Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Funko Mystery Minis Horror Classics Series 3: Regan (The Exorcist)

Horror’s mainstream appeal varies pretty wildly from decade to decade, but there seems to be at least one big breakout hit every decade. The 1970s had a few, but I’d argue that the one that stands above the others for sheer cultural impact was The Exorcist. Ushering in a whole standard in special effects, it was a huge hit -- and it still really disturbs people to this day, too. Ask your parents which movie freaked them out when they were young, and you can virtually guarantee that the answer is The Exorcist, irrespective of how old they were when it was released.

Regan goes through multiple stages of possession (and makeup) during the film. She starts out looking like a normal 12-year-old girl, then begins to look worse and worse as the demon Pazuzu exerts greater control over her. This Mini depicts Regan in full-blown possessed mode – her face is green and has slashes across it, while vomit stains her nightgown. Given that they could have reused much of the sculpt, it’s almost surprising that they didn’t also do a “plain” Regan, though I guess we may see that in a future series of Horror Classics.

I’ve only watched the film once or twice myself; I did enjoy it, but found it a little long. If I’d seen it on first release, I think I would have found it terrifying – but if ever there was a movie that suffered for being influential, it’s The Exorcist. Even at age 19, I’d already seen it parodied dozens of times in other media, read books on special effects that explained how virtually every shot in the movie was executed and heard all the stories about its “cursed” production. For the most part, the ability to outright shock had been lost, though it certainly still evokes an eerie atmosphere. Your own mileage may vary, of course. But good does ultimately triumph over evil, which places it into a bit of a contrast with many of the films it influenced, where the villain arguably is the hero (Halloween, Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street et al).

Although The Exorcist may not be my favourite horror film, it’s a definite horror classic, unquestionably well-made and well-polished. Regan is very deserving of Mystery Mini from Funko. Regan is packed at a 1/24 ratio, so you may have a trickier time tracking her down.

It's not easy being green

Friday, 11 November 2016

Funko Mystery Minis Horror Classics Series 3: Jason Voorhees

We looked at Freddy a couple of weeks ago, so now it’s time to take a squiz at his most famous foe – Jason Voorhees, of Friday the 13th fame.

This is actually the second time Jason has had a Mystery Mini, with his first coming back in Series 1. While that was more of a generic Jason – though arguably from Freddy Vs Jason – this new one is based on his look in Friday the 13th Part 7: The New Blood. It’s been quite a long time since I’ve seen the film, but I remember it being (like virtually all the films in the series) a bit of a mixed bag. There was a psychic teenage girl who he battles, and probably could have made a decent ongoing foe for Jason, similar to Tommy Jarvis from Parts 4-6. But the series has never been known for its coherent storyline, and so she disappeared as quickly as she’d arrived.

By this point, Jason was a heavily decayed and monstrous corpse, having now been resurrected numerous times. He actually looks pretty great, with the exposed bones, rotting clothes and beat-up mask… at least until his mask breaks off at the end, and he suddenly looks like a cross between the Cryptkeeper and a Muppet. Gross, but more at the silly end of the spectrum, rather than frightening.

Fortunately, this Mini replicates his masked look, turning a gory design into something surprisingly cutesy. Part of the iconic hockey mask is broken away, revealing how much his flesh has decayed around his mouth. Bones poke through many surfaces, where the clothing and skin alike have rotted away. Unusually, he’s armed with an axe rather than his signature machete. I’m sure he hacks into someone with it at some point during the film, but I honestly don’t remember.

Packed at a 1/24 ratio, this is not a definitive Jason, so it’s a little less essential – but it’s a very cool look for him nonetheless. Post Freddy vs Jason and the 2009 remake, these later films in the series are often a bit overlooked when it comes to merchandising of the character. NECA have given it a red-hot go, but it’s nice to see other companies step up and take their turn too. 

