Wednesday, March 20, 2019

What's In The Cupboard?

As mentioned in a previous entry, I've always been a big cup collector. I don't exactly have a good explanation as to why but something about them always brought me some joy. Like a small, cheap souvenir of wherever I went that actually came in handy later. Why drink out of a regular, boring juice glass when I can drink out of a gigantic cup with a cartoon character instead?



Sunday, February 24, 2019

At The Movies!

Everytime I head back to my hometown in Maryland, I always find a lot of the places I grew up with originally as a child heavily altered and restored or gone completely. Now, new things are great and all but having that familiarity is always a nice comfort. These days, I expect to see more new things but I'm always shocked and pleasantly surprised when something remains the same as I used to remember it. Pizza Hut, for example was one of those nice surprises. Even the dusty and dirty general stores I see back home are a welcome sight. But the most surprising thing I've seen to date? BOWTIE CINEMAS!
Photo credit: AnnapolisHarbourCenter.com

Last summer when I drove back home, I had an afternoon to meet up with some friends. Between lunch and grabbing meeting up with some friends that afternoon, I found myself in Annapolis with about an hour or two to kill. So I decided I'd hit my childhood Toys R Us and just for kicks, this old theater. Sure, saying goodbye to TRU before it closed permanently was nice, and maybe I'll write about that later, but seeing this place was the real treat. Almost instantaneously, years of memories came rushing back to me as soon as I walked up to the box office. And the selection of movies ain't too bad either!

Originally known as Loews Harbour Center named after the local shopping center it remains in to this day, opened in the early 90s. I wanna say 1990. It was the fresh, hip new theater on the block that everyone's older brothers and sister would work at on the weekends and where parents would take their kids for about 2 hours of mindless entertainment and then head to the TGI Fridays across the parking lot for lunch afterwards. This is also the same theater I would be a part of a packed house for Batman Returns in 1992 and a somewhat empty house for Spy Hard in 1996(a show where I lost my WWF gold Pog slammer and still haven't truly gotten over it) and so many following that. When it opened this place was the most high tech and advanced theater with the best plush stadium seating, best sound system and picture, heck it even had the coolest lobby and entrance I had ever seen at that point. Up until then, the only theaters we attended were about 20 minutes away and pretty plain compared to this. Sure, the others were great and held a lot of solid memories like the legendary MarketPlace Mall (which I wrote about many, many years ago) but at the same time the other theaters around us didn't have a sweet escalator to take you into the main lobby!

Oh that escalator...

The great thing about that gigantic stairway to movie heaven is while you ride it, you'd get a good look at all the new posters hung on the walls which would usually elicit an "oh man! We're getting a new Batman movie!!!!" or even a "Lost In Space!??! Really?!?" upon first look. I've lost count over the years how many movies I discovered were being released on this rather short trip but it would help start the hype train rather quickly. The one that stands out the most was always Multiplicity. One look at that poster and I said to myself "eeeek. Michael Keaton agreed to THAT?!?!".

As kids, the lobby felt like a gigantic, futuristic space station. The design and layout made it feel like a huge deal to us and compared to the other theaters, felt almost ritzy. I mean, check out this hallway. It's almost like a catwalk from the Death Star!

Man, the first time I remember coming to this place was for Gremlins 2 in 1990 and I was instantly overwhelmed. It was clean, spacious and plenty of lights and colors with a huge number of promo standees. And of course, the most enticing part, the smell of fresh popcorn! To my surprise, not too much work was done on the the snack bar or lobby in general. Still looks exactly the same with the shiny marble floor (which I believe my friend Brian slipped and got free passes) and the ticket taker in the middle who barely wants to be there. Looks like there's been some renovation to the snack bar's displays and menu listings, but for the most part it remains just that simple counter with glass windows. I was hankering for some delicious Junior Mints, but not for $4.50.



After taking multiple photos to the weird looks of staff, which is a common trend with me when I revisit places back home especially when I'm wearing an nWo tank top and baggy cargo shorts with skull patches on it, it was time for me to leave. I wasn't going to stick around too long since all I really wanted to do was just ride the escalator and take a look around for old times sake. Thankfully, I got the chance to do just that. Since we live in an era where huge multiplexes with arcades and extra fancy food options are the places to go, it's great to see that a small hometown theater is still able to thrive and remain the same it has for years. I'm sure the day will come that they'll heavily renovate but seeing it as I remembered it, from the escalator to the lobby to the amazingly 90s carpeting, was all I needed to bring me enough joy. I'm hoping one of your local childhood theaters also remains the same as it used to and if it does, I'm sure you'll share the same sense of comfort and nostalgia I did when I visited this place.


