Getting Back in the Water with TigerSharks, aka the ThunderCats of the Sea

In the year of our lord 1987, Rankin-Bass, the production company behind ThunderCats and SilverHawks, wanted to see if the third time was the charm and launched TigerSharks. Ostensibly, the TigerSharks were essentially the ThunderCats of the Sea.  The 22-minute series was part of their Comic Strip block of programming and aired only 26 episodes before cancellation later that year.  If anything, the TigerSharks maintained a decent theme song but the concept as a whole was a bit … salty.

Now the TigerSharks garnered their aquatic powers through the use of the “Fish Tank” onboard their submarine/spaceship dubbed the Sarc. Now this team of super-powered fish people traveled to the planet Water-O on a research mission where they ended up as protectors of the gentle Waterians and waged battle against the evil T-Ray and his minions.

With nearly twenty years removed from its last airing, I think we can all agree that TigerSharks is near unwatchable.  Aside from a brief cameo in the 2011 ThunderCats reboot, the TigerSharks have been barely a blip on the pop culture radar.  Now the one area that they remain popular is in the realm of obsessive toy collectors. LJN Toys produced a toy line of action figures that lasted just one series, but did not see massive distribution at the time due to a lack of interest.

tigersharksLJNThese days any of the TigerSharks action figures will fetch insanely high prices on the secondary market.  As someone who sees himself as a rather astute collector, I can honestly say that I’ve only seen a TigerShark action figure at a handful of toy and antique shows over the years with prices so high that convinced me that owning this particular piece of pop culture history just wasn’t worth it.

Here’s Our First Look at Mattel’s Ghostbusters Action Figures from the 2016 Reboot

With last year being the 30th Anniversary of the release of Ghostbusters, there was a glut of new merchandise released based on the classic foursome of Venkman, Stantz, Spengler and Zedmore.   We knew that there was going to be a big marketing push for Paul Feig’s upcoming Ghostbusters reboot, including action figures, role-playing proton packs and all kinds of other plastic collectibles in mass retail and specialty shops.

Up until this point, not much has been known about Mattel’s main action figure line but with Toy Fair 2016 just around the corner, a sneak peek was bound to happen sooner or later.  Director Paul Feig tweeted out an image of the 6″ prototypes for the world to see.

GB2016_MattelProtosOf course the 30 year old men on action figure forums are already blasting the line, but I think these prototypes have done a pretty good job of capturing the likenesses of the actresses.  As father of twin 5 year old daughters who dressed up as Ghostbusters last Halloween, I cannot even begin to express how awesome it will be that they will be able to buy a Ghostbusters toy at retail in 2016.  Let’s just hope that the role-playing proton pack will live up to the greatness of its predecessor.


The Return of (Actual) Stormtroopers in The Force Awakens

While I am still gathering my thoughts about The Force Awakens, one of my favorite things to come out of the JJ Abrams sequel was the presence of actual Stormtrooper armor.  This may seem like a relatively small issue, but the unnecessary CGI Clone Troopers from the Prequel Trilogy look completely ridiculous.

Even in close shots, George Lucas insisted on digitally painting armor instead of using physical props. I don’t think we will ever know why Lucas decided to go that route; but I am not sure how dedicating a visual effects artist to create armor was a cost savings over vaccum forming some armor.  By the end of Episode II: Attack of the Clones, it got to a point where we were just watching a bunch of pixels voiced by Temura Morrison shooting at something else completely made up of pixels.

SWOrder661The above, in-camera, pre-SFX shot from Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith speaks volumes to one of what I feel is one of the most glaring problems that has aged the prequel films significantly since their theatrical release.  In contrast, look at this photo from the production of The Force Awakens where John Boyega is actually in full on First Order Stormtrooper armor.  star-wars-john-boyegas-finn-in-stormtrooper-actionHaving an actor in armor, on camera lends such an authenticity to the film.  One that eluded the prequels but was undoubtedly one of my favorite things to come from The Force Awakens.

Did a German LEGO Catalog Reveal A Giant Plot Point for Captain America: Civil War?

