Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Well, shit

Sometimes in life, your sense of duty outweighs your desire to actually undertake said duty.

To wit, on this day I had no particular desire to update this blog, as I'm not currently in possession of any toys upon which to opine. I happened to be stumbling through (mostly to check my SEO in an effort to figure out why Clifford the Rock Climber is the sixth most viewed entry) when it occurred to me what day it was.

Figured it out yet? It's eleven miserable, neglected years of INAKA.

What started as an earnest attempt to clear out some unused toys escalated into a very unproductive and yet methodical opportunity for exposition. Life would have its ups and downs over this time, and if you're curious, you may note that the amount of posting I was doing here was the inverse of how much I had going on in my life.

Long story short, 2018 was not a good year for me.

But hey, we're on the up and up in 2022. I'm constantly working, and even expanded my writing repertoire to Funimation's official blog, where I wax lyrical on all kinds of wonderful things.

This would of course suggest that this will be another slow year on Toy Eulogy, and as much as I'd like to dissuade these concerns, I must be transparent and confess that blogging is a lot more motivating when you're getting paid for it.

But hey, there will be toys at some point. I have to appease fans of Stone Protectors, after all, and look! There was a photo sitting in my camera roll that I have inserted as the header for this piece. It may be a little bit on the fringes of relevant content for the purposes of this blog, but if Toy Story 4 taught us one thing — besides the fact that Toy Story 3 did not need a sequel — it's that anything can be a toy if you dream hard enough.

Especially boxes, if my kittens are to be believed.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

#0113: Spoink & Groink

Nearly a decade ago, I opined on the glory that was Aaahh!!! Real Monsters. The misadventures of Ickis, Oblina and Krumm taught us lessons in peer pressure, the merits of hard work, and how if you have enough faith, you too can regurgitate your own intestines to frighten your enemies.

My opinion on the show remains starry-eyed and largely unchanged, to the point where I had to delete the original opener to this article as it closely paralleled exactly what I said in the preceding post. Dick move, 2012 Tony, you totally stole my bit.

Incidentally, I was talking about Ickis in that post, a pillar of the main squad, and it got me to thinking that ARM (horrible acronym) is a fairly top-heavy affair. Beyond them, you've got The Gromble, Simon the Monster Hunter, Zimbo and The Snorch... and that's about it, really. There's that duo of wonderfully camp monsters that Krumm hangs out with briefly, and the dude who enjoys himself some rice, and after that, I'm tapped out for recurring characters.

And that's fine, of course. As long as your foundation of core characters is strong, you don't need to bloat the roster with excess. That is, until you score yourself a toy deal and have to pluck some marketable characters out of thin air.

Because truth be told, as much as Blib, Snav and Don exist in the super distant periphery, they're not exactly going to shift many units. And that's how you end up with the Aaahh!!! Real Monsters Dare to Scare line, and the arbitrary introduction of Spoink & Groink.

According to the flavour text on the back of the box, and yes that flavour is spit: "these two really know how to project themselves! But it's Groink who always shoots off his mouth, especially when Sproink is in it! For maximum velocity and ferocity, shove Spoink down Groink's throat, punch Groink, and watch the terror fly!"

Wow, that sure is a lot of exclamation marks! It's also very revealing! At first I assumed that Groink was the dominant one in this relationship, but now I can see that he is actually the uke! I'll have to adjust my headcanon accordingly!

Anyone familiar with Gabor Csupo's distinct style may see some vague resemblance in Spoink's design, however Groink is entirely unlike anything you'd find in the series itself. Indeed, only four of the twelve monsters in this line were ever seen onscreen, in a manner not dissimilar to the bevy of auxiliary mutants Playmates would push out at TMNT's peak.

My curiosity was piqued by this contrast, and I was delighted to find that several of the final Dare to Scare products were actually repurposed models that a toy designer, Mel Birnkrant, had been trying to get onto the market for quite some time. He goes into great detail on his website, and it's really worth a read for a fascinating insight into the bumpy road of toy manufacturing.

