Category: TV

Val’s Toy Chest- Buffy Turns 20, Star Wars Turns 40…

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is quite possibly my favorite TV series of all time. It also turned 20 years old this year, which is quite jarring considering that was the same year I graduated high school. I bring up Buffy in this week’s column because I finally got to meet Sarah Michelle Gellar last week. Sarah was promoting a new cookbook that she wrote at Barnes and Noble. Unfortunately B&N changed their picture policy at the last minute, so no shot of me and Sarah to share with you all. That being said, Sarah was nice and I was thrilled to meet Buffy herself during the year of her anniversary. Sarah is also the latest member of the Buffy cast that I have had the pleasure to interact with as well.

As with Star Trek, my first introduction to Buffy was through the toys- I remember checking out the Moore Action Collectibles line and falling in love with the Buffy Season 3 Cordelia figure since she had a real chain on her purse. Little details like that was what compelled me to start collecting the line and also start watching the show. Cordy has been my favorite Buffyverse character and Charisma Carpenter my favorite Buffyverse actress since then.

What I enjoyed most about the show was of course the strong female protagonists, the humor and the action. I can put on an episode of Buffy and get drawn right back into the story and the characters.

Moore eventually released 4 waves of Buffy figures and 1 from Buffy’s spinoff, Angel but closed their doors before releasing Buffy Series 5 and Angel Series 2. Diamond Select Toys picked up the license and the molds for both series and released them under the Moore brand name in 2004. After Buffy Series 6(the Tara and Anya wave), and Angel Series 3(Wesley and Lorne)- Diamond started crafting their own figures which had nice sculpts but ended up being too tall for the rest of the line. Diamond would continue the Buffy line through 2007 ending with a super-articulated line featuring Kendra, Willow and Kennedy. The Buffy figure license would also be covered by 12″ Sideshow line as well as the more recent Funko ReAction figures and POPs.

Speaking of anniversaries, this year is also Star Wars‘ 40th Anniversary(and Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s 30th, but that’s a tale for another time…). To celebrate, Hasbro has decided to rerelease a bunch of the 6″ Star Wars Black figures in brand-new packaging based on the Kenner vintage figures’ cardbacks. We should be receiving our first batch of figures from this series this week. Figures in the first wave including Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia Organa, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Han Solo and R2-D2. There will be a few new characters in the next wave which should be out later this year. Star Wars enthusiasts late to the Star Wars Black line will especially want to pay attention to Han and R2, as both figures have been long unavailable since their initial release a few years back.

The other big news is that we have received POPs of my most anticipated super hero film this year- Wonder Woman! Currently in stock are Wonder Woman herself, Steve Trevor and Hippolyta. Each POP stands about 3 3/4″ tall and have highly detailed sculpting. Wonder Woman has been selling steadily and I anticipate we’ll be sold out by next week. Other Funko Wonder Woman products include the POP keychain and a Rock Candy of Diana in her Amazonian attire. That won’t be all the Wonder Woman toys we’ll be getting either as I have Multiverse 6″ and 12″ figures as well as 12″ dolls on the way. I’ll definitely talk about the other Wonder Woman stuff as it comes in.

To celebrate Buffy’s 20th- here’s my five favorite episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer:

5. “Hush”(Season 4)- Joss Whedon had a brilliant idea to craft an episode where there is no speech for a majority of the runtime, so everything had to be acted out to convey whatever meaning he was trying to get across. Joss would later do an episode with no music(Season 5’s “The Body”), as well as an all-musical episode(Season 6’s “Once More with Feeling”)- this one started it all and is quite a great and scary episode.

4. “Becoming, Part 2” (Season 2)- The culmination of season 2 finds Buffy trying her hardest to save Angel even though he was now soulless and bent on destroying the world. Buffy has to make a heartbreaking decision and it still gets to me every time I watch it.

3. “Prophecy Girl” (Season 1)- I’ve always maintained that if you don’t fall in love with the show after watching the season 1 ender, Buffy was probably not for you. New alliances are formed, the Big Bad is vanquished and the Slayer actually DIES for a spell. Definitely a strong performance from Gellar when she tells Giles that she’s only 16 years old and doesn’t want to die- even though the prophecy says she will.

2. “The Wish” (Season 3)- Cordelia’s had her heart broken by Xander and wishes that Buffy never came to Sunnydale with nightmarish results after vengeance demon(and future girlfriend of Xander) Anyanka fulfills that very wish. Xander and Willow are vampires, Angel is imprisoned and Buffy is no-nonsense but extremely reckless. Great use of the alternate universe trope.

1. “Passion” (Season 2)- Hands down, my all time favorite episode, this one has everything from an evil Angel terrorizing all of Buffy’s friends and family to the heartbreaking murder(performed by Angelus) of one of the more prominent recurring characters during the first two seasons.  This episode changed everything about the show and showed that all bets were off.

That’s all for me this week- see you next time!

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Val’s Toy Chest- She’s Back!

First things first- Just announced as I started writing this- Katie Cassidy will be back as a regular castmember on Arrow next season. I know I rag on the show all the time, but they’ve earned that with their treatment of Dinah Laurel Lance in the past. Katie is playing Laurel’s Earth-2 doppelganger, Black Siren starting with the last two episodes of this current season. Is all forgiven with the show for me?- absolutely not. I am proceeding with caution.

Speaking of DCTV though, what’d you think of the Musical Flash episode? I got to watch it over the weekend and was blown away by Melissa Benoist’s rendition of the classic “Moon River.” Both of the songs Grant Gustin sang on were enjoyable as well. My only complaint- not enough music for a musical episode. I enjoyed it so much, I picked up the soundtrack on iTunes.

We got some more cases of the Star Wars Black Series Wave 9 in this week and the Princess Leia we’ve received with this shipment has the brand-new head sculpt- she looks nothing like the previous figure and has a better likeness to Carrie Fisher. Definitely check her out if you get a chance.  Obi-Wan, Sabine Wren, A Snowtrooper, AT-AT Driver and Darth Revan round out this series, which has been one of the better waves of SW Black in a long time.

New this week:

DC is back with a whole new Designer Series set- this time focused on Amanda Conner. Amanda is currently on Harley Quinn as artist and this release will feature two different Harleys. One is classic Harley and the other is a Spacesuit Harley Quinn figure. That isn’t all from DC Collectibles this week either, as we see the long-awaited Batman Animated New Batman Adventures Dark Knight Returns 3 Pack featuring Batman, Carrie Kelley Robin and the Mutant Leader as they all appeared in the classic TNBA episode: “Legends of the Dark Knight.” Each figure will feature several accessories and the usual points of articulation you’ve come to expect from a DC Collectibles Animated Batman figure.

