The Movies-To-Watch List: The Asphalt Jungle (1950)

When I first asked noir expert and shuffleboard champion Leonard Pierce for movie recommendations, The Asphalt Jungle was high on his list. Having watched it, I can see why.

This movie is great. Such a simple idea done beautifully. The plot is immediately recognizable: small-time hood with a heart of — well, skip that part, but he has simple dreams of just going back home to the farm — gets involved with a can’t-fail Big Score that of course fails. How the players react to the crumbling plan around them hits every angle: desperation, pathos, hubris, cool, and our protagonist’s bull-headed perseverance. Dix (Sterling Hayden) is a “hoodlum” hired as general lunky muscle for the operation, but the brains, Riedenschneider, takes a liking to him. He recognizes in Dix someone dependable and no-nonsense. Dix is laser-focused on one goal: return to his childhood farm. Whatever will get him there, he’s down for, and Riedenschneider recognizes this determination. Even when things go completely to hell and Riedenschneider himself loses his head some, Dix keeps on his path.

What’s even more interesting than the caper or Dix’s quest are the women who circle around the players. They are the only innocents in this world — to varying degrees. There’s the doting wife, the not-so-doting wife-and-mother, the mistress, the would-be moll, all affected by this plot but not a willing part of it. Not a one of them is listened to by any of the men, who have near-contempt for them. This isn’t unusual for this kind of film, but it seems to be foregrounded here more than I’ve seen before.

Also interesting is how the film’s title fits in. There’s a speech at the end by the Police Commissioner about how much we need the police patrolling this wild environment. He flicks on police radios reporting gunshots, murders, robberies, all happening simultaneously and constantly. However, the caper we just watched involved criminals and criminals acting against criminals and harming criminals. The only innocent victim is the jewelry store that’s robbed, and even then the loss is diminished, as it’s simply a large, well-insured jewelry store. The Asphalt Jungle, the city beneath the city, is presented as its own shadow domain that only occasionally crosses into ours. Presumably only the police can keep it at bay, despite the one we spend the most time with being crooked as hell.

The Asphalt Jungle was a solid movie I could easily re-watch.

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San Juan: The Game So Nice I Bought It Thrice

One of my favorite boardgames is actually a card game, San Juan. It’s a card game version of Puerto Rico, a game I don’t have much love for. San Juan, however, is the first game I ever rated a 10 on BGG. It’s a great game with an interesting idea: the cards are everything. They’re the buildings you’re constructing, the goods you produce, and the money you get for selling the goods.

You can skip this paragraph if you’re already familiar with the game. In San Juan there are five roles, each of which allows the players to do something. There’s also a bonus action for whoever chose that role. If I choose “Builder”, for example, everyone will get to build, but I will get a discount on the cost of the building. You want to maximize those bonuses for yourself and minimize how much they help others. Along the way you’ll produce and sell goods and also build up victory points. A few buildings have a cost of 6 (cards) and they give bunches of VPs based on other stuff you’ve built. When someone builds her twelfth building, the game ends and whoever has the most victory points wins. It’s a low-confrontation (you can’t burn down your opponents’ buildings), quick-playing game that is fairly easy to learn and has no downtime.

I’ve bought the game at least three times. A few years ago my dad and nephew came to visit and we played. My nephew enjoyed it, so I gave him my copy and bought myself a new one afterwards. Now there’s a new edition out and as soon as I saw it, I grabbed it. One of the few complaints I had about the game was that it got a little samey after a while. There was an expansion available, but only in a bundle with a bunch of other expansion I didn’t want. This edition includes that expansion, plus a new building, so boom, I went for it.

yayyy san juan now has a cathedral yayyy

Becky and I played three games of it this weekend (one without the new buildings, just to brush up on the rules). The new cards add a lot to the game without breaking its fundamentals. Essentially, all of the new buildings give you other methods for accomplishing things. There’s one that gets a good whenever you do the Councillor phase (and the good always sells for 2, which is great). The newest building, The Hut, gives you a card if you didn’t sell anything on the Trader phase. The Harbor lets you tuck a card when you sell goods, and those are worth VP at the end (and, since you never see your goods, you have no idea what you’re taking out of the game, which is interesting.) There’s a 7 cost building, the (what else?) Cathedral (ugh), which is available for anyone to build and gives you VPs based on how many of the 6-cost buildings other players build. The whole thing really opens up the play, but doesn’t complicate anything or add weird new elements.

