Thursday, September 27, 2018

#0101: Nickelodeon Magazine

Once upon a chipmunk I alluded to my storied history in magazines. Back in 2012, I was still amassing Sports Illustrated to the best of my ability, but alas, it has slowed basically to a halt in modern times. In Australia you can choose from five different magazines about mining, while my own interests are pushed into the ether. I do buy SLAM issues when I can afford them (newsagents charge a premium for those bad boys), as well as Game Informer — particularly when they run compelling pieces of prose by talented, handsome and lovable journalists who also happen to be me.

But of course, it all started back in the mid-90s when I received my very first copy of Nickelodeon Magazine. What would follow was a thriving literary relationship that would carry on through the turn of the millennium. How obsessed was I with this mag? From what I was able to find, I collected at least 36 issues. People always told me I had a lot of issues as a kid, and I guess this is why.

Though the articles on those wacky Nicktoons were the major draw card, Nick Mag was jam packed full of fun and informative content. Some of it was factual, much of it was irreverent, and all of it was a lot more healthy than simply sitting in front of the boob tube all day.

...A quick Google image search confirms that literally nobody uses that phrase to refer to television anymore. Still, it wasn't the most unpleasant image search I've ventured on.

One of my favourite features were occasional awesome problem solving brainteasers like the one above. If you're keen on taking a crack at it yourself, here are the rules...
  1. Stink refuses to play in a band with females, because he's a misogynistic pig (editorial license).
  2. Charlie Warts thinks his band should have two boys and two girls.
  3. Ringo Starch insist on playing with either Stink or Paul McFartney.
  4. Lards Ulrich won't play for Green Dog.
  5. Flu and Ai-yi-yi-ah refuse to be in the same band. Flu's the queasy-looking bassist, but his name got cut off in the scanning process. He's also a boy, if you couldn't tell. I wasn't sure until I met him privately in a bathroom stall.
  6. The Hedge and Janet Traction always play together.
  7. Sheryl Pigeon plays for Fleetwood Splat.
  8. Mumbajumba has a female singer.
God's speed, braniacs. Hopefully you'll have enough cocaine to appease them all.

Flipping through the pages, I'm awash with feelings of nostalgia. Whether it's comics starring the Southern Fried Fugitives or a sneaky cameo by the roving reporter Zelda Van Gutters, it really takes me back. Goddamn, I was such a Nick Kid, and it probably explains why to this day, every time I watch a Falcons game, I giggle when I hear Alex Mack's name called out.

It's also fascinating to see references made to celebrities and films that nobody remembers anymore. So far, I've come across Vincent Kartheiser, Air Bud: Golden Receiver and the hip hop artist Mase. The latter of whom you may recall from that one song Feel So Good, and has perhaps the saddest Wikipedia entry in the history of mankind. Seriously, it's mostly just quotes about people he would like to work with. Kramer's Peterman autobiography had more substance, for crying out loud.

Anyhow, there's not really a lot more that I can opine on the subject. Writing about writing is a practice in redundancy (writeception?), so as I had with N64 Gamer, I leave you now with some highlights on this wonderfully orange trip down memory lane. Don't worry, I'll spare you the many, many ads for Mary-Kate and Ashley video cassettes.

Back when Jake Lloyd was just a shitty actor, instead of a shitty human being.

We all remember our first time on MDMA.

Observation: TLC were nominated for a Kids Choice Award in 1992, for a song that was explicitly about sex. In 2000, they earned a second nomination as they came off FanMail, an album with tracks titled Silly Ho and Don't Pull Out On Me Yet.

I'm fucking hilarious.

But I pale in comparison to Ashley M. of Fairhope, Alabama, who appears to have written an entry that explored homosexuality.

This ad had me convinced that I really needed a Time Machine Toothbrush. Especially the version that was big enough to ride on.

I told you that I had the Mini Mutants Technodrome playset. I also told you that I would find a way to awkwardly shoehorn it into an irrelevant post.

I love everything about this comic. I would like to know more about Bad Dog, and what he's doing now. My assumption is that he's spent the last twenty years in prison.

Man, Goldberg didn't job for anyone in the 90s, did he?

Friday, September 21, 2018

Toy Eulogy

Does this picture seem familiar? It should; it's the one that has been floating around the background of my blog ever since it first launched in January 2011. It's hard to recall the thought process behind its inclusion; it's quite garish when displayed in excessive size, and probably distracts from the content in the fore, no matter how dubious that content may be.

But no mas.

Now that I've hit the century mark, it's time for a rebrand. The blog unofficially known as I'm Not a Kid Anymore is henceforth solely dubbed Toy Eulogy. I've made this change for a few reasons; not only because it has been the actual URL of the blog from day one, but also because there are about 200,000 results for the former. The much snappier and quirkier Toy Eulogy has less than 200, and most of them are actually relevant. Some of them are fucking weird and I dare not click on them.

I may occasionally continue to use the acronym INAKA, because it's pretty damned catchy and I like it. But coupled with the new look, we're moving forward to a brand new era! The present layout may not be permanent, and who knows, maybe I'll change it within the week. The aesthetic needs work, and could be improved with something tasteful and pensive (read: pictures of boobies).

