Monthly Archives: November 2009

As I mentioned in my Black Friday post, you have to be pretty hardcore as a fan of toys to go out on Black Friday to make your “usual rounds”. The thing is, if you don’t go out on Black Friday, you won’t be able to go out for a few days because of the impact of Black Friday. If there are any good toys on the shelves come Black Friday, they won’t be there by Saturday.

I didn’t pick up much this year, but one of my local Targets had restocked the JLU 3 Packs. Mattel is running a sale right now dropping the price down to $11.99 which is good since $15.99 is very steep to pay for Justice League. Unfortunately for me I already bought all the other packs at the higher price point, but I was able to snag the Wonder Woman, Blackhawk and Superman pack for the $11.99 price.

Chances are if you see any of the new 3 packs on the shelves, it’ll be this one. See this is a “fan collection pack” so it’s featuring highly requested figures. These are new figures or rare re-releases, such as Superman and Wonder Woman who have only been released in this deco 3,000 times. So technically this is a release of ONE new figure. Like I said, if any of the new packs become a shelf warmer, this one is it. So how does this pack stack up?

The JLU packaging hasn’t changed in a long time. DC has one unique set of packages across all of the Mattel lines in hopes of creating some brand awareness and unity. It’s not a terrible idea but it does look a little drab. I still preferred the blue card JLU packs with all of the characters featured on it, but this isn’t a terrible package.

The figures are clearly on display inside and Blackhawk who is the star of this package is prominently placed in the center. That’s all well and good but we’ve seen this package enough to be pretty bored with it by now.

The back features some cartoon artwork of all the characters from a episode of JLU. This is important, especially now that JLU is once again airing in repeats on Cartoon Network. It’d be nice if Mattel could tell kids to watch it on Cartoon Network, as if it was a new cartoon, but I won’t slight them for not being able to get that on the package. Also featured on the back of the package is the rest of the figures in the series. Oddly enough it shows off two very old packs as opposed to the other new packs that are shipping. Either Mattel is repacking those old packs into cases (God I hope not) or they thought advertising them might boost the sales of those packs that have been collecting dust.

Inside I noticed something new. A little paper insert advertising! Not a bad idea and something I suggested a long time ago. It’s a good way to boost sales for the MattyCollector lines. This is especially good for JLU since those figures always seem to be available on Matty.

Justice League Unlimited follows the model set fourth by Kenner in the 1990’s for Batman the Animated Series. Each figure has 5 points of articulation with few exceptions. Everyone in this pack has a cut neck, cut shoulders and cut legs.

Most fans prefer this limited articulation because of the design aesthetic involved. Given Mattel’s track record, this is probably a safe bet. DC Infinite Heroes has horrible articulation and I think it’s pretty clear that Mattel doesn’t quite know what they’re doing with articulation on the DC lines. Although DCUC has pretty good artic.

Let’s be honest with ourselves here for a moment. If you’re reading this review you probably already own Superman and Wonder Woman from JLU. If by some odd chance you don’t own them, they’re pretty good figures. However, if you’re a JLU collector you probably have dozens of these guys already so I’m not going to waste any time talking about them. Aside from Superman slowly turning a Chinese caricature with more squinted eyes than ever, it’s all the same as it’s always been.

Blackhawk is the only reason you’d buy this pack. A relatively obscure character from the long forgotten days of World War II lore. Bart Hawk is the leader of the Blackhawk Squadron and is the most famous of the characters. Interestingly Blackhawk is a Will Eisner character, which adds to his prestige a bit. He was fairly well portrayed in the JLU cartoon and battled Vandal Savage, which was mentioned in detail on the back of the package. For the record, we still don’t have a JLU Vandal Savage figure. He’s what I’d call a highly requested fan figure and someone who would have went perfect in this package and made it sell like gangbusters… But I digress.

The sculpt here is very solid and if the pack wasn’t $12 a pop I’d love to pick up a few more of these Blackhawk figures to make custom other members of the Squadron. As is I’ll have to settle for this one. He’s made from various other parts but appears to have a new head, new arms and a new chest with molded skirt. I think this body could be reused for a nice Gordon figure. This sculpt could also be reused almost entirely for a Bibbo Bibbowski figure. That’s two great suggestions from me Mattel, on the house.

There really isn’t much else to say. The paint work is sharp, there is only minor slop on the gloves. The chest logo looks great the sculpt is otherwise flawless. Because he uses the improved Mirror Master legs, he stands perfectly. The only thing to watch out for is the eventual whitening of his rubbery parts.

JLU figures rarely come with anything. In this instance there is one stand included, presumably for Wonder Woman. All the figures now have holes in their feet, so they could all use this stand if need be.

