Tag Archives: boss fight studio

Final Thoughts on Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars

img_3833

Bucky O’Hare raced onto television screens in September of 1991.

Another series is in the bag as the past 13 weeks have covered 90s relic Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars. As evidenced by my posting on the toy line by Boss Fight Studio as well as other pieces of Bucky media, this show has a special place in my heart. It was something I loved intensely as only a child can for a short duration that then broke my heart, but I got over it because for kids most things are short term. I found something else to obsess over and didn’t think about Bucky O’Hare much until I reached adulthood when suddenly looking back on childhood things held new meaning.

img_3785

The animation is sloppy and careless, such as with this scene in which Dogstar is mistakenly included as part of Bucky’s infiltration team when he’s actually piloting the ship.

I won’t lie to you all and say that Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars is a great television series. I’m not even sure I can say it’s a great children’s show. It does have things going for it, and then it doesn’t. It certainly suffered from a small budget, which isn’t a surprise as the property wasn’t exactly tried and true nor was it backed by a major studio. Those putting up the dollars to make the show likely viewed it as a toy commercial primarily with the hope it would find a footing so more money could be made off of it via other merchandise. Had the show arrived in the 80s it would have largely fit in with other shows on television, but for a 1991 show it was rather shoddy looking. The animation is choppy, there’s numerous visual errors, and few sequences that seemed to attempt anything truly artistic. The classic cartoon where a lavish intro serves as a red herring for what’s to follow.

In addition to the rather poor visual fidelity, the budget is further constrained in the sound department. A small cast of voice actors was forced to shoulder the load. When a new character shows up there wasn’t a thought to getting a guest voice actor (or if there was at the time of recording it was abandoned before release) so get used to a lot of characters sounding the same. This isn’t a knock on the cast, all of which I thought did a good job with the scripts provided, but a short-coming nonetheless. The music also suffers in the same manner. Doug Katsaros handled the music, including the memorable opening and closing number, and was apparently only hired to write and arrange about five tracks which are recycled through every episode. I like the music in the show and consider it perhaps the show’s greatest attribute, but it certainly was becoming repetitive by season’s end.

img_3422

Willy’s interactions with bullies in the early episodes are among the lowest points for the show.

Those are the show’s most obvious flaws production-wise. Serving as both a strength and weakness is the show’s writing. There are some early sequences, namely anything involving Willy DuWitt’s time on Earth, that are dreadful. Just pandering, talking down to the audience kind of stuff. The show also had pacing problems, particularly early on, where the episodes tried to cover too many things and never had a chance to breathe. The end of the first episode is supposed to be stressful so I don’t fault the writing there, but there were other episodes where plot points were basically glossed-over or the end felt rushed. The show is happy to use Willy’s genius as a deus ex machina to get the gang out of trouble on many occasions which probably won’t entertain an adult, but kids may have been more forgiving. I know for me personally as a kid characters like Willy and Donatello from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles annoyed me a bit with how they could seemingly invent their way out of any problem, but I don’t know if I was the exception or the norm.

Another aspect of the show that works, but also doesn’t, is the nature in which Willy was approached. He’s clearly meant to be the audience stand-in. As more of this universe is unveiled, we experience it alongside Willy. Whenever the show takes us to another world, we experience that world via Willy who has to learn about the cat people on Jenny’s world and learn how to deal with pirates in the Dead-Eye episode. It’s the type of approach that probably sounds good on paper, but in practice it’s not as successful. Willy just isn’t interesting, and having almost every episode center around him in some way harms the show. The only episode I actually felt this approach worked was the finale, and that’s because the crew was hiding something from Willy and thereby hiding it from the viewer as well.

Otherwise, the writing for Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars could be really ambitious and even better than the average slop thrown at children in 1991. The first three episodes are serialized and even the fourth fits into that as well. For the rest of the season, the show often reflects back on past events and there’s a feeling of continuity throughout, for the most part. Networks were loathe to attempt this sort of thing with kids as many just don’t respect the intelligence of the audience. Serialized story-telling isn’t necessary for every show, but it is rewarding for viewers in the right setting and that’s true of adults and kids. It’s why I found the show riveting as a child, and I believed there were more stakes here than was the case with the other shows I watched.

img_3501

Mimi LaFloo was an excellent addition to the show, I just wish we saw more of her.

This show was also really good to its female characters. Females were often an afterthought for shows aimed at boys. At most, they were often someone who needed to be rescued. April O’Neil was the gold standard at this point, a character who was confident and fearless, but ultimately always ended up captured by Shredder. In this show, we have Jenny who is the second in command and a powerful telepath. When she gets captured in episode three, it’s in addition to Bucky and Dead-Eye. It’s she who takes charge in her own episode to save her people, and in the final episode she gets captured on purpose as part of a master plan. The other female is Mimi LaFloo, a character determined to save herself and the other slaves who isn’t going to wait around for a hero. She becomes a captain herself, though we only get to see her in this role in one episode. The only negative is that these two characters are quite “catty” towards each other which feels too stereotypical. The most frequently used writer on the show is a female, Christy Marx, who wrote or co-wrote both episodes featuring Mimi so this may have been a contribution on her part or she was instructed to put these two at odds with each other. That aside, it’s cool to see the females in a heroic role and equally cool that a woman got to write them and I think it’s something that should be talked about as part of the show’s legacy.

The show also can be funny, and it’s not the sort of stupid humor I was accustomed to seeing in action shows. The show did tone down on the political humor with the obtuse and budget conscious S.P.A.C.E. bureaucrats. Some of it was retained, but I’m not surprised that Willy wasn’t made to sign-up for company healthcare before going on his first mission. Even the incompetent villains manage to remain funny throughout the season. Perhaps some of that is due to it only lasting 13 episodes, but at least the bumbling Air Marshall had yet to ware out his welcome.

img_3608

The villains are predictable, but also often amusing.

I largely view Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars as a flawed series, but still worth watching. It’s definitely worth watching for kids of 1991 as there wasn’t much better on TV as far as action cartoons were concerned. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was pretty dumb and The Real Ghostbusters was well past its prime. The Pirates of Dark Water might have been the best contemporary for the show, but I find Bucky O’Hare to be more interesting. Come 1992 the television landscape for this genre would be forever changed with Batman and X-Men, but for a brief period of time, Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars was at least in the conversation for best children’s action adventure program. It’s a shame the show isn’t readily available on DVD or at least streaming somewhere. I suppose it’s never too late, but it definitely doesn’t feel like that is something that is going to change anytime soon.

With my final thoughts out-of-the-way, I felt it would make sense to close the book on this series with a ranking of the 13 episodes. Let’s start with the worst:

img_3522

The only thing “On the Blink” has going for it are the scenes shared by Al Negator and the Air Marshall.

13. On the Blink – the Blinky episode on the koala planet is my least favorite. It feels inconsequential, and is, and has a lame resolution. It also was the first episode to really look poor. It does score points for showing Al Negator and the Air Marshall in golf attire.

12. The Warriors – Kamikaze Kamo would have made for a good action figure, but as a character he’s pretty annoying. I like that the episode gave us a new villain in Sly Leezard, and seeing the Air Marshall fired was amusing, but it’s a pretty ugly episode that didn’t do much to further the overall narrative of season one.

img_3674

This episode is just awful to look at.

11. Corsair Canards – This episode is all right, and the overall plot is solid, though some of the execution is a bit off. Mostly, it’s ranked this low because it is absolutely the low point in terms of animation. So many errors and just plain ugly sequences. With some polish, this could have been one of the better episodes.

10. Bye Bye Berserker Baboon – Bruiser’s homeworld is surprisingly low key, but at least there’s some Toad ingenuity on display here. Plus, the Terror Toad looks pretty cool. The baboons just get pretty annoying though and Bucky’s Bugs Bunny impression felt really off for this show.

img_3423

Al Negator, perhaps second only to Toadborg in the villain rankings, debuts in “A Fistful of Simoleans”

9. A Fistful of Simoleans – Now the list gets a bit tricky. I’ll put episode 2 here as it’s a bit slow and yet also over-stuffed. Al Negator is introduced and Bucky’s naivety is on display, though the message of the episode is kind of that racism can be okay? Basically, Bucky should have known not to trust Al because of his species, which is pretty shitty, but he’s also part of a fictional race of crocodiles so I guess it’s possible that they are all greedy, shifty, pieces of crap. I don’t think it was malicious on the part of the writers, but it comes off weird.

