Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Villain Retrospect - The Misfits

After T-Ray's depressing showing last week, I decided to go with something different.  Something outrageous.  Truly, truly, truly outrageous.  That's right, it's the joke everyone uses when they talk about Jem and the Holograms.

Image via Wikipedia
Based on a toyline designed to compete with Mattel's Barbie and the Rockers line, Hasbro created a cartoon featuring two dueling rock bands full of huge 80s hair, face paint, and attitude.  In a market filled with giant robots blasting lasers at each other and muscle-bound heroes waving swords around, Jem (as it was officially called) was a show that attracted a mostly untapped market - girls that were too old for Carebears and Rainbow Brite.  But, I'd say the cartoon did more than that, considering me, as a boy that loved the former cartoons, still loved watching this show as well.  The music was decent and the characters were still put in pretty fantastical situations.  I'll even admit I had a thing for Kimber, and I doubt I was the only one.

Jem focused on Jerrica Benton, heir to the Starlight music industry after her father died in the first minute of the show!  Okay, he died before then, but the first scene is at his funeral, so that's still a pretty dark introduction.  Still not as bad as Wildfire though. Along with the recording company, she received the Starlight House, an orphanage full of radically-dressed girls. When she needs money, she goes to her dad's company, only to be blocked from the money by his former partner, Eric Raymond, who plans to take the business to himself.  He sets up a phony rock competition, hires a bunch of crappy bands, and sets up his own band to win - the Misfits.  Jerrica finds a hologram machine named Synergy and creates an alter-ego named Jem to compete in the band and win her company back.  It's a pretty standard premise, but filled with a ton of mortal danger because of Eric's and the Misfit's total lack of regard for human life.
Image via Women Write About Comics
Throughout the show, the Misfits (from left, Stormer, Pizazz, and Roxy) try to sabotage the Holograms, committing petty thefts and vandalism that routinely endanger the rival band's very lives.  In the first episode, they steal the Hologram's musical equipment and during a chase, throw the guitars and speakers in the road in front of Jem's Rockin' Roadster, causing the vehicle to spin off the road and almost drive off a freaking cliff.  The very next episode, while trying to stop the Starlight kids from moving into a prize mansion, Roxy climbs into a bull dozer to wreck the place and almost crushes one of the Holograms.  The Misfits don't stop there, resorting to kidnapping and seducing a minor with alcohol.  Okay no, it was a glass of milk, but still, you know what happened.  At least Stormer appears to have a sliver of kindness in her heart, helping Ashley escape being crushed to death in a trunk and admitting she's only going along with the others out of peer pressure.

Image via Jem Wiki
Not to be beaten by mere harassment gone wrong, their manager Eric goes the extra mile to not only end Jerrica's threat to his business, he actively tries to kill her.  He sends a goon named Zipper into the Starlight House where Jerrica and her band lives with all the orphans and he lights the place on fire and burns it to the ground.  Sure, Eric only told him to "make her nervous" but that sounds more like plausible deniability to me.  To top that, he puts a bomb in the mansion the Starlight kids move into.  Let me remind you, all of this happens in the span of a few days.  That's four potential death - the car crash, the fire, the bulldozer, and the bomb - in 48 hours.  How are these people not in jail?!

Image via Rampage Productions
Let's forget the constant harassment and death threats and look at what's really important: the music.  Every episode featured three songs, and generally the Misfits only got one.  Compared to the dreamy tones that Jem and the Holograms sung, the Misfits's songs were screechy and filled with self-centered lyrics about taking what they want and, I don't know, kicking puppies.  I did notice that their music had more instances of just repeating the name of the song over and over again.  I think their first sing was just the title sung a dozen times in a row.  While riding guitar-shaped motorcycles around a small office and almost running Jerrica over.  Five attempted murders!

Let's get to the ratings!
Coolness - 5. In a cartoon full of glitter and heavy eye shadow, the Misfits tend to look a little less cutesy than the Holograms.  Though there's still a ton of pink to be found on them, it's not the primary color and often paired with a darker color.  Together, they're voiced by Ellen Bernfeld (Pizazz), Samantha Paris (Roxy), and Susan Blu (Stormer). While Ellen doesn't have any other cartoon credits, and Samantha only voiced Rock-1 from Bionic Six, Susan Blu is a queen of voice actors, having voiced Arcee from Transformers and a ton of other female characters in the 80s, along with being a casting director in many more recent cartoons. As for Eric, he's voiced by the ever-present Charlie Adler, most recently known for voicing Starscream in the live-action Transformers movie and Silverbolt in the cartoon series.  Unfortunately, with the exception of Stormer, the voices are pretty generic: I couldn't tell the difference between the other two Misfits and Eric's voice is the usual evil guy and just doesn't compare to more popular villains like Frank Welker, Chris Latta, or even Peter Cullen. Though their music wasn't always as good as Jem's, it also didn't make me feel sick to my stomach as much as her sugary-sweet lyrics.
Effectiveness - 6. Obviously, I can't rate these ladies on the same scale as other villains like Genghis Rex or Hordak. They don't have powers or magic or anything.  They're just really mean people with no regard for the law or human life.  They take advantage of everyone they can and make threats that even grown adults cower from.  So I guess in that regard, they're pretty effective.  Their plans don't always go the way they want them to, but they never seem to blow up in their face.  They never have to face any real consequences.  The same goes for Eric.  After multiple attempts of murder, the only bad thing that happens is losing his job at Starlight Records.  This is even after the police catch him holding the Holograms hostage and are shown putting the cuffs on him.  Seriously, how are these people not locked up?

