Wednesday, January 12, 2011

#0003: Wildwing

Unless your parents were fanatical hockey fans that bullied you into liking a particular team, odds are that when you were a kid, you were a Mighty Ducks fan. Not because of Paul Kariya or Teemu Selanne of course, but because of Emilio Estevez and Lester Averman.

Yes, kids of the 90s were force-fed the Mighty Ducks, and though we didn’t really understand it at the time, it was a brilliantly-planned Disney ploy to create a generation of fans across the nation for their fledgling franchise.

These days, there hasn’t been a movie for over a decade, the actual hockey team is now simply known as the Anaheim Ducks, and anyone who bothered to stick with hockey realised that there are better franchises out there to follow. Ones with more intimidating mascots than a ducky.

One of the more obscure pieces of the marketing machine was a short-lived cartoon series, featuring of course, anthropoid ducks on the icy planet of Puckland. They use hockey as a means of entertainment, a lifestyle, and probably as a way of solving any problem that came their way.

Their mighty leader was (apparently) the heroic Wildwing.

I’d never watched the cartoon. Even back in ’96 I realised that a show about hockey-playing ducks was lame. And reading the synopsis now makes me cringe. Though admittedly, there are some pretty solid names in the voice acting front, including Tony Jay, Charles Adler and my man Rob Paulsen.

So what do I know of Wildwing Flashblade? He’s the leader of the Ducks, and he’s also their goalie. Personally, I cry foul (or fowl?) at this. Why is the main character the goalie? We’re not supposed to pay attention to the goalie; we’re supposed to just assume he’ll do his job efficiently, and hate him when he doesn’t. If I had to assemble a team of hockey players to do battle against cyborgs and evil aliens voiced by Tim Curry, I would not give Roberto Luongo leadership duties.

But maybe that’s just me. Maybe I have reason to hate goalies of any kind. Maybe I’m just bitter that Luongo freezes up in shootouts. Maybe I’m still scathing that Mark Schwarzer allowed four goals in Australia’s 2010 World Cup match against Germany, effectively dooming them from the start. Maybe I feel like Grin appears to be twice the size of Wildwing, and thus would be a much better goalie.

But I digress (heavily). After snatching Wildwing from a tub of unloved toys for this review, a quick Google search revealed that he was another acquisition from McDonald’s, again from the key year of 1996. I suppose this proves two things; I’ve got to be more creative with the toys I select, and HOLY SHIT I ATE A LOT OF McDONALD’S IN 1996.

Frankly, Wildwing doesn’t do much, which is appropriate for a goalie, I suppose. He sits gloriously upon a throne of puck, from which he looks down on the world below. He appears to be behind the wheel, and whoever made this horrid thing also saw fit to provide Wildwing with a splendid black lump. I’m guessing this is either a windshield or a bumper, or perhaps all pucks in Puckland have this lump. After all, the concept of gigantic ducks playing hockey is stranger than an unusual puck growth.

It seems as though I’m always whinging about paint jobs, but you might agree that this one is a little bit lacking. It’s nice that he’s got his little ducky logo on his chest, and his trademark ‘00’ sits proudly upon the back of his jersey, but that’s about as good as you’ll get in the details department. His gloves are one monochrome colour, his jersey is completely devoid of colour, and his mask is simply white. You could forgive the omission of his usual gold mask for the more traditional white goalie mask, but there’s no holes or anything. In actuality, it looks as though his face has been melted off. That’s just unducky for him.

And I haven’t even gotten to his wheels yet. I know you’ve been scanning through this entry frantically, trying to get to the good stuff. You’re all, ‘Tell me ‘bout the wheels, man! THE WHEELS!’

And here’s the juicy part: He ain’t got no wheels. He’s got futuristic silver orbs upon which he glides gracefully in any direction he chooses. I, Robot taught us that silver orbs are the way of the future for transport, and I could only feel lucky and privileged to know that this rare prototype was in my possession.

So with that, let’s guess how far he rolls! Is it:
A) Really far.
B) Really, really far.
C) Far enough to make Canard Thunderbeak proud.

Let’s find out!!

Yup. That’s it. I’m barely sure he even rolled at all. It looks more as though I startled him from behind, and that was a frightened flinch.

Knowing that my hands were not mighty enough to send the greatest goalie in Puckland on his way, I figured it was worth a shot to kick him around, consequences be damned.

That one was admittedly a bit better, but he’s looking less like a smooth rolling pimp, more like a wounded animal trying to make a break for the door.

Hahaha he cheated that time! Did you notice? Instant replay shows that he wasn’t using his orbs that time at all. That’ll be five minutes in the penalty box for you, Wildwing.

There we go. It wasn’t exactly how God intended, but Wildwing certainly got some awesome distance there. In retrospect though, goalies are supposed to be immovable objects, so I guess my little experiment was doomed to fail from the beginning?

There’s really not much more to be said about McDonald’s Wildwing toy. There’s a reason that nobody knows who he is, and the cartoon only lasted one season. Besides, Disney had better hockey-playing ducks in their day anyway…

That’s right. Screw Wildwing’s body armour, puck launcher and mask of the legendary Drake DuCaine, Donald Duck moves the puck around by yelling at it. Hellz yeah. I never saw Wildwing do that, or his brother Nosedive, either.

And while we’re at it, what kind of horrible parents were the Flashblades, anyway? What makes you look at your son and decide he should be named Nosedive? Did he tragically fall from the womb? Or was his older brother Wildwing copping so many beatings for his name, that in pity they decided to make their next child’s fate even worse?

In any event, Wildwing may be the first toy I’ll be sad to part with. I love reminders of my lost 90’s childhood, and no doubt wherever he ends up, it’ll be in a place where people know nothing of who he is, what his dreams are, or why the fuck he doesn’t roll properly.

But maybe, just maybe… He’ll go onto a better place? Maybe he’ll even find his lost hero Canard? I don’t know.

…Do you?

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