But I digress. We're here for Tony's toys, Tony's opinions and Tony's reliance on the rule of three, so let's return to those, shall we?

Bastardised facsimiles of the original vision though they may have been, Spoink and Groink have some nice little details to them. The former's expression is perpetually locked into the kind of terror that can only be experienced after having some dude suck up your asshole repeatedly, while Groink actually has long, slender legs that match up with his spindly arms. It's a neat touch, considering how easy it would have been to just have him lack shins a la Cotton Hill.

My Groink has seen a little too much rough and tumble, or has been suffering a tragic bout of leprosy as one of his arms tends to fall off with little provocation. Considering that he were never intended to have movable joints in the first place, it's beyond me how I've managed to still loosen up this one arm so badly, like a poor chiropractor. It pops right back in there, but either way, I'm losing my license.

Also, I keep wanting to call him Gronk. I have no reason to believe the Bucs' tight end would suck up small creatures into his mouth before shooting them across the room, but you know what? He's a party dude, I wouldn't put it past him.

At last, let's put these spooky bastards through their paces by showcasing their vaunted creature feature. By my estimate, Spoink should shoot clean through the wall and straight into the brain of the nearest fascist.

"Eat the rich", he shrieks, his final moments on earth a deeply satisfying assault on the oppressive bourgeoisie.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

A little too Raph

One of the caveats to clearing out my childhood toys is that there is a sub-category designed for petulant manchildren such as myself, that I somehow feel completely guiltless in acquiring on rare occasions — the deluxe action figures made not for playing, but for exquisite posing.

You know what? I work damn hard. I deserve to blow $100+ on Raphaels every now and then.

In a moment of frivolity, I partook from two of my most beloved Turtles iterations: the 1990 live action movie and the classic beat-em-up, Turtles in Time.

This Raphael is my favourite of all, to the point where I made a video about it that has surprisingly gotten some solid traction on YouTube, and the 7" figurine is about as picture perfect as they come. It nails Raph's sullen grimace, and while taking these photos I couldn't help but stop and admire the wonderful craftsmanship on display.

Here's Turtles in Time Raph about to throw down with Metalhead, offended by the accusation that he is a 'slimball'. He's much more bright and vivid than his toned down film counterpart, and comes complete with a hoverboard from the Sewer Surfin' stage.

You may have noticed that their poses are fairly static, and the latter Raph isn't even equipped with his trademark sai. I'm embarrassed to say, the reason for that is I'm too frightened to try to fiddle around with them very much. They've got alternate hands and more articulation than my actual body, and yet, they feel so important and I really don't want to break them.

So for now, they'll just kind of... stand there, ready for further instruction. Money well spent.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

#0112: Short Stack

Ten. Fucking. Years.

Back in January of 2011, a bright eyed, whimsical youth elected to clear out some space in his closet by methodically disposing of his childhood belongings. He began, as one typically does, with a figurine of no particular emotional or fiscal value, before proceeding onto bigger and better (but mostly worse) things.

And though he would miss many birthdays — including this one, ironically — he would often reminisce fondly on the progress he'd made. In fairness, it wasn't much, and it was offset by impulse buys that would inevitably dwarf the departing products in size and volume, but you know what? He was still going to keep at it, one tiny little trinket at a time.

And today, that trinket is absolutely dreadful. Go hard or go home, they say, and in this belated tenth anniversary post, I opted to go home. I've settled on a grotesque, obscure item that I never even recalled owning, and most certainly won't regret severing all ties with.

That's right, boys and girls, Short Stack is coming to breakfast.

Fortunately, Google quickly proved fruitful in identifying this caky customer, identifying him as a member of Mattel's Food Fighters range from the late 80s. Boasting that they were "combat at its kookiest", this line introduced culinary warfare between Burgardier General and his Kitchen Commandos, against the wicked forces of the Refrigerator Rejects.

