Friday, January 10, 2014

5 more random action figures

Star Trek TNG Antican

The Antican was from the earlier seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Y'know, back when they were still feeling out the direction of the show and before the make up and effects got better. According to the Star Trek wiki the Anticans are a sentient humanoid-canine species from the planet Antica who like to eat their meat still alive and kicking. Think rape-cannibals. Anyways, their prey of choice were the Selay; a reptilian humanoid species resembling cobra people for lack of better terms. The Antican, Selay, Q and the Feringi were tail enders to the failing Galoob Star Trek series and usually command big bucks in good condition. Unless you are a nut and have to have him I would suggest living without him unless you get him for a few bucks, he's far from being the most interesting toy you don't own.

Slo Mo from Space Precinct

Oh yeah, that breakout BBC series known as Space Precinct. Right? It played in the US if your market was lucky enough to slip it into a late night/early morning time slot. Those time slots that play just before the channel signs off for the night or they start playing the 700 Club or infomercials isn't exactly the way to coax people into falling in love with a fairly imaginative hour long tv series. Created and written by Gerry Anderson ( creative mind behind Thunderbirds, Stingray and Captain Scarlet), this live action police drama seemed childish on the surface with silly characters like Slo Mo and brightly designed alien species  (using a lot of great make up techniques and puppetry) but had lots of adult undertones and story lines. Needless to say it lasted a year even though rating highly in Europe, the series capped off with 24 episodes and was Gerry Anderson's biggest budgeted production.

Slo Mo was more than likely in every episode if memory serves me right. Kind of a comic relief mixture of C3P0 and R2D2 to offset some of the tension I bought Slo Mo just because I thought he'd look cool in the background of a Jawa Sandcrawler or some other scene I dreamed of building but never got around to. Now he just haunts a random bin full of miscellanous toys where I'll probably throw him next to the Antican if I decide either deserves to be displayed.

Macho Man LJN thumb wrestler

Nothing quite like cornholing a bearded man in pink underwear and making him fight another mostly naked man with a thumb up his ass. While I really like LJN's WWF figures I've always had this strange issue with the thumb wrestlers. That and they are incredibly hard to display.

Imperial Space fighters

Here goes my love/hate for bendy figures. Imperial did a few straight bootlegs of other popular space branded toys and made them bendies. This is a green Star Wars Storm Trooper, let that sink in for a minute.

Harem Xena

I never was a big fan of the Xena series but then again I wasn't a fan of the Hercules series till it was off the air and I was much older. Even the times I sat down trying to watch the series with an open mind, I lost interest within minutes. You could almost time me; 7 minutes in and I was done, just like clockwork. I bought this figure to eventually customize into a Slave Leia 6 inch figure but I think I got bored one day and shot it with an airsoft gun. They're making a 6 inch Slave Leia and I probably won't buy it anyways because I'm just not that into Star Wars anymore.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

RNG Anime Review: Wolf Children

By:Ana Khayos

It’s been over a year since my husband and I gave up cable and been dipping neck deep into the world of online streaming. So far we have been getting our moneys worth with Netflix, but recently I’ve been exploring the world of Amazon Prime with some of my friends.

Tonight was movie night.  I prepared the dinner while my friends browsed for something to watch.  When I came back from the kitchen there was this amazing trailer playing for a movie called Wolf Children.  The trailer clearly stated that it was by the director who did Summer Wars, which was just amazing, so I was hooked and was excited to see it.  Neat less to say that it was worth the 3 day rental for $3.99 on Amazon Prime.

The Story

The movie focuses on the narrator's mother Hana who fell in love with a Wolf Man (werewolf).  She proceeds to tell her mothers love story, and the tragedy that leads her to become a single mother who had to raise two unusual young children who are also Wolf People by the name of Yuki and Ame. Everybody knows that being a married, widowed, or a single mother is a tough job especially since there’s no book to tell you how to really raise your kids.  Now imaging raising wolf cubs/kids by someone who is now raising children by herself and has no experience with wild animals. 

The movie does a wonderful job in converting a difficult and normal situation for a mother with young children to be even more difficult when she is trying to hide her childrens unique condition.  Simple things like having a young child being sick becomes a question between taking the child to the pediatrician or the vet. 

All in all, the entire movie echoes around one question “When you grow up, do you want to be human or wolf?”.  The mother sacrifices everything to make sure her two wolf kids have the chance and freedom to make up their minds when it comes to this important question in their unique lives.  Hana drops her studies, gives up her life in the city, moves to the country and learns to live a simple frugal life of secrecy while learning how to live off the land like other local farmers.  The movie will have moments that bring you joy and other moments that just make you cry because of how close you can relate to the main protagonist challenging situation. Is just a phenomenal story.

About the Movie

The film was produced by Studio Chizu (known for Wolf Children), and Madhouse Studios how has a very long portfolio of animated films including The Animatrix (short), Batman : Gotham Knight (short) , Death Note, Metropolis, Millenium Actress, Paprika, Paranoia Agent, Perfect Blue, Summer Wars, and Vampire Hunter D just to name a fraction of their well known work.   

