Sunday, July 28, 2013

Who Framed Roger Rabbit Flexies from LJN Toys

(just incase you forgot where you were. More blogs at

Check out the whole photo archive of these and many other toys at

For all the potential Who Framed Roger Rabbit had for toys, Disney sold it way too short. I think handing the license to LJN was probably the worst thing they could have done, worse than just not making toys period. I know I'm talking about the same company that brought the world Thundercats, Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, Voltron, Tigersharks and the ever iconic WWF Superstars but let's face it LJN had more failures than successes. Don't even get me started on their video game productions, I don't want to get into a Angry Video Game Nerd-esque rant here. LJN produced two lines of equally crappy figures and I'll be honest, I like them. I'm a complex guy, I'll talk trash about something for years but hold onto it because I like it. If there were better toys available, I'd buy them and throw these up on my BluJay store. Till then I'll talk about these.

(the LJN logo; no gold at the end of that rainbow)

There was two lines of Who Framed Roger Rabbit toys from LJN as I stated earlier. One was a series of 3 inch articulated figures; Judge Doom, Eddie Valiant, Roger Rabbit and Wiseguy Weasel. These were fairly bad, even for being released in 1988. They were painfully stiff looking figures that made happy meal toys look more desirable. Not only were the figures cursed with bad articulation and horrible likenesses but they were strangely flat, as in the figures had little to no girth at all. Anyways, I own Eddie and Roger only because they came in a collection of Super Powers figures I bought nearly a decade ago off eBay. More recently I got the Benny the Cab while on vacation in Orlando at a flea market. I barely even relate Benny to this line because 1) he saw limited release in America and was on clearance when he showed up overseas 2) he's far nicer than anything made by LJN between 1988 and their death in 1995.

(seriously, this is the only toy LJN did right in this whole line)

(this was made by McDonalds years after the movie and it's better looking than most of these figures)

(eh, this was made by Applause and shows no one has really done Roger Rabbit justice in toy form)

LJN made a series of bendy figures based off the movie and called them Flexies. I have a strange love/hate relationship when it comes to bendy toys. Some of them are really interesting like some of the old Advanced Dungeons and Dragons figures or some of the old AHI monsters but most of them look like old and chewed on Gumby figures. The Flexies in comparison to the basic action figures were giants, nearly 3 times the size. They suffered from the same strange "squished flat" disorder that the action figures did but this time they made 6 different characters for kids to spend their hard earned chore money on. I have a vague memory of seeing these at my local toy stores when I was a kid and I remember them bearing large red clearance stickers almost immediately. Competition was tough during the year of 1988, He-Man was still a contender, GI Joe was prevailing, COPS was just about the best value for your money, TMNT was starting their inaugural year and it didn't look like anything could stop Transformers. I know I just keep bashing LJN but if any other company had the rights to the toys we (or maybe just me, I could be alone in my assumption that this series sucked) could have had some bad ass toys.

(this is a good bendy figure)

(these on the other hand....)

Roger Rabbit

He kind of looks like someone dropped a ton of bricks on him. They did get the color pallet right though. The ears a bendable along with the torso, arms and stubby legs. Congratulations if you can get them to hold a pose though, the rubber is just slightly too thick to allow the inner wire to retain a shape. Don't get me wrong though, in hand the make you reminisce about your days playing with LJN WWF wrestlers. I like the idea of big sturdy toys that you can bludgeon a sibling with, it brings a certain amount of joy to my dark heart. Roger also comes with a set of handcuffs to recreate those memorable scenes from the movie. They are nothing really special but they do the job. Side note, LJN made a giant Roger Flexies that I somehow really want to own for stupid reasons. I guess it's because I already own this unholy hexad of figures, might as well purchase their overlord.

