Showing posts from July, 2014

Batman and Terminator Join NECA's Line of Video Game Figures

I've noticed over the years that if toy companies want to make extra money from an action figure line without increasing production costs, all they have to do is re-release an existing figure sculpt with a different color scheme, different accessories, and a different packaging design. Case in point: NECA has been appealing to toy collectors' sense of nostalgia by re-releasing existing figure sculpts of popular movie characters from the '80s (e.g., Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger, Predator, etc.) but with color schemes that match their first appearances in 8-bit tie-in video games. In other words, it's high-definition action figure sculpts with low-definition color schemes, packaged in boxes that deliberately emulate the packaging design of video games for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) game console. NECA recently announced that two other characters, Batman and Terminator, will be added to this growing line of tie-in video game action figures.

The Batman sculpt…

When Video Games and Collectible Figurines Collide: Three Suggestions for Toy-Based Video Games

Disney Infinity's Marvel figurines.

Entertainment companies love durable franchises, because durable franchises mean name recognition and name recognition means merchandising opportunities. Two frequent merchandising opportunities for franchises are toys and video games, so it only makes sense that someone would eventually find a way to combine the two into a single package. From what I can tell, Activision accomplished the first major hit in the area of video game and toy collection combos with Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure, a game that was the second reboot of the Spyro the Dragon video game series.

Since Skylanders, Disney launched a series of Disney Infinity games, games where players buy collectible toy figurines and discs that represent vehicles and play sets. The figurines and discs plug into the game in a way that allows the game to expand and be modified according to the player's preferences, opening up new characters, abilities, locations and missions. The initial

Bust Brick-Made Bad Guys in Lego City Undercover

Traveller's Tales has been on a roll with Lego video games for a long time and with upcoming releases such as Lego Batman 3, there seems to be no end in sight. Still, I think that the best Lego game I've played to date has also been the one with a limited release: Lego City Undercover.

Lego City Undercover was released as an exclusive for Nintendo's Wii U, designed with the intent of demonstrating what the Wii U GamePad can do to enhance a video game experience. While that alone is no small feat (Undercover succeeds at this task in spades), the other unique treat that the game has to offer is its expansive open world. Lego Batman 2 and Lego Marvel Superheroes both featured open worlds as well, but the one in Undercover is gigantic, diverse in environment types and completely devoted to Lego's own unique style of play. Read on for my complete review.

Raw Human Meat is the Main Course in Tokyo Ghoul Anime Series

Unlike vampires, werewolves and mummies, ghouls don't get much attention in the horror genre. It's probably because of George Romero, who successfully took the ghouls' most distinguishing characteristic--the insatiable hunger for human meat--and attached it to zombies in the original Night of the Living Dead; hence, zombies have been hogging the ghouls’ spotlight ever since. One place where zombies won't be showing up is in Tokyo Ghoul, an anime series that is currently being distributed in the U.S. with subtitles by Funimation.

Tokyo Ghoul, which is based on a manga series of the same name by Sui Ishida, takes place in a fictitious version of Tokyo where ghoul attacks are common and law enforcement agencies are aware of the ghouls' existence. The ghouls appear human, but their appearance changes when they're about to attack; their eyes turn black and their pupils glow red, and they also sprout spectral tentacles from their torsos. (Think Doctor Octopus with glo…

We're Gonna Need a Bigger Christmas Tree for Hallmark's Jaws Keepsake Ornament

Hallmark normally does a good job at serving the holiday season needs of geeks by offering high-quality Christmas tree ornaments that depict characters, vehicles and scenes from franchises such as Star Trek and Star Wars, as well as DC and Marvel Comics. This year's selection of ornaments is going to be a great one for me, because Hallmark is releasing ornaments based on two of my all-time favorite creature features: Alien and Jaws.

