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Toy Fair 2016 – What I Want To See

Toy Fair is upon us once again, and it seems more than ever, there are fewer surprises, what with official reveals promised to various media outlets and leaked images popping up everywhere.  So, this post is not truly 100% prediction or speculation — this is what I hope to see this weekend.

HASBRO

TRANSFORMERS – We know we’re going to see Titans Return all over the place. So, I want to see Powermaster Prime and Fortress Maximus on display, as well as Victorion. And then give me Headmasters galore – I want to see the new Hardhead and Brainstorm. I hope there’s a Nightbeat shown in some form.  (EDIT: And Hasbro Pulse has just showed us artwork for some Headmasters. Toys will be seen tomorrow.)

And let’s get some Beast Wars love, okay? I’d love it if Masterpiece Optimus Primal was announced. I’d be okay with some more BW Generations figures, too.

STAR WARS – Well, no Rogue One, we know that. So give me more TBS TFA characters. Give me a Rey with Speeder.  Give me a 6″ Maz to complement the 3.75″ character.  Give me Luke and Leia.  Give me Kanji Klub. Give me a Rey/Finn pack with Roamer-6 breath masks and Falcon parts.

MARVEL – We’re getting 6″ 90’s Rogue in Marvel Legends, as well as Spider-Gwen.  That’s my wish list right there.

But let’s throw in Silk, some Dr. Strange stuff, and some Netflix people like Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Kilgrave.

And now that 12″ Marvel Legends have been announced, let’s hope for more than just Captain America and Iron Man.

PLAYSKOOL – For Transformers, I’d like to see some non-Rescue Bots designs. Let’s throw in RiD and G1 (and BW if we’re pipe-dreaming).  For Star Wars, I’d love Kylo Ren and Shuttle, Rey and Speeder, and a troop builder pack of First Order Storm-, Flame-, Snowtroopers and TIE Pilots.

MATTEL

DC – How about some 3.75″ figures from the DC TV Universe, like all of ARROW and FLASH? I’d love toys of Oliver, Black Canary, Merlyn, and Nyssa with some Flash, Reverse Flash, Firestorm, Captain Cold and Heatwave.

FUNKO

My God, what don’t I want to see? I love everything they do. For Pop figures, I want to see more Arrow and Flash. I want to see more Star Wars (if they could tap into the Legends Expanded Universe, say, Mara Jade and Thrawn). More Transformers.

I’d love to see a Knight Rider Pop! Ride. Think about it — Michael Knight with KITT and… okay, it’s not canon, but Garth Knight with KARR.  (Hey, it would be an easy mold reuse; keep those costs down!). Note: These will not happen.

Rumor is we’ll see new 3.75″ figures. Bring them on.

KOTOBUKIYA

I always love looking at their Star Wars and Marvel figures. Let’s see some Force Awakens items.

MISCELLANEOUS

If anyone — anyone — makes “Quantum Leap” toys? I will buy every damn QL toy they make.  Note: These also will not happen. Damn it.

The show starts tomorrow! Be sure

The Case for a The Black Series 6″ Mara Jade

Look, I know I don’t usually cover Star Wars figures, I know I have BotCon info to put up, and I know I am not even part of the polling process, but I need to get this out there.

The only character you should vote for in the Star Wars 2015 Fans’ Choice Poll is Mara Jade.

I admit that I’m biased. My wife is a huge Mara fan. But honestly, there is no better choice for the winner, simply because this is the best opportunity.

I know the 6″ The Black Series line is missing a lot of iconic characters.  We don’t have Classic Leia, ANH Luke, any Lando, C-3P0, old Ben Kenobi, and many others.  But here’s what I think – those are all on the short list. We need to not vote for those.

The old Expanded Universe is now Legends status. Over time, as Disney expands the new canon, the Legends characters will become less and less important. Newer fans will not know Mara, Thrawn, Quinlan, Jaina, Jacen, and so many others. Therefore, we need to, as a fan base, vote now for Expanded Universe characters, primarily Mara.

A vote for Leia could be a wasted vote. A farm boy Luke is going to happen.  So make your vote count. Vote for Mara.

Here is a list of participating sites. This list will be updates as time goes by.

Fifteen Years of ASM – A Look Back

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July 12, 1999 — that graphic you see above was revealed to online Transformers fandom for the first time, heralding a new online magazine about those toys that could alter their states from robot to vehicles and beasts, an internet-only fanzine that promised debate about a wide variety of subjects that would take a new look at the Transformers mythos:

“I can sum up Altered States Magazine‘s focus: OPINIONS. This very well be my fanzine, but I want it to be a forum for your ideas, your essays, your opinions….