Jessica Rabbit

I have a strange obsession with Jessica Rabbit. When I was a young lad I had what could be described as a "thing" for Jessica Rabbit and Betty Boop. Being 1988 and being a boy of six years of age, I was fairly impressionable. Sadly, they never made what I considered an acceptable figure or doll of Jessica Rabbit. The only positive thing I can remark about this Flexies figure is one of two characters from the line that retain poses. The cloth accent to complete the illusion of a full skirt is more annoying than appealing. Under the skirt (yes I looked) reveals the top part of the dress becomes just a one-piece swimsuit and the skirt is made out of a cheap and sandpaper coarse fabric. But it does pose and retain those poses, there's something to be said about that. Meh!

Wiseguy Weasel

I loved the design and concept of the weasels in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. They were the perfect archetype for a villain's henchmen / minions. Loyal, lethal and dumb as a box of LJN video games. Wiseguy suffered the squished flat syndrome his action figure counterpart did, which is a shame because I think he was about the most screen accurate figure from the line. He includes a yellow plastic linked chain that wraps around his waist, which I have no idea what part of the movie that's from. He also has a gun molded into his hand which makes him the second best figure in the line, at least in my honest opinion. I miss cartoon violence.

Eddie Valiant

I'm just going to get this out of the way, I like Bob Hoskins a lot as an actor. Any man that plays Smee in two totally different productions of a Peter Pan based movie has my vote for being one of the most underrated actors of all time. He was also Mario Mario in Super Mario Bros : the movie and that film holds a special place in guilty movie pleasures section. He also drank heavily to get through that movie and I find that kind of cool because sometimes I waish I could do that to get through work. This Flexies and the action figure both suck, there isn't any other way to put it. No redeeming qualities at all. The color of the suit is also this horrible fecal brown, the kind of suit you'd commonly see in a thrift store. The kind that was used for a funeral but stripped off the corpse just before they cremate it. My mind goes to strange places, sorry but it's the best visual I can paint. Eddie also comes with the same handcuffs as Roger which makes this figure even more boring, if that was a possiblity.

Baby Herman

This is my favorite figure from the line. If it wasn't for what amounts to possibly mild ADHD I'd sell the set and keep this figure. It's the only time I'm aware of they made a Baby Herman in "adult" form. I wish he had a cigar accessory or came with his baby stroller instead of the highchair. The highchair accessory is kind of lost on the figure, he doesn't really "flex". I do like the fistful of cash Herman is gripping onto, which reminds me I also liked Wiseguy Weasel solely on the fact he has the gun molded into his hand. I guess that makes two figures I'd keep if I could convince myself to sell the rest.

Judge Doom

Here is where I was hoping for the figures to wow me, they didn't. The action figure Judge Doom was a let down, for an intimidating movie antagonist his action figure and Flexies toy gives the impression of an angry old man wanting you to get the fuck off his lawn. Both toys also came with a vulture which was never in the movie in the first place. Would have made for an awesome pet / companion in the film but to package it with the toy is confusing. I mean it's really conflicting, I would have loved to have seen that vulture added to the movie. Fucking LJN. He also comes with a cane but it's little more than a black plastic stick.

In the end, I guess I'm fairly happy I have these in my collection. I like them but only on the surface, they look great on my wall of carded figures and they are good to use as an example of what a bad bendy figure looks like. Past that, they remind me what a poor company does with a great license. For a modern example look at anything made by Jazwares. And the level of fail in these figures doesn't taint my memories of the movie, I was a grown man before I owned any of the LJN Roger Rabbit toys. That's the strange appeal of vintage toys, they are nostalgic but they may not be the best representation of the characters you love but the toys hold a soft spot in your heart anyways.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Raging Nerdgasm: My soft spot for glow in the dark toys

I collect a lot of toys. That should be appearant when fans watch my videos, read my blogs or visit my website. Most of the time I have a list of requirements a toy has to meet before I buy it. Monsters, robots, Japanese/Import toys, DC comics, Batman's rogues gallery, Batman the animated series, bootleg, knock off, obscure, unique looking, vintage (older than 25 years), Mego, sci-fi movie, horror movie, ETC. That's just a small example of these requirements, it goes on and on and it's reflected in the diversity of my collection. Mr. Freeze standing next to Blanka from Street Fighter 2, Batman pulling the arm off of a Resident Evil zombie and Godzilla fighting Schwarzenegger from Commando is just a portion of the madness you might witness on my shelves. But there is one stipulation alone that beats all, the elusive glow-in-the-dark feature.

