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Monday, September 26, 2016

Pop Culture League Challenge: Listicular Fortitude

For my Foray into the Pop Culture League this week,
I am listing my top 10 most influential toy lines!
Just imagine this countdown in the voice of G1 Cliffjumper and you will do fine

GI Joe 12" line- This line is only peripherally influential to me, because while it affects so many other lines, I only had a couple of Joes growing up(Eagle Eye with Kung Fu Grip) and only a few accessories. This line is what took the principal behind the Barbie Doll(1959) and turned it into the Action Soldier(1964). Lets call them number ten for historical importance

GI Joe 3.75- This line I only had a few of- Snake Eyes and maybe a couple of others. What it did, however was influence the storytelling- It, along with Transformers gave us episodic tales to fit our toys into every afternoon after school. I watched these Joes battle Cobra with my nephews, but their Nigh absence in my Collection puts them solidly at the nine spot

Hot Wheels-Little Die-Cast cars of every color and design, I and friends from down the street would set up tracks or construct roads in the yard...often at the expense of patches of my father's grass. He was a little unhappy when he discovered the hidden city over on the shady side of the house under the gas meter. Fast cars do not a great story make in my mind, so despite their forays into the Star Wars and Marvel characters they rank number eight. 

LEGO- A powerful construction tool, LEGO made me want to build, but only at the end of my time with it were the first clumsy Mini-figures so I didn't find the tools my mind wanted to tell the stories I wanted to imagine. If I had only known that the future held LEGO BatMan...They might have rolled in higher than number seven

Stikfas-Customizable figures to construct off of a SPRU- I loved these but they Ironically became harder to get and disappeared after the licensing deal with Hasbro. Their scarcity sets them at six

Mego Worlds Greatest Superheroes! Eight inch action figures with plastic accessories and boots, and vinyl gloves, Mego had licensed characters from DC and Marvel. there were some vehicles available too, These were my favorites in elementary school, and that puts them at number five with the hammer MJolnir. 

Hasbro Star Wars Vintage/Black- Hasbro did a lot of things right, wrong and in between with their Star Wars line, from the first stylized overly buff Luke and Monkey-faced Leia but the Vintage line and black series in 3.75 scale is the best of the best. They are the only Star Wars figures I still collect, and that makes them number four

Marvel Universe/Legends 3.75 Et Al-These are the spiritual successors to me of those old Mego toys and they have gone so much further, with obscure and incredible characters from all corners of the Marvel universe. I choose the representations of the characters I like the best. I still collect these, and I call them number three on the list.

Kenner Star Wars- These have to be Number two, because they set the industry standard for scale(3.75") that affected so many lines to follow. So many characters, so many vehicles, so much to fuel the imagination. Even with their five point articulation they have a certain charm

Transformers- with a 30+ year history and so many stories to tell from live action movies to Animated series to Comics and novels, is should come as no surprise that this is my number one most influential toy line

Honorable mention: The Micronauts

Pop Culture Leaguers Links(Lynx?)

And click the league logo above for any others and any Comments

Sunday, September 25, 2016


     Serious subject. Terrible and heartbreaking confession time. I (gasp) open my toys.

     But if you open them, their value is RUINED! RUINED I say!

     So here is the story. I buy my stuff because I want it, because I want to mess with it, because it fills a space in my life and makes me happy. A few toys have broken on  me but no toy has ever actually broken up with me (except for generations Chromia, and we still talk on the phone sometimes.) People leave, Optimus Prime has your back, always.

     Here is the scoop. with a tiny number of exceptions, no toy you buy now is really going to be worth much more than you paid for it, if you leave it in package. The belief in secondary markets of toys making someone rich, changing your life, putting your kids through college is all based upon a small number of "it could happen to you" stories. Original Kenner Star Wars toys in package are rare, because people like me and probably you, loved those toys, ripped them out of their packages with extreme prejudice, and played with them. High prices for packages toys are based upon desirability and rarity. Simply put, if a lot of people like something, and there are not that many out there in good or new condition, they cost more. On the other hand if people like something and there are a lot of them out there, they are not so rare and can be found more easily. The entire collectors market is based upon one principle.

