Hallo meine Planet Eternia Freunde!
So basically I’m the new David Hasselhoff. My Mer-Man review got picked up over at Planet Eternia and started a frenzy of posts. Apparently they enjoyed my photos of Mer-Man with his alternate head in his crotch. Oh those wacky Germans! I spent the rest of this afternoon using Babelfish to translate their posts. Interesting stuff.
If you didn’t know, He-Man has a huge German following. Much like Hasselhoff and soon to be, me. Hey at least I’m in good company.
Speaking of Hasselhoff, am I the only one who liked his performance as Nick Fury?
So a little over a week ago the greatest cartoon to ever air on or be created on American soil came to DVD. Haven’t you heard? Of course not. Because the DVD got no press. Chances are you probably never even heard of the show. Because the show itself never got any press. Exo-Squad is a little known science fiction cartoon that was syndicated in the mid 1990’s and changed the genre in ways that cartoons of today still can’t catch up to.
Let me guess, you just watched GI Joe: Resolute and you’re in awe of how “revolutionary” it was. Characters died, there was blood, explosions happened… OMG. Well Exo-Squad did all that over a decade ago and did it better I might add. Let’s not turn this into an unfair comparison, I too just watched Resolute and loved it, but Exo-Squad remains in a league of it’s own. It delved into the psychological effects of war like a prime time drama, featured the gruesome reality of genocide and slavery. It even discussed suicide, the morality of cloning and a whole plethora of real world issues presented in an engaging science fiction setting.
First, let me preface the rest of this article by saying: GO BUY THE EXO-SQUAD DVD RIGHT NOW!
Buy it on Amazon
But it on Best Buy
But it at Wal-Mart
Why am I urging you to buy this DVD? Because I swear to you, it’s that good. It’s also REALLY hard to find in stores. Best Buy (I hate them now) won’t even carry it in store. I was able to find it at Wal-Mart, (YAY!) so you might check you local Wally’s first. But if you can’t find it in store, ORDER IT ONLINE! It’s worth it. Don’t pirate it. BUY IT.
The show also spawned some really cool toys from Playmates, but this show was never about the toys. It was a good TV show first, toyline second. Seriously, about 15 people die in the first episode and by episode 5 we can safely assume that the casualties are in the millions!
Now with that out of the way, let me tell you a brief synopsis of the show. In the future humans will create a race of being called neo-sapiens. These big blue humanoids are created for the purpose of Earth’s expansion in the galaxy so they can do work on places like Mars and Venus. Neo-Sapiens are just like humans only bigger, stronger and different looking. So of course, they become our slaves.
Eventually there is an uprising, humans are able to beat back the Neo-Sapiens using exo-suits. These robotic suits allow the humans to regain control. 50 years later there is plenty of racial tension between the Neos and the Humans. Neo-Sapiens have gained some rights, but they still can’t carry a gun and aren’t considered on equal pegging with humans. Although some are moving up in the world, including a governor on Mars.
The exo-suits have also come along and are now called E-Frames, full bionic suits that humans put on in the army to help with intergalactic battles. Pirates are now around as well, trying to overthrow the Human Federation at every turn.
Sound interesting? Seriously, that’s like the first 5 minutes of the first episode. Needless to say the Humans go out after the Pirates in one big battle to decide the fate of the expanding human empire and while they’re away, the Neo-Sapiens begin a new uprising. One that has been planned for decades by Phaeton (Govenor of Mars) before the Federation can return home, ALL of the planets have been conquered by the Neo-Sapiens.
Thus starts the 52 episode saga of Exo-Squad. It’s one show, one war, and it’s all out epics. Battles are won, battles are lost, politics are played, it’s like a real war but in sci-fi. Phaeton has been compared to HITLER, with the entire saga playing out a bit like World War II in space with robots, pirates and aliens.
Eventually the show deals with cloning (Including my single favorite Science fiction paradigm. What to do with the clone of an evil man who has done no wrong. Imagine if Hitler had a clone. Can you sentence him to death if he’s done nothing wrong?) As swell as genetically altered monsters, interracial dating, racism and all walks of the human condition.
Seriously, if you’re a fan of sci-fi, Star Trek, Star Wars, GI Joe, Transformers or anything that’s remotely awesome… You owe it to yourself to check out this show. It’s taken 16 years to get it on DVD and while these first 13 episodes are not the best (The show really hits it’s peak later on) you’ll definitely be hooked.
