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Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars – “The Search for Bruce”

img_3598Episode Number:  8

Original Air Date:  October 27, 1991

Directed by:  Karen Peterson

Written by:  Richard Merwin

First Appearance:  None

After several episodes that basically exist on their own, we have another episode that refers back to the events of the first one. This was an episode I was waiting for as a kid, though I obviously didn’t know if it would happen or not. Back in episode one, an attack by the Toads caused a malfunction with the proton accelerator of the Righteous Indignation. That malfunction claimed the life of chief engineer Bruce, who we would come to find out is the older brother of Bruiser who would join the crew in the next episode. Bruce’s demise was very much a cartoon one, where rather than actually die he was sucked into the photon accelerator itself. This had been telegraphed by Bruce mentioning the thing partially existed in another dimension. At the time, it was unknown what happened to him. Was he basically sucked into a black hole, which would kill him? Blinky remarked he had either gone off to another dimension or was indeed dead, but answers would have to wait.

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The band is back together in this one. Sort of.

The “death” of Bruce very much caught my attention as a young viewer. Prior to that event I had never seen a character die in a cartoon show. My only experience with death had been Bambi’s mother. Had I been a Transformers fan I probably would have seen the death of Optimus Prime in the Transformers movie, but for whatever reason that franchise never got its claws in me so I didn’t have that shared, traumatic, experience with many of my peers. Instead I had Bruce, and not being accustomed to seeing death in a show I held out hope he’d come back. Him being taken away like that added intrigue to the character. He didn’t really do much in that premiere episode so it wasn’t as if I had any attachment to him. Just the act of him being taken away was enough to create an attachment.

This episode is basically the return of Bruce, but in an unconventional sense. Still, considering this is the first time the baboon brothers will share screen time, this episode has the potential to be the most captivating one yet. This show hasn’t really played up the mushy stuff, as Dead-Eye would call it, and this is a chance to do so. How will Bruiser react to seeing his brother again? And what role will the Toads play in all of it?

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Bucky’s weird sideburns make drawing him at this angle pretty awkward.

The episode opens with the heroes in a familiar situation:  under heavy Toad pursuit. To try and shake the numerous Double Bubbles on their tail, Bucky pulls a Han Solo and steers the Righteous Indignation into an asteroid field. Dead-Eye then, laughing maniacally all the while, makes it tougher on their pursuers by blasting as many asteroids as he can sending debris flying past them. Numerous Toad Double Bubbles meet their end at the hands of the asteroid belt and interestingly not a single ejection is seen. Bucky’s fancy flying is taking a toll on the engines as Blinky gets knocked around, but they still have enough power for a hyper space jump. As they exit the asteroids and ready the warp drive, one of the Double Bubbles fires a tracking device. One of the claws rockets forward and is able to attach itself to the rear of the Righteous Indignation just before it enters hyper space.

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Someone needs to give Blinky a gun.

The crew gathers in the cockpit to celebrate another successful escape from Toad forces. All except Blinky, who is still down in the engine room. Suddenly, a trio of Storm Troopers materialize right inside in the engine room! Blinky tries to run, but ends up in the clutches of the trio as they bang his head against the floor. During which, he adds another new catchphrase to go along with “Calamity and woe,” and that’s “Misery and wretchedness.” He is able to alert the others via what is apparently an intercom system, but I think someone missed the note because it just looks like a wall. The others race down there and Bruiser is particularly agitated to find Toads beating up on his little buddy. The Storm Troopers do what Storm Troopers often do and attempt to flee in panic.

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The Toads actually have a plan for once.

As the Toads back off, they demonstrate what terrible shots they are by failing to hit Bruiser with their gun-fire. As Bruiser closes in, another Toad calls out from above to Bucky. Three more apparently appeared in the cockpit and they have Jenny. One tells Bucky to order Bruiser to back-off, which is when Bruce appears. He’s dressed in some new armor with a primitive do-it-yourself vibe. Most curious though is that he appears to be intangible, real ghost-like. Bucky and Dead-Eye can hardly believe their eyes, but Bruce speaks and tells him not to worry.

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The latest in Toad technology.

On a metallic-looking moon not unlike the Toad home world, a strange device is in operation. Toad scientists man the controls while worker toads turn a large device in the center of the room that is apparently generating the power. It’s a transport device, and four more Storm Troopers are being readied in it. Suddenly, Bruce appears and his mere presence causes the Toads present to recoil in fear. He orders the scientists to “rip out them wires,” and they do as they’re told, causing all of the Toad forces on the Righteous Indignation to vanish.

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Fancy seeing you here, Bruce.

Bucky and the others are left puzzled by what just happened, but right now they need to get working on repairs. Jenny calls Willy, and we’re spared a scene of her interrupting him doing something menial in his world. His door just appears immediately and he comes aboard to help out. Meanwhile, the Air Marshall drags some white-coated scientists back to the scene of the ghost baboon demanding they get back to work. Bruce appears and everyone panics once more, including the Air Marshall who hides under a command console. Komplex then appears on a giant monitor and zaps the Air Marshall’s hiding placing with an electric bolt. The Air Marshall stumbles out with tales of ghost baboons and Komplex responds that it’s aware of this supposed ghost before saying there may be a way to utilize this unexpected development to their advantage. Bruce is shown looking on.

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Air Marshall is often incompetent, but at least in this episode his scenes are genuinely amusing.