In fact, if I hadn't seen posters for recent movies, I could've sworn I was there to watch Encino Man all over again, buddddd-deeee.

-Chad

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Review: Valentine




Revenge is sweet, just like Valentine's Day chocolates. At least, that is what a vengeful, Cupid-masked killer thinks. Be my Valentine ... or else. Broken hearts and other mortal wounds await a cast of contemporary young stars when they play dating-scene veterans dying for love in this humor-laced, twist-filled thriller cleverly directed by Jamie Blanks (Urban Legend) and starring David Boreanaz (Angel, Bones), Denise Richards (Starship Troopers), Marley Shelton (Scream 4, Planet Terror), Katherine Heigl (Grey's Anatomy) and more. Cards, candy and flowers are nice. But for fans of stalker-shocker terror, there's nothing like a Valentine.


Thoughts:


Valentine is one of the movies that came out in the late 90s/early 2000s that I originally thought just followed the infamous "Scream Trend" in which mainstream slashers went from supernatural beings to more real life based villains and killers. I always looked at that time in horror as a dry period with very little originality. However, after watching this movie, I came to realize there were some really creative and entertaining movies. This is one of them. Valentine was a pretty typical slasher story, about a once bullied kid (in this case, young Jeremy Melton, who was rejected by multiple girls at a 6th grade dance) getting revenge on those who treated him poorly has been used in multiple movies before, but not too many were utilized past the mid 80s. And if it was, it was usually done sloppily. But valentine treats it as a useful device to tell a story with an effective payoff. Through multiple twists and turns, memorable kills, ridiculously over the top cliche characters, this movie grabs and doesn't let go of your attention, even if it can be a bit dated(which a few cast members comment on in the extras). But then again, most movies we enjoy showcase the style of certain time periods.


This movie, while not perfect is very entertaining. The best way to explain it would be if My Bloody Valentine, Prom Night and Slaughter High were to be combined and presented the early 2000s. Almost like The Rage: Carrie 2 (yes, I'm a huge fan of it!) old ideas were used to make a new movie. After waiting so long to sit down to watch it, my only regret is that I wasn't around to see it in it's original. Another regret is not getting a sequel or seeing the main antagonist become a bigger horror icon. I think the image of Jeremy Melton with the creepy 1950s cupid mask would've made a fun series or even some merchandising. I know I'd buy a NECA produced figure to put next to my Freddy, Jason and Ricky Caldwell!

And of course, anyone who was a teen from this time, will wax nostalgic about the soundtrack. Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, Deftones, Static-X, Orgy, and more were just some of the rock icons of that time so the soundtrack will become the instant throwback and reminder of a more ridiculous time for rock music.


The Extras:


Shout always puts an amazing effort to bring the best in special features and this may have some of my favorite interviews produced so far by the company, especially with star Denise Richards (who played the sexpot Paige) goes into great detail about her love of the genre and the importance of establishing meaningful characters in which she stated "if you're going to do a horror movie, you have to care about the characters". Very well said and really shows you just how seriously Denise and indeed the rest of the cast were going to take this movie.Marly Shelton who also loved working on this movie, also recalls great memories in making the movie and her fondness for the cast, crew and the entire experience as whole.

For longtime fans, this seems to have everything you'd want. Interviews with writers, editors, musicians, the cast, personal footage from the set, and so much more. I've seen releases with less features that get high recommendations, so the "extras fan" in me is more than happy to give this my highest recommendation.


  • NEW 2K Scan Of The Original Film Elements Supervised And Approved By Director Jamie Blanks And Director Of Photography Rick Bota
  • NEW Audio Commentary With Director Jamie Blanks And Filmmaker Don Coscarelli, Moderated By Author Peter Bracke
  • NEW Thrill Of The Drill – An Interview With Actress Denise Richards
  • NEW The Final Girl – An Interview With Actress Marley Shelton
  • NEW Shot Through The Heart – An Interview With Actress Jessica Cauffiel
  • NEW Writing Valentine – An Interview With Co-writers Gretchen J. Berg And Aaron Harberts
  • NEW Editing Valentine– An Interview With Editor Steve Mirkovich
  • NEW Scoring Valentine – An Interview With Composer Don Davis
  • NEW Almost 2 Hours Of Never-Before-Seen Behind-The-Scenes Footage From Director Jamie Blanks’ Personal Archive
  • Audio Commentary With Director Jamie Blanks
  • Vintage “Making Of” Featurette Featuring Cast And Crew
  • Extended Interviews And Behind-The-Scenes Footage From The Electronic Press Kit
  • Deleted Scenes Including Extended Death Scenes
  • Music Video
  • Teaser Trailer
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • TV Spots
  • Still Gallery
  •  Hidden Easter Egg

If you're a longtime fan or just someone who wants to give it a blind buy, head over to Shout Factory and order today!


