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Category: Sci-Fi Café


Getting a jumpstart on Hasbro‘s announcement from New York Toy Fair 2019 of a new, retro line of classic 3.75-inch Kenner-branded action figures, Target has listed the first figures on its website.  It’s no surprise that the franchise is the classic Kenner Star Wars, and they are being re-released on vintage style cards (with a new retro designating logo), but with original style sculpts as the Star Wars Retro Collection.  So at a minimum look for Luke, Han, Leia, Chewbacca, Darth Vader, and a Stormtrooper coming to your Target soon.

The figures look identical to the originals from the marketing images, including the weapon accessories.  In addition to the new retro logo, the bubble cards appear to have a weathered design.  Here are the details for the Luke figure, with similar details listed at the Target website for each figure:

  • INSPIRED BY STAR WARS 70s-STYLE ACTION FIGURES – Star Wars Retro Collection 3.75-inch-scale Star Wars figures feature original Kenner figure design and detail and Star Wars movie-inspired back cards (Each sold separately. Subject to availability)!
  • CLASSIC LUKE SKYWALKER FIGURE – This 3.75-inch scale collectible Luke Skywalker figure features sculpting and design inspired by the original Kenner figures from the 70s and the Tatooine farmboy who joined the Rebels from Star Wars: A New Hope.
  • STAR WARS MOVIE-INSPIRED ACCESSORY – Includes a Luke Skywalker-inspired action Lightsaber that is great for display in any Star Wars collection.
  • 5 POINTS OF ARTICULATION – with the basic articulation of the classic Kenner figures, this Star Wars Retro Collection Luke Skywalker figure is a great addition to any Star Wars action figure and vehicle collection.
  • THE LEGACY CONTINUED – Look for other Star Wars Retro Collection figures to continue the collection from a galaxy far, far away! (Figures each sold separately. Subject to availability.)

Here are the package examples shown:

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If you’re a fan of action figures, Super7 delivered again with a sneak peek at a whole host of action figure cards for its ReAction line, expected to be fleshed out even more this weekend at New York Toy Fair 2019.  How much fun is in this single photograph?  We’re expecting Super7 will be revealing details this weekend, but until then, here’s what we can tell is coming soon from the toy company’s line of licensed, retro 3.75-inch action figures with the classic Kenner five points of articulation.

In the top row we’re seeing that Super7 is preparing three figures from John Carpenter’s They Live, a sci-fi classic fans of the ReAction line have been asking for for years.  So there are cards for Roddy Piper’s John Nada (before the fight and after? without bubblegum?), and a male and female alien (nope, no Frank or Holly).

The eight Rocky IV figures include the previously announced Rocky Balboa and Ivan Drago (both in boxing ring attire), Rocky and Drago (in final round outfits), Rocky (winter training), and Sico the Robot.  Add to that a Carl Weathers Apollo Creed and a mystery figure (most likely blacked out because the likeness hasn’t been approved yet), maybe Brigitte Nielsen’s Ludmilla or Talia Shire’s Adrian?  Burt Young’s Paulie?  We’re hoping Super 7 may be looking back a movie to Rocky III and Mr. T’s Clubber Lang.

The Super7 Major League Baseball “Supersports” line-up has some great picks:  In addition to Jackie Robinson, we see Roy Campanella, Orlando Cepeda, Willie Mays, Carl Yastrzemski, Ted Williams, Carlton Fisk, and two others under the Classic All-Stars logo, including Juan Marichal, Mickey Mantle, and Yogi Berra, plus Madison Bumgarner and at least one other under the Baseball All-Stars logo.  We’re guessing there are four Mascots in the initial wave, including the Giants’ Crazy Crab, Mr. Met, and the Phillie Phanatic.

The first Aliens line has all the right figures, a new Sigourney Weaver Ellen Ripley, plus Bill Paxton’s Private Hudson, Jenette Goldstein’s Private Vasquez, a seriously messed-up Lance Henriksen’s Bishop, and a new Xenomorph variant.  Is there a Michael Biehn Corporal Hicks hiding off-camera?  Maybe a Jonesy and Newt combo pack?

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Since the announcement of the retro-style Kenner action figures in 2013 from Funko and Super7 (now exclusively produced by Super7), we’ve been excited to see the next license to find its way into the 3.75-inch, five points of articulation format (we’ve discussed hundreds of the licensed figures in the ReAction line here at borg over the years).  At each New York Toy Fair, Super7 has amassed everything from Alien to CW’s Arrow, and this coming weekend’s New York Toy Fair 2019 will be no different.  The biggest moneymaker for Super7 will no doubt be a series of twelve Major League Baseball action figures, including the great #42 Jackie Robinson, plus three mascot figures, all expected to be released this year during the All-Star Game to commemorate the centennial of Robinson’s birth.