POP fans have a couple of things to look forward to within the next few weeks. Laura Palmer from Twin Peaks and Wonder Woman Movie POPs should be arriving by the end of the week/early next week. I personally can’t wait to see the Wonder Woman POPs because that means the film is even closer to being released.

Speaking of POPs- last week, we got a restock on several POP vinyls, including some we haven’t seen in years- Nightwing, Batman Beyond, The Joker, E.T., The Hulk, Silver Surfer, Splinter, the Phantom and so much more are ready for your perusal. Some newer stuff like the Dr Seuss collection, Winnie the Pooh and A Bug’s Life are also available now and brand new Steven Universe POPs have started to arrive including Peridot, Rose Quartz and Lapis.

That’s it for me this week- see you next time!

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Val’s Toy Chest Extra- Who’s Who in the DC Universe- Hawkgirl

This week’s print issue of the Weekly Planet has another Who’s Who entry to commemorate the release of DC Collectibles’ brand new Hawkgirl/Kendra Saunders action figure from the CW’s DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. For the previous entry, go here.

Template based on the 1985 DC Comics series: Who’s Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe.

Layout: Justin Bacolo

Text: Valentine Chhann

Note: Height and Weight info was researched online for both this entry and the previous one.

HGWhosWho

 

 

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Val’s Toy Chest- Smorgasbord

This week sees the beginning of all-new episodes for the CW’s DC TV shows, some notable figures this week and some Funko news straight out of London Toy Fair- let’s begin!

Supergirl, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow will all have aired by the time you read this article, with Arrow premiering tonight. This week’s Arrow features the return of Katie Cassidy as Laurel Lance and from all the trailers out there, it looks like she will be playing Black Siren, who debuted at the end of the second season of the Flash. Whether or not she ends up claiming the mantle that was left open with the controversial death of Black Canary last season remains to be seen and from other sources, it seems they may be setting up a new, original character as Black Canary. Color me not happy. We’ll see where this goes, but right now I’m waiting to see how much more Arrow can screw up.  My only hope is that Katie is signed up to appear on all the other DC shows this season save Supergirl(for now), so maybe she’ll remain Black Canary yet.

New toys are still sparse this week, but there’s at least one new Marvel Select figure ready to arrive this week. Benedict Cumberbatch fans can rejoice as Diamond Select Toys has crafted a brand new Marvel Select figure of the Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Strange! Based on his appearance from the 2016 feature film,  the Dr. features a diorama base, costuming accurate to the film and the likeness of Mr. Cumberbatch. Should be a popular one.   Back in stock this week is the neat Destroyer/Odin figure that we originally received last week. I’ve never been a follower of the Thor franchise, but this particular figure is gorgeous. Featuring a shiny metallic-esque body and interchangeable heads, I can see this figure flying out of here as fast as it did last week. Just in this week are the Death Trooper Star Wars: Rogue One Hot Toys as well as a 1/4 scale Iron Man Mark XLV from Avengers: Age of Ultron.

London Toy Fair is happening and Funko debuted plenty of goodies to their devoted Funatics this week. Debuting for the first time are Twin Peaks POPs and 3 3/4″ Action Figures,  a second POP set of Batman: The Animated Series, Lord of the Rings POPs, Alias POPs and more.  Mystery Minis include DCTV and Retro Games, plus there’s more from Funko’s other toylines as well.

Briefly:

DC Collectibles announced a brand new Batman: The Animated Series 5 pack ahead of Toy Fair and boy is it a doozy. Each figure comes with accessories and is housed in their own jail cells. Featured figures include: Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze, Bane, and Killer Croc in their B:TAS looks as well as first time figure Renee Montoya. Definitely a good-looking set, but maybe too rich for my blood at the moment.

Garbage Pail Kids Series 2 Blind Boxes are in, continuing the theme from last year’s hit series based on the classic Topps trading cards.

The next Hot Toys figures scheduled to arrive should be Ant-Man and Scarlet Witch from Captain America: Civil War, I’ll keep you informed as they get closer.

Two classic TV heroes meet for the first time in comic book form this week, with the physical release of Batman ’66 meets Wonder Woman ’77. See the worlds of Adam West and Lynda Carter collide in this special miniseries from DC. On a related note, Wonder Woman ’77 will also continue her team-up with the Bionic Woman on this week’s comic book shelves.

That’s all for me this week! Catch you next time!

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Val’s Toy Chest- A Voyage to the Star Trek Convention…

If you’ve been reading my column since its inception, you’ve probably guessed that I am a fan of a LOT of different properties. One of those is Star Trek. I don’t generally mention Star Trek too much in this column since there has been a dearth of product from the license in recent years. Plus- my favorite Trek is Star Trek: The Next Generation, followed closely by Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and there’s not a lot of product going on for either lately, save the occasional trading card set and high-end figures for TNG. That being said there is at least one cool TNG product coming within the next year, which I will mention at the end of this article. All that being said, I attended my very first Star Trek Convention this past weekend and it was a lot of fun, though different than what my usual con experience is.

I went to the Star Trek Mission New York 50th Anniversary Con on Friday with the intent on meeting some of my favorite women of Star Trek. I checked my Facebook feed before I left for the show and found out that another of my faves was going to be there. Denise Crosby wasn’t listed on the website as an attending guest but was there anyway to promote Star Trek Online, where she voices one of her TNG characters, Sela. Denise was signing complimentary 8×10 photos promoting the game and was also posing for candid photos with her fans. Crosby has long been on my bucket list of TNG actresses to meet, so naturally I jumped at the chance to see Lt. Tasha Yar in person. Denise was an absolute pleasure to meet and she was accommodating, making sure to make time for everyone who had come to see her.

IMG_0733I will say this much about the show floor itself- it was tiny. I can understand this since it was the first official Star Trek convention in NYC in quite some time, but if you were looking for a wide selection of older/vintage items, this sadly was not the convention for it. The exhibitors were mostly involved in either gaming, currency, starship models, magazines and even postage stamps that debuted at this convention. That being said, it was still a fairly cool experience. As I had a few hours to kill, I decided to attend the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine panel that took place on the main stage.  Castmembers in attendance were Rene Auberjonois (Odo), Michael Dorn(Worf), Terry Farrell(Jadzia Dax), Cirroc Lofton (Jake Sisko), Armin Shimerman (Quark) and Nana Visitor(Kira). The six castmates had an hour long discussion about the show, acting as a profession and other interesting topics. As I was only going the one day, I decided to meet Terry Farrell and get an autograph from her as opposed to a professional photo with her, since you don’t get to interact much with the latter and almost none of the actors offered table photos.  Terry was as pretty as she was back during the heyday of DS9 and I briefly mentioned to her how Dax was my favorite DS9 character. Interestingly enough, though I forgot to mention my enjoyment of it to her, Terry played the role of the mannequin on a brief vacation in the remake of my all-time favorite Twilight Zone episode, “The After Hours.”