-Chad

Thursday, January 31, 2019

What I've Been Watching: Shout Factory Edition

It's been a very stressful month due to a loss in my family, so my movie reviews have been a bit late. Sorry about that folks! But now, they're live and more will be coming! Let's kick things off with some great releases from Shout Factory!

THE JERK:



Hailed as one of the funniest movies of all time, The Jerk stars Steve Martin as Navin Johnson, the adopted son of a poor black sharecropping family in Mississippi. When he learns that the world is a much bigger place than he'd ever imagined, Navin sets out on a quest to find his "special purpose." His adventures lead him to encounter a would-be assassin, jobs in carnivals and gas stations, a life-saving dog, romance with the girl of his dreams and more money than he could ever spend. But his life in the clouds may come crashing down when the source of his new fame and fortune creates disastrous side effects.
Bonus Features:
  • NEW Remastered from a Brand-New 2K Transfer
  • NEW A Conversation with Steve Martin and Carl Reiner
  • NEW A Conversation with Writers Michael Elias and Carl Gottlieb
  • Learn How to Play "Tonight You Belong To Me"
  • The Lost Film Strips of Father Carlos Las Vegas De Cordova
  • Trailers & Radio Spots

THOUGHTS:

As a huge Steve Martin fan, I was super excited for this release and knew it would be in great hands. A few years ago, Shout also released a Steve Martin: The Television Stuff boxed set featuring his best bits on TV throughout the years, so they weren't a stranger to the comedy legend going into this release. Featuring a great new transfer that makes it look like a brand new movie and a clearer picture, Steve Martin's legendary performance as the naive and unsuspecting Navis Johnson finds a whole new generation. His comedy as well as charming love story with Marie Kimble (played wonderfully by Bernadette Peters) adds a great balance to this over the top silly movie. And of course, who could forget the beautiful "Tonight You Belong To Me" duet by both Martin and Peters? I'm not one for musicals or even musical numbers, but to this day, I think it's one of the most perfect and beautiful pieces of music in a movie I've ever heard. While we've seen this movie released on dvd and bluray before, the transfer makes this scene sound even more fantastic.

The bonus features included in this release also provide a whole new aspect to the classic. Hearing stories from Steve and Carl Reiner about the production and filming were my favorite. My only wish is that we could've gotten a blooper and outtake featurette as I'm sure the cast and crew had an amazing time filming this.




DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS:





In the south of France, two rival con men — suave and sophisticated Lawrence (two-time Oscar®-winner Michael Caine, The Cider House Rules) and third-rate American hustler Freddy (Steve Martin, The Jerk) — make a wager. The first one to extract $50,000 from the next woman they meet wins ... and the other leaves town. The bet is on, the stakes are high and the blows are low in this hysterically funny, ruthlessly witty, dirty, rotten comedy!


Bonus Features

  • Mastered From A Brand-New 2K Scan Of the Film
  • NEW Interview With Writer Dale Launer
  • Audio Commentary With Director Frank Oz
  • Featurette
  • Trailers


THOUGHTS:



While not one of Steve Martin or Michael Caine's most famous movies, seeing the two legends in the same movie is a real treat. Muppet master and comedy legend Frank Oz, who directed this movie, known for his close attention to help creating memorable and very flawed characters that we end up falling in love with. The characters of fast talking con men Freddy and Lawrence, while not the most fondly remembered, will be some of the most lovable and absolutely disgusting schysters you'll ever see on screen. The battle of wits and who can out-charm the other, is a fun battle for all to see.

In terms of extras, not much to report. Commentary, a featurette and trailers were ported over from a previous release, but a new interview with one of the writers Dale Launer and a great new transfer makes this set worh purchasing.



HOWLING 3:



The race is on as a colony of marsupial werewolves attempts to outwit and outlast their human counterparts in the offbeat horror film The Howling III.

Long ago, the now-extinct marsupial wolf (a.k.a. Tasmanian Tiger) roamed the Australian Outback. Today, a werewolf colony that has descended from these marsupials has taken over the land. This race of human-like creatures roams the outback, preying on the unsuspecting to feed their growing numbers. The race for survival is on as the humans struggle to contain these out of control creatures.



