Sunday, 15 October 2017

Quick Crappy Review: Grossery Gang Putrid Power Putrid PIzza & Dodgey Donut

I had a bit of a shopping spree:

It was nice, nothing cost that much and all of them brought more satisfaction than any three toys in the store that cost three times their price could/would and you know what’s great? They all (just about) fit October’s Halloween theme – we’ve got mutants, Ghostbusters and Kane, who’s pretty much the wrestling equivalent of Jason Vorhees. So whatever I review I’m good but I’ll be honest I have no idea how I’m gonna review Playmobil or Hasbro style WWF figures so we’ll just deal with the straight-up action figures, I can do that.

Meet the Grossery Gang Putrid Power Action Figures. My knowledge of Grossery Gang before today (whereupon I did some customary research for this post) was that they were one of various bling bag lines that had risen in the wake of the success of Trash Pack, cool but too vast for me to get into when I hadn’t finished my collections of the mini-figure lines that made my childhood a delight yet let alone start on modern lines like Trash Pack or Fungus Amungus or those M.U.S.C.L.E. like alien wrestlers (I forget their name). Turns out they’re produced by Moose Toy (who also make Shopkins and the Ugglys Pet Shop) and are a direct spin-off from Trash Pack that’ve been on sale since last year (2016). My interest in the line was only piqued after the tweets starting making the ‘rounds about their new Putrid Power figures and specifically the characters Putrid Pizza, Dodgey Donut and Fungus Fries (Fries isn’t out yet), why? Well do they look a bit similar to you, like you’ve seen them before? Or you remember them even though they’re new? I don’t think we’ve got any actual confirmation on this but the whole internet has pretty much agreed that if these aren’t direct homages to Food Fighters (specifically Private Pizza, Major Munch and Fat Frenchie) then they might as well be and coincidence is a marvellous thing.

I cannot stress my love of Food Fighters enough, their bizarre concept, their flat out awesome characters, the fact that they’re pretty much dog toys kids are allowed to play with all just make them utter gems to me. So like many others the merest whiff of a tribute, or even a similarity, was enough to make me buy ‘em, it’s taken a little while because the Food Fighter-esque figures have been sold out everywhere I’ve looked, with only the non-Food Fighter-like figures remaining, unloved and unwanted because they didn’t recall a cult-favourite toy line once sold for about a dollar fifty but now I’ve got ‘em so you get my two penn'orth as well, lucky you.

Putrid Pizza was the one of the three I was least excited about getting, simply because he’s such a radical departure from his Food Fighters equivalent (Private Pizza) and I couldn’t figure out why you’d want to avoid a pepperoni eye patch on your pizza man? Now I have him though? I fucking love him and I shall tell you why: while playing about with him I realised he as effectively Food Fighters and Toxic Crusaders combined, that made me like him, but that thought also lead onto the realisation that had Food Fighters been released (or revived) in the 1990s, Putrid Pizza is what they’ve looked like and that made me delighted. Putrid Pizza is effectively filling a whole in my childhood I didn’t know needed filling. He has everything I liked about the 1990s toys I grew up with – detailed and skilled sculpts, bursts of neon paint, whacky themed accessories and actually pretty decent articulation, sure it’s all nostalgia but it’s also all there on PP here.

In comparison I have very little of note to say about Dodgey Donut – possibly because his appeal should be self-evident in the photos: he’s a barely sane doughnut man wielding a nunchuck and drooling slime. I greatly enjoy that his gauntlets/socks are made up of icing and they sure do look and feel like what they’re supposed to be, I wonder if they moulded icing? That sounds messy but worth the effort. DD has a more modern look all over really, and a more realistic feel to him, PP has some damn fine sculpting that really does look like burnt cheese (I want to chew it) but he’s still blasted in various Toxic Crusaders neons whereas the texture and little paint apps on DD make him really look like a doughnut, I want to eat him and don’t feel bad about it. On another note but one related to DD as it’s more obvious with him: these figures are small, technically they’re 3 ¾ inch scale but they’re such bizarre proportions and such a variety of proportions that they seem a lot bigger than they are, this ‘seems better than they are’ carries over to the articulation, there isn’t much there – PP has five joints and DD only four (because he has no neck, being a doughnut) but they’re all ball joints or close facsimiles thereof and all the limbs get a great range though PP’s head doesn’t, it’s less of a ball joint and more of a wobble joint but it’s still a ball joint, it still gets more range than a swivel joint and still makes the toy feel ‘better’ than five points of articulation would feel if they were only swivels.   

