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

img_3714Episode Number:  11

Original Air Date:  November 17, 1991

Directed by:  Karen Peterson

Written by:  George Arthur Bloom

First Appearance:  Kamikaze Kamo, Sly Leezard

Reminding us that this show was created in the 90s, episode 11 brings us the requisite ninja episode. Likely owing to the success of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was the rise in popularity of ninja characters in general. It wasn’t all TMNT, but ninjas felt like they were everywhere. And since young boys especially seemed to dig them (and what’s not to like – cool clothes, big swords, throwing stars, etc) they were often good guys rather than bad guys, which isn’t where you would typically expect a character that is essentially an assassin to reside.

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Are you ready for Kamikaze Kamo and Sly Leezard?

The cast of Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars may have contained some bad ass characters, but it lacked ninjas. No longer! Enter Kamikaze Kamo (Garry Chalk), an old friend of Dead-Eye’s and fellow member of the four-armed duck race (which is referred to simply as the four-armed ducks, so apparently that’s their official name). Kamo dresses in an all black standard ninja costume that only reveals his eyes. Surprisingly, AKOM went through the trouble of animating his mouth movements beneath his mask so he actually looks relatively good. He’s got a neon green belt, which probably isn’t very stealthy, and his two lower arms are actually cybernetic so he’s a ninja-cyborg which just maximizes his coolness factor. And to top it off, he not only has a big katana on his back but a pair of white nunchaku as well. Now they’ve just gone too far.

Every ninja needs a mortal enemy, and for Kamikaze Kamo that enemy is Sly Leezard (Scott McNeil). Sly is a samurai and a member of a reptilian race from the planet Saurion. He dresses all in red and appears to lead a band of fellow samurai that all basically look exactly like him. Even though he’s a samurai, he’s a true bad guy out to take over the homeworld of Kamikaze Kamo and the four-armed ducks:  Canopis III. His race sounds like brutal conquerors as he explains he won’t be recognized as a true samurai until he conquers another world. He is a bit more developed than other one-shot characters we’ve seen on this show which helps to make him stand out.

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This can’t be Toadborg’s favorite assignment.

The episode opens on the planet Crystal where the Toads are forcing a race of beaver-people to mine (what else?) crystals. Toadborg is overseeing the mining at ground level while the Air Marshall is providing air support from a new fully functional Toad Mothership. We haven’t seen but a few shots of a Mothership since the original one was destroyed a while back so apparently the Toads are fully recovered from the events of the first three episodes. The Righteous Indignation bursts onto the scene and they’re here to free the beavers from Toad enslavement. An eager Dead-Eye is advised to flex his phalanges by Bucky who is always looking to expand the vocabulary of the viewing audience.

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It’s been awhile since we’ve seen one of these.

The Air Marshall is excited to see his old nemesis make an appearance. He commands the Toad fleet to perform the double-helix maneuver. Frix and Frax caution him because the maneuver is difficult to pull off, but the Air Marshall doesn’t care. He’s not just looking to take out Bucky, he wants to earn some style points while doing it. The Double Bubbles take off towards the Righteous Indignation and the ship loses its engines once again (it’s a piece of junk). They’re helpless as the Toads go into their maneuver which involves them elaborately circling the ship. Of course, the Toad ships collide and the whole thing is ruined. The ship is back up and running and Dead-Eye blasts Toadborg with the ship’s M.A.S.E.R. canons. Even that isn’t enough to stop him, but the distraction created by the Righteous Indignation allows the beavers to revolt and steel the Toad tanker they were loading the crystals on. They flee with a wave of thanks towards the Righteous Indignation which too flees the scene.

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The Air Marshall weeps over the loss of his medals.

Following his latest blunder, the Air Marshall is dressed-down by Komplex. A series of insults beginning with the prefix “in” are directed at the Air Marshall (inept, incompetent, etc.) by Komplex before the A.I. commands Toadborg to strip him of his beloved medals, all except one that is. That one lone remaining medal is intended to remind the Air Marshall of what he once had. Komplex banishes the Air Marshall from the premises and demotes him to a rank not specified. When Toadborg questions who will succeed him, Komplex suggests anyone and follows through on that proclamation by apparently promoting Frix and Frax to assume the position of Air Marshall. Air Marshall sadly exits the room, but since we have no idea what his actual name is, I’m going to just refer to him as Air Marshall despite the demotion.

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Where do you go when you get fired? The bar.

The Air Marshall winds up at some dive where he’s drinking some green water and bemoaning his fate. A sympathetic ear in the form of Sly Leezard indulges him. It would seem Sly has a problem too. If he wants to earn the respect of his peers and be considered a true samurai he needs to conquer a planet. He had set his sights on Canopis III, home of the four-armed ducks, and even devised a plan to use a series of satellites to evaporate the water on the planet’s surface which would render the ducks helpless, apparently. Sly even had a scientist lined-up to help him, but something happened and he basically suggests that he murdered the scientist instead. The Air Marshall is intrigued by this story though. Reasoning he could get back into Komplex’s good graces by conquering Canopis III himself, he mentions he knows of a scientist that may be able to help them:  Willy DuWitt.

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Sly knows how to travel in style.

Dead-Eye Duck and Willy are shown making repairs to the Righteous Indignation. They’re in some kind of external hangar on a space station and are just out in space. This seems dangerous, but it also is convenient for Sly and the Air Marshall who show up unannounced in Sly’s spaceship which looks like a lizard (lizards and toads apparently share similar philosophies on spaceship aesthetics). They’re able to effortlessly abduct Willy, and despite them being in space, Dead-Eye’s jump after him is limited by gravity. Dead-Eye heads inside to inform Bucky about Willy’s kidnapping, and that he has a lead. He was able to see Sly Leezard in the spaceship as well as the Air Marshall. He knows Sly and he also knows of someone who could help them. With the Righteous Indignation out of commission, Dead-Eye takes a spare spaceship just hanging around that only fits one person to seek out the aid of Kamikaze Kamo.

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It’s the latest craze:  Pirates vs Ninjas!

Dead-Eye arrives at a forest presumably on Canopis III. A legion of crimson-clad ducks drop in on him and he quickly puts his hands up to indicate he’s just here to see Kamikaze Kamo. Kamo approaches and recognizes him immediately. Before they can get to reminiscing, Dead-Eye informs Kamo he needs his help in tracking Sly Leezard down so save his buddy Willy. Kamo agrees to help and the two hop into Kamo’s goofy-looking duck spaceship and head for Saurion.

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Willy does not wish to help, but you know he’s going to.

At the base of Sly Leezard, Willy is being bullied into helping Sly complete his water-desolving satellites. Willy is unwilling to help him, but Sly tells him if he doesn’t then he’ll detonate a bomb he planted on the Righteous Indignation killing all aboard. He promises to release Willy when the job is done, and gives him his word as a samurai. Willy reluctantly agrees and gets to work.

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These are odds Kamikaze Kamo apparently enjoys.

Kamo and Dead-Eye arrive at Sly’s planet and disembark from Kamo’s spaceship. They continue on via hangglider which unnerves Dead-Eye somewhat. Apparently this race of duck does not fly. They land and are almost immediately set upon by Sly Leezard’s men. When Dead-Eye questions where’s the honor in ganging up on the two of them, Kamo reminds him that the odds are in their favor. He’s apparently a bad ass and whips out his nunchaku and starts taking out the enemies. Dead-Eye is impressed and whips out his pistols to help, but really it’s not needed as Kamo seems to have things under control. As the lizards flee, Kamo throws a ninja star at one and actually hits him in the tail with it which becomes lodged in his flesh (there’s no blood or anything, but still surprising). They interrogate this lone samurai to find out where Sly’s base is. Unfortunately, getting there will require scaling a mountain.

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Willy is some kind of genius, and yet he fell for the old candy-as-a-bomb-detonator trick.