8. The Kreation Konspiracy – The plot for this episode is pretty cool, and I like the added Toad lore. Really, what knocks this one down a few pegs is the resolution with Willy converting a planet into a giant ape. And yet, the actual ending is possibly the best ending of any episode of the show as it’s genuinely funny, if rushed. At least Blinky got to do something to make up for the lackluster “On the Blink” episode.

img_3697

It was Toadborg’s time to shine in this one.

7. The Artificers of Aldebaran – This episode helped clarify how Jenny and her kind get their powers, even if it was pretty crazy given it involved a moon-sized demon in outer space. Mostly though, I rank this one here because I love how ruthless Toadborg is when negotiating with Jenny. He’s such a good villain and I feel like similar villains are rarely allowed to be this nasty in children’s shows.

6. Komplex Caper – This is just a fun action-heavy episode. The plot is a tongue-in-cheek commentary on television and works well in this show which is full of that stuff via Toad TV gags. We get to see Bucky take the fight to Komplex and also Dogstar’s crew gets a moment to shine. The only real negative for me watching as an adult is how the Toad fleet is weakened. In the first few episodes, Bucky and his crew couldn’t possibly hope to go toe to toe with so many enemies, but Dogstar’s crew seems unphased. Bonus points go to the humorous confrontation between Dead-Eye and the Toad Master Spy.

img_3388

“War of the Warts” introduced us to Bucky O’Hare and his crew.

5. War of the Warts – The debut episode is very lore heavy, but it’s necessary to establish the world. Really, the only parts I don’t like are Willy’s experiences on Earth dealing with bullies who will thankfully not make it out of Episode 3. This is also the episode that “killed” Bruce forever creating stakes kid-me never knew existed in cartoons.

4. The Search for Bruce – The episode that brought Bruce back, albeit as a ghost of some sort. It does a good job of showing a character, in this case Bruiser, actually experience grief which is something “War of the Warts” didn’t have time to explore. It’s a bit sad, but there’s also some fun stuff in the middle as well as the show’s most violent sequence. The only real drag is the constant references to bananas by the two baboons. I get it, they love bananas, I don’t need the constant reminder.

img_3787

The finale even finds time for the unheralded to get a moment, though maybe not a “shining” moment as it were for Digger.

3. The Taking of Pilot Jenny – The series finale does its job. While it has a few warts, namely with how Komplex is finally defeated, it’s largely a satisfying conclusion to the first season. Bucky gets to play hero and the mammals pull off an inventive scheme. Past plot points are revisited and the whole thing is just very satisfying. That last scene is still able to hit me in the feels, cheesy as it may be.

2. The Good, the Bad and the Warty – The conclusion to the first arch brings about the show’s first action-heavy episode. We get to see Bucky and his crew captured by the Toads and forced to escape. During which we see Willy’s ingenuity and Jenny’s impressive powers. It’s also our first real look at Toadborg and what he’s capable of and makes for an entertaining episode. There’s some more junk with Willy on Earth, but at least it also marks the end of his conflict with the bullies, something that felt really tacked on to make the show more “relatable” to its audience. The show in general features too much Willy, but at least he ditched the Earth problems for the most part.

img_3463

A debut for Mimi plus a dramatic and heroic moment from Bucky contribute to make “Home, Swampy Home” my favorite of the bunch.

1. Home, Swampy Home –  I had a feeling this one would be my favorite and it remained so after all was said and done. It does have the one real strange sequence of Bucky meeting his off-camera mentor who had some really on-the-nose advice for the captain, but aside from that it’s pretty cool and a lot of fun. It showcases how the other hares idolize Bucky and view him as their Superman, in a way. He will save them, no questions asked. It also gives us Mimi LaFloo, who is a really interesting character for a 1991 cartoon aimed at boys. She’s an anti-princess, a female who isn’t going to wait around for someone to save her. She looks down on her fellow captives, the hares, because they’re just waiting for Bucky to save them while she intends to save herself. And while Bucky’s help is needed in the end, she’s rewarded for her efforts by being named captain of her own frigate. This was an era where pretty much every female cartoon character was just a damsel in distress, so seeing an empowered female character was pretty cool. Bucky’s dramatic reveal to Mimi and the hares is also my favorite moment from the show.

 

Advertisements

Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars – “The Komplex Caper”

img_3558Episode Number:  7

Original Air Date:  October 20, 1991

Directed by:  Karen Peterson

Written by:  Doug Moench

First Appearance:  Rumble Bee, Digger McSquint, Pitstop Pete

For the second consecutive week, Komplex gets top-billing by being included in the episode title. Surprisingly, they didn’t stick with the “K” theme and call it The Komplex Kaper, but I guess once was enough. This is an episode I had almost no memory of going into it. Once I started watching it things started to come back, but for one reason or another it was not a memorable episode for me. That had me a bit a worried, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that this episode isn’t bad. It’s not threatening “Home, Swampy, Home” as my favorite thus far, but it’s nowhere near as bad as “On the Blink,” which itself wasn’t without its charms.

img_3560

If Boss Fight Studio is looking for a variant of its Storm Trooper figure, here’s a goofy one.

This episode opens with Dead-Eye out scouting in the Toad Croaker. He happens upon a Toad Cruiser which has just launched a satellite of some kind. The hatch of the Cruiser conveniently opens and Dead-Eye sneaks aboard. There he finds a lone Toad pilot referred to as the Toad Master Spy. He mostly resembles a Storm Trooper, but his suit is less detailed and he has these weird little antennae on his helmet, plus what appears to be a nose. He sees the abandoned Croaker just floating around his ship which he regards as curious, until Dead-Eye blasts a hole through his door. Dead-Eye radios to Bucky and informs him of what he found and asks what to do. Bucky, in an irritated voice, tells him to tie him up and bring him aboard. When Dead-Eye asks “With what?” Bucky instructs him to improvise.

img_3562

I bet no one is surprised they made a tongue-tied joke here.

Aboard the Righteous Indignation, Bucky heads down below to interrogate Dead-Eye’s prisoner. He finds one toad with his tongue wrapped around his entire body and a proud duck. Bucky commends Dead-Eye for his resourcefulness, but seeing as how the toad needs his tongue to speak, he instructs the excitable gunner to untie him. The toad then struggles to get his tongue back into his mouth and complains it’s too limp to utilize. Bucky bangs it around some to wake it up (why do I suddenly hear the sound of Beavis and Butt-Head’s laughter in my head right now?), and AKOM apparently got sick of animating the thing because it just magically returns to the toad’s mouth. Bucky then tries to interrogate him, but he’s not talking. Enter Bruiser, which gets the toad’s tongue working just fine. He says Komplex sent him to position and shield a satellite, but he doesn’t know anything else. Bucky then instructs Bruiser to toss the prisoner in the brig while he ponders what this could mean.

img_3564

Air Marshall is receiving a temporary promotion which will all but surely remain temporary.

Komplex is then briefly shown discussing this new scheme with the Air Marshall. Air Marshall is being charged with defending Komplex, a task usually reserved for Toadborg but he’s busy with something else. On Earth, Willy is messing around with his computer and the photon accelerator. It’s causing interference on his computer, and eventually it picks up Komplex’s signal. Willy overhears a plan to utilize a satellite to broadcast Toad TV to the rest of the Aniverse which will drain the brain waves of the mammals watching and render them obedient to Komplex. Toadborg is also shown on a sound stage dressing toad actors as mammals in preparation for the first broadcast.

img_3565

Toadborg has a future in directing.

