Monday, January 27, 2014

The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries - Acapulco Spies (1977)

This episode is another international adventure for the Hardy Boys.  After receiving a mysterious phone call from their father, Fenton Hardy, the brothers fly to Acapulco to deliver him some papers, only to discover that their father has gone missing, and their own lives are being targeted by an assassin.  The adventure takes them hang gliding at the Acapulco shore, as well as sneaking around an historic abandoned prison.  Plus, they get to hook up with a couple of American tourist girls while they are at it.  I don't really have a lot to say about this episode, but it was a solid, fun installment in the series.

Two Boys, One Phone

  • The hotel the boys stay at in Acapulco is the same hotel, inside and out, as the one they stayed at in the episode "The Mystery of the Hollywood Phantom."  The only differences are that the name of the hotel has been removed from the exterior of the building, and a poster that says "Mexico" on it has been hung up at the front desk.
  • I think the the abandoned prison uses the same sets as Dracula's Castle from the episode "The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Meet Dracula," but I'm not positive about that.
Joe broods after the band won't let him perform a mariachi version of "Da Doo Ron Ron."
"I knew we shouldn't have shared a hotel room with Mötley Crüe!"


Jim James & Calexico - Goin' To Acapulco (Bob Dylan Cover)

Beat Happening - I Spy

More Hardy Boys screencaps after the jump...

Monday, January 13, 2014

Batman's Weirdest Villains: Lucky Starr

Batman's Weirdest Villains

Real Name:  Joe Starr

Powers / Skills: Joe Starr believed he had the ability to defy death.  He leaped off tall buildings, handled volatile explosives, and did other activities that should have resulted in him getting killed, but he always survived unharmed.

Weird Obsession:  Joe Starr believed he knew the date he would die: December 13, 1947.  Until that day, he believed he could engage in life-endangering activities and always survive.  The closer he got to that date, the more he was compelled to pull increasingly dangerous and outrageous stunts.

First Appearance: "The Man Who Could Not Die" in World's Finest #32

Joe Starr was a grown man who dreamed of being a big-time gangster, but the best he was able to achieve was being an "errand boy" for Trigger Smith's gang, as well as being the butt of their practical jokes.  Feeling depressed, he went to have his fortune told by a swami, who told him he was "born under a lucky star," and that he would receive a sign about his future from the darkness.

After the reading from the swami, Joe Starr decided to rename himself "Lucky" Starr, which made him an even bigger laughing-stock to the Trigger Smith gang.   But "Lucky" had faith, and one night a mysterious newspaper blew into his hands from a dark fog.  The paper was dated one year in the future, and foretold Lucky Starr's death after taking over Trigger Smith's gang and becoming Public Enemy Number 1.

"Hooray!  I only have one year left to live!"
Lucky now believed that he was invincible; that he could not be killed until the date in the newspaper, and that he was destined to take over the gang and become Public Enemy Number 1.  So the first thing he did was show up at the gang's headquarters and gun down Trigger Smith in front of the other members of the gang.  After taking over as the leader of the gang, he decided he needed to look the part of a gangster, so he started dressing up in a double breasted pinstriped suit, fedora, suspenders, watch chain... red tights, a cape, and bright yellow stars.
"The other gangsters laughed at me before, but with this new outfit, now they'll see that I deserve their respect!"

Lucky Starr and his gang then went on to commit a series of daredevil crimes, with Lucky constantly escaping unharmed from situations that would seem to guarantee certain death.

"The paper also told me about a 50% off sale on iron-on star patches at The Fabric Barn!  That's how I made this great costume!"

Unfortunately for Batman and Robin,  Lucky's glimpse into the future also showed him the movie Batman Forever, which he intended to stop at all costs.

As the date of his forecasted death approached, Lucky felt the need to commit increasingly spectacular crimes.  After several encounters with Batman and Robin, Lucky decided to boast to Batman about how he could not be killed, and showed Batman the newspaper from the future.  Batman pointed out the fine print at the bottom of the paper...
Note to Criminals:  It's never a good sign when Batman laughs.
It turned out that the newspaper was really a practical joke played on Starr by Trigger Smith.  Upon learning this, Lucky Starr lost his nerve and was no longer able to pull of his death-defying daredevil stunts, and was easily captured by Batman.

In a final, ironic twist, it turned out that the newspaper might have been more accurate than it seemed...
That final panel is some creepy stuff:  Lucky Starr grinning as he is led to his death, and the shadow of the electric chair looking like a carnivorous insect reaching out to kill him.  Pleasant dreams, kiddies!

Final Analysis:
Lucky Starr had no powers, no skills, and a ridiculous costume with bright yellow stars all over it.  Yet despite all of those shortcomings, he rose to the rank of Public Enemy Number 1, and outwitted and outperformed Batman for 6 months straight before his capture.  Because of this, Lucky easily joins the wacky ranks of "Batman's Weirdest Villains."

This panel brought to you by "Puffs" brand cigarettes.
I like that the crowd on the street apparently has nothing better to do than count the smoke rings coming out of the "Puffs" cigarettes billboard.