Each figure comes with an exclusive Grossery Gang mini-figure – which is a damn sensible idea as far as I’m concerned, it takes the figures from an optional extra to a must-have extra for collectors of the main line – from what I can figure out these are technically the ‘pre-transformed’ versions of the figures, at least for these two. This is the first time I’ve ever handled a Grossery Gang mini-figure and…I don’t like it, they feel like wet cake. I suppose this could be intentional, they are after all supposed to be gross – it’s in the title – but they feel too soft and too wet and I’m sure they’ll degrade over time (and if that’s the case then I can’t understand why any toy company would choose a material that degrades for a toy based around collecting). Aside from the feel though I think they’re adorable and work as a nice counter to their mutated forms, instead of a fearsome pizza and a deranged doughnut we have a sad little pizza slice with all his cheese fallen to the bottom (foreshadowing his action figures’ body) and a confused little half eaten doughnut.

And so this disjointed mess comes to a conclusion and that conclusion is: these were so worth the frustration finding them entailed. They cost £7.99 in the UK, a fair price for a toy their size but damn cheap for their levels of awesomity, sure that awesomity is strongest to a niche market that’s completely outside of the target demographic but if you’re part of that (and I am) £7.99 is fuck all – buy these weirdos friends, buy them so that there may be a second series with burgers, pancakes and hot dogs!  

Monday, 9 October 2017

Top 15 Buffy the Vampire Slayer Episodes

The next medium for our Favourite Haunts series is television, and that can only mean Buffy!
Just in case you don’t know (shame on you!) Buffy the Vampire was a 7 season long American television show created by Joss Whedon and spun off from a movie, also called Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It was a mid-season replacement show in 1997 (meaning the first season is short because it replaced another show that failed) and ran until 2003. The premise is that there is always a Slayer, a girl imbued with powers in order to fight monsters, when one dies another activates and is guided by a Watcher. The titular Buffy is (initially) a highschool student who moves to Sunnydale, California after the events of the movie where her original Watcher was killed – unfortunately Sunnydale sits atop a ‘hellmouth’, a portal and site of huge mystical energy, it is literally a weirdness magnet. So Buffy, along with her best friends Willow and Xander, are drawn back into the world of Slaying, where she’ll stay through high school, into college and then adulthood.
Season 3 of Buffy was showing in the UK when I got into the series, I was in my early teens and it’s pretty much the perfect show for depressed, socially outcast, fucked up teenagers who like monsters and pretty girls, I remain hooked – mostly because nothing’s really changed, I’m not teenager anymore but that’s about it. I like everything about it and it has the bonus of being very useful when I’m suffering from depression: see no matter how bad my life is I can watch Buffy and know that no matter what, it’s not as bad as Buffy’s – if I’m mildly depressed I can watch Season 3, if I’m REALLY depressed I can watch series 6.  
Beneath all the drama and the shipping and Faith's trousers Buffy is a horror show (I think they forgot that every so often too) so it’s perfect for the Halloween season, it even has two episodes set on Halloween that are both fantastic (but not fantastic enough to make this list, the episode ‘Halloween’ only narrowly missed out though) so this is the perfect opportunity for me to knock out a mega-indulgent ‘favourite episodes’ countdown list! Woo! Also, why top 15? Because (spoiler alert) I’ve got two two-parters  in this list and this is ‘episodes’ and no ‘stories’ so technically they’d each take up two slots if we’re being PICKY so to play it safe and get all the episodes I want on the list, it’s a top 15. So are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin:

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Giant-Size Werewolf By Night #2

Welcome to what AFB is doing this October, out of a need for Halloween-y blog content I’ve resorted to just talking about things I’m always happy to talk about and have picked some of my favourite horror-themed things from the quagmire or stuff I enjoy. I’m calling them ‘Favourite Haunts’ because I’m witty like that.  We’re starting off small because I can’t be arsed to make gifs today.  