Bonus Features

  • NEW Digital Transfer Sponsored By The National Film And Sound Archive Of Australia
  • NEW Audio Commentary With Writer/Director Philippe Mora, Moderated By Filmmaker Jamie Blanks
  • NEW A Conversation With Philippe Mora – An Interview With The Writer/Director
  • Vintage Interviews From The Documentary Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation! By Director Mark Hartley
  • Theatrical Trailer



THOUGHTS:

Oh boy...

Not being a fan of the Howling series, I truly did not know what I was getting myself into when I first popped this in. Of course my friend Phil of Death Ensemble warned me that is quite the wild ride. Of course, what I expected and what I saw were two different things. There's like a million different things going on in this movie and I just don't know where to start but comparing this movie to Troll 2 is probably a good way to describe it. The movie itself is pretty wild, which is to be expected considering it's an Ozploitation classic. The special f/x, the gory gags, the ridiculous story. This movie has it all. Oh and a scene where a woman gives birth to a werewolf/human hybrid. Which, if you see it once, you'll never forget it. In fact, I'd argue that scene is worth the purchase alone.

For those who are unaware of the Ozploitation style, you'll get a great education with the extras. Interviews, brand new commentary, and even some interviews from the tremendous documentary Not Quite Hollywood, which I'm a huge fan of, will make you an almost immediate fan of the genre. The crazier, the better!



COBRA:



Lt. Cobretti (Sylvester Stallone) is a one-man assault team whose laser-mount submachine gun and pearl-handled Colt .45 spit pure crime-stopping venom! Director George P. Cosmatos (Rambo: First Blood Part II, Tombstone) teams up again with Stallone for this thriller pitting Cobretti against a merciless serial killer. The trail leads to not one murderer but also an army of psychos bent on slashing their way to a "New Order" – and killing a witness (Brigitte Nielsen) along the way. Fortunately, her protector is Cobra, a man who delivers vigilante justice like no other!


 BONUS FEATURES:


  • NEW 2K Scan Of The Original Film Elements
  • NEW Stalking And Slashing – An Interview With Actor Brian Thompson
  • NEW Meet The Disease – An Interview With Actor Marco Rodriguez
  • NEW Feel The Heat – An Interview With Actor Andrew Robinson
  • NEW Double Crossed – An Interview With Actress Lee Garlington
  • NEW A Work Of Art – An Interview With Actor Art LaFleur
  • Audio Commentary With Director George P. Cosmatos
  • Vintage Featurette
  • Teaser Trailer
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Still Galleries – Stills, Movie Posters, And Lobby Cards



THOUGHTS: 


As a Cannon Films loyalist, I always enjoy watching movies I've never seen produced by the company. And believe it or not, this has always been one of those movies. Before you ask why someone who claims to be the biggest Cannon Films fan ever would have never seen this before, remember that I've never been a huge fan of Sylvester Stallone's movies. I have plenty of friends who worship the ground he walks on, but I just always saw him as a big goof. However, after finally sitting down and watching this movie, I have a new respect for him. While this movie could've been a huge laughing stock since Cannon was known for it's ridiculous, over the top action and that's exactly what we got. The highlight in my opinion? The shoot out in the convenience store in the beginning. After this scene, I knew I was in for a fun ride. Also worth noting is 80s action icon Brian Thompson as "The Night Slasher", the lead villain. Although the real reason to watch is Sylvester Stallone who commands the movie with his over the top(no pun intended) presence and cool demeanor. I can honestly say I've never seen a movie where he played such a cool guy. Playing the asshole cop that cares while remaining badass is not an easy role, but he made it work. And for that, I'm  super grateful to have finally given it a chance.


Featuring a brand new transfer, some amazing interviews with cast and crew, including a real fun interview with baddie Brian Thompson where he shares many details about filming as well. Interviews with Andrew Robinson(also known as Frank from Hellraiser), Marco Rodriguez, Art LaFleur and many more also add to this already action packed set. Also, using the original poster art, makes me love this even more.

You can find these great releases and more at ShoutFactory.com !


-Chad


Sunday, January 20, 2019

Tales From The Gimmick Tables: The Demolition Cup

Welcome to the inaugural "Tales From The Gimmick Tables". A running series of articles where I look at random wrestling merchandise through the years that either hold sentimental value or could be some of the lamest stuff I've seen in all my time of being a fan. Today though, is a most excellent piece of memorabilia!

When it comes to collecting things, there are some items you search way too long for and some items, you spend way too much on. This is one of those items that fall into both categories.

