Saturday, April 30, 2011

Mattel ComiCon Exclusives Edition

So Mattel has unveiled their ComiCon exclusives for this year. The above clip showcases some of the bigger name items. I like the massive movie version of Kilowog from Green Lantern, but since I don't plan on buying any other GL movie figures and I already have the comic version of Kilowog... PASS!

The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man seems really neat and CHECK OUT that amazing diorama! But I'm not that into Ghostbusters, so PASS!

Not a Voltron Fan, although I'm glad to see a Voltron figure that looks like the cartoon. The movie version is going to look all shitty and busted like the movie Transformers, where you can't tell who's who or who's good and who's evil, because they all just look like walking wreckage. Plus... the Voltron movie is set on EARTH! Um, have fun with that.

The big DC Universe Classics exclusive is Swamp Thing, a character who was off-limits to Mattel before, because Swamp Thing was technically a Vertigo character, belonging to their mature readers imprint. But they just re-introduced him into the DC Universe proper. It's a nicely made figure. The endo-skeleton joints are truly innovative. But I just plain don't want a Swamp Thing figure. If he were a mass-market figure, I'd pass, just like I have with Jonah Hex and The Metal Men. Just characters, I don't really care for and have no need to own, ESPECIALLY at inflated eBay prices.

They didn't mention this. It's a Back To The Future "secret" vehicle... um, is there more than one vehicle in BttF? Also, Mattel, maybe don't label your "secret vehicle" image "Delorean.jpg" Just sayin'.

The He-Fans (yeah, that's really what they're called) are pissed that Queen Marlena and Cringer weren't presented in the Attack of the Show clip. He-Fans are ALWAYS upset about SOMETHING. They're the needy, clingy girlfriend of nerdom. Mattel has continuously said they can't make toys based on the characters as they were depicted on the animated series, only in print materials that Mattel produced in the 80s. Yet... here these two are, looking like they stepped right off the TV screen. Except, I don't recall Marlena (He-Man and She-Ra's mom) ever slingin' a sword or doing anything action-oriented. I swear, all she ever did on the show was sit on that throne. Which, ironically, she can't even do as a toy, as her "dress" is molded rubber that fits over her alternate look, her astronaut suit:
Oh that's right! You forgot about that, didn't you?! Marlena was a human from Earth on the cartoon! She went into space, got sucked through a black hole and wound up on Eternia where she landed King Randor and became a queen! She's like the galactic Kate Middleton! Love the retro bubble helmet!

These are two characters that I think most fans never thought they'd see, the inactive Queen and cowardly Cringer. Fun choices for the fans, but I'm not breakin' my bank for them.

Last year, they did a Polly Pockets set with Polly and her pals dressed as Wonder Woman, Batgirl and Supergirl, which was super cute, but I just never really pursued it. Like it was cute, but obviously not cute enough that I bothered trying to acquire it. Once again, this goes back to the eBay thing. I'd buy it for whatever price they sold it for at the con, but I'm not paying more than that for it. This year, they are offering Polly, et. al. as She-Ra, Catra and fan-fave Frosta. Once again, supremely cute! But like $50 cute? Not so much.

I'd totes get this Frankenberry Hot Wheels car. I love cereal mascots!

This is the lamest exclusive they are offering, a Carol Ferris Barbie from Green Lantern. And I have ALL the DC heroine Barbies, but I don't want this one. LAME! Couldn't they do Barbie AS a Green Lantern? Or Barbie as one of the female Lanterns like Arisia or Boodika? Or better yet, Star Sapphire? Even a Ken as Hal Jordan Lantern would have been nice. This is just... off. Too drab and boring for any fan of Barbie's. Not "super" enough for comic book fans. I just don't know who this is aimed at.

The last DC Universe exclusive, is Superboy from the Young Justice cartoon series, in his Cadmus white suit, in his incubator tube. I'm on the fence about the YJ toy line. I feel like I already collect so much stuff, I don't know that I want to add a whole new line. And plain white suit Superboy just isn't that enticing. If it had been Aqualad, I'd have been all over that. Maybe even Robin, but Superboy is the most unlikeable member of the team, so far and he isn't even drawn as looking all sexy like he is in the comics, so... yeah, PASS!

And so, we come to my one MUST HAVE exclusive, Monster High's Ghoulia Yelps dressed in comic-inspired attire! I actually am ever-so-slightly surprised they didn't do another gray-scale doll like last year's Frankie Stein, which they poorly didn't promote at all, so most fans didn't even know that it was available until after they'd bought their limit of Mattel product! So the SDCC Frankie from last year was going for like $100 on eBay and FUCK THAT! Recently, the price has dropped significantly, because I think most Monster High fans felt the same way I did about it, "$100 for a doll I already have, just in black and white?! Foo' please!" But... dammit, Ghoulia is without a doubt my hands-down FAVE Monster High character and this is a NERDIER version? MUST!! HAVE!!!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wonder Wednesday - Top Female Avengers Who Deserve To Be In The Avengers Movie Over Black Widow

Marvel released the above image, I suppose to get fans pumped at the idea that The Avengers movie is inching closer to reality. I'm going to be in Chicago next week when Thor opens. How's that for shitty timing? Maybe I'll squeeze in a viewing when David and the boys are at the Reds/Cubs game, because I just love going to the movies by myself. But I feel like I need to throw my nerd dollars behind this movie as a show of support after what happened in Australia. Of course, I could see it anytime after I get back, but we all know it's opening weekend that makes the real statement and I hope Thor opens huge!

As for The Avengers, notice anything? Thor, Iron Man, Cap, Hulk. No mention of "the girl" Black Widow (or Hawkeye for that matter). But really? We're making this a boy's club? And as for their pick for "the girl," like I've said before, Black Widow is just one of those characters that I don't really care anything for. I've never really been into the spy thing, for one. She doesn't have any powers. Her only weapons are those wrist "venom" shooters. Okay, I get that she wears a sexy leather catsuit and is a redhead. (Trust me, I get the redhead thing. Ginger hair makes even a marginal guy hot. I'm still smarting that that cute ginger cowboy got kicked off The Amazing Race this weekend. Anyone?) I suppose she was used to good effect in The Ultimates. And I can see how she would appeal to filmmakers because... she has no powers, less CGI. They appear to be borrowing heavily from The Ultimates, with both she and Hawkeye being government super agents.

But if there's just going to be one "girl" on the team, the character Black Widow doesn't deserve to be the one.

First of all, this was the point during which she joined them... alongside Jocasta and the Two-Gun Kid and The Guardians of the Galaxy. And then she quickly got booted when the government initiated a seven member limit for the team. Long run there, honey. She's never to my knowledge returned for a lengthier membership, minus a recent gig on The Mighty Avengers pre-Secret Invasion.

On the other hand, there are more than a handful of female heroes who are synonymous with The Avengers! I could even make a case for Tigra, who isn't a major character and whose initial run on the team was only slightly longer than Black Widow's, but when the team set up a West Coast branch, she joined up and was a fixture for years and has constantly popped up whenever the call went out for reserve members to join in on whatever adventure required ALL the Avengers. When people look at Black Widow, they think, "That's the Black Widow. She's a secret agent. She dated Hawkeye and Daredevil. She was in The Champions and I think she was an Avenger at some point." When they look at Tigra, they think, "That's Tigra. She's an Avenger."

But Tigra's not on my list. I tried to whittle it down to just a Top Five, but I couldn't, so it's a Top Six.
6. Spider-Woman - Let's see, shady secret agent past, unclear alliances, spider-theme... notice any similarity to anyone? Yep, close to Black Widow, except, y'know with an awesome yellow and red super suit and super powers! Spider-Woman is a relatively recent addition to the Avengers, but she kicks ass and fans have embraced her. She can fly, cling to walls, fire venom blasts, has super strength and emits pheromones that can subtly influence people. Plus, her name is SPIDER-Woman. Spider-Man is already a household name and piggy-backing on his success gives her added cache. Except then you have to clarify that she isn't actually in any way related to him. But by then, you'd already have the movie-goers' money so shame on them for not doing their homework ahead of time.

5. The Scarlet Witch - In the comics, the second woman to join the team's ranks, she was also the "token female" for a number of years. She's been with the team off-and-on for DECADES and is one of two women most closely associated with the team. (You'll see who the other one is, but if you know anything about the team, you already know.) Drawbacks? Lengthy back story (she was secretly Magneto's daughter and served in his Brotherhood, battling the X-Men before she and her brother Pietro/Quicksilver joined the Avengers), unclear powers ("Hexes" she can affect probability) and kinda icky love-life (in the real Marvel Universe, she married an android, The Vision, in The Ultimates, she was romantically involved with her own brother, barf!).

4. Ms. Marvel - One of the most successful Marvel heroines in recent years, she co-led The Mighty Avengers alongside Iron Man and starred in her own series. A former Air Force colonel, trained spy and head of security for NASA, Carol Danvers has a government background which would have made it super easy to integrate her into the movie! And her powers, super strength, invulnerability, flight and energy projection would have really added some BAM to the team dynamics! Her "Ms. Marvel" identity was inspired by deceased male hero Captain Marvel, but her connection to him was tenuous and easily overlooked. Really no drawbacks, other than the fact that she first joined the team in the 70s, so having her appear in the movie as a founder is a bit of a stretch and might upset some die-hards. (Well, I'm a die-hard and I'd have been okay with it.)

But if we're going with Marvels, I'll go you one better and suggest...

3. Captain Marvel - A lieutenant in the New Orleans Harbor Patrol, she was bombarded with extraterrestrial energy and gained the ability to transform her body into any type of energy from light to x-rays to ultraviolet radiation and so on. She can also absorb and manipulate energy and fire powerful energy bolts. She joined The Avengers as a novice but her natural level-headedness and ability led her to be named leader by none other than Captain America himself! She served very long tenures on the team, leaving only occasionally and returning to assist the team frequently as they needed her.

Originally depicted as being very serious and work-minded, most recently writers have given her a sarcastic sense of humor and a "complicated" dating life. Doesn't every team need a "sassy black girl?" (He said sarcastically... but hell, why not just once have a female be the "comic relief?" Has anyone EVER done that? Make it happen, Marvel!)

Oh, PS... she's AFRICAN AMERICAN, unlike ANY of the other Avengers in the movie!!! Equality, ya'll!

2. She-Hulk - Oh Marvel... how many times will The Hulk fail before you quit trying to make him work? First movie? Failed. Second movie? Failed. (Although, I didn't think it was that bad.) Let's keep milking this horse and see what happens. Okay, like I said, they seem to be borrowing heavily from The Ultimates and of course Hulk featured prominently in that. But in the real Marvel continuity, The Hulk agreed to join the team at the end of Avengers #1 but then... changed his mind and never showed up to any of their meetings or bothered helping them ever.

Fastforward to the 80s and his cousin, the similarly powerful but intelligent She-Hulk joins The Avengers and sticks around for a number of years, with her sassy attitude and tough demeanor making her a hit with fans! She filled in for The Thing as a member of the Fantastic Four for a number of years and during that time continued scoring fan love until she was eventually given her own title, a rarity among Marvel females and, at the time, she was the only one. She became Marvel's flagship heroine, appearing on all kinds of merchandising along side Cap, Spidey, Wolverine and even her own cousin. Through it all, she's remained a constant in the world of The Avengers, returning to aid them on numerous occasions, while also maintaining a career as the (literally) biggest lawyer in New York City. C'mon, government super groups have legal teams, right? Easy in for joining the onscreen team and look Marvel... maybe people just don't care for The Hulk. Try something slightly different... making The Hulk a tough, sassy (and sexy) lady!

And finally, absolutely no surprise...
1. The Wasp - Why look, who is that above on the cover of The Avengers #1? Why the sole female founder of the team, The Wasp! The Wasp served valiantly alongside her male counterparts. When her boyfriend, Ant Man became jealous of the physical abilities of his comrades Iron Man and Thor, he tweaked his size-changing powers to become Giant Man, but The Wasp remained The Wasp, tiny heroine with antennae to communicate with bugs and wings. Yup, that's it! She didn't even have her patented bio-stings yet!

After all of the founders left the team for a time, she was the first to return and was a constant fixture on the team for DECADES, skillfully leading the team for many years.

What I love about The Wasp is she was always a "girlie girl." She was vivacious, flirty, loved shopping... she was constantly designing new costumes for herself. She also just seemed to love adventuring. Who wouldn't? Wouldn't being a super hero be like the funnest thing ever?! But super heroes never really seemed to enjoy it, except maybe Spider-Man. But Wasp clearly loved it and I loved that about her. (I don't know how I managed to type this with Captain America's star-spangled bulge over to the left. Wonder Man's package is pretty impressive too. Oh look, The Wasp is in the picture, too.)

NOT to say she was a ditz or ineffective. I DID say she led the team for years and years on numerous occasions. She was also one of the first divorcees in comics, leaving her abusive husband Hank Pym (Ant Man/Giant Man) after he betrayed the team. And in The Ultimates, she and Hank were both scientists working for the government, so there's your in in the movie universe. She may be flirty and "girlie" but she's a strong, capable woman... and she should be in this freakin' movie!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

First of all, Happy Birthday to Donna Troy, Wonder Woman's younger sister/magical avatar/adopted younger sister she rescued as an infant from a fire/whatever the fuck she is this week! And while not the latest, certainly the greatest Wonder Girl! (In the 1978 DC Comics Calendar, they actually gave each hero a birthday!) I've been obsessed with Donna since I first learned of her existence... Wonder Woman has a sidekick too?!... and her depiction in New Teen Titans won me over for life! Too bad she'd one of the most fucked over characters in comics (had her origin completely scrapped and redone, then undone again, lost her husband and infant son, DIED, came back to life, has been forced to star in shitty books...

But... I still luv ya, baby!

So today saw the release of "Til The World Ends (The Femme Fatale Remix)" by Britney Spears featuring Nicki Minaj and Ke$ha. The hell?! This is the second week in a row that Brit Brit's been involved in a fairly nonsensical collaborative remix, after last week's "S&M" remix with Rihanna. I'm getting tired of getting a rapper to spit a rhyme on your album track and calling it a remix for the single release. Why can't you just get the rap on the album version to start with? Then, in a reversal, just as Britney simply re-sang Rihanna's second verse and chorus on "S&M," Ke$ha just re-sings the bridge on "Til The World Ends." She doesn't really add anything! Anyway... see for yourself:

Once again, Britney's album just came out a couple of weeks ago! You're telling me this couldn't have been arranged before that?

I can see the "remix" being necessary for Katy Perry's "E.T." because that's the fourth single from that album, which came out last summer/fall. PS, did you catch her and Kanye on American Idol? (See yesterday's blog. I DO NOT WATCH American Idol willingly!)

At least, every so often someone talented pops up on it.

Anyway, not much else going on, so I'm leaving it at that!

Monday, April 25, 2011

MANic Monday 04-25-11 Sick Day Edition

Ugh. I have been struck down by a mysterious malady. I thought it was the flu, but a. I got a flu shot this year and b. it's the weirdest assortment of symptoms I have ever had before. I'll spare you the icky details, but it's kinda the yuckiest kinda sick you can be. Physically, I feel better than I did yesterday, so that's good, I suppose. Anyhoo...

My complete apathy toward the ingrained-in-our-culture experience that is American Idol is well documented. DO. NOT. CARE. I just don't get it. It's like the pop culture Super Bowl, like EVERYONE in America gets all hyped up on it and it's the finale is always like the highest rated show of the year, and then everyone stops caring and six months later when the winners put out their albums, no one buys them. The End! But David and Dylan love the shit out of it. Dylan for the strangest reason. I noticed this before, that he'd fast forward through the songs and just watch the judges! WHA-?! (Then again, the singing kinda blows... but why watch it at all, then?)
There do tend to be some cute guys on it, though. That one year, there was the bromance between Chris Richardson and Blake Lewis. At least Blake has put out a couple of songs that I actually liked.

But there's one former Idol that I think is downright HAWT, David Cook:
It may be the eyes. He has cute eyes. And round baby cheeks. And sexy lips. He does not have great hair, but I can live with that.
I just wish his music didn't suck so bad! I'd be all over that!

Musically, I think my favorite Idols are the women and then... I think I only like two, Kelly Clarkson ("Since U Been Goooooooooooone!") and Jordin Sparks. So I'll leave you on that note:

Friday, April 22, 2011

WTFriday?! - Say What, Australians?!

"Thor declareth this to be BULLSHIT!!!"
WTF?! Thor and "Fast Five" (Is that the real title?!) opened opposite each other in Australia and Fast Five WON! Who the fuck even likes those stupid movies? I've never even seen ONE of them! I mean, all you gotta say is "starring Paul Walker" and I'm like, "Oh, this is my stop. Lemme off this thing." And throw Vin Diesel and The Rock in the mix it's like they're TRYING to put together the least appealing cast since The Expendables. Well, I've heard Australia referred to as "the Alabama of the world," so maybe that explains it.
So... what does this mean? Fans are geeked up over Thor, but... is it just us? Has the rest of society moved on from the comic book movie genre? But... how? How could they move on from the comic book genre and not the racing cars movie?
And Chris Hemsworth is AUSTRALIAN! I am just stunned and outraged and HOPING that this isn't a sign of things to come!

Also, I wanted to post this on Tuesday, but I forgot, but Tune In to, Glee Presents The Warblers!
The Warblers are my favorite part of Glee as far as music. (I don't care for Kurt being one of them and generally, none of them has a personality.) But they do REAL show choir music with the beat-boxing and harmonizing and all that jazz that makes their music sound so cool and not just like carbon copies of the original versions of those songs. That's what people loved so much about "Don't Stop Believin'" on the first episode, is that the cast were making the "music" vocally (some of it anyway), but when they're just singing the lyrics over real instruments and it sounds just the same as the original, what's the point?
But I'm glad Kurt is returning to McKinley next week. It was kind of stupid having him at a completely different school and therefore making him inaccessible to the main plots and his own plots irrelevant to the rest of the episodes. I'd say they should do a Warbler's spin-off, but like I said, they're kinda boring. They're have to switch things up, I think, in order to make it work. Do they even have names? I just call them black guy with fro, tall blond guy, fat guy, Asian leader guy, black assistant leader guy...

I don't know the context for this performance of "Somewhere Only We Know" from next week's episode, but it makes me sad!

Wow, what are the odds of a full orchestra just sitting there with their instruments?! That's crazy! And HOW MUCH DO I LOVE FINN AND KURT BEING BROTHERS?!?! SO SWEET!!!

Also included on The Warbler's album is "What Kind of Fool." I don't know this song, but I love their version.

And "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?"

And just for the hell of it, he's an encore of "Teenage Dream" the TOP selling Glee song ever!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My Favorite BAND EVER!!! - The Party

Today, I will be showcasing my hands down, favorite pop group from when I was in high school... The Party!The Party are also the group that I mention and no one knows what I'm talking about. Sigh! Every so often, someone will know them and that makes us friends for life! The Party were, from the top of the above picture, going clockwise, Albert Fields, Deedee Magno, Damon Pampolina, Chase Hampton and Tiffini Hale. All five had starred on the Disney Channel's The New Mickey Mouse Club in 1989 before being spun off as a pop group. This was the height of New Kids on the Block mania, and The Party emulated their format with five singers and dancers, but gave the concept a twist by including two female members. (Rumor has it, two other female cast members, Rocqui Herring and Damon's real-life girlfriend Brandy Brown were also considered.)
Their eponymous debut album was the first release by Hollywood Records, a Disney-owned company that today is the home of Miley Cyrus, The Jonas Brothers, Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato... as well as less mainstream artists like the Plain White Ts, Breaking Benjamin, Atreyu and Marie Digby. The Party's first single, "Summer Vacation" was a poppy rap song that only made it to #71 on the Pop chart, but managed to hit #21 on the Dance Chart. Disney heavily promoted the song and it even received plays on MTV.