The first American comic book I ever owned was Giant-Size Werewolf By Night #21.
“That’s a little odd” you may say if you were real, especially once you’re told that I bought it in 1991-ish and it was published in 1974. I’m going to post the cover; I feel this should clear up any questions:

Frankenstein vs the Wolf Man? Fuck yeah! I’m sure a lot of parents would prefer their five year olds never get within 15 feet of a horror movie but as far as my dad, his brother and their father was concerned you are a bad human being if you can’t quote Universal Studios’ Dracula, so they started me off young and I took to these old films instantly, honestly I took anything monster-ish instantly, by 1991-ish I was a confirmed Real Ghostbusters fanatic. Anyway I may have told this tale before but fuck it: my local shops are all built around a roundabout and that roundabout is roughly 11 houses from the house I grew up in, the road it’s on backs onto one of the rows of shops. As a child my mum had dragged me ‘up the top’ one day to do whatever she needed to do, which involved going to the chemist (what is now Boots, it used to be Time Pharmacy back before everything was a chain store). As being in a chemist is crushingly boring for adults let alone children I got permission to hop one or two shops down and visit a charity shop that isn’t there anymore, it was, I think a cat-based charity. In the shop, which always smelt, was a box of various magazines, I’d gone in looking for toys but having seen THAT cover on the top of this little box of periodicals I picked it up, flicked through and asked how much it was, the woman behind the counter gave it to me for free, dismissing it ‘that little thing’, so I have that old lady to thank for decades of being a sad bastard, thanks lady!

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Poundstretcher Halloween Goodies!

It's the first of October! it's Halloween Month! Woot!

Just in case someone from the UK stumbles across this before Halloween 2017: Poundstretcher’s Halloween stock is immense!
Imaginary readers from the UK should hopefully be aware of Poundstretcher even if they’ve never shopped in one, for the imaginary US readers: it’s a slightly more expensive Dollar Tree. It is not known for its quality stock, it’s known for cheap sweets and ugly crap (though to be fair to Poundstretcher I did get most of my Bandai Thundercats figures from one). Today I went to a Poundstretcher because I’m a good son and even better grandson and my mum and nan needed someone who can lift more than a bag of flour – it was so worth it. They only have half an aisle dedicated to Halloween in our Poundstretcher but they have crammed so much good shit into that half an aisle. Of course all of it is still cheap and ugly but that’s totally ok when it’s Halloween, all their cute stuff is cute and all their scary stuff looks like it’s nicked from a really low-rent Ghost Train and that is brilliant. Of course I forgot to take a picture of their display because I’m not very good at this blogging lark even after two years at it but no one reads this stuff so it’s not that important. I did take pictures of what I bought though.

Wall Reliefs!
Can you believe these are the only wall reliefs I’ve found this year? And they were in fucking Poundstretcher. Why the sudden drought of wall reliefs? What could you all possibly have against them manufactures? Wall reliefs kick arse. Nothing says ‘the homeowner has taken their entire inspiration from a ghost train they went on when they were four’ like wall reliefs! I’m doing our Halloween gathering this year and as it’s only a gathering with only about 12 people coming I’m not going all-out and creating an immersive environment (I have done this before) but instead going for ‘Halloween tack’ and these are perfect for that.
My photography skills are pretty piss-poor today (I’m not well) and I apologize to everyone reading this but I’d like to especially apologize to the zombie relief because this picture really doesn’t get across how lumo green his ass (well, head) really is. I’m pretty sure he’s blacklight compatible and yes I do happen to know someone who randomly owns a blacklight, why wouldn’t I have access to a person who just so happens to have one in one of their draws? I’m really not a big zombie fanbut I’m making an exception for Zombie John here, he’s just too damn green not to. I AM a big fan of skulls though and Undead Fred is a skull-shaped revelation, he has R.I.P. carved in to his head and vampire fangs AND he glows in the dark, these cost £1.99 each, such greatness should not be so cheap. Am I being a bit hyperbolic? Fuck it I’ve been looking for wall reliefs and two I found are cool so eat my hyperbole and like the taste.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Supermarket of the Dead