Willy finishes the work on the satellites, and to no one’s surprise, is not set free. Willy gets a lesson on trusting others as he’s hauled off to a dungeon. Air Marshall is impressed with Sly’s ruthlessness and inquires about the detonator for the bomb on the Righteous Indignation. Sly pulls it out and tells him it’s just candy before tossing it to him. Sly apparently deals in lies. Air Marshall is even more delighted with Sly once he tastes the candy – cherry.

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Kamikaze Kamo is very image-conscious.

Dead-Eye and Kamikaze reach the mountain’s summit and find it’s open at the top. There they can look down into Sly’s lab before getting the drop on him. Sly Leezard is surprised, but angry, to see his mortal enemy Kamikaze Kamo and the two square-off. Dead-Eye is forced to deal with the stragglers. Kamo does some fancy moves with his nunchaku before finally removing the sword from his back to have a proper ninja fight. As the two battle, there’s some countdown going on in the background that will apparently ready the satellites. Air Marshall decides this is no place for him and takes off in one of Sly’s spaceships which the satellites have been loaded onto. He heads for Canopis III to oversee the deployment of the satellites.

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Sly threw his only weapon at Kamikaze, what a dope.

Kamo eventually gets the better of Sly disarming him in the process. With him at his mercy, Sly once again turns to his samurai code of honor to get Kamo to back off. Claiming he’s going to shut down the satellites, he instead activates them then laughs as Kamo futily tries to undo what’s been done. It apparently can’t be, and Sly flees. Seeing no sign of Willy, Dead-Eye contacts Bucky. The ship has been repaired and Bucky is just awaiting word from Dead-Eye on what’s going on. He instructs Bucky to head for Canopis III and fast.

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Everything is actually going according to plan for a change.

From space, the Air Marshall watches the satellites switch on. He laughs gleefully as they go to work sucking up the water from Canopis III. The plan has worked, and he openly wonders what rank Komplex will bestow upon him for helping to conquer the duck homeworld.

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Frix and Frax have done some stupid things, but nothing quite this stupid.

As the Righteous Indignation emerges from hyperspace, Frix and Frax are there in a Toad tanker hauling crystals. They were assigned to oversee the mining on Crystal and apparently they’ve gathered enough to fill a tanker. Frix sees the appearance of the mammal frigate as an opportunity to achieve something even the Air Marshall failed to do, while Frax reminds him they’re in a tanker which isn’t even armed. Frix doesn’t see the problem since their ship is ten times the size of the Righteous Indignation. Frax cautions him by reminding him of Air Marshall’s failed double-helix, but Frix orders the pilots to ram the ship. The Toad Tanker is detected by the Righteous Indignation’s sensors, and they easily avoid the attack. The tanker misses, smashing into a nearby asteroid or moon or something. Frix and Frax are immediately shown in an escape vessel openly hoping Komplex won’t ask about the cargo they just lost.

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Kamo can’t stop the satellites by simply pulling the lever again.

Bucky and the Righteous Indignation arrive at Canopis III and find that the satellites have been deployed and activated. With Bruiser behind the guns this time, they soon discover the satellites have a forcefield on them and can’t be destroyed. On Saurion, Dead-Eye and Kamo find Willy in a stalagmite prison and Dead-Eye blasts them out. He tells Willy what happened and Willy advises him not to worry because he built a fail-safe into the satellites. Then head back for Sly’s lab where Willy pulls out a remote he had stashed which, when activated, will cause the satellites to self-destruct. He activates it and Dead-Eye reaches out to Bucky for confirmation. The Air Marshall watches the satellites explode from the ship he commandeered and bemoans another failure. A Storm Toad is on the ship with him for some reason, which must be an animation mistake.

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Sly Leezard ready for his crowning achievement.

Dead-Eye, Willy, and Kamikaze Kamo head for the mountain top. Below them, Sly Leezard emerges with his men ready to lead the attack on Canopis III that will end with him crowned emperor. The good guys drop a net on him and haul him up to their level. They let him know his plan has failed and they vow to take him to Canopis III as a prisoner. Suddenly, a legion of other samurai lizards show up. They look more like Roman gladiators complete with gold underwear. The leader, dubbed Supreme Commander, demands to know what is going on, and the heroes explain that Sly broke his word as a samurai. This displeases the Commander, who demands that Sly be handed over to them. Sly cries out that he’d rather be a duck prisoner as they turn him over. The Supreme Commander then tells them to leave, and if they ever return to Saurion they can expect to be attacked. No one doubts this samurai’s word.

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Check out these dudes.

Having no where else to turn to, Air Marshall requests an audience with Komplex. He intends to grovel and beg for forgiveness in hopes of being reassigned. He says to himself he’d accept any demotion except to that of Storm Toad, but then backtracks and decides he’d even take that. As he enters a room for his conference, Komplex comes onto the various monitors and has surprising news:  the Air Marshall is having his rank restored and his first assignment is to return to Crystal. When Air Marshall asks what has become of Frix and Frax, Komplex lets him know that the two are waiting for him. We then cut to the two who are all alone mining for crystals unhappily. Frax pauses for an “I told you so” directed at Frix while Frix just tells him to shut up and get back to digging.

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You were so close Sly, so close.

“The Warriors” feels like a very unnecessary episode. It doesn’t provide additional backstory for any of the usual characters and is just a stand-alone story. It does somewhat address the ineffectiveness of Toad Air Marshall, but it also just returns everything to the status quo when all is said and done.

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I suppose it’s no big surprise to learn that the Air Marshall had his rank restored in the end.

The introduction of Kamikaze Kamo and Sly Leezard is welcomed since the roster of characters on this show is a bit thin. They fail to be more than just action figure ideas brought to life though. Well, I will say Sly is somewhat interesting even if he is just another version of Al Negator. Kamo though is downright annoying with his constant “Quack-quack-quack,” battle cry. Both guys also speak with bad, fake, Japanese accents. I’m not surprised Sunbow didn’t hire actual Japanese voice actors for the role, but they could have toned it down or something or just not done it. They don’t say anything offensive at least, though Sly does go with the cliché “Sayonara suckers” line.

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Likely the only hard labor these two have experienced.

With so few episodes remaining, it’s disappointing to get one so inconsequential as this. It’s not terrible, but it does feel like it’s not aiming particularly high. I probably liked this episode as a kid since it involved Dead-Eye teaming up with a ninja, but as an adult it feels like a toy commercial. New, neat looking characters and vehicles with no real stakes. I guess I should care about the planet of the ducks, but there’s no built-in attachment there to make me care. It’s also not a great-looking episode as the animation is quite choppy in the fight scenes. The showdown between Sly and Kamikaze is especially underwhelming, not that I expected greatness. No aspect of this episode marks a low point for the series, but it’s definitely not a highlight. Next week’s episode takes us to the home of the berserker baboons so hopefully that’s a bit more exciting than seeing Dead-Eye’s planet.

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Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars – “Corsair Canards”

img_3661Episode Number:  9

Original Air Date:  November 3, 1991

Directed by:  Karen Peterson

Written by:  Christy Marx

First Appearance:  Captain Lanelle, Redjack, Blackbeak, Grebb, Harman

Episode 9 introduces the viewer to Dead-Eye’s past:  The Corsair Canards. The Canards are a group of space pirates. They basically look like typical pirates and even pilot spaceships that look like a stereotypical pirate ship, masts and all which seems unnecessary for a spaceship. Interestingly, they all appear to be ducks and in particular the same species of four-armed duck that Dead-Eye belongs to. Are all ducks in the Aniverse pirates? It would seem so. Even though they’re thieving pirates, the Corsair Canards are potential allies for the United Animal Fleet against the Toads and that’s what’s going to draw them into our story.

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They should call this thing the SS Pirate Bait.

