51 Shades of Geek

Doctor Who: Rose / The End Of The World

The Moxx of Balhoon, Cassandra and the Face of BoeCharacter Options doesn’t seem to have consciously built collections around these specific episodes of Doctor Who, but by coincidence, as their much-loved action figure range grows, the earlier seasons and episodes have been revisited enough that one can put together episode-specific subsets. In the coming weeks we’ll more or less randomly sample some mini-collections from the first two seasons of the new Doctor Who that have emerged. Continue reading

Indiana Jones 2008 Action Figures

Indy PackagingTwo words come to mind when you first see the new line of Indiana Jones action figures from Hasbro: Star Wars. And that’s a good thing. Either in an act of synergy or luck of them winning the likely bidding war, by choosing Hasbro, Lucasfilm practically guaranteed that these figures would be of the classic 3 3/4″ variety and not the increasingly common 5″ or 6″ sizes. And, frankly, as they have shown with their mostly excellent new “Anniversary” line of G.I. Joe figures, this is a great time for Hasbro to relaunch a figure line of this size, thanks to years of development of the Star Wars and pre-Sigma 6 Joes. The Indiana Jones line, encompassing original film (Indiana Jones and the) Raiders of the Lost Ark and the new film, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, takes some inspiration from both Star Wars and G. I. Joe, but leans more heavily on the somewhat less articulate Star Wars line. (More on that later.) Continue reading

The Black Hole Action Figures Wave 1 (1979)

While Kenner may have been the first company to hit paydirt with “mini-action figures” in the 3 3/4″ scale (a scale determined by the size needed to make the accompanying Millennium Falcon toy affordable to both manufacturer and consumers), Mego that ball and ran with it at full speed, producing numerous figures in an identical scale. Formerly known for its large-scale Star Trek figures in the early 1970s – a line which coincided not with the series’ original broadcast, but with its syndication success and the animated series – Mego cleverly decided to try to siphon off some of Kenner’s (and Star Wars‘) market share by creating both licensed and original characters in that scale. The die-cast metal Micronauts led the way, though when Mego won the licenses for TV shows such as Buck Rogers, and movies like Disney’s The Black Hole, those figures were produced in a similar 3 3/4″ scale. Continue reading

Star Wars Action Figures Wave 2 (1979)

Star WarsClick here to see the videoWhat could be better than a dozen action figures from the Star Wars universe, such as it was in 1978? Nothing could be better than almost a dozen new figures in 1979, and what made this possibly the best second wave of any range of action figures ever was the fact that only one of the new figures was a differently-costumed version of a character from the first wave.

What fascinated most of us about Star Wars back in 1978? Two things: aliens ‘n’ droids. The second wave of the original Kenner Star Wars line focused on these, with a few other pleasant surprises thrown in too. Continue reading

Star Wars: Large Scale R2-D2 (1978)

Star Wars R2-D2As has been mentioned before, the size and scale of the Millennium Falcon as a toy vehicle made Kenner reinvent the wheel where character-based action toys for boys were concerned. To keep the price of the Falcon down, both for the company making it and for the people buying it, the figures were scaled down to 3 3/4″, whereas the previous industry standard had been set by foot-tall G.I. Joe figures with more points of articulation, interchangeable costumes and accessories, and so on – basically the boys’ equivalent of Barbie dolls, at roughly the same size (and price point). Continue reading

Doctor Who: Radio Controlled Dalek Battle Pack

Radio Controlled Dalek Battle PackThe first item released in Character Option’s lineup of Doctor Who action figures during the show’s first season back on the air in 2005, the RC Dalek Battle Pack consisted of two Daleks, their respective color-coded radio controllers, and an action figure of either the ninth Doctor or Rose. (Though almost identical to the individually-released figures – the Doctor sports a burgundy-colored sweater, and both figures have a slightly less detailed paint job – these figures beat the individual carded figures to the stores by several months.) The Daleks are the real stars of this box set, and as much as I loved Dapol’s endless fleet of Dalek figures, the attention to detail on these Daleks puts them in a whole different league. Continue reading

Doctor Who: Wave 1 TARDIS Travelers

Doctor Who action figuresIn 2000, I wrote what I fully expected to have been my last Doctor Who toy review as Dapol gave up the ghost with a final box set of Dalek variations. If someone had told me at that time that I’d be getting the first wave of an incredibly detailed new line of Doctor Who action figures six years later, I would’ve told them they were crazier than the Master. And then I would’ve placed my pre-order.

Actually, I probably would’ve placed the order first. Continue reading

The Black Hole: Old BOB Kubrick

Old BOBI’ll admit it. The Black Hole is less of a guilty cinematic pleasure for me, and probably more along the lines of a harmless obsession. When I saw this then-shocking PG-rated Disney movie at the age of seven, the thought of Maximillian drilling folks to death terrified me – this wasn’t make-believe stuff here like Star Wars, because my dad had a drill in his workshop! But I also knew that, if it came to that big red behemoth chasing me, VINCENT and Old BOB wouldn’t let me down. They’d have me covered. They’d know what to do. Because they were the two coolest movie robots to come down the pike since R2-D2. I later outgrew my abject fears about the movie’s most violent scene, but found that my affinity for its two robotic heroes never quite waned. Most accounts of the making of the movie have pinpointed these two hovering robots as the source of countless production difficulties, since the props were heavy enough to require piano wire to suspend them, and the piano wire then had to be optically hidden in as many shots as possible – back in the day when you couldn’t just “run it through the computer” to accomplish that. Ever notice how many opportunities the director took to get close enough that you couldn’t really see the robots floating in mid-air?

Continue reading

Star Wars: Jedi Council Cinema Scenes (2003)

Judging from the product shots, it looks like the most recent Star Wars Jedi Council three-packs contain repackaged figures. It’s a pity (but, in the current economy, probably a cost-cutting, inventory-clearing necessity), because the first two three-packs in this line were so refreshingly new.

Not really sticking to any one time frame, these Hasbro three-packs consist of two seats (with two seated characters and a third standing) from the movies’ Jedi Council scenes, dividing the circular Council room contingent into pie slices. One could, in theory, collect ’em all and wind up with the whole circle. (I’m sure that’s what Hasbro would like collectors to do, at any rate.) Continue reading

Return Of The Jedi Wave 2 (1983)

The second wave of figures from the last new Star Wars film for nearly two decades was thick with Ewoks. Little furry dudes were crawlin’ all over this line of figures. But if, like me (and remember, I also think Jar Jar is pretty cool), you were enthralled by those tree-dwelling, AT-ST-toppling teddy bears from Endor, that meant this was the coolest wave of Star Wars figures ever. Continue reading