Thursday, January 31, 2013

Warner Brothers released more info about their upcoming line of Batman 1966 merchandise today.  Like I mentioned in a previous post, I am super-excited about this, as the 1966 Batman show was a HUGE influence on me as a kid.  I've been waiting almost all of my life for toys from this show.  There are still no pictures of the toys yet, but ToyFair, the annual toy industry trade convention, is coming up in less than two weeks, so I bet some well surface by then.

Highlights of the press release include:
  • Batman Ken and Catwoman Barbie!
  • 6 inch action figures!
  • Batman Classic TV Series TV Moments 2 Pack!  I'm guessing these will be packs of two action figures, possibly in a smaller scale like 3 3/4 inch, recreating scenes from the TV show.  That's just me speculating, though.
  • Batman Classic TV Series Batmobile!  This sounds like it will be a Batmobile for the action figures to ride in, that will be sweet.  Again, I'm guessing it will be for smaller scale, 3 3/4 inch figures, but we'll see.
  • A line of costumes!  This sounds like fun.  I'm assuming these are for Halloween, but I might buy some just to wear around town all year long, because I'm a boss like that.
  • Funko Toys!  I already mentioned Funko Pop and Wacky Wobblers in my previous Batman 1966 post, and it looks like they are doing plush toys, as well.
  • Vinyl figures from Mezco!
  • An 18 inch action figure from Neca!  How cool is that!  An 18 inch Adam West would probably become the king toy in my toy collection.

Here's the full Batman Classic TV Series press release:

Batman Classic TV Series Is Back On The Scene
Fans of the Batman Classic TV Series will be doing the Batusi when WBCP and its licensing partners give them a first glimpse at the all-new licensing program for the fan-favorite live-action series.  Sure to ensnare the eyes of collectors and ignite the nostalgia for the 60’s series is the Mattel vintage-styled Batman Ken® and Catwoman Barbie® collection, and a BATMAN™ Classic TV Series 6” Figure Assortment, BATMAN™ Classic TV Series TV Moments 2 Pack, as well as a BATMAN™ Classic TV Series Batmobile.  Rubie’s will introduce a line of costumes based on series favorites including Batman, Robin, Catwoman, The Riddler, and The Joker.  Additional licensees supporting the Batman Classic TV Series include Funko with stylized figures and plush; Mezco with colorfully detailed vinyl figures; NECA with an 18-inch action figure; Round 2 with model kits; Cryptozoic Entertainment with trading cards; and a variety of high-end collectibles from Noble Collection, Sideshow Collectibles, TriForce, Kotobukiya, Medicom and Hot Toys.  The Mattel Hot Wheels® brand will rev-up with a high-end Elite Scale Batmobile inspired by the 1966 hot-rod in the series for the true collector; along with many other toy partners who will help bring to life this cultural phenomenon with a Zap! Bam! Pow!

As always, I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for any more Batman 1966 news or photos, and I'll be posting them here in my blog.

Thrift Store Thursdays: Vader Mania, Imaginext, Batman, Bart Simpson, and More!

Thrift Store Thursdays: Vader Mania, Imaginext, Batman, Bart Simpson, and More!
Hi!  Welcome to the fourth edition of Thrift Store Thursdays!  I apologize to anyone who stopped by last Thursday and was disappointed by the lack of a Thrift Store Thursday post.  I got kind of busy last week, and my blog posts suffered.  Sorry about that.  I'm going to try and get a few blog posts done ahead of time, so that won't happen again in the future.  Now let's check out my latest thrift shop scores...

Bat Transportation
First up is a bevy of  Bat-vehicles.  On the left is a Batman (sadly unremoveable) on a Bat-cycle.  I like the color scheme on this one, the blue paint job with an orange windshield reminds me of the Super Powers Batmobile.

Next up is a Batman: The Brave and the Bold Action League Batmobile.  It originally came with a couple of Batman mini-figures to ride in it.  I'm going to have to dig through my collection of loose Batman toys and see if I have any who can fit in it.