I did some more walking around after that and finally got what I most wanted to get out of this convention- a picture with Gates McFadden, a.k.a Dr. Beverly Crusher, my favorite Trek character of all time. The Gates interaction was brief, but she made it a point to greet the fan coming in for the photo op before we smiled for the camera. I did get to meet McFadden back in 2014, but that was a similar situation where I chose one option over the other. Being amongst all the Star Trek actors, made me want to start meeting more of them, particularly the TNG ones. Patrick Stewart is at the top of my list, and I should meet Armin Shimerman one of these days since he is also a Buffy the Vampire Slayer alum.  All-in-all I had a great time at Mission 50 and would do it all over again.

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The cool TNG item coming out next year is a blind bag series by Titan, featuring the entirety of Picard’s original crew as well as some notable aliens. These are similar to the Dr. Who ones we currently carry.

Briefly: DC Collectibles has three new figures out this week from the Greg Capullo designer series including Wonder Woman, The Flash, and a new Batman. We will also be getting a restock on the Flash and Captain Cold TV figures, which join our still in stock Arrow, Black Canary, Heat Wave, Malcolm Merlyn, and Reverse Flash figures. Reenact your own adventures with these detailed figures from the different CW series…AND if you can’t wait til she crosses over with the Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and that other show, the Mattel DC Multiverse figure of Melissa Benoist’s Supergirl will also be arriving on our shelves this week.

Ripley, Alien Queen and the first of the Preacher TV POPs have arrived in stock and Legends of Tomorrow should be real soon…

That’s all for me this week- see you next time!

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Val’s Toy Chest- Heroes and Villains Day One

Way back in January, I was excited to go to the inaugural NY/NJ Heroes and Villains Fan Fest held at the Meadowlands Convention Center. I had purchased my ticket to the show on Black Friday the year before- and was anticipating two days of meeting and greeting the stars of my then favorite show. Then- Arrow Season 4, Episode 18 happened and I was DONE. I had been spoiled about the events of that episode prior to them unfolding, but I was hoping that the producers were putting out false spoilers to hide someone else’s fate. Regular readers of this column know how upset I was(and still am) about the unnecessary death of Dinah Laurel Lance/The Black Canary on Arrow earlier this year, so going to Heroes and Villains after breaking up with the show was going to be an interesting experience for me. Of course, since Arrow is part of the CW DC TV Universe, actors from that show, The Flash, and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow were going to be in attendance at the con. I still like the latter two shows, though LoT has me a little upset with the decision to can Hawkgirl and Hawkman. And speaking of Hawkgirl- actress Ciara Renee was one of the biggest draws for me at this convention as I’ve enjoyed her portayal of Kendra Saunders throughout the three series. I headed on over to New Jersey on Saturday with my friend Kim and we met Ciara first thing that day. She was very lovely as we chatted briefly and I told her that I was going to miss seeing her as Kendra on a regular basis. She also loved Kim’s shirt. I got an autographed 8×10 from her(which ended up being the only one I got the entire weekend), as well as a picture at her table with me and Kim in the shot.

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We spent a lot of Saturday walking around as everyone I wanted to meet had massive lines. I managed to luck out and get on Caity Lotz‘s line during one of the rare times where she wasn’t bombarded with a long queue of people. Caity, for those of you who aren’t fans of the different shows, plays an original character named Sara Lance, sister of Laurel Lance, and in the show continuity, was the inspiration for the Black Canary. Sara portrayed the Canary, a League of Assassins member during season 2 of Arrow, before she was killed off to launch Laurel towards her Black Canary destiny. Sara returned to life via the Lazarus Pit and joined LoT as the White Canary, who is a rather enjoyable character. I decided just to get a picture since I owned one of Caity’s autographed Arrow season 2 trading cards already. She was a doll during our brief meeting and I definitely want to meet her again. IMG_0633

Much like her TV sister, Katie Cassidy had a huge line all weekend. Now I’ve met Katie before, but she’s one that I could meet over and over again, especially since she was the live action version of my favorite comic book character. Since I’ve met her before and got an autograph in person and on a trading card, I opted for the photo- a little blurry, but you can tell its us.

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After the picture was taken, I mentioned to Katie that I was annoyed about Laurel’s death and that I wasn’t going to watch Arrow anymore. Katie told me that I still should, but I told her that I wouldn’t until they announce that she’s coming back. She thought that was sweet of me. Great experience with her as always.

My final picture for Saturday was with Willa Holland, whom I will miss seeing as Speedy/Thea Queen, unless she is in a crossover episode. Very brief encounter with her as well, but she seemed really into her fans, which was nice to see, I definitely wouldn’t mind meeting her again either. She also had a massive line all weekend.IMG_0639

Briefly- new Star Wars: The Force Awakens POPs are in, including Maz Kanata, General Leia, FN-2199, Kylo Ren Unmasked, Snap Wexley, ME-809 and the Guavian. Luke is almost gone, though we should be getting more and Rey and Hux haven’t arrived as of this writing. New Marvel Comic-based POPs are also here including Dr. Strange, Doc Ock, Spider-Gwen and the Falcon. These join the previously released She-Hulk and Captain Marvel. Next time: Part 2 of my Heroes and Villains Con experience! See you next week!

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Val’s Toy Chest- Convention Season Is Upon Us

It is convention season as comic cons will begin their summer reign as soon as this weekend.  MegaCon is taking place in Florida over this coming Memorial Day weekend, next weekend is Wizard World Philadelphia and Awesome Con, and there’s several other conventions forthcoming locally and far away all the way thru October.  Whether you are a comic book fan, a Star Trek fan or even a horror movie buff, there’s surely some convention that’ll strike your fancy.  I won’t go into crazy detail in this column, but there’s some cool people going to the various cons, plus there’s bound to be exclusive toys as well.

If you’re into actors from the various TV shows and movies- next week’s Wizard World will have a bunch of actors from the Marvel Cinematic Universe including Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston and Hayley Atwell. Dominic Cooper will also attend, now also known for his role as Jesse Custer on AMC’s Preacher.  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows actor Stephen Amell will also be around next weekend in Philly. I won’t get into the rest of the conventions in this column, but there will surely be a few I will attend. You’ll get my reports then.