For now, it's there. It's new. It's Toy Eulogy, and I hope you'll continue to enjoy it. Or if you think it's been shithouse up to this point, I hope that you'll begin to enjoy it, you miserly grouch, you.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

#0100: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mini Mutants

Holy fucking shit.

I can't believe we finally got there. Since its inception in January 2011, INAKA has seen all kinds of weird, wonderful and occasionally woeful toys. Action figures, plushes, video games, figurines, books, board games, and even a godforsaken finger puppet.

Though it started off with a lot of steam, I lost momentum as the years went on. Some months would see the posts coming heavy and hard, while others would go by without a peep. But through a concerted effort between all of the team members (me, myself and I, the latter of whom is an asshole), we made the push, and we arrive, at long last, at #100.

It feels special. It feels bizarre. Man, it feels like a woman.

Who knows what lies ahead? It all comes down to how much free time I have, really. You have to understand, that every moment I'm spending on this blog is time that could feasibly be spent doing something more productive. It's the rigors of adulthood, and it gnaws on my conscience like a ghoulish wraith.

But enough of the preamble. The fact that that last paragraph didn't have a single joke makes me feel uneasy. When we hit the midway point, I saw fit to send the mighty Ripster puppet on his merry way. He remains one of the largest offerings I have put upon the pedestal up to this point, and I knew it would be hard to top that. So instead of trying to locate something bigger, I went the other way. I opted for smaller. More plentiful. Maybe a little too Raph.

Ladies and gentlemen, these are the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mini Mutants.

Crikey, that's a mouthful.

Miniature playsets were something of an acquired taste back in the day. Though their diminutive stature made them more affordable than full-sized locales, their actual usage was fairly dubious. They were so wee and prone to going missing. Should you look away for just a moment, they would make a break for it and dive into the folds of the couch, never to be seen again. I assume it's similar to having a newborn baby; it's just upsetting every single time.

Despite this, the Mini Mutants became a must-have in my life, and I was the lucky recipient of oh so many playsets. Each of them came with their own unique themes and the appropriate figurines within them, ranging from staples like the Technodrome and the Turtles' home in the sewers, all the way to more obscure things like sporting events and a motherfucking war.

I can't really be certain of how many Mini Mutants sets I acquired, because more of them are AWOL than present. One of them was inside of Raphael's sai, another was connectable in a manner similar to the world of Sodor. And I know for sure that I had that Tokka Technodrome. It'll be super awkward when I locate it decades down the track and I have to messily shoehorn it into another blog entry.

Or maybe I'll just edit this one? I'm pretty shameless, after all.

Oh look, heads! I do like heads. These are the surviving Turtle-Tops; Michaelangelo's Adventurer Playset, Raphael's Baseball Playset and Leonardo's Mutant Military Playset. The completionist in me is seething with rage that I never acquired Donatello's Basketball Playset. Not that that would have actually finished the collection, but having three out of four Turtles just feels friggin' wrong. Not nearly as wrong as the fact that the basketball figurines had four fingers on their right hands, but wrong all the same.

Before we venture in, I'll take a moment to remind you who you're dealing with here. If you want to see these items in their full glory, I recommend you venture over to a more respectable blog like the Sewer Den, where these things are treated with dignity and reverence. I'm just a higgledy-piggledy motherfucker who misplaces crucial elements a day after receiving them.

But most of it is there, and that definitely counts for something. That's the same justification that got me through six years of university, after all.

First off is the Adventurer set. With its mysterious theme and abundance of traps, it would have been my absolute favourite had it included Raphael. Without him, it felt distinctly lacking, and it lost serious brownie points as a result. Sure, I could have just put one of the non-safari Raphaels in there, but it wouldn't have been the same. For one thing, he wouldn't have been wearing a hat, and that's just not sun smart.

There's a whole lot going on here, and many of the pieces are thankfully still intact. The ancient civilizations erected a monument to Rocksteady in the lower segment, but eager explorers who venture into the basket will be sent into the deadly viper pit below. Their only hope for escape is a nodding crocodile to fling them aside. It's a bit Trainspotting, actually.

It's not much safer up above, however, as Leonardo is soon to discover the folly of disturbing the ancient jewel. Should he remove it, the floor will collapse and he will plummet from a deadly height of two inches. Over to the side, there are a couple of chambers that house untold wonders. One of them was an unrelated Leo figurine that I had forgotten about. He suffocated decades ago, obviously, but it was a nice surprise all the same.

Alas, the Turtles have returned to find that the world has fallen into great conflict. Welcome to the Mutant Military playset, soldier. You fight for your country. You fight for your people. You fight for Baxter Stockman.

This one was a little more cramped than other sets, due to so much real estate being taken up by the flying disc apparatus below. To make up for this, it really does fly, and it is fucking satisfying. Wind it up with a click, click, click, press the switch and whoosh! Away it goes, majestically soaring into the air. I don't know what militaristic purpose it served, but in all fairness, I have never joined the army. It's probably on a need-to-know basis. Also, I probably shoehorned too many onomatopoeias into this paragraph.

