Tag Archives: continuity comics

Bucky O’Hare and The Toad Menace

bucky and the toad menaceBucky O’Hare is best known for the cartoon series Bucky O’Hare and The Toad Wars. It was a short-lived series that spanned a mere 13 episodes. It’s greatest contribution to pop culture seems to be the NES game it spawned under the same name. That show appeared in 1991 and was gone within a year. A few VHS releases followed and eventually a Region 2 DVD in the new millennium, but aside from that the series is gone. Merchandise essentially vanished once the show was cancelled. The game was well received, though I have never seen numbers on how many copies were shipped. It fetches a fairly high price in this day and age on the resale market, but nowhere near the highs of some of the truly obscure NES releases.

Basically, the only official Bucky O’Hare related anything to remain in circulation this whole time has been the graphic novel Bucky O’Hare and The Toad Menace. Likely an intentional play at the name of the cartoon, Bucky O’Hare and The Toad Menace gathers the original run of six Bucky stories and pairs them with the following two from the UK only release of comics by DC Thomson.

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Bucky debuted in the pages of Echo of Futurepast

Bucky’s original debut came in 1984 in the debut issue of Echo of Futurepast, a prestige independent comic by Neal Adams’ Continuity Comics. It was an expensive book due to the use of high-quality glossy paper. It was also an independent release and part of the creator boom in the 1980s in which many artists and writers fled from the big publishers for the independents where they could retain control over their own characters and art. The original Bucky stories were written by Larry Hama and illustrated by Michael Golden. Eventually, stand-alone issues were released in 1986 as well as a trade compiling all of the stories. Likely to coincide with the television show was the next run of comics that started in 1992 in the aforementioned DC Thomson run. Those issues were created by a different team of writers and artists though they still utilized Hama’s characters that eventually debuted in the animated series like Al Negator and Bruiser.

Bucky O’Hare and The Toad Menace arrived in 2006 via Vanguard Productions. It was around this time that Neal Adams was trying to resurrect the brand and even commissioned a CG short to try and market the property for either a movie or new show. It went no where, but the trade has remained in print and is currently being sold in various places including through Boss Fight Studio, who as you are likely aware of if you’re reading this, is creating new toys based on the property. The release is a manga styled release, meaning it’s just quite small (about 7″ tall) and in black and white. In 2007, artist Michael Golden did a special release which is just the regular Vanguard release but with a new black and white dust jacket printed by IDW. It was signed by Golden and numbered and bundled with some other stuff to be sold at conventions. It’s the version I have, but in terms of content there was no difference. It’s still the Hama/Golden issues plus two UK issues created by the team of Peter Stone, Andre Coates, and Joel Adams (Neal’s son).

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Bucky’s first cover appearance.

The comic is an interesting revisit for fans of the cartoon. It starts off essentially the same; Bucky O’Hare and his crew are being pursued by the Toads and are out-gunned. The forces trailing Bucky and the crew of the Righteous Indignation do not initially know who they’re following, but once they do realize they have a real opportunity to take out their number one enemy. The story beats progress almost the same with the toads attacking and killing the chief engineer of the Righteous Indignation, Bruce, the Berserker Baboon. In the process, they damage the ship’s warp-drive which is powered by a photon accelerator. Elsewhere, on Earth a young boy named Willy DuWitt has created his own photon accelerator. He activates it at the same time Bucky’s crew activates their compromised unit causing a disruption in the space-time continuum which transports Willy to Bucky’s ship and pulls him into the story.

From there, it becomes a rescue mission as Bucky and his gunner, Dead-Eye Duck, visit Willy’s world and while there the toads board their ship and kidnap First Mate Jenny. It’s in the rescue of Jenny that the comic takes a different turn with Bucky and Android First Class Blinky encountering a strange god-like mouse. Following the conclusion of the first six issues, the next two essentially pick-up where the animated series does following the debut introductory story and ends with the introduction of Bruiser, oddly printed on the back of the reverse cover.

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Golden’s artwork is very detailed but also very busy.