Friday, February 24, 2017

Flashback Friday: Defenders of Dino City

Today, I'm sharing the first part of the Defenders of Dino City cartoon.  The show centers on a lost city that was inhabited by educated dinosaurs and protected by the spirit of Bronn, a ghostly Brontosaurus. When a misguided archeologist discovers it and its time portal within, Bronn summons the Defenders to come protect it from falling in the wrong hands.  The Defenders are evolved reptiles and amphibians imbued with magical powers based on the elements.

I based the majority of this cartoon off Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Dinosaucers and a cartoon that doesn't fit in the Old School Evil time frame, Captain Planet. I really enjoyed Ted Turner's environmentally-friendly anti-pollution propaganda show, mainly because of its use of elemental control powers that the Planeteers' rings gave them.  I'm a sucker for Earth, Water, Air, and Fire (it's no wonder that the much later Avatar: The Last Airbender cartoon is one of my all-time favorite television shows) and I even tried writing some of my first fan-fiction about it, some wholly embarrassing stuff that had elementals fighting the Planeteers for control of their elements.  Anyway, I decided to blend a bit of that with the mutant antics of the Turtles and expanded it to include a couple other reptiles and amphibians.

The image above is a rough idea for the cartoon, but I'm not particularly happy with it.  While I like the dinosaur neck and stone tower image, the font doesn't work to well with it and I'm not sure of the colors I want to use.  Check out the first half of the production bible and let me know what colors you think would work best.  I'd be happy to hear any other advice on the show as well.  Thanks for visiting!

Defenders of Dino City Production Bible
                When an archeologist stumbles upon the ruins of Dino City during a dig, the Defenders are called up to stop him from pillaging the skeletons of its once mighty denizens.  Bronn, the spirit watching over the city, calls upon the descendants of the dinosaurs, today’s reptiles and amphibians, to protect their sacred relics.  The Defenders are evolved lizards and such from across the globe and are able to use magic to defend against Professor Rex’s dinosaur army, the Terrorsaurs.
                Professor Rex was able to use the few bones he escaped with to create the Terrorsaurs, an army of dinosaur/human hybrids.  He fights against the Defenders to find the true treasure of Dino City – a door to the past that would allow dinosaurs to invade our time.
General Series Concepts
                The cartoon’s resounding message is teaching children about worldly culture through the Defenders.  Each Defender is from a different home with its own culture and each should represent it to its fullest potential.  On a regular basis, the Defenders should be referencing their homes and teaching each other lessons about them. 
                Each Defender is tied to a certain element and has magic based on that.  Please limit the use of their power to creating bubbles around them – the figures planned will have snap-on “armor” made to resemble their element.  There is some leeway with what the magic can do though, as long as it is not too big in scope or two crazy. Throwing fireballs is okay; a giant water monster is not.
                The Terrorsaurs are all physical fighters – as such, they will not use any long-range weapon.  No guns, no missiles, nothing.  They each have a play feature that should be used as their signature attack.  They will be listed below in their character descriptions.
                The Defenders are all very spiritual creatures as well as magical and can use their magic to summon creatures from their past.  The snap-on “armor” of the toys will match the look of these creatures.  They are not all good friends, having just met each other, and will learn things about each other through each episode.  They will sometimes clash, but with the help of Bronn and Terry, will work through it.
Salimandro – A salamander from eastern Asia.  He wears robes like a monk.  He is the calm and wise leader of the group and meditates on plans of action – sometimes he learns things through his meditations, like seeing with a third eye.  His spirit animal is a dragon, his element is fire.
Chamelo – A chameleon from Japan.  She’s dressed in a Kimono.  She’s the friendliest of the group and acts as a mediator between Salimandro and Amphibios when they’re fighting.  She talks in haikus.  She can become invisible and is very sneaky.  Her spirit animal is a white winged dragon, her element is air.
Amphibios – A poison arrow frog from South America.  He doesn’t wear a lot besides a loincloth and some bands around his arms and legs.  He’s extremely angry about trespassers in his territory.  Quick to fight, even with his fellow Defenders.  He can breathe underwater indefinitely.  His spirit animal is a giant toad, his element if water.
Tortoso – A tortoise from North America.  He weathers leather leggings and wooden armor.  He’s slow, wise and speaks in riddles.  He’s the oldest of the group.  Amphibios gets really tired of how slow he speaks.  He is able to turn himself into stone.  His spirit animal is a giant turtle with a tree on its shell, his element is earth.
Bronn – The ghost of a Brontosaurus that watches over Dino City.  As a ghost, he cannot do anything himself, but he was the one who imbued them with their magic and evolved them.  He’s as big as the dinosaur is and acts as the alarm for any danger in Dino City.  He can see a little outside of the city, but cannot act on it.
Terry – The last remaining dinosaur, a pterodactyl that Bronn watches over.  He’s super excited to see things from outside the city and although Bronn tries to keep him from leaving the city, he sometimes sneaks out.  He says “Cree-cree” after everything, and wears goggles and a scarf.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Wednesday Wrap-Up: 2/22/17

Due to a family visit this weekend, I wasn't able to accomplish much besides some research on getting my own domain name. 