The LEGO Group prides itself in its secrecy and leaks of their upcoming product line are few and far between.  Earlier today, images from a German retailer catalog showed off three sets based on the upcoming Marvel Studios film Captain America: Civil War.

LEGO_thumbIt looks like that for the first time we will be getting minifigs versions of Falcon, Crossbones, Agent 13 and Black Panther. And of course there will be the requisite updates to Captain America, Black Widow, War Machine, Iron Man, Winter Soldier.  Overall, the sets seem pretty great with all the necessary flick-fire missiles and extraneous vehicles that will most likely not even make it into the final film.

However there is one more giant minifig update after the jump, but be warned there are potential SPOILERS ahead!


Merchandising a New Generation: The True Success of Shadows of the Empire

ShadowsnovelIn 1996, a year before The Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition was released in theaters, LucasFilm gave us Shadows of the Empire, a massive multimedia event that had all the trappings of a feature film without actually being one.

The novel, set in the period between The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of the Jedi, had been a no man’s land up until that point.  How did Lando end up in Jabba the Hutt’s employ? When did Luke build his new lightsaber? Why didn’t Leia try and get Han’s carbonite frozen body back before Jabba hung it on his wall?

It would be a lie to say that I didn’t get caught up in the hype.  My parents bought me the book which I devoured at an absurd rate.  At that time I was heavy into the Star Wars Expanded Universe, having worked my way through the Thrawn Trilogy and some of the X-Wing: Rogue Squadron books along with a smattering of others (yes, even The Truce at Bakura). Later that year I got the N64 exclusive Shadows of the Empire video game which was primarily told through the new view of Dash Rendar, a rapscallion Correllian smuggler with a loyal sidekick, who is very much like Han Solo … but with bigger shoulder pads.


And of course that wasn’t all, there was the requisite action figure line, comic book tie ins, official soundtrack (for a book!), t-shirts, statues, t-shirt and limited edition collectible plates.  Shadows of the Empire was a phenomenon, one that proved that Lucasfilm didn’t necessarily need a film to support its …. ahem empire.

That massive merchandise consumption demonstrated that there was a whole new generation of fans ready to consume Star Wars in every possible format.  As part of that generation, this was our 1977, the first real bit of Star Wars that we could say that we witnessed first hand and embraced as our own.

The one unfortunate result of the Disney acquisition of Lucasfilm was the great culling of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, which made the events of Shadows of the Empire no longer canon. However, a few items from that chapter in Star Wars history remain.

Dash Rendar’s  Outrider was confirmed as canon earlier this year at Star Wars Celebrations, and the Black Sun criminal syndicate has been a part of The Clone Wars series and has been mentioned on recent episodes of Star Wars: Rebels.  So pour one out for your homies Dash Rendar, Prince Xizor and Chewbacca’s Mohawk, as they are no longer with us.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 Trailer Will Give You All of the 90s Nostalgia Feels

The 2014 live action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was a blockbuster hit, grossing nearly $500 million worldwide.  While it may not have hit all the right chords with fans, next summer’s installment, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Out of The Shadows, looks like it may have captured the right balance of comedy and action.

teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles-2-out-shadowsAs someone who was the target demographic during the absolute peak of the TMNT craze in the early 1990s, this trailer is giving me some strong nostalgia feels.

Bebop. Rocksteady. Casey Jones. Baxter Stockman. And is that Dimension X?!?!?

The 2014 Turtles movie kind of fell flat for me and kind of forgot that it was based on a property that was supposed to be fun.  Between everything I’ve seen in that trailer, combined with the prodigious use of Run-D.M.C’s Tricky, I think I am all in for this go around.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Out of the Shadows will be in theaters June 2016.

The Captain America: Civil War Trailer Is Here, And It’s Awesome!

The teaser trailer for Captain America: Civil War  debuted last night and it … looks …. AWESOME. The Russo Brothers are back to direct the sequel after the success of Captain America: Winter Soldier and from the 2 1/2 minutes of footage we have here it looks like they are picking up right where they left off.