On the right is another Imaginext Batmobile.  This one has a pincher claw thing that pops out of the grill to capture bad guys with.  Now that I think of it, didn't the Super Powers Batmobile do the same thing?  I'm going to have to pull mine out of the toy box and play with it.  Maybe it'll be on next week's Thrift Store Thursday.

Action Figures
Next up is a whole mess of fun action figures.  From left to right we've got:
  • Raphael from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  He has a head that can retract into his shell.
  • Some kind of Predator action figure.  Not one of the cool new ones from Neca, this looks like one from the 1980s.
  • Gill-Man, aka The Creature from the Black Lagoon.  I think this is a Burger King premium, but I'm not sure.  I'll have to look it up.
  • The first of two "Watchmen the Movie" action figures I scored in this trip is the Original Owl Man.
  • Next is Batman from Batman the Animated Series in one of his many variant costumes.
  • My second Watchmen find of the day is The Comedian.
  • Plastic Man.  This looks like a Batman the Brave and the Bold Happy Meal toy.
  • Finally we have Clayface from Batman the Animated Series.  He's a pretty cool figure, but he's missing the spiked ball that shoots out of his hand.  However, Batman's head fits in there pretty well...

Clayface sucks Batman's head up his clay hole.

Vader Mania
On the left is a Darth Vader knock off, according to the package he came in, his name is "Spacebot."  I get a kick out of oddball Star Wars knock off toys like this.  I'm thinking it might be something I collect more of in the future.

On the right, is a plastic Darth Vader mask.  For some reason these things are always in the thrift store near my house.

In the middle is my most awesome Darth Vader find.  It's a vintage Empire Strikes Back Darth Vader action figure carrying case.  I use to have one of these when I was a kid but that one is long gone.  So I was totally stoked to see this thing sitting on the toy shelf of the thrift store by my house.  There there weren't any action figures inside, of course, but I did find a couple of vintage blasters inside the accessory compartment, so that was a sweet bonus.

Imaginext Firehouse
Lately I've been on the lookout for Imaginext toys.  This week my search paid off when I found this sweet Imaginext firehouse.   I scooped this up as soon as I saw it.  But, after I brought it home I realized I had no place to put it!  So now it's just sitting on my bedroom floor until I can figure out what I'm going to do with it.  I may need to rethink buying larger playsets like this in the future.

Along with the firehouse, I found two Imaginext figures, as well as an odd Playskool (I think) Spider-Man figure that's pretty much in the same scale as the Imaginext guys.  I say he's odd, because he is sculpted without a mask, and with a hole torn in his costume's knee.  So, he's like a battle-damaged Spider-Man, I guess.  But he has a big smile on his face, which is totally at odds with his battle-damage.  He's in way too good of a mood for someone who just got beat up.

More Toys and Games
Here's a handful of fun pop culture goodies.  First up is a giant sized Bart Simpson Taking Pez dispenser.  Then I have a Justice League animated series puzzle.  I always worry when I buy something like this at a thrift store that it will be missing pieces, but this one is complete.  I'm slowly accumulating a collection of animated Justice League action figures on my thrift store shopping trips.  I think it might be cool to assemble and frame this puzzle, and then pose my figures in front of it.  Last up in this group is a big green Gumby!  I love Gumby.  I've already got Gumby and Pokey in a smaller size (I think I've had those ones since the 1980s), but this guy is about twice as big.  Now I guess I'll have to be on the lookout for a jumbo sized Pokey to complete the set.

Whale Bones
This is a kind of weird, but also kind of interesting, Burger King toy.  It's a whale made of translucent plastic, that you can open up to find a whale skeleton inside.  In my pictures, you can see the whale bones clearly through the shell, but that's due to the flash on my camera.  Under normal light it's only barely visible, and the effect is pretty cool.  I'm not sure what the deal is supposed to be with this toy... is it supposed to be educational, or is it supposed to be creepy?  I don't know, but I like it.

The Penguin Army Continues to Grow
Finishing things up today is the latest penguin in my Penguin Army.  Sometime in the next couple of weeks I'm going to have to gather all of my penguins together, along with my "The Penguin" (Batman villain) action figures, for a group photo.