Photo Credit: Myles Arden
Back in 1991, WWF released their third set of collector cups featuring the best tag teams in the company at the time. In a huge upset, it seems Power and Glory were shoved out for the Bushwackers, but who am I to judge? These cups were pretty spectacular and ONLY available in the merchandise catalog or at the live events. In essence, if you owned something from these legendary catalogs, you pretty much belonged to an exclusive group. There was no store this fun merch was available in. It was only meant for the most ardent fan to show off and brag over. The kids on the playground would be downright envious of your Ted Dibiase coin bank or your Dusty Rhodes ringer shirt. But these cups? These'll impress everyone who stops by to visit. Of course, I wasn't destined to be one of the kids who did own these in 1991 because my mom didn't wanna buy them but I wouldn't give up on owning one. One day I'd own one.


As beautiful as they look, I can't imagine they were super popular. In fact, I hadn't even seen these or the previous releases on eBay or in wrestling memorabilia groups. It seemed they had all gone forgotten. Except me. For years, even decades, I had never forgotten these and had driven myself crazy searching for the Demolition cup itself since they were my all time fave tag team and yes that still stands. No offense to The Beverly Brothers of course. The problem became, if I found one of the cups in this set, it would be way too expensive, someone wasn't willing to split up the set itself or it would be faded beyond recognition. After a while, I was convinced I would never find it. As a lifelong cup collector, it drove me insane that I'd have to abandon my journey.

Until last month that is! My buddy had gotten the entire set and was willing to let Demolition go, knowing how long I had searched for it. After all these years, it would finally be mine.

Holy crap! Check that out! I was under the impression it was in great shape, but didn't expect this! It's almost like whoever owned it, just ordered it, left it in the cupboard and forgot about it. No cracks, no stains, absolutely perfect. Even if Crush is included in the picture. I would've preferred Ax but let's not go down that road.

What impresses me most about this cup is that this is one of the very few, if not only, pieces of merchandise that featured Demolition wearing their short lived wrestling masks as featured on the road to Survivor Series 1990 where they joined forces with Mr. Perfect to battle against Legion Of Doom, Ultimate Warrior and Texas Tornado. The masks were unique but clever as they could play tricks in the ring and swap out a tired man for a fresher competitor whenever they saw the odds against their favor. The ref would never be the wiser. If you ever notice, the majority of Demo's merchandising usually depicts them in their makeup and focuses on their unusual face paint patterns so to see something with their faces obscured by their bizarre wrestling masks that they only wore for a very brief amount of time, is pretty unique and remains a reminder of this brief gimmick for the team. The masks were eliminated shortly after they debuted and went forgotten and they went back to using their awesome and intimidating facepaint.


Wow it's big! Keep in mind, Smash figure is 5 inches tall, so this is almost twice the size! I always pictured them to be the size of smaller promo cups you'd see given out at job fairs or summer concerts. But this is the big time. This is the WWF. They never did things on a small scale. Unless you count when they filmed Monday Night Raw in high school gyms in 1995.


Totally a sweet throwback! Check out that sweet block logo! I feel like this is the kind of cup I'd use to drink Ecto Cooler out of while floating around my sister Erika's pool. This just feels like you have to drink either water or something super flavorful out of it or it'll be revoked.



So after 27 years, I finally own it and can put on my shelf with my favorite wrestling glasses: A WWF New York pint glass and the foreign exclusive Demolition juice glass! Do I truly plan on using it like I've used the others? Well, yeah. I like to get some use out of my collectibles and this is no different. Of course, it won't get used every week, but you can certainly expect me to fill it with something tasty while I sit back and eat wings while watching the Royal Rumble next week!


After all, I do have some Ecto Cooler in the freezer I only use for special occasions...


-Chad





Hasbro-Uary: Ric Flair

I've been holding off on this one for a good reason, but since we're a week away from the Royal Rumble, why don't we dive in and discuss one of the greatest Hasbro figure disappointments: Ric Flair.
Photo credit: WCW Worldwide

When Ric joined the WWF in 1991, he made a sudden impact by challenging world champion Hulk Hogan and pretty much every other babyface in the company. He became the most hated guy and it was only a matter of time he'd receive the Hasbro treatment. The Hasbro line was at it's peak so fans had their hopes up for a hot figure. Sadly, we didn't receive a Flair figure until after he was back in WCW and on top of that, what we got was one of the biggest let downs.