On the Righteous Indignation, everyone is working on repairs while Jenny pilots the ship. She radios down to Bucky that a priority message from an unknown sender is trying to contact them. He instructs her to accept and heads for a monitor. On the other end is Bruce, only he doesn’t look like a ghost this time. he provides instructions on where he can be found. Bruiser is naturally overjoyed to see his “brudder,” but before they can get too excited the ghost version of Bruce appears once again. He warns them not to follow the instructions they just got, but before he can say more he’s practically mauled by his excited little brother causing both of them to disappear. This just further confuses Bucky, and citing no other lead to go off of, he decides to head to the obvious trap the fake Bruce provided.

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Bucky seems to love traps.

They head for Quadrant 15, and wouldn’t you know, the Righteous Indignation winds up surrounded by Toads. Quadrant 15 happens to be where the moon containing this new Toad device, the matter transporter, is located and for some reason Bucky doesn’t find the giant structure protruding from it curious. On that very moon, the Air Marshall is returning back to the scene of the ghost baboon attack very nervously. There’s no one around and he yells out to any ghost baboons hiding in there that he has Bucky O’Hare in a trap and if he doesn’t want him destroyed he better stop haunting the machinery. Bruce then appears, causing the Air Marshall to freak out and hight-tail it out of there. As he spins and runs, he collides with Bruiser practically knocking himself out. Bruiser and Bruce then agree they need to go help Bucky and the others.

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This episode does drive home how overpowered the berserker baboons are. Bruce can’t even touch them, he’s a living hologram, but that will be enough to get them to flee.

On an airstrip, Bruce and Bruiser spy two patrolmen and a bunch of Double Bubbles. When the patrolmen see the two baboons, they drop their rifles (blue ones instead of the customary hot pink) and run. One trooper basically runs across a Double Bubble so either it was part of the background and they messed up or they actually overlapped the running Toad over the wrong cell when animating it. Anyway, Bruce and Bruiser hop into a Double Bubble and take off.

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Bruce at home on Baboon Heaven.

While traveling to the action, Bruiser asks Bruce where he’s been this whole time. Bruce then explains that the photon accelerator blasted him across the Aniverse to a strange planet he describes as Baboon Heaven. The area appears to be inhabited by small monkeys of normal monkey intelligence. There’s a village though, and Bruce settled there and started working on a matter transmitter of his own. While trying to get it working, the Toads built their own, and in a similar case to what happened with Willy’s photon accelerator the activation of the Toad one somehow interfered with Bruce’s. It warped him to their location, but in this weird ghost-like form. Bruce says he thinks he’s basically trapped between worlds, which only further enrages his little brother.

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They appear to be having some problems.

The two then come upon the Righteous Indignation which is being attacked by free-floating Storm Troopers in space suits. The matter transporter is apparently back up and running as more keep phasing in and out. Some try getting the jump on Bucky in the cockpit, but it doesn’t work too well. The Air Marshall is shown getting angry every time a Storm Trooper gets kicked back to them, and a Toad Tech says the machine is still a work-in-progress, not that Air Marshall cares.

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There’s a tag team you don’t want to mess with.

Bruiser and Bruce eject from the Double Bubble to go cause some trouble. Bruiser is actually armed this time, but Bruce advises that he not fire at the Righteous Indignation for obvious reasons. Bruce then goes around scaring toads, which is pretty effective, while Bruiser grabs and crushes them. He even squeezes the head of one hard enough to crack his space helmet.

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Even with the ability to appear wherever they want out of nothing, the Air Marshall’s forces still fail over and over.

With his forces driven back, the Air Marshall is shown once again to be quite irritated. Frix and Frax are able to get in some one-liners as the Air Marshall rants and raves about hating losing. Aboard the Righteous Indignation, Bruce directs Bucky to head for that moon as it’s where the matter transporter is operating from. He reasons they need to destroy it to put an end to this madness. Strangely, while they were fighting all around the ship itself no one noticed the tracking device which must be working in tandem with the matter transporter.

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That certainly looks inviting.

Bucky takes the ship down to the moon and the base on it is rather colossal. They land amid heavy fire from Storm Troopers and race inside the factory. There they encounter another old friend, the Void Droid, and the Toads have made one important upgrade. Willy’s water pistol no longer works, and while the others try to think of a way past this thing, Jenny goes off on her own. She drops through a grate in the floor and is able to run under the robot and emerge behind it. From there she jumps on it and uses her psychic powers to destroy it. No one else was able to see her do this and they just think the thing exploded or something.

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Jenny proving to be quite resourceful.

A discouraged Air Marshall is not happy to see the force heading for him on the monitors. Knowing that his Storm Troopers are useless thanks to the presence of the two baboons, he decides it’s time for him to go. As he hops onto the transporter, Frix and Frax go running after him. He tells them to back off as their last minute addition apparently will result in unexpected consequences, but they don’t care as the trio vanish.

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Air Marshall is always willing to run.

With the Void Droid destroyed, Bucky takes the baboons with him into the main room where the matter transporter is operating from. Bruce then instructs Bucky to destroy the matter transporter so that the Toads can no longer make use of it. As he prepares to do so, Bruiser interjects to lodge a protest. He’s apparently not as dim as he appears since he’s able to figure out on his own that it’s the Toad machine keeping Bruce there with him. He doesn’t want to see his brother fade away, but Bruce dismisses his concerns because they need to take it out. Bucky agrees, but before he can do anything stray enemy fire from the corridor hits a pipe above his head causing it to dislodge and come crashing down on Bucky.

