Arkham Anarchy or how Jared Leto’s Suicide Squad Joker “Broke the Internet”

As predicted, on or before the Joker’s 75th anniversary, Zack Snyder previewed the first officially sanctioned image of Jared Leto as the Joker from the upcoming Suicide Squad movie. Naturally, since it wasn’t the purple-suited, pale skinned psychopath we’re all so used to….the internet collectively freaked out. Nerds everywhere were up in arms, comic book store owners claimed it was the “end of days”. somewhere in Columbus, OH a man made toast in a toaster; it was very much like any other day when a teaser image gets leaked to the internet. But why? Why freak out about a movie that hasn’t even been filmed yet?

Who knows to be honest. But, I’m easy to get on board with a new design. This isn’t your daddy’s Joker, a Caesar Romero with an unshaven mustache in heavy white make up parading around in a magenta suit. This isn’t your childhood Joker, whether that is the older and energetic sociopath Jack Nicholson or the slick animated Crown Prince of Crime voiced by the irreplaceable Mark Hamill. This isn’t even the disheveled criminal mastermind that the late Heath Ledger brought to life before his untimely demise. This is a different Joker for a new world. A meaner, unhinged, physically fit criminal who looks like he’s spent a decent amount of time behind bars from the looks of the tattoos and the lean muscle structure.

At first, admittedly, I was apprehensive. A tattooed Joker? With a mouth full of dirty, metal capped teeth? Is he a Juggalo? Is he an other worldly mixture of Eminem, Marilyn Manson, and Paul Wall? What would that album sound like? Maybe the tattoos are just for an upcoming photo shoot and won’t be worked into the movie? What’s up with the one rubber glove? Is someone getting their prostate checked? I was filled with questions, but this is how I learned to give in and end up loving the design.

I don’t want to see a Joker I already know. Unless it’s Jack Nicholson reprising his role as an older Joker I don’t need to see Jack Napier or Joe Chill or the unnamed Red Hood become the dapper criminal clown. Just like every damn reiteration of Spiderman, Superman, and Batman doesn’t need to tell me his origin again. I’m not five and even a five year old knows how these heroes became the costumed vigilantes they love. You are wasting valuable time in an action movie showing me everyone’s parents tragic deaths. Move on! I want to see something I don’t know. That’s what made Heath Ledger’s Joker an enigma, you didn’t get a back story. He showed up, fucked shit up, and left a trail of death and destruction in only the way a real psychotic could. He had a different “back story” every time he was going to stab someone with the “How’d I get these scars” explanation, but that was mostly to mess with his intended victims. To draw the attention off the blade and for him to get the full enjoyment of seeing someone’s eyes as he drove the knife in for the kill.

That and he burned Mr Lao alive. Pretty much everyone forgot about that.

People freaked out about pretty much every casting decision in a super hero movie since there was such a thing as sneak preview images. All the way back to Starlog magazines (there, I did it, I dated myself) people have been getting the “butt hurt feels” when teaser images got released. I used to think it was worse than before till someone who owned a comic book store explained that it’s really no different, social media has given everyone a soapbox to stand on and issue an ALL CAPS RAGE. I already have a predisposition to like things people don’t like, something about being a fan in a smaller group than 1 fan in 1 million. I like this design, I think Jared Leto will do the cinematic universe proper justice with a spot-on Joker that more accurately represents the world we live in now. This is a Joker who is going to be taking on the Suicide Squad or joining them in arms…..or both because the Joker plays by his own rules. Everyone in the movie is supposed to be imprisoned and offered clemency for their crimes in exchange for participation.

The design:

Massive amount of tattoos: while it intrigues me it’s also confusing. You might think if the Joker has been locked up for many years, that might explain the tattoos. But the Joker is too dangerous to be out in the general population and wouldn’t be able to get any prison ink. Anyways, trying to explain it set aside, I like the addition of the tattoos. I’m not sure I’m thrilled by the “damaged” tattoo on the forehead. It’s a little distracting but I can hang.

