Tuesday, June 23, 2009

1989 Batman Film's 20th Birthday!

I just wanted to take a moment to recognize the 20th birthday of Tim Burton's 1989 Batman film. The film was released in theaters 20 years ago, today.... June 23, 1989.

Most older Bat-fans remember the summer of 1989 like it was only a couple of years ago. "Batmania" swept the USA (and the world) like almost never before (the "Bat Craze" of the late 1960's was huge, as well) and we are still riding the wave of Batman fandom that was started that year. For example, in the time leading up to the first 1989 Batman film, Batman toys and collectibles were fairly scarce. Mego had produced figures in the 1970s and Kenner produced a Batman figure as part of their Super Powers toy line. That was about it.

Since 1989 and the release of the first Batman film, there have been hundreds and hundreds of different Batman figures, toys, and collectibles produced. The Batman license has remained very strong and has benefited from many other films and animated versions of Batman. That's 20 years of an almost constant flow of Batman toys and merchandise.

The marketing for the Batman film in 1989 was a bit haphazard in comparison to the well-orchestrated movie marketing campaigns of today. The Batman collectibles of 1989 most often rode the fence between depicting Batman as he looked in comics of the time and also as he looked in the film with his new all-black Bat suit. At times, Batman was depicted as an odd amalgamation of the two looks. 1989 was definitely a big transition year for the Dark Knight and what fans would come to tolerate in updating and changing Batman's costume.

For the next week or so, I'll be posting mostly Batman items to commemorate the 20 year anniversary of this now-classic film.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Mattel Battlestar Galactica Colonial Warrior

This is Mattel's Battlestar Galactica Colonial Warrior.

I don't have too much to say about this guy. He's supposed to represent one of the "good guys" from the not-so-successful-but fondly-remembered 1978 TV show, Battlestar Galactica. However, he doesn't resemble any of the actual characters from the show.

My only guess is that Mattel wanted to make a quick buck off of the TV series and used the available resources they already had to pull it off. The Colonial Warrior actually uses molds from Mattel's late 1960's toy line, Major Matt Mason. Major Matt Mason toys were small bendy-type figures with space helmets and lots of cool accessories. The Colonial Warrior's twin, Captain Lazer, was a 12" scale figure sold as "Major Matt Mason's Friend from Outer Space." He was kind of an anomaly as he was a 12" figure being sold in a 5 or 6" scale line of figures. I guess he was some sort of big, alien friend.

From what I can tell, Mattel's Colonial Warrior is nothing more than a redeco of Captain Lazer with a brown fuzzy vest. To be fair, Mattel DID release a Cylon figure at the same time that did feature, at least, a new head sculpt.

The Colonial Warrior is made of hard plastic and features very limited articulation. He has a backpack that takes two AA batteries. When you push down on the backpack's plunger, the gun (or detachable view screen) lights up.

A complete Colonial Warrior should include his brown vest and the "view screen" that attaches to his molded-in-hand gun.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Tagged: My Top Ten TV Shows of the 70's

I've been tagged by Brian at What My Dad Saw to list my favorite TV shows of the 70's. This is the order I probably would have listed them in as a kid.

1)The Six Million Dollar Man

I couldn't wait to see what adventure Steve was involved in next. I would have given my right arm to be bionic like Steve. Also... Bigfoot. The greatest bionic man-ape ever!

2) Batman

We never seemed to have the right channels for me to see Batman very regularly. So, it was always a bit of a "holy grail" for me as a kid... constantly trying to catch an episode here and there at friends' houses. I love pretty much all incarnations of Batman and this classic is no exception.

3)Planet of the Apes

This show, unfortunately didn't last very long. I think it only ran for about 13 episodes. It made a lasting impression on me, though. It was so cool to see a new episode each week right in the middle of the early 70's "ape mania." The opening credits scared the tar out of me when the ape on the horseback raised his rifle. I just knew he was going to find me hiding in the brush.

4)The Incredible Hulk

The "wanted man" type of storyline boosted this one into being more than just a slugfest each week. The music in the end credits just tears your heart out.

5)Wonder Woman

I just thought it was a blast to see another comic book character brought to life. As a child, I was oblivious to certain attributes that Lynda Carter brought to the role. Lynda Carter IS Wonder Woman...end of story.

6) The Muppet Show

This show was really well done. It was always funny and they had great guest stars like Mark Hamill and Alice Cooper. No wonder it still has such a huge following.

7) Fantasy Island

Mr. Rourke was the man! ...and he always managed to teach his guests something about themselves that they needed to learn. So, in a way, Rourke was a bit like a therapist...with a giant, magical island for a couch.

8)Happy Days

Fonzie. Do I really need to say anything else?

9)Welcome Back Kotter

Sweathogs and chalkboards. I always loved the theme song to this show. Travolta will always be Barbarino to me.  "Up your nose with a rubber hose."...pure poetry.

10)Charlies Angels

Farrah was a HUGE phenomenon when this show aired. I always loved the beginning with the exciting music and Charlie voice-over introducing each angel. Did anyone else notice that all three angels were both tough AND beautiful?

Honorable Mentions: The Bionic Woman, Logan's Run, The Electric Company (Spiderman!), The Donny and Marie Show

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Mego 8" Joker

This is Mego's 8" Joker. He was first released in 1974. It was great to finally be getting some villains to battle our 8" heroes. Batman was getting a bit tired of hauling in Action Jackson only to find that it wasn't a crime to wear a blue jumpsuit and sideburns.

In recent times, the character of the Joker has been subjected to a bit of interpretation. However, from the character's inception in 1940 all the way up to roughly 1989 when the first Batman motion picture was released, the Clown Prince of Crime had been largely unchanged. Just about every incarnation or depiction of him was fairly consistent. Since then, his look and back story have been evolving somewhat. Jack Nicholson's Joker in the first Batman film looked a bit different than what people typically expected. And of course, 2008's The Dark Knight changed the look and the demeanor of the Joker fairly radically.

Mego's Joker was produced when the Joker's look was still consistent with his original depiction. His head sculpt and costume reflect the look of the Joker from comics and cartoons of the time quite well. He looks like a very happy fellow...a happy fellow that has just tainted Gotham City's entire water supply with gallons and gallons Smilex toxin. He's funny that way.

Mego, instead of producing many layers of clothing, dressed Joker in an overcoat and screen printed body suit that resembled layers of clothing and a tie underneath. I've always thought this was a bit cheap and brilliant at the same time.

A complete Joker includes his overcoat, bodysuit, and pair of brown shoes. Also, take note that Joker's hands should be molded in white plastic to resemble gloves.

Maybe it's Maybelline.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Mego 12" Incredible Hulk

In late 1977, the Incredible Hulk live-action TV series started airing and it was a huge hit. Even though my kids can't fathom how the show had such a huge following (they can't believe how small and human-looking Hulk is), it was one of those "must see" shows for many kids in the 1970s.

Mego, having already produced an 8" Hulk figure, released their 12" Hulk figure in 1978... right on the heels of the popular TV show. Sure, Mego's Hulk looks nothing like Lou Ferrigno's Hulk, but the synergy between the toys and tv show was there, all the same.

Mego's 12" Hulk features an excellent comic-book-accurate face sculpt. He also features quite a bit of articulation. To be complete, he should have both his purple pants and white (factory torn) shirt.

The Hulk is one of the "high marks" in Mego's 12" Superhero line of figures. Although, I don't like him when he's angry.