Alright, that's it for this week.  I was just looking at my previous Thrift Store Thursday post from two weeks ago, and saw that I mentioned my Imaginext Joker Van.  Somehow that completely slipped my mind when I was taking photos for this post.  I'll try and remember to get it next week.  In fact, I might go for a 100% Batman post next Thursday, unless I find something else even cooler when I go shopping this weekend.  Either way, I hope to see you back next time!

Space Patrol

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Outer Space Men "Metamorpho" Action Figure - The Four Horsemen (2011)

The Outer Space Men were originally a line of "bendy" action figures in the 1960s issued by Colorforms.   They were designed to be alien creatures that could be played with along with the popular "Major Matt Mason" bendy astronaut figures from Mattel.  Similar to the way companies like Remco made figures like Warlord that could be played with along with the Mattel's Masters of the Universe, or companies that still make stuff that is compatible with G.I. Joe today.

These figures weren't generic knock-off toys, though.  They were great toys in their own right, with colorful and unique designs for all of the aliens.  The toys didn't last very long on the shelves, though.  By the time I was a kid, they were long gone.  But for people who did encounter them as a kid, they made a big impression.  A few years ago, Four Horsemen got the rights to make new versions of these toys.  I've been seeing these online for awhile now, but I wasn't sure if I was interested enough in them to buy the toys.  But, every time I would see a new review, or photo of them online, I would always linger over them, and I finally got around to buying my first set of them last week.  I've got to say, now that I have these toys in my hands, I really love them.  In fact, I think they might be my favorite line of toys currently being made.  I'm definitely going to be picking up the rest of the characters in this line, and probably some of the alternate colored versions as well.  For this review, I'm going to start things off by looking at "Metamorpho" from series 1.

Packaging Front and Back

Packaging: 5 Robots

The packaging on this is great.  It consists of a cardboard backer, and a plastic shell, and the shell is designed so you can take it off and put it back on again without having to cut or tear anything.  That means that you can take the toy out of the package to play with or display, and then put it back in the package as good as new when you are done.  I love it when toy companies design their packages this way.

The card art is colorful and fun.  It's inspired by the artwork from the original 1960s Outer Space Men toys and production samples.  The name "Metamorpho" is written in rainbow colored psychedelic type, like something off of a vintage 60s rock poster.  On the back of the card, there is information about the Outer Space Men, a bio of this character, and photos of the other characters from series 1 and series 2 of the Outer Space Men.

Open Package
I really like the look of the card art and packaging a lot.  I normally display my action figures loose, out-of-the-package, but I'm tempted to display these guys in their packages because they look so cool.

The figure was secured inside the package with a twist tie.  Normally I hate twist ties, but this was only one, and it came out easliy, so I'm not going to mark the score down for it.

Golden Reptile Face

Appearance(Sculpt/Paint/Likeness): 5 Robots

The sculpt on this toy is great, especially for the size it is.  I knew when I bought it that it was going to be a 3 3/4 inch figure, but whenever I saw picture online, I found that hard to believe, because they looked so much better than other figures made in that size.

The design is done in a fun, bug-eyed-monster, retro sci-fi style.  I guess it might not have been intended to be "retro," since the figure was originally designed in the 1960s.  It looks like the sort of thing you'd see in a slightly goofy sci-fi movie from the 1950s or 60s.  I grew up devouring those movies on TV, so this look really appeals to me.

The paints on this are very simple and flat, no airbrushing or textures, or anything like that, but those sort of features wouldn't really look right with the simple, retro look of this toy.  What paint there is on the toy is applied well, with no visible flaws.

Metamorpho Disassembled

Articulation/Playability: 5 Robots

This is where the toy starts to get very interesting.  It does not have any kind of hinges, or ball joints, or traditional articulation.  Instead, it's made up of individual pieces that can be pulled apart and snapped together using Onell Design's Glyos System.  Each of the points where the pieces are snapped together acts as a cut joint.  So you don't get the full range of motion you would get in something like the modern DC Universe Classic figures, for instance, but you get more than they had in the vintage 3 3/4 Star Wars figures.  Since the arms don't bend, they include two extra arm pieces, so you can choose to use either straight arms, or arms that are bent at the elbow.

