Monthly Archives: June 2011

Puppet Master
12 Inch Scale
By: Full Moon Toys

There was a time when Charles Band was somebody. Something like a cross between Steven Spielberg and Ed Wood (with an emphasis on the latter), Band managed to have his finger in just about every awesome low budget movie from the mid 1980’s to the early 1990’s. Everything from Troll to Ghoulies to Robot Jox to Puppet Master and beyond, Charles Band had some influence on it. Somewhere along the way it all fell apart and now Band makes movies that have all the acting of a porno and half the nudity.

In fact Band routinely sends me (and anyone on his mailing lists) requests for money to help fund the aforementioned abominations of cinema. I might be willing to fork over some cash to see Tim Thomerson in a new Trancers flick, but I have no money for Evil Bong 4. Even some of Band’s better recent efforts, still lack the passion and talent of his earlier works.

So why all this background about what is ultimately just another Puppet Master figure review? Because even though Decapitron is a Puppet Master character, he didn’t start that way. Decapitron was originally an Empire Pictures film, which had Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo writing at the helm. It was set to be the biggest budget production Band and company had done at the time. It was basically Robocop meets Worzel Gummidge.

Unfortunately Empire went out of business, Bilson and De Meo went to write the screenplay for Rocketeer and whatever, if anything that was shot or produced for Decapitron went sealed in a vault of legal entanglements. The same fate which also befell Pulse Pounders, a trilogy of short films by Empire, which contained an unseen sequel to Trancers.

Band must have loved the idea of Decapitron, because by the time Puppet Master 4 rolled around, Band recycled the idea and turned Guy Rolfe’s Andre Toulon into a puppet version of Decapitron. That film made a big deal out of the character and had him battle Totems. Puppet Master 4 and 5 aren’t the greatest entries in the series, but they do show off some of the fun spirit that was still left in a struggling Full Moon. Unfortunately, they would also pretty much spell the end of an era.

Despite the dire shape that they’re in these days, Full Moon was probably at it’s height around 1999. Retro Puppet Master was just released, seemingly just to shill toys and yes, there were plenty of toys. Full Moon had started making action figures of their creations and they were a big hit. Whether it was arrogance or Band’s love of the character, I don’t know, but for some reason Decapitron got a 12 inch release.

The box is quite nice and reflects the quality of Full Moon’s products in the era. Make no mistake, they were good. The toys, the boxes, they were excellent. Full Moon became infamous for releasing lots of unique variants, which were briefly worth a ton of cash. Decapitron here also has a “stealth” variant… Just because.

Still, Decapitron makes for an odd choice for a deluxe figure. It’s just that nobody really liked Decapitron. He wasn’t really a puppet. He was Andre Toulon. Sure I wouldn’t mind a Decapitron figure, but there were plenty of other characters that deserved 12 inch figures before him. Regardless, the packaging is nice. Including stills from the movie and even a shot of the aforementioned doomed Empire Pictures Decapitron movie poster.

Of course, if you didn’t know the history, that poster would make no sense at all. Ever the salesman, Band’s Decapitron package mentions a “bonus” morphing head. Of course, every figure included this bonus head… So it wasn’t really a bonus.

Although the original Decapitron concept had five interchangable heads with varying powers, we mostly only see three heads in the Puppet Master incarnation of the character. This means that all three heads need to be recreated here. It’s an ambitious task, but one that actually works fairly well and makes for a fun toy.

First up is the Andre Toulon head, which was superimposed on the body in the films. It’s a decent caricature of Guy Rolfe. It’s not perfect by any means, but it does the job. I wonder if Rolfe ever recieved any money off this figure? He has his leather coat which is a decent faux leather material, with a turtleneck underneath, along with rubber boots and cloth pants.

The face has a strange purpleish wash on it however, that’s a bit distracting in person. It doesn’t look so bad far away, but when you get up close, it’s not so pleasant. The head sculpt of Rolfe is definitely better looking than the replica that Band currently sells on his website. Actually, this figure looks superior to that one in every way.

The bonus morphing head looks about right. I’d say it’s just a little misshapen, but that could be a little bit of package warping. This head really isn’t interesting, but I guess it’s cool to have if you’re looking to do the whole transformation sequence.

The most important and best head, is the electric robot head. This is the head we all think of when you say Decapitron. It’s very well reproduced here and looks like actual metal, although it’s just a nice hollow plastic.