“Future issues of Altered States Magazine may deal with themes like heroism, morality, and religion. A lot will depend on how you interact with us.”

Boy, was I deluded or what? The magazine never really took off.  My idea for bimonthly issues quickly unraveled, and for a while we only did Toy Fair coverage.  Hardly an ongoing magazine dealing with weighty issues.

But we soldiered on, introducing reviews, Q&As, feature articles.  Toy Fair coverage soon had Transformers as only a small portion of the toys covered (and I still stand by our 15 years of coverage as some of the best a small site with no budget could do).  We introduced reviews of TV shows, and we shortened our name to ASM because I was sick of the full name (although we still get called “Altered States Magazine” frequently).

Some years ago I realized that I couldn’t hand-code the site anymore and I introduced the “Geekly Rewind” blog.  I thought it would complement the larger articles; instead, WordPress made it easy to just do everything there.  “Geekly Rewind” never took off as a concept, so the site once again becamse just ASM.

ASM has always been a labor of love.  We took advertising very sparingly (and got burned on one deal).  We’ve made lots of friends and met lots of great people.  Over the course of these fifteen years, we’ve had lots of people work on and for the site, and I certainly hope I don’t miss any of them in this list:

Rogue Z, Daniel, Amy, Doug, Matt G., Ant, Matt K., Chris K., Gary, Greg, Joe — without you, we wouldn’t have had content on the site.  Thank you so much for putting words onto screen and taking pictures and doing everything you’ve done.

Thank you to our industry friends, especially those at Hasbro; Justin, Joe and the crew at Hunter PR (that includes Danny, former member of the Hunter Bearded Triumverate); Aub and the folks at Dark Horse; Rosalind and those at IDW; Allison and the people at Funko; Hunter and the group at Valiant Comics; Jerry at WizardWorld; Lance at ReedPop; and all those from the former Palisades Toys.  And to those whom we see at Toy Fair every year?  You rock, too!

Finally, a sincere thanks to you, the reader.  The ride here has been bumpy at times, or stalled, or fast and furious.  But we kept moving on, and I and the staff thank you for being there.

As I look towards the past, I can’t help but look towards the future.  Fifteen years ago, I was a single guy with a growing collection, lots of free time and money, and a whole lot of ideas.  Now, I’m married with a kid, and that takes up most of my time.  But I still have lots of ideas, and I hope that I’ll be able to put some of them in place in the future.  I don’t know what the coming months or years will bring, but I hope that I will still be here, with my own little corner of the Internet, writing about the things that interest me and you.

So, tomorrow is ASM’s 15th Birthday.  Thanks to everyone out there who’s read, contributed, shared, liked, tweeted, and visited.  You’re the reason I do it.  Thanks.

It Is The Year 2014… and I’m Listening To New Vince DiCola Music

Sure, it’s been almost 30 years since the original animated The Transformers: The Movie appeared in theaters, and it’s been almost 30 years since the Transformers fandom was introduced to the music of Vince DiCola.

It’s nice to know that even now, well past the future of 2005, we can still get new Transformers music from Vince.  He announced a few months ago that Sony/Intrada would be releasing a new version of the score from the movie (the first time it would be available in full outside of the BotCon CDs), due out sometime this month.  But what if you wanted to listen to new versions of some of his most familiar Transformers themes?

Well, now you can!  In case you didn’t know, the old Commodore 64 version of the “Turrican” game used the song “Escape” as the title theme.  As part of the Kickstarter for a new “Turrican Anthology” CD set, Chris Huelsbeck asked Vince to contribute something extra, and so he (with the help of Kenny Meriedeth) did – a new medley of the movie themes, updated for 2013.  And now you can get that piece even if you didn’t contribute to the Kickstarter!

You can go to Chris’s Bandcamp site and download an MP3/FLAC/whatever format of the song for as little as $1!  How can you go wrong?  Just go here and buy it!  http://chrishuelsbeck.bandcamp.com/album/turrican-soundtrack-anthology-vol-1

You can listen to a preview here:

I just listened to the full song. Oh, man.  For a Vince DiCola fan like me, this is awesome.  I love being able to still here new Vince music every so often.  To hear familar songs such as “Escape” and “Death of Optimus Prime” redone is fantastic.  It’s still classic Vince, but it’s not totally 1980’s music, either.