Again, what Flair looked like and how we all remember him:

Photo credit: WCW Worldwide
And what we got:



Not a great representation of the legend but you work with what you've got. Flair was given the "Rick Rude" body, which was an even bigger misfire in 1990. While it was the right body size for Ric considering how small Ric is in real life, the action feature doesn't work for him unless you're having a Royal Rumble and need someone to get a punch in the head.


In this case, I suppose it makes sense. One of Flair's moves was to put someone in a headlock and give his opponent a bonk on the head. His face bothers me, mainly because it doesn't look like Flair unless he's doing an intense promo. Which is great if you making a video or diorama or recreating something like his Rumble 92 promo, but otherwise he just look constipated and his play value is extremely limited.. As a kid, I would've LOVED to have recreate his Wrestlemania 8 against Randy Savage, but his face and feature just made it so hard to get behind. Even if he was widely available in the infamous 3 for $10 phase of KB in the mid 90s. I just couldn't get behind this as a kid. And that sucks.

Fun side note, it has been noted by fans that this head sculpt does match his appearance in the 1993 Royal Rumble Sega Genesis video game:



Before writing this, I really tried to come up with some positives about this figure. The only thing I can think of is that the pose is great. Flair would often brag about how he's the ultimate man and how great his body looks (even though he was far from Mr. Olympia) so I suppose that's a big check in the pro column.



For those who want a more accurate Nature Boy figure in the Hasbro scale, you're in luck. Mattel gave us the Flair we always deserved in their "Retro" line:

That's more like it.



-Chad

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Hasbro-Uary: The Steiner Brothers!

Here they come! The Steiner Brothers! The world class athletes from Michigan arrived in the WWF, to much fanfare, in late 1992, off a very hot period in WCW. Fans salivated at the idea of a potential WCW vs. WWF tag team battles. Yup, a lot of fantasy warfare going on there in our minds!


There also was fantasy warefare in the toybox! Rick and Scott got the Hasbro treatment in 1994, a little after their departure (which was pretty common at that point) which being released later in the line provided the Steiners to take on a lot more opponents when it came to playtime. Ever wanna see them battle the Rockers? Or The Mega Powers? Demolition? The Mega Bucks? The sky was the limit! For some reason though, I could only find Scott in stores and could never score a Rick. Which was always a theme. If I had a Rick Galoob, I had a Scott Hasbro. If I had a Toy Biz Scott, I had a Classic Superstars Rick. For some reason, I've never had two from the same line or company. It just seemed to happen in a weird way. Until last year that is, when my friend and fellow Has-bro Steve hooked me up with these guys and I'm so happy to finally own these!


Scott received a repaint of Mr. Perfect's body, which suits him since he was the more "fit" of the two. Rick wasn't fat by any means, he was still in great shape but Scott had the better body and a bit more athletic for a guy his size. His head sculpt is pretty good but his outfit is where the real money is. Now, he was also a snappy dresser and since it was the mid 90s, his outfits were a bit more stylish and simple than his brothers. It's almost like if Saved By The Bell had a baby with your sisters Caboodles train case. It's just so 90s that it's downright amazing. This is the Scott I prefer to remember before he became jacked up on steroids and yelling about his cock and slapping a bunch of women half his age on the ass.



Rick, who always had the crazier gear got a little more of a cool design. Using an Owen Hart torso and a Demolition Crush's legs, this amazing paint job wasn't exactly his most memorable outfit but it definitely worked for him. Rick's face is a pretty good sculpt too. Almost giving him the ability to bark like a dog, which he was known to do and no one would question. The neon colors and crazy designs definitely make this figure a great one to display and helps him stand out. Just like in real life.







These figures made for great play and if you were a fan of both companies, I'm sure you had to have them. I know that these definitely made more play value than the Galoob releases, so it was nice to finally see this great tag team done right in action figure form.


-Chad

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Visiting Marvel!

Back in January 1999, my mom and I hopped on the AmTrak to take a VERY special trip to NYC to take a tour of MARVEL COMICS OFFICES! Well, it took a while to get there, but let's go back a little...

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Hasbro-Uary: Kamala

"Everyone knows Kamala. Kamala's a classic"-Triple H, Triumph and Tragedy of WCCW. 2007.