I started watching this with my GF (Although I’ve already seen the whole show when I was younger) but I don’t think she loves it. It definitely starts out slow because the first 4 or 5 episodes deal more with the Pirates than the Neo-Sapiens, but once the revolt happens and the war truly begins things heat up.
The DVD itself is bare bones. In fact the cover artwork is pretty cheap looking, there is no inside episode list and the description on the back of the show hardly does it justice. They should have simply wrote” Best science fiction cartoon ever made, nuff said” and it would have been more accurate.
THIS SHOW IS GREAT! The DVD’s quality is quite good. Much better than the bootlegs out there. I should know, I own a few. It’s a real treat to have Exo-Squad in my DVD shelf and I hope you go and re-enjoy or discover this show for the first time. Go buy the DVD so we can show Paramount that they need to give Exo-Squad a full release and maybe offer up some extras on the next releases.
There’s a wealth of hilarious stuff on Youtube and it’s many children, but this video cracks me up. The old He-Man cartoons are great resources if you’re looking for something to redub. The cartoon itself featured plenty of hokey scenes and downright homosexual situations from time to time. I guess a show about barbarians in loincloths will do that.
This one goes above and beyond though, with whomever made this actually doing a darn good job impersonating the classic voices. Since my last post was praising MOTU, I figured I should poke some fun at it too.
So today I received my Masters of the Universe Classics Mer-Man figure! I have covered MOTUC in the past before, but never given a full fledged review to a figure so I thought I would enlighten you all with a look at Mer-Man today. He’s the latest and greatest figure to date in the series. How can I say he’s the greatest? Well he’s sold out faster than anyone before him. Go Mer-Man it you’re birthday!
Masters of the Universe is an interesting line to say the least. The original 1980’s property was one that sort of came and went. When it first hit in the early 1980’s it EXPLODED. It was the biggest toy property in the world. It quickly spawned some successors, Transformers and GI Joe and in the course of a couple of years it went from being the most popular toy franchise to a dying one. Just check out this little piece from Topless Robot where in the comments section everyone basically admits to giving up MOTU as soon as GI Joe hit.
But Masters of the Universe is back in this MattyCollector.com exclusive series. Critics of the original toyline will tell you that it was a cheap line for Mattel to produce because the figures had very little new tooling. But I’ll point you back to the same Topless Robot article where you see that they actually had TONS of unique sculpting, it was just the first couple of waves that had lots of reuse.
Still reuse is the name of the game nowadays and MOTUC certainly has some reuse. But the unique sculpted elements are truly awesome and it’s one of the areas of mix and match that really makes Mer-Man shine. Let’s break it down, shall we?
I’m so not a packaging guy. I’ve said this 1,000 times. Yet I really feel compelled to talk about the package a bit. There’s something so freaking beautiful about the MOTUC packages. I don’t know if it’s the stone Castle Greyskull paper, the little retro indented bubble or the old school card back with file card and VINTAGE picture. Mattel has really put some work into the packaging and they should be applauded for that. There’s even lightning bolts shooting down the package.
The contrast of red, blue, silver, green and yellow colors really work. It looks retro, but looks new too. It’s a really nice package and I rarely say that. It’s a standard card with bubble attached which isn’t great for collectors because you have to rip it open. It’s glued not taped.
Inside is a nice bubble card and NO TWIST TIES! Of course there are those clear rubber bands which can be even worse in some instances, but I cut those with scissors and Mer-Man came out of the package very easily. His trident is bent in the package, so one of the ends of it is bent when you remove it but it’s not terrible. His sword was a bit of a pain to get out, but it comes out none the less with no damage.
Fish people need lots of articulation. I’ve always said that. Mer-Man is a fish person, so he has plenty of articulation. From the feet up he has, hinged ankles, standard knees, swivel ball socket thighs, waist cut, ab crunch, ball joint swivel shoulders, ball swivel upper deltoids, cut wrists, regular elbows and a ball jointed head. That’s quite a mouthful! I think I need to trademark the term “ball swivel upper deltoids” because I just made that up.
