Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009: Year of the Douche

Yeesh! What a year full o' douche! It was like a never ending douche parade. In fact, I had this whole blog planned out like a month ago and then it was like... BLAM!
POW! (Also, am I alone in thinking it's okay to punch some girls in the face? Anyone?)
KA-BOOM! (I stopped paying attention after #8. Anyone else?)

Okay, so this is how douchy this year was... there's a whole website devoted to douchedome. Hot Chicks with Douche Bags... although, I question the "hot"-ness of some of the "chicks" showcased. Also, there's the implication that a "chick" cannot be a douchebag, which if I've learned anything this year, it's that they certainly CAN. (It's not the T-Birds, after all.) Click below for more sweet, sweet douchitude. (Let's see how many words I can make up, incorporating the word "douche!")
It's sort of hard to pick a Douch of the Year, what with Tiger and his penis swooping in at the last minute to hog all the glory... and vaginas. There have been too many bad jokes on this subject without me chiming in, so next up...
How big a douch is Jon Gosselin? He made Kate seem like the NICE one! He out-douched Michael Lohan... MICHAEL LOHAN!!!
This is a guy that leaked private phone convos with his DAUGHTER to the press!!! And even HE was like, "Woah, Douchebag, back it up! You're too much for me!" Also, who knew, but Tiger Shirt out-douches See-Through Shirt! TIGER SHIRT OUT-DOUCHES SEE-THROUGH SHIRT!!! Tis truly a marvel in douche-chievement! Speaking of bad dads...
"How much do I get in the will?" None. "Well, can I get a couple hundred thousand a month for living expenses?" No, you're not getting anything. "Well, how about this much for..." What part of nothing are you not getting? "I need this much..." No! "How about...?" NO!!!

Did you see that clip on The Soup of the Wendy Williams Show, where that one lady tried to defend Joe Jackson as being an "old school" parent and saying that we needed more "old school" parents? EVEN Wendy Williams was appalled! WENDY WILLIAMS!!!
They have a BOOK?! How do they have a book?! I don't have a book and I've actually read a book in my life! A couple of them! In fact, I even know how to spell B-O-O-K! Shouldn't that be a prerequisite?
Cathy wanted me to mention her favorite douche, Scooby Douche from The Soup... er... oh, he's on another show too? Apparently, he's on Ghost Adventures and says "Woah!" "Duuuuude!" and "Braaaah" a lot. He also apparently used the term "devirginizing" and that alone gets you on this list.Nope, still haven't forgotten. If you like it, then you shoulda put a muzzle on it.
I wouldn't have mentioned Chris Brown at all... I mean, we all make mistakes and lose our damn minds sometimes. BUT, he had the balls to put out a new album and then go on a Twitter tirade after no one bought it. Maybe that's because you BEAT UP YOUR GIRLFRIEND, DOUCHE BAG!!!! NO ONE IS GOING TO FEEL SORRY FOR YOU!!! That's like O.J. saying, "Can't we just focus on my football career?" It's like, "What? You played football before you killed those two people? Huh, did not realize."

Speaking of musicians, this year saw a large boom in douche rock. A bunch of bands made up of that perv you know from work who just says whatever pops into his head and has no filter and everything they think of is perverted. You know what I'm talking about. (I must admit, however, that being a douche doesn't make me not like their songs... sorry, they're catchy!)
3Oh!3... "do the Helen Keller?" Yikes, seriously? I feel dirty.
Cobra Starship... Hey, Fannypak butched up... oh wait, no they didn't. Man, American Apparel RULEZ!
So is that pronounced, "Ke-dollar-ha?" Plus, doesn't she look... sticky? Like, if she got in the shower, the water would just bead off her?
Miley then replied, "I don't know. I don't listen to pop music and I've never heard a Jay-Z song in my life." Bragging about your ignorance isn't appealing... nor is basically shitting on everyone who liked THE BIGGEST HIT OF YOUR CAREER!!!
"Yay! I'm so excited, I'm going to celebrate! Can I have some privacy and a video camera?" Get ready for some opposite-fame, Stupid.
On the other hand, I suddenly think I'm opposed to gay marriage.
"I'm the Dr. Phil of politics, ya'll!"
On the other hand...
Levi Johnston = Cock Tease.
Um, okay, he's not UN-attractive, but he's nothing to crane your neck to get a look at either. Trust me, the physique is NOT enough to justify that amount of hype. Man, you couldn't even take off your clothes correctly? How do you manage to screw that up?
Flattest. Ass. Ever.
Also, am I the only who didn't realize that Playgirl wasn't an actual paper magazine anymore? Also, did any actual women even read it? Didn't think so.
"Hi, I'm Megan Fox. I suck and am completely rude and bitchy and have no talent... but damn, I'm hot! That's good enough, right?" Sadly, apparently, it is. I'm shaking my head and fist at you in anger and frustration, Straight Men of the World. Shaking!!!
"Hi, I'm Kristen Stewart. I suck and am completely rude and bitchy and have no talent and look stickier and more strung out than Ke-dollar-ha. I mean, I look like I slept under the bed! Come see my movie!" And sadly, they did. I'm shaking my head and fist in anger and frustration at you Straight Women of the World. Shaking!!!