Willy, realizing he stumbled onto something important, activates his photon accelerator to return to the Aniverse. He starts informing Bucky and the others about what he learned, but he doesn’t get very far before the Toad satellite starts broadcasting its first transmission. The various monitors on the ship display some monster movie, the effects of which seem to hypnotize the members of the crew. All except Willy (and possibly Blinky, who doesn’t say anything but also doesn’t appear to be affected) are essentially paralyzed and we see shots of other random mammal households under the same spell. A green energy is being sucked out of the viewers and floating to the television suggesting this is some kind of brain drain. Willy deactivates the monitors on the ship breaking the spell. Jenny thanks him for saving their lives and Bucky starts formulating a plan.

img_3566

The brain suck in action. Throughout, AKOM is inconsistent where Blinky is concerned. In some shots he’s being affected, in some he’s not. As an android, I’d assume he has no brain waves.

The Indefatigable is summoned and Dogstar soon shows up with his new crew. Their names won’t be given, but in addition to Dogstar and Wolf we have Rumble Bee, Pitstop Pete, and Digger McSquint. Dogstar is displayed as being especially bumbling so he hasn’t gotten any smarter since we last saw him. He goes along with Bucky’s advice to shut down their ship’s video monitors so at least he’s smart enough to take orders when necessary. Bucky has a pretty radical idea to infiltrate Komplex and take this thing down at the source, and the only way to do that is to attack the Toad home world.

img_3569

Some new faces aboard the Indefatigable. Pitstop Pete and Rumble Bee presently enduring a rather boring heroic tale from their commander.

Bucky has Dead-Eye take him there via the Toad Croaker which is disguised as a meteor. It will fall to Dogstar to keep the Toads occupied outside the planet while the Righteous Indignation returns to deal with that stray satellite. Wolf launches in their own version of a Toad Croaker while Bucky makes his way to the surface armed with his trusty sidearm and some special crystal Jenny gave him in case he gets in trouble. He also has a handy jetpack on his space suit that helps him get around. A Toad gunner is shown at a console and he regards the Croaker disguised as a meteor as unimportant. The Air Marshall shows up and almost succeeds in fouling Bucky’s plan by ordering the gunner to blast the meteor in order to remain sharp. Before he can do so, the Indefatigable appears drawing their attention away from Bucky, as planned.

img_3570

Air Marshall doing his best to remain vigilante.

Seeing the Indefatigable in its orbit, Komplex orders the Toad fleet to attack. What appear to be hundreds of Double Bubbles come streaming out of the Toad planet. In the first few episodes, such odds were made to seem insurmountable for one frigate, but apparently Dogstar’s crew will do just fine. We get to see his guys get in position and Rumble Bee, being an android, basically extends his “stinger” and plugs into their ship’s M.A.S.E.R. canon while Pete mans what looks like a missile launcher.

img_3572

Rumble Bee plugs himself into the Indefatigable’s canon.

Bucky makes his way through the Toad planet undetected. He even remarks it’s rather boring, which is the cue for many laser turrets to activate and train their sights on Bucky. He dodges and shoots a few before reaching a deep chasm. At the bottom is something that resembles the Void Droid from episode 3. Bucky also encounters several more robots designed to destroy sentient beings, and Bucky being a sentient being, is soon targeted. These things look like smaller versions of that same Void Droid and also remind me of the mousers from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Lucky for Bucky, they aren’t as indestructible as the Void Droid and he’s able to blast them

img_3576

A close call for Captain O’Hare.

It’s at this point that Komplex becomes aware of Bucky’s presence and we see the program is capable of panic. Komplex recalls all of the troops and orders them to defend Komplex at all costs. This even causes the many Double Bubbles fighting with Dogstar and his crew to turn around. Wolf requests updated instructions from Dogstar and he’s obviously irritated with his slow-thinking commander. Dogstar then instructs him to use their tails as fuses and light ’em up! Very poetic.

img_3584

Willy’s stupid gun

Meanwhile, the Righteous Indignation has found the shield around that satellite to be impregnable. To no one’s surprise, Willy is able to come up with a solution because his brain essentially possesses magic powers, it would seem. The writers usually come up with some jargon to explain Willy’s plan, but this time they don’t bother. He whips up a little gun that somewhat resembles a video camera. Dead-Eye pilots the Croaker and Willy out to take a shot at the satellite, and what do you know, Willy’s weapon works. With the shield down they now just need confirmation from Bucky that they’re okay to blow it up.

img_3580

This is apparently worse than the robots.

And as for Bucky, well he’s run into some trouble. He ended up in a hallway composed of giant video monitors and Komplex has switched them all on. They’re apparently not broadcasting the mammal-centric programming affecting the rest of the Aniverse though and it just looks like Toad TV. Apparently, regular old Toad TV has a paralyzing effect on mammals. We’ve seen Bucky and the others recoil with disgust when presented with Toad TV, but nothing like this. Bucky falls to his knees clutching his head apparently incapable of doing much else. He then pulls out that crystal Jenny gave him, which floats into the air and sends out a laser blast in all directions destroying all of the monitors and freeing Bucky from their paralyzing effects.

img_3581

What better way to house a bunch of brain waves than a big old brain itself?

In the inner sanctum of Komplex, Toadborg activates the final component of this brain drain device. A literal brain rises from a center console. It’s in a glass bubble and is very reminiscent of Mother Brain from the Metroid series (though not the version of the character from Captain N, thankfully) of video games. All of the brain waves being collected by the satellite are being consolidated here. Once that task is completed they’ll be scrambled and transmitted back to the source which will render the viewer obedient to Komplex, but it’s still roughly 5 minutes away from completion. Bucky then bursts in, and Komplex orders Toadborg to destroy him before he stops the brain drain. Toadborg has a rifle this time, but hitting Bucky proves challenging. Similar to episode 3, Bucky is able to insult Toadborg which appears to enrage him and makes him sloppy. He vaults over the cybernetic toad to rest atop the giant brain and Toadborg cooperates by continuously firing at Bucky. His sloppy shooting causes him to strike the brain and explosions happen.

img_3586

Komplex is in quite a panic during the final act.

We then cut to the satellite, which has now reversed its brain suck maneuver and is sending the waves back to their source. A montage of mammals around the Aniverse is shown as they all come to their senses. The writers even slip in a political joke when one mole remarks he feels like he was just subjected to 9 months of Quail speeches, which I can only assume was a jab at the current sitting Vice President of the United States, at the time. Bucky then contacts the Righteous Indignation and orders the destruction of that satellite, and Dead-Eye is happy to oblige. A series of explosions at the Toad planet thrust Bucky back into space where Wolf is ready to scoop him up. He radios back to the Indefatigable to report that Bucky has been secured and their mission a success.

img_3588

Wolf with the save!

Back aboard the Righteous Indignation the crew is shown celebrating. Bruiser seems particularly excited while Bucky is a bit sullen that he couldn’t take down Komplex once and for all. He’s reminded they’ll have other chances, while Bruiser is just happy to have television back. When he goes to flip on the tube, Bucky whips out his pistol and blasts it. It would seem he’s not quite ready for TV yet. A simple order would have probably been more economical though. Back at the inner sanctum of Komplex, Toadborg is shown angrily barking orders at other toads. They need to make emergency repairs to get Komplex back on-line and he suggests they’re at least a week away from achieving their goal. The camera then pans to Frix and Frax who realize they’ll be without Toad TV for at least a week and they begin to weep like children.

img_3593

The reaction of Frix and Frax when faced with the prospect of no Toad TV for a week.

“The Komplex Caper” isn’t what I expected given the title, but I suppose it’s still a caper since the Toads were stealing something after all. It just wasn’t something tangible as they were stealing the brain waves of the mammal population. It’s a bit “out there” as a plot device, but it wasn’t a surprise to see Toad TV integrated into a plot in a major way. I still don’t really get how Toad TV works – is it paralyzing to mammals? It seems kind of stupid, but I guess with a kid’s show you’re always looking for non-violent ways for the villains to inflict harm and distress on the protagonists. It was fun to see the fight be taken to the Toad home world for the first time, though it was improbably easy for Bucky to infiltrate it. We also saw Toadborg fail once again. I can’t say I’m happy to see his apparent weakness is a short temper, because it is rather lame, but when you create a villain that’s indestructible you have to find a weakness some where.

img_3579

I very much enjoyed watching Wolf get annoyed with Dogstar.