How awesome was Black Siren in last week’s episode of The Flash? Though I am still salty about the Black Canary‘s demise on Felicity and Friends, I did enjoy seeing Katie Cassidy vamping it up as her Earth-2 Doppelganger. Icon Heroes just announced that they will be releasing a bookend/statue of Laurel’s Canary which joins the previous Flash, Atom, and that dude with the green outfit that shoots pointy sticks from a bow. Though I refuse to buy anymore product from that show, Laurel product is fair game.  Speaking of Black Canary, Rebirth comes out from DC Comics this week and one of the developments finds her and Oliver reuniting after the past four years completely out of each other’s orbits. I am super-excited to see what Benjamin Percy has in store for our iconic duo and if he is to be believed, we will see neither hide nor hair of that tech-gal now known as Overwatch anywhere near his story.

After a long hiatus, DC Collectibles has a few items hitting this week. First and foremost is the Arkham Knight Red Hood figure, featuring the character as he appeared in the popular series of videogames. There is also a brand new entry into the Bombshells series of statues with the debut of Barbara Minerva as the Cheetah. The Cheetah is depicted in classic safari garb with cheetah print peppered thru her outfit. Finally, a new Joker bust is due out this week based on a design by Jim Lee. It’s good to be getting new DC Collectibles again and I hope their schedule gets back on track soon.

On a final note- we should be getting a new Hot Toy really soon. Fans of Samuel L. Jackson can rejoice as we will be receiving our stock of Nick Fury as seen in last summer’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. I anticipate that this will be a popular piece, especially since so many people missed the original Fury that was issued after the original Avengers movie was released.

That’s it for me this time- catch you next time!

 

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Val’s Toy Chest- A Siren Drops In on The Flash

It has been over a month since I last watched the CW show that shall not be named. I still watch the other CW series since they weren’t the ones to deal the killing blow to my favorite character.  By the time this makes it into your hands, The Flash will have aired its penultimate episode of the season. Since this is an unexpected sequel to last week’s all-villain edition of the Weekly Planet, I thought I’d share some thoughts on the Black Siren, the Flash TV show’s villainous Earth-2 version of Black Canary– plus the usual toy news you’ve come to expect from my column with some skewing towards the villains.

For fans of the Cartoon Network’s Justice League series, the Black Siren was an alternate universe version of the Black Canary, at the time of Siren’s introduction, Canary hadn’t appeared in any significant manner, if at all, in the animated universe started by Batman: The Animated Series. The Black Siren alias Donna Nance was a member of the Justice Guild of America, an analog of the classic 1940’s team, The Justice Society of America. The episodes featured a weird setting where the Justice League seemed to be caught in a world where time froze in the 50s and Black Siren was super-domesticated- think June Cleaver or Lucy Ricardo. When Laurel Lance died this season, it was immediately announced that Katie Cassidy would reprise her role as an alternate version of Laurel. It was later revealed that her character would be named Black Siren after the JL character which Andrew Kreisberg, now executive producer of The Flash had a hand in creating. In contrast to the original animated character, the Flash’s Black Siren looks to be a gothy, vampy, black-leather clad villainess working for this season’s villain, Zoom and who possesses a costume very close to the comic book Black Canary’s traditional look, down to her choker and bustier. Why the other show couldn’t get it right, I can’t say. To further distinguish Black Siren from Black Canary, this version has the metahuman sonic scream that was denied to Laurel’s Canary during her four seasons. In my ideal scenario, Laurel would come back from the dead and reclaim the Canary moniker and kick some butt, but the execs on that show seem to want to keep her dead for some stupid reason. My second choice is to have this Earth-2 Laurel reform and become the “real” Black Canary from the comics- basically anything to have my favorite character on TV again. I hope the ratings are way up so the CW can see that killing her off was a grave error.

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As far as toys go- we’ve gotten some exciting pieces in this week. If you like your DC characters, we now have the complete set of new DC POP vinyl figures in. These include Cyborg, Supergirl, Power Girl, Firestorm and Black Manta. The Firestorm piece is pretty awesome and has been a fast seller and I anticipate Supergirl will do well because of the TV show. We have also gotten a restock on the Darth Vader POP vinyl and still have the Hot Toys Boba Fett in regular and deluxe version with a Sarlacc Pit base. If you are a fan of the Star Wars Black Series, we also have the 6″ Darth Vader back in stock, possibly for the last time. DC Collectibles’ Animated Batman line also has its share of memorable villains including Joker, Riddler, Man-Bat, Roxy Rocket and Harley Quinn, which are all back in stock too. Marvel fans have the amazing Venom 6″ Marvel Legends figure to drool over with his interchangeable heads including a McFarlanesque sculpt. We also have more stock on everyone’s favorite mad Titan with the Diamond Select Marvel Select Thanos figure.

We are also expecting figures from the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film. The usual suspects are here, including all four Turtles, Casey Jones, plus villains such as The Shredder, Bebop, Rocksteady, Krang and a Foot Soldier. The figures are all in 5″ scale and feature multiple accessories and full articulation.

On the higher end of things, we have some great villain statues in stock. There’s the Michelle Pfeiffer Catwoman statue from Batman Returns by Tweeterhead, DC Collectibles’ Joker and Harley Quinn, a Julie Newmar Catwoman from Diamond Select Toys, a Star Wars Captain Phasma vinyl statue from Kotobukiya and so much more.

That’s pretty much it for me this week. Hope you enjoyed our look at some of the villains we have strewn throughout the store, as well as the brief history of the Black Siren. Catch you all next time with more toy news and rumors.

 

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Val’s Toy Chest Extra- R.I.P. Arrow 2012-2016

THIS PIECE DOES NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEW OF FPNYC JUST YOURS TRULY

A few years ago, I found myself at Target on Thanksgiving night and saw season 1 of the CW series Arrow on sale, so I decided to give it a shot- one since I was a massive DC fan, two since I am and always will be a fan of Dinah Laurel Lance, the Black Canary whom I knew was a regular character on the series. It helped that an actress(Katie Cassidy) that I liked from previous roles was cast as Laurel, which was the name they called her by on the show and I also knew she wasn’t Black Canary yet. I didn’t watch the series right away, but when I did, I was hooked. It had action, a strong male and female lead, easter eggs to DC characters minor and major and an intriguing femme fatale in Oliver’s own mother. Before I read reviews online, I had no idea how badly Laurel’s character had been received on the series, I loved her and thought she was for the most part fairly well-written. Others despised her because she was frequently antagonistic to Oliver, although in most contexts she had every reason to be. Many of the show’s fans were instead drawn to a new character named Felicity Smoak, who in the earlier seasons fulfilled the awkward sweet tech girl role and was a fun character and they decided that they wanted to see her with Oliver, which in and of itself is fine, Ollie and Laurel didn’t need to be together throughout the series.