God, they loved their alliteration and puns back then, didn't they?

Short Stack is a member of the latter faction, and therefore, evil incarnate. Other than the fact that he wears a hat as opposed to a helmet, there isn't really much that differentiates him from the good guys, as every single one of them looks equally unholy.

I can't help but feel as if they all resemble shunned members of Mayor McCheese's extended family, and for the life of me, I am unable to surmise why, exactly, someone at Mattel decided to unleash these garish beasts upon the market.

Our dude Stacker may have wielded a weapon once upon a time, but due in no small part to my trademark carelessness, he now prefers to settle things with his fists or, on a festive day, laser skirmish. Apparently possession of an accessory and vaguely poseable limbs qualify representatives of this line as being 'action figures', and yet, I find myself less than convinced.

Is Short Stack ready for action? Or ready to star in a Jack Stauber video? Either is just as likely, and just as upsetting.

The bodies themselves are actually more akin to a dog's chew toy, and if Peppy were still alive today, I'd feel tempted to ruthlessly rip the plastic limbs off this sucker and subject it to an ephemeral existence with its hairy owner. Alas, with no canine nearby, I'll refrain from channelling my inner Sid Phillips.

Should you be curious about how the theoretical avail of my shitty collection of toys, Food Fighters carry a comparatively high price on the (super)market. A pristine, unboxed Burgerdier General presently has an asking price of $80, while the full set of ten in acrylic cases could net its seller a hefty $2,250. Whether or not anyone will actually bite on this delectable offer is another matter entirely, though you can't really go wrong with this sweet-looking BBQ Bomber for 18 bucks.

Overall, if I were to rate Short Stack and his ilk, I'd surmise that I hate them. The market didn't seem too keen either, with the line being scrapped shortly after their debut. I guess there was no room for soldiers themed around edible goods in the cutthroat world of 80s action figures.

But golly, they got a gold star for trying, and at the very least, these things were quite detailed, if not unnerving. They wouldn't look too out of place facing off against your favourite Ninja Turtle, or perhaps Napoleon Bonafrog, if you'd prefer to employ a B-lister for such an encounter.

Now if you'll excuse me, all this talk has made me hungry.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

#0111: Dragon Ball Battle Figures

If I may go on a personal tangent (and of course I may, it's my fucking blog), 2020 has been a great year for anime. Lots of solid premieres, plenty of compelling cliffhangers, and most significantly, my debut as a freelance blogger with AnimeLab.

It's just another feather in my cap as I continue to ascend towards career stability that eluded me for three decades, and I watched no less than 88 different programs in my exhaustive research. Dude, I get paid to watch and write about anime.

It has very little relevance to today's post, but it's as gratifying as filler can possibly be, particularly as the items in question were acquired during far darker days in my life. Maybe this is going to end up being a self-therapy session disguised as a blog entry? I've done much worse, and yes I'm referring to the talented fucking Mr. Cluck.

For about two and a half years, I toiled away as a staffer of EB Games. As is often the case, my colleagues were about the only redeeming factor in this nightmarish position. Upper management were a bunch of soulless ghouls, the customers ranged from awkward to repugnant, and every day, I stood there reminding myself that I held three diplomas, including a master's degree, only to end up in this dismal place.

I hark back to one interaction where I asked how to spell a customer's surname, only for him to respond with, "I don't know. I'm not smart, I dropped out of school".

Moral of the story? Don't study arts, become a fucking accountant. Plenty of career stability, and the cocaine flows freely.

Anyway, one of the minor perks was that I had free rein over unclaimed preorder bonuses when they were about to be jettisoned. Whether or not I had any interest in the product was irrelevant; shit was free, and gee whiz that made me moist.

To celebrate the release of one of the Dragon Ball games (either Xenoverse 2 or FighterZ, only Lord Beerus knows for sure), we received an armful of colourful capsules housing mystery contents of the Dragon Ball Battle Figures variety.