Ugh, $11.99 on sale is hardly a value for this pack. This regularly retails for $15.99 which is why I didn’t buy it until it was on sale and I suspect it’ll turn into another eternal peg warmer as a result. Seriously, think about this for a minute. You’re getting ONE new figure in this pack for $12-$16! That’s way more than GI Joe, DCUC, Marvel Universe… Heck that’s more expensive than almost any other figure on the market. Sure Blackhawk is a nice figure, but he’s not even a $7 figure much less twice that. At regular retail price for this pack I could have gotten 3 brand new GI Joes, which feature more articulation, tons of accessories and better sculpting.

JLU is a fun collection to build on though.

You might be thinking to yourself, but “hey, you’re also getting Superman and Wonder Woman, that’s a value right?” No. Superman and Wonder Woman are not army builders. Do you know how many Superman JLU figures I have? I don’t, but I can tell you it’s in the double digits. These figures are useless. Maybe that helps move the packs to little kids, but please Mattel at least redeco these figures. Otherwise these guys are as useful to me as more packaging.

Score Recap:
Packaging – 6
Sculpting – 9
Articulation – 7
Accessories – Stand
Value – 1
Overall – 5.75 out of 10

JLU is a fun line to collect because it’s the largest DC line ever made. There have been more characters made for JLU (and the other animated DC lines from Hasbro) than any other toyline representing the DC Universe ever. That’s why fans love this line. The Bruce Timm look for the characters is excellent and the toys despite tons of flaws are really great collectibles.

Only a handful of my massive animated DC Universe.

The problem with the JLU line is the price versus value. Having to buy another Superman and another Wonder Woman to get one new figure is a real pain in the neck. It sucked having to do that back when JLU cost only $9.99 but it’s pretty much unacceptable at the $15.99 pricetag. Had this not went on sale for $11.99 I probably would have never added Blackhawk to my collection and even at that price I’m feeling a lot of buyers remorse.

Never let it be said that I’m not a true fan. Last year on Black Friday I braved the long lines and chaos at Target to simply look for GI Joes. Yes, while everyone else was after big screen TVs and discount video games, I was looking for Joes. Yet Hasbro still doesn’t send me samples? Blasphemy! In 2008 my Black Friday trip produced a single GI Joe 25th B.A.T. and I was overjoyed. At the time BATs were very hard to come by. I ended up with two BATs that day.

This year I went back out into the madness to see what I could score. I was looking for the DCUC Wave 10, but I know better than to go to Walmart when they open. I mean, I’m crazy and I’m a fan but I don’t want to get stabbed. So I headed out to Target again this year, hoping to maybe score something good. Here’s what the line looked like:

So what did I come away with? Well before the day was over I had quite a few deals, but at this Target I managed to get only one thing of importance, a single JLU 3 Pack. I already bought the other new JLU 3 Packs, but I hadn’t bought the Blackhawk pack and since it was on sale for $11.99 I had to get it. Huzzah for Black Friday! Worth it?

Last weekend 4KidsTV aired the finale of the Mirage era of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Although the new cartoon known in fan circles as the 2003 or 2K3 TMNT (due to the original start date of the cartoon) already had it’s series finale a few months back this was the official end of that era. A stand alone TMNT movie that saw the 2003 Turtles meet up with the 1980’s Fred Wolf style Ninja Turtles as well as the Mirage original comics Turtles.

The idea was simple enough and the execution was nearly flawless. This is the last animated piece that Mirage had a hand in, it’s the last time 4Kids worked with the TMNT and it’s the last bit of celebration before the 25th Anniversary of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is sold off to Nickelodeon.

The film was great and is getting rave reviews from fans and non-fans alike. Overall everyone’s interest in the Turtles is up. Not just from a nostalgia standpoint either. Kids were excited, adults were interested, it’s a great time to hock a ton of TMNT merchandise.

So where is the Turtles Forever toy line? I’ll tell you where… It doesn’t exist. Playmates has had a rough year with a failed Star Trek and Terminator line. The Retro TMNT figures didn’t light the world on fire either, though high prices and poor case packouts are largely responsible for that.

A Turtles Forever line would have been a great chance for Playmates to embrace the Turtles and they could have made new figures of everyone. From the 2K3 Turtles and their core villains, to the 80’s Turtles and their core villains and even Mirage Turtles. So why didn’t they? Did Mirage not push hard enough to get toys for this TV movie made? Did Playmates not feel they would have made money? Did the two companies just not keep track of it?