Season 2 was a great season which found Oliver facing off against Deathstroke and introduced us to Laurel’s sister, Sara- who was going by the Canary in her costumed persona. That was also fine, Laurel has always been the second person to use the Canary persona, inheriting it from a relative. Katie Cassidy had a strong character arc for Laurel during season 2 where she found herself hitting the bottle and clashing with her family and Oliver before she picked herself out of her funk and started to become a stronger character from it, setting the stage for her taking on her comic book destiny as the Black Canary. Laurel also had her own nemesis during season 2 in the form of Brother Blood, which folded in nicely with the larger story of the season, especially as she found out Oliver’s identity as the Arrow and exposed Brother Blood in conspiring with Deathstroke to kill Ollie’s mother.

Season 3 had different showrunners at the helm and found Sara assassinated and falling right into Laurel’s line of view, causing her to take up her sister’s mantle and become the Black Canary, saving the city with Oliver’s team as he had gone missing after fighting Ra’s Al Ghul and continuing in the role into the next season. Season 4 found Laurel still fighting the good fight but relegated to a background character for much of the season. It also teased that someone would die 6 months from the premiere. Despite the fact that Black Canary has a strong comic book pedigree and nearly 70 years of stories that could be told, the people in charge of the show decided to kill off Laurel Lance instead of drawing from the rich catalog of stories that they could have. Showrunner Marc Guggenheim didn’t even have a good reason for murdering off the last authentic comic book character other than Oliver, just that he had to fulfill the promise of killing someone off and that Laurel’s death would make in his opinion, the best storyline. There were other things he said that led to their choice of Laurel, but they reek of BS. The kicker is that they’ve also dismissed the comic book fans by saying that they are aware of the comics but ultimately think they are making the best story, which they really aren’t. They also revealed that they never had any intention of pursuing the Laurel/Oliver pairing again which is also another slap in the face to comic book fans, whom without there wouldn’t even be these characters to write about in the first place. You don’t need to be a slave to the comics but you need to at least honor the source material and not kill characters that are intrinsically tied to the main character across different forms of media. Plus the way she went out didn’t even honor her as a heroine as she is killed to send a message to her father and to make Diggle and Oliver feel guilty.

Here’s what I would have done with the characters they said they couldn’t kill off:

Thea Queen– I would have left her alone, she is still one of the best characters on the show and I will miss her.

Quentin Lance– He was grave candidate number one for me. I would have killed him off and had that trigger the next round of stories including Laurel improving herself and growing more into her Black Canary role. He also would have propelled Felicity’s story since he is dating her mother as well as Oliver whom he had a strained father figure/son relationship with. They could have found a way for Thea and Diggle to be affected as well. This also fits in well with the theme of parents sacrificing themselves for their children that the season seemed to be writing towards.

John Diggle– since his brother betrayed him, it would have made sense for Dig to pay the ultimate price. This would have affected all of the Team as well.

Felicity Smoak– Is a shrill and abusive girlfriend and frankly the way they’ve written her this season makes any sensible person want her in the grave, alas she was shown as safe during the midseason premiere.

In all, I would have preferred that they left the entire team alone since I generally like all of them, including Shrillicity when she’s written well.

That boneheaded decision finds me breaking up with a series that I used to love and support. I’ve talked about Arrow in my weekly column quite frequently. I’ve met Stephen Amell and Katie Cassidy and I still have a ticket for the next Heroes and Villains Con which I’m not as excited for unless Katie attends.  I’ve bought the tie-in comics, the action figures, DVDs and trading cards but that ends here. The last thing I will buy that is Arrow related is the forthcoming Laurel Lance/Black Canary action figure, since she was the one that was wronged and she is and always will be my favorite.The only way you’ll get me watching the show again and buying the merchandise is to reverse the death, I can live with the Oliver/Felicity pairing though I despise it, but Laurel should never have died in the first place.

I’ll leave with a Laurel quote dedicated to a show I once felt something for:

“It’s hard to remember a time when I was ever in love with you…”

R.I.P. Laurel Lance and Arrow. She deserved better.

If you are upset as I am, I want to hear from you on Twitter: ValentineC1979 and you can also tweet #NoLaurelNoArrow, if you’re appalled by this decision.

 

 

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Val’s Toy Chest- The Cat and The Canary

DO NOT READ THIS IF YOU WANT TO AVOID POTENTIAL ARROW/FLASH/LEGENDS OF TOMORROW SPOILERS.

Hey guys- at the beginning of this season on Arrow, a mysterious death that is supposed to stick was teased on the show to take place sometime during the back half of the season. That mystery looks to be solved in this week’s episode and if all the leaked pictures are to be believed, including shots of SPOILER Dinah Laurel Lance’s SPOILER grave from the Legends of Tomorrow first season finale, Star City is about to have one less vigilante and it is a bone-headed decision. That being said, further spoilers for the penultimate episode of The Flash Season Two seem to show us a completely new iteration (i.e. Earth-2) of said character, portrayed by the same actress appearing to either fight alongside Barry or against. I don’t know what to believe anymore, but I think the CW DC TV shows will go down as a massive joke if they kill an iconic character and one as important to the Green Arrow and Justice League mythos such as the Black Canary without some sort of way out. I will drop Arrow out of protest, though I haven’t watched the past two episodes anyway. I will continue to support Katie Cassidy’s career if she is the one being written off the show and still hold out a brief glimmer of hope that her Flash stint could become permanent. I’ve already dismantled my Arrow toy shelf in anticipation of the big death. If Laurel survives, then I will gladly eat crow.

END SPOILERS

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That bit of news aside, there’s a couple of neat items to discuss this week- both featuring everyone’s favorite feline femme fatale. The first is the Tweeterhead/Sideshow Batman Returns Catwoman piece. Based on Michelle Pfeiffer’s likeness, this statue finds Selina Kyle atop a rooftop base, whip in hand, ready to strike the Batman. 040232300646The other Catwoman piece is a statue from Diamond Select Toys which like its predecessor, Batgirl, is based on the now 50-year-old Adam West Batman 1966 TV series. Catwoman is sculpted to resemble Julie Newmar and comes standing atop a base with the classic Batman TV logo emblazoned upon it.699788813287

Other Catwoman items in-stock now include the Batman 1966 Catwoman bust, also based on Julie Newmar’s likeness, the Cover Girls of the DC Universe Catwoman statue and the Batman: The Animated Series Catwoman bust designed after her look in the 1992-1995 series. If Catwoman isn’t your thing, but you love 1966 Batman, we’ve still got a number of items in stock from that era of Batmania. This includes the Batman, Robin and Batgirl three-pack, the Batmobile with Batman and Robin figures, the To The Batcave set with Bruce Wayne and the Batcomputer and the Tweeterhead Yvonne Craig as Batgirl Maquette. Tweeterhead also released one other awesome piece recently, particularly if you enjoy Batman comics from the 1950s- the Kathy Kane Batwoman maquette recently arrived and she is in all her retro glory.