The heads fit on the body via an interesting system where you have to turn them to the side to “lock” in. It works quite well, but I’m not sure why they didn’t just go a more pedestrian route of having them pop on and off. This works fine, but make sure you know that’s how they go off and on. If you just try to force it off, you’ll break it.

Oddly enough the body also has some of the purple shading on it around the neck. I’m not really sure why, as the coat and turtleneck cover up any of the neck that you might see. It seems like wasted effort and the purple is sort of ghastly anyway.

The biggest issue here is that for a 12 inch figure… He’s not 12 inches. For those unfamiliar with the 1:6 scale, let me clue you in. Classic GI Joe is not 12 inches. He’s about 11 1/2. That means that poor Decapitron here is about 11 inches tall. It makes him severely undersized.

I had heard that this body was downright terrible, but I don’t think it’s that bad. The joints are a bit stiff and it’s definitely dated, but it’s not the worst body out there. Certainly it’s short, and this body wouldn’t have even been up to standard in 1999, but it’s still fairly poseable.

So long as you’re not trying to have him do too many dynamic poses, you should be okay. Decapitron wasn’t exactly the most flexible character in the films, so he’s not really lacking here. I’m sure those who obsess over articulation will not be as pleased.

The body has a good density to it and it doesn’t look like it was repurposed from another source.

The legs do have a few issues though. It’s hard to spread them very far and they’re sort of connected in a way that the more you move them out, the more they’re like a v-crotch. You can get some ball joint movement, but not as good as the arms.

The feet are just a simple joint, which is definitely lacking by today’s standards. Oddly enough, they have a fair amount of sculpting details on them. I’m not sure why.

The only real accessories here are the heads. It would have been great if this could have included some of the other heads. The original Decapitron design definitely would have made a better toy.

All of the clothing is removable, but I should note that the turtleneck sweater can only be removed by removing the head. In fact I’m starting to think this sweater is the same one that came on the smaller Pinhead figure. The pants are undersized as well, forcing them to be tucked into the boots.

The boots are a really hard to deal with rubber. I don’t recommend trying to take them off. If you do, it’s best to put them in warm water, but be careful because you can also soften up the legs in doing this. Basically, leave the boots on unless you’re doing a review and absolutely need to make him naked.

I want to say these were around $30 when they first came out, which would put them at about $50-$60 in today’s inflated market. They’re definitely not worth that. While this is a fine toy, Decapitron is a bit boring as a character and quality here is not on the level of Sideshow or Hot Toys. Heck, this guy isn’t even a real 12 inches!

However, if you look around, you can find this guy online these days for pretty cheap. I’d say the average price is around $20. For that kind of money, he’s worth it. It’s a pretty good version of the character and a cool generic villain if you want. Plus you get three heads, which could easily be repurposed on spare bodies as new characters.

Score Recap:
Packaging – 8
Sculpting – 8
Paint – 8
Articulation – 6
Accessories – Morphing Head, Toulon Head
Value – 7
Overall – 7.5 out of 10

Puppet Master fans will find themselves at odds with this figure. It doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the Puppet Master figures, but it’s the only decent represenation of this character. If it would have included some of the other heads, then maybe this would be a must have. As is, it’s just something kind of neat that was made and isn’t too bad to have if you don’t pay too much for it.

So lots of Doctor Who news for you to soak up today. First and foremost, Underground Toys have revealed one of their Doctor Who SDCC products and it’s River Song and the inside of the Pandorica. The chair is able to hold the Doctor and River comes with a gun. The Pandorica can be formed by using the CD cases from the previous Pandorica wave.

I have to admit, the concept here is cool, but for $30 I don’t really want/need River Song that much. I’ve mentioned it elsewhere, but once I found out that River was born and raised on the Tardis and eventually becomes the Doctor’s girlfriend… I was a bit weirded out. Plus I don’t think the likeness here is that great and it’s basically an extra $15 for a convoluted chair.

I didn’t much care for the Pandorica plot itself, either, mind you. Underground promises there’s still more SDCC goodness on the way, including Classic Who items. One can only hope.

Elsewhere, Big Chief Studios, a UK company that has a website but absolutely no products that I can find, have been given the license to produce 1:6 scale figures of Doctor Who. It’s exciting news as they plan to do them in super detail and poseability and have the license not only to product current Doctor Who stuff, but everything dating back to the first Doctor.

The first waves announced include the 11th Doctor, Amy, Rory and River… So basically I’m not interested right now. They appear as if they’ll be sold through the website, but there may end up being a deal with international distributors. Unfortunately I can’t comment on Big Chief’s quality, as I can’t find examples of their work, but apparently the company is made up of people who’ve done good work in other companies. I actually thought the Character Options 1:6 stuff was quite good, but clearly this will target a different market.

