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The Barbarians
Directed by Ruggero Deodato
Starring The Barbarian Brothers (Peter & David Paul), Michael Berryman, Eva La Rue
Available on VHS

I’ve gotten into a bit of a barbarian movie kick lately, so I thought I would revisit this movie from my youth. If you’ve never heard of the Barbarians, then consider yourself lucky. The Barbarians was a vehicle for the “Barbarian Brothers”, released in 1987 by Cannon films. Peter and David Paul, a couple of bodybuilders, were dubbed by someone as the “Barbarian Brothers” and somebody, somewhere thought they were going to be the next Arnold Schwarzenegger multiplied by two. One would imagine that this was an attempt to capitalize on the popularity of the Conan films, but barbarians in general were popular during the 1980’s, so it’s hard to say for sure.

If you grew up in the 80’s-90’s you probably remember seeing the Barbarian brothers show up in a variety of low budget movies. Although they were officially billed as the Barbarian brothers, this is to my knowledge, the only movie they ever did that was about Barbarians. The rest of their films were basically the type of stuff that even Hulk Hogan’s agents would turn down. I have no idea why these guys were famous, aside from the fact that they were muscular twins. I guess that’s a thing. Stick around until the end of the review and I’ll tell you what the Barbarian Brothers are up to now. Also, this contains spoilers to a 26 year old movie… So you know, be warned!

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The movie starts off with some narration setting the scene that this is in fact, a time before time. It was a dangerous era, but one tribe of people were protected. They were known as the Ragnicks and they are for all intents and purposes a traveling circus. Why is a traveling circus protected? Best we not worry about that. Just know that they have an ancient ruby that only their queen can possess, which protects them.

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This magic ruby sure sounds neat, so naturally the evil warlord Kadar wants it. He ambushes the circus (so much for that whole “protected” thing) and kills a bunch of them. This sequence is actually REALLY long and not needed for the movie. The entire thing could have been accomplished in half the time, but I digress. This whole movie is basically a lot of time wasting. Somewhere in here is a story and I’ll explain it in my review, but please realize that the actual movie does a poor job of explaining anyone’s motivations or the basic plot.

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Kagar wants the ruby, but the circus queen, Canary refuses to give it to him. In fact, during the battle she sent one of her men off with the ruby to hide it. Unbeknownst to Kagar, of course. He insists that she give him the ruby, but you know how carnies are. It’s like when you win at the bottle toss and they try to claim you stepped over the line. As my Momma always said, “don’t trust people from the circus or the carnival”. Continue reading


Details are sketchy at the moment, but a new toy line is being created by the guys at Zoloworld. It’s called Warlords and Warriors and it appears to be a retro toy line based on the “knock offs” of Masters of the Universe. Of course, if you’re like me, you see this as so much more.


At 5 3/4″ these toys will rekindle my love for old toys like my Imperial Dragons and my Conan from Remco. Along with a ton of other figures that I mixed right in, including guys from Sungold and the like. While I don’t know what all this line will encompass, I’m hoping it will borrow heavily from that Remco spirit.

I have no idea what all this toy line will include and the figures above are just examples of some of my old Remco loves. However, the concept is sound and I hope it can grow and be successful.

More information can be found at their Facebook page Warlords and Warriors and I can’t wait to see what reveals they have next!


Masters of the Universe Classics
Vikor, He-Man of the North
7” Scale
By: Mattel
$20.00 (+ shipping)

Mattel kicks off 2011 with a figure that I wasn’t sure I wanted. When the time came to decide whether I was buying the “All-In” subscription for MOTU Classics I have to admit that I wasn’t sure. Mattel had only shown us 5 figures at that point and I wasn’t blown away by any of them. I still question the logic of their big reveals to sell the MOTUC subscription being He-Man in a mask, a mustachioed archer, a Skeletor “refresh”, Conan and a dude who’s torso is removable!

I caved in and bought the subscription despite being a bit underwhelmed, such is the nature of collecting, but now that my first figure has arrived I’m really happy that I did. Vikor is listed by Mattel as a predecessor to the He-Man we all know, a temporary protector of the Power of Grayskull, but I think most will more readily recognize him as an “homage” to Conan.

One of the stories of the history of the MOTU line is that it was originally intended to be a Conan the Barbarian line. Before the nature of the toys changed there was a concept drawing of He-Man as Conan and this is where we get Vikor.

Packaging:
Vikor comes in the usual Masters of the Universe Classics packaging. The outside white mailer box is cleanly printed with the MOTUC Logo and the name of the figure within. For those of you that are already buying these there won’t be any surprises.


Vikor’s interior packaging matches the rest if line exactly. For any of you MOC collectors he is posed well on the card and has a nice “Powers of Grayskull” sticker just like the re-issue of King Grayskull.


