Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Clone Wars Season 4 Premiere Review (Part 1)

Man, I just watched part 3 of the Clone Wars Season 4 Premiere. I can't help it, I'm frustrated. I didn't want to say anything until the conclusion hoping they would salvage something with the ending. Understand that I go into each episode wanting to love them. There is so much potential with this series, it kills me that they haven't executed a quality story since the beginning of season 3.

This story isn't original. A king dies. A war starts. A young prince must prove himself and take back the throne. I don't mind knowing that in the end everything will be alright and the good guys will triumph over evil. What I DO care about is how we get there. I want some character progression with our main stars. I want actions to make sense and have consequences. It's all in the details, and this is where these episodes fall apart. Spoilers ahead. Ye be warned.

Things That Bothered Me Episode #4.1

The King of the Mon Calimari has just been murdered and the Quarren refuse to accept the young heir as the new ruler. A shark ambassador named Talon is brought in to counter the Mon Calamari's request of the Republic representatives. Talon ends the talks and the two peoples go to war.

1) Boots?
In the first two seconds I notice the Quarren are swimming with boots and I'm already distracted. Why are the Quarren wearing any kind of foot wear at all? The Mon Calimari are dressed in shells and seaweed. Why dress the Quarren in surface clothing?

2) Tanson's Many Hats
So he's an ambassador when we first see him, then he's the sole leader of the Quarren Army. I thought there was a big stink about letting another Calimari lead the people, but they allow this shark guy, who is not even from their world, to lead their army?

3) Plan of Attack
The army comes over the ridge, sees the city and just start firing their guns. They aren't in the city yet, they're just shooting at the city with their hand held weapons. Then, the army swims right by the Prince who is watching them from his window. Maybe capturing the Prince should have been part of the initial attack? Maybe a little reconnaissance to figure out where the Prince is going to be? Heck, the Prince had no idea the attack was even coming. Why not insert a scene where a squad attacks the Prince and his council? There could be a little fight defending the Prince. Finally, they escape through some hidden tunnels under the floor or something.

4) Defense Plan
The Quarren and Droid Army just swim right through the city shooting. They have no troop formation or take any cover. You'd think this would be pretty easy for the Calimari to pick these guys off. Instead, the Calimari army also jumps up from behind their cover and battle in the open water.

5) Gerbil Tubes
What are the reason for these things? It would make sense if they were some sort of giant straws that sucked you or pushed you through the tubes so you could rest or something, but it seems they are just tubes with no purpose but to clog up when big groups are going opposite ways.

5) Falling?
The Prince, Anakin, Padme, and some others are swimming in a gerbil tube to get behind the attacking army. A giant rock or building falls onto the tube and cuts our heroes off from their following reinforcements. We see the Calimari reinforcements actually screaming and falling to their doom? Why don't they just start swimming?

6) Swimming
How can the surface people keep up with the underwater people? The humans should be kicking their little legs off as the underwater creatures effortlessly cut through the water. There should have been some scenes where the underwater people are pulling the surface people to hurry them up. The Jedi could just force push off a building or the sea floor to move. Better yet, they could grab onto a distant heavy rock or building and instead of lifting it, they could pull themselves to it. That would be a new way to use the force power, eh?

8) Republic Reinforcements
What's the deal with the troops jumping out of the speeding ships? Did you notice how fast those ships were traveling? Your mouthpiece and accompanying teeth would be ripped out of your mouth hitting the water at that speed. Have you ever wiped out on water skis? Now triple that speed, add 5 feet of height, and add some scuba gear. Best of luck. (No wonder they need so many clones.)

9) Missed Opportunities
Remember when Anakin loses his helmet? Just when the tension is about to build, Ahsoka gives him his helmet and they joke about him almost dying. Is it me or do the main characters seem a bit indestructible? I thought it would have been cool to stretch out the drama a little. Maybe add a part where Anakin uses the force to pull his sinking helmet back to him. The helmet is about halfway, but another Quarren attacks him. While defending himself against blaster fire he loses his concentration and the helmet starts to sink again. Now, looking through Anakin's eyes we see everything starting to go black as he begins to pass out. Just before total darkness we see Ahsoka coming to the rescue. Then, Anakin's eyes open, and we're staring at Ahsoka through the helmet that she must have put back on.

10) Swimming II
When the underwater species are fighting each other, they should be darting around, not swimming like a humans.

11) Republic Scuba Suits
How much air is in those tanks? Nobody ever worries about running out of air? Also, how do you turn those inner lights off? You would think those lights would have given them away when they were hiding.

12) What's Going on?
The droids are retreating. Anakin says the droids could have easily overrun them. We cut to the Quarren leader telling Tanson that his Aqua Droids are no match for the Calimari army.

13) Jellyfish Robots
Tanson says these things are half machine and half monster and indestructible to boot. How did he capture them? How are they being controlled? Why aren't they attacking in the other episodes?

Speaking of other episodes. I'll be going over those too. Right now, I need a break. I'll watch Episode 11 of Young Justice. Now THAT show has some talented writers. For one, the good guys don't always win. What a novel concept.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Testing the Waters

You may have noticed, if you've been to the Past Generation Toys eBay store, an influx of Japanese toys and action figures. Here at Past Generation Toys we are always willing to broaden our horizons. If that brings us to the land of the horizon's starting point, Japan, so be it. I, for one, couldn't be more excited. Japanese action figures remind me of why I love collecting toys. I can't believe some of these figures come with 6 extra hands or use 5 different paint colors on one eyeball! Can you believe that you can still go into a Toys R Us and get a Transformer off the shelf with die cast parts?! It's true!