I’d love to here more of the TF:TM score redone like this.  Heck, I’d love to hear more of it done in the vein of “Classical Transformations”.  Vince, if you read this, hit me up if you need another piano player….  :)

Behind the Kickstarter – BMOG Toys

ASMBMOGBehindKS1Most of you hadn’t heard of BMOG Toys until their Kickstarter went live last week.  If you still are unaware, BMOG Toys is a new project headed by Trent Troop, Alex Androski, and Greg Sepelak, and the goal is to provide 5mm peg compatible accessories for a variety of toylines.  These accessories are animals that are made entirely out of individual weapons, meaning you get weapons for your existing toys as well as a new animal toy.  It’s awesome.  You should back it.

As I said, most of you hadn’t heard of BMOG until recently.  So let’s step behind the Kickstarter to talk with the three primary team members – Trent Troop, . (Disclaimer: I put together the website for BMOGToys.com but am not receiving any compensation from the Kickstarter program.)

Read more

A Few Thoughts on the New Mara Jade Bishoujo Statue from Kotobukiya

Kotobukiya has released images of their long-awaited Bishoujo Mara Jade figure today via their Facebook page.  The figure is also currently on display in their booth at New York Comic Con.  While I wish I could be there in person to view the figure, being just shy of nine months pregnant means I’m unfortunately not allowed on a plane to New York.  Thankfully, the photos Kotobukiya provided on their Facebook page give a more than adequate view of the figure’s details.  My review here is based solely on those images.  [Ed: A select few have been reproduced here for this article.]

I should preempt my comments by pointing out what a huge Mara Jade fangirl I am.  The character immediately grabbed my attention back when I first read “Heir to the Empire” in the 90’s.  My obsession led to collecting any Mara merchandise released – which hasn’t been much.  It also led to the slightly more expensive obsession of building an accurate Mara costume.  So yeah – total fangirl.  Needless to say, I have been eagerly waiting for a glimpse of Kotobukiya’s figure ever since the first rumors of it began swirling.  I was delighted to see the photos surface this morning.

KotoMJ1

Image from Kotobukiya’s Facebook Page

My overall impression is WOW.  This is what I was hoping for.

The details of the bodysuit are accurate to prior official photos and illustrations of the character.  I especially like that the seams/piping of the bodysuit match up with other resource pictures.  The diagonal piping on the inner thigh is spot-on.  One interesting variation to the bodysuit is the blue color.  The bodysuit is more commonly colored black.  While I don’t dislike this change, and view it as more of a stylistic choice, it is different and of note.

I really like that the figure comes with both her Emperor’s Hand purple lightsaber and Luke Skywalker’s blue lightsaber (Luke’s saber was given to her in the EU novels).  The hilt details are amazing, especially on the Emperor’s Hand hilt.  I love when a prop is reproduced so accurately in miniature.

The costume’s accessories are very well done as well.  It should be noted that there have been several variations on Mara’s accessories in official sources.  For example, her belt holster is sometimes seen on the hip, as with this figure, but it has also been shown to rest along the small of her back.  Another example is that Mara sometimes wears the tan cape depicted in this figure, and other times she sports a cream or white head cowl.  There have also been variations on her blaster and gloves.  There are many directions Kotobukiya could have gone with this figure’s costume.  The version they went with seems to mostly reflect the cover of the comic book “Mara Jade:  By the Emperor’s Hand #1″.  The cape clasp at the figure’s throat reflects this as well.

KotoMJ2

Image from Kotobukiya’s Facebook Page

The pose is one that works well for the character.  Instead of an action pose, Kotobukiya seemed to go for more of a natural pose.  I really like how they sculpted the cape and hair to flow.

On a personal note, I am happy with how the figure was designed in a manner that I feel is repectful to the character and her female fans.  Bishoujo means “pretty girl”, and I admit to fearing the figure may be overly girly or sexualized.  This has not proven to be the case.  The only thing this fangirl could nitpick in that regard is the stilletto heels on the boots, but that is fairly minor and doesn’t detract from my appreciation of the overall figure.

I’m very impressed, and thank Kotobukiya for giving us Mara Jade fans a rare, high-quality collectible.  I look forward to ore-ordering mine!

Terror In The Toy Aisle: Chucky Returns To Toy Stores

[Mezco Toyz was kind enough to provide this report by John Charles.  Enjoy!]

Terror In The Toy Aisle: Chucky Returns To Toy Stores

By John Charles

Mezco-Mega-Chucky-2013-1Chucky burst onto the horror scene in 1988’s CHILD’S PLAY and has been an icon of horror ever since. During his 25 year reign, he has stared in 6 films (the latest, Curse Of Chucky, is on demand and DVD this October), guest hosted Weekend Update on SNL, presented awards at the Horror Hall Of Fame, and in perhaps one of his highest honors, hosted his own haunted house at Universal Studios.