Along with sharing what progress I've made on Old School Evil each week, I'm going to start setting goals for myself.  For this week, I'm going to create wireframes for two other models, Hammer Slammer and Sawhorse from the Citizen Robo cartoon.  After that, I'll redo the Force Bolter wireframe, along with a model for 'Big Shot mode', and all that leaves is Lead Tentacle.  I should be able to get them all done this week and hopefully arrange the blog title image soon after that.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Villain Retrospect - T-Ray (and the Fall of Rankin Bass)

Rankin Bass was riding a high.  Thundercats, the 1985 cartoon was a huge success - human/cat hybrids with special powers and magical weapons fighting a muscle-bound mummy.  Next year, they bring us Silverhawks, men and women wearing bird-themed armor that lets them fly in the vacuum of space even with bare skin that fight to stop a space mafia boss that rides a squid.  Not as big a success, but still popular.  And then, Rankin-Bass follows that up with.... Tigersharks.

Tigersharks didn't warrant its own show, instead being paired up with three very cartoony shows that most closely resembles Heathcliff and Richie Rich called the Comic Strip. Tigersharks doesn't belong with the rest of the shows, but it certainly isn't good enough to get its own show.  The cartoon follows the adventures of a salvage crew called the Tigersharks that goes to the planet Water-o to retrieve some explosives.  They weren't escaping a dying planet or part of a federal protection agency.  These guys just show up and somehow get involved in with the villains of the show.  They aren't heroes in any regard.  But they have a special device that lets them turn into aquatic animals that conveniently match their ridiculous names (though no less ridiculous that Lion-O, if I'm being honest), so they get a show named after them.  In fact, it's kinda weird here that they only sometimes have their anthropomorphic forms instead of always looking like half-human/half-animals like the Thundercats.

Anyway, we're not here to talk about the heroes, let's get to the villains.  Or what try to fill the role at least.  The big guy to our right is T-Ray and leader of the Mantannas.  In the very beginning of the show, he arrives on Water-o, sees some ice and shoots it for no reason.  Seriously, he just says to shoot it.  Anyway, it happens to free a stitched up dragon named Dragonstein and its master, Captain Bizzarly, who immediately attack T-Ray, who immediately surrenders to him.  I am not kidding here, the first thing T-Ray does as villain of the show, the very first scene in the show no less, is free another villain and give himself up to it.  That's pathetic!  Throughout what I could see of the show, he does nothing more than that either.  At some point the team-up captures one of the Tigersharks, before he even knew what a Tigershark was, but he gets freed without any conflict.  T-ray doesn't even lift a fin to stop them.
His crew isn't any better, consisting of Wall-Eye up there and these two idiots, Carper and Weakfish, seen here losing a fight to the Tigershark's pet, Guppy.  These two are the absolute worst characters I've seen in a cartoon, making Snarf and the Copper Kidd look like Shakespeare in comparison.  And this is about a third of T-ray's crew, the rest being made up of Shad and Dredge, the former who actually yells at T-Ray what to do, like getting out of enemy range, and the latter, who doesn't show up in the few episodes I've seen and I've only found in Wikipedia.
That's something that I need to bring up as well.  I normally have to rely on YouTube to find episodes of the more obscure cartoons I watch for Old School Evil.  When there aren't any there, I go to a few other sites, like WatchCartoonsOnline or KissCartoons.  But besides the first two episodes, which were listed under the Comic Strip, Tigersharks is nowhere to be seen online.  I was able to watch a total of three episodes, and the last one didn't feature T-Ray in them; instead Bizzarly's crew was the antagonist.  Not that there'd be any real demand for the show to be released on dvd, but surely there has to be a way to get more online.  Another point of how lackluster demand is for the show, is that IMDB, the site I go to check casting for shows like this, has four cast members listed and only one of them has the role listed as well. 

This show is truly being forgotten, some may say for good reason, but it makes me sad because it was still a part of most of our childhood.  I still enjoyed watching it, even if I didn't get a chance to as a kid.  No matter the quality, or lack thereof, this show deserves to be remembered along side at least its brethren, Thundercats and Silverhawks.  Even if it were a bonus on their boxed sets.  Maybe watching the whole thing would redeem it a bit in our eyes, or give us a lot of laughs, but we should have that opportunity to find out. There is a petition to get it released and though it hasn't garnered many signatures, it still deserves some attention, so go here to sign.  I did!

Anyway, let's rate this guy.
Coolness - 1. T-Ray doesn't have a lot going for him.  He's got a high-pitched voice but I cannot place who provides it.  He doesn't demonstrate a lot of ability in the few episodes I watched and accomplishes practically nothing after joining forces with Bizzarly.  The picture to the right?  That's about as dynamic as he gets, knocked down when his ship is hit.  I have no idea if he even has powers, and considering Mumm-ra and Mon*Star did, I thought he'd be able to do something. The only reason he gets even 1 point for coolness is because compared to the rest of his crew, he's looks decent.  It's not a high mark.
Effectiveness - 0. I'd go negative if I could. 