I can't explain it, I really like toys that glow in the dark. Whether it's the full figure or just a part of it (hands, face, eyes, weapons), I'm strangely drawn to it like a moth to a flame. I've bought toys I normally would pass up and kept toys I'd normally sell or trade just because it glows. I recently picked up a Bison from the Street Fighter movie figures that I would have probably sold or traded but when I noticed his hands glowed in the dark, he found himself sitting on top of my dresser. I've bought and kept kids meal toys, blind boxed vinyl, GI Joes and other lines I'd normally pass over just because it said glow-in-the-dark on the box. I've even bought silly repaints/repackaged figures because it glowed (i.e- "Radioactive" Cornholio from the Beavis and Butthead figure series).

Maybe it's slight insanity, possibly it's the pleasant green color that radiates out from the toy or it could just be a mental defect in me caused by the lead in the plastic but I enjoy my glow-in-the-dark toys. I know everyone has their toy quirks, not that I feel bad about mine. Some people like mini figure toys, some collect exclusively 1/6th scale figures; while I don't restrict myself to one genre I do enjoy hunting down GITD figures. There aren't many of them out there, so it makes it a fun challenge and I can't say I'm obsessed because I have passed up toys that glowed that I thought were less than interesting in my time. What's your toy collecting quirk? I want to know, I know every collector has one and now I'm curious what my fellow readers like.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Dark Knight Joker by Square Enix PlayArts Kai

New release, care of our friends at Heroes' Haven Comics, is the brand new import PlayArts Kai Joker based of Heath Ledger's performance in the Dark Knight. Ledger's performance evokes a lot of cheers and jeers from fans. Some think he re-imagined the Joker too far past being recognized from his comic book appearances and some think his take on the Joker is where it was destined to evolve. I feel like my opinion falls somewhere in between; it's a groundbreaking performance and a great villain but it's not the Joker to me. Anyways, since his untimely death just before the movie was released, I feel like the character had never really gotten the justice it deserved in action figure form. DC Direct produced a horrible 1/6th scale figure with cloth outfit that bared little resemblance in accurately capturing the face, Mattel released a handful of renditions that while beautifully sculpted fell short in the paint application department and Hot Toys released two 1/6th scale figures that were incredibly produced with loads of attention to detail but out of the price range of most collectors. It seemed like most of us were just going to have to make due with the Mattel figures until Square Enix announced the Dark Knight Trilogy was one of the DC licenses they had acquired for their flagship PlayArts Kai line.

 PlayArts Kai is an ongoing series of import figures, roughly 6 to 9 inches, loaded with detail and articulation. The line started with covering mostly video game and anime brands; Tomb Raider, Metal Gear Solid, Halo, Hitman and other popular series. When they started making figures based off of the widely popular Arkham Asylum video game, DC comics fans really took notice. The first edition Batman sold out within weeks of it's initial Previews magazine solicitation and then the Joker followed suit. Harley didn't sell too well but that's the concern with most female figures, and it's just the truth sorry guys. It also didn't help that Harley didn't seem to live up to the high expectations already left by the Batman and Joker figures. When Square Enix announced acquisition of the Dark Knight movie license and showed off flat gray prototypes at NYCC, fans made plans to save their pennies for Bane and Joker. While Bane was slightly over stylized, Joker and Catwoman did a great job capturing the realism Christopher Nolan pumped into the last trilogy.