Also, that is the worst likeness I have ever seen on a Barbie celebrity doll. I mean, that HUGE ASS GRIN on her face... Kristen Stewart has NEVER smiled that widely! That's practically a rictus! (Look it up.)
I also, though, "Gee, it's kind of a rip-off that the Taylor Lautner doll is just wearing cut-offs." Then I realized that if he'd come with more clothes, I'd just have removed and discarded them anyway and realized, I should probably pay EXTRA... also that torso is the BEST likeness I've ever seen on a Barbie celebrity doll. (Memo to Levi Johnston: Now THAT is a physique worth the hype! Take notes!)

So raise a glass of Patron (or Hennesey) to the douches of the world... may we never see them again!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

That's Super, Supergirl

I just read an article that revealed that 2009 was Supergirl's 50th anniversary. The article compared this to the movie Sixteen Candles, wherein everyone forgets Samantha (Molly Ringwald)'s sixteenth birthday. Valid comparison! 50 years of the Maid of Might and her publisher DC does NOTHING to commemorate the event?! Unacceptable! Well, this may not be much, but here's a small tribute to the Girl of Steel.
Supergirl made her debut in 1959's Action Comics #252. Revealed to be Superman (Krytponian name, Kal-El)'s cousin Kara Zor-El, it turned out that a small chunk of Krypton has survived the planet's destruction. Upon said chunk, was an entire city Argo, but eventually, like all other remaining fragments of Krypton, this mini-planetoid was chemically transformed into lethal Krytponite. To escape this catastrophe, Kara's father Zor-El sent his young teenage daughter Kara to Earth, where she was reunited with her cousin, while the rest of Argo City was believed to have perished. (It later turned out they'd all survived and established a home on a new planet which they dubbed New Krypton.)
Damn, Superman used to be beefy! What was he eating back then? Anyway, Superman gave Supergirl the civilian identity of Linda Lee and arranged for her to live at the Midvale Orphanage. (Why couldn't she just live with him in Metropolis?) In the beginning, Kara used her powers in secret, sneaking out to help people in need. Eventually, she was adopted and became Linda Danvers, and as Supergirl, revealed her existence to the world. She then embarked on a series of solo adventures, as well as alongside her cousin and other heroes. She even participated in adventures alongside the Justice League and the Legion of Super Heroes, but most notably, she frequently teamed up with Batgirl and the two became best friends.
Next to Wonder Woman, Supergirl and Batgirl have the highest profiles of any of DC Comics' heroines, frequently appearing in other media and in licensed toy lines.
One of the earliest licensed Supergirl items is this Super Queens doll by Ideal. Released in the late 60s, the entire line of Super Queens is incredibly rare today and are valued in the thousands. The reason is that NO ONE bought them. No boy wanted a girlie doll like this, and no girl wanted an action adventure toy. They wanted either baby dolls or fashion dolls. The girls who did get these would quickly discard the super suit and replace it with an ordinary fashion from Barbie or some other line.Supergirl is one of the few characters in comics to age. She was originally supposed to be about 13 or so, but eventually she got older and entered college. She also ditched her original ice skater-inspired costume in favor of a more MODern costume featuring a loose-fitting v-neck blouse and hot pants (sometimes illustrated with frayed edges, making Supergirl the only Super Hero to ever rock Daisy Dukes).
Of course she was included in the Mego World's Greatest Super Heroes collection wearing that version of her suit.
This was also the costume adapted to the Underoos line. Underwear that's fun to wear! And TRUST me, that slogan is 100% TRUE!!! Underoos were better than some TOYS from the same era! These are highly SOUGHT by collectors, but rarely found as no one thought to buy children's undergarments and save them as collectibles. Plus, that would be a little creepy.
In the MTV-80s, she adopted yet another updated look, featuring a curly perm and headband. She also embarked on her highest profile endeavor of her career, her own live-action movie!
Produced by Alexander Salkind, the same producer of the blockbuster Superman movies, Supergirl was plagued with problems. The biggest blow was that they were unable to tie this film in with the Superman movies. Appearances by Christopher (Superman) Reeve and Margot (Lois Lane) Kidder had to be dropped. Marc McClure did appear as Jimmy Olsen and as Linda Lee, Supergirl roomed with Lois's kid sister Lucy (Maureen Teefy, perhaps better known as Sharon from Grease 2... or maybe not) at boarding school. The film suffered other problems as well, such as slashed funding, which resulted in a scene where Supergirl was supposed to battle giant electrical monster being altered to her fighting a giant INVISIBLE electrical monster.
The movie may have ended up cheesy, but NO ONE I've encountered has ever had a bad thing to say about Helen Slater, the beautiful actress who portrayed her with a mixture of stranger-in-a-strange-land bewilderment and inherent strength. (Included on the DVD, is test footage with Helen wearing the then-current comic book costume complete with headband and huge shoulder-pads. Luckily, they switched to a more "classic" costume. They did, however retain the yellow trimmed boots.)