This is more than enough articulation to get this guy into all sorts of poses. The original MOTU figures pretty much had one or two poses. This guy has plenty. The articulation is pretty tight, but loosens up quickly. Especially if you throw him down on the floor (more on that later) but he remains poseablility even as he loosens up.
Remember how I said critics of the original line commented how much reuse their was? Well that’s certainly true of some early He-Man figures (But not on Grizzlor, Modulok, Mosquitor and countless others fanboys!) and Mer-Man was one who used them. Mer-Man has the same feet as Skeletor. The basic MOTU body and Skeletor’s wrists.
But does he look like Skeletor? No not at all. That’s where reuse can be useful. Unlike DCUC which basically repaints the same bodies over and over as new characters, MOTUC really uses the parts wisely with new sculpted elements and armor to create different looks.
What all is new on Mer-Man? For starters he has new hands. These are gloved hands but still have little claws underneath so we know his fingers match his toes. He also only has three fingers. He also has a neck/gills sculpted onto the main body. This may be to help with his removable head, but even if they aren’t for that they help him look unique. Although they don’t look very good when he’s not wearing his armor.
The armor itself is very nice with a couple of cool jewel areas. The only downfall to them is that they’re painted rather boring. He has a spikey corn-cob looking armor that really stands out in it’s mustard yellow color. MOTUC figures are uniform and different at the same time.
The paint is excellent with almost no slop at all. I ordered several of these, some have better pain that others but I’d say overall the paint is very good. I like the washes on his loincloth and armor which really give him a nice accent. The same can be said for the skin wash.
His hands and head are made out of a more rubbery material which helps for posing with weapons and removing the head. You don’t have to worry about breaking the head or the ball joint because of the soft head. It’s also a bit of a throw back to the original He-Man mush heads.
Mer-Man’s most important accessory is the second swappable head. See, Mer-Man the figure looked different than his card art. So Mattel has went the extra mile and included BOTH heads. This is good because the 2002 MOTU Mer-Man had a head that reflected the original card art. Interestingly neither of these heads look like the original cartoon’s head which was a bit of a hybrid of the two designs.
I don’t have my original Mer-Man because I PLAYED with my toys and thus Mer-Man was probably in the scrap heap around 1990ish if he even survived that long. My mother also liked to throw my toys away. The bitch. But for whatever reason I had Mer-Man’s head for AGES in my toybox. I can safely tell you that this new Mer-Man head is almost identical to the original and yet… So much better.
The second head makes Mer-Man look a bit goofy. Then again the first head is labeled the “cat” head because of his strange ears. Anyway, goofy head Mer-Man is pretty sweet too. I think you could use this head as a good guy if you wanted.
His other accessories are his removable armor, with a cool sheath for his sword. His strange corn-cob sword which I still don’t understand but hey who’s gonna argue with a fish? (Beastman of course!) And a pretty cool trident. There’s a bunch of hullabaloo about how Mer-Man can’t hold both weapons at once because of his open left hand. But that left hand is a weapon in itself because it allows him to give vicious Hollywood Hogan back rakes to his enemies.
Since the MOTUC line is so expensive and rare, I haven’t been taking them out of the package. Well, that’s not entirely true. The first figure was King Greyskull and I did indeed take him out of the package. His flippin’ foot broke about 3 seconds out of the package and since then I swore I wouldn’t take them out of the package until I had a good reason. So I bought a few extra Mer-Men to dick around with. Upon opening him I went to post him and threw him on the floor. I actually tried to catch him, but he bounced around my hands and then hit my cat’s scratching post, avoided the soft carpet floor and crashed onto the harder tile floor. Such is life. I’m happy to report he didn’t break at all. Which makes him 100X tougher than that ret-con bitch King Greyskull.