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As I started working on this column, we received a limited refresh on Batman: The Animated Series figures which probably won’t last too long. Harley Quinn, The Mad Hatter, The Penguin, The Riddler, Robin, The Joker and Man-Bat from the original Animated Series are all back in stock as well as Batgirl, Poison Ivy, Killer Croc, Robin, Bane, Scarecrow, The Creeper and Mr. Freeze from The New Batman Adventures. The Batman and Phantasm two pack completes our restock of animated style action figures.

I got to see Batman V Superman last week and I mostly enjoyed it. It isn’t the best superhero movie in the world, but I had fun watching it. Brief thoughts on the film- it was a little disjointed at times, Batman was a massive jerk, Superman was fine, Wonder Woman is AMAZING! Gal Gadot’s portayal of the Amazon Princess, no matter how brief made the film for me. Whether it was the thrill of finally seeing her on the big screen for the first time or because I just love Wonder Woman, she was a breath of fresh air. If you’re feeling like you need merchandise from the film, we’ve gotten a restock of action figures of the DC Trinity as they appear in the movie back on our shelves. You too can own a Ben Affleck Batman, Henry Cavill Superman, and Gal Gadot Wonder Woman if your heart desires. Each figure from Mattel has a piece to build Batman’s Grapple Gun and are fully articulated so you can pose them for your own adventures. If Barbie dolls are more to your liking, we also just received the Batman and Superman Barbie Brand dolls from the movie. No Diana yet, sadly.

Next week: the 500th issue of the Weekly Planet. Catch you guys then!

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Game of Thrones Blu-Ray Giveaway Contest From Forbidden Planet NYC

Be sure you’re following Forbidden Planet NYC on Twitter. Lots of great stuff over there. Take this sweet Game of Thrones giveaway contest for instance…

ONE grand prize winner will receive all five seasons on Blu-Ray from us. FIVE runners up will receive one random season each. Follow us and RT that sometime before March 18th. Good luck!!!

UPDATE: Here’s a pic of the grand prize sitting on my desk to illustrate just how truly bodacious this giveaway is:

Forbidden Planet contest free giveaway Game of Thrones Blu-Ray DVD

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Val’s Toy Chest- MARVELous Toys Assemble

This week’s column continues the Toy Fair excitement and this time around, we will look at the various Marvel action figures heading our way this year.  Hasbro, Mezco and Diamond Select lead the pack for new releases in all different sizes from 2″ Minimates to 6″ cloth-costumed figures and even a new 12″ fully articulated line.

Hasbro has been the main license holder for Marvel action figures for over a decade now and though there have been slight hiccups after inheriting the Marvel Legends line from defunct toy company Toy Biz, they’ve been firing on all cylinders the past couple of years. Marvel has several films in the pipeline which includes the recent Deadpool, Captain America: Civil War, X-Men: Apocalypse and Doctor Strange. To fulfill all of our figure needs, Hasbro has a bevy of Cap-related figures, a wave of X-Men and Dr. Strange figures and a couple of Spider-Man waves in the traditional 6″ line coming throughout the year. Characters making their debut in 6″ form include Nuke, Silk, Red Guardian and Nico Minoru plus we will receive new versions of Phoenix, Deadpool, Rogue, Ultimate Spider-Men Peter Parker and Miles Morales, Hobgoblin, Havok, Iceman, Kitty Pryde and Cable. Movie versions of Captain America, Iron Man, Black Panther, Scarlet Witch and Doctor Strange will also make their way into stores. Each of the 6″ figures will come with a piece to build a larger figure.

Hasbro’s 4″ and 12″ lines will also be sold under the Marvel Legends banner. The latter line was revealed at Toy Fair and will kick off with Iron Man, Captain America and Spider-Man. Each figure will come with alternate body parts and accessories. New characters in the 4″ line include Gamora, Living Laser, Rage and Hydro-Man. Rogue, Vision, Morbius and Quasar will also be part of the single-packed series. The 4″ Comic packs return this year with 2-packs featuring Spider-Man, Scarlet Spider, Hyperion and Carol Danvers Captain Marvel among others. Retailer exclusives for the 4″ and 6″ lines are also expected.

The previously discussed Mezco Toyz One: 12 line was on display at Toy Fair and features DC, Star Trek, Judge Dredd and now Marvel characters. The first three characters announced for the line are Captain America, Daredevil and the Punisher- all in a variety of costumes. The anticipation for this line is pretty high and deservedly so, as these are gorgeous figures with full articulation and cloth costumes. All that is left is for Mezco to bring us the female characters and we might have a home-run of a toy line.

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Diamond Select Toys continues their line of Minimates with figures based on Captain America: Civil War, Netflix’s Daredevil and Jessica Jones series and the traditional Marvel comics characters. Minimates of characters from Marvel’s Giant-Size X-Men#1 were also shown.  The coolest reveal in my opinion was the Man-Thing Minimate, especially since he isn’t a character that gets too much merchandise.

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Diamond’s Marvel Select line continues with figures of Iron Man, Captain America and The Winter Soldier from Civil War as well as a re-release of their wildly popular Carnage action figure.  Marvel characters are also being incorporated into DST’s Femme Fatales line with Medusa, Captain Marvel and Jane Foster Thor shown off at Toy Fair. NECA also had the impressive 1/4 scale Hulk action figure on display. Definitely one of the highlights of Toy Fair.

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Briefly:

This week sees the release of the next issue of one of my favorite current ongoing series: Jem and the Holograms. Issue #12 features the next part of the “Dark Jem” storyline which features a corrupted Synergy infecting the music of Jem and the Holograms and a new Misfits lead singer following Pizzazz’s injury.

Chuck Dixon’s early issues of Birds of Prey are being reissued in new volumes that also feature never before reprinted stories including the fan-favorite Birds of Prey #8 which told a memorable Barbara Gordon/Dick Grayson story. Catch that tale in Birds of Prey Volume 2. I know I will.