An Interesting Character I Pieced Together From Metamorpho's Parts
But what you lose in articulation, you gain in fun. You can snap the figure apart, and rearrange the pieces however you please, to create new configurations or characters.  And the more of these figures you have, the more fun it gets, as you can swap heads and body parts from one figure to the other for even more combinations.  And you're not limited to just the Outer Space Men, the parts are compatible with any figure that uses the Glyos System, from Onell Design, Four Horsemen, or any other toy company that uses it.   You end up with something that's kind of like Legos, but for action figures.

Another neat feature this figure has is three different faces.  There is a little knob on the top of his helmet, and you can rotate it to change his faces.  One is a purple vampire type, one is a golden reptile dude, and the other is a goofy looking (in the best way) bug eyed monster.

Holding the Ray Gun and "Space Rod"

Accessories: 4 Robots

This toy comes with a couple of accessories.  One is a ray gun, and the other is some weird thing with a clear ball in it that he can hold in his hand (I don't know what it's supposed to be -- I'll just call it a "Space Rod" --I guess that's what imagination is for).  One aspect of the weapons that was a little disappointing is that they are NOT Glyos compatible.  I was hoping that I could pop the ray gun in his back as a jet pack, or pop the "space rod" into his neck hole as a weird alternate head, but that doesn't work.  They are still good as regular weapons for Metamorpho to hold, though.

The Bug Eyed Monster

Cool Factor: 4 Robots

I really like this toy a lot, it reminds me of the goofy, guy-in-a-rubber-suit monsters from all the cheesy sci-fi movies I watched as a kid, and that's awesome.

The Purple Vampire

Value: 3 Robots

I paid a total of $62, including shipping, for a set of four Outer Space Men from the Four Horsemen's online store.  That averages out to $15.50 per figure.  That's pretty high for a 3 3/4 inch action figure, but in this case, I don't mind paying it, because I really love this toy.  I'm definitely going to buy the next four regular figures in this line at that price.  I might have to think twice before ordering the more expensive alternate colored versions, though, or the 2012 holiday assortment that only comes with 3 figures for the same price.

Final Score: 4½ Robots

Rating: 4½ Robots (out of 5)


Space Patrol

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries - The Mystery of the Flying Courier (1977)

The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries
The Mystery of the Flying Courier

The Mystery of the Flying Courier is the fifth Hardy Boys episode of the Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew mysteries.  The plot of this one seems conceived primarily to take advantage of Shaun Cassidy's growing popularity as a teen idol / bubblegum rock star.  He performs, like, 100 songs in this episode (I might be exaggerating a smidge).  I wasn't sure how much I was going to enjoy an episode centering on Shaun Cassidy singing... I mean, I thought it was pretty awesome when I was 5 years old, but my other favorite band back then was probably the Chipmunks or something, so I didn't expect to actually like it as a grown man.

Clap Your Hands and Say "Hardy Boys - Ho!"
Surprisingly, Shaun Cassidy's singing went down pretty easy.  I guess he was reasonably talented as far as teen idol pop stars go.  The music was silly bubblegum with just a touch of glam rock to it, sort of like the Bay City Rollers, and it was fairly well done for what it was.  I mean, I'm not planning on rushing out and picking up any of his CD's, but I'd still listen to it over 99 percent of the stuff they play on the pop radio stations these days.

Joe Watches Frank Sneak Out of the Concert
The plot of the episode has Shaun Cassidy's character Joe Hardy fronting a rock band that is playing a series of gigs at a nightclub near an airport, while his brother Frank stumbles on to a case involving a runaway girl from their high school and a vinyl record counterfeiting ring.  There are lots of random coincidences and plot holes in this episode, but I'm starting to expect that, so it doesn't really bother me that much.

Junkyard Spies
The thing that stood out to me the most regarded the crooked owner of the night club, who continued to let Joe's band perform at the club, even after the boys trespass on his property, set off his alarm system, and get him involved with the police.  If you are involved in criminal activity, and you KNOW the Hardy Boys are investigating it, why do you continue to book their band at your club?  Stranger still, the episode ends with Joe performing at the club AFTER they get the owner sent to jail!  I think it's mainly a question of producer Glen A. Larson saying, "we've paid for this nightclub set for a full week, and we're going to get our money's worth, or my name isn't Glen Aphrodisiomania Larson!"