The episode opens on a luxury space cruiser. It’s either like a cruise liner in our world, or just an upscale restaurant. The only important thing about it is that it attracts wealthy patrons, so naturally it makes sense that it would be a target for pirates. The Corsair Canards do not disappoint and they hit it. Captain Lanelle (I assume she is voiced by Margot Pinvidic since she’s done all of the female voices up to this point) leads a band of armed and flamboyantly dressed pirates. Her eyes are drawn to a group off to the side and it’s pretty obvious one of the patrons is Bucky O’Hare in drag. When Bucky calls out to them to not hurt them, Lanelle informs us that the Corsair Canards never harm any of their victims unless they first try do them harm. How noble.

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Dressing in drag is something that comes natural to animated rabbits.

A crotchety old duck starts interjecting into the conversation, and it’s Dead-Eye in disguise. He soon goes on the offensive, knocking the guns away from one duck to rest in his own hands. Bucky then reveals himself and the rest of the crew appears, including Willy who pops out of a piano dual-wielding some red guns (notable because he’s only carried a water pistol thus far). Lanelle is surprised to see Bucky O’Hare, but he informs them they’re not here to arrest the pirates. They want the help of the pirates in dealing with the Toad menace, and in return, Bucky promises to get the UAF Security Council to forgive the transgressions of the pirates which gets Lanelle’s attention.

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Some new faces on the council, Grebb and Harman.

Bucky and the pirates head to Genus to see if he can make such a promise come true. The Secretary General from the earlier season episodes is no where to be found, in his place is Harman (Gary Chalk), a walrus who seems receptive to Bucky’s proposal. Someone who is not is Grebb (Scott McNeil, I think), a jackal who does not appear to have much confidence in Captain O’Hare and even less in the pirates. He’ll only go along with Bucky’s proposal if there is an amendment in the agreement with the Canards that allows them to back out should any of them return to their pirating ways. Harman is agreeable to that inclusion and the rest of the council is in agreement as well. For the pirates though, they’ve only agreed to propose it at their next clan meeting. In order to go along with it, they’ll need a majority of pirates to agree to it.

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It’s in this episode we learn Willy has a real thing for pirates.

Aboard the Righteous Indignation, Willy is cheerily chatting up Dead-Eye about pirates. It would seem he’s quite interested in the life of a pirate and he’s excited about seeing a real pirate meeting. Dead-Eye has to burst his bubble a bit to inform him they’re only heading to a pre-meeting gathering, and that from there only the pirates will be heading to the actual meeting which is held in secret. Willy’s a little disappointed, but he’s at least still looking forward to the initial gathering.

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Willy gets a taste of what real pirates drink. And I always thought they drank rum, what a fool I was.

That initial gathering is held on Rigel VII at what is basically a pirate dive bar. There Willy is introduced to the preferred drink of pirates, ground swamp grass served in swamp water. He’s not a fan. He also sees how the pirates like to play games of skill, which Dead-Eye informs him is their way of training their young. There’s even a little diaper-clad toddler duck running around to drive that point home. Willy then introduces Dead-Eye to a game he likes to play:  Frisbee. Of course, he just calls it a flying disc and demonstrates his considerable skill with the toy. When the toddler from before steps on a switch that activates a knife-toss game, Willy uses the disc to swat the flying knife away which was heading right for the kid. All of the pirates are impressed, especially Dead-Eye.

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Blackbeak, Captain Lanelle (who’s catching flies this whole scene, apparently), and Redjack.

During this scene we’re also introduced to Redjack. He’s a pirate after the heart of Captain Lanelle, but she’s got eyes for Dead-Eye. He needs a way to impress her, and by standing up to Dead-Eye he thinks he has a shot.

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It’s Redjack who views Dead-Eye as a rival. Dead-Eye though, doesn’t seem interested.

As the pirates get ready to depart, Dead-Eye huddles-up with a few others then returns from the huddle to tell Willy he’s been invited to attend thanks to demonstrating the wonders of his flying disc. Dead-Eye thinks they could use it as part of their arsenal and apparently he was able to convince the others as well. Willy is happy to tag-along, and all of the pirate ships head for the location. It’s basically a giant domed stadium in the middle of space, and there the deal extended by the UAF is shared with the gathering. Redjack emerges as a voice opposed to the deal citing they can’t abandon their pirating ways. Dead-Eye tries to reason with him, but he’s just doing what Redjack hoped he would. He challenges Dead-Eye to a duel. Should he win, the deal is rejected, if Dead-Eye wins then it’s accepted. Dead-Eye insists this isn’t the proper way to hash out such an important agreement, but Redjack won’t back down. Dead-Eye relents, and the other pirates immediately take cover while Willy protests. He thinks they’re going to duel to the death, but Lanelle tells him to not be so stupid – pirates would never intentionally harm one another. Instead, a robotic device emerges from the center of the arena. It’s got several appendages on it and they all fire skeet discs that Dead-Eye and Redjack are expected to shoot.

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I think this is my favorite Toad ship thus far.

Aboard a rather interesting looking Toad ship, the Air Marshall is seated on a bridge and entertaining another old friend – Al Negator. Al has information concerning the Corsair Canards and the courtship going on between the pirates and UAF. He also reveals he has a spy in the Security Council and Air Marshall is expected to promote him to Dictator of Genus once they take over the planet. Air Marshall is dismissive of the promise, but quite alarmed at the thought of the Corsair Canards joining up with the UAF. Al Negator assures him he has a way to make sure that doesn’t happen. Curiously, there’s no mention of payment by Al so what he’s gaining isn’t explicitly stated, but maybe at this point the writers felt we didn’t need to be reminded about Al’s motivation and we can just assume he’s being paid for information.

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Fake Dead-Eye in action. How a Toad is able to manage a four-armed costume is never explained.

The same luxury spaceship from earlier is then shown (it might even be a repeat shot) only this time it’s Harman and Grebb that’s aboard. They’re having dinner and Grebb is concerned because they’re in the same area of space where Bucky was able to lure out the Corsair Canards. Harman tries to assuage his concerns, but then he’s made to look like a fool when the ship is boarded by the Canards once again. Surprisingly, this band of pirates is being led by Dead-Eye, and he demands they hand over their valuables. Grebb and Harman are shocked and appalled by the presence of Dead-Eye, but do as he commands.

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Dogstar feeling a bit smug thanks to his fancy new duds.

Bucky and his crew are then called before the Security Council. Harman and Grebb inform Bucky of what happened, and he refuses to believe that Dead-Eye could have done that. He promises to investigate, but refuses to arrest his gunner. Grebb is angered by Bucky’s disobedience and summons Commander Dogstar. Dogstar has a slightly redesigned costume that seems rather regal, though it will be really inconsistent (more on that later) throughout the episode. It’s basically just more blue and looks less like a metal onesie. Dogstar agrees to the order, but informs Grebb he’ll be performing his duty under protest.

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Four-armed wrestling.

Bucky returns to the tavern where the pirates gathered and tries to get info out of the bartender concerning the location of the pirates. He literally says nothing and Jenny is forced to use her powers to contact Willy. She relays what has happened and implores Willy to return with Dead-Eye. As for him, he and Redjack tied the shooting game and were forced to arm wrestle, which they tied at that as well. Willy pulls Dead-Eye aside and tells him they need to get back, but Dead-Eye can’t forfeit his contest with Redjack because it’s too important. When he asks how he can get this over with quickly, Willy says he has an idea, only the pirates won’t accept a suggestion from an outside. Captain Lanelle, apparently eavesdropping, steps in to say they’ll accept a proposal from her and Willy tells her his idea.

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This shit is embarassing.

Lanelle says the next competition will utilize Willy’s flying disc. Dead-Eye and Redjack stand opposite her for a fairly long shot that’s notable because both Lanelle and Dead-Eye are horribly discolored with orange faces. This seems as good a time as any to say that this episode is a new low in terms of visuals. It looks like shit, to put it bluntly. Lots of discolored characters and ugly framing. Dogstar’s uniform will change practically from shot to shot when he’s around. It’s embarrassing.

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Frisbee making friends out of enemies.