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Bruce advising his brother to do the right thing.

With Bucky rendered unconscious, and Bruce intangible, it falls on Bruiser to do the right thing and destroy the matter transporter. He doesn’t want to do it, but relents when Bruce insists. He smashes the thing up quite well and Bruce lavishes praise upon his little brother for doing so. As the two do their little celebratory dance, Bruce starts to fade away. Before he disappears he tells his brother not to be sad and he’ll come back some day. Losing his brother for the second time goes over about as well with the berserker baboon as you would expect. An irate Bruiser stomps off into the corridor after the Storm Troopers firing at them and apparently gets ahold of them off-screen. Helmets and even one Toad jaw come comically flying into view as a now conscious Bucky and Jenny look on, not with a comical reaction, but a more sympathetic one.

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For someone advising another to not be sad, he sure looks sad.

Air Marshall, along with the duo of Frix and Frax, are on some mysterious planet all alone. The twins bemoan the absence of any kind of swamp nearby as the surface of this planet is nothing but red rock. Air Marshall stomps around in a rage that soon turns to tears. He pounds the ground and has himself a good cry. Maybe now he’ll be used to losing.

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Bruiser taking his anger out on some Storm Troopers. That’s either a head or a helmet with an eyeball left behind. No wonder why most of the carnage is off-screen.

Aboard the Righteous Indignation, a sullen Bruiser is seated beside Blinky. Blinky tries to cheer up the baboon with a video he was able to capture of Bruce’s goodbye to his brother. It does help some, and Bruiser thanks him while hoping his brother is okay. On the planet dubbed Baboon Heaven, Bruce is indeed fine as a little monkey brings him some more purple bananas. He insists they taste great despite the odd color and resumes work on his own matter transporter. He’s optimistic that he’ll one day have it working. Back on the Righteous Indignation, everyone resumes assuring Bruiser that everything will be okay. He’s receptive to their words while remarking his mother would be so proud of Bruce, and Bucky reminds him she’d think the same of him. Dead-Eye then chimes in from his guns in a defeated tone. He wants to know when they can cut out this mushy stuff and go back to croaking toads taking us out on a bit of a joke.

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Blinky managed to capture a Kodak moment for Bruiser.

“The Search for Bruce” is a satisfying follow-up to the very first episode. Bruce’s reappearance is a bit confusing, but a lot of the lore in this show is. It’s not too foreign a concept for kids raised on comic books though and it wasn’t surprising to find out that Bruce is indeed all right following the events of the first episode. I suppose the show leaves open though what did happen to him. After all, Bruce does refer to his new home as Baboon Heaven. Maybe he is dead and found a way to return to the world of the living briefly? I don’t think that’s the intent, but it is an interesting thing to ponder.

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Bruce, back to work with purple banana in hand.

Putting the focus of the episode on the relationship of the baboon brothers is fitting and the right choice. Perhaps fearing it would get too heavy, a lot of the sequences involving the Toads are played for laughs leading up to the climax. Both Bruiser and Bruce are voiced by Dale Wilson and they essentially sound the same. Their tendency to refer to each other simply as “brother” certainly conjured memories of 80s wrestling promos for me, particularly Hogan and the Macho Man. They both have a tendency to say “banana oil” when irritated by something, and they basically relate everything back to bananas. It gets a little annoying by the episode’s end.

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It’s rather sweet seeing everyone try to cheer up old Bruiser.

The emotional hook is handled pretty well. It’s assumed that something will happen to keep Bruce away in the end, and putting his dismissal in the hands of his brother works well to add drama to the scene. If Bucky did it then it would seem less heart-breaking. Bucky and Jenny looking on with sadness as Bruiser rampages is a simple way to convey the emotion of the scene, and the episode left enough time at the end to let it all sink in with the characters and the viewer. Dead-Eye’s closing remarks are basically an acknowledgement that shows with this target audience don’t often stick with the “mushy stuff” this long and is an appropriate way to try to sneak in a quick moment of levity to close things out.

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And lets not forget about what happened to these three. Maybe Komplex will leave them there awhile.

Visually, this episode is a disappointment. It almost seems like another team at AKOM worked on it because both Jenny and Dead-Eye sport different guns than we’re used to seeing. They’re very generic and plain looking. There’s also the color switch on the Toad weaponry from pink to blue. In general, the animation is also exceptionally poor. It’s very jittery and looks like they were trying to save money by reducing the amount of frames they typically illustrate. Some of the infiltration sequence is downright ugly as is Bruiser and Bruce’s attack on the Toads who were pestering the Righteous Indignation. There are some nice lighting effects with the teleportation animation and the matter transporter itself, but all in all this might be the worst looking episode so far. Hopefully it’s not indicative of what’s to come. There are some loose ends created by the plot too as they never address the Toad tracking device affixed to the Righteous Indignation nor is it explained how Komplex was able to create a “Bruce” for the fake video. There’s a lot to cram into this episode so I guess they just didn’t have the time for any of that, not that it’s an excuse.

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It was nice seeing these two get to pair-up. Had this show continued, I’m sure we would have seen more from Bruce.