I don't want to get into a quality war with American toys because I feel it's unfair. There is definitely a collectors niche in Japan that has enough buying power to warrant high end figures. Here in America action figures, like cartoons, are still seen as kid stuff and adults can't escape the negative stigma attached to those of us who watch or collect cartoon figures. Thankfully, this fog of distortion is starting to lift. The Simpsons, Family Guy, and South Park are slowly pulling the American people out of their live action funk.

Japan, on the other hand, has been reading manga (comics) and watching anime (cartoons) forever. I don't mean just the kids, mind you, I'm talking the whole country! And why not? There are stories on pretty much every job or interest out there. You can pop your bike tire, bring it into a bike repair shop, and read a manga about bike mechanics while you wait. I lived in Japan for 6 years and this actually happened. Strange as it may seem, this saturation of manga and anime has primed the pump for an flood of collectibles that are gobbled up by all age groups.

I don't know if toy collecting in America will ever be accepted on the same level as Japan. There are plenty of cartoons and movies with interesting characters, but the targeted audience is still children. This cycle is a self-fulfilling prophecy. American toy companies aren't building high end collectibles figures because people aren't buying high end collectibles from them. What the toy companies don't understand is that collectors have money. Well, we don't, but collectors will SPEND money on quality products. Just ask Hong Kong based Hot Toys. The Joker MMS DX 01 with the PERS feature is nearing a grand on the secondary market. Can you believe that?! Of course you can that is the best Joker figure ever made. A quality product based on a quality form of entertainment and a targeted audience above the PG-13 rating.

If you build them, we will buy.

R. Ticulation

Friday, September 2, 2011

Behind the Gas Mask: GI Joe's Hazmat Viper Action Figure Review

Have you seen the new GI Joe 30th Anniversary wave of figures? Honestly, you don't need to see them all. Just one. The Hazard Viper. He... is... hhhaaaaaawesome. That is, good enough to be vetted by the 5 Ps. Without further adieu:

Package: 8

I don't really put a lot of weight behind packaging. I can comfortably say I've never been seduced by packaging. I HAVE been angered by packaging, though. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has spilled precious blood opening a Marvel Legends action figure. Those clear plastic clam shells should have came with chain mail gloves. The goal of a package is to catch the attention of your wondering eye among a wall full of colorful competitors. Can it be a catalyst that leads you to a sale? If you're over the age of 4, I hope not.

The new package design looks a little more adult. Gone are the bright colors. They have been replaced by deep reds and metallic touches. For a military toy it makes sense. The character portrait to the left of the blister also looks pretty serious and, dare I say, a bit creepy. With the gas mask on, The Hazmat Trooper looks like the next maniacal killer in some future horror movie. The blister has also been updated. The plastic bubble now has some raised design patterns in the corners. If Hasbro would have asked me, I'd have told them to skip the texturing and keep the price down. Then again, I'm just a consumer.

Paint: 7

Not much to brag about here. The orange colored plastic takes care of most of what would have been numerous paint applications. There is some nice detail on the chest tanks, the cobra emblem, and blue bio-hazard canisters.

Parts: 9

Quite a bit of parts. You get the figure stand, 2 hand guns, one strange looking gun, a suitcase with 3 blue canisters, and another gun with connecting hose and backpack. By squeezing the backpack you can suck up and shoot out water, or whatever. The chest tanks, as well as, the hooded gas mask and connecting hoses are also removable to add to the list of accessory pats. Also, with a little effort, the vest can also be removed. Other than missing holsters for the hand guns, this figure seems to have it all.

Poseability: 6

I'm sad to say there is only very limited movement in the knees. I understand that the outfit doesn't lend itself to any activity above shuffling slowly forward, but being able to have the figure kneel down would have been nice. The bulky vest also takes away from some normal leg, waist, and shoulder movements. Could Hasbro have designed its way around this? I'm not sure you could keep the puffy look and still keep poseablity with that hard plastic.

Planning:  >>>>>ERROR<<<<<

What do you mean? Error?


It has come to the attention of the 5 Ps that the Hazmat Viper, thought to be a unique figure, has been identified as a repaint of the Volcano Viper from the Pursuit of Cobra line of figures. Additionally, the backpack with connecting hose and gun are have also been identified as repainted accessories packaged with the Arctic Destro figure of the same line. For this reason, the Hazmat/Hazard Viper has been rejected by the 5 Ps grading system.

>>>>>END OF LINE<<<<<

I'm about to Hulk Out right now. This figure already existed? When did that happen? Was he in the movie? How dare they hide such a cool figure inside that pile of a movie. Even the curves of the Baroness couldn't make me like the GI Joe movie. She was a nice distraction, but couldn't keep me from my overall feeling of disappointment due to the giant plot holes. Why would you give newly developed robotic super-suits to a couple of new recruits who haven't even read the operational instructions?! I don't mind suspending my logic, but when I'm forced to write off physics too?! What happens when you put ice in a glass of liquid? It floats, right? So why did I see ice sinking and crushing Cobra's underwater Arctic base? My friend and I left the theater laughing. Guilty by association, I steered clear of any Pursuit of Cobra GI Joe toys.

Now, I kinda want the Volcano Viper. I like the original black and gray deco, but enough to endure the storage of the drilling pod? Maybe I can find him loose. The Volcano Viper is also missing that sweet suitcase with the radioactive canisters, though. Hmmm. I guess the Hazmat Trooper is the only way I can appreciate this figure now. I'll get two more Hazmat Vipers, but these figures will be bought under protest and will forever have an asterisk next to their purchase. I can't believe this figure is a repaint. I won't be duped again.

Until next time, I'll see you in the toy aisles,