The Alien ornament won't arrive in Hallmark stores until October, but the Jaws ornament was recently released as part of the summer kickoff for this year's Keepsake Ornament line. I picked up my Jaws ornament last weekend and it's a beauty, a worthy addition to any movie monster fan's Christmas tree. Read on for more details and pictures of this super cool ornament.

Great Moments in Remote Control Toy History: Bandai’s RC Mechagodzilla

When a company makes a remote control (RC) toy based on a character or vehicle from a popular franchise, the toy should (1) be a fun and functional RC toy and (2) it should look and behave like the character or vehicle after which it is modeled. For as modest as these requirements sound, the majority of licensed RC toys usually falter in living up to one or both of these requirements. For example, even though the Star Wars franchise has released some impressive RC toys through Hasbro in recent years, the RC Star Wars toys that were released by Kenner back in the '70s and '80s were very awkward and clumsy in both appearance and performance. Thankfully, Bandai understood the elements of a great licensed RC toy and provided one of the best to Godzilla and kaiju fans back in 2008: the RC Mechagodzilla.

Bandai’s RC Mechagodzilla was 20 inches tall and based on how the character appeared in 1974 during his big screen debut in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla. It made roaring and laser bea…

More Pacific Rim is Coming Soon, and Robotech Academy Launches Kickstarter Campaign

NECA's Pacific Rim action figures.

I love stories that involve giant robots, especially the ones where humans are piloting the gargantuan machines. Unfortunately, the only giant robot franchises that appear to do well in the U.S. are ones that are imported (either in parts or whole) from Japan, franchises such as Transformers, Voltron, and Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. Thus, if someone wanted to make a giant robot franchise succeed without any direct connections to Japan, how would one do it? Thanks to Guillermo del Toro, we'll soon find out.

In a recent interview with Wall Street Journal, del Toro confirmed that Pacific Rim 2 is scheduled for release in April 2017. Between now and then, del Toro aims to do much more than just a movie sequel for his big battle 'bots epic--he'd also like to do an animated series and a comic book series. According to del Toro:

"We are talking about all the possibilities in terms of networks. We're formulating ideas that are,…

Coming Soon: NECA's Alien Queen and Super7's Alien Egg Chamber Exclusive

Check this out, Alien fans:

NECA is taking pre-orders for their long-awaited Alien Queen deluxe action figure. Built to scale with NECA's other 7-inch Alien action figures, the Alien Queen measures 15 inches in height and 30 inches in length and features 30 points of articulation. This deluxe figure also includes a display stand and two different interchangeable inner mouths.

Photo courtesy of Cool Toy Review.

As part of its ongoing retro toy line based on Kenner's original designs for merchandise based on Alien, Super7 is releasing the Alien Egg Chamber playset as an exclusive for this year’s San Diego Comic Con. Not much is known yet about the playset's features, other than that it is made to scale with Super7's 3 and ¾ inch Alien action figures. Given its dimensions, the Alien Egg Chamber playset would be the ideal complementary piece for the Alien Queen Hive playset, which was released in 1994 as part of Kenner’s Aliens toy line.

Kenner's Alien Queen Hive pla…

Transformers: Remembering Diaclone and Microman Micro Changers

Ho-hum ... another summer blockbuster season, another mediocre Michael Bay Transformer movie making dumpster loads of money at the box office.

I understand what the Transformer movies are supposed to do: Like the cartoons and comic books, they're intended to help sell Hasbro's never-ending line of Transformer toys. Yet when I look at the movie's robot designs, they don't look like they'd be very fun as toys. Sure, all the moving parts and multi-layered armor make for flashy CGI effects, but the toys that are based on these designs look extremely awkward and clunky in comparison.

Personally, I think that it's best to leave robot toys to the people who started it all: the Japanese designers at Takara who created the robot toys for the Diaclone and the Microman Micro Changers toy lines, toys that would later be rebranded and sold as Transformers in the U.S. Yes, Hasbro's repackaging job (along with the help of writers from Marvel Comics) was what eventually ca…