But there’s more in store for movie fans.  As previewed here last year and first seen at New York Toy Fair 2017 via prototype sculpts, final versions of Wave Two of the Planet of the Apes action figure line will be on display (and see below to pre-order now each from Entertainment Earth, which just opened pre-orders for the series).  You’ll need to decide for yourself which is the coolest of the bunch: Cornelius in the ancient American spacesuit as seen in the opening to Escape from the Planet of the Apes, or the 5.5-inch Lawgiver statue from Beneath the Planet of the ApesOther figures include General Aldo from Battle for the Planet of the Apes, the creepy Mendez XXVI from Beneath the Planet of the Apes, and two Gorilla Soldiers, a Patrolman and Hunter to build your armies from Planet of the Apes.  The carded figures feature original card art by Ed Repka, the Lawgiver comes in retro-style packaging and all of the figures come with accessories.

Attendees of New York Toy Fair at the Super7 booth will also find early looks at a new line of figures from Rocky IV.    The series includes Rocky and Ivan Drago (both in ring attire), Rocky and Ivan Drago (in final round outfits), Rocky (winter training), and the figure you didn’t know you wanted: Sico the Robot.

Here are images of other figures in the new wave of Planet of the Apes:

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Hasbro has big plans for New York Toy Fair 2019 this weekend, and already has released marketing information for two new Stranger Things tie-in games with a retro theme.  Trivial Pursuit fans who’ve been waiting for some new trivia questions will get their wish and more in an updated version of the popular 1980s board game.  And the in-universe Dungeons & Dragons references from the kids in Stranger Things will spill into the real world with a tie-in edition to reel in new roleplay gamers.  Both of these are now available for pre-order for the first time at online pop culture collectible store Entertainment Earth.

Up first is the Stranger Things Dungeons & Dragons Roleplaying Game Starter Set from Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast.  New as well as seasoned D&D players can experience the D&D adventure Stranger Things character Mike Wheeler created for his friends in the series.  Will you be Will the Wise or Dustin the Dwarf?  The set includes a Stranger Things Adventure book, Rulebook, five Stranger Things character sheets, six dice, a painted Demogorgon figure, and a paintable Demogorgon figure (and take a look at the nicely distressed box design).  Find out more and pre-order the game for only $24.99 now here at Entertainment Earth.

It doesn’t matter how many editions you already own of Trivial Pursuit (the original, the 1980s, the 1990s, the Millennium edition, etc.), this new version is unlike any other edition of the game.  The Stranger Things Back to the 80s Trivial Pursuit Game features 1,500 trivia questions from six categories: Movies, TV, Music, Famous People and Events, Trends, Tech and Fun, and a new one:  Stranger Things. The familiar board game also includes Portal Spaces–land on one of these and you have to flip a section of the board over and send all players to the Upside Down, where wedges can be lost.  As always, the first player to collect six wedges wins.  At a pre-order price of $19.99 here at Entertainment Earth, this game is hard to beat.

Here are several images of the games, courtesy of the first distributor marketing the games, Entertainment Earth:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Is it strange that the two latest Netflix series, Kingdom and Russian Doll, play out like they were written from the same story writing prompt?  The title is perfect, Russian Doll–the traditional Eastern European nesting doll toy is a metaphor for the repetitive existence of the heroine in the next time loop-centric series.  Natasha Lyonne (Blade: Trinity, American Pie) plays Nadya Vulvakov, an emotional, more accessible Jessica Jones–in fact the series might as well be called Marvel’s Russian Doll, because it’s centered on a superpowered heroine with a unique gift (like Deadpool 2’s Domino), the power of the do-over.  The twist here is her power is not in her control, as with the dying and re-birth in the wonderful short-lived series Forever.  Nadia’s got to make the best of it, and figure out why she’s repeating the same day, before it is too late.

In a month with Groundhog Day and the sequel to Happy Death Day just around the corner, the time loop trope shows no signs of stopping.  (Not up to speed on time loops?  Start here, then check out all we’ve covered at borg here).  Even if you’re tired of the same old Noo Yawker shtick that’s been overused in sitcoms a million times, the hook of Russian Doll will keep you around for the full eight episodes.  Vulgar will be your first impression of Nadia.  She’s a mouthy 36-year-old who acts, talks, and seems to think she’s lived 85 years and her life is all used up.  (It’s more than likely the cause is the chain smoking–the character acknowledges two packs per day and the actor sounds like that’s an underestimate, with one montage making it look like she isn’t going to live beyond the end of the series with all she inhales performing the role).  Lyonne plays the accent 25 years older, sounding like Lorraine Bracco, or a brash Rhoda Morgenstern (or Rhoda’s mom?) impersonating Billy Crystal or Don Rickles stand-up routines, with a 1980s hair band orange wig that makes her look like “Andrew Dice Clay and the girl from Brave had a baby,” to top off the vibe.  And every time she dies she appears back in front of a mirror confronting herself, looking something like a 1980s Stevie Nicks album cover.