The Joker stands just over 7 inches tall which places him just slightly out of scale to place him with my Arkham City Batman and Catwoman figures. He does fit in scale with the Dark Knight Rises Batman released with Bane a month ago. The articulation on the figure is staggering, just while writing this I discovered the tails on his overcoat have an articulation hinge. Most of the time I am not too thrilled with an abundance of articulation but the PlayArts Kai figures are equipped with joints that ratchet and lock into position and the Joker comes with the newly designed Square Enix translucent base which makes locking your figures into epic battle poses a real ease.  The paint job on the figure does a good job of recreating the Joker's shabby appearance. The face paint is smeared and uneven, the clothes have a great deal of shading to give the appearance of being layered. The only fail in the paint scheme is the eyes, they are way too dark and could stand to be whiter so the stand out from the black around them. The sculpt is impressive; every strand of hair, every wrinkle in the face is matched as close as possible for a figure this scale. They even went so far as to reproduce the creases in the pants, buttons, hemming and stitching all over the figure. The accessories are simple; 2 Joker cards (both different and fully detailed), an alternate head with slightly more worn face paint, an alternate bank robbery head (sadly it's not a mask that fits over one of the two heads but I'll live), his trusty knife and an assortment of hands to hold the cards, knife or to throw a closed fist punch.

The figure is by far worth the SRP of $64.99, you get a great piece of art that you can play with. The box doubles as a great showcase to keep the figure when he's not on full display. I'm a sucker for front flap window boxes. The figure, in my opinion, brings the pleasure and satisfaction of a Hot Toys figure without the hefty price tag. The figure is in comic and toy shops now that get supplied by Previews magazine so if you like what you see don't wait too long because this figure won't last.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The wonderful world of Celestra: Queen of the Transforming Dolls

The toy world has seen a lot of strange things. It's a vast, expansive world full of legendary licenses, the mediocre, the uninspired and plenty of pretenders clawing for whatever glory they can attain. I consider myself a perpetual student of my craft, there is no one person that knows everything about toys made in modern history. Anyone who claims to be all knowing is a damn liar, I've gone toe-to-toe with the best and left them defeated and yet I've been bested in a game of wits based on toy knowledge. But enough comparing peckers, we are here to talk about the toys.

I'm a sucker for obscure toys, the only down side of obscure toys is the price tags they carry. Most of the time they are artificially inflated but there are few times where I can say the price reflects it's actual value. Now some people get terms confused when I say obscure and bootleg. A bootleg can be obscure but a bootleg is usually an unlicensed reproduction or facsimile of a popular line or character made out of usually substandard materials. An obscure figure can be anything from a licensed toy from a well done line (IE- Scratch from TMNT) or a non-licensed figure from a line made to capitalize on the success of another line (or simply put, a knock off). Knock off figures are most of the time made to play with the figures from whatever line they are trying to mimic but what happens when a figure transcends the borders a couple of genres? Well, you are left with the brilliantly half baked toy I've painstakingly built up so much in the last two paragraphs. I have a flair for dramatics and wordy expositions, those of you who have trudged through it are rewarded.

Celestra was reportedly Queen of the Kingdom of Transforming Dolls. It's a tiny soveriegn nation with a known registry of 4 known citizens; Queen Celestra, Vulcania Thrusterbottom, Saturnia Rings and Zarla Mercedes-Benz. I'm assuming Zarla is a widow as I have never met anyone else claiming citizenship of Transforming Doll Kingdom. As far as I know the nation doesn't have a spot on the UN security council which I feel is in poor taste because who else can properly save the world from the threat of WMDs if it isn't a team of women from a land where everyone transforms into some kind of mechanical conveyance? I don't see France stepping forward with a transforming Eiffel tower or croissant or anything like that.

Placo Toys made the transforming dolls. Now Placo hasn't really made much of a dent in the toy world and as far as I can tell they still exist. They found a convenient nitch by making a lot of generic toys that can be easily turned into licensed products with a well placed graphic slapped on it like ping-pong ball guns, flashlights, garbage cans and keychains. Other than Celestra their only other action figure forays seem to be 8 inch tall boxed Universal Monsters (similar to the carded or tagged Imperial ones) and some incredibly dull Youngblood figures (before McFarlane toys did them quasi-justice). One thing I can say they did well other than these Celestra figures were the die-cast and articulated Star Wars key chains and figural Mortal Kombat key chains that trumped everything Jazwares ever did with the Mortal Kombat license.