“The Search for Bruce” is the most emotionally ambitious episode of the show thus far, and likely will remain that way given the subject matter. We won’t hear from Bruce again, which isn’t a surprise considering the short season. Had there been another season I’m guessing Bruce would have returned in some form. This episode is actually pretty well-written with Bucky getting some clever lines and good comedy writing with the Air Marshall. The emotional stuff is also handled well and I genuinely felt sympathy for Bruiser. It probably won’t make you cry or anything, but I found it actually more effective than the death of Morph from X-Men. If it weren’t for the mostly horrendous animation here, this might have been the best episode yet, but instead it may have to settle for second or third best when all is said and done.

 

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Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars – “A Fistful of Simoleans”

img_3409Episode Number:  2

Original Air Date:  September 15, 1991

Directed by:  Karen Peterson

Written by:  Christy Marx

First Appearance:  Toadborg, Al Negator, Bruiser, Commander Dogstar, Wolf, Andy Phibian

When we last checked in with the courageous mammals under the leadership of Captain Bucky O’Hare, they had just lost their chief engineer at a bad time. Their photon accelerator, their means of activating warp drive, had failed and they were under heavy fire from the entire Toad fleet. Then an unusual thing happened, when trying to restart the photon accelerator a great stasis field overtook the ship. It sapped their power and prevented them from leaving it, but also the Toads from entering. This occurred because young Willy DuWitt, a human boy from San Francisco, had just activated his own home constructed photon accelerator as part of a science experiment. He and Bucky had activated their respective machines at precisely the right time opening a rift between their two dimensions expressed by the presence of the stasis field and Willy’s own bedroom door appearing in the engineering bay of the Righteous Indignation.

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The Toads apparently broadcast up to the minute coverage of military operations.

Because of Willy’s knowledge gained from the construction of his own photon accelerator, he was equipped with the know-how to fix the one aboard the Righteous Indignation. If they could repair the accelerator it would enable them to utilize the warp drive function and ditch the Toads. If it failed, well then they’re all dead. One additional wrinkle is that Willy expects his door, his passageway back to his own dimension, to vanish once the warp drive is engaged and he doesn’t know if it will return once disengaged. There’s the very real possibility that he could be trapped in this universe completely foreign to him where humanity apparently doesn’t exist.

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Bucky is forced to put his faith in the human Willy to get out of a big mess.

Since this is episode two for the series, you’re probably not surprised to learn that despite all of the drama contained in that build-up, Willy’s repairs did indeed work and the heroes were able to escape certain destruction. Pinned down, the Toads were ordered to all fire at once. For some reason, this causes their many lasers to literally combine, it sort of resembles the laser from the Death Star in Star Wars right down to the color green. Dead-Eye’s twin M.A.S.E.R. (Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emissions of Radiation) canons are fired at this conjoined beam which apparently cancels the two out. The Righteous Indignation is then able to burst free from the asteroid it was on and escape into warp drive. Those damaged engines from before are apparently all fine now.

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Not enough Komplex monitors.

Aboard the Toad Mothership, the Air Marshall is incensed to find out that Bucky O’Hare escaped. He orders the fleet to pursue, but Komplex interrupts him. Komplex declares that the Air Marshall has wasted enough time on Bucky as it appears on a monitor that is affixed to a mechanical arm. Komplex is able to move it around at will, and the angry visage even bursts forth from the monitor screen in what is a really bizarre effect. Komplex doesn’t see how one frigate could possibly pose a problem for the Toad Empire and declares their real target is Genus. When the Air Marshall protests citing Genus’ formidable defense system, Komplex counters that they’ll need to hire a spy to steal the codes to the defense system in order to take it down.

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Al Negator sharpening his skills.

Enter Al Negator (Garry Chalk), the sleazasaur. What is a sleazasaur? It’s a bipedal, purple, crocodile with neon green teeth and eyes. Pretty interesting. To complete the look he wears gold-plated armor on his chest and tail and speaks with a Louisiana accent. When we see him, he’s attaching small cards to a wheel with each containing an image of one of the crew members of the Righteous Indignation. He receives a call from the Toad Air Marshall and as he speaks to him via video monitor he holds up a small mirror and uses it to aim over his shoulder. As the wheel spins, he picks off members of the crew in an impressive display of shooting accuracy. Despite that, I’m willing to bet when it comes time to fire upon the actual crew he’ll miss and miss often.

The Air Marshall wishes to hire Al to steal the defense codes. Al is intrigued, but will need a big payment for such a job. He requests 5,000 simoleons, which is apparently the currency in the Aniverse (Animated Universe, in case you were wondering). The Air Marshall balks declaring it extortion, but Al keeps his cool and reminds him that extortion is another one of his many specialties. He adds he’ll need half of the payment upfront and the Air Marshall reluctantly agrees to the deal. Their business concluded, the camera zooms in on Al’s spinning wheel to rest on an image of Bucky O’Hare with a laser hole through his head.

Aboard the Righteous Indignation, the crew congratulates Willy. Without his help, they’d all be dead and they know it. Bucky mentions they just lost their engineer Bruce, and also vows to find him when this business is concluded, and that they need a new one. Willy seems willing, but does cite the need to see his parents and go to school and such. Dead-Eye returns the weapon he confiscated from Willy’s room, which drips water to reveal it’s just a water gun. When Willy tries to explain it to Dead-Eye he refuses an explanation insisting he trusts Willy. Willy then inquires about the Toads – were they always this evil?

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The Toads back when they were harmless lovers of useless crap.