The card back is also well done, showing Vikor amongst his fellow Preternians including Zodak, Wun-Dar and The Goddess. His bio is pretty much par for the course, I won’t type the whole thing out here but it gives us a few hints about characters we will almost definitely see down the line. Mattel did a decent job of making up a reason for this guy to exist even though most fans probably won’t care.

Sculpt:
Once free from his plastic shell, Vikor comes to life! The first things I noticed about him while carefully removing the evil twist ties were his metal chains and his shackles. Vikor has clearly been in captivity at some point in his life and has gotten free. He’s so tough that he hasn’t even bothered to remove the irons he was imprisoned in!


Vikor’s body is made out of parts that MOTUC collectors have seen several times before. His body looks to be the He-Man buck almost entirely. This is definitely not a bad thing though, 2 lightly clothed barbarians are going to look largely the same until you get down to details. His muscles all have just the right amount of detail to make him look strong and powerful without seeming cartoonish or freaky.


Cona…uhhh….Vikor’s real strengths are in the tons of details you can find all over the figure. I mentioned his broken metal chains before but that is just the tip of the iceberg. His loincloth is a nice change of pace from the typical furry underwear found on most MOTUC males. It’s longer and ripped in places, obviously from years of hard-fought battles. Vikor has a fur cape that looks amazing and doesn’t inhibit his movement in the slightest, plus it’s removable(if you don’t mind popping his head off!).


Vikor even has his own, distinct facial sculpt. I’m really impressed with the way that he was made to undeniably resemble He-Man while retaining his own unique qualities. I looked very closely for paint slop and could only find a tiny spot on the inside of his left forearm. MOTUC figures tend to be a mixed bag in this area and I may have just been lucky. Overall the paint was very well done, I was especially impressed with the way the horns on his helmet came out.

Articulation:
Vikor has all of the same points of movement that I’ve come to expect on Masters of the Universe Classics figure. He has greatly improved range in the legs thanks to the new loincloth and VERY tight ankles, a welcome change from previous MOTUC figures.


My only complaint with him is on the head, where his long hair restricts the movement almost entirely. You can get a very small amount of movement from his noggin but only while fighting his hair for every centimeter. I had a lot of fun posing Vikor for the pictures in this review, he connects with the inner kid in the way that all great toys should.

Accessories:
Vikor comes with 3 accessories (4 if you count the cloak) that all work very well for him. He’s got an Axe, a Shield and a Sword that he is able to store behind his back. All three of them are sculpted in a style that reminds me a little bit of Anduril from The Return of King.


They are all metal and leather-looking, just detailed enough to make them interesting and yet not busy. The sword and axe fit very well in either hand while the shield clips on just behind the bracers. I didn’t have any problems with the shield popping loose of it’s own accord.


A minor negative is his non-removable helmet. I know we haven’t had a history of helmets coming off in this line, but I think that needs to change! Another option would’ve been an extra, helmetless, head.


I absolutely love the fact that his sword stores in a sheath behind him. I had no idea that this was a feature and actually said “Whoa!” out loud when I discovered it. Mattel has always been good about accessories and storage on the figures that get them, but they have truly stepped up their game with recent releases like Grizzlor and Vikor.

Value:
Here’s the point where MOTUC figures always lose some points. I paid $28 and change for Vikor including shipping which really is too much, no bones about it. For comparison, I recently bought the Transformers “Reveal the Shield” Battle in Space 2-pack for around $22 with tax. That set included 2 Deluxe size Transformers, a die-cast metal Matrix of Leadership and a comic book.


Fact is, you can’t get action figures anywhere near the quality or style of Masters of the Universe Classics anywhere else, for any price. While that’s no excuse to charge what Mattel is charging, it helps to put things in perspective.

I am comfortable with the cost of the line because I want these figures despite the high cost. More casual fans or collectors of multiple lines have to consider what else their hard-earned money could get them for the same cost as a MOTUC figure.

Summary:
Vikor is a truly awesome action figure. When I first saw pictures of him I was sure that he’d end up in a bin with Battle Armor Skeletor and The Goddess but now that I have him in hand I know he’s destined to hang out on the top shelf with all of his fellow Preternians!


The fact that Mattel was willing to not only make a figure of this obscure, unknown character but to knock it right out of the park makes me very excited about the rest of the 2011 Club Eternia Subscription. This figure is recommended for MOTU fans.


Go get yourself some, Coco!

Conan O’Brien is putting his cards on the table. NBC want Conan to move to 12:05AM which technically would no longer make the “Tonight Show” tonight. Rumors are swelling that NBC favors Leno. Well Conan’s not going to be pushed around. Today he put his foot down and released this statement.

People of Earth:

In the last few days, I’ve been getting a lot of sympathy calls, and I want to start by making it clear that no one should waste a second feeling sorry for me. For 17 years, I’ve been getting paid to do what I love most and, in a world with real problems, I’ve been absurdly lucky. That said, I’ve been suddenly put in a very public predicament and my bosses are demanding an immediate decision.