Radiohead - Lucky

Monday, January 6, 2014

Action Figures I'm Excited About For 2014, Part 5


So far, I've talked about 3 3/4 inch figures, 7 and 8 inch Mego-style figures, 6 inch (and 18 inch) Batman 1966 figures, and even some Gumby-style bendable figures.  I'm going to finish off by looking forward to some non-Batman 6 and 7 inch figures that are coming out this year.

Prototype images from NECA's Planet of the Apes, Rambo, and Alien action figures.
I got more and more interested in NECA's action figures in 2013.  The first one I got was a Clubber Lang figure from their Rocky line.   I'm not a big Rocky fan (I like the movies, but not enough to want action figures), but I am a big Mr. T fan, so I wanted to pick up a Clubber Lang figure.  I really liked that figure, and then they came out with the fantastic figures of Arnold Schwarzenegger as Dutch Schaefer from the movie Predator.  I had to get a couple of those.  Then I ended up getting a Rocky figure, and some Prometheus figures, and I've got my eye on a Robocop, plus some aliens and predators... and now it's starting to turn into a collection, and not just a couple of random pieces.

For 2014, they've coming out with several lines that I know I'm going to want.  First up is a Rambo figure from Rambo: First Blood part 2.  The first film is actually the better film, no doubt about that.  But Rambo's look in the second film, shirtless, with black pants, and his jade Buddha necklace, is the iconic look that I remember so fondly from the 1980's.  So I know I'll want a figure of that.  There is also a scene in Rambo 2 where Rambo is covered in mud, and if they make a version of that, I know I'll want one to go alongside my mud-covered Dutch Schaefer figure.

Next up is Planet of the Apes.  Those movies were a mainstay of my childhood, I used to eat them up whenever they were on TV, and the Apes will make for great action figures.

Finally, NECA already does figures for the movie Aliens, but in 2014 they will be coming out with figures for the original film, Alien.  That is one of my favorite films of all time, so there is no way I'll be passing those up.  If we're lucky, they'll make all of the same figures that Super 7 and Funko made for the 3 3/4 inch ReAction line, because they would be fun to display together.   Which brings me to the next action figure line I'm looking forward to...


Alongside Funko's line of ReAction, retro Kenner-style 3 3/4 inch figures, Funko is also launching a line called "Legacy," a 6-inch line of highly articulated, realistic, modern-styled figures.  the licenses they've announced so far are Game of Thrones, Firefly, and The Fantastic Mr. Fox, with the promise of much more to be announced at ToyFair in February.  This could potentially be really cool, especially if they get the wide array of licenses that they have for their ReAction lines: their could be a little something for everybody there.  The figures are being designed by Gentle Giant, the same people who design the Star Wars Black 6 inch figures, so they'll almost certainly look really good.  Speaking of which...


Hasbro made a big splash this year with their series of highly detailed, 6 inch Star Wars figures.  I've resisted buying these so far, just because I didn't want YET ANOTHER thing to collect... but I feel my resistance fading.  I think in 2014 I'm going to crack and start buying these guys.  Luckily, I'm only a fan of the original trilogy (and to be honest mostly just the first two films) so I won't feel the need to buy all of them.  But I do think I'm going to want the main cast, plus a few of the more colorful aliens and droids.  I suppose I better start buying these guys now, before I have to pay marked-up prices for them on ebay, after they sell out everywhere else!


I'm sure there will be other toys that I will be interested in for 2014 that I just don't know about yet.  I don't know if Biff Bang Pow is going to make any more 3 3/4 inch Venture Bros. figures, but I will definitely buy them if they do.  3A toys is planning on coming out with a line of Mego-style toys called 3AGO, which could potentially be interesting.  I think that Zoloworld's retro Remco-style Realm of the Underworld figures are really cool, although I haven't bought any, because I don't have enough money in my toy budget for everything.  And there will probably be lots of cool stuff announced at ToyFair, or in the weeks leading up to it, that I will be interested in.  But I can't write about every toy I'm potentially interested in, so I just stuck with the stuff I think I'm most likely to buy.

And thus, I conclude this series of posts on "Action Figures I'm Excited About For 2014."  Thanks for reading, and have a fun 2014!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Action Figures I'm Excited About For 2014, Part 4


In my last post about retro Batman figures, I left one out!  

In 2013, the NJ Croce company released a very cool looking set of Justice League and The Joker bendies, based on Darwyn Cooke's New Frontier comic book artwork.


In 2014, they will be releasing a set of Bendies based on the 1966 Batman TV show.  Here's a promo pic:

Note: This is prototype artwork, not the finished figures.
  Based on the quality of their Justice League bendies, as well as on the other ones they make, like Gumby, and The Simpsons, the quality on these ought to be really high.  I'm looking forward to seeing the finished product!

NEXT (AGAIN): In "Action Figures I'm Excited About For 2014, Part 5," I'll look at upcoming action figures in the 6 and 7 inch scales from NECA, Funko, Hasbro, and maybe more.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Action Figures I'm Excited About For 2014, Part 3


2013 was the year that the 1966 Batman TV show licensing issues were finally resolved, and toys and other merchandise inspired by the show started showing up in stores.