Transformers: Titans Return – Highbrow

Company: Hasbro
Year: 2016

 So I know I don’t normally have a lot to do with the Autobots, but every now and then one will slip through the net. But this week, Target stuffed up the pricing in their weekly catalogue, and the Deluxe Titans Return figures were reduced to only $15AUD a pop, which is an absolute steal!
At that price, I decided I should pick up Highbrow. I’ll take Decepticons in virtually any alt-mode, but for the Autobots they tend to have to be airborne vehicles. Plus, somewhere in my cupboard I have the Kre-O version of this guy, and since I was particularly fond of that Kre-O I thought it was time to get the “real” version of him.

Highbrow’s bot mode is awesome – the sunglasses-style design for faces is my second favourite after faceplates, and he stands very well. Colour scheme pops nicely on the shelf, and he manoeuvres easily into cool poses.  The lack of waist articulation is a slight downer, but a necessary element due to his transformation style. Xort, his Titan Master companion, is similarly cool in design. Rocking a semi-inverted Highbrow colour scheme, he’s very fun to look at. But on the downside, his joints are a little floppy – when removing the head, don’t be surprised if his legs and arms swing around a little. 

The vehicle mode isn’t quite as strong; it’s tandem rotor helicopter that wouldn’t look out of place in some mid-90s anime. While not a bad design in and of itself, the colours come across as very toy-ish (curiously, much more than they do in bot mode) and that is a little distracting. Still, it’s nice sculpting and the transformation doesn’t feel too forced or awkward, unlike some recent figures I’ve looked at.   

Now, TFWiki notes that there’s two known issues with this toy – the plug for the head doesn’t click in properly on some, and the legs are loose on others. The example I own is one of the former, but the good news is that you can kind of see it in the package. If he looks like his head isn’t clicked in properly, then you’re likely looking at one of them. The head is a little loose on mine, but nothing too severe. He just looks like he has an unusually long neck from certain angles.  

Overall? The vehicle mode isn’t as strong as bot mode, but it’s still a very fun toy. And considering the fairly nominal amount I paid for it, I’m extremely satisfied.  

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Transformers Generations: Titans Return – Mindwipe

Company: Hasbro
Year: 2016

So, another week at the LBC, and another Titans Return review. I thought Combiner Wars was incredibly fun, but I feel like it’s been blown out of the water by this year’s releases. Tonnes of original sculpts, cool articulation, good updates to characters that haven’t been produced in years…what more do you want from a Transformers line?

So today we come to Mindwipe, and his little Titan Master buddy Vorath. As with many Transformers, I’m not really familiar with Mindwipe’s background but a quick glance at TFWiki suggests that he’s a next-level Edgelord in a faction that’s already mighty loaded with Edgelords. He’s a skilled hypnotist, and also spends a lot of time trying – though apparently unsuccessfully – to become the Transformers version of a necromancer. His alt-mode is a bat, which gives him a tenuous kind of vampire/goth connection. I get the impression he would have enjoyed The Misfits.

His bot mode is genuinely great, one of the best figures I’ve seen in quite some time. As I’ve noted numerous times, black and purple are my favourite Decepticon colours, which of course instantly gives him roughly 1000219702130932 extra cool points – though I think the design is a nice one, nonetheless.

Transformation is intuitive for the most part, though the placement of certain tabs makes it quite obvious that it was computer-designed.  And the alt-mode…well, it’s not bad, but it is kind of weird. I think it’s to do with the design of the head – it’s a little too busy in comparison to his bot mode, with lots of greebles decorating the surface. Additionally, the head is cast in a much softer plastic, which just seems strange. However, the jaw is articulated, which is a definite bonus. While in alt-mode, Vorath is stored in the chest, which is a nice Megazord-esque touch.  

Vorath himself is okay, but not amazing. He looks somewhat like a colour-swapped Apeface, and I think that a paint app on the face would have definitely enhanced his look a little. Still, these mini Titan Masters are always great fun.

I wasn’t originally going to pick up Mindwipe, but a friend talked me into it. Though I’m a bit ambivalent towards his alt-mode, his bot mode is fantastic, and worth the price of admission on that basis alone. Highly recommended for fellow members of the Decepticon nation.