As a comic story, it’s easy to see what Hama was going for with Bucky. It’s serious in tone, but also satirical. Bucky makes numerous comments about insurance and unions and he even makes Willy sit down to fill-out some forms before they can welcome him aboard as their new engineer. There are lots of jabs at ineffective bureaucracy, most highlighted by Bucky and his crew of four being the only real Toad resistance in the galaxy. The council that controls the galactic government is shown to basically be in an endless argument about how to deal with the threat and are penny-pinchers to the extreme. They also reside on the planet Genus behind an elaborate network of defense satellites so they’re clearly withdrawn and that’s part of their inaction. The Toads, meanwhile, are shown via a story projected by Blinky to Willy that brings him up to speed on what happened. They created a sophisticated A.I. known as Komplex that was given too much power. It lobotomized its creators, and then convinced the general population to follow its orders. Then the world became industrialized so much so that the surface of the planet is no longer even visible beneath layers of factories. The Toads send their massive tankers all across the galaxy to suck up magma from other worlds leaving them desolate when done.

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The first TPB from Continuity to collect the complete Bucky O’Hare works.

The story is very similar to what would follow in the cartoon, but is deployed in a more serious manner. In the cartoon, Bruce gets sucked into the photon accelerator rather than killed by the Toads. Bucky is surprisingly diplomatic in his approach, shedding no tears for their fallen crew-mate. The Toads and Dead-Eye speak freely of their desires to kill each other, and several Storm Toad Troopers do indeed meet their maker. It’s not gratuitous, but it is fun. There are obvious Star Wars influences as well with Dead-Eye even using the term lightsabre and a model Tie Fighter being shown in Willy’s bedroom.

Michael Golden’s artwork is almost hyper-detailed with a lot to process. This trade release is in black and white, and I’m not sure if it’s more cluttered as a result or less so. There’s lots of technological bits in the backgrounds and tons of line-work. It’s sometimes overwhelming, but I still find myself drawn to the actual character designs. They’re just so fun, and there isn’t a design I really don’t like. I do wish the Toad Air Marshall received more attention or some larger panels as he’s often squished into small panels. He’s a little bigger than his cartoon counterpart and wears a large coat, but he’s still covered in various medals. The artwork by Joel Adams is far simpler and there’s a lot more white on those pages. It’s not as detailed though, but still attractive and Adams does a good job of keeping the characters largely on model with Golden’s art.

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Bucky’s adventures continued in the UK in 1992 where characters like Pitstop Pete made their debut in print after first appearing in the cartoon.

The mouse character is never named with most fans just referring to him as the Omnipotent Mouse. He’s an interesting character that never made it into the show, perhaps because he was hard to relate to. He feels like a distraction, though his message is largely that of a pacifist. Perhaps that would have been an arc Hama would have pursued had the comic continued with Bucky taking on the role of a pacifist. He’s not presented as being as murderous as Dead-Eye, but he certainly doesn’t seem to have any qualms about taking the life of a toad. There’s some nice tension between Dead-Eye and the witch Jenny that’s not played up in the show, though Dead-Eye expresses some mistrust towards her in both. I also like how cozy Jenny is with Willy as she’s affectionate like a typical cat would be, but when done through a more human-like being it’s rather humorous. Willy’s parents in both media are portrayed as activist hippies more concerned with their own business than paying attention to their son. They can’t relate to his pursuit of science just as he can’t really relate with them. The first six issues end with him getting stuck in Bucky’s world, but the next issue has him back in San Francisco with the detail of how he got back left unexplained.

Since Bucky O’Hare was initially just one part of an anthology comic that contained multiple stories, this release feels a bit shorter than most 8 comic collections. It’s 193 pages, but there are some duplicate pages where a story ends and another picks up as well as character bios. There’s also one page that is just plain duplicated for no reason, a printing error that I’m curious if is still present with more recent printings. The format is not ideal, but it’s not bad either. I think I’d prefer a larger release as that might make the panels feel less busy, but I actually enjoy the black and white look. The first six issues are fairly easy to come by at an okay price-point, but the UK issues are not. Some day I would like to own the entire 20 book run, but for now I have other priorities in life.