It is worth what someone will pay for it.

     I collected some comics in the 90's, and when I got to the point where I was ready to let those go... they went for about a nickel a book, and I counted myself lucky to get that. Likewise for the Star Wars POTF2 figures that were going to make everyone rich in-package. So these days I know that if I am buying a collectible, it's for my enjoyment, and for pictures here on the blog so you can enjoy it too, I'm not picking it up for resale. 

     I watched a couple of really good videos about the comics market this morning which I will l link here so you can enjoy them too. 

Oh, and the comics that burned me in that crash were Age of Apocalypse X-Men books. Bad memories...

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Civil War

      Civil War came out on DVD and Blu-ray which if you are my normal audiences, should come as no surprise. I watched it, also no surprise, as a follow-up to Age of Ultron. In the theater, the  movie was huge and overwhelming, and moved fast. On the small screen, it was a little more contained and free for reflection. 

     What struck me most this time was the complexity of the damage each of the characters is feeling and dealing with. This is no simple "we are angry and must fight!" This was all about family and the consequences of our actions, or our inactions. This was nigh Shakespearean.

     Steve Rogers, weighed down with the death of Peggy Carter, his perceived failure of Bucky Barnes, and the deaths of innocents in Lagos, has no bend in him, and no trust for the treaty that is being proposed. He is losing what is left of the world he came from, and that makes him all the more determined to save Bucky. He is clad in red, white and blue, but it's a dark blue, and a blood red.
 If we sign these accords, it takes away our right to choose.

     Diametrically opposed to him is Tony Stark, reeling from guilt over creating Ultron, his crumbling relationship with Pepper Potts, and never saying goodbye to his parents, favors the treaty as a balm, a way to shed the responsibility for all the blood he can never cleanse from his hands. In addition, Steve Rogers has been held up to him as an example for all his life, and he has been found wanting. His colors are red and gold. 
We need to be put in check. Whatever form that takes, I'm game

     Wanda Maximoff, in red and black, is mourning her twin, feeling the crush of her failure in Lagos, where her powers saved Cap, but her inexperience killed Wakandan citizens. She is also struggling with the question of whether she is still human, given her abilities.
... I used to think of myself one way. But after this...

     The Vision, in magenta, green and gold, is struggling to find his place in a world where he is filled with knowledge, but poor in experience. He is striving to do the right thing, based on the mathematical truth he sees.
Oversight... Oversight is not an idea that can be dismissed out of hand.

     T'Challa, in black and silver, is carrying the weight of his family legacy, as well as his recent ascension to the throne, holding his dying father in his arms. Oddly, his colors are well matched to the man he believes to be his father's killer.
Vengeance has consumed you. It's consuming them. I'm done letting it consume me. Justice will come soon enough.

     James Buchanan Barnes has a head full of confused memory and programming to kill. A victim, turned into a weapon, a man who has lost everything, his world, his self determination, even his self worth.
I don't know if I'm worth all this to you.

     These are the primary drivers of the tragedy. Three pairs of people who will shake and shatter earths mightiest heroes when they collide.

Six people who will affect each other in ways that they can't predict.

     Then we have the antagonists.

     Thaddeus Ross, a career military man with a bias toward chain of command. He loosed a monster on New York, and loosed another to stop the one he created from his hatred. He claims to have gained perspective, but still can't tell the good guys from the bad. He sets the stage indifferently, applying rules for the sake of rules.
You have fought for us, protected us, risked your lives. But while a great many people see you as heroes, there are some who would prefer the word "vigilantes".

     Helmut Zemo is filled with hate because of the deaths of his family. His is the shadowy hand that aims the protagonists at one another, to destroy from within. To be avenged upon the Avengers.
An empire toppled by its enemies can rise again, but one which crumbles from within? That's dead... forever.

     And then we have the sidekicks.