In addition, some of the original buildings have been changed. Gold Mine, which originally gave you a card if you drew four different-cost cards, now gives you the lowest-priced card of those four, turning it from an occasional powerhouse to barely worth building, in my opinion. It wasn’t fantastic before, but now, unless there’s an Indigo strategy, it’s not great at all. Speaking of an Indigo Strategy, the Guild Hall has also been nerfed, which is unsurprising, since it was often houseruled anyway. It used to pay off 2VP per production building, which was crazy, and many people houseruled it to 2VP per production building type, putting it in line with other 6-cost buildings. The new version splits the difference: 1 VP per production building, and an additional 1 VP for each type of Production building. Seems fair. Also the cost of the Prefecture went from 3 to 4. Interestingly, the Library — which can be insanely powerful — has been unchanged, but I don’t know what they’d do with it, really.

Production-wise, the new edition is fine. The graphic design is a little better in some ways, with VPs standing out a lot more from costs (maybe this time when I teach it to people I can explain “THIS is the COST, THIS is how many VPS it’s worth” fewer than four times and have it actually sink in.) but the “purple” cards (non-production) are no longer purple, they’re all a dull gray. Production buildings are not a dull gray, but since Sugar is white and Silver is dark gray, it’s irritating. There are some quick visual cues, but they’re subtle (experienced players won’t have a problem, but it’ll be tougher for new ones). To complicate matters further, the expansion buildings DO have a purplish thing going on with them. In the image above (click on it to make it larger) the top row are the production buildings, and the bottom row is a mix of original non-production buildings (Poor House, Prefecture) and expansion non-production buildings (Tavern, Customs Office).

All in all, though, it’s a net positive. This is a game I love, and this edition overall is a welcome sight. I’m really looking forward to more pays of this.

Oh! And they give you another pencil, which is good. My original San Juan pencil was getting worn down.

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I Had That! #51: Kenner Star Wars Toys

I could have pieced this entry out more. It could have been all 52 entries by itself. As we’ve seen, Star Wars can’t be overemphasized in my youth, and Kenner’s line of toys played an enormous part of that. They were always around. They were always available as Christmas and Birthday gifts. Everyone had some.

The image above encapsulates my memories. I recall the Star Wars figure aisle at Lionel Playworld as a giant, sprawling expanse 14 feet high and a mile long, and while that’s the subject of some exaggeration, it’s still fairly accurate in the ways that count. If the nerd religion is consumerism, this was its Mecca, Vatican, and Parthenon all rolled up into one.

Thanks to this thread I was able to piece together all of the Kenner toys I had. The complete, as far as I can tell, list, is

Landspeeder – I don’t think I actually bought this or had it bought for me. I’m pretty sure I got one as part of a trade or something.

Vinyl Figure Carrying Case – as in, the carrying case was made of vinyl. Absolutely essential. I had several of these, as the number of figures I owned would outgrow them and also they weren’t made that well and came apart pretty easily.

Droid Factory – This was one of the cooler toys, featuring all kind of neat bits that almost immediately started getting lost.

Imperial Troop Transporter – This weird thing is apparently now a “real” object in one of the cartoons, I guess. I thought it was kind of cool and intended to try to make it in Lego, but many people have beaten me to that idea, including, now, Lego itself.

Dewback – It’s a big giant lizard; of course I had this.