If you have ever been curious about the origins of Bucky O’Hare, this is an easy recommend. If you purchase it from Boss Fight Studio it will only set you back 10 bucks, plus shipping. Cheaper alternatives may exist in the used market on eBay and other like websites. It’s a mostly fun, breezy, read with some satisfying parts, and some less satisfying parts. Mostly though, you’ll likely be left wanting to read the other issues that followed. It’s a shame we can’t get reprints of those, but it’s probably a licensing issue between Continuity Comics and DC Thomson. And there also isn’t a tremendous appetite for Bucky O’Hare in 2019, but maybe we can change that.

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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.

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.

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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.

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 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.

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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’s Bucky O’Hare and First Mate Jenny Action Figures

IMG_1874For the better part of three decades, Bucky O’Hare has been largely absent from the public conscious. His television show lasted a mere 13 episodes, likely green-lit thanks to the popularity of other obscure comic turned television sensation the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. His toy line consisted of one wave of 10 figures and two vehicles and no more. Why did Bucky fail? There are a few theories, but the most prevailing is that Hasbro mishandled the toy line packing too many unpopular figures into a case (specifically Toad Air Marshall) at the expense of the most popular characters like Bucky, Dead Eye, and Bruiser. And I can certainly vouch for that to a point, as I only bought a Toad Air Marshall as a kid when he was literally the only character on the pegs. And it wasn’t that the section had been picked over leaving a handful of figures, no it was dozens of Toad Air Marshall action figures. When I got my first Bucky I had to sift through a bunch of them to find him and was elated. I eventually had the whole set, plus the vehicles, though sadly they would be either sold in a yard sale or discarded entirely. I would replace my Bucky many years later as an adult collector, but never the rest of the set.

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91 Bucky with his 2017 counterpart. Finally, we’re rid of that molded oxygen mask from the original toy.

Enter Boss Fight Studio, an upstart toy developer out of Massachusetts that has mostly dabbled in mythological beings for its action figures. Bucky O’Hare is the company’s first go with a license and they’ve already done better than the last company to try. Over a decade ago, Shocker Toys acquired the Bucky O’Hare license for a line of Bucky Shockini toys, which were basically a variation of the Mini Mates line that was really popular at the time. They showed off completed prototypes for four figures:  Bucky, Jenny, Dead Eye, and a Toad Storm Trooper. They were never released and the company is gone. I don’t know why they weren’t released as I remember posting about it on their message board back then and the post was ignored, then deleted. It could have been they had a bad reception and the company backed out. Maybe they only had the license for a year and weren’t able to get the product to retail before it expired? Maybe they just plain ran out of money?  Whatever the reason, it was another obstacle for Bucky O’Hare, who had recently failed to land a new tv deal after Neal Adams attempted to sell a brief CG pilot, and it was possible the franchise would never be heard from again.

Truth be told, not much has changed since then for Bucky O’Hare. This license acquisition by Boss Fight Studio came out of no where. I’ve done my best with this little blog to keep Bucky some-what relevant. I’ve talked about his NES game, the arcade game, and the show itself before while also hyping these figures. 90’s nostalgia is pretty hot right now and lots of properties are being revived so maybe Boss Fight Studio was just looking to score a piece of that and one that probably wouldn’t cost a ton. And someone at the company must obviously remember the property and enjoy it because an obscure property like Bucky O’Hare isn’t getting a toy line without someone who loved it driving that. And I’m happy to report that these two inaugural figures have turned out about as well as they could.

IMG_1864For the debut of the line, Boss Fight Studio settled on Captain Bucky O’Hare himself and First Mate Jenny. The selections may seem obvious, after all, who is going to launch a Bucky O’Hare toy line with out Bucky O’Hare, but Boss Fight Studio deserves some recognition for pairing him with Jenny. Jenny was infamously dropped from the Hasbro line because of the concern of marketing a girl toy to boys. She was supposed to be included in the planned second series, and since she was basically prepared for the first set, completed figures made it through production and into packaging. Some of these would find their way into the hands of collectors, most did not, and Jenny remains the biggest omission from that lone set of figures. Finally, Bucky O’Hare fans have the Jenny figure they were denied back in 1991.