Physique: Lean muscular build. If he’s in jail, not much to do outside of eat your 3 hot meals and sleep in a cot. Might as well hit the gym or the exercise yard. He’s looking physically fit and ready to brawl. Able to hold his own for sure.

Teeth: dental work definitely done. If you’ve read any of the more modern comic books with a Batman vs Joker fight, the clown prince is usually shy a few teeth by the end. So, it’s definitely showing we are dealing with a Joker that’s been around the block. I’m great with this, the teeth look kind of nasty and unkept.

One purple glove: right hand. Certainly the hand that he would be using a knife in, wouldn’t want to get any blood or bodily fluids on him. Might make for an interesting nervous tick having him be a little bit of a OCD like Howie Mandel.

pinky ring: not sure. Can’t zoom in and focus on the ring enough to make out if it’s got a unique design. Anyways, should end up being interesting when they explain it.

Pale skin / green hair: if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.

and for a little fun

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Raging Nerdgasm #322 – DC The New Batman Adventures figure

5 RaNdOm AcTiOn FiGuReS

Forgotten Prisoner Jiggler

I like jigglers. For those who don’t know what they are; jigglers are rubbery figurines from the 60s and 70s that often have an elastic cord to hang them from and have the pleasant smell of gasoline (yuck). You can usually find them made into animals or sometimes superheroes but my favorite category are the horror jigglers. The horror jigglers were always twisted and grotesque looking representing different types of maniacs, corpses, demons or even the Universal Monsters. They are one of my favorite sub-genres of vintage toys.

The Forgotten Prisoner jiggler I’ve had for as long as I can remember. Originally I found it in a pile of Halloween decorations at a thrift store when I was really young and I was nearly a grown man before I found out what he really was. I like the strange and unusual toys and this one was never disappointing. Along with my Callisto from Major Matt Mason, these two pieces followed me to college. It may have only lasted a semester but it was fun while it lasted. I hung him from my rear-view mirror because no matter how rare a toy may be it’s still just a toy. I took him out of the car a week later when I thought I had a fuel line leak and found out it was the stench of the Forgotten Prisoner.

Hasbro Ultimate Warrior

It seems I write a lot abut wrestling figures, which is funny because I didn’t own too many growing up. I may have owned 4 or 5 until I was 16 and started working at KB Toys. My parents had no problem with me watching it, hell the reason I didn’t own a ton of wrestling figures as a child was because I was told I could either rent the pay-per-views and go to the live events or own the toys. I picked having the real experience instead of just playing with the toys. Anyways, in my adult years I bought a lot of wrestling figures and sold off all but my LJNs and the few Hasbro figures I obtained over the years.

The Ultimate Warrior was one of the most intense wrestlers of the mid 80s to early 90s. Crazy, day glow face paint and wearing enough tassels to make a girl’s bike envious, the Ultimate Warrior was one of the more memorable characters from the WWF. Even his anti-smoking ads with him ripping a cigarette box apart with his teeth was so out there they only played it a couple of times. Hasbro made a few different Ultimate Warrior figures, I always liked this one with the gorilla press slam feature. Just the ability for a figure to throw another one clear across the ring was the coolest thing in my mind. I also like that they got his “tan in a spray can” color just right on the figure. That shade of orange is a really happy color.

Demolition Man Simon Phoenix

Say what you will about me but when I think of my top 10 favorite disotopian themed futuristic movies, Demolition Man is damn near around 6 or 7 on my list. The figures could have been better. OK, the figures have about as much to do with the movie as alcohol at a Mormon wedding but what can you say; they were re-purposed New Adventures of He-Man figures for the most part. I never owned any of these figures till recently, I never had any interest in tracking them down. I came across Simon in a $1 bin at a yard sale, I still feel like I may have overpaid. My wife said he looks Puerto Rican and nothing like Wesley Snipes.