Private Porknose Bebop is outnumbered as he tries to fend off the Turtle menace, but one of his guns is bent, which makes aiming very difficult, and also looks very silly, to boot. Lieutenant Leonardo lays in wait nearby, brandishing a weapon/speed camera that fell onto the floor immediately after I took this photo. As it is the same colour as the carpet, I have accepted the fact that I will never see it again. I hope he put it to good use.

Last but not least, Pro Pilot Raphael has climbed aboard his aircraft and is ready to go. He has his oxygen mask on because he is safety conscious! However, it is entirely superfluous as his cockpit is completely exposed, suggesting that it would never reach altitudes high enough to risk hypoxia. Further, the propellers are positioned in such a way that he can only actually go upwards, which would prove useless in an actual dogfight. Should he be a Pro Pilot as advertised, he would surely realise this before even attempting a takeoff.

...No, you're overthinking my Ninja Turtles toys.

We move onto my most treasured set. It holds this lofty position for many reasons, and yes, one of them is because it starred Raphael. If it's possible to have nepotism for Ninja Turtles, then I have achieved this.

Beyond that, however, it also has a hilariously dangerous feature in its spring loaded baseball bat. Pull it back, and it will send the little red balls careening across the dining room and into your uncle's bowl of soup. Is that a home run? Or just unsanitary? It's up to you, but it sure makes Raphael's job as outfielder borderline impossible.

I find it kind of strange that they relegated Raph to the outfield, by the way. If he's the main man on this squad, you'd think he'd have been given a more glamorous position. Donnie's the pitcher, while Mikey plays the role of catcher, as I have carefully illustrated here in this photo. Once upon a time, a full-sized figure dubbed him the Grand Slammin' Raph, so I guess he's mostly here for his offensive prowess. I wonder where I would put him if he was DH? There isn't a dugout, as near as I can tell.

The set is loaded with plenty of places for the baseball to go, from a fully functional pipe to a series of holes lining the ground that will mercilessly gobble up foul balls. I also found that they were a perfect size for getting stuck up your nose.

...No, I'm not even fucking kidding. I have no idea what I was thinking, especially since I was six or seven and knew better than to be shoving things in my schnoz. Most likely I thought it would be funny if I walked into a room with a baseball in each nostril, but I inexplicably forced it further than necessary and freaked out when I couldn't extract it.

My mother had to pick it out of my nose as I bawled loudly. I suppose from that day, she realised that I would never become one of the world's great thinkers. Or a baseball player.

Here are the miniature Toon Turtles that now find themselves homeless. Remember how I alluded to 'connectable playsets'? I have since ascertained that they were in fact known as Bodacious Battlesets, and more startlingly, I actually owned all four of them. Long ago, Toon Turtle Leo, Mike and Don used to roam the streets of New York, while the fourth slot was reserved for Shredder and Dimension X because nobody liked Raphael, right?

Except me. And everyone. Dammit Playmates, just give us five if you're so keen on including Shredder. I should send them a strongly worded letter, demanding my Raphael Bodacious Battleset. They'll either give into my demands, or send a pair of orderlies to come and take me away. It's win/win, really, as I wouldn't mind the company.

Despite the fact that the City Wars playset where he resided is nothing more than a series of fragments and memories, Toon Turtle Leonardo can take solace in the thrilling concept that he is the only figurine who still has both of his weapons intact. With his silly blue katana safe and sound, you can see the elation in Leo's face. Mikey's only down to one nunchaku, but he's still having a hoot thanks to his upbeat attitude and the fact that he is high as balls 24/7.

But not Don, unfortunately. Not even his beloved Turtle Blimp can cheer him up, for his bo staves are much like Pauline Hanson's groceries; just gone!

This eclectic mix of fellows has no particular meaning, but this entry is already atrociously long and I figured it would be quicker if I just threw as many together as I could. Hence, we see Movie Star Mike and Movie Star Splinter being downright abusive to Shredder and his friends. They were just trying to have a nice picnic on this lovely, sunny day, when Mike came rolling in on a motorbike with a gun attached to it and began blasting blindly at everyone.

Most of the shots hit him in the back of the head due to poor ergonomics, but at least one was enough to send poor Bebop into the trash. Soon, Splinter descended atop a helicopter brandishing a bow and arrow. How he survived the propellers is anyone's guess, but he definitely means business. Shredder is agog, and Krang's Android Body is playing dead.

Did you enjoy that scenario? I fucking hope so, because it was a nightmare to set up. I have unsteady hands at the best of times, but trying to position fiddly little toys that are particularly fond of falling down and knocking the others over in the process truly tested my nerves. How in god's name do people build model ships inside of bottles? Is it easier when Bebop isn't involved?

Meanwhile, Movie Star Raphael is so good, I have two of him. You may choose whichever one you like better, but in my humble opinion, it's easily the one on the right. He's holding his trademark sai, while the other one is wielding the time scepter, which implies that he's from the third Ninja Turtles movie. Sha-wing!

And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. Over 2,000 words of exposition on Mini Mutants. Honestly, you deserve no less for sticking with this blog for seven and a half years. The scary realisation is dawning on me that with each passing month, I edge closer to the point where I could feasibly have kids of my own, at which point we reach a crossroads - do I continue shedding excess toys? Or do I pour them upon my offspring in a well-intended but possibly hazardous gesture of gratuity? The answer probably lies somewhere in the middle, because in all honesty, they probably wouldn't want Ugly Laser Man any more than I do.