The figures in this line appear to be in a standard 6″ scale similar to the Marvel Legends line by Hasbro. This means Bucky is around 4″ tall, not including his ears, and Jenny about 4.5″. They’re very similar to the scale from the original toy line, though with better and more accurate proportions. Those old toys tended to have over-sized heads and squished bodies. They were fine for their era, but obviously not adequate for an adult toy line. The packaging for both is almost identical to the old Hasbro packaging, only BFS utilizes a re-sealable blister. Character bios and images of upcoming figures are on the back and really do a great job of taking advantage of the nostalgia fans likely have for the old figures.

Bucky and Jenny are both loaded with articulation. Bucky uses a lot of colored plastic which works to make his red spacesuit pop but not overwhelm. The minimal amounts of paint utilized are all nice and clean. There’s no weird fraying plastic or evidence of the molds, even on the small switchable hands. He has a rubbery cape that is removable via a peg, and the shoulder pads are a separate piece as opposed to being molded to his arms, same for his belt. Bucky has two additional face plates, one with a smiling open mouth and the other a more relaxed open mouth. He has twin pistols and the pegs on his belt still function as holsters, a call-back to the original design for Bucky (they always envisioned toys) and the Hasbro Bucky. The pistols are more in scale this time around too and look great. The negative with Bucky, and even BFS noted it on via their Facebook page, is that his removable pieces are all really tough to manipulate. I can’t get the additional face plates to seat properly on his head, and the hands won’t come off. When I try to pull them off his arm ends up popping off at the elbow. His cape also doesn’t fit all the way into the peg hole on his back so it’s prone to falling off. The cape is not that big of an issue, since he’ll be hanging on a shelf eventually, but it’s discouraging. BFS recommends using a hair dryer or hot water to warm the pieces in order to separate them, but I have yet to try because I’m a little skittish of such tactics.

IMG_1871Jenny is in some ways the more anticipated of the two because of her history. She does not disappoint. She’s nice and shiny and packed with articulation like Bucky. She’s got a huge mount of hair on her head, as she did in both comics and TV, and an abundance of curves. If this property had been more popular we’d probably be partly blaming Jenny for the rise of furries. Her arms and lower legs are really thin, but she doesn’t seem particularly fragile or anything. Her hands are easily swapped out with the extras provided by BFS, and she also has two additional face plates, one of which being a cheeky winking face. She doesn’t have a gun, despite carrying one in the animated series, but has two hands with “psychic energy” resembling Marvel’s Psylocke and two circular energy blasts she can hold. She has four sets of hands as a result, compared with Bucky’s three, and four face plates. Her default features an open mouth, but she also has a smiling one and a toothy smile in addition to the winking face mentioned before. Her hair is obviously quite heavy, but her tail makes posing her rather easy. She’s a bit limited in what she can do as a result, but still looks great. There are some slight paint imperfections on a few of her face plates as she requires finer details, but nothing major.

Overall, these figures are great and any Bucky O’Hare fan will likely be very happy with them. There is an elephant in the room though that does dampen some enthusiasm I have for the line and that’s the price. Bucky and Jenny both retail for $35 a piece. Add in tax and shipping and you’re looking at roughly $80 for a pair of 4.5″ action figures. Bucky O’Hare fans starved for merchandise will likely suck it up and buy a set, but the price point makes it very hard for Boss Fight Studio to attract casual collectors. Some-what troublesome is the amount of variants announced already. There’s a stealth Bucky and astral projection Jenny on the way which are just repaints of these two figures. Dead Eye has been announced as well along with a variant for him too. There’s even a second Bucky variant that’s all brown to resemble a chocolate bunny, he’s an Easter release. Boss Fight Studio has also shown off a Toad Storm Trooper. Coincidentally, they’re following the planned Shocker release with their first four figures. If the line is going to need to sell variants in order to survive then that’s probably not a good sign. I know I’m personally not in the market for repaints at this price point. I want to support the line because I really want to see it continue, but I can’t justify buying an Easter Bucky for $35. I will definitely be placing an order for Dead Eye and the Storm Trooper when they become available because both look amazing.