Also, I’m very disappointed in Mattel for not giving us a Glenn Shaddix figure. Are you telling me I must trudge through life using my Otho figure for every Shaddix worthy moment?

DC Comics Superheroes Two-Face

I’ve always loved this ridiculous figure. He embodies everything I liked about Two-Face when I was a kid reading Detective Comics. The two-toned suit, the disfigured green face and the absurdly huge dime in his hand. Wait, what? Every figure in the Toy Biz DC Superheroes line had to have an action feature or they were just a boring piece of plastic, right? Come on Toy Biz, you let Riddler get away with being packaged with fortune cookie fortunes so why did you have to fuck with Two-Face?

I enjoyed this toy as a kid strange enough. I know my parents hated the whiny grind of the gears turning Two-Face’s oversized dime. Especially because I would use him to make decisions like a magic 8 ball. I also really liked the Bob the Goon figure from the same line and hated the Hawkman figure so let that sink in about what kind of kid I was. In closing I will say the fact Two-Face didn’t even have the option of an open hand to hold a gun was a disappointment.

Pizza Face from TMNT

This was my absolute, all time favorite TMNT figure made from 1988-1996. The only thing I could say is while some of the figures were mutants based on animals or intergalactic creatures from other worlds, Pizza Face is just gruesome. Missing a leg and a pinkie figure along with bad teeth and probably poor personal hygiene habits, this guy looked like a walking health code violation. In a book I picked up a few years back that was a production “bible” for the first 5 years of TMNT figures it showed Pizza Face was supposed to have a removable chef’s hat and “alien” head under it which would have made the figure even cooler but was probably cut to keep costs down.

The cleaver was also my favorite accessory from the line outside of the errant plunger you might come across.

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Batman Unlimited: The Dark Knight Returns Batman by Mattel

 

Batman Unlimited has been an interesting line from the seemingly flailing Mattel DC Universe series. Admittedly the DC Universe 6 inch figures were doing very well from what I could tell. Figures were flying off the shelves and seemed like they were out with a new series every few months. The beginning of the end was the Matty Collector DC Club Infinite Earths subscription. Same price per figure in the store plus shipping and no build-a-figure piece. Granted the line did produce a Metron with his chair and Monsieur Mallah with the Brain but we also got a weak Golden Age Flash and pathetic Poison Ivy. Anyways, with DC Universe being a thing of the past and Club Infinite Earths on the verge of being shut down, Mattel produced the Batman Unlimited series to keep fans involved till the ’66 Batman classics line hits shelves later this summer.

 

Through the Batman Unlimited line we’ve gotten some stellar figures. A pretty good line up of Injustice: God’s Among Us video game based figures, “Kenner Super Powers” influenced Penguin, Planet X Batman and Earth 43 Batman (Crimson Mist Vampire). But the stand out figure from the line is by far the Dark Knight Returns Batman. I’ll be the first to admit I love the sculpting on most of the DC Direct figures but sometimes the play value suffers from the lack of articulation. The newer Batman: Arkham City figures from DC Direct and some of the larger “Deluxe” figures are sporting more impressive articulation though so don’t count them out yet. The Dark Knight Returns Batman though was a figure people were speculating on for a while now, especially with the fact DC and Masters of the Universe are shared brands of Mattel. The over-muscular body of the He-Man figures lends itself very well to the aging Bruce Wayne from my favorite Frank Miller Batman book.

 

The Mattel Dark Knight Rises Batman sports your average Masters of the Universe Classics articulation (swivel/pivot at the neck, shoulders and hips. swivel at the waist, wrists and top of the bicep and pivot at the ankles, knees and elbows.) The sculpt is from none other than Mattel’s go to guys for epic toys, the Four Horsemen. It’s apparent all over the figure from the detail on the utility belt, folds in the costume’s gloves, the top scallop of the boots and Batman’s grim and grissled expression. The figure comes packaged with a lonely batarang but for a series that’s usually devoid of accessories it’s an OK throw in.