As a time loop twisting tale, Russian Doll is a fresh surprise, providing no linear pathway for anyone to predict what will happen in the next episode.  It’s the editing of the splices–the weaving of the scenes shot in the same place but at subtly different numerous times–that the production works into the story beautifully, many more than you’ve probably seen before in a time loop tale.  Is it a time loop story of the science fiction, horror, or fantasy variety?  You’ll just need to watch to find out.

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It’s one of the strangest marketing ideas yet.  And it’s a limited time offer for Valentine’s Day.  This is one of those ideas tailored for Star Wars fans–big fans–of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and in particular fans of Resistance fighter Rose Tico, played by Kelly Marie Tran.

Online collectible superstore Entertainment Earth came up with a new promotion, that should get a smile or laugh out of your Valentine if he or she has a sense of humor.  It’s a dozen Roses, but these aren’t the kind with thorns, so there’s that.  No, these are Rose Tico action figures, regularly listing for about $18 retail.  These won’t cost the full $220 for the case of 12 figures.  This is a deal for $19.99 total, $200 off retail, or roughly the original price per figure of Star Wars action figures when they were first released in 1978.  You’ll probably not see another deal like this again.

Sure, twelve stormtroopers might make a more desirable army, but then it wouldn’t be a dozen Roses, would it?  And if you don’t have a Valentine who’d appreciate it, buy a case for $19.99 and hand them out at your shop, at your booth at conventions, or give them out as part of your Secret Valentines.  The character of Rose Tico stands for bravery and devotion to her cause and her friends, and might make a good desk totem as a reminder.

The only place to get the $19.99 deal is at this link at Entertainment Earth.  If you’re up for it, you’ll want to act fast as this deal is expected to sell out.

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Every year the Super Bowl means new movie trailers.  Surprisingly this year netted no surprises–the most exciting of all the movie trailers that aired during Sunday’s 53rd Super Bowl game may be the deja vu from Super Bowl 51, the preview for another film in the Fast & Furious series that was released in advance of the game (we previewed it here).  Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Jason Statham are hard to beat, and their trailer for Hobbs & Shaw looks like it could be the surprise moneymaker of the year, in a year of sequels and more sequels.  The franchise is already the sixth biggest moneymaker of all time.

But we got plenty of new previews for projects previously announced.  We have new, short, “spot” trailers for Marvel movies Avengers: Endgame and Captain Marvel.  Four movies of the bunch are not big franchise sequels, including a look at Us–the latest from Get Out director Jordan Poole, the animated adventure Wonder Park, a brief look at Alita: Battle Angel, and Guillermo del Toro’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.  Last but not least, the game ran a brief spot for Toy Story 4.

Check out all these new movie trailers:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

The trailers appeared like it could have been so much more, but it wasn’t to happen.  Instead of the science fiction thriller promised in the trailer, this month’s Netflix movie Io is a slow, dry character study about a character who isn’t all that interesting.  Margaret Qualley (The Nice Guys) has the lead role as Sam, daughter of a world-renowned scientist in the years after a toxin has finally pushed life from Earth.  Most of humanity leaves for a colony on Jupiter’s planet Io, including Sam’s boyfriend, who tries to prompt her to meet him there via future email (that looks like text on a vintage Commodore 64).  But Sam’s father has died, and she continues his research, attempting to prove “life will find a way” on Earth.  Her father’s speeches persuaded many to stay, including Micah, played by Anthony Mackie (Avengers: Infinity War), whose wife has died.  Via air balloon, Micah travels to Sam’s science station, one of the rare places where oxygen still allows life to go on.  He comes to murder Sam’s dad, but when he learns of Sam and her desolation, he tells her she needs to come with him on the last flight from Earth.  Most of the film time is quiet thought, Sam doing her experiments, including killing a bee, apologizing blandly like that makes it okay.  And Sam and Micah talk at each other, contrived anger in spots from Micah, seeming indifference to anything from Sam.  Should they stay or should they go?

Without any emotional punch by Qualley, not much about the film works.  It’s a tale that has been told so much in science fiction and in so many better ways, that Io’s effort to tell the “end of days” story has little to offer other than an attempt at splicing in several mythology allegory references.  But without compelling, believable characters and a story with a coherent message, the effort is pointless.  The entirety of the film is in the Netflix trailer, and the rest of the film is filler.  The message of any apocalypse story is for humanity to wake up and not let the world go to hell.  Beyond that, many other movies have used the concept of apocalypse that are more accessible and interesting.  Netflix’s own Orbiter 9 is much better, and the Tom Cruise sci-fi tale Obsidian offers a similar story with much more to keep viewers engaged.  Even the Mad Max series offers characters who act like they want to survive.  Fans of the slow-paced, sci-fi dramas Arrival or Interstellar might very well like this film, and that may have been Io’s target audience, but with little budget or script it doesn’t come close to those either.