They may not have played a huge role in the episode, but it was nice to see Dogstar given a proper crew. Up until now he’s only had Wolf at his side and he briefly had some generic looking dog character when they arrested Tinker back in episode 2. The newcomers all have interesting designs. Their designs were so interesting that Pitstop Pete and Rumble Bee were both supposed to be in Hasbro’s series 2 of action figures, but that wasn’t to be. I’d still like to see a Rumble Bee at some point as he’s just unique looking so hopefully Boss Fight Studio’s current line of figures lasts long enough for that to happen. Considering they have yet to unveil a Blinky or Willy (and maybe they’d want to do a Dogstar first as well) I’d guess he’s still pretty far away.

img_3573

This episode is at least unique for giving us a look inside Komplex.

This episode is pretty entertaining. Even though it requires a real suspension of disbelief, watching Bucky infiltrate the Toad home world is pretty cool and it’s something I wouldn’t have expected to happen yet in the series. We are at the midpoint though, so maybe this was as good a time as any to go ahead and take the fight to the Toads head-on. There’s some solid humor here too. The sequence at the episode’s start with Dead-Eye and the Toad pilot is perhaps the best piece of humor the show has provided us so far while it was also funny to see Wolf’s interactions with Dogstar. Dogstar annoys me and it’s nice to see he apparently annoys Wolf as well. This episode also makes it seem like Komplex will be out of commission for at least a little while. That’s not the case though as we’ll be hearing from Komplex again quite soon. Komplex isn’t featured in every episode, so I don’t know why they didn’t position one of those episodes to follow this one, but oh well. Opportunity wasted. Toadborg did say Komplex would only be down for a week which is convenient for a weekly TV show. After three episodes though that are very stand-alone in nature, next week’s will bring us a direct call-back to the very first episode of the series with “The Search for Bruce.” See you in a week!


Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars – Introduction

bucky introThis may often look like a Batman blog, but if I could make it look more like a Bucky O’Hare blog then I totally would. The problem is, there just isn’t enough quantity to talk about when it comes to Bucky O’Hare. While Batman:  The Animated Series produced 85 episodes in its original run, Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars produced a mere 13. Batman was broadcast on Fox Kids, then Kids WB (with a new season too), with reruns airing for years when it was all said and done. The show had a comic tie-in, toys, three films, and then it went on to basically spawn Batman Beyond, not to mention all of the Justice League themed shows. As for Bucky, he got the toy treatment and a Nintendo game, but his 13 episode total meant there was really no home for him in syndication. After the episodes were broadcast a few times, they all but disappeared. A comic line was launched in the UK, but it never left that territory so if you wanted to continue enjoying the show in the US you had to seek out the VHS tapes.

And that is largely where things remain even today in 2019. Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars has been practically forgotten, and if not for the contribution of toy maker Boss Fight Studio the property would be dormant. On this blog I’ve drawn attention to the various Bucky releases over the years and to the new toy line from BFS. In my last post, a wish list for the line, I theorized that in order for my new favorite toy line to continue as long as I want it to there would likely need to be more Bucky promotion. Well, I’m hardly a major vehicle for said promotion, but I am going to do my part by not only continuing to post about that very line, but starting tomorrow we’re going into a Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars deep dive. All 13 episodes over 13 weeks.

easter buck

The one true Easter Bunny.

Today seemed like a good day to start this as it’s the day many people invite a large bunny into their homes to hide eggs and candy all over the place. Bucky isn’t as famous as the Easter Bunny, but he should be! Bucky O’Hare is the creation of Larry Hama with an assist given to artist Michael Golden. He was allegedly created sometime around 1977 or 78, probably after Hama saw Star Wars, and made his comic debut in Echo of Futurepast #1 in May of 1984. Likely due to the popularity of a certain group of ninja turtles, Bucky would get his shot at TV stardom not too long after despite only having a total of six comic book stories.

Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars was conceived during the time when it had already been established that in order to launch a cartoon aimed at boys you needed to attack the market from multiple angles. It wasn’t enough to just create a successful show, it needed to be very merchandiser friendly. Hama had already anticipated this when creating the characters and included pegs on their various outfits that a weapon could be affixed to should they become action figures. Due to the success of other toy line/cartoon properties, there was a strong appetite for anything that looked marketable and a lot of people wanted in on it.

bucky meets bruiser

The show’s first few episodes largely mirrored the comics while adding in new characters like Bruiser.

The show ended up being a combination of several companies. First was Sunbow Entertainment and its new Sunbow Productions arm. Sunbow had made a name for itself primarily animating commercials for toys. Eventually, the company moved towards creating shows of its own and by 1990 it had several under its belt. It would initially partner with Toei Animation, the company responsible for Dragon Ball, and by the time Bucky arrived the company was partnered with South Korean animation studio AKOM (The Simpsons, X-Men). Abrams/Gentile Entertainment was involved as a producer and Continuity Comics obviously had a stake in the show as well as French company IDDH. Marvel Productions co-produced the show and Hasbro distributed it via Claster Television and it’s Hasbro Studios that holds the distribution rights today. That’s a lot of cooks in the kitchen and a lot of arms with a share in the profits. It’s no wonder the show failed to satisfy and also less surprising to see it has struggled to get a Region 1 DVD release as there are a lot of people that would be owed money.

The show premiered on September 8, 1991 and would conclude its first run on December 1 of the same year. It aired on Saturday mornings in most markets on various local television affiliates. It didn’t air on any of the major networks in my market and I don’t know if it did in others. The show was quite similar to the comics, but since it had more stories to tell it expanded the roster of characters. The only character left out of the show was the Omnipotent Mouse. The first few episodes of the show are presented in a serialized nature and there is a running story through-out the first season concerning Bucky’s home planet of Warren. It’s a sophisticated form of story-telling for children, and it would be popularized by X-Men the following year, and it’s possible that this played a role in making it hard for new viewers to just jump in. I think such arguments are overblown, but it’s worth mentioning.

air marshall fig

The Air Marshall may have actually ended Bucky’s existence after all.

To coincide with the launch of the series, Hasbro released the first wave of action figures. Hasbro had ridden to prominence on the back of the Transformers line and had expanded to become the largest toy seller in the world. 1991 was an especially big year for the company because it purchased Tonka, Parker Brothers, and Kenner giving the company huge reach into almost every facet of the toy market. Still, Hasbro (and other toy makers) had passed on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles a few years earlier after making the same mistake back in the 70s with Star Wars. Maybe that was part of the drive to go after Bucky O’Hare in hopes it would become a major action figure property for the company.

The initial wave of Bucky O’Hare figures based on the show included six heroes:  Bucky, Dead-Eye Duck, Willy DuWitt, Commander Dogstar, A.F.C. Blinky, and Bruiser. Four villains joined them:  Toad Air Marshall, Toadborg, Toad Storm Trooper, and Al Negator. The company also released a vehicle play set for the good guys and one for the bad guys, the Toad Croaker (which featured a whoopee cushion like device in it to squish the bad guys) and the Toad Double Bubble, essentially the toad version of a Tie Fighter. The toys were prominently placed in my local Toys R Us and Christmas of 91 was the year I got a lot of Bucky stuff. It ended up being the only Christmas for me and Bucky as the line was discontinued. Series 2 was famously shown in a Hasbro catalog, and a figure of Jenny was completed for the first series but held back. Carded figures of Jenny have become the most sought-after piece of Bucky merch there is even after she finally received an official figure release from Boss Fight Studio.

Blame for the demise of Bucky is largely placed on the toys and Hasbro for its case ratios. When a store would order more, Hasbro would send out a standard case which included two of each figure. Gradually, less popular figures like the Toad Air Marshall would start to take over the pegs while figures of Bucky and Dead-Eye would disappear quickly. Hasbro allegedly never adjusted the case ratios and stores stopped ordering when they had pegs full of Air Marshalls and Storm Troopers. It’s hard to say if that played the largest role, but I can personally recall going to the store and indeed seeing an entire section of Toad Air Marshall figures.

bucky tv spot

Bucky was apparently picked up by at least one Fox affiliate.