So thank you, adieu, and cowabunga, motherfuckers.

"Wait, he didn't talk about us! I feel shortchanged here. Do I mean so little to him?"

"Yeah yeah, Donnie, nice puns... But who in the hell is this guy?"

"Hey there! Do you fellas wanna come over to my place?"

"I have pizza!"

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

My Letter From Sonic

Some childhood memories are weird.

They're not necessarily bad, they just make you ponder a little bit. One that came back to me recently was the time I received a letter from Sonic the Hedgehog. I know, it sounds exciting, doesn't it? The idea that everyone's favourite blue blur was once my pen pal makes me seem like a very important person, and I'm vaguely tempted to put it on my résumé.

No, it wasn't a short-lived promotional scheme from SEGA or anything like that. If that had been the case, it probably would have cost me $30 per sentence, and consisted of little more than words that rhyme with Corey.

It all started with a letter my sister had received. She claimed that it was from Melody, of My Little Pony Tales, and I was absolutely gobsmacked. I can't remember how old I was at the time, and near as I recall, I don't even think it said 'from Melody' anywhere on the letter. To be quite honest with you, the fact that I believed her is probably an indictment of my intelligence. I mean, it's not like I ever thought that Melody was a real living being or anything, but why did I have any reason to question it?

If my sister says that a fictional pony wrote her a letter, then fuck, I guess that's what was happening in the world now. What a time to be alive!

She claimed that if you sent a letter to some place called Cartoon Land or some such, they would write a reply. A quick Google Maps search confirms that there is a Cartoon Land in Romania, and one in France that breeds Maine Coons. As the latter doesn't sound particularly relevant, I'll assume that this wonderful magical place of correspondence was the Romanian one.

My tiny little brain raced with the possibilities. I was an opinionated child, and always keen to speak my mind. Maybe one of my heroes would listen to me?

There was not a single doubt as to who I would send a letter to, however. I was going to get in touch with my buddy, Sonic the Hedgehog. Anyone who has frequented this blog would know my colourful history as a Sonic fanboy, and indeed, the insane lengths I will go to just to validate that fandom. So really, it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that he was the first name that popped up.

Whatever I wrote to Sonic, I can't recall for the life of me. I wasn't really penning a lot of letters at the time, and my propensity to ramble aimlessly was apparent even back then. I don't think I asked him any questions about his life or anything, because I was a selfish fuck, and he would probably find my story much more interesting.

I passed the letter onto my sister, and away it went! Off to Cartoon Land, possibly in Romania.

And so, the waiting game began. What if he didn't read it? What if he thought I was dumb, and showed it to all his friends? What if it got intercepted by Dr. Robotnik en route, and he used it as the final piece to his most nefarious plan? I don't know how a child's poorly written letter could be used for evil, but I'm sure he could come up with something.

Then, the day came.

Addressed to Anthony Cocking, of 2770 Tatton Road. A letter from Sonic the Hedgehog. It even had these awesome little drawings of Sonic and Tails on the envelope, so you knew it was legit. I eagerly tore it open, and read through the note with great intrigue. It was mostly filled with praise, as well as advice that I should always listen to my sister, because she was very smart.

Alright, so we all know that she wrote the letter (or at least I assume that was the case. What a fucking twist it would be if it was legit), but it didn't dawn on me at the time. She said that if I wrote to Sonic, he would write back, and there it was, in my hands. I don't know if I had ever mentioned having a sister in my missive, so that was a bit of a risky gambit there, but as we've already established, I wasn't really that bright.

The point is, it was a sweet gesture from my sister that brought a little bit of whimsy into a young boy's life. Or she was playing mind games, who knows for sure. It's just a shame that being so tight with Sonic didn't help me get that Collector's Edition any cheaper.

So I posit the question to you, the void reader: who would you write to, if Cartoon Land was indeed a real thing? Given the opportunity today, I'd probably send a letter out to Skeletor. I'm sure he's got some shit to get off his chest.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

#0099: Big Slammu

So let's talk Street Sharks for a second. I certainly haven't got anything more important to do with my evenings, and if you've dared click on this accursed blog, I'll fathom that you're much the same.

All of the Street Sharks had their gimmick. Their thing. The defining quality that helped differentiate them from their brethren. Ripster's intelligence and levelheadedness made him a natural leader. Streex was the smooth-talking ladies man, while Jab was a lazy piece of shit with some kind of weird eye thing going on. But Big Slammu? He was my favourite, by far. Was it due to his rippling musculature, broad fishman shoulders, and the promise that he probably had a gigantic schlong? No, no and maybe.

If you're a wily INAKA veteran, you'll be able to realise the source of my affection based simply on a picture of the crew.

Figured it out yet?

If not, let me just lay it out for you. Big Slammu was the best because he was fucking red. Nothing more than that. His personality didn't make a lick of difference, he could have been a simpering coward, a treacherous double-crosser or a mass-murdering pedophile - as long as he remained red, he still would have been my favourite. That last one would have been a really weird creative choice for a children's cartoon, though.