Whatever the case it marks one of the biggest blunders in toy history. A Turtles Forever line would have sold like gangbusters. A chance to have the 2K3, the Mirage and 80’s Turtles all in the same line, same scale, would have worked. Instead folks are left with no merchandise whatsoever. Even the regular TMNT toy line is non-existent at the moment. All fans can do is buy retro figures or TMNT Movie figs at a few TRU locations. Instead most folks are picking up old figures off of Ebay to help rekindle their interest.

In the midst of all of this is NECA. They currently have the rights to do a TMNT line on the comics alone. Had they managed to get their Seres 2 in to stores by now, they could have rode the back of the Turtles Forever wave, especially in the absence of a Playmates Turtles Forever toy line. Instead, we still have no signs of Wave 2 ever coming.

Nickelodeon which just secured the rights to the TMNT, I encourage you to make a Turtles Forever line. Push Playmates to make one, all encompassing Turtles line. With 80’s style Turtles and villians, 2K3 Turtles and villains as well as working in new figures from whatever your new Turtles show will look like. I promise you, a Turtles Forever line would sell to kids and collectors alike. It’s what the fans are clamoring for and it’s a complete mess that all the current keepers of the Green Machine missed that boat.

I pretty much loathe Thanksgiving. I think the Macy’s Parade is alright, but beyond that I could care less. Football ain’t my bag and football is on pretty much every night of the week now anyway, so I think the whole Thanksgiving tradition of watching the game is not only cliche but pointless these days. Earlier today I came up with an AWESOME idea for some Thanksgiving content, but sadly it’ll have to wait till next year. But seriously, be here next year for something so awesome it’ll melt your brain. SEE YOU IN 365 DAYS!

In the absence of something cooler, I’ll tell you about my Thanksgiving festivities as a kid and how I stumbled across a Toys R Us that time forgot earlier this week. When I was a kid Thanksgiving was really all about Christmas. See we’d go to my Grandmother’s on Thanksgiving and after a while she’d bust out the big Sears Catalogue. Time to pick Christmas gifts! If you grew up in this era, you know what I’m talking about. Of course there was also the newspapers, TRU ads and other catalogues. Everything came out on Thanksgiving so by the end of the day I’d have my whole Christmas list. Awesome.

Sadly that sort of awesome tradition doesn’t exist anymore. In the loss of that, I went out yesterday Christmas shopping. I went about 75 miles away from my normal beaten path and found a new Toys R Us. By new I mean one I’ve never been in before… Inside it was ANYTHING but new. It was set up just like the TRU of old. In fact this store seemed EXACTLY like the TRU nearest me was when I was a kid. But those Toys R Us chains changed over a long time… But this one didn’t?

See that? It’s tickets for video games. None of my TRUs do this anymore. You just go buy the game. Grab it off the shelf. Not at this TRU that time forgot. You still have to get the ticket and bring it up front. The tickets even look the same as they did when I’d buy a new Sega Master System game. WIN!

Even better, the next aisle over was the infamous glass case. You know the one… Where all the high end video game system and electronics are. This is no doubt the same glass case that once housed the NES and the Super NES and now it’s got the DS. Spiffy. I have no idea why this Toys R Us never remodeled. Toys R Us has went through at least three or four remodels since the 80’s, but not this one. Remember the bike racks in the middle of the store? Still here. Little kids toys on the far end wall. 3 rows back 5 rows in, that’s where the action figures were. Two rows forward was stuffed animals and Barbies. EXACT SAME LAYOUT FROM 20 YEARS AGO!

Sadly they didn’t have toys from 20 years ago, but they did have a DCUC Wildcat and some GI Joe goodies, so I picked those up. I also made a little video of my journey around the store. Despite not being in a store with this layout in decades I knew where EVERYTHING was. How crazy is that to memorize a store’s layout from ages ago? I was hoping you’d be able to see the whole layout, but it’s not a perfect video. Still, you just have to trust me on this, it was the same layout from years ago. Everything was there just as it used to be except my Mom yelling at me to hurry up. My GF filled that void though.

Today we’re doing something a little different. It’s a vintage reproduction piece. So while this is technically a “new” toy, it’s based off an old one. In the early 1970’s a little company by the name of MEGO, pronounced Mee-GO, began to take the toy world by storm. It started almost as an accident as their off brand GI Joe toyline faltered because of a issue with the TV adverts and soon they decided to use that toy body to make new figures. From that accident became the birth of the “modern action figure”, at least that’s how the story goes.

The reality is that with Action Jackson out of commission Mego began to use their buck body and put new clothes on him. First came the Worlds Greatest Superhero line, which saw DC and Marvel characters in the same scale by the same company. Then Mego took a gamble on a hot new movie, Planet of the Apes and it spawned one of their most successful toylines.