With Hasbro bowing out of the property because of the profitability of the toy line everyone else bailed as well. Obviously, since only 13 episodes were ordered initially there was some skepticism from the beginning for Bucky O’Hare. We don’t know how the show fared ratings-wise or how successful sales of other merchandise was. Like most cartoons, Bucky was on everything:  party supplies, puzzles, costumes, lunch boxes, shoes, coloring books, etc. Family Home Entertainment had the distribution rights for the show on home video and released 3 VHS tapes of the show which totaled 7 episodes. The Konami video game for the Nintendo Entertainment System would be a late arrival in January of 1992, but likely still in before the consumer had a notion the show wouldn’t continue. A separate arcade game arrived in the fall of 1992 when it was likely obvious the property was dead. Not surprisingly, I don’t think many units were produced and I’ve actually never come across one in the wild. I mentioned the Hasbro Jenny as the most sought after of Bucky collectibles, but I bet if one of these arcade cabinets were to go up for sale it would fetch a pretty high price.

bucky menace

In Canada, the show was titled Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Menace, like the TPB release.

Whatever the reason, Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars failed to catch on. Blame it on the toys if you wish, or maybe it just wasn’t promoted enough on television. I think a large part of the issue is simply that selling boys on a green space bunny was a bit of a hard sell. I think most who gave the show a chance probably liked it, but they might have needed convincing. Had Bucky been a weekday afternoon show, he might have stood a better shot as that’s easier for kids to get into. A week is a long time between episodes for a six-year-old.

Where I grew up in New Hampshire, Bucky O’Hare was pretty popular. My friends were all into the show and the toy line and eventually the NES game. It seemed popular to me, which is partly why I was so confused as a kid when Bucky simply went away. Now, I’m ready to engage this property once again as an adult. Like Batman, I’ve seen the episodes multiple times as both a kid and an adult, though overall I’ve seen these episodes less simply because the re-runs weren’t on TV for years. As I work my way through the series here, I’ll be re-watching the episodes again and approaching it from a critical standpoint as I walk the reader through the episode. My opinion going into it is that this show is not high art, but it has more depth than many of its peers. Bucky O’Hare aired in a more cynical time pre-Batman and pre-X-Men, and I’ll keep that in mind. This show was supposed to be a 23 minute commercial for toys and games, but it seemed to aim higher.

bucky r2 dvd

The now out of print R2 release is the only official way to enjoy Bucky on DVD.

If you want to follow along with me it’s going to be a bit more difficult than it is with Batman. Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars received an incomplete VHS release, but that’s likely not that important to readers in 2019 who likely don’t even own a VCR any longer. The show was released on Region 2 DVD in 2004 by Metrodome Distribution. It was a bare-bones release that contained just the episodes in a quality pretty typical of the era. The DVD is out of print. No official Region 1 DVD was ever released, though there was a popular bootleg put out by Exposure Entertainment in 2010. It just contained the episodes and was probably a rip of the Region 2 release as the quality is pretty much the same. The packaging though was pretty ugly. I covered both in the early days of this blog, though both are a lot harder to come by now than they were back then.

It is highly unlikely at this stage that Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars will get an official Region 1 release and that’s further heightened by its presence on the internet. The entire series can be streamed on YouTube and probably on other platforms as well for free. No one is protective of the property in 2019 and it’s hard to imagine that changing at this point. No matter, this should be a fun exploration of the old show and hopefully you enjoy going on this trip with me. We start tomorrow with the very first episode “War of the Warts.”


Boss Fight Studio’s Bucky O’Hare – A Wishlist for What’s Next

blinky bucky deadeyeIt’s been over two years since toy maker Boss Fight Studio announced it had acquired the Bucky O’Hare license from Continuity Comics and intended to do a new line of action figures based on the dormant property. It was about a year later that the first two figures arrived:  Bucky O’Hare and First Mate Jenny. Since then they’ve been joined by Dead-Eye Duck and the Storm Toad Trooper as well as variants of the heroes. Recently, the next figure in the line went up for pre-order in the form of Bruiser, the Beetlegeusian Berserker Baboon. He’s a big one, and as such he’s going to retail for more than the $35 that fans have grown accustomed to checking in at $55. Is he worth it? Impossible to say at this time since he’s not available, but Boss Fight’s Andrew Franks took to Twitter to rally Bucky fans to pre-order this sucker. This is a small property from a small company and it’s likely pre-orders are utilized to determine how viable a figure actually is. If they come in below a certain threshold then it’s possible the figure never goes into production. And if that were to happen with Bruiser what would that mean for the line as a whole? Does it end here with four figures? Does the company instead shift focus to smaller scale figures and continue the line ignoring all of the big guys?

img_3294

What are you waiting for?!

All good questions and questions I obviously cannot answer. Next month, Boss Fight Studio will be appearing at New York’s Toy Faire event for the first time. This feels like a big deal for the company and it’s assumed that Bruiser will be on display for public viewing for the first time beyond the pictures the company has shared online (and for the record, he looks pretty damn great). We’ll also likely find out the status of previously unveiled variants such as Stealth Dead-Eye and Aniverse Bucky. Boss Fight also hinted at more reveals which could be as exciting as a new character in the line, or perhaps new repaints (it feels like a given that the Storm Toad Trooper will receive at least one re-paint).

I have been tremendously pleased with this line, and while Bruiser isn’t the character I would have selected as the next in line, I’m excited for him as well. He won’t be arriving until the end of the year though, which means it’s quite likely he’ll be the only new figure added to this line in 2019. For my part, I’ve continued to support this line via the pre-order method even if it’s not the best decision for my wallet. Boss Fight charges up-front for pre-orders (you can also order from Big Bad Toy Store which does not) and doesn’t offer any kind of discount for doing so meaning savvy consumers benefit from waiting for an eventual sale or promotion of some kind. Since this property has such a small following, Boss Fight is in a position where it probably has to get as much as it can from the few hardcore fans out there that will buy almost anything Bucky related, since they’ve gone without for nearly 30 years.

bfs bruiser and bucky

He sure looks nice next to Bucky.

Naturally, as a huge fan of this property and this line, I want it to continue well past Bruiser. What Hasbro released alongside the animated series in the early 90s is a pretty solid approximation of the core characters and I’d like to see BFS get to all of them. There are also characters that Hasbro never got to that I would also love to see. I’m not sure what a realistic lifespan for this license truly is, and I’m almost certain I won’t get all that I want, but here’s hoping the best of the best get converted into plastic. Including Bruiser, the line currently contains 4 heroes and one villain with that one villain being generic army fodder. Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars is rather light on stand-out villains, but there are still more to be had. And given that current ratio, it’s no surprise that my next most-wanted figure comes from the ranks of the rogues:

al negator

That bright purple and neon gun is delightfully garish.

Al Negator

Al Negator is mostly a villain, though really he’s just a mercenary for hire. He loves money, a trait all sleazasaurs apparently possess (or maybe Dead-Eye is just racist) and he often finds himself in the employ of the Toads. He possesses a very 90’s look with neon green accents enhancing a very bright violet skin tone. The gold armor puts him over the top in the looks department as well. He’s also quite noticeably larger than most of the mammals, though hopefully not so much that he would necessitate the higher price point of Bruiser which is why I rank him ahead of someone like Toadborg. It’s my assumption that Boss Fight Studio would prefer its next figure in the line to fall into the $35 range so as not to give off the impression that $55 is the rate going forward.

blinky is small

If released, Blinky would easily be the smallest figure in the line.