Blinky steps in to answer that question. It seems his giant eye also functions as a projector and he plays a brief video detailing the corruption of the Toads. Once upon a time, they were a harmless race mostly obsessed with watching television and acquiring shoddy merchandise (so they were boomers, essentially). Their scientists created Komplex, a program designed to handle all of the remedial tasks in their society that they were too lazy to do themselves. Like all good A.I. though, Komplex eventually went rogue and enslaved the entire population. Now their once swampy home is covered in factories which run seven layers deep. From space, it just looks like a big, metal, sphere. Komplex desires domination of the whole Aniverse and now whoever isn’t a part of the Toad Trooper Army is building ships for said army or working on new technology to improve it.

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Mini Golf is big business on Warren.

Willy is distressed to see this, but it is what it is. Bucky then retrieves an old battle suit that belonged to Bruce and instructs Willy to put it on in case things get rough where they’re going. When Willy inquires about that, Blinky pops in yet again to show a video on our next destination:  Warren, home planet of Bucky and the hares. The video shows lots of hares in varying colors doing happy things. The climate is described as perfect and there are carrots the size of trees. When the video ends a message is displayed reading “That’s It Furries,” which is a bit funny from today’s point of view given the term furries and the apparent attraction of Jenny towards Willy.

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Warren is now one big farty-butt of a planet.

With the Toads no longer pursuing them, the crew of the Righteous Indignation has no trouble heading for Warren. Bucky is dismayed to see how cloudy the atmosphere looks from space, and it gets worse at ground level. The whole planet has been turned into a swamp and appears deserted. Willy says it smells, and Blinky uses an instrument in his hand to detect high levels of methane in the air basically revealing that Warren smells like farts. The crew wonders how the Toads could have altered the entire planet’s climate with Willy declaring it impossible, but Jenny points out the evidence before them which suggests the Toads found a way. Willy finds some piece of Toad tech and feels the need to yell to the crew about his discovery despite being a mere 10 feet away. The device is mangled, but inside is a floppy disk (so dated) that Blinky is able to analyze. Toads apparently possess incredible floppy disks because Blinky finds a video on it and projects it. It’s of a Toad discussing the successful test of their new climate converter used on Warren, confirming what happened, and also makes mention of heading for Genus next. Bucky decides they must leave for Genus immediately and warn them of what’s coming.

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If your business is smuggling and spying then this is the shop for you.

In a dank shop, Al Negator is shown bargaining with a rat named Tinker (Scott McNeil). He’s getting some supplies for his new job and is preparing to leave when Tinker’s monitor clicks on suddenly. It’s Commander Dogstar (Chalk), who sounds similar to the Colonel from One-Hundred and One Dalmatians, and he’s here with a warrant for Tinker’s arrest. Tinker tries to flee through a secret passage, but Al knocks him aside and declares it’s more important that he gets out. He slams the door shut behind him as Dogstar and company break down the entrance door. Dogstar, along with Wolf (Richard Newman) and another dog-person enter and apprehend Tinker. Dogstar notices another scent in the air, and Wolf finds where it stops. Since their job was just to apprehend Tinker though, they leave without further investigation.

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Bruiser is pretty insistent about being allowed to join Bucky’s crew following the “death” of his brother, Bruce.

On Genus, Bucky and crew disembark as Willy insists he needs to get back to Earth soon. Bucky understands, but mentions they’ll need to hire a new warp drive mechanic. Willy, who is wearing Bruce’s suit, is sent back to the ship to retrieve his helmet by Bucky who says to Jenny that it’s probably best that they keep Willy a secret. Just then, a rather large, and angry, baboon shouts at him. It’s Bruiser (Dale Wilson), the younger brother of Bruce and a space marine. He somehow heard about what happened and is livid with the Toads. He demonstrates what he wants to do to them by crushing some helpless chair that was hanging around and insists that Bucky take him aboard his ship. Bucky is happy to have him, saying they need some muscle, and Bruiser calms down. Until Willy returns in his brother’s suit. With the mask on, he looks just like Bruce and Bruiser runs up and embraces him so hard that the mask pops off. He then becomes angry, and who can blame him, to find someone else in his brother’s suit. The others are able to calm him down insisting that Willy is a friend and Bruiser does indeed settle himself. All the while, Al Negator has been watching the events unfold.

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Well, the United Animal Fleet just doubled, at least.

Bucky, Jenny, and Blinky then address the council once again. Blinky plays a video he took of Warren demonstrating the effects of the Toad’s new climate converter. The pig guy is distressed, but when Bucky mentions they’re coming for Genus next he dismisses the possibility out of hand due to their defense system. He then tells Bucky the good news that they’ve decided to expand the fleet. Bucky’s enthusiasm is short-lived though when it’s revealed the fleet is being expanded by one additional frigate:  The Indefatigable. Bucky is underwhelmed.

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Everyone is suspicious of Al Negator except old, trusting, Bucky.