I never bothered opening them, as the primary purpose was merely having them, however today, I've elected to crack them open and unveil the prizes within. I hope I get a Krillin, or a Jeice, or a rolled up twenty. That last one is my favourite Z Fighter, incidentally.

Alright, it looks like a lot of interesting warriors who are very clearly not Krillin, but we'll persevere all the same. I can recognise Goku and Gogeta, and what appears to be a large red penis.

It's like all of my Christmas wishes came true at once!

So there they are, the battle figures in their splendour (I also added a suitable keychain to help them maintain balance, as well as proving a solid motivational tool). As suspected, we've got Goku and his fused alter-ego Gogeta, alongside the antagonistic duo Jiren and Janemba, the latter of whom apparently didn't get the memo about see-through stones.

On the note of those see-through stones, they act as a means of keeping the more dynamically posed figures aloft, but it also kind of seems like Goku's clambered atop a bar stool and is trying desperately to remember what he was supposed to order for Master Roshi. Five Cougars, thanks!

Meanwhile, Jiren is treading on ultimate boob squeeze territory, which is pretty much in line with his personality, if I recall correctly. That was Jiren's thing, right? He was strong, distrusting and incredibly into fondling breasts? If not, it was definitely implied.

Overall, I'd say that these gaffers are pretty much par for the course, as far as capsule prizes go, though they get bonus points for being particularly well painted and detailed. The Saiyan hair is pointy enough to take your eye out, and I'm partially considering holding onto it as an obtuse murder weapon.

The only enigma here is what this weird ass yellow substance is that was coating Gogeta. It smeared right off of his body and onto my fingers, and then subsequently, every surface I touched thereafter. It seems quite unsanitary, perchance an elicit lubricant he uses to ease himself into each battle.

Also pictured: a hidden phallus. Because one dick joke just wasn't enough.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

#0110: Blaster T-1000

Not too long ago, I showed off a pair of Terminator toys that were made to tie-in with the genre-defining summer blockbuster of the same name. Among other things, I claimed that they were among the only figures I owned from that particular line, alongside John Connor and his nifty motorbike.

I have since learnt the error of my ways, as I'm also in possession of what the Internet tells me is the Blaster T-1000. To be frank, I'm not sure how much I believe, as this garish customer looks nothing like my bishi Robert Patrick, and the web is littered with similarly audacious lies about a flat Earth or the benefits of voting republican.

Still, I'll press on unimpeded, as it's the most logical explanation I have for this chonky policeman, short of him being a prototype for Victor Willis of the Village People.

In the above mentioned Terminator entry, I opined that neither figure was quite faithful to the source material (I swear I'll stop referencing it at some point, mostly because I want you to click the damned link so I can get some sweet ad revenue boost my view counter). Be that as it may, they're leaps and bounds further on the authenticity chart than the Blaster T-1000.

When I think of this metamorphosing villain, my mind instantly defaults to svelte efficiency. Part of the reason the T-1000 made for such a compelling antagonist was how he looked and felt different from what we were used to, moving swiftly and methodically. Meanwhile, the Blaster edition scarcely moves at all, as his legs are completely unarticulated.

Just let that sink in for a moment. You're about to portray a gripping scene where the T-1000 is approaching his prey, ready to make the lethal blow that dooms mankind forever, but all he does is waddle along as if he's got his pants around his ankles.

It's not intimidating in the slightest, unless you also consider Al Gore to be a potential threat to humanity.

The reason for this baffling design choice, is that the Blaster T-1000 has got a weaponised booty. You've heard of junk in the trunk? Well this junk is more crunk than you thunk, punk.

Pushing down on the T-1000's head will push his spine forward in an agonising fashion, eventually unleashing a rocket launcher from (his) behind. As I'm too lazy to make accompanying videos nowadays, I'll defer to this handy demonstration, as long as you promise to please return once you're done.

Yep, they decided that of all the things the T-1000 should be capable of, literally being a rocket launcher should be chief among them.