The ducks agree to the duel of Frisbee. Blackbeak will hold a mug of swamp water in each hand and Redjack and Dead-Eye are charged with knocking one out of his hands. First one to do so wins. Both characters fail in their first attempt and Redjack fails his second as well, hitting Blackbeak by mistake which he does not enjoy. Dead-Eye’s second shot is the one that wins it, and Redjack concedes with no animosity towards him marking a rather abrupt turn. They then head back to the dive on Rigel VII. There they regroup with Bucky to find out what’s happened in their absence. Dogstar is there as well to make his arrest, but informs Bucky that if he has a plan to catch the real culprits he’ll go along with it in lieu of making an immediate arrest.

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What the heck is going on with Jenny in this shot?

Back aboard the apparent same luxury ship, everyone is back in their disguises waiting for another pirate attack. Sure enough, “Dead-Eye” shows up with his group of Corsair Canards to hit the same ship again (I’m getting some real Roberto from Futurama vibes from this crew). One of the pirates is drawn to a golden sculpture of a berserker baboon which he’s apparently frightened by. Dead-Eye assures him it’s just a statue and that there’s nothing to be afraid of. When he gives it a pat, it starts to crack and out comes Bruiser. He apprehends the fake pirates quite easily.

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And now Jenny again, in the correct costume this time.

We’re then shown Al Negator, who’s on a pirate ship waiting for the return of his pirates. When Dead-Eye pops in with the Canards it’s the real Dead-Eye, and Al is forced to put his hands up. He swats an offguard Dead-Eye with his tail and pulls his own gun on them, but Lanelle and the real Canards swing in like the dashing buccaneers they are to take him down. Back on the cruise ship, Bruiser rips the Dead-Eye costume apart to reveal a toad underneath, who is oddly dressed in a fine suit. The other pirates are toads as well, and the only thing remaining is to return to the council to share their findings. Before they do so though, Al Negator proposes they make a deal. In exchange for his freedom, he’ll tell Bucky about his spy on the council. Bucky agrees to a deal before hearing Al’s evidence, and once he does he reluctantly sticks to his word and let him go. It seems he could have just taken the info and kept Al Negator, but whatever. The others protest a bit, but when Bucky says he knows about a traitor they apparently shut up.

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Al Negator only looks out for one guy: Al Negator.

In front of the Security Council, Bucky shows off the toads they captured in order to clear the Corsair Canards and Dead-Eye. Grebb is practically angered by this development, but then shocked and afraid when he hears from Bucky there’s a spy among them. Bucky then commands his crew to capture the traitor, and we’re supposed to think he means Grebb, but it’s actually Harman who is trying to run away. He’s cornered, and then his head actually opens to reveal he’s an android being piloted by a small newt. The newt then takes off and he’s so fast that no one can get a hand on him. Redjack then pulls out his Frisbee, which Willy had gifted him after the competition had ended, and whips it at the fleeing newt knocking him out. Captain Lanelle is impressed, and she now apparently has the hots for Redjack. Willy apologizes to Dead-Eye for playing a role in him losing his girl, but he says she was never his girl. Plus he has no time for a lass. Lanelle then invites Willy to join the Corsair Canards. He’s tempted and turns to Dead-Eye for advice who simply reminds him that he voluntarily left the pirate life to join a higher cause with Bucky and his crew.

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Ever see a newt piloting a walrus?

Back aboard the Righteous Indignation, Bucky O’Hare enthusiastically informs the rest of the crew that it’s time to go croak some toads. Dead-Eye likes this, and Willy is shown right behind his gunner’s chair. You didn’t really think he would leave, right? They take off as the episode ends.

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Looks like Redjack got what he wanted out this one.

“Corsair Canards” is an interesting diversion episode. It gives us a peek at what Dead-Eye’s life was like before he joined up with Bucky O’Hare and it’s always nice to get a little back story on the normal characters. The whole pirate culture created by the show isn’t exactly inventive. It’s also careful to paint them in a more heroic light, as opposed to the classic pirates who rape and pillage. Obviously, Bucky can’t seek the help of murderers and it is interesting to see Bucky trying to recruit allies since the fleet he’s a part of is so woefully underfunded. The episode makes no attempt to fool the viewer into thinking Dead-Eye has flipped, given the arrangement of the scenes. It does use Grebb as a red-herring for the traitor, and in doing so it’s probably pretty successful with younger viewers. The newt reveal is fun and it makes me want to know more about the newt race in the Aniverse. Bucky letting Al Negator off the hook made little sense, but I guess someone felt it was important for Bucky to stay true to his word even when dealing with a criminal like Al. As for what he did with his freedom, we don’t know as this is his final appearance in the show.

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Willy and Dead-Eye bright eyed and ready to bond by killing some amphibians.

I alluded to it during the write-up, but this episode looks like trash. There are so many bad colorization parts and awkward pieces of animation. When the setting returns to the cruise ship for the final time, Jenny is even in the establishing shot even though she’s supposed to be in disguise and will be when next shown. There’s some real ugly images of Bucky where his face is scrunched and one instance of Lanelle speaking with some other pirates where her mouth is hanging open like she’s shocked for no reason. About the only positive I can give is that there are at least a lot of new character designs. The pirates, while cliché, look fine and interesting. I do like the newt and his Total Recall-like reveal. That’s about it though, and given how poor the previous episode looked, I’m a bit concerned it’s all downhill from here. Was the show already declared dead on arrival and the budget slashed during the latter stages of production? It’s also possible that more resources were simply devoted to the earlier episodes in hopes they’d hook viewers there and then coast. I’m hoping there is at least an uptick for the finale, but I’m not holding my breath either.

 


Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars – “The Good, the Bad, and the Warty”

img_3437Episode Number:  3

Original Air Date:  September 22, 1991

Directed by:  Karen Peterson

Written by:  Christy Marx

First Appearance:  Mother Aldebaran

It seems our animal friends can’t stay out of trouble. At the end of the first episode it looked like Bucky and his crew would be annihilated by the entire Toad fleet. They escaped destruction there with the help of the recently displaced Willy DuWitt. Victory was short-lived as episode two ended with the sleazasaur spy, Al Negator, making off with the codes to the defense system of the capital planet in the United Animal Security Council. He managed to escape capture by Bucky O’Hare and was safely in the confines of the Toad Mothership. Worse, the Righteous Indignation was in turn captured by the Toad Empire and we’ll begin episode three with Bucky and his crew inside the Toad Mothership as well.

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It’s action time!

Our episode begins as the second did with a broadcast from Toad TV. Andy Phibian is broadcasting from inside the Toad Mothership to report on the imminent capture of Bucky O’Hare, until Toadborg strolls into the picture. Phibian is the same reporter featured in the opening credits, and given how the last two episodes begin, it makes me wonder if the show was supposed to feature him in most episodes giving a news broadcast. If so, it’s abandoned quickly as this is Phibian’s last official appearance. His character model will be re-used as a generic background character, but he won’t be giving any more broadcasts. Toadborg is apparently camera-shy, putting an end to that transmission. Bucky and the rest are grouped on the Righteous Indignation as Toad Storm Troopers blast it from outside. They can’t hide forever as the ship can’t take much so they do the only thing they can:  they fight!

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Guns? Bruiser doesn’t need guns.

Bucky, Jenny, Dead-Eye and Willy burst through the laser fire and head in different directions. Despite being severely out-numbered, they escape harm. Dead-Eye and Willy climb aboard the Toad Croaker that Al Negator abandoned while Bucky and Jenny duck into a corridor, eventually splitting up. Bruiser is left to guard the ship while Blinky remains aboard, presumably to make repairs. Bruiser has little trouble with his task as the Toad Storm Troopers are paralyzed with fear at the sight of him. He squishes one into a ball and has fun jumping up and down on the others.

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Dogstar looks like he’s taking a snooze while Wolf looks stoned. Good allies.