I wanted to give a big thank you to Saturday Mourning Cartoons for their Tigersharks episode. Considering what little I could find about the Tigersharks myself, I appreciated the information and insight they provided.  It's a fantastic podcast that takes looks at the show's cast and theme song (which is just as ridiculous as the rest of the show).  Check them out here and tell them I sent you.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Flashback Friday: Big Gun

It's Ultra City Ultra Twins - Part II!  Today, we're taking a look at the villains and episodes from the cartoon, including Big Gun right here!  This is a rough draft and I'm a bit rusty on my sketches, but this is basically what he looks like.  He's a punk in the vein of Rocksteady and Bebop from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but with an incredibly powerful weapon.  As the cartoon focuses on the dangers of guns, each of the villains is taken over by their weapons.  In the case of Big Gun here, the Force Bolter grows big enough to encase his entire arm and turn him into a living cannon every time he calls out "Big Shot mode!"  When I created this guy, he was a combination of Megatron - with the Big Shot mode replicating his Fusion Cannon - and Cobra Commander, though I dropped the army of robots idea I got from him.  Instead, he's taken inspiration from Cy-Kill, with a similarly shape-changing motorcycle called the Faster Blaster.  Big Gun here plays a big part in the Old School Evil novels, being one of the retired villains, along with being the father to one of the main characters.  He's got a great smart-ass attitude that was a blast to write opposing the serious and stern Max Malice.
Ultra City Ultra Twins had a number of bad guys, but no main villains leading them, which would have probably disqualified it from the villain retrospectives I'm doing here on the blog.  Still, I enjoyed coming up with all of them and making them fit the "guns are bad" theme.  Check them out below, and let me know which one you like best.
Big Gun - Hi-tech pistol-powered bank robber.  Interested only in money.  He's a punk of the usual caliber - purple Mohawk, wrap-around shades, earrings, and a shiny silver jacket.  Talks 'street.' He's extremely arrogant, can't help but show off during a robbery.  Usually flashing a smile at the security camera.  Has a theme song he hums to himself.
Weapon - Force Bolter - A futuristic pistol that shoots laser beans.  In Big Gun's powered "Big Shot Mode," the gun turns into a cannon that engulfs his whole arm and gives him armor covering his chest.
Ride - Faster Blaster - A motorcycle modeled after the gun that can convert into a robot.  The robot acts like a butler - a snooty one.  In robot mode, it does nothing but whine - it does not help Big Gun in anyway except as an escape.
Sidewinder - A down on his luck guy that steals to get by.  He's always arguing with himself whether he should steal or not and finds himself losing the argument.  He's kind of tragic, but when he's successful, he's glad he did it, so he's not so guilty.
Weapon - Sidewinder - A haunted Civil War-era pistol.  Normally it shoots fireballs instead of bullets.  Inside the gun resides a ghost - the actual 'Sidewinder' who talks like a stereotypical cowboy.  In powered mode, the Sidewinder takes over and he becomes a real ghost.
Ride - Coppermane - A skeletal horse covered in flames.  There's no personality.  Coppermane can fly.
Over-Under - A man that's been turned into a cyborg.  His arms and legs are all mechanical and can split into several different limbs.  He's interested in any kind of scientific or electrical treasures he can find to increase his powers.  He's got an Australian accent and acts like road warrior from an apocalyptic future.
Weapon - Buckshot - A shotgun that can fire pellets of practically any type - fire, ice, etc.  His powered mode allows his gun to split into two different weapons and he does too - his waist separates from his torso, each half holding the weapon.
Ride - He doesn't have a specific vehicle or ride, but when he breaks into his individual parts, the top half can fly and the lower half can drill into the ground to escape.
The Bazooka Bros - Billy and Bart Bazooka are twin brothers that stole a giant rocket launcher from a military facility they were guarding.  They stole it just so they can create havoc by blowing things up.  Both are dressed in military uniforms with helmets that cover their eyes, and they talk in military jargon all the time.  Both are incredibly short - standing on each other's shoulders only makes them Shaya's height.
Weapon - Big Bertha - Though each of the brothers carries a rocket launcher, it's only considered Big Bertha in its powered mode, when the two are combined together.  Alone they fire regular rockets, but as Big Bertha, they can shoot cluster or heat-seeking rockets.
Ride - Big Bertha - When combined, the two can actually mount the rocket and fly away when it launches a missile.