Editor's Note: Glen A. Larson's middle name is not actually Aphrodisiomania.

Author's Note:  Since when the hell do I have an editor?

Editor's Note: Since you started staying up in the wee hours of the morning typing up reviews of 30 year old TV shows until your brain was getting loopy.

Author's Note: Oh, okay.  Cool.
Van Chase Past Pizzaria the Pizzeria
Another fun thing about this is the big van chase scene, as Frank is pursued by a creepy thug.  If you watch closely, you'll notice that they keep passing the same buildings over and over, like they are just driving in circles.  Also, even though they are supposed to be in a different town, they are the same exact buildings we see every week in Bayport, including the Pizzeria named "Pizzaria" that the gang dined at in last week's episode.  Unless I'm mistaken, and "Pizzaria" was a chain of restaurants that was super-popular in the seventies, and was on every street corner like Starbucks or something is today.

Author's Note:  If I really have an "editor," why do you always let me write goofy slang stuff such as using the word "like" to make pointless pauses, or writing "or something" for no legitimate reason?

Editor's Note:  Uh...

Author's Note:  Ah-hah!  I caught you!  You don't really exist!

Editor's Note:  Alright, you got me.  Like, congratulations, or something.
Frank is Covered in Sand
All in all, this was not a classic episode of the series, but was still fun to watch.  Join me next week, as the Boys go to Hawaii, where Frank joins a surfing contest, Joe sings a Beach Boys song, and the duo uncover a mystery involving Vincent Price and a cursed Tiki idol (or something like that)!

Rating 2½ Robots (out of 5)

Shaun Cassidy - Da Do Ron Ron

More screencaps after the jump...

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Diamond Select Toys Munsters Select: Herman Munster Action Figure

Atomic Robots (and Other Toys)
Diamond Select Toys Munsters Select: Herman Munster Action Figure

I'm a huge Frankenstein fan, from the original book by Mary Shelley, to the Boris Karloff movies, and his various incarnations in comic books, cartoons, TV, and movies since then.  Frankenstein's Monster has come in many forms over the years, but this guy may be one of the goofiest: Herman Munster from "The Munsters" TV series.  How does this gruesome but loveable Sitcom Dad / Reanimated Corpse rate as an action figure?  Read on to find out...

Herman Packaging: Front, Side, and Back

Packaging: 3 Robots

The packaging on this toy is adequate.  Nothing to get very excited about, or upset about.  It's a big plastic box with some cardboard attached to it, designed so that you can see as much of the contents as possible.  The clamshell opened up with a boxcutter, and the figure was not difficult to remove from the package.

It has a big photo of Herman on the side of the box.  The other characters in this series have similar photos on the side of their boxes.  I've read that it is designed that way so you can display it on a bookshelf with the photo facing out.  This seems like an odd way to display an action figure, since you wouldn't see the actual figure, but if some people like that, I guess there's no harm in it.

I did like the brief bio of Herman written on the back:
"Weighing 350 pounds and measuring 7 feet 3 inches tall, Herman Munster was built in 1850 by the famous Dr. Victor Frankenstein.  A good-natured, soft-spoken funeral home employee, Herman is a World War II veteran, a good husband to his wife Lily and a loving father to his son Eddie."

Herman Munster's Grinning Mug

Appearance(Sculpt/Paint/Likeness): 5 Robots

The sculpt on this toy is fantastic, they've really nailed the look of actor Fred Gwynne as Herman Munster.  The paint job on the figure is great, too, I can't find any flaws with it.  He's got some extremely unsubtle shading painted on his forehead, and normally I wouldn't like that, but here it seems like an attempt to replicate the look of the make-up job from the TV show, so it works for this figure.

Posing Herman

Articulation/Playability: 4 Robots

This toy has a good amount of articulation.  It is is BIG step up from Diamond Select's Universal Monster figures, which are more like plastic statues.  This figure has hinges at the elbows, wrists, knees, and ankles, cut joints at the thighs, wrists, elbows, waist, and upper arms, and ball joints at the hips, shoulders, and head.  The figure can be posed in a variety of ways, such as standing, sitting, walking, and gesturing.  It comes with a base to stand on, but the figure is fairly well balanced and can stand on it's own with out it.