Speaking of former Doctors, it’s rumored that the 9th Doctor, Christopher Eccleston may end up with a role in the popular TV show, Game of Thrones. I’ve never watched it, but I hear good things. I know Eccleston is awesome in just about everything he does.

Finally, the 10th Doctor, David Tennant will be appearing in the remake of Fright Night. While I usually loath remakes, this one looks promising with a decent cast and potential to be a bit of a modern horror franchise. Tennant is playing Roddy McDowell’s old role as the Van Helsing-like Peter Vincent. You can watch a trailer here. It looks pretty good, actually.

Earlier this year I mentioned and their wealth of free online streaming Japanese TV shows and films. They already had a fair amount of Gamera content, but they just recently added Japanese versions with English subtitles of three Gamera classics, including Gamera versus Barugon, Gamera vs Gyaos and the original black and white Gamera film to their Movies section. If you’ve ever wanted to check out Gamera in it’s original format without the somewhat goofy English dubbing, now you can and it’s totally free!

In addition to these subtitled versions of Gamera, they have all of Gamera’s films in dubbed formats. They’ve also recently added some uncut, unedited, subtitled versions of Sonny Chiba samurai movies. Definitely worth watching as a double feature to some rubber monster madness!

Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan character was created in 1912 and is nearing his 100th birthday in various forms of media. Throughout his long history, he’s had quite a few action figures. One of the most unique of those figures, is Mego’s World’s Greatest Super Hero version. Today we’re taking a spotlight look at this jungle adventurer.

Tarzan is one of my favorite figures in the Mego WGSH line. That may sound strange, as he’s arguably one of the weakest of the figures in many respects. However, what Tarzan lacks in brand appeal, he makes up for in oddity. Tarzan was a hugely popular character throughout the 20’s-60’s but was definitely starting to wane in popularity by the 1970’s. Today he seems downright antiquated, best left to Disney cartoons and black and white movies… But there was a time when Tarzan was badass.

That’s not to say Tarzan wasn’t still popular to an extent in the 1970’s, as he would receive a Saturday morning cartoon and eventually a toy line by Mattel in the decade. However it’s his 1974 debut in Mego’s line that’s perhaps a testament to his uniqueness. Mego was beginning to crank out a variety of big name superheroes from DC and Marvel in their 8 inch line, and out of nowhere comes Tarzan. To say that he didn’t fit would be an understatement.

While the WGSH assortments are known for some strange choices, many are more logical when you examine them. Falcon as an example, would appeal specifically to the African American demographic. But why Tarzan? As it turns out the late Neal Kublan, former Vice President of Mego, was a big fan and licensed the character for the line simply because of that.

Aside from being an oddball character in the line, Tarzan has a lot of interesting choices in his design. His hair is more like that of a shaggy Beatle than the long mane that Tarzan was often known for. His hair didn’t even look like Ron Ely’s more manicured 1960’s Tarzan. The different look is one of the things that definitely attracts me to this toy.

His outfit is similar to the old circus strongmen and this was a look that had been phased out for Tarzan by the 1970’s. Perhaps this is how Kublan had remembered Tarzan. He even has a flesh bodysuit on, reminding me of Jack Benny’s portrayal of the ape man. In fact I have to wonder if Jack Benny as Tarzan wasn’t the model for this figure. His bodysuit runs right down to his feet, giving him a pajama-like look.

He’s hardly the most imposing figure in the line, but there’s something just so corny and camp about the character that works. This version is a Type 1 body which makes him even less dynamic in look. This is a pretty common body to find Tarzan on. Incredibly, despite being nearly 40 years old… This figure has tight joints and stands on his own in a variety of poses with absolutely no problem.

He’s also one of the few World’s Greatest Super Heroes from Mego that includes an accessory. A single, rather unremarkable black knife. These are much harder to come by these days, as they were often lost by kids. Any small GI Joe knife, or Action Jackson knife will work as a decent substitute, though.

It’s a bit of a mystery as to why Tarzan doesn’t look more like Conan, but I figure it goes back to Kublan’s preference. Even the artwork used in the Tarzan package shows him with nothing but animal pelt shorts. Tarzan isn’t super hard to come by these days, but he’s a little rarer than some. Mego lost the rights to him in 1976 and many kids likely didn’t take as good care of an offbeat character such as this one. However I’m certain that kids in the 40’s-50’s would have flipped for a Tarzan this cool.