A.F.C. Blinky

The resident android on board Bucky’s Righteous Indignation is A.F.C. Blinky, which stands for Android First Class. He’s an adorable looking little robot with a head that is basically just one giant eye. When he was released in Hasbro’s line, his coiled limbs had a bendy quality and I’m curious if BFS would attempt the same. Despite the lack of a face, he’s fairly expressive in the cartoon and comic and BFS would likely include different eyeplates to demonstrate that. He’d definitely be a small figure and actually the smallest in the line so there would be no need to worry about a higher price point. He’d also likely come with the same rocket pack the Hasbro toy featured, since that was also his mode of transportation in the video game. He’s just always been among my favorites from the show/comic, so naturally I want a new figure to add to what I have.

toad air marshall

The Toad Air Marshall was among the many cartoon villains totally incapable of performing his job properly.

Toad Air Marshall

He’s the signature bad guy and also one who gets a bad reputation since his peg-warmer status with the old Hasbro line is what is often cited as killing the line. It’s not his fault Hasbro didn’t know what it was doing in regards to case ratios back then, and for what it’s worth I think his old figure holds up quite well. It captured the look and personality of the character, even if the articulation was pretty dreadful. A newer version would likely reposition his head so it’s not on his chest. He’s very hunched over in Larry Hama’s artwork, but not to that drastic a level. He would also be a fun one for different faceplates as he often is sent into a rage. He would likely also be taller than only Blinky and would sit comfortably in the traditional price range.

img_3300

The Hasbro toy was based on the artwork on the left, while the artwork on the right appears to be Hama’s artwork updated to be more in-line with the look of the animated series.

Toadborg

Yes, I want Boss Fight to hit us with back to back villains. Following smaller scale figures in Blinky and Air Marshall with a Deluxe one in Toadborg feels like solid placement. And I suspect that the fan base would have more enthusiasm for Toadborg than it does Bruiser. No disrespect to Bruiser, but he’s no one’s favorite character and is often excluded from a lot of the supplemental media (he wasn’t even in the original comics, but then again, neither was Toadborg). Toadborg, on the other hand, is basically the Toad version of Darth Vader:  part toad, mostly machine. His old figure was pretty underwhelming, and I’m curious what a figure from BFS would look like. The original Hama artwork seemed to exclude the rather large, yellow, hunk of metal on his back the cartoon featured, but later versions of the art would see it included. I tend to prefer the Hama version of the characters to what ended up being adapted for television, but in the case of Toadborg I’d actually want BFS to lean more into the cartoon. And if his chest could open to reveal the remnants of the toad he once was inside, all the better!

mimi flight suit

Mimi feels like a fan-favorite deserving of her first ever action figure.

Mimi LaFloo

Yes, it’s at this point that I’d like to see Boss Fight stray from the Hasbro formula and give us someone all new. Now, most probably would expect Willy DuWitt here, and while I won’t argue against him being essential, he’s also not one of my favorites. Fans expect Willy, and they’ll want to complete Bucky’s team, so maybe preempting him with a new character is an easy way to create sales in a previously unreleased one in Mimi LaFloo. Mimi is the captain of The Screaming Mimi and she debuted in the animated series in the episode “Home, Swampy, Home” as a Bucky denier of sorts. He won her over when he helped free her and several other mammals from Toad captivity and she went on to pilot her own frigate. She feels like a bit of a fan-favorite to me, though that’s impossible to say, and this line could use another female character. Plus she’s way more interesting than Dogstar.

willy in trouble

Oh Willy, always needing rescue.

Willy DuWitt

Okay, now we can do Willy. I see no reason to stray from the Hasbro mold with him and he should come in his Bruce costume with a removable helmet. If it’s easier, his helmeted visage could just be another head. And hopefully BFS could do better than Hasbro where his glasses are concerned. He’d probably have to come with his squirt gun, but maybe BFS could also include his non-canon rifle that he assembled in the NES game.

rumblebee

The coolest member of Dogstar’s crew.

A.S.C. Rumblebee

One of the great teases to arise from the internet are the promotional images of Hasbro’s Wave 2 that never saw release. Rumblebee was to be a part of that wave, and he was my favorite design onboard the Indefatigable, the frigate captained by Commander Dogstar. Rumblebee would be a tricky design, as his bulbous rear could swing in-between his legs to create a canon. He’d be a fun one to design with some challenge, but I think BFS is up to task.

 

img_3303

Komplex is another design that varies greatly between mediums.

Komplex

Really the only major villain not released, Komplex would likely be another Deluxe figure in the $55 range or more. Since Komplex is largely relegated to television monitors, a figure would naturally include that as part of the Komplex-To-Go. He’s also another character that differed quite a bit from Hama’s initial designs. I’d largely want BFS to reference Hama’s art for the body, while including swappable “screens” that contain a Hama accurate depiction of Komplex’s “face” and an animated series version, assuming their license allows for that.

kamikaze kamo

What other toyline boasts ninja space ducks?

Kamikaze Kamo

Another figure slated for Hasbro’s second wave of action figures, Kamikaze Kamo is basically too fun to ignore. A four-armed, ninja, space, duck – who doesn’t want a figure like that?! Two of his arms are mechanical too, so you can tack on cyborg to that list of adjectives as well. He’d potentially be a cheaper figure to produce as some of Dead-Eye’s parts could be re-used. And maybe that’s a road BFS will need to travel down if it wants to produce more than one new character per year. And having a Kamikaze Kamo would lend itself well to another figure…

sly leezard

Apparently, he was to be called Iguana Don at one point.

Sly Leezard

Kamikaze Kamo’s nemesis is the evil Sly Leezard. A sorely needed additional bad guy who wold immediately pair well on a shelf with the ninja. He’s basically a samurai, except he has no code of honor, so he would be another sword-wielding character with a bright color-pallete like fellow reptile Al Negator.

 

If all of those figures were produced, that would put the line at 14 total figures, which feels like a reach at this point given the new output of one figure per year. Bruiser being the lone figure for 2019 doesn’t mean that’s how it’s always going to be, but do I really see this line lasting 10 or 12 years? Honestly no, but it would be pretty cool if it could. And of course I’d want it to continue beyond this group. There’s still the rest of the Indefatigable to consider like Dogstar and Pitstop Pete. There are also characters that never made it to the cartoon like the Omniscient Mouse and Rocket Rodent, who actually never appeared anywhere except in concept art. Would fans want characters that never appeared in the cartoon or even the comic in plastic form? Hard to say, but if the line actually got to the point where BFS was considering such characters then that means it was pretty successful.

Ultimately, I think in order for this line to really take off it’s going to need a boost from other media. Be it a new cartoon or revived comic, Bucky O’Hare could really use more exposure. I’ve been encouraged by the coverage I’ve seen for this line of toys on the web as it’s always positive. That likely helps lure in toy collectors not familiar with the property who just see some fun, well-designed, figures. It’s those casual collectors that may be less enthusiastic for $55 figures, but hopefully Bruiser does what Boss Fight Studio needs him to do and this line carries well beyond him.


Boss Fight Studio Storm Toad Trooper (Bucky O’Hare)

IMG_3148In case you haven’t noticed or do not frequent this blog, I have quite a passion for Christmas. As a kid, my enthusiasm was directed at the holiday thanks in large part to the toys and such. As an adult, that enthusiasm has been transferred more towards the season and the build-up to Christmas. I like to indulge in it, but once Christmas comes and goes it leaves me feeling rather blue. This year though, December 26 had a bright spot when a package from Boss Fight Studio arrived at my doorstep containing the latest from the toy maker’s Bucky O’Hare line – the Storm Toad Trooper.

Boss Fight Studio has designated the Storm Toad Trooper as figure number 7 of its Bucky O’Hare line, but due to the presence of variants in the line, it’s actually sculpt number 4. This gives BFS a release schedule of a tidy 2 new sculpts per year so far. For what is essentially a niche line that’s pretty reasonable. This isn’t Hasbro with a Marvel license, after all. Plus these suckers aren’t exactly cheap, so having time to save up is not a bad thing, especially for an army builder like this one. This figure represents the first villain of the wave, and as it is of the lowly trooper (described as “Laser Fodder” on the card) there is a temptation to buy more than one. Like the more popular Storm Troopers from the Star Wars universe, these bad boys are all bark and no bite. They couldn’t hit a moving target to save their life and are constantly brushed aside by the good guys of the series. And while they strike a mean pose, our heroes are likely only shaking in their boots when encountering a horde of them as opposed to one.