Finally- fans of DC character Mari Jiwe McCabe have something to look forward to as the character makes her live-action debut on this week’s Arrow. For those not in the know, Vixen made her Arrowverse debut on the CW Seed during the hiatus between Arrow and Flash seasons in her eponymous animated web series and now Megalyn Echikunwoke who voiced the character is bringing her to life this Wednesday night on the CW. I cannot wait to see her interact with Oliver, Laurel and the rest.

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Catch you guys next week with a few more Toy Fair tidbits and whatever other toy news I can gather.

 

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Val’s Toy Chest- Heroes and Villains to Gather

As we get further and further away from the beginning of the year the toy releases are starting to trickle in slowly. I’ve got some intel on what Hot Toys we should be getting within the next few weeks(should release schedules hold up), as well as details on what will be here this week. Lastly- CW shows are back on this week and I am heading to Heroes and Villains Fan Fest this weekend to meet a bunch of the actors from these very shows.

First we’ll talk about the new releases schedule to come out this week. The latest figure in the Marvel Play Arts Kai series is due and it just happens to be my favorite Marvel character- Natasha Romanov- the Black Widow. Black Widow will come with an array of accessories including weapons and blast effects and is fully articulated. Another of my favorite characters makes her dazzling debut in the high-end Robert Tonner doll collection with the release of the Classic Batman TV Series Batgirl. Batgirl will be 16″ tall and dressed in her glittery purple bodysuit with gold emblem, a purple and gold cape, a belt and will feature the likeness of the original live-action Batgirl, Yvonne Craig. The doll will have a removeable brown wig to simulate Barbara Gordon’s look on the show as well as a mask with attached red hair to complete the Batgirl ensemble. Elsewhere in the DC Universe- the Mattel figures I mentioned in last week’s column should start to hit this week. The first Mattel product will be the basic Batman V Superman movie line which will showcase Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. There will be three versions of the Caped Crusader, two of the Man of Steel and one of the Amazing Amazon in this initial shipment. All figures will feature limited points of articulation as well as kid-friendly gear and weaponry.

Now as far as Hot Toys go- we’ve gotten notices for two very exciting figures to be released within the next few weeks. First among these is the long-awaited Guardians of the Galaxy Thanos 1:6 scale action figure. Thanos will come with a newly developed muscular body sculpt with body armor and a light-up throne for him to rule the galaxy. The other even more exciting release in this author’s humble opinion is our first non-Stormtrooper Hot Toy from the recent box-office smash Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I’m speaking of the villainous Kylo Ren. Kylo will come dressed as he appears in the film and will come with his lightsaber and the usual Hot Toys articulation and interchangeable parts. Another Star Wars Hot Toy that should be here soon is the First Order TIE Fighter Pilot featuring the character as it appears in the new movie.

The Flash returned with a new episode last night and tonight sees the return of Arrow. Will Oliver Queen find his quarry Damien Darhk after the attack on his –groan– fiancee Felicity Smoak? Will Felicity become a low-rent Oracle in everything but name? Will Diggle, Thea and especially Laurel ever get a meaningful storyline for the rest of this season? We shall see. The long-awaited debut of Legends of Tomorrow will bethis Thursday and I am excited about it. The show follows the adventures of a ragtag team that includes fan-favorites like The Atom and ex-Canary Sara Lance (now going by the name White Canary) alongside new heroes Hawkman, Hawkgirl and Firestorm and Flash rogues Captain Cold and Heat Wave gathered by a time-traveler named Rip Hunter. Their goal: stop Vandal Savage from becoming a threat in the far future.

Speaking of the Flash, Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow– this weekend at the Meadowlands will be the inaugural Heroes and Villains Fan Fest put on by the same people that run Walker Stalker Con. This particular show is also co-organized by one Stephen Amell (Oliver Queen/Green Arrow) which explains the high volume of his fellow castmates attending the show this weekend. If you’re a fan of Arrow, Stephen will be there along with Katie Cassidy (Laurel Lance/Black Canary), David Ramsey (Diggle), Willa Holland (Thea Queen/Speedy), Paul Blackthorne(Detective Lance) John Barrowman (Malcolm Merlyn), Colin Donnell (Tommy Merlyn) and Katrina Law (Nyssa Al Ghul). Flash fans have Danielle Panabaker (Caitlin Snow), Robbie Amell (Ronnie Raymond/Firestorm) and Teddy Sears (Jay Garrick) to look forward to. Legends of Tomorrow fans will get to meet the two lovely ladies of the series with Caity Lotz(Sara Lance/White Canary) and Ciara Renee (Kendra Saunders/Hawkgirl) scheduled to make an appearance at the show. Fans of Gotham will also have a couple of castmembers present and Doctor Who fans can look forward to Karen Gillan(Amy Pond) in addition to the aforementioned Barrowman. I will be in attendance both days and I will try to have my con experience for all of you in my next column.

On that note- catch you guys next time!

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Val’s Toy Chest- Top 5 Action Figures of the Year

It has been quite an eventful year in the worlds of fantasy, sci-fi, comics and horror. We’ve lost a few stars of the genre this year including the beloved Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy), sassy librarian Barbara Gordon a.k.a. Batgirl (Yvonne Craig), the father of some of our worst Nightmares (Wes Craven), Superman’s best friend Jimmy Olsen (Jack Larson), the original Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen) and another of Kirk’s crew,Yeoman Rand (Grace Lee Whitney). It wasn’t just a year of loss as we witnessed the Age of Ultron and saw The Force Awaken(s) on the big screen. Heroes arose in live-action on regular and internet TV(Black Canary, The Atom and Speedy on Arrow, Hawkman and Hawkgirl on The Flash, Jessica JonesDaredevil and so much more) and the silver screen (Scarlet Witch, Ant-Man, The Vision plus the heroes of Star Wars: The Force Awakens) to much fanfare. The toy world has exploded with all sorts of characters this year including a bunch from the aforementioned properties and there will be a bevy of awesome figures coming out next year as well.

To close out this year at Forbidden Planet- we’ve gotten and are getting a few noteworthy items to talk about this week and I will also talk about my five favorite figures that I’ve purchased in 2015 and my five most anticipated figures for 2016. Kicking it off with NECA’s products- the excellent Terminator 2: Judgement Day action figure of Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor has arrived and she is AWESOME. Fully articulated with three interchangeable heads and a neat array of weapons I’d highly recommend her for Terminator fans and female action figure collectors. NECA has also released a new series of Aliensfigures- this time based on the Alien: Isolation video game and featuring figures of a Xenomorph and two versions of Ripley’s daughter Amanda. If you are a fan of the Alien figure series- these figures follow the same styling and articulation scheme as previous Aliens figures. Finally- we are getting the newest entry in Kotobukiya’s Bishoujo series- my favorite stunning siren- Dinah Laurel Lance- the Black Canary. Featured in her classic fishnets and leather look, this statue should please longtime fans of the series as well as Canary fans like myself.