The Gamemaster - The only female villain, she's a hunter of exotic trophies.  She's dressed in typical desert hunting camo and speaks in an African accent.  She's the smartest of all the villains and the only one to really wait for her chance to steal or catch her target.
Weapon - Mongoose - A magic-enhanced sniper rifle.  Usually it only shoots tranquilizer darts, but can fire regular bullets to break objects.  In its powered mode, it allows her to see through walls and it's bullets are able to turn corners.
Vehicle - She doesn't have any specific vehicle, but usually calls on an animal to help her escape.  It can be an elephant, a hawk, or even a lion - she's tamed them all.  All she has to do is blow a whistle.
Big Gun steals a diamond from a museum and finds that it can amplify his lasers in Big Shot mode.  However, he becomes increasingly angrier and more destructive the longer the diamond is in.  Shaya tries to stop him but she's knocked out of commission.  Can Simon figure out a way to shut down Big Gun long enough to steal the diamond back?
Sidewinder the ghost starts to possess his host while he sleeps, robbing trains in the middle of the night of whatever cargo it has.  Exhausted during the day, the host presents to the police station to turn himself in in exchange for help, but the ghost takes over and traps all the police officers in the station.  Can Simon and Shaya figure out a way in before Sidewinder burns the whole place down?
The Gamesmaster is in town and wants a new trophy - Sgt Bosco, the man who captured her father, the original Gamesmaster.  She captures the Ultra Twins and lays her trap for him.  Can the Ultra Twins escape in time to save Sgt Bosco from her trap?
The Bazooka Bros have a bet going to who can blow up the most important attraction in the city.  Simon and Shaya split up to stop them before realizing they can't change their suits while they're separated.  Can they stop both brothers while in their less powerful suits?
Over-Under has robbed a computer factory and gotten away with a super computer chip that allows him to split into more than two pieces.  His parts go on a rampage through town, destroying everything because he can't control them when there's too many.  Shaya goes after the smaller parts, but can Simon shut down Over-Under before all the pieces overload and blow up?
Sidewinder and Big Gun team up to rob the biggest train in the world and the gold deposit on it.  Things get worse when the Sidewinder ghost switches to the Force Bolter and Big Gun is possessed.  Can Simon and Shaya stop the combined power of both weapons in time to stop the train from going over the incomplete Ultra River Bridge?
Over-Under, Big Gun, and the Bazooka Bros are robbing the military command post and stealing millions of dollars in weapons.  Simon and Shaya show up to stop them, but during the fight, a nuclear missile is launched.  Can the combined powers of the Ultra Twins and their enemies stop the missile from hitting Ultra City?
The Gamesmaster is after a new trophy - Sidewinder!  The Gamsmaster finds Sidewinder's host, but his gun in nowhere to be found, as he finally got rid of it.  He askd for help from the police in keeping himself safe, but she's able to follow him there.  Can Simon and Shaya keep the host safe before he gets the gun back and goes after Gamesmaster himself?
After another defeat, Over-Under wants a new more powerful weapon - and goes after Dr Drive to get it.  Simon and Shaya are visiting him when Over-Under attacks and they can't use their badges without giving away their identities.  Can the Ultra Twins stop him without their suits while keeping their identities secret?
After Big Gun escapes another robbery, Shaya tries to get Simon to increase the powers in her badge.  When he refuses, she starts to tinker with them and locks herself in Detective mode and Simon in SWAT mode.  Big Gun strikes again, can the Ultra Twins stop him in the modes they're least familiar with?
The Bazooka Bros attack the local football stadium, and when the building collapses on them, they're separated under the rubble with each of the Ultra Twins.  The Bros just want t blow their way out, but if they try, the rest of the building will crush them.  Can Simon convince the Bros and Shaya that they need a plan as escape before they're buried alive?
The Gamesmaster wants one more trophy - Shaya Stryker.  She captures her at high school where she can't use her badge.  Simon, who stayed home sick that day, has to fight his way in to save Shaya and the rest of the students, but his powers aren't working correctly because he's sick.  Can he keep his powers under control long enough to save everyone and defeat the Gamesmaster alone?
All five villains decide to join forces to defeat the Ultra Twins once and for all.  They attack the police station and find out that neither of the Ultra Twins are actually police officers.  Turns out that all of them were hired by Captain Cross to retrieve the badges for the police station.  Can Simon and Shaya defeat all their villains together with the help of Sgt Bosco and Dr Drive, without exposing their identities to the whole force?