The story was created by Mamoru Hosoda who also co wrote the screenplay and directed the film Wolf Children. You might recognize some of his work as director in several productions for animated tv episodes, movie, animated intros and shorts such as Summer Wars, Samurai Champloo, One Piece, Superflat Monogram (short), and Digimon : Digital Monsters . He also has credentials as a writer, a worker in the animation departments, and art department in other several productions such as Dragon Ball Z, Sailor Moon, Girl Revolution Utena, and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.

Mr Hosoda life experienced in the animation industry is well reflected in the quality of his work.  In 2012 the movie itself was released in 34 different countries and territories, and it was second highest grossing film in Japan on it’s day view weekend July 21-22, 2012 beating Pixar’s film Brave who was released in Japan that same weekend. On it’s opening weekend the movie grossed better than his previous movie Summer Wars (1.6 billion Yen) with an astonishing 4.2 billion yen making Wolf Children the 5th highest grossing movie in Japan of 2012.  Since it’s released the movie has won several awards internationally captivating audiences all over the world.


I would love to learn more about the actual production of the film being an animation junkie my self.  All in all I give this movie at 10 out of 10 especially if you are an older adult in your childbearing years (late 20’s to 30’s).  You will find a lot in common with Hana and the challenges she faces to provide for her family. Sorry... if you are looking for explosions, action scenes, giant robots and scary blood thirsty monsters this movie might not be for you.  If you would like to see a good solid story about human capability, perseverance, sacrifice, family, love and complex relationships between several characters this movie is for you.   Love it. I must buy a disk copy for my collection in my bookshelf.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Cloverfield monster by Hasbro Direct Sales

Cloverfield, released back in January of 2008, was a shitty sci-fi monster movie that could have been so much better. Shot al'a Blair Witch style, a group of friends are present to witness first hand (with their handy-cam) the destruction of New York by an beast of unknown origins. Shakey cam movies belong in the trash, they are a nauseating display of what can be done when you barely have enough money to distribute the film let alone produce it. Anyways, the film follows this group of friends as their farewell party for their buddy gets rudely interrupted by a disembodied head of the Statue of Liberty. Lots of mayhem ensues, people die, billions of dollars in property damage is done and the United States government decides to nuke New York four years prior to the Avengers movie. Outside of the shakey cam I was OK with most of the movie up to the point of nuking New York, I'm fairly sure there's rules against dropping nukes on US soil. The movie had the potential to be great with a great director, SFX company and production company on board with a heck of a monster design. Why they went in the direction they did will forever be a mystery to me.

2008 was a strange year for me personally. I abruptly ended a job that I had been working for over a decade, spent a good portion of the year unemployed, lost some friends, broke up with a long term girlfriend, made new friends and sold off a portion of my collection to get by. I know plenty of people who sell part of their collection when times are tough but when I look at having to part with things I like, I look at it as maybe a good time to simplify my life and just sell off everything outside of a few key pieces. That summer I blew through about half of my collection by setting up at shows. I made good money and paid bills that would have gone unpaid but the feeling of being responsible didn't help the fact that I lost some cool things in the process. Things can be replaced and this is how that story goes.

                                  (more pictures of this and more toys on our Flickr account)

I had earlier in 2008 ordered the Cloverfield monster from Hasbro's online shop. This was rare for me because #1) it was expensive #2) I didn't even like the movie that much #3) it was a pre-order. I rare;y if never do a pre-order for more than $30, there's something about someone having control of over $100 of my money without any warning whatsoever. Anyways, in between all my personal tragedies, this behemoth shows up at my front door and suddenly my bank account is damn near empty. I had totally forgotten about the $150 pre-order and I spent a good eight hours just furious with myself and wondering how I could quickly put the money back in my account. Luckily, I guess they just barely produced enough to cover pre-orders and demand was high enough I cleared a decent profit a month later. I felt bad letting go of it, especially seeing other people review the toy online but you can't pay your rent or electric with a toy.

Several years later I got the chance to replace my dearly departed Cloverfield monster. Not only did I get to replace my Cloverfield but I got it at a cheaper price than I had paid three years earlier. This is one strange monster, I mean for a movie I can't stand it's a beautiful piece for anyone who enjoys giant city-stomping monster movies. It's seriously massive, near 15 inches tall and very wide with a huge arm span. It's very unique in design, while writing this I tried to look for artist renderings of the creature to see what source material they used since the movie is very vague as to the dimensions. The sculpt is very dynamic and they thought enough ahead of time to include an exchangeable head; one calm and another one enraged and caught in the middle of a roar. The articulation is plentiful but it's the first generation of ratcheting joints so there is sometimes a little bit of slippage after you get the desired pose.

There's only really two downsides to the figure. One is the decapitated head of the Statue of Liberty. I know it's more than likely a cost cutting measure but it's so small that it really throws the scale of the figure way off, and obscures it even more from the movie. The head of the statue in relation to the hand of the monster literally makes this monster big enough to have swallowed 30 of them with room to spare. The other thing is the nondescript lice that comes with the calm head. It was an interesting trick giving the head a trap door to put the few lice they give you in there but it lacks a way to deploy them without decapitating the monster. I know it's not a kid's toy but I'm playing with it and I find this to be a serious flaw and I don't like it. All in all, it's a great display piece that hasn't lost any value since I bought it. It's still a highly desirable piece that doesn't show up that often in auctions.