 

There’s only a few complaints in my mind. The cape is made of a softer plastic / vinyl but it has such a stiff look to it. The cape does not retain any poses, it looks like Alfred over starched when doing the laundry. The batarang is just this thin sliver of bat-shaped plastic that is just kind of lost in Batman’s giant hands. Not sure what could have been done to make it better but it just feels like the figure could have done without the batarang altogether. My last complaint is with the bat symbol on his chest. I know it costs more to put additional sculpting on a figure but I was hoping for the bat symbol to be raised or have some kind of relief to it. My complaints are small and damn near unnoticeable, all in all I give the figure a solid 4 1/2 stars. Don’t hesitate grabbing this figure, it’s available for decent prices on Amazon and Big Bad Toy Store (roughly $18 and that’s not bad considering it’s $15 at
retail).

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DC Direct Solomon Grundy from Arkham Asylum

Normally I don’t buy DC Direct figures. I can appreciate the time and effort that goes into a sculpt and the precision of the paint applications, I can even admire the fact they’ll tackle a non-mainstream character the fans are asking for but it’s not my cup of tea. I’m not much for newer figures, my real passion is older figures from the 80s and 90s but every so often a newer toy grabs my attention. For instance, the PlayArts Kai figures are fantastic and I could go broke two times over buying all the NECA figures I like. Hell, sometimes I even go all in on Marvel Select figures that appeal to me. I’m also a reviewer that believes in giving credit where credit is due and shaming other toy lines for producing crappy figures (Jazwares and Mattel, I’m looking at you). Needless to say, a trip to my local comic shop (Heroes’ Haven) introduced me to a figure I had no idea I wanted until I saw it for myself.

(more pictures here)

I have a good relationship with my local comic shop, they reblog my stuff and I reblog theirs. Toys especially; PlayArts, DC Direct, Marvel Select, MAFEX, Hot Toys, ETC. Wednesday being new release day had some interesting stuff, restocks on PlayArts Kai Dark Knight Returns Batman and Robin from Arkham City, newly released DC Direct 3 3/4 inch two packs, PlayArts Kai Poison Ivy and DC Direct Solomon Grundy. In the Twitter picture Grundy just looked like an 8 inch figure, nothing impressive. But I’ll be damned if that figure wasn’t 13 inches tall and weighed as much as a cinder block (maybe a couple of bricks, it’s heavy as something I’m no scientist)! DC Direct had gotten some shit for shoddy craftsmanship on Titan Joker and Killer Croc, both figures were known for falling apart just minutes after getting them out of the package. Worst thing about buying these figures, you have little to no recourse getting a replacement or a swap out. Some comic shops function on no returns or Flying Spaghetti Monster help you if you picked it up at a convention and have to deal with DC Direct directly. They made good on quite a few replacements but even those replacements were plagued with the same issues. But, this figure is a solid hunk of plastic, so that means it’s sturdier right?

(even more pictures here)

Solomon Grundy stands an impressive and intimidating 13 inches tall from the bottoms of his rotten feet to the top his grungy hair. Holding the figure is really pleasing, the figure retails for $90 and he’s heavier than a gallon of milk and solid as a brick. The joints ratchet into place which is seriously important because he’s definitely a little top heavy. The paint job is perfect, it’s dead on to his video game counterpart. Best part of the paint job is the eyes, they really captured that undead marbled glaze to his eyeballs. Just like in the video game, Grundy has a removable chest piece revealing a very grossly accurate reproduction of Grundy’s guts. The entire chest cavity has a great sickly red sheen to it and great shading showing off the heart and other organs exposed. For a $90 figure I’m rating this figure at a solid 8.5 to 9 out of 10. I usually don’t feel expensive figures need a review, either I think they are overpriced or like a Hot Toys figure they sell themselves but this was the exception for sure. If your interested in picking up this big bastard, hit up your local comic shops, I don’t think he’s going to hang around for long.