Thursday, February 16, 2017


Disclaimer: I'm a shitty photographer. 
For my birthday yesterday, I took a trip to the local museum with a special exhibit - Toytopia!  It wasn't the biggest display of toys, and didn't have much at all of the precious 80s toys as I had hoped, but it was a cool place to spend thirty minutes checking out the history of the toys we all held dear.

First, you get a view of the wall above that showed off toys of the decades.  It did have some cool display items, like a vintage stuffed Mickey Mouse, and the figures to the right.

http://tfwiki.net/wiki/Wheeljack_(Prime)#Beast_HuntersFunnily enough, they have a picture of a Transformer below the 1980-90 display, but it's a figure that was released in 2013!  Beast Hunters Wheeljack, what a strange picture to use.  There was a small section that talked about Transformers elsewhere, but I was disappointed that there were no G1 figures on display.

There are a ton of other cool displays, like a Zoltar and floor piano similar to those in the movie Big, a video arcade with some really loud games, a giant Monopoly board and even bigger car token.
There was a huge showing of Lego there, including a wall of minifigures, a train set that was half Lionel and half Lego, and a big Batmobile.

Most surprising, though, was the huge showing of Hasbro's Kre-o line. 

Each Lego/Kre-o stand had drawers so kids could build their own creations.  But I think many of the loose bricks, if not all of them, were Kre-o bricks.

There are even a few GI Joe Kre-ons in there!
Overall, it was a great trip and a lot of fun to see some of the cool displays they had, including one that talked about the worth of old toys now.  If you see it coming through your town, take a look, you might find some interesting stuff.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Wednesday Wrap-Up: 2/15/17

Since finishing Titanium Horn from Zane and the Wild Zoobots, I've been hard at work using the completed models for their first intended purpose: a new blog title.
This is the original blog image I was working with.  I had a few wireframe renders of the Force Bolter from Ultra City Ultra Twins with the Old School Evil title.  It worked for the time being, but I didn't want the Force Bolter being the signature device for the whole series.  It plays a big part in the books, but we all know that cartoon bad guys had a lot of different devices in the works, between weather dominators, mind control helmets, and giant purple griffins (yeah, I'm not letting that one go, Megatron).  So I want to highlight a few of the machines that would have littered the drawing board.  Along with the usual result: a big red X when it blew up in their faces.  Here's the first sample of the new and improved blog title image.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Villain Retrospect - Queen of the Crown

The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers was a joint venture by American and Japanese studios to create an original space opera cartoon in the vein of adaptations like Voltron and Robotech. After watching a couple of issues, it's apparent they succeeded in a lot of aspects and not so much in a few others.  The cartoon's production quality is pretty astounding compared to its peers, with high-quality animation in almost all aspects (including osme of the earliest 3D animation I've ever seen in a cartoon, even if it's relegated to the ships' computer AIs.  The characters are a good mix of American and Japanese sensibilities, with a focus on western gun-slinging and horse-riding heroes each with their own super-powers, like cybernetics or telepathic powers.  It's got an overarcing story with a number of side characters and recurring villains.

Of course, that brings us to the main bad guy of the show - the Queen of the Crown.  She's the leader of the Crown Empire and rules a large portion of the galaxy as an evil tyrant.  She captures alien races and steal their life force to create Psychocrystals.  The crystal manifest Slaver Lords, which she can control remotely and see what they see, allowing her to be almost everywhere.  The power she gets from each race differs, but she soon discovers humans supply her with much more than any other race.
Image via the Loony Archivist
Unfortunately, since I've only started watching this cartoon now, I don't have much of an impression of the Queen.  I've watched six episodes now and while the Queen is mentioned in all of them so far, she's only made an appearance in two of them.  What I have seen of her though is pretty brutal - stealing the Ranger Foxx's wife and creating a Slaver Lord from her.  Though he's able to retrieve her body, he isn't able to wake her from the coma the Psychocrystal process puts her in.  Not to mention that she can see everything the Rangers do since she's connected to the other half of the Psychocrystal still attached to her chest, so he has to put her in deep freeze to keep them from the Queen's sight.  It's dark as heck if you think about it, and I read that by the end of the 65-episode series, he's still not able to restore her.  Some of these cartoons end on a severely dark slant.

The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers is a much different cartoon than the ones I generally watched.  I'm used to the 30-minute toy commercials, with the good guys winning over the same bad guys every episode.  Optimus Prime constantly kicking Megatron's ass and the like. Galaxy Rangers does something completely different, with a huge cast of characters and stories that sometimes take multiple episodes to resolve.  I'm not even sure how to rate her since I haven't been able to see much of her.

Let's rate her anyway.
Coolness - 5. She takes a lot of her visual cues from more popular queens: just like how Lady Diabolyn looks similar to Maleficent, the Queen of the Crown shares her look with Snow White's step-mother.  It's different enough that I don't mind the similarities, especially when she's speaking through a Slaver Lord and her face is super-imposed over it.  Her voice is just as similar as her look to the typical evil queen and is provided by Corinne Orr, whose other main role was Trixie in Speed Racer.  In fact, there's not a lot of voice actors on here that have appeared on other 80s shows, like Frank Welker, Peter Cullen, or Chris Latta.  The only actor I did recognize was Captain Kidd's Earl Hammond, who voiced both Mumm-ra and Mon*Star.
Effectiveness - 8. Yes that's a huge number.  And maybe if I'd been able to see more episodes it would be lower.  But I've seen her capture a ranger's wife, make a Slaver Lord out of her, and keep her life force even after the body was recovered.  I can't really call that a loss at all.  She's proven to be a resourceful and evil ruler.  Her powers with the Psychocrystal are impressive as well, though she needs to use a machine to create them from someone's life force.  I've only ever seen three Slaver Lords at a time so I don't have an idea of how many she has or can control at once.  I just wish I had seen more of her in the beginning to get a better impression or her powers and intentions.  Screw the little bad guys, like Macross or Captain Kidd, give me the Queen!

Friday, February 10, 2017

No Flashback Friday Today

Hey everyone,
Just wanted to let you all know there will be no Flashback Friday post today as family issues have come up.  I will be posting the villains for Ultra City Ultra Twins next week as scheduled, and hopefully will have more than just a logo to post (since none of the villain have their own logos anyway).