The Mothership is heading for Genus accompanied by the Toad fleet of Double Bubbles. Commander Dogstar and Wolf are shown from the Indefatigable when Dogstar realizes where he recognized Al Negator’s scent from. Theorizing that Bucky is in trouble, they activate their warp drive to zero in on Bucky’s last known position. Bucky is shown running through a corridor being chased by Storm Troopers. He shoots up some pipes along the walls releasing steam, allowing for a “steamed” pun (sadly, no pigs are present for a Steamed Ham pun). Jenny is also shown making the rounds taking out security cameras wherever she finds them.

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The latest Toad mechanical monstrosity.

Dead-Eye and Willy are soon shown being chased by a rather nasty looking Toad robot. Air Marshall seems to refer to it as a Void Droid, and Toadborg will make a reference to it later. Dead-Eye’s lasers do nothing to it, and as it gains on he and Willy in the Toad Croaker he insists Willy use his secret weapon. Willy tries to protest as he knows his gun is just a water pistol, but he gives it a shot when Dead-Eye insists. It turns out the machine is not waterproof and one squirt from Willy’s gun takes it out. The Air Marshall, watching via a security monitor, is enraged at this deficiency while Frix and Frax seem to be amused. Dead-Eye congratulates Willy and then makes a confession. He hands over the play money he swiped from Willy’s bag, and Willy tries to tell him what it is. Dead-Eye instead is rather impressed that he considers a stack of cash of that size “play money,” but a hard turn of the Croaker causes Willy to tumble out and into a laundry chute of some kind which causes his helmet to pop off. When Willy looks up, he’s face to face with Al Negator.

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Bucky’s initial shot makes a dent, but none of the others will.

Bucky enters a prison yard in hopes of freeing his fellow hares, but all he finds are empty shackles. He soon comes face to face with Toadborg. He informs Bucky that all of the hares have already been moved to slave factories and there’s nothing he can do about it. Bucky, taking Toadborg to just be another robot, fires his gun at him and chips away at Toadborg’s frame. Repeated blasts have no effect though and he’s forced to crank his gun up to full power, but even that fails. He then tries to jump away (and the episode uses a silly spring sound effect for Bucky’s leaps), but Toadborg is a pretty fine jumper himself and is able to grab Bucky by the ears. He then deploys some kind of gas from his fingers that knocks him out. He then heads off with his prize.

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Jenny’s powers prove to be just as “effective” as Bucky’s pistol.

Jenny soon breaks into an area of the Mothership and too comes face to face with Toadborg and the unconscious Bucky. She uses her powers on him thinking he’ll crumble like the droid she encountered in the previous episode, but Toadborg returns fire knocking her over. She remarks that he’s not actually a robot and Toadborg is impressed she could detect that. He picks her up by the hair and uses the same gas that he used on Bucky to knock her unconscious. Toadborg then orders some troopers around him to throw she and Bucky into some “jettison tubes.”

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Al and his “Willies”

Al Negator is pretty puzzled by the sight of Willy. Not really knowing what he is, he tries to figure out a way to make use of him. Willy demands Al return the codes he stole, and to his surprise, Al Negator is willing to do so – for a price. Willy gets resourceful and pulls out the stack of play money. Al Negator has never seen currency like that before, though he seems to recognize it as some kind of currency. Willy calls his play money “Willies” and says they’re a new currency backed by the United Mammal Fleet. His fib fools the purple lizard and he agrees to deal for the codes, but he wants all of Willy’s Willies. Willy acts like the request is outrageous, then feigns acceptance as he hands over the play money in exchange for the disk. Al Negator then walks away counting his Willies.

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You would think Dead-Eye would have better luck than the others with these canons.

Toadborg then confronts Dead-Eye who is still flying around in the Toad Croaker. He tries blasting Toadborg with the Croaker’s canons at close range but they’re just as ineffective as a pistol. He then resorts to just trying to run him over, but Toadborg grabs the Croaker and swings it causing Dead-Eye to crash into a wall.

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Not the place to be.

With Bucky, Jenny, and Dead-Eye captured, Toadborg places all three into clear cylindrical tubes. They’re airlocks of some kind and Toadborg intends to torture his captives to get some information. He starts with Bucky, and he causes the tube to empty its oxygen while demanding Bucky tell him the status of the United Animal Fleet. Bucky won’t talk though, and Komplex interjects that Bucky won’t be broken (Komplex is rather impatient). Komplex goes on to say it doesn’t matter, they’ll soon have the codes to attack Genus as they currently wait just outside the defense perimeter. Willy then enters and attempts to use his squirt gun against Toadborg. Dressed in his baboon outfit, Toadborg initially recoils in fear before reminding himself that he’s now far beyond the power of a baboon. When Willy blasts him he acts insulted that he thinks a small amount of water could harm him. Realizing he can’t stop Toadborg, he whips out the disk he purchased from Al Negator and uses it to demand the release of his friends. Bucky orders Willy to destroy the codes reasoning his life, and the that of the others, is not as important as protecting Genus. Willy is hesitant to do so, and there are repeated shots of his face with a worried look even though in every other shot he’s wearing his baboon mask. I can’t tell if this is an error or if its intentional to show us Willy’s anguish. At the urging of his friends, Willy does indeed smash the disk preventing Toadborg from getting the codes.

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Jenny has some explaining to do.

At least, that’s what Willy thought he was doing. Al Negator comes strolling in to let Toadborg know he didn’t fail in his mission. He made a copy, as he should have, and happily hands it over to Toadborg in exchange for his payment. Toadborg then grabs Willy and tosses him in another pod before inserting the disk into his own mainframe. He and Al leave with the console controlling the tubes switched on. The oxygen is leaving the tubes and soon Bucky and his friends will be launched into space. As things look dire, Jenny kneels down and reaches out to her Aldebaran sisters. The gem on her helmet then changes to display a green-furred cat she refers to as Mother Aldebaran. She asks for her permission to use her secret powers in the presence of outsiders. The Mother reminds her that such an act is forbidden, but then suggests a Level 3 psychic blast would likely go unnoticed. She thanks the feline, and a beam shoots forth from Jenny that destroys the console and frees them all. When Bucky questions what happened, Jenny simply reasons that they don’t build them like they used to.

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Something weird is going on with Toadborg here.

On the bridge, Toadborg strolls in to declare that he possesses the codes to Genus’ defense system. When Air Marshall requests he hand them over, he refuses saying he’ll broadcast them. He seats himself in a throne-like chair as radio waves seem to transmit the codes to the orbiting satellites. They go into an idle mode and Toadborg then ejects himself from the controls of the Toad Climate Converter. The saucer-like vessel then heads for the surface world.

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While the others ran around, Blinky was busy making repairs.

Bucky and the others return to the Righteous Indignation. Bruiser had kept the Toads at bay while Blinky made repairs and reports the ship is at a functional 70%. Upon leaving the Mothership they encounter Dogstar and the Indefatigable. Dogstar agrees to do what he can with the many Toad ships surrounding Genus while Bucky and his crew go after Toadborg. They head down to Genus to find a storm raging all around the Climate Converter. Bucky disembarks to go take on Toadborg alone and insists everyone else remain on the ship, but Willy jumps at the last-minute. When Bucky asks him what he’s doing he insists that Bucky will need an engineer to take this thing down.

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Bucky vs Toadborg, Round 2.

Bucky and Willy are quickly confronted by Toadborg. Bucky shoves Willy behind some machinery so that Toadborg doesn’t notice him. He once more tries blasting Toadborg, but that’s just as effective as it was on the Mothership. He then uses his brains and insults Toadborg, wondering why Komplex would waste resources on preserving one measly toad. It’s apparently effective, as Bucky gets Toadborg to chase him to the surface of the structure allowing Willy to head for the main controls. Outside the storm rages all around them, and Bucky is able to seek cover behind some electrical structures. Toadborg demonstrates another one of his tricks as his arms extend to try and grab the green hare, but he just gets zapped by exposed wires. Down below, Dead-Eye bursts in to help Willy and Willy informs him he switched some stuff around and basically turned the apparatus on the surface of the Climate Converter into a lightning rod. They jump back into the Righteous Indignation and flee knowing this thing is about to get destroyed. As they fly off, Bucky sees them and makes a jump for it while Toadborg runs off to try and undo what Willy has done. When it looks like Bucky’s leap will come up short, Bruiser reaches down and snatches him by the cape. Toadborg can only watch helplessly as lightning batters him and the Climate Converter eventually causing it to explode.