In any event, I unearthed a whole bunch of sweet shit in the garage recently, and was quite shocked and frankly a little disappointed in myself when I found this fella rotting away in a box. Sure, there have been a few neat things to discover out there, but a Street Shark? A Street Shark deserves better than that, especially when it's big Coop himself.

I must confess, I never really watched the cartoon all that much, preferring for my edgy storytelling to come from Swat Kats and Gargoyles instead. So I couldn't quite tell you what Big Slammu's personality is. I have vague suspicions that he fits the peaceful big man trope, but typing 'Big Slammu virtuous' into Google only leads to a bizarre piece of fan fiction. Gotta be honest, Azmodan0210, I think the world could have gone without this crossover.

But what of the toy itself? I know you're both quivering with anticipation for me to wax lyrical on its features, and lowkey infuriated that the Jab article only had one actual photo of the action figure itself. Fuck, I really mailed that one in, didn't I?

Clearly, Big Slammu has seen better days. His paint is peeling, half of his face seems to have collapsed, and he has the unnerving grin of an ice addict. Be it due to the rigors of the garage or the tragic aftermath of steroid abuse, he just looks absolutely dreadful, and we advise that you'd best keep your distance. These are probably byproducts of being such a weighty item, because Big Slammu here is definitely packing on the pounds. If you threw him at someone, it would likely cause some damage, or at the very least be a particularly upsetting and bewildering experience for them.

He is riddled with nice little details like the prerequisite veins and tendons bulging through his flesh, and even some nifty cankles that are worthy of a mention. Pressing on his fin opens his mouth, but it doesn't work nearly as well as it does with Jab. Instead, Big Slammu's major calling card is his mighty clobbering fist, and it packs quite the wallop. You lift it up, and he brings it crashing down with the power of a thousand extreme dinosaurs.

Poor Optimus. Now he'll never sire a child.

Overall, I have to say that Big Slammu is actually a lot of fun. Aside from his wear-and-tear (a quick scan of the Internet reveals that this is fairly common among Slammu figures), he still looks rather nifty, and I've stopped mid-sentence a few times during the writing of this piece simply to play with his silly whomping arm. I like to pretend he's demanding more food at the dinner table like an impetuous child.

The good parent in me thinks that such a tantrum should be reprimanded, but when the child in question is twelve feet tall and can chew through solid steel, perhaps we should just give him what he wants. Also, if the pants are any indication, he seems to play for the Niners, and I definitely don't want to be cut off from that kind of income.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

#0098: Timon & Pumbaa's Jungle Games

Remember that Lion King video game? Unless you're a filthy millennial, you probably should. It graced all major consoles at the time, and was even available on MS-DOS. It was like they were hunting down potential platforms, truculently shilling their product until they had monopolised the entire industry.

It was pretty good, but man, was it tough. Many would cite the logs in the Hakuna Matata stage or the wildebeest stampede as the source of their misery, but I even struggled to properly time the double jumps on that stupid ostrich. Wouldn't that have been a strange twist for the movie? If while merrily singing about how he just can't wait to be king, Simba crashes into a tree and fucking dies. That probably would have been the plot if Roman Polanski had directed it.

But of course, Disney was basically pooping cash in the '90s, and Lion King was perhaps their biggest meal ticket up to that point. So inevitably, an utter glut of merchandise would surface like hyenas from the elephant graveyard, including other, much less significant efforts. This is where Timon & Pumbaa's Jungle Games comes into play.

In between levels in The Lion King, you had some fairly mundane bonus stages starring Timon and Pumbaa. It was probably my least favourite part of the game, and for that reason, it was an excellent idea to make an entire spinoff based on that premise.

Jungle Games debuted on PC in 1995, when The Lion King was still white hot and people were trying to pretend that Pocahontas never happened. Remarkably, a Super Nintendo port wouldn't follow until November '97 in North America, or March '98 in the PAL regions. By this time, we were playing masterpieces like Star Fox 64, GoldenEye and Final Fantasy VII. Who, exactly, was going back to their Super Nintendo to engage in some mediocre minigames?

Well, besides me, that is.

I acquired this title during a visit to Canada in 1998. The justification, of course, was that I had a North American Super Nintendo, and acquiring compatible software for it in Australia was a tricky bit of business, especially so long after the new console generation had begun. I mostly bought it for the bug dropping Puyo Puyo clone that I had seen on the PC.

You know. The one game that didn't make it to the SNES version. ...It's not funny, Ed.

The remaining attractions on offer are pinball, a Frogger imposter, a gaseous shooter and a slingshoteous shooter. On PC, each game would be preceded by a charming introduction from Timon and Pumbaa, where they would explain the rules, trade banter, and discuss the downfall of the textiles industry in southeast Asia. Reading between the lines a little on that last one there.

On SNES, you receive none of this. You choose a game, and it's like, "fucking figure it out, you asshole." If you didn't read the instruction manual, you were left to fend for yourself, though in fairness, none of the games were complex enough to necessitate thorough coaching.

Incidentally, according to the manual, Timon and Pumbaa built the jungle arcade themselves, which makes you wonder why they never held a steady job. I mean, clearly they are artisan craftsmen, and the only ones in all of the savanna capable of constructing elaborate structures. Frankly, I'm sick of them mooching off my tax dollars.