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Wednesday Wrap-Up: 2/8/17

This has been a big week!  I have been languishing on two projects the last two weeks, making notes now how to proceed without any real progress.  But I've finally passed both hurdles.

First, I finished Titanium Horn.  Well, as finished as it needs to be for now.  I do have plans to create a toy from the model in the future, but right now I just need a model built up enough that I can create a wireframe from it.  In addition to Titanium Horn, I've got models made up for Hammer Slammer and Sawhorse for my Citizen Robo cartoon, and the previously shared Lead Tentacle and Force Bolter models will be used to create a new title image for the blog and I can get rid of that ugly background I'm using now.   I've got a cool design that I think will fit Old School Evil a lot better and now I've just got to convert each model to a wireframe and I'll be golden.

Second, I finished the first chapter to the second draft of Old School Evil 2.  I wrote the original draft way back in 2015 and have been stalling on editing this whole time.  I did a little bit of rewriting back in January and I've just now reworked the intro of all the characters.  So far it feels a little too heavy on the exposition, but this is the first real time I've worked on a sequel, so I'm not exactly sure how much I need to put in right away to catch up on the previous book's events.

All in all a good week, but I missed a deadline for querying agents this month.  I can still do it, but I have been striving to send out letters at the first of the month and I just let time get away from me. The longer I'm working on the book, the blog, and everything else though, the more I'm leaning towards self-publishing.  Still plenty of time to make that decision though, and I promised myself I'd keep querying until I decide.  So I've got to get more queries out this week.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Villain Retrospect - Tormack

Raise your hand if you've ever watched Galtar and the Golden Lance. I'd never heard of it before researching Old School Evil and I feel like I really missed out on it.  This cartoon is seriously one of the better ones I've recently discovered.  Other shows that I watched in the last few weeks (like Robo Force, Mighty Orbots, and Sectaurs) which only lasted a few episodes and only got what they deserved.  Galtar, on the other hand, only lasting 21 episodes, feels like it should have gotten a lot more.

After Galtar's village was attacked by the warlord Tormack, and his army of Mongol-like Gurkas, he quests to find the Golden Lance, a powerful weapon that only works for those pure of heart. 

Tormack is after the same weapon so he can unite it with the stolen Sacred Shield, which will make him invincible.  The story follows Galtar and Goleeta, princess and rightful owner of the shield, and they evade Tormack's attempts to steal the lance for himself.  Tormack has a history with the Golden Lance; having an evil heart cause the weapon to unleash the Fury of the Golden LAnce, which blinded one of his eyes.  Tormack employees the wizardry of Krimm, who uses the shield's connection to Goleeta, and his horseman Otar leads his forces into battle if he isn't involved.

Tormack's an impressive villain, given live by the incredible baritone of Brock Peters, who went on to give voice to another Hanna Barbera villain, Bloth from Pirates of Dark Water.  Actually, this cartoon shares a lot with fellow Hanna Barbera cartoons, like Pirates and Thundarr the Barbarian. Both have a hero who recruits a team of two others, one being a sort of telepath, another being a female (though there one in the same in Pirates). A lot of the designs in Galtar are present in it's predecessor; Thundarr's and Galtar's mount look almost the same, along with their weapons, even if Galtar's comes in a pair.  Thundarr doesn't have his own signature villain, but Tormack and Both share more than just their voice, as both lead huge armies that have taken over significant portions of land.  Heck, their even both responsible for the main character's parents being killed.

Another thing this cartoon shares with Pirates at least is that I actually really enjoy it and want to watch more.  There are a lot of shows I've seen for Old School Evil that feel like a chore (looking at you Sectaurs), but Galtar is more than that.  I only got to watch the first 5 episodes so far, but I've read about the following ones.  Goleeta's brother has just joined the team, and the next episode to watch introduces Rava to the mix, who is revealed to be Tormack's niece.
Image via TVTropes
Apparently a love triangle forms between Galtar and Goleeta and Rava, which is pretty different for most cartoons at the time, along with Tormack's leniency to his niece, since she plays both for and against him at times.  There are a lot of relationships built between the characters and I'm actually interested in seeing how they develop.

Let's rate this bad guy!

Image via Watch Cartoons Online
Coolness - 7. I've got to give Tormack credit, he's a freaking awesome villain.  It's more than just the great voice Brock Peters gave him though. He's one of the very first regular villains in a Hanna Barbera cartoon.  Most of the ones that came before him, like in Thundarr, made a single appearance then were never seen again.  They'd make up a wizard, maybe one that looked just like Krimm, give him a goofy name, maybe one that sounded just like Krimm, and that would be that.  Tormack bucks the trend and gets to be a really cool, threatening villain because of it.
Image via Toonarific
Effectiveness - 5.  Tormack's got a great presence, tall and foreboding, but still capable in a fight.  He treats his minions with respect while not being taken advantage of (especially by the backstabbing father-and-son duo, Ruk and Tok).  He owns one of the most powerful weapons in the world and uses it in battle against it's rightful owner, like he's rubbing it in Goleeta's face. He's already killed off the parents of all the main characters, not just Galtar's. He gets the job done!  It's a shame the cartoon ended without a final confrontation between the two.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Flashback Friday: Ultra City Ultra Twins

The next cartoon I'm sharing is the Ultra City Ultra Twins, an amalgam of COPS and Centurions.  In the fictional Ultra City, Simon and Shaya are the twin children of the police captain, Steve Stryker.  When they sneak after their father while arresting a robber, they see him fatally wounded by the criminal.  In his last moments, Steve give his children two halves of a Ultra City Ultra Officer badge, which when combined gives them powers based on four main police roles.