There is a lot to digest in this trailer.  Picking up after the events of Age of Ultron where there is a movement afoot to hold the Avengers accountable for another international incident involving significant collateral damage.  This movement appears to headed up by none other than General Thunderbolt Ross (William Hurt reprising his role from 2008’s The Incredible Hulk).  Iron Man agrees, but Captain America does not and what happens is heroes fighting heroes.

Iron Man.  Captain America. Black Widow. War Machine. Scarlett Witch. Falcon. Hawkeye. Ant-Man. Black Panther ….. BLACK PANTHER!!!!

BlackPantherLet’s just talk about Black Panther for a minute. His costume design is fantastic and the trailer gives us our first official look at T’Challa other than concept artwork or leaked set photos (which doesn’t give the suit justice).

I’ve long held a soft spot for Black Panther, when I came upon several old issues of Marvel Premiere from the 1970s. It looks as though the Russo Brothers’ interpretation of the King of Wakanda may be spot on.

Captain America: Civil War will be in theaters May 6, 2016.


This Japanese “Star Wars” Commercial from 1978 is Absolutely Insane — 30ish Days of Star Wars

Back In 1978 the Japanese-based Hagaramo Foods Corporation decide to cash in on the Star Wars craze.  Except they didn’t sell sugary cereal or action figures as their primary product line was canned foods, which is notoriously boring.

hqdefaultWhat better way to get people excited about eating their product than to have a splashy, special effects laden commercial with the likes of Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker? Now I’m sure there was Japanese ad executive who said, “of course we can get LucasFilm to sign off on this!”

It should come as no surprise that LucasFilm did not sign off on this licensing agreement which led to one of the most insane Japanese commercials in the history of insane Japanese commercials.

I’m not quite sure what my favorite part of this commercial is.  Right now it’s a close tie between the explosive entrance of Darth Vader and the roller skating C-3PO serving up a delicious tray of sea chicken in the most hilarious way possible.

I don’t know about you, but I could go for some sea chicken right now.

via [Tech Crunch]

Galactic Book Club — Star Wars: Aftermath (2015) – 30ish Days of Star Wars

On a recent business trip I finally had a chance to finish Star Wars: Aftermath, which had been sitting idle on my Kindle for a few months.  When Disney acquired LucasFilm, one of the big changes was the wholesale removal of the Expanded Universe from the Star Wars canon.  Major story lines and characters that cropped up in books, comics and video games over the last 35 years would not referenced in any of the new movies or media.

Star Wars: Aftermath was the first novel in the “Journey to The Force Awakens” and would tell the story of what happened in the events immediately after Return of the Jedi.  What happened after the Ewok’s victorious yub-nubs on Endor and the statue of Emperor Palpatine was pulled down on Coruscant? Author Chuck Wendig was tapped by the powers at be at LucasFilm to provide fans a new launching point for the Star Wars universe.


Join the Fight Against the Empire in Star Wars X-Wing (1993) — 30ish Days of Star Wars

xwing_coverIn the halycon days of 1994 my parents made a huge investment in a monolithic 66mhz computer that ran Windows 3.1.  One of the features that had me super excited was the double speed CD-ROM!  I’m sure my mom intended it for purely educational purposes, as Microsoft Encarta was one of the first purchases she made.  My dad on the other hand, had other ideas as one of the first CD-ROM games he bought for me was Star Wars: X-Wing.

Star Wars: X-Wing allowed you to jump into the cockpit of the titular Incom T-65 starfighter (or the the A-Wing or Y-Wing) and fight the Galactic Empire in missions set before and leading up to the Battle of Yavin.

1993_X-WingBy early 1990s standards, the game play in X-Wing was amazing.  The ability to use a joystick, while using keyboard controls to balance shields, engine speed, and lasers was about as interactive as you could get.  There were cut scenes (albeit hand drawn) and music pulled from the movies.  Star Wars: X-Wing had a couple of expansion packs B-Wing and Imperial Pursuit and spawned a few sequels.  This game made an indelible mark on my young gaming life, and as far as Star Wars games go was probably my favorite until the release of Star Wars: Rogue Squadron for the N64

In 2014, the games were repackaged and available for download on for all you nostalgic X-Wing jockeys out there for a very reasonable price.

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