In an omen of things to come, DC did jack squat to promote Supergirl to coincide with the movie's release. No toy line, no special products beyond a few books, nothing. It didn't help that the movie was almost universally panned and bombed at the box office.
Then she died. The movie was her biggest mainstream splash, but in comics, Supergirl's highest profile story is the one where she died to save, not only her cousin who'd been defeated by the uber-vilain The Anti-Montitor, but the entire universe. In reality, Supergirl was killed because DC Comics was revamping it's line to appease a more modern audience and the creators who were in charge of revamping Superman wanted him to be the sole surviving Kryptonian, as he'd been in his earliest tales, feeling this made him more unique.
Shortly before her death, Supergirl arrived to give a pep-talk to her best gal pal Batgirl who was suffering from a case of inferiority.
It was then Batgirl who delivered the eulogy at Supergirl's funeral, a huge public memorial held in Metropolis. I was like 11 at the time and I remember being devastated by Supergirl's death. I'd had an older cousin who'd died in a car accident (a week before he was supposed to graduate high school, sadly), but Supergirl's death hit me a lot harder, because I felt I knew Supergirl better and that she was a bigger part of my life. Her death completely ruined a weekend at the beach, as all I did was sulk around the whole time.

Of course, what no one realized at the time is that Supergirl wasn't just some throw-away knock off! She'd become an icon in her own right and before long DC brought her back... kinda. They tried to stick to the whole "Superman as the only Kryptonian" thing and this went on for years. Initially, they created a new Supergirl that was a shape-shifting artificial life form. Then she was an "Earth-born angel." Finally, they realized, "Screw it, everyone knows Supergirl is supposed to be Superman's cousin, so let's just bring back that version."
Yuck. Unfortunately, at the time, the artist tried to model her on popular celebrities, which included Lindsay Lohan and the Olsen Twins and such, so for a while, Supergirl looked like an emaciated crack whore skeleton wearing too much makeup.
Ahhhhh! That's better! The new artist even went out of his way to illustrate her wearing Spankies under her skirt like a cheerleader, so as to be clear she wasn't giving anyone below a "show." Yay respect for women in comics!
Supergirl made her animated debut in the Superman animated series in the 90s and continued to make appearances in Justice League Unlimited. As in the past, artists updated her look to reflect contemporary styles... er... The Spice Girls were big at the time.
Mattel adapted this costume for their first Supergirl Barbie.
More recently, they created this gorgeous, glamorous Supergirl doll as part of a more adult-oriented collector line.Laura Vandervoort portrayed the newest live-action Kara on Smallville. (They never referred to her as "Supergirl.")

And now there are rumors that none other than current It Girl Taylor Swift may portray Supergirl in a new live-action movie.
I'm calling Bullshit on the whole thing, honestly... Warner Brothers has stated that IF they do another Superman movie, it'll be a complete relaunch with no ties to Superman Returns. And they haven't made any announcement that they are even developing this new Superman yet. How do you make a Supergirl movie without a Superman movie to base it on? That would be like making a Catwoman movie without a Batm-... er, nevermind.

It's too bad this is just a rumor, because I'd be 100% behind Taylor Swift as Supergirl! She'd be perfect! (Now that my original choice, Emily VanCamp is probably too old.)
Taylor's the right age, tall, blonde and best of all, gorgeous without being one bit skanky! MAN! Usually people are up in arms over casting for comic book movies. This time, I'm like, "Oh that's a bunch of crap! They're not making a Supergirl movie, but dammit, I wish they would! She's FLAWLESS!" Sigh!

Anyway, HAPPY 50th BIRTHDAY, SUPERGIRL! You look great for someone who should be getting AARP benefits!