Creature Cantina – Not the cardboard one, the plastic one with the opening doors and thing in the floor so figures could get shot and die.

Tauntaun – I didn’t have the “open belly” variant that I believe came later.

Millennium Falcon – This was the gem of my collection, as I didn’t have the famed Death Star playset. I even took some model paints to it to make it even more “realistic” looking.

Radio Controlled Sandcrawler – I’ve always loved the look of the Sandcrawler. The “radio controlled” business was actually kind of lame — it went forward or backed up in a curve, and made an awful racket doing so — but just being a Sandcrawler excited me.

Escape From Death Star Game – my friends and I played the hell out of this.

12″ Jawa – The only one of the 12″ figures I had. I liked the Jawas but I’m not sure why I needed a 12″ one.

Jigsaw Puzzles – I had a bunch of these, and I should have done an entry on all the jigsaw puzzles I had.

Darth Vader Carrying Case – eventually I “upgraded” to this, but still needed the vinyl ones for overflow.

Gun Turret And Probot – already discussed here.

Twin-Pod Cloud Car – Another goofy design I loved.

Slave 1 – I am pretty sure I had this, though not 100%.

Star Destroyer Bridge – I thought this was the coolest thing, though having Darth Vader’s “meditation chamber” on the bridge is hilarious. Did they have to keep their voices down when he was in there? “So help me god if one of you wakes up Vader I will be so angry!”

Those were all the vehicles and playsets and such that I had.

As for the action figures, Wikipedia can tell me exactly when I stopped buying them. The last wave of them I had was Wave F, which was on sale in 1981. I had no one following that. That means I stopped getting Star Wars toys by 1982, which, even though I was 14 then, still seems early to me. By 1982 I didn’t have my computer yet, but I was going gangbusters on Doctor Who, so that could explain it. What’s strange to me is how I went straight to zero; I had everything before that point and nothing after it.

A lot of my Star Wars toys were unloaded when I did get my computer. I traded them to my friend for disks of pirated games, and he gave them to his little brother.

Next week is the final entry in this series, and it’s appropriate. Any ideas on what it will be?

When did I get it? 1977-1982

Do I still have it? I still have some Star Wars figures but I’m not sure if they were the ones I personally had or if I picked them up elsewhere afterwards. I don’t still have any of the other stuff. I know for a fact that the “Bespin Han” I still have is my original.

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Comics I Read in January 2015

In trying to get back on the comics reading train, I’ve been keeping a close eye on what I have read, and I’ll be giving capsule-or-better opinions on them. That photo above is the pile from more-or-less January ’15. Obviously it doesn’t include digital stuff.

Okay so from top to bottom, here goes:

Seconds (O’Malley, Ballentine) – Generally eh. I’m too old to care too much about Young People Figuring Out Their Lives. The supernatural element just didn’t work for me either. And I don’t much like reading about food. So nothing here really clicked for me.

Street Angel (Rugg/Maruga, Top Shelf) – I fell in love with this when it first came out ages ago, but then I sold all my floppy comics and didn’t replace most of them. I jumped on the solicitation for this and am glad I did. It’s so great, all over again. Glad to finally have it on my shelf once more.

SAM: After Man (Marazano/Shang Xiao. Cinebook) – I’ve been on a Cinebook kick lately, enjoying their various translated Eurocomics offerings. This one was okay, but the notes it hits — post-apocalyptic, humans hunted by robots, possible “good” robot, scrappy kids — are all things I’ve seen a million times. Not bad, but not compelling enough to stick with for me.

Judge Dredd: Mega-City Two: City of Courts (Wolk/Farinas/Hill, IDW) – I like Farina’s art but man, this story was a mess. It was weirdly paced and I felt like half the panels were missing. I can’t tell you how many times I flipped back to see if I had overlooked something or if we were just dropping something new in suddenly. I stuck with it but eh.

