Thursday, May 24, 2018

Top 5 Best Action Figure Gimmicks

Action figures have some pretty awesome gimmicks.  Think about it - toy manufacturers have been able to squeeze in all sorts of features into your GI Joe, Transformers, and He-Man figures. Spring-loaded missiles, voice chips, battle-damage armor are just a few of the dozens of ways toy designers have convinced us to buy their merchandise.  But what are the coolest gimmicks out there?

Magnets and Wind-ups - Starcom

Starcom toys combined two great features into one awesome toyline.  First, you have Power Deploy, a feature that when a button was pressed or a switch was flipped, would deploy a weapon or accessory automatically.  Returning the part to its original position would wind-up the feature again for its next use.  Second, was the Magna Lock system, where each figure had magnets implanted in their feet.  Normally this would just attach the figure to a vehicle or playset, but placing him on certain places would activate the Power Deploy feature, tying them together in the coolest way.

Combiners - Voltron, Go-Bots, Transformers

There are a lot of toys out there that are designed to combine into bigger toys.  Probably the most famous is the Voltron series, which had three different robots, each comprised of either lions, cars, or other vehicles, sometimes including up to 15 separate parts.  Go-Bots followed suite with Puzzler and Monsterous, but Transformers really took it to the extreme, introducing almost a dozen combiners in G1 with Scramble City, which allowed any four limbs to attach to any combiner torso.

Interchangeable Accessories - Centurions, Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors

These toys were some of my favorites growing up because of the almost unlimited configurations you could come up with.  Both lines featured a bad figure or vehicle with ports all over their bodies and a boatload of pieces you can plug into them wherever you like.  Both toys had an official configuration, but with the toys you could make them as crazy as possible, bristling with weapons or sleek as hell.  The best part was getting multiple figures and trying to put all their accessories on one toy, just overloading them with missiles and claws until they couldn't even stand up.

Holograms - Visionaries, Supernaturals

These toys had me feeling like we were in some kind of futuristic age.  Holograms were something reserved for sci-fi movies and credit cards, what the hell was it doing on our toys.  Visionaries used it to show off the magic powers they had, but Supernaturals (which was totally cheated out of having its own awesome cartoon) took it a step farther by making a number of generic figures where the entire front of them was a hologram and even used double-channel holograms to show two images as you moved them around.

Lasers - Bravestarr, Captain Power

If holograms were too sci-fi for toys, then action figures that shot lasers would blow your mind.  Bravestarr was the first toyline I had seen that incorporated lasers into them, using a backpack that would shoot IR beams at other toys and play sounds or make other features activate.  If that's cool, Captain Power dialed it up to 11, using lasers to make your toys interact with the actual tv show!  You'd hear sounds if your shots hit and your toy (which was a handheld jet) would shoot out the cockpit if it took too many hits from the enemy on the tv set.  The jets could also shoot at each other like a Laser Tag.  MASK even tried this technology with one set, where MASK's vehicle turns into a disappointing wooden crate.

Monday, May 21, 2018

2 Year/200 Post Anniversary Giveaway!


Two years ago, I decided to start the Old School Evil blog, where I would talk about all the cartoons and their villains that inspired me to write my novel.  Over those two years, I've made a whipping 200 posts, including a semi-weekly update marking progress of the book, a Villain Retrospect series where I post my thoughts on each of the villains, both those I remember watching growing up and the ones I've missed along the way and recently found, and then pitting them all against each other in my Bad Guy Beatdown series.  I've put more time and energy into the blog and book than anything else in my entire life and I'd like to share that with you.

Starting today, I'm holding a giveaway for 100 free Kindle copies of Old School Evil.  Click here or the widget above to enter through Goodreads.  The giveaway will last for the next two weeks, ending on June 5th with another small announcement.  During these two weeks, I'll be showing up in other places online with my retro blogger pals.  Keep an eye out and I'll be sharing them all here.  Good luck to all those who enter!

Bad Guy Beatdown Round 13 - Hordak

Considering the sword and sorcery leaning of Skeletor and the Masters on the Universe in general, it's interesting that the main villain if She-Ra is completely technological. I'm wondering what Skeletor was supposed to be learning from him while Hordak was his mentor. 