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Komplex does not look happy.

With Toadborg taken out, the defense codes cease their transmission. The satellites then re-arm themselves and take aim at the Toad vessels in Genus’ airspace. They open fire and all of the toads inside the Mothership are forced to head for the escape pods. Air Marshall and his lackeys leave in a slave ship and we see a battered Toadborg, floating in space, grab onto a fleeing Double Bubble. Komplex appears on the monitor in the slave ship demanding the Air Marshall to return to the home world at once. While he passes out, Frix and Frax giggle and ponder what Komplex will do to him as punishment.

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Apparently lightning and explosions can harm Toadborg.

The Righteous Indignation is shown buzzing around Genus taking in the cheers. Bucky then ducks inside to find Willy as he prepares to leave to head home. He tells him he should come out and soak in the cheers since he played a huge role in saving Genus, but the modest Willy DuWitt insists he needs to get back. They all say their goodbyes, except Jenny who is no where to be found. Willy asks Bucky to say goodbye for him, with a little blush, and then Jenny emerges from the cockpit. She says she was working on an Aldebaran crystal communicator called a memory stone which she gives to Willy so he can contact them whenever he needs to, and vice versa. She plants another kiss on him and sends him on his way, Willy blushing uncontrollably.

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Al takes Willy’s deception quite well.

On some planet apparently occupied by mammals, Al Negator is at a bar and is attempting to spend some of his “Willies.” An orangutan working the bar tells Al he’s checked all over and no one is backing any currency called Willies. Al realizes he’s been cheated, but rather than act mad he actually has a laugh. When the bartender starts laughing along he takes exception and tosses the guy aside. He then vows to find the mammal who gave him the Willies and make him pay.

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Willy continues to have the hots for Jenny.

We’re then taken to Earth where Willy, Doug, and the other guys are showing their skateboard off at a science fair for school. Doug is taking all of the credit for the invention while Willy is behind a computer monitor. One of the other guys tries to reassure Willy by telling him not to pay Doug any mind, but Willy doesn’t care as he’s staring forlornly at the amulet Jenny gave him and the image of the crew appears on it as the episode ends.

Episode 3 is essentially the action-heavy episode I was expecting. Bucky and his crew are in enemy territory without the aid of stealth and are forced to blast their way to safety while also trying to protect the planet Genus. The action is fairly tame as apparently Bucky won’t be allowed to simply blast Toads, which is expected, and probably why we’ve seen some robots early on. Toadborg gets to demonstrate his might and he’s a formidable foe. He also shares pretty much his entire back story confirming he’s not a robot, but a former Storm Trooper turned into a cyborg. We also see more of the Dead-Eye/Willy pairing which is working well early on and we also get a little insight into Jenny’s powers. The Mother Aldebaran thing will get a bit more confusing in a later episode when Jenny returns to her home world and there isn’t a character matching that name. She’ll confer with someone named the High Artificer, but she doesn’t match the image we saw in Jenny’s amulet. At the time, Jenny’s ability to free them from the trap they’re in feels a bit too convenient, but at least the show plans on following up on it. I also like that some mystery is preserved here.

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Our first happy ending of the series.

Visually, this episode is the worst so far. It might have to do with our characters no longer largely being stationary as they’re forced to flee the confines of their spaceship and do battle on foot. The running, particularly Bucky and Toadborg during their fight, is choppy and the characters practically glide. There’s clearly not enough frames of animation in places. Toadborg’s eyes also keep changing color, and I don’t think it’s intentional, and at one point Dead-Eye’s head turns orange. Some images look all right, such as when Toadborg is walking away with a limp Bucky and carrying him by the ears. Aside from the eye thing, Toadborg in general looks imposing. I found it confusing though that Bucky’s initial shot blasted away some of Toadborg’s outer shell, but then every subsequent shot did nothing. The blemish also disappears quickly so maybe it was an error to even include it initially. I do like that the fight between Toadborg and Bucky is basically resolved through some ingenuity. Bucky just basically occupies Toadborg while Willy goes to work. No weakness is really exposed with Toadborg, he just under estimates his opponent. The Willy/Jenny stuff still remains weird, but at least we weren’t stuck on Earth for very long in this episode.

This episode essentially concludes the show’s first arch. There’s no cliff-hanger of an ending as Bucky and his crew destroyed the Climate Converter and prevented the Toads from securing the Genus defense system codes. They also destroyed a Mothership in the process, but more likely remain. This is a temporary victory as Bucky still needs to locate his fellow hares and find a way to reverse the damage done to his home world. The rest of the season will focus more on stand-alone stories often with some member of the crew stepping into the spotlight each week, but it doesn’t completely lose sight of those primary goals. Things will steadily build towards the finale, which is a satisfying structure for a show like this. Even though this episode has some warts, it was fairly exciting and the show has created some strong momentum and hopefully the variation in plotting won’t derail that.


Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars – “War of the Warts”

war of the wartsEpisode Number:  1

Original Air Date:  September 8, 1991

Directed by:  Karen Peterson

Written by:  Christy Marx

First Appearance:  Bucky O’Hare, Jenny, Dead-Eye Duck, Bruce, A.F.C. Blinky, Willy DuWitt, Toad Air Marshall, Frix, Frax, Komplex, Any Phibian

The premiere episode for Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars begins with what is probably the most memorable aspect of the show:  that theme song. Doug Katsaros is credited with the music of the show as well as the theme song. Supposedly, Larry Hama hates it. In looking over credits for the show, some familiar names show up in the storyboard section, and if you’ve been reading along with the Batman posts, those names should be familiar to you as well:  Boyd Kirkland, Frank Paur, Will Meuginot, Larry Houston, to name a few. Paur and Kirkland also have producer credits on the show and they’re most associated with Batman where both directed episodes. Will Meuginot did one episode of Batman as well as one of X-Men and has generally been all over children’s programming (The Real Ghostbusters, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Captain Planet, and many more). Larry Houston is most familiar to me because of his work on X-Men as he was featured a lot in the Previously on X-Men book about the series as he was one of the only staff members who was actually a fan of the property. He also worked on storyboards for Batman and many other programs, as I’m sure a lot of the other storyboard artists did as well. Those were the guys who just stood out the most.

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He goes where no ordinary rabbit would dare, which is probably a lot of places.

Back to that theme song though. It’s very upbeat and the horns section gives it this triumphant quality. Everything builds to the “Bucky!” parts and the lyrics are effectively cheesy. Effective in that they capture the spirit of the show while also interjecting some goofy nonsense, like the ending of “Did you say Bucky? I said Bucky!” And like most shows of this era, the animation on the intro is noticeably better than what is in the actual episodes. Sunbow was quite good at sinking money into brief pieces of animation, like for toy commercials, and was well-versed in this. It’s not as bad as Thundercats, but I do wish the whole show could look like this. That intro makes the show look like an action heavy broadcast with Bucky running and gunning his way through the Toad Empire, but the show is a bit more slow-paced than that, as we’ll see. The song also does employ the age old technique of introducing most of the characters by name as well as the general conflict. Just watching it lets you know this show is about mammals fighting toads in space.

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Get used to this, the writers and animators seem to have a lot of fun with Toad TV.