In the early 2000’s a guy by the name of Doc Mego began working with Diamond Select to bring certain Mego properties back to life. It started with Star Trek and eventually it led to the Planet of the Apes. Mego founder Marty Abrams even gave them the seal of approval. EMCE toys is now working with Mattel on revamping the DC version of the World’s Greatest Superheroes, good times indeed. But today it’s all about the monkey men.

Doc Mego is a collector himself, so he sought to have collector friendly packages. Each package comes with a resealable clamshell. These appear almost identical on the front to vintage Mego Planet of the Apes packages. On the back they show off the rest of the figures in the series and there is a nice picture of the whole set.

I was born a little too late to really get the Mego craze, by the time I was coming up Mego was slowly fading off into nothingness, but I do vaguely remember seeing some Megos. It’s pretty cool to see toys redone. Although this doesn’t have the “official” Mego name, this is as good as it gets in my view.

I was also born a little too late to get the Planet of the Apes craze, but I’ve always had much respect for the Apes. It was the first real “franchise” in movies and without the Apes, there could be no Star Wars. The whole Ape Mania that gripped the 70’s was pretty cool if you look back on it and Mego rode that wave quite well. I love being able to experience this phenomena first hand decades later. Sadly even though these figures are still available for purchase, there aren’t any meet and greets with characters in Ape costumes like there was back in the day.

Classic Mego figures pretty much followed a standard formula. Using the basic buck, a new head and clothes. A lot of the outfits were recycled from time to time, but Planet of the Apes managed to get a fair amount of money put into it.

For starters the outfit itself is pretty nice. The faux leather is great and one quick look and this is immediately recognizable as a Ape Soldier. This was the first real army builder of the line and perhaps the first army builder ever? The EMCE version is a pretty faithful reproduction of the original Mego outfit, though some of the material may be slightly different.

Mego for reasons I can’t imagine never could make gloves. Instead they made “mittens” for all their figures. Usually these mittens were made of cheap plastic and they looked like crap. For POTA the mittens were made of fabric and included a leather gauntlet. It’s pretty cool actually. These have been faithfully reproduced… But the mitten part still makes no sense. You might want to clip that off if you’re anti-mitten.

Unlike GI Joes that typically have a nice shirt that you unbutton in the front, Mego usually had clothes that came off with a couple of snaps on the back. A lot of times this looked clunky and cheap on certain figures, but on POTA figures it works. Mostly because of the bandolier and the leather vest.

Everything has been painstakingly reproed to the best of anyone’s ability. The head sculpts do seem just a tad softer, but it’s nothing major. I really applaud the work that EMCE toys did on these guys and I know that Doc Mego personally lost money to make these Planet of the Apes figures a reality and I just want to give him my utmost gratitude for that. Without him and Diamond Select, this wouldn’t be a reality.

Articulation on vintage Megos and by proxy these modern reproductions are a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand you have fairly modern articulation with hinge ankles and pin/post style wrists… On the other hand the figure itself is “stringed” on the inside and that elastic string holds the figure together.

What you end up with is string joints, that work similar to ball joints but are held in by a string. It’s a little weird. If you get a loose string figure, it becomes floppy. If it’s too tight, you can barely move it. If the string breaks, you have to re-string it. This is just something odd that isn’t common place in today’s market of articulation but it works well enough.

There really isn’t a lot of other figures in this unique 8 inch scale, but these guys work well enough with my beloved GI Joe Sigma 6 figures. Although the bigger Sigmas dwarf them. There’s also tons of vintage Mego lines out there and other modern reproductions plus new products like the ones coming from Mattel.

A lot of classic Megos didn’t come with weapons. The POTA ape figures were pretty lucky in that they needed accessories and Mego provided. EMCE toys didn’t skimp out on making the repros have all the correct pieces.

For starters all the clothes are removable. Then you have the M-16 gun which is actually an old Action Jackson gun but also what they carried in the Planet of the Apes films. He has his bandolier and plastic boots as well.

Original Megos used to retail for $2-3 tops, but vintage ones off of Ebay can run up to $30 and are rarely in this good of shape. These repros retail for about $18-$20 depending on where you find them. It seems as though $20 is the new price for Mego guys, but it’s worth it if you’re a fan or looking for something a little different.

Score Recap:
Packaging – 9
Sculpting – 8
Articulation – 7
Value – 7
Overall – 8.5 out of 10

Kids in the 70’s didn’t have the greatest selection of toys, but Mego’s Planet of the Apes were some of the best. EMCE toys has brought back that classic love and made these reproductions for collectors of today. I’m hoping someday there’s a big POTA revival and kids today get to enjoy EMCE’s POTA just as much as kids of the 70’s got to enjoy the originals. For now though, this will more than do.