     James Rhodes has been a friend to Tony Stark through the worst and best of what he has been. Always faithful, not always approving, he backs the treaty 100% for the sake of accountability. In his world, he's a soldier, and knows that someone has to be responsible for collateral damage.

117 countries wanna sign this. 117, Sam, and you're just like, "Nah, it's cool."

     Sam Wilson has become the right hand of Steve Rogers. He backs every play, even when he doesn't agree fully. This doesn't make him a lackey, it just shows he trusts Steve to lead him into danger, and back out again, 
I just wanna make sure we consider all our options. The people that shoot at you usually wind up shooting at me.

    Big cast so far. right? And we are not done. We have the damage control, Clint Barton on Cap's team, Natasha Romanova on Iron Man's, trying to hold everything together and keep it from getting too messed up. Trying to make sure there is still a team, a family at the end. In some ways they have been with the Avenger initiative longer than anyone else. They are not the most powerful, but they are perhaps the most experienced. 
'We're still friends, right?'
'Depends on how hard you hit me.'

     Then we have the Ingenues, Spider-Man and Ant-Man, not invested in the struggle, just big fans and happy to be included. Their inexperience and sense of fun brings comic relief to the chaos around them.
When you can do the things that I can, but you don't, and then the bad things happen? They happen because of you.

Jeez... Uh, look, I wanna say, I know you know a lot of super-people so... thinks for thanking of me.

    Shake, destroy an airport, and let simmer. 

     What began for Tony Stark as being about redemption becomes retribution for his parents. What began for T'Challa as vengeance becomes justice, as he realizes he almost killed the wrong man. What began as turmoil for Bucky becomes peace as he is given a place to rest and heal. James Rhodes is grievously injured and Cap's team is imprisoned in supervillain-jail. 

     Cap begins and ends being about protection of his friends, including protecting them from other, misguided friends. He lays down the shield that Tony's father made but extends an olive branch to Tony at the end, a letter and a phone to contact him. And Marvel Universe phase three begins with the Avengers, disassembled

Monday, September 19, 2016

Pop Culture League Challenge:Aliens Among Us

  “If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn’t turn out well for the Native Americans.”

     This is a topic that has always interested me. Mr Hawking is a brilliant man, and his quote has a lot of merit, but it's predicated on the assumption that the aliens think like we do. To think like us, they would have had to develop their intelligence overcoming similar challenges to what we faced, and to overcome them in similar ways, or so it seems to me. As an example, our system of Maths is Base 10, because we have ten fingers- How differently would a species think who had eight fingers?

     I have seen a lot of movies about aliens among us. From the guys just trying to get along in  M.I.B. to the horrible sadistic destroyers of Battleship, Independence Day and Mars Attacks, to the secret war of Alien shape-shifting robots among us of the Transformers series. and our imagination conceives of two main possibilities. Examples below.

     If the aliens are hostile, they will destroy us. 

  • Independence Day
  • Mars Attacks
  • Pacific Rim
  • Cowboys and Aliens
  • Battleship
  • Predator
  • Super 8
  • Signs

     If the aliens are peace loving, we will kill them or Abuse them in some way. 
  • Starman
  • E.T.
  • Paul
  • M.I.B.
  • K-Pax
  • Avatar
     Transformers fits both categories. So does the Jurassic park saga.

     Now here is where I depart...I live with an alien intelligence. He is my pet, or perhaps I am his pet. It all depends on whether you ask me, or ask Tango. Parrots as well as many other bird families, are at least as intelligent as a human child, have been taught the exchange of currency, have developed tool use, and can learn to understand and converse in some English. Parrots have been taught to count and identify shapes and colors. They have deep seated emotions, and empathy. They can understand human emotions well enough to manipulate us into adopting and keeping them.  And they do all that with teeny, tiny brains...

     If we have extra-terrestrial visitors, what's to say we would even comprehend their motivations, or even that we are the ones they came to see? They might be checking in with feathery friends who survived the cretaceous mass extinction, and who predate primate ascendancy

     So the aliens are among us. They are among us, and they have air support. Sleep with one eye open...

Others who Prepped for the invasion