I'm pretty sure there was an exchange of dialogue in Judgment Day where John Connor's concerns that his foe would transform into a bomb were dissuaded due to the fact that "the T-1000 can't form complex machines" due to guns and explosives having chemicals and moving parts in them.

A fucking rocket launcher in your asshole though? Yeah, that shit totally checks out.

As you may have noted from my photo above, it really looks more like someone's just dropped a coconut from above and he's shielding his head from more blows, and as my rockets were decommissioned decades ago, he's out of ammunition anyway.

So alas, there will be no fabulous pants weapon for you, Blaster T-1000. At the very least it does vaguely resemble a denim jetpack, so that's a plus.

Overall, I'd have to say that this is probably my least favourite of all the Terminator toys, doubly so considering I forgot I owned it in the first place. Even with the shoehorned mechanics of its contemporaries, it still manages to stick out like a sore thumb, and it's yet another reminder of how far we've come in the years since.

In lieu of it serving any kind of purpose as a Terminator-adjacent toy, I might just repurpose it as a generic police officer who goes about enforcing the law against any criminal who he can somehow catch up to without the aid of weapons and/or moveable joints.

"I'm not a crook!"

Monday, June 8, 2020

#0109: Metalhead

If you enjoy this post, make sure to check out my recent list of awesome content from Black creators!

Ninja Turtles lore can be a little bit complex at times.

Usually, you're pretty safe to assume who's good and who's bad on the sole basis of whether or not they are pretty. Monty Moose? Obvious good guy, what an outstanding Canadian citizen! Antrax? That scowling face, those terrible mandibles, he's clearly wicked! Ray Fillet? Look at the kindness in his eyes, he just reeks of valour! Pizzaface? He's pretty fucking hot, I guess he's okay.

Then you have others like Metalhead, who could teeter somewhere between the two based on aesthetics alone, and wouldn't you know it, has indeed worked on both sides of the coin. You robotic Judas!

For an impressionable youth like myself, Metalhead acted as the quintessential soldier of antagonism. It was pretty much a foregone conclusion that if there was some kind of clone fashioned after the main character, they were bound to be evil. Plus there was the handy clue when he called me a green slimball before opening fire.

...That's right. Slimball. There was a fucking spelling mistake in Turtles in Time and I only found out today. Needless to say, I'm not taking it well.

Originally devised by the Foot Clan as a means of infiltrating and destroying the green guys, Metalhead was reprogrammed by Donatello to serve in various fashions, depending on the iteration. Despite the fact that this cyborg was constructed with the sole mission of death and destruction, in the 80s cartoon, he's reduced to a role as the Turtles maid.

Seems like a waste of perfectly good killing machine, but I guess that made him the original Roomba.

My figure is in pretty fantastic condition. He's missing the accessories on his backpack, but the fact that he even has the backpack itself is something of a Christmas miracle. His chassis is super shiny and pretty (probably not the right context for the word chassis, but I so rarely get to use it), and he's sans battle damage.

The latter suggests that I never really played with my Metalhead, and the way he glares at me so menacingly backs up that notion. Do robots have feelings? Do computers wear tennis shoes?

Above all else, I really can't get over all of the little details littering his body. I've spoken a little bit about how fantastically intricate Turtles figures were, but it bears repeating again and again: no expense was spared in designing all that minutiae, and we never even noticed it as we flung them about the house with reckless abandon.

Ultimately, of the Turtles action figures I've sent onto greener pastures, this is probably the one I'll miss the most. He's just neat, and part of me thinks that he would serve as a perfectly suitable desk mascot.

However, toys are meant to be played with. This was the lesson taught to me by Toy Story 2 (in addition to 'never trust Kelsey Grammer'), so I can only pray earnestly that Metalhead will become the piece de resistance for some plucky child out there in... I dunno, Amsterdam.

He may just need a little bit of a recharge first. Battery leakage is no laughing matter, after all.

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