The production expects the audience to infer too much about the character of Sam from the performance of actress Margaret Qualley.  But the director, newcomer Jonathan Helpert, never settles in on who Sam is supposed to be and how much empathy we’re supposed to have for her.  The easy part is understanding her loneliness, since her father died and left her alone.  But the entirety of her emotions are held within–the audience cannot tell anything about her by her methodical, scientific mannerisms, her limited written messages to a boyfriend off-planet, or her stilted conversations with newcomer Micah.  We know she wonders about artwork off in a museum in a territory that is deadly, but so what?

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Known for providing George Lucas with the original designs for several spaceships for the original Star Wars, concept artist Colin Cantwell has revealed photographs of his actual model ships created for Lucas in 1975.  Cantwell, who we discussed here at borg back in 2017, has only in the past few years entered the pop culture convention circuit.  For thirty years Cantwell left the movie design business, working at a computer engineering firm in Colorado.  Now 87, Cantwell has embraced fans of his early work, traveling the country, signing prints of his original Star Wars concept art from 1974-75.

At the same time noted artist Ralph McQuarrie was designing characters and environments in his concept art for Lucas, Cantwell designed the first concept artwork for the X-Wing and Y-Wing Fighters, the TIE Fighter, Star Destroyer, Death Star, T-16 Skyhopper, and the original Millennium Falcon, which was rejected and repurposed as Princess Leia’s ship, the Tantive IV Blockade Runner–the first ship seen in the film.  He designed two other ships that were not used in the film, his Landspeeder and Sandcrawler.  Cantwell has been selling prints of his concept art for the past two years, but this month he began to release images on his Facebook page and website of the actual, original models he made–based on his own designs–that he presented to Lucas in 1975.  He’s selling autographed prints of these images now on his website here.

His models were “kitbashed”–he used existing plastic model kit parts and re-purposed them to make a real-world feel for his ships (and without the time, effort, and cost required for molding his own parts).  Industrial Light and Magic would use this concept to create the Star Wars aesthetic, and set decorator Roger Christian used the idea with real world tech to make the future look lived-in, earning an Oscar for doing so (Lucas offered Cantwell the opportunity to create and lead ILM, but he declined).  Cantwell used the body of a dragster kit, painted pill bottles, plastic Easter eggs, and a WWII bomber turret among other model kit parts.

Cantwell’s original designs were substantially used for the final production models, but Cantwell’s actual T-16 Skyhopper model was used by Mark Hamill as Luke’s own ship model in an early Tatooine scene.  Most recently, Cantwell was recognized by Disney and Hot Wheels with a series of replicas, including his Millennium Falcon/Tantive IV, TIE Fighter, X-Wing Fighter, Star Destroyer, and the unused Landspeeder design.

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A man and his dog.  Who doesn’t want to see the next Sam Elliott movie?  Finally, the 2018 independent film with the crazy title starring the #1 infinitely cool actor of all time is making its way to a U.S. release.  The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot has a title and the movie poster that belongs to a Quentin Tarentino movie.  Mask, Tombstone, The Big Lebowski, Ghost Rider, The Golden Compass.  Sam Elliott brings the tough, cool aura to everything he touches.

In this alternate history (which makes it science fiction), in the last days of World War II, U.S. operative Calvin Barr assassinated Adolf Hitler in a secret mission.  Decades later he is called upon again, this time to hunt down Bigfoot, believed to be responsible for a plague across Canada.  Charismatic younger actor Aidan Turner (The Hobbit trilogy, Poldark) plays younger Barr, and Elliott, the best Western actor who wasn’t in a John Ford movie, plays Barr years later.  Early festival awards have praised the movie’s measured-pace drama, its historical production design, and its compelling score from Joe Kraemer (Jack Reacher, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Mystery Woman).

Wise, surreal, mythic, zany, silly–few films release to such divergent first impressions.  No one can seem to agree what the movie is.  With co-stars like Office Space’s Ron Livingston and comedic actor and stand-up comic turned dramatic actor Larry Miller (Law & Order, Monk, Burn Notice, Medium, L.A. Story, The Nutty Professor)–and that title–it must be a comedy.  Right?  No, apparently freshman director Robert D. Krzykowski has something else up his sleeve.  And early reviews made clear it’s also not a movie with Elliott wreaking havoc as badass action hero or an action movie at all, although a few action scenes are said to center the narrative.

Here is the trailer for The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot:

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