Can the Transformers do it again?

Chances are you haven’t turned on your television or been to the movie theater this summer if you’re somehow unaware of the latest Transformers movie, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. I’ve taken my children to several movies this summer and every single one has an action-packed trailer for the Transformers movie during the previews, and every time my son (who is well under 13, and therefore will not be seeing this PG-13 movie) turns to me and says, “That looks so cool!”

Of course, the first Transformers movie met with mixed reviews; some argued that it was a blasphemy against the original concept. Others said it was everything for which die-hard Transformers fans could’ve hoped. In the end, the movie did develop a cult following, and here they are again, hoping to bring in the fans.

Will it be a huge hit? That remains to be seen. The aggregate score over at Rotten Tomatoes remains lukewarm, but that may be enough to keep it around purely on the strength of loyal teenage fans of the male persuasion. And although it’s been years since I was a teen (and I’ve never been a boy!), I have to admit that the trailer does sort of look enticing. What’s not to like about giant robots beating each other up? Nothing, that’s what.

I’ve also become somewhat hooked on the Transformers Live Action Movie Blog, because I’m a sucker for serious fandom. Check it out if you can’t get enough.

And, of course, don’t forget to visit the Transformers Store here at Ty’s Toy Box! The only thing better than giant robots beating each other up is giant robots beating each other up on your t-shirt. I’m sure I heard that somewhere.

Start gearing up for back-to-school at Ty’s

It doesn’t seem possible that summer is nearly over, but for those of us who head back to school in early August, it’s a reality. Part of me weeps for the end of those halcyon days…

… and the other part of me realizes that I am remembering through rose-colored glasses that have quickly forgotten the cry of “Mom! We’re bored! What should we do?”

Ahem.

Anyway! Soon we’ll be back in the classroom; my little darlings will be learning important lessons, and I’ll be being hit up for Kleenex and hand sanitizer. It’s the circle of life! Or at least, the circle of public school!

Ty’s Toy Box understands that getting them there in the right mood is half the battle, so feel free to check out the new Back To School Store for all of your back-to-school needs. There’s enough backpacks in there to delight even the most hard-to-please kid, from Thomas the Tank Engine to Avatar to Dora to Hannah Montana.

(Funny, for some reason my daughter is still balking at my suggestion of the Little Miss Trouble bag. I cannot imagine why.)

Hey, I know summer flew by, but at least getting ready for back to school can be fun!

New Transformers are coming after Christmas

The swell of passion for all things Transformers continues unabated, and Cartoon Network is hoping to get a piece of the pie—the brand new Transformers: Animated show will premiere on Wednesday, December 26th. This is great news, right? I mean, there was a popular Transformers cartoon on when I was a kid, and a new one would have to be even better. Right?

Ummm….

Look; I have to tell you right up front that some of this is lost on me. It could be because Transformers have never really intrigued me all that much or because it annoyed me that a kids’ show was made into something for adults or because I don’t possess the Y chromosome necessary to really “get” them, but I read this stuff and it all sounds like Charlie Browns teacher to me. (“Wah wah wah wah wah.”) Regardless, for the fans out there this stuff is important, and I will try to summarize as best I can.

If you want to read a great rundown of the debate and the fallout go here for Steve Fritz’s account and lots of interesting comments.

Seriously, wars have been fought with less passion and vigor than what Transformer fans exhibit in the defense of their favorite incarnations of the robots in disguise.

So, you think Marty Isenberg isn’t getting ready for this? Actually, as the former Story Editor of Beast Machines he’s more than aware of what’s to come.

“T-fans are clearly very passionate. I found that out the hard way,” says the current story editor of Transformers: Animated, which makes its debut on Cartoon Network on Wednesday, December 26 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. “While I don’t think we’ll make them all happy, I’m encouraged by the early largely positive response to the various clips that have gotten out there. I fully expect the inevitable backlash to come as the series progresses. While I’m happy when fans like my work, ultimately it’s more important what kids 6-11 think of it.”

Fritz runs down the story changes, then ends with:

As for what I think of the show? Based on the pilot movie and first true episode, I liked what I saw. Fans of Isenberg’s work should remember the man can put together intricate and well-conceived story arcs. Yes, I don’t truly cotton to Wyatt’s character design, it’s too round and loose for me, but it doesn’t offend me either. The voice cast is truly up to the job though, and I can’t wait to see what characters are introduced as the show moves through its first 26 episodes.

So let the old timers wail, drape themselves in ash and sackcloth. This Transformers, as Isenberg noted, is not for them. And I get the feeling it will do quite well with its own generation of fans.

In summary: Kids will like it. Rabid adult fans probably won’t. Also: Wah wah wah wah wah. (That was for my fellow moms. You’re welcome.)