Abe Sapien: Dark and Terrible (Mignola/Allie/Arcudi/Fiumara, Dark Horse) – I finally gave up on BPRD. I like the individual characters, but this global threat thing has completely turned me off. I thought maybe I’d avoid it in an Abe solo series but no dice. Even at this level I’m uninterested.

Everything volume 1: Blabber Blabber Blabber (Barry, Drawn & Quarterly) – I’ve never read anything by Lynda Barry, so I figured, why not start with EVERYTHING? Ha ha. Seriously, though, although I don’t know enough of her later work to really appreciate her growth, it was no problem, because this collection was charming and hilarious, and I’m read for more.

Lobster Johnson: Satan Smells a Rat (Mignola/Arcudi/Etc, Dark Horse) – Thankfully, despite my disinterest in the larger realm of the Hellboyverse, these comics are unaffected. Lobster Johnson is always a treat, even if I probably should just read the original comics it’s ripping off.

Nijigahara Holograph (Asano, Fantagraphics) – I heard really good things about this but I have to admit: it went straight over my head. I didn’t follow this at all. I kept it for now to give it another crack, though.

Hellboy in Hell: The Descent (Mignola/Stewart, Dark Horse) – I’ll stick with Hellboy himself to the bitter end, I think. I am hoping this series does wrap up his story for good. As much as I like the character, I’d love for him to have a definite end to his story. It would seem unfair to make him walk the Earth eternally.

Usagi Yojimbo: Red Scorpion (Sakai, Dark Horse) – Whenever I get a new Usagi trade I’m always hesitant, since I think, “Man, do I remember what happened in the last couple?” And every time it’s NO PROBLEM. Stan Sakai will get me up to speed in no time. Always an absolute joy, and this was a nicely self-contained arc.

Concrete Park: You Send Me (Puryear/Alexander, Dark Horse) – I read a bit of this in an anthology; not sure which one, and it seemed interesting. It’s a story of, essentially, a giant prison/ghetto on a different planet, where the residents (who are, of course, all non-white because even in the future prison is where we don’t keep the white people) have to sort of make a society as they go along. It just throws you in and expects you to keep up, which is tough, but doable. I had put this in the pile to trade in because, while I liked it, I wasn’t sure I’d roll with more of it, but I regretted that. Thankfully, the comic shop didn’t buy that one. I may get future volumes digitally.

Sucker Bait (Ingles/Etc, Fantagraphics) – This and Zero Hour below are part of Fantagraphics’ EC reprints series, focusing on specific writers and artists. These are always interesting, and I’ve pretty much been grabbing them all (except I’m not terribly interested in a lot of the crime or war ones.)

Shackleton: Arctic Odyssey (Bertozzi, First Second) – Cool retelling of the explorer’s attempt to cross Antarctica on foot. It’s a trip they said couldn’t be done, and (spoiler) it can’t. Not by him, at least. The expedition fails practically out the gate, but what they go through is still pretty damned incredible.

Cochlea & Eustachia (Rickheit, Fantagraphics) – Every now and then I like a bit of just plain obscure weirdness. I liked Rickheit’s The Squirrel Machine and I enjoyed this as well. Do I think I “got” it? Not really, but I enjoy the ride.

Zero Hour (Kamen/Etc, Fantagraphics) – see Sucker Bait.

Boo! Halloween Stories vol 2 (Morris/Etc, Monkeybrain) – This is from October, and featured a bunch of folks I knew. I bought it when it came out but had a hard time getting myself to read it because the fact that I was supposed to be in it as well and wasn’t still smarted. But there are some great and funny stories in here. It’s a fun collection, well worth the price.

Star Wars #1 (Aaron/Cassaday/Martin, Marvel) – It’s pretty clear the Star Wars desert skiff has sailed for me. I can’t say I won’t see the new movie when it comes out, but these days I don’t even know what kind of Star Wars content I’d like to see anymore. Not this. This was a pretty by-the-numbers Star Wars story featuring the appropriately drawn characters doing Star Warsian things and I just didn’t care about any of it. I seem to be in the minority and people like it a bunch, so I’m glad, but this sort of thing just doesn’t seem to have any resonance for me anymore.