Herman with his lunch pail, plus the tray with his stand, and pieces of the electric chair.

Accessories: 4 Robots

This figure comes with a few accessories.  First, there is a base to stand the figure on.  The figure stands pretty well on it's own, though, and the base doesn't really feel like it anchors to his feet very well, so I don't know that it is really useful.

The second accessory is a lunch pail, like the one Lily used to hand Herman in the opening credits of the TV show.  It's fine.  He can hold it in his hand reasonably well.  I'm not really sure if anyone was really clamoring for a lunch pail prop for Herman to hold, though.  Then again, I don't know of any other item I would have preferred him to have.  I guess I don't really think of Herman Munster and automatically picture any accessories for him.

The third thing he comes with are pieces of an electric chair that can be assembled for Herman to sit in.  Other pieces come with the Lily and Grandpa figures.  I imagine that this will be a really great prop to play with once I assemble it.  I do have the Lily and Grandpa figures waiting for me to open, so keep your eyes on this blog in the coming weeks to see how it turns out.

I, Herman

Cool Factor: 4 Robots

I'm really digging this Herman Munster figure.  Yeah the TV show was kind of corny.   The Addams Family was way cooler, those guys actually seemed kind of gleefully perverse, while The Munsters was basically just a generic family sitcom in monster drag.  But I still loved the show as a kid.  Plus, while this Herman Munster figure is great on his own, he also fits in very well with my collection of Universal Monsters and Frankenstein toys.

Value: 3 Robots

I got this figure as a Christmas gift, so the "value" for me was great, he was free!  Normally, this figure retails for around $21.00.  That seems a little high to me, but not too bad.  Also, I imagine that the price well go up quite a bit once this figure sells out at retail, and is only available at places like eBay.  So, if you're thinking about getting this figure, I'd recommend you pick him up soon.

Final Score: 4 Robots

Rating: 4 Robots (out of 5)

Note:  Normally, I do "Thrift Store Thursdays" on Thursdays, but I'm way behind schedule on my blog this week.  I haven't had time to assemble and photograph my latest thrift store purchases.  Thirft Store Thursdays should return next week, and hopefully I will get a few posts typed up in advance this weekend, so this won't happen again.  Thanks!  - Joshua Raymond

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Today's Tuesday Toy Review

UPDATE: Wednesday, January 23rd:
I'm still far behind on the blog, sorry.  I'm about 90% done with my Herman Munster review, but I'm not going to have time to finish it before I go to work today, so I won't be able to post it until I am home late tonight, or early tomorrow morning.  As for my "Thrift Store Thursday" post, I don't expect to get that done on time either, so expect that late Thursday night or on Friday.  I plan on getting at least a week's worth of post typed up this weekend when I am off work, so hopefully this won't happen again.  Thanks for your understanding!

Hi.  I'm currently a bit behind schedule, and today's Tuesday Toy Review is going to be posted pretty late.  If I can, I'll get it up before midnight, so it is still technically Tuesday.  If not, look for it on Wednesday morning.  I'm going to try and get a few of these reviews written ahead of time next weekend, so I can have one on tap if there is another delay.  In fact, I've been thinking about bumping up my output of toy reviews to two a week, because I have so many unopened toys sitting around my house waiting for me to review.  Obviously that's not happening this week, though, LOL.

So, check back LATE tonight, or tomorrow, for my review of Diamond Select's Herman Munster action figure.  Then coming up after that, I'll have reviews of the Munsters' Lily Munster and Grandpa action figures, Neca's Clubber Lang (Mr. T!), Batman Unlimited the Penguin, a bunch of Biff Bang Pow's Venture Brothers figures, The Four Horseman's Outer Space Men, and more.

Thanks for reading,
Joshua Raymond

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries -The Flickering Torch Mystery (1977)

The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries

The Flickering Torch Mystery
This episode of the Hardy Boys, "The Flickering Torch Mystery," is most notable for it's guest star, Rick Nelson, who plays a famous rock 'n roller named "Tony Eagle," that's basically a fictionalized version of himself.