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The Dark Knight Joker by Square Enix PlayArts Kai

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New release, care of our friends at Heroes’ Haven Comics, is the brand new import PlayArts Kai Joker based of Heath Ledger’s performance in the Dark Knight. Ledger’s performance evokes a lot of cheers and jeers from fans. Some think he re-imagined the Joker too far past being recognized from his comic book appearances and some think his take on the Joker is where it was destined to evolve. I feel like my opinion falls somewhere in between; it’s a groundbreaking performance and a great villain but it’s not the Joker to me. Anyways, since his untimely death just before the movie was released, I feel like the character had never really gotten the justice it deserved in action figure form. DC Direct produced a horrible 1/6th scale figure with cloth outfit that bared little resemblance in accurately capturing the face, Mattel released a handful of renditions that while beautifully sculpted fell short in the paint application department and Hot Toys released two 1/6th scale figures that were incredibly produced with loads of attention to detail but out of the price range of most collectors. It seemed like most of us were just going to have to make due with the Mattel figures until Square Enix announced the Dark Knight Trilogy was one of the DC licenses they had acquired for their flagship PlayArts Kai line.

 

 PlayArts Kai is an ongoing series of import figures, roughly 6 to 9 inches, loaded with detail and articulation. The line started with covering mostly video game and anime brands; Tomb Raider, Metal Gear Solid, Halo, Hitman and other popular series. When they started making figures based off of the widely popular Arkham Asylum video game, DC comics fans really took notice. The first edition Batman sold out within weeks of it’s initial Previews magazine solicitation and then the Joker followed suit. Harley didn’t sell too well but that’s the concern with most female figures, and it’s just the truth sorry guys. It also didn’t help that Harley didn’t seem to live up to the high expectations already left by the Batman and Joker figures. When Square Enix announced acquisition of the Dark Knight movie license and showed off flat gray prototypes at NYCC, fans made plans to save their pennies for Bane and Joker. While Bane was slightly over stylized, Joker and Catwoman did a great job capturing the realism Christopher Nolan pumped into the last trilogy.
 
The Joker stands just over 7 inches tall which places him just slightly out of scale to place him with my Arkham City Batman and Catwoman figures. He does fit in scale with the Dark Knight Rises Batman released with Bane a month ago. The articulation on the figure is staggering, just while writing this I discovered the tails on his overcoat have an articulation hinge. Most of the time I am not too thrilled with an abundance of articulation but the PlayArts Kai figures are equipped with joints that ratchet and lock into position and the Joker comes with the newly designed Square Enix translucent base which makes locking your figures into epic battle poses a real ease.  The paint job on the figure does a good job of recreating the Joker’s shabby appearance. The face paint is smeared and uneven, the clothes have a great deal of shading to give the appearance of being layered. The only fail in the paint scheme is the eyes, they are way too dark and could stand to be whiter so the stand out from the black around them. The sculpt is impressive; every strand of hair, every wrinkle in the face is matched as close as possible for a figure this scale. They even went so far as to reproduce the creases in the pants, buttons, hemming and stitching all over the figure. The accessories are simple; 2 Joker cards (both different and fully detailed), an alternate head with slightly more worn face paint, an alternate bank robbery head (sadly it’s not a mask that fits over one of the two heads but I’ll live), his trusty knife and an assortment of hands to hold the cards, knife or to throw a closed fist punch.
 

The figure is by far worth the SRP of $64.99, you get a great piece of art that you can play with. The box doubles as a great showcase to keep the figure when he’s not on full display. I’m a sucker for front flap window boxes. The figure, in my opinion, brings the pleasure and satisfaction of a Hot Toys figure without the hefty price tag. The figure is in comic and toy shops now that get supplied by Previews magazine so if you like what you see don’t wait too long because this figure won’t last.