Look this figure costs nearly $30. It’s $20 for the figure and $8.50 give or take for the shipping. If this figure was at Wal-Mart for $30 I’d punch the manager in the face. But since it’s online exclusive and limited runs (Limited to usually like 20 minutes) I’m willing to let it slide. It’s no great value, but for nerds like me who want to relive their childhood it’s an alright deal. It’s certainly better than those who pay $150 for a Barbie doll, err, I mean Sideshow toy. 😉
Packaging – 9
Sculpting – 8
Articulation – 9
Accessories – Trident, Cob Armor, Cob Sword, Goofy Head
Value – 7.5
Overall – 8.5 out of 10
Mer-Man was cool in the cartoon because he talked like he had water in his mouth. I wonder if the actor actually did? He was all gargling and crap. Look, I love this figure. Mer-Man is just quirky enough and yet cool enough to be a badass. Let’s face it, Mer-Man and Beastman were Rocksteady and Bebop before Rocksteady and Bebop were Rocksteady and Bebop (Confusing much?). He’s a cool figure and it’s nice to have a MOTUC figure out of the package. At the price point you should probably consider him if you’re a fan but if you’re not, it’s a total pass. MOTU fans will love him. I should mention mine has a stress line on his knee joint which is pretty inexcusable at this price point, but it doesn’t look like a thing that will actually cause him to break.
Go get yourself a Mer-Man when he goes on sale again for a second run on April 29th. Or don’t. I don’t give a fuck.
In an attempt to add more to this site than just toy reviews and hopefully find myself updating more I’ll be going back to talking about a wide variety of things. Of course, never fear, there will be more toy goodness to come too.
First up is the new GI Joe cartoon movie named GI Joe: Resolute. This is an “adult” cartoon and will be shown on Adult Swim in it’s entirety soon. However the first half is being shown online in 5 minute intervals for the next week or so.
The cartoon was created to redesign the brand and basically give fans an alternative to the God awful summer blockbuster GI Joe movie that’s coming out in a few months. If you know anything about GI Joe, you’ll know that the movie looks dreadful and Hasbro seems to know this, so they’re trying to tide “true” Joe fans over in the interim.
Let’s face it, we’re in for a long few months of everything GI Joe becoming about that awful movie (Which I due hope has some redeeming value, but I doubt it) and Hasbro knows that injecting shit into the veins of the brand could be lethal. So this is an attempt to counter balance that impending shitfest.
Does it work?
Yes and no. The cartoon is slick, if not a little too Anime infused. I miss the old days of American animation. Even though American animation usually sucked, it still had a charm. Or maybe things were just drawn rounder? Anyway… MY FULL REVIEW BLOW! SPOILERS!
PART 1: was interesting because they tried to set up the story. But it seemed very rushed. Bouncing back and fourth between locales. They also kill off their first major character before it even officially starts! We see some blood, but I think killing Major Bludd off screen in the first act is a bit much. Still, I get that they’re trying to create some drama. The rest of the episode is pretty sluggish as we’re forced some story and it doesn’t seem to go anywhere. Cobra Commander does appear and gives a hokey rant about how he’s going to blow up the world if we don’t give him all the money or some BS… It reeked of 1987 GI Joe which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but not really a good thing either. He then destroys Moscow and kills everyone in it. OH… EDGY!
Seemed too rushed to set up the plot and all the killing of name characters off screen seemed forced to try to make it “edgy”. Oh look anyone can die and most of them will die without ever being on screen… My other complaint would be Cobra Commander’s voice. The original Cobra Commander had a distinct voice provided by the late Chris Latta. Since that time every other Cobra Commander has had someone do a voice similar to that. In this show they opted to try a new style voice on him.A very generic bad guy voice. I’m not saying they shoulda done someone with a Latta impersonation, but if you’re going to try and be original by giving him a different sounding voice, don’t give him the same sorta voice that every other cartoon villain.
PART 2: Really ups the ante with both great action and storytelling. Gentle nods to past incarnations of the show with Scarlett sort of torn between Snake-Eyes and Duke. (In the original cartoon she was Duke’s woman, in the original comics she was Snake Eyes woman)… It was little things like that which shows the people behind this know their history. This is also a Snake Eyes episode where basically he gets to open a can of whoop ass. This is very cool and well presented. Even though Snake Eyes can get sort of tiring as a character because he’s Batman/Wolverine all rolled together, it worked well and it was nice to see this kind of violence from him.
My only complaint would be that again they killed a “major” character. Obviously Bazooka falls pretty low on the GI Joe totem pole, but it seemed silly to kill him off before he was ever introduced. If this was a new cartoon, he’d never amount to anything. Such is life, or death, I suppose. I still think killing name characters for the sake of it is just stupid, especially if their deaths are brushed off as meaningless because we have no reason to care about them. There are TONS of background no name characters that could die without us caring, why kill off name ones to the same effect?
Overall though, it’s quite good and will definitely be worth checking out in full.