I still think it’s amazing that, back in the 80s, it was standard practice to simultaneously launch a comic book along with a cartoon/toy line. These days, comic book characters are bigger than ever, but I’m not so sure that reflects back on the medium itself, but back then it was assumed that kids would want to plunk down the money they didn’t spend on toys on a monthly comic to fill out the story.
Just today, I wrote a post for Marvel.com about the tie-in comic for Star Wars Droids as part of my weekly Star Wars Spotlight column. While researching, I was reminded that the Kenner toys based on this short-lived cartoon were actually pretty rare so this will probably the most I ever see of them. It’s too bad because those vehicles sure look cool!
I found myself with another pile of trades from the library recently and figured I’d write about all four of them. Two of the experiences were great, the others? Not so much. Let’s start with the good!
I’m a big proponent of anthologies in comics. At their best, they’re a great way to both test new talent and also give those with a lot more experience the chance to write or draw a character they don’t otherwise get to spend much time with. Sensation Comics Volume 1 does both and to great effect. This is one of DC’s digital-first books that allows creators to just go wild telling whatever kind of Wonder Woman story they want to from any of her many eras. It was nice to see the pre-New 52 costume so many times for this fan of that bygone era! Continue reading DC Trade Post: Sensation Comics Volume 1, Mad Love & A Few Others
I was pretty excited to hear that TNT is working on a new Tales From The Crypt series produced by M. Night Shyamalan. That show was a huge deal to me as a kid watching the edited versions that would show on my local Fox network. As a kid who had zero interest in horror at the time, it was my first real foray into the genre and I still love it even if it’s a bit over the top (and very 90s) to these days.
It seemed like the perfect time to talk about some of the TFTC toys that came out from that era when this show really took off. Here you can see the Ace 12-inch Cryptkeeper based on the cartoon that was based on the HBO show. I remember seeing these and the more traditional action figures around when I was a kid, but never got any of them. I would definitely drop some coin on this guy if I saw him at a flea market or yard sale, today though.
Unfortunately, toy commercials have become less fun for me over the past year or so. I still love combing through YouTube looking for oldies, but goodies to share here on the site, but modern days ones have become a hassle. Why, you ask? Well, I have a four year old who segued from the nearly commercial-free Disney Channel and PBS to Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network which are packed with spots. With each one comes the inevitable chime of “I want that.” It can be exhausting.
But then we both saw the spot for this fantastic looking Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Giant Leonardo transforming playset and my faith in toy commercials was restored (for about 30 seconds). Just look at this amazing thing. It would be cool if it was simply a giant Ninja Turtle, but with a few flips and snaps you find yourself rolling down a skateboard ramp, avoiding sewer traps and locking up bad guys in jail!
As a kid, I loved and coveted all of the TMNT playsets from the sewer one to the Technodrome because they always looked rad and came packed with action features like that. It’s nice to see Playmates carry on that legacy. The downside? Now I want to not only buy this bad boy, but a ton of modern TMNT action figures to go along with it!
I don’t usually post these commercial compilations, but this is the only place I could find the Ghostbusters commercial with the live action appearance by Frankenstein and Dracula, so feel free to stop after the first entry or go on through the whole thing. I knew that TCT would be tricky when I decided to go vampire themed this week. Vampires were never the star of the show when it came to kids cartoons and toys in the 80s and 90s, so I wasn’t exactly sure which way to go and then I remembered the awesome array of monsters that appeared early on in the Ghostbusters line from Kenner.
I never had either of these fantastic facsimiles of the Universal Monsters, but I still have that Venkman figure with the green ghost that attaches to his chest causing his arms to spin around. Frankly, if these guys are so scared of ghosts as we can plainly see by their action features, maybe they need to rethink their line of work.
When I took to YouTube in search of “1988 toy commercial” I assumed I’d find a good deal of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and G.I. Joe spots to choose from, but it was this Transformers one that caught my attention. Seacons, Sparkabots and Firecons are exactly the kind of names that sucked so many of us into the adventures of the Autobots and Decepticons way back when.
Unlike most of the other posts associated with this year, this is one that I actually remember interacting with at the time, though I had to head over to the incredibly detailed Transformers Wiki to get the finer details. The Seacons consisted of Snaptrap (a turtle), Overbite (shark), Nautilator (lobster), Seawing (manta ray), Scalor (coelacanth) and Tentakil (squid). They joined forces to create Piranacon, a Combiner (which I love). You can read more about them here. Meanwhile, the Sparkabots and Firecons were toys that featured “cold” sparks produced by rolling the wheels back and forth on a hard surface. The good guys included Fizzle, Guzzle and Sizzle while the bad ones were dubbed Cindersaur, Flamefeather and Sparkstalker.
While I never had any of the Seacons (and don’t actually remember them to be honest) it does turn out that I have the Sizzle Sparkabot which has been hanging out in my garage for about a year. I dug him out for the purposes of this post and here he is:
Ol’ Sizzle is much tinier than I remember, but he’s still got that spark!
When I first started blogging back in 2008, it was for the now-defunct Wizard website. Up to that point I wasn’t particularly interested in the format, but seeing some of the other staffers get into it made me think about what I could offer (if anything). I remember heading down to New York Comic Con with a bunch of the writers and editors and asked then-web guru Jim Gibbons about starting my own and he stopped me dead in my tracks with a simple question: what would it be about? I told him I’d think about it and before long I had my angle: Kicking It Old School, a series of posts about older comics, movies, TV shows and the like and why they’re still great. It’s a pretty common type of blog on the ol’ Internets, but Wizard wasn’t doing one at the time so I got the thumb’s up and started at it. When I realized the end was coming for me at the company — and wanted to break out and do my own thing blogging-wise — I copied all those old posts and they can now be read under the KIOS category here on UM.
In a lot of ways, I’ve continued that theme over the years with UM, but I figured it would be fun to jump back into those waters for a full week here on the site by focusing every post this week on media that came out in a particular year. This time around it’s 1988 and I’ve got a lot of fun posts planned that fall into the usual headings of Ad It Up, Toy Commercial Tuesday, Trade Post, Halloween Scene, Friday Fisticuffs and maybe a few others.
Here’s a little photo hodge podge of images to give you an idea of what’s to come!
Why go to all this trouble? First off, I love a good theme. Second, I find that something like this helps focus me when it comes to reading and watching. It’s also fun to start with one particular piece (in this case the first volume of Mike Grell’s Green Arrow ongoing) and then figure out what else I can write about from that same year. It’s also interesting seeing different themes that cross over from comics to movies to music in a particular year. I won’t be doing this all the time, but I hope you guys enjoy the week of posts which begins later today with the return of Ad It Up and one of the greatest comics of all time, which just so happens to have been released in ’88.