To investigate them further is paramount to sin, but I shall do so regardless, in the interest of thorough investigative journalism (read: padding).

Jungle Pinball doesn't particularly stretch the imagination. You hit the ball into animals who have willingly offered up their faces to be bludgeoned. There's a hippo that sticks his ass out with a target on it, indicating that he really wants you to send it right on up there. What did you do with your weekend? I put my balls in a hippo's ass, of course.

Sling Shooter is probably the low point, as you aim your reticle around the screen, attempting to fire grapes at passersby. It's just not something the SNES controller was built for, and tragically, there's a crocodile who bursts into tears whenever you shoot him. It's so mean spirited, and I can't help but wonder why he keeps coming back up. Does he feel like he deserves this punishment? Are you aiding the poor creature's flagellation? Why does he hurt so, so bad?

Once you've moved onto Hippo Hop, it begins to dawn on you that you have experienced half of this fucking game in the span of about seven minutes. Sure hope you didn't break the bank on your purchase. Timon attempts to collect bugs as he crosses a river, climbing atop the advertised hippos, as well as turtles, logs and rocks that apparently weren't important enough to mention. For some reason, the bugs are doing a sexy pose.

Finally, there is the cleverly titled Burper, in which Timon shakes a tree, causing various items to tumble towards you, as Pumbaa. You can either take them out by burping at them, or whack them with your tail if they survive the fall. I can't work out why exactly Timon and Pumbaa are engaging in such shenanigans. It's not like they're eating the bugs here, and judging by the amount of monkeys that end up careening to the ground, you're actually being very disruptive, and incredibly dangerous. It's almost as if they panicked when they couldn't come up with more games, so they just said 'fuck it, let's shake this tree and burp at people'.

Funnily enough, I believe that's also Donald Trump's solution to climate change.

As it is in life, there is no victory in the Jungle Games, as you just keep going until you fail, hoping to have achieved a high score. It's a little bit sad to think that Timon will never escape that accursed river, and Pumbaa will be forever condemned to aggressively belch at his assailants.

There is a two-player mode if you can actually convince someone else to join you on this joyless endeavour, but seeing as all of the experiences are for one person at a time, it's not much more impressive than simply handing the controller between each other. Had they actually included Bug Drop, the multiplayer feature would have been much more justified, and indeed, the package as a whole would have become quite tolerable.

Instead of an uninspired Puyo Puyo facsimile and some other junk, we only end up with the junk. If this is the kind of shit that Timon and Pumbaa are into, it's no wonder Simba went back to the Pride Lands. Well, that, and he was chasing some ass. We can all appreciate that.

Overall, Timon and Pumbaa's Jungle Games will exit my life with as little fanfare as it had entered. This kind of tosh may have rolled on PC in the mid-'90s, but when you hastily scrap together an inferior port years later, you end up with little more than a collection of Jungle Lames that even the most tolerant cub would turn his nose up at.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Growing up - the awkward years

Teenage Ivysaur was so angsty.

#0097: Storm Toad Trooper

Who could have ever imagined that we would be talking about Bucky O'Hare in 2018, and it would actually be vaguely topical? For you see, over the last few years, a company known as Boss Fight Studio has been bringing the Toad Wars back for the modern era, producing an all new line of Bucky action figures. All of your favourites have made their glorious, highly articulated return - from Jenny all the way to Deadeye Duck. Still no sign of my dude Bruiser, though, and definitely no Willy DuWitt, as he is nobody's favourite.

Wave 3 drops this fall, and included among this batch is the villainous Storm Toad Trooper. You can grab a single Trooper for $34, or a two-pack for $65. If, however, you follow my long-term belief that the foot soldiers should greatly outnumber the heroes, they offer a Master Case Pack of twelve toads for the low, low price of $420.

If you have over $400 in expendable cash that you can splurge on imaginary frog enemies, then fuck you, you have too much money. And now, too many frogs.

Look at that! I have two now.

The Storm Toad Troopers were your average minion. They all looked the same, and were mostly there to be disposed of effortlessly as Bucky and his comrades spouted one-liners where they declared them to be 'slimy fly eaters' and whatnot. In hindsight, that sounds racist as fuck, and I don't approve. But it was a different time, and between this and Danger Mouse, it seems as though amphibians were typically considered to be assholes.

I did a quick Google search to see if I could find more examples of toad villainy, but typing 'frog enemies' merely led to this website that looks like it was made in 2000. I fucking love FROGLAND, and I have added it to my bookmarks.

But enough on that. Let's talk Storm Toad Trooper.

He's a little bit dirty from years of lurking around the garage, but otherwise, he's pretty much in perfect condition. No chipped paint or doggy bite marks, which suggests that even Peppy thought he was too gross to bother gnawing on. He is riddled with nice little details, including a K on the side of his helmet that I will assume stands for Karen.

Most significantly, however, this is one of the very few toys where I was able to successfully locate his weapon, putting him in the 95th percentile of most dangerous figures in the entire house.

Fuck yeah, neon orange shotgun!