My favorite item released so far was the giant 18 inch Adam West Batman figure from NECA.  In 2014, NECA is planning on releasing a figure of Burt Ward as Robin in the same scale, and I can't wait for that.  The giant-sized Dynamic Duo are going to lord over the rest of my toys.

Mattel released a line of Batman Classic TV 6 inch action figures, featuring Batman, Robin, The Joker, The Penguin, The Riddler, and Catwoman, as well a huge scale model Batmobile the figures can ride in.  They also put out a couple of fun variants of Batman, one that dances the Batusi, and Surf's Up Batman, who wears shorts and comes with a surfboard.

At first, it was looking like that was going to be all that would be released, but then they announced the line would continue in 2014.  The only figure that has been revealed so far is a Surf's Up Joker to go along with the surfing Batman figure.  I'm hoping there will be some more characters revealed in 2014, and I'm also hoping that there will be some characters that haven't been made yet, like Batgirl, Mr. Freeze, or Egghead.

Figures Toy Company is coming out with a series of Mego-style 8 inch retro figures for Batman 1966 this year.  I think the first wave is hitting in April, featuring Batman, Robin, The Joker, and The Riddler.  They have also previewed a sculpt of Egghead, so he'll probably be in a future wave.

FTC is also reproducing the Batman figures from Mego's World's Greatest Superheroes line from the 1970's.  The first two waves have already been released, featuring Batman, Robin, The Riddler, The Joker, Bruce Wayne, Dick Grayson, The Penguin, and Catwoman.  Wave 3 will feature Batman (with removable cowl), Robin (with removable cowl), Batgirl, and Alfred.  Alfred was never made by Mego, so this will be a new figure made in the Mego style.

FTC is also reproducing Mego's Teen Titans 7-inch figures, to give Robin some kids his own age to pal around with.

NEXT: In "Action Figures I'm Excited About For 2014, Part 4," I'll look at upcoming action figures in the 6 and 7 inch scales from NECA, Funko, Hasbro, and maybe more.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Action Figures I'm Excited About For 2014, Part 2


Yesterday, I looked at Kenner-style 3 3/4" action figures, but retro are not the only type of 3 3/4" figures in I'm looking forward to in 2014.

The Four Horsemen are remaking Power Lords, a 5" action figure line from the 1980s, as a 3 3/4" line this year.  These figures will have more modern looking sculpts than their '80s predecessors.  They've released a few variant figures from this line to drum up interest before the real figures come out.  I've picked up a couple of the Power Soldier variants and I like them a lot, and I'm eagerly awaiting news of when the regular figures will come out.

Also coming out this year will be the next wave of The Four Horsemen's Outer Space Men figures.  The Outer Space Men have been among my favorite toys for the last couple of years.  This wave features humans and female figures for the first time.  Like the Power Lords, The Four Horsemen have released some variants of these figures already, but the proper, fully painted figures haven't came out yet.

Mattel has a new line of 4" action figures called DC Comics Multiverse.  The first wave is out now, and features characters based on the Batman Arkham Asylum and Arkham City video games.  But what I'm really interested in is wave 2, which will be movie characters, and have Christopher Reeve as Superman and Michael Keaton as Batman.  The preview pics of those figures look great.  My only complaint about them is that they aren't also releasing them in a 6" format to match up with all of their previous movie figures.

NEXT: In "Action Figures I'm Excited About For 2014, Part 3," I'll be taking a look at what Batman 1966 toys I'm looking forward to this year.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Action Figures I'm Excited About For 2014, Part 1


Super7 and Funko just released their awesome collection of Alien action figures, based on Kenner's unreleased prototypes from 1979, but that is just the tip of the iceberg for retro, Kenner-style 3 ¾" action figures.  This style of action figures hits me hard in the nostalgia center of the brain, becuase these were the kind of figures I loved the best when I was a kid.  I had a huge collection of Kenner Star Wars figures in the late '70s and early '80s, as well as similar 3 ¾" figures from lines like Fisher-Price Adventure People, Micronauts, Battlestar Galactica, The Black Hole, Clash of the Titans, and more.

Next up is Zica Toy's line of action figures based on The Six Million Dollar Man.  These toys should hopefully be out any time now (they were supposed to be released already, but they got delayed in customs).

After that, Funko is working on a whole line of figures in this style from a mind-boggling array of licenses, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, Hellraiser, Friday the 13th, Universal Monsters, Back to the Future, Goonies, Terminator 1 & 2, Predator, The Rocketeer, Nightmare Before Christmas, Escape from New York, Pulp Fiction, and Classic Star Trek!  Wow, I can't wait to see some of these.  Hopefully we'll see some prototypes for these toys at ToyFair in February.

NEXT: In "Action Figures I'm Excited About For 2014, Part 2," I'll take a look at some non-retro 3 ¾" action figures, from The Four Horsemen and Mattel.