Because of the pricing structure and the fact that Bucky O’Hare has been such an unsuccessful and niche franchise, it’s hard to be optimistic for this line. I don’t want to end this on a down-note though. I think these two figures are great and they’re already among my most favorite of any line I’ve ever collected and I am totally onboard with more characters, be they taken from the comics or cartoon. Boss Fight Studio has already mentioned they’re eager to do an Al Negator, which is important to know because was a cartoon-only character so that probably opens the door for other toon-only characters like Bruiser and Mimi. If you’re a fan of Bucky, or just remember the cartoon and want to reminisce, these are great action figures to add to your collection. They’re really fun character designs with a lot of personality and Boss Fight Studio did an impeccable job in bringing them to life. Hopefully, we can keep Bucky from disappearing again.


Bucky O’Hare – The Arcade Game

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Bucky O’Hare (1992)

One of the underplayed downsides to the death of the arcade in America is the amount of arcade games that remained solely in the arcade realm. Arcade technology was always ahead of what was available in-home. Arcade cabinets were also often equipped with 4 or 6 player possibilities while virtually every home console in the 80s and 90s could only natively handle 2 players. Sometimes, companies would release two distinct games for the arcade and the home console. While gamers were enjoying co-op play with X-Men at the arcade the home console gamer was forced to experience Marvel’s most famous mutant team via a hideous top-down shooter/action game with horrendous technical issues. X-Men was a popular enough arcade game that it would eventually be released digitally about 20 years after it first hit arcades. It took awhile, but it made it. Other games were not so lucky, and one of them is Bucky O’Hare.

Bucky O’Hare has been a topic more than once here as I take a small sense of pride in being one of the small areas of the internet where Bucky can still exist. Bucky originated in the comics, and when the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles exploded he was one of the main beneficiaries. Suddenly, toy companies and television studios were scooping up licenses for any kind of anthropomorphic action series that could be tossed in front of children to make piles of money. These properties were often fast-tracked to the consumer as everyone assumed the TMNT were just some fad that would die a quick death. This meant television shows, toys, and even games were all put into development at around the same time and Bucky O’Hare got the full treatment. So even though the cartoon series would only last 13 episodes and see a quiet cancellation, the aspects of the license that took the longest to develop would still see release after the fall of the show.

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Good luck finding one of these.

Most people into retro-gaming or who had a Nintendo Entertainment System back in the day are familiar with Konami’s Bucky O’Hare for the NES; the Mega Man clone of surprising depth and skill. It’s become a bit of a cult hit these days and copies of the NES cart fetch a pretty decent price on the after-market. Lesser known, is Konami’s Bucky O’Hare game for the arcade, also simply titled Bucky O’Hare.

Like most of Konami’s  arcade games for licensed properties, Bucky O’Hare is a 4-player beat-em-up where the player takes on wave after wave of enemies before reaching the game’s conclusion. And like most games of this style, it sometimes feels like it was designed first and foremost to eat quarters and force gamers to spend a decent chunk of change in order to see the game to its conclusion. Where Bucky O’Hare differentiates itself from Konami’s other brawlers is in that the primary attack for each character is a projectile. All four characters; Bucky, Jenny, Deadeye, and Blinky – all possess a handgun to shoot at the bad guys with. This naturally allows the player to maintain some distance between them and the enemy which actually seems to result in fewer deaths when compared with X-Men or Turtles in Time. Each character also possesses a special attack, referred to as a gimmick weapon, that can be activated at any time and surprisingly doesn’t cost any health to activate. There’s also bomb attacks available and they’re pretty abundant and clear the screen of enemies or deal a significant chunk of damage to a boss, which feels really generous for a game of this genre.