Now without further ado- my top 5 Action Figures of 2015:

5. Aliens Series 5 (NECA): Ellen Ripley– Dressed as she appears in the 1986 classic Aliens. She was one of my most anticipated and she definitely did not disappoint.

4. Marvel Legends Thanos Series (Hasbro): Hellcat– Currently the star of her own ongoing series, this 6″ fully articulated action figure of Patsy Walker is a first time figure and has always been a favorite character of mine.

3. Star Wars: The Black Series (Hasbro): Princess Leia Organa Boushh Disguise– One of my all-time favorite Leia variations made her way into the 6″ Star Wars Black line and she is a beauty. With a removable helmet and all the accessories one would need to reenact her scenes in Jabba’s Palace- this one was a definite favorite this year.

2. Terminator 2: Judgement Day (NECA): Ultimate Sarah Connor– As stated above- a great figure with a great sculpt and check out those guns!

1. Batman: The Animated Series- The New Batman Adventures (DC Collectibles): Batgirl– Based on the Kids WB version of Batgirl as seen in the 1997 series, this figure was gorgeously sculpted and looks like she just stepped off the screen.

And now- my five most anticipated figures for 2016, thus far-

5. Batman V Superman Movie Masters (Mattel): Wonder Woman– I am unsure how I feel about the film in general but I am still looking forward to seeing Wonder Woman in action on the big screen and collecting various paraphernalia. Based on Gal Gadot’s portrayal of the famed comic book character, this should prove to be a popular piece.

4. Marvel Legends Onslaught Series (Hasbro): Mockingbird– Never before available in a 6″ format- this figure of newly minted TV star of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  Bobbi Morse features her in her latest outfit and should be a good figure for those building their Marvel Universe in figure form.

3. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Hot Toys): Rey– I loved when spoiler and also that scene where spoiler. I don’t want to talk too much about her since the movie is still new but she is an amazing heroine and the Hot Toys version of her is sculpted to look just like actress Daisy Ridley. I know quite a few staff members anticipating her release. On a side note- I am also excited to find the cheaper 6″ Star Wars Black Hasbro version sometime in the new year.

2. Batman: The Animated Series (DC Collectibles): Zatanna– Based on her appearance during the 1993 run of Batman: The Animated Series this Bruce Timm designed figure was always one I wanted when I was a kid. The closest we ever got was the Justice League Unlimited Figure from Mattel. This one comes with episode specific accessories and should be as gorgeous as previous offerings in the series.

1. Arrow TV (DC Collectibles): Black Canary– It took two and a half seasons for Katie Cassidy’s Laurel Lance to fulfill her destiny as the Black Canary on the CW’s Arrow and this figure is a nice commemorative piece for a character and a show I mostly love. Combine it with the fact that Canary is my favorite character of all time and you have a real winner.

There’s sure to be more coming out next year that I’ll love and you can bet I will discuss them in this very column. That’s it for me this year! Catch you next year with an all new Val’s Toy Chest. Happy New Year!

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Val’s Toy Chest- Christmas with the Super-Heroes

It has been a busy weekend at the Planet- so much so, that I actually didn’t get to see the complete list of what’s coming in this week. I know we will be getting the new Justice League: Gods and Monsters Animated Movie Figures of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman– all of whom are not the traditional versions of the characters and maybe a couple of other DC Collectibles items. This week’s column is a little different as I won’t be talking about our new items but rather discussing my all-time favorite comic book holiday tale.

The year was 1988 and I remember seeing and getting the DC Comics Christmas with the Super-Heroes special either at my local newsstand or at one of the mall bookstores I would sometimes find myself at. The cover featured seven of DC’s celebrated characters as illustrated by John Byrne in front of a Christmas tree with some very badly wrapped presents in front of them. Black Canary, Green Arrow, Batman, Superman, Wonder Girl Donna Troy, Robin Dick Grayson and Wildfire were the representatives of the six reprinted stories in the $2.95 cover-priced comic. There were two Batman solo stories, a Superman/Santa Claus team-up, a swingin’ sixties Teen Titans tale, a Legion of Super-Heroes tale and the one story that could quite possibly be my favorite Justice League of America story of all-time. First- a little background.

Now I know I mostly talk about toys in this column- so here’s something you might not have known about me- I am a huge fan of the classic JLA run- starting from when they were in the Secret Sanctuary with a mascot named Snapper Carr all the way thru the Satellite Era. I haven’t really connected with the Detroit era as much as I’d like to- but that’s another story. For me the very best of the original JLA title was the Satellite Era line-up which had been around maybe a couple of years by the time of this X-Mas tale. The Christmas tale entitled “The Man Who Murdered Santa Claus” was originally presented in Justice League of America #110 and was written by Len Wein and penciled by Dick Dillin. JLA members Superman, Batman, Green Arrow, Black Canary, The Red Tornado and the newly introduced John Stewart make up the issue’s roll call.

Something about this tale of a murdered Santa Claus and the perpetrator behind this act appealed to me- especially during the more action-oriented parts of the story. Here’s the plot- Old-school JLA villain- the Key is dying from radiation poisoning and wants to get revenge on the JLA. To set the events in motion- he murders a man dressed in a Santa Claus outfit that had been with Batman and Superman. Getting the rest of the JLA to investigate proves to be difficult as most of the members are celebrating the holidays with their families. Ollie, Dinah, and Reddy show up and try to locate the Key’s hideout with Batman, Superman and John Stewart (substituting for an injured Hal Jordan) helping out. Once they find their way into an abandoned building- the Key sets up multiple death-traps to take the JLA out.

I’ve always been a sucker for Ten Little Indians type stories where the protagonists get taken out one by one until you’re down to the last of them and this story didn’t disappoint. The most memorable moment for me is the scene where (of course) Black Canary has to sacrifice herself to save the rest of her team. Superman had just given himself up moments before and the five JLAers find themselves in a room filling with deadly gas which Dinah can hold back by using her sonic scream. Oliver wants to stay with her of course but she judo-flips him out of there as the door shuts separating her from the rest of the team- his despair- classic. I won’t tell you anymore as I think it is a story worth tracking down. As far as I know it has only been reprinted in that 1988 special- a shame since it was a good story that deserves to be read every Christmas season. I often wished that the Justice League cartoon would adapt the story into an episode- but alas.

That’s it for me this week- hope you and yours have an awesome holiday season- if you celebrate Christmas- Merry Christmas to ya! I will catch you all next week with my final column for the year. I’m not sure what I will talk about yet- but it should be a fun one!

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