The episode begins onboard the Toad Mothership. Frix (Terry Klassen) and Frax (Scott McNeil) are two Toad officers that apparently don’t take their job very seriously. They’re spending their time watching Toad TV and the only thing on is a commercial in which a female toad expresses her admiration for male toads who feature a lot of warts. The Toad Air Marshall (Jay Brazeau) interrupts them and demands they shut off that brain-rotting Toad TV. He wants them to congratulate him for taking over the home world of Bucky O’Hare as he happily anticipates getting a new medal as recognition for his conquest. He speaks in between grunts or croaks that sound more like burps. Think Rick from Rick and Morty or Krang from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He also drools a bit, and these are characteristics that are going to be dropped in later episodes, which is welcomed as the grunts are a bit annoying. He’s short, chubby, and excitable so he’s a fairly typical villain for the era.

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Our first shot of Captain O’Hare and First Mate Jenny.

We’re then shown the Righteous Indignation, the frigate captained by Bucky O’Hare (Jason Michas). The ship is shown from the front and we can see Bucky and First Mate Jenny (Margot Pinvidic) in the command tower/cockpit and Dead-Eye Duck (McNeil) down below behind the guns. Bucky then signals to the rest of the crew to get ready for action, and we get our first animation error as it cuts to Dead-Eye near the lockers as he races over to his guns excitedly, even though the establishing shot a second ago placed him behind the guns to begin with. Also introduced is Chief Engineer Bruce (Dale Wilson), a large baboon creature referred to as a Betelgeusian Berserker Baboon, and Android First Class Blinky (Sam Vincent), a diminutive little robot with a large, orange, eye for a head. Bruce is bemoaning how junky their photon accelerator is, which is the device that allows them to utilize warp drive, which is their light speed and is also referred to as a hyper space jump by the characters. He voices his concerns to the captain who tells him to back-burner it for now because they have work to do.

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This is Bruce. Don’t get too attached.

Bucky then tells Jenny she’ll be part of a boarding party, as they’ve located a Toad Slave Ship and six fighters. They intend to spring whoever is being held captive while dispatching the fighters. Dead-Eye is quite eager to fire up his guns and the Toad fighters are equally eager to engage the frigate. Dead-Eye takes out a few rather quick, and as the Toad Double Bubbles are destroyed the pilots inside are show floating in bubble-like escape pods which I assume is there to quiet the censors. Dead-Eye also shows his tally of defeated toads as he marks each “kill” with a piece of chalk.

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This is what happens to toads when they see a baboon.

Jenny and Bruce then leave via the Toad Croaker, a small, open-air, vessel which does not seem suitable for space travel. They head for the slave ship while Bucky leads the remaining fighters away. Inside, Toad Storm Troopers ready themselves to deal with the intruders in their slave ship. They’re quite cocky, until Bruce smashes in their door. This is where we learn that all toads have a paralyzing fear of baboons, and all drop their guns and run. Bruce, for his part, is overcome with a berserker rage and takes off after them leaving Jenny to shake her head. She makes her way into another area of the ship and is met by a security robot. She then demonstrates her powers for us, which seem to feed off of the many gems in her armor, as she magics up an energy blast to destroy the robot. She does the same to a door, and when she encounters some toads on the other side, they just act relieved she isn’t a baboon. She takes them out in a far less glamorous manner by punching one in the face (something Batman was never allowed to do) and kicking the other in the gut.

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Dead-Eye is happiest when blasting toads.

Bucky is still giving the remaining Toad fighters the slip, much to the disappointment of Dead-Eye who would rather be taking them out. He then does a loop move, something Star Fox 64 fans are familiar with, to maneuver behind their would-be assailants allowing Dead-Eye to finish the job. Bucky then shouts out a warning (I guess the ship has external speakers?) to the floating Toad pilots that the entire United Animal Space Fleet will be on their asses (not in those words). They receive a radio message from Jenny to come check out the slave ship and they head over. Jenny warns Bucky that he’s not going to like what happens when she opens the door to the holding area, but the dire warning was partially in jest as Bucky gets mobbed by several happy hares. Bucky then finds out the fate of his home planet from the prisoners, and he vows to head to Genus where the Animal Liberation Security Council convenes. Meanwhile, Toad Air Marshall is incensed when he finds out Bucky took out six fighters and captured the slave ship. The pilot also passes on Bucky’s threats and the Air Marshall is irritated to find out there’s now a fleet ready to oppose him. No matter, he declares that he will have Bucky O’Hare in dramatic fashion.

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This is Willy DuWitt, who has problems of his own, small as they may be.

We’re taken briefly to Earth during these events to meet a young boy by the name of Willy DuWitt (Shane Meier). Willy finds his locker has been vandalized with the word “Nerd” spray-painted across it. Three kids convene on him by skateboarding right up to his face. One boy appears to be the leader of this trio, Doug (Sam Vincent), and he has a message for Willy. This is where many boys my age learned what grading on a curve meant, as Doug is ticked off that Willy keeps getting A’s on everything making it harder on the rest of the class. It’s interesting because these three boys are a lot bigger than Willy and basically look like normal people. Willy is shorter, and like most cartoon characters, he has a big head and feet. Either he’s skipped a few grades or this was just an odd stylistic choice. Willy professes that he loves math and science and it’s all easy to him, but Doug doesn’t care and demands he get an F on the next test and the three leave.

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The head of the United Animal Security Council, a true politician.

Bucky and his crew lead the Toad Slave Ship to Genus, which has a very advanced defense system surrounding it. It at first sees the Toad ship as an enemy vessel and begins firing upon it. Jenny is forced to transmit a security clearance to get them to back off. Once on the planet, Bucky and his crew storm a council meeting to inform them of what has happened to his home planet of Warren. He’s rightly ticked off, and this is where we find out that the entire mammal fleet is Bucky O’Hare and his crew and his threats to the Toads were just bluffs. He demands more help, and Dead-Eye is forced to silence the chattering bureaucrats with some gunfire at one point. An old pig then confronts Bucky to tell him they need documented evidence of Toad atrocities (apparently a slave ship full of rabbits isn’t enough evidence) in order to allocate more funds to building up the fleet. Bucky angrily leaves vowing to return with this evidence they seek.

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He may just a computer program, but Komplex is one tough boss.

Aboard the Toad Mothership, we see Toad Air Marshall at his desk looking over a massive sheet of paper containing a map. It turns out, he’s only holding up the paper to hide the fact that he’s watching Toad TV behind it, proving he’s just as bad as his subordinates. The TV screen then changes, and we get our first introduction to Komplex (Long John Baldry). Komplex looks like a polygonal toad face with red X-shaped eyes. It speaks with a menacing voice through the TV and it’s apparent that the Air Marshall both fears Komplex and is subservient to it. Komplex demands the destruction of Bucky and the hares.

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The Toads are coming for you, Bucky.

Bucky decides to go to Warren for this evidence, which may not be the wisest choice. Toad Air Marshall anticipates the move, and he has a fleet of roughly 50 fighters waiting for him. On Earth, we see Willy’s homelife (in a house that could pass as the Tanner residence from Full House) and meet his parents David (McNeil) and Sunshine (Pinvidic), two hippies who have grown up. He’s not excited to eat his tofu burgers and tries asking his dad for advice on what to do about his bully problem and his dad tells him that sometimes you have to do what’s right no matter what the consequences. He’s only half paying attention to his son though as he’s reading the paper. Sunshine parrots her husband while referencing the need to save the whales and such. She then reminds her husband they need to head to a rally and take off leaving Willy all by himself.

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Air Marshall unleashes his entire fleet on Bucky’s ship.

The Righteous Indignation finds itself in a real predicament as the Toad fleet surrounds them. The Toads take out two of the six engines on the rear of the ship, and surprisingly the animators will account for that as the ship flees with only four engines illuminated. Their shields are taking a pounding and there’s no feasible way for one frigate to take on 50 fighters. Bucky calls down to engineering for a hyper space jump and Bruce advises it’s dangerous, but what choice do they have? He tries hastily making some adjustments to the photon accelerator, but it’s making a funny sound. He activates it anyway, and it immediately starts trying to suck him in. Blinky grabs onto some equipment as he too is being pulled towards the device. He grabs ahold of Bruce’s belt, but the accelerator pulls him right out of his space suit. Blinky goes flying too, but he braces himself against the accelerator and is able to unplug it before he meets the same fate as Bruce.