Join me next month when I tackle the stack some more. I am hoping to at some point run out of stuff I bought and need to read! Maybe I’ll eventually get to re-read some things I’ve had my eye on!

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Time And Relative Dimensions in Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene

There’s big news on two of my nerd fronts simultaneously. Lego announced its results for the current batch of Lego Ideas entries, and it’s something of a surprise.

I’ll talk about that in a second, but first let’s talk about Lego Ideas. Lego Ideas, nee Cuusoo, is a thing where fans can suggest Lego sets and themes and then vote on the ones they’d like to see become reality. If the idea gets 10,000 votes, Lego looks at it and considers making it for reals.

Let’s look at the top vote getters in this batch. These are projects suggested by Lego fans which garnered 10,000 votes to be produced.

Notice anything about that array? Every one of them, other than the Hubble Space Telescope, is a licensed property. In fact, three of them are from people who feel that the Star Wars license is being under-served by Lego and could use more.

Now, I grant you that Lego Ideas is primarily of interest to older builders who are looking for “collectibles” rather than toys. If one wants a Lego TARDIS console, it can be built; that’s sort of the raison d’etre of Lego. The primary audience for Lego Ideas seems to be casual Lego fans who just want to see something they already like be Lego. When I’ve seen projects on Lego Ideas that appeal to builders, they languish. A vote for, say, a Lego 12 Years a Slave set is a vote for 12 Years a Slave that happens to be taking place on a Lego site. Lego could make money just by creating solid one-piece statues of known properties with a “Lego” look to them instead of bothering to make them actual sets. (I should fairly point out that there have been a number of non-licensed Lego Ideas sets.)

Nevertheless, next time someone out there is bellyaching about the tragedy of licensed Lego sets, it may be useful to remind them that, given the whole of imagination to work with, many Lego fans seem to want to build things they already know. And Lego is more than happy to sell it to them. This doesn’t change the fact that there are still plenty of unbranded Lego sets, and also there are still just the “regular” bricks you can buy and if that’s still not enough imagination for you you can go buy a bag of sugar cubes and let your muse run wild.

Alternatively, if you don’t care about sets as sets, there’s good news! Branded sets cost pretty much the same as non-branded ones, are 100% compatible, and can be used to build whatever you want, myths of “special pieces” notwithstanding. Lego is Lego and it all builds.

So, as for the Doctor Who set itself, this is quite puzzling, as there’s already an expansive line of Doctor Who Lego-compatible building brick toys going strong. I’m not sure how this sort of thing will work.

In discussions I’ve seen people are getting crazy excited about this, to the point where I’ve witnessed folks demanding a Turlough mini-fig, which is something that I have a hard time imagining even Turlough would want. Lego hasn’t announced a Doctor Who line, they’ve announced a Doctor Who set. Could it maybe turn into a line, as the Minecraft thing did? I don’t know, but Minecraft did not have an existing contract with a different company. I think it’s highly likely that we’re looking at a one-shot thing, probably featuring a TARDIS with interior, 12th Doctor, Clara, and maybe a Dalek or Cyberman. Much as I may want to see a Lego Taran Beast, I think that’s probably not in the cards.

Will I get it? I absolutely will get it.

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The Movies-To-Watch List: Fast & Furious (2009)

Ok I watched it.
Fine, here’s more. The original Movies To Watch List was put together to fulfill multiple goals, one of which was to broaden my pop culture experiences. As when we watched the Harry Potter, there are things that are entering (or have entered) the lexicon and keeping at least half an eye on them. The “Fast and Furious” series is one of those things, and some folks I know adored them, so I checked out one.