A raccoon is then headed for an interview for the open position of warp drive mechanic but is intercepted by Al Negator. He directs the raccoon to a doorway, and once opened we see the unconscious bodies of other apparent warp drive mechanics. Al knocks this raccoon unconscious and into the closet before heading over to the Righteous Indignation. There he presents himself to Bucky O’Hare as a warp drive mechanic. His phony credentials fool Bucky, but Jenny says something doesn’t feel right as Al stands there and whistles suspiciously. Dead-Eye then points out he’s a sleazasaur, who apparently have a bad reputation. Bucky points out that people say the same of pirates thus confirming that Dead-Eye either is or was a pirate himself. He hires Al and welcomes him aboard. Before they depart though, Dogstar comes running in. Bucky is happy to see him and Dogstar confirms he’ll be in charge of the new frigate. He then takes note of Al and mentions he’s smelled him somewhere before. Al insists all sleazasaurs smell the same and it’s enough to cover him for now.

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Al does what he can to shoo Blinky away. Stupid, helpful, robot.

Willy is then shown saying goodbye to the crew, but before he heads back to his dimension through his door he warns Bucky about Al. Bucky dismisses his warning and orders him to go back to school. Once gone, Blinky then takes to showing Al around who immediately starts nosing around. He slyly tosses some device into a compartment and then begins complaining about the excessive amounts of banana peels that are accumulating around Bruiser and orders Blinky to clean the place up. He snoops around some more and even finds Willy’s duffel bag, but Dead-Eye catches him and tells him to scram. He then sees the fake money in Willy’s bag and has a crisis of conscience. Apparently, it’s pirate code to take any money, but Dead-Eye doesn’t want to steal from his friend. He reasons he’ll just hold onto it for him, in case he never comes back. With his conscience satisfied, he stuffs the money into his belt.

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This is the part of the episode no one cares about.

On Earth, Willy is walking to school when he’s accosted by Doug and his two friends again. They enter on skateboard and start chasing Willy down the street. He runs, but ends up tripping on some trolley tracks and gets his hand stuck. Just before the trolley can smear him all over the road, he frees himself and gets out-of-the-way, but his victory is short-lived. Doug and his buddies surround him, and Willy throws down his books and faces him. He demands Doug meet him after school to do battle with his choice of weapons, and Doug is happy to oblige.

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Meet Toadborg, the most intimidating villain yet, but is he competent?

Aboard the Toad Mothership, Frix and Frax are once again watching Toad TV. This time it’s an ad for Warts Illustrated’s swimsuit issue featuring their favorite model Veruca from the first episode. This parody is actually genuinely amusing, but it’s short-lived as the TV gets smashed by another new face:  Toadborg (Richard Newman). Toadborg is essentially the Toad version of Darth Vader, only he’s mostly purple and yellow. He’s quite large and scary looking despite the abundance of purple, and Frix and Frax look like they’ve soiled themselves with terror. Toad Air Marshall enters the room and demands to know what’s going on and is just as terrified as the twins to see Toadborg. Toadborg informs the Air Marshall that Komplex sent him to oversee the invasion of Genus. Worse is that Komplex has lost confidence in the Air Marshall calling into question his job security. He demands an update on the smuggler Air Marshall hired, who in turn insists shall be returning with the codes soon.

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Ugh, should I even bother recapping the Earth stuff?

Back on Earth once again, Willy is in study hall waiting for Doug and his lackeys. When they show up he tells him what they’re doing:  building a computer-enhanced skateboard. He shows Doug the blueprints and he balks at doing any “sissy science stuff.” One of Doug’s friends takes a look at it though and says it looks kind of cool. Doug then gives in, but warns Willy that he better get an A for this. This Earth stuff just keeps getting worse.

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Bruiser has a rather potent dropkick.

Back aboard the Righteous Indignation, Al Negator returns to the engine room and informs Blinky and Bruiser that Dead-Eye wishes to speak with them. Once they leave he slams the door shut behind him and uses his rifle like a welding torch to seal it shut. He then inserts his snooper device into the ship’s computer. Immediately, Jenny notices the intrusion from the control deck and she and Bucky know who is to blame. Al is downloading all of the security codes and they need to stop him. Bucky orders Bruiser to break down the door and he does so with three running dropkicks, a pretty cool little visual. Once inside though they find Al is gone. He’s taken the Toad Croaker and is attempting to escape. Jenny pilots the ship after him while Bucky joins Dead-Eye at his gunner spot and orders him to open fire.

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That pesky Al Negator.

Back home, Willy wonders how things are going with the suspicious engineer and activates his photon accelerator. He then casually walks onto the Righteous Indignation and finds the crew in clean-up mode following Al Negator’s subterfuge. They’re still chasing the purple croc whose destination has been revealed:  the Toad Mothership. The bay door opens and Al heads for it as Dead-Eye lines up a shot. Al then pulls out a remote and presses a button which detonates all of the devices we saw him planting around the ship. Dead-Eye’s guns, the warp drive, even the command deck all explode. No one appears injured, but they’ve lost control of the ship. Bucky is happy to see Willy, but tells him he picked a bad time for a visit. The explosions also took out Willy’s door, and with no way to pilot the ship, they drift into the bay doors of the Toad Mothership. Meanwhile, the Air Marshall watches and howls with delight for he has finally captured Bucky O’Hare!

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I wonder what singed baboon ass smells like? Can’t be good.

Like the first episode, “A Fistful of Simoleons” packs a lot into its roughly 20 minute duration. New characters are introduced on both sides of the battle and an elaborate plot begins to take shape with the Toads targeting Genus. It’s not handled in a sophisticated manner, and Al’s antics are largely played for laughs, but it’s still interesting to see a subterfuge angle played out with Al gaining entry to the Righteous Indignation and sabotaging it. I wonder if kids in 91 were mostly confused over the whole “codes” thing. I know I had no frame of reference for such a plot device when I was a kid, but mostly just went along with everything. A code to me was something that made a video game easier. It’s another cliff-hanger of an ending with Bucky and his crew seemingly trapped aboard a Toad Mothership, but it’s a bit more exciting since this time they’ll likely need to resort to more conventional action hero antics to get out of that one.