The Storm Toad Trooper stands a tick under 4.5″ and is about as tall as Jenny. He’s noticeably taller than Dead-Eye and Bucky (when ignoring his ears). As far as the source material goes, it’s a bit hard to say as the toads of the cartoon are often hunched over, but it looks about right. These figures, as far as I know, are done to the specifications laid out by series creator Larry Hama who had figures in mind when he originally designed them. The cartoon may have possibly used a slightly different scale, of that I don’t know, but it passes the eyeball test. Because these are to Hama’s designs, the Trooper is different in the area of color scheme with his animated counterpart. Those characters wore a blue suit, but these guys sport a black one like the blister card picture. They’re also more detailed as the show simplified some of the designs a bit for animation, a common practice. Just comparing him with the blister art and he looks pretty damn exact with the only difference I see being a tank on his rifle that isn’t present on the toy’s version.

As the principal grunt of the Toad army, the Storm Toad Trooper has a Hasbro equivalent from the old line. Despite his lowly status, it was one of my favorite toys from that line because of how much I enjoy the design of this character. He’s very expressive and has a fun, toon, look to his mouth and eyes. The dark green helmet that sits flush along the pale green skin of the head is just so pleasing to me. The green and black also works well together, and the gold and pink accents in the belt and eye lens really pop. I love the hot pink of the weapons too as it’s such an of its era touch and I’m happy no one decided to try and update the look with something more real world, or opt for the light blue occasionally used by the cartoon. Speaking purely on aesthetics, he might be my favorite of this line so far and that’s no small praise given the rest.

Moving beyond just the look of the figure reveals so much more. Boss Fight Studio made the helmet removable, which feels like a brave move given how flush it’s supposed to sit on the character, but it looks fantastic. You would have no idea it’s removable just by looking at it, but it’s relatively easy to pop off and it snaps back on in a very satisfying manner. Underneath the helmet is a detailed headsculpt with camouflage-like green spots. There’s a gap in the head for the helmet to snap into, so this isn’t a toy you would display without headgear, but given how well the helmet works I’m not sure if it would have made sense to try and accomplish this in another fashion. He comes with three additional hands to go along with the stock weapon-holding hands. Two open palms and a pointing finger, which feels fairly standard. His weapon outlay is a bit more robust as he comes with a rifle, pistol, and sickle-shaped bayonet. He can hold the bayonet like a weapon, or it can be attached to the rifle by removing a piece of the rifle’s stock, which I suppose could then double as a grenade. The weapons click into his belt nicely, and his hands are all easily removable which is an aspect of these figures that seems to be improving with each new figure. In addition to all of that, he also has a second head, which is a first for this line as the previous figures just had swappable face plates. The second head sports a different expression, though both could be described as angry and aggressive. There’s also a hat he can wear instead of the helmet.

The articulation and build quality is what consumers have come to expect from this line and Boss Fight Studio in general. All of the joints are affixed to plastic ball joints which make posing easy. The ball joints also practically ensure you won’t accidentally break your figure when posing, as they’ll simply pop off if too much force is placed upon them. I found this figure to be pretty free and easy right out of the box, which was nice as both Bucky and the standard version of Dead-Eye were not for me and required a breaking-in period. The odd shape of the shoulder “pads” this figure sports make his arm movements a bit more restricted than the other figures, but I haven’t found it really inhibitive. The legs have a bit less motion at the hips when compared with the others, but this guy’s gigantic feet still allow for some different posing options in spite of that as he’s so easy to stand.

IMG_3143

The second head didn’t like the helmet.

Nothing is perfect though, and I did find a few shortcomings with the Storm Toad Trooper, though nothing that would cause me to reconsider my purchasing decision for even a moment. For one, his rifle is oddly shaped and difficult to pose. I wish it had a handle behind the trigger, but this is how the gun was also supposed to look. I had to work at it a bit to get it to look okay, but I think the figure actually looks better with the pistol in hand instead and the rifle affixed to his back. The second head also gave me some trouble. I was never able to get the helmet to seat on it properly. It’s possible if I hit it with a hairdryer I’d have more success, but it wasn’t something I tried. The hat is also tough to get on as it doesn’t really click-in nicely like the helmet. With some effort though, I did get it to sit properly on the second head. As long as it fits on one I’m happy.

Like the other figures in this line, the Storm Toad Trooper retails for about $35. Knowing fans were likely going to want more, Boss Fight Studio offered an “army builder” two-pack for $65. It doesn’t feature any different packaging or anything (which I should add, the default packaging is awesome and resealable, a strong point for this line), it’s just an order for two figures, but the 5 dollar savings is a nice gesture on their part and it prompted me to buy two for myself. The inclusion of the hat and second head made it an easy call as it’s possible to display both figures I acquired while having them look different. I’ll stay at two for now, but I expect re-paints to come along eventually which could tempt me further. An obvious re-paint would be to make the figure blue and yellow to better reflect the cartoon while the Bucky O’Hare arcade game contained different color variations that would be more drastic and possibly more eye-catching. The animated series also featured the characters Frix and Frax, a pair of twins that wore Storm Toad Trooper uniforms but with an admiral-styled hat instead of a helmet. Such a variant would be more costly for BFS as it would require new heads, but it would be another opportunity for a two-pack as fans would want a figure for Frix and one for Frax. It’s likely something they’ve considered or will consider, though I don’t know if I would go so far as to say it’s likely.

The Storm Toad Trooper is an excellent addition to Boss Fight Studio’s Bucky O’Hare line. He looks great among the other figures and the addition of the hat and second head make buying two feel like a necessity. The build quality is excellent, and just like the other three figures it’s easy to make a case for this being the best one yet. I look forward to seeing what’s to follow for this figure in the form of variants and re-paints, as you know there’s at least one to follow. As for the line itself, Boss Fight Studio has already announced that the next figure will be Bruiser and he’ll be going up for pre-order in January. He’ll be the first figure to really bust the mold on this line as far as size goes as he’s much larger than the other characters. As such, Boss Fight Studio has already announced he’ll retail for more than the others, but the prototype they’ve shown off is something special to behold. They also teased another sculpt is pending approval by Continuity Comics so it looks like the company is on-track to maintain its output of two new sculpts per year and I can’t wait to see what’s next. In the meantime though, I’m quite happy with what I have and I’ll be looking to come up with some fun displays between now and then.


Boss Fight Studio Corsair Canard Dead-Eye Duck

img_2906It’s been awhile since we’ve had some new Bucky O’Hare stuff to talk about from Boss Fight Studio, but the wait is over and BFS is setting us up for a nice exit to 2018. Up first, is the variant Corsair Canard Dead-Eye Duck. This action figure is a re-paint of the Series 2 Dead-Eye released earlier this year, but with some added touches to make him more than just a simple re-paint.

If you have not been following along with the releases put out by BFS, then let me fill you in with one word:  fantastic. Boss Fight Studio has released three original sculpts so far and they’ve been among the best action figures released in the past year and Dead-Eye is arguably the best. The four-armed duck is a really fun character to bring to plastic. He’s a wise-cracking gunslinger and his personality shines through in the sculpt by BFS. I absolutely loved that first release, but this one is even better. His joints are all tight, but easy to work with. His interchangeable bills are easy to swap in and out and so are his hands (which are the same as the ones included in the first version). That was my one complaint with the first Dead-Eye, stubborn hands, but with this version they’re easy to pull out and re-insert. He also comes with more than double the firearms as before. It’s the same set of four, but doubled with two additional Bucky-styled guns included for good measure. Do we need all of these guns? No, but I’m happy to have them.

img_2904Structurally, this version of Dead-Eye is superior to the first one, at least when comparing the two figures I have. Maybe my original Dead-Eye was a bit harder to work with than most, and maybe by variant is better. What determines which version you prefer though will likely come down to the color scheme. I am partial to the original, as I pretty much always have been when it comes to variants and costume changes. That doesn’t mean I don’t like what BFS did with this one. This version of Dead-Eye is supposed to represent his appearance before the comic and animated series timeline began when he was a pirate with the Corsair Canards. It’s a part of the character’s life that has never been examined. Had the comic or series been more successful then maybe it would have been, but for this figure it’s essentially “made up. It’s my understanding that creator Larry Hama had input on this color scheme, so I suppose it’s canon, if that’s important to you. Since this is the same figure, the actual costume is the same, just colored differently. Instead of an orange and red scheme, he has a purple and neon green color scheme. It’s definitely loud and outlandish, but has such a 90s vibe to it that I can’t help but be charmed by it.

img_2905

The figure comes packed in an easily removable blister that fits snug inside the lunch box. I miss the card stock, but this is pretty slick.