This is actually the fourth movie in the series, but it’s a sort of reboot with the original cast. I was assured that I would have no trouble following it, which was half true. There were certainly references to previous events, which I had to piece together, but it wasn’t like I was assembling a complex timepiece. In fact, the DVD Netflix sent us was badly worn and we had to skip chapter 10 altogether, which explained the final third of the movie and it was no problem.

It’s not that I disliked the movie, it’s just…well, it was pretty much exactly what I expected. The racing was pretty cool (though not as much of it as I’d imagined) and exciting, especially since the movie takes place in a utopian parallel Los Angeles where there are no cops other than FBI, who are solely interested in drug trafficking.

Whenever there wasn’t racing on the screen the movie struggled to hold interest. None of the characters are interesting, none of the things they do are interesting, none of the reasons they’re racing are interesting. Absolutely nothing is gained from watching the non-racing portions. There isn’t even nudity. I imagine that website which tells you when it’s okay to go pee in a movie just says, “if someone is talking” for this movie.

I’m not a movie snob. I like plenty of dumb junk. But this? I was about ready to clock out only 17 minutes in. Boo to this. Boo to Fast and Furious.

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1/31 Not Safe

After hearing a lot about it, I backed the new printing of Omen: A Reign of War on Kickstarter. The designer, John Clowdus, is one I’m familiar with, and as I say, the game got good reviews, so it wasn’t the usual unknown Kickstarter quantity. Clowdus kept us informed of the status, including when they shipped, and sure enough I got a shipping notice several days ago.

All looked set for arrival, but when it didn’t show up, I checked again. This time the tracking number that Clowdus had sent, via, read “January 31, 2015, 13:11, SPRINGFIELD, MA 01108, UNDELIVERABLE AS ADDRESSED”. I was confused by this, as the address Clowdus had for me was correct. I’d been at home all day on January 31, and no one had knocked on the door or anything.

Yesterday I called the USPS and went through their automated system to schedule a redelivery. The package, a 6″ x 10″ bubble envelope, arrived today as I requested. And now I know the rest of the story, as “1/31 not safe” was written on it.

Now, we’ve gotten some snow here, as you may have heard. Not a crazy amount, but a New England in January amount. I now have a snow blower, and have stayed on top of clearing the driveway, front walk, and sidewalks. There’s ice around, because there’s always ice around, but nothing out of the ordinary for this season. What I’m saying is, my walkway was no more unsafe on Saturday than any other home’s on Saturday, or any other day in January.

What’s more, they didn’t actually leave me any indication that they hadn’t delivered the package. I realize that’s a bit of a paradox, since to leave a note they’d have to cross the unsafe frozen wastes of my sidewalk to tell me they weren’t dropping off a package due to the unsafe frozen wastes of my sidewalk. But that’s kind of their problem to solve, not mine. If the shipper hadn’t sent me the tracking number, I would have no way of knowing that the USPS was not delivering my package.

And Monday, when things were actually worse than Saturday because of currently falling snow, I not only got mail, I got a package from overseas. But not that other package. It didn’t arrive until after I called the USPS on Monday and requested they re-deliver on Tuesday, when it arrived.

So what was the plan here? There’s snow, so just, “Nope! Can’t be done!” and then what? Send it back? “Sorry, but after this traveled hundreds of miles there was some snow in the last couple yards so it’s coming back home.” How does that make any sense? Send me a note at some point saying they have the package that was paid to be delivered to me if I want to come pick it up?

I’m a supporter of the US Postal Service and know they normally do a very good job despite the constant harassment they receive, but this…this is about as weak as it gets, folks.

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I Had That! #50: Other Action Figures

The clock is running out on this feature, but I had planned to combine some entries anyway as, on their own, there wasn’t a whole lot to say.

The success of the 3.5″ Star Wars action figures took the toy world by storm. At last, companies had a way to sell dolls to boys, and the only secret was making them smaller and less soft than dolls. Suddenly every movie and TV show that came out had action figures, some better than others.