It’s getting near Halloween, and by near I mean about a month – hey if you’re a kid looking forward to Christmas that’s practically tomorrow. I’d like to say that I’ve spent the last month working on spooky posts but I haven’t. I’ve been suffering from a horrible bout of depression and haven’t had the will to do very much except lay in bed, read the internet and occasionally look up wind-up toys, that wind-up toy research day was the height of my activity recently and it only involved…ready for it… reading the internet in bed.  
So no I haven’t got anything in the can and I hate myself for that. But I still want to post something spooky thus I’m going to tell you about one of my dreams! That’ll be fun, I really enjoy those creepy YouTube channels (my favourite is currently Cayleigh Elise) so I’m all up for sitting here telling people about scary things because I enjoy it so why wouldn’t everyone?

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Tomy Pocket Pets, a Brief History

So simple looking, yet so complicated

Yeah this isn’t something I thought I’d be writing about yesterday, let alone being up until quarter part 1 in the morning writing about but here it is and here I am, meet the Pocket Pets. If you haven’t heard of the name ‘Pocket Pets’ that’s ok, neither had I before yesterday, but I can almost guarantee you’ve seen one of the toys Tomy released in the line because moulds for these are still being used forty year later– I know the Owl and Penguin are in stores as of this writing. What Pocket Pets were was one of Tomy’s many lines of small wind-up toys, most of these lines are very simple – one set of toys under one name (i.e. Get-Along Gadgets, Snow Funnies), some might get a second wave (The Not-So Grand Band, Flip Floppers), a sequel line (Kid-A-Long Kids to Kid-A-Longs) or perhaps be re-released later on in say a different colour (Pop Overs) but they’re not very complicated. Pocket Pets on the other hand ARE complicated and I had to write the following down to understand them, because understanding the various releases of wind-up toys is how I spend my Friday nights (I’m so alone). Also because Pocket Pets are the most commonly seen Tomy wind-ups on the secondary market - certainly on eBay – so it was worth doing, so are you sitting comfortably? Then here’s my findings: 

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Say Something Nice: 5 Good Reads by Rob Liefeld

Let’s say something nice!
 Here’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while, and we’re starting with comic book artist Rob Liefeld because if anything’ll show off the premise of this it’s Rob fucking Liefeld. Liefeld has a terrible reputation, the consensus is that his work is
This prick here.
terrible, I think that his work is terrible and I think he’s a horrible human being, not just because I disagree with his political views (he leans right) or for that time when he was forced to leave the company he founded for syphoning funds and talent poaching but because he’s also an egotistical prick. So he’s perfect for what I want to do with my Say Something Nice posts: take a creator I don’t like or who is generally considered suckage incarnate or both and find five things they’ve worked on that didn’t suck – I will be doing Frank Miller.

His artwork summed
up in one cover
So who is this man? Liefeld is a comic book penciller who rose to prominence via work at DC Comics’ Hawk & Dove mini-series and Marvel Comics’ X-Men spin-off series The New Mutants and X-Force becoming a ‘superstar artist’. His career arguably peaked when he and several other Marvel artists left to form Image Comics which would publish their creator-owned works, Liefeld’s book Youngblood launched the company in
1992 and was a huge sales success.

Buuut: a critical success he has never been, his art style is bombastic and energetic but he has a list of issues that start with a basic grasp of anatomy (or lack thereof) and failing at telling a story sequentially and go down to very specific things like not being able to draw hands holding swords and putting too many frown lines on everything – and him avoiding drawing feet any time he can. His successes lead to a slew of imitators though and a slew of comics in a similar style: style over substance when there was no style only third-rate imitators of a man who couldn’t draw. So he had a pretty negative influence on the whole industry as well as sucking at his job. In his favour he has had a couple of positive lasting impressions – he created/co-created long lasting and popular characters Cable, Deadpool, Domino and the second Dove and Youngblood’s success gave Image Comics a great start and whatever you may think (or have heard) about early Image the company has gone on to allow publish dozens of high quality series. Anyway are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.