Six years ago, I signed a contract with NBC to take over The Tonight Show in June of 2009. Like a lot of us, I grew up watching Johnny Carson every night and the chance to one day sit in that chair has meant everything to me. I worked long and hard to get that opportunity, passed up far more lucrative offers, and since 2004 I have spent literally hundreds of hours thinking of ways to extend the franchise long into the future. It was my mistaken belief that, like my predecessor, I would have the benefit of some time and, just as important, some degree of ratings support from the prime-time schedule. Building a lasting audience at 11:30 is impossible without both.

But sadly, we were never given that chance. After only seven months, with my Tonight Show in its infancy, NBC has decided to react to their terrible difficulties in prime-time by making a change in their long-established late night schedule.

Last Thursday, NBC executives told me they intended to move the Tonight Show to 12:05 to accommodate the Jay Leno Show at 11:35. For 60 years the Tonight Show has aired immediately following the late local news. I sincerely believe that delaying the Tonight Show into the next day to accommodate another comedy program will seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting. The Tonight Show at 12:05 simply isn’t the Tonight Show. Also, if I accept this move I will be knocking the Late Night show, which I inherited from David Letterman and passed on to Jimmy Fallon, out of its long-held time slot. That would hurt the other NBC franchise that I love, and it would be unfair to Jimmy.

So it has come to this: I cannot express in words how much I enjoy hosting this program and what an enormous personal disappointment it is for me to consider losing it. My staff and I have worked unbelievably hard and we are very proud of our contribution to the legacy of The Tonight Show. But I cannot participate in what I honestly believe is its destruction. Some people will make the argument that with DVRs and the Internet a time slot doesn’t matter. But with the Tonight Show, I believe nothing could matter more.

There has been speculation about my going to another network but, to set the record straight, I currently have no other offer and honestly have no idea what happens next. My hope is that NBC and I can resolve this quickly so that my staff, crew, and I can do a show we can be proud of, for a company that values our work.

Have a great day and, for the record, I am truly sorry about my hair; it’s always been that way.

Yours,
Conan

Hell, Conan’s statement is funnier than Jay Leno’s tired act. F-You Jay Leno. Go away. NBC, do the right thing. Back the Coco train, because if you don’t, you’re going to lose me and millions more.

The first episode of the new Tonight Show was funnier than all of Leno’s last week of shows combined. The elegance and polish of Conan’s skits showed off some of the production values and the opening skit with Conan running from New York to LA was vintage Conan and laugh out loud funny several times. One of the nice things is that O’Brien hasn’t changed his tune one bit. The jokes were still punchy and even though his monologue obviously wasn’t his best, it wasn’t Leno groan worthy either.

The set was a thing of beauty, but I preferred the Max Weinberg 7 over at the left instead of the right. I’ll get used to it eventually I’m sure. Andy Richter is nice to have back, but I’d rather him just be a be a sidekick than the announce sidekick deal. Is Joel Godard done with the show? I’ll miss his announcing.

Will Ferrall made for a bumpy first guest, but the show chugged along fine with him. Conan just barely lost a little of his edge, which should be enough for the NBC execs and the old farts who enjoyed Leno with their nightly milk of magnesia. Still some of the segments were a bit overproduced and there were some iffy camera shots from the production staff.

However as good as the first show was, the second Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien was as entertaining of a program as it’s been since Carson hosted. Tom Hanks made a great guest and their interaction was classic. Conan was totally back into the groove, the camera crew finally figured out how to shoot O’Brien as well as the band and Richter and the whole show rolled smooth.

Plus Green Day > Pearl Jam.

Right now Conan seems to be going with a bit of a Letterman vibe where he has one guest and a musical act and that’s fine. Many people don’t remember this but much of the Carson version of the Tonight Show was skits, because Carson was funny. Leno didn’t do skits because he’s garbage.

Needless to say Conan hosting the Tonight Show fits like a glove and somewhere Johnny Carson is smiling. Conan channels Carson so much it’s amazing. It’s truly a treat to have a good Tonight Show again. Awesomeness all around. It’s nice for the Tonight show to be funny and have a talented comedian on it. After 17 years of Leno I almost forgot what that was like.

But not all is great in late night land… I also tuned in to give Jimmy Fallon another shot because he had Steve Martin and Paul Simon on. Ugh. Fallon just doesn’t have it. He finally got a trademark thing the “bowling” dance, but his interview skills are still terrible. Just watch the interaction between him, Martin and Simon. He basically insults Paul Simon over and over and Simon starts ignoring him to chat with Steve Martin.

Fallon’s show remains a mess. I’ll try again in a few months, but his first few months have been absolutely BRUTAL. As it is, Conan is the late night king and I suspect he will be for a long, long time to come.