Truer words were never spoken. The Ugandan Giant was born onto the wrestling world in the 80s, taking on all comers in every company he had every been apart of. WWF, WCW, WCCW and everywhere in between. Kamala was used as a big attraction for the hero to take on. So if you were in Philly and you had a ticket to an afternoon at The Spectrum, it was mainly to see Hulk Hogan defeat his larger than life opponent. And man, was he effective as a heel. You would believe he'd chew Hogan's head off and swallow it. But, the red and yellow prevailed and after a while Kamala was gone. Until 1992 when he returned to the WWF. Same beast, but a little toned down for the era and was managed by Harvey Whipplemen and Kim Chee and his first and most memorable foe? THE UNDERTAKER. They'd battle for months until The Dead Man disposed of him in a casket match at Survivor Series 1992, which I loved. It wasn't a five star classic, but it was a lot of fun for a strange kid like me.


Of course his action figure, was also fun. The sculpt on his face and upper torso are absolutely terrific and really show you just how scary he can be. For a figure with such intricate face paint, a lot of effort was put into making it as accurate as possible. Capturing his famous yell was a great touch as I'd hate to see this figure with some dull expressionless look.


Unfortunately, Hasbro decided to give him the dreaded "jumping" feature which makes so little sense to me since Kamala didn't really do a lot of aerial maneuvers in his later career, if any at all. Of course, the only way I can justify this figure's action feature is the fact that it made preforming his finisher (Kamala would literally just belly flop on his opponents back) but otherwise I'm lost. It was good to see they created his tribal skirt into his legs, seeing as they could've just reused another barelegged mold so despite the limited playbility on this figure, it still remains faithful to the character and still provides some fun play.

Well...somewhat faithful...


(Custom figure to show what the original would look like)
Kamala's original figure was meant to have a MOON on his belly, since Kamala always had a moon. But instead, we were given a somewhat inaccurate figure with a STAR. Why? That's the question fans have been trying to figure out for YEARS and it's never been answered by anyone who truly would know. Many have speculated anywhere between religious or tribal reasoning, a snafu in production, or just didn't meet the standards of WWF or Hasbro. Will we ever truly get the concrete answer? Maybe, but 25 years later, no one still has any idea. It's been rumored that anywhere between 12 to 30 official moon belly figures do exist, on card and loose. Customs are pretty easy to get of this figure since it's nearly impossible to hunt down the real deal.
Hasbro's line had a lot of weird anomalies and the famous Moon Belly figure seems to be one of the favorites. For fans who want the figure, they're looking at thousands of dollars. While that's a very high price to pay, you gotta admire their dedication to the craft to hunt this down. Maybe some are looking to complete the entire series, some are looking to preserve it for archival purposes? Whatever the reasons, I salute them.


Kamala will go down as one of the greatest and most memorable gimmicks in pro wrestling history and this figure, moon or star, will be remembered fondly by all those who loved to live in fear of him.



Although, I'm sure Undertaker would disagree...



-Chad



Tuesday, January 8, 2019

ENTER: NAILZ

In the history of wrestling, no character has fascinated me more than Nailz.


I can't explain it very well but he always has. Maybe it's because he debuted at one of the periods when wrestling was really leaving a huge impression on me and something I soaked up like a sponge and in 1992, there was nothing that held my attention like an episode of Wrestling Challenge and Superstars.

Portrayed by Kevin Wacholz (Kevin Kelly in the AWA), Nailz was supposedly a former prisoner under the guard of The Big BossMan during his days as an officer in Cob County Georgia. He was also supposedly an innocent man imprisoned for crimes he didn't commit. I guess he should've just joined the A-Team and gone underground to prove his innocence but instead Nailz would debut in May of 1992 by racing out of the crowd and proceed to beat the living hell out of the former prison guard putting him out (in storyline) for a few weeks. Following that, we'd see Nailz beat other opponents with Bossman's trademark nightstick, and after Bossman returned, Nailz found ways to jump his nemesis before, during or after his matches. The Bossman himself, who I was a massive fan of, hadn't really been used strongly in a long time, so to see him beaten and helpless like this, was very scary and unusual. Normally, he unleashes the fury on his opponents so Nailz turning the tables, was really interesting to see.


Nailz felt like a mixture of a 1970s exploitation film and Horace Pinker from the Wes Craven supernatural slasher movie, Shocker (which may have been the biggest inspiration on his appearance). His promos were very memorable due to his modulated voice dubbing, which left him sounding like a demented, garbled Jigsaw when he spoke. I think if anyone reminisces about Nailz, his promos and voice are the first thing that come up. That and his famous line "BOSSMAN, I WASN INNOCENT MAN!".