I’m not sure why I like the Mego Tarzan so much… Perhaps it’s because he’s an underdog. Maybe it’s because he’s just such an odd toy. Maybe it’s because you can take him out in the backyard and instantly have an adventure… I don’t know. Whatever the case, I think he’s one of the more fun additions to the line.

Tarzan is an eclectic representation of the character and a truly different choice for the Mego line. However, he’s a really fun figure and one that I am definitely glad to have in my collection. To many people, Tarzan is the lamest member of the WGSH, but to those who can see beneath, you’ll see one of the brightest spots! WGSH wouldn’t be quite as fun without Tarzan.

Astronaut Ice Cream
By: Space Foods

When I was a kid, field trips to the history museum typically meant one thing… Astronaut Ice Cream! No matter how many times I went to the various museums through the years, I always made sure I had enough money for this space-age treat. Who cares, even if we faked the moon landing… We invented this!!!

For years I’ve wanted to try it again. Did it taste as good as I recall as a kid? The problem is that I haven’t been to a museum in several years and the last few places I’ve went that might have had it, surprisingly enough didn’t have any. What kind of a gift shop doesn’t have Astronaut Ice Cream?

But all hope is not lost as Old Navy (yes, OLD NAVY!) is currently selling Astronaut Ice Cream on their shelves. Let’s take a trip to Ben & Jerry’s in outer space!

Nothing too revolutionary here, it comes in a simple metallic bag. It’s not even vacuum sealed, I don’t think. Not to worry, this stuff isn’t going to go bad.

Inside there is a smaller white rapper paper. This paper is kind of strange as it’s sealed and yet, there are three slits in it which basically allow particles to fall out and get in. I’m not sure of it’s point.

The back of the package gives you a little historical rundown of what the product is and how it’s made. It also has nutritional information on it as well. This is important if you’re trying to keep your figure on the moon.

Ground control to Major Tom… Ground control to Major Tom…

Take your protein pills Astronaut ice cream and put your helmet on!

So what exactly does Astronaut ice cream taste like? Well a lot better than commie Cosmonaut ice cream, I can tell you that much! USA! USA!

I suspect when the folks at NASA were making space ice cream, they knew they had to make it Neapolitan. Otherwise there would be a huge fight in space. I mean, what flavor do you take? Plus this was the 1960’s, so you had to have all three flavors that were available. Plus what if we encountered aliens? If we only could offer them ONE flavor of ice cream, they would no doubt invade our planet and devour our flesh bodies because of our lack of progress. However, since we have three flavors, no full scale invasions have happened yet. Coincidence? I think not.

Each flavor is unique. Vanilla is probably the most like it’s non-freeze dried counterpart. This is a pretty perfect replica of vanilla ice cream. I don’t know how they do it, but it works.

Chocolate is probably the most popular flavor of ice cream, but it suffers a bit in Buck Rogers form. It’s a little heavy and overly chocolately flavored. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a pretty good approximation, but of the three it’s probably the weakest.

When I was a kid strawberry was my favorite flavor of ice cream. As I’ve gotten older, I think vanilla is my favorite. Proof that as you get older your brain turns on you. Hell I like split pea soup now! WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME?!

Anywho, the strawberry is very good. It’s probably not as authentic as the vanilla, but it’s really damn close. It’s probably the best of the three overall, even if it’s not 100% as close as the vanilla is. The strawberry just has the right punch to it.

The ice cream sort of has the consistency of a packing peanut. It might be off putting to some people. It doesn’t bother me. Clearly I’m ready for outer space travel. That is like the only requirement, right?

Yes, I am available for tongue modeling!

Plus it melts in your mouth, not in your hand!

This is the one area where the space ice cream really sucks.

The articulation here just isn’t up to par with most toy lines out there. I mean… It’s just not moveable much at all. We’re talking Green Lantern 3 3/4 bad here. Then again, this is ice cream for moonmen! Maybe I should have skipped this section.

At $4 this isn’t the cheapest snack on the planet (but it’s pretty cheap on Uranus, heyoooo!) but it’s definitely cheaper than you’d pay at a museum. For starters, you don’t have to go to a museum. I mean, you can go to Old Navy and get some socks or something and some ice cream. It’s also cheaper than most places that sell it online. No shipping charges. I have no idea why Old Navy is selling this stuff, but I approve.

And so do aliens! So go buy some. EAT IT!