Sunday, November 29, 2015
One of my all-time favorite CGI animated comedies is Monsters vs. Aliens (2009), a loving tribute/sendup of the pulpy sci-fi flicks from the "Atomic Age" of the '50s and '60s. What I didn't know was that MvA went on to become a short-lived CGI cartoon on Nickelodeon that ran from March 2013 to February 2014.
I found out about this series completely by accident last month when I was scrolling through my digital cable TV menu and saw an ad for MvA that looked familiar but included characters that I didn't recognize from the movie. Boy, was I surprised--not just to find it, but to see that it's a worthy follow-up to the movie that should have lasted longer than a single season. Read on for my complete review.
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
Of my many years of being a geek, I've learned two things: 1) never underestimate the power of nostalgia and 2) never underestimate the lingering appeal of a well-designed toy.
Even though Mego went out of business in 1983, its contribution to geek toys has lived on among collectors for many years since. Specifically, its eight-inch action figure model--a model that's flexible enough for any franchise license and cheap to produce--has been enjoying a renaissance in recent years.
Toy companies such as Bif Bang Pow and NECA have been releasing figures for various licenses based on the Mego figure model, licenses that were never carried by Mego when it was still in business. In contrast, Figures Toy Company has been releasing DC superhero figures that look exactly like the same figures that Mego released during its heyday the '70s. These figures have been so popular that Figures Toy Company has expanded its DC lines to include different versions of popular DC characters, such as a figure line based entirely on the live-action Batman TV show from the '60s.
The latest DC line from Figures Toy Company is based on Hanna-Barbera's Super Friends cartoon from the '70s and ‘80s. This line features characters that first appeared in this cartoon (e.g., Apache Chief, Samurai and the Wonder Twins). It also includes familiar characters such as Superman and Robin but with head sculpts that are carefully modeled after how these characters appeared in the cartoon.
Most of the DC purists I know disavow the cartoon as a legitimate part of DC history, but I find it fascinating to see a series of Mego-like figures being released under the Super Friends license decades after the cartoon went off the air. Sure, Super Friends figures have been released before, but Mego and Super Friends were contemporaries of each other. Even though Mego released DC superhero figures while the cartoon was on the air, no one at Mego thought it was necessary to specifically re-brand the figures as Super Friends figures. Thus, to finally see Mego figures that are labeled as Super Friends figures feels like a kind of pop culture time warp, as if they were artifacts from an alternate history where Mego saw value in creating a Super Friends figure line. It's the same feeling I got with Bif Bang Pow's line of Mego-like figures for the original Battlestar Galactica TV series, another contemporary of Mego.
Another DC line that's being released by Figures Toy Company is based on Kenner's Super Powers action figure line from the '80s. The figures in this line still have the general build of a Mego figure, but these are supposed to include punching action features like the original Super Powers figures. In contrast to Super Friends, though, the Super Powers line has a more bittersweet connection to Mego: It debuted in 1984, a year after Mego went out of business and lost the DC license to Kenner.