Ricky Nelson Rocks Bayport
In the show, the Boys' father Fenton Hardy is working as head of security for the concerts that Rick Nelson's character is giving while he is in town.  What Fenton Hardy, "World Famous Detective," is doing working security is never explained.  It later turns out that Nelson's life is in danger, and he suspects his manager is embezzling money from him.  Either one of those would have provided a reason for Fenton Hardy to be involved with this case in a way that made sense.   He could have been "posing" as rock concert security man while secretly working for Neslon investigating the case.  That would have made sense, I don't know why they didn't do that.

Fenton Hardy:  "You and I are BOTH cool, in our own ways.  Right Ricky?"  Ricky Neslon: "Uh..."
Meanwhile, the Hardy Boys have a case of their own, tracking down a missing person.  In a coincidence that is so unlikely that it is just, frankly, STUPID, it turns out that the two jobs are connected, as the missing man turns out to be Rick Nelson's sound engineer.  You think the boys would have looked into what the missing man did for a living, and discovered that he worked for the same man their dad was working for.  That seems like it would be part of the most basic background check you would conduct while looking for a missing person.  Instead it is made out to be a "shocking" twist.

The Hardy Boys fly an airplane upside down.  I was going to say that there is no way they are really upside down, because their hair is perfectly in place.  But then again, Parker Stevenson and Shaun Cassidy did use A LOT of HAIRSPRAY...
Another odd aspect of this episode is the title, ""The Flickering Torch Mystery."  There are a lot of elements that come into play in this case.  It involves airplane stunts, dangerous sound frequencies, fingerprints, a torn piece of a note, a wrecked car, a burning building, embezzled money, and a missing person.  One thing it does not include: "a flickering torch."

Well, someone "torched" this building, does that count?
In the original book from 1943, the Boys investigate the theft of some experimental silkworms from a scientific research center, work on a farm during their summer vacation, and get mixed up in a case of their father's involving a gang that uses a flickering torch as a signal.  The book was completely rewritten in 1971, with the title being the only thing the two books have in common.  Now it is a story about mysterious airplane crashes, smuggled uranium, and the Boys form a rock group and perform at a club called "The Flickering Torch."

Older and newer versions of the book.
For the television version, it seems like they went with a VERY LOOSE adaptation of the 1971 book, keeping some of the airplane and rock music elements, and for some reason, the title, which now makes no sense.  The problems with the script could have been ironed out very easily with a quick rewrite.  It's almost like the show accidentally filmed an early draft of the script, and then didn't realize it until it was too late.

A Clue is Discovered
Aside from the problems with the script, there is another aspect of the episode that is fairly unsettling, although the show's producer's can't be blamed for it.  The episode ends with an attempt to (SPOILER ALERT) kill Rick Nelson and his band in a private airplane crash.  Eight years later, this is how Rick Nelson and his band members died in REAL LIFE.  Creepy.  I guess I shouldn't complain about the contrived coincidences in the script, if this is the kind of coincidence that happens in the real world.

Radar Screen
Overall, I didn't enjoy this one as much as last week's episode, mostly because of my issues with the script.  But, it was still a reasonably fun way to spend 45 minutes, and I'm looking forward to next week's episode, where teen idol Shaun Cassidy makes his singing debut on the series.  That sounds like it will be a lot of cheesy 1970s fun.

Rating: 3 Robots (out of 5)

Ricky Nelson - Believe What You Say

More screencaps after the jump...

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thrift Store Thursdays: Loads of Batman, Plus Spider-Man, Star Trek, and More

Thrift Store Thursdays

It's week three of Thrift Store Thursdays!  Are you ready?  Have you mentally prepared yourself?


Uhh... well, that's fine, I guess.

This week, I've got a bunch of Batman stuff, plus a handful of Spider-Man toys, and a random assortment of other goodies.  Let's check it out!