Shaya, the more athletic and aggressive of the two, prefers to use Pursuit mode, which gives her rocket boots for tailing crooks and a launchable handcuff tether, and SWAT mode, arming her with two arm-mounted piledrivers. Simon, her academic brother, sticks with Detective mode, granting him enhanced senses and communications, and Riot mode, which gives him a shield and a gas cannon.  Together with their robotic pets, K-9000 and APBee, they assume the roles of the Ultra City Ultra Twins, helping the police force while remaining a secret from the new chief, Captain Cross, who wants to take the badges back for himself. 

Ultra City Ultra Twins Production Bible
Simon and Shaya Stryker looked up to their father, Steve Stryker, captain of the Ultra City Police Department.  The kids follow their father as he trails a crook, Shaya impressed with her dad's ability to chase the crook down, Simon impressed with how he followed clues to find him.  Unfortunately, the robber pulls a gun and shoots Steve, fatally wounding him.  The kids go to his side and he gives them the Ultra City Ultra Officer badge that he was using to follow the crook.  However, he breaks it in half so they can only use them when they work together.  Now, Shaya and Simon Stryker rid the city of crime as the Ultra City Ultra Twins.
General Series Concepts
Ultra City Ultra Twins wants to show the dangers of guns.  While the UCUT use weapons that involve police tools (shields, gas canisters, and night sticks) besides firearms, the enemies are all predominantly gun users.  Each of them are based completely around a different kind of firearm, however outlandish they may be.  Each of them also has a transformed version based on their weapon that implies the weapon has taken over.  Care must be given to show their dependence on their weapons - without them, they give up immediately.
Shaya Stryker - The elder of the twins, she's a very competitive person, competing in all high school sports.  She's aggressive and ready to fight at a moment's notice.  She's not interested in detective work, only going one-on-one with the criminals.  She never learned the lesson her father tried to teach her: slow down and pay attention.
Preferred modes : Pursuit and SWAT
Simon Stryker - The smaller of the two but much smarter.  He prefers the sciences over athletics.  He's a brain and would spend the whole day in a lab if possible.  He always looks at all the possibilities and makes plans for every outcome.  He's a detective above all else and never learned the lesson his father tried to teach: planning without action never accomplishes anything.
Preferred modes: Detective and Riot
Sgt Bosco - Steve's old partner on the force.  He's riding a desk now, but keeps up on all the cases.  Only one on the force that knows Shaya and Simon are the Ultra Twins.  He's not totally supportive of them fighting crime, but know better than to try to stop them.  He's old, a few years from retiring and likes to remind them of it.  He keeps the twins informed of new cases and tells them what they're up against.  He's Shaya's hero after seeing how he takes down criminals.
Captain Cross - Took over after Steve was killed.  He hates the Ultra Twins and wants the badges back in police hands.  He doesn't know who they are, and only barely tolerates the twins when they visit the station because of his respect of Steve. 
Dr Drive - The creator of the Ultra Officer badges.  He doesn't know who the Twins are, assuming they're part of the police force.  He helps them figure out extra powers for the badges and built K-9000 and APBee, assigning them to help the Ultra Twins.  He's old, forgetful, and aloof.  He's very much young at heart and is Simon's non-cop hero.
K-9000 - A robotic dog that has become Shaya's sometimes partmer.  He's very protective and usually growling at something.  His legs fold up into wheels, turning into a skateboard of sorts.  He talks in a German-esque accent.
APBee - Simon's partner, a robotic bee that can serve as a helipack for Simon.  He's even more scared than Simon usually is.  Acts as a mobile communication center/computer with the police force's computer system.  Speaks in beeps that only Simon is able to understand.

I really enjoyed making this show, especially because the two characters play pretty heavily in the second Old School Evil book.  But to be honest, the villains were way more fun to come up with and I've got five of them showing up next week when we see the rest of the production bible. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Wednesday Wrap-up: 2/1/17

Last week, I spent a little time working on the model for Titanium Horn, a robot from the Zane and the Wild Zoobots cartoon. I've made a few more additions to the model, and if I weren't stuck using my phone, I'd share a picture of him. Trust me when I say he's really goofy looking. I've also made a little bit of progress on the second draft of Old School Evil's sequel. Still a long way before I can add anything to it, but I'm glad to be making even a little headway on it.

One other thing I've done recently was applying for my first writing job. I would have been a world builder for a fitness website's motivational narrative. I created a team of heroes and villains for it that were inspired by Captain Planet, but centered on the human body instead of the world. I didn't get the job, but silver lining, I've got a new cartoon for Old School Evil! That raises the total cartoons to 14. That's a lot of shows to make logos and production bibles for. I don't have all the details for the new cartoon, not even a title, but I've got the basics.