As soon as the first film hit theatres the public began to cry out for Chucky dolls that they could take home. Major toymakors balked at the idea of making a toy of a killer toy so the first Chuckys available were made by Steven Smith Stuffed Animals. These were mostly sold at the Universal Studios parks and at video stores (a note to younger readers; ask your parents about video stores). Sadly, these dolls were not very screen accurate.

As more Child’s Play films were released, more toys got made by more manufacturers at a variety of price points. Now, as Chucky turns a quarter century old,  Mezco Toyz  introduces one of the most screen accurate Chucky dolls ever made. Earlier in 2013 they introduced a Chucky Living Dead Doll and a 4 inch plush figure, but their new Mega Scale Chucky stands a full 15 inches tall, features glass like eyes, an articulated body, and real cloth clothes.

Mezco has a rich history of making Mega Scale figures (Mezco’s term for figures 14 inches and up); their Hellboy, Family Guy, South Park, and Thundercats Mega Scale figures have all won numerous toy awards and are highly prized by collectors.

Mezco-Mega-Chucky-2013-28But recreating Chucky from the silver screen was a daunting task. One of the problems toy makers find most difficult is Chucky’s clothing. His coveralls feature a custom pattern that is not easy to reproduce, and his striped shirt, which at first glance seems simple, changes from film to film. Mezco’s Damien Glonek (1/3 of the creative team behind Living Dead Dolls) said “The most challenging aspect in doing this large scale Chucky was trying to match the outfit accurately to the movie.  There is no real style guide available for any of the Child’s Play films so we had to recreate the stripes to be silk screened and we redrew the graphics on the jump suit.” Adds Mezco’s Special Projects guy, Mike Drake, “The soles of his shoes even feature film accurate treads! This is a Chucky doll made by Chucky fans and our love for Chucky really shows in the final product”.

Mezco-Mega-Chucky-2013-13Another daunting challenge is Chucky’s box. Since the original film was made in 1988, before the digital printing revolution, no art files exist of the original box designs. Further complicating matters, multiples boxes were used. Fans are rabid about the box and empty boxes made for the films have fetched up to $1500 at auction. Even non-screen used boxes can sell for over $300. Recreating the box for Mezco was in-house artist and ninja, Richard Ford who said “Hey! I’m working! Oh…The Chucky Package design?  What an experience it was, and a wonderful opportunity.  In the beginning there were quite a few obstacles and an uphill battle against time.  Our search to find an original box and high res photos turned into a failed mission, thus began the long process of recreating everything.  Using low res photos as reference I was able to bring to life the design you see today.  The devil is in the details, as each Good Guy illustration was done with much attention and consideration for the diehard fans.  Much time and love was placed into the design, and I can only hope the fans will enjoy it as much as I do.  Now, if you will excuse me I have to finish packing for [REDACTED]  Take care everyone!”

With the clothing and packaging in place, Mezco faced yet another challenge, Chucky’s body. In the real world, dozens of animatronics dolls, puppets, and little people in masks bring Chucky to life for films. Each has its own variations. Making the task even more complicated is the fact that Chucky’s look is meant to change over the course of the film as he becomes more human and less doll. Seen here for the first time publicly, are Mezco’s wax sculptures of Chucky’s head and body. The green dust helps to accentuate the details in the green wax. To further the verisimilitude of the figure, real metal staples will be used to hold some of Chucky’s trademark red hair in place, just as it was in the film. “This was by no means an easy task” says Mezco’s Mike Drake, “but our sculptors really did amazing work with the reference photos and videos, and I know Chucky fans are going to be thrilled!”

Mezco-Mega-Chucky-2013-4Backing up this claim is Allan Maxwell aka. Dr. Death, Administrator of PrideofChucky.proboards.com who opines “I’d say Chucky has been excellently replicated down to the last stitch, with a fantastic sculpt. His trademark evil grimace is fantastically recreated with this Chucky replica. His screen accurate clothing is also a nice touch. There’s so many things to consider when recreating the infamous devil doll from hell, all the aspects have to come into account in order to effectively recreate this iconic character. From his twisted smirk to his infamous Good Guy attire.  Chucky fans get so few options when it comes to Chucky memorabilia and collecting for these films as the members on PrideOfChucky can tell you, it’s nice to finally have another quality product to add to our hungry collections.”  Drake adds “With 11 points of articulation and real glass-look eyes, this is without a doubt the best Chucky available!”