Hordak main abilities revolve around being able to change either part of it his entire body into weapons or vehicles. His most frequent change is turning his arm, usually his right, into a cannon of a sort. Normally, he shoots ladders out of it which are strong enough to destroy statues of rock formations. Surprisingly, he doesn't suffer from the Filmation white laser syndrome like Skeletor where his blasts just cause a little flash with no damage to the target. On one occasion he shot a stream of fire from the cannon, while on two other occasions he's either paralyzed or put his target to sleep with different blasts.

Here's also sometimes shown to have a Little claw weapon in his transformed arm, but isn't shown using it, so there's no way to tell if it's stronger than his regular hand. He once turned his arm into a hammer, as well.


His other most common transformation is turning his whole body into a rocket to fly away. He explicitly stated the first time we see him use it that he needs more training to control his rocket form better, after crashing into a thicket.

Another time in the same episode he turns his body into a drill and tunnels out from under a rock collapse. Whether he drilled out before the rocks actually fell on him or he survived the collapse and then changed is unknown.


Besides his shape-shifting abilities, Hordak is shown to be a mediocre pilot, flying around in ships that look a little too much like him. He doesn't necessarily have any weaknesses besides the typical cowardly Filmation villain tropes. His rocket power is generally used as an escape. He does depend on Shadow Weaver for a lot of his schemes.

Strengths: functional shape-shifting, various types of blasts from arm cannons, and alternate transportation forms.

Weaknesses: none

If you want to check out his opponent, click here.  If you want to check out the previous battle, click here.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Top 5 Cartoon Scenes that Messed Me Up


In my book Old School Evil, main character Jayce finally gets a chance to watch Transformers: The Movie after fifteen years. When he finds out Optimus Prime dies, his life literally changes - he realizes that a world of cartoons isn't as simple as he thought as a kid.

Optimus Prime's death is probably considered one of the most traumatic events in kids animation. But it got me wondering what other scenes screwed with my head as a kid when I was watching television and movies.

Secret of NIMH - The Great Owl


Don Bluth had a talent for making ordinary things scary looking, and none were better than Mrs. Bisby's advisor, the Great Owl. Though nothing happened to the cute little mouse, I was worried through that whole scene that she was getting eaten, sage advise be damned.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit - The Shoe


A lot of people will say Judge Doom's reveal is the scariest scene in the movie, the high-pitched voice and the dagger eyes, but for me it was the shear terror the animators were able to imbue into something as innocuous as a shoe that really messed me up. And for us to have to watch this innocent footwear dissolve into nothingness is almost too much to take. Absolutely terrifying.

Oliver and Company - Sykes's Death


Disney movies are full of death, there's no denying that. Plenty of villains will fall off cliffs or die in a pigp of magic dust. But Sykes had a special place in Disney's funeral hall - he dies in a way anyone could for in our world, getting hit by a subway. I think the connection to a real world without dragons or magic made it that much worse. Not to mention his dogs getting electrocuted by the third rail.

Inhumanoids - Gagoyle


Kids movies hold a monopoly on traumatic scenes because television shows are way more regulated. But if there's an exception to that, it's definitely Inhumanoids. In a show that's basically made up of nightmare fuel, one scene, or character really, takes the cake - Gagoyle. Whether it's his transparent stomach, or how it just bit off D'Compose's arm, this blue monster is beyond freaky.

Transformers: The Movie - Ironhide's Death


Yeah, I've said it a few times before, but Ironhide's Death is way harder for me to deal with than Prime's. Optimus had a great fight and honestly should have survived the damages to his abdomen. But Ironhide? The shot from Megatron's cannon directly to his face was SO brutal. And that's after everyone else in the ship is shot through. Even Megatron's line "Such heroic nonsense" line is heartbreaking.

If you want to see exactly how Optimus's death ruins Jayce's life, make sure to pick up Old School Evil, available on Kindle and paperback and for free on Kindle Unlimited.  Click the picture below to find it on Amazon.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Wednesday Wrap-Up - 5/16/18

Old School Evil has officially been on the market just over two weeks and has garnered a bit of attention so far.  I've gotten a couple good reviews on Amazon and Goodreads - including a great one comparing the book very favorably to Ready Player One.  Sales have been sluggish, but I've got a little plan for it that I'll start next week.

I'm in talks to get an audiobook in production.  A voice actor in a lot of Youtube videos has offered to do it and it in the process (hopefully) of making an audition sample for me.  He's been looking into doing audiobooks lately and I've been hoping to get one made so it works out really well.  As soon as I get his sample and sign off on it, I'll be posting a link to his stuff.

