sculpted to hold bow and arrows.
Accessories: Unmasked head, long bow, trick arrows (4), removable/usable quiver.
Spider Man: Classic Spidey with bright primary blue and red. Sculpted with fists.
Accessories: Unmasked head, "web slinging" fists, web gloves to cover fists, sculpted shot web.
Thor: Modern Reborn Thor, sculpted with open right hand to hold Mjolnir.
Accessories: Removable helmet, Mjolnir with engraved incantation, lightning bolt.

The X-Men (Series 2):

Cyclops: Modern post-Whedon-astonishing costume, sculpted with fists.
Accessories: Unmasked head with sculpted sunglasses, Jet pack, optic blast.
Storm: Modern "First Appearance Recall" costume, sculpted with open hands.
Accessories: Wind flying stand, lighting bolts which attach to the hands.
Wolverine: X-Force black and grey, fists with extended claws.
Accessories: Unmasked head, open hand and fist w/o extended claws.
Colossus: Modern post-Whedon-astonishing costume, sculpted fists.
Accessories: Open hands, concrete slab, battle damaged "Second Coming" arm.

The New Avengers (Series 3):

Luke Cage: Modern white shirt, jeans, sculpted with fists.
Accessories: Gloved open hands, sunglasses, length of chain, steel pipe.
Ms. Marvel: Modern Carol Danvers, sculpted with fists
Accessories: Open hands, energy blasts to attach to fists, flight stand.
The Thing: Modern pants FF costume, sculpted with fists, angry expression.
Accessories: Alternate smirking head, open hands, "Yancy Street" street sign w/concrete on end.
Iron Fist: Modern collar-less Danny Rand, sculpted with karate hands.
Accessories: Sculpted fists, energy bolts for each hand.

The Secret Avengers (Series 4):

Steve Rodgers: Modern "Super Soldier" costume, sculpted with open hands.
Accessories: Fists, pistol, shield, Avengers communicator.
Beast: Modern Avengers costume, cat face, sculpted with open hands/claws.
Accessories: Removable glasses, lab coat, laptop computer with Avengers Data.
Moon Knight: Modern with "gritty costume", removable cloak, sculpted with open hands.
Accessories: Sculpted fists w/claws, "Moonarangs", bo staff, bolas.
Black Widow: Modern Natasha Romanoff, sculpted with open hands.
Accessories: Sculpted fists, pistol, rifle, zip line, C4 explosive.

The Avengers (Series 5):

Iron Man: Modern "Stark Resilient" armor, sculpted with open hands.
Accessories: Unmasked head, fists, "Repulsor blasts", chest "Unibeam", flight stand.
Spider Woman: Modern Jessica Drew, "Venom Blast" hands.
Accessories: Sculpted fists, removable arm"webs", attachable Venom Blasts.
Captain America: Classic Steve Rodgers style Cap, sculpted with fists.
Accessories: Unmasked head (Series 4 Rodgers), shield.
Wolverine: Modern post-Whedon-astonishing costumed, fists with claws extended.
Accessories: Unmasked "Berserker Rage" head, open hands w/o claws.

The X-Men (Series 6):

Cable: "Second Coming" X-Force black and red, sculpted with open hands.
Accessories: Large futuristic rifle, pistol, fists, TO Break-Out Arm.
Nightcrawler: Modern "First Appearance Recall" costume, open hands.
Accessories: "BAMF" stand, sword, X-Men communicator.
Rogue: Modern Utopia Green costume, sculpted with open hands
Accessories: Alternate Colossus Metal arm, Wolverine Claw arm, attachable feather wings.
Archangel: Modern Black/Grey X-Force, sculpted with open hands, articulated wings.
Accessories: Alternate "sheathed" wings, large rifle, wing "bolts", flight stand.

From there you could concentrate on completing modern teams, then moving focus on alternate or classic versions of characters. Just a thought.


Friday, July 16, 2010

Fresh Start

My blog was failing. It was supposed to be a sounding board of ideas, a place where I could champion any cause I deemed worthy. My escape to shout at the top of my topographical lungs how I think and feel and felt about anything and everything. It was supposed to be great.

Instead, it quickly regressed into a place for comments in Chinese (I think, please don't be mad), action figure pictures and my own short comings. I spent most posts bitching about what I couldn't do and how I was going to do it. I wrote about my determination to be something, when the biggest something getting in the way of that is (and always will be) myself.

Corporate Malice: The Life and Times of a Love Struck Beat Machine.

Flat lined, died and is dead, never to be heard from again.

So now what? I'm starting a new blog, a new place for my thoughts and ideas. This is a new go and the only promises it brings are no more promises. I'm really sick and tired of being sick and tired. I'm done with feeling that I have to be this or that. I'm done trying to label myself. There's a stupid amount of opportunity out there, and, even more so, an open door for me to walk through and F the S out of the world... and that's what I want... to F the S out of the world.

This is it, here we go, keep me honest and cross my heart.