It fits quite nicely into his hand with a satisfying snap sound (I hope that wasn't actually the sound of it breaking), but his arms are positioned strangely, and his elbows aren't posable. As such, he actually looks more like he wants to engage you in a boxing match, which in and of itself is pretty badass, but likely unwise during a fight in outer space.

That being said, however, I did a quick search for packaged Storm Toad Trooper toys, and I can't help but shake the idea that something here is amiss. No, it's not the fact that it's in French, nor is it the revelation that the French word for frogs is krapos.

What I am now realising is that he came packaged with an entirely different weapon altogether.

So what gives, krapo la (that's Haitian Creole, but bear with me for a moment)?? Whose gun did you steal? Did it belong to Mighty Max, or Ace Duck? Maybe Papa Smurf on a really bad day? In any event, it seems to suit you quite well, so I'll just accept this transgression and feign ignorance when the police come knocking at my door.

After all, when you're hanging out with space toads, you sometimes just have to accept that they'll get drunk and cause all sorts of mischief. I've been dealing with Slippy for long enough to know this firsthand.

Friday, September 14, 2018

#0096: War Planets

When you're a kid, you just kinda... have stuff. For whatever reason.

Sometimes it's an impulse buy from your parents, desperate to appease your insatiable hunger for consumerism, while other times, you're drawn in by the sweet aroma of a particularly compelling commercial. Whatever the case, we all had the occasional toy of unknown origin from a series you didn't have any particular affinity for. Unless you were poor, in which case you just had specks of dust. Even then, some specks were better than others.

Today's specks of dust are these rather obtuse War Planets. Evidently, this was a late '90s toy franchise that spawned a TV show with character designs from Brendan McCarthy, formerly of ReBoot. The toys never really gained much traction and the show was short-lived, but despite all these factors, I ended up with not one but two of the eponymous planets of war. Allow me to take you on a trip to Bone Planet and Ice Planet.

Side note 1: I really had to force myself to use the term 'eponymous' in that leadoff. In actual fact, I much prefer 'titular'. Must be the 'tit' that does it for me.

Side note 2: "Allow me to take you on a trip to Bone Planet" sounds like the worst pickup line ever.

The narrative of War Planets is fairly self-explanatory, focusing on the ongoing struggle for galactic supremacy, with the occasional handshake armistice between parties to help shake the narrative up. Despite its tentacular exterior that threatens to molest oncoming spacecraft, Bone Planet is purportedly a heroic nation, and according to the Shadow Raiders wiki, part of the Alliance against the wicked Beast Planet.

Fuck Beast Planet. Hate that guy.

If you're unimpressed by the first photo, you'll be pleased to know that the planets are merely a precursor to the true wonder that lies within. Deep within the core of your War Planet are a bevy of aliens, ready to do battle with a wide variety of weapons and creatures. Does this imply that all War Planets are hollow? If we dug deep enough, would we happen upon the subterranean kingdom of Atvatabar? Will anyone actually understand this incredibly vague reference?

No time for answers, dammit, we need to crack our planets open and feast on the goo inside.

Whoa, that's a lot to unpack. Quite literally, actually, as it took around seven minutes to even set this stupid photo up. My dad walked in during the process, and asked me if I was working today.

"Clearly, I am!" I hissed, slamming the door shut before I continued to prop up my tiny little monsters in a manner I deemed aesthetically pleasing.

From what I can glean, the Bone Planet is a bit of a loose cannon, only entering the Alliance out of a convenient place of mutual interest, while masking their true intentions of double crossing everyone else at the last minute. In that sense, they're rather similar to the Forsaken legions of the undead from World of Warcraft, or North Korea if you'd prefer to be a little bit more on the nose.

There's beasts and cannons aplenty, and it was quite the nightmarish task to unearth all of these pieces from the toy chest and ascertain what actually belonged to the Bone Planet. If it was fairly green and vaguely lumpy, it was probably Bone Planet. Or infected.

I appear to have been so fond of Bone Planet that I acquired supplementary pieces, as there are some characters and vehicles that weren't included with the original set that look a little bit more yucky. I don't have any recollection of enjoying it this much ("they like War, they like Planets... One kid seems to love the Bone Planet"), which leads me to believe that it was in actual fact my father who was the Bone Planet fanatic. Holy shit, that phrase really rolls off the tongue.

And yes, I do intend on saying Bone Planet as much as humanly possible. It's what Bone Planet would want me to do. It's also really good for SEO.

Brr. This is Ice Planet. Hopefully their frosty reception doesn't give you the chills, they're just known to give the cold shoulder. Yes, I'm fully aware that that was a terrible sentence, and nowhere near as funny as the concept that Bone Planet is a euphemism for sex.

Ice Planet has a myriad of tiny blue denizens toting firearms, as you might expect. I particularly like the crystal spiders, but the missile turtles aren't without their charm. Particularly the one on the left there that appears to have stuck its nose right up another one's ass - he's tons of fun!

There aren't as many projectiles on offer in this set (disappointing if you particularly enjoy shooting your younger siblings in the eye), but they do have a sweet blue automobile that appears to be too small for any of the local fauna to fit into. This leads me to believe that there is a tiny unseen race of beings that operate this vehicle, or the people of Ice Planet are actually clowns, and they miraculously squeeze an entire group in there to great comedic effect.