Making this variant a little more special than the variants we’ve seen before is the packaging. For this one, Boss Fight Studio decided to package the character in a tin lunchbox with Bucky O’Hare artwork all around. It’s basically stock promotional artwork that you’ve probably seen before, most notably on the cover of the NES video game. It’s bright and detailed and looks great. There are no dents or imperfections anywhere on my set, which I acquired through Big Bad Toy Store which had an exclusive pre-order window for the item (you can now buy it there and direct from Boss Fight). A nice touch on the lunch box that I enjoy are the character portraits that wrap around it. Most look like they were probably the portraits that were going to be used on the cards for the Wave 2 Hasbro figures that were cancelled before release. Will these characters get a second chance at life through Boss Fight? Only time will tell.

Because of the special packaging, this version of Dead-Eye will cost a few more bucks than a regular release figure. Big Bad Toy Store sells him for $42.99 where he’s currently in stock and BFS sells him for the same. I think he’s a superb figure, but I understand if some people aren’t interested in a lunch box or neon variant. If you’re holding out for a truly new figure, well then I have good news as the Toad Storm Trooper is nearing release. No word on when that figure will start shipping, but I think it’s reasonable to expect him to make it out before the end of the year. And when that figure does arrive, you can expect a review here. For now, I will busy myself with my radical pirate duck figure.


Boss Fight Studio Dead-Eye Duck and Holiday Bucky

IMG_2231Wave 2 of Boss Fight Studio’s Bucky O’Hare line is now shipping to consumers and comic shops across the US. Wave 1 was extremely well received nabbing a few Toy of the Year awards and earning the approval of yours truly right here at The Nostalgia Spot. Wave 1 was pretty hotly anticipated among Bucky O’Hare fans since it was the inaugural wave in a  new line of action figures and because it contained the long-awaited First Mate Jenny action figure – a character we were denied back in the Hasbro days. Wave 2, which consists of Stealth Bucky, Astral Projection Jenny, and Dead-Eye Duck is perhaps just as much anticipated because Dead-Eye has long been a fan-favorite. The four-armed former pirate and current gunner on the Righteous Indignation, was brought to life by Scott McNeil for the cartoon with a ton of moxie and a bad ass attitude – traits always endearing to young boys. Also shipping is the special Holiday Bucky, an Easter variant of the Wave 1 figure presented as a chocolate bunny, though not as literal chocolate.

IMG_2221Wave 2 still runs approximately $35 per figure, a steep price for a single 4″ figure, and thus why this review is only for Dead-Eye and the holiday variant. I’m not a professional reviewer and my blog is hardly large enough to attract enough attention to the point where I can receive review copies of toys, so I had to take a pass on the Wave 1 variants and just stick to Dead-Eye. When it came to the Holiday Bucky, I was just too charmed by the packaging and concept to resist. For the time being, I’ve opted to keep Easter Bucky in his packaging, even though it’s fairly easy to remove the figures and reassemble the packaging thanks to an ingenious design that just clips the blister to the card stock. As a result, I’m not going to go into much detail for him. He’s the same figure as before, just with a different paint application. I consider the Easter themed packaging to be part of the appeal and I just think he displays better in box.

With Dead-Eye though, I am taking no such precautions. Dead-Eye is a wonderfully fun design and he demands to be opened and played with. His colors are toon and comic accurate being a pale orange with red straps. The straps are a separate piece of plastic and are glued in place giving him some nice definition. He comes with four guns, though typically he would only wield two at a time in the comic/show, but four arms practically demands four guns, plus the old Hasbro toy came with four as well (sadly, my old Dead-Eye has been lost to time so no comparisons). He has a pair of additional beak attachments to change up his face, and four additional hands including one with a piece of chalk for tallying his kills from the seat of his canon. He has the same articulation as Bucky, with the joints able to pop off and on making the chances of breaking him quite limited. Of course, the additional arms technically means he has more articulation and each shoulder is connected by a ball and socket joint. His range of motion with all four arms is excellent, and his over-sized webbed feat make posing him a breeze.

Basically my only complaint with Wave 1 was how hard it was to swap Bucky’s parts, though I had no such difficulty with Jenny. Dead-Eye shares some of those traits with Bucky, and in some areas he’s better. Dead-Eye arrived with some pretty stiff joints all around. His shoulders moved fine in the socket, but the hinge piece in there and as well as in the elbow were pretty stubborn. Working him gently alleviated some of this, but I’ll probably need to hit him with a hair dryer if I really want to loosen things ups. His hands are also pretty stubborn and do not like popping out. They’re small pieces and getting a grip on them can ware out your thumbs pretty fast. Getting them in is harder than getting them out, and to get them flush you’ll probably need hot water or the aforementioned blow dryer. Thankfully, his beak attachments are a breeze, popping off and on with minimal effort, but not so minimal that you need to fear them falling off. His default expression has gritted teeth on either side and he comes with a second bill that has a wider grin on the right side and a third bill that’s completely closed. Since his whole face doesn’t come off his eye will always be in kind of a frown, but I’ve honestly never seen Dead-Eye with any other expression.

Size-wise, Dead-Eye is pretty much the same height as Bucky which is accurate to both forms of media. This means he’s a little shorter than Jenny and the trio look great posed with each other. It’s hard not to look at them and imagine what future versions of Blinky, Willy, Bruiser and so on will look like beside them. Like the other two, his packaging also is an homage to the Hasbro toy with the same artwork on the front just changed slightly. A character bio from creator Larry Hama appears on the back as well as a silhouette of the Toad Storm Trooper to follow in Wave 3, which is supposed to arrive before the end of the year. In addition to the Trooper, a stealth variant of Dead-Eye is expected as well. There’s also to be a special Corsair Canard version of Dead-Eye, which was the group of pirates he belonged to before the events of the comic/show, that is being packaged with a tin lunchbox. There also is a toon variant of Bucky, which appears to be the same as Wave 1 Bucky but with maybe a brighter red plastic, that I believe is also part of Wave 3. Boss Fight Studio is a small company, and Bucky O’Hare a niche product so forgive me if I’ve said this before, but variants are needed and will probably continue in order to make the line profitable and hopefully able to continue. Boss Fight has yet to show anything for a potential Wave 4, so your guess is as good as mine on what will be included, but hopefully it happens.

IMG_2232Dead-Eye Duck is a welcomed addition to the Bucky O’Hare line and the most appropriate choice for a third figure due to his fun design and popularity with the fanbase. He’s just as good, if not better, than the figures that preceded him. His anatomy makes his facial expressions less imaginative, but he makes up for it with easy to swap face pieces without the troubling stubbornness exhibited by the Wave 1 Bucky. And Holiday Bucky is a silly and fun variant for the line. Really, a chocolate Easter Bucky design? I would have never thought of it. Both Dead-Eye and Holiday Bucky, who is limited to 400 pieces, are available at http://www.bossfightshop.com along with the other figures from Wave 2 and the Wave 1 figures. Being a small shop, don’t expect Boss Fight to dispatch your order right away should you choose to make a purchase since they’re probably consumed with fulfilling the pre-orders right now, but they’ll come. I can’t say enough good things about this line of action figures, or about how happy it makes me to see Bucky and the gang relevant again, so if yo’ve been sitting on the sidelines maybe now is a good time to jump in!