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Bucky and Dead-Eye are not thrilled at how this episode ended.

Al Negator is a fun addition to the roster. He’s a slimy, creepy, greedy, villain and those types tend to be easy to write. It’s interesting to see how basically everyone is racist towards Al’s species, and Bucky is the only one who won’t hold it against him and yet he’s the one who ends up being wrong. Apparently, in the Aniverse not all racism is inherently wrong. Bruiser is another potentially fun addition. He appears to be a character of little brain, but plenty of braun and heart. On the one hand, I’m surprised he was added to the show since the baboons almost break the story since Toads have a paralyzing fear of them, but if you’re looking at things from an in universe perspective, wouldn’t Bucky absolutely want to get another baboon to replace Bruce for that very reason? Dogstar comes across as a bumbling sort of good guy. I don’t really like him, but my opinion isn’t fully formed at this point and I’m trying to remain open-minded. Toadborg though, despite being a pretty clear Darth Vader rip-off, is still undeniably bad ass and I look forward to seeing more from him. I like the effects used on his voice which really gives him a menacing presence.

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As for Toad Air Marshall, this may very well be the happiest we see him.

What I continue to not like are basically any of the scenes taking place on Earth. Willy’s trouble with bullies just doesn’t entertain me, and the rather drab setting even looks terrible. I appreciate the familiar sights establishing that we’re in San Francisco, but Willy looks out-of-place in that setting when compared with how he looks in the Aniverse. Skateboarding bullies are just a terrible cliché and Willy’s little scheme to avoid getting beat up would not have worked in a million years. No way those kids want to stay after school to work on a science project.

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Into the belly of the beast go our heroes.

Overall, the look of the episode is a slight downgrade from the first episode. Or it at least appears to be. I do like the look of both Al Negator and Toadborg, but there are some weird shots of Bruiser. His kicking down the door sequence was pretty neat though. What I am enjoying though is the score for the show which has a sci-fi feel for the space scenes and seems to always find the right tempo. It’s not something I really anticipated, but it’s definitely one of the show’s strengths and composer Doug Katsaros should be happy with how this show turned out, especially considering he probably composed it all from a synthesizer.

“A Fistful of Simoleons” is a successful episode 2 for Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars. Aside from the opening escape scene and the lame Earth segments, the episode is pretty engaging, sometimes humorous, and exciting while also further adding to the setting’s lore. The pacing is sometimes a bit sped up, but that’s because it’s trying to cram a lot in here. We learned about the history of the Toads and got a peek at Bucky’s home world pre and post Toad invasion. We’re set up for an exciting third episode next week with “The Good, the Bad, and the Warty.”

 


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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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…

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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.


Bucky O’Hare – The Video Game

Bucky O'Hare - Nintendo Entertainment System (1992)

Bucky O’Hare – Nintendo Entertainment System (1992)

I’ve been away for awhile, a combination of life events and vacation, but I’m back and ready to talk about some old things.  Here is one such old thing and a topic I’ve discussed before:  Bucky O’Hare.  Bucky O’Hare was a part of that glut from the late 1980s into the 1990s of anthropomorphic cartoon characters riding on the coat tails of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Very few of these properties (Street Sharks, Biker Mice From Mars, Battle Toads) had any staying power and Bucky proved to be no exception.  His show lasted one season, and it was a half season at that, before getting cancelled.  There are a number of theories why from poor marketing decisions, bad distribution of the toys, too serious, though I personally think a lot of boys just didn’t buy into the idea of a green space bunny saving the galaxy.  Despite Bucky’s outward appearance, I liked him and the show quite a bit as did a number of my friends.  Bucky probably dominated a good six months of my young life and during that time period he was even able to overtake the TMNT for a brief spell.

Even though Bucky didn’t last long as a cartoon hero (he didn’t last long as a comic book hero either), he was still around long enough to have his likeness inserted onto just about every product imaginable.  From the obvious items like toys and clothing to the less obvious such as dishes and light-switch covers.  Not surprisingly, another item that took advantage of the Bucky O’Hare license was a video game, simply titled Bucky O’Hare.   The game was developed by Konami and released in 1992 a short while after the cartoon had finished its run.  Right away, it should be noted that Bucky dodged a major bullet in that his game was developed by Konami, and not LJN, whom Konami had a tendency to hand all of its licensed products to.  LJN is known as one of the worst game developers from that era; it possessed the opposite of the Midas Touch when it came to game development.  The fact that Bucky managed to avoid such a fate is really quite surprising, in hindsight.  Even more popular properties like the X-Men were unable to avoid LJN but somehow Bucky snuck through.

DownloadedFile-33Bucky O’Hare on the NES is an action platformer starring Bucky O’Hare himself.  Players control the funky fresh rabbit and navigate him through various levels, mostly going left to right but not always, as they run, jump, and gun down the evil toads to save Bucky’s crew.  The game starts off giving the player a choice of 4 different stages, represented by different planets, that Bucky can choose from.  On each planet, one of Bucky’s crew-mates is being held captive:  Blinky is on the green planet, Jenny is on the blue planet, Dead Eye the red, and Willy DuWitt is on the yellow planet.  Bucky can choose to rescue his mates in any order, though at least one planet requires the aid of one of Bucky’s comrades, for when Bucky rescues a character that character becomes playable.  The player can switch on the fly with a press of the select button.  All characters share the same health bar but have their own power bar.