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The game is enjoyable with one of two players, but these ones are always best with four.

The game also further distinguishes itself in style. The previously mentioned gimmick weapons though are sadly the only thing that really differentiates the characters. Of the four, I found Deadeye to be the most useful (though you would think a four-armed duck would possess more than one pistol) as his weapon is basically a temporary shield that orbits around him until it hits something. Jenny’s is a homing attack that’s also useful, though her attack animation is a liability. Bucky just tosses a bomb forward, and Blinky has a flame-thrower. Most of the levels move from left to right, but there’s variety from stage to stage. Some levels have the characters moving at an angle towards the screen (think the second stage from the first TMNT arcade game) and there’s a stage where you’re falling and another where the characters are all riding Toad Croakers that can even stomp on the enemies. Brawlers can get quite stale by design, and Bucky O’Hare does as good a job as any in keeping things as fresh as possible for the game’s duration (of roughly 45 minutes).

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Minimally animated, but fully voiced, cut scenes help to move the story along.

Perhaps surprisingly, the production values on Bucky O’Hare are quite high. It’s very bright and visually appealing with all of the characters looking like the source material. Bucky is the only one that looks a bit off to me, and Blinky is definitely too tall, but for the most part the characters and animations look great. The enemies are especially striking, though the variety is not great as you’ll mostly spend the game fighting Toad Storm Troopers and these little robots. The boss characters look awesome though and they’re mostly taken straight from the cartoon series. Toadborg is appropriately menacing looking and the final battle is against a Komplex-to-Go contraption that even looks like it’s suffered some damage since its encounter against Bucky in episode 13 of the series.

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You’ll be killing lots of Toad Storm Troopers in this one.

Which brings me to the aspect some Bucky fans seem to appreciate most is that this game seems to take place after the cartoon ended and serves as a nice book-end to the series. You take the fight straight to the Toad homeworld and vanquish Komplex seemingly forever. Konami made liberal use of the voice talent from the show and only a couple of voices are off (Blinky most notably being voiced by Scott McNeil). Even characters who aren’t playable still make voiced appearances like Willy and Bruiser. And if you’re into the comic, the omniscient mouse race that never made it into the series shows up in this game and it really feels like someone at Konami really cared about the representing the license as best as possible. It’s pretty cool considering they must have known already that this was to be the last major release for the license and that no season two was coming for the animated series.

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Willy and Bruiser even get to cameo in some cut scenes.

Bucky O’Hare for the arcade is a satisfying experience, especially so for fans of the license. It possesses some of the short-comings inherent with the genre, and I do wish a character like Bruiser or Dogstar was playable as neither was in the NES game, but this is a fun title worth tracking down. Of course, being that it’s been over 25 years since the game’s release, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to find a cabinet in the wild and it’s even rare to see them come up for sale on eBay. There are other means available to you, if you want to seek them out, and I’ll let you research that on your own should you wish to play it. Sadly, licensed games like these rarely receive a digital release in this day and age, but maybe this very mild Bucky comeback in 2017 could lead to a digital release of this game and the NES game, though I certainly wouldn’t hold my breath for either.


The Return of Bucky O’Hare?

boss-fight-buxky-o-hare-anouncement-928x483Just announced today, toy company Boss Fight Studios is bringing Bucky O’Hare back to the world of action figures in a four inch scale assortment. Bucky O’Hare fans will likely refrain from getting too excited, as it was about ten years ago the company Shocker Toys promised to do the same and never delivered. Bucky O’Hare has largely been a dormant franchise since the early 90’s when his television show and toy line were cancelled after one season and series, respectively. Efforts to bring the characters back have been fruitless, so it will be interesting to see how this turns out. Likely this will be a one and done affair as I don’t see a new toy line resurrecting the brand from obscurity, but it’s certainly better than nothing. Should these things make it to retail, you can bet that yours truly will be doing a write-up of them on this very website.

 

Update April 2017 – Boss Fight has unveiled the first images of completed Bucky and Jenny prototypes for release this fall! Check out the coverage FWoosh.com has for images.


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.