Monday, December 21, 2009

1975 Montgomery Ward Christmas Catalog

Christmas greetings again! Well, I do believe my holiday shopping is done, except for food, but I'm waiting so it doesn't go bad before Friday. Cards are in the mail... better late than never, but hopefully they will arrive in time.

Last blog I mentioned Megos, which are my favorite toys ever, but I then realized that everyone may not know what they are, so a brief explanation. Mego was actually the name of the most successful toy company in the 1970s. They released a full-range of items, from baby dolls to electronic games to board games like the delightful Ball Buster detailed last blog. But if you hear a collector referring to "Megos" they are talking about one thing, their line of 8" action figures. Designed to compete with GI Joe and Barbie, Mego created smaller dolls... smaller = cheaper. They created lines based on all manner of themes, but Mego was one of the first companies to license outside concepts upon which to create toys. Most toys, such as GI Joe and Barbie, were original concepts, created simply to be toys. Mego made toys based on outside licenses like Star Trek and Planet of the Apes and scored huge! It's weird because nowadays, every blockbuster movie or cartoon has its own toy line, but prior to the mid-seventies, this was a novelty!

The most popular and highly sought after Mego line was The World's Greatest Super Heroes!
I don't know if was just because these were the first toys I remember, but they are still my favorites ever. Like I said, they were 8" tall, super-jointed and wore real fabric costumes. Looking at some of the earlier releases, they DO have kind of a cartoony, dopey look on their faces. And the four original females look almost kewpie doll-ish. But I love them! And so do many, many others, making this one of the most collected lines around. It helps that they came out so long ago that it is incredibly rare to find them in mint condition, much less still packaged. I think Batgirl is the rarest and she sells for about $500+ on the card.

My dad bought me Robin as a reward for when I learned to tie my shoes... my Super Friends shoes! Eventually, his leg broke in half and my mom told me to pretend he'd been in an accident in the Batmobile.

As you can see, there are dozens of characters, but as a kid, I only ever saw a handful in stores; Superman, Batman, Robin, "Shazam," Spider-Man and The Hulk. Supposedly, certain characters like Aquaman and all of the females were poor sellers, but I'd have killed for ANY of those! I just kept getting those same six characters over and over. (I'd inevitably lose or break them... I wish I could go back in time and smack myself. It's not child abuse if it's self-inflicted, right?)

But anyway, you are now up to speed, so without any further ado, the 1975 Montgomery Ward catalog: (Well... part of it...)
Archie toys?! I would have LOVED those! Did I mention that after Mego's success, a bunch of companies tried ripping them off? The most popular knock-off is coming up, actually. But anyway, I really liked Archie comics and would have loved toys like these. They look dead-on like the drawings. I'd have been upset that there was no Reggie doll, though. The outfits are silly... WHAT is that Jughead is wearing?! And I'd have put Bettie in that Daisy Dukes/halter, not snooty Veronica!

What is that monstrosity at the bottom of the page?! Dusty?! Looks more like cripsy fried, bleached out Lindsay Lohan... well, except not as scrawny. In picture 11, it looks like she's attacking herself. And picture 15 looks like a bunch of zombies on the prowl! Ugh! Moving on...
Another pic of Mego's Wizard of Oz line. Both this ad and the one in last blog's Sears catalog mention traveling to Oz... they're not traveling to Oz, they're already IN Oz. They're traveling to the Emerald City. I guess fact checking wasn't invented until the '80s.

Also a closer look at the HORRIFYING Sunshine Family! GAH!!! They didn't look this freaky in the Sears catalog! (Still digging that covered tandem bike, though!)

I don't know if you can read the descriptions or not, but the one for L reads: "Van With Piggyback Shack (tm)- Now, you can help the Sunshine Family make crafts and display them at a pretend fair. Shack removes from van for use as sales and display booth. Makings for tiny belts, purses, flowerpot incl. Plus idea book; banner base."

... That is a VERY specific, VERY elaborate, VERY narrow concept. This toy was planned to a T. Wow. I'm not even sure how to react. I am dumbstruck, Sunshine Family.
YOW!!! That Young Mod's skirt is slit way up PAST there! Hoochie! She was the original J. Lo! That hillbilly doll on the left is pretty trashy looking too!
Oh man, I want that Batman and Robin alarm clock! How freakin' large is Robin's head there?! And who's driving if Robin is in the passenger's seat and Batman is out jogging? Maybe that's now my Robin doll lost that leg.