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Naked Bruce gets sucked into another dimension. So long, baboon.

Blinky radios up to Bucky and informs him of what happened. “Calamity and woe,” he begins which is some-what of a catch phrase for the character. He tells his captain that Bruce was either pulled into another dimension or has attained oneness with the universe, as he puts it. It’s the closest thing to “death” as we’re going to get on this show. Bucky tells Jenny she’s in charge, as he’s positioned the frigate in a crater in a bid to hide from the fighters momentarily. He heads down to survey the damage while remarking they’ll miss Bruce, but he has no time for mourning. Blinky informs him he’s made some repairs, but he has no idea what will happen once the warp drive is engaged. Bucky decides they have no choice, as the Toad fighters have found them and their shields can’t last much longer. He approaches the photon accelerator and activates the warp drive.

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Calamity and woe, indeed.

On Earth, Willy is recording himself as he prepares for his greatest experiment. It seems he has constructed his own photon accelerator, and like Bucky, he’s not sure what will happen when he turns it on. His recording is intended to let his parents in on what happened, should something bad happen. He activates his, and everything goes dark. He tries looking out his window and sees just blackness. Meanwhile, on the Righteous Indignation all power has gone out. Jenny declares they’re in some kind of stasis field. Nothing can get in, or out. Bucky is more alarmed by the presence of a door that suddenly appeared near he and Blinky. It’s Willy’s door, and the backside of it just contains a swirling vortex. The door opens, and out steps Willy.

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Willy readies his own photon accelerator.

Dead-Eye nearly blasts Willy as he mistakes his flashlight for a lightsaber. Interestingly, in the comics Willy’s room is decorated with Star Wars stuff, so it’s nice they still found a way to slip in a reference via lightsaber here. Willy insists it’s just a flashlight and shuts it off. This seems to calm Dead-Eye some and the characters all stop to stare at each other. Willy is surprised to find a talking green rabbit, while the others think Willy is some sort of shaved baboon. Bucky introduced himself, seeming to take exception with Willy’s description of him, before introducing the others. He tells Willy what danger he faces by being aboard his ship, while Willy is amazed to see that they have a photon accelerator. Willy offers to help, but Bucky doesn’t see how this human could be of use, until Willy tells him that he built his very own photon accelerator. They need to head back to his room for some tools, but Willy thinks he can fix theirs.

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Willy meets some interesting characters.

Back in Willy’s room, the young boy is grabbing stuff while Bucky and Dead-Eye accompany him. Dead-Eye spies what appears to be a toy gun on Willy’s bed and confiscates it, pointing it out to Bucky in a hushed voice just in case Willy can’t be trusted. He also spies some play money and seems to mistake it for real cash and stuffs it in a duffel bag with Willy’s tools. They then head back to the ship and Willy makes the repairs. He vows to stay aboard the ship to see it through, even though he knows once the warp drive is activated his door will disappear. Jenny, in reward for Willy’s bravery, gives Willy a kiss and embraces him which causes Willy to blush and plants the seeds for his future life as a furry. As the crew gets ready to fire up the warp drive, the stasis field drops as a Toad gives the order to fire at full strength and our first episode ends on a rather major cliffhanger.

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Dead-Eye’s discovery.

There’s a lot to pack into this debut episode. We get the general conflict of Toads vs Mammals, and also a season-long storyline is introduced and that’s the enslavement of Bucky’s home world. We also get a peek at the leaders of the mammal world, who because of their relative safety behind their advanced defense systems, are reluctant to take the Toads seriously frustrating Bucky. It’s basically just Bucky and his crew left to fend off a planet’s worth of toads who are hellbent on taking over. We don’t know much about their goals or their methods just yet, but that’s still to come. We know enough though. The Toads are a serious threat, and Bucky is going to need help to drive them back.

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This whole time, the Righteous Indignation in a stasis field and unable to sustain direct damage.

We also get something that doesn’t arise in shows like this often:  death. Well, a sort of death with Bruce getting sucked into the photon accelerator. It’s a bit clunky and weird, but at least the groundwork is partly laid in Bruce’s first scene when he remarks that it seems like part of the device doesn’t exist in their dimension. In the comic, Bruce just gets blasted by the Toads and reduced to a pile of dust. This is far more ambiguous. Blinky theorizes he got pulled into another dimension while also saying it’s possible he’s just dead, though he phrases it in a clever way. We’ll eventually find out that Blinky’s first guess was correct, but for now it looks like a member of Bucky’s meager crew got taken out, and Bruce was one of the most formidable. The whole sequence happens rather quickly, and since they’re in a dire situation there’s no time for the moment to breathe. It’s rushed, but also it’s the reality of war that you can’t stop and mourn in the midst of a fire-fight lest you want to end up like your comrade.

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Like it or not, Willy is going to be a part of this crew going forward.

The inclusion of Willy is and has always been odd to me. If I had never read the comics I would have thought he was shoe-horned into the cartoon in an attempt to create a character kids could relate to. He was likely included in the books for the same reason, but it just always felt silly to me which is odd since we’ve got a bunch of animals fighting each other in space. He’s got time to prove his worth and win me over, but I’m not an instant fan. And his hippy parents are just confusing. What’s the message they’re trying to convey here? Did Larry Hama just hate hippies? They’re bad, yuppy, parents more consumed with their activist lifestyle than their child. I guess if the message is a bad parent can come from any background then okay, I guess. I think it has a lot to do with the cynicism of the 80s just viewing hippies as pretty goofy and silly and they’re just supposedly inherently funny as a result. “Ha, look at Willy’s dumb, hippy, parents!” I didn’t find it funny as a kid, and I don’t find it funny as an adult. They also made the choice to not show their faces, not an uncommon technique in kid’s shows of the era. Making them faceless hippies feels like a political statement of some kind, I’m just not sure what that is.

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There’s also going to be some weird, sexual, tension between Jenny and Willy.

The animation on this show is pretty inconsistent. It reminds me a lot of another AKOM show, X-Men, as character models get shifty at times. Especially Jenny, whose face seems to change shape at times. The more cartoonish toads, especially the Air Marshall, look pretty good and there are some fun sequences during the firefights. Like one shot from in front of Dead-Eye’s guns. Unfortunately, the premiere episode is basically the high point in terms of visuals. There will be sequences here and there in future episodes that look as good or better than what’s here, but in general the animation quality only goes down from here. The voice acting is fairly capable though and I like the voices for each character. I mentioned Air Marshall’s weird croak/burps, but in addition to that it seemed like there was some confusion over what Dead-Eye should sound like. Scott McNeil does a stereotypical pirate voice at times, which is basically what will be carried forward. At other times though he goes for a southern accent, and even a Cajun one. They’re brief, but weird. I think things get more consistent going forward, as is often the case following a debut episode.

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The final shot of the first episode from the cockpit of the Righteous Indignation is pretty ominous.

This episode throws a lot at the viewer and it’s a pretty demanding way to start the series. The scenes move quickly from one to the next for time considerations and the episode feels long, even though it’s only about 21 minutes including the intro. I personally like a lot of world-building in the first few episodes, so I’m mostly okay with it, but by the end I do want to see things start moving. Lets get some action. A lot of the characters are introduced though so the episode does accomplish a lot which will hopefully pay dividends rather quickly. It was probably harder for kids to follow, especially the scene with the animal council, and I know I hated how abruptly the episode ended. A week is a long time for a kid to find out how Bucky and his crew get out of that mess. You’re going to have to endure the same, or you could just run to YouTube or something and watch the next episode.


Boss Fight Studio Corsair Canard Dead-Eye Duck

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

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

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

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

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

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


Boss Fight Studio Dead-Eye Duck and Holiday Bucky

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

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

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

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

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

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