The Battlestar Galactica line was one of the lower quality lines. Though boasting the same amount of articulation (not much) as the Star Wars figures, they seemed…lumpier…than their competitors. Every single Battlestar Galactica figure looks like a bootleg of a better one but nope, these are the real things. I’m fairly sure I only got one figure in the line, which was Muffit 2, the robot dog. He came in two colors for some reason and while I liked the dark brown one, something happened (I don’t know what) that caused me to have to re-buy him and all they had was the blonde version. I got it but I didn’t like that one as much, even though it was otherwise identical.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Buck Rogers figures were fantastic. They had elbow, waist, and knee articulation and were made with a harder plastic that held details better and took full advantage of this. Although I wasn’t crazy about the TV show, I had a bunch of the figures, with my favorite being Twiki. Who wouldn’t love a robot in a skirt with a pageboy haircut? The unfortunate side to the Buck Rogers figures, other than them being figures of characters from Buck Rogers, was that this harder plastic was also more brittle, and at least two of the ones I owned had their arms broken at the elbow joints. When this happened to Twiki and Krazy Glue failed to save him, I replaced him, but he was the only one saved in this way.

Disney’s run at the science-fiction blockbuster was The Black Hole, a weird mish-mash of kid-friendly, gruesome violence, a stab at Kubrickian mysticism, and Ernest Borgnine. Had I known at the time that this would be my only shot at an Ernest Borgnine action figure, I may have jumped on it. Alas, all I think I got from this was the robot, V.I.N.Cent (voiced by Roddy McDowall, so there you go.) Why always with the robots? Thanks to the Star Wars line, I already had plenty of figures of just plain people. An action figure of Anthony Hopkins in a turtleneck just wasn’t as appealing as a flying robot.

Now here’s a line I went all out on. Look at them; how could I not? Not much detail, slightly out of scale with other figures, weird gummy plastic, and little articulation, but man, that clear plastic was awesome. There were only four in the series and I had them all. (Tron himself, who was purple so as not to be a copy of Flynn, is not in that photo.) The figures look like they might glow in the dark, but they didn’t. Their accessories (identity discs/frisbees for all except the guard, who had a staff) did, at least until you lost them.

I was a little too old for G.I. Joes when they came out, so I never really got into them too much. I watched a bit of the cartoon after school, but not regularly. However, I couldn’t deny that even though I didn’t care much about the army men or ninjas (I was the sole 80s kid who wasn’t enthralled by ninjas) they had some who were super cool, and this B.A.T.S. trooper was the coolest. I had no idea at the time that these were disposable grunts who got mowed down by the dozens, all I knew was he came with four different goddamn hands (and a backpack to carry them around in, as one does.) Naturally I lost the extra hands ASAP and glued the remaining hand (the normal one) on so as to prevent him from being called “Stumpy”. I eventually got a few more Joes, again based solely on their looks and accessories. They went out with the Big Nerd Box, but you can see them here.

Who isn’t here? Some notable lines that I for some reason avoided were Micronauts (no idea how these didn’t captivate me), Masters of the Universe (I was neither young enough nor, from what I’ve heard, gay enough to enjoy this line), Indiana Jones (I only barely remember even seeing these for sale), and any of the various superhero lines. Around this time there were Doctor Who action figures, which aren’t great, but they weren’t easily available in the States; I would much later get my hands on a few of them

When did I get it? Various points in the late 70s and early 80s.

Do I still have it? I don’t have any Muffits, but for a while I had a couple of other Galactica figures I picked up at a tag sale. I think they went out with the nerd box. I still have Twiki. I had V.I.N.Cent for a long time (with the white guns broken off, which seems to be a common ailment of those) but he’s not around now. I have Flynn and the guard from TRON, and I even still somehow have Flynn’s disc! I still have my B.A.T.S., but his internal rubber band disintegrated and I haven’t gotten around to fixing it.

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