At Summerslam 1992, Nailz plowed through the icon and master of meatsauce, Virgil in absolute no time. Shortly after that 5 star match that helped draw the house, he'd wind down his feud with Bossman after a pretty brutal Night Stick On A Pole match at Survivor Series. But of course before that match Nailz was teased to be entering a feud with The Undertaker, which began with an epic staredown on an episode of WWF Superstars. This faceoff garnered a pretty huge reaction from those in attendance leading many fans to chant "Let Them Fight" after Sgt. Slaughter came out to send Nailz to the backstage area. No doubt a guy as intimidating and without fear like Nailz would've been a great opponent for the Deadman. While Nailz wasn't a wrestler known for his finesse and charisma, he was one scary sumbitch and backed down from no one. Could this have been a huge money maker for the company? Maybe short term, who knows. But aside from a few house show matches, nothing came of this, except a cover of the WWF Magazine:

That image definitely leaves an impression and would've gotten people hyped for their big match at a PPV. Just imagine how great the build would've been between the promos, they hype videos and all the run ins both men would've done. I can even imagine a Nailz promo sitting in an electric chair talking about he's been close to death before and he's not scared of the Taker. Hey, who knows, maybe we could've avoided that Giant Gonzales mess had this happened but it was not meant to be, which we'll get to in a moment.


A few months after this face off, Nailz received a Hasbro action figure (in the legendary YELLOW CARD SERIES!), cementing his legacy forever:

Truth be told, as much as he frightened me, I always wanted a Nailz figure he just looked cool. It just looked awesome and would've made a lot of fun play. I mean, Taker, Bossman and even my Savage had to have some massive beast to plow through, right? His bright colors, his nasty demeanor and "JailHouse Jab" feature made him a very appealing figure. And best of all? New sculpt. Awwww yeah!


Of course, by the time I finally got my hands on one, his numbers and letters were faded, but I didn't care. I can finally add one of my most wanted Hasbros to my shelf. The sculpt really pops and his height definitely helps him stand out. Being one of the forgotten characters of that time, and never getting another action figure in any other line, this figure has actually become somewhat in demand and gone up in price in the past few years. So if you can score one at a reasonable price, do so. It's totally worth it. I just wish he had come with his own nightstick, but hey, it took me long enough to get him!

Other than the fact that he had been long gone, this awesome figure was a reminder of when Bossman was in danger of not being the Boss or The Undertaker becoming dead again. I'd say, it ended well for a guy who didn't stick around too long, right?

Well...


A little after Survivor Series 1992, Nailz physically attacked the boss and was booted. Yikes.

Following a very long shouting match over his Summerslam 1992 paycheck, he strangled Vince McMahon and when people came to intervene, Nailz decided to scream how Vince grabbed his wiener and other ridiculous false accusations to save face. That afternoon, as expected, he was shown the door with all his future plans cut and rumored to be blackballed from wrestling for good. Of course, he wasn't done with Vince. During the steroid trial, Nailz was brought on as a witness. When asked if Vince McMahon had ever pressured him into taking steroids, Kevin said yes and proceeded to yell something tp the degree I HATE HIS F'ING GUTS! in the courtroom. Which, in a weird way, kind of helped Vince's case in a weird way. The jury saw Kevin's anger towards Vince and decided the only person who testified against Vince, clearly had a vendetta, and was deadset on ruining him so the trial which could've landed McMahon in jail and the company in jeopardy, ended in Vince's favor and he was acquitted of all charges, avoiding jail time. So to a degree, Nailz saved the company. But, as expected we would never seen him again...


That is until he showed up on WCW for one night as...get this...THE PRISONER!


Yup. Slamboree 1993, he was brought in to fight Sting. Brandishing his most famous weapon, the nightstick, he...well...didn't last long. One night to be exact and not even for a long match. Which, works out best I suppose. I don't think WCW would've gotten a lot of mileage out of him anyway outside a short Sting feud. And even then, eh. Of course, shortly after his departure, Bossman made his WCW debut, so who knows, maybe we could've seen those rumored "Electric Chair" matches that dirt sheets had suggested were meant for a feud with Warrior in 1992 (which have been debunked).


After his brief appearance in WCW, Wacholz would hit the indie circuit until finally retiring in the year 2000. Since then, Mr. Wacholz has been living a quiet life away from the wrestling world. Convention promoters have tried for ages to get him to appear at their shows, all being flat out denied. It's clear he'd like to live a private life away from the spotlight. That said, you can find his website here, where you can get autographs and even a shirt from the man himself!


Considering I hated villains as a kid, this guy always stuck with me for his sheer brutality and scary promo. His unusual on screen and behind the scenes story sticks with you. I can't say that for every character I've seen in all my years of watching wrestling, so he must've done something right...


-Chad