Nick Fury and Spider-Man
 First up, I've got a couple of oversized Marvel characters.  On the left is a 10 inch Nick Fury action figure.  He's a bit sloppy looking, if you ask me... like they just took a 3.75 inch figure and blew it up, without adding any extra details to his sculpt.  Still, a fun thrift store find for a couple of bucks, especially when he came with a bunch of other figures.

On the right is an odd 12 inch Spider-Man.  At first, I wasn't sure what to make of him.  He has a button on his side and when I pressed it, weird, distorted voice sounds came out.  I thought it was a "talking" Spider-Man whose voice recordings were damaged, and then I realized what he really was: a Spider-Man walkie-talkie!

Left: Spider-Man "action" figures.  Right: Spider-Man yo-yo.

Next up is more Spider-Man toys.  I found a trio of strange Spider-Man action figures.  One of them has suction cups on his hands, and I'm guessing it's a Happy Meal toy.  The one that's standing up straight has arms that move at the shoulders, but not the elbows.  You can pose him with his hands behind his back, or in front, and that's it.  The Spider-man on the ground is in a permanent sitting position, and can't stand up.  He looks like he was originally riding a motorcycle, and some kid tore him off.  My final Spider-Man toy is a Spider-Man yo-yo, still in the package.

Star Fleet Battles Strategy Game
Here is an interesting find, a "Star Fleet Battles" strategy game from the 1970s.  I love the box art on this.  Even though it's clearly based on Star Trek, the words "Star Trek" appear nowhere on the package, so I thought it was some kind of bootleg product.  An internet search showed that it actually is licensed, but with an odd licensing agreement that doesn't let them use the name.  And apparently this is a reasonably popular game, and people still play it today.

Miscellaneous Characters

Here's a random assortment of characters.  On the left is a Homer Simpson as Frankenstein's Monster toy.  This is a good find for me, because I collect Frankenstein toys.  Now I have to my eyes peeled for the Marge Simpson as The Bride of Frankenstein figure.  Then there is some kind of fantasy warrior or sorcerer woman.  I have no idea who she is.  After that is a fun astronaut figurine, and Anakin "I'm a whiny, annoying little biz-natch who tried to ruin one of the coolest villains in movie history" Skywalker.

Playmobil Pirate Island
This toy originally came with pirates, a rowboat, and scenery, but it was all long gone when I found this in the thrift store.  I still picked it up though.  I thought it would be cool to pose action figures in front of, and maybe I could use it as a part of a Batcave.

Speaking of Batcaves,  let's move on to my favorite Thrift Store Thursday finds:  Batman stuff!

Batman: The Story of the Dark Knight

Batman: The Story of the Dark Knight is a hardcover children's book that tells the origin of Batman in a series of oversized retro comic, pop art illustrations.  The artwork in this is really great, and it makes for a fun addition to my Batman collection.  The best part of this find was the price I paid for it: 69 cents!

Action Figures and Playset
I found a couple of cool animated Justice League action figures: Batman and Wildcat.  I also found this fun little fold-out "Bat Bunker" playset.  The playset is missing some kind of missile launcher or camera thing that sits on top of it, judging by the pictures I have found online.  It's also missing a Batman action figure that came with it, but I've got PLENTY of Batman action figures, so that is no great loss.  If I ever get around to piecing together a custom Batcave, I think I'll use this playset as my Batcave's garage or repair shop.

Batman Happy Meal Toys
I also scored a handful of Batman Happy meal toys, including a Batman figure that stretches out his cape, a Jokermobile, two Robins on Motorcycles, and a Lego Batman figure, which is not an actual Lego minifigure, but a Happy Meal depiction of one.

Fisher-Price Trio Joker Bot
I guess "Trio" is like Fisher-Price's version of Lego.  Not really as cool as real Lego, but still fun.  This one builds a mech suit for the Joker, and comes with a Joker minifigure.  All the pieces , including the instructions, were loose in a plastic bag.  It had everything I needed to build the Joker-Bot, but it was missing a few pieces needed to build some of the alternate configurations like the helicopter or plane.

Alright!  That's it for week three of Thrift Store Thursdays.  Next week I'll be showing off a couple of Batmobiles and a Joker van I already have in my collection, as well as whatever new stuff I pick up this week  So you next Thursday!.