Mezco’s Mega Scale Chucky is available in stores this week and is also available online at finer websites. He has a MSRP of $90 and comes packaged in a window box.

# # #

About me:
A writer and PR guy by trade, I’ve been in the business since 1987 when I sold my 1st piece to Playboy. My work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Baby Boomer, Newsweek, Psychology Today, Playboy, Omni, FHM, ASB magazine, and others.

I live in New York and need to stop eating hot dogs from food carts.

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/john-charles/25/419/656

From the ASM Archives: The Birth of Online Transformers Fandom

in_the_beginning[On this, the 20th anniversary of the creation of alt.toys.transformers, I am reposting the long article I wrote when ASM wasn’t a daily blog site.  I’ve done some editting here and there, but when you read it, remember that the references to people or places are many years out of date; this was written about a decade or so ago, long before ASM had its daily blog.  I never wrote articles detailing what happened after the events of this article occurred, and that’s a shame — I really should do a follow up to this piece…. Anyway, enjoy this trip into the past! –Phil]

Introduction

With respect to the online portion of Transformers fandom, I’m in a unique position here. You see, I’ve been here a while. Many of you may not know me; I hardly think of myself as one the most well known TransFans online. Heck, when I heard someone refer to me some time ago as an “ATT Elder”, I was shocked. I certainly didn’t think of me being that big in the Usenet scene.

But, in a way, it’s true. As Steve Stonebreaker, the keeper of the alt.toys.transformers FAQ, once said, “Before ATT was, Phil was.” Several years ago, Steve asked me for a brief history of the beginnings of online Transfandom, something he could put in one of his FAQs. I happily agreed, and I wrote a small essay detailing my memories. After I sent it to him, he replied that it wasn’t quite what he needed, so I wrote something shorter and more to the point. But I asked him if he please not post the original version in any fashion, as I had an idea I might use an expanded version of it at some point in the future.

Now, finally, I’m going to share the results of that original essay with you. I’ve got a unique perspective on online Transfandom, because I’ve seen many different pieces of it come and go. While some of this article is written purely from a fact-based background, I will admit that a good portion of this first installment comes directly from my memories and is not a purely historical and factual account.

So come along for the ride. See the birth of online Transfandom — and its many branches — as I saw it. Read more

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We Remember

On this 12th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, we pause to remember those who needlessly lost their lives.  All who were and are affected are in our thoughts.  We also pause to thank all who have served our country in defense of those who wish to harm us.

Nashville Comic Expo Debuts: Freddy Krueger & Walking Dead

Nashville Comic ExpoSeptember 9th, 2013 – The Nashville Comic Expo will debut on September 14-15 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

Celebrity guests include:

  • Robert Englund who portrays Freddy Krueger in the A Nightmare on Elm Street series.
  • Rory McCann who portrays Sandor “The Hound” Clegane in the HBO series, “Game of Thrones”.
  • Lauren Cohan who portrays Maggie Greene in AMC’s, “The Walking Dead”.
  • Steven Yeun who portrays Glenn in AMC’s, “The Walking Dead”.
  • Drake Bell who starred in Nickelodeon’s “Drake & Josh”, Superhero Movie and currently plays the voice of Spider-Man.

In addition, the following comic artist professionals will be in attendance:

  • Jim Steranko: Captain America, X-Men
  • Dennis Calero: X-Men, Witchblade
  • Bob Camp: Co-creator of “Ren & Stimpy”
  • Clayton Crain: Ghost Rider, X-Force
  • Tom Feister: G.I. Joe, Legion of Superheroes
  • Clay Mann: Gambit, Magneto
  • Pablo Marcos: Conan, Red Sonja, Star Trek
  • Budd Root: Cavewoman, Beauties and Beasts
  • Don Rosa: The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck
  • Andy Smith: Drawing Dynamic Comics, The First
  • Mark Sparacio: Captain Actions, Overstreet Guide
  • J. David Spurlock: Vanguard Productions
  • Wilfredo Torres: The Shadow: Year One
  • Tim Townsend: Spider-Man, X-Men

Single-day admission is $20 and a 2-day pass is $30 ($10 savings) for adults. Admission is FREE for children (12 and under).

Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center
2800 Opryland Drive
Nashville, TN 37214

10AM-6PM on Saturday
10AM-4PM on Sunday

Please e-mail: info@nashvillecomicexpo.com
www.NashvilleComicExpo.com