Next Tuesday is a huge day for Old School Evil the blog - May 22nd is the 2nd anniversary of starting it, and I'm going to make my 200th post on that day.  I've got a huge plan for it, but will keep most of it to myself until then.  I will be honest, I'm extremely excited about it, so it's hard to keep it secret.  But it is less than a week away, so I'll hang on to it until then.

I've also finally gotten a picture up for my About Brian page on the blog, and created a profile for my Amazon and Goodreads author pages.  Feel free to check them out, and I'll be sharing them all this week as well on Twitter and Facebook.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Bad Guy Beatdown Round 13 - Hun-Dred

After watching the 1984 one-shot Robo Force: The Revenge of Nazgar, I started wondering if I made a mistake including him in this tournament.  It's going to be difficult for any enemy to build up a sort of threat level in a mini-series, but one episode is almost impossible.  Maybe if he got three episodes - the length of time Nemesis got in Robotix, he might have had a chance, but no, Hun-Dred was doomed from the start.

Does Hun-Dred have anything going for him?  Much like the rest of the Robot Force and Cult of Hun-Dred robots, he's capable of hovering around including over liquids (suck it Marty McFly), though he needs a ship to fly anything above a few inches off the ground. For weapons, he's got to face-blasters which are strong enough to slice through a couple huge stalactites, causing them to fall on the Robo Force and trap them in boiling bubblegum.  He also has interchangeable melee weapons, the pointy bits on his back, to use in his clawed hands.  One of them is a drill bit, I'm not sure what the other one is since it's never employed.



You might think these weapons are pretty weak and you'd be 100% right. While some of the other robots in the cartoons have lasers blowtorches on their hands, Hund-Dred is stuck just holding one of the clumsy, tiny weapons and charging his enemies.  When Hun-Dred stabs at his heroic counterpart Maxx Steel's shoulder, the drill bit he was using just disintegrates. It's a pretty meager effort and for that Hun-Dred gets the ultimate humiliation.

Considering a lot of shows like these are left at least a little open-ended, I'm surprised that they so completely killed Hun-Dred off.  And right after this, they blow up his resurrected leader, the titular Nazgar.  Like, they shoot the little throne Nazgar was hiding in and it explodes.  This show knew exactly what it was getting and decided to go all out and kill its two main villain within seconds of each other.  

This is hardly a villain that deserves to be in any tournament, but I did do a Villain Retrospect on him and he still does more than Dr. Claw or Emperor Dark.  Barely.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Top 5 Worst Cartoons to Live in

In my book Old School Evil, main character Jayce finds it that his father is a bona fide villain like from the cartoons he loves as a child. Not only that, he finds out the entire world is populated by colorful heroes that use the magic of teamwork to thwart villainous schemes to steal famous landmarks or use mind-control to enslave the human race.

It got me wondering what it would be like living in a world that these cartoons existed in. After thinking about it for a while I realized a lot of them would equal certain death. Here's a list of the worst of the bunch.

Transformers
As a kid, I always wished I lived in this cartoon, riding around in a sentient Volkswagen or vandalizing a building with Rumble. But in reality, you'd be terrible paranoid of every electronic or mechanical device coming to life and trying to kill you. Imagine a world where even a cassette or camera could end your life. Only the Amish would be safe.

Gobots
The same thing as Transformers but you'd be killed by robots with dumber names and more annoying voices.

Inhumanoids
It's bad enough living in a world where electronic devices and vehicles could kill you, but here you'd even have to worry about yestr and rocks becoming sentient and wanting you dead for decades of pollution. They don't have much respect for any humans since the first episode shows them threatening to kill the showss heroes. Or you could just get eaten alive by a giant with a set-through stomach.

Dungeons & Dragons
It's bad enough going through a roller coaster that dragged you into a world full of magic and monsters where someone wants to kill you and steak your mystic weapons. More so, what if the other rides at the park could take you to whatever works they represent? Say you take a ride on a coaster with the Devil on it and you wind up in the 7th circle of Hell?

Spiral Zone
You have a 50-50 chance of being turned into a braindead zombie, that kinda sucks. Most of the time you're standing around doing nothing because you have no free will but then you forced to be a trap without even knowing it. Not that the rest of the world is much better since there's always a threat if the Zone expanding to include everything else.

So there's 5 terrible cartoon works you would never want to live in. But what happens if you're loving in ALL the cartoons at one time? Find out in Old School Evil, for sale on Kindle and print and available for free on Kindle Unlimited.