The Batman clock's expression, "It's time to wake our friend, Robin!" is cute, but look how polite the Raggedy Ann clock is, "Please get up." Yeah, I'd NEVER have gotten up, if this was my alarm clock. Way too passive. "Please get up... no? Okay." Waaaah-waaaaaaaah!
"Merry fuckin' Christmas. Here, I got you a typewriter." Ahem, I got the blue one. Not kidding.
I posted this as a comment, but I thought I'd repeat it, in case you missed it. See picture 10, the two inflatable chairs on the middle left? Okay, when I was like 2ish or 3ish, I saw an ad for a similar product, except they had animal heads. I think there were three or four shown, including a pink girl cat chair, which I HAD to have. Except when it arrived, it was a stupid yellow BOY cat! AW HEEEEELLLLLLL NAW!!! I pitched a FIT!!! Like one of those leg kicking, yowling, flailing fits kids throw in Walmart! Long story short, the PROPER pink girl cat chair arrived a few weeks later. Did my parents really think I was going to stand for those shenanigans? That was some BULLSHIT, that's what that was!

Looking back, they pulled the same exact stunt also when I was about two, when these two stretch toys came out, kinda like Stretch Armstrong. There was Ollie the Stretch Octopus (blue) and Olivia (pink). I remember she had a bow on her bald head and long eyelashes. I had to have Olivia! We were at... maybe Montgomery Ward, possibly Sears, but they were both RIGHT in front of me and I CLEARLY made my point that I wanted Olivia, but my asshole parents refused and bought me Ollie. I don't remember the circumstances, but obviously some sort of protest took place, as I later got Olivia and was placated. Ironically, I was too young and weak to actually make either stretch. Still... victory was mine.
Three items appeared in EVERY catalog I ever saw as a child I and I desperately wanted them. Here are all three on one page! A rock tumbler, a pottery wheel and a spin art maker. I HAVE NO IDEA WHY! A rock tumbler?! What would I do with shiny rocks?! A pottery wheel?! To make ashtrays for my family of non-smokers?! And a spin art kit was just a ruined carpet waiting to happen. Even so, every time I saw them in a catalog, I felt like I needed these three things.
Here are Mego's least-action-oriented "action" figures ever... The Waltons. And their "play" set farm house. To quote Neicy Nash, "WHAT THE HELL?!" Mego scored major sales with some of their licensed products, Super Heroes, Star Trek, Wizard of Oz... but what were they smoking when they released The Waltons? This, sadly, wasn't the end of the terrible toy lines... they also released a Love Boat series (with boat playset) and designed a line based on Dallas that was never released. To put that in a modern context, Dallas toys would have been like a Brothers & Sisters toy line. Woo hoo. "Let's act out the part where Justin relapses and later finds out Rebecca is pregnant. Oh, and nap time's at two."

Oh, remember what I said about other toy companies imitating Mego? The Monsters in the middle LOOK like Megos, but they were actually made by Remco. Still, they are the one line that is most commonly mistaken by modern collectors as a Mego line. It didn't help that Remco went so far as to rip-off Mego's packaging design for the Monsters, until Mego filed suit.
Yay! Megos again! Interesting marketing strategy, using comic style artwork to sell the line. Also, hands down, the Joker's VW bus style Jokermobile is widely considered one of the best Mego items in the entire collection. And check out The Joker's dialogue at the top, to Wonder Woman, "They should have never given you the right to vote!" Jigga what?! Who knew that in addition to being a murderous psychopath, The Joker was also a chauvinist pig?

Also, you can see how sad the Mego Wonder Woman looked. Both she and Tarzan were given pathetic flesh-tone bodysuits to cover their bare skin. Later releases like Conan the Barbarian simply left those areas bare, but I guess the early '70s were a more conservative time.
A bigger pic of the Star Trek line. Check out those likenesses! Kirk TOTALLY looks like William Shatner and McCoy is a dead ringer for DeForest Kelly! Odd that MODERN toys don't even look as much like the real actors as these vintage toys.

But maaaaaan, The Waltons are bad, but who the hell wants a set of Founding Father action figures? "ONLY at Montgomery Ward?" Really?! Who'd you have to fight to get that exclusive deal?! "Hey, let's see who can win in a fight... The Incredible Hulk or Ben Franklin! Watch out for that kite string, Hulk!" Also, most action figures in this catalog are $3 and change. These poor souls are $1.99 and STILL Wards is offering 20% off (that's more than 10%!) if you buy any three. ANY three! "C'mon... 20% off... don't you want George Washington and Andrew Jackson and... wait, how about 50% if you buy two?! Wait, wait, don't walk away, how about I buy you lunch if you just take one. Here, you can have him! PLEASE!" Too bad Montgomery Ward went out of business, because I'm pretty sure if they were still around, you could walk in today and STILL find these things hanging around on super duper clearance.

Once again, pics courtesy of: