Sunday, March 30, 2008

Uncle Deadly

Uncle Deadly, part of the Jim Henson's Muppets Exclusive line by Palisades Toys at I haven't bought any other figures in this line, but when I saw this one at Acme Comix I had to get it. I always liked this weird, elusive, dragonish figure on the show, that seemed to hark back to the old fantasy Muppets that used to appear on Saturday Night Live, Skragg and that lot. He came with a transparent skull and Muppet ghost, and there was an alternate Uncle Deadly that was colored grey-white.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Peter Jackson as a Hobbit

Got an e-mail from my friend Tom at Z's Toys & More. The action figure of Peter Jackson as a Hobbit that he had been beating the woods for me had finally come in! All the way from Scotland (for some reason this figure seems to have been more available in Great Britain and its Dominions), it cost a mere $16 including shipping. It was out of the box and lacking some little satchel that came with the figure but that's okay, as I would just open it anyway, and this kept the cost down (I saw some places asking more than a hundred for it).

The sculpt and paint are very nice. Peter Jackson's glasses are great, and the bronze vest and brown coat and pants are a very hobbit-like ensemble. The figure itself makes a bit of a nitpick, though: no real Hobbit has so full a beard. Of the three varieties of Hobbits only the Stoors have any facial hair, and that is a light down on the chin, not anything like Jackson's furry chinpelt.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Lezard Valeth

I'm back from a week in Florida, and here is the first fruits of the harvest I reaped while there. Besides visiting Universal's Islands of Adventure and Disney's Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom, and Animal Kingdom, Yen and I went to the wonderland of Acme Comix ( where we spent all too short a time. But one of the first figures I picked out was a character from a series I've never seen before.

This is Lezard Valeth, from Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth. The action figure line is produced by Square Enix Products. Although the articulation is limited, the sculpt and paint are exquisite, especially considering the size of the figure, which is only about five inches tall, far shorter than other Square Enix figures I've got before. And he has a book, which doesn't seem removable.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Hogsqueal, Dammit

I admit it. I was weak. After all my complaining about 'Jared Grace', the minute I saw the Hogsqueal action figure at Hastings I bought it. $13.99. And it does indeed have all the flaws that seem endemic to this line. The right arm is ratchetty and and loose. The sculpt doesn't seem quite true to the dimensions of the character in the movie. And the tree base is hollow in the back so you can't look at it in the round. So why did I buy it?

Well, it's a fantasy character. And a pig in an overcoat. And my nephew when he saw it lighted up with excitement, and he seems to love the movie of The Spiderwick Chronicles. So I'll let him play with it, and maybe later if he still likes it and the new is rubbed off, maybe I'll let him keep it.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Let Us Gaze Into...The Past!

1975. The Planet of the Apes. Sets, horses and vehicles we could only dream about getting. I mean, $15.79 for a tree house/fort? Outrageous!

Seriously, in the wake of the Mego Star Trek re-issues they are now set to do Planet of the Apes. This picture is from a page in a 1975 Christmas catalog at a great website called Welcome to ( It shows many different Christmas catalogs page by page, and not only can you see the toys at these amazing pre-inflation prices, but by looking at the clothes and 'kitsch' you can really remember what life was like back then.

Monday, March 10, 2008

I'm A Psychiatrist...This Is My Pipe

From Accoutrements at, it's the Carl Jung Action Figure! Part of the company's line of historically and culturally significant action figures (you might remember their latest imbroglio about the Jesus action figure), these toys come as a refreshing difference in a field swamped with superhero, sword fighting, and military themes. After all, you got to have some ordinary-looking people sometimes. And as the Accoutrements website points out, Carl Jung looks like everybody's friendly old grampa.

Quote from the card: "Legacy: Carl Jung was one of the most influential psychiatrists in history. His lifelong devotion to the study of the mind resulted in some seminal theories about the human unconcious that he articulated in numerous articles, essays and books on the subject. He is directly responsible for a great number of psychological concepts including the Collective Unconscious, The Complex, The Archetype, and Introvert/Extrovert."

I also have some vague recollection of him using toys and play in his therapy to help unlock and work through deeply buried issues. But don't quote me on that.

I bought the figure itself at Hastings, for $8.99. It's 5&1/4 inches tall, comes with a brown and gold pipe accessory, and is perhaps the only action figure I've ever seen with a pair of glasses molded to its forehead rather than over its eyes.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Death...And She Has No Hat!

Got the "original" Death from Neil Gaiman's The Sandman yesterday, another DC Direct action figure. This Death has no hat (which was molded to the head on the other figure and couldn't be removed) but did have a rolled umbrella, as per the illustration previously posted. Rather than simply re-running that image, here is a panel showing her saying one of my favorite quotes from 'Facade' in Dream Country.

Terry Pratchett's Death (who is the more traditional skeleton in robes with scythe) says a line very similar in one of the Discworld novels. Pratchett and Gaiman collaborated on the novel Good Omens, and seem to enjoy referencing each other's work now and then. Who wrote it first? Don't know; can't say; daren't speculate.

Thanks again to Tom at Z's Toys for hunting her down for me.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


In an area geared largely to kids, you can imagine that smoking accessories are fairly rare. However, there are a few, mainly coming with action figures made for older audiences. Above are the eight I've collected in 30 years.

First pipe, top row: Came with Davy Jones from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (Neca).
Second pipe, top row: Came with Captain Nemo (Mezco).
Third pipe, top row: A bit of a cheat here. This pipe came with a cheap plastic Topo Gigo mouse from the county fair. We used it for years as a prop in Mego playings.

First pipe, bottom row: This black pipe came with Sherlock Holmes (Accoutrements).
Second pipe, bottom row: This brown and gold pipe came with Carl Jung (Accoutrements).
Third pipe, bottom row: Before Toy Biz came along with the LOTR movie action figures, Toy Vault started a line of figures designed from descriptions from the books. This brown pipe came with their Gimli action figure.
Fourth and fifth pipes, bottom row: These white pipes came with two variant Gandalf figures from Toy Vault. The top of one and the bottom of the other is shown. Interesting detail: the action figures had a little hole placed strategically in the beard so you could actually show him with the pipe in his mouth. The Sherlock Holmes figure has the same thing, but because he has no beard to hide it in the hole looks like a mole on his lip.

This Post dedicated to my friend AlanDP over at The Briar Files (

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Smeagol: Stoor Fisherman

Here he is: Super-poseable Smeagol the Stoor Fisherman, with 22 points of articulation. This is Gollum as he appeared before being corrupted by the Ring, and Andy Serkis's one chance to act in the movie without being painted over with CGI. You can't see it in this picture, but the Ring is molded into the palm of one of his hands.

This is part of Tommy at Z's Toys efforts to help me get the few LOTR figures I don't have. Total price with shipping and whatnot: a little over $17. Hama is on his way, and there's a bid on a Peter Jackson as a Hobbit--from Scotland.

I was amused by the bi-lingual English and French labeling on the packaging; apparently this was sold originally in Canada. Though most of the characters had the same name, Frodo was "Frodon" and Sam Gamgee was "Samsagace".

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Jack and His Box

(Picture above: 'Jack' Lewis and "one of his favorite toys.")
Prince Caspian is right around the corner, the second movie in The Chronicles of Narnia. There will be many new action figures produced, of a greater variety than those made for The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Besides such human characters as the Pevensie children, Prince Caspian, and Miraz, there will be a centaur, a satyr, a faun, a werewolf, a griffin, a dwarf, and Talking Beasts such as Reepicheep and Trufflehunter. In a sense these releases will bring things full circle, since the imaginative world of C. S. Lewis, creator of Narnia, began with a box of toys.
C. S. Lewis (who at the age of four rebelled against his nickname 'Babbsy' and pointed at himself declaring, "He is Jacksie"; and Jacksie or Jack he was ever after to family and friends) and his older brother Warren ('Warnie') developed their imaginary world in the 'little end room' of Little Lea, their childhood home in Ireland. This room was furnished with books, art materials, and of course toys by their loving parents, and in the sacrosanct privacy there the boys wrote, dreamed, and played. The world they created was 'Boxen'.
Warnie was fascinated with India, steamships, and trains, but Jack's interests tended towards knights in armor and 'dressed animals'. They managed to combine the two, and 'India' (an island now, separated from the continent) and 'Animal-land' became Boxen, peopled by characters based on the lead, tin, china, and stuffed animals they kept in boxes in an old trunk.
The playings they had together developed the milieu, but it was Jack who wrote and drew the stories and pictures. Anthropomorphic animals share Boxen with human characters, but the surviving stories show that Boxen contains little of the whimsy, romance, or adventure of Narnia. Instead most of the tales involves politics and social wrangling, reflections of the ordinary 'grown-up' world that was most familiar to the boys. As the Lewis brothers were three years apart in age they boarded at different schools, but the world of Boxen was something they could dive into together whenever they were home for the holidays.
The brothers grew up; Warnie joined the army and Jack went to Oxford. World War One came and went; Jack became a professor at Magdalen College and Warnie shipped overseas to China, but still whenever they went home to Little Lea they went over the relics of Boxen. Jack even went so far as to collate the manuscripts he had written into an Encyclopedia Boxoniana, giving the history and timeline of what they had created. But when their father died and Little Lea had to be sold, changes needed to be faced and decisions made.
Both men were now in their early thirties. Warnie, though half a world away, expressed more concern about what would happen to Boxen than any other material consideration, should Jack have to sell and empty the house before he could return. He had often said, and now repeated in a letter questioning what would happen to their old playthings, how he hated the thought of other children playing with them, as it would alter the meaning he attached to them. Jack wrote him back:
"The trunk in the attic. I entirely agree with you. Our only model for the dealing with our world is the heavenly [Father's] method of dealing with this, and as he has long since announced his intention of ending the universe with a general conflagration, we will follow suit. If you and I are together for it, I should even propose...that we reduce all the characters to their original lead and bury the solid pig that will result. Rolling stock can of course only be buried as you can't melt it except in a furnace. I should not like to make an exception even in favour of Benjamin. After all these characters (like all others) will only live in 'the literature of the period': I fancy that when we look at the actual toys again (a process from which I anticipate no pleasure at all), we shall find the discrepancy between the symbol (remember the outwards and visible form of Hedges, the Beetle--or Bar--or even Hawki) and the character, rather acute. No, Brother. The toys in the trunk are quite plainly corpses. We will resolve them into their elements, as nature will do to us. As to stage sets: I can't remember whether I did come across some and put them in the chest of paper keeps in the study, or whether I merely decided that if I did come across any I would do so. The solid bits--banks, houses, etc.--I think should be burned: but a few side and back sheets should be preserved..." (By which it seems clear there were some 'sets' and scenery included.)
Some months later, the house sold and Warnie back from abroad, the brothers went to Little Lea for the last disposals. Among their chores, Warnie described the final fate of the Boxen toys in his diary:
"Next we took turn about in digging a hole in the vegetable garden in which to put our toys--also a heavy job--and then carried the old attic trunk down and buried them: what struck us most was the scantiness of the material out of which that remarkable world was constructed: by tacit mutual consent the boxes of characters were buried unopened."
But Boxen never really died. Throughout their lives Jack and Warnie returned again and again to the stories, and in reading them could touch their earliest childhood once more. After Jack wrote the Chronicles of Narnia he would sometimes lend out these stories to child friends if they showed an interest. When Jack himself died Warnie was prepared to burn them all, as being too painful to keep, when Walter Hooper, Lewis's one-time secretary, intervened and salvaged what was left of some bundles of papers set for the fire. He has since published what remains of the Boxen tales as Boxen: The Imaginary World of the Young C. S. Lewis.
Who knows what uses some young dreamer might make of the new Narnia toys, with its knights and mythological creatures? Perhaps he'll develop his own mythos, write his own books, and add to the harmless pleasures of the world.
Little Lea, once set in the middle of fields, is now surrounded by houses. In its garden, for seventy-eight years, has moldered the trunk that holds all that is mortal of Boxen.
Let's go dig it up. After all, it's got to be the ultimate Lewis collectible.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Year Without a Santa Claus

When The Year Without a Santa Claus came out, I remember its reception within my family was lukewarm. The general concensus was that it was no Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Over the years, however, it has grown on us, and it seems the general public as well, and has culminated in this set of action figures!

Present of course are Snow Miser and Heat Miser, along with two each of their little clones. The part of the show that everyone remembers are their bragging introductory songs, an old tradition now, alas!, mainly confined to rappers. Santa Claus, in his "civilian" red suit and Mrs. Claus are here, as well as the Laurel-and-Hardy-esque elves, Jingle and Jangle. Accessories include a newspaper (announcing Santa's plan not to come--he's the problem here, people!), a basket with a Santa costume (that Mrs. Claus tries on when she considers subtituting for Santa), and several spare "stuffed" toys including a giraffe, zebra, and elephant.

The figures came three in a box, with accessories. In one box were Santa, Snow Miser and Jangle; in the other Mrs. Claus, Heat Miser and Jingle. At $60 altogether, that breaks down to about $10 per figure, not a bad price at all. The beauty of figures like these is that because they are based on "Animagic" puppets that are to all intents and purposes highly articulated dolls, a perfect likeness can be achieved that is impossible if sculpting from life or graphic animation. And perfect they are, from the watch dangling at Jingle's vest to the spangly fabric of the Miser's jagged shirts.

Many thanks to Tom at Z's Toys for finding me these at such a reasonable price. On the back of the box was also a picture of the line-up of PVC figures that included these six characters and five more from the show: Iggy, Vixen, the Mayor, the Dog Catcher, and Mother Nature.


When I went into Z's Toys and More on Thursday Tom had a surprise for me. As well as having a set of figures I had ordered (more on them later), he had also found me a Jin from Samurai Champloo to go with the Mugen I already have. (See Mugen below for picture.) Jin was $15.99 (compared to Mugen's $9.99 price tag), which reflects, I think, his desirability as a character and therefore his availibility (rarer) as a toy. Fuu, as a female action figure, is rarer still and apparently nowhere to be found right now.

Jin (pronounce jeen) comes with the long sword and the short sword traditional to samurai, a base, and a spare head equipped with "wet weather gear" (looks like a 'do-rag to me).