The Celestra dolls are 4 1/2 inch articulated female figures with rooted hair and a comb accessory. Not enough figures today come with combs, I literally have jars of swords and guns but very few combs. Each of the dolls are removable from their transforming cocoons but I can't verify if the cocoons are interchangeable. The idea of a transforming dolls is madness, but I guess gender ambiguous kids had a big share of the market back in the 80s. I'm not sure if a young me would have been drawn to these or not, I can't begin to think I'd choose it over a Go-Bot or a clearance Super Natural figure. It's not a Reese's Cup, these are two tastes that don't taste great together and it looks like the toy you'd see if you were stuck at a CVS or Walgreen's picking up medicine. But my appreciation of older and obscure toys makes this toys all that much cooler in my adult life.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Prepare for the coming of 8-Ball, a Raging Nerdgasm inside look

Those of you that have followed me for any length of time know I'm particularly partial to Kickstarter campaigns. It's a great way to not only get something funded but also get something in return for donating towards someone's cause. I've done a bunch of them in the last 12 months, everything from Renny's Oki Doki food truck and the many OMFG minifigure series to the Uncle Rukus movie and tons more media projects. Some have gone through, some have not but all have gotten not only my monetary support but also my personal vote of confidence and usually some kind of write up on . As luck would have it, when the project is about a toy it gets a little more attention from me. I've gotten very active when it comes time to support the OMFG minifigure series, so much so we entered a design and won a spot in the upcoming series 4. While cruising Facebook posts a couple of months ago I saw a post for a 4 inch tall creature strongly resembling a Madball figure. I read the tag line;

(I can't tell you how much I like this mini poster.)

"Coming to Kickstarter in July comes your chance to own the first of Radioactive Uppercut's newest line up; Radioactive Rumblers."

What is Radioactive Uppercut? What is a Radioactive Rumbler? Good questions one and all, they will be answered shortly.

(Background card art not final.)

Radioactive Uppercut is the working name of Johnny Santagada, a man who's professionally been a part of the toy industry working for the greats such as DC Direct, Mezco and Gemmy (known for making everything from animatronic Santa Claus to Freddy Krueger and beyond). Designed by Johnny Santagada and sculpted by ERA Sculptures, 8-Ball is a detail packed 4 inches tall vinyl figure with 3 points of monster mashing articulation. The project encompassing 8-Ball and the Radioactive Rumblers have been an ongoing project for Johnny for the last 6 years, a labor of love waiting for the right opportunity to spring it on the collecting world. If you ask me the time is certainly right. Art toys, vinyl toys and independent toys are three of the hottest commodities in the market, especially when you consider the ever rising cost of figures at retail and the value you get for your money is laughable.

(Dat ass @_@)

The inspiration for 8-Ball comes from 50's and 60's sci-fi / horror movies and comics along with 80's gross out toys like Madballs, Monster in my Pocket and Garbage Pail Kids. All of those 80's toy lines are hot commodities on the secondary market right now with even figures in poor condition commanding big money. The verison you see in the photos will be the exclusive Kickstarter color scheme, anything sold outside of the Kickstarter campaign will have a different decoration. $55 gets you 8-Ball in all his classic sofubi glory packaged in a poly bag with header card and a trading card featuring original art on one side and character statistics on the other. Of course there will be other donation tiers featuring everything from custom painted 8-Balls (by the likes of George Gaspar, Spanky Stokes, Ed Long, Damien Glonek, Monsterforge, Tom Connors, Butcher Brand, Motorbot, D-Lux and Topheroy), "Radioactive" green and blank white 8-Balls for you to test your painting skills with. Also putting your money where your mouth is will get you exclusive rights to vote on upcoming Radioactive Rumblers (provided that funding is acquired through the first campaign) and color variants of existing figures in the line. Keeping with the time honored tradition, 8-Ball with be manufactured in Japan in true sofubi fashion.

(join them on facebook at

Stay tuned to both Raging Nerdgasm and Radioactive Uppercut for more news regarding the Kickstarter campaign and hopefully more Radioactive Rumblers coming soon!

(A sign of what may be in the future....)