The group's second single, "I Found Love" produced by Jellybean Benetez, only made it to #79 on the Pop Chart.

Their third single was the R&B flavored "That's Why":

They performed "I Found Love" and "That's Why (The Power Remix)" on Nia Peeples' Party Machine, for the two people who might remember that!

Finally, a fourth single, "Sugar Is Sweet" was released, but failed to chart:

In 1991, they released In The Meantime, In Between Time, a ten-track disc featuring cover songs and remixes (including the That's Why remix above). While not a real "album" it actually ended up being their greatest success, spawning their only Top 40 hit, "In My Dreams" a dance-y cover of the Dokken hair metal song.

This video was released before En Vogue's "My Lovin' (Never Gonna Get It)" video, but there are a lot of similarities, with the colors and the lights in the background. Of course, En Vogue's song was a classic and "In My Dreams" sort of faded into the ether. It did make it to #34 on the Pop Chart and #35 on the Dance Chart. The deejay at one of my favorite bars when I was in college used to play it for me every time I went there, though so YAY!

The rest of the album was poorly produced. The second single, "Private Affair" was heavily remixed before its release.

A third single, a cover of Elvis Costello's "What's So Funny About Peace, Love & Understanding?" was released, with The Party shortening the name to just "Peace, Love & Understanding."

The group enjoyed touring as the opening act for Hi Five, Vanilla Ice and Taylor Dayne.
In 1992, they released their second studio album, Free, which showcased a more mature sound. Super producer Teddy Riley wrote three songs on the album, including the title track, which was the first single.

Dr. Dre... yes THAT Dr. Dre, pre-The Chronic, wrote and produced the song "Let's Get Right Down To It" which was not released as a single. The second and last single from the album, "All About Love" like "Private Affair" was heavily remixed in its single form. The smooth R&B track would have been a perfect match for the radio at the time, but it failed to take off and Hollywood stopped pushing the album.

Despite the great production on the Free album, the group's connection to Disney and their poppy image ultimately kept older fans from embracing them. Also, pop and dance music started to fade by this point and hip hop, R&B and post-grunge rock had become the driving forces in pop music.
Damon was the first to leave the group. Damon was clearly the heart throb of the group, having been the most popular boy on the Mickey Mouse Club. His presence drew the majority of their fan base, but Damon was also the least musically inclined. He rapped on "Summer Vacation" their first single and also had a solo semi-spoken rap called "Ton of Bricks" on their debut, but as time went on, his contributions were less and less.
The majority of solos went to the other members of the group, especially Deedee and Albert, definitely the two strongest singers. They continued performing as a quartet, notably at Disney World, before calling it quits.

After their breakup, Hollywood Records released The Party's Over, Thanks For Coming, like In The Meantime..., a collection of leftover tracks including two more covers, "Hot Fun In The Summertime" and "You Dropped A Bomb On Me" as well as several tracks that were actually solo songs done by the remaining individual members without the others' involvement.
Chase and Tiffani actually returned to host The Mickey Mouse Club in its final two seasons, featuring newcomers Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera. Chase later formed the band Buzzfly, formed his own label and has since released a solo album. Tiffani, many years ago, was rumored to be hosting a revived Mickey Mouse Club, but that never materialized and she has remained out of the public eye. Albert released an album under the name Jeune (half of his middle name Jeunepierre) and continues making music. Damon lived in New York and pursued acting along with his long-time girlfriend Brandy Brown. He recently formed a website hoping to discover new talent and has formed an entertainment agency with his father. His relationship with Brandy lasted 10 years, but he is now married to a woman named Jennifer and has a son named Roman. He and Albert reunited as a hip hop group N'Decent Proposal. Deedee has been the most high profile, starring on Broadway in Miss Saigon in the role of Kim. Deedee was the longest running actress to play that part. She recently starred in the touring production of Wicked as Nessarose opposite her husband Cliffton Hall who played lead Fiyero. The two have a son, Kaeden.
Eeeeee! Here I am with Deedee after seeing her in Wicked! With my bedazzled Party shirt! She was so super sweet and signed all the crap I brought along! Also, she's TINY! Swoon!