ToyFare’s action figure countdown

Long ago and far away, I was a young girl with a topsy-turvy doll. It was Little Red Riding Hood on one end, and flipped, it was Grandma on one side with the Big Bad Wolf dressed in her clothing on the other.

I thought it was the greatest toy ever.

This preface is to demonstrate that I am somewhat new to the world of what makes any given action figure “cool.” Thank goodness I have my son to show me the way. For example: He owns a Martian Manhunter figure which he assures me is the greatest thing ever, because his head comes off. I have to admit that that’s a fine feature, indeed.

Well, now I no longer have to rely only on my son (who—I have it on good authority—has a mean mother who refuses to buy him everything he wants) as my sole source of information on the coolness of action figures. Now I can consult ToyFare’s assessment of the 100 best action figures of the past decade.

Number 1 comes as no surprise to anyone, of course:

1. 20th Anniversary Optimus Prime
Hasbro, 2004 $95/$45 (Grey Gun) $90/$40 (Black Gun)
In the toy hierarchy, one figure stands alone. He can command the attention of any room. He’s a model of design. He’s even been known to sway a toy-apathetic girlfriend or two. We cried when he died in the animated movie. Hell, one random dude even changed his name after him.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Transformers, Hasbro released the ne plus ultra (that’s French for “awesomest”) Optimus Prime, with enough detail to make even the most demanding fan gooey with lust. His appendages bend and contort with ease, while a switch on the back of his head allows his “mouth” to move. Flip open his chest plate and marvel at the Matrix of Leadership, a glowing blue ball of light that means he’s the boss. And did we mention he turns into a truck?

As the “Prime” example of the potential in toys, he’s the model to which all other playthings should aspire.

What did surprise me was some of the other entries. To name a few: “Adventure Kermit” comes in at number 15 (your favorite muppet frog goes all Indiana Jones), the Swedish Chef at number 25 and Fozzie Bear at number 38 (who knew muppet action figures were so cool?), The Simpsons Stephen Hawking figure at number 70 (his wheelchair comes with a boxing glove and helicopter rotors), and my personal favorite:

21. Super Grover
Sesame Street, Palisades Toys, 2005 (E: 2005 cons) $50/$15
If the sight of Grover dressed in a cape doesn’t give you the warm fuzzies, you might as well get a job euthanizing puppies, you monster. Bonus: a telephone booth and Clark Kent-esque nerd clothes!

Who knew there were so many cool figures out there? Not me. And I’m sure it was just an oversight that there aren’t any Ben 10 figures on the list. I mean, seriously. Even an old square like me knows that Kevin 11 about as cool as it gets. I mean, short of being Super Grover.

More on animation gone live action

(Pictured to the side, there: He-Man. If it goes live action, can you really picture him being played by anyone other than Arnold Schwarzenegger??)

It’s been said that there’s a finite number of plots, and all stories are merely different retellings of those basic premises. Wait a minute; I’m getting the feeling I’ve talked about this before. Oh, that’s right, I have! But we’re going to talk about it again, because shockingly, Hollywood continues to insist upon recycling material.

What? Erm, I mean, Hollywood continues to innovate the movie industry with its daring use of, um, storyline recycling. Yes, that’s it.

From IGN we have a decent rundown of upcoming cartoons-turned-live-action movie projects currently underway, and to say that even they have mixed feelings would be an understatement:

Hollywood has been busy mining TV animation for more potential live-action feature film adaptations. This trend of turning cartoons into live-action films is nothing new, of course, but it’s been a crapshoot so far. For every hit like Scooby-Doo or The Flintstones there’s been a Josie and the Pussycats, Fat Albert or Aeon Flux. Remember Dudley Do-Right, Mr. Magoo, George of the Jungle, Casper and Inspector Gadget? Did you want to?! No, you did not!

(Awwww, come on. I sort of enjoyed Matthew Broderick as Inspector Gadget.)

Their list starts out with Alvin and the Chipmunks and Avatar: The Last Airbender, both of which we’ve discussed before. (In fact, I was hoping for some new Avatar news, but no such luck.)

Then they veer off into (to me) unknown territory. A project based on G.I. Joe?

The largest roadblock (no pun intended) facing the project is the challenge of bringing the characters and premise to the screen without seeming ridiculous, as well as the fact that America’s wars overseas might make a movie about the U.S. military unappealing to international audiences.

Gee… ya think?

Other titles include He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, The Jetsons, Johnny Bravo (really?? isn’t the cartoon annoying enough?), Jonny Quest, Neon Genesis Evangelion (who?), Speed Racer, Star Blazers, Thundercats, Voltron, and—of course—Transformers 2.

That seems like plenty to keep Hollywood busy, no? They shouldn’t have to come up with an original storyline until well into 2017 or so, at this rate….