Despite the fact that NECA has had the license to the Predator franchise since 2010 and have been able to churn out 50 action figures over 11 series to retail (with the 12th series recently announced at Toy Fair). The line is a tremendous success and I regret that Hive Wars Predator is actually the first to make it into my collection.
About a year ago I made mention of how in my youth I attended Thundercats LIVE! at the Philadelphia Civic Center. The show was produced by Rankin/Bass & Lorimar and toured major U.S. cities during 1987 and featured a variety of characters based on their syndicated cartoons, aside from the eponymous Thundercats there were their cousins the Silverhawks and Tigersharks along with Gumby & Pokey, the Street Frogs and Karate Kat. The 90-minute stage show was a guided tour led by a roller skating Gumby & Pokey that somehow shoehorned all of these Rankin/Bass properties into a cohesive narrative.
To this day I really do not remember much about the show, but it’s late at night and I found myself with nothing better to do but to dig through the Interwebs to uncover everything I could about this infamous event.
Not much evidence is left out there save for a few dedicated Thundercats fan sites like ThunderCatsFans.org, but the images we do have available are just chock full of everything cringe worthy about the 1980s.
The story behind Andy Weir’s The Martian is almost as remarkable as the novel itself. Initially self-published by the author in a serial format it became a runaway success and was later repackaged and edited into an ebook. The Martian first came onto my radar in late February when early reviews started hitting the Internet. The buzz was very positive and enough for me to justify downloading it to my Kindle.
“It’s true, you know. In space, no one can hear you scream like a little girl.”
The Martian is set in a near future where NASA has successfully landed the Ares 3 mission on the surface of Mars. Our protagonist, Mark Watney is a botanist by training and cross trained as a mechanical engineer (think Val Kilmer’s “space janitor” in Red Planet) and the story is told primarily through his personal journal. After only days on the surface of the planet, a rogue windstorm threatens the Ares 3 crew and mission control calls for an immediate evacuation. In the adrenaline fueled melee, Watney gets separated from the rest of the crew and is perceived to be dead. The crew evacuates in their ascent vehicle and high tail it for Earth.
Turns out Watney survived and after the storm his ability to communicate with NASA or even the rest of the Ares 3 crew has been completely wiped out. Left on the barren surface of Mars with the mission’s left over equipment Watney has to figure out a way to survive.
While The Martian is a science fiction novel there is a lot of science fact contained within its 385 pages (those space science nerds may be familiar with the work of Dr. Robert Zubrin who core concepts for Mars exploration are used as a template for The Martian). Weir clearly has a love of space exploration and really goes into the details of what Watney has to do in order to keep on living in an environment that constantly wants to kill him.
The Martian is a thrilling read which evokes the high stakes survival drama of Apollo 13. I read through the novel in a little over two days and I’m sure once you pick it up you will follow suit.
Congo is a film that to some is laughably bad. To others like myself, we have wholly embraced the techno-thriller jungle adventure, faults and all, which ultimately went on to earn more than $150 million at the box office during the summer of 1995.
Murderous Mutated Monkeys
While they don’t hold a candle to King Kong the murderous Guardian Apes of Zinj were a bit unsettling. Watching them get atomized by Laura Linney’s space laser made for one of the best finales.
The creature effects were designed by none other than Stan Winston which looking back are clearly guys in monkey suits. When I get drunk I often mimic the motions and voice of Amy … “Good, Good, Good … Gorilla”.
It Gave Us A Laura Linney Action Figure
Heading into the summer movie season of 1995 Congo was marketed as the action adventure film to see. Kenner developed a line of action figures (many of which are terrible and reused molds from the Aliens line) which included Laura Linney’s character Karen Ross. I can say with relative certainty that there is no demand for these action figures and can be found on eBay and flea markets for relatively low prices.
Given Linney’s prolific career on the screen it is rather amazing that this will only be the collectible bearing her likeness. I don’t think there would be much of a market for action figures based on her roles in John Adams or The Savages.
“Stop Eating My Sesame Cake”
There are few performances more sublime than Delroy Lindo’s performance as Captain Wanta, a corrupt member of the Congolese Army.
While Congo may not have been Bruce Campbell’s most prolific role (that’s fodder for another article) his total screen time clocks in at under five minutes, but his mere presence alone elevates this film to modern cult classic status.
If you have a few minutes to spare there is a rather humorous video of Campbell discussing how Congo got made from the studio’s perspective.
Ernie Hudson’s Pseudo British Accent
In his turn as the “Great White Hunter” Captain Munro Kelly, Hudson spends the entire film with a curious affectation in his voice. I’m not sure if he could decide whether he was supposed to be British, cultured or just an asshole. Munro Kelly is my preferred Hudson role even more so than that of Winston Zedmore from Ghostbusters. In an interview with A.V. Club back in 2012, Hudson spoke of his experience on the film:
I had so much fun with that character, and they allowed me, reluctantly, to do the accent and be the African guide. It was just so much fun, and it’s probably my favorite character of all. Yeah, I have nothing but fond memories.
And after doing some fact checking for this article I discovered that Congo has never been released on Bluray! How is that even possible? Come on Paramount! It’s 2014 we need this awesome film in glorious 1080p!!!
While on a recent Toy Hunt I found myself somewhat hopeful that I may come across a rogue Boba Fett or even a Sand Trooper or two based on recent Internet sightings. Previously the only figures I have ever seen at retail are Greedo and Slave Princess Leia (arguably two of the most unpopular in the series so far).
Imagine my surprise when I found an X-Wing Pilot Luke Skywalker and a bunch of Slave Princess Leia figures clogging the pegs.
At least it’s something different for a change right? I refuse to pay secondary market prices for the 2-3 figures that I want, so I guess lady luck will have to be on my side during one of these toy hunts.