The power bar is where the characters distinguish themselves.  Each character had a unique attack and unique ability.  Attacks are simply done by pressing the B button.  Bucky can shoot horizontally and vertically and his special ability is a super jump.  By pressing and holding the B button, Bucky crouches down and charges up a jump.  The power meter determines how high he can go and it can be increased in size by collecting certain power-ups.  Blinky has a jetpack that allows him to fly for a short duration.  His attack is a canon-ball like  weapon that fires in an arc.  It can also break certain blocks found in the environment.  It’s more powerful than Bucky’s attack, but has limited range.  Jenny fires a laser that may or may not inflict more damage than Bucky’s gun, though it’s rate of fire doesn’t seem to be as good.  Her special ability is some kind of telekinetic ball that the player can control with the d-pad once it’s been fired.  It’s useful in certain spots where the player can sit out of danger and attack from cover.  Dead Eye has a scatter-shot for his main weapon.  Think the spread gun from Konami’s much more popular Contra series. His special ability lets him crawl on walls for a short duration.  Not particularly useful.  Willy has a fairly normal attack with his special being a charged shot.  Unlike, say Mega Man, Willy is stationary when charging making his special ability the least useful.

Mega Man fans, does this look familiar?

Mega Man fans, does this look familiar?

Willy’s special ability isn’t the only comparison to Mega Man one will find when playing Bucky O’Hare.  In many ways, the game is like a Mega Man clone.  The non-linear setup at the start is certainly reminiscient of the blue bomber’s games and the general run, jump, shoot mechanics seem to be clearly inspired by Mega Man as well.  There’s also some levels, or parts of levels, that are inspired by some of Mega Man’s more famous levels such as the red planet’s nod to Quick Man and the vanishing blocks from the Toad Mother Ship.  A quick google search will reveal that, in some circles, this game is known as the Konami Mega Man.  I’ve never heard anyone actually refer to the game as such, but the internet never lies.  Bucky owes a lot to Mega Man, but it’s different enough to maintain integrity and similar enough that it’s safe to say most fans of the blue bomber will enjoy the green rabbit.

Bucky O’Hare may not be among the most popular NES games, but most people who are into NES games seem to know about it and associate it with one word:  hard.  Many games from this era are hard, but Bucky O’Hare is often placed in that upper tier of really difficult games.  I’ve never heard anyone outright call it the hardest NES game ever made, but I’ve seen it included in several lists or youtube videos amongst the elite.  This is mostly a good thing, as Bucky O’Hare is able to achieve it’s difficulty without being too cheap.  There are some areas, when playing for the first time, that will piss a gamer off.  The most obvious to me occurs on the yellow planet where the player has to hop on these futuristic mine carts that zip along a track.  Jumping from one to another is not difficult, as they slow down long enough to make the timing easy, but before long a wall of spikes will pop up that result in a one-hit death if the player doesn’t react fast enough.  These one-hit deaths comprise the majority of player fatalities in Bucky O’Hare.  Very rarely can I recall actually having my life depleted slowly during a non-boss encounter.  And even the boss fights, as one might imagine, include a number of instant death attacks that can put an end to the fight rather quickly.  What keeps Bucky O’Hare from being among the hardest of the hard is its generous continue system.  Each level is broken up into several acts which, by themselves, are pretty short.  If a player loses all of his or her lives the continue screen is displayed and electing to go on will bring the player to the start of the most recently completed act with a new set of lives.  Continues are unlimited, and completing a full level gives the player a password which isn’t overly complex or long.  This means anyone of moderate skill can probably complete Bucky O’Hare so long as they’re persistent.  And given that much of the game’s difficulty comes from being surprised, practice does indeed make perfect.

Right around the time it seems like the game has thrown everything it can at you, it introduces the flying stages.  Prepare to die.

Right around the time it seems like the game has thrown everything it can at you, it introduces the flying stages. Prepare to die.

Bucky O’Hare is deceptively long and offers a good amount of gameplay.  After completing the first four stages the player is abducted by the toads and (annoyingly) must also re-rescue the trio of Jenny, Dead Eye, and Willy.  The setup, beyond the run and gun nature of the game, is pretty straight-forward but there are areas later in the game that are non-linear as Bucky explores the Toad Mother Ship.  After the conclusion of each level, a boss encounter occurs.  They’re usually fairly challenging, but there are some easy ones, and part of the challenge is knowing which character works best.  For the most part, Bucky on his own is enough to take down a boss but I did find some uses for Jenny’s special attack (namely the yellow planet boss) and Blinky has his moments too.  Only Willy comes across as feeling useless as I was able to make regular use of the other four characters.  Bucky never had another console video game release, but he did have an arcade game released after this one though it wasn’t very popular.  This game, along with the cartoon’s catchy theme song, is probably the way most remember Bucky O’Hare.  Considering most of those other shows, TMNT included, received mediocre to terrible games, I’d say Bucky came out ahead in one respect.  If you like NES games and have never played this one, I whole-heartedly recommend it.