Truth be told, I never waged war between my planets. I just believed in the sanctity of the peace treaty that much couldn't come up with enough things for them to do. Such is the plight of the miniature figurines; they're just not as hale and hearty as your hand-sized toys. For this reason, I also put a great deal of thought into how I would tag this piece; 'figurine', or 'action figure'. defines an action figure as "a toy figure with jointed, movable limbs, representing a character in a cartoon, movie, etc., or a real person or animal, often one known for exciting action or extraordinary powers."

The War Planets collection fit most of these distinctions, particularly their 'exciting action' or 'extraordinary powers', but it's worth noting that several of the pieces have no jointed, movable limbs to speak of. To this end, Reis O'Brien of The Spruce Crafts delegates them as figurines; "often small, sculpted and painted representations of personified characters like superheroes or movie characters. They have no moving parts."

The sizing is also consistent, as O'Brien goes on to note that figurines range "from extremely miniature (6mm model train figures) up to approximately 6 inches. Anything larger is generally considered a "statue.""

Or my penis. Ho ho ho.

In the end, I just said fuck it and chucked both tags on there. I'll allow you to argue amongst yourselves as to which is the more accurate delineation. Odds are, you'll find yourself a mutual enemy more worthy of your rage before too long.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

#0095: The Terminator(s)

Deciding which Terminator film you prefer is similar to comparing pizza with ice cream. On the surface, they're both foodstuffs, and one can easily be enjoyed immediately after the other. However, they evoke different sensations within you. The first movie was harrowing and gritty. The second was spectacular and fun. They are very different beasts, and combine to make one hell of a cinematic one-two punch.

Unless you opt for Terminator 3, in which case you eat shit and you die.

As a child of the '90s, Terminator 2 was always my preference growing up. With its emphasis on catchphrases and special effects, it was practically made for kids, just as long as you looked away when he cut open his arm. Or shot all the people. Or when the T-1000 stabbed the security guard in the eye.

You know what? It actually wasn't child-friendly at all. Who knows what the fuck we were thinking, it was a different time. Regardless, action figures came out in the dozens, and I myself was the proud recipient of these handsome Terminators.

On the left is the Power Arm Terminator. I figured this out thanks to this blog entry from Poe Ghostal, which is incidentally a really excellent read that I highly recommend. I will resist the urge to steal material from that post as best I can, but I'm only human. To his right is the Meltdown Terminator, complete with a canary yellow singlet and a 'white-heat bazooka sprayer' (read: a spray gun). The main meltdown is the one your child will have when they realise that you've given them the wrong toy.

They each feature a few curious design choices that can make you scratch your head and wonder aloud when that ever happened in Terminator 2. The Power Arm variation looks more the part with his black leather jacket, albeit a sleeveless variant that suggests that the seasons are a'changing and he wants to get a more even tan. However, it comes with three interchangeable arms that do a series of things that the T-800 has never been able to do.

The first one sees him pushing a metallic beam from his fist in his best Robert Patrick impersonation. The second is a claw kinda apparatus that looks particularly good for pinching bums. And the final is a goddamn rocket launcher, although in my case, it's down a rocket, so it's just a launcher. A launcher of nothing. A nothing launcher, perchance.

So what gives? Why is Uncle Bob suddenly wielding a magic arm? In all fairness, Kenner had to come up with a plethora of variations of the same basic concept, so creative license had to be taken. My fondest memory of this toy was slowly lowering him in the bath while humming the Terminator theme, ala the climactic scene in Judgment Day. Unfortunately, he was incapable of gesturing with a thumbs up before he went into the imaginary molten steel, so I just had to settle for him firing off a ceremonial rocket at the last moment.

Then there's this asshole.

Despite arguably being the better made figure (that battle damage exposing his inner chassis is a nice touch), all it takes is one look at the bright yellow wife beater that renders his army pants completely useless, and you know that mistakes have been made. And if you thought that interchangeable arms was a curious decision, you haven't seen our dude Meltdown here unleash his fearsome weapon on hapless foes. Y'all are about to be H2OWNED.

The packaging suggests that you're supposed to shoot the water at the White-Hot T-1000 figure, which would change colour upon contact with warm water. But does that mean that you actually have to buy two toys to really make this one relevant? Power Arm has threatening weapons, while Meltdown is reduced to spraying water like a damned five year old? Unless he decides to load up with acid or really cheap gin, it's just not going to cut the mustard. Not even the mustard singlet.

Beyond the two Terminators, the only other T2 toy I collected was John Connor. As you can appreciate, it didn't really see much playtime, because the only thing an Edward Furlong action figure would be good for is hacking into computer systems and releasing lobsters from their tanks. He had a pretty sweet motorcycle that probably ended up in the possession of Raphael, so it wasn't all bad.

Overall, I'd say that these figures are decidedly okay. They could have stood to have a few extra firearms on them to make them feel more movie authentic, but knowing me, I would have lost those within a week anyway. Indeed, before I started this entry, I figured I was going to do this whole thing without Meltdown's water gun or any of Power Arm's powerful